Tag Archive for autumn

Part 2: Taper Sadness

For my first Marathon, this past spring, I experienced the Taper Madness for the first time. I had a slight foot injury and was trying to balance a light 3 week taper with not exacerbating my ankle problem. I felt like I was going crazy between tapering, trying to heal, and pre-marathon anxiety. And thus, “Taper Madness “ was born.

Marathon Training

This time around, I had entered into a period that could only be described as “Taper Sadness.”

Since the debacle on Staten Island, I was on a strict fast and furious regiment of…. rest. Rest. Ice. Hobbling. And…. more rest. No running for me whatsoever. Is that even technically a taper? My one goal at this point was to banish the knee pain into oblivion with the hope that I could test it out on a run during the Poland Spring Marathon Kick Off 5K, one week before The Marathon.

For nearly two weeks my knee would ache after merely being on my feet, which was frequently unavoidable since I waitress.

Ice, Ice baby….

I did a light mile jog to pick up my bib on Oct 25th, for the Kick Off. It was not terrible, but it still hurt. I made the decision to forgo the race so I could squeeze in more healing time. A zero mileage taper would be far from ideal, but no marathon would be a nightmare.

And so I officially DNS-ed my first race.

I picked up a knee brace at Jack Rabbit. I’m not a medical expert by any stretch of my imagination, but the braces always seemed to me a bit of wishful thinking hocus pocus. Obviously, I was desperate.

Lo and behold, I should have bought that thing weeks ago. It mushed everything in just right and all week it was like having a little miracle hug my knee in all the right places. One of my co-workers saw it and said “Isn’t that thing great? I’m wearing one on each knee right now. And I run with them.”

Where was this information all my life? I thought. I am but an infant in the vast ocean of running related knowledge.

New york city tcs marathon expo

On Thursday, I sprang out of bed and limped over to the TCS New York City Marathon Expo. It was bittersweet. I had dreamed of attending as a marathon entrant for more than a year, but now I felt like an impostor since I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to be healthy enough to run. It was incredible though and I tried to imagine that everything would be fine when I did the Dash to the Finish- that my knee would be great and I could finally put my head in The Marathon 110%.

Dash to the Finish

Saturday morning, as my family was in the middle of a 5 hour drive to the city for marathon spectating, I prepared for the Dash to the Finish. The race would be cold and wet. Quite wet.

We kicked off in front of the United Nations and almost immediately my knee began to ache. By the time I had finished at my “nice and easy” pace of 10 mins/mile, I was devastated. The last thing mile as we passed the mile 26 banner all set up for the marathon, I thought: There’s no way I’m going to see that sign tomorrow because I’m not going to be able to do the marathon.

As I funneled out with the finishers, I skipped the water and snacks; I couldn’t run fast enough to even get thirsty, and the more I thought about my diminishing marathon prospects the more I felt sick to my stomach.

I called the Mister and began to cry as I told him I wasn’t sure I should try to run tomorrow. I thought I would know with certainty what my knee would be capable of, and I didn’t. I thought I would know 100% whether to run or not run, but I didn’t.  I prepared for over a year and a half, and my family was already en route, for a Marathon that probably wasn’t going to happen for me. I was devastated.

Moreover, my Runner Brother has been dying for years to run NYC and I desperately wanted to gift my bib to him (so he could enjoy the race, and my family wouldn’t have driven for nothing), but NYRR strictly prohibits any sort of bib transfer. Period. So realistically, not much of an option.

The Mister and my family basically advised: 1.) Listen to your body, if you can’t run, that’s ok, you’ll do the race one day. It’s not worth permanently injuring something. 2.) If you think you can at least try, at least try.

I agreed with #1, though it wasn’t very palatable.  #2 made a lot of sense in theory, but I hesitated because I felt like everyone was underestimating the key element of my own stubbornness. If I started, I would want to push it as far as I could, as long as I could, no matter how bad my knee got (a la the Staten  Island ½ Marathon). And since that was a day of poor decision making culminating in one of the most excruciating days of my life, I wasn’t sure I wanted to turn what was supposed to be my marathon dream into my marathon nightmare.

I told my brother “Best case scenario, my knee manages to hold together for 26.2 miles but hurts the whole way and I still spend every minute of that run on an emotional roller coaster waiting for it to all fall apart.”

Ultimately, I told everyone that I would try. I would see what happens, but to know ahead of time if I drop out, it’s because the knee is bad bad bad. Either I run it and finish, or I drop out in Brooklyn and we all go to lunch.

I told everyone my mantra would be, I WILL drag my body through every borough of this city.

And just like that, it was on.

tcs new york city marathon expo

Dash to the Finish!

While most runners in New York this weekend were eating their final bowl of pasta before the BIG race on Sunday, a few (thousand) of us were warming up the roads Saturday morning.

That’s right- the New York Road Runner’s Dash to the Finish!

Staging for the race began just around the corner from the United Nations, on 47th Street between 1st and 2nd Ave. I found my corral early and it looked like they were set up for about 10,000 runners.

IMG-20131102-00134

I saw costumes and flags, mostly worn as capes, that represented countries from, well, everywhere. Bavaria (about six people in a lederhosen/milkmaid like costumes) and Japan (traditional samurai-like robe) stand out in my mind as particularly enthusiastic.

47th Street filled up quickly until it was packed curb to curb with runners. We had to wait a short bit here, until we were ushered out onto 1st Avenue, just in front of the United Nations building for the anthem and start.

And then we were off!

Notes on the course:

Stoplights: The first time I saw a yellow light, my thought was “-gotta beat that light-” and then I realized, I don’t gotta beat that light because the streets are closed. Obvious, but still a pretty cool surprise due to my apparent short term memory loss.

Enthusiasm: Off the charts. I can’t even imagine how crazy people must feel marathon morning because this was the day before and I could still feel the excitement about race weekend.

Enthusiasm: Also dangerous. A lot of runners were stopping cold in the middle of the road, running backwards, or not looking where they were going at all in order to take selfies. I get it, this is awesome, we’re all excited to be here, but there are literally thousands of people moving like an ocean wave so maybe we should step to the side to take that picture of the Chrysler building, no?

I love watching people at the finish line because that last stretch is always a mixture of elation of knowing you are almost done, and scraping together your final push.

I was a little bit nervous because I had my heart set on beating my fastest 5K time to date (since high school anyway.) However that was over 2 months ago, and since then about 95% of my runs have focused on distance and endurance, at the cost of at least 1 weekly speed work session. Part of this was because I had been training for a 1/2 marathon and wanted to be comfortable with the distance, and part of this was because I hate speed work. And love long runs. *Sigh*

So I was concerned.

And I managed to mess up my split display last time I used my watch, but didn’t realize until I was running. And I managed to mess up my last split marker- so that last mile was a real mystery.

So when I finished, by the time on my watch I was pretty sure I didn’t make my goal. Which I was okay with. OK, honestly disappointed, but deep down I know it is time to get more serious and set up a more structured training schedule- one that includes regular speed work.

And then I checked my official results: 0:24:00! Which makes it my 5K PR with a pace of 7:45 per mile. And I am stoked. And ready to start some genuine speed training from this point on.

 

Five Down, Four to Go: Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off!

five down down,I must admit, the past two weeks I slacked. And I slacked bad.

After my half, I hit a couple of beautiful six mile runs down the west side highway and kaput. Nothing. I was a little burnout after the gauntlet of races stretching from August through October and for that, I don’t really regret taking about ten days of break.

And it worked. I feel completely refreshed -physically and mentally. I’m sure it’s due in part to being just over halfway through my 9+1

qualifying races, and having a little more wiggle room for what races I choose for the final 3 than I anticipated.

NYRR Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off

Part of the reason I didn’t find myself stressing over this race was the fact that this was my first 5 mile distance race, so I didn’t feel pressured to beat a previous time. Between the time off and my first really chilly seasonal run, my first goal was to pay attention to how I was feeling and adjust my cadence and form accordingly. My second goal was to aim for a 8:00 to 8:30 pace per mile (slower than 5k, faster than my 10 mile paces).

The Mister woke up bright and early with me, we hopped into the bug, and headed to the west side…. where we could absolutely not find parking to save our lives. I suggested we bite the bullet and put it in a garage, but as the car is super old and temperamental, the Mister was very worried about whether a valet could even drive it. So we circled. And circled. Before we knew it, it was 8:22 and I had to hop out and dash to the corral to meet the Mister later.

And I made it just in the nick of time. In fact, the green coral was full up and closed, and I had to enter another coral back. Madness, I say, madness!

And we were off.

bronxgrete 006

I have an apple in one hand, a free bottle of water in the other, 0:40:43 under my belt, and a handsome mister in front of me- life is good!

Mile 1: was was super crowded and I patiently tried to work my way up to a more comfortable pace.

Mile 2: Some formidable hills, but I felt fast and was following a man dressed almost entirely in neon yellow running gear.

Mile 3: Still feeling good, a little frustrated I’m somehow not moving faster than I actually am. Almost missed the water station.

Mile 4: Again, very distracted by the water station and my impending finish, almost forget completely about setting my split.

Mile 5: Quick finish, felt great. The Macintosh apples at the finish tasted like gold. Juicy, crispy, apple, gold.

My spits were 8:06, 7:48, 8:21, 8:05, and 8:03…. which puts me in for a 0:40:43. And I’ll take it!

I really enjoyed the finish area which already had many of the grandstands set up for the marathon.

(Tangent:Yes, I know it’s Marathon Fever time in New York City, and yes, I have it bad. Even though I am not running this year, I can not wait to watch the thousands of diverse runners who will tackle the course this Sunday. I happen to live less than five minutes away from the portion of the course that happens to be near a mile marker where people start hitting the wall and digging deep. And if that’s not some of the best inspiration, I don’t know what is).

But grandstands. I couldn’t help but think how so many marathoners would feel this Sunday after so many hours and so many miles where they could see the final mere yards before the finish. Too cool.

Pecan Pie

Thanksgiving is a comin’ and as it my favorite holiday I think, I am at the very least, required to learn a new recipe in order to celebrate properly. Amiright?

Pecan Pie, oh my!

Pecan Pie, oh my!

I knew I wanted to make a pecan pie, but other than that, I really didn’t know where to begin. I quickly learned that the most “traditional” form of pecan pie uses Karo corn syrup. And about a cup of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love baking and with that comes some territory that will never be “healthy”. And I’m fine with that; indulge and enjoy, now worries here. But certain things still freak me out gross me out a little: shortening? Corn Syrup? The jury is still out.

As a result, I found a variety of recipes that were quite diverse. Each recipe seemed to have a completely different combination and ratio of sugars, molasses, corn syrup, and pecans. One popular recipe even omitted the corn syrup completely. However, as this was my first attempt, I decided to go very traditional, and finally settled on this version, from Simply Recipes.

 Recipe

1 9-inch pie shell, frozen or chilled for an hour if freshly made.
2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Optional: Whole pecans for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Laid pie crust in the bottom of pie plate and crimp edges.

2. Spread pecans along the bottom of the pie shell. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over pecans. (No need for an electric mixer, you can mix by hand.) The pecans will rise to the surface of the pie. Use whole pecans and laid gently on top of the pie mixture to decorate.

3.Bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes until the filling has set. About 20 minutes into the cooking you may want to use a pie crust protector, or tent the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil to prevent the pie crust edges from burning.

4. Remove from oven and let cool.