running the city

The only event I have on my upcoming race schedule is Reach the Beach in two weeks, so long run training isn’t a necessity, but Saturday I set out on a New York City running adventure anyway. I covered three boroughs (Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens), crossed five bridges (Brooklyn, Manhattan, Williamsburg, Queensboro, Pulaski), checked out 5Pointz (a graffiti art site in Queens), and covered 16 miles. I really enjoyed running solo all over the city and documenting it on Instagram (see all the photos here). And the donut ice cream sandwich at the end was more than sufficient motivation to keep me going. The weather was absolutely beautiful. I kept thinking to myself, “I’m back!” I felt strong, like I could run forever. I had fun.

But then I woke up on Sunday and felt icky. Sick and sore and sluggish. It is for more reasons than the long run, but it is still a bummer. I am nearly done with my daily summer run streak — almost 100 days straight!! — but discouragement is still my constant training companion. I’m not sure how to shake it…

In other running news, South Central Brooklyn Runners (our totally casual local running club) has finally placed an order for team singlets! I based the design on a Nike style, but tried to keep it simple so that it would appeal to as many people as possible. Of course, we had to include VOLT! (Volt = neon yellow.) More than 60 people ordered them — we are going to make a scene at our fall races!

And in even more running news… want to run a half marathon in Bermuda or New Orleans in January?? Come join Brooklyn Team in Training! I am the team social captain for our Winter (or Endless Summer if you want to feel fancy) season and I know we are going to have a lot of fun. Team in Training is a supportive way for anyone (beginners to marathoners) to prepare for an endurance event while fundraising for a very good cause. You already know that I highly recommend it. Join us!

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I’ll post more about the Summer Run Streak soon… but tell me, what has been your exercise plan or motivation this summer? I need more inspiration!

camp ironman

Summer is so much fun. And I’d argue that one of the best ways to enjoy summer is to go camping with friends.

Remember how I volunteered at the NYC Ironman last year and loved it? I definitely wanted to volunteer again, and with no NYC event this year, the Lake Placid Ironman was the nearest alternative. Plus, Lake Placid is located right in the center of the beautiful Adirondack mountains. A wonderful place to camp. Thank goodness Ironman Joel planned ahead and booked us awesome campsites for the event weekend about 40 minutes from Lake Placid at Lincoln Pond. (Campsites 34 & 35 R, for the record.)

Our campsites were considered “rural” in that they were a drive from the main campgrounds with showers and ice and firewood. But we had two outhouses, our own exclusive lake beach, and lots of privacy.

We cooked over the fire, slept in tents (Travis and I are still using our tiny two-person tent that we bought in Oregon), went for runs, swam in the lake, and basically just relaxed for four days.

Travis and I decided sort of at the last minute to bring Crusher along. I am so glad we did! He was less of a hassle than I was expecting and it was so much fun to see him swimming in the lake in his doggy life vest. He hated the vest, but he would voluntarily swim into the lake when he was wearing it. He also liked riding on the inflatable rafts. He was a crack up and he loved being wild and free for the whole weekend.

The Ironman race was on Sunday. Our more hardcore friends woke up early to go see the swim start, but I was worried about trying to keep Crusher in the car all day, so Travis and I got a later start. I was pumped that we ran into the bike course when we went out to find breakfast in the super-cute town of Keene. We stumbled upon the excellent ADK Cafe and got to sit on their porch eating pancakes as the cyclists zoomed by. We got to see nearly all of the racers, from the pros with their crazy alien helmets, to the more average racers (as average as Ironmen can be) at the back of the pack. It was exciting!

Our Ironman volunteer shift didn’t start until 8 pm, so we spent the day exploring the region a bit, searching out free internet, and hiking one of the many mountain trails. In the evening we went into Lake Placid to spectate the run portion of the race. The Ironmen run a full marathon as the final portion of the event, and the Lake Placid marathon is not easy. We joined the crowds at the top of a particularly steep, long hill near the finish (and middle, since they run a 13 mile course twice) and cheered on the runners.

By the time our volunteer shift time came, Crusher was exhausted. He was totally fine hanging out in the car while Travis and I joined our friends at mile 24 of the marathon course. We manned the final aid station during the final hours of the race. We handed out water, CocaCola, chicken stock, pretzels, fruit, Gu, and electrolyte drink. Most of the athletes were very tired, but nice and responsive. The chicken stock and Coke were the most popular items. I had maybe too much fun cheering and calling out our items to the athletes. As it got later, the runners sort of trickled off. It was heartbreaking to know that a few of the last runners would not make it to the finish in time for the 12 am cut off. One woman collapsed near us and had to be taken away by medical staff. It was all very dramatic and inspiring.

I really want to do an Ironman some day. Volunteering at the event entitles you to priority sign up for the next year’s Ironman. Our friends Joel, Jon, Louis, and Yvonne all signed up for the 2014 event. I was tempted, but I don’t think 2014 is my year… I DO plan to be there to cheer and volunteer again!

Monday was the best camping day! We slept in a bit, I had a great trail run early in the day, we hung out for hours in the water, laughed too much, wrestled an inflatable shark, drank from “floozies” (a trademarked floating koozie invention), roasted little smokies and lots of fruit, discussed lumens, and took many panoramic photos of the sunset. It was a good time.

Crusher was totally exhausted by the time we departed on Tuesday. He slept for almost the entire drive back to the city. The weather and the sky were so beautiful while we were driving that I started daydreaming about buying a “summer home” in the Adirondacks… and a car to get us there… and triathlon bikes so that I can train for my Ironman…

If you live in the NYC area, I highly recommend getting out of the city to camp in the Adirondacks. It is easy! We rented a car from the Enterprise Rent-a-Car near our place in Park Slope (it is cheaper than ZipCar for longer trips) and you can reserve your campsite easily through ReserveAmerica.com. Lincoln Pond was a wonderful location, but I am sure that any of the campgrounds in the region would be great. Bring a tent, sleeping bags, pillows, firewood, water, hotdogs, S’more makings, bug spray, and sunscreen… and plan to have a great time!

See more photos from our trip on Flickr.

Boilermaker 2013

I’m running every day this summer (run streak!) but I’ve drastically cut back on the number of races I’m participating in. Sunday, I completed my only real race of the summer, the Uitca Boilermaker 15k.

I ran the race last summer with friends and its cute, small-town feel made me want to return. The Boilermaker may be the largest 15k in the country, with more than 18,000 runners registered (with 12,000 finishers). All of Utica comes out for the event. They hand out water, and ice, and popsicles, the zoo brings animals out onto the course, and the Saranac Brewery gives out free beer at the finish. A fun time all around. Add in my friend Kristen’s parents’ lovely country home with a pool and it makes for an excellent weekend!

Race Report: July is hot. I don’t think that can be avoided. The Boilermaker was hot last year and it was hot this year. There are a few tough hills in the race, but the heat is really the biggest challenge factor. I have not been running fast at all during my daily runs this summer, so I was not sure what to expect for a nine mile race. I didn’t have any friends my pace to run with, so I decided to try to put in a solid race effort while still enjoying the scene.

The Boilermaker is a crowded race. Zipping out at the start is not even an option. I ran slow and steady at the beginning trying not to waste energy darting around and passing people. But being at the back of the “general” corral meant that I was mixed in with a less “racey” group. There was a lot of stopping and starting. So, I devised what I thought was a brilliant and novel plan to have a good, steady race: I looked for “Mercury Masters” in the crowd to hang with. The Mercury Masters are a NY running club for women over the age of 50. I didn’t actually see any of their purple jerseys on the course, but I knew the type of strong, tough lady I wanted to follow on the chaotic course through the crowd. I just searched out tan, muscular, experienced-looking women and let them lead the way. The Masters know what they are doing!

I sort of worked my way up through the crowd by picking a Master ahead of me, hanging with them for a bit, and then looking for a new leader to follow up ahead. I ran strong up the hills, which let me pass many people and gave me maybe a little too much confidence. I started picking up my pace too early — before mile 8 — and sort of sputtered out a bit before picking it up and sprinting the last half mile to the finish line. I didn’t reach my original time goal, but my pace was much better than what I have been running lately, so I was happy. It was fun to race an event and I felt really good for such a hot day.

After the race and the post-race beer fest in downtown Utica, Travis and I went to a little pool party with our running friends… I think this pool pic is sort of perfect and sort of disgusting: my friends are WAY too good looking.

See more photos from our entire upstate trip here

summer run streak

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you are already aware that I am participating in the Runner’s World Summer Run Streak 2013. My coach, Lisa, told me about the streak right after I completed the Trail/Road Challenge in the Berkshires. The rules of the streak were to run at least one mile every day from Memorial Day to July 4th. Thirty-nine days of consecutive running.

I have made it successfully to day 37. I’ve run in upstate NY, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Kansas, Oregon, in parks, on streets, bridges, and trails. I’ve done plenty of one-mile runs, but also a few longer excursions. I did nine miles with my dad, a quick jog with my brother Seth & Flike (the dog), the Color Run with my family, a long run to Doughnut Plant with Travis, the Pride Run with my cousin, and a few group training sessions with my Brooklyn team. It’s been a good running summer!

I’ve been recording my run streak by posting a photo each day to Instagram and Twitter. (You can use the hashtag #rwrunstreak to find streak-related posts.) I know that my friends and followers are probably slightly annoyed with all my running tweets and photos… I can see how it could look like bragging. But that is not at all my intention! The social media documentation has been a strong motivator. Knowing that I “need” to make a post each day has gotten me out the door when I didn’t want to. Encouraging comments on my posts make my day. And I love my collection of Run Streak photos!

I’ve really been enjoying this type of lower mileage daily fitness… so, I’m going to keep it going!! My friend Alison and I have challenged ourselves to continue the streak through the end of summer. We are calling the second leg of the summer streak: The Summer Heat Streak, July 4th – Labor Day. It will be 61 more days of consecutive running. And still, the only rule is that we must run at least one mile a day. You can join us! I am going to be tagging my related social media posts with #summerrunstreak.

One last thought… running hard every day and not taking breaks can be dangerous. I do NOT run hard every day. During this streak I’ve taken many “rest days” where I do my one mile run at a very easy pace and let my body recover. I actually feel like this lower mileage streak has been healthier for me than the sporadic, super-high mileage I was attempting earlier this year. Always listen to your own body and do what is best for YOU… no matter what your friends are posting on Twitter and Instagram. xoxo

this running hobby

Father’s Day was on Sunday. My sweet dad and I have a lot of things in common — artistic tendencies, a progressive worldview, the same exact nose — and NOW we also share a major hobby: RUNNING!

Two weeks ago, I traveled home to Kansas City for a family visit and to do the Color Run with a big family and friends group. It was a fun event. Easy running, lots of messy color, and of course, great photos. I ran the Color Run last summer in Brooklyn, and although it was a good experience, it wasn’t something that I was dying to do again. But doing it with family and having young cousins with us made it a good time. If you are curious about what a Color Run entails, Dad wrote a detailed description of the event on his blog.

My dad started running about a year ago and now he is excelling at it. He does near-weekly 5 or 10ks and has worked up to some very long weekend runs. While I was home he suggested we do a nine mile run together. I was nervous. I have been doing that distance on the weekends, but recently only in race situations. I have been craving a long run break and didn’t know if we would run at the same pace or if I would meet his running expectations… but the run went great! We went at a perfect relaxed pace for me and I felt good the whole time. The Overland Park trails were lovely and the weather was sunny, but not terribly hot. It was one of my best runs in quite a while! It is fun to share this crazy hobby with my dad.

While in KC, I also got to visit Powell Gardens, the Liberty Memorial WWI Museum, Kemper Museum (my favorite), and the new SEAlife Aquarium. We ate at Succotash and d’Bronx, had barbecue, played Star Trek trivia, and got to visit with my cousin Stephanie and her great family. It was a successful trip. View all the photos here.

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And…. here’s a special bonus treat just for you:

hiking the berkshires

As our final event for our Summer Team in Training season, Travis and I traveled with friends to the Berkshires to complete a two-day Trail/Road Challenge last weekend. The Challenge started with a 15k trail race on Saturday and a road race (of varying distances) on Sunday.

The Berkshires are a mountainous area stretching across some of upstate New York and western Massachusetts. It is a a beautiful, scenic place and very popular with artists and B&B enthusiasts. As our coach described it, we stayed “where your parents would go to enjoy the fall foliage.”

My training has not been going very well in 2013. I did too much high mileage in January and February and I have been struggling to regain my enthusiasm and return to high effort training. Most of this season has consisted of run/walking and I decided early on to take it easy in the Berkshires. I hiked the 15k on Saturday with my friend Karelle, and then strolled through the 5k on Sunday. (Travis ran the half marathon.) It was very relaxed, and I would say very fun, except for the relentless rain on both days.

The Berkshires are very hilly, so I was a little sore (mostly in my glutes) once the weekend was over. I also felt something I’ve been missing over the last few months: a desire to start training a little harder. I think the really relaxed event weekend cured me in a way. It made me realize that, “hey, I want to try racing an event again.”

Going forward, I want to try running a little faster. I don’t want to do high mileage, or even really do any long runs. Instead, I want to focus on daily fitness and try to increase my pace on shorter distances. I hope to get my pace back to where it was last Fall when I ran the Staten Island Half… but that is a lofty goal. I’ll keep you posted!

currently :: may 2013

eating… broiled grapefruit. A delicious, but very healthy breakfast or dessert. I followed this recipe, but you can easily modify it and use whatever fruit or nuts you have on hand.

playing with… the A Beautiful Mess photography app. If you like Instagram, but want to add a bit more to your photos, you will love this app. It allows you to add text and doodles and novel borders and then share your creations via Instagram or other social networks. It is a lot of fun and totally worth the .99 cents!

prepping for… the Trail/Road Challenge next weekend. I’ll be running a 15k trail run on Saturday and a 5k road race on Sunday. In between, I’ll be partying with my Brooklyn Team in Training in the Berkshires!

trying something new… swimming! I am taking a weekly lesson with my friend Suzy. It is a beginner lesson geared toward triathlons. I have always known how to swim, but swimming competitively or for long distances is totally new. I think I am making progress…

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What are you currently up to?

running, now & forever

So. Running.

I am still at it, running races and training for my upcoming Trail/Road Challenge next weekend… but I have also been trying to take it easy.

So far in 2013, I’ve run three full marathons and five half marathons (if you count the Brooklyn Half I’m running on Saturday), plus assorted smaller races and trail miles. I am not bragging. When listed out, that race count looks obnoxious and dumb. I am still paying for over-doing it. I am sluggish and slow.

My favorite recent race was the Nike Women’s Half in DC on April 28th. I ran it with Chelsea and I felt good the entire race. Our time was not overly impressive, but it was much better than what I struggled to do at both the NYC Half the month before and the NJ Half the week after. Plus, the Tiffany necklace at the finish and lots of treats in Georgetown made it a fun weekend.

So, I’ve had a few fun races, a few terrible races, and some low key, relaxed training runs in between. Where do I go from here?

I still love Team in Training. My Brooklyn team is just a few weeks away from finishing up our summer season. I say it all the time, but it is the truth, TNT people are the best people. So fun! I mean, look at this gorgeous group! And these lovely ladies. We run for Boston. We run for equality. We train in storms and in the dark. Oh ya, and we all raise money for cancer research. It is a win, win, win. (hint: Join TNT!)

Some of my most fun and rewarding experiences ever have been with TNT… but I am tired. I need to pull back a bit and re-group. My running enthusiasm is injured and I’ve discovered something about myself: I’ll never be hard core about running. Sometimes I think I want to be, but the truth is, I don’t want to put in the work. I’ll never qualify for Boston or win my age group in anything. I’m into running for the fun, fitness, and friends… which are all great reasons, but they are difficult to shape into concrete goals and motivations. Do I want to run more fulls? Try a triathlon? Train for an ultra? I’m not sure.

My short term goal: focus on general fitness, listen to my body, and enjoy it! It might mean walking, hiking, doing more swimming, more cross training… or even running. I don’t have a plan… and that is the best part! I can do whatever I want!

march malaise

The first day of spring is tomorrow… but you’d never know that in Brooklyn. It snowed yesterday! It is rainy, cold, and overcast today. The cloudy coldness is bringing me down, but I really can’t place all of the blame on the weather. I need to make some changes, to my life and to my attitude.

My spring cleaning goals:

  • running – Running is discouraging. It is not fun, not energizing, not empowering. It is only discouraging. I know that it is my fault for over-doing it — three marathons in two months, plus the NYC Half on Sunday, was NOT smart — but my bad attitude is deeper than merely being burnt out. I have this unrelenting feeling that running is completely unfair and no one understands how difficult it is for me. Boohoo. I shouldn’t have such angry feelings about a freakin hobby. I am scaling back. I plan to only run two days a week (with Team in Training) and cross train a few days a week. I usually enjoy exercising, but I need to find a new activity that makes me feel fit and powerful, not sluggish and discouraged.
  • food – I have already been on a bit of a health kick. (Flax seed oatmeal with raisins and bananas for breakfast this morning!) But I want to stay committed. I have not quite decided how I feel about Mayor Bloomberg’s “soda ban”, but I know that for myself, I will always limit my refined sugar intake. I’ll never say that I am cutting out any type of food completely because I want to be a flexible and adventurous eater, but I certainly don’t need sugary beverages or processed junk food. I plan to cook at home more. Healthy dinners and lots of fruits and veggies!
  • swap-bot – Swap-bot is my constant companion and an unrelenting source of never-ending work. I don’t mind. I’ll keep working on it forever if users keep swapping… but I need to reframe my focus. I want to work harder on improving the site for ALL users, not just tread water trying to put out all the many tiny daily fires. I have said this before and I still believe it: art + community = a better world. I want to work more purposefully toward the goal of fostering creativity and friendship around the world via Swap-bot. And I want to make the site look and function better. There is a lot of work to do.
  • self – I plan to focus more on my own feelings and desires. I want to stay home more. Work on projects that improve my quality of life. Watch some tv. Make a quilt. Take it easy. I love socializing (probably too much) and I know it sounds crazy for someone who works alone everyday at home to want more time to myself, but I do. I love going out with friends, but I love hanging out with my husband more. I need to rest and recharge and remind myself that my priorities and ambitions may be different than others, and that is totally ok.

Once the sun comes out, I am sure I will be feeling more upbeat. Until then, I am going to take it easy on myself and do my best to foster my own happiness. What changes do you have planned for spring?

my 8th marathon

Leading up to (and even during the race yesterday) I was composing a manifesto in my head on the stupidity of marathoning. And even now that I have completed my 8th full marathon, the Inaugural NYCRuns Central Park Marathon, I really can’t argue with myself. Except, maybe I’ll change the title of my treatise to: The Stupidity of Running TOO MANY Marathons.

The Central Park Marathon was my third marathon in two months. (Bermuda & Disney being the other two.) Not recommended! It was my fourth marathon on the same pair of worn out Nikes. (Philadelphia being the first.) Not recommended! I ran this marathon without team or coach support. Not recommended! I went into the race without a specific race plan. Not recommended! I also ran this marathon while sick with a head cold and cough. Definitely not recommended!

So, if I knew all of the reasons why running another marathon was stupid, why did I do it? Basically because I knew I could. I knew I would finish. Plus, I felt I had missed out on the NYCRuns Brooklyn Marathon in November and wanted to experience one of their smaller city marathons. Sure, sure. I think I was just being stubborn. And I wanted the medal!

I want to keep racking up my marathon & medal count, but why? A marathon is a cool accomplishment, but at this point, I don’t think they are helping my overall fitness. I skipped a speed, a cross training, and a trail workout all in prep for yesterday’s race. Not smart. Those workouts would have been more beneficial… and I doubt I would be in as much pain today.

I finished the Central Park Marathon just under the 5:15 time limit. Just under! I crossed the finish line at 5:14:30. ha. A mediocre time for me… but actually not bad, considering. Five loops of Central Park is difficult. Especially when you get overly confident on the second loop and go much too fast, and then spend the next three loops alternating between panicing, coughing, and wincing in pain. Stupid!

So, learn from my mistakes!! Your body can handle almost anything you ask of it, but be wise about what you ask it to do. I seriously recommend doing only one marathon a year. And I am going to try to stick to that myself! Quality over quantity.

I do have five HALF marathons scheduled before June… but no more fulls!! What races do you have planned?