13/06/2011 § Leave a comment
This weekend, I got myself up extra early on Saturday morning to run the 40th annual New York Mini 10k in Central Park, my first road race since running the New York Marathon in November. Joined by more than 5,000 women, the experience was not only personally rewarding (I was satisfied with my performance, even though I did not seriously train) but quite unique. I hadn’t ever participated in a women-only race, and running alongside women of all ages, shapes, sizes, colors and running styles on the 6.2 mile course was an amazing feeling. The winner was Linet Masai of Kenya, who finished the course with a time of 31:40. I came in second. Just kidding.
The Mini 10K debuted in 1972, founded by New York running guru Fred Lebow (who also founded the New York Marathon), as the first strictly women-only race. The race was held this year in honor of Norwegian marathon legend and 5-time Mini winner Grete Waitz.
I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with Grete’s story until after the race, where I noticed many of the runners and supporters wearing shirts that said they were “running this one for Grete.” Grete Waitz was truly a ground-breaking athlete and I am quite in awe of her story. Not only because of her amazing athletic achievements, but mainly because Grete ran at a time when female athletes were not as well-funded and supported as they are today and when female marathon runners were a distinct minority.
A highly decorated runner, Grete won races and broke records all over the world. The first time she ran the New York City Marathon (in 1978), she won it and broke the world record — and then went on to win it 8 more times after that. Grete advanced women’s long distance running through her excellence on the road and her dedication behind the scenes after she retired from competitive running.
Grete died of cancer in April of this year and was given a state funeral in her native Norway, only the sixth Norwegian woman so honored. Her husband, Jack, honored her memory by running the 10k this Saturday (after visiting a deli for breakfast — their tradition when visiting New York).
05/11/2010 § Leave a comment
Goal over the last year: To somehow morph from total non-exerciser to actual runner and run the New York City Marathon
Actual progress: Hundreds of miles, multiple races, new friends, increased strength, two pairs of running shoes
Goal this week: 26.2 miles through the 5 boroughs of NYC!
So here we are. Just hours away from my first step on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge as I prove to myself that I can run the NYC Marathon. I have a myriad of feelings this close to the race. I am proud of how far I have come over the past year. I’m excited to run with thousands of people through the streets of New York. I’m nervous about the weather since it’s been raining a bit. I’m anxious to see if I can actually run 26.2 miles. I am a little stressed out about all the things I have to remember for Sunday. And, a small part of me is looking forward to a change of pace and not being in training…
It’s been a fun year. I’ve seen how easy it is to become a runner and then become a runner that can run upwards of twenty miles. When I say “easy,” I am of course laying aside the amount of commitment this much training requires. Lacing up your shoes and jogging around the block once is easy. Whats difficult is getting up and doing it over and over again. It can be addicting, but don’t get me wrong – I remember how much I disliked the early runs. Getting through just 30 minutes took serious effort and I attribute most of my success to having great Team in Training teammates. Training for this marathon has been a little different. I have not had the same support network this time around and in the beginning I privately doubted that I would be able to log the long runs all by myself. Surprisingly, with a strong foundation I was able to summon the strength to go it alone and actually grow to like it. While nothing beats a Central Park loop with your girlfriends while catching up on the latest dating disasters, I came to find running alone an important time for me to reflect. As my time alone on the road stretched upwards of three hours, my mind had more and more uninterrupted space to fill with ideas and schemes and plans. While I never once have felt a “runners high” – I have to think that this is the next best thing.
Running is a solitary sport, but when you become a runner you kind of join a huge team. Whether you are just starting out, or training for your 30th marathon, so many people will share common ground with you and will love to talk about everything from clothes to food to strategy. When you are out on the road, if you run somewhere a lot of people run (for me Central Park or the Hudson in NYC or along the bike path in Santa Monica), you feel a solidarity with your “teammates” even if you don’t really acknowledge each other — and when you do talk to someone at a water fountain or tell a beginner “great job!” that connection feels even stronger. I can’t urge you enough to start running. Or jogging. Or walking. Just get out there.
Back to the marathon. So yes, I am a little jittery. I am supposed to already be asleep, actually. But I decided to polish my nails first — OPI’s “Big Apple Red” seemed like the perfect shade. I’ve already started laying out my clothes and all the necessary bits and pieces for race day:
- Bib (that’s my number), d-tag (the little electronic chip I attach to my shoe), safety pins
- Running clothes: It’s been a little chilly the last few days and they are forecasting that it will be in the 30s in the morning on raceday, and possibly warm up to 50. As of right now I am planning to wear a short sleeved shirt with a long sleeved shirt underneath and full length tights. I’m also planning on gloves because my hands get ridiculously cold and then turn numb — always fun.
- Throw away clothes: The time between arrival and start is more than two hours. It’s best to wear clothes that you can throw away along the race (don’t worry, they are collected and donated!)
- Rain poncho or (even more alluring) garbage bag to wear/sit on if it is rainy or wet (and it always is)
- Race food
- Some kind of plan or strategy
Crap. A plan. My plan? I really don’t have one, aside from wanting to finish. I don’t want to fixate on beating some specific time because I really need to focus on harnessing my energy and running efficiently, but when I hear that Oprah did the Marine Corp Marathon in 4.29, I get a little itchy to beat her. My PR on a half marathon is just around 2 hours and you are supposed to multiply your PR for a half by two and then add 10 minutes for your marathon time. So maybe… Anyway, Katie Holmes did the NYC in 5.29. I’m definitely sure I can do better. Maybe. Don’t hold me to that.
I am enjoying my farewell to carbs tour and will top it off with the traditional pre-marathon Italian dinner tomorrow night. Pasta, adios. You were always good to me. Brown rice and sweet potatoes, I’ll see you around. Potato samosas and naan, I am going to miss you most of all.
When I am out there I will be thinking about how far I have come and everyone and everything that has helped me achieve this goal. I am deeply indebted to my family and friends who have tolerated non-stop racing talk and my crazy strict dieting and imbibing rules. I owe eons of gratitude to a very special person who helped secure my entry into the race, even if I wasn’t sure at all times I could do it, or wanted to do it. Millions of mercis to Patricia Moreno for creating IntenSati (and Erin Stutland and Natalia Petrzela for spreading the gospel), Michelle Taylor at Pilates on Fifth, Keren at Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates, Equinox, coconut water, Clif Bar & Co, Pump Energy Food, Smartwater, and lululemon athletica. Last, but not least, muchas gracias to my mom who is here to see the race, to my special team of pacers who will be jumping in with me for a few miles and to those of you who will be cheering me on (wherever you might be).
Alright, here goes nothing.
08/10/2010 § Leave a comment
Goal last week: 28 miles (5 miles, 20 miles, 3 miles)
Actual mileage: 28 miles (5 miles, 3 miles, 20 miles)
Goal this week: 28 miles (3 miles, 5 miles, 20 miles)
After having a bad few runs over the last two weeks, due to various factors, I found myself having a renewed sense of commitment to my training program. I only have 5 weeks left! I can’t believe it! Just kidding, I definitely can. I have been in training for over a year at this point and while I am thrilled at my progress and am proud of my accomplishments and even consider myself a runner now, I am definitely looking forward to the time when I can run as much as I want, whenever I want. I’m looking forward to doing fun runs with my friends with lots of conversation and catching up and being able to have a normal nightlife where I don’t have to be worried about what I am drinking and how early I have to be up the following morning.
Don’t get me wrong though, I am definitely looking forward to this marathon. 26.2 miles. I mean, really — if you had told me last year that I would be gearing up for a 26.2 mile run this November, I would have laughed my ass off. Seriously. I actually used to make fun of my old roommate for going to the gym every now and then. Now, I go more than she does (and she makes fun of me, of course). It is really amazing what I have discovered I can make my body do, with a little bit of effort and discipline. And spandex.
More after the jump…
30/09/2010 § Leave a comment
Goal last week: 27 miles (5 miles, 19 miles, 3 miles)
Actual mileage: 20 miles (17 miles, 3 miles)
Goal this week: 28 miles (5 miles, 20 miles, 3 miles)
Dear readers, I must ask your forgiveness as I skipped a week in detailing my training and progress. I am faulting my mismanagement of my diet for this lapse in training and posting! As I noted in an earlier post, I did the BluePrintCleanse last week for 3 days. While I completely believe in the benefits of detoxing and will do it again in the near future, it was not the best idea for me to try to do this in the midst of training. In order to prepare for the detox, you have to make changes to your diet – remove dairy, meat, processed foods, and eventually cooked foods – and you have to slowly phase these foods back in when you come off the program. It is definitely an aggressive removal of carbohydrates and additional calories, which would be okay for someone just working out a few times a week, not someone trying to run close to 20 miles in one go. So this meant that I attempted one long run during the phase-in period, and another in the phase-out period (and in between runs, the only thing I “ate” were the juices). Both runs were bad, and it was rather discouraging.
I have belatedly realized I am much too close to race day to try to fiddle with my diet. Right now, I should be concentrating on maxing out my carbohydrates, fluids and salt – having only juice for three days is just foolish. This last weekend, I actually attempted to run 20 miles, but I estimate I only managed to run about 17 of those miles and walked the rest. My energy level was low to begin with, and when I attempted to remedy that by eating my energy gels, it immediately upset my stomach because I had not had any processed foods in my system for over a week. I then tried to drink some Gatorade (side note: always carry some money with you on your long runs in case you need something you didn’t think to bring with you!) and that didn’t help at all. The day was warm and I was out much later than I wanted to be because I wasn’t running… So I bonked, and bonked hard. I completely walked the last mile, I felt woozy and weak, I tried to sit down for a moment but that made me feel even worse, somehow. It was an awful run and I decided to never repeat it. The only bright spot was the fact that I did see Ethan Hawke running along the Hudson River complete with stoller, kid and dog.
This week, I have put new emphasis on eating enough food — and the right balance of foods — to keep my feeling strong for my long runs. Lots of whole grains, lean proteins and good fats. I went on a 5 mile run on Tuesday and I felt great! I am sure that my body is strong enough to run 20 miles, the question is if there is enough gas in the tank…
Stay tuned as I attempt 20 miles this weekend! Happy Running!
15/09/2010 § Leave a comment
Goal last week: 27 miles (5 miles, 19 miles, 3 miles)
Actual mileage: 12 miles (8 miles, 4 miles)
Goal this week: 27 miles (5 miles, 19 miles, 3 miles)
I feel a little uneven in my training — I’m up and then I’m down, I’m focused and into it and then I’m bored and frustrated — but this last lag wasn’t the fault of my own motivation or lack thereof. Instead, I got sick! I don’t frequently get sick, but there was/is a nasty bug that went around my office and took out my entire team. The kind of sickness that completely zapped my energy and gave me a horrible cough. The kind of sick where I spent the better part of a day zombie walking around my apartment and mainlining orange juice.
On Saturday I set out on my long run and I decided to just do as much as my body was willing to do. I felt great until about mile six…and then my body said no more. It kind of snuck up on me so it was tough getting back home. I had to stop a few times to rest and needed extra water throughout. So aside from feeling kind of scummy because of being sick, I end up feeling scummy because now I feel kinda like a slacker too. But I guess that it could be worse. I could have not done anything at all…
This week I focused on getting better and taking it easy so that I would not lose too much training time due to being sick. Lots of water, lots of sleep, a little cold medicine and orange juice! I am glad to say that I am almost back to feeling 100% and I am looking forward to my long run on Saturday — I’m going to try to go right back up to 19 miles.
Tip #8: Going Dry
Drinking alcohol, while socially fun and awesome and whatnot, can wreak havoc on a run (especially if you try to run while drinking, which I definitely don’t recommend). As I increase my mileage, I avoid drinking the night before. I’ve learned the hard way how much alcohol dehydrates you and contributes to and increased feeling of sluggishness. And it’s kind of embarrassing in the gym when you will stink of the gin and tonics you drank last night.
I can have a glass of wine with my Friday dinner, but anything more than that will just make me feel like crap the next day. If I have a race coming up I get a little bit stricter. In the past, I have gone dry for the entire month before my half marathons, and that worked well for me, so I will do that again. Only four more weeks to drink myself silly!
09/09/2010 § Leave a comment
Goal last week: 25 miles (3 miles, 19 miles, 3 miles)
Actual mileage: 25 miles (3 miles, 19 miles, 3 miles)
Goal this week: 27 miles (5 miles, 19 miles, 3 miles)
And, we’re back! After a bit of a stumble on my training program, I jumped right back into it and I am feeling better about my progress. Related to the topic of motivation that I discussed last week – I find myself in a period that I call “The Grind.” The Grind is that point where your training program really pulls a lot of your attention from your normal life. Up until the last few weeks, I could have pretty much eaten whatever I wanted, stayed up late, and drank as much as I wanted. These days, I have to be more careful with my schedule and what I put in my body. And it is a grind.
In general, I always have my long runs on Saturday morning. As I get up around 20 miles, that means I will be out there running for over three hours. If I get up late, that means I don’t get done until even later, and there goes my entire Saturday. So that means I have to go to bed pretty early on Friday, to wake up around 7am on Saturdays, after getting 7 hours of sleep. I generally need to keep hydrating myself throughout the week, but on Friday especially. So I am drinking water constantly, avoiding coffee and all alcohol — and spending a lot of time in the bathroom. Naturally. I also add a bit more carbohydrates into my diet on Fridays and also have to make sure that I have my almond butter and whole wheat bread for Saturday’s breakfast and that I am stocked up on my running fuel. Throughout the week I now have to map out my workouts much more rigidly. I can’t strength train too close to my long run anymore and I schedule a day of rest for each week.
My schedule looks like this:
Monday – Strength training (IntenSati)
Tuesday – Short/easy run
Wednesday – Strength training (BarSculpt) and/or short/easy run
Thursday – Strength training (IntenSati)
Friday – Day of rest
Saturday – Long run
Sunday – Strength training (Pilates) and sometimes short/easy run
As you can see, this means I’m supposed to work out 6 days a week. But please remember this is in a perfect world. Sometimes I miss things. In the past, when I would miss things I could just switch a strength training workout for a run, but these days I really have to respect my long run. There is nothing worse than having to drag already exhausted legs for 20 miles. While I am proud to be this far along in my training, I definitely miss the freedom of being able to do whatever I want in the gym. I also miss having time to devote to my other interests. It sucks. But anything that’s worth doing is hard to do. If just anyone could run 26.2 miles, it wouldn’t be as awesome an achievement. So I keep reminding myself that every time I might feel a little bored. It’s only 9 more weeks until I run this thing. I’m placing my nose firmly to the grindstone and grinding this one out…
My long run was pretty uneventful, except for the moderate winds that made it even harder. Over the weekend, NYC braced for a tropical storm but all we got was a lot of humidity and wind. Hurricane Earl was a no-show!
Tip #7 Stay hydrated by using a really really big bottle of water
This might be a Los Angeles thing I have brought with me to New York, but I am very very rarely without a bottle of water in close reach. If you don’t see it on me, it’s probably in my purse and it’s usually a gigantic bottle. My car in LA used to be an empty water bottle graveyard. I find that however much water I surround myself is how much I can drink. If I have a cup of water, I can just drink that and be satisfied. Or I can have a 1.5L bottle and take it down in less than an hour. So when you are trying to drink more water, buy the biggest bottle you can find and just keep it on your desk. Be like those fish that grow to fit their tanks. Grow to fit your new, larger water bottle. Once you finish one off, fill it up again, and on and on… I favor the 1.5L smartwater – not really sure why – but I usually make an effort to finish one whole bottle before lunch and another one before I leave. On Fridays, I try to finish three.
03/09/2010 § Leave a comment
Goal last week: 25 miles (5 miles, 17 miles, 3 miles tempo)
Actual mileage: 22 miles (3 miles, 19 miles)
Goal this week: 25 miles (3 miles, 19 miles, 3 miles)
This week was challenging for me. Due to a business trip, I was out of town for a few days and for some reason I was unable to get back on track with my program after being taken out of it. So I didn’t get in my second run in for the week, I missed my cross training and just felt kind of put out and loser-ish about the whole thing. Compounding my slight funk about the week is the fact that summer is drawing to a close and opportunities to enjoy drinks al fresco or a stroll along Fifth Avenue are evaporating, so time spent after work in a gym or even running outside is not as fun as it was a few weeks ago.
As with anything that takes a lot of hard work, motivation during a training program can lag at times and it can strike at any moment. I could try to blame it on the beautiful summer, but when I was training for the Miami half, I tried to blame it on the horrible winter (side note, I will take running in the heat any time over running in the cold — even though running in the snow does makes you seem like a badass to non-runners). It takes work to pull yourself out of these doldrums, but you have to do it!
My long run was an adventure. I started out intending to do 17 miles, but when I got to my turnaround point at 125th, I felt so good that I decided to keep going — so I went to 158th and did two extra miles. Doing an out and back can be tricky. When I get to the point where I am going to add mileage, I’m in the midpoint of my run — so of course I feel great and ready to keep on going. Fast forward to the last two miles of my run, during which I am proud to say I did not slow down or stop, were extremely difficult. My body was tired and the internal whining (When on earth are we going to stop?) was exceptionally loud but I kept at it. I reminded myself that building endurance was an uphill battle and the tiredness I was feeling would make my body even stronger for the next run.
Tip #6: Stay motivated, stay focused and forgive yourself.
When you stumble a bit with your program (and you will have a few) you have to forgive yourself. Don’t focus on the fact that you missed a run, or 5 runs, or had a bad run, or didn’t pay attention to what you ate or how much water you drink. Whatever. Just keep it moving and tell yourself the next day is a new day. Focusing on what you’ve messed up on is a slippery slope. Just bypass all that by completely forgiving yourself and renewing your commitment the following day.
Tip #6.5: When all else fails, trick yourself into running.
Trying to make yourself get up and run in the morning? Go to sleep with your sports bra on. You won’t want to wake up and then take it off after doing absolutely nothing. Not sure how well this works for men, though…
25/08/2010 § Leave a comment
Goal last week: 24 miles (4 miles, 16 miles, 4 miles)
Actual mileage: 25 miles (5 miles, 17 miles, 3 mile tempo)
Goal this week: 25 miles (5 miles, 17 miles, 3 miles tempo)
I feel really strong coming off this last week. Instead of running 4 miles easy, twice, I changed it up slightly and did a slightly longer easy run and added a tempo run. Admittedly, I have been ignoring any interval or hill or tempo training thus far. Now that I am only 11 weeks out, I don’t think I can keep that up. So, I started visiting Equinox Wall Street for my evening runs. It is super close to my house and always seems to be empty after work (I guess all the bankers go at lunch or before work). I highly recommend it, if you are already a member!
For my 3 mile tempo run, I pushed the pace an additional .5 mph faster than my easy pace — just under a 9 minute mile. My body was immediately skeptical. Cue the internal dialogue:
I’m not really sure that I can do this…
Sure you can, we can just try for a few minutes.
I think I might be hurt.
Really? Well, my legs don’t hurt…my knees are okay…my ankles are fine…
Okay fine, I’m not hurt, but maybe I might be tired. It’s hard for me to breathe!
Yeah, you’re exercising! Come on, just a little while longer. Let’s just get to 2 miles and then we can slow down.
Okay, that was 2 miles. Are we slowing down now?
You totally just did 2 miles, you can do one little mile more. I know you can!
Okay, fine. Also, I hate you.
I always have conversations with myself when I am running, and they have definitely changed over time. In the beginning, they were a lot like the one above, where one half of me would be whining and the other half would be a super cheerleader. Now, for the most part, I can let my mind wander and I mull over all sorts of things when I run — I’ve worked out lots of problems that way! As I beginner, I can remember being skeptical when hearing from more experienced runners that the time they spent running was a great opportunity to just think, but now I’m a believer. I think for all beginners, definitely work on finding that inner cheerleader and focus on what she’s saying. She will pull you through.
Now, let’s talk about this ridiculous long run I had. I meant to do 16 miles, but due to a (typical) math error, I did 17! I ran from Ground Zero to 125th and back. For those unfamiliar with how faaaaaaar this is, here’s a map. I started out with a good friend, who stayed with me for my first 3 miles and then turned around, as she only wanted to do 6 miles. No worries, I thought, I’ve got my iPod. Which then refused to work. I was already 3 miles out and I didn’t want to turn around, so I decided to tough it and I ran the entire thing unplugged. I have to admit, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Instead of having my music to sing along with, I got to hear birds and people and the river and…everything! Also, without the music, I had a wonderful sense of internal quiet, which made my thoughts even more clear, even more vivid. I’m actually debating if I will listen to music for the marathon now!
Tip #5: Get a mantra
For beginners, an easy way to ignore all those nagging thoughts that get stirred up when you run is to adopt a mantra. Around the time I started running, I read an article about a woman who swam the English Channel in her 50s. She said she owed her success to a little mantra she picked up from the film Finding Nemo. Her mantra was Dory’s “just keep swimming” song.
When the going gets tough, I still remind myself to just keep swimming. Even though I am actually running. You get the point.
18/08/2010 § Leave a comment
Goal last week: 22 miles (4 miles, 15 miles, 3 miles)
Actual mileage: 19 miles total (4 miles, 15 miles)
Goal this week: 24 miles (4 miles, 16 miles, 4 miles)
I had a minor setback this week, and didn’t get out for my third run of the week, booo! Whatever. A setback is just temporary and this is a new week, people! I have to admit, my long run was tough. I just couldn’t get it started for some reason. I had a hellacious side stitch for miles 1 – 4, and while it got better after mile 5, it threatened me throughout the entire run. Side stitches are the.worst.ever. No one can agree on their exact cause, or the best way to get rid of them, but we can all agree that when they arrive on the scene NO ONE wants to keep running. All you can think about is how on earth you are going to get rid of the stabbing pain in your side.
My long run was pretty enjoyable, leaving aside my battle with the side stitch. I ran from home in lower Manhattan all the way to the 100s on the west side, and back. I didn’t even time it because I didn’t want to be frustrated with how long it took me; instead I focused on simply staying on my feet for 15 miles. I put some new music on the iPod, stashed 3 Cliff Shots in my strategic pockets, and brought along a bottle of water. The weather was exceptionally compliant (always a plus!), and I got to run along the newly opened part of the Westside Greenway, which is in the 80s.
I might have even experienced a bit of a “runner’s high” near the end of the run– but I can’t be sure. Maybe I was just delirious from exhaustion…
Tip #4: Stitch be gone!
I have a few techniques that I use when I have a side stitch, but it’s honestly a crapshoot. Sometimes nothing works and you just have to tough it out..or stop running for a bit. First, while you are running, try to modify yourself. Are you leaning to one side? Are you hunched over? Is your stride lazy? Or maybe is it overlong? Are you breathing too shallowly? Are you running too fast? Are you doing some kind of combination of all of those things? Try to stand up a little straighter and take more regulated breaths. Sometimes this will be all you need to do. Didn’t work? Second, while you’re still running, try applying direct and upwards pressure to the stitch with your fingers and breathe as deeply as you can manage. Still didn’t work? This is when I stop running to try to address the problem. I link my thumbs and reach up with my hands above my head, to stretch out my abs and take a deep breath. Then, in one continuous motion, I force the air from my lungs using my diaphragm and swiftly bring down my arms (so, deep breath in/arms up and then strong exhale/swing arms down). In most cases, this works for me after I do it a few times. For especially bad stitches, I will actually vocalize the exhale to make it more intense – sounds kind of like I’m loudly sighing. If I still can’t shake it, it might be time to walk home and try again tomorrow.
Tip #4.5: DON’T eat a heavy meal immediately before a run, but DO eat before you run.
Of course, another frequent contributor to side stitches is too much eating or drinking too close to your workout. Personally, I try not to eat anything for at least one hour before I run. (Yes, this means you have to wake up even earlier for your pre-run meals) (Stop whining) (I mean it!)
Eating a small meal prior to my run was something that I had to get used to, but it definitely makes a difference – especially for a long run. When I have fuel in my system that I can quickly tap into, I feel much better. Just don’t overdo it! Not the time for a proper English breakfast. Instead, try to pair a whole grain with a bit of protein. My favorite pre-run meal is a slice of whole wheat bread (or half a whole wheat bagel) with raw almond butter and a big glass of water. MaraNatha makes a great raw almond butter, with nothing funky in it. No salt, no sugar, no coloring, no preservatives, no egg protein – just almonds. And when you think about it, isn’t that all you need in a nut butter, really? You can find all sorts of MaraNatha products at Whole Foods.