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The Game Plan

November 21st, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (5 Comments)

As I write this, I’m somewhere 30,000 feet above Newark and Phoenix, en route to sunny Santa Barbara, California for Thanksgiving. (edit: And now posting on my layover in Phoenix!) I booked my flights with a combination of frequent flier miles (all that work travel pays off, somehow!) and credit card rewards points, since Thanksgiving travel is outrageously pricey. It was an equal number of miles to book economy or business class for my outbound flight, so of course I chose business class and was pleasantly surprised upon check-in to have been upgraded to first class. What? Me?! It made the 6:30 am flight time (and 4:30 am wakeup call) slightly more bearable. Now I’m just waiting on my complimentary breakfast and booze…

Anyways, thanks so much for the kind welcome back to blogging. It always amazes me that anyone actually reads this, and actually cares about my ramblings of running mile after mile (or, more recently, not running). It’s awesome and I truly appreciate the support!

While I’m still in the stage where I’m running however long I want to, when I want to, I’ve been looking towards the future and mapping out a racing calendar to get motivated. In fact, I haven’t raced since Boston or Big Sur in April. Before my big goal race in March, most of these races below will serve as training workouts to get me back in the racing game, mentally more than physically.

January 5th: Joe Kleinerman 10K

  • Because I hate racing 10Ks and can’t think of a better way to torture myself after the holidays and New Years. Self-inflicted hazing?

January 19th: Sayville Running Company 10 Mile Run to the Brewery

  • My friend Veronica actually won it last year (badass!) and mentioned it’d be fun to do. My friend Terence lives in Sayville, so a few of us are going to go out to his house and make a weekend of it. A race that ends at a brewery with free beer…sign me up! (Says the girl who is supposed to be avoiding gluten, whoops.)

January 27th: Manhattan Half-Marathon

  • ‘Cause what’s more fun than paying to run 2 loops of hilly Central Park in the winter? I kinda bandited part of this race 2 years ago when it was 14 degrees as part of a long training run, willingly, because I was so crazy sick of running alone. Will probably be my first really ‘long’ tempo effort.

Something Awesome in February

  • I want to run the Cherry Tree 10 Miler again in Brooklyn, but I’m pretty sure it’ll fall on President’s Day weekend when my friend Ely is getting married back at Villanova (!!!!!), which is 10x more fun than any race. Open to suggestions for something else fun during this month!

March 17th: NYC Half-Marathon

  • Quite simply, I love this race. Haters can hate on NYRR and the ridiculously steep price tag (my bank account sure does), but I have such happy memories associated with this race and can’t wait to do it again, especially with a new (hopefully faster) course since I last did it in 2011. I didn’t run it last year because I got back from a work trip reallllllly late the night before, and was in the midst of Boston training. This will be my big Spring 2013 goal race. It just feels right. My story…
    • It was my very first post-collegiate race (and first half-marathon!) back in 2010. After 8 straight years of training and competing regularly in high school and college, I was still in that weird “kinda burnt out on racing and don’t know if I want to do this anymore” phase. I hadn’t raced in almost a year, and had never raced anything over a 6K in my life, so I didn’t do any workouts and went in with minimal pressure on myself. While I ran 1:29 and accomplished my goal of auto-qualifying for the NYC Marathon, more importantly, I found I really did love racing and competing again. Running was something I wanted to challenge myself with again.
    • In 2011, I had one marathon under my belt and had gotten more serious about training. I knew I could take down my 2010 time easily, but I totally underestimated myself and ran a 1:24:23, which still stands as my PR. I negative split that race and still remember how awesome it was to drop a sub-6 mile down 7th Ave and into Times Square, smiling and pushing my way down the West Side Highway. I can only hope I’ll be able to recreate that experience in March, this time a little faster.

While I haven’t signed up for the majority of these races (with exception of the NYC Half, booyah guaranteed entry), they’re on my radar and I plan to sign up as soon as registration opens, barring any work/personal plans that arise. Just mapping things out has already created some direction and re-sparked motivation that’s been lacking for quite some time. I’m not sure what’s on the horizon past mid-March, but I’ve got some ideas brewing depending on how the next few months go including (re)attempting Chicago in October if I’m feeling up to it.

While looking ahead to these races and how I’ll get fit again and train to PR, I’m trying very hard not to get frustrated with the health problems I’ve been having. I know my body and myself and can tell something has been off for a while. I had a good visit to an endocrinologist at NYU last week, and while it means multiple blood tests to look into a few things, I’m hopeful we’ll get a little closer to figuring it out once the results are back. I want to get back to competing at my best, but my body isn’t at its best right now. And honestly, it feels a bit out of my control to get it back to its best until I figure out what’s medically wrong. Until then, trying not to Google-diagnose myself with a billion different things…

No, but really.

Happy Thanksgiving, all! I’ll be enjoying a few well-deserved days off work with the family, eating turkey and drinking wine to my heart’s content. And you should, too!

What’s on your racing calendar? Any other fun NYC-area races you’d suggest I look into?

60 miles!

March 5th, 2012 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (14 Comments)

Although last week’s cut back week was pretty nice (and much needed!), it felt good to hit 60 miles this week with a decent workout and long run. My legs are feeling a bit heavier and my calves are a bit tight/sore making my shins hurt just a tad, but otherwise I’m feeling good.

Here’s how the week played out for 60 miles total.

  • M: 8 miles easy
  • T: 10 miles in afternoon before flight, felt good! 7:10 pace
  • W: OFF, meeting in Charlotte
  • R: Solo workout on WSH, 2 w/u, 8 tempo (53:41, 6:43 pace), 2 c/d
  • F: 6.25 easy recovery
  • S: 18 long run over GWB & back w/ Alex & Veronica, ~7:45 pace
  • S:  5.75 slow, hungover

Tuesday’s run was pretty awesome. I had a flight down to Charlotte for work in the afternoon so I worked from home in the morning. I’m extremely lucky to have some flexibility in my job, so I got an earlier start to my workday from home and opted to push my run to around 12:30 vs. first thing in the morning. I’ve definitely transitioned into being a morning runner over the last few years as I enjoy having the rest of my day and night to work & be social. However, I definitely have much better runs in the afternoon/evening when I’ve given my body and mind some time to wake up and get in a good meal and a few cups of coffee. I was pleasantly surprised with how good my 7:10 average pace felt for 10 miles…while it wasn’t ‘easy’, it felt smooth and strong. And I crossed paths with the Columbia guys team out for their afternoon run which made me miss having practice at 1:30 every day with my college team…sigh. Despite the massive difference, I’ll still stick with morning runs so I can be a normal person and work as late as I need or go to happy hour & dinner post-work. Trade-offs?

I was a bit nervous about Thursday’s workout as I had to squeeze it in by myself before the NYRR Club Night Awards instead of going to practice. Again, I am extremely lucky to have flexibility in my job so I left the office around 4:30 for a little run commute/workout home along the East River & WSH. After a quick 2 mile warmup across Houston St and the tip of Manhattan, I took off on an 8 mile tempo through the Seaport, Battery Park City and the West Side Highway.

As I mentioned, my calves have been realllllly tight lately, in turn making my shins hurt a ton. I first started to notice it during this workout as my legs weren’t tired and I wasn’t struggling aerobically, but I couldn’t really get my stride going because my shins felt so off. Unfortunately there was a headwind basically the entire time…hard to avoid when running in one direction along a river.

Workout, 3/1

Not bad for a solo effort feeling a bit ‘off’, but I wish I could have gotten closer to 6:40 average given the flat terrain. Did I want to run an 8 mile workout by myself? No. But I got out the door and finished without too much mental struggle, which was a nice confidence booster. Once I got home I quickly showered & changed (and didn’t stretch- I wonder why my legs are sore?) to go NYRR Club Night. While I didn’t win my age group category, and honestly I didn’t think I had a shot, it was pretty cool to have been nominated at all :)

Saturday’s long run was my first time going over the George Washington Bridge! I’ve run over practically every other bridge here but for some reason the GWB seemed daunting. I was afraid of getting lost finding the onramp. I met up with Alex and Veronica and we made the journey over and even added on a bit in a little park right over the bridge. It was drizzling when we first started around 10am, but turned out dry and sunny by the end of the run! Overall, the pace felt good & easy despite the huge hills getting up onto the bridge…though my quads kinda wanted to die the last mile.

On Saturday night I went to the lovely Sofia’s apartment for a low-key party where she stirred up a mean margarita…meaning I had two or three and was pretty extremely tipsy. I may or may not have fallen asleep on the subway home, woken up at 137th street, quickly hopped on a downtown train, polished off a few cups of dry cereal, and woken up at noon on Sunday utterly exhausted and a bit sick. Long runs + drinking don’t always mix well, apparently. Maybe I should start being a more responsible marathoner?

…Maybe. I decided an easy, slow run in the fresh air would help cure the hangover. Plus I’m extremely stubborn and wanted to hit my mileage goal, no matter how slow. Though I spent the better part of 3 miles convincing myself not to get sick mid-run, I felt 10x better once it was over. And then I proceeded to head down to midtown to meet up with my CPTC teammates for an afternoon of more drinking. Oh, Sunday sunday…

Highlight of your weekend? Do you prefer morning or afternoon/evening runs? Checked out any new running routes lately?

A Festive Weekend

December 13th, 2011 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (9 Comments)

It’s one of my manyyyy favorite times of the year: Christmas time in NYC! (Other favorite times of the year: NYC Marathon weekend, my birthday, the entire months of May and September, and Labor Day weekend.)

The temperatures are dropping, the holiday lights and decorations are up and I am almost done with all of my Christmas shopping. I kicked off the holiday season this weekend by a fun “race” and an all day Santa bar crawl. Also known as: NYRR Jingle Bell Jog and Santacon. And it was amazing.

Green bagels always make me skeptical...

About a month ago, my friend Noelle suggested we sign up for the NYRR Jingle Bell Jog as a fun race. Though it was kinda pricey ($50? for a 6K? In Brooklyn?), I decided it’d be nice to get out there and do a low key run with her and Terence. Since I haven’t been running much, I knew I was in no shape to even attempt to race this, so I told them I was happy to run, jog, walk, or cartwheel as slow or as fast as they wanted to. I know I have a HUGE problem with doing races when I’m not in shape and not going to PR. However, signing up for this race knowing that I would just do it for fun, not as a race, alleviated a ton of stress since I never had to alter my mindset.

It was perfect! Molly also joined us and drove us to Brooklyn bright and early on Saturday. We actually missed the gun going off between trying to park and using the portapotties. Whoops?

Terence and I ready to run?

But, no stress here! We hopped in the corrals and took off at a leisurely pace, just enjoying the bells ringing on our shoes and fun costumes. We were going between 8:30 and 9:00 pace, dropping it down to 7:30 pace the last half-mile or so. We finished just under 32:00. For comparison, my college 6K PR was 22:58 on a hilly/grassy XC course…. so probably not comparable at all actually. A new personal worst time? Sure. A new most festively fun race? Yep!

Drafting off some santas...

We had SO much fun, we even made it onto the NYRR photo gallery. My life is now complete.

Molly, Me, and Noelle

We quickly headed home, showered, and changed into MORE festive attire and got ready for Santacon. My third year doing it, Santacon is always a blast and an excuse to be ridiculous and make friends with hundreds of other fun people dressed as Santas. Except, I am different and I’m a reindeer :)

Ladies in the apartment

Santa, can I get a drink?

And some of us dress as red M&Ms...totally normal

After a few bars, we ended up at a Japanese Karaoke bar in Midtown, belting out top hits such as “Barbie Girl”, “Build Me Up Buttercup”, and “All I Want for Christmas Is You”. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a dozen santas singing off tune to weird Japanese videos.

After the race, drinking all day, and a very unexpectedly fun night, I spent all day Sunday glued to my bed watching season 2 of Parenthood and doing a bit of work. Healthy living at it’s finest.

Weekends like this makes me  wish Santacon came more than once a year! But alas, I have another fun weekend coming up with my friend Kristen coming into town, and a Secret Santa exchange on Sunday! Let the festivities keep on comin’!

—————

On the running front, I’m finding it harder than I thought to run outside. It’s dark, it’s cold, and I’m full of excuses and lacking motivation. I’ve got about 2-3 weeks of easy running left before I start to really think about training for Boston, but I still want to build a little base. After struggling through 3.5 miles yesterday, I knew I needed running buddy motivation to get me out the door again. So, I met up with Alex at 6:15 this morning (gah) for 6.5 miles around the reservoir and bridle path. It was dark for about 5 of those 6.5 miles, but we had so much to catch up on since the marathon that the miles flew by!

Since I was up so early and had a bit of time I decided to stop at the gym to do some core and lifting work. I was so encouraged by your responses to my post on strength training and really appreciated the suggestions. I did a few exercises on the stability ball and headed over to the circuit machines, and actually have a feeling I’ll be sore tomorrow!

Any tips for winter running now that it’s getting darker and colder? How are you celebrating the holidays? Got more strength training tips?!

I really didn’t want to write this post, and I know I’m a few days late to the recap game. I put it off partially because it wasn’t the sub-3:00 marathon I had hoped for, but mostly because writing this would mean it was over. I can’t go back and change the way I felt on Sunday. I’ve taken a few days to digest the race, which included a healthy mix of basking in pride and sulking in disappointment.

I’ll be honest, yes, I am disappointed. A time like mine should not reflect disappointment, but it does for me. I trained for, wished for, and pushed really hard to complete my second marathon in under 3:00. I know my time is still great, and it’s a 55 second PR from last year’s NYC. Who can’t be happy with a PR?! And NYC is a tough course! At the end of the race, the feeling of sheer depletion meant I gave it everything physically and that’s what mattered. I am proud of myself for finishing, setting myself up for success with a really great first half, and staying mentally strong and fighting despite the way I felt.

Finished!!

2011 NYC Marathon: 3:03:37 official finishing time. 83rd female, 1425th place overall, 7th in age group (20-24). My 2nd marathon. Now let’s get to the fun stuff :)

Sub-Elite Start

I woke up at 5 a.m., feeling pretty well-rested and excited! I made some coffee and a hugeeee oatmeal with bananas to heat and take on the bus with me. Around 5:45, I left my apartment and headed to 54th street and 6th avenue to board the sub-elite bus. Around 6:30 a.m. we headed east down the FDR, our caravan of buses escorted by police. Seeing the highway completely shut down to traffic for our buses was the first of many unreal experiences. We arrived in Staten Island pretty quickly and were escorted away from the starting villages into a private heated tent, next to the elite athletes.

Sub-elite tent

While we were separated from the elites, we still shared portapotties and a little warmup area. Luckily, I had my CPTC teammates to keep me company! I didn’t even need half the layers I packed since we weren’t out in the cold, but I sure was thankful I had brought them anyway. I drank Gatorade and ate another banana and Gu Chomps while we waited. Around 8:45, we checked our bags in a private truck and were escorted to the top of the Verrazano bridge.

The next 45 minutes until the start were the most incredible moments of my life. We were able to start right on the line, and were free to do striders and roam the starting area. I strode out about 100 meters over the bridge and took it all in… just me and the closed bridge, nobody else in sight.I turned around and the crowds were so far away. It was surreal to be standing by myself with the bridge wide open. It was at that point I realized I was going to go for it. I’ve worked so hard the past four months to be standing in this exact spot…and suddenly I was here, standing on top of the Verrazano, taking in these gorgeous views from a truly special spot. I started to get choked up, I was so thankful.

New York, New York!

Miles 1, 2, 3: 6:45, 6:19, 6:32

The gun went off, and suddenly we were running! I tried to stay steady up the Verrazano, and found myself trailing back a bit from my CPTC teammates. I had anticipated hitting the first mile in over 7:00, so 6:45 was a bit of a shock but I felt fine. I tried not to pay attention to the second mile marker since that’s down the Verrazano’s steep decline. I thought mile 3 was a tad more steady as we wound the streets and found our way to Brooklyn, but I see it was quick!

Miles 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: 6:42, 6:42, 6:46, 6:41, 6:53

Around the 5K mark, I found myself back with my CPTC teammates Erin, Erin, and Maria. We strode across the road in a line of 4, trying to reign each other back and get closer to 6:50s. But it just wasn’t happening. I know you know that feeling. So, everytime I felt like speeding up, I tried to picture myself absorbing that energy I wanted to use and saving it for later. During this portion, I felt like I was working a bit more than I wanted to, but I definitely felt smooth. Erin pulled away around mile 6. At 7.5, I swung out to the left side of the road as my Dad was supposed to be standing near 7.8. I scanned and scanned the crowds but missed him! I was a bit thrown off, but quickly hopped back with my teammates as we approached mile 8 and joined in with the green & blue corrals! I took my first gel at mile 8 and felt good.

Miles 9, 10, 11, 12, 13: 6:45, 6:38, 6:49, 6:47, 6:48. Half-marathon mark 1:28:06.

A bit after mile 10 (why did I run a 6:38??) I realized I felt like I was working a bit harder than I should be. The crowds, the energy, the noise, and my thoughts propelled me to continue pushing. It’s a marathon, it was going to hurt no matter what. I pushed any doubt and panic aside. We passed the halfway mark in 1:28:06 and I felt a boost. I knew we had to hit the halfway point in 1:28 low or under to run under 3:00. Being a bit OCD, I checked the past year’s results and saw that anyone who ran sub-3:00 ran between 1:24 and 1:28 for the half. Nothing slower. Yes, this was fast, and YES this was aggressive, but I wanted to know I did everything I could to set myself up for success. I was on track, and just had to run under a 1:32 second half– heck, that sounded reasonable!

Miles 14, 15, 16, 17, 18: 6:56, 7:09, 7:09, 6:48, 6:53

I continued through Queens and started to feel like legs going a bit. My breathing was a bit heavier than I wanted, but I was chugging along where I wanted to be. I fell way behind my teammates going up the Queensboro bridge, but tried to keep steady. Hills are not my strength, and I didn’t mind the quietness of the bridge. I used it to collect my thoughts and my strength while taking my second gel and working to draft a bit as it was pretty windy. As we wound down the bridge, and I heard the wall of noise of 1st ave. Manhattan! I made it! I knew I had friends in the 70s and 80s, and scanned the crowds while trying to stay focused. I felt my quads really going and started to get nervous. Last year, I felt pretty good on this stretch of 1st Ave and my current state concerned me a bit. I used the crowd’s energy to propel myself forward, still happy with my splits around goal pace. My mom was on 97th street, and I was so happy to see her…though I had very little to say but wave.

Miles 19, 20, 21, 22, 23: 7:07, 7:26, 7:21, 7:26, 7:32

After mile 18, the crowds thinned and I took a 3rd gel in hopes they’d revive my legs. My quads. Oh, my quads. I rarely have issues or soreness in my quads during long runs or workouts, but they felt paralyzed as we hit the Willis Avenue Bridge. My breathing was okay, aerobically I felt I could continue to push, but my legs were not having it. I lost major time on these miles. I looked at my pace bracelet and saw the 2 minute cushion I had to break 3:00 start to shrink. It was frustrating knowing I was mentally and aerobically feeling ready to push but physically unable to increase the turnover in my legs. I was stuck in the same gear. Around mile 23, I actually didn’t know if my legs would hold up to carry me to the finish line. But I fought.

Over the Willis Avenue Bridge... (19.5)

Miles 24, 25, 26, .2: 8:00, 7:28, 7:20, 1:38

The 5th Avenue hill was the worst, as expected. I counted down the blocks one by one, feeling like I traveled 10 blocks but only having made it one. 90th street felt like it would never come. I saw my parents and barely mustered a wave. As a whole, I really tried to enjoy and savor the course but this stretch was one I just about closed my eyes and wished away. Once we entered the park, I was hit by “The Wall of Orange”– my CPTC teammates cheering their heads off. I got a boost and knew I would finish. Unlike last year where I think I blacked out for part of Central Park to the finish line, I was extremely aware during this time. Again, I wanted to just go but my legs wouldn’t let me. I remained positive and focused, knowing I’d have to continue to push if I was going to PR at all.

Seriously, are we there yet?!

Cresting up the small hill to the finish line the last .2 miles, I tried to kick and push, and was suddenly hit with a wave of exhaustion. All the blood rushed from my head and body, I wanted to pass out or throw up. It was then I knew I was physically spent, a sign of a good race. I somehow raised my arms upon crossing.

Finish!

Victory!

Upon finishing, a volunteer quickly spotted my bib and escorted me to a special finisher’s area. On my way, I spotted my CPTC teammates I had run with and all finished around the same time. And, Alex who had started in local competitive found us too!

Alex, Me, Erin, Maria

The volunteer escorted us from the sub-elite to a special tent right after the finish line. I was so thankful I didn’t have to walk all the way to the end of the baggage trucks like I did last year. I barely made it to the tent, fighting the urge to pass out or at least sit down. The volunteer let us sit while she found my bag. For that, she was my hero! I sat and breathed and stared around for a while before changing into dry clothes and calling my parents.

That was it. I didn’t break 3:00, and the world wasn’t over (shocker!) I didn’t feel upset at that moment because of how physically spent I was. I wanted under 3:00 and my mind said yes, but my legs said NO. I felt proud of myself for finishing, and fighting, and still setting a new PR. So often, the mental piece of the puzzle is what goes awry and makes for a bad race. I can say despite some frustrating moments, my mind was really in the game. My legs just went a lot earlier than I anticipated which made for a really rough second half.

The Aftermath

After the race, I met up with my Mom and Dad and went to brunch at Fred’s on the UWS. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait and I had a pretty good grilled chicken sandwich. I hobbled back to my apartment and immediately got into bed and started crying to my mom. I’ve had a pretty rough few weeks, and part of me felt like I needed a sub-3:00 race to boost my self confidence and affirm I’ll be okay. After working so hard and sacrificing so much, I fell short. I failed. Running kicked me when I was down.

After drying my tears and saying bye to my mom, I brushed myself off and hopped in the shower. I knew sulking in my apartment wouldn’t help, so even though I was physically drained, I headed down to Opal for the CPTC afterparty celebrations. A few beers, a bottle of champagne, and shots later, I left with a happy heart and head. Sure, my time wasn’t the best, but I PR’ed. And the experience was worth every painful second.

Free bottle of champagne? Okay!

So now what? I’m trying hard to let this race just be and not analyze my splits, training, diet, lifestyle, etc. I feel like I did the right stuff, and it just wasn’t my day. Maybe NYC isn’t my course, and I’d fare better on a flatter one where I can keep a steady pace and not get crushed by awful hills and bridges. Part of me really doesn’t get why this year felt so much harder than last year, when I know I am a stronger runner right now. Maybe my pacing strategy was off, but I stand firm on the way I went out because it put me in the right position.

I’ve got Boston 2012 next, and I’m holding off on making any goals for that race quite yet. I’m a bit hesitant to say I want to break 3:00 there. However, I know I’m competitive with myself and probably won’t want to go into that race without the goal of setting a new PR. Let’s be honest.

For now, I will take the next week or two entirely off running and exercise of any type. For me, I need a solid rest period to break up training and racing cycles. Taking it easy until after Thanksgiving will ensure I am fresh and eager to train for Boston, and not get burnt out or injured. I’ll be sleeping in, enjoying my free time, and living a little more until then!

Finally, THANK YOU again for all the kind congratulatory messages. Even though it wasn’t my day, I felt extremely loved and supported before, during and especially after the race. As I said before the race, I’ll be back here working hard and writing about it until I get that sub-3:00!

Welcome to Sub-Elite, #287

November 3rd, 2011 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts - (16 Comments)

About a month ago, I applied for the ‘local competitive’ corral for the marathon. This is open to marathoners with a time of 3:16 or faster, and since I did it last year, I figured I’d do it again. I was assigned bib #504 and all was good. Then I found out there was another section, the sub-elite, for marathoners with a time of 3:05 or faster. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this sooner? I emailed the NYRR a few weeks ago and they let me know that unfortunately, the section was closed. No disappointment- local competitive was still a great option.

Yesterday at work, I got a call from NYRR, informing me that a few spots in sub-elite had opened up due to last-minute cancellations. Did I want to be switched? Ummmm, YES please!

Within a few hours, my registration card was updated to Bib #287.

singlet1

Needless to say, I’m so excited! Sub-elite athletes get a dedicated bus that leaves midtown at 6:30 a.m. and goes straight to the staging area with a special bag check, portapotties (most important!), refreshments, massages, and a clear starting position in the orange corral. Since I started on the lower level in green last year, I am probably most excited to start on the upper deck so I can actually see all the fanfare. And get to feel like a pro for a morning ;) I feel extremely lucky to be a part of this experience.

This afternoon I took a break from working at home (seriously, I love working from home! so much productivity without the commute) and ran the 3.5 miles from my apartment down to the expo. Nice way to multitask and get in my run for the day.

expo1

I spent about 45 minutes or so walking around the expo, checking out the free samples and stocking up on some gear.

shirts

A short sleeve gray shirt, a soft longsleeve blue half-zip (showing the back with the marathon type), and a red Brooks longsleeve: ‘Run Happy’. I love that one!

The expo really made me feel like the marathon is here. I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around the reality that I’m racing 26.2 miles on Sunday, and needed the energy of thousands of others to get me in the mood. I don’t know when it’ll actually hit me, but I’m getting closer. Promise.

I worked a bit more when I got home, and then decided to make a nice, healthy dinner. Another perk of working from home: being able to cook from my own fridge, whenever I want, instead of depending on whatever I brought to the office that day and waiting to eat a ‘real’ dinner until I get home at 8! And the best perk: working in my sweaty running clothes in bed and showering 5 hours later. Mmmhmm.

salmon1

Baked salmon with TJ’s Island Soyaki sauce, over a bed of quinoa, edamame and cucumbers, also mixed with soyaki sauce.

I’m trying to increase my carbohydrate intake this week, to amp up my stores and fuel for the race. I don’t do the typical pasta binge the night before, as my stomach isn’t used to that and I’d probably get sick. And, it’s a bit too late to ‘stock up’ the night before. Instead, I’ve been focusing on having more healthy carbs all this week like bananas, oatmeal and cereal for breakfast, more pretzels and crackers for snacks, and bases of grains like quinoa when eating healthy proteins.

Since I’ve been running less this week, my appetite hasn’t been quite as ravenous. That means I’ve had to make a more conscious effort to eat every few hours, since I know my body needs the fuel. I don’t weigh myself too often, or get too preoccupied with it, but today I noticed I’ve lost about 3 pounds from about 2 weeks ago. For me right now, this is not a good thing! I need to hang on to all the muscle, power and water I can get to get me through the race. I will probably focus on getting back to a lower weight post-race. (Yes, I tend to gain around 5 or so pounds marathon training. I like to think it’s muscle, but it’s more likely a result of my monster appetite).

I’ll be back again tomorrow or Saturday with a pre-race post. Until then, send good marathon thoughts my way and tell me where you’re cheering!

What’s your favorite part of race expos? What’s your carbo-loading strategy? If you’re cheering WHERE WILL YOU BE?!?! I want to know where to look for everyone.

Sometimes, like this weekend, I question my sanity. I’m pretty sure running has turned me into a crazy person.

All the endorphins have gone to my head, blocking any sense of rationality, making me think I enjoy things that sound absurd and a weird form of torture to most. Like signing up for the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge…yep, 2 marathons within 2 weeks of each other. Next April is going to be a blast.

Also like willingly paying $18 to run not one, not two, but three counter-clockwise loops of Central Park at 7 a.m. this morning.

It's 6 a.m. I'm ready to go.

18 miles of fun

Most days, you can’t even get me to do one full outer loop. I like variety, the soft bridle path, new scenery…and despise Harlem Hill. I can run 18 miles (for free) any day I want to, at whatever time I want to, on whatever course I want to. So why, despite an awful, awful experience at last year’s NYRR Marathon Tune-Up Training Run, did I still eagerly sign up again?

Sometimes I have a weird way of rationalizing how doing difficult, inconvenient things are actually a good thing for me. Like how I used to trek from the UWS to USQ (yep, 2 subways) just go to to Trader Joe’s. I like that about myself. Keeps me challenged. I could have slept in this weekend and ran an easy long run alone, but decided this race run would be a nice challenge for just one long run.

  • I had to get in 20 miles this weekend, regardless. Signing up reduced the chances I’d skip out or cut it short.
  • 3 loops is boring, yes, but great to build mental toughness for the marathon
  • My friend Alex was running it too. We both ran 3:04 in NYC last year and are both gunning to break 3:00 this year. I wouldn’t have to run it alone!
  • Central Park is hilly. Hills are good to build strength for training.
  • Water stations, Gus, and crowd support. Hooray!

See? Not so bad. Okay, maybe a little crazy. I ran 2 miles over to and around the park before the 18 started to ensure I hit 20 for the day. My first 20 of this training cycle.

It was a bit humid, especially earlier on, though it could have been worse. I was still a sweaty mess at the end! The first mile started out pretty slow with the crowds, but once we got into a groove it was great! The first two loops felt pretty effortless as we chatted the miles away. The third loop was a bit of a struggle mostly due to the fact we were lapping people and had to either weave through the thick crowds or keep to the outer edge of the road. Apparently not so great for tangents, as the total distance was 18.21. I am especially happy we were able to drop the pace on the last few miles, going sub-7.

Weird form of torture? Maybe. But I would not have hit those splits alone so I’m glad I did it. Doing hard, unpleasant things are often the best things. My confidence is boosted a bit from this solid effort, though I’m still very unsure how I’ll feel trying to hit sub-3:00 pace (6:50/mile) on race day. Bring it on!

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This weekend was also full of good eats and good friends! Despite the rain, I trekked over to the UES to MXCO to meet Susan, Shannon and Christine for dinner. I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to margaritas.

Susan, Shannon, and Gatsby

Christine, Me and Gatsby

And, we ate cactus. Just had to try it since it was on the menu! It was surprisingly tasty, though the delicious sauce on the top helped.

Cactus

On Saturday, I watched the 5th Avenue Mile, a premiere event in road racing. I ran to NYRR to pick up my bib for the tune-up and met Terence and Erin to watch the elite and pro races. My friend and old Villanova teammate, Nicole, won the NYRR Local Elite Championship race in 4:38. Woohoo!

Thanks for the pic, NYRR

Later that evening, I got to see Susan and Shannon again, joined by Kelly and Shannon’s sister at the Meatball Shop! I had been dying to try the spot and eagerly suggested we check it out. Luckily, these ladies <3 balls just as much as I.

I couldn’t decide on just one type of meatball, so I opted for the sliders to sample a few varieties. I chose the classic beef with tomato sauce, veggie with mushroom sauce, and the special ball of the day: buffalo chicken with blue cheese sauce. The side of special carrots with walnut, mint and prunes. It was hard to pick a favorite!

However, it was not hard to pick dessert. Mint ice cream sandwiched in between gingersnap and brownie cookies.

Well worth the hour wait, and certainly served as fuel for this morning’s run. Can’t wait for more balls! (That’s what she said?)

What was the best part of your weekend? Favorite type of meatball? Ever do inconvenient or difficult things because you rationalize that they’re good ideas? Once I decided it was a great idea to purchase a large floor rug at Ikea and lug it on the ferry and subway all by myself, because I really wanted it and didn’t want to wait another few weeks until going to Ikea with a car. Thankfully today’s 18 miler turned out to be a much better idea, though perhaps equally as tiring.