Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm back!

After five glorious days in sunny California, I'm back in New York. I'm too tired right now to write anything about my runs (I did get a couple in though, and a hike!), but I will leave you with a couple of photos from my trip!

Santa Monica Beach

Me and Caity

View of downtown L.A. from Runyon Canyon

Me and Taryn

Bye for now L.A.!

I'll come back tomorrow with more...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Get me there...


High 70s this weekend in L.A. I am thisclose to crying tears of utter joy.

Sorry in advance if I fall a little bit off the blogging. I'm going to be busy soaking up some sunshine and having fun with some college friends, but I'll be back on Tuesday with new running routes (L.A. edition!), beautiful pictures, and most certainly some excellent stories.

Have a great weekend!


I'm awfully glad I signed up for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon when I did...check out the message I saw on their site today!

Monday, March 22, 2010

You may be right...

...I may be crazy, but I just signed up for the Brooklyn Half-Marathon. It takes place four weeks after the More/Fitness Magazine Half-Marathon, which I think will be plenty of time between races. Since I ran in the Queens Half-Marathon last year, I thought I might try to run a half-marathon in a different borough each year. It'll be a great way to check out Brooklyn, it will definitely be fun, and it ends in Coney Island -- I've never been there before! Plus, my coworker may do it as well, and what better way to build a team than a little competition... :)

This week, thank goodness, is a pullback week. I have no idea if that's the right term for it, but that's what I've been calling it. Basically, for every week of training, you increase mileage by about 10% for three weeks, then decrease your mileage the fourth week to help you rest up for the following week. In the past three weeks, I run 21 miles week 1, 22 miles week 2, and 24 miles week 3. This week I'll just run 18 miles, but next week is 25 miles. See how that works? Pretty nifty, and it definitely seems to work. With a vacation on the horizon and a pullback week this week, I am certain I'll be ready for those 25 miles next week!

Not that I'm much of an outdoor runner in the pre-daylight hours anyway, but NYC is rainy and foggy and chilly today, which is not my favorite combination for a run. So I stuck to the trusty treadmill: I ran five miles at 6.0 mph and felt pretty great! I can't WAIT to go to L.A. and run around outside in the 72 degrees and sunny weather...ahhh, I can see it now!!!

OK, so that's from my San Diego trip last year, but I imagine L.A. will be somewhat similar, no?

Speaking of, does anyone have any must-see sights or must-eat restaurants while in L.A. (aside from In 'N' Out...)? I did live in L.A. for a year, but I was a wee freshman in college and didn't have a car to get around. Any and all ideas would be appreciated!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Etiquette in passing

I've been a bad blogger lately. I'm getting over this cold finally, and have just been so wiped by the end of the day that I don't make the time to write a post. I'm sorry! I'll make up for it soon. But next week I'll be in L.A. for a few days, likely without my computer, so I'll apologize in advance for the lack of posts between Thursday and Monday.

Today was an absolutely gorgeous, sunny day in New York. The birds were chirping, the sun was shining, and it was a perfect day for a 9-mile run in Central Park. Compared with last week, this was quite a step up -- no gusting wind, just a lovely breeze; no pouring rain, just a clear blue sky. B and I left the apartment just after 9 a.m. and went up to E. 77th St. We did one full loop (6 miles) around the park, then ran 1.5 miles one way and 1.5 miles back so we would stay on the east side. Ending up on the west side would have been fine, but I had a brunch to get to soon after the run so we stayed on the east side. The park was insanely crowded -- I guess that's to be expected on the first beautiful day of the year, and especially considering last week's atrocious weather.

The run went really well -- B and I were pretty quick, though as you can see in the first mile, there was some glitch with the Garmin...maybe I pressed start too early, maybe it took a while to adjust, but as soon as the first mile was up it went back to normal! Go figure.

Here's the map and our splits:
Not bad eh? I felt really good during the run, but there is one killer hill that seems to be neverending (can you guess where it is? Yup, somewhere between miles 3 and 4). B and I persevered though, and had not just a good run, but a great one :) Given the gorgeous weather, I'd say this is my favorite run so far during this training. It might have some competition while I'm in L.A. though!

Since the park was so crowded, we had quite a few opportunities to pass by and be passed by some runners. It always feels a little awkward, and B had actually asked me on one of our first runs on the West Side Highway what one should do when passing someone. My advice was to just focus on what you're doing -- if you happen to be in a situation where you can pass someone, pass them by. I've been passed plenty of times, and while it can sting a little bit, I have to remember that everyone's out there doing their own thing. The speed demon who just whizzed by me may be on a 2-mile sprint while I know that I'm building up my endurance on a 10-mile run. Even if that's their 10-mile pace, everybody's different and has their own pace at which they feel comfortable running.

That's what I do on a day-to-day run. During a race, I adopt a more competitive mentality. I pick someone ahead of me that it looks like I could pass if I keep doing what I'm doing or pick up the pace a little bit, and I race them. It gives me something to focus on other than the pain my legs are (probably) feeling, and it keeps me feeling quick. My roommate K gave me this advice and I always keep it in mind. It definitely does the trick!

Not going to lie, though, there is a bit of smug satisfaction that I feel when I pass someone. This is probably because I usually think of myself as a slow runner, but I'm quickly brought back down to earth as soon as someone passes me.

If you get passed in a race or on a run, don't be discouraged. Just keep focusing on putting one foot in front of the other and doing your best. And when you do pass someone, try your best not to call them a slowpoke under your breath as you fly by. Chances are they were on the minute recovery of their speed intervals and will come racing up behind you moments later and you'll be eating your words...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Recipes for Health: White Bean Burgers

I'd like you to meet a new addition to my life, something that will probably change the way I cook from here on out:

It's a Cuisinart 4-cup food processor. It chops, it grinds, and it's awesome. It made the Recipe for Health I prepared last night a cinch, and I see myself using it often. It even came with a helpful booklet to tell me what type of things should be ground (cinnamon sticks, peppercorns) and what should be chopped (most everything else). I have a hard time resisting kitchen supplies and it was a dangerous move for me to enter Sur La Table, but I was strong and left with only what I came for.

This baby chopped my onion and parsley for me, pureed my beans, and made my fresh breadcrumbs for this Recipe for Health. The only manual thing I had to do was grate the carrot. (Unfortunately the 4-cup food processor does not come with a grater attachment. Oh well. At least I gave my arms a workout after yet another rest day.)

These healthy homemade veggie burgers are a little time-consuming, but delicious and worth the time they take. Sadly, I didn't have any ketchup to top them with, but I think they'd be perfect with some. Martha says they make six servings, but I managed to get eight out of this recipe. Be careful when you flip them (use any offset spatula) -- they fall apart very easily and should definitely not be made on a barbecue!
White Bean Burgers
by Martha Rose Shulman

2 cans white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped - I used the food processor -- so quick and easy!
Salt to taste
2 to 3 large garlic cloves (to taste), green shoots removed, minced - I pretty much always use minced garlic from a jar
2/3 cup finely grated carrot - I used 3/4 cup
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup finely chopped parsley - Food processor to the rescue for this one too!
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage or thyme - I omitted this
½ cup fresh bread crumbs - I used ½ of a whole wheat Arnold sandwich thin and pulsed it in the food processor
1 egg, beaten
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Whole grain hamburger buns and the condiments of your choice

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium-size skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, the garlic and the grated carrot, and continue to cook for another minute or two, until fragrant and the carrot has softened slightly. Remove from the heat.

2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, puree the beans with the lemon juice. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the onion mixture, the parsley, sage or thyme, the bread crumbs and the egg. Season to taste.

3. Shape into patties, ½- to ¾-inch thick. Set on a parchment-covered baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

4. Heat the remaining oil in a large, heavy skillet or on a griddle over medium heat and brown the patties for 4 minutes on each side, being very careful when you turn them over. An offset spatula works well for this. Serve on whole grain buns, with the condiments of your choice.

Dinner (and many more meals to come...) is served!

Nutritional facts per patty, based on eight patties (calculated using the SparkPeople Recipe Calculator)
Calories: 186
Total fat: 4.5 g (0.8 g saturated, 0.5 g polyunsaturated, 2.8 g monounsaturated)
Total carbohydrate: 28.5 g (6.3 g fiber)
Protein: 9.4 g

Saturday, March 13, 2010

NYRR 8000

This morning I had the NYRR 8000 race in Central Park. As I've made you well aware, the weather was supposed to be terrible, and it was! But thankfully it wasn't nearly as terrible as I'd expected.

On a side note, what's up with me getting bad luck with weather and races? Do I bring with me awful weather to every race I run in? First it was 18 degrees and frigid the day of the NYRR Gridiron Classic, today it was windy and rainy...I guess the weather can only improve, but if there's a hurricane the day of the half-marathon, you can probably blame me.

Anyway, the night before I laid out my race bib and cap on top of my sneakers so I wouldn't forget them, along with my other race day gear.
By the way, I got a Road ID with my emergency contact info for my shoe 
(just in case anything should happen when I'm running by myself). Check out their site!

I woke up at 6am and had half a bagel with peanut butter (my usual pre-race fuel) and planned to leave around 7. I layered up on top and wore my running tights, along with gloves, an ear warmer, a neck warmer, and a baseball cap. I looked ridiculous (as you'll see in the Brightroom pictures to come) but I was definitely ready for the elements!

I got to E. 102nd St. and 5th Ave. at 7:40 -- there were a ton of people huddled under the scaffolding there, waiting until the very last minute to make the dash over to the starting line. I waited a few minutes and then decided to brave the rain to head to my corral. The time it took for 8am to roll around felt like an eternity -- the woman who sang the national anthem took her sweet time on those high notes, while all the runners jumped up and down, teeth chattering, trying to stay warm. It was raining, but not very hard, and it was windy, but not gusting. The NYRR results page says it was 39 degrees and wind at 7 mph. Not too bad!

The race finally started right at 8. I felt pretty good -- I knew I was going to keep going for four more miles after the race (part of my half-marathon training; today was a long run day for 9 miles), and since I'm sick on top of that, I decided to take it very, very easy. I was aiming for about a 10 minute mile, and ended up with a 9:50 average pace during the race.

My overall pace for the 9 miles wasn't much different:
I was happy with it! Considering I was sick and running in the rain/wind/cold, I think it's pretty darn good :)

I finally have a new map! No West Side Highway in sight!
I really liked running in Central Park, and it's good practice for the half-marathon in April. Plus, when it's not rainy and gross, it's really pretty! Can't wait for spring...

So I survived the race. And got this cute shirt!
My extra four miles conveniently took me directly to the 6 train at 77th Street. The train took forEVER to come, but I got on, made my way to Union Square, and SPRINTED home...it was colder and windier down here than it was in the Park! Go figure... I promptly got into a hot shower and took a solid two hour nap. Needless to say, it was more than necessary.

I'm pretty sure that if I can run 9 miles in the rain and wind with a cold, then I can probably do pretty much anything, right?

Friday, March 12, 2010

A cold

Guys, I have a cold. It has thrown a serious wrench in my workout plans. All my body wants is SLEEP! So I've taken a few days off from working out and am letting this cold run its course.

Tomorrow I have an 8k race in Central Park in the RAIN and I'm not sure what to do about it...run in the rain with a cold? I might be stopping by a sporting goods store to pick up a water-resistant jacket today...but I'm wondering if maybe I should just forget about the $17 I spent on the race and just sign up for another race instead. Can you tell I'm indecisive?

On top of that...I haven't been in the mood to cook (why cook when your nose is so stuffed that you can hardly taste anything good?!), so there is no Recipe for Health this week. BOO, I know. Hopefully I can manage to double up on recipes next week when I'm better.

With that, I will leave you with tomorrow morning's weather forecast. Think good, warm, snuggly thoughts for me tomorrow as I run through Central Park in the pouring rain!

By the way, if anyone has any suggestions for running in the cold, windy rain, please let me know!!!

UPDATE: I stopped by Jack Rabbit Sports on my lunch hour and picked up a water-resistant and wind-resistant jacket by Saucony (that was 40% off!). I'm going to run the race at an easy pace, not pushing myself, and just tack on another four miles after the race to get my nine miles in. I've got gloves to keep my hands warm, a cap to keep the rain out of my eyes, my running pants and a couple of layers with my new jacket. I hope I'll survive! Wish me luck and think warm thoughts for me!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Uphill both ways

I'm house-sitting (more like feeding her kitty) for my friend, C, who is on vacation in Jamaica. Though I'm not in an exotic paradise right now, today was spring-like with a high of 58 and loads of sunshine - another great day for a run! And since C's apartment is nowhere near a New York Sports Club, I had to change up my routine, go with the flow, and try a new running route.

I just had a three-mile run scheduled so I did a little research last night to see where I might go.
Along Houston maybe? Meh, kinda boring.
Run up the East River? Ehh, not in the mood.
Hmm, the apartment IS near the Williamsburg Bridge...and I've never I'd never run across a bridge before...why not?

I set out a little after 6am for an easy 3 miles. I'd heard that the bridges are like running hills, but I had no idea just how similar it would be! The incline is slight but it's consistent and when I reached the top of the hill I was soooo happy to be going downhill. You can see from my splits that most of my last mile back was downhill:
(Ignore that first 4-second split...not sure what I did there, but I didn't restart the Garmin after that happened.)

Here's the map:
Running across the bridge was pretty tough, but it was a very nice change of pace. And since I'll be running the NYC marathon in 2011 (once I run in nine races and volunteer at one!) I better get used to it! It's hard because (at least if you go across and turn around like I did) it's literally uphill both ways -- thankfully not in the snow. You go up, come down, turn around and...oh yeah, another hill going up! Fun! At least it ends going downhill...

I'm still trying to figure out what to do for my 7-mile speed interval run on Wednesday (though I might run it tomorrow...). Go to the track? Try to explore Brooklyn? I just don't know... I guess I'll get up early and see how I feel. I have a feeling I'll end up going to the track since it's a speed workout and I'm not so sure about exploring a new place when I should be thinking about my pace and not able to take in a new place. We shall see...

In any case, I'm glad the weather's getting warmer and I can run outdoors more. Hopefully I'll be able to check out Brooklyn one of these days, even if it's not for my 7-mile run.

Well, it's bedtime for me! Good night!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Perfect day for a run

As predicted, today was the perfect day for a run! It was 50 degrees, sunny, and breezy. And it was indeed a shorts day! There was still some wind when B and I headed uptown, but it felt great. We averaged a 9:11 mile and both felt really strong. My knee had been giving me a little trouble lately after runs (not during, thank goodness) and today it felt pretty good. It's about a 1.25 mile walk back to the apartment so that helped stretch me out, and once I got home I spent a good 15 minutes stretching while sipping on my Trader Joe's chocolate soy milk. I followed that up with a PB&J and had a random, thrown-together dinner of whole wheat penne, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, chicken and parmesan (and dessert of frozen yogurt and cookies...) -- all that really hit the spot and was just what I needed after a tough run (especially the frozen yogurt! Love The Lite Choice).

I feel like the faster pace is becoming more natural since I can speak more easily at the quicker pace. B is a great running partner, and keeps me chatting and even laughing -- makes the run go by so quickly! It's been really encouraging for me to have a running buddy whom I think of as faster -- as I've said before, she definitely pushes me in a good way and it's been nice to see myself getting faster and feeling good while doing it. Thanks B!

Here are our splits and map from today:
Pretty good! The map is nothing new, but I'm thinking I'll take B north next time and see where we end up!

I had an interesting experience last summer when I ran uptown instead of downtown: I had a long run planned and decided to go uptown through Riverside Park (so pretty!) and thought I'd see where a path I didn't usually use would take me. Turns out it led to the Boat Basin, and before I realized where I'd ended up I was running through someone's buffet lunch. Whoops! And then I couldn't find my way out! I ran in a couple of circles, sort of wishing I could take a second to grab some of the buffet food (somehow I don't think that I'd fit in -- no one else appeared to be sporting running shorts) but finally found my way out. You never know where you'll end up when you run up there! I'm looking forward to running up there again soon -- who knows, maybe next time I can really embarrass myself and end up running through a black-tie event.

What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you while running?

Friday, March 5, 2010

8 miles

I've got an 8-mile date with my running shoes, my roommate, and the West Side Highway tomorrow afternoon, and I couldn't ask for better running weather:
I believe that might be shorts weather! I'll definitely be checking on the Runner's World What to Wear site tomorrow to double-check!

Seems like spring might be a little closer than I thought... Watch, next week it'll be in the 30s and blizzarding again (I hope not!!!).

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Recipes for Health: Oven Fries

My love for sweet potatoes is relatively new. We always had mashed sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner, but I didn't like the taste of them until last year (or at least I thought I didn't like the taste -- I probably didn't even try them and assumed I didn't like them. I've gotten more adventurous with food since then, thank goodness). Last year I made Ina Garten's baked sweet potato fries which were delicious, and when I saw Martha Rose Shulman's oven fries were one of the most e-mailed stories on the New York Times site, I thought it would only be fair to test them out as well. Since they're a Recipe for Health, I get to continue my challenge and eat some tasty fries. Everybody wins!
Yummm...though the photo does not do these fries the justice they so deserve, looking at this picture makes me want to bake these babies up again, and SOON. They're addicting. Plus, they're good for you! Sweet potatoes have a ton of nutritional benefits -- they're complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin B6. They even have a little protein! Plus, these fries are baked, not fried. Stir them up with some olive oil and salt, bake at 450, and you've got a tasty little side dish. Enjoy!

1 pound waxy potatoes, such as red potatoes - I didn't use these
1 pound sweet potatoes, cut in half crosswise - I used one sweet potato and cut them up into a fry shape rather than wedges
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil - I used about 1 T extra virgin olive oil with my one sweet potato
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Place in the oven while you prepare the potatoes.
  2. Cut the potatoes into wedges that are 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick at the thickest point and toss with the olive oil and salt. - I cut mine into a fry shape
  3. Remove the hot pan from the oven, and add the potatoes to the pan in an even layer. (Ed. note: Don't spray the foil with nonstick spray, the potatoes will burn!) They should sizzle. Return to the oven, and lower the heat to 450 degrees. Roast 25 minutes or until tender.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven, and loosen the potatoes from the foil using an offset spatula (I used a fork). Return to the oven and cook for another five minutes. Serve at once, seasoned with more salt if desired.
Serve right away! Makes about four to six servings (or one if you use one potato!).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Running on empty

This morning when 5:30 rolled around and my alarm clock so rudely interrupted my sleep, I had three words for it: No, thank you. I snoozed, rolled over, and attempted to fall back asleep. After work I like to decompress, so after yesterday's 11-hour day I ended up staying up way too late. (FYI, "way too late" in my book is any time after 11 p.m. Yes, I'm like a grandma. And now that it's almost midnight it is definitely past my bedtime!)

So after a day like yesterday, 5:30 this morning was just way too early. It's too early most mornings, but ever since I saw this small article in the March Runner's World, I find it a little easier to get out of bed:
While I've almost always been a morning gym goer (since I started going to the gym anyway), I never knew this:
Are you usually a morning person but winter's dark mornings have you hibernating? Instead of getting dressed half-asleep by the dim glow of a nightlight, put on your running clothes in a brightly lit room. When light hits your eyes, it signals your pineal gland to stop producing melotonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) work best because they closely mimic natural light.
Who knew?!

I think of this article every morning, and though there are days where the last thing I want to do is reach over and turn on the light, I always do it because I know it will wake me up. Setting out my gym clothes the night before and having a pre-workout snack handy also speed up the process, and before I know it I'm at the gym! Next time you're struggling to get out of bed, turn on your light and see if that doesn't get you going.

This morning I had six miles planned and I knew that I would have to be at the gym by 6 a.m. to be ready to go to work on time. I ended up having a good, tough run. I'm trying to improve my speed and have to remind myself daily (before, during, and after the run) that I want to get faster, so I have to challenge myself. I think it's working, but there are days where I'm lazy. This morning's run required quite a bit of internal repetition that I want to challenge myself, I want to improve, I want to get better. I think it worked -- I had a great run and didn't drop down the speed, even though I really wanted to at one point.

Three easy miles and total body conditioning tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Long day

I had a lonnnng day today. I've been up since 5:30 a.m. and have a serious date with my bed at 11:30 p.m. I was at work till 9:30 tonight, and it's the unexpectedly long days like that that make me incredibly glad that I go to the gym in the morning! It's so nice to be done with my workout before I start my day. Yes, it does (usually) mean a 4 p.m. slump, but I always come armed with snacks (apple and peanut butter anyone? Perhaps a banana? Yogurt?) to keep me fueled though the workday.

All right, it's officially 11:30. I have a date with the treadmill (shh, don't tell my bed) for a 6-mile tempo run tomorrow (1 mile warm-up, 4 miles at 8:57 pace, 1 mile cooldown).

But speaking of the treadmill, my marathon-running boss pointed me to an interesting site that has conversions of speed on the treadmill to speed outdoors, depending on your incline on the treadmill:
Pretty cool, eh? So when you're running at a 6.7 mph on a treadmill at 1% incline (as I plan to do tomorrow...we'll see if my legs agree), the equivalent speed for that outdoors is more like running at an 8:53 pace outdoors, rather than 8:57. Increasing the incline speeds up your pace. You should check it out! I still don't quite fully understand it, but it is quite interesting.

I should mention that I always run at a 1% incline. You should run with at least a 1% incline whenever you're on a treadmill -- as it says above, if you run at a 0% incline, the effort is actually less than it would be outdoors. I've contemplated bumping up the incline to 1.5% or 2% from time to time, but get scared. Maybe one day when I'm bored and not training for anything I'll get wild and give it a try!

With that, good night!