Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pre-flight workout

I went on a trip this past weekend out to Missouri for my friend's bachelorette party, and I knew that I'd have to get my 19-mile run in before I left (particularly because I knew we'd be visiting some wineries and running wouldn't exactly be a priority!). I've loosened up about missing runs since I first started training for races (and I actually missed a 5-mile run last week), but it's really not very smart to miss long runs like those (of course, I missed two full weeks of training while I was overseas, so...). This close to the race, I just didn't want to miss an important long run. 

I thought about splitting the run on Thursday (8 miles in the morning, 11 at night, or something...), or running it on Sunday in St. Louis (where I'd be spending about six hours with my friend after another friend's bachelorette party), but neither of those sounded like too much fun. Finally, I decided to run it before my noon flight on Friday. I knew it'd be tough and I'd have to get up at the crack of dawn, but I knew it'd be worth it to do it and get it over with.

Turns out I was right! I left just after 6am, and since the sun hadn't risen yet and I wasn't 100% sure of where I was going, I decided to start my run sans iPod.

View uptown from the East River

Hey hey Lady Liberty! It was windy...check out those choppy waters!

It was so quiet along the river, and there were so few people out. Even the West Side Highway, which is usually swarming with people on my weekend runs, had just a handful of people out walking their dogs at that hour. The city was serene and quiet (except for that one time at mile 13 when I literally yelled out "ONE MORE HOUR!!! YOU CAN DO IT!"). It was unlike anything I'd seen or experienced before in this crazy town, so I kept running without music...for 15 miles

And until I reached this:

THE 72ND STREET STAIRS. These are TOUGH. I've fallen at the top, and they're really not fun to tackle after running 15 miles. I knew I needed a little something to pump me up for this, so I switched on a little TSwift, Rihanna and Girl Talk to motivate me through the last four miles.

As you can see, it was a neat little tour of Manhattan:

Maybe I should start to give running tours of NYC?


  • Mile 1: 10:24
  • Mile 2: 9:31
  • Mile 3: 9:34
  • Mile 4: 9:44
  • Mile 5: 10:01
  • Mile 6: 9:30
  • Mile 7: 9:32
  • Mile 8: 9:41 (Powerade gel)
  • Mile 9: 9:44
  • Mile 10: 9:43
  • Mile 11: 9:32
  • Mile 12: 9:43
  • Mile 13: 9:39
  • Mile 14: 10:08
  • Mile 15: 9:39 (Gu)
  • Mile 16: 9:32
  • Mile 17: 9:48
  • Mile 18: 9:16
  • Mile 19: 10:02 (I swear I was running faster than this!)
Total time:

3:04:55, with an average pace of 9:44! Woo hoo!

It was a great run, and one I was proud to finish. I even made my flight on time! (And lucky for me, a girl who was at the bachelorette party is training to be a power yoga instructor and she led me in THE BEST yoga session I'd had in quite some time. It was amazing. I definitely need more yoga in my life.)

Typically I run indoors during the week and run outside for the long runs, but this run made me excited to run more outside, especially once the weather improves! This weekend I have 12 miles, and the following weekend is 20...my farthest distance before the marathon on May 1. I know I can do it!!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My own half marathon

Today was the NYC Half Marathon (which I definitely want to do next year!). The course starts in Central Park, goes down 7th Avenue, cuts over to the Hudson at 42nd Street, and ends downtown in Tribeca. Running through Times Square is not something you get to do every day, and in my daily life I avoid it at all costs -- too many tourists, too many people, too much!

I had 13 miles on the schedule for Saturday, but when Saturday rolled around, I just wasn't feeling it so I decided to run it on Sunday. I had a noon brunch date with my friend Eileen, so I knew I had to get this run in early, and the thought of getting up early on a Sunday and running 13 miles before brunch made me oddly excited (yes, I'm a weirdo runner girl. I admit it). So I went with it, opting for 50 minutes and upper body weights on Saturday and a Sunday Runday.

I set out at 8:45 this morning, and got to Central Park when it seemed like most people were on their second lap nubbin of the CP loop (there's one full loop, then 2 miles down to exit the park at 59th and 7th). I somehow successfully crossed the wave of people and headed west, where I thought I'd just run a couple loops of Central Park and head home, but I decided at the last minute to head for the West Side Highway. I ran down the steps (must remember to take a picture of them next time I run!), and headed north. The wind was insane -- I felt like it was holding me back in running but I kept a great pace and just counted down till I could turn around and have the wind at my back. I ran two miles up, close to 116th Street, then headed south. It was so cold running north against the wind, and running south I felt totally overdressed and HOT!
Pretty scene heading south -- yachts, NJ and lower Manhattan

I ran down to 23rd Street, and at 42nd Street I had my second run-in with the NYC Half Marathon! There was some interesting entertainment (Brazilian dancers I think?), bands, and a few runners pushing it to the end.
Go runners!

There were many supporters encouraging the runners still in the race to keep at it, but I also saw quite a few people who'd completed the race running up the West Side Highway after the race...crazy, but totally something I would do if I had to get a long run in!

I ran a half marathon on my own today, opting to go for 13.1 instead of just 13, and I set a PR of sorts (which I won't count as a PR since I had to stop once to tie my shoes and snap a photo!). I ran 13.1 miles in 1:57:47 -- nearly 9 minutes off my last half marathon, which was 2:06:10. I've been itching to run a half since then to try and break 2 hours, and today proved to me that I can do it and one day soon, I will do it.

It also let me know that I am faster than I give myself credit for. Oftentimes I hop on the treadmill at set it to 6.2 mph because I know I'll break a sweat and I'll also feel like I accomplished something. I can't say I've ever run more than a half-mile at 6.7 (a 9-minute mile), but now I know I shouldn't be afraid to. (However, I will say that while some people feel they are faster on the treadmill than they are outside, I think I tend to be a person who's faster running outside than I am inside...what can I say, I love the fresh air!)

Here's my map and splits for today:


  • Mile 1: 9:14
  • Mile 2: 8:37
  • Mile 3: 9:33
  • Mile 4: 9:19
  • Mile 5: 9:13
  • Mile 6: 9:02
  • Mile 7: 8:55
  • Mile 8: 8:47 (Powerade gel)
  • Mile 9: 8:51
  • Mile 10: 8:59
  • Mile 11: 8:57
  • Mile 12: 9:03 (evil steps at 72nd St.)
  • Mile 13: 8:23 (running my guts out)
  • 0.1 nubbin: 0:50
Total time: 1:57:47, wich an average pace of 8:59. The last time I had an average pace of 8:59 for anything over a half mile, I ran a 4 mile race in just under 36 minutes. I have to say, I'm pretty damn proud of myself for pushing my limits and running like hell. It was really a VERY good run!

After the run, I stretched very quickly (need to get on the foam roller again tonight!), showered, and headed to the Upper West Side for a much-needed brunch, free Rita's water ice (free every spring equinox), and free macarons! I wandered around the UWS before walking back across the park and feeling incredibly grateful to be a New Yorker. 
So pretty in the park!

I also found myself totally coveting an awesome home just off of 5th Avenue:
The one with the light blue roof...so Parisian!

Sigh. Maybe one day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

18 miles and 16 Handles

On Saturday, I was meant to run 18 miles. As I'd indicated on Twitter earlier in the week, I had a weird pain from my lower back to my upper hamstring that made it hurt to sit, and I even woke up in the middle of the night a few times throughout the week. It got better as the week went on, and stretching definitely improved it. I always make sure to stretch and foam roll after every run, especially after getting injured last July, so I thought it might be something worse when Saturday rolled around and I still had a twinge of pain. I decided to not take any chances (especially after reading this article about a pain in the butt) and hopped on the elliptical for an hour, making sure to stretch a lot afterward.

Honestly, I'd been dreading this run all week, and even woke up from a dream one morning thinking, "I don't WANT to run 18 miles today..." even though it was only Tuesday. For some reason, I'd woken up feeling PUMPED about running 17 miles, but 18...I don't know, I just couldn't get excited about it, which definitely contributed to my thinking I might be on my way to a debilitating hamstring injury. I must remember to always think positively, but I think I was also feeling some sort of pain, so it was good for me to listen to my body and not push it when it didn't want to be pushed.

Sunday morning rolled around though, and even after a fun night out with friends, I braved Central Park for a shot at 18 miles. For some reason, it seemed I didn't read the weather very well. I thought it sounded like it would be similar to the previous weekend, so I wore an almost identical outfit with just an extra tank top under my T-shirt. I figured if I was chilly I'd warm up soon enough.

Ten miles later the chill hadn't warn off. I was freezing and thought I'd swing by my apartment to grab a long-sleeved shirt before continuing on. But then I had a more brilliant idea -- run to the GYM and finish the run up there! It would be warm and I still had another Gu and water in my CamelBak! So I ran two more miles to get to 12, then finished up the final six on the treadmill.


  • Mile 1: 10:11
  • Mile 2: 10:22
  • Mile 3: 9:54
  • Mile 4: 10:03
  • Mile 5: 9:53
  • Mile 6: 9:46
  • Mile 7: 9:52
  • Mile 8: 9:51
  • Mile 9: 9:48
  • Mile 10: 9:31
  • Mile 11: 9:42
  • Mile 12: 9:30 

I ran the 12 miles in 1:58:29, for a 9:52 average. I didn't stop to take any pictures in the park, mostly because I was cold and didn't want to stop for anyone or anything (including any birds that might come my way*).

And here's a blurry iPod picture of the treadmill:

Also a 9:52 average! Go figure.

None of this run was pretty, but I got it done and I couldn't be happier about that! I rewarded myself with a manicure and a trip to 16 Handles for some much needed frozen yogurt and bountiful toppings. It really is the perfect reward after a tough run, though really, I could have totally used a full body massage...maybe next week.

This morning I was meant to pump some iron at Total Body Conditioning, or just do a weights workout on my own, but these options did not tempt me. My legs hadn't had a break since Sunday (I ran 5 miles on Monday) and they begged me not to torture them with squats. Instead, I clicked open ExerciseTV and did Bethenny Frankel's yoga. I was skeptical at first because I thought she might be leading the video, and as much as I enjoy her show, I didn't see her as an instructor. Thankfully, there was a totally likable yogi master instructing, and the hour flew by. It was challenging but interesting, and I really enjoyed the video. It helped open up my hips and stretch out my hamstrings, which I really needed. I think I'll be doing it again in the near future!

*I think I identified the type of bird that flew into my head! I had a look when I was running in the park, and I believe it was a starling:

which, naturally, has an interesting factoid connected to Central Park:
"The year was 1890 when an eccentric drug manufacturer named Eugene Schieffelin entered New York City's Central Park and released some 60 European starlings he had imported from England. In 1891 he loosed 40 more. Schieffelin's motives were as romantic as they were ill fated: he hoped to introduce into North America every bird mentioned by Shakespeare." - New York Times article
 Who knew?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Done and done

Yesterday was kind of a big day for me. I ran the farthest I've ever run at one time, and I'm pretty pumped about it. I woke up feeling excited but nervous about what the day held: a 17 mile run. I ran 12 miles last week, and those miles were TOUGH. I knew going into it with a good mental attitude would help power me through those 170 minutes of non-stop running, so I stayed positive. I also did something new with my music, listening to two episodes of NPR's This American Life before switching to some pump-up tunes. The TAL episodes helped the first two hours go by quickly but didn't psych me up/make me run super fast like some songs can do. I felt like my pace was manageable for 17 miles, and in the end, it definitely was!

I decided that instead of doing almost-three loops of Central Park, I would go back to running in one of my favorite spots, the West Side Highway. It was a beautiful day and I set out in a T-shirt and cropped running pants around noon. Everyone else seemed to have the same idea though, and it was pretty crowded out there. I was dodging strollers, dogs, and other runners the whole time, but it was really a great run. I made it almost to the tip of Manhattan before I turned around at 8.25 miles, and added some mileage on the way back by running out on some the piers/parks.

At 14 miles, I was elated -- it was the farthest I'd ever run and I was still going! It was definitely a motivator to keep going. At times, I thought to myself, "You know, it'd be OK if you just ran 15 or 16 miles instead of 17. 17 is FAR." I'd usually counter that with, "Well, it'd only be 10 or 20 minutes more if I just run 17, so why don't I just run 17?" That definitely did the trick!

Here's my map:

  • Mile 1: 10:04
  • Mile 2: 9:33
  • Mile 3: 9:50
  • Mile 4: 9:54
  • Mile 5: 10:00
  • Mile 6: 9:49
  • Mile 7: 9:56
  • Mile 8: 9:54
  • Mile 9: 9:56
  • Mile 10: 9:42
  • Mile 11: 9:43
  • Mile 12: 9:37
  • Mile 13: 9:22
  • Mile 14: 9:43
  • Mile 15: 9:45
  • Mile 16: 10:11 <-- running/falling up the stairs to get from the river to street level
  • Mile 17: 9:35
Average pace: 9:48. I took two Powerade gels with me, and took them around miles 8 and 14. They definitely help -- though I had my usual breakfast, I could feel that I needed some calories and these little guys really do the trick. Along with the gels, I was pretty darn geared up:
Post-run with SpiBelt, CamelBak, iPod and headphones. Not pictured: Garmin

I sometimes feel super lame when I'm out running with all this STUFF...like maybe other runners are calling me a nerd runner for having all this gear, like maybe they think I'm just running three miles and am overdoing it a bit...but I just keep on going, knowing this stuff is useful to me. I don't usually run with my CamelBak, but I bought it this summer for fall marathon training and found it to be useful then. Since I didn't want to go 17 miles without any hydration (water fountains are still turned off on the West Side Highway!), I thought it would be a good thing to have...and it definitely was!

Here are some photos from my lovely run:
Oh hellooo there Statue of Liberty, aren't you looking liberated?

View of the Empire State Building from Tribeca

Today I did some yoga to help stretch me out. Even though I spent 20 solid minutes stretching yesterday, I knew more stretching wouldn't hurt, and it's nice to do something active the day after a long run.

Next week: 18 miles. Woo! I'm now infinitely more confident that I can do 18 now that I've successfully tackled 17 miles.