Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NYCM Training: Running, Cooking, Baking, Beering

Another week down! And this was a toughie. It was a pullback week, but I wasn't feeling well for a few days. Eventually all calmed down enough for me to have a pretty normal week in terms of training (as exhausted as I was!). I think a perfect storm of staying super late at work, having a crazy busy wedding weekend, and not sleeping as much as I should all came together to knock me on my butt for a few days. So I took care of myself, slept a lot (aka a 4.5 hour nap on Wednesday, followed by a 10pm bedtime and an 8am wakeup), and still managed to get in all my runs, with a little adjustment to my training.

Here's how Week 12 ended up looking:
  • Monday: 35 mins elliptical, 22 mins StairMaster
  • Tuesday: 5 mile run; strength workout (two sets of 50 squats, 25 bicep curls, 25 tricep extensions, 25 shoulder presses, 25 lunges each leg, 50 hip extensions each leg; plus ab work)
  • Wednesday: 5 mile run
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: 5 mile run
  • Saturday: 8 mile run
  • Sunday: 13 mile run
Total mileage: 36. Not bad for being sick!

I was pretty pleased with my strength workout on Tuesday -- I was even sore! 100 squats are no joke. Getting to Sarina's Total Body Conditioning class can be tough on days when five miles is on the training schedule, so I've just been doing these little 25-minute strength workouts when I can. It's not nearly as much cardio as Sarina's class, but I get that in by running! 

I only got outside for two runs this week, but it was so humid out that I felt like that's not too bad! I'm SO ready for fall weather -- and I think it's coming this weekend, just in time for my first 20 mile run in this training! The high for Sunday right now is 59, which would be perrrfect for this run. I'm actually looking forward to running 20 miles!!!

This week...unexciting runs. Frankly I felt like I'd lost my running mojo a little bit this week. I didn't feel terribly motivated to go out and run, but I did it anyway. Maybe I'm getting a little burned out? Maybe (hopefully!) it's just because I was sick? Not sure. This week I do feel better (both physically and in terms of mojo), so I think/hope that it was just an off week.

My long run was pretty good though! It was 13 miles of heat and humidity, but I stuck it out and lived to tell the tale.


I felt I'd been neglecting my beautiful Central Park, so I visited it first, then swung over to the West Side Highway for some quality time. As I've done in the past, I mentally broke this run up into a 5 miler, 4 miler, 4 miler. For whatever reason, it totally tricks me into thinking the run isn't that long. I mean, at this point, 13 miles isn't THAT long, but it does take two hours to get that run done! Two episodes of This American Life and a little TSwift for the walk to the gym for post-run foam rolling got me through!

9:19 for an average -- not bad! I'm really really REALLY hoping that this non-racing 13 mile run means that I'll be able to break 2 hours when I run 13.1 FOR REAL on Oct. 9 in the Staten Island Half!

Picture from the run:
Upper West Side running
I love running on this path. It's so beautiful, there are interesting sculptures, usually a nice breeze, and not SO many people. It can get a little hairy down in the West Village, but for a short stretch on the Upper West Side, there's just peace and running.

Sunday was a beautiful day, and luckily there was a pretty nice breeze going, but it was humid and hot, too. I definitely did my shorts and racerback tank tan lines no favors that day. Summer may be over, but those tan lines aren't going ANYWHERE.

Aside from running, I also got in some cooking AND baking in this weekend! I'd been itching to make another Mama Pea recipe, and when I saw her Thai fried quinoa a couple of weeks back, I bookmarked it, ordered all the necessary supplies from FreshDirect, and cooked it Saturday afternoon after my 8 mile treadmill run.
Quinoa cooking in coconut milk and veggie broth,
scallions, peas and pineapples in the skillet
It was one of the easiest recipes I've ever made, and one of the most delicious (if I do say so myself!). I'm still working my way through it for lunch this week, but it is so tasty and so simple! Definitely make it soon!

On Saturday, I noticed a picture of some delicious looking cookies by Kelly pop up in my Twitter feed with the comment that cookies have been fueling her NYCM training. Instantly, I decided I needed more cookies in my training, so I commented on them and started searching her blog for the recipe. But before I could even find them, she responded with the link to the cookie recipe! So as a reward to myself for an awesome week of running, and in the spirit of fueling for this weekend's 20 mile run, I baked a batch.
Seriously, these are some amaaaazing cookies. Also easy, kind of healthy (applesauce replaces some of the butter, agave replaces the white chocolate, and everyone knows oats and dark chocolate are good for you!), and absolutely delicious. I've been helping myself to  one  three every day. Definitely helping my running, I'm sure!

Topping all of the running, cooking and baking?
Pumpkin ale!
What? Beer drinking is good for running recovery! It's science!

Friday, September 23, 2011

NYCM Training: On missing runs (and not apologizing about it) (aka Week 11)

For the first time since I started training for the NYC Marathon on July 4, I missed two running workouts.  In one week. Sure, I've missed a couple of cross-training workouts over the past 11 weeks, but not a single run. The old runner me would have scolded me, tried to make up for missed miles, insisted that I wasn't SO hungover from the wedding that I couldn't run 8 measly miles! But the new(er) runner me is one who missed two whole, entire weeks of training when she was in Asia visiting her brother and still ran a 4:13 marathon. The newer running me recognizes that celebrating the marriage of two good friends takes precedence over my silly training plan, and this marriage will happen once, there will be plenty of more runs for me to do throughout the next six weeks. (Luckily I squeezed in my 18 mile run before the festivities began on Friday!)

When I was training for my first half marathon, I was religious about getting all of my runs in, but didn't do much else -- Total Body Conditioning class fell to the wayside, I didn't do yoga or really spend any time on the elliptical. As I've become a more knowledgeable runner though, I've learned the benefits of going with the flow, incorporating cross-training and strength workouts into my training, and actually enjoying my training. It's OK to miss runs! (Just try not to miss the long runs...)

With that, last week wasn't too exciting in terms of training. I only had three runs, two of which were on the treadmill. The 18 mile run, though, was SO good, and definitely was NOT done on a treadmill.

Here's how last week shaped up:
  • Monday: 5 mile run
  • Tuesday: rest
  • Wednesday: 8 mile speed workout
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: 18 mile run
  • Saturday: dancing at my friend's wedding!
  • Sunday: lots of walking around DC
Total mileage: 31

I got to DC late on Thursday night, after an extremely long workday on Wednesday (hence Thursday's missed run). Since my parents have HBO and I don't, I obviously thought that an excellent use of my time would be to finish the most recent season of True Blood (and it was an excellent use of my time...that season finale was crazy!). However, this put my bedtime past midnight, and I was getting up at 5:30 to run 18 miles before L's bridesmaid luncheon, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, etc. Plus, it was going to be in the 50s when I started this run, and I had no cold weather running gear with me. Needless to say, I did not have high hopes for this run and was ready to cut it short if I had to.

But then I saw this:
Hello, sunrise
And this:
Beautiful morning!
And this:
On my way over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge!
Yep, I ran over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge! Kind of cool because the bridge goes through Virginia, DC and Maryland! Two states and one district in one day!
All three in one bridge!
View of Old Town Alexandria
After the fun bridge adventure, I ran through Old Town and along the river. I happened upon an old stomping ground of mine:
Oronoco Bay Park
My first race EVER, a 5k, ended at Oronoco Bay Park. I didn't even realize that I'd be running through it when I started on this run, but it was so much fun to happen up on it! 

I basically just kept running...until I hit Reagan National Airport. THE AIRPORT! That's like four stops on the Metro from my house. It's a lot of exits off the GW Parkway. It's THE AIRPORT!!! 
Seriously backlit Reagan National Airport
I'd always seen people running by the airport, and I'd always wondered, "HOW do they get there?!"And last Friday, I was one of those people running by the airport! It was pretty fun. I ran back to the car after that, and was SO thirsty pretty much the whole time. As soon as I spotted a water fountain by the waterfront, I sprinted and gulped as much water as I could.

The run ended up being really great! Here's the map:
And splits:
  • Mile 1 - 10:03
  • Mile 2 - 9:34
  • Mile 3 - 9:22
  • Mile 4 - 9:22
  • Mile 5 - 9:20
  • Mile 6 - 9:17
  • Mile 7 - 9:27
  • Mile 8 - 9:07
  • Mile 9 - 9:17
  • Mile 10 - 9:10
  • Mile 11 - 9:10
  • Mile 12 - 9:05
  • Mile 13 - 9:09
  • Mile 14 - 9:15
  • Mile 15 - 9:16
  • Mile 16 - 9:17
  • Mile 17 - 9:02
  • Mile 18 - 8:42
Total time: 2:47:04, average pace of 9:17!

I may have missed a couple of runs last week, but I had a great long run and a wonderful time at the wedding!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

NYCM Training: Eight weeks to go!

Today was a great day for a run. Not only was it an important day for our nation and the world to reflect, but it was a day that made me incredibly proud to be a New Yorker. I ran along the edges of this little island, from the Upper East Side, down along the East River, through Battery Park, up along the West Side Highway to Riverside Park, and finally, after the run ended on the Upper West Side, I walked home through Central Park. More on that run later, but first, this week!

  • Monday: 45 mins elliptical
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run, 25 min strength workout
  • Wednesday: 8 mile tempo (8:51 average!)
  • Thursday: 4 mile run
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 8 mile run (8:49 average!)
  • Sunday: 17 mile run (9:13 average!!!)
Total mileage: 41. FORTY-ONE AAAHHH. This is the farthest weekly mileage I have EVER done.  Even in my last marathon training, I didn't go above 36 miles in a week. And as of today's run, I've put 475 miles on my current pair of Brooks Ravenna 2s. Which means I went shopping today!

Hello, gorgeous...love the snazzy blue laces!
I actually bought two pairs. I still have two months till the marathon and don't want to run the race in shoes that have over 250 miles on them (yes, I've still got 250 miles of training to do till the marathon...actually, 259...). So I got two of the exact same pair of shoes, and I'll alternate them every week. Can't wait to break in these babies!

I also signed up for a run with the New York Flyers that sounds really fun called the Three Bridges Long Training Run. It's a 20 mile run on Oct. 2 (the exact date I have my first 20-mile run planned!) that starts at the UES Jack Rabbit Sports and snakes around, crossing three bridges (including the 59th Street Bridge, which is the bridge that takes you to Manhattan during the NYC marathon!). I am SO psyched for this run! I haven't run any bridges during my training yet (bad, I know), and it sounds like this run will help to prepare me for it. It's only $10, so if you're running the marathon, sign up!

Back to this week's workouts: This week was a really great week. After last week's rather torturous runs, it was a much-needed confidence boost to have a week of excellent runs, especially on Wednesday, Saturday and today (my mom even told me how proud she is of me after I told her about today's run...aww). Last time I trained for a marathon, I did most of my midweek mid-mileage runs on the treadmill (maybe because it was the winter and it was dark?), but I've gotten much better about getting these done outside, and now that the weather's more bearable, I'm much more motivated to run outdoors.

On Wednesday, I did a tempo run in Central Park. It was a little rainy, and very dark, but I was so glad I did this run outside. The weather ended up being kind of perfect (despite my belief that I needed a jacket...I swear, every time the seasons start to change I have zero idea what to wear and dress completely inappropriately for at least two weeks), and a slow start picked up and I felt great by the end. 

Yesterday's run started off a bit slow as well, but in miles five and six (8:27 and 8:32 average pace!) I felt SO speedy and SO good. My legs were fresh and I was happy to be out there. There were tons of other runners in the park, too, which made for great people watching. After the run, I had an excellent brunch at Le Pain Quotidien (please try their ricotta and fig tartine...it is amazing!), and then dashed off to Long Island for the day for a friend's bridal shower. My belly was full of delicious food, and I've decided that sangria and strawberry margaritas may be the perfect recovery drinks! A slice of cinnamon-chocolate cake probably didn't hurt either...gotta have those carbs!

Today I woke up a bit later than anticipated, but luckily the weather was still quite cool. I had half a bagel with peanut butter (my usual pre-long-run fuel), but was lacking a little motivation. Maybe it was the 9/11 memorials on TV, but I was just not feeling up to it. A quick call to my mom pepped me up pretty quickly though, as I realized this would be a perfect day for a long run. I'd get to see all of Manhattan, enjoy the weather, and feel accomplished afterward -- what more motivation could you ask for?

Here's my route:
The perfect tour de Manhattan!
And my splits:
  • Mile 1 - 9:41
  • Mile 2 - 9:28
  • Mile 3 - 9:22
  • Mile 4 - 9:26
  • Mile 5 - 9:21
  • Mile 6 - 10:12 (my Garmin always goes super wonky when I run under the bridges along the East River)
  • Mile 7 - 8:40 (this would be my Garmin realizing that the last mile's average probably wasn't right, and so it should make up for it)
  • Mile 8 - 9:12 
  • Mile 9 - 9:11 
  • Mile 10 - 8:58
  • Mile 11 - 8:52
  • Mile 12 - 9:01
  • Mile 13 - 9:00
  • Mile 14 - 8:57
  • Mile 15 - 9:01
  • Mile 16 - 9:04
  • Mile 17 - 9:14
Total time: 2:36:48, average pace of 9:13! Almost exactly six months ago, I ran 17 miles and my pace was 9:48. It's so exciting to see improvement!
Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan
Around mile 7, I happened upon this gorgeous art project in Battery Park meant to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The idea was to tie a "ribbon of hope" with words of hope written on it to a standing structure. At first I was just going to snap a photo and keep running, but when a volunteer asked if I wanted to fill out a ribbon, I happily took a few minutes from my run to write something out and participate in this beautiful display. They actually said I was the first runner to stop -- I'm very glad that I got to be a part of it!
Can you spot my ribbon of hope?
Several of the many panels they had up
There were a few other memorial installations around, including this amazing flag display:
This is only a small number of the flags that were in the area
After that I continued on my way, stopping for a moment to take a picture of the World Trade Center, draped in our flag:
I don't mean to dwell on this too much, but it was an inspiring day to be out and about on the streets of New York, and I was honestly rather overwhelmed with the feeling of my connection with this city, especially considering where I was 10 years ago -- in my junior year French class in high school...I'd never visited New York, and I didn't have the ability to fully understand what was happening or how this would change the world. I definitely took a few minutes during my run today to silently think of the people who lost their lives on that day and since, to thank the people who have worked to keep our country safe.

Phew. OK. So yes. It was an excellent run. I listened to a little This American Life and some music during this run, which I think helped me out both mentally and in my pacing (hello, consistency in that second half!). I also used a little trick that helped to break it up some: after the first five miles, I broke up the remaining 12 miles into three four-mile runs. It helped me stay focused and helped the miles fly by!

I'm pretty sure I'll be doing this every week now, but here's the countdown: Eight more weeks! I can't believe it! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ohhh we're halfway there!

Nine weeks down, nine to go! I can't believe I'm halfway through with marathon training...feels so good to know it and I just know the next nine weeks are going to fly by, too. Here's a recap of my week:

  • Monday: rest (Hurricane Irene made me leave DC on Monday instead of Sunday, so I slept in and worked instead of waking up early and working out...)
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run, Total Body Conditioning
  • Wednesday: 5 mile run
  • Thursday: 4 mile run
  • Friday: rest (well, I did walk a mile and a half across the park just to go to Trader Joe's...)
  • Saturday: 7 mile run at race pace (actually did it below goal race pace, around 8:51!)
  • Sunday: 12 mile run in some serious humidity
Total mileage: 32 

This week was another pullback week, but that doesn't mean it wasn't tough. The weekend runs were especially painful -- there were about a billion times when I thought about giving up on Sunday's 12 miler, but I stuck it out and as always, am glad that I did. I did learn a valuable lesson in that run though -- the Bridle Path and I do not mix. I almost fell or twisted my ankle countless times, but I caught myself before the Bridle Path could take me down. But now I've made a new enemy in my running journeys around New York City, which will join the 72nd Street staircase in Riverside Park (note to self: take the ramp when you run there; it's much less painful and much smarter than taking the staircase). 

So something I noticed this week: both of my weekend runs sucked. I literally got home and was SO glad that they were over. I was also glad that I did them, but OMG did they suck during. On Saturday's 7 mile run, I had to stop every mile for the first half to stretch out my legs (note to self: foam roll more often and more aggressively. Also, schedule a massage. ASAP), but they loosened up for the second half even if my pace dropped off a bit. Sunday's run was especially hard. I left around 9 a.m., but the heat and humidity were already kind of terrible. I wanted to change up my route a little, so I tried out the Bridle Path/ decided to see where a cute guy with a neon arm cast was headed on his run (note to self: do not follow people, it's creepy and you might end up on the Bridle Path), which was a terrible mistake. I don't know if it still reminds me too much of the uneven towpath that was a new terrain on my first marathon, but it was very much UNFUN and I will not be returning to it soon.

One nice thing I can say for the Bridle Path? 
Hello, Upper West Side
Looks shady and cool...is not.
It does offer some pretty views when the reservoir path is too packed with people, as it often is on a Sunday morning...

Here's how my route ended up looking:
One big loop and one smaller loop
And my splits:
  • Mile 1 - 9:52
  • Mile 2 - 9:16
  • Mile 3 - 9:15
  • Mile 4 - 9:38 (Harlem Hill)
  • Mile 5 - 9:19
  • Mile 6 - 9:19
  • Mile 7 - 9:32 (oh hey there Bridle Path, thanks for messing with my head)
  • Mile 8 - 9:23
  • Mile 9 - 9:31
  • Mile 10 - 9:09 (probably a downhill somewhere...)
  • Mile 11 - 9:25
  • Mile 12 - 9:56 (consistently repeating to myself, "You can go as slowly as you want to, just finish it up!")
Total time: 
Not TOO shabby...
For an average pace of 9:28. Could've been worse, but UGH this was a very tough run!

Despite how difficult this run was and how many times I thought about stopping and finishing up on the treadmill (I decided EH! What's the difference...I'm already out here so I might as well keep going!), seeing this did make me laugh a bit though:
Yes, that would be two men "cross-country rollerblading".
Yes, their poles are neon orange. Yes, I was very impressed.
I touched on this a couple of posts ago, but lately I've been running without music quite a bit...no This American Life podcasts, no Girl Talk, no Taylor Swift (I do watch Morning Joe when I run on the treadmill though...some things just can't be done to silence, and treadmill running is one of them for me). Part of it is that I get super annoyed at my iPhone jiggling around in my SpiBelt, but part of it is that I want to listen to my body and want to not NEED music just to get through a tough run. It's been a challenge for me (and it's also making me very out of touch with what the kids are listening to these days...note to self: check out the iTunes top songs just in case you decide to run to music again soon), but I've mostly enjoyed it. 

But I wonder, if I'd just stuck in those headphones and cranked a little TSwift, Britney or Kesha (or hey, why not all three?), would I have been able to push a little harder, gone a little faster, finished the run on a higher note? Maybe, but maybe not. At the same time, I think it's important to train without music -- your iPod could die during the race, your race might ban headphones (the NYC Marathon "strongly discourages"using them), or you might be crazy like me and want to see just how tough you are and whether you can handle the run without having to rely on music. I think I can...

Note to self: You're one tough cookie. If you can train these nine weeks injury-free (KNOCK ON WOOD!) in these tough weather conditions and mentally tough runs, you are probably gonna rock the 26.2 November 6. Which is two months away. Which means your birthday is one month away. Which means you deserve a cupcake, for all the hard work you've put in:
Pumpkin spice cupcake from Sugar Sweet Sunshine.
Here's to another nine amazing weeks...

Friday, September 2, 2011

NYCM Training: Week eight update!

I'm WAY behind on posting... Hurricane Irene really put me off my game! But I got in all my runs and had an excellent eighth week of training:
  • Monday: 45 mins intermediate PocketYoga
  • Tuesday: 4 mile run, TBC
  • Wednesday: 7 mile speed work
  • Thursday: 4 mile run
  • Friday: 15 mile run
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: 7 mile run
Total mileage: 37! Whoa!

Tuesday was a nice, easy run on the treadmill followed by Total Body Conditioning class, which was tough as always. Wednesday I hit snooze a few too many times and woke up an hour after my 5:25am alarm, but I still managed to get a great speed workout in, running around the reservoir in the park a few times and killing my time goals for the speed portions. Thursday was an easy 4-miler along the East River,  Friday was a 15 mile run before boarding a bus to DC for the weekend (it seems I have a thing for running long distances prior to boarding some type of transportation), and Sunday's 7 mile run was done on the treadmill at my parents' house as soon as the power came back on, with True Blood on in the background (perfect distraction!).

I didn't really map out the 15 mi run beforehand, but it ended up working out pretty well. I was a little off of my game though... My stomach felt off at the beginning and I was going really pretty slowly, especially for the first half. It wasn't the best run by any means, but I am SO glad that I got through it! Plus, it was a pretty morning:
New World Trade Center building 
Empire State Building off in the distance
  • Mile 1 - 10:30
  • Mile 2 - 9:46
  • Mile 3 - 10:25
  • Mile 4 - 9:16
  • Mile 5 - 9:33
  • Mile 6 - 10:09
  • Mile 7 - 9:35
  • Mile 8 - 9:11 --> took a Gu somewhere in here
  • Mile 9 - 9:14
  • Mile 10 - 9:17
  • Mile 11 - 9:13
  • Mile 12 - 9:12
  • Mile 13 - 9:18
  • Mile 14 - 9:43 (evil 72nd St. stairs!)
  • Mile 15 - 9:17
Total time: 2:23:46, average pace of 9:35. Hello, inconsistent splits in the first half!

So yeah, definitely not the worst run in the world, but I stopped at pretty much every single water fountain and felt a litttttle dizzy at times, but I listened to my body and if I felt like I shouldn't continue, I definitely wouldn't have done so. I brought my Metrocard with me too, in case I decided to cut it off at 12 or 13 miles and finish it up later at home in DC, but luckily I didn't have to do that. I also ran into a guy who was in my Total Body Conditioning class when I lived near Union Square, and saw Theodora and Gia on their long training run, too! I'd seen on the NYCM Facebook page that they were doing their long runs on Friday, so it was fun to run into them for a hot second. On the bus, I rocked my hot pink compression socks, took a nap, ate a Clif bar and a yogurt (gotta get that protein in post-long run!), and thanked goodness that even though I was running late, I made time to shower before boarding the bus. I'm sure my seatmate was equally grateful for that.

So yeah. Week eight was a good one. Now week nine is pretty much done, which means I'm almost halfway through this marathon training thing. CRAZY. In week 10, I run 41 miles. FORTY-ONE MILES. The last time I trained for a marathon, the highest weekly mileage I had was 36, which I surpassed this week. This time around, I'll get up to 44. Kind of crazy. Kind of exciting. I kind of can't wait for the New York City Marathon! NINE WEEKS!

Other things I'm excited for: fall weather, my friend's wedding in September, another friend's wedding in October, my birthday Oct. 6, the Staten Island Half-Marathon Oct. 9, baking with pumpkin, oatmeal for breakfast, fall in general...can you tell I love fall?

Here's to a great second half of marathon training!