Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Year in Review

A look back on a year in running, swimming and cycling.

2010 started with a bang as my husband, best friend and I all ran the New Year's Eve 4 miler to ring in the new year. All that I remember is a slow, slippery jog through the park with lots of excited folks. It was my only run with my husband all year long! It was an appropriate start to a year that topped out at 1300 miles last week before I came down with the plague and we got buried under 2.5 ft of snow in NJ.

We had a rough winter weather-wise, but I slogged through it with the help of many other great runners and new friends made via twitter.

January: The Manhattan half marathon in Central Park. I ran this one with Elyssa (Bridges Runner) and our friend Ansky who was looking for his first sub 1:50. The conditions were mild considering the date and we cruised in to a 1:48! This was the first of my 4 (out of a possible 5) Grand Prix races this year.
I also got in a fun training run in January with my brother and sister in law who came to NJ for a visit while training for their first half marathon. That was a first and it was great to have the company. They've since tackled half marathons, a full marathon and a few triathlons too!

February: This picture sums up Feb in a nutshell, lots of snow! We had the Snowpocalypse, the Snurricane and SnOMG. Through it all, I managed to get in a handful of quality runs to prepare for the "Run for Haiti" hosted in Central Park by the NYRR and also held virtually around the world. I was in NJ to get my car inspected that day, so I had to run it alone. Believe it or not: I set a new 4 mile PR on the nice square course near Mom's house. Was it the coffee?lack of crowds? I don't know but I came in at 28:27! 15 sec PR.

March: Looking back on my March blog posts I can see that the weather finally began to change because I am wearing shorts in all of my pictures. March was a good month this year, I'd been training pretty hard for the Shamrock 1/2 in VA Beach with a goal of 1:43 in mind. I had so much fun running that race and unleashing my new speed that thinking about it still makes me smile. I walked away with a 1:40 and a huge 6 minute PR. My brother and SIL rocked this race too, it was their first half and they are hooked! I'm not sure if this race is sold out yet, but if you're looking for a flat, fast half (or full) I recommend Shamrock!
Coogan's 5K is also in March, and it's one of my favorite races of the year! Passing by my apt and running "my hills" is always a blast. I made a math error this year, but I'm ready for it in 2011- I will get a new 5K PR!

April: This was a month of new things for me- I bought a road bike in April in preparation for the NYC Triathlon and I was hesitant but still pretty excited. I can still remember the nerves as I made my first ride around Fort Tryon park with my clipless pedals. I still have a lot to learn on the bike, but I have come a long, long way too. Hopefully 2011 will be the year that I get out of the middle of the pack on that bike.
April is the first time I considered a 70.3 Half Ironman, now I'm registered for one! I think it is safe to say that April was the beginning of an era: the triathlon was becoming a reality.

April brought yet another 4 mile PR, this time in Central Park with the crowds. This was my 4th "Run as One" for the Thomas G Labreque foundation and I went into it with no intention of racing, but the crowds got me excited and I took off, smoking those 4 miles in 27:48 which pushed my NYRR bib pace down into the 6:00's! Wow. I remember when I was running this race in 31:30 just a few years ago.

May: The Riverdale Ramble kicked off the month with a steamy, sweaty 10K on the crazy hills of the Bronx. It was worth it though because I came away with a 3rd place AG medal and a gift certificate from the raffle despite having Strep the week before. I'm looking forward to that race again this year, I'd like to kick some hilly butt.
Later in May I volunteered with a group of friends and one weird guy at the North Face endurance challenge 50 miler on Bear Mountain. It was so much fun that I may do it again this year, but I'll be sure that I don't have plans the day after because I was exhausted!!
The end of May brought warm weather and the start of the Van Cortlandt Track Club summer 5K series. I walked away with the first of many victory muffins!

June: My first triathlon!!!!! The NY Sprint Tri in Harriman State Park is where it all began! I
did really well (4th in my AG!) and most of all- I LOVED IT!! I can still remember smiling as I rode along the hilly bike course because I was riding with confidence and I was really looking forward to the run portion. It was during the run that I realized so many of the folks who smoked me on the bike were practically standing still on the run. Hmm, I was on to something here.
In mid-June I did another new type of race: a 12 person weekend relay in Vermont. The Green Mountain Relay was more fun than I could have imagined spending a weekend in a sweaty van could possibly be. I met some really fun people that have become good friends, both virtually and in real life. A 200 mile trek through the hills of Vermont can bring out the best in a group of runners, and thanks to TK we had a great bunch of people and a really smooth weekend. We aren't doing the relay this year, but I have a feeling we'll be back in 2012!

July: Early July was training intensive as I prepared for the big event: NYC Triathlon! I was really excited leading up to the race and it went exactly as planned, despite the wicked hot temps. With a killer swim in 17:52, a decent bike in 1:30 and a rockin' PR 10K run in 45:52 I crossed the finish line in 2:46:34 and I was thrilled with the results. Again I passed a lot of folks on the run and wondered why they were going so slow. I never realized that most triathletes aren't runners, who knew? They're all great on the bike and a lot of people struggle in the water, but I didn't realize until I started reading more about tri's that a lot of folks don't come from a strong running background! I'll be using this to my advantage in the future.
The sweaty, disgusting Queens Half Marathon was also in May, it was the 3rd of the Grand Prix races that I did this year. The trend continued and I ran the race with a couple of girlfriends which made it fun and bearable. Sadly, NYRR's attempt to revamp the Queens course just resulted in a windy, out and back boring course.

August: It was a quiet month after a busy July, I slowly started training for the NYC Marathon and tackled my last triathlon of the season. I went back to Harriman State Park with a little more experience under my belt and a hunger for better than 4th place. I raced hard again and walked away with this baby ----->
It was so exciting and fun, but I knew I had to buckle down and get training for the marathon and put my triathlon dreams on the shelf for the time being. I managed a few more VCTC 5K races and a few more muffins to finish off the season.

September: The Philly half was my goal race this month, but as you may remember it didn't go the way Elyssa and I hoped. In hindsight, perhaps it wasn't reasonable to expect a half marathon PR while training for a full when we both have pretty solid HM PRs. September was also the month that I stopped trying to fix my knee injury on my own and sought outside help. I found an excellent Physical Therapist who treats this type of injury on a regular basis who really helped me strengthen my knee so I was able to run pain free. If you're looking for a PT, be sure to check out Finish Line PT in Chelsea, they're excellent.
My husband and I also took a trip to Germany in late September for the wedding of one of my dearest friends, I was sad that I wasn't able to sneak in a run because of my knee pain, but we had such a wonderful trip and made memories that will really last forever. Marathon training marched on.

October: The best race of the Grand prix series takes place in September, the Staten Island half marathon, which was a lot of fun. It was my first time doing the SI Half and I think I'll do it again in the future. Elyssa and I had a really good race which we saw as an indication of readiness for the marathon. We finished in 1:48 and were thrilled with our steady, marathon pace run. Despite fighting a knee injury, I was finally getting excited for the marathon. I kept on logging the miles both on the road and in the pool in an attempt to keep out of the marathon training slump. My swimming partner returned from her house upstate after many months away and it was great to have her back. It was around this time that we started discussing a long distance swim in the spring or early summer next year. I started looking and found the Great Bay swim in June, a 4.4 mile swim between the spans of two bridges that cross from Annapolis to a small island. I entered the lottery and got accepted just before the marathon.
Husband and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary on Halloween and spent the weekend in Rockland County, NY which turned out to be beautiful and peaceful. We'll be back.

November: Finally, it was time to run the damn NYC Marathon! Everyone I knew was tired, mentally exhausted and just ready to get Nov 7th in the rearview mirror. There's a lot to say about the marathon, but I already said most of it here and here. In the end, I'm happy with a new marathon PR (3:46 from a previous 4:03) and another marathon under my belt. I had a great experience both training and running with Elyssa this year, I'm not sure I would have finished without her. I know now that the marathon isn't my passion and may never be. I'm ready to see what I can do in the triathlon next year at various distances. The remainder of Nov was recovery, swimming, trying new things at the gym and rehab. The knee remained stubborn and I ended up getting an MRI to see if there was anything significantly wrong with it. Luckily, there isn't.
December: I'm tired of writing, you're probably tired of reading (if you made it this far- kudos) and I only have one race to report on this month. Just like last year, I ran the Pete McArdle 15K in Central Park with TE from Inwood Hill Runners and Elyssa decided to join in the "fun" this year. In keeping with tradition, it was the shittiest possible weather and the wind was unbearable. Luckily we were armed with a secret weapon this year to prevent us from freezing to death again: my car. The weather being even worse than last year, I wasn't able to beat my time from 2009, but I had a great race and a lot of fun. Best of all, my wonderful hubby made us pancakes and tea after the race. A perfect ending to a great year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I know it's the first day of winter but...

I really love this photo that I took in early November and I am not yet ready to embrace winter. The new blog header photo will stay up until we get our first big snow of the season. I have some great photos from last winter, but I am also looking forward to snapping a few shots with our new camera this year. Damn George, you're a beauty.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Some more cold weather thoughts

This week on the New York Running Show we talked about cold weather running and what to wear, where to shop, how to stay safe. You should definitely check it out for some good ideas on staying warm:http://newyorkrunningshow.com

Upon listening to the show, I realized that no one mentioned running shoes for cold/icky weather. I personally make the switch to my Gore-Tex Asics Gel Trabuco trail shoes. They're toasty and really keep my feet dry in sloppy conditions. I wore them last year (and now this year!) at the Pete McArdle XC 15K in VCP in some muddy, wet and cold conditions and fared really well.

I think it is worth the cost for a warm pair of shoes that will last a while because you'll only want to wear them in crappy weather conditions since they don't breathe as well as regular running shoes. The North Face and Solomon also have a few Gore Tex options in their lines. It's worth it. Paired with a nice pair of Smartwool socks and you're in business! No more excuses for skipping your run because it is slushy or rainy or even snowy!

Deja Vu: Pete McArdle 15K

I didn't know that the second weekend in December was scheduled to be rainy and messy every year until I started running the Pete McArdle XC Classic 15K. Just like last year I woke up to pouring rain, mild-ish temps and wind. This year was a bit warmer but the wind was atrocious. The rain was about the same, on and off but never a heavy downpour except for 2 minutes before the starting gun.

For some reason, NYRR made the very odd decision to start us ON the grass for a very small 0.3 loop before beginning our 3 big loops of the 5K path. I can't imagine the parks dept was happy having all 165 runners thrashing across the very wet field they've spent months tending. It was a gross way to start because it meant our shoes were soaked right away. Or in some peoples cases, their socks. I was running alongside Bridges Runner when suddenly she disappeared. I looked back to see her hopping with one stocking foot held high in the air while TE, a fellow Inwood runner, rescued Elyssa's right shoe from the mud puddle where it had gotten stuck. I looked on in disbelief, then doubled over in laughter. We were a mere 0.2 miles into the race. We carried on, laughing as we pushed against a strong headwind from the south. There would be no advantage on the flats today.

The first loop went by pretty quickly and I felt really good. We were passing folks going up and down the hills and the wind was not a factor in the woods. The path was very muddy, but fun. We hit the windy flats and really dug in with our heads down. Wow, there would be no PR with this wind, I felt like we were standing still with sheets of rain stinging my face and legs. As we reached the southern tip of the flats and started to make the turn around the Tortise and Hare pole, E somehow lost control of her hat and it flew off into the mud. More laughing. We trudged through the muddy hills a second time and somewhere on the back hills E told me to go on without her. I wasn't going to leave her, but she slowed way down and waved me on. I carried on at a good pace with a few targets to pass ahead of me. I was feeling good and so was my knee. I hit the wall of wind again on the flats and really pushed to get south to the turnaround, I was definitely using a lot of energy just to make forward progress. The volunteers cheered me on and we laughed at my attempt as forward progress. The third lap came with an untied shoe just before hitting the woods again. 2 people passed me, but I managed to catch and pass them both. Whew. I ran a solid final lap, urging myself on with thoughts of finishing strong and getting in the warm car. I tried to sprint to the finish, but the wind was so strong that I could hardly run. I felt like I finished strong, but it may not be reflected in my time.

In the end I didn't beat my time, there was no way. I did finish 5th in my AG, 10th for women and 68th overall out of 168.

Final time: 1:22
Avg pace: 8:53 (ouch)

The splits were pretty even for each loop which made me happy.
I felt fantastic, had fun and I'm sore today so I can say I'm completely happy with the effort and the results. I know it may sound awful, cold, wet and mind numbing, but I really enjoy that race. I'm already looking forward to my next VCP race.

I've always enjoyed the neatness of the elevation profile for this race.

Enjoying post-race pancakes and hot beverages thanks to my wonderful hubby

My clothes and shoes are still drying

Friday, December 10, 2010

No pants Friday

Well the MRI was quick and painless. I took my pants off, got strapped in so I didn't wiggle my knee and we were off. Typical Friday morning really...
In the past I've had MRI's but only of my brain and spine so today I felt ass backwards going in feet first. I realized that today was either my 5th or 6th MRI, I can't remember if I got one or two when I had meningitis in '06. Either way, I'd say that's above average for someone who is only 27. Luckily for me, I find the clanging and banging to be soothing and I usually snooze. Today was quick and dirty and over before I could get in a proper nap. The tech was a nice guy who said I was a month late because usually the Marathoners come in November. :) He said he ran NCYM once as a "thing to do in his life" sort of thing. We agreed it was a party for New York and lots of fun. More fun than lying in a highly magnetic tube? Possibly.
Now we wait.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010

My secret weapon

Have I mentioned my new foam roller that I love/hate? I was using the Trigger Point foam roller at PT and seeing/feeling good results. When I took time off from PT for the marathon I missed this devil. Finally I went back to PT and bought my own. It made my plain old white foam roller feel like a gentle rub, so there was no looking back. The Trigger Point foam roll has bumps and ridges that dig into knots and it has a hollow core made from solid plastic that makes a big difference. If you have tightness anywhere, I highly recommend it. They have a whole line of trigger point stuff to make you scream at http://tptherapy.com (For the record, no one paid me to write this, I just love this thing!!)
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New York Running Show

Check out the NY Running Show at the new site: http://newyorkrunningshow.com/ and be sure to download it from iTunes. Tonight's topic was "cold weather running" with a special guest from North Dakota where they REALLY know cold. Also, I'm on the show.


With NYC marathon a full month in the rearview mirror, I'm having passing thoughts about the marathon in general. I mentioned to someone shortly after the event last month that one thing I learned through the training and race itself is the marathon is not my passion. I know plenty of folks who are always training for or dreaming about training for a marathon. They have oodles of races on a mental checklist and whether or not they "love" the training, they do it over and over. That isn't me. I can't see myself ever running more than one a year, maybe not even that many. I'm not sure if it's because my earlier training this year was tri training, but I found the marathon training especially tedious this time. I discovered the joys of varied training without feeling like you're "cheating on running" because your swim and bike workouts are just as important. If your ass is too sore to ride (it happens) today, you rearrange and swim instead of whatever. It is harder to do that with marathon training. I enjoyed that aspect of tri training and lot because I have a hard time with a rigid schedule.
That said, someone remind me to look back and read this when I'm wiped out from training for the 70.3 next year. :)

Things on the running front have been back and forth for me lately, I had 2 good runs last week and saw the Orthopedist who didn't have much to say. On Sunday I had a fun and beautiful run in West Philly with a good friend, but my knee started hurting and my quad got very tight. It eased up by the end of the run, but was very sore on Monday, even during my swim. Last night I did speedwork with the Inwood Hill Runners and felt ok. I foam rolled before and after and I think it helped because I'm tight but feel ok today. I'm going for the MRI Friday and I'm planning to run the Pete McArdle XC 15K in VCP on Sunday. If the MRI results show anything that requires some time off, I want to go out with a bang. :) I have no races planned after Sunday and feel reluctant to sign up for any others at this point. I'm in a weird place between training phases right now and everything I'm doing is either for fitness sake or for sanity or socializing. It's nice for now, but I know I can't last much longer without a plan.
Am I the only person in this position right now or are others also feeling like they're in limbo? December is a funny month that way, I think of it as the lame duck session of training.
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

What's up doc?

Well, I saw the orthopedist today for a very quick (but pricey) visit and he told me what I should have insisted he tell me over the phone: Go get the MRI. Damn it. What a pain, I schlepped over to the east side and all to be told what I originally asked for over the phone. Lesson learned: in the future insist upon talking to the doctor because he will more than likely just send you for the MRI. It helps that he knows I'm a PT and that I've been going to PT. That might not work for everyone.
Oh well, I'll continue to keep the mileage reasonable and keep the exercises up. I should be able to get in for an MRI pretty quickly. My fellow PT/runner friend and I tossed around more ideas tonight about what it could be and why it isn't getting better. I came up with a new theory that it might be tendonitis at the point of insertion on the distal patella rather than a chondral problem. I think it could be either, so we'll see what the MRI says. I've never had an MRI of a limb, only multiple ones of my head and spine, so this will be a backwards experience for me I think...
The good news is I can keep running for the time being.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November in a nutshell

I'm terrible at doing these month recaps, but since I'm here and I was checking out the stats for my blog and they're good this month I decided to post them.

Blog readership is up 73.5% with 47% of them being new visits. Cool! My most popular post was my NYC marathon report, which is expected I suppose.

Running stats:
8 runs (including marathon and 10 days off following)
Total mileage: 63.87
Avg speed: 6.6 mph (was I asleep?)

I also swam 8 miles in November.
Not a high mileage month in any way, but a high recovery month for sure. I feel great.

Picking up speed

As the 26 day mark approaches (post-NYCM) I finally felt ready to take things up a notch and fully participate in Tuesday speedwork in Inwood Hill Park with the Inwood Hill Runners crew. The past few weeks I've been holding back to let myself fully recover from the stresses and microtears that occur during a 26.2 mile journey, but this week I felt ready to MOVE. Monday night I was plagued with an obnoxious achey, twingey, restless, uncomfortable feeling in my legs when I was supposed to be sleeping. It was so bad that I actually considered taking a few laps up and down the stairs in our building in my pj's to try to work it out, but in the end it was too cold to get up. I stretched my legs as well as I could, squirmed around a bit, then tossed and turned for a while longer. Obviously my legs were trying to tell me that I needed to get out and run! They were begging to be beat up and exhausted.

Tuesday night speedwork was a lot of fun, we have picked up a handful of new people in the last month and as runners tend to do, they fit right in. Last week and the week before we did some intervals around our 561 m track with about a 200 m recovery, but this week we switched it up and did a "ladder". Essentially it was running speedy intervals with "100 m" recovery. For the sake of sanity, we'll say the cones along the track were 100m apart, but really they were about 90m. We did 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 600, 500, 400, 300, 200, 100 all with 100 m recovery jog between. From the second 600 on we ran in the opposite direction (we can do that, no one else was out there) which was a totally different experience because what was a tough uphill in the first half became a sweet downhill. I felt awesome, I was cranking out the intervals with solid effort and no knee pain whatsoever. A friend and I added on an extra 3.4 miles or so by running to and from the group including a nice haul up the stairs at 187th St to top it off. Whew, it was a great workout and good news- no creepy leg sensation last night! I slept like a log.

Despite feeling awesome last night, I still have to take a trip to the UES to see my knee doc tomorrow because my PT feels like we're at a standstill with my knee. Initially PT took my pain level down quite a bit, but then we hit a plateau and it won't fully heal. It is still sore to poke (I know, I know, don't poke it) and it still hurts going down stairs and getting up from the floor at work. Sigh. I suspect the doc will send me for an MRI as my PT recommended so that we can see exactly what is going on underneath my patella. I've been really lucky that it doesn't hurt when I run (most of the time) but I am concerned that running might be contributing to the damage. While I'm willing to take some time off if necessary, I'm dreading the possibility of the doc telling me to stop running, even for a short period of time.

So tomorrow I'm off to the doc to see what he has to say, and if he tells me to back off running I will be disappointed, but at least I'll have gone out with a strong run! I know I have other options too..swimming, biking, etc. which I enjoy, so I'll survive.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Give Youth a Running Start this Holiday

Young Runners of NYC need your help!

Above is a flyer for a program run by NYRR that needs your help! The holiday shoe drive provides running shoes for kids around the city who want to participate in youth running programs, but lack the funds to get a good pair of running shoes. I've been donating to this program for years, it takes very little effort on your part, but can make a huge difference to a child in need. If you can't get out to pick up shoes for a child (NYRR provides you with a child and their age, sex and shoe size) you can donate a gift card or $ at their website (https://webapps.nyrr.org/supportus/).

The program still has 44 children who need shoes this holiday season, please help if you can and spread the word! Thanks!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving alliteration

The wind in the winter whips in from the west.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Saucony Bullet

In my neverending quest for cute but practical shoes for work and trekking around the city, I came across a new shoe that I couldn't stop thinking about. The Saucony Bullet. I spotted them the week after the marathon, did a little fishing around for reviews, and scored a brand new pair on ebay for 1/2 the retail price. How could I resist? Previous finds have included 2 pairs of Nike Free's and a pair of Puma Lillea's.
They arrived today and I have to say, I love them already. They're super lightweight, easy to get on and off which is important in my job because I work in socks most of the day, and really cute.
Saucony describes them in a way that should please even the most vehement of "chi running" advocates:

We took the original Bullet, a 1985 track shoe with spikes and all, and made it street legal. With a super low profile, these nylon/suede shoes with a rubber outsole maintain the original sleek silhouette.

I mean, what's not to love, they're from 1985. I was probably not even potty trained yet. While I'm not sold on the idea of barefoot running, I can appreciate a lighter, more flexible shoe for everyday use to let your feet do the work instead of your shoes. That said, I wont be running in these, they're too cute. Anyway, a few pics of my new toys.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New York Running Show

Lead pack at NYCM, photo taken by hubby.

I'd plug it myself, but Julie does it better, so check out a post about last week's New York Running Show and then download the show and check it out for yourself.

New York Running Show Site (download and subscribe for weekly updates)

The show is a great addition to the NYC area (not just the city) running community and I'm happy to promote it here and hope to become a part of it in the near future. You're probably familiar with a few of the voices on the show including Run Westchester, Steve from NYCRuns, TK from Pigtails Flying blog, Julie from Races Like a Girl and Houston Hopefuls, and Brenn from Turfcaster, and Karla from Run,Karla, Run!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Getting back into the groove, slowly.

The view from Inwood Hill Park last night of the Henry Hudson Bridge was beautiful.*

With many of the big fall marathons in the rearview mirror, a lot of people are tossing out their ideas about recovery and the best way to go about it. While everyone certainly takes a different approach, there are a lot of folks out there who (not-so) secretly believe that their way is "the best way" and will try to convince you that it will also work for you. Here's the thing: you may have run the exact same time or pace or slower/faster, but your legs are yours and only yours. Do what feels right for you, not what someone else is preaching.

That said, I decided that last night was the night to get back out there and get moving. I haven't run since the big day and have only been swimming and doing core work alongside my knee rehab strengthening. The mental and physical break has been great. At the end of last week I was jonesin' for a run, but I wasn't going to let myself back out too soon again. I got injured by running too soon after my last marathon and ended up sidelined for 6 weeks. Friday night I expressed my intent to run on Saturday morning and my husband promptly called me and said "no you're not going to run." I must have been one cranky bitch last time I got hurt. Instead I took a really (really) easy spin on the stationary bike and cranked out a solid swim before joining the Inwood runners for a celebratory pancake breakfast.

Last night, Tuesday, felt like the right time to try out the legs again though. Conditions were right, there was no rain and temps were warm so I headed out to meet my Inwood buddies for the first in a series of Tuesday night speed workouts. Obviously I had no intention of doing "speed" but I knew it would be great to see some familiar running faces. Captain T put up a few flyers around the neighborhood advertising the new Tuesday run and they attracted 2 new runners including a high school student looking for some way to keep herself active. We were stoked.

The workout consisted of a warmup, strides and intervals with a 200m recovery around a loop in Inwood Hill Park 560 meters in diameter. It's like having a large track with a small hill on one end. We consider it to be a topographical advantage. I of course trotted along at a super easy pace for the warmup and lagged way behind on the strides, but enjoyed the company. The nice thing was that J, the HS student I mentioned was running at my recovery pace for the intervals so I had company and so did she as we got lapped by the others. I tried my best to keep my Coach Amy hat off, but I hopefully provided insightful answers to her many questions, both running related and not.

I know I wont be able to fully participate in the speed sessions for a few more weeks because I need my knee to heal entirely, but I think these workouts are going to be a great addition to my winter running. I do love the Central Park crew on Tuesday nights, but having this so close to home makes a huge difference on those frosty winter nights. I can simply run home and avoid getting chilled on the subway ride.

All in all, I felt great out there. Running felt smooth and easy and I just felt right at home being back on my feet. I have no idea what my pace or mileage was, and don't care. I still plan on keeping the mileage really low and easy for another 2 weeks or so, but I'll be sprinkling a little more running into my schedule as time goes by. For now, I'm on a 3x week swim schedule and it feels awesome even though I'm having trouble finding my 2nd gear right now. It'll take time to get my swim speed back, damn you unforgiving water.

*photo from skyscraperpage.com

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Van Cortlandt Park 5K this Sunday benefits kids

I just heard about this 5K taking place in VCP this Sunday that benefits a program that serves underprivileged school children in NYC by introducing them to the healthy alternative of running. The race is only $15 and you get to run the famed VCP 5K course during the most beautiful time of the year. If I weren't recovering from the marathon myself (I'm taking an extended recovery to avoid re-injuring my nearly-healed knee) I'd be there racing too!

H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths First Annual 5K Run/Walk

Riverdale, N.Y. (October 25, 2010) —H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths Inc., a Riverdale, N.Y.-based 501c3 non-profit formed for the charitable and educational purposes of assisting at-risk youth, is hosting its first annual 5K Run/Walk at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y. on Sunday, November 14, 2010. All proceeds will go to the non-profit and is tax deductible. The New York Road Runners Foundation will be helping with the event.

This event is perfect for the avid runner. The short run/walk is a great opportunity for those who still want to participate in a post ING NYC Marathon run, those who weren’t able to run the marathon and those who are just looking for a leisure run in one of the city’s fourth largest park. Bring your friends, family and fellow runners.

Additionally, Cliff Sperber, Executive Director of the NYRR Youth and Community Services division, is going to help H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths kick-off the event.

Registration is only $15. If you are a student or a coach of a High School team you can register for free. Please see below for more information. Participants can also ask friends, family and colleagues to sponsor your run. Contact us for a pledge sheet.

Here are examples of the impact of your gift:

$89 - Gift will purchase one monthly Metro card for students to get to and from internship sties, social/cultural events, community service projects and weekly workshops.

$500 - Gift will purchase a partial scholarship for our students or a partial SAT, LSAT, GRE prep program or graduate school preparation program.

$1000 - Gift will purchase a scholarship for a student that can be named in honor of the person of your choice.

Your gift will have a significant impact on our programming and students’ ability to maintain their studies and successfully graduate from college and go on to graduate/professional school.

On Sunday, November 14, 2010 registration for the run/walk begins at 9 a.m. Run/walk is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Van Cortlandt Park is located at 242nd Street and Broadway in Bronx, N.Y. To register please visit:http://health4youthswalkrun.eventbrite.com/

H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths Inc. fills the gap left by after-school programs and other mentor organizations across the city by providing workshops in the areas of career development, physical health, mental health, social/cultural education, social media etiquette and life-skills. It also helps place students in appropriate internships and encourages students to give back to the community by getting them involved in different community service projects such New York Cares Day and tornado clean up. The non-profit strives to combat community deterioration, juvenile delinquency and improves the quality of education, health care and life-skills training.

To learn more about H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths Inc. visit the non-profit’s web site http://www.health4youths.org

If you would like to learn more about H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths Inc.’s First Annual 5K Run/Walk or the non-profit contact:

Heather Butts
Amanda Fung

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ahh the marathon...

It is sweetest when it is all over and done with. The soreness has peaked and is beginning to slowly recede, so it is time to share the story of a 26.2 mile journey that began on a windy bridge in Staten Island.

The day began on Staten Island with a few hours of relaxing and chatting while dressed in soccer mom-looking sweats and a NY Yankees poncho. In case you were living under a rock and missed it, the plan was for EG and I to run together this year, a decision we made many months ago. As we were cruelly locked out of Wave 1 by a not-well-advertised 8:55 closing time, we stood around for an extra half hour before the race as we waited for Wave 2 to start at 10:10am. Looking back, I blame that for all that went wrong during the race. Ha. If only.

The race began on what has been called "The greatest start in sports" on the Verrazano bridge which was windy and chilly and strewn with discarded clothes from runners who went before us. Don't they know your clothes cant be donated if you toss them on the bridge? The gall. So off we went on the uphill climb with incredible people all around us. There was a blind runner to our right, a double amputee in front of us and just the buzz of adrenaline and excitement all around. Despite the chill we tackled the uphill and the crowds in 8:45 and whizzed down towards Brooklyn in 7:29. A lil quick, but we quickly settled down, cranking out the next few miles all around 8:10 despite the urge to surge ahead in the excitement of the wonderful and amazing Brooklyn. I swear it, half a million folks in Brooklyn yelled out my name as I ran by, I wish I could have hugged them all, but there was work to be done. Mile 5 brought a glimpse of my hubby and Mom cheering us on. They snapped this awesome pic:

Brooklyn continued on in the same fashion, I was in awe of the support and excitement there and I frequently commented on how great the crowds were. We trekked along 4th, Lafayette and Bedford Aves with ease, spotting EG's parents at mile 8. We knew our next "fan" was TK at mile 14. As we schlepped through the quiet parts of Williamsburg (actually welcomed silence after the continuous crowds of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill that made us want to speed up) I began to make a connection between my beloved chewy snacks and the nausea I was starting to feel. Boo. I tossed them off to the side (sorry environment) at mile 12 or so to prevent any temptation to try them again. Bummer, I trained so well with those too.

As we made our way into Queens we were hit with more great cheers and excitement and even more folks screaming my name. I joked at one point that they'd probably seen my article on DNAInfo.com and that's why they were cheering. It had nothing to do with the giant letters across my chest, definitely not. After one particularly long string of "Go Amy" cheers, I goofed around and said, "I'd like to thank my many fans..." The miles were getting to my brain and making me goofy. In Queens my eyes were peeled for TK and also for Josh who we expected to see, and thank goodness we saw them- it was a nice boost before the big bridge. As we neared the bridge I remember hoping that there wouldn't be a huge pile of shit on the divider in the center of the bridge this year like there was in '08. Tragically, that is one of my most vivid memories from my first marathon. Yep, gross. Luckily there was no poo this time and the bridge felt great, it felt like we breezed over and down into Manhattan. I suggested a quick pee break at the bottom of the bridge and EG let me keep my promise of not peeing on myself.

Manhattan offered up everything it had on Sunday, the people were out in full force cheering, screaming, waving funny signs and just going nuts. We held it together and kept the pace close to 8:20 for a few miles, knowing that my Mom and Hubby were waiting at mile 18 at 95th st. They nearly missed us because they weren't expecting us so soon, but hubby managed to snap our still smiling, though strained, faces. It was shortly after seeing them, heading into the Bronx that things started to come undone. I'd stopped checking my watch at mile markers around mile 19 because I was running as hard as I could, so why bother peeking if it was going to make me feel bad? (I should have looked- 18 and 19 were 8:24, I'd have been happy.) As we crossed the Willis Ave bridge into the Bronx a very sad thing happened: we were passed by the 3:40 pace group. I was in some sort of denial and was trying to convince myself that they were going too fast and we'd be able to catch them in a bit. If only I could make the nausea stop..it was getting really bad at this point.

Crossing back into Manhattan and beginning the schlep through Harlem was where things got hard. Not like "hitting the wall" hard, but "I'm going to barf all over" hard. I was torn between barfing and hoping it would make me feel better and sucking it up. In the end I didn't barf, but it was very touch and go there for a bit. Sipping water helped for a few minutes, but it always came back. We made a pit stop for EG somewhere along the way in the W100's and my legs tightened up immediately as I focused on not puking on the sidewalk. Damn, this point in the race was so much better in '08. Most of the UES is a blur as we made our way down 5th Ave towards my family and the Inwood Hill Runners and ultimately Central Park.

As hubby and Mom waited for us along 5th Ave at 95th, they captured a few fun shots including a few celebs. While he missed Bobby Flay (who was apparently just ahead of us the whole time) he managed to spot and capture Jennifer Carpenter who was running with a fellow Dexter character from this season, Jonny Lee Miller. We LOVE that show, so it was awesome to see the pics afterwards. They ran a 3:34.
Jonny on the left in the Team Continuum jersey, JC in grey
Jennifer working hard at mile 23, aka Debra Morgan from Dexter

Also: Assman walking

After we snagged some tangerine slices from my Mom at mile 23.25 we passed an enthusiastic Inwood Hill Runners crew just before entering Central Park. I was hurting. My legs didn't want to keep going, neither did my head. Can you see the anguish as I snag the tangerine from Mom's hand?

Trust me, I was in a BAD place. Luckily for me, I had EG by my side. She knew I was struggling without my saying a word and she started talking to me, encouraging me and just helping me push through the "I want to STOP" that was going through my head. I'm not sure what I would have done without her there, honestly. I mean it, I didn't care that I'd come 24 miles already and only had 2 to go, I had no desire to keep going. There was a small voice in the back of my head battling that louder voice, but without E's help, I may not have made it. I got an awful pain in my upper chest during mile 24 and I pictured myself keeling over with a heart attack (Don't worry, I knew the pain was not actually "chest pains" or I would have stopped.) Somehow she knew just what I needed to hear and she leaned close and just simply said "fight". Something snapped in my head and I began to see a little more clearly- we only had a mile to go!!! Mile 25 was relatively strong, we brought it back down to an 8:50 (from an embarrassing 9:32 mile 24) and passed quite a few people.

Entering the park was bittersweet, but looking back I think it was mostly sweet at the time, just bitter thinking about it now. I said "oh my god, I can't believe we made it here" and I meant it. As we ran along Central Park south I remember thinking that I was giving 100% with every CELL in my body. It was taking everything I had to finish. We crossed the line together at 3:46:54 and despite missing my goal by 11 minutes, I was elated. I got a huge 17 minute PR and I FINISHED without puking. Win, win, win.

While tons of folks have asked me "how did it go?!" the last few days my answer has varied. The runners I am close to know that I missed my A and B goals (3:35 and sub 3:40) but they know what it can be like to have a shitty day. Others hear my time and are out of their minds with excitement because they don't know anyone who has ever run that fast (or maybe far) before. Yesterday our building Super asked how it was and all I could think of was "it was long", what a lame answer. He was happy for me when he heard my time though. My own feelings about the 3:46 are mixed. Most of the time I'm happy with it, other times I'm bummed because I missed my goal, but that usually passes quickly. I do know that I received tons of really supportive emails, texts, phone calls, facebook messages and tweets over the last few days. Thank you all. I plan on relaxing this week and next (and the next) with my feet up, red wine in hand and a good book and cat in my lap. I'm no longer training for a marathon. Wahoo!

Good luck to my brother, Todd and his wife Heather who are running their first marathon in the Outer Banks this coming weekend! I'm really excited for them, they've been training hard and I'm sure it is going to pay off on Sunday. Congrats to all of the other 44,000 NYC marathon finishers, you rock! A special thanks, of course, to my awesome friend E who stuck by my side and made great company for the 26.2 mile journey. I couldn't have done it without you (nor would I have wanted to!)

The numbers:

First NameLast NameAgeTeamState/
5 km10 km15 km20 km13.1 mi

9530168933716708AMYC27F NYUSA03:46:5400:25:2000:50:5101:16:4701:42:4701:48:36

25 km30 km35 km40 kmMinutes
per Mile
___02:09:30_______02:36:27 _____03:05:18_____03:34:15____08:40

Saturday, November 6, 2010

NYC Marathon Article

Earlier this week a local journalist from Inwood asked if she could interview me for an article about the upcoming NYC marathon and I gladly agreed. Having followed Carla's blog, The Streets Where we Live, for years I knew I could count on her for a great article. She has also been writing for DNAInfo.com, a NYC-centric news site where you can get specific news for your neighborhood or the city in general. Since she began writing for DNA, I've been using it as a daily source of info for what's going on around the neighborhood. On Wednesday I met up with the lovely Carla (you can follow her on twitter @CarlaZanoni) and we talked and took some photos in nearby Fort Tryon Park where I do a lot of my training. I have to thank her because the article is really sweet and honest and it has already brought a ton of traffic to my little blog. Please check out her blog and DNAinfo as well, they're both great reads especially for those in our little community of Northern Manhattan.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Expo Goodies

I stopped by the NYC Marathon expo yesterday after work before most of the crowds arrived so I had plenty of time to walk around and stare at all of the goodies. I thought I'd share some of my goodies with you including the bib # in case you're planning on tracking athletes and want to add me to the list. It really helps to know that people are rooting for you when you're out there on the course. You can sort of hear them in your head yelling at you to keep it up or (god forbid) pick it up and you can always be sure that no one is yelling "You're almost there!"

First, a frame that lives on my nightstand and has been there for 2 years- the damn cat knocked it over this morning and made a loud clatter as it crashed to the floor. Maybe he was trying to to tell me something?
My plan going into the expo was to make sure I didn't spend too much on unnecessary "stuff" but I wanted to buy a new sweatshirt and some more of my favorite Asics marathon gloves. Despite finding about 5 shirts that I could swear I "neeeeed", I escaped with what I went in for. There was only ONE style of sweatshirt being sold at the expo, luckily I liked it. Matisse seems to like it too...

Some of the other free stuff I walked away with along with my gloves. I was picking out my gloves when a man came up and started asking me questions about running with gloves. He said he was from Texas and had no idea what to look for in a pair of gloves. I assured him that I run in the Asics gloves all of the time and love them. I think he got a blue pair in the end, but I'm almost certain that he'll freeze to death on Sunday morning.
My bib and blue D-tag. I like the blue, it's a nice change of pace from the usual orange. As for the bib, I will snag some saftey pins from bibs that I have here from some of my better races this past yr. I did the same thing last time I ran the marathon, it was a little touch that made me smile when I thought of it during the race. I think I'll use pins from my NYC Tri bib, my Harriman tri bib (#2), my PR 4 miler and from my Shamrock half bib. They all have good vibes attached. Am I the only person this OCD? Surely you have superstitions of your own..
The official shirt this year is a nice, subdued dark grey color which I'm happy with but it is a bit dull compared to the '08 shirt which boldly asks "What Does It Take? Heart Pounding Dedication." It sort of looks to me like people running from a fire.
I also bumped into a booth with some running books that caught my eye so I browsed for a second before realizing that the man sitting behind the booth was the famed John L. Parker, Jr. author of one of the most popular running books of all time- Once a Runner. The book ran me through the gamut of emotions and left me exhausted and exhilarated at the end. It has been re-released and no longer sells for $800 like it did just a few years ago. I discussed this with John at the expo and he laughed, telling me that it wasn't something he intended to happen. Anyhow, he has a new book, Again to Carthage that is the sequel to Once a Runner. I decided to snag a copy and he signed it for me. I'll review it when I finish, I plan to read it in my free time post-marathon. Also, if you'd like to borrow my copy of Once a Runner just let me know.

Today I also had the pleasure of meeting Magdalena Lewy Boulet at Paragon Sports. I walked in (again, beat the crowds!) and saw her sitting at a table. I was so starstruck that I was unable to congratulate her on any of her specific accomplishments, but I told her I was a big fan and followed her career. She signed a card for me which says "Dream Big", she's so cute. She's a tiny little thing, but full of spunk with intense blue eyes. Next time I'll prepare for my star sightings by checking to see who will be there so I don't stand and stare with my mouth open.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What lies ahead...

Looking beyond New York marathon, I entered the lottery for a race that takes place in June every year down in Maryland called the Great Bay Swim. It is a 4.4 mile swim in the Chesapeake Bay and it is exactly what I was looking for in terms of a "big" swim in the early summer of 2011. The first round lottery pick is tomorrow, Nov 4th and I'll be anxiously waiting for an email to find out if I am one of the chosen 700 or so. If chosen, the swimmers have 48 hours to submit proof of an open water swim of at least 1 mile or a signed certificate by a lifeguard verifying that you swam 3 miles in the pool in under 2.5 hours (or around there). I had a small panic attack last week when I realized that my tri swim was 1500m which is the metric equivalent of a swim mile, but actually only 0.9mi. I was losing my mind for a minute when I literally looked up and spotted my medal from the Lavallette 1 mile Ocean Swim that I did this summer. WHEW.

Keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow!