Friday, May 28, 2010

POM oh so Wonderful

I've been a big fan of the POM line of juices and teas for quite a while now, but I'll admit I don't buy them too often because they're pricey. I can usually make a bottle last a while longer by adding a dash to seltzer instead of downing the stuff plain. My hubby and I enjoy the POM teas in the summer and used to have a whole collection of the glasses they came in.

The nice folks at POM Wonderful were kind enough to send me an entire free case of POM plain pomegranate juice recently. I was really stoked to get that email, especially since I've been on a recovery drink kick. I've been drinking Tart Cherry and Pomegranate juices mixed with seltzer and a lil' lime juice after sweaty runs and first thing in the morning, yum. Thanks to POM I was able to keep up my healthy but expensive habit. I started out drinking the POM with seltzer until one day I decided to pop a bottle into my lunch and give it a go plain. I drank it with lunch on a day that I had a 10mi run later that night. It was so delicious and everyone at work was a little envious of my cute bottle. :)

I've been taking the little bottles with me ever since, sipping at work and on the train after and before hard workouts. I can't say that I necessarily "feel" any different, but the health studies done on pomegranate juice are pretty impressive. See people, you don't need supplements and processed crap or pills to be healthy, its SIMPLE: Eat and drink REAL food and 100% juices. As an athlete I find the "you are what you eat" to be especially important advice.

Oh and POM has a really cool and sort of fun website and it looks like they have a new recovery drink, I wonder how it is? Anyone know?

A solid race with sweet rewards.

I have a major crush on Van Cortland Park and it's namesake track club. VCP lies in the heart of the Bronx, not far from the beautiful, rolling hills of Riverdale and just up Broadway from Marble Hill- home of NYC's only Target. I have only fond memories of Van Cortlandt park including a handful of reasonably priced trail races from 5K to 15K. The Inwood Hill Runners often end Saturday long runs here, and we've run through mud, sun and knee deep snow.

When I heard about the VCP summer series this year, I decided I was NOT going to miss them this year. I recruited a friend who has some trail racing aspirations (Pikes Peak anyone?) and the usual Inwood crew came out for the event as well.

With lightning flashing and dark clouds overhead, the pre-race area had a silly and fun feel to it. Were we really going to run through this storm? As it turns out, there were a few drops of rain during the race, but hardly a storm.

I know the VCP course pretty well, in fact the last race I did there was 3 loops of it! So I knew to expect a fast mi 1, tough mi 2, but the reward would be a downhill and flat mi 3. I took off at a good clip along the flats and cruised into the woods feeling strong. Mi 1 went by at 7:11, right on track. I was breathing hard, but knew that I could handle the hills on mi 2 and just had to keep pushing. I used my arms to push up those hills and managed to pass quite a few people on the way up. It felt so good to be strong on those uphills and just fly downhill with reckless abandon. :) Mi 2 was 8:36..a bit slower than I'd like, but good nonetheless. Mi 3 came along as promised, downhill (with the exception of a spicy little hill at 2.5mi due to course change because of construction) followed by the flats. The flats are probably the hardest part of the race for me. Once we hit the flats, there was a woman at my side as a course marshall shouted "800m to go!" As if that were our indicator to sprint it out. He also mentioned we were the 5th and 6th females. The woman next to me waved her hand in front of us and said "all yours.." as if she wanted me to take off. I told her it was way too early for that and we gasped and chatted for a second before running side by side for the next 650m. I decided with ~150m to go to make a little "move" since I thought 5th place female sounded way better than 6th. She didn't match my move so I just turned on the jets and flew into the finish at a 5:55 pace. Wow! I have to admit, I ran that last 150m for one of my kids at work, I told myself "this is for XX who will never be able to run" because he has a degenerative neurological condition. Thanks lil buddy. Mi 3 was 7:08. Cha-ching! :)

The best part was cheering in my friends and teammates and even a fellow co-worker who came out! My friend's sister ran so hard that she ran past the finish and up the stairs to puke in private. I'm not sure if she did or not, but I'm proud either way. I let out a few deep burps myself at the finish and thought for a second that I'd lose my pre-race snack, but I pulled it together.

As promised, there were Carrot Muffins and pies for those who placed in their age groups and overall. Inwood Hill runners represented well with 3 carrot muffins for a 2nd place win by TE in her AG and 2nd and 3rd place wins by NM and I in ours. Man was that a delicious muffin. Victory is sweet.

3.1 mi
23:08 watch time, but more likely 23:25 or so because I started it late.
Elevation Profile:

5th female overall, 3rd place in 25-29 AG.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A run down Memory Lane

I'm nearing my 5 year NYC anniversary and my 2 year anniversary of graduation from my Doctorate program at Columbia. Perhaps it was the droves of graduates swathed in Columbia Blue that I saw on Monday, perhaps its the hints of summer in the air, but something has triggered memories of the last 5 yrs in NYC.

Last night's running route seemed like coincidence at the time, but now I'm pretty sure it wasn't. I headed out for a tempo run with the plan of running 5x8" intervals. My running hasn't been feeling spectacular lately, its tough to share my precious running time with swimming/biking.

I started out along Fort Washington Ave, heading south along the route that I walked twice a day in grad school to the CU medical center. Immediately I began to feel a sense of nostalgia as I passed the park and its rowdy teens at 174th, the hustle and bustle of the medical center engulfed me around 170th and spit me out on 165th where I noticed they finished the new Cardiac center (it's beautiful). As a trampled down the hill on 165th I smiled, even as I passed the smelly garbage garage. I've had so many fun runs along this route with so many different friends, at so many different points in my NY life. Sigh.

As I began my first interval, I smiled at a giant St Bernard in the dog park that was curled up with a tiny pug. My first interval was downhill for much of the first half, but I insisted to myself that I wouldn't go out at a pace I couldn't sustain, so I settled around 7:45. The second interval took me along the 125th st Viaduct bridge which has great views of the river, Grant's tomb and it overlooks fairway. Memories surfaced of winter morning runs with my friends Nancy and Jen where we all wimpered about one frozen side of our faces from the wind. Smile. It was perfect weather tonight. As I ran along past Grant's tomb I took a swig of water in Sakura Park which is very beautiful in the spring because of its cherry blossoms. I take my kid's team here for relays, lots of silly memories there. I took a turn up Broadway and made my way to 125th st. I love running in Harlem, its so diverse and exciting. I find that a lot of people don't run there because its "Harlem" and "sketchy" but I love it there and I'm happy to run there, even alone. I made my way back towards the river, this time underneath the Viaduct bridge which is truly spectacular from underneath. It is a pretty amazing piece of work with its swooping arches and massive, grey steel beams. They've really put a lot of work into the greenway path in Harlem, and it looks beautiful. I cruised (7:20's pace now!) past the wastewater treatment plant near Fairway and thought "Matt had better bring my Dump Runners Club headband to VT next month. If you're not familiar with DRC, check it out here, you get a DRC headband for sending Matt your photo near a dump or similar facility. I took my photo this past winter, brrrr it was a nasty day. I again relished in the soft, mid 60's breeze.

As I hit the stretch along the base of Riverbank State Park I remembered the time I was finishing a 16 miler and a good-looking guy on a bike rode past and gave me a big smile, it made me smile and helped me pick up my head for the rest of the run home. I headed up Riverside park at 145th St and began to worry about my stomach, it wasn't feeling too hot on my 2:00 recovery, but it felt better when I was running fast. The stretch of RSP from 145th to the GWB is so familiar to me that I could run it with my eyes closed. I cruised along, thinking about my many evening runs here during PT school that were lively and fun because of the thousands of families picnicing. We sure do love our parks in NYC. As I finished off my 4th interval, I began to really worry about my stomach... I stopped for a minute and then managed to walk a little and finally jog the rest of the way to the bathroom at 165th, whew- thank you Parks Dept. It was open, clean and well stocked- a rarity in NYC parks.

My final interval would take me home from the low-lying Riverside Park under the gorgeous GWB all the way up to home, the highest natural point in Manhattan. It was a series of 6 or 7 steep hills punctuated by short flats, but all so familiar that they felt like home. I was thrilled with the effort, 7.54 mi in 1:03 with intervals at 7:30 pace! I'm pumped for Saturday (though I have no plans to really race) at the Brooklyn Half Mary. Any thoughts of a previous running funk melted away on the streets of Harlem. Welcome back legs, welcome back.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Riverdale Ramble

Y the Ramble?

Ok, so I think it's a little late for an official Ramble 10K race report, but I can give a little overview and share some pictures!
The weather prediction for Sunday, May 2nd was not looking scary and for once, it came true. It was a muggy morning full of clouds and haze. Yuck, not the right weather for a hill race, but at least I wasn't running the NJ marathon!
I'd been sick the week before so I went into the Ramble with no real expectations. I knew the course really well and that meant I knew how tough it was going to be. I met my fellow Inwood Hill Runners for the ride uptown and we goofed off at the Riverdale Y while waiting for the race to start. We chatted briefly about a "goal time" but basically just took off with the intent of running a good, strong race. We did just that, and then some! I watched my HR climb to new heights as we started up Wave Hill on the way back through the course and I was mildly concerned, but kept on running. Since it was an out and back course, we were able to see where in the rankings we stood- at halfway we were 8th and 9th females! Score, I'll take that!

The race was really, really hard. At the finish we went straight uphill, turned on a short flat stretch and then right uphill again. Whew. My asthma reminded me that it is still in there at the finish with a little wheezing, but otherwise I felt really good.

The best part came when we realized that we were not just 8th and 9th females, but TE and I had also placed in our age groups!! Almost everyone from the Inwood Hill Runners crew placed!

We hung around for the awards ceremony and ended up all winning prizes in the raffle too!! I snagged a $25 gift card to The Running Company! Sweet. I'm just glad I won mine before the announcer lady started making people "earn" theirs with pushups, jumping jacks, etc. Of course, they won things like a free pair of shoes, so I guess it was worth the extra workout.

All in all, I felt like I ran a strong race. It wasn't an "all out" effort but I wanted to let myself heal from being sick and not go too crazy. (it didn't matter because I came down with Strep that night anyway...) I'm happy with my medal and my gift card as well. :) Next year... look out Ramble, I'm coming for you!

North Face Endurance Challenge

North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler
Bear Mountain, NY
May 8, 2010

SSetting up the food table before the runners arrived. And a great shot of our furry volunteers for the day- a retired seeing-eye dog/therapy dog and a search and rescue Shephard. They belong to the great medical crew who helped out.
The leaders... wow they were running close together. They barely stopped for anything.

^OMG, it's Nikki Kimball in the flesh. What an inspiring woman, check her out. I believe when I saw her I said, "holy shit, its her."

Beam me up, Scotty. I had to stand in ONE spot to get radio transmissions through, it was so goofy.

Plenty has happened since my last miserable, cold and strep induced post! First : I got antibiotics for strep throat which worked their magic in about 12 hours. Penicillin: the most amazing drug on the planet. After about 4 days I began to feel normal again, whew. I got back to running last Thursday night with the group and a cameo by NYCBklynGirl for the start of her hill training for The Race That Shall Not Be Named (Pike's Peak Marathon) (I've dubbed it Voldemort and it stuck).

On saturday morning I woke at 4:30am and EG and I stumbled over to the garage to pick up my zipcar. We met BklynRunner (MJ) who drove up to meet us in my hood (after a scenic drive down Willis Ave in the Bronx, oops.) and drove down to meet my good friend, NM who was rather perky for 5am. We crossed the George Washington Bridge as the sun rubbed the sleep from its eyes behind us. We were off to Bear Mountain, NY for the North Face Endurance Challenge. Nancy was running and the rest of us had an aid station to organize and man along the 50mile course. I was really excited and a tiny bit nervous because I put this whole thing together and wanted it to be fun and a success.

We got checked in, met up with MR and AQ and hit the road to Camp Lenowa, where we would spend much of the remainder of the day. It was pretty busy from that point on... We arrived, set up (which included MJ making PB&J sandwiches, everyone cutting fruit, filling bowls with gummy bears, candy, chips, pretzels, potatoes with salt and anything else you can imagine!) Once the tents were set up, the runner's bags were lined up (we were a drop bag point) and the GuBrew was mixed, we waited. And waited... Where were those crazy runners? When the first guys came through we stood in awe of their speed and amazing calves before remembering to cheer as they bolted away. Wow, mile 27.7 and they looked fantastic! The runners trickled in and then came in waves, but it was steady work for hours! We filled bottles, gave morale boosts, fed them, helped them out of their soggy shoes and sent them on their way. All along pacers were showing up to join their friends and many of them were kind enough to help us out with filling cups, slicing fruit, etc.

My main duty for the day on top of helping wth the food/water was tracking all of the runners and attempting to keep track of what time they came through our checkpoint. At first it was simple, a few runners here and there, but before I knew it they were coming in droves. I felt like we did an amazing job as a team making sure everyone was accounted for. It was really crucial that we know who had come through in order to make sure no one was left on the course. I had radio chatter in my ear all day from the event director, Nick and the other aid station captains on the status of certain runners, need for supplies and other misc, but important info. In the end we were able to provide info on a few runners who hadn't been makred down at the previous aid station but did get marked down at ours. Small victory for us, but it saved the event staff from worrying about their whereabouts.

I finally got home around 5:30pm aftera helluva day. It is a good thing that I reserved the zipcar for much later than I thought we'd need it! A few moments of rest and I was up and out the door again with bike and laundry in tow. Hubby and I packed up and went to NJ for the night and for Mother's day. In some cruel twist of fate we had plans to meet the family at 8:45am for breakfast on Sunday. Wow, that was tough. My legs felt great, but the rest of me felt like I'd run the 50miler! Thank god for coffee.

Special thanks to Elyssa, Michelle, Ashley and Michael for coming out and making the day a complete success. I talked to Jim, the vol coordinator, on Monday and told him I'd be back next year for sure!!

It was so gorgeous when we got to the finish, I could have stayed all day.

All photos are courtesy of Elyssa G. Thanks!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

So Behind...

So much to write about... so little time. It's been a crappy week since my great run on Sunday at the Riverdale Ramble, busy, busy. I hope to have a race report up by Saturday! Thanks for checking in....