Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

This weekend marks our 1 year wedding anniversary so we (read: I) decided that we needed to get away and relax for a few days. We packed up the car with a few warm outfits on Friday and headed north into the foliage covered hills of Orange County, NY. The colors were amazing the entire weekend, it was orange/red/yellow overload! We had some really delicious food (there is such a thing outside of NYC! Who knew?!) and enjoyed what was probably one of the last gorgeous fall weekends outside. A trip to West Point for a tour led us unexpectedly to the bleachers of the home game vs VMI where we cheered hard for Army! Sunday brought us to Storm King Art Center which was honestly one of the coolest places I've visited in a long time. I loved it there. We spent a few hours hiking around the grounds, but not before I snuck in an 8mile run.

A few minutes searching online for a run near Sugarloaf, NY led me to discover the Orange County Heritage trail, an 11 mile pathway between Monroe and Goshen. I snuck out of our cozy B&B early this morning and went on the hunt for some cheap gloves to help me fight off the morning chill. Shop Rite in Chester, NY was a winner and I hit the trail shortly after armed with my gloves, 2008 long sleeve NYC marathon technical tee and shorts and a pocketful of gummy bears. The plan: 8 easy, flat miles with a few marathon pace miles thrown in to keep the legs fresh. My legs were practically BEGGING for a run on Saturday night so the run felt great. Even though it was early I had some company on the trail, I saw a few cyclists in lots of layers, a handful of runners and even more walkers (with and without dogs). I saw 3 very large deer including one that nearly gave me a heart attack as he stood silently on the side of the trail, just feet from me. The leaves were so beautiful that the miles flew by. I got in 8 miles in 1:08 and felt fantastic.

8:58 (deer sighting!)
8:04 (woah)
9:32 (a lil walking and gummy bear snacking)

The run was a good mental boost as the taperworm begins its gnawing at my confidence. Here are a few blackberry shots from the run and one from the real camera of the Chester Rail Depot where I parked.

My finishing spot

The historical Chester Rail Depot
Along the way
The leaves were breathtaking

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

14 miles with 15 days to go

It seems like just a few weeks ago I was just getting into the groove of marathon training and now here I am 2 weeks away. After a few weeks of a training slump caused by traveling, a cold and general fatigues I finally snapped into training mode and felt revived. I think it had something to do with starting Physical therapy for my knee and low back and finally giving those the attention they need. Luckily PT is kicking my butt and really strengthening my stabilizing muscles in my hips/glutes that are oh-so-important to running. I can definitely feel a difference in my everyday life as well as my running, I'm stronger and not relying on my quads to pull me through. This is definitely a learning experience in the ways that my body compensates for weakness and lack of stability during running. *mental note: never let this happen again.*

So Saturday was my triumphant return to the Inwood Hill group for our weekly Saturday runs. I can't remember my last Sat IHR group run so I decided that it was time to fix that. With a goal of 13-15miles for my final long run I knew I'd need to tack on a few extra miles before and after the run so I started a little early and made a few extra loops through the quiet early morning Inwood streets. It was fun to explore areas that are always way too busy to run at regular times of the day. I met the group around 9 and the 3 of us (small but triumphant return) headed up towards the Broadway bridge that leads to 225th St. Since the 1 train isn't running to the Bronx on the weekends (due to a 2 year project that just began) we had to alter the usual Riverdale route to include a turnaround. The nice thing about the Riverdale route is that it contains some great trail running and we doubled our trails by turning around and running back that way.

The most exciting part of the run was my inaugural run across the newly renovated Henry Hudson bridge pedestrian pathway back to Manhattan! We had a chilly headwind on the bridge, but otherwise the weather was amazing the entire day.

Leaving the group after a solid 7 miles put me at a total of 10miles, yikes 3 or 4 more miles on my own. It is always tough to go from having company to not having anyone by your side. Miles 11 and 12 came and went at a nice pace while watching the football players tackle each other in the dirt at Dyckman Fields (at the northernmost tip of Manhattan). I was feeling good until I hit the Staff St hill when I began to feel hungry and sort of shaky. I couldn't be hungry, I had been fueling like crazy with GU chomps (new watermelon flavor) and a Honey Stinger PB&whey bar all along the way. Damn it. I ate a few more bites of each and pushed through even though I REALLY didn't feel like it. The mental battle was going strong inside my head and lucky for me the "this is good training for mile 20 in a few weeks, just push" voice won. I hit the end of mile 13 and knew that the only thing standing between me and home was a neverending hill from the river up to Fort Washington Ave. For some reason when I hit the hill I perked up a bit and kept a steady pace for the climb. I passed another runner with ease as she struggled up the hill (she was WAY overdressed) and even snatched a kiss from my hubby who was on his way to get a haircut. I had told myself I'd stop at a specific corner close to home but when I got there I glanced at my watch and saw 13.8 miles, no way was I stopping that close to 14. The bad and good thing about my immediate neighborhood is the serious hills, so in order to hit 14 I zipped by the folks heading out for coffee to the bottom of the hill and then turned and zipped by their surprised faces again to a solid 14.03 miles. Total time 2:16 including a handful of water stops. Avg pace 9:42 which is fine by me considering the difficulty of the course.

I'm completely satisfied with my training at this point and I know I've done all I can do but I'm sure the taper will bring its usual insecurities and anguish in the next few days. I run relatively few miles during marathon training, even my peak weeks are only in the high 30's, maybe mid 40's. I'm not even sure if I hit 50 this training cycle because of my knee. So one thing I can be completely sure of is that I'm not in danger of overtraining.

Someone remind me to come back and read this in a few days when I'm going nuts and doubting everything I've done for the last 4 months: I AM READY.

*img from

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Recovering from 20

After a really great 20 miles yesterday which included 5 NYC bridges, 25-45mph winds and 2 good friends- my legs are in full recovery mode today. They feel great with the exception of a little swelling in my feet (must have been the wine). The K-Tape on the knee seems to really be helping things heal too. The Canadian Moccasins are also helpful for attracting the cats to come roll around on my feet. I think it helps with the swelling.

Staten Island

I can't help it, when I think of Staten Island I get this song in my head every time:

Fortunately, the Staten Island half marathon was early in the day so all of the "staten island girls" were just getting to bed as we arrived.

Pre-race I managed to sneak in a quick 1.25 mile warmup with Elyssa in hopes of loosening up my knee and actually warming up because it was chilly on the waterfront. Despite the warmup and stretching that I did before the horn went off, my knee complained for the first few miles and periodically throughout the race. The first couple of miles were relatively flat and we were able to quickly settle into a nice pace (8:13, 8:01,8:14) because the SI half is not that crowded of a race. The goal for the day was to hit marathon pace and hold it to help train my legs what to expect in a few weeks on marathon Sunday. Mile 5 had a nice hill near Fort Wadsworth and we then made a turn and weaved our way down Bay St which we dubbed "the cute part of SI". At about mile 6 we ran downhill as the race leaders were making their way up on the other side of the street. The race continued with runners on either side of the street for the next few miles which made the miles fly by. I was entertained just watching everyone go by as we headed out and after we made the turn and took on the mile 8 hill I kept my eyes on the runners coming down in hopes of spotting two friends from Inwood Hill Runners. I couldn't believe it when I saw the mile 9 marker- the race was nearly over?! I was feeling so good and comfortable at the 8:11 or so pace that mile markers 10 and 11 came really quickly. By this time my knee was feeling alright, we were back under the Verrazano bridge and had run by the very familiar School Road outside Fort Wadsworth where we'll be spending some quality time pre-marathon on Nov 7th. I liked seeing all of the marathon reminders during the race, it made it feel even more like a tune-up for the big day. As we approached miles 12 and 13 we began to pick up the pace just to train the legs to work hard when they're getting tired and we finished it off with an 8:05 and a 7:47. I was more than happy with the effort and the overall feel. I think this race got me really excited for the marathon and what could happen on Nov 7th.

Final time: 1:48:02
Now the question remains... can I turn that into a 3:40 or below in 3 weeks?

I really enjoyed the course for this race, I think the NYRR did a great job of laying it out in such a way that makes it interesting and varied for the majority of the 13 miles. While it is technically an out and back course, it really felt more like a loop which I prefer. The rolling hills made it challenging and just more exciting than a flat course could have been. I loved the various views of the bridge and running along the waterfront. The starting area was so easy to get to (I drove there with friends but took the ferry back and both were very easy) and everything was well organized. The weather last Sunday was crisp, clear and breezy and that certainly helped make it even more enjoyable. I wont be going to Staten Island to hang out anytime soon, but I'm sure that I'll be back again for this race. I completed 4 of the 5 boros this year and SI was my favorite by a long shot. Someday I'll do the Bronx half, but from what I gather- it will be no competition for SI.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SI Half Preview

The views of the Verrazano were really something

I haven't had the time yet to sit down and write up a race report for the Staten Island half, but here is a preview of the splits from the 1.25mi warmup and the 13.1 that followed. It was a nice, steady marathon pace run with a strong finish despite more knee pain than I'd like to admit. Things feel okay now, but I'm working my ass off to keep the knee from getting any worse. PT again tomorrow... now I remember why people call it Pain&Torture. Surely I'm not that cruel to my patients (ok, I hope not- they're 2-5 years old).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Inwood Hill Runners New Site!!

Well I've been waiting forever for the okay to release the link to our brand new website, created by fellow runner and team "captain" T.E. - I'm SO happy to announce the launch of Inwood Hill Runners OWN website. Check it out and explore here:
She did an amazing job with the routes, photos and history of the group! Thanks for all of your hard work T! Spread the word if you know any runners in the Northern Manhattan area looking for company!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bridges, Boobies and more.

I recently set up my tripod along the banks of the Hudson (via Castle Village) and caught a few shots of the George Washington Bridge all dressed up for Breast Cancer Awareness month. I've decided to incorporate this photo from that night to join the effort. As I'm sure many of you also have, I know plenty of women who have been or are currently affected by Breast Cancer. I even have a young runner friend from college who has been battling Breast Cancer over and over again for the last 5 years since college. Even as runners, we are not immune, not invincible. I hope to never forget that.

In other news, I went to PT this week for my evaluation and first session. I discovered a few things about my daily activities and my areas of weakness that I hadn't noticed on my own. As a PT, especially a Pediatric PT you tend to spend a lot more time on the floor that most folks. During my session I was doing some trigger point release of my quad on the floor and when I went to stand up, the PT noticed that my technique was putting a lot of strain on my knee. I mentioned that I get up from the floor A LOT so we worked on a safer method that would prevent further strain and damage to my knee. I have to really focus on it during the workday, but hopefully it will become second nature because a I get up from the floor probably more than 50x a day, often while holding a small child. The PT put me on a regimen of self torture to try to loosen up the extra tight muscles in my left thigh as well as my ITB which should start the process of keeping my femur from rotating internally and rubbing my knee the wrong way. I loved the PT facility, it was quiet and clean and I was the only patient being seen by my PT at the time. That is really important to me because some places work like factories with PT's seeing up to 3 patients at a time. While I understand that helps them with their bottom line, it decreases the quality of the care you receive. Also, this place has an Alter-G treadmill, I don't need it, but that is SO COOL. Paula Radcliffe has one at her house! My PT has run the NYC marathon twice as well as some triathlons, so she understands the demands of training and wants to help get me to that starting line on Nov 7th healthy and strong!

I feel like I have my running mojo back after a bit of a slump with the cranky knee and SI... I am ready to rock.

Up next- Staten Island half marathon on Sunday! Good Luck to everyone running Chicago this weekend- stay cool!!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Little of this, little of that

I haven't felt as though I have any material for big blog posts lately, so I figured I'd just post a few things that are floating through my mind. I suppose it could end up being similar to the "Ellipses" posts made by my friend TK over at PigtailsFlying every so often.

*Biggest news of all- today I registered for the inaugural Pocono Mountains 70.3 Half Ironman that takes place next Oct 2nd. I only have a year to train, better get started. :) It is a big step for me, someone who has never ridden further than 40 miles in a day. I'll be tackling the 1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike and 13.1mi run next fall and I am really, really looking forward to the training and of course the race itself.

*I recently gave up online training logs. I never really was able to keep a good online log of my workouts on any of the various sites like Daily Mile or Training Peaks because they required consistent login and upload, things that were just not working for me. I often go for up to a week without actually sitting down at the iMac to use the internet, which meant that I was often up to a week behind. I finally decided that I need to simplify the little things in my life that cause frustration so I began by switching back to my trusted RW pen and paper running log. I couldn't be happier with my decision. I can keep track of all of my various activities all in one place, however I want.

*As the NYCM approaches, I can't help but think ahead to the future. After a year of constant training I am ready for a break after Nov 7th. By "break" I mostly mean a break from structured running training. I have dreams of swimming 4 or 5 days a week and running and playing soccer a few other days along with working on establishing a solid core again. Oh and yoga, I'd like to do more of it. It sounds fantastic. The plan for the spring includes a long distance swim in open water somewhere, I'm not sure where just yet because I've only begun to look for races, but I'm hoping to do something around 5-6miles.

*Our 1 yr wedding anniversary is this month and it might seem a bit cutesy, but I'm super excited to celebrate with my wonderful hubby. We've had a great year with lots of time with amazing friends and family, exciting travels, great food and lots of laughs. I've never been happier.

*Life is good, real good and I'm grateful every day that running, swimming and fitness are a part of it.