Thursday, April 29, 2010

A week of blah and future plans..

I always do this to myself, and I always try to remind myself that it's not my fault, but I never believe myself. I go through a phase of feeling really, really good and healthy and I think to myself (or pronounce grandly to my husb) "Man, I haven't been sick in ages and I feel so good!" Shortly after my statement..... cue the scratchy throat and sniffles. Perhaps it's because I was feeling cocky and my body doesn't like that, but realistically I probably skimped on sleep because I was feeling invincible. I had a friend visiting last weekend and was worried that she'd oversleep on Sat morning so I slept like crap Friday night because I was worrying. Strike 1. I had a great run and ride on Saturday, but probably didn't go to bed as early as I should have. Strike 2. Now, its possible to recover from 2 strikes without harm by getting a really good sleep on night 3 and eating really well. Oops. We went to a crap movie at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday night, though not too late- 5pm- and then had pierogies for dinner. Oh yeah, thats well balanced. That was the last straw. STRIKE 3- you're out.

There you have it, the road to self-destruction. I started the extra sleep/good eating too late and there was no turning back. I have sneezed over 20 times since beginning this blog post. Ouch.

So here I am, at home on a sunny, beautiful Thursday when I'm supposed to be at the Hilton for my work conference day. I mean, its a "gimmie" day... no kids to see, no notes to write, no parents to email... and I woke up feeling like DEATH. I know, its dramatic, but honestly I felt so awful. Hubby was kind enough to track down some meds for me and some soft tissues. I have been steroid inhaler-less for about 4 days now and the coughing attack + wheezing that I had this morning was scary. My mail- away meds are on the way, but I had the Doc call me in a one time inhaler to cover me until it arrives. Well, now I know what it feels like to go off of my meds... and NO, its not good. Live and Learn.

So I'm done whining and bitching about being sick because I have a race this weekend!!! I know, I am sitting here sipping tea and blowing my nose like crazy right now, but I believe in the power of Mucinex D. It is a miracle drug. :) If I feel this awful on Sunday, I obviously will not race, but I predict improvement. I have a girls weekend planned for Fri night/Sat in Long Island and I think a mani-pedi and a wine tasting will do the trick.

The Riverdale Ramble is on Sunday, about a month earlier than usual. I think they moved it up because of the temperature, but Mother Nature saw it on their website and moved the temps up a few weeks. It looks like it is going to be 78, yikes. I'm really looking forward to this race however, we sort of feel like its "Our Race" because the Inwood Hill Runners run the course often, especially in the winter. Here is an elevation profile from the course:

The race starts and end on the biggest hill I've ever run in NYC. From the bottom of the hill you cannot see the top. At the start you go down the hill, and at the finish you GO UP! I'm sure I'll be hearing Josh's voice in my head a lot on Sunday. USE YOUR ARMS! It really helps.. a ton.

After that... I look ahead to Brooklyn 1/2 Marathon on May 22nd. In the meantime however, I spoke with my ortho doc and we both decided that I need to MAKE time to go see a athlete-specific PT about my knee. He checked it out yesterday and even though I knew what the problem was, I wasn't sure what I needed to do to fix it for good. We agreed that doctors are the worst patients and that if I was going to self- treat, I'd have done it already on my own. Crap. He had me do a single leg squat on the right (good leg) and that was fine, but when I did it on the left my leg wobbled and my knee wavered inward. *forehead smack* How could I let myself get so weak like this?! I was a bit embarrassed, but I sucked up my pride and agreed to an MRI and a PT consult. Even though I am a PT myself, I work on children with disabilities... I don't follow the Ortho research anymore, nor do I remember 1/2 of what I learned in advanced ortho. I'm committed now to fixing this knee once and for all. I expect you to hold me to it. :) Thanks.

Oh wow, enough babbling and sneezing for one day. I hope to have a good race report for you after Sunday's race. Best of luck to everyone racing this weekend, wherever you may be.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sof Sole, good for the sole

I mentioned last week that I received a most generous package from a company called Sof Sole full of goodies for my tootsies. I mentioned that I've been a fan of their products for some time, so it was great to try out some of their new stuff.

As soon as I arrived at my hubbys office to pick up the goodies (he's my doorman) I swapped out my current Sof Sole arch support full insoles for the new and shiny "Airr" insoles. I'd been complaining about my achey feet all week because my shoes were worn out, but once I stood up and walked around I was immediately a fan. They have an area in the heel with an air cushion that felt fantastic and a gel area in the ball of the foot, just where its most needed. I love them! The only thing I wish they had more of is arch support. I have super high arches and I'm used to the feel of cushy goodness under my arch. I wonder if they come in an "arch support" version? I'm considering pairing them with the 3/4 orthotics that I use in my running shoes.

The next thing I tried was a pair of the CoolMax socks on my Saturday group run. The weather was crappy and normally I'd wear a darker color for running in the rain/mud, but I put them on and didn't look back. My initial thoughts were "ooh these are cushy and soft and have no seams that are going to give me a blister! Love that! The toe "seam" is anything but a seam which meant no annoying pointy seam where the stitch is locked like on other socks. I was thrilled to notice no rubbing, even after a damp run on the trails. The socks kept my sweaty feet dry and cool (as promised) on my drier runs later in the week. I have A LOT of different running socks so I was able to compare and contrast a little- the SofSole socks are cushy on the sole and breathable on top and have a nice low profile. They're great for warm runs in nice weather. They got a bit muddy in the rain and that may not wash out too well.I'd love to see them in other colors, perhaps a grey or black. My only other alteration would be to add a bit more of an elastic component to the arch area. I really enjoy the SmartWool PhD socks for this reason. Can you tell my arches are pampered? :)

After a week of achey feet, I finally ordered new shoes on and they arrived on Tuesday! I was psyched to pair my new Asics with the SofSole gel arch and wear them to work on wed. My feet and lower legs were sore from the Tuesday night speedwork and needed some reprieve. When I walked out of the house on Wed morning I felt like I was bouncing on clouds. The combination was wonderful. The gel arch hugs the heel and arch in just the right places. There's no such thing as midfoot walking, people. The gel under my heel also helped ease a little pressure that I was feeling in my Achilles/Peroneal Tendon area by placing them in a slightly shortened position. Ahhh, so nice. Sadly, the red dye from my shoe rubbed off onto my new socks though! Oops.

Before my long run tomorrow I'll be switching back to the 3/4 orthotics in my Asics because that's my usual gear and because the gel arches add a little more weight to already heavy shoes. I'll be moving the gel arches into my new Saucony racing flats just like I had them in the old pair. While I do strike with a midfoot-ish strike in my flats, I enjoy the cushiness of the gel arch under my foot (esp in my arch) otherwise I get aching in my arch post-race. I will probably wear those for the upcoming Riverdale Ramble 10K on May 2nd. With all of those hills, I'll need the light shoes and comfort of the gel.

So all in all I'm really satisfied with the new Sof Sole products and will continue to use them along with my current Sof Sole Performance Arch insoles which I am always switching from shoe to shoe! I was impressed that their packaging is also 100% recyclable #5 plastic, unfortunately NY only recycles #1 and #2 though. Perhaps they'd consider a light recycled cardboard packaging instead? I'm not sure about the specs of the actual products and their makeup to know if they're at all biodegradable, but that would certainly be an awesome bonus.In NYC you can find SofSole products at Paragon Sports (love that place) and I know I've purchased many of their products at Sports Authority when I lived in NJ.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

Alright, well I'm not "old" but I am pretty set in my ways of running and swimming a lot with few diversions. Today was a day of "new things" for me and I'm happy to report that it turned out really, really well. In fact, I feel fantastic tonight.

After many self-induced delays, I hopped on the train and moseyed over to Toga Bike shop on West End Ave and 65th St to pick out some new bike shoes. Being a newb and all I had purchased road shoes and mountain pedals which are a slippery combination for a beginner. I felt like the guy showed me a really expensive shoe that looked pretty and a really ugly shoe for less, knowing that I'd have to choose the nicer one. I was determined to get out today so I sucked it up and shelled out the extra cash and got a nice lil pair of Specialized Motodivas. They feel nice, though I'm sad to say they aren't as shiny as the Diadoras I had originally. :) Yep, I care about the color.

I got back home and suited up in my most ridiculous outfit because thats what cyclists do, and I headed out to join some fellow neighborhood tweeters in Inwood Hill Park for some hula hooping! I walked the bike probably .25 mi to the greenway because I'm a scaredy cat and from my apt to the greenway is a really steep downhill! That was not a good place to test out the new shoes and clip in. Once I got to the greenway however, I clipped right in like a pro and just started riding! I practiced clipping out a few times along the greenway to make sure I had the hang of it, and I felt great! Wow, this was turning out to be kind of fun! As I hit Riverside at the far northern end of the greenway (yep, it just ends) I turned onto the actual NYC streets and repeated in my head "clip out or wipe out" so I didn't get too comfortable riding along and fall over upon stopping. I know the area there so well because I run there regularly and I think that eased some of my anxiety. I rode along Dyckman St and turned up hilly Seamann Ave but didn't have quite enough confidence or gusto to go from a dead stop to uphill so I walked the bike just a little way to the top of the hill. I rode Seamann Ave north past Cumming (Yep, intersection of Seamann and Cumming St) and probably had a big goofy grin on my face because I was having so much fun!

I joined the Inwood Hoopers for some fun and silly hooping in Inwood Hill Park which I haven't done in MANY years! I remembered being awful at hooping as a kid so I was expecting to be sucktastic, but I surprised myself and kept the hoop up for minutes at a time! Wow! It was a blast to see so many neighborhood tweeters brought together for an afternoon in the park for a good cause! Ryan, the son of a neighborhood blogger/tweeter ZG, is selling hoops to raise money for tuition to Berklee Music School camp this summer. You can purchase a personalized hoop on their website, I tried a few out today and they are SWEET!

Sadly, I couldn't hoop all night because life and work-week prep were calling, so I hopped back on my white stallion and made my way home. Since most of my ride there was downhill, the ride home included many uphill sections, right from the very start. I hopped out of the saddle and pumped my way up the hill before I even realized what I was doing! That was really exhilarating to be puffing my way up a hill that I can run without batting an eyelash. I felt even more confident on the ride home and was able to ride in the actual car lane for much of the ride because the streets were quiet and I felt safer because I'm petrified of being hit by a car door opening. I cruised my way back to Riverside and onto the greenway where I played with the gears to find what felt right and was able to pick up some speed without being scared of hitting a bump and dying. With the sun toying with the idea of setting to my right and the wind in my face, I cruised along my usual path with much more speed than ever before and all I could think was "this is so exciting!" I unclipped and walked my bike up and over the overpass that crosses the West Side highway at 181st St because it is quite windy and narrow. I snapped a photo of the GWB in its pre-sunset glory there before walking my bike for a while up the 181st hill (which I normally run so that was tough to swallow) and was heckled by a man leaving a kid's birthday party, he said, "you're not going to let this hill stop you, are ya?!"Argh! I smiled and told him I'm a newbie and don't care for the scary traffic on 181st (it's like Panama city on that street). I did however cruise on up the hills of Cabrini Blvd which was so fun that I decided to keep going and looped all of the way up to Fort Tryon Park before cruising on home. The only word I can use to describe it was FUN. I really enjoyed my new adventure, it was a really different way to see the city, totally different than running and walking or riding in a bus or car and totally different to be moving so fast in the open air.

So it was a successful day in the end... I rode without falling or getting run over by a bus or hit by a door, I kept a hula hoop up WAY longer than I expected, and I CANT WAIT to bike again soon. Goodnight all, thanks for being such a great community of runners, swimmers, bikers, hoopers and friends.

Friday, April 16, 2010

F is for Feet

I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of my goodies from SofSole all week, and today they finally arrived! I received an email about 2 weeks ago from a woman at the company asking me if I'd be interested in trying some of their products and reviewing them on my blog. I realized that I've been using SofSole products for many years and was using them on a daily basis. I figured out that I had their sport arch insoles in my work shoes (Nike Free's) because they're comfy and I'm on my feet for about 9hours of the day. I have a pair of their gel arch supports in my racing flats because I have a very high arch and feel more comfortable with support and ALSO i have their hard 3/4 performance orthotics in my regular running shoes for the arch support!
The great woman, Whitney, at Sof Sole offered to send me some goodies to try out and I requested the CoolMax socks because I happen to LOVE socks (possibly too much) and because I'm always looking for new pairs to keep my feet cool. I'm super psyched for the opportunity to try all of the new stuff out, thanks Sofsole! I put the Airr performance insoles right into my Nike Free's today and immediately had shoegasms. Wow, that felt sooo good and cushy on my sore feet. I'm on my way out to buy some new shoes tonight because my feet are aching, and I'm certain it's because I have way too many miles on my old ones. I'll try out the new socks tomorrow on my run! Here's a picture of all of the new goodies: (oooh shiny).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Too funny not to share...

I nearly died when I came across Iron Brandon's post tonight... I laughed so hard that I was doing the silent laugh. Enjoy....

Elitist Runner…SO FUNNY!

PR by Surprise

Let's start this Sunday race story where it really began- on Saturday. After a week of 3x 5milers in a row and a 2.3 mile swim on Friday, I woke up Sat. feeling a little zonked. Sat was a group run with the Inwood Hill Runners followed by brunch with some ladies from the Inwood twitterverse. The group run weaved through the hills and trails of Riverdale and my legs felt tired but still strong. 8.3 miles done. Saturday afternoon I relaxed and cleaned and Sat night we went to a party in Inwood. When we left the party, I felt an all-too-familiar twinge in my left knee (it sidelined me for nearly 6 weeks in 08 after NYCM) and I freaked out a little. I iced when I got home and told myself and some friends that I wouldn't be "racing" on Sunday. No biggie. I could tackle sub 28:00 some other time.

Sunday morning turned out to be a beautiful start to the day, a very funny and cool friend of mine offered a ride to the race and we had a nice ride downtown for the Thomas G. Labrecque Run as One in the bright morning sun. We parted ways when we got to the park because I needed to grab my bib and tshirt and he was running an extra lower loop, so I ran over to the bandshell alone. Wow, that felt pretty good... So I got to thinking about maybe racing after all. (Increase HR beginning:now). As I stood in the red corral contemplating a race, I noticed how few women were nearby. I was beginning to feel like I really needed to prove something at this sausage-fest.

Before the gun went off I told myself "We'll see how mile 1 goes and then decide whether or not to shoot for a PR or just go easy." Mile one flew by and I was happy/surprised to see a 6:58 flash on my garmin. "Oh," I thought. That was right on track, huh? Mile 2 is notoriously flat and easy and I had to seriously reign myself in after seeing that I was at a 6:35 pace...woooah girl. Mile 2 came in at 6:48 (the race was on) and I decided it would sure be fun to "go fishing" and pick off as many women as possible in front of me. There weren't many, but I nabbed the ones that there were. I knew that Elyssa was waiting with her fancy camera at W 86th St and that gave me some much needed motivation for the West side hills. As I ran by, she gave me a surprised look and an incomprehensible "you...oh, whaa?!" I laughed as I galloped by. I was hurting, but as I finished off mi 3 I saw that I had almost exactly 7mins to hit 28:00. I had been worried for a while about dying on mile 4 with nothing left in the tank. My head played games with me the entire race. My confidence faltered once about every half mile but I had another voice in my head telling me otherwise. The conversation went something like this:

"you CAN do this, don't you remember VA beach?"
Yes, but that was flat. Soo flat.
"So what? You train on HILLS."
Yes, but the west side hills are hard and there are a bunch of them and i want to puke and its hot and....
"Shut up and run"

The last mile went by in a flash, I cruised down to 72nd next to a guy who looked like my allergist, he kept surging ahead and then I'd find myself next to him again. I think I beat him in the end. 6:42 4th mile. I looked at my Garmin as I crossed the line, 27:48. I smiled big, gasped for air and accepted a congratulatory pat on the back from Mary Wittenberg. I congratulated the allergist look-a-like and he told me he wanted to say something during the race but.. "Well you know, I couldn't" :) Cute.

<--- looking goofy but happy.

I frolicked back uptown after the race, yelling excitedly at Michelle and detouring to say hi to Bridges Runner before walking all the way to 110th before forcing myself to leave the sunny street and go underground. I was floating... Could that really have been me out there??! I checked garmin a few times to make sure it was real. I was milking a huge runner's high for the next few hours. When I checked the race results later that day I was thrilled with what I saw. It was my first and last race at a 6:59 bib pace. I truly cannot believe that I am in the 6:00's, even if it is just barely.

The numbers:
4.03 mi in 27:48
7:09 (holy inconsistency batman)

Overall place: 542 (out of 6717)
Gender place: 42 (out of 3434)
Age place: 15 out of 1458 (WOW!!! Cool!)
69.1% AG

Now that is a ponytail flying. I'm pretty sure I'm cracking up at a verklempt Elyssa.

I'm still stupidly giddy about it, even today when I'm wicked sore and tired. I am more sore today than after the half.

Pictures are all courtesy of @nycbklyngirl aka Elyssa.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Stuff Dreams are Made of

Twice in the last two days people have asked me about my training, my boss and my good friend's fiancee. They are both athletic in some sense of the word, my boss cycles and Jon runs and plays soccer, so they are far from the "how long is your next marathon?" types. I got into a conversation about the various things that I'm currently in training for... Brooklyn Half Marathon, the Green Mountain 200 mi Relay, the Olympic distance NYC Triathlon in July (probably prefaced by a sprint tri in June for practice) and I started getting really excited just talking about it.

See, this is the kind of life I always dreamed about. I dreamt that being a "grown-up" would be really, really fantastic and I'd get to do what I wanted and go explore the world, make really cool, interesting friends and be incredibly happy. I am doing all of those things. I have been feeling extremely fit for the last few years, and lately I feel so incredible. I am having a hard time holding myself back from overtraining because I constantly feel like "getting out there and kicking some ass". I've been housing my swim sessions (4000 yds? sure, lets do it.) and feeling really strong in the water and feeling awesome on all of my runs- even when tired or without rest days.

I'm so lucky to have a career that allows me flexibility in my schedule and a lighter load in the summer. I actually work 3 jobs during the week, I'm a Pediatric Physical Therapist 4 days a week at a preschool for children with multiple disabilities, it doesn't get more rewarding and challenging that that, does it? I also provide Early Intervention PT services to children 0-3 yrs old in their homes one day a week after work and on Fridays, which is challenging and wonderfully rewarding. The remaining 3 afternoons I spend at a private school in the city where I run an after-school running team for kids 6-12 yrs old as part of the New York Road Runners Youth Programs. It is an exhausting, non-stop week of all physical activity (sitting at a desk? What's that?) but I have running and swimming to thank for keeping me in shape so I can do my job and do it well. If it weren't for my wonderful husband of 5 months, I wouldn't be able to maintain my crazy lifestyle and work such bizarre hours. He brings home the (veggie)bacon in ways that the PT world doesn't offer and supports me unconditionally in all of my endeavors. In two words: I'm lucky.

I have what I've always dreamed of having and I refuse to let anyone try to make me feel guilty for enjoying it 1000% of the time. I've worked hard to get to this level of stability and fitness and I'm going to keep working my ass off, literally and figuratively, until I can't do it any longer. I have such a supportive, loving bunch of people in my life thanks to twitter and dailymile, people who encourage and inspire me daily to become a better athlete and person. It's amazing what happens when that many like-minded people get together (virtually and in real life) and support each other. It sure is nice to hear, "hey Amy, awesome 10 miler!" instead of "10 miles?! oh thats just CRAZY!" for once.

I actually had a serious conversation with a friend at work this week about doing the Ironman Timberman 70.3 next year... I believe he said, "we can totally do that." I agreed and I meant it. I can't wait for what lies ahead....

Monday, April 5, 2010

My new toy

After weeks of stressing and hemming/hawing I finally did it- I bought a road bike!! Just like shopping for a wedding dress I went back to one of the first ones I tried and bought it this morning. It is light, speedy, snazzy and of course, purty. I took it for a spin this evening in the 'hood... I walked out of my apt feeling like a total dork because I didn't know what to wear and I just felt silly with my helmet/sunglasses/daypack/etc. I think it was mostly because I'm a total newbie!! It felt foreign. I appreciated the familiarity of strapping on my garmin as if I were going for a run. I hoisted the bike up with ease and trekked down the 76 stairs feeling pretty badass. I was one of those chicks who picked up a bike with one hand, awesome.

When I stepped outside and looked uptown I noticed a slight traffic jam at the bottom of the hill, two buses and some SUV's and a delivery car were honking and no one was moving- wow, my worst nightmare. I couldn't do it, I couldn't get on the bike on the busy street so I walked it around the corner to less crowded, one-way Cabrini Ave where I felt more at ease. I hopped on and cruised up to Fort Tryon Park where I did a full, scary loop before feeling at ease with the sunset view ahead. I hopped off and took a few bike porn shots for your viewing pleasure...

Springtime in Jersey

I have a tradition of running on every holiday possible, even if it is one I don't really celebrate. Easter is no exception, and boy was the weather gorgeous. I remember last Easter because it was chilly and really windy and I took my nieces to the park in their spring dresses and they whined because they were cold. So this Easter there were no kids at my mom's, no whining and my hubby wasn't stuck at work- score. The sunshine drew me out of bed with the promise of a nice, easy run. Earlier in the week I'd planned for about 10 miles on Sunday, but then I ended up doing close to 9 on my group run Saturday, so I settled for 6. I hadn't taken a day off since the previous Saturday and I'm not training for anything specific right now, so why overtrain?

There's something to be said for familiarity in a route. There isn't anything exciting or even interesting about the routes near my Mom's house, in fact, they are flat and I have to run on the sidewalk...aka boring. I usually listen to podcasts (This american life, Dump Runners Club or Wait, Wait Don't Tell me) to keep me entertained, but this time I was dumb and didn't update before I left home so I was stuck with what I had. I decided to pull a TK and listen to an alphabetized list of songs, I picked the letter "A" and went from there.

The run started out easy at an 8:43 pace as I cruised over the only visible hill in the entire county along quiet Vermont Ave. My legs were excited by the music and wanted to speed up a bit, but I could tell that they were a little heavy and I decided to hold the pace around 8:30 for the run. As I neared a giant church I knew I would encounter chaos and as I turned the corner, the usual Sunday traffic was quadrupled. I loped on past the cars waiting in line to get to church, feeling lots of eyes on my back. There are not a ton of runners on the streets around here. I turned the corner away from the church, feeling no guilt for not being there and continued on my way. I passed Amy Ct, smiled, and kept going. It was around mile 4 that I hit the headwind that always plagues my NJ runs on the way back to Mom's. The wind here is perpetually a NW wind, so much so that a horse farm along my route renamed itself "West Wind Stables". Yes, there are horses at the Jersey shore. I pushed through the headwind, happy that it wasn't a cold wind, and made my way back home. My legs were heavy by the end and I was looking forward to eating the marshmallow bunnies I left on the table. It wasn't anything stellar, but I pushed through a run that had no underlying purpose and got in a solid 6 miles and I really enjoyed the "A" playlist.

The Numbers:
6.0mi, 51:32
avg pace 8:36
pace per mi:
8:32 (pacemaster's apprentice)
8:43 (it was slow going by the traffic-no sidewalk)

This run was brought to you by the letter "A":
"Acoustic #3" by Goo Goo Dolls, "Ain't no reason" by Brett Dennen, "Ain't no rest for the wicked" by Cage the Elephant, "Alejandro" by Lady GaGa, "All About Soul" by Billy Joel, "All Dressed in Love" SATC soundtrack-Jennifer Hudson, "All I ever wanted" by Train, "All I hear" by Train, "All I really want" by Alanis Morissette (annoyed me a little), "All In" by Lifehouse, "All that I'm asking for" by Lifehouse, "All that matters" by Addison Road, "All this beauty" SATC soundtrack by The Weepies, and cooldown walk to "Allentown" by Billy Joel. It was really good stuff :) Totally random.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Prodigal Beach bum returns..

3/26 Friday Morning

Since my car is permanently out of service because it failed inspection and I'm getting rid of it, I had to get up early on day 1 of vacation to drop Mom off at work. I figured I'd get my run in since I was going to be up anyway and what better place to do it than the beach! I love doing boardwalk runs along the (in)famous Seaside boardwalk in the off season. The forecast was rain and wind, but whatever, it was going to be in the high 40's and I haven't done a boardwalk run all winter. My last attempt was foiled when I checked the boardwalk cam in Feb and found it under 3ft of snow.
I dragged myself out of bed and into the grey, dreary day and was instantly perked up by the thought of wearing my new Brooks Shelter neon yellow jacket from the Shamrock 1/2. After dropping Mom off (she works 2miles from home, but can't walk because she has to cross a highway) I cranked up the tunes and made my way east towards the beach and Rt 35. Crossing the Mantaloking Bridge onto the island made my heart go pitter-patter with the thought of being near the ocean and my beloved beach. You have to understand, I am a beach bum. I was raised in NJ with both sets of grandparents living within spitting distance of the water. One set of GP lived right on the bay until last year, the other lived steps from the ocean so that is where we spent our summers. I think I have salt water in my veins sometimes, I feel more at home on the beach than almost anywhere else on the planet. I lifeguarded on this very island in HS and college and loved it. For me "I need to go to the beach" is synonymous with "I need to go for a run" in terms of mental state. So needless to say, I was looking forward to feeling that ocean breeze on my cheeks.
I'm not sure if it was the prospect of a beach run or the morning radio chatter, but something distracted me from the "school zone" signs on the road and I cruised through them at a brisk 42. When I looked up, there were flashing lights in the mirror. Oops. I literally smacked myself in the forehead. Dummy. A gorgeous cop ambled up next to the car and I smiled at him while handing over the goods. I couldn't think of anything better to say so I told him I was going for a run. He was holding my licence etc and he said "ok, what does your license look like?" Dumbfounded, I stared at him blankly until he said "you know, points? Accidents, tickets?" Duh. I thought he suspected it was a fake. Dummy. :) He let me off with a warning and said "Have a good run!" Whew.
With that hiccup out of the way, I drove as far south as I could, parked and stripped down to my shorts, brooks jacket and "Where's Waldo"-esque gloves that I keep at Mom's. The wind was going to give me a run for my money.
As I headed north into the wind, I smiled as I pushed past the games, ice cream booths, pizza places, the carousel, caramel apple and salt water taffy shops all closed up tight for winter. I trotted by the two large piers with their carnival rides and funhouses, both stirring with a few workmen tinkering with the rides. One group of guys was using the Himalaya's speaker system to play their music and I bopped along for a minute as I passed. The northern end of the boards is a quiet place, even in high season. There is a ski-lift ride for the last half-mile or so that runs along the beach that shook in the wind. I was thrilled to turn around at the end of the boards and have the wind at my back. Whew, it was gusting pretty hard. The run south took me to the parts of the boardwalk past the games, pizza and rides where its simply you and the dunes. It was quiet with the exception of the dump trucks and other equipment working hard to bring the sand back up to the beach from the nearby streets. Wow, what a thankless job. They had quite a system going and I enjoyed running by and watching the whole quiet process. Seaside Park is a sleepy beach town in the winter and as I turned onto its quiet streets, I welcomed the break from the wind. I was hoping to get in 8 miles, but with the wind, I changed those plans and scaled back to 6. Running south along the main road was fun because it was deserted all the way down to Island Beach State Park where I turned around and was smacked by the wind again. I had to laugh at myself because I felt like I was running backwards a few times. It was a sweet run in the end, I finished feeling windswept but really happy. I turned back toward the ocean and spotted my car in the distance. I could have crossed the street to the boardwalk but I stayed on the sidewalk where I enjoyed my own private beach. Wow, those guys have their work cut out for them after the storms we had this winter.

Total mileage:6.18
Total time: 54:01
Pace: 8:44
Slowest Mi: 9:40 (1st mi)
Fastest: 8:03 (mi 4, tailwind!)

Look, I found the cast of Jersey Shore!

MY HR monitor left an imprint for a few hours... lovely.