Monday, December 19, 2011

Another day, another 15K.

Less than 6 days after I toed the line at my last 15K, I found myself or my way to another one this Saturday morning. The Ted Corbitt 15K, formerly known as the Hot Chocolate 15K, is usually a freezing cold race with icy water stops, but that was not the case this year. The weather was colder than it has been all season (I think I heard it was the coldest day since March) but temps still hovered in the middle 30's and it felt even warm in the sun.
My same running buddy from last weekend, Charlie, drove me down this time in his toasty car. Seat warmers, people, they're life changing after a race.
I had no real race plan for this one, I knew my knee and ankle were sore so I had no plans to race or shoot for a PR, so I just went out and let the race unfold. The first mile was so crowded that I ran a full minute slower than my second mile. It was okay though, I was happy to warm up slowly. From the first turn I could feel my soleus in each leg start to burn. Ouch, what is up with that? I need to get to the bottom of that pain because it lasted the ENTIRE RACE. Somewhere around mile 6 or 7 I was really hurting in my lower legs and slowed down quite a bit, ~7:50 compared to my earlier miles which averaged around 7:30-7:35. I guess the GU kicked in shortly after and I stopped whining to myself and pushed myself to pick it up a bit. I don't remember where it came from, but I got 1:10 in my head as a sort of unofficial goal (my PR is 1:08) but as many runners know, math doesn't come easy when oxygen deprived. I finished with a strong push, running the final mile in the 7:30's (ouch, my legs still hate me) and the final 0.4 at a 7:03 pace. Yow.
I finished in 1:12 and was happy with the effort. I'll aim for a PR in the spring, but right now is just about seeing where I am and where I need to improve. I definitely need to get back to strength training for my lower extremities and to be more consistent with core work in order to bring myself back to racing shape. We're heading to Canada this week for the holidays and I know it's going to be COLD, but as long as it isn't icy I should be able to get in a handful of good runs at altitude and keep my fitness up. I've been thinking about looking for a yoga studio or a pool while I'm there too, but I don't know if I'll be able to swing either of those, running is so much easier when traveling.
Have a great holiday, whatever you celebrate, and look for my Year in Review post soon. I also need to get myself in gear and put together a 2012 race schedule, there are some exciting events coming up next year!

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pete McArdle XC 15K

As Sunday approached I checked the weather forecast regularly, expecting to see the usual rain and wind for this annual race. You may remember my drying rack from last year or in 2009!  I was dubious, surely the weather would change at the last minute and I'd get soaked again, but no. There wasn't a cloud in the sky on Sunday as I drove up to the Bronx with some of the other Inwood Hill Runners crew.

We arrived just in time to register ($10 for a NYRR race? You can't beat it) and get a tongue lashing from the nasty woman from packet pickup at NYRR. Yeah, you know who I'm talking about.
The race went off in the usual cross-country fashion, a herd trampling across the grass. It is always fun to start that way instead of shuffling along in a tight corral. I hadn't raced since my last tri in July, so I took off like a novice. I usually have the same approach to this race every year, push the hills as much as I can without dying and run the flats fast to make up for time lost on the nasty uphills. I pushed pretty hard on the first set of hills and my running buddy, Charlie, suggested that he was going to scale back a bit once we hit the back hills. I decided that might be a good idea too, but still went a bit ahead. We met again on the way back down and stayed together for most of the race until I waved him on in the final miles. It was great to have company even though I was too winded to talk unless we were on the flats.

Lap 1 went by really quickly once we got off of the squishy,uneven grass, that stuff was killing my ankle and knee. The hills were just the way I remember them from the 5K summer series- relentless and steep. I saw a handful of people I know, including Hilary who won her age group. I passed some folks going up the hills who had gone out fast but couldn't keep up the momentum. By the time we hit the flats again, Charlie and I were both holding our gloves and wishing we'd tossed them at Jonathan to hold as he cheered us on with his daughter.

Lap 2 is a bit of a blur, I remember my lungs being my biggest obstacle on the hills. My legs still had plenty of life in them, but by the time we reached the highest hill I was gasping and wishing I'd taken a hit of my inhaler before the race. Charlie and I also figured out that if we made it to the start of the final lap without getting lapped, we'd be safe. Somehow the math made sense in our oxygen deprived heads. I gagged down a Gu as we passed the finish line for the 3rd time (of 4) and we began lap 3.

From the start of it, I knew lap 3 was going to hurt. I felt like I was on pace for a possible course PR (2009 1:17:57) and I was hoping I could keep it up. I kept up the pace for the first mile, but began to slow just a bit in mile 2 (the toughest of the 3) and told Charlie to go ahead. I knew I'd make it, but didn't want to slow him down. The nature of the course lends itself to lots of passing in the 3rd loop and I found it to be a mixed blessing. I like passing people as much as the next guy, but it is less fun and motivating when the people ahead are a full lap behind you. I prefer the stalk and kill type of passing, so I simply wished them luck when I went by and many of them offered words of encouragement. It was nice. If I couldn't have cutthroat competition, I'd settle for nice. I glanced at my watch and saw that I was at 8.38 miles and had about a mile left to go with 8 minutes to PR. Parts of the final mile are still uphill so I pushed ad hard as I could and let myself fly on the downhill (my quads can confirm this, even today). I played the "go get a PR!"/"Nevermind, it hurts too much and I don't care about the PR!"/"Yes I do, it would be stupid to miss it by a few seconds!" game in my head for a bit until I saw Jonathan again and snapped out of it. It helped that he was on the last downhill and I was flying. I hauled ass onto the flats and pushed as hard as I could to the finish and saw it turn to 1:17:00 as I closed in. Woohoo, now where do they keep the oxygen around here?

I had a weird conversation with a woman who congratulated me and asked what time I arrived to register. I was in no state to chat about that, but I remember her saying she arrived too late and couldn't run. Ok, thanks for sharing. (And you're welcome.)

I managed to place 7th in my age group, 26th female overall and something like 136th overall out of maybe 360. Cut me some slack, I'm writing this on the train and there's no Internet to look up the exact numbers. Who cares anyway?Best of all, I ran my ass off and had a lot of fun and at the end of the day the numbers mean nothing if I had a shitty time.

Afterwards we stuffed our faces with pancakes and hash browns from the Garden Café in Inwood and I spent most of the rest of the day whining about how much my legs hurt already. I guess I have a way to go before I'm back to my old running self. This Saturday is my next try at the same distance, but on the road and a comparatively flat course in Central Park. I hope I'm not still sore.
posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Brooklyn Marathon (or half)

Sunday was an idyllic November day. Perfect in every way and just ideal running conditions, especially for  the Inaugural Brooklyn Marathon in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Before I forget to mention it, congratulations to Steve and his entire crew at NYCruns on a really well done race.

The morning started early, I was up at 5:30 and out the door to meet Ari (from Run Ansky Run) who was driving me down to Brooklyn for the race. Neither of us were actually running the entire race, nor were we registered for it. We've both never run as bandits, but to be fair, Steve did offer us free race entry as fellow NY Running Show hosts, so we didn't skip out to avoid paying. Anyhow, Ari and I were on our way down to join our good friend, Joe, as he tackled his second marathon this month. Joe (from Run Big Joe run) ran NYC Marathon on Nov 6th and was on his way to becoming a full-blown Marathon Maniac (see criteria for this title here) and Ari and I offered to join him for part of his journey.
I only ran 13.25 miles of the course, but saw the entire course more than once. The first ever Brooklyn Marathon was held entirely inside Prospect Park due to permit regulations, red tape, etc. Let's not forget that the very first NYC Marathon was held entirely inside Central Park back in 1970 and now look at it!
The morning was sunny and the temps were comfortable in the low 50's when we arrived. It was a bit breezy so I'm glad I left my long sleeve shirt on for hanging out at the start. The starting area had a very, very different feel from most races I've done. There were people milling around, but not thousands of them, and I ran into a handful of folks that I knew and some that I knew of but had never met before. Emmy, a fellow NY Running Show member and friend of friends was there, despite having run the NYRR Knickerbocker 60K on Saturday. Oddly enough, she was one of MANY there who had done that. Wow. I felt like such a bum, I wasn't even running the full race!
Here are a few photos from the start area:

Cool race tee !

Cruising by the lake on one of our first loops

Joe and Ari

I think this is going up THE HILL for the first time (of many)

The guys chasing the chick in the sports bra. It wasn't THAT warm.

We had a really good time, running, chatting, joking and seeing the same cheering faces on each loop. Friends of ours, Claire and Majo, were out there cheering and volunteering and keeping us motivated. We saw Steve, the race director and a friend as he rode by and yelled out the window that I was a bandit in his race. :) Sam (Push Through Philly) was also out there cranking out the miles AND A PR! The first two loops of the race were "smaller" loops of ~2 miles each and then we began the 6 "full" loops which included the big hill on the north side (right?) of the park. Ari and I only did the hill 3x, Joe still had 3 more big loops when we left him. 
I reached a point sometime during mile 10 or 11 where I started to feel really hungry. I knew I had it in me to run another lap, but not without a snack. I peeled off at the SW corner of the park, ran into a bakery called Connecticut Muffins and snagged a bagel, a cup of water and a banana (for Joe or Ari in case they were hungry). I munched for a minute and then took off into the park with hopes of running a shortcut to meet up with Ari and Joe again for the last of our hills. As I sprinted by the finish area Steve insisted that I grab a race shirt so I snagged one for myself and Ari. Now I was carrying a bagel, a banana and two tee shirts, I was like a sweaty homeless person sprinting through the park. Luckily I met the guys just as they reached the bottom of the hill and I jumped back in with them for the final mile and change. It was SO much fun, but I knew I wasn't up for much more than 13 miles. In fact, the longest run I've done since before my injury in July was my 8 miler in Highland last weekend!

Here is my final photo of Joe as we peeled off and he continued on to his 4th big loop.

HUGE Congratulations to Joe, Sam, Emmy, Frank and everyone else out there on Sunday! I'm totally inspired to run another marathon ASAP (aka in the spring) because of you guys. 

Here's an official race photo from Todd Schweikert photography:

< -- I call this the sherpa runner look. Get your Bagels! Tshirts! Bananas! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Hudson River Rail Trail

A Rail Trail Marker at one of the many bathrooms along the way

 The walkway was breathtaking as the sun rose and lit up the trees. 

 Mid-Hudson Bridge from the Poughkeepsie side

This past weekend was a mix of fortunate and unfortunate events. Starting on Thursday night, I raced down to Lincoln Center to see War Horse with Dave, my anniversary gift to him. Unfortunately when I arrived I got a text saying he couldn't make it, work was too busy. I was bummed about missing the show, but we can use the tickets another day, I was more upset about missing my group run for nothing. Oh well, a rest day isn't a bad thing.
Friday brought the usual routine of yoga class, swimming a couple thousand yards, typically around 2,500 yds or so. I was beat up from yoga, but we snuck in 2,200 before I had to leave for an early PT session. Friday evening I left the city and headed north towards New Paltz and a small neighboring village called Highland. Unfortunately I wasn't accompanied by my hubby on this postponed anniversary weekend because work got in the way again. I invited a couple of different friends and my Mom, but it was such short notice and they were all busy, so I took off on my own. While I'd have preferred the company over being solo, I'm pretty used to being on my own. I packed lots of running clothes and a few snacks and planned on having a little running vacation.
In a rather fortunate turn of events, I noticed a sign with a picture of people hiking as I turned onto the road that led to my Bed& Breakfast. The owner of the place informed me that The Hudson River Rail Trail was practically a stone's throw away and it led directly to the Walkway over the Hudson! The walkway was one of the main reasons I chose that B&B, but I didn't realize just how perfect the location was. I went to sleep that night giddy with anticipation of running OVER the Hudson.
The sun was shining and the air was crisp on Saturday morning, the temps dipping down in the low 30's. I'd packed tights and various light layers and I found this myself perfectly dressed for the weather. CWX tights, smartwool socks, a longsleeve tech shirt, vest and gloves were the right combo. I threw a headband into my pocket and was glad I did because the wind was chilly on my ears.
I headed out for a planned 8 miles or so and wasn't prepared for just how good that run was going to be. Like I mentioned last week, I have been happy with my splits no matter what, but I actually thought something was wrong with my Garmin for most of this run. I was running 8:00's and under and feeling like I was just trotting along. It was fantastic, I felt so good and the foliage and views of the Hudson river were so gorgeous. The fall colors were so vibrant, those late fall goldens, reds and browns, the world looked so alive and I was happy to be there.
I stopped a handful of times to snap a picture and once to use theg cleanest port-o-potty I've ever seen, but each time I slipped right back into a quick rhythm that felt really natural. When I finally crossed the span of the 1.28mi bridge, I turned around into the wind and thought "ohh, that's why I was running so fast, my second half is going to suffer", but once I got back on the trail there was no wind. My second half was just as strong as the first and I only struggled for a few minutes to regain my stride. I cruised back to the B&B where I sat by the fireplace and stretched and showered before devouring some delicious french toast. Yum.
The rest of Saturday was spent exploring the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park and exploring the surrounding area, by the end of the day my feet and legs were aching. I slept well that night!
I haven't been in the habit of running two days in a row since my injury, but I couldn't pass up another perfect morning on Sunday, so I headed out in the other direction on the Rail Trail for 2 miles before turning back. I didn't have to force myself to slow down on Sunday like I had on Saturday because my hips and knees were creaky and my calves and hamstrings weren't speaking to me. Ouch. I felt great by the end of the run, but it took until now, Monday, to feel really better. I took in the colors and smells of fall before heading in for breakfast, a pumpkin hotcake, and hitting the road for the gorgeous ride home. It was a gorgeous weekend to be outside enjoying the weather and fresh air before winter comes knocking. I had a nice time, but I'd have enjoyed myself even more with Dave by my side.

Beautiful golden foliage
Sunday breakfast- Pumpkin Hotcakes! YUM!!! 

Cool, I ran OVER the Hudson River! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just Running

That's all I've been doing, just running. For several weeks now I've been hitting the pavement 3x a week and averaging 15-18 miles per week. I tried running two days in a row a few weeks ago and my ankle was extra sore so I backed off of that for a bit. I did do a Monday morning and Tuesday night back to back and that seemed to be alright, but there is really nothing exciting happening from week to week. It is time for a shake up. I need a race to aim for and I need to switch it up on some easy, dirt trails or I'm afraid I'll just get rusty and complacent. I think I've been afraid to race because I don't want to put up a crappy time because I'm not trained enough. I don't know if that's what will happen, but I've come to my senses and remembered that running isn't just about fast times for me. I was also afraid that if I tried to just "run" a race instead of "racing", I'd push too hard and hurt myself again. I think I'm past that point now and I'm ready to get out there and set a baseline for myself to improve on. I've been tracking my runs up to this point, but not really paying attention to times *that* much. I've been happy with my splits at times when I noticed I was running under 8:00/mi, but not unhappy when I saw 9:30 either. 

Enough of this post-injury state, it's just an excuse to not move forward and push myself - it is time to move forward. 
Here's what I'm thinking loosely for the next few months:
-I just discovered the Navesink Challenge 15K in Middletown, NJ on the Sunday after Thanksgiving which is only 35 minutes or so from my Mom's house, so that's an option. 
-In Dec I'm running the Pete McArdle 15K in Van Cortlandt Park so I need to start easing back onto the trails. There's also another NYRR 15K in Central Park that I may run if I can't find another good 10 or 15K in the area. 
-In January I'd like to tackle a half marathon, not a goal race (too damn cold for asthma girl), but for the distance. I have a strange attachment to the always-below-20-degrees Manhattan Half Marathon, but we'll see. 
-Ultimately I'm looking to maybe do a spring marathon in 2012. I always thought I'd never run one because winter training scares me, but I feel like I missed my entire season this year and I want to get an early start next year so I can dive right into open water swimming season in the summer. If you know of any good marathons in April, perhaps in the MD, VA or NC area, please let me know! 
The other big thing coming up is registration for the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim Relay! We submit our application for a 4-person team on Dec 1st!  The race is August 4th, the day before my good friend's wedding... which I'm in!  Talk about a busy weekend! I passed up my automatic entry for the NYC Triathlon next year though, the price just keeps rising and it seems silly to pay almost $300 for an Olympic tri when there are plenty for less that are also smaller. We'll see if I have time for an Olympic next year, I may be doing so much swimming and running that I'll just have time for a few sprints. 
Speaking of running, I'm headed home to do some speedwork with my Inwood crew tonight. Thank goodness for this amazing weather! Congratulations to all of my rockstar friends on kicking ass at the NYC Marathon this past weekend, it was a blast to finally get out there and spectate! Just watching gave me the marathon bug, I want to RUN! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New training shoes.

When I started running 2 weeks ago (that's right, I'm a 2-week runner now!) I had to make a decision about what shoes I wanted to use. I felt strange just hopping back into my old Asics Gel Nimbus for some reason. Maybe it is because so many of my team members have downgraded to lighter shoes or maybe it is because I haven't the slightest idea how many miles are on them. I'd been rotating two pairs for a while, but I couldn't remember which pair had been giving me a blister on my first metatarsal head when I stopped running. Was it the pink pair? The white ones? Both? Crap.
Either way, I decided to start fresh with a new pair, but a new pair of what? I can't help but read the studies about heel-to-toe drop and how it affects your stride, etc. I'm not getting into the details of that here, you can find a million other more informed sources elsewhere, but I'll just mention what I was thinking. I did my first run in my lightweight Saucony Fastwitch racing shoes. They aren't flats, but they're super light and comfortable for short distances. They were fine for my second mile, which I ran outside, but I was reminded on my first "big" run (2.5mi) that there simply isn't enough cushioning for my foot. Also, they're getting old. They wear out quickly because of the lightweight nature of the foam on the soles. This is one of the main reasons that I knew I couldn't use them as my training shoe, I didn't want to have to replace them so often. I think I'll stick with them as racing shoes, but there's a new shoe in town now-The Saucony Cortana.

After lots of asking around, just to get ideas about what lightweight shoes were out there, I went to Paragon Sports and NY Running Co. in search of something good. NY Running Co. didn't have any of the New Balances I wanted to try, but they did have the new Brooks Pure line of lightweight but still techy shoes. I tried and really liked the Connect, but I kept looking. I've never worn Brooks, other than wear-testing for them, and I would need to research and bit more. Their drawback was also that they are "low mileage shoes" (read: replace often). At Paragon Sports I described my ideal shoe to the gentleman assisting me and he was less than helpful ("those Fastwitch shoes are for overpronators." Wrong) but I'd done my research and tried on a handful of NB and Saucony shows without finding a winner. When I spotted the Cortana I asked what it was and he listed its features, they were exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for not suggesting them, doofus. I tried them on the treadmill at the store, twisted, poked and prodded every detail and said thanks, but handed them back. I never buy shoes at full price. I went home and read up on them, there are plenty of glowing reviews suggesting that they are long-lasting, lightweight and fit very well in the heel. I found them on my favorite gear site, Holabird Sports for $15 less than retail and they came with a $15 gift certificate and a free pair of Saucony arm warmers (which I will save for the bike or very cold weather when they can be covered up. Arm warmers are the dorkiest things ever. Don't say no, you're only kidding yourself.)

The shoes came really quickly (and shipping was free!) and I wore them to PT and on my 3 mi run Tuesday evening. I think I love them, they're like running on clouds, but really light ones. The heel to toe drop is only 4 mm vs traditional 8-9mm so they're sort of a "transition shoe", not that I'm headed towards any type of funny looking shoe with toes. I figured if I'm going to take my heel to toe drop down at any point, I might as well do it while my mileage is low and I can build up slowly.

So far they have about 7 or 8 total miles on them and I'm very satisfied. (Ok, I added 6 more this morning before posting this, so we're up to 13-14 miles on them)
I'll add a few pictures and a silly video...

Watch the tongue of the shoe closely: 

They have a cool "Sauc Fit" feature on the medial side of the shoe, I just discovered it this morning. The top three lacing holes are separated from the rest of the holes by a gap near the center and a stretchy material (the black/silver vertical stripe on the left photo) which allows the shoe to be tied tight without cutting off circulation. I have a hard time tying my shoes because my feet go numb. I've had no trouble with that in these. There's also a funny little pocket in the tongue of the shoe. 

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Back at it

I thought about blogging many times this past week about my return to running, but it didn't seem like there was much to write about. I'm simply running again. I'm increasing mileage slowly and listening to my joints and tendons and all of the other little pieces that creak and whine when I do something "new". I'm still having soreness and knots in my Peroneal muscles (the ones that run from your foot up the outside of your lower leg.) That's been annoying, but not a huge deal and it doesn't bother me while I'm running. My ankle gets a little sore after I run, but nothing like before my rehab.

The truth is that nothing ankle related hurts when I run. It's funny because other parts are squeaking, like my knees, because I couldn't properly keep them prepared for the return to pounding the roads. Normally I might initially stick to softer surfaces when returning from injury, but the dirt and rocks are more likely to cause re-injury by their uneven nature. I do have plans to run on a soft trail in NJ next weekend, one that I know is pretty even and smooth. I'll be extra careful about watching my footing.
For now I'm out running the roads and sidewalks (Inwood is no place to run in the road, seriously) and enjoying every minute of it. I'm wearing my Garmin, but just to keep my mileage in check. We were curious about the group pace last night because it felt quick to me and another friend returning from injury, but it was actually around 9:30's! Haha, we had a good laugh about it because we felt like we were pushing close to 8:00 or something around there, but we were happy to realize that we'd been talking comfortably for the whole way. We were both thrilled that we maintained our aerobic fitness during the recovery. Thanks swimming.

Last Thursday I ran 4.5 miles (I should pay attention to the Garmin distance once in a while, oops, too far) and it felt really good. Simply put: I feel really wonderful when I'm putting one foot in front of the other and the wind is blowing in my face. I love the steady rhythm of my footfalls and my breath and the feeling of pushing myself through the world with my own strength. I'm sure plenty of people get that same feeling from cycling, but for me the bike gets in between me and the earth. It's not the same. Luckily for me, moving through the open water with the strength of my own arms and legs provided a good alternative this summer.

Yesterday was Columbus Day and I had the day off so I spent Sunday night at Mom's and got up for a very familiar 4 mile run. I didn't pack the best shoes for the run, I had my North Face trail shoes, but it was fine. I started off at an easy pace, letting my legs warm up naturally and I ran mile 1 in 8:57. I felt great, the weather was perfect - 55 degrees and sunny. I decided that I'd just let myself find a natural pace for the next two miles and if I felt okay then I'd push a little for the last mile. I eased into and 8:28 pace for miles 2& 3 and I was happy with that. That's my usual "I'm just going for a run" pace. As I pushed towards the telephone pole that marks the end of the 3rd mile I got excited at the prospect of picking up the pace. I let myself ease into it because the first 75 yds or so are uphill followed by a gentle downhill for much of the mile. It felt harder than it normally would have to run at and 8:10ish pace, but I realized I was running into the wind. I let myself go for the last half a mile or so, like loosening the reins on a horse in the final stretch. I didn't sprint, that would be stupid this early in the game, but I cruised and finished up with an 8:04 for mile 4. That felt good. So good.
The best part is that my Peroneals aren't sore today at all. My soleus (solei?) are tight again, but I worked them out with a little yoga this morning. I've noticed that my footstrike is a little more on my forefoot these days so I attribute the soreness to that.

I'm curious how many people know the difference between their calf and soleus. I am always surprised when a seasoned runner says something like "wait, which one is my hamstring again?" while pointing to their quads with one eyebrow raised. I think I may begin a little "what's this muscle?" series to help folks out with the basics of running musculature.
posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Run Woman Show

"What if the race of your life is your life?"

After the 5th Avenue mile was over and done with on Saturday afternoon, I headed down to Brooklyn with fellow runner and cat-lover, Maria , in search of The Old Stone House and a highly praised show called Run Woman Show. We chatted about our expectations of the show on the subway ride down, but neither of us really knew what to expect even though we'd both read the website and seen the trailer. All we knew was that our friend Julie (aka Races Like a Girl) had been talking about this show for months and she'd so kindly gotten us some free tickets.

When we got to the Old Stone House and saw the "check-in" tent for the show, I recognized Hilary, who I didn't know at the time, but I had mistaken her for a friend at the race earlier in the day and taken her picture. It was probably a bit creepy when I said "oh hi, I'm Amy and I took pictures of you today at the race." After pinning on our race bibs (also your program) and listening to quick instructions on not breaking the iPods lent to us, we were putting our headphones in and following the lead of one of the producers who would escort us to Prospect Park for the performance. It was very fun and mysterious, just walking along with really great music in my ears and other runners walking on either side of me. What were we getting into? We followed Suchan along the most beautiful, green, alive blocks of Park Slope until we entered the park and found our narrator, Melanie Jones.

I would do the performance a complete disservice if I were to try to explain what happens during the hour or so that you walk, run, climb and explore Prospect Park with Melanie's words in your ears and her emotions crashing into you and tossing you like ocean waves. I will say that what I experienced in the park during Run Woman Show is like no other performance I've ever been to (though it is in the same family as Sleep No More). You're not just watching, following and listening but you're a part of it, and not in a honeymoon resort talent show sort of way. From the first few minutes of Melanie's story, and there's a story, you're invested in it.

I was rooting for her from the very first step of her marathon journey; as a runner, as a woman, as a fellow ponytailed athlete. You don't need to be a marathoner or even a runner to enjoy this show, but as a marathoner I was able to laugh at myself as I related to nearly everything she said in regards to training and obsessing over training. Melanie takes you from the starting line to the finish line in detail that made me ache for the exhaustion and elation that comes from running 26.2 miles. She reflects on the things that lead up to this day, this race, this point in her life where running this race is more important than anything else because this is not simply a race, it is a metaphor for her life. She means it when she asks "What if the race of your life is your life?" You'll probably raise an eyebrow at this if you aren't a marathoner, but at some point early on during the show I thought to myself "running a marathon changes your life, people think we're crazy but it really does make you a better person." Melanie's words and performance will definitely make you think about your own running, and the running of those friends and strangers around you, in a completely new light, but the show really is not about running at all. The show is about life's ups and downs, challenges and scary, difficult parts. The show will make you reflect on the reasons that you lace up your shoes on a frosty winter morning and make you think, "shit, what am I running from?"

As you make your way towards the finish line, kilometer by kilometer, Mel's words will probably remind you of some of your own running experiences, one that really made me laugh was when she talked about the joys of mile 8. I have distinct memories of mile 8 from the NYC Marathon in 2010 and they are pretty close to what she describes and I thought "oh thank god I'm not the only one who thinks this ridiculous shit when I'm racing."

"I pass mile 8 smug in the knowledge that I am on track and I will make my top secret goal time. I am 30 seconds fast. Shouldn't think about that, but it is impossible because the endorphins are here and I still have glycogen left in my muscles and I am on pace, so as far as I'm concerned- I'm the athlete of the year... When I begin my pro career I will do workshops with young people and homeless, unemployed, amputee Cancer patients and I will teach them my secrets of success and how happiness is easy- you just go for a run. "

The show is designed for everyone, not just speedy marathon runners or elite milers, there was a slower walker in our group who enjoyed the show equally and at her own pace. There are plenty of opportunities for the group to run after Mel as she darts into the trees or across the green meadow, but I enjoyed the performance with my cranky ankle without any problems. I recommend that you buy tickets for your best friend, the girl you pass while running in your neighborhood, your sister, your kid's 1st grade teacher, your mom, your personal trainer, your entire running group and yourself because while I can't guarantee you'll want to run a marathon by the end, I can guarantee you'll enjoy yourself. Heck, you might even learn something about yourself as a runner, as a person and as a self-critic. The show starts at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn, NY on 3rd St and 4th Avenue and ends in Prospect Park. You can get tickets for the upcoming Sat/Sun 10am and 3pm shows in October on Mel's website for $25.

The trailer:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

5th Avenue Mile- Elites Edition

I forgot these in the last post, but I don't mind having a separate post for the locals and the elites. I'm an elitist, what can I say? I didn't have my camera ready when the local elite women went by, oops. Again, if you use one of these photos, don't forget to give credit. Thanks.

The Men

Local Elite Men

Lagat won the race in 3:50.5 with Laalou in 2nd (3:51.7) and Torrence in 3rd (3:25.4)
You can see from this photo that Fam (in blue) was really pushing the pace. I was standing just shy of the 1/2 mi mark. Lagat and Garrett were stride for stride at that point.

The Women
Jenny Barringer Simpson was just steps behind Sally Kipyego at the 1/2, but was able to out kick her for the win in 4:22.3. Kipyego was 2nd (4:22.6) and Hanna England was 3rd ( also 4:22.6).
There is such a difference in the kick of a professional runner, so many of the "regular" runners barely get their knees flexed beyond 60 degrees behind them. I enjoyed watching these amazing women fly by.

5th Avenue Mile

I'll try not to jam this post up with too many words and just let the pictures do the talking. I had a really great time out there watching the 5th Avenue Mile. Many friends ran and kicked ass and I was really happy that I could be there to watch. Watching the elites fly by was incredible, they were gone in a flash but I managed to capture them in action. Enjoy and please, if you use a photo from this blog don't forget to give credit where credit is due. Thanks.

I wondered how many of these women did not belong in the front row. My $ is on Capris with her hair down over on the right.
Women 30-39

Mary Wittenberg, CEO of NYRR, ran back and forth several times during the course of the morning including during her own heat of women 40-49. (She ran 6:11).
Men in their 30's (there were two heats) and some random women
Those quads are no joke
The Vannie on the right is figuring out which bus to take to brunch. The M4? The M1 Limited?

This guy pulled a major John Landy while Tall Guy blew past him

That's my friend Julie in black on her way to kicking sub-6:00 in the ass

And a new friend, Hilary, that I thought was someone else. I ended up meeting her later in the day at an entirely different event.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Keyword Search Fun

Wow, I draw a weird crowd. Here are some of my favorite Google keyword searches that led you weirdos to my blog:

-barefoot stab torture (mm hmm, yes, of course)

-"just fucking stay inside" image (alright..there were several more similar ones too)

-Alliteration about thanksgiving (Turkey Trot Tragedy anyone?)

-Barefoot bike

-Barefoot bike pictures (oh, now we're talking)

-Houston Heatwave joggers shower (Ok, seriously- WHAT?)

-Inwood white runners (We typically go by Inwood HILL Runners, fyi)

and one last gem:

-destroyed building (who searches for things that broad?)

Please keep 'em coming, you made my night.

Bicycle Sunday and progress with my ankle

Last Sunday I ventured up to Westchester County for a new adventure and really, really enjoyed myself. Thanks to a blog post by JT over at Races Like a Girl where she mentioned Bicycle Sunday and some tips from the very generous and helpful Joe Garland, I found this great event. In the early summer and then again in Aug/Sept a 7mile section of the Bronx River Parkway is shut down to cars and opened to bikes, rollerblades and runners. I even saw a man on an Elliptigo at some point. Those things are so bizarre and awesome. I can really see my friend, Matt, riding one of those someday.

At the south end where I started

I set out in the late morning for the Village of Bronxville which is a mile or so south of where the highway portion starts. I've been to Bronxville before and really loved it. It's a charming and fun little town with a main street that is lined with restaurants and shops. I had a 30 mile ride in mind, so I set off on the serene and beautiful tree-lined pathway that runs parallel to the highway. Upon reaching the Bikes only section of the Parkway, I was thrilled to see so many other people out and about. The highway is two lanes wide in each direction with a guard rail between them and though there were hundreds of people out and about, many with children, everyone was following the rules of the road. The slower folks and those with kids stayed right and I was able to zip by in the left lane without anyone cutting me off. It was a whole new cycling experience after riding the west side of Manhattan with the rental bike morons. I was working hard and pushing north up the hills, but I was having a great time. I was in shorts and a short-sleeve jersey, but some folks were decked out in their fall and winter gear. I'd worn long tights on a ride on Saturday and nearly melted, so I knew better. I was sweating as I headed north through Scarsdale and was happy to turn around at exit 22 to head south with the wind at my back. It took a lot less time and effort to make the return trip. There were still some good hills going south, but there were great downhill sections too. I recall seeing 28 mph a few times on my bike computer. Whew. I stopped for a snack when I reached the start again and then set off for another loop. My neck and shoulders were really tight and I had a numb foot for much of the second loop, but the weather was so amazing and the road was so smooth that I hung in there and had another great loop.

Somehow I got grease inside my helmet and I noticed this when I got back to my car.

This coming Sunday is the last Bicycle Sunday of the season, which is really sad because October is typically the best weather month of the year, but I will definitely be putting this on my calendar for next year in the spring. I am keeping my eyes on the weather for this weekend, but it looks like it might be raining on Sunday, otherwise I'd be making a second trip up there for another 30 miles or so. I'd like to really explore that whole area, hopefully with a guide (ahem Joe, ahem Julie) because I can tell that it is an amazing place to run as well. As soon as I'm cleared to get back to training I'm taking a trip up to run the path along the Parkway. I bet it is incredible when the leaves start changing.

A sweet 30 miles

I stopped in the Bronxville Running Co. after my ride, they were really nice.

Speaking of getting back to running, there is a glimmer of hope in my recovery! I went to PT today and after trying some new "running-like" drills on Wed and today without pain around my ligament my PT suggested that I bring my running shoes next week!!! He thinks I'm finally ready for a trial run on the treadmill. I don't even care that it is on the treadmill, which I hate, because I can try RUNNING!! By next week's session I'll have been off of the road for NINE WEEKS. Whew. It has been a long road, but it has been a good stretch too; I've started doing yoga twice a week; I've been working twice a week or more on my core; I've also been really diligent about strengthening my hips and keeping them limber. Some good has come of this whole ordeal and I'm happy about it. I also think I might try to play matchmaker with my PT and a good friend, but not until after my PT is finished...just in case.

Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me next week, I hope the trial run goes well and doesn't lead to any swelling or pain!

The elevation profile for the ride:

The map:

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