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!