Sunday, February 13, 2011


It has been difficult to motivate myself to run alone lately, probably because 3 of my weekly runs during the winter have been with the Inwood Hill Runners and I've done very few solo since the fall. Over the last 2 months however, I've spent nearly every weekend with my family down in NJ because my grandparents were in the hospital which meant I had to run alone on the days I would normally run long with the group. Sadly, last week my grandmother passed away and I spent four days here in NJ and only managed a few miles here and there and one swim at the Y. It was so hard to get motivated to get up early and get outside alone. I did manage a quick run in the nice weather when we returned to NYC last weekend and I felt great afterwards and that made me a bit sad that I hadn't pushed myself to get out for more miles over the weekend. In times of stress and sadness, running is something I can turn to for solace.

This weekend I didn't make the same mistake of sleeping too late and only leaving myself time for 3 miles. The funeral was yesterday and I knew I needed a good run in the morning to clear my head and to try to stay relaxed. I headed out on a very familiar loop that starts and ends at my mom's house in sunny but cool weather at a moderate pace. When I hit a mile, I glanced at my Garmin and was disappointed to see 9:21 because I felt like I'd been moving at my "average speed" which is normally around 8:30, but I told myself that I needed to relax and loosen up. I quickly settled into a rhythm and hit a nice 8:35 2nd mile before beginning to pick things up a bit. I was progressing nicely and felt good, strong even. I reeled in an 8:14 at hardly any effort and was happy that the low 8's felt normal. I got thinking about the Coogan's 5K coming up in 3 weeks after my vacation and I worried myself thinking about whether or not the mid 6's were in reach for me for that race. I clocked an 8:04 for mile 4 and was content with the thought that for now, I was pushing a bit and could hit 8. I told myself then that the last mile and a half should be speedy with a really solid effort on the last 0.5mi. Mile 5 came in at 7:47 with only a 1 beat increase in my HR, cool. I pushed the last 0.5 mi in at a 7:16 pace and felt like I was moving fast but not sprinting. I was really happy with that run, I needed to know that I still had some longer distance speed in me after doing weekly speed sessions with shorter distance sprints. 5.56 miles in 46:01.

I thought a lot about my Nan on that run too, I ran past the funeral home we'd be going to later in the day, past my grandparent's development where much of my family was gathered, including my grandfather who is lost without her. Let's face it though, most of us are also lost without her. It was a really, really hard day yesterday and I'm extra grateful for running on days like that because it helps me sort things out and have some alone time inside my own head, even if my thoughts are sad and painful. Running is like a best friend when you need her most, always ready with open arms.

Rest in Peace Nan, I'll carry you with me on all of the roads that lie ahead.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Sunshine cometh

When we returned to the city this afternoon after a super stressful weekend, the sun was shining bright and temps were in the 40's. I have never needed a run some much in my life! I had a hard time deciding what to wear because it was 43 degrees, but the wind was blowing and the ground is still snow covered. I couldn't go on temperature alone, so I got some advice from friends who'd run earlier and set out in light tights, a short sleeve top under my long sleeve marathon technical tee, my favorite EMS baseball cap and my light headband around my wrist. I don't like cold wind on my ears, it's the worst so I wanted to be prepared. I'm sick of wearing my heavy trail shoes so I threw on a pair of Asics Gel Nimbus and headed out!
I may have forgotten that just because the weather was nice, there was still snow on the ground and ice on the paths. Oops, duh. I had grand ideas of frolicking down under the GWB, turning around after a bit and charging back up those hills, cruising up the Greenway to Riverside Dr. And back through Fort Tryon park. Nowhere in my head did I remember the ice storm we had last week, the cold temps and rain that followed. The run went a little more like this (with many laughs at myself along the way) : I frolicked down to the overpass leading to the Greenway, slid down to the path, which was clear, and headed for the bridge. I smelled fire at the top of the first hill and slowly made my way down the no longer clear hill where I smelled more fire, but couldn't find the source. I looked ahead to the train bridge and the mess ahead and decided to turn back. No Riverside run for me, I carefully ran back up the hill and headed north on the Greenway which was deceivingly clear for the first 200yds. The path quickly changed from clear to "death trap". Some of the ice had melted, but the path hasn't been cleared since the ice storm and it was slushy, soft and most of all WET! I hit a patch along "the narrows" that was at least ankle deep and brrrr! I was missing my gore-Tex shoes then! Wow, brr. I laughed at myself as I ran through the slop past the cars inching along the Henry Hudson next to me, knowing that they were probably laughing at me too. I made it back through the park, not the route I'd imagined, but fun nonetheless. Some punk boys were slipping on the ice and as I approached they said "heh heh let's see if she busts her ass." Nice kids. For the record, I did not "bust my ass."
In the end, I finished with a smile on my face, soaking wet feet, and that great feeling that comes with a sunny run.
Be sure to check out the most recent New York Running Show, I talked about the ESB run up and we discussed some other local races coming up as well as today's Gridiron 4 miler. Http://
I hope you were able to get out and catch some rays today too!
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

To the top of the world

Today was the 34th annual Empire State Building run up, consisting of 1,576 stairs to the 86th floor observation deck. I haven't run stairs like that since crew training in college and since that sucked a lot, I didn't train much for this race. I went out and ran the stairs on 187th Street one cold day in January but I was so sore for a few days afterwards that I decided it wasn't worth it to miss training days or injure myself.

This brings me to the first floor of the ESB this morning where I was able to chat and catch up with Robert and Antonio from my GMR team and a teammate from 2009 that I'd never met, Jeff. We hung out and killed the time before heading to the ground floor where we'd be jamming into the stairwell. I was nervous because what lay ahead was really the unknown. I only had a vague idea of what to expect and I was a little worried about being trampled.

Once the Invitational women's race lined up at the start, I looked around and saw that it wasn't all that crowded and I relaxed a bit. There were a total of 440 people who ran up, but there were so many different heats that it wasn't too crazy.

The race: We took off at the horn and I hung back just a bit instead of fighting my way forward to avoid being swept up into the folks who were starting (way) too fast. I settled very quickly into a steady pace, passed a few people who were really going too slow and tried to run my own race, not the race of those around me. By the 5th floor or so everyone was in a rhythm and breathing loudly. I followed the advice of a few people, EG told me NOT to fly out too fast and stay steady (check) and I ended up catching all of the girls who flew out before me at the start by the 21st floor. I'd also been told NOT to let myself look up at the signs on each floor to see where I was, I didn't look and was pleasantly surprised when we hit the water station at the 21st floor. The rest of the race went by really quickly. At the 43rd floor someone yelled out "halfway!!!" and I glanced at my watch and saw 9:10. That seemed like a good time, I was aiming for sub-20. At the 80th floor people started saying things like "almost there!!!" which made me want to punch them, that is the WORST thing you can say at any race, I don't care how close we are. The final 6 floors were all different lengths and it was hard to maintain a rhythm. I was struggling to breathe, but I really wanted to stay ahead of the chick in the orange shirt that I'd been leapfrogging every 20 flights or so during the whole race. When I hit the 86th floor and had to run on the flat ground I felt like a colt on new legs...eek. I could hear orange shirt chick behind me trying to eek ahead of me so I ran as "hard" as I could and we finished at the same time. The finish line was outside on the foggy, breezy, rainy observation deck which felt fantastic after running in the sweaty, funky stairwell and I was sad that we were ushered back into the building so soon. That finish area had more funk than Motown. We were herded quickly to the elevators but were stopped when there was some sort of medical situation in one of the elevators, so we all stood in a herd and coughed. And coughed. And coughed.

Finally we made it to the 61st floor for some post-race festivities and food. We had a nice time hanging out and catching a glimpse of Thomas Dold who won again for the men for the 6th time and Alice McNamara who won for the women. I even snagged a post-race photo and chat with NYRR president Mary Wittenberg!

I was feeling really great and I began reflecting on the race as we waited for the results. I had a LOT of fun! That was such a cool experience to tackle one of the iconic buildings of my beloved city and I felt great at the top. As the day went on yesterday I had thoughts about how I could improve on that time next year if I tried, etc, etc.

Believe it or not, my legs feel great this morning! I went for an easy 1000yd swim yesterday after the race and brunch to help stay loose and I think it helped. I could feel some tightness in my right arm already when I was swimming so I'm not surprised that my arms are sore today from "pulling" myself up with my arms during the race. That really helps save the legs, I was amazed (we weren't allowed to use the rails during crew practice).

What a way to kick off my birthday month!! Here are the results:

Overall place 178/440
Gender place 47/136
Age group 11/34
Final time 18:51

I'm happy with those results, but I do have some plans for improvement should I get accepted again!
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