Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The 2012 Brooklyn Marathon

The most common questions I heard during my marathon training this year after telling people I was planning to run Brooklyn were: "Oh, there's a marathon in Brooklyn?" and "Where is it?" My answer, "In Prospect Park, it's several loops," was always met with either looks of confusion (non-runner Manhattanites who don't know where PP is) or looks of sympathy because I must be crazy to do that to myself.
Having run half of the race with my friends Joe and Ari last year, I knew it wouldn't be that bad. I mentally prepared for the loops by NOT running in the park all year. I'm a big believer in the idea that the miles go by much faster when you don't know where you are along the course. My plan worked- the race went by in a blur of big hills, lake views, friends and random cheering crews and mile markers. I paid very little attention to which lap I was on, but kept track by counting times up the big hill. I ran the tangents thanks to Hilary who reminded me each time and gave me reference points to shoot for with every turn. Most of all, I had a really good race! After a slightly disjointed training cycle due to eye surgery (Lasik) in early October and a trip to sweltering Paris in August, I missed more than one long run, but I did my best to get in the necessary mileage and went into the race with no real expectations. The coolest thing happened as a result, I did way better than I thought possible and all without the pressure of a goal time! Of course now that I ran so well on somewhat unstructured training and a really hilly course I'm wondering how I can run on a flat course with better training....
So, about my race... I ran the first 18 miles or so side by side with my friend Hilary. We bumped into each other before the start and chatted while I put some Kinesio tape on her cranky knee. We discussed race plans and ours were similar so we decided to start together and just see how it went. Luckily for both of us, we were very compatible running buddies! We chatted away the miles, looked for friends along the way and pushed our way up the big hill 5x side by side and cruised down the hills on the other side of the park. At least I think it was the other side, I told you I don't know the park very well. We were moving a little faster than planned, and in true crazy person style, we kept it up. It felt effortless and we just had to hope that we wouldn't pay for it down the road. In the end, Hil pulled ahead on the 5th big hill and I let her go, knowing that she had better training under her belt and I was happy to carry on with some other friends who stopped by to keep me company for a bit.
I think I was well fueled up until that point, but I must have missed "a feeding" because I felt sluggish, tired and blah for something like miles 19-21. I got in some more fuel in the form of a Honey Stinger waffle and gatorade and felt better within minutes. The company certainly helped (I won't mention any names because they were technically bandits) and they kept me peppy and we were just having fun. I saw Dave and gave him a hug and decided I'd like to walk for a minute to stretch out my burning hips. It helped, a lot. I've never walked during a race, it was a surprising little boost so I did it one more time a little later. One of my buddies was carrying water, which I think really helped me through the final miles because I felt pretty thirsty, but I didn't have to gulp at water stations.
The final turn was about 0.2 miles from the finish line, but it's felt like an eternity! I pushed on alone towards the elusive finish, which was around the third bend in that stretch of road. Oh, did I mention it was uphill? I crossed the line at 3:49:xx and my official time was 3:50! Wahoo! That's just 3 minutes slower than my marathon PR from NYCM in 2010! What a great day! I felt 10x better than in 2010 and I recovered pretty quickly, it must have been the hot chocolate, grapes, delicious bagels and cheesecake NYCRUNS was giving out at the finish line. By Wednesday I had barely any soreness left and I was still feeling the excitement of running such a solid race. Thanksgiving dinner was well earned this year!!!


posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon

Yesterday's race was my first running race in quite a while and I'm happy to report that it brought back my running mojo. I had a nice long "taper" for this race thanks to a bad chest cold and then my post-Lasik forced week off. P2P was my first race with better-than-perfect vision and I have to say that it made a difference. Wow, having clear vision and not worrying about having a contact lens malfunction or tripping with my glasses was spectacular. I ran last Thursday night after about 12 days off (torture) and felt absolutely fantastic, so I felt pretty good about my prospects for the race. I didn't have great expectations for my time because I still had a lingering cough and had been sick for a while, but I told myself I'd be happy with a time under 2:00, worst case scenario 2:05. I didn't know what to expect from the course so I figured I'd roll with it. I had no other plan, I couldn't even remember what pace a 2:00 half was, but I couldn't see my splits anyway.
Race day was overcast with a tiny bit of sprinkling rain at the start, but perfect temps in the high 50's. Lots of folks seemed to be having the annual season change confusion and overdressed. There were a lot of very sweaty folks in long sleeves on the course.
I was in the first wave of 4 waves and was really happy to be starting ahead instead of having to do a lot of passing on the trails. The race was perfectly organized, it started right on time and went off without a hitch. The start was on the road on a mighty uphill along a quiet street in New Rochelle and turned into the trails after several minutes. After making my way around a few stumbling folks with weak ankles, I fell into a steady pace with a couple of nearby guys who seemed to be discussing a 2:00 finish. "Perfect!", I thought. One guy had a P2P shirt from another year and seemed to have nice trail running skill so I decided he was the guy to follow. We made some small talk with a local cross country coach who joined us for a while after mile 4 until he stopped for a pee break. Lucky bastard. I had to pee from the start to the finish. I faced the ugly old visitor, self doubt, at about mile 5 until I saw another woman ahead and realized I was moving up on the couple of women who passed me at the start. Hmm. For the most part I was then only woman on any given stretch, and my running buddies made note of it around mile 7. I tried to push the thought of catching more women out of my mind and just focus on running and pushing through the hills and rocks, but each time I saw a ponytail ahead, it was like she had a bullseye on her back. I recognized almost all of the women I "killed" (passed) from earlier in the race, but not all of them. I had no idea where I stood in my age group or overall, but the thoughts motivated me late in the race. I stayed with my guy friends along the way, noting that my comments to women I was passing went unreturned. "Nice job" was met with silence. Whatever, bitches. :) To me, that is just fuel to make me pass you and never give you the chance to catch up.
So the race went along, the trails got nicer and I mentally tied myself to an Aussie (I didn't know he was an Aussie until we talked post-race) to get through miles 9-12ish ,except when he dropped his gu before the 10 mi water stop and turned back for it. The last mile or two (or 3, the details are fuzzy) I caught and passed a few guys that I'd been behind at the very start of the race and I was feeling really strong again. It was some sort of third wind. I gave one guy encouragement at about 12.5mi because he was walking and he started running next to me. He thanked me after the race for the boost, I am always happy to return that favor because people have done it for me when I'm struggling.
The final stretch of the trail was really nice as we got close to New Rochelle High School and we could hear the cheerleaders chanting and encouraging the runners as they approached the track. The finish was half of a lap of the track, something I do not particularly enjoy. Instead of looking around for the finish, I put my head down and watched the ground in front of me until the final straightaway where I looked up and sprinted for the line. As I crossed, the clock read something like 1:48:0X and I was thrilled. The results have me in under that in 1:47:57. I couldn't be happier considering my goal time was under 2 hours!
I was really happy when I got home and looked at my Garmin data. I ran a negative split with the last 4 miles under 8:00. Wow. I ran a really steady race despite not being able to see my splits along the way AT ALL and despite the varied terrain. Garmin says we gained and lost 2,000+ ft on the course which is nothing to snuff at around here.
In the end I walked away with a giant beer mug for 3rd place in my age group, which was extended to 16-29! I'm lucky there were no 19 year old Iona College XC runners out there to kick my butt. My time was good enough for 14th female overall.

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, September 29, 2012

To the Lighthouse...and Beyond!

Last week at this time I was emerging from the Hudson River at Dyckman Street (aka 200th St in Manhattan) after a 10.2K journey up the river from 79th St. It was my longest continuous swim to date and yet it took almost 20 minutes LESS than my previous long swim of 4.4miles in the Chesapeake last year. The reason for that is due to the tidal nature of the Hudson River which is actually a misnomer as the Hudson is an estuary once you get south of Troy, NY near Albany. This means that I was not "swimming upstream" on Saturday, though a few people gave me crazy looks when I told them we swam south to north. I forget that a lot of people aren't as familiar with the rivers as swimmers are and this leads to a lot of wacky, entertaining questions from curious onlookers.
Back to the swim- I showed up early on Saturday morning to volunteer before the race because I wasn't able to help out at any other races this year, so it was quiet and empty in Riverside park as the sun lit up the buildings across the way in NJ. It was going to be a beautiful day, I could feel it. I helped set up the start area and kept busy with little chores until it was time to get myself ready to swim. I really enjoyed volunteering, even if my job was silly at one point (I was directing swimmers to pick up their chips, lest they should walk away without it) because it kept me busy and occupied all morning. The alternative would have been pacing at home and then getting nervous waiting at the start area, so I was happy for the distraction. Besides, the NYC Swim crew consists of really nice, fun people.
I managed to catch up with a bunch of friends before the race and talk about things other than swimming, which was a great way to spend the morning. Before I knew it, it was time to line up in the corrals and I had to wave goodbye to my buddies. Sally and I were separated for the start, she was in the wave right before mine and I was sad to be starting without her. We always swim together and so I spent most of the race glancing at the swimmers around me hoping to spot her. When it was our turn, my wave hopped in and treaded water for about a minute while Morty counted down. It was nice to be able to adjust to the water for a second before taking off, I like it much better than a beach start. There were only one or two dopes in wetsuits in my wave that swam on top of everyone as we made our way out to the first buoy, but everyone else was behaving themselves. Really, it is always the wetsuit folks trying to swim over me, I'm guessing they just don't feel it through the suit when they hit you. The water temp was PERFECT for a long swim, around 70 degrees and so crisp and clear. No one ever believes me when I say that the Hudson is clean and beautiful, but it was.
The start was smooth and before I knew it I was on my way up the river, picking off the buoys one by one. The only problem with the orange buoys was that my wave was wearing orange caps in the exact same shade as the buoys! When you are glancing up to sight the next buoy, the distant buoy is the exact same size as the person's cap ahead of you. It was impossible to tell the difference at times. There were a few rogue yellow buoys along the way which always make me think "shit, why is this one yellow? Did I miss something?" because the "turn" buoy in a race is usually a different color. It seemed to take a week to get to the George Washington Bridge, but the scenery was so beautiful along the way that I never got bored. I love swimming towards the bridge, it has been "my bridge" for 7 years now since we live a few blocks north of it and I run over or under it or past it several times a week. I could feel the current and wind pushing me along at certain points along the way, but especially as I got close to the bridge and its namesake little buddy, the Little Red Lighthouse. The water wasn't nearly as flat as it seemed earlier in the morning, but it was nowhere near as rough as it was during MIMS relay in August. I flipped over and did some backstroke under the bridge and even stopped for a second on the north side to hear the roar of the cars passing overhead. I love this neighborhood and being under the bridge was just another way to enjoy it. I know the west side "skyline" pretty well and was able to figure out where I was along the way for the entire race. As we swam past the bridge, I knew there was about 1.4 miles to go (or is it 1.2? whatever) and I watched for neighborhood landmarks along the way. I spotted the Pumpkin House peering out at the river from 184th St and The Cloisters peeking out from the trees of my beloved Fort Tryon Park. It was a fun perspective and looking for landmarks kept my mind occupied as I pushed further north in search of the finish. My shoulders and back were aching and  I was simply getting tired. I could see several buoys ahead, but one of the ones I was using to guide me suddenly started moving and I realized it was on the back of a BOAT. According to my hubby, some of the finish buoys had drifted upstream and had to be brought back by the support boats. The finish area was generally confusing, but that might be the result of exhaustion, and it wasn't entirely clear when to turn towards the finish. Unfortunately, the kayaks didn't direct us to turn soon enough and everyone seemed to be drifting upstream as we tried to head for the shore. That was really tough at the end of 6+ miles and it made me a little nervous because the alternative to swimming really hard for the finish was to smack into the rocks north of the finish line. Eek. Luckily, no one seemed to get hurt, but it was an unwelcome challenge after swimming so far.
At the end of the race I was all smiles, I swam 10.2 Kilometers! Wow! The quest for bigger and better things continues...

Post-race I had brunch with Sally, Rebecca (who swims with me at MPHC on the team) Dave and Chuck at La Marina, a new and "hip" restaurant at Dyckman St and the river. I remember waiting a while for my food and probably being cranky about it, but I'm sure it was good. The restaurant itself is pretty new, but it replaced and old restaurant that closed a few years ago at the same location. They've done some really nice work on the place and the location offers stunning views of the GWB and the Palisades. It was a nice place to sit and recover post-race. I was too useless to do anything but eat after all of that swimming. Quite possibly the best part about the race finish was that Sally, Chuck, Dave and I could WALK HOME! Yay! The only other time that happens is at the Coogan's 5K run.

So, if you're thinking about taking your swimming up a notch next year, I HIGHLY recommend looking into the Little Red Lighthouse Swim. It was a beautiful course, well organized, and really fun.
I managed to come in #135 (out of 299 entrants/284 finishers) in a time of 2:23! My original plan to come in under two hours was adjusted when Morty explained that the tide wouldn't be nearly as fast as years past, a point that was made obvious by the lead finisher's time of 1:48 (vs 1:20 in 2011) so I am more than happy with my time. I took it easy, pacing myself like I would for a marathon and I know now that I can tackle the distance and probably at a faster pace next time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Two runs in Paris

This will be a photo post for the most part. I just imported my Garmin workouts from the last few weeks and these two from Paris popped up, making me smile. One is a wacky loop around our neighborhood in Montmartre (I just used the force to find my way) and the other is on the trails of the large, serene Bois de Boulogne.

Montmartre loop including the many hills around Sacre Coeur and even a large staircase. A shot, but hilly 4 miles. The cobblestone streets and narrow sidewalks kept things interesting.

The park run that was supposed to be 4-5 miles but ended up as 7 because I just followed the trail markings and never saw the turnoff to do the shorter loop. Oh well, it was great. 

The quiet trails were sprinkled with runners and lots of dog walkers. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Manhattan Island Marathon Swim Relay

Part of the reason I haven't been writing much is because I've been swimming so darned much this summer. I've been swimming super early most days of the week with the Master's team at my pool and racking up the yards. By the end of the day I'm ready to crash by 9:30 and get up to do it again the next day, so you can understand why I haven't found the time to blog. One of the main events that I trained so hard for finally took place this weekend after registering several months ago and months of prep- The Manhattan Island Marathon Swim Relay, aka MIMS relay. The planning for this day began back in October when I met a very ambitious and excellent young swimmer while volunteering for the Ederle Swim and Saturday was the result.
The plan was to dive into the water at South Cove in Lower Manhattan at 9am and swim east around the Battery, up the East and Harlem Rivers, across the top of Manhattan and back down, all while rotating swimmers onto the boat and into the water until we were done at South Cove again. I'm very happy to report that things went exactly as planned! My incredible team, Charlotte, Tom, myself and Bryant (we swam in that order) spent the day cheering, eating, resting and trying to stay cool and hydrated while swimming in 45 min and half hour shifts.

We began at a little after 9am in Lower Manhattan with the new and grand Freedom Tower looming overhead. Our priceless kayaker, Kumiko, began her journey at the same time and offered us guidance and support for nearly all of the 28.5 miles and we can't even begin to thank her enough. The race began in waves of about 5 or 6 swimmers and we watched from the boat as Charlotte began her swim against the current down to the southern tip of Manhattan where she quickly picked up pace as she entered the East River. The flood tide was pushing her upstream past the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, the view from the water is absolutely magical. Before we knew it she was at the Williamsburg Bridge and it was time to switch to Tom.

Tom's first leg seemed to go by very quickly since I knew I was up next. He cruised past the Lower East Side and the United Nations and before I knew it we were closing in on the 59th Street/Queensboro bridge where I hopped in. The Queensboro bridge has a special place in my heart as a major landmark of the NYC marathon and it reminds me of my friend TK, who claims it for her own.

My first swim (of 4 that day) was so exciting and fun. I couldn't stop smiling and I really enjoyed being pushed along by the still flooding tide. I swam from 59th Street up to the 102nd St Harlem footbridge that leads to Randall's island. It took me a few minutes to get used to following the cues from Kumiko to move left or right (she was trying to save me from crashing into Mill Rock) but once I did, it was a perfect swim. The water in the East River is very salty and it was pretty warm, but I was happy to be in the water instead of sweating like crazy on the boat. My first leg took me along Roosevelt Island, past the Upper East Side and towards the grit and spirit of East Harlem. I spotted Cornell Medical Center, Asphalt Green and Gracie Mansion (well, the park) along the way. As I swam towards the footbridge I was sad to be nearing the end of my first leg, it had only taken 38:36 instead of the allotted 45 mins, thanks to a strong current. Before I knew it, Bryant was swimming towards me for the exchange.
 I'll describe the exchange for those who aren't familiar with such goofy things. The current swimmer stops in the water while the new swimmer approaches from down stream and grabs the current swimmer's leg. The current swimmer raises her arm and calls out "ending" and then the new swimmer raises her arm and calls out "starting" before letting go of the leg and Swimming away. The finished swimmer then approaches the boat and climbs back on. First order of business upon re-entering the boat was always mouthwash. This sometimes made the water taste minty to the next swimmer.
I was so excited about the swim and the bridges and the sights that I forgot to take time to eat between my first and second leg, and mistake I'd pay for a bit later, but I was focused on staying hydrated, cool and sunblocked and was successful. I wore a lightweight, long-sleeved white technical running shirt to block and reflect some sun, sunglasses and a lightweight white hat. I think it helped me stay cool and conserve energy during the day. I'm grateful to my friends John and Eileen for the advice to stay cool as much as possible.

As Bryant and Charlotte made their way up the rest of the East River and into the Harlem, there was a noticeable calm. The Harlem River is narrow and shallow in comparison to the East and we settled into our rhythm and transitions. Before I knew it, Tom was back in the water and Kumiko forged ahead as we passed Yankee Stadium in hopes of taking a quick break and having a snack before meeting us again at 200th St. This meant that much of my second leg was sans kayaker. I used the boat to sight a little, but mostly I used landmarks around me because we were in MY hood! I hopped in at 181st still under the Cross Bronx Expressway bridge and swam north to about 220th,about 2 miles in 31:00. The Harlem River flows out with the Hudson, so we had the advantage of the current assist again. Weeee! I had a blast on that second leg, swimming by Roberto Clemente State Park and Yeshiva University, both of which I see from my apartment every day. I saw Dave perched on the walkway around the Peter Jay Sharp boathouse and waved for a quick photo. It was just the boost I needed as my energy started to wane from lack of food. Oops. I swam strong to the end point, but was happy to get out and refuel.

The rest of the Harlem River was really fun to watch from the boat because it really is my hood, we passed the parks and pathways that I've been running along for 7 years. It warms my heart right now just thinking about seeing Inwood Hill Park and the big C painted on the rock across the river all from a new point of view.

Bryant makes his way across the top of Manhattan towards the Hudson.

As we made the turn at Spyuten Duyvil and into the Mighty Hudson, the view nearly took my breath away. After spending the morning in the narrow channels of the East and Harlem, there Hudson sparkled in the sun in all its glory. It is nearly a mile wide with the magnificent George Washington Bridge and its Little Red Lighthouse as gatekeepers.

Charlotte did her best to reach the bridge before her time was up, but she came up just shy of the bridge and Tom was lucky enough to swim under. I was a bit jealous, but I was happy to get a few great shots from under my favorite bridge while Tom made his way down along Washington Heights towards Riverbank State Park.

The water was getting a little choppy as we made our way down towards Harlem and we each noted the headwind that Kumiko was facing as she paddled along with our swimmers. We had 10 miles or so left to go and she was showing no signs of being tired or even that she was working that hard against the wind, but we knew she was.
As I jumped in at 140th or so, Kumiko was a steady guide that I knew I could count on and that was becoming more important as the wind and chop picked up and sighting ahead became nearly impossible. The waves picked up and the Hudson River felt cool, fresh and wonderful. I remember trying not to smile too much as I swam past the beautiful Harlem Viaduct that runs over Fairway. I'd done a run along that route just the week before, it always reminds me of my time in grad school when I'd run with friends down to Central Park along the river. I kept the cathedral on 120th st in my sights, using it to try to gauge my progress, but at times it seemed like I wasn't moving at all! I was moving though, I pushed my way against the wind and chop to about 100th Street before my 30 mins was up and although I was tired, I was sad to get out of the water because there was a chance it was my last swim of the day. We were trying to judge how far we'd each make it and who might be the finisher, but it was impossible to know for sure with the changing weather.

As Bryant made his way past barges and Charlotte swam past the space shuttle on the Intrepid, there was excitement in the air. The Freedom Tower was getting closer and we were really battling it out with the teams around us, trying to stay ahead of them while avoiding all of the traffic in the water. The Hudson river is one of the busiest waterways in the world and the traffic was constant. At one point the leaders all had to stop because a Norwegian Cruise Ship was backing out and wasn't waiting for anyone. There was a storm approaching from the south with ominous clouds and winds and we all exchanged a nervous glance, but the Captain assured us that it was far enough away that we'd have plenty of time to finish.

When Tom hit the water for his last leg, we still weren't sure who was going to finish for the team, but it was going to be either him or me. Tom had 30 mins to swim from wherever he went in (I can't remember) to the top corner of Battery Park City and if he hit that point at 28 minutes, he would have to keep swimming because an exchange would be too dangerous between there and the finish. At that point in the day we were all pretty tired and the conditions were getting rougher, so we didn't want Tom to have to swim longer than necessary. Luckily for us, he reached Pier 25 right around 27 minutes and was able to float for a minute so we could make a safe and legal exchange before the final push to the finish. I was really excited to be finishing for the team and in my head I only had to swim 1/4 of a mile or so, so I took off swimming like crazy and kept going (turns out it is actually about 0.8 miles). I didn't have the luxury of sighting off of Kumiko's kayak because she turned off at Pier 40 after a VERY long day, so I was on my own. The waves were huge and the boats had to stay far offshore so they didn't run us over, so I used the sea wall and the cheering crowd to guide me home. I swam for only about 11 minutes, but it was SO MUCH FUN. There were lots of people in BPC cheering along the sea wall, many of them completely dumbfounded at the people swimming in the river, and I was full of adrenaline. As I turned the final corner into south cove I saw another pink cap right next to me! "Where did she come from?!?!"I thought. I put my head down and sprinted into the finish, stepping out ahead of the finisher for Team Renegade. We smiled and congratulated each other and Morty called it a tie. If you look at the results on you will see that we're listed as "10th place" even though I definitely came out of the water before her. ;) We tied for 9th place overall with a time of 8:15:43. Unbelievable! We were a mere 17 minutes or so behind the winners and we're already plotting our adventure for next year.
The evening finished with a glorious shower at Tom's apartment in TriBeCa and swimmer's dinner and awards at Merchant's restaurant in Battery Park City. I'm pretty sure it was fun, but all I remember is having an irritated eye and wanting to nap on my plate of penne. We hopped in the car and rode home and I was asleep before Dave got back from parking the car. I'd have loved to stay out and celebrate (after a nap), but my good friend was getting married the next day and I was a bridesmaid! What a great weekend... I can't wait to do it again.
I swam 4 times for a total of 7.05 miles or so, the most swimming I've done in a day in my entire life! WHEW.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kayaking on the Hudson

For YEARS I've been wanting to get over to Inwood Canoe Club for a paddle on the Hudson during one of their Sunday Open Houses (10am-12pm Summer Sundays), but I'm always away on Sundays racing or beaching or paddling Upstate. This weekend we had plans in the city so I told myself this is THE weekend I will get out on the river and support our local paddling club. Dave was a trooper and came along for the ride even though kayaking isn't his favorite activity. It was a hazy morning with temps rising into the 90's later in the day, so I was really happy to be getting as close to the water as possible without swimming (don't get me wrong, I'd much rather have been swimming!) so I could cool off with a little splash here and there.

We were greeted by a friendly group of folks from the Club when we arrived and we payed our insurance fee of $4 and dropped a donation in the box, otherwise it was a free event. We were fitted for life jackets and then relaxed on the deck for a bit while the first wave of paddlers made their way back to shore. The views are really magnificent there, the George Washington Bridge just down the river to the left and the Palisades looming across the water, I just love this area. I snapped a few photos and a nice guy from the club took a great photo of us in front of the bridge.

 Pretty soon the first group returned and we climbed into (or in my case on) the kayaks and hit the water. I chose a sit-on-top kayak because they're my favorite. I learned to paddle when I was lifeguarding and we always used a sit-on-top kayak because it is easier and safer for rescuing distressed swimmers, you just fling them over the front and hop back on! I haven't used this type of kayak in years and I missed it, so I was happy for the opportunity to do it again. At one point during the trip one of the guides mentioned that I should used a sea kayak next time because they're faster, but I was as happy as a clam on top of the water. Besides, spiders hang out in those things...ick. We had a nice paddle up along the shore past Dyckman Fields towards Spuyten Duyvil before turning around and FLYING back downstream. Going against the current with the wind at our backs on the first half of the trip was pretty sweaty, I wished I could just jump in and cool off, but it seemed like the guides might not like that. Had it been my boat, I'd have been right in the water. 

It was a really nice way to spend a little time and talk with some nice local folks. I met a few swimmers and even more people who do kayak support for many of the NYC Swim races including my upcoming Governor's Island swim, my relay and the Little Red Lighthouse swim. It is always nice to meet new people who are a part of this great NYC swimming community. Many thanks to the Inwood Canoe Club for a great morning- I hope we can make it back again before the summer is over! 

Oh and the new bathrooms on Dyckman Street just around the corner from the marina are open. The parks dept renovated a really cool old building and I think it looks great! Be sure to pack your own toilet paper though... :) 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The 2x2

Last night I ventured back up to Van Cortlandt Park for the relay portion of the Summer Series, but it didn't go quite as planned. I'd planned on running with Julie (raceslikeagirl) and we'd been chatting about the race for the last week or so. I was excited to run with Julie for once rather than against her in a race, but during her warmup she noticed some bad tightness in her hamstring and made the wise decision to sit the race out. I was bummed, but I'm glad she was able to make the decision before the race and not DURING. Knowing Julie and her competitive spirit (much like my own) she would have hobbled through the race, causing further injury. So there we were with 10 minutes til race time and my team consisted of me. Luckily, fellow Inwood Hill Runner Jason had stopped by to say hi and I was able to rope him into running with me. This changed our division to co-ed and put our combined age at 65. Jason took Julie's spot like a trooper and ran his heart out on the first leg while I warmed up a bit and bounced excitedly at the starting line for him to tag me. He came flying in way ahead of lots of teams and I took off along the flats towards the Cow path. Unlike the 5K races which runs the trail along the side of the golf course and around the back hills, this race turns left and weaves up to Cemetery Hill which is a total bitch. Man, that hill is steep and long and left me whimpering this time. My GMR teammate and 4th of July birthday boy was waiting at a point about 2/3 of the way up the hill where he accidentally told me I was "at the top... Oh.. Well, almost" as I huffed up the hill after getting passed by a familiar VCTC runner. He's lucky I didn't have the extra energy to strangle him for his "this is the top" comment because it was definitely not! :) When I finally reached the top, I was thrilled to see the familiar downhill leading to the top of the flats. I did my best to keep up with the guy who passed me on the hill and the woman right in front of him, but there was no chance of catching them with only 0.25 mi or so left. It turns out they were both on teams in our division and AG and took the top 2 spots and the only muffins. Sigh. For the first time in a long while, I left VCP hungry. Oh well, both Jason and I ran REALLY hard and beat my previous 2x2 time by nearly 2 mins. It was a fun night, as VCTC summer nights always are, and the Inwood crew had fun showing off our team shirts to curious folks who peered at our chests to find out just who "runs this park".
I'll be back to VCP in two weeks for the next 5K, I hope it cools off a bit for the next race - this one was brutal.
Thanks to Jonathan Stenger for the photo of me charging up the hill in the worst possible shoes for this race.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

How to trash your legs in two days.

I don't do a lot of double race weekends, but this past weekend I had 2 "must run" races back to back. The first on Saturday, the Central Park Challenge, is a big fundraiser for the organization I work for (YAI) and the 5K has become a favorite race to try to win an award. I have now 3 trophies and 1 age group plaque from the 4 years that I've been working there. Now, to be honest it isn't a super competitive field and my trophies are for placing first in the Staff category, not overall or even age group (the plaque is AG). The field has definitely grown, this year had almost 1000 racers according to the announcer at the finish, but many of the racers are non-competitive or adults with disabilities or parents with children who attend YAI schools, etc. I had a good race numberswise, but it felt awful. I had a few glasses of wine the night before and that left my stomach in a delicate place for the race. I moved to the front of the race to avoid getting trapped behind the folks who don't understand that they shouldn't be in the front without any intention of running fast. This probably contributed to my first mile in the 6:30's. Deja vu, I did the same thing a few years ago. I got gradually a little slower as the drizzle stopped, the sun came out and the park became a steamy jungle. Yuck. Mental note: remember my inhaler for races.

They had us link arms in the front row before the start.
 I look happy because we haven't started running yet.

Overall I placed well, though I got smoked in my age group this year (7th/175) . I thought I might have been in the top 10 for women, but I was 12th. I felt terrible and ran a poorly paced race, so I went home feeling yucky and hot and unsatisfied. I had less than 24 hours to recover and get rested up for the next race.

Sunday morning was much cooler and less humid as I drove up to Riverdale with the Inwood Hill Runners crew in tow. I love the atmosphere of the Ramble and it was so nice to see a ton of uptown friends. I mingled, did a little warmup with my very sore legs (they loosened by mile 2 or so) and tried to stay in the shade and relax. The race started on a big uphill, but one I'm really familiar with from our group runs up to Riverdale so I took it easy and chatted with my friend Charlie. Yep, same race buddy from A Mild Sprain. We settled into a rhythm and took the hills one at a time, picking off the folks who started too fast. Around mile 3 we turned around and things got difficult. Wave Hill took the air from my lungs, dangling it in front of me, but not letting me get enough of it with each breath. Oof. Charlie gave me some encouragement and just let me catch my breath as we started to descend into mile 4. Finally I started to get my second wind and he told me I was in 4th place for women overall. I hadn't noticed, but he was counting the women coming back after the turnaround. The 3rd place woman was a good 30 seconds ahead of me and although I could see her at times, I simply didn't have the legs to catch her that day. Oh well, so I missed out on some free Sketchers shoes. Haha. We were gaining on an older guy for a while during the final miles and we finally caught him with less than a mile to go and chatted a bit. As we made it to the top of the final hill, I knew I had it in me to finish strong and Charlie surged ahead for a really strong finish. We were both really happy with the results and the fast miles we mixed into the race. I finished with a 6:56 for the final 0.98 mi (the course was short) which is crazy fast for me, but it was a steady downhill for the last 1/2 mile or more. I finished 4th overall female and 1st in my age group with an unofficial time of 45:40 or so. I haven't checked the results yet, but I some of the top 3 women might have actually been in my age group as well. (note:1 of them was)

Action shot courtesy of Sharon

BIG thanks to the great folks at Van Cortlandt Track Club for a wonderful race- as usual! 

As the weekend was winding down last night, I was completely exhausted and my legs were creaking and screaming despite the ice bath, lots of rolling with the Stick and Biofreeze. I was really satisfied with Sunday's race, but disappointed by my lack of pacing on Saturday. I know the 5K is not a specialty of mine, but I continue to barrel through. My next one is Thursday night at Van Cortlandt Park. I'll be running for a muffin as long as my legs are recovered. Right now they're on the mend and I'm definitely taking a rest day. I need to live closer to a very cold body of water for more frequent ice baths!
Now, on to more swimming as the season approaches quickly!

Elk/Beaver Lake, British Columbia

This Memorial Day weekend wasn't spent the usual way, lounging on the beach in South Jersey or swimming across lakes in the Adirondacks, instead we spent it out on the far west coast of Canada. My husband's parents live in Victoria, BC which I've only visited during the cool, rainy week around Christmas. Visiting in late May was a treat, the weather was beautiful -cold at night, 70's during the day and the city was in full Spring bloom. I've never seen such enormous and colorful rhododendrons. Wow.
On Saturday morning, the day of my usual long run, I woke up at about 5:30am ready to go. Of course most people don't get out of the house quite that early to take the dog for a walk so I bounced around for 3 hours waiting to go run. The time change made the days seem really, really long out there. My stomach would tell me it was lunch time, but my watch said 9:00. Oops.

Finally, we reached Elk/Beaver Lake where the family was going to take Finn, the old but loyal dog, for a walk while I ran the 10K loop. I was as excited as the dog to get out of the car and be unleashed. The trails around both lakes were well-groomed, wide and completely covered by archways of leafy green trees. It was beautiful and green and the sun reflecting on the lakes made them shimmer. I was in trail heaven. Until I got lost, but even that little 1.5 mile detour was along a pretty residential road shaded by tons of trees. I was following the km markers along the path when suddenly I couldn't find the next one. When I finally turned around and backtracked to where I lost the trail, I looked for a sign and confirmed that there was none. Oh well. I ran into a pair of guys running with their black standard Poodle and ran behind them for a while before passing the dog (she tried not to let me pass, it was funny) and joining them. As you would expect with Canadians they were friendly and helpful and had funny little accents. I told them I'd gotten lost and they said "It's impossible to get lost here". When I told them where I got lost they said "oh, except for that spot, oops". I stayed with them for the rest of the run until we hit the parking lots and we went separate ways. I love running (really athletics in general) because it's so easy to make quick friends and have easy conversation with total strangers. There's that instant "we're in this together" bond. Anyhow, the 10K loop turned into about 8+ miles which was great for me.. I could have run another loop if I'd had the time.

So if you ever find yourself out in Victoria, BC be sure to check out Elk/Beaver Lake - the most Canadian name they could come up with.
Here's the map of the trail and then the map of where I ran. Oops.

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