Category Archives: Exercise

Long Branch Half-Marathon Race Recap

Finally! Remember when I used to have recaps up the day after my race, or sometimes even the day of? Those were the good ole’ days. Sorry to leave you guys hanging, but life’s been busy! I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten a new promotion at work, which has been a big reason for me falling off the radar. I’m still adjusting and transitioning into my new role at FITNESS, but I couldn’t be more excited. But while posts still may be slightly sporadic around here for a bit, I’m going to do my best to get back to regularly scheduled programming.

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Now, on to the race report! I tackled my seventh half-marathon in the beginning of May over in New Jersey. That’s seven half-marathons in seven states in the last two years. Crazy! I still can’t believe that only two years ago I had no idea what I was doing (I still don’t, really – I just pretend now) and the thought of running 13.1 consecutive miles terrified the bejeesus out of me. 21-year-old Sam, you had no idea what you were getting yourself into.
After racing in Maine, I spent April maintaining my fitness level and figured if I sprinkled in a few speed sessions, I might be able to get a PR in Jersey. After all, the course was MUCH flatter and I wouldn’t be fighting wind for 80 percent of the course.
My ultimate goal was to go sub-2, but a part of me knew that was an unrealistic goal. I’ve been struggling with hip tightness and a nagging pain since February, so I didn’t take training as seriously as originally planned for either race. But still, I managed to PR in Maine, so I knew anything was possible.
About a week before race day, Dustin and I convinced our friends Tristan and Katie to make the trip with us and be official cheerleaders. They had never watched a race before, and Tristan is becoming curious about running, so I thought this was the perfect trip since the race was only a few hours outside of the city. With them on board, and a big crew of running friends coming out to cheer, I knew I wouldn’t be lacking in inspiration.
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I got to the corrals without any problems, and although I had a few bathroom issues that made me nervous about what to expect for the rest of the race, I went in ready to run. The organizers blasted “Sweet Caroline” before beginning the wave start, and this New England girl-at-heart couldn’t help but beam with pride and wipe away a few tears.
The whole race went seamlessly for me. I saw all of my cheerleaders at each point that I expected to, and had surprise pop-ups from the NYC girls once! Let me tell you, seeing them all go crazy once they spotted me made me feel so special. I don’t get to make it to nearly as many running meet-ups as I’d like, so hearing them cheer their hearts out made me so unbelievably happy and gave the surge of motivation I needed to keep pushing.
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I ate a Clif shot blok every three miles, starting at mile 4. I had the opportunity to meet with some of the experts behind the Clif company a few months ago for work, and we thought that I might be hitting a wall more often than I think because I wasn’t taking in enough fuel, and I wasn’t starting early enough. With this new strategy (which I also used in Maine), I definitely felt more energized throughout the race.
Around mile 10 was when my legs started to realize what was going on. When people say this course is flat, they’re not kidding. It’s like a pancake. Perfect for running fast, but it only engages the muscles in one way. Two days post-race, I experienced soreneess like I hadn’t felt since my first half. Ouch.
Mile 13 was really rough. By that point we had hit the ocean views, which were a great mental distraction, but they also brought wind. A lot of it. The whole mile was a straight headwind. Luckily, it wasn’t nearly as strong as the winds I faced in Maine, so I just kept repeating, “You made it through Maine” to keep my head in the game.
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By the time I had hit mile 10, I knew I wasn’t going to go sub-2, and I was honestly OK with that. Missing a PR, however, wasn’t kosher with me. I turned the last 5K into a big race, and even though we had the wind in the last mile, it was the first time I had the pleasure of picking off large groups of runners. For once, I felt fast! I sprinted the last half-mile, spotted Dustin, Tristan and Katie right before the finish line, gave one last kick and finished with a smile and a new PR of 2:0
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Overall, I would highly recommend this race to a beginner racer, or anyone looking to PR. Sure, the wind at the end wasn’t fun, but the race was really well organized and the views are nice. It’s extremely spectator-friendly, so bring lots of friends! There were extra security measures, but that was to be expected – and they made everyone aware of it ahead of time – so it was totally cool.
So what’s next? Originally, nothing. But it looks like I’m now doing the run portion of the NYC Triathlon with a few friends (say what?!), and I may be doing a June half-marathon with Lauren. No concrete plans on that yet, but we’ll see! And if not, I’ve got my eye on Philly in September. So for now, I’m just going to enjoy the start of summer in the city.
Catch ya later!
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Race the Runways Half-Marathon Race Recap

Nothing like coming back to blogging with a race recap, right? Right. Welp, let’s get to it then!

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Last time I popped in (February – eek!), the first race on my 2013 calendar was the New Jersey half-marathon. While that’s still alive and well on my calendar, I was itching to get another 13.1 under my belt before then. While I scoured the Internet for something to fit the bill, everything before May seemed to fall on St. Patrick’s Day. Ick! While I loved racing on St. Paddy’s Day last year in D.C.,  I knew there was no way I could make that work this time around. I spent February 22-March 24 traveling each weekend or hosting friends and fam.

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Visiting Karla in Iowa!

Anyway, after exhausting all my options for well-known races that weren’t too far away – let’s not forget that all the aforementioned travel plans left my bank account seriously drained – I started digging for smaller ones. Finally, halfmarathons.net found me a winner in the quaint little town of Brunswick, Maine!

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“Maine? I’ve never been to Maine. Dustiiiiiiiiiin – want to go to Maine so I can run another half in April? I get to run on an airport runway and the medal looks like an airplane!!!”

Whip out my credit card and immediately register. 

That’s how that conversation went. He thought the “running on an airport runway” thing was pretty cool, too.

Now that I’ve run the race, let me tell you something: running on an airport runway in the beginning of April, after a brutally long winter, is not quite as cool as it sounds.

joclyn cheerleader

Scratch that. It’s cooler than it sounds. And when I say cooler, I’m talking in terms of temperatures. Translation: it was freaking freezing!

And holy wind, batman. Holy wind.

But let’s backup a smidge. Dustin and I took Friday off and made the 5.5-hour drive to Brunswick so we had plenty of time to pick up my bib, relax and explore. Turns out we needed all of five minutes for bib pickup. There wasn’t an expo, and we picked up at Maine Running Company – a great running store located right in the heart of town. After, we checked out the shops nearby and picked up dinner at Flipside, a local pizza joint with great reviews on Yelp.

The rest of the evening was uneventful, and pre-race rituals went smoother than ever. The start gun didn’t fire until 9:30am, so I even slept in until 7am! Around 8am, the rest of my cheering squad showed up!

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My Aunt Sue, Uncle Dave, cousin Joclyn and her friend Quinn drove 2 hours Saturday morning to come watch me run and I could not be more grateful. I never asked them to do so, or even really brought up the race – my aunt saw I would be nearby on Facebook and shot me a few texts to confirm the whereabouts. They had never seen me run before, and I was so stoked every single time I spied them on the course.

Speaking of race support – I don’t know if it was because it was a small race, because it was cold or something else, but the spectators were basically nowhere to be seen. As an out and back course, there were multiple opportunities for crowds to be out, but they just weren’t there. Certain areas were blocked off strictly for runners, so obviously that lacked any cheerleaders, but when I saw my family, they were the only ones out there. While it made me feel extremely loved and even more energized to run a strong race, I couldn’t help but feel sad for the other runners on the course. I can’t say it enough – CROWD SUPPORT IS SUCH A BIG DEAL FOR RUNNERS. Even though we only see you two, three or four times on the course – and for about five seconds each time – knowing we’re going to see you soon is such a mental boost to keep moving. And once we actually see you, it’s like a smile is plastered all over your face for at least another mile and you sort of forget that you’re running. Sort of.

OK, that was really my only complaint of the race.

Going into this race, I had no goals. I just wanted to run strong, be happy and enjoy Maine. And I did something I’ve never done before: I ran without a watch.

But that’s for another post.

Basically, I refused to stress and ran at a comfortably hard pace. I had the Runkeeper app on my phone (amazing, btw), which sent me distance updates every 5 minutes. Otherwise, I just jammed out to my playlist – Luke Bryan’s new album FTW – and tried to ignore the constant headwind. The good thing about the “breeze?” It made my thighs numb, so my quads didn’t feel anything until about mile 9. Oh, I didn’t mention that? Yeah, the course was relatively hilly, too. Nothing like Nashville, but still.

Despite the chilly weather, quiet crowd support and hills to conquer, I was having the time of my life. My body felt great, I knew I was running at a good clip and I was just happy to be there. I popped Clif shot blocks at miles 6, 8 and 10 and attempted to drink water while running at every other stop. At mile 10, I flipped the pace option on to see where I stood, and realized I could PR. Game on.

dustin post-race

Around mile 11, my legs started to protest. Throughout the race, different songs kept me feeling strong because they brought up awesome memories with friends – “Never See Your Face Again” by Maroon 5, for example, reminded me of my recent visit in Iowa with Karla, when we drooled over Adam Levine – so I cranked up those tunes again. About a half-mile later, my app chirped in saying I was picking up the pace. While my legs didn’t want to go faster, I was hungry for more. So I channeled Abby’s voice in my head and kept chanting, “It’s supposed to hurt. You’re supposed to be uncomfortable. Keep pushing. This is worth it.”

Let me tell you, it worked.

Despite the terrible headwind and last final hill from 12.75-13.0 (thanks, race directors), I sprinted my little legs out and really raced the last 5K. Finally, I rounded the last corner and spotted the finish line. With one final kick, I gave it all I had and heard my name announced as I crossed with a 2-minute PR attached to my name.

Oh, that person about two steps behind me? I had no idea they were there until medal was in hand and a space blanket was being wrapped around me. Oops.

Race the Runways was a fun, small race that I would recommend to anyone looking for a no-frills race. It was cool running on the airport runway, but let me tell you – do not underestimate the wind. I counted my lucky stars that most of my training runs happened by the water, so I was already used to facing a headwind. Mix in a little hill training, and you’re set to go.

2:04.01 is my new half-marathon PR and I couldn’t be happier in this moment. While I’m going to continue to ride the runner’s high, I have one thing mingling in the back of my mind:  sub-2, I’m gunning for you next month.

Racing Through The Year

One of the items on my bucket list is to run a half-marathon in every state before I’m 30. I’ve run five already, and to stay on track, I hope to run six in 2013. I told you I would share the races I had my eye on soon, and there’s no time like the present! Before we get to it, though, let’s recap what states I’ve already covered 13.1 miles in (you can find all of my recaps here):

  1. New York, New York – FITNESS/MORE half-marathon
  2. San Francisco, California – Nike Women’s half-marathon
  3. Washington, D.C. – Run Rock ‘n’ Roll USA half-marathon
  4. Nashville, Tennessee – Run Rock ‘n’ Roll Country Music half-marathon
  5. Orlando, Florida – Disney World Wine and Dine half-marathon

So I’m not headed to any races in those states this year. Instead, here’s where I’ve already registered to run:

  • Long Branch, New Jersey – Long Branch half-marathon on May 5. I’m currently building my base with the Lululemon run club and am hoping to break sub-2. Can you say speed work? 

2010 Logo_New Jersey Marathon

  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Run Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia half-marathon on September 15. I’m hoping I can convince my brother to run this one with me, since he’s currently living in Philly. But he’s a med student, so I’m not sure how feasible it is for him to squeeze in training the same year as his rotations. Fingers crossed, though! 

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las-vegas-rock-n-roll-half-marathon

Other races that I have in my schedule, though I’m not registered for yet:

  • Des Moines, Iowa – Des Moines half-marathon on October 20. Running again with Karla! This year is the year of running for us – yay for running buddies, despite being in different states! 
  • Manchester, New Hampshire – Manchester half-marathon on November 3 (tentative). The official race date hasn’t been announced, but this would be an easy race for me to get to and the course goes right by my aunt’s house!

So I’m in need of one, possibly two more races this year (in case I don’t do Manchester). Any suggestions? Because of my budget, I’m looking to tackle some of the states closer to home, with a few that require more travel (Des Moines, Vegas). I was hoping to do one in March, but the only one in a new state that I’ve found so far sold out too fast! Any ideas for the early side of 2013 would be much appreciated 🙂

And there ya have it! My running race calendar for 2013. I’m also hoping to run Reach the Beach and complete the RAGBRAI bike race, so it’s definitely going to be a full year.

But you tell me: what races are you gearing up for?

13 for 2013

Now that January is basically over, I guess it’s about time I share my goals for the year. I always wait until the ninth to finalize them in my head – it’s my lucky number and I believe it allows time for the “OMG, it’s the new year, let’s make all these crazy resolutions right now” hype to die down a smidge. Now that it’s the end of the month, and according to multiple statistics, most people have already given up on their resolutions, I’ll share mine. Spread some more optimism.

1. Do more yoga. I believe that I went to yoga all of 10 times in 2012. I’m not kidding. Instead of me setting some crazy goal of going from zero to twice a week like I did last year, let’s just try to do more than I did in 2012. If I manage to stretch myself out 11 times this year, I’ll deem this one a success.

2. Be able to do 20 push-ups in a row. Bringing it back because I really want to do this one. I’m ready for buff biceps. And I just want my entire upper body to look nice.

3. Run a sub-2 half-marathon. Another goal from last year, but I’m so much closer to crossing this off the list than I was then. My current PR is 2:06.41, and I’m ready to train hard and slash 6+ minutes off my time. Goal race to make it happen: New Jersey half-mary with team Lululemon in May. Here we go!

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4. Participate in the first Manhattan Relay for Life. It’ll be my seventh Relay, but the first in the city I now call home. And the first in Manhattan, ever. I’m on the planning committee to help make this big dream a reality and I could not be more excited. My mom will be celebrating her 50th birthday this year, which makes this Relay even more special to me and my family. Get ready, folks, there are some great fundraisers in the works and I would love to see you.

5. Run in a relay race. I’m already starting to make this one happen with Abby and a bunch of other fabulous ladies who plan on running Reach the Beach in Massachusetts this May. It’s 12 days after that goal half-mary, so I’m hoping to be in prime running shape to do my fair share of running legs. But more importantly, I’m excited to have fun with 11 other run-crazy women, crammed in a van for 24 hours. Doesn’t that sound like a great time?

6. Run six half-marathons this year. One of my big life goals is to run a half-marathon in every state before I’m 30. I did the math at the end of last year, and in order to do that, I need to run six every year. Phewwwwwwie. It’s not impossible, but it’s a jump for me. I’ve done five half-marathons total, so jumping to six more in one year is a big leap. But I’m ready to take the plunge and will reveal which races I have my eye on soon.

race rack

7. Go on vacation at an all-inclusive resort. Dustin and I had the cruise experience and loved it, but now we want to check out another way to relax. We’ve been intrigued by the concept of all-inclusives for a while now, so let’s make it happen this year. We’re thinking about the Dominican Republic, but are open to other suggestions. Please share!

8. Pay off one student loan in full. I’ve paid off one loan completely and am on track to do it again soon. Ideally, I’d like to check this one off before the end of summer, but sometimes life gets in the way. I’ll be happy if it’s completed by December 31st.

9. Read two books per month. Last year I read one each month and you all know how much I loved it. I’m picking up the pace this year and will continue to get my knowledge on. For a quick recap of the books I devoured in 2012, click here.

10. Read my personal training certification books. This is separate from goal numero nine because I don’t consider text  books to be a part of my leisure reading. Nonetheless, I’m excited to bust these babies open and get back to studying.

11. Buy curtains. It might sound dumb, but I’ve been living in New York City for almost two years and I still don’t have them in my living room. 2013 is the year to purchase appropriate window fabric. 

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12. Finish a scrapbook. I used to make time for this little hobby o’ mine back in college, but it’s fallen to the wayside since graduation. I really enjoy making them, for myself and others, and think it’s a great way to package photos and memorabilia. I have one that’s been in the works since 2010 (eek!), so let’s aim to at least finish that one up.

13. Ride in RAGBRAI. What’s RAGBRAI, you ask? Oh, it’s just a bike ride that starts at one end of Iowa and ends on the other side. Karla, our co-worker, John, and I are gearing up for the race in July and I am pumped! Have I done a bike race before? Nope. Do I know anything about bikes? Not so much. But has that ever stopped me before? Not a chance. Remember, my first running race was a half-marathon. Go big or go home, right? (If anyone in NYC wants to teach me how to ride well, that would be great)

There ya have it, folks. 13 goals for 2013. Now it’s your turn: what goals have you set out to accomplish this year?

NYCRuns Hot Chocolate 10K Race Recap

At long last, the recap for my first 10K race is here!

nycruns-hot-chocolateBack in November, I heard about the Hot Chocolate 10K on Roosevelt Island and was instantly intrigued. I didn’t know anything about the location of the race, which is a shame since I’ve been living in NYC for a year and a half now (what?!). But hot chocolate was in the name, which I was sure meant they’d serve me some after I covered 6.2 miles. Special food and/or drinks at the end of a race pretty much guarantees my presence, so I glanced at the mid-December date, prayed it wouldn’t snow and signed myself up. The low price point, no travel costs and promise of a souvenir mug didn’t hurt, either.

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Right after I gave up my money, I went to Twitter to see who else was running it. Obviously. Turns out, a ton of awesome runners would be there; ones I hadn’t seen in forever. It sealed the deal that no matter what, this would be an awesome day. Oh yeah, and as I said before, it was my first 10K. An automatic PR is never a bad thing!

Dustin and I took the tram for the first time (awesome) and hopped off around 9 a.m. thinking both the 5K and 10K started at 9:30 a.m. WRONG. The 10K didn’t actually start until 10 a.m., leaving us with tons of time to catch up with friends and putz around. Could I have been productive and done a warm-up jog? Sure. Did I? Nope. I was so distracted by the laid-back atmosphere of this small race – I have only run big-name races thus far – that I barely took time to squeeze in some dynamic stretching. But I was smart enough to squeeze in about 5 minutes worth of moves before Dustin headed out to find his first spectator spot.

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(Photo stolen from Erica)

The race itself was interesting and a lot of fun. Again, this was a really small race, so we didn’t even have the roads fully closed the entire time. Case in point: check out the video Dustin got of me chasing after a truck around mile five!

We ran on different surfaces, from grooved pavement and dirt roads to regular ole’ streets and sidewalk. Most of the course was along the water, which I greatly appreciated despite the slight wind that came with it. If I get to run by the water, I’m a happy girl.

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I didn’t really have a goal for this race, other than to finish in under one hour. I wasn’t there to go balls to the wall or to really test my speed. I wanted to work on my pacing and just have fun while I was out there. I did my best not to look at my watch and go by feel. Unfortunately, I had more knee pain than I expected. Once I hit mile two, my body really started to scream at me because I was  in desperate need of new sneakers. I haven’t switched to a new pair in quite a few months, even after training and racing for multiple events in them, so I knew I had it coming. My poor wallet kept telling me to hold out to see if I got a new pair for Christmas, so I sucked it up to finish my 2012 race year in my good ole’ Brooks Adrenaline 12’s.

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They’re officially in retirement now.

Despite the pain that traveled through my knees all the way up to my butt (seriously, I felt like I pulled a glute afterward), I really enjoyed this race. I had enough in the tank for a great kick at the finish, and I loved the easy travel and opportunity to hang out with so many runner friends. The course was extremely spectator-friendly, too. We looped the same course twice, so I saw Dustin five times – a record for us! And that one goal of mine? I met it 🙂

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Hot chocolate post-race = happy runner.

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If you’re in the NYC area and looking for a fun race to end the year, I’d definitely check this one out. You can tell the people at NYCRuns worked hard to make this a very low-key, relaxing and fun event. I plan on being back next year – we’ll see if I can go sub-:50 by then!

Do you like the 10K distance? Any fun ones you’re signed up for in 2013? 

Running Through 2012

So many bloggers that I follow regularly have posted this fun Q&A, originally started by Miss Zippy, and I loved reading every single one! I’ve heard you’re supposed to write about things you’d like to read, so I took it as a sign to write one of my own. So let’s take a look back at this whirlwind of a year, shall we?

Best race experience: Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville

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It’s shocking that this is my answer, I know. Even though this was my worst race of the year time-wise (and my second slowest half to date), I learned so much from this experience. I finally realized what it felt like to give everything my body possibly could and leave it all out on the course. I went through a whirlwind of emotions while training for this race, which Abby graciously put up with, and learned just how much I love this sport.

Best run: Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half-Marathon in Washington, D.C.

This was the first time Dustin ever saw me race, so it holds a special place in my heart. I also really enjoyed the course, my body felt great and it was the first time I ever felt confident enough to think that going after a sub-2:00 half-marathon time could be possible for me.

Best new piece of gear: My Lululemon Run: Speed shorts! I’m obsessed. The fit is perfect, they don’t ride up, the wide waistband makes them flattering, there are a ton of pockets and the patterns are to die for. They’re my official good luck race shorts.

Best piece of running advice you received: “Stop comparing yourself to others and just run the best you can.” Paraphrasing from my fabulous running coach, Abby. I really started beating myself up during spring training this year, when I was originally training to complete the full marathon distance in Nashville. She talked me off a ledge many times, but really helped get it through my head that I’m only hurting myself if I keep measuring myself against other runners. Everyone has a different background and I should never be ashamed of my own capabilities.

abby

Most inspirational runners: I’d have to say Abby, Jocelyn, Laura and Theodora. They’ve all dealt with a lot this last year and are overall rock stars. I love going to their blogs on a regular basis whenever I’m in need of a good kick in the pants.

Most exciting (running) moment of 2012: Traveling to more states! I’m slowly working toward my goal of running a half-marathon in every state before I’m 30, and this year I was lucky enough to have Dustin cheering me on in Washington, D.C., Nashville and Disney World. I’m stepping up my game for 2013 and aiming for six states in the new year. Fingers crossed I can make it all happen!

Your turn! Answer any, or all, of the questions and fill me in on your exciting running discoveries of the last year. 

Race for Recovery 5K Recap

Last Saturday, I laced up my sneaks and headed out for a 5K race. Where? WHEREVER I WANTED.

Sorry for the all caps, but that gave me a sense of power.

I’m done now.

Anyway, I was running the virtual Race for Recovery 5K put on by NYC Running Mama to help raise support for victims of Hurricane Sandy. For just $20, your name was entered into a drawing to win a boat load of super awesome prizes perfect for the running-obsessed. If you donated more than $20, your name went in more times. Obviously, more chances to win. Which means more chances at the grand prize: a fantasy day at the Runner’s World headquarters (promise it’s not as risqué as it sounds).

race bib

Unfortunately, my bank account hates me and I was unable to spare more than $20. But I happily handed it over, not really caring whether or not I won a prize. After all, I don’t really ever win raffles, so I just wanted to help out while getting my run on and feeling part of the awesome community that we crazy people create.

As we all know by now, I am by no means a morning person, so waking up at normal race-time was not in the cards for me. After a crazy work week, I relished in the ability to sleep in and didn’t crawl out of bed until 9am. ‘Twas glorious.

dustin

This is not me. But doesn’t Dustin look comfy?

After dilly dallying for a few hours, I left my apartment around 1pm, unsure of where I wanted to run. I just knew I wanted to get down near Astoria Park so I could run by the water and take in the city skyline. The weather was perfect, my legs felt loose and my tunes were grooving. I maintained a strong pace, negative splitting the whole time. It helped that once I actually hit the park area and saw that skyline, my iPod seemed to know what was going on. Without any playlist prep, “Empire State of Mind” blasted through my headphones. Talk about a major kick of inspiration. My pace easily picked up a notch as I hit the halfway point and started making my way home.

All I could think about on this run was the mass of people taking part to help those who lost so much because of Sandy. And now that we have all heard the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, I’m even more grateful for that moment. So many people joined together and restored my faith in humanity. Strangers lent a helping hand and did whatever they could to help those in need, whether it was delivering supplies, running a race to raise money, or hanging power strips out the window so random people could charge their cell phones.

Despite all of the cruelty that hangs heavy in the air these days, there are still some seriously awesome people in the world. And I could not be more grateful. If you’re in need of inspiration, I suggest checking out this article. It’s good for the soul.

Anyway, the run went fairly quickly, and even though it was my first 5K race (which means an automatic PR), I still got an actual PR from all of the times I’ve run an unofficial 5K.

5k watch

That makes me happy. What makes me happier? Michele raised over $10,000 with the Race for Recovery. BOOM. Major kudos for her brilliant idea and mad organizational skills. I haven’t even met her in person yet (um, can we change that?) and I already know she’s a rock star.

So I didn’t win any of the goodies (big surprise), but Michele was kind enough to post our finish times in order. Turns out I came in 33rd out of 112. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

It’s safe to say that was a happy Saturday. I got a lot of Christmas shopping done that weekend too, which also gives me a lot of joy. And I threw some Spinning in the mix. Now that I think about it, that really was a fantastic weekend.

Now it’s your turn to tell me about the things that give you warm fuzzies. Did you run the Race for Recovery? Did you write about it? Tell me your story and send me your links. I like to read. Sometimes. 

Toughen Up

I have an on and off relationship with strength training. I wouldn’t call it love-hate because I actually really enjoy strength training, I just….forget to to do it. More often than I should.

Oops.

This is what usually happens in my brain:

What workout are you going to do today, Sam? You haven’t lifted in a while. You should lift. Maybe upper body work. Remember how you said you wanted to be able to do 20 real push-ups in a row? 2012 is almost over and you totally can’t do that. So stop sucking.

I begin my day with all of these great intentions – I’m going to strength train that day, no matter what.

Then my day gets busy and all I want to do is spin or run, especially when I don’t have time to do cardio and lift because of the 6464654892 things I attempt to tackle on my to-do list on a daily basis (that number, I admit, is a rough estimate).

So then I do my cardio and am happy. Until I remember how much I really need to lift, so I vow to make it happen the next day, and the  conversation above begins again.

In an attempt to break the vicious cycle, I’ve had a few things working in my favor:

  1. The company that employs me. Fortunately, my company really pushes health and wellness initiatives in the office, then rewards us with free things for participating. Um, done and done! Recently, there was an eight-week strength training initiative at work, when I had to lift – targeting different muscle groups each time – at least three times a week. Nailed it! 
  2. Friends that like to lift, too. When you work where I do, it’s not uncommon to hear about one person killing it at a Tough Mudder one weekend, another dominating an IronMan the next, and yet another tackling a half-marathon. Sure, they’re all cardio-heavy activities, but there’s a decent amount of strength required to perform well in each. So when they’re all going to lift, I want to go lift, too. And then I see it happening on Twitter and I really want to do it.
  3. My Type-A personality. Lately, I’ve been whipping out my trusty calendar and penciling strength training in! BOOM! Better yet, I make an appointment (so formal, I know) to lift with friends, which means I’m not allowed to bitch out. DOUBLE BOOM.

So when I heard that Abby was hosting a strength training for runners clinic this week, you know that went into my calendar.

abby

A small group of us met up at Cynergy PT, where we went over a lot of basic strength exercises, which was a great reminder that keeping things quick and simple really does help. We don’t even need weights if they’re not around. In fact, we only used a resistance band. It’s so small and easy to transport. Isn’t that nice?

We did exercises for about 20 minutes (short and sweet), talked a bit and then I got to test this crazy machine that I’ve been curious about for a while.

The Alter-G Anti-Gravity Treadmill.

back

I told you I like to do cardio. I like it even more when it feels like I weigh about 25 pounds. I can run really fast then and it doesn’t really feel like I’m doing too much, when normally I’d be gasping for air.

run

Plus, I get to wear these really sexy shorts.

shorts

Oh, so you’re wondering how the Alter-G actually works? A quick summary: the anti-gravity chamber (the thing I’m trapped in) fills with air and gently lifts you to take the weight off of your joints – it’s really helpful for those who still want to run but are recovering from injury, or for pregnant women. You can take off anywhere from 20-100% of your body weight, which basically means it feels like running on a cloud.

legs

I ran with 75 percent of my body weight, meaning I took off 25 percent (for those who struggle with math, like me). I only ran for about seven or eight minutes, but you can schedule 30-minute sessions anytime you want. And you don’t have to be injured to use it (clearly, I’m not)  – I chatted with Dr. Karyn Keating afterward and for $250, you can book 10 sessions, and for $150, you get 5. Um, that’s cheaper than 5 classes at SoulCycle or Flywheel, or basically any other group exercise class in NYC. Awesome. I’d love to go for a three or four mile run on this thing to see how I feel after.

So basically, I’m trying to lift more. And defy gravity. Winter is basically here (how is it December 1st?!), which means I’m about to start hiding in the gym. No more excuses.

What about you? Tell me about your stories with lifting heavy things and putting them back down. And have you tried the Alter-G? 

 

Disney Wine & Dine 2012 Half-Marathon Race Recap

At long last, my race cap for the 13.1 miles I ran through Disney World…at night!

Let’s rewind allllll the way back to November 9th. Dustin and I packed our bags and left freezing New York City (it was in the 40’s, so it wasn’t really freezing, but I had my winter coat on) and flew down to Orlando, getting in around noon so we had plenty of time to relax and hit up the expo. For a girl who isn’t a big fan of winter, the jump in temp was exactly what I needed!

We checked out the entire expo and while they had some great vendors there, there wasn’t much that sparked my personal interest. I was on the hunt for a pair of running sunglasses though, and managed to nab a pair for $30 – not bad! At least I’ll stop squinting when the sun decides to show itself for normal amounts of time again.

I also picked up an official race wine glass. I was a little disappointed that the glass wasn’t included in the goodie bag – I’ve done my research on wine-themed races and nearly every one gives you a glass and a bottle of wine, so I was let down. But it was only $10, so I happily handed over some cash to commemorate my fifth half-marathon.

We relaxed for the rest of the evening and eventually met up with my friend Lauren and her sister Kristen for dinner. Fun fact: Lauren and I met on my press trip for work (when I learned how to surf!) and became fast friends. After a lot of chatting, we found out we were both racing the Disney half (this was her first 13.1), so we knew we had to meet up! Since she’s from Tallahassee, FL and ventures around Orlando way more often than I do (read: I hadn’t been to Disney since I was 10), I let her take the reigns for dinner and dessert locales.

We ended up at Giordano’s, a great place known for its deep dish pizza. Um, holy yum. I had chicken parm and it was delicious. And just look at this pizza that Lauren and Kristen shared:

Yeah. That happened.

Oh, and we had frozen yogurt for dessert. Clearly. We popped by this place called Menchies – I must admit, its wide array of toppings and “swirl” option make it a serious contender against 16 Handles for top fro-yo spot in my heart. If only it were in NYC…

Dustin and I explored Downtown Disney on Saturday and hit up a movie in the afternoon so I could rest my legs. Since it was a night race, I didn’t want to do too much walking during the day. We decided not to spend the $90+ on theme park tickets because of this and just enjoyed the free marketplace. It was fun checking out all of the shops and I most definitely stopped by Ghirardelli for my free chocolate sample!

We said hi to Pooh, Tigger and Piglet, too. I mean, how could you not? Classics.

Then it was time to get ready! And by get ready, I mean have a pre-race dance party in my hotel room. By myself, since Dustin won’t dance. Lame.

And then we met up with Lauren and Kristen and meandered over to the race start. We had to get to the pre-race area three hours early if we wanted to catch the shuttle bus over, which was a little ridiculous if you ask me. But Disney did a great job of keeping everything organized and everyone entertained. Lots of music, dancing and people in costume. And tons of porta potties for people to use. The lines still ended up being really long, but that’s to be expected with such a huge race. At least the runners were courteous and moved in and out quickly!

Fortunately, we were in the first corral so we didn’t have to wait a long time once everyone was ready to begin. But about a half-hour before the race began, Dustin shot me a text message with seriously disappointing news:

Race directors won’t let me on the course. No spectators allowed, except for at start and finish. If I try to sneak on, I won’t be able to get back to the finish.

Um, what?!

In case you missed it, I didn’t really train all that well for this race. My longest run prior to race day was 7 miles and I was mentally relying on seeing Dustin at key points in the race to keep my head in the game. I didn’t remember this little tid bit of information being advertised anywhere, so when we got the news, I was a little more than upset. I mean, crowd support is a key component to a race!

After a few minutes of pouting, I sucked it up and decided I would just keep running as much as I could and be OK with whatever happened. If I had to walk then I would walk, but no bitching out. Run as much as you can.

Needless to say, I felt awesome throughout the race and my splits have never been so on point. After the first 5K, I made it a goal to stay around a 9:20-9:30 pace for the entire race, which is where I felt uncomfortably comfortable. If I felt really good, I would ramp up the speed at the end, but no pressure. I was not aiming for a PR.

The minimal crowd support was extremely discouraging, in my opinion, and I really had to rely on myself and focus to keep up my pace. My legs felt great, which helped a ton, but there was barely anyone on the course. A few spectators were out (I believe they were volunteers), but most were silently holding signs and not cheering (I must say though, that the Lululemon cheer squad was great and they got a huge smile out of me with their sign that read, “Is that a Gu in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” BEST SIGN EVER). There were Disney characters around every mile, but it just wasn’t enough to get me psyched about being in Disney. It was cool to run through portions of the park after hours, especially through the Festival of Lights, but most of the race was on back roads and highways, making it no different than a typical long run – except that I knew I would get a shiny medal at the end.

Around mile 8, my legs really started to feel it. But when I looked down at my watch and saw my splits were still consistent, my mind was blown. I realized if I kept pushing it, I could PR. I was starting to slow down, so I pulled out a shot blok and my phone – where I saw a bunch of encouraging text messages from my mom, aunt and Dustin. He was keeping tabs on me with runner tracking and calculating my finish time, so with  his encouragement, I decided then that I was going for the PR.

Nailed it! My legs were screaming by the end, and I had to convince myself not to slow down or walk when it wasn’t necessary, but I powered through and PR’d by about 30 seconds, finishing in 2:06.41. Success!

I’ve never been more proud of the consistency in my splits:

Mile 1 – 9:26

Mile 2 – 9:29

Mile 3 – 9:27

Mile 4 – 9:24

Mile 5 – 9:34

Mile 6 – 9:20

Mile 7 – 9:29

Mile 8 – 10:07 (Walked to take in Gu and fumbled with my phone. Eep)

Mile 9 – 10:02

Mile 10 – 9:36

Mile 11 – 10:11 (Now my legs can tell I didn’t run more than 7 miles before this)

Mile 12 – 10:06

Mile 13: 9:40

Mile 13 – 13.1 – 8:36

Lauren and Kristen both KILLED it and finished under two hours! I have some speedy friends and hope to join the sub-2 world soon.

We met up with Dustin, changed and headed over to the Food & Wine Festival over at Epcot. We grabbed some food at Greece, explored the whole festival and closed down the place at 4am. I continued to get 45 minutes of sleep (yes, you read that right) before Dustin and I checked out of our hotel and drove to the airport to catch our flight back home. It’s safe to say I passed out as soon as I was in my seat.

My final thoughts on the race? I wasn’t expecting to PR, but I grabbed one, so I really am impressed and content with my results. I went in with no expectations, which seems to be when I have my best races. I like night races. I walked a little, but I’m fine with it. If I actually trained for this, I think I could’ve gone sub-2. Oh well. Fingers crossed for the next one.

And my thoughts on this race in general: If you’re a big runner and a fan of Disney, I definitely think you should do one of their races. But I don’t understand all of the hype, nor do I get why people spend a ton of money to run in each one. I’m glad I experienced a Disney race, but I won’t be signing up for another one anytime soon.

Have you run a Disney race? Do you think it’s worth the price? Am I missing something? If you ran the Wine and Dine, tell me how you did! 

In A Running Rut

Ever since my half-marathon in Nashville, I’ve been in a bit of a running rut. I was totally burnt out on the sport, and even though I pushed through plenty of other workouts (spinning and weights for the win!), I lost that urge to pound the pavement. I was perfectly content laying in bed for an extra half hour or so, nabbing some desperately needed shuteye and then heading to the gym or SoulCycle after work.

Some people might knock it, but I love evening workouts. I’m not a morning person, so I get the sleep I need and am productive at work, and if I force myself to change and head out once I’m home, I feel relaxed yet productive in my out-of-the-office time. If I don’t have a workout at night or plans to meet up with friends, then you’re likely to find me immediately plopped on the couch or bed, unwilling to move the rest of the night.

When I was at the expo in Nashville, I knew I would take a break from running, but I didn’t want to prolong it longer than usual. So I did the most logical thing I could think of: I signed up for another half-marathon. Samantha, you’re headed to Disney for the Wine and Dine in November!

In the meantime, I focused on work and logged a few other short running races, like the Chase Corporate Challenge and Fifth Avenue Mile. I did both of those races with co-workers and had so much fun! I love the level of accomplishment that I feel after completing a half-marathon, but short races are thrilling and perfect to do with friends. I like to think for a small amount of time that I’m a speed demon, so laying it all out there for one mile gives me that rush.

Hanging out with real speed demon Kara Goucher for a bit doesn’t hurt, either.

Oh, you’re wondering how I did in those races? Well, the Chase Corporate Challenge was back in June and I ran that 3.5-mile race in 32:24. That was actually the first time I went running after Nashville, so I was pretty pleased with those results. I ran the first mile with my co-worker John, and he did a great job of pacing me for a faster finish without burning me out. By the time we parted ways, I wanted to keep working hard. And since there were only 2.5 miles left, I knew I could push it!

I did more casual running over the summer, but never felt obligated to head out in the crazy heat and humidity. I felt slight twinges of longing when my Twitter feed started blowing up with all of the excitement of people logging their miles for the Marine Corps Marathon and New York City Marathon, but not enough to lace up my sneaks for more than 5 miles. I call it “running in moderation.”

The Fifth Avenue Mile was just as fun as last year – a big group of FITNESS staffers got together to race down the famous street, and although I didn’t run it as quickly as I did last year (7:39), I still had a blast. Bonus: I finished at the exact same time as my boss – we didn’t realize we were next to each other until they were announcing us together. Accidental collaboration for the win!

Official training for the Wine and Dine half was supposed to begin the first weekend of September, but that happened to be the exact week that I left for my cruise. So running wasn’t a major priority. But I still give myself props – while on the cruise, I squeezed out a 4-mile run, an 8-mile run, a lot of walking and tons of fitness-y activities. Oh, and since Dustin and I are both super impatient, we took the stairs every time we needed to move from deck to deck on the ship. We took the elevator a total of 3 times. Our room was on the second deck, the pool and food were on the 10th and 11th deck. You do the math.

Ever since, I’ve been logging two to three  runs a week – one short run during the week, a long run and recovery run on the weekend – and a spin class on Thursdays. Weight lifting is mixed in during the week, too. But my heart really hasn’t been in it. I’ve had sparks of intense motivation the last two weeks (running on the beach doesn’t hurt), but I’ll be headed into my fifth half-marathon with the least amount of training under my belt. I’m excited to race again and hope that will spark my running fire again, but am not going into this race with any expectations.

With 11 days left until race day, do you have any suggestions for how I should tackle this thing? I’m going to have a newly amped up playlist shortly (and will share), and plan to stop and see all of the fun Disney characters, but that’s all I’ve got. Should I be nervous about not being able to finish? Share your wisdom!