Magical Reappearance

importantI know, it’s been quite a while since my last post, for that friends I am deeply sorry. Sometimes your day life gets in the way of your online life.

I started an amazing new day job 4.5 months ago, it’s kept me quite busy, as well as stressed, but I love what I do. I’m a meeting planner by day, a runner by night.

IMG_20151012_102111Three weeks ago I did something I only vaguely gave thought to before this year – I qualified for the 2016 NYC Marathon through the New York Road Runners 9+1 Program!  Three weeks before that I qualified for the 2016 NYC Half Marathon through their 5 Borough Series program!

I somehow managed to run 4 races in 5 weeks – I pushed myself, buy smartly. I was careful with my training, I rested when my body said to rest, I ate properly, I listed to my trainer and I used various social media groups and posted as added motivation and inspiration.

After that I rested. I consciously decided to take a break.

I continued kickboxing once a week at my local ilovekickboxing.com gym.

I continued with my trainer once a week.

I attempted to make smart food decisions (something that didn’t always happen).

Now I am ready to get back in to my runners!

IMG_20151120_194443On Friday I decided I would run a local turkey trot. After I made the decision I found out it was a 10k, not a 5k like I thought (er, hoped?). But I stuck with my plan – I mean, I have to get back out there somehow.

In the mean time, I found that I have indeed gotten stronger. I can now plank for a minute! In fact, yesterday, I managed two 1:00 planks in a row at home.

I can tell from sessions with my trainer that he is pushing me harder because I am stronger. I can handle more.

I look forward to the journey the next year will take me on.  To getting in to a schedule, to continue to form habits, to making sure I get workouts or runs in while on travel, to not getting lazy or letting winter win.

I look forward to the continued support of my loving social media family here on the blog, on twitter and on instagram!  Keep the love coming and I’ll be sure to send some support when you need it to 🙂

peanuts winter

 

 

Advertisements

You Know You Are A Runner When….

You know you are a runner when a race is part of your birthday weekend festivities!

For the past two years I have wanted to run a race on my birthday weekend. Last year I was injured so it didn’t happen, but this year, everything fell in to place – I was able to run the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon in NYC!

Saturday night I laid out all my gear, took the mandatory ‘flat runner’ photo, taped my neck, climbed in to bed to get a good nights sleep as my alarm was set to go off at 5:15am.
IMG_20150418_224415_1

Well, that sort of backfired on me when I woke up at 3:12am, then tossed and turned for another hour before giving up any hope of falling back to sleep around 4:20am. I chilled, I relaxed, I made sure I was decompressed, then around 5:15 I got up, taped my IT Band with some KT Tape, got dressed, gathered my ‘gear’, got in my car and drove in to Manhattan to run 2 laps around Central Park.

I opted to drive in to the city instead of dealing with the train and subway.  It bought me another 15-20 minutes of sleep (well, it would have if I slept until my alarm was ready to go off).  I used the best parking website to map out what street parking would be available as well as what garages would be best/cheapest. This prep made the morning even easier for me once I came over the Queensboro Bridge, I exited on 63rd street, drove toward the park and found an amazing street spot on 64th street and 5th avenue.IMG_20150419_072701

From there I wandered in to the park eventually locating the starting area on the west side of Central Park at 63rd street.  As I stated from my running of the United NYC Half, I have lived in the NYC area most of my life but had never be in to Central Park, so I knew I had to head west and just kept my eyes peeled for tents, porta-pottys, crowds, anything to note I had reached the start.  The best way to accomplish this, just follow all the other women roaming the park.
I located the start and I was ready. I was calm, cool, Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 8.45.10 AMcollected and not at all missing the nerves and stressed that has plagued me in the past at the start of a race.  I felt free, I was invigorated and ready to smash this race!

Going in I was assuming that this was just a race, I wasn’t going for a PR, I was simply running to finish, I was running for another shiny race medal.

I planned the hills a bit more. I was going to run up some of them this race and walk down some of them instead of walking UP all of them and running DOWN all of them.    I pushed up the hills, I lengthened my strides down the hills.

As we were running I kept wishing inside the park they told us more what streets we were running by, I felt a little lost at times as we were running, where was I with regards to the city itself, how much further up to the top of the park, how far back down.  The mileage and kilometer markers just told me how far I had still to run, or how far I have come, they don’t tell me location within the park itself.

I had my Garmin of course, but I used it simply to tell me my time, where I was for my 5k, 10k, 10 mile, ect.  As we all know, the clock at each mile only tells us how much time as passed since the gun, not since I crossed the start line.

I felt strong during most of the run.  My first 5k was just slightly off pace from my training, IMAG3012but that gets chalked up to hills as I train on flat roads.  As I was coming up on the 3 mile mark, I got lapped by only one of the most amazing people to lap you: Deena Kastor!

Coming around the top of the park between miles 3 and 4 I was settling in, yet coming up was probably the most intimidating part of this race: Harlem Hill!  It was most likely the one moment during the United NYC Half that set me off course, and here, I was going to have to overcome it TWICE.
Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 11.28.11 AMHowever, I persevered, stuck with my plan and I ran up parts of this.  Maybe because the weather was better, my mood was better, who knows, but the hill did not seem nearly as daunting as it did a month ago.

Coming up on the 10k mark, per the garmin, I realized, that I might be on pace to break the 3 hour mark for my half marathon time.  It energized me a bit, at least to get around the little rolling hills in the south west side of the park.

This was the second loop of the park, the time where the mind games start, where the race becomes much more mental then physical.  It’s the time where your energy levels, your legs, your lungs, all of it starts to get heavy.  The questions start.  This is where you have to dig deep to keep going.
IMAG3011

Again, I stuck with my plan for this loop.  I concentrated on trying to limit my walking vs. running spans.  I fueled.  I zoned out, I sang along to my music, I ran my own race.

I tackled Harlem Hill a second time.  This time my legs were heavier, my lungs were more tired, I just wanted to reach the top.

I have since realized that between miles 9-11.5 is my downfall.  This is where I really walk a majority of the time, I battle my mental strength, I contemplate if I can actually finish, or what time I will finish in.

Low and behold, during a downhill portion sometime around mile 11, I found some energy. I put a smile on my face and I ran or walked as best I could.  I think part of it was the songs that came on the iPod – namely Christina Aguilera’s Fighter.  Perfect song at the perfect time.
IMAG3010

I picked up my pace, I played with my mental strength, I ate up the spectators cheers and smiles.

I tried to do some math in my head trying to calculate what the difference was in time between what my garmin said and the mileage clocks said. I tried to see if I could figure out how far after the gun I had started.  I was at a loss.

IMAG3013I did some mental calculations and figured I’d just go according to garmin.  I was hoping to finish under 3 hours even with the additional .1 or .2 I had to run on the course over what garmin said.  I was so close!  As you can see here, according to my garmin I ran 13.1 miles in UNDER 3 hours!

However, as I said above, garmin was about .1 to .2 ahead of the route mileage so I still had a bit go. I knew it would be close.  At least at this point I knew it would be close.

Then I doubted myself and thought the difference between the gun and this was to great, that I would be maybe 2-4 minutes OVER 3 hours.

I passed the mile 13 marker, I knew where the finish line was, I tried to pace myself to get there as fast as possible.  I failed.  I ran, then I had to walk just a bit as I was coming in to the finish gates.  I ran again, I tried to sprint, I had no idea what my time was.
Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 8.29.46 AM

I was mad at myself after the finish.  Of course in hindsight, I could have done a zillion things differently so I came in just under 3 hours instead of 4 seconds over 3 hours.

IMG_20150419_111928But, it the scheme of my racing, this was a fantastic race.  I challenged myself and won.  I realized new potentials with hills.  I shaved 5:52 off my race time from the United NYC Half last month!  It was a good race, I was thrilled with how I ran, with what I achieved.  Now I search for a rather flat half marathon to run to see that elusive sub-3 hour half marathon time as my result!

That Time I: Ran NYC – United NYC Half Marathon Recap

IMAG2851I know I know, I’m almost a month post race and FINALLY writing my recap….SORRY!  Life has gotten the best of me the past few weeks with stress taking away any and all motivation was sucked out of me.

But slowly I am finding my way back to life.  Just in time also, the More/Fitness Half Marathon is in less then two week!!!  No pressure there.

Anyway, finally posting about the United NYC Half Marathon on March 15, 2015. This was quite an experience.

IMAG2861I was scheduled to be in Wave 3 which didn’t have to be in till about 7:45-8:00am, but as I was running with American Cancer Society DetermiNation team, we were scheduled to be at our meeting spot for group pictured and information by 6:30am.  It was fun to see everyone up so early, dressed for the race, wearing our Green DetermiNation shirts, ready to run the streets of NYC!

We went outside, took our picture then I ventured over with some new friends I had met at the dinner the night before.  This was my first experience walking through some metal detectors to get to a start line, but I guess this is the race day precaution we will see at these important USTAF events throughout the country post Boston bombing. It’s really a sad state that now these sports events have to be monitored in such a way.

As we walked down to our corral section, we made the mandatory porta-potty stop. IMAG2877 There were a fair amount and the lines were manageable – probably because Wave 1 runners were in their corrals and most Wave 2 runners were almost to their corrals as well.

Then came more waiting.  This has been, by far, the largest race I have ran to date. My 4th Half Marathon with just over 20,000 runners! So the waiting around was of course going to be longer then I have been used to. Also not helping was the weather – it was quite overcast, the sky filled with clouds. I was grateful for my Old Navy Active Running Jacket keeping me warm!

Away we go – for a lovely 13.1 mile tour of NYC starting with nearly 6 miles of Central Park running.  I was told there would be hills, but my goodness, if you have never run in Central Park and have rarely trained hills, it would appear that Central Park is filled with mountains instead!  I was feeling it by the 5k, all those little rolling hills, up, down, up, down for 3 miles. Even the short run out on 110th Street was a small hill.  I felt ok during this time, I was pretty much still within my predicted pace of 12:30 per mile.

Back around the 2.5 mile mark my Garmin decided to save the run, as if I was anywhere close to be finished.  So as any good runner would do, I simply restarted it. This race would have two files for it.

However, we rounded the corner back in to the Park and SURPRISE! There was my mountain.  This was not a rolling hill, this was a nice long uphill battle.  I walked most almost all of that uphill. My body was extremely unhappy – guess not running for 2 weeks prior can have that affect! (I was rear ended on a bad snowy day two weeks before race day, suffered a moderately severe muscle sprain in my neck/shoulder/back area – ug, timing).  But I pushed through. I cursed a lot, I sent some angry texts, I fought.

Within the first 5k I also found a bit of marketing magic on behalf of United Airlines – they posted mileage signs for distances to far off places from where we were along the route.  These signs were scattered throughout the 13.1 mile tour.  I enjoyed seeing them, seeing how far I was from some interesting places.  Even more so as a traveler, it made me want to run away to some of those locations (especially as I was cursing CP Hills!).
IMG_20150318_074405

IMAG2889Eventually I got to the top of that mountain. I was thrilled, it had to be mostly downhill from here. Now to just find the park exit on to 7th Avenue.  Knowing from there I was about to see my mother (a much needed support boost) and we were halfway done by about then!

As I excited the park I got a tiny rush. I could see Times Square off in the distance. ItIMAG2894 was 10  blocks away! My mother was 6 blocks away.

I could do this, the rest is pretty flat, home free. Right until my ITB started bugging out, my lungs were unhappy, my body was revolting. I knew I was keeping my running jacket on so at my mom’s pit stop I put my GU packets, the photo of my dad I was running with (as this race all started as an honor to him), and a few various other items in to the pockets of the jacket, I then handed my hydration belt off to my mom and IMAG2901with one last quick hug and kiss I was off to finish 6.5 more miles.

I am not going to lie, the marketing push for running the NYC Half Marathon tells the truth – running through TIMES SQUARE really was a rush. As a New Yorker, there really was nothing like running down the middle of 7th Avenue right through the heart of the busiest intersection in the world!

After Times Square we headed west along 42nd street down to West End Highway.  We ran north for about 2 blocks before swinging back south for the next four miles.

We turned south at the intrepid, quite a big ship when you are standing under it!

IMAG2905

Not going to lie – this was also a tough stretch for me.  Personally, this was the hardest half I have run yet….both physically and mentally.  Yes, somewhere along this 4 mile stretch I almost quit the race, I cried, I asked my dad for some support because I didn’t want to let him down, I walked – A LOT! I questioned why I started running, I questioned my abilities, my training, my strength.

During the course I took a couple seconds out to take a quick pic of some of the cute or funny signs I saw while running!
IMG_20150406_194746

Remember back when my watch stopped and I restarted – well, I couldn’t remember what the time was when I restarted the Garmin. However, somewhere around mile 11 I realized I was off by about 20 minutes in my guesstimation calculations. I wasn’t within my overall potential goal finish time, but I was within my goal of a time faster then my last half a year ago.  That helped, somewhat, with re-igniting my motivation for this race.

Around mile 12 I realized that I was almost finished.  That in about 13-15 minutes I’d be finished with this awful race experience.  So, I did what any good runner does – I ran!  Well, ok, so I fumbled because my ITB just wasn’t having much running anymore. But I pushed through and I finished the damn race!

Screenshot_2015-04-11-09-03-11_1

I finished the damn race with a new PR!  My splits were a bit horrendous – Central Park just killed me. Although it looks like everything was off by only 4-6 minutes per 5K marker from what I have run in the past.  But I was proud of myself for pushing through, for not giving up or giving in, for letting my will overpower my doubts. Mostly I was proud for accomplishing a goal I truly worked hard for over the past 4 months, and for finishing it with a group I truly support (American Cancer Society).

Of course, I was scarred after this race. Central Park, those mountainous hills, the doubts, the questions, all of it scarred.  However, like any good runner, I took a week to mull over the race, then I signed up for the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon a month later (or I guess at this point a week away).  Yes, I am heading back in to the place that left me wounded to overcome it.  NYC put up a hell of a good fight – I shall call this race a draw.  But at least in the end, I still took home the prize: IMG_20150315_140639

Afterwards, I hobbled my way down the subway stairs, on to the 2 train, over to the 1 train, up the stairs at 50th and Broadway and back to our hotel.  I sat down, I showered, I put my sneakers back on (my foot would not dare to enter any other shoe) and went off to a celebratory brunch at Rue 57 with my mother!  Now that the race was over, I was excited about what I accomplished. I acknowledged where I doubted myself, but was thrilled to realize I still possess a certain strength. I proudly wore my medal to brunch, to the Penn, on the LIRR, only taking it off when I got home and wanted to nap.
IMAG2932

2012-2014 Running Happiness

In December 2012 a co-worker and I started planning our goals for 2013. They were lofty for me, to say the least. We had signed up for two half marathons and a 10K for the fall of 2013!

I was an athlete type growing up, but hadn’t done much since college graduation. Not for lack of trying.  I had signed up once for a Warrior Dash, but injured myself prior to that (I went head over handlebars on my bicycle and injured my wrist).  I had even signed up for the Iron Girl Triathlon in Columbia, MD, but ended up in a boot at the time of the race.

So here I was again attempting to be athletic. I was determined to achieve this time.

2013-14 Race BibsWell, two years later, I am still determined and still achieving! I have run 9 races since I took up running again.

I was hoping to run more races in 2014, but a hip injury held me up.

That said, my goals and vision for 2015 are again lofty! I am not setting things in stone just yet (I’m waiting to get a better idea of a work schedule first), but I have my eyes on some local races, maybe even a few slightly less local races!

As you know, I am running the 2015 NYC Half Marathon with American Cancer Society DetermiNation team! That race is definitely set in stone. It’s helping to get me back on track. I am training properly this time to avoid injury, get a new PR (hopefully….), and grow stronger so I can run and race more frequently.

I am super proud of what I have accomplished so far in my running journey. I am very much looking forward to what else I can accomplish!

Question of the Blog:
How many races have you run in the past two years? (greatly putting my 9 to shame I’m sure)

NYRR Dash To The Finish Line=HAPPINESS

IMG_39656032428044Best.  Personal.  Race.  EVER!

Yes, I just said that out loud. This was  by far the best 5K race I have ran yet.  Granted, I have only ran 4 (including the Dash).  I hit many highs during the run, pretty sure only 1 low during it.

The low was after crossing the finish line. I was waiting for my friends to cross who were about 10 minutes behind me, so I had no one really to share my happiness with.

As for the highs of the NYRR Dash to the Finish Line 5K – well, as I said there were many!

The day started out not so good. It was raining and chilly outside.  I know my body so I knew how to dress. My running jacket had a hood, I opted to wear just a tee under my jacket without the long sleeves under it. I stuck with the capris instead of full length pants. Only addition to the gear plan, I doubled up on the sock.  That helped keep my feet from freezing from the rain that got in to my sneakers.]

IMG_20141031_191445   As usual, I laid out and prepped my gear the night before. Pinned my bib to my Adidas Tee, put the extra pair of socks with my sneakers, made sure my sunglasses, iPod, headphones, ID, a bit of cash, jacket and Sweaty Band headband were together with my outfit so I could grab them all in the morning.

I left a note on the clothes to not forget a bottle of gatorade and my granola bar for my morning pre-race fueling needs.

My friend Melanie and I decided it made sense to drive in to Manhattan instead of taking the LIRR to then subway or cab to the start line. When I drive to a race, I like to keep the interior car temperature as close as my body will allow to the outside temperature, so I warned Mel as she got in to my car that I was not putting the heat on.

The rain was hit or miss for most of the drive, the roads were fairly open until we were coming in to the city.  Then luck struck for us, as we turned from 2nd Avenue on to 47th street, we found a free street spot! It was just about 8:00am, the race started at 8:30am, which gave us a bit of time to fully organize ourselves. I changed in to my Mizuno Wave Riders (I drove in an older pair of running sneakers), took off my sweat shirt to put on my jacket, sipped a bit more of soda.  Mel switched to her jacket from a sweatshirt and pinned on her number.
IMAG2188  Can you see a bit of the puddle I’m in?

We then walked the block to the mass gathering of runners to locate Mel’s friends. Was actually pretty easy to find then.  The amazing NYRR Marathon weekend volunteers then started corralling the runners back on the street so we could mob up for the gun.

It was starting to drizzle a bit again, the chill had started to settle in on my fingers and toes, I couldn’t wait to start moving a bit more.

Finally, 8:30 rolls around, we hear the announcements being made then the gun going to start the Dash to the Finish Line 5K! IMAG2191

The actual start was on 1st Avenue at 44th Street.  From here we rounded the corner to head west along 42nd Street.  The streets of New York are not flat, mostly flat, but not 100% flat so we had a bit of an incline along 42nd Street. As most of you probably agree, I hate hills or inclines of any type!

But still amazing, to be running along the middle of the streets of NYC, no cars, no interference, people on the sidewalks cheering you on, no one pushing you or giving you dirty looks. It added just a bit more to the adrenaline fueling my body along.

I stuck with my interval plan of 2:00 minute run / 90 second walking.  This interval gave me the ability to take some key photos of Grand Central Station and the NYC Public Library along 42nd Street.
IMAG2197 IMAG2198

I was trying to keep my pace in check, didn’t want to tire myself out before I even hit the mile marker.  I wasn’t terribly focused my Garmin as I usually am in my training runs, I was trying to get out of my head, trying not to let my pace bother me.  I was trying to just run the race my body was prepared to run.

And run that race it did!  Of course, my Garmin was off from the NYRR mile markers (something I have grown accustomed to as what you run is often different from the exact route measured…..since the measurement may be on the inside and you run in the middle of the path, etc).

My first mile – sub 12!  11:52 pace, wasn’t even checking to see how far I ran during each run interval (something I’m VERY guilty of doing during training runs). Just was enjoying the feeling and vibe of NYC.  We had just turned north along 6th Avenue. Here the grounds a bit less giving, many more people trying to cross the street then along 42nd Street.

Again, as I stare down 6th, I notice we have another small incline coming up. I’m not concerned. If I need to walk up a part of it, so be it. If I’m lucky, my 90 second walk will occur during the incline. My biggest concern, would I be able to stop long enough to get a clear picture of Radio City Music Hall!  They already had the lights up in the shape of tree over their marquee and it’s only November 1!
IMAG2199As clear a shot of Radio City as I could get   IMAG2200  Monument at the end of 59th, start of Central Park

Next thing I was aware of, we were coming up to 59th Street, which meant it was about time to enter Central Park!  I was half way done!  I was barely out of breath, my lungs felt strong, my feet were steady, my legs kept pumping. I was feeling zen, I was in a running zone, I couldn’t have asked for another else.

We turned east for a block on 59th Street then north again to enter Central Park. This was the most exciting part for me. Time to laugh at me – I have lived on Long Island my whole life, spent much time in the city, yet I have never been inside Central Park! So in to Central Park we went for the last 1.5 mile of the Dash.

As we looped into the park, we encounter the one and only water station along the 5K course. Normally I am hunting down the water station, normally I am in desperate need of fluids. In my zen race state this time, I bypassed the water station, just kept on running. Came upon mile mark 2. At this point, my Garmin was well past mile 2, but I wasn’t worried.

A quick glance down, my time was pretty strong. I was roughly at 23-24 minutes. I was well on pace for a PR.  For another 5K improvement. My second 5K in a month, two new PR times!  My zen state was improving, but ahead laid another incline. This one steeper then some of the others. I gave in, I walked up most of it, even though I was supposed to be running, per the interval. But I was ok with that. I was doing fine. As long as I crossed the finish line, I had a good race, it was fun, something I am glad I did.

We take a turn head southwest.  During this part, I overhead a fellow runner tell his teammate that we had another hill to overcome right at the end. My verbal response on hearing this ” oh gee, ug, not what I want”.  He didn’t seem to find me humorous, even though I was smiling the entire time. So I breezed on past them, sticking to my intervals.

I come upon an incline, I dig a little deeper and motor up that incline. We round the bend, head north in the part to the final .3 of the race. It’s here you really start to feel as though you are part of the Marathon. Flags from around the world are flying, the route gates show sponsors and Marathon banners.

Here is the final incline. No big deal. I can do this! I saw the finish line ahead of me. I kept thinking this may be the only time I ever cross a marathon finish line. I was thrilled! I ran a zen race, I paced myself, I wasn’t tired or exhausted. I felt as if I could keep running.

IMAG2210

I cross the finish, I know I have PR’d, I just need to wait to results (official or unofficial) are posted so I can see by what. Garmin clocked me at 3.37 miles in 38:28. Garmin clocked my 3.1 at 35:17!  If Garmin is accurate to that mileage, thats a HUGE personal best.

Per official race results, I finished the Dash to the Finish Line 5K in 38:24 – that’s a 27 second PR from my Diva’s race on October 5, a month ago!

Honestly, so little of that mattered. I ran a race I am proud of. I was zen, I was in a zone, my lungs felt happy, the weather didn’t bother me, my legs kept moving, I barely struggled, I managed the inclines. I have no complaints about my performance in that race, I crossed that finish line – that was happy enough times for me.
IMAG2206 IMAG2221

The Training Never Ends

Its worth it

As one run ends, another begins.
I have been running pretty consistently with minimal discomfort in my hip for just over a month now (shhh, cross your fingers, knock on wood, wish on stars…..don’t jinx me).  I ran my first race, my first 5K since the hip problems started.  That race went pretty damn well!

So, of course, what do I do.  Well, I sign up for my second 5K.  This will be, not only my second race since the hip started feeling better, but my second 5K in the span of a month.

NYC Marathon weekend is face approaching (though don’t tell the marathoners that).  It is barely 3 weeks away.  Now, I am absolutely no where near running a marathon, not even close to running a half marathon, but I am ready for my second 5K.  New York Road Runners club hosts a number of events leading up to Marathon Weekend.

This year they are hosting, the weekend before the Marathon there is the sold out Poland Spring Marathon Kickoff 5M race.  The Expo starts on Thursday, October 30 and runs through Saturday, November 1.

The day prior to the Marathon, Saturday, November 1, NYRR is holding the Dash to the Finish Link 5K.  This is the race I signed up for.  We will be running the last 3.1 miles of the marathon route.

I am nervous and excited at the same time.  This will be my second NYRR race, first in Manhattan/Central Park!  My goal for this 5K, is just to stay consistent to what I just ran in the Diva’s 5K.  I am a bit daunted by running streets I have walked many times in the past.  Knowing how far it truly is, yet running it, in a race atmosphere is something entirely different.

I am up for the task, now to keep moving and training.  My first race in Manhattan, my experience as part of NYC Marathon weekend, my second race in a month. Here’s to keeping up to pace, staying healthy, and keeping the motivation in full effect!