Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the jersey shore

My husband came up with a fantastic idea for my last weekend of summer vacay: go to the beach for the day, but get there really early so we could run. It was music to my ears! Of course, actually getting up out of bed before dawn so we could drive an hour to the shore was easier said than done. But we both pushed through the exhaustion and arrived at the beach in record time. It was quite gorgeous when we set out.

The beach we went to was the same one where the New Jersey Marathon took place in early May. This gave us an advantage, because between the two of us, we knew the roads pretty well. I mapped out a five mile route that kept us along the water for the most part. There was a nice cool breeze when we started, and though the sun was out, it was pretty awesome running on the boardwalk. In addition to the regular Saturday morning runners, there were two road races going on, so we made sure to stay out of the way of anyone wearing a bib. Here's a pic my husband took of me reliving the marathon course.

After five miles, I was ready for a water break, but my husband suggested we tack on a bit more. I had mixed feelings about this, but who am I to turn down mileage. We ended up with 5.6 miles for the day along with big smiles on our faces. It's hard to see, but we're pretty happy with our effort in this picture (plus we knew it was iced coffee time!)

The rest of the day was blissful. We soaked in the rays (wearing spf 60, of course) and enjoyed the shops and restaurants on the shore. We even dined at the same lunch spot from the marathon (though this time I could enjoy a bloody mary ;)) All in all, a pefect day with my favorite person!

Other than that out of town run, there was a (solo) 6.25 miler on Friday. And this week, much to my dismay, New York has decided to grace us with another heat wave. In addition, I've rejoined the working world, so my running has taken a turn for the worse. Last night my husband and I did an evening run (3 miles) and even though the sun was long gone, some parts felt like running in a sauna. I enjoyed the company but not the choking furnace-like conditions. When will summer end!?!! Today I was pretty worn out from the drastic change from doing whatever I please all day to organized thinking and relentless meetings (in a/c-less rooms). Since temps were well into the 90s, it was all I could do to drag myself down to the gym tonight for some cross training and lifting. After this (literally) hellish summer, I am eagerly awaiting fall and hoping that the cooler weather will help alleviate my suffering mileage.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Mama goes Masters" Virtual Race Report

I have to admire and support anyone who celebrates a birthday with a running related event. So when I heard that MCM Mama was hosting a virtual race in honor of her 40th birthday, I figured I'd be a participant. Even though I am currently in no type of racing shape, I was happy to be out there doing what I love best, running.

The race I chose was The "Mama Goes Masters" Four Mile Dash and Crash. Like most races I do, this one started in Central Park. But instead of a morning race, it began at 6:00pm. The evening air was cool, breezy, and humid. After a warm up half-mile to the start, I was ready to get going. There was minimal fuss at the starting line..no long-winded speeches, no jostling for position, no color-coded bibs--just a peaceful evening breeze and an overcast sky.

The Dash
The official "horn" sounded at 6:01pm, and I was off. If I'm being honest, I approached this race like I typically do: underprepared (this time for speed), excited to race, but eager to be done, and with a "take it easy" mentality. The first mile was decent, and I held steady for miles two and three (Cat Hill was a real b!tch, as usual..) I was thankful to have my garmin because there were no mile markers on the course. Then I hit up a water stop briefly. It was here that the course went from the roads to the dirt bridle path. It had rained most of the day, so the path was wet and puddle infested. I did not let this stop my consistent pace and carried on to the finish. My time for the four miles according to the "official timing system" was 37.11 (9:16 pace).  

The Crash
After grabbing some water, I jogged about a quarter mile to the finish line festival where I enjoyed Amy's Cheese Pizza and chilled watermelon. There was also Gus soda on hand! This was the perfect recovery mix for a four mile effort -- I applaud the simple, yet refreshing finish line food choices of the race committee!

Happy birthday, MCM Mama! I enjoyed the chance to participate in your race. Thanks for hosting!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weight Lifting Challenge

While everyone else is ramping up their mileage in pursuit of a fall marathon PR or BQ, I'm just keeping it steady, coming in at 28 miles this week. In addition to the running, I've also set up a mini weight lifting challenge for myself that, upon completion, will lead to a materialistic reward. The rules are simple: lift every other day until the end of August and I can guiltlessly purchase my reward. I don't normally bribe myself with rewards (drink and food don't count), but lifting is one of those things that just demands motivation in the form of extraneous luxury possessions.

I created a routine that can be completed in roughly 25 minutes in the gym. It includes free weights (shoulders, biceps, & triceps), the lat pull, pushups, and crunches. At the end are some isolation abs and lots of stretching. I've made good on my promises for five out of the six scheduled lifting sessions; the missed one occurred because I was suffering from possibly the worst migraine of my life; the kind when even breathing hurts. Because I couldn't even assume the upright position, much less transport myself to the gym, I scrapped it and plan to add one more in September. No harm, no foul.

On the running front, Tuesday was a morning run (4.5 miles) with my husband. He is very motivating with the early stuff! Wednesday I did a loop (7 miles) and dedicated my run to "the birthday girl" ;) Friday I had the opportunity to run with a good friend who used to live in ny and has since moved out of the city. Because it was high noon when we started (and fiery hot!), we kept the run short (4.5) and just ran easy. Yesterday I did a solo loop and today my husband and I ran the inner loop (5) in light rainfall and contemptuous humidity. I have no idea how everyone else managed to run their twenties today--wow.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer Streets

Summer Streets -- an opportunity to run on a vehicle-free Park Avenue!

 I did one of my recovery runs during Summer Streets last year and enjoyed the chance to run on a major avenue sans the cars, so I decided to do it again this year. But I was thoroughly exhausted from Friday's eight miler along the West Side Hwy, so I wasn't sure how much mileage I wanted to accrue the next day. I just wanted a fun little run that would allow me to participate in another nyc summer event and take some pictures (taking photos on the run has become my hobby as of late, perhaps in lieu of training). Instead of starting from my apartment, I began this run at 72nd street and Central Park West. After a short jaunt across the transverse, I was on the east side heading downtown on Park Ave. Despite starting this run in the late morning, it was still a nice temperature and a much more comfortable dew point. These first two pictures show Park Ave--bikes on one side, runners on the other (though not all participants appeared to know how to read the signs..).  

Once I got to midtown, there were fun little stops like this one where you could rock out to a cardio class. This one was aerobics or something, but it had a spruced up name  like "Burn-n-firm-yoga-retro-robics-body-sculpt." 

One of the best surprises was an iced coffee stop! Seriously--why don't race directors employ this!? To my delight, there was also a variety of soy milk options and agave sweeteners down the line so I was able to give my iced coffee the works. Yum!

I also picked up a refreshing snack - a spicy cantaloupe fruit cup - courtesy of these lovely ladies. I believe they said it was cayenne pepper that gave it the zing.  

The coffee and fruit snacks were part of a Whole Foods picnic area that primarily sought to woo more customers, but also demonstrated their status as primary sponsor of Summer Streets. There were quite a few other free offerings like (Stonyfield) yogurt, (Caio Bella) ice cream, (Cabot) cheese, & (Odwalla) smoothies. I rejoiced because of  my non-training situation and enjoyed my freebies before I finished up the run.  
Stats for this fun run: 4.25 miles (~8:55 pace)

Earlier in the week my energy was low, and running in humidity zapped whatever reserves I had remaining. Tuesday's seven was slow going (1hr8) and Wednesday's four and a half seemed like an eternity (44 minutes). Friday's eight miler on the WSH had to be the worst--several times I considered taking a taxi home. One theory is that I'm recovering from last week's (relative) high mileage/vacay combo. Who knows. But every runner experiences ebbs and August has never been my month (I'm a winter!).

Today's run was a little better. I had my husband to keep me company through four miles on the rez. It was a nice relaxed run and the overcast skies kept the sun out of my eyes. Twenty-eight miles for the week. Onward.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Maine Attraction

Last week I had the opportunity to spend some time on the coast of Maine. I have nothing but good things to say about the experience. The weather was lovely, the company was super, and the running was plentiful.

My first run in Maine was last Sunday, and its primary purpose was to check out the area and get my bearings. I always like to know what's out there when I'm out of town, and going for a run is a great way to get acquainted. Most of the roads I ran on looked like the one pictured below, which is the road inside the resort where all my runs began.

Sunday's run was a total of 8 miles, and the first four were with my husband. We ran to the beach keeping a steady pace and stayed on a street along the water that had a nice breeze. I tacked on another 4 miles along a mildly trafficked road. By the time this run ended, the sun was overhead and the temps were heating up -- just enough for a perfect pool day :)

Monday was not a running day, but I did walk about four miles with my mother-in-law. She keeps a nice pace going and there's always plenty of entertaining chit-chat. After the walk, I lackadaisically picked up some dumbbells in the gym and worked my biceps. I also did the usual ab routine. 

Tuesday I took my camera on a beach run at dawn. I was solo, but I knew where I was going and was eager to snap some pics. The beach was huge and had plenty of packed sand to run on.  

The views were quite stunning at sunup, and I couldn't resist taking a picture of the sky. These empty beach pics give the illusion of solitude, but there were joggers, dog-walkers, and sunrise-watchers a plenty; not to mention those who just wanted to spend the morning chilling on a gorgeous beach.

One of my shenanigans was to take a self-portrait while on the run. My airborne pony is proof that I was in motion and my wistful gaze at the ocean shows just how immersed I was in its beauty.

This next picture is the entrance to our resort, which meant that I had approximately four-tenths of a mile to go. The trees on both sides of the road were sheltering and welcoming as they sort of ushered you into the grounds. This run was eight and a quarter in an hour sixteen.

Wednesday morning I got up early (crazy early!) in hopes that I would find temps in the 50s. I had to settle for high 60s, but there was noticeable humidity. The combination of partying with the family the night before and waking up to a shrieking alarm clock did not make me feel too exuberant as I set out around 7ish. But I told myself I would only do a shortie to loosen up the legs and then be done with it. After three and a quarter (29 minutes), I was so ready to be done. However..

Later that afternoon, my husband informed me that he was going for a run. He asked if I wanted to come and said our brother-in-law (RC) was also going. How could I possibly decline that invitation!? Thankfully, I had fueled up on a delicious iced coffee that afternoon (size large) and was fooled into thinking I had energy. I was back in running clothes in mere seconds and jumping up and down in an effort to pump up my lesser enthusiastic running partners.

The reason this run was so meaningful to me was that it made it seem like I wasn't the only crazy kid who wanted to run on vacation. And it almost felt like a group run when the three of us nonchalantly dodged dangerous footing along the road and merged to form a single-file line if a car drove by. As hot and tired as I was, I thoroughly enjoyed running with these guys! One of our nephews (who's 6) took this picture of us shortly before our run. I wanted to remember this one ;)

So I ended up with 6.5 miles for the day, which was a nice unexpected surprise.

One of the many things I loved about this resort was the on-site farm, where you could pick your own vegetables and prepare them any way you like. The farm also housed many types of flowers and was the perfect place to end a run with some stretching. I wasn't nearly as diligent as I could've been about the stretching; I'm really just making a statement about the farm's perfection regarding things to look at while stretching.

Friday was the second to last day at this nature-filled paradise, so I wanted to make sure I got in a good run rather early so I could enjoy the rest of the day. I think I got up even earlier (five something) and headed out for a seven miler. Since history tends to repeat itself, that afternoon I saw my husband lacing up his running shoes and giving me a knowing look. I figured what the hell, why not score another double. Four miles later, we had earned our beers and a rowdy dinner as well as a wine (martini, what have you) nightcap for the perfect way to top off a fantastic week!

As sad as it was to end this chart-topping beach trip, it was nice to let my legs fly around Central Park yesterday as if I owned the place. There's something to be said about running on your home turf; the familiar hills and turns are quite comforting to a mentally and physically tuckered gal. I enjoyed nine miles in the park yesterday (1hr25) to reach almost 35 miles for the week. I'm very pleased with this number.

Lastly, I'd like to congratulate all the Club Champs participants who ran their hearts out for the Flyers on Saturday! I'm so sorry to have missed this annual display of team spirit and camaraderie. From what I've heard, it sounds like it was a tough battle but a fun experience. Way to go!!