Sail on silver girl...Sail on by...Your time has come to shine...All your dreams are on their way...See how they shine

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Run Hard, Live Easy

I was at the gym today, trying to keep myself from going comatose, when I spotted a t-shirt that read "Run Hard, Live Easy". The shirt got me thinking, and kept my mind occupied as I was aimlessly climbing up endless revolving steps, not very happy.
I find that this is a motto I can, and I think, by most aspects, I do live by.
It doesn't take much to make me happy. A cool, crisp fall day, the taste of pumpkin spice coffee, the smell of a Christmas tree, the sound of the ocean, blue skies and shining sun, these are a few things that make me happy. For the most part I think I live simply.
I also find that when I run hard, work out hard, and try hard, I am generally a better person for it all around. I always feel better about myself after a good run, and I am definitely in a much better mood after a good workout. Most importantly, perhaps, though, is that after a good hard run, I don't feel guilty about the little indulgences that make me oh so happy!! A nice glass (or two) of wine, a warm homemade cookie (or two), unlimited chips and guacamole, a handful (or three) of nibs, these things all make me smile!
I tend to find happiness in the simple things in life for the most part ... Running hard just helps me to enjoy them even more.. guilt-free.. and that just makes me even more oh so happy!!!

But that isn't the only reason that running hard helps to make living easy easier. There is no question that stress levels lower after a workout.. so automatically doesn't that make the requirements for being content less? Letting your emotions and anxieties out while on the road (and leaving them there), lessens your search for something bigger to calm you or soothe your soul.
Maybe this is why one hardly ever runs into a high maintenance runner off the road or outside the track. High maintenance when they have their running shorts on , yes, but in life, generally no. I think you will find that you can usually just hand them a beer after a good run and they are happy!
I know that once I got off that darn stair stepper at the gym today and decided upon a challenging run instead, my mood changed for the better. And now, as I sit here eating my yummy homemade brick stone pizza and drink my glass of pinot grigio, I realize what a good day it was, and I am content!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boston on the Brain

As I sit here staring at the computer waiting eagerly for all the post-race reports to come in from all those that ran Boston, I decided to keep myself busy by replying to Jill's Monday Brain Exchange question:

BOSTON! (How Appropriate!!)

Do you get excited about the Boston Marathon? Have you ever ran or do you hope to one day run in the race? Will you watch today and if so will it be watching in person, on TV, on the computer? Do you have anyone special running this year? Any great Boston stories to tell?

Answer: Yes, I get excited about Boston! I can't help it. My love-hate relationship with the Boston Marathon all started on that fateful Patriot's Day in April of 1993. I was a Junior at Boston University, and I did what all the students/locals of Boston do on Patriot' s Day, use the Boston Marathon as an excellent excuse to drink at noon on a random holiday that seems only to be celebrated by the citizens of Boston. I couldn't believe we had a day off from school for Patriot's Day and had an even greater excuse to party!
I will never forget watching all the runners come through Kenmore Square that day. I was instantly enthralled. I couldn't stop cheering! I was so amazed at all the people running and so very proud of all these strangers. I couldn't believe how I was feeling, but I instantly knew I wanted to be one of them. At the time I ran primarily for fitness reasons. I really couldn't afford a gym as a student so I use to run on the school track around the football field. I don't think I had ever even run more then 30 minutes at a time, but I just knew I had to run this marathon one day.
During my last year of college, I entertained the idea of running the marathon as a a bandit. However, I was sidelined by an accident (I was hit by a car, luckily I only broke my ankle and a rib). I soon graduated and moved back home, but the allure of the Boston Marathon continued to linger in my head for a while. As I became busy starting out in my career, I slowly forgot all about the marathon. Afterall, in the rest of the world, Patriot's Day is not celebrated and so the day just seems to come and go without any indication that 20,000+ people are out there running the streets of Boston.
Fast forward a few years. My boyfriend at the time broke up with me and I basically pulled a Forrest Gump. I just started running, and kept running. The only way I knew how to keep my mind off the break-up and to keep myself sane was to run, and so I did. The idea of running Boston re-entered my head.
I ran the Boston Marathon as a bandit in 1998, not having the slightest idea how to train for or actually run a marathon. I followed a basic beginner's program and I showed up at the starting line on Marathon Monday, at the back of the pack. I was so far back, it took me 12 minutes to cross the starting line, after all the registered runners had crossed. But I was oh so happy. I couldn't believe I was here! I was nervous, but even more excited! I had no expectations. I didn't even know what a "good" time was for a marathon. I just ran, with a walkman, and no watch. As I came into Kenmore Square, I became so overwhelmed that I cried. I couldn't believe that I was here and that I was actually doing this. I never felt so proud of myself in my life! It truly was the best feeling I have ever had, even to this day.
After that, I thought I would never run another marathon again. I didn't really have the urge to. In fact, I didn't really know people ran more then one. I thought it was something that people just crossed off their bucket list. I had never heard of a PR. I had no idea what a tempo run was. Hill repeats, speed work, what's that??
Then, I met a boy and fell in love. He was a runner and was going to run the NYC marathon. Ok, I thought I will run it too, why not? My training was similar to that of Boston. I really didn't know how to do it and I really didn't have any intentions about a time or any goals in my mind.
I was fortunate enough to get a number for the NYC marathon through someone who knew someone, who knew someone, etc.
So there I was at mile 22 of the NYC marathon. I was just trying to keep my mind occupied so that maybe it wouldn't notice the pain that was going on in my legs at the moment. As I was performing calculations in my head, I realized I could very possibly qualify for Boston at the rate I was currently going, and suddenly for never having given it a thought before, I wanted to qualify so badly! I mustered through miles 22-26 and as I crossed the finish line and looked down at my watch, I couldn't believe my eyes. I felt goosebumps come over me and felt my eyes tear up, I had qualified for Boston!!
So, still not really knowing how to properly "train" for a marathon, I trained for Boston the following year (I had deferred it for a year) mostly on the treadmill. Looking back now, I can't believe I ran 16 miles on a treadmill. Currently, I can't even run 4 miles on a treadmill without getting bored!! At the time, I was a weather whimp. I wouldn't run outside in the cold, so most of my training was done indoors, on a FLAT treadmill. I still had never heard of the concept of hill repeats or speed work. I had always just run ALL my miles at the same pace. Well, that did not make for a very good day come Patriot's Day 2005.
What an awful, awful, painful, painful experience that first "official" Boston Marathon was. I was so under-trained, and the "killer chain" of hills let me know just how poorly I had trained for this race. It whipped my butt, more so then NYC or the first Boston ever had. (I was now running at least 1:30 minutes/per mile faster then I had during my original "trot" through the burbs of Boston, so this time I REALLY felt a difference)
It was so painful, that it took me 2 years to get the courage up to do Boston again. The year was 2007 - the year of the falsely anticipated "Perfect Storm". Because of all the hype about the monstrous storm that was suppose to knock us all down as we ran through the streets of Natick, my running partners and I decided to go by the motto "Compete to complete", and that is what we did. We took our time and just enjoyed the ride. It was such a fun experience and this time around, heartbreak hill felt like a breeze. It was actually a very pleasant, pain-free day and I had such a wonderful time running with friends and enjoying the crowds.
In fact, I had such a wonderful time, that I have not run Boston since. Part of me wanted to go out on a happy note, kind of like retiring when you are on top. However, part of me knows that I never fully accepted the challenge that the Boston Marathon course has to offer, and so in some ways I feel like I failed.
And so there is my story about my love-hate relationship with the infamous Boston Marathon. To this day, I constantly go back and forth about whether I will ever get the courage up to face this course again. Most days I have the mind-set "been there, done that" and I have no desire to muster up the energy to do it all over again. But then, there are days like today, when I can't stop thinking about the damn thing, and I am envious of everyone else that was there at the starting line today.
Ugh!!! Damn you, Boston Marathon. I hate (I mean I love, I mean I hate, I love) you!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Goals of the Week

Ok... I must sit down with my calender and start planning out my weeks. Although I have been good at keeping up with my mileage and keeping on track to run 100 miles a month, the rest of my year long goals seem to be getting sidelined one week at a time. Last month I decided I was giving up on the book of the month club (although now, suddenly, I have the urge to read a good book- any suggestions are welcomed!), I haven't picked up a free weight in a very long time, so needless to say my arms aren't really resembling Kelly Ripa's, and now as we quickly approach the end of April, I realize I did not do a race for the month! So frustrating!
I realize in the scheme of things, as long as I am running consistently, it doesn't really matter if I actually run a race. After all, that goal was created so that I would continue to consistently run throughout the year. So, does it count then that I signed up for a BIG race instead of actually running one for the month of April? (Marine Corp Marathon on 10/31/2010) That, undoubtedly, will surely keep me busy for the next 7 months!
I have to admit, I am alittle nervous to get back to running/training for a marathon. My last one was over 2 years ago (NYC Marathon 11/07). I set my PR during this race and so I think I have been abit more hesitant to get back out there and do one all over again. I gave it my all last time, and so I haven't wanted to do one again until I was dedicated enough to train as hard, to do as well, and hopefully even better then last time. This mindset definitely leads to added pressure, and I think that is why I have shied away for so long. However, at the same time, I find I constantly need something to train for or else I feel out of sorts. I get excited when other marathons come up, especially this weekend, with all the Boston talk, and I want to be part of it all! Although I vowed never to do Boston again after making amends with the course the third and (at that time I thought) final time I was to run it, I now find myself wanting to be there at the starting line in Hopkinton tomorrow. But then, I think about all the training that lies ahead and the dedication that is required, and I get tired just thinking about it! But I think it is time to get out of my comfort zone and get back on the marathon saddle again!

Now, getting back to what this post was really suppose to be about, my goals of the week:
Cardio: 5 days/week- 4 days running, 1 day cross training
Strength training: 3 days/week
Nutrition: portion control at dinner and more water throughout the day

I have to be in a bathing suit in 3 weeks, people-time to get serious!!!!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Will Run for Food!

This weekend I needed to find motivation to run my "longer" run for the week. I didn't feel like doing the usual loops of the park, so I needed to come up with something different. What would push me out the door to run 10+ miles, I wondered? Food of course!!! It always does!

I have a notepad near my computer that I use to write down names of places/foods to try here in NYC that I read about on other blogger's posts. The list has become quite long, with an entire section devoted just to sweets, all of which I never seem to remember when I am out and about in the city.

So, I got out my list, opened up my computer to Map My Run, and began planning out my route. The final destination I decided would be Momofuko Dessert Bar. I was dying to try out their famous compost cookie that I have read so much about, and even recently seen highlighted on Live with Regis and Kelly.

The problem is I technically only live 3.4 miles from the cookie mecca, certainly not enough to consider it a long run. So I decided to take a bit of a detour. I would run out of Manhattan, into Queens and come back into lower Manhattan through Brooklyn to make it an 10.8 mile run. How fun!! I also had to decide what bridges to run over. Since I have run the Brooklyn Bridge several times, I decided I needed some new scenery, so I chose the Williamsburg Bridge which I have never been over before. To get into Queens, I stuck with the usual 59th street bridge (yes, that crazy bridge you run over at the 15 mile marker of the NYC marathon!)

The BF and I had so much fun running through the streets of Queens, exploring Brooklyn and trucking over the long-ass Williamsburg bridge. I felt like a tourist in my own backyard! It was great and definitely made the run go alot faster! We, of course, had to eat something before having dessert at Momofuku so we went to one of our favorite breakfast/lunch spots, Sunburst Cafe.

What a yummy day!! Without the guilt!! Perfect!!

I think this may be the way to go from now on during the weekends- pick a new place to try and run to it! It is kind of like the old "kill two birds with one stone" kind of thing.

Added bonus: I had so much fun running over bridges and exploring the sites and sounds of my own city, that I decided to do it all over again on Sunday. I thought the Williamsburg bridge was long until I hauled my sorry butt across the Triboro bridge- now that is one long bridge!! I got alittle lost along the way so my planned 10+ mile run became more like a 12+ run, so I rewarded myself with a double chocolate cookie from Momofuku! (You didn't really think we ran all the way down there, only to buy one cookie, did ya?)

Life is good!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Top 3 Races

Jill from Finishing is Winning hosts Brain Exchange Mondays. It sounds like fun so I thought I would give it a try. This week's exchange:
Name your top 3 favorite events to date. When were they and why are they your favorite?

When I first set out to answer this question, it seemed so easy. However, once I began thinking back to all the races I have done, it became harder and harder. I loved so many races for so many different reasons, and to be honest, until I really started to think about them all, I had forgotten just how much fun I had doing them. It is really hard to narrow it down to 3, but here are my final picks:
#1) New York City Marathon 2003, 2007 - For obvious reasons, this race holds a special place in my heart. It was my first "official" marathon in 2003 (I bandit Boston in 1998) and I set my PR on this course in 2007. The crowds make this race. Coming off the 59th street bridge and into the sea of spectators on first ave...AMAZING!!! Coming back into the park at the end and seeing Tavern on the Green and the finish line...priceless!
#2) Reach the Beach Relay 2007- All I can say is-what a blast!!!! It was such a different experience then any other running event I have ever done. Running at 2:30am with a headlight on in the middle of nowhere-so much fun!!! Running 8 miles after 24 hours without sleep - so empowering!! After that race, I really felt confident that my body could do more then I ever gave it credit for. It was a real confidence booster.
#3) Applefest 1/2 marathon September 2008-New England in the Fall -beautiful. Apple crisp, apple cider, homemade cookies and brownies post-race-yummy!! My first ever post-race massage and winning an Apple Pie for placing in my age group- added bonus! This definitely was not my best race. The course was more challenging then I thought it would be, and I actually walked for the first time ever in a race in my life because of a nagging injury, but the scenery and the post-race goodies sure made it well worth it!

So many other races, so many great memories! Isn't it funny though how looking back, my brain is filled with only good memories, when I know for a fact that for a few moments during almost all of those races, I questioned why I was putting myself and my body through such misery!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quarter year review

My how time flies!! I can't believe the first quarter of 2010 has already come and gone. I guess now is a good time to review the first quarter of the year.

2010 goals:
1) Return of the "race of the month" club - January- no race secondary to injury; February: Bradford Valentine's Day Race: pleasantly surprised by my time and overall such a fun race and fun weekend in New England! This is why I like getting out of NY and doing races in other places- it always ends up making for a wonderful weekend/mini vacation! March: National 1/2 Marathon: again happy and abit surprised by my time and another wonderful weekend hanging out with my niece and nephews! April race still to be determined.
2) 1200 miles in 2010 - Again, February and March were good months in the running department for me. I achieved the 100 mile mark both months. January was a miss, again secondary to injury, but I am hopeful that I will be able to make up the 19 miles I was short in January sometime throughout the year.
3) Create buns of steel, a mighty core, and Kelly Ripa's arms! oops! Except for NAM (national abs month) in February I haven't been very good in the toning department. This is the goal I really want to focus on for the next few months, especially if I am serious about doing another marathon this fall. I am a huge believer that strong and stable core and hips will prevent injury and improve speed/efficiency in running (not to mention make me look better in a bathing suit this summer!), so this is a really important one for me.
4) Read 12 books in 12 months - Double oops!! I find I don't really have the time for reading a novel-especially now that I am addicted to reading everyone else's blogs at night, so needless to say I think I have read one book this year. This is the goal that I think might just fall by the waste side this year, although I have to admit I am not really upset about not achieving it. I find if I have time to read something- it is better to read research articles or other job related articles - although that doesn't make me a very well rounded person, does it? There just doesn't seem to be enough time in one day to fit everything in. Perhaps I need to go on vacation so that I have more time to read - now that sounds like a good idea!
5) Live, Love, Laugh Everyday and be grateful for what I've got. I find that I am doing a pretty good job at this one. I am really enjoying my job and am overall enjoying my life and being back to running. My current relationship is at a crossroads at the moment so that makes me abit sad at times and makes it more difficult for me to be happy/grateful at times, but overall I feel as though I have found true happiness/gratitude in my life and I am really appreciative for what I've got!
YTD: mileage (Jan-March): 291
races: 2
books: 1
stregthening/cross-training: ? (will start keeping track of it in April)

Focus for second quarter: 1) keep running!! (I find it truly helps keep me on the path of happiness in my life right now for so many different reasons) 2) Start toning/strengthening!!!

Here's to the second quarter of 2010! I am looking forward to it and to the nice weather that lies ahead!! Now, I am off to work my core, then off to work!