On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Friday, April 29, 2011


Hahahaha, just kidding.

However, I will share with you part of an email I got the other day:

It was an accident, I swear! I got an email from a friend that he had just entered, but he said that you could only enter with a UK address. I didn't think that sounded right so I went to the website and before you know it, there you go. Twenty minutes later the lottery closed.

Of course it's all moot, since my chances of getting in are roughly the same as my chances of marrying Prince Harry.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Do you "feel" or do you "float"? AKA MY MONTHLY RUNNING TIMES LOVE FEST

After the little snafu where I realized I had accidentally let my subscription to RT lapse, I post-haste renewed and was very psyched to get the March, April, and May issues in my mailbox in quick succession. Phew! There was balance restored to my world. I've been savoring them slowly, drawing out the goodness.

I've been savoring them so slowly, in fact, that I haven't much gotten past the editor's note in the April issue - and yet, it's been crazy food for thought. I've been puzzling over it for the past few days. You can read it online. Go, do that. I'll wait.

If you didn't read it, Jonathan (I can call him that, right? I mean, we're friends, right?) begins with a brief discussion of shoe design and then goes on to discuss a division that Brooks has begun making in the styling of their shoes, viz. whether the runner wants to feel their run or to float through it. As Jonathan says:

It also helps explain who the Running Times reader is: While we appreciate and often enjoy floating during easy runs on an otherwise tough day, we are dedicated, lifetime runners because of the feel. The runs that motivate us and addict us are those that absorb us--we want to feel the road or trail beneath our feet, the rush of our blood in our veins, the sweat on our bodies, the breath in our lungs, even the pain in our muscles. Running for us is a destination, not a means to an end, and we have no desire to be coddled from it or distracted from it. The feel of running, really running, and the quest to find it in training and racing unites the diverse ages and disciplines of our readers.

As soon as I read this, it bothered me. I've been struggling to articulate why exactly it is that this has gotten to me. Because it did. And it's because he hit on my secret shame.

In theory, I'm a total feeler. But in practice, especially lately, I've been a floater. So much so, in fact - and this is a total secret and I'm ashamed of it - I've begun listening to music on my runs. I've always been anti-music during runs. Ostensibly, I've claimed I was anti-music for safety reasons. But in actuality, I've always cherished my runs as quiet me time when I could be engaged with my thoughts, with my body, with the road. Turning on music is shutting all that off. And yet, music has gotten me through most of my runs lately. So I feel like I've been copping out on running. Selling it, and myself, short. Going through the motions.

What do you think? If you have an opinion on music or no music during your run, what is it? And am I wrong for feeling like feelers are somehow more legit than floaters?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter 1/4 Marathon redux

Yesterday, you saw a smiling photo of me at the finish of my impromptu 10k. So why was I so unhappy at the finish? And I was unhappy. Very unhappy.

Was it as simple as me being really disappointed in my performance? Sure. Was I also disappointed that I didn't do the second loop? Yeah, I guess. But it was a fun run.

There are two issues here: why did I do so badly, and why was I disappointed?

Let's start with the latter. I was disappointed because, frankly, I expected to do better. Take a look at this and tell me what you see:

Screen shot taken directly from my training log... notice that the highlighted days are days that I ran. Four times a week for the entire month of April. Barring some sort of disaster afflicting me in the next three days, I will have run 100 miles in the month of April - the most I've run since, um, a long time ago (I didn't run that many miles in November, and I ran two marathons in November). So there you have it - the period of consistency I've been dreaming of. I'm in a groove. My runs are great. I'm enjoying it. I'm looking forward to increasing my mileage even more in the next few months.

So, naturally, I expect my race performances to reflect this. Immediately. Like now. Today. Yesterday.

Why, then, didn't my performance reflect this? Well, I have a few theories:

1. Bad nutrition. Lately I've jacked up my lean proteins and my vegetables. At the expense of carbohydrates. Now, I know enough about glycogen depletion to know that I wasn't exactly in danger of hitting the wall on Saturday, but I also know that something was lacking. It may also have been mild dehydration, which brings us to...
2. The heat and humidity. By the end of the summer, I'm sure that a humid day in the mid to upper 70s won't feel miserable. But this was the first warm day. I was sweating from the fast walk to the subway station. Which was also partly because of...
3. Lack of sleep. Seems to be a refrain for me, but last week was particularly bad. Consider that I was still up at 2:30am the night before the race. And that I'd slept only about 5 hours Friday night.
4. Being out of shape. One month of regular running isn't enough, plain and simple. Also, my running hasn't been varied. No hills, no strides, no nothing. I'm trying to take the advice of just building my mileage, getting regular runs in. But, faced on Sunday with a somewhat hilly course, there was nothing there. Oh, and also there was nothing there because...
5. Lack of mental fortitude. Yeah. I'm weak. This is a problem for me in racing. I like running to feel good. Racing hard doesn't, and I can't turn on the bad-ass on command. And that leads me to...
6. No desire to race. It's true. I'm still over racing. If I'd gone into this as a fun run, I probably would have had a great time. But with that number pinned to my chest, I felt unprepared and inadequate.

When I lay it all out like this, it's easy to say that this was a one-off. I'm still disappointed in myself; I just didn't have it in me on Sunday.

On a more positive note, one of my friends asked me if I wouldn't mind passing on information about a race she's helping to promote near DC in June. It's one of those crazy-town deals that are way more bad-ass than I am:
I have a massive soft spot for our military, and the race benefits a good cause (building homes for injured veterans). Use the code SPARTAN11 for $5 off registration.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Holiday Marathons: EASTER

On Sunday morning, I got my lazy self together and headed up to Van Cortlandt Park for the latest in the Holiday Marathons. Basically, on every major holiday since Thanksgiving, a group of dedicated volunteers have sponsored a free trail marathon (or half, or 6.5m race) in the Bronx. I'd missed all of them to date, either being out of town or out of shape or otherwise engaged.  But not this week! I made plans to meet up with a few friends (including Mz. Duffy,* my friends Renee and Mike, and Aron - who has recently begun blogging himself) to run the half.

Well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, isn't it. I had the best of intentions, and by the end of the day I was in hell. I'll explain more about why that is tomorrow, but for now, I'll just tell you a bit about the race.

It was small. And free! And there was a guy dressed as the Easter Bunny!

And better yet... there was Scott Jurek. Let me tell you something: Scott Jurek is hot. He totally is. I'm not embarrassed to say that. I'm only slightly ashamed to admit that when we saw him arrive, I jumped up excitedly like a little girl. I wasn't the only one, though, and he was pretty quickly mobbed with a crowd of runner women.

10:15ish and we were off. If you're wondering about the course, Aron has a few photos up on his flickr account that can give you some idea of it, as do the race directors on their website. It was largely flat. There were some hills toward the beginning and the last couple miles (of the 6.5m loops) were rolling. The trails were not at all technical - some paved, some loose gravel, nothing off-road. The only aid was at the start/finish, so every 6.5m if you were doing the full marathon. Large parts of the course were quiet and serene, although the parts that run along a highway had the ambient noise of, well, a highway.

Lovely course. Hot day. Crap run. It started solidly, running leisurely with Aron and catching up on his recent (first!) marathon. Around mile 3 or so, Mike joined us and we ran together for a bit. By mile 4, I had given myself permission to only do one lap. By mile 5, I was running on my own. Mike and Aron lost me on some uphills, and I never caught up with them. (You can go ahead and read between the lines of Aron's race report that I'm basically a crap friend who let him down by not running on - but I would have held him back more had I tried to continue.)

The good part of being the last of your friends to finish is having Renee there to bang a gong when you finish:

Even if you finish with the stupidest look ever made on your face. Seriously, can anyone explain to me what I'm doing here?

Afterwards, I was wiped. Renee and I did an extra 3m, but it was kind of a wash. I was quite lightheaded and frankly, bummed that I'd backed off the half marathon. Very unhappy. Why couldn't I have just accepted that it was a fun run and gone with it? Why did I have to beat myself up? Questions for the ages... or for tomorrow, at least.

*Somehow I never met up with Mz. Duffy, inexplicably. I'm not really sure how I missed her!

Monday, April 25, 2011

New York Running Show

First off, let me start by thanking you all for your amazing support on Friday. I felt really lousy about what had happened and I contemplated not writing anything about it. I'm glad I did.

On Friday, in between reading and responding to all of your nice comments, I hit up Jack Rabbit's Running Show (aka "the expo without a race") with Mz. Duffy. It was... interesting. In short, it was basically one of Jack Rabbit's stores, but bigger.

When I first got there, I found that I was actually excited. It looked like an expo! It felt like an expo! You say "race expo" and I immediately get that slight thrill. But then, walking around for a few minutes, I realized that what makes an expo exciting is the race. And in this case, there was no race. (Incidentally, there also wasn't very much free stuff to be had, another fun part of an expo.) Amongst my friends, reactions seemed to range from excitement to bewilderment: what was the point of it, anyway? Still, I do love a running event. (There was swim stuff there, too, and I tried to hide my utter boredom as Mz. Duffy discussed goggles and transition bags and other stuff that bad-ass triathletes like herself need.)

I didn't stay to see any of the speakers. I bought a pair of yurbuds and some Nuun and jetted. Speaking of Nuun, does anyone know if they've discontinued the kona kola flavor? They didn't have it there (nor did they have an actual representative with knowledge of the product manning the Nuun booth...). Let me tell you: kona kola flavored Nuun is the BEST hydration in the world and its caffeinated replacement, this iced tea flavor, is icky.

But before I jetted, I had one last errand... I stopped at the Saucony booth to pick up these:

Those wonderful free shoes are the Hattori, Saucony's answer to the barefoot running movement. Now, you all know I feel about barefoot runners. However, free is free. (Jack Rabbit had embedded a coupon deep within one of their promotional emails that the first 25 people to show the coupon got a free pair. We timed it so we'd arrive right at noon to be amongst the first.) The shoes are light. As Mz. Duffy said, they kind of feel like socks with a sole. I wore them around casually this weekend and they're comfortable. I don't see how the $80 price is justifiable, though, and I also worry about their longevity given how minimal the sole is and how thin and stretchy the upper is - I suspect they will wear out quickly.

This price issue is more than just me griping. Sometimes I feel like marketing to runners is shooting fish in a barrel. I don't have data to back this up, but running seems to be largely a pursuit of the middle to upper-middle class. People with incomes, and people who have some (often substantial) discretionary income. Tell us we need to wear a computer on our wrist? We all put down our $200 thoughtlessly. Barefoot shoes are in? Okay, let's buy those, too. The cost of new running shoes is on average over $100/pair these days, and do NOT get me started on race registration fees...

Tomorrow: could Scott Jurek be my new Frank Shorter?

One last note before I tie metaphorical cement blocks to last week's douchebag kid and throw him in the Hudson... I got one comment from a friend, off the blog, offering me nutritional tips to help me lose weight. I wanted to clarify on that just briefly: not interested. This is a running blog, 'kay? Not a diet blog and not even a healthy living blog. I've been playing around with my nutrition lately - in hopes of improving my running - and I might discuss that at some point, but weight loss tips? No thank you!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Something happened to me while I was running yesterday.

I went out yesterday evening for a quick run between work and my Thursday evening TV addiction. The weather was gorgeous, the river was beautiful, I was feeling good, and the stage was set for an amazing run.

Until. Until. Just slightly past my turnaround, I ran past a gaggle of teenage boys. They were in full force: baggy jeans, swaggers, pathetic attempts to look older than they were. Just as I ran past, one of them said, "And she's fat, too."

Here's the thing: I'm not entirely sure he was talking about me. But I was the only woman on the path, period. And it was said conspicuously loudly. And in my experience, teenage boys turn into rude bastards when they're with their friends. I turned, glared, and yelled some things that are inappropriate to be set into print.

Just as I was feeling slightly good about myself, along came this douchebag kid to ruin it for me.

How I look when I run.
I don't like to talk about body image stuff on this here blog. I like to talk about running. For some people, they go hand in hand. But they don't have to. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. And that's cool. Thing is, I used to come in a slightly smaller size. So maybe this is something I'm sensitive to.

I don't talk too much about the Bad Time, when I "got sick." I'm not afraid to talk about it - ask me a question in person, and I'll talk your head off. But basically, I was a normal, thin girl and an average runner who woke up one morning unable to breathe deeply. It took the doctors two years to figure out that I had most likely had a blood clot in my lung, and they only figured it out when I got a second one. That was two years of not being able to run because of pain.

How I feel like I look when I run.
Not being able to run - I mean it. At first I tried valiantly to maintain my fitness, but the pain was too intense. Soon, my weight crept up. By the time I moved to NYC, two blood clots later, I couldn't get out of the subway station near my house without taking a break midway up the steps to catch my breath. This was not for lack of trying. This was not because I lacked fitness. This was because HALF OF MY LUNG WAS DEAD FROM TWO CLOTS THAT TRIED TO KILL ME. So yeah, I gained weight. No, I'm not happy about it. I've lost a lot of the weight I gained, but I'm still sensitive about it. I'm not actively trying to lose weight, but I am trying to get back to the runner I was before. She was thinner... so I guess I sort of am actively trying to lose weight.

Every time I go running, I'm aware that I'm not the same person I was before. Every race I do, my slower times remind me that I'm not the same person I was before. Every night when I take my blood thinners, I know that my medical needs are different now. Every visit to the doctor (and I go at least three times a month) reminds me that my life is different. Not bad different - I'm alive and healthy. Just different.

I had to cut my run short, not because of the jackass kid, but because I had to get to the pharmacy before they closed. To get my medicine - you know, the one that keeps me alive. My hematologist says that if I stop taking my blood thinners, I'm at high risk for a third clot and - as he's told me with every visit - that one could very well kill me.

Do me a favor. If you want to comment on this post, don't bother telling me that I'm not fat or that you're sorry about the blood clots. Tell me that you won't let your kids, your friends, your family, your colleagues be assholes. (Or tell me to find a new color combination for running clothes, because that orange and purple is not working for me.)
Now to end with something more pleasant: by the time you read this, I will most likely already be at the NYC Running Show. Check it out! Should be fun! Today and tomorrow! And, just for an added "how to stalk me" plug, I'm most likely going to be running the Easter Marathon (the half) on Sunday. Say hi if you see me. I'll be the fat one, evidently.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Marathon Maniacs

I grew up in a running household with a dad who ran marathons. He wasn't super-fast - his times hovered around the 4-hour mark (which made him much more of a back-of-the-packer in the '80s than it would today) - but he was enough of a role model that I took running for granted when I was young, even as I was a chubby, bookish kid.* I didn't do it, I just knew that if someday I ever wanted to exercise, it would be through running.

My first marathon was the same experience as many people's: for 26 miles, I cursed myself out, saying, "I am NEVER doing this again!" A few minutes after the race ended, amnesia set in and my thoughts became, "When can I do my next one?"

I had this theory: I needed to do more than one marathon so I'd never be fat.  Anyone can run one marathon, but if you run more than one? You're a marathoner. And I mean, have you ever seen a fat marathoner?

Well, my first marathon was in 2000. Way back then (remember, I am old), marathons didn't sell out in hours or days or even weeks. A large marathon might have had 15,000 people, not 45,000. And the people my dad had run with - the wiry, scrawny hardcore runners - were still there in full effect. Team in Training, on the other hand, was barely a presence.

I told my sister my theory, and she said, "Um, Tracy? You can be fat and run a marathon."

So I had to run more marathons, obviously. And more. And more.

Last fall, I finally achieved another goal: I became eligible to join the Marathon Maniacs. And this fall, if I actually run Yonkers, NYCM, and the Flying Monkey, it will happen again. Finally! I can be recognized as a marathoner! Problem is, the minute I was eligible? I decided I didn't want it. Like Groucho Marx said, I didn't want to belong to any club that would take me as a member.

Nothing against any of the Maniacs, and there are several that I count amongst my friends, but I don't think that I'm the right fit for the club right now. I'm not "addicted to running marathons." I don't know - maybe it's just the characterization of "addiction" that I object to. Plus, given the expense of entry fees, it just doesn't seem logical to pay their (admittedly modest) membership dues. Like, do I really need another line item on my budget to support my expensive habit?

What do you think? Should I join, or not?

*I didn't participate in many children's races, but there was one notorious 1m race that I did with my brother. When my family saw us cross the finish line holding hands, they mocked me mercilessly for being pulled by my younger brother. For the record, I was pulling him. He had wanted to give up midway through but I helped him finish. And, being noble like that, I also kept his secret for the past 25 years.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Did you see that? Did you? How freaking amazing! AND THEN: sadness.

So. The Boston Marathon was yesterday. Of course you know that, though, since you were probably watching it. I know it's slightly hypocritical for me to get all excited about it after I mentioned it disparagingly on Friday, but so it goes. If you follow me on twitter, you were definitely watching it as my twitter feed was absolutely RIVETED for several hours this early afternoon.

For good reason - what a race!

In short: Ryan Hall ran it in 2:04:55 and yet took fourth - fourth! What a coach G-d has been for him. I would aspire to be half as fast as he is. Literally. But even with that amazing time, he did not place in the top three. It's mind-blowing. Look at it this way: Chicago 2010 was won in 2:06:24. NYCM (2010) was won in 2:08:14.  Berlin, 2010? 2:05:08. London (2011)?  2:04:40. With a time that would have outright won him three of the five world marathon majors and gotten him second in the fourth race, Ryan Hall was not even on the podium at Boston this year.

You would think that fact alone would sum up the amazing drama that was Boston. And yet! It didn't! You see, a new world record of 2:03:02 was set yesterday. By nearly a minute, which is kind of balls-out freaking awesome. (And also fuels the "when will man break the 2-hour marathon record?" fire.) Problem is, although it was a world record and although Geoffrey Mutai won the bonus for setting a world record - $225k for 2 hours work? not too shabby - it's unratifiable. Long story short, the IAAF, who ratifies these records, won't allow the world record to be set on a point-to-point course with a net downhill (and, like yesterday, a tailwind). Boston's a notoriously hard course - the previous course record was 2:05:52, nearly three minutes slower than yesterday's race.

And that was just the men's race. The women's race was won by TWO SECONDS. One crazy leg kick. Fewer than two of my at rest heartbeats.

In other news, this race was not without its own version of Uta Pippig. Click at your own risk. I warned you. And congratulations to Caroline, the woman pictured, on a great race.

Postscript: As exciting as Boston was, and as much as yesterday was a freaking awesome day for distance running, it was tempered by the news of Grete Waitz' passing away yesterday evening, of cancer, at 57. What an awesome, classy, talented woman. The running community will miss her. (That link is in Norwegian - it's 5:48am as I'm writing this and I can't find any reputable English-language news stories. Sadly, "Grete Waitz er død" translates pretty easily. I'll update the link once I find it in the Times.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Van Cortlandt Park, take two

I think I make a kind of crappy blogger. I mean, this weekend, on an amazingly gorgeous Sunday, I went to an amazingly scenic park with an amazingly lovely friend for a run, and I took ZERO pictures. NONE.

I'm kind of cool with that, even if it means I have no pictures to show you. It was about enjoying the run and not about capturing it for posterity.

But, an exciting week ahead! Today, of course, is the Boston Marathon. Runners are already lining up in Hopkinton, ready to go. Even more exciting for me, I have a dentist's appointment this morning! (I do actually find it exciting. My dentist is very high tech and uses a camera to show me the inside of my mouth after he does the cleaning.)

On Wednesday, I'm joining a friend to visit the gym at Chelsea Piers - very chichi. I will go for a swim and then watch the sunset from the hot tub. Gosh, I hope they allow drinks into the pool area.

Finally, this weekend is Jack Rabbit's NYC Running Show! I'm going on Friday. Are you going? Say hello if you see me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston Boston

I get it.

There's some sort of race thing this weekend in Boston. A marathon, maybe?

A marathon that thinks it's so special that it's held on a Monday - ostensibly a holiday Monday, sure, but only a holiday in Massachusetts. And, more extraordinarily, tens of thousands of runners play along with this and take days off of work to participate. Even more runners than that were willing to participate than could, this year!

Being so far out of the field in terms of Boston, I both get it and I don't get it, at the same time. I get how it's an objective standard - an obtainable objective standard - for non-professional runners. But at the same time it's just a race. A hilly race. And I'm going to say something else here: your blue and yellow jackets are kind of ugly and I wish you wouldn't wear them for casual wear because I get it: you're a better runner than I am and you don't need an Adidas jacket with the logo screen-printed or embroidered or written in sharpie to tell me that.


With that out of my system, a sincere and heartfelt (really!) good luck to anyone running Boston. Sure, I might have just said that "it's just a race," but it's an amazing and historic and difficult race that you've worked hard to earn a spot in. (I mean, Meb couldn't even get in this year!) You can do it.

I'll be here, supporting you quietly from New York while following the elite race.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I twittered the other day that I was bored, and I got a quick response from Shelby:

Yes, this is how I spend my evenings.

Well, Shelby, I'm happy to oblige.

I actually once answered a similar question. One of my favorite running bloggers had a post on a similar question, namely what five people she'd invite to dinner. Here was my answer:

See why I love her? She can't LOL. My favorite.

I would like to revise my list slightly, though:

1. Frank Shorter, ca. 1980. Slightly past his Olympic days so he's still famous enough and fast enough but he's humble by now. And also he's a lawyer already at this point - that's hot. And then at dinner he'd ask me to marry him and I'd say yes.

2. Frank Shorter, ca. 2003. How many times can I use this photo? Yes, I know he's got a few years on me, but come on now. Old(er) guys are hot, right? And then at dinner he'd ask me to marry him and I'd say yes.

Wait a second... Let's try that again...

Much better, right?

3. Franklin Pierce. I have an inexplicable fascination with this obscure president. I love him. I can't explain it. And then at dinner he'd ask me to marry him and I'd be puzzled briefly, because he's dead and all, but of course I'd say yes.

So there you have it. It seriously just blew my mind that these men both have "Frank" as part of their names. What about you?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I have nothing to say today, but in lieu of a real blog post, I have two links for you.

First, I would recommend that you go over to Brooke's blog and read her very, very, very funny post on product ideas targeted for runners. I hope she makes this an ongoing series. And, as always, I'd like to offer myself up to the marketing department at Dunkin' Donuts as a living, breathing, running embodiment of their "America Runs on Dunkin'" campaign.

To be fair, we all know I run on Dairy Queen.
Or for Dairy Queen. Or something.
Next, have you ever entered a contest on a blog and wondered whether or not you were a shill for someone's marketing department? Go over to my imaginary friend Angry's blog and read about her stupendous giveaway. I contributed.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

JFK Runway run

Here you go. Here it is. Finally. Incontrovertible. Here is why you can't rely solely on your Garmin:

Out-and-back course. On a runway. Start was the same as the finish. Turn around at the 1.55m. And yet I somehow ran a pretty solid downhill on the way back, and I finished at a lower elevation than I started. Fantastical!

Now, I know that when you look closely, we're only talking about a change in elevation of ~40', but let me tell you: it wasn't there. There was no change in elevation. I'm not going to rail on how many people rely on their Garmins for distance calculations instead of trusting the race directors or the certified course. Listen up, and then we'll let it drop: due to how the Garmin works (think "magic travels between the sky and your wrist"), it is not always wholly accurate.

Moving on.

This course map? Is pretty freaking cool:
I have a thing about planes. I travel somewhere between "recreationally" and "frequently," and I hate it. I hate it. I hate the security theater involved in removing your shoes as TSA gropes you; I hate the turbulence; I hate how ghetto flying has become.

So naturally when I heard about a race on a runway, I had to sign up.

I think this is what passes for "modern art" in the world
of aviation. I don't really get it. It kind of reminded me
of a burnt out plane. I really wanted to climb in it (not allowed).
The race itself was exactly what you'd expect, namely a straight out and back, perfectly flat course. We registered in JFK's "Building 14," located in a back section of the airport that most of us have probably never seen before. After that, they bused us to the start, which was (as you see) on a runway on the outskirts of the airport. The race had a small town feel to it, which had both pros (small field!) and cons (the start time was more 9:08 than 9am; there were loads of walkers with strollers and jeans).

This was some sort of test center for rescues, also at the start.
I really wanted to go in here. Also not allowed.
Yes, there were planes taking off and landing while we were there, but they never felt close. We couldn't exactly wave at the passengers, and I personally never even saw landing gear. The race might maybe have been more fun if the runway had been in use. (Just kidding!) But the runway was well used, as evidenced by the tar that coated it and caused one's feet to stick ever-so-slightly.

Our race souvenirs included fly swatters.
I don't get it either.
My race wasn't the best. The day was cooler than expected and I was even more tired and sluggish than I'd been Saturday morning for my longer run. I went out too fast, finishing the first mile in almost 9 minutes flat, and then staggered through the next 2.1 for a 29:09 finish (watch time - still haven't seen official finish times). I know I'm not in great shape, but a 28:xx (at least) was within reach, and I was too tired to achieve it. Sweaty, I got back on the bus and drove home, where I promptly passed out on the couch for a much-needed nap.

For another take on this same race, read E's race report about her age group win and how she met Miss Liberty, a local beauty queen.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Getting old is rough.

When I first started running, running was easy.

It was the summer before my senior year in college and I was living in a ridiculously small town on a research internship. I started running more to kill time than anything else. When I returned to college in the fall, it was still easy. I easily maintained my rigorous schedule of drinking at least three nights a week and not sleeping much. I'd go to bed between 3 and 4 in the morning, get up sometime between 8 and 10, and run. 4 hours of sleep? 7 hours? Hungover? Didn't make a difference! No problem!

Me in that small town. A long time ago. In college.
Yeah. Not any more. Those days are over.

Friday night, I went to dinner with a friend and stayed out until about 1:30. I had to be up at 7:30 to meet my friend Mike to run, but I figured six hours of sleep would be sufficient.

Ha!! Hahahahahahahahahahaha.

The plan was simple: run 2m to meet up with Mike, run 3m out and 3m back with Mike, then run 2m home from our meeting place. 10m total for an easy medium-long run.

The day was gorgeous. Beautiful, slight chill in the air, sunny. Best day for running we've had since fall, I dare say. My compression sleeves were wrapped around my legs in a warm, pink hug. How I've missed them! (Personification of compression socks is intentional and ironic, btw.)


By the time I met up with Mike, I was ready to give up. 2m into my run. The run was slow, sluggish, miserable. I was so tired that I was nearly lightheaded. I was holding him back. My legs felt like they each weighed 50lbs. (Do they? I have no idea how my weight is actually distributed. They felt heavy.)

One of my favorite strategies back when I started running was to choose a short route and then double back on it a bunch of times. If I left the house saying, "I'm only going to go out 1.5m and back," I'd invariably finish the 3m and immediately double back and do it again. Getting out there and getting in the mood to run is the hard part; the actual running isn't.

Or usually isn't, anyway.

I suffered through the long run Sunday, but much of it was suffering. I didn't snap out of it until I was almost 7 miles into the run (and when I did snap out of it, it was because I was in such a haze that I actually think I might have been asleep while running briefly). I was slow, I was sluggish, I was tired, and I never shook that feeling. Eh, oh, well.

I have absolutely no pictures of me running from college.
But I have pictures of me in a hard hat. Go figure.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Garmins are stupid

This morning, I went running with a friend I met on twitter. I know, right? Twitter! And she wasn't an axe murderer or a serial rapist! Either that or I wasn't her type. Either way.

Even weirder, we went running at 6am. In midtown. That's right: I woke up at 5:15 to take the subway downtown to meet someone to run at 6am. And it was worth it. It was her first time running with someone, even.

Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about. My Garmin is. When we finished the run, Kate said, "That was 5m almost exactly! Is that what you have?" and I looked down at my Garmin and saw... 4.46m.

What the what? A half mile difference?

Obviously I must have turned it off at some point during the run, I guess. That would be the logical idea.

But I think I'm going to choose to assume that my Garmin is broken. I'm going to choose to assume that every run I do is actually mismeasured, and is short. My 5m, everyday route? Must (obviously) be 5.75m. My 4m on Tuesday? 5m, at least. Maybe 6m. Could be 10, even, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I wanted spring. I got spring. Cue complaining.

Yesterday: I wore shorts and a t-shirt to run! Too bad it was muggy and icky and windy. I was afraid it would be raining when I ran. Instead, it wasn't raining. I wanted it to rain.

Not much else to add. A few small things:

Read this article in Running Times about the effect our period has on our running. Don't read it if you are uncomfortable with the word "menstruation." And then, make sure that all your big races are scheduled for the week after your period ends.

Don't creep on me. If you are suspicious looking, and you are walking along the multi-use path, and we're in a relatively desolate area, don't stop cold, turn and leer at me, and say something meant to be provocative, like, "Looking fine, mami!" I will not stop and have sex with you. I will run faster, though. If you need more help on this, read these tips on how to prevent sexual assault.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Urban Environmental Challenge

Someone in the Van Cortlandt Track Club is very sadistic. Maybe all of their members are; I'm not sure. All I know is that they were also responsible for the Riverdale Ramble last year - one of the hardest races I've done in a while. And now this. They're tough, brutal folk, those VCTC people.

The course: a standard trail race. Hills, rocks, leaves, logs, streams, mud, branches, you name it. Treacherous. Scenic. Gorgeous. Challenging. Fun. They made it as hard as they could, though - steering us over fallen logs when we could have gone around them, through streams, up steep inclines. To give you some idea of the course, at registration they made a big to-do about having us write our emergency contact's name and phone number on the back of the bib, you know, "in case you fall." They weren't kidding. No, it wasn't the most technical or difficult trail I've heard of, but they did what they could to make the terrain a challenge.

I'm not sure why I like to do trail races. They're fun, sure, but they're scary for me. You see, I take blood thinners. If I have a minor fall, it will at best result in a lot of blood and at worst result in an ER trip if I happen to hit my head. Further complicating the situation at Sunday's race, I maybe kind of perhaps stayed out just a little too late the night before at a party at a bar, and I'm not entirely sure that it wasn't still alcohol coursing through my veins where you would expect to find blood. (Alcohol is a blood thinner, and I was tempting fate by having more than one drink. I don't usually do that. In fact, I'm usually in my pyjamas by 10pm on a Saturday, not on the subway headed out for the night.)

Luckily I didn't fall.

not even any real mud. just dirt. absolutely no blood.

I did twist my ankle, though, about 4.5m into the race. Nothing too bad, I just came down funny on some rocks hidden under the fallen leaves. I yelped and limped off the course, looking down at my ankle. A woman immediately behind me saw the whole thing happen and - did nothing. In fact, she averted her eyes to avoid making eye contact with me as she passed by me! DUDE. Not cool. When you're on course to finish a 10k race in 1:15, you can spare the few seconds it would take to stop and ask someone if they hurt themselves. All in all, though, the injury wasn't anything that a little RICE won't cure. I picked myself and moved on.

My look for the next few days.
The cankle look is in this season, right?
All in all, it was a nice respite from city running. If you closed your eyes (not recommended! watch the trail!), you could almost pretend the cars from the nearby highways were streams rushing past you.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Saturday morning I woke up, groggy. I had slept on the couch. In my clothes. I had no memory of falling asleep on the couch. I didn't turn the lights out, I didn't turn the tv off, I didn't brush my teeth. Gross, right?

Me, moments after waking up on that very couch. My hair
is doing some sort of weird Helena Bonham Carter thing.
Then again, I don't own a hairbrush. Go figure.
But that's not what I wanted to tell you.

Instead, this is what I wanted to share: Saturday was the first day in months that I woke up, looked out the window, and wanted to go running.

I suspect it's the weather. No matter how rewarding a cold weather run is, no matter how much I need a run or how good I feel when I get back, putting on tights and a jacket and ear warmers is OVER for me. This winter has gone on way too long.

But I don't control the weather, duh. So what to do? Sadly, I don't have any secrets to share with you.

Running is math. You go out, you do it = you get better at it. You sleep in, you make excuses, you don't get your miles in = you don't get better at it.

You can't cheat it. Maybe you can have a fluke good race on little preparation every now and then, but that's a fluke. As a rule, there is one way to improve: training.

This winter has been miserable for me, personally. Terrible soul-killing weather, terrible time-killing Egyptian revolution, terrible morale-killing running. I'm ready for spring, and I'm ready to be excited about running again.

Lucky for me, Saturday was an okay run with pleasant consequences. Just think, if I hadn't gone running, I wouldn't have ever seen this crazy boat under the George Washington Bridge:

Better yet, if I hadn't gone running, I never would have gotten the mail and found the double whammy happy surprise of TWO unexpected presents: a cd sent to me by a friend, and the NEW ISSUE OF RUNNING TIMES!!!:

So lucky for me, my running got a boost when I could almost, sort of, maybe feel spring in the air on Saturday. And on top of that, almost-spring means that the running-related opportunities abound!

  • Tonight, I'm hitting up the SUPER SOLD OUT NYRR/Team for Kids Stretching 101 group run/learning session. (Are you going? Let me know! Otherwise, get on the wait list. I intend to go to all four events. You should, too.) 
  • On Wednesday, the Lincoln Square lululemon is starting up their Wednesday evening run club - it's free and they're encouraging of all levels of runner. Meet at the store and be ready to run by 6:45 (you can use their changing rooms to change into your running clothes and they have bag storage). I ran with them for a while last year and had a good experience.
  • Then, next week, the NYRR has another event ("ladies" only) on nutrition.
And of course, soon enough it will be time to train in earnest for the Brooklyn Half. I ran a good race there last year. I'd like to do the same this year.

Friday, April 1, 2011


April fools' edition!

1. Bone chillingly cold weather in late March/early April.

True story: my sophomore year of college, there was a foot of snow on April Fools' Day. Classes were canceled (an almost completely unprecedented event). I didn't believe classes were actually canceled, so I walked to class through unplowed streets. And found the door to the building locked. That's what you get when your classes have only three students in them and you're worried about your grades.

Anyway. It's not that I mind running in the cold. And I actually kind of like running in the rain. But both. In April. It's too much. How cliche to complain about the weather! But seriously - can't a girl get in a running skirt one of these days? Please? Usually by April I have my base layer mid-thigh runner's tan line already.

2. "Healthy living" blogs written by white girls with pictures of oatmeal and constant references to "The Hubs."

I eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast almost every morning. And let me tell you something. You don't want to see a picture of it. Why would you?

And I know I risk sounding bitter given that I'm unmarried, but if your every blog entry makes cutesy references to your husband (almost always referred to as "the Hubs")? I will stop reading. I will immediately know that I cannot relate to your life.

Finally: please. I'm as white as they come; I know that. I do not earn any sort of diversity cred by virtue of living in Harlem. And I know that running is largely a white, upper-middle-class pursuit. But can we not get some diversity up in the running blog community? Or rather, must every 25-35 year old white girl who's ever trained for a race also keep a blog? (YES. I get the irony.)

3. Foam rollers.

Because they hurt, and because people tell me I should use them. And I DON'T WANT TO.

4. People who make mouth noises.

Chewing with their mouth open, smacking their lips, that terrible Kit Kat commercial where the ad jingle is played with crunching noises... It all drives me absolutely bonkers. (This is not running related, btw. It just is what it is.)

How much better is this Indian Kit Kat commercial? I'm a sucker for talking animals. Sad but true.

5. Tie: My ridiculous sensitivity to caffeine/Being wide awake (and blogging) at 2am.

There wouldn't be a blog entry today if I had been able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. But NO, I couldn't. You see, after a week without any caffeine, I had a glass of lavender white tea around 7pm and a cup of hot chocolate at 11pm. White tea - about 10mg of caffeine in a cup. (To compare: coffee - about 120mg.) Hot chocolate? It doesn't even have caffeine in it, yet it's keeping me awake. (The stimulant in chocolate is theobromine, but you knew that. I'm usually not sensitive to it even though it kills cats and dogs.)

Guess I'll change my alarm to 9am instead of 7am and push my run back a little bit...