Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend Recap: Running, Biking & Beachside BBQing

Mark your calendars folks - we are only 19 weeks out of from this year's New York City Marathon, meaning there's only one more "base building" week before the official training window begins. Eek! Time flies by, and I'm not sure that this is a good thing.

Luckily,  I started the weekend off right with my first long run with my marathon training group. The group is put on by the folks at the Hartford Marathon Foundation, so the official focus of the group is the Hartford Marathon. But since their race is in mid October and mine the first week of November, it's close enough that I can tag along.

The group meets a few towns over from me in Wilton at 6:30 am (so early!) Our coaches, Keri and Danielle, had emailed us our routes earlier in the week, and I was a little apprehensive since directions are not one of my strengths...but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they had marked the route for us beforehand. I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of pace either - I was a little nervous that everyone in the group would be super speedy, and I would be left behind in the dust. But luckily, I found someone to pace with in the latter half of the run, and it ended up being just fine.
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The route was a 9 miler (I ended up tacking on an extra 3 to make it 12) - and when Keri had said it was mostly uphill the first half, she was not kidding - I'm talking almost 4.5 miles on a steady uphill, with a few hills that make those Harlem Hills in CP look like ant piles! I'm definitely a little nervous to be doing all my long runs in such a hilly area...but hey, whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger, right?

Later that afternoon I planted myself in a lounge chair by my apartment's pool..and did not not get up for hours. I had every good intention of getting up to swim some laps...but clearly, that didn't happen.

The next morning it was my bike's club new member ride/picnic. I've been doing some D+/D rides and have been wanting to try out a C pace...so I figured the new member ride would be a good opportunity to try the faster pace.  I recruited my friend Alice to join me as well - and although we had some minor hiccups getting there (there was a big tri going on that had some roads blocked off...and you would think that we, of all people, would of known..but no), we made it to the ride in one piece.

The ride was a bit of a challenge for me - 30 miles (my second longest distance) at my fastest pace. My legs were definitely feeling my long run, especially on the hills.  Toward the last 10 or so miles, I must of been showing my exhaustion because the ride leader asked if I was doing ok. My reply? "Never underestimate the mental toughness of a marathoner." I guess that gave myself my own kick-in-the-behind, because I ended up passing quite a few people on those last miles, and finished strong.


After the ride we were rewarded with a huge beachside bbq. Burgers, pasta salad, potato salad, cornbread, chocolate chip cookies...so bad, but oh so good!

I also came up with a tentative survival plan for the New York City Triathlon that I'm (supposedly) going to be doing next June. I figure if I can ride once a week this summer while focusing on marathon training, it will be enough that I will be more than comfortable on the bike I think. This winter I can dial back a bit on the running and focus on working on my swim, get a few lessons, etc. And then come next spring, hopefully I can put all three sports together, and get this thing done..and have exactly one week to recover before having to jump back into marathon training for the 2012 marathon.  Sleep? who needs that anyways...totally over-rated!

Anyone else have any fun workout stories to report back from this weekend? Anyone else getting nervous/excited to start to train for their fall events?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Early Morning Running Blues

With the onset of summer (and the heat and humidity that comes with it) I've been trying to transition to running in the morning.  When I plan out my schedule the week before it sounds like a brilliant plan to run before work - I'll get up a litle early, get my miles in, and start my day refreshed and ready-to-go without having the "exercise cloud of doom" hanging over my head.

But sometimes, I underestimate the challenge of getting out of bed.

I'm exhausted. I'm cranky. My allergies are bugging me. My knee feels a tad bit stiff. My bed is just too comfy. Why the hell did I sign up for this stupid marathon, anyways?

Luckily I've been able to quell the voices in my head and force myself to get up and moving for the most part (you know you've reached a low point when you are half asleep and are calculating your weekly mileage totals to see if this morning's easy run is really necessary.) And once I'm up and moving - I remember that hey, I actually do like to run, and this marathon training business isn't so bad, after all.

Too bad I seem to have selective memory, and I'll have the same battle in my head the next morning.

When is your favorite time of day to train? How do you stay motivated?

Monday, June 20, 2011

And Our Winner Is...

To refresh your memory, I did my first big giveaway two weeks ago.  And since the deadline was this past Friday to enter, it's time to pick a winner.

So without further ado, our big winner is...(drumroll please)



summerslowrunner!

(In the interest of full disclosure...you can see I put everyone's name who entered via comments, and then entered via following in a random website generator. We play fair at Girl on the Run!)

summerslowrunner - please shoot me an email with all your info so I can get your prize to you. Everyone else thank you so much for entering...and please stick around, I have lots of good stuff planned (including another giveaway very soon!). Sit tight!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Race Recap: New York Mini 10K

Last Saturday was NYRR's New York Mini 10k, my 3rd qualifying race for the 2012 marathon. Although I am a tad bit behind in blogger land (sorry guys!), the race was more than your typical single loop around Central Park. For starters, this race was the first women's only road race, and this year marked it's 40th anniversary.  It's hard to believe that only 40 years ago women were not as welcome in the racing world as they are today....craziness. The race was also dedicated to an amazing female runner, Grete Waitz. Not only she win the New York Marahion *nine* times, she also had run this one a stunning five times. She had passed earlier in the year to cancer.

The race had a 8 am start (it being almost summer and all), so I opted to crash at my friend Dahlia's place the night before...a 5:30 am train didn't sound like too much fun.  We woke up at 6ish so we had time to eat, get dressed, have a hair braiding session (Grete was famous for running in pigtails...so Dahlia wanted to run in pigtail braids, and I was her official hair-braider), and take our time to head to the park. We got there in plenty of time to check our bags, warm up, and head over to the corrals.
Me and Dahlia pre-race. Love those low bib numbers...thanks boys for staying home!
Besides all the history behind the race, the other thing neat thing was the first mile and a half or so was run down Central Park West, outside of the park.  While I'm sure the residents of the surrounding apartment complexes were less-than-thrilled at the early am festivities, I personally loved taking over the streets.

Getting settled into the corrals

Dahlia was in a corral ahead of me, so we had to split up.  I was running on tired legs, so I didn't really have any big plans to PR. Plus it was super humid out, and I never do well in the humidity. But weather.com had called for thunderstorms, so I was just happy we were able to get the race in!

I settled in my corral and found my friend Amy. We chatted a bit, listened to the opening speeches (including talks from Mary Wittenberg, Katherine Switzer and Deena Kastor), and before we knew, it was time to go!

Of course my Garmin decided to NOT work about 2 seconds before I crossed the start (shocking, really), so I decided to say screw it, and run without it.  Many friends had warned me about going out too fast on Central Park West, so I tried to take it conservatively.  Everyone had said it was flat...but to be honest, I felt a slight uphill incline.  But regardless, I tried to not stress about pace and just enjoy running up Central Park West.

Taking over the streets!
 Before I knew it, we hit 90th street, and it was time to turn into the park.  Gee thanks NYRR, I thought,  just in time to hit the Harlem Hills. I was warned that miles 2-3 were the hardest miles of the race, so I tried to just keep my pace, and not worry about the hills.

Well I guess all the hill running I do in the burbs of CT has made me stronger than I realize. Sure I felt the hills, but they weren't nearly as brutal as I remembered from last year.  I felt strong tackling both sets, and never once did I think "I can't do this."  When I passed mile 3 I realized I was definitely under a 10 minute mile - which felt great, because I didn't feel like I was running much harder than my usual training pace.  A bunch of the running clubs had set up cheering zones along the way, and it was a great mental boost to hear the cheers. I felt like I was flying!

Once I got through the infamous hills, I knew it was downhill from there. Sure there were small rolling hills, or "coasters" as I call them, but there was nothing I couldn't contend with.  I started to feel the humidity, so I made sure to grab water at each stop.

Mile 4, and then mile past 5, and before I knew I only had one more mile left.  The last time I ran a 10k was the Healthy Kidney 10k last year, and it was right after I took a hiatus from running...so it was not my best race.  Even though I'm a much stronger runner now than I was back then (and a marathoner to boot!), it still felt really good to think about how strong I was feeling compared to how I was back then.   I spotted the 800, then 200 meters signs...and then I saw the hot pink finish line in the distance, and I knew had it.

I ended up coming in at 57 mins and change, which was a PR by default.  My goal was just to break an hour, so I was content  But was more important to me was how great I was feeling the entire race -   maybe breaking 2 hours in a half marathon (on a flat course in good conditions) isn't so far out of reach after all.


And the best part? We got medals, yay! Even if it was only a 10k....I do love my medals.

After the race, I met up with Dahlia and a few other friends. We waited for others to come in, hung out, and took our chances on the raffle.  Sadly, no one won the $500 Amex gift certificate or weekend trip to Shelter Island. Sigh.

But on the bright side - three races down, six to go!

PS - Have you entered my big giveaway yet? Only a few more days left :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Heart My Bike!

I love, love, love my road bike!

My bike was my big birthday present from my parents back in March, but since we had such a long, cold winter up here...we opted to keep it down in Miami, so I could ride with my mom one more time  when I came to visit for a friend's wedding and Mother's Day, before shipping the bike up to me.  It took a few weeks for it all to come together, but I was finally able to ride it Memorial Day weekend.
Mine is the black and white bike in the front!

You might recall, that my first few rides in Miami were a bit on the shaky side. My second ride did go better than the first, but I was definitely was no Lance Armstrong-in-the-making.  

Lucky enough for me -  I found an amazing bike club near me, the Sound Cyclists. The club is basically a large group of cyclists from all around Fairfield County.  Thy host rides at all distances, at all paces, seven days a week. For the slower rides, a "sweeper" is also appointed - basically a second person who rides in the back and makes sure no rider is left behind.

Literally less than 24 hours after I picked my bike up from the shop, the club was holding the first skills clinic, with a focus on how to properly use your gears. It was *exactly* what I needed, since I had no idea what I was doing.  We broke down into our pace groups, and then got a quick lecture from our ride leader, Shauna. We were then off to do a short ride around the area.  I was pretty clueless at first about my gears (I'm used to my childhood bike that actually had numbers on the handle bars!), but with Shauna's help and never-ending patience, I totally got the hang of it by the end of the ride, and felt ready to meet the club for another ride.

Since the clinic, I have ridden twice more - 20 miles last Thursday, and another 22 on Saturday. Thursday's ride was a (relatively) flat ride, but Saturday was a bit hillier. Sure, dragging the bike up those hills is not easy (I actually think it may be harder than running up the hills), but overall it's hard to believe the bike is a workout, because it's just so much fun, especially flying on the downhills.  I hope to be able to move up a pace group or two by the end of the season, but I really don't want to rush it....even under the watchful eyes of our trusty ride leaders, I'm still a bit nervous about falling!
My second ride we stopped by the beach in Darien..so pretty

But as much fun as I'm having with the bike, have no fear - I'm still logging those miles on my feet, too. After all,  I did commit to this little race called the New York City Marathon.
Lots of miles, lots of shoes!
PS - Don't forget about the giveaway going on! Temperatures are soaring...an extra water bottle is always handy.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Giveaway Time!

I know, I know....I promised this last week. I am so sorry guys! Between the holiday/long weekend, my outdoor pool opening, my road bike FINALLY arriving (more on that later!), and of course trying to get in my miles along with the rest of my everyday obligations....I've just been swamped.  So without further ado, Here is my first offical giveaway. 

(Drum roll, please)

We have a stylish,  EarthLust stainless steel, 100 percent BPA-free,  water bottle, complete with an optional sportcap...and a great journal and pen set to go along with it  - perfect for recording your summer training as you gear up for all of those great fall events you all told me you were training for!

The goodies!
So, here's the deal. I'll leave the contest open for two weeks - from today (June 3) until June 17th. Everyone who "follows" the blog automatically gets an entry.   If you leave a comment here, you also enter, or receive an additional entry if you are a follower. (or if you can't "follow" because you don't use gmail/blogger...want to be fair).  Once the contest closes, I'll of course announce the winner.

Enjoy!