Thursday, April 13, 2017

TOL - Life Lately - Just Keep on Swimming

Happy Thursday!!! Linking up with Amanda per usual, thanks for hosting! I have been a day ahead all week in my thinking so glad that the end is almost near. Also if you make it through this entire, picture-less, long post, you are awesome. 

I feel like I am due for some life updates around here! Things have been a little…hard for lack of a better word lately. 

I don’t throw my personal life too too out there, but at the beginning of March my dad had 3 minor and 1 major stroke. It was one of scariest times in my life, flying down to Florida (where they are for the winter) and seeing him that first time was pretty heartbreaking. I was down there for about a week (which coincidentally was the same week my BF and I were going down for Spring Training and Disney so…good timing?) and by the end he was a lot better which was comforting but it is going to be a long long road. 

He was released after 5 weeks to go home Friday, which was a very rough adjustment since he is not walking and has some other complications. Which lead to Monday a frantic text from Mom and he was back in the hospital. As I tried to navigate that at work I 100% couldn’t hold in my emotions and let’s just say open floor plans are not your friend in an emotional crisis. Thankfully I have a wonderful work team. He is now back home again and we have around the clock care which should hopefully help both him and my mom. 

In the midst of this I get my April rent bill and my rent went up by $109 a month mid lease (due to an MCI improvement which they are backdating payment for). No one was willing to discuss with me, and I may have pulled a very irrational and unusual move for me and I put in my notice to move. LOL. Luckily, I found an apartment immediately and am signing a lease this weekend! Two blocks away for $300 less per month, so take that WPH Apartments. They are the worst. But happy to pay less, even with a broker fee will save $2000 over the next 12 months so YAY. So not the most ideal situation but I couldn’t take it. My rent has gone up by $334 a month since December 2014. Ludicrous. 

So now I am moving! 

I am also getting my drivers license all over again. I let my NJ license lapse for years and now have to redo the whole process again in NY. I also needed a SS card which I have never had so put it off. Turns out getting a card is SO easy. 

So I took the permit test, passed, took the 5 hour class, and now am waiting to take the road test…and then should be getting a car! <— I cannot wait, I have really been dying to have one to make life easier for a while. 

A lot has been going on and that is without the aside of work which has been going well, I’ve been expanding my horizons on new projects in different areas which is fun! 

I am also working a freelance project on the side, which YAY extra money but also…extra work. Because I do not work enough as it is, right?

I had a Remicade appointment this week, and had to push it a week because I basically had the plague and they wouldn’t let me get it – and feel lucky enough that my health is in a good place where (knock on wood) I am okay waiting that week. 

And then there is running. I am still doing it. Still not “seriously” training. My 5K PR made me kind of want to gun it in the half but I just don’t feel like working hard. I have a half this Sunday which should be a good test of fitness but it is also going to be a high of 80 and I don’t think my body is adapted to run hard in the warm weather yet. I haven’t been running with my garmin lately just my fitbit – and I don’t look at paces until after and lately I have been overestimating my paces (ex. Thinking I am running a 10/mile and really running 9:20) so who knows what is possible. Would be happy just to be sub 2 and see if I can expand upon it. But also I kind of don’t care. I basically want to PR without REALLY having to do work. LOL. That’s how it works, right? 

And that is more or less life in a nutshell. 

Things I am looking forward to: Paris next month AND becoming and Aunt for the first time! So those are two VERY exciting things on the horizon. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

BUS 6 Hour Night Crawler - Recap

While this race may not have been my brightest idea, in terms of where I am at in my training; it was most definitely a fun one!

Every time I think of training and running a road 26.2 I reject it. But ask me to do an ultra and apparently I am on board. Even though I am not really trained for one. 

I have been half-assing long running lately. While I do have a few LONG runs in - a 22 and an 18 miler fairly recently - other than that my runs have not been longer than I think 12 miles. 

My goal going into this race was simple, do whatever my body permits. I genuinely have no desire to injure myself and was willing to pull the plug on running if something didn't feel right or I was just shot. Walk if and when necessary, and also chill for a minute or so at the aide station each loop. 

The course itself was about 1.45 miles (love a good loop on a timed ultra) which meant you hit the aide station pretty frequently.

I didn't taper or anything since like I said, no goals and really didn't prep. Taking this seriously folks!

I liked that it was a night race. It began at 4pm and ended at 10pm, so I got a fantastic night of sleep, 10 HOURS, and also could be lazy ahead of time. A nice change of pace.

I got there and was happy to see a lot of familiar faces. This was my 4th event with the Broadway Ultra Society, and you walk up, they know your name, they know your race history and it is just a chill vibe. I debated what to wear - decided on a long sleeve under my team singlet, shorts and calf compression sleeves, and just hydrated a bit more and waited to begin.

I think there were about 50-60 or so participants. It is all very official in the beginning. Richie who runs BUS goes over the rules and the loops, lead us to the official start line and basically said, go! Brings joy to my heart how chill these events are. 

The course was comprised of 2 loops - a lower and an upper. It had one killer incline, which I walked each time, which then was a killer decline on the way back, plus one other pretty good decline. Other than that mostly flat with little bits of elevation. The park itself was nice and only a few miles from home so I am going to plan some long runs around it this spring for sure!

My race strategy was to just go at "all day pace". For me that means maintaining conversational pace and low heart rate. For reference my average heart rate for this was 127 bpm. 

I started running and got in a zone. For me with these timed events I feel like the most mentally challenging part is getting past the first couple hours. When you know you have a timed end vs a distance end, it is ticking down the hours along with miles. 

I felt good. As the miles went on I will say I was waiting for my body to just say no. When I hit a half marathon I was surprised I didn't feel fatigued. But again I was running really slow. From there on out I took it loop by loop. At 16 I started thinking that a marathon was doable. By 20 I knew there was no stopping, that no matter what I would make it to 26.2 even if I walked. 

It had also rained a bit on and off and was starting to get colder and windier - they had soup at the aide station and that was basically my motivation the last 10K to keep moving. 

The scoring volunteers are also your biggest support. Each lap they are routing you on and as I got closer to the marathon they were counting down the laps for me (18 was a marathon).

The last loop I did start to feel some aches and was thankful that I was just about done. I was definitely thinking, is this normal marathon aches or is something hurt, trying to keep myself honest. 

And then, loop 18 was DONE and a marathon was in the bag! In a not too shabby time if I do say so myself. In general this isn't a worst marathon time for me when I have been TRAINED. And I walked. And stopped. And was genuinely running slow. ALMOST tempts me to train to PR a marathon (mine is 4:26) but pretty sure I won't lol. 

I then stopped an got my very looked forward to chicken noodle soup with LOTs of noodles. Oh the salty goodness. I sat and stretched for a little while and then decided I would just walk in the remainder to keep moving for the 6 hours. 

I wound up finishing with a couple more loops for about 29 or so miles. We then headed for a little pizza and awards party after, and were able to warm up a bit. 

I would like to say that there are some AMAZING runners you are in company of in these events. The top male ran 49.5 miles. Let that sink in. A 7:15 or so pace for almost 50 miles. 

The top female I believe had 43 or so miles. So while I totally impressed myself with what I was able to do, there are some very awesome ultra runners out there. 

Two of my new teammates did it as well, running about 38 and 32 miles respectively. 

The aftermath? A solid 8 hours of sleep later and I woke up not feeling too bad. I am going to definitely spend the day not too anything more than some walking since sitting too long will make me stiff but not worse for the wear going beyond what I have done lately. 

What works for me is clearly not any sort of suggestion for what works for others. I am not injury prone, I have maintained a base for years. I literally have not had to "restart" training in several years. I have a great cardio level of fitness - this is not to sound like bragging but the fact that I was able to run for several hours, all at low heart rate, speaks to my current level of fitness. 

I genuinely think that one day I may wind up fully immersed in the ultra world. I think that I am totally made for long and slow running and enjoy it as well as the camaraderie. But I'm not ready to give up on my speed yet, and if I have learned anything it is that for me, when I start to focus on long I sacrifice speed. 

This probably will not be the last time I jump into a distance race without focusing on training for it. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues and Shamrock 5K - Recap

I've been forgetting to write recaps lately but I just happened to fold my shirt from this race and figured no time better than the present!

I have never run this race for a couple of reasons - it is pretty far from me, which makes it inconvenient to travel to - especially for a 5K and it is a notoriously hilly course - which also doesn't make for a great 5K. 

This year however, I am running for a team, Quicksilver Striders and this was the first points race of the year for NYRR so, obligations drove me to it!

I literally didn't have expectations. In fact the day before I took a bootcamp class and then ran 10.5 miles - so was thinking it would be painful. 

The morning was so so cold. So cold that I wore pants. Not quite sure who I am. Since I didn't have plans of "racing" I didn't warm up either (sorry coach!). My warmup was a half assed jog to my coral. 

My pace with NYRR (8:26) put me in coral F which would prove to be frustrating for a 5K but a bit of a blessing. 

The race began in waves which meant more cold waiting; and when we finally crossed the start I found myself having to weave and try to run to the outside to try and actually run. 

I haven't been running with my Garmin much but did throw it on for this race. I felt pretty good and thought I was running in the low 8's but honestly wasn't paying much attention and just tried to get to that sustainable hard 5K pace. 

I was consistently passing people the ENTIRE race which was a first for me. I felt really strong and with the hills was trying to make sure that I didn't kill myself too early on. 

The good thing about an out and back course like this is that you know exactly what is waiting for you when you turn around - so I made a mental note of that lovely down hill early on that we would be going back up it.

At the turn around I looked down at my watch and realized I might be running myself to a PR. Not going to lie, I was now motivated times 10 to keep up the pace. I kept on passing people and then the final hill came. It definitely slowed me down but at the same time I knew there was a downhill to the finish. 

As we crested the hill I just focused on making sure my breathing was under control and then gunned it again. I passed my coach about .5 from the finish and was able to yell out a greeting and was now motivated to move my legs as quick as possible. 

I crossed the finish line amazed, PR city! 

Garmin stats: 8:05, 7:37, 7:36, 6:54 (<--kick!)

I'm not going to lie, I was shocked. This is NOT a PR course. I was not rested. Technically my legs were shot. But I did it! AND with a negative split (not sure if I have ever negative split a 5K before).

That first slow mile was perhaps a blessing that held me back from going out too fast but I am thinking give me a flat course, smaller crowd and I can probably shave at least 30 seconds off of it. Coach said after that I looked really in control (and I felt it as well towards the end) and thinks I can run a 23 flat... I am not saying no but that's fast!

I still have shock as a former fat girl - and still not lean - that my 160ish pound body can run that fast. Breaking the 8 min/mile barrier has been HUGE for me, both mentally and physically. 

I do feel like I continually prove to myself that I know my body and what training works for me. I don't do mile repeats, specific intervals etc. I find the more structured I make training the worse off my results and the more in my head I am. That is not to say I do not do work, I just run by feel. My favorite hard workouts are long tempos (7-8 mile runs with 5ish at tempo) and fartlek runs. 

Also bootcamp. 2 -3 hours of bootcamp a week consistently for about 6 months now have paid HUGE dividends. The strength I felt going uphill made me thank all the trainers in my head during the race! 

I would be lying if I said I didn't plug in the results to see what they translate to for a half marathon (1:51 and my PR is 1:53). While I am 100% not in shape enough for a PR half - that does make me think that I shouldn't discount the idea of running a fast one this spring. If I can get back to 1:55 for spring to bounce off of I will keep my eyes on it for the fall! 

But then again, who knows. If the stars align and I have a good day, anything can happen!

Oh AND new NYRR pace, 8:09!! Woo hoo!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Winter Running Favorites

I think everyone has written this post but figured why not give my two cents! I have invested in the pieces and am running 30ish miles a week outside and loving it so why not share what has benefited me?! I have not wussed out from any weather conditions yet and am actually embracing winter to the fullest.

Case and point.

First I will say that I have come to love a new to me brand. Just like I had an epiphany finally trying Lululemon last year and falling in love with shorts/tanks/sports bras; the same happened for winter running with Athleta. 

It all began with the hunt for tights that had side pockets. The speed tight from lulu had poor reviews (which I thought I would wind up with since I am obsessed with the speed track short) but I wasn't sold on shelling out that money for a product that people were trashing the quality and sustainability of. 

Which lead me to Athleta. The only issue that I have with them is that their clothing sizes kind of throw me off. I find their tights are bigger and some tops smaller - where the necessity to figure out which is which is kind of annoying. Luckily the quality of their items and the fact that they deliver on performance outweigh that. 

Powerlift Tight 2.0 - these are WARM (I have both black and gray below). I've only actually worn them a couple times because winter has been fairly mild - but they should be of use in Iceland in a couple weeks as well! Fleece, wicking, zip pocket, wore them in a snow storm and they did splendidly. Note these are snugger though but I was still good with a medium.

Rock Springs Vest - not bulky, zoned insulation, great side pockets and wind resistent equals a great piece. I don't like to run in jackets and vests are my jam - I have gotten a LOT of use out of this one! I sized up to a large for some extra room.

Fastest Track top - have bought a bunch of these in both long and SHOCK short sleeve. The material is so lush and it is made with "stink proof" technology (which seriously works! I gave it a very good go with two runs before washing to test and it was fine - and I am a sweaty person)

Run With Me Ear Warmer II - lulu did have to make an appearance! Love this headband.

Run With Me Gloves - tech friendly, they have a snap so you don't love one and keep the pair together, plus my hands always feel "itchy" in gloves when running and do not in these 

So there you have it, head to toe, the gear that is keeping me warm for 5 runs a week this winter! Bonus - end of season is happening so especially the Athleta stuff, is on sale. I have to stop myself from purchasing anything new! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

It Has Happened: I Enjoy Winter Running

Put this at the top of a list of things I never thought I would say. 

In the past, I have had no problem heading to the treadmill at the sign of inclement or undesirable weather. 

However, this past June, my gym with no notice closed it's doors. At the time summer was coming and I was keen to just run outside. I also have some weights (like the Les Mill's body pump set) at home so just went with it. Towards the middle of summer I discovered a bootcamp gym close to home and tried that out. I then spent the month of August in Europe and returned and paid up front for a year at the bootcamp gym and told myself that was it, no other gym membership or classes. 

Well fast forward to late fall and it starting to get cooler and I wondered if I would be able to last in the cold. 

And you know what, I totally have. And, as I commented yesterday that the long run in 27 degrees was quite warm, I realized that I have turned a corner and not only embraced, but come to thoroughly enjoy, winter running. 

I consciously choose to wait for the snow to start last weekend to run! And loved it. 

Obviously as I have learned, the right clothing make all the difference in if you will enjoy it and I will definitely share what have been my favorites that I invested in, and was gifted for Christmas that have made winter running so enjoyable. 

We have had a milder winter which is also helpful thus far. On the oft days that are warmer I have come to realize that I am not looking forward to the eventual heat and humidity that will come our way. 

Give me a balmy 40 degree tops run and I am happy! 

I also think that the exclusive running outdoors has helped me to regain my speed. In the past I have loved the treadmill but for me personally I think that in order for me to race well, I need to be outdoors. I was my slowest when running a ton on the treadmill. I never was able to make my indoor speed translate to outdoors. I also went through a lot at that time with my Crohn's so that could be a part of it but I don't think I will ever be able to practice race pace on a treadmill and then be able to sustain it in a race. 

For now though I am going to continue to enjoy my new found love for winter time and hope that I don't have to head back to the treadmill any time soon! 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Trail Running for a Change

Something that has attracted me to each ultra that I have run is the trails. 

There is something about being immersed in the middle of nature that I find solace in. In fact I did not listen to a single bit of music or anything during the 22+ miles I ran during the last race! 

And apparently it isn't just me there is a whole "Forest Bathing"  trend. While it varies from running, I firmly believe the results are the same, calming. Where road running is all about pace and distance, the trails are not.

Lucky enough, about a mile from me I have a great resource that I have 100% not taken enough advantage of, Alley Pond Park. This is 657 acres, with miles of trails in Queens. 

The trails for the most part are easy, single track and pretty runable. There are some inclines and declines which us newer trail runners may take heed and slow down for, but for the most part you can just run. They are also pretty well marked although the good thing about being in the middle of a city, you are never truly far from the roads which means getting lost isn't quite a problem. 

The stairs leading down to Oakland Lake

Oakland Lake
I have never found it to be too crowded. The number one peril I find are the mountain bikers but as winter has come they are far and fewer between. 

You could use regular running shoes, but I have invested in a pair that I am in love with. The Saucony Nomad TR. They are lightweight and super comfortable. For when it is muddier and perhaps a little slippery I like knowing that I do have some more tread on the trail. 

Stairway connection between two different trails.

Action shot!
One of my goals for the next few months is to first, reacquire a license (I haven't driven since 2008!) and then planning on buying a car - that way I am able to expand my horizons more easily and hit more trails! 

Now my only question is: who wants to join me?!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Dumb Ass Trail Mix Up 30/50K

Well, I still haven't written up my last race, The Falling Leaves Half Marathon...but I am more motivated to write about today's race than reverse back to that at the moment's to come (maybe!). 

This trail race was a combo 30K and 50K. Basically it didn't matter what you signed up for, everyone was to be scored for the 30K and if you went on to 50K well then, yay! 

Leading up to it, I planned on 30K as I haven't run more than 13 miles in a couple of months. 18ish miles was doable but probably challenging and 31 I couldn't imagine reaching where my training is at. I just planned to run and give it what I had. 

Weather was cool, and the ultra atmosphere at the start is very low key, an aspect of these races I really enjoy. There were just over a 100 people registered and I was happy that I knew quite a few people. The community of runners is very small!

The course itself was about 60% trail and 40% pavement. I have to say I actually was not enjoying the pavement portions. The trail was mostly very runnable, but did have a few climbs that would stop you. I was surprised to see my pace dip into the 8's quite a bit. The more loops I did the more confident I was in opening up my stride. Of course plenty of sections and rocks and roots to check you but it was nice to get that rush of speed. 

I felt a lot better than I thought I would. I finished the 30K not really tired nor worse for the wear, and a bit sad that it was over. My hip flexors and hamstrings were a little achy but at that point I was 19 miles in and that is kind of par for the course. 

So with some peer pressure I decided to just go for another lap (they were about 5K or so each, ultra world course measuring is very official, or not lol). 

I spent that lap knowing I was probably reaching mileage territory that I shouldn't. Even though my body was feeling about what it should for the race, I knew I wasn't trained for what I was doing and with some sadness decided I would check myself and not continue with the 3 more laps to the 50K. 

Years of running and racing have taught me well. Just because I CAN do something doesn't mean I should. And I am pretty convinced it is why I don't get injured. Minus Crohn's disease related set backs, I have not been injured. Could I have done 9 more miles? 100% not a doubt in my mind but end of the day best to walk off feeling good and happy with my performance and knowing I can go run some miles tomorrow. 

On another note, I threw in a rookie move that could have backfired and wore new shoes and was lucky that they were amazing! The Saucony Nomad TR. If anyone needs a trail shoe try them. Light weight, 4mm drop, and super comfy. PSA over but had to mention it. 

Overall, just a great day and 10/10 would do it again! 

And I can't wait to return to Alley Pond Park and hit the trails again soon. So happy it is only a couple miles from home.