Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Running Gifts

Baby, it's cold outside.
Once the run starts, however, it's not so bad. In fact, I don't mind it so much. As long as it doesn't drop below 34 degrees I'm fine to throw on multiple layers and get my (cold) run on.
Speaking of multiple layers, Runner's World has some cool gift ideas for the holidays. I'm not going to lie -- most of the stuff on the list isn't priced for the frugal shopper. But, if you are a runner or have a runner on your gift list, give it a look. There's some great books on the list that are affordable, as is the pedi-relax set. And, we runners need products to help us take care of our tough, ugly feet. (I speak only for myself as I have plenty of runner friends with pretty feet. I, sad to say, suffer missing toenails and blisters.)
Other gifts runners love: massages, facials, foot rubs, yoga classes, socks, gift certificates to Niketown, Jack Rabbit Sports, and, if you want to do something really cool for your runner, pay for their first three NYRR race fees for 2009.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful...

Where the heck did fall go? I was expecting to enjoy some chilly, not freezing, runs for at least another month, but it looks like Mother Nature has other plans. Sigh.
Alison, Adam and I met at the gym this morning; Alison said she hated the gym at least 20 times. I was happy to be on the treadmill because I hadn't been motivated to get out of bed to run outside all week. It felt good to move my legs, work up a sweat.
Unlike some of my more thick-skinned runner friends, I do not like running in temperatures below 40 degrees. I have a really hard time getting started, and by "getting started" I mean getting my butt out of bed and out the door. Why would anyone want to leave a warm, toasty bed in favor of cold Central Park? So, it looks like I'll be in the gym and on the treadmill sooner than I thought.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Run After


Feeling recovered I did a 4-miler in Central Park on Friday. By mile 2 1/2 my knees were talking and my disc was making it's presence known.

My disc was noticeably around all weekend, actually. I was sitting in a chair most of the day yesterday and I was really uncomfortable. I had to move to the floor. Am wondering if I need to go back to physical therapy more often.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Marathon and Beyond




4:04:41. (Nine minutes faster than last year!)

Don't be afraid to be uncomfortable.

Mariana gave me this piece of advice early on and it's become my mantra. It's the reason why I almost hit my goal of 4:00:00. And, it's the reason I decided to take the chance and go for my goal despite the fact that the majority of my long runs this year were really...bad. There were times this year when I wasn't sure I ever wanted to run again. Ever. But, on November 2nd I looked down 4th Avenue in Brooklyn and decided that I was going to have a great long training run. While a lot of strangers cheered. And occasionally yelled my name.

Some cool stuff that happened:
Amye Lewis found us at mile 5.
I didn't have feeling in my hands until mile 16 (it was cold).
Kirk's brother Scott took 6 seconds of video.
My shirt was a big hit, and I enjoyed the shout outs... until mile 23.
I overcame my fear of pace bracelets.

I should explain my fear of pace bracelets. In the past I did not like them because it meant I'd have to commit to a certain time, and I was afraid to commit to a certain time because if I failed I'd be disappointed. But, this year I got a pace bracelet from Nike, I wore it, and it made the race more competitive, which made it more interesting. Mariana, Amye and I followed the pace per mile for more than half the race, until Mariana pulled ahead and Amye and I slowed down a bit. I have to admit, I really enjoyed the bracelet and I'm going to start wearing them regularly. I typically avoid anything having to do with numbers and calculations (another reason I've feared pace bracelets in the recent past), but now I want one for every race.


Mariana, Amye, Adam, and Keith ran their first marathon. Alison and I ran our third. Barnett, Andy, & Amanda ran their second. Ciara ran her 100th. (Just kidding; I'm not sure how many she's on. It's a lot, though.)


As usual, the energy from the crowd was invigorating, but this year it felt slightly elevated. My theory is since the race was so close to the election people were especially excited. I know I was. And, when Amye commented on how quickly the miles were going by, I was aware that I didn't even feel the first 16 miles I was so high. That all went away by mile 18 when my right knee kept insisting that I stop. But, that running-on-air feeling was great while it lasted. One more reminder of why I run in the first place. video

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

11 Days and Counting


This has been a challenging marathon season to say the least. You've heard enough of my moaning and groaning about my disc injury and the unfairness of life as a result. To top it off my obsession with the election has made it all but impossible to embrace the awesomeness that is the New York City Marathon. I've spent the better part of the year absorbing everything MSNBC, The New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, blogs by political-savvy friends, NPR has to offer. I've lost sleep, my acid reflux is back, and I'm sure I'm developing cancer of the esophagus, which has me worried because no one does a walk to raise money for cancer of the esophagus.

I am happy to report that, while my Election '08 obsession continues, I am finally, FINALLY, getting excited about the marathon. This morning Alison and I did our speed work in Central Park, which included sprints crossing the finish line at Tavern-On-The-Green. It was cold, it was early, so it took me a minute to notice that, hey, the men are out assembling the bleachers! Look! The flags designating the marathon route are waving! It's a beautiful day! My back doesn't hurt! I've had great runs the past few weeks! And I'm going to have a great race!

I am going to have a great race. It's not something I have to force myself to believe; it just is. After all my complaining and all the struggles and all the physical therapy, the voice inside my head that knows everything told me that I am going to enjoy November 2nd and I am going to run strong. I am going to have a great race.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Grete's Gallop

Wow, what perfect weather! It was a lovely day for a run last Saturday, and I took advantage by mentally and physically preparing all week in hopes of a strong race. I didn't disappoint myself; I finished feeling good and only one minute slower than last year, where I PR'd at 2:00:something. This year was 2:01: something. But, that's ok, I had a great race, especially compared to how I've been doing this year. The night before the race I ate linguine with white clam sauce. I think pasta is the way to go. I've experimented with a more balanced plate: a protein, a vegetable, and a starch. But, I'd been losing steam at the end. Having a more carb-heavy dinner proved effective, at least on Saturday. I'll continue down this road and see if it continues to make a difference.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Feeling good?

Alright, so I'm not as fast as I was last year. So what?
I came in 4 minutes slower at the 18 mile tune up this year than last.
I'd be ok with this "getting slower" crap if I understood why it's happening. My disc isn't the problem. I'm eating what I think I should be eating. I never get enough sleep, but who does and when has that ever been an issue?
I did a good 4 mile speed work out this morning. I'm going to time myself around the 6 mile loop tomorrow...actually, scratch that. Grete's Gallop is two loops around CP, so I'm staying out of the park for the rest of the week. Speaking of, my average pace per mile at Grete's was 9:12. My 18 mile pace last year was 9:35. Over the weekend it was 9:47! OK, so it was incredibly humid and horrible outside, that may have affected me.
If anyone has any theories about why I may be getting slower I am willing to listen.

Monday, September 15, 2008

20 Miles

I am chaffed in a very bad place.

20 miles with the NYRR, Alison, Amanda, and Andy on Saturday. It was a relatively painless run, save for the last 4 miles and the discovery later on in the shower of the chaffing in a very bad place. The good news is my before-run meal plan (oatmeal with honey, cinnamon, and lactaid) is working, as is ingesting Gu every hour and a half. I've learned this season to eat the Gu before I start losing energy instead of after I've lost the will to live.

Alan (why do almost all of my runner friends have "A" names? I feel like I'm part of some weird clique, like in "Heathers".) called yesterday after running the Queens Half. He's not feeling optimistic about running the marathon. I haven't had a chance to give him the "you can do it" pep talk. I'm probably not in the best position to motivate anyone since I've struggled this year myself.

On the opposite end of the running spectrum, Barnett sent a text saying he ran the half in an hour and a half, which is a pr for him. Good Lord. These days I'm lucky if I'm running under a 9 minute mile.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Things I Did Wrong

In preparation for last week's 16 mile run I:

1. Did not eat the night before.
2. Did not eat enough in the morning.

Stupid.

Coming back from what started as a great run -- down Park Avenue in celebration of the city's Summer Streets, then across the Brooklyn Bridge, back up Park Avenue and finish with two CP 1.7 loops -- I felt my body give up. It literally deflated like a slashed tire. And, it didn't occur to me that I didn't eat enough until my body said "No", quietly, but forcefully.

I did a couple of things right, though. First, I met another runner who was having a hard time and hung with him for awhile. I planned to stop at mile 11 until my new friend Kevin said he was going to run - walk the rest. He was going to run-walk, but he was going to finish.

Second, Kevin and I hooked up with Pauline, a spunky little woman who was running at a reasonable pace and had enough energy to carry Kevin and I, though Kevin did have to walk again. I managed to hang with Pauline, surviving only because she was super chatty and I had a feeling she needed someone to hang with her, too.

So, I had yet another bad long run. But, I did finish. And, I guess that is always something to celebrate. And, side note: I took my first ice bath. In four years of running I've never taken an ice bath. I will not make a habit of it as it was -- excuse me for stating the obvious -- fracking freezing, but I must admit it TOTALLY worked. My muscles recovered in, like, no time. I had no pain the following day.

18 miles tomorrow. Fingers crossed I did something right tonight.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I had my first workout with Anthony this afternoon. We're concentrating on core strength, which I'm going to do two days a week. This, along with my four day a week running schedule and one day of yoga will, hopefully, make me stronger an keep my body relatively safe from injury. It's taken me a minute to fully embrace running less, but I'm listening to Abby and Anthony and Dr. Amico, who have all said the NYRR training schedule is crazy. I used that schedule for two years, and it turned me into a runner, that is for sure, but I want to be more than a runner; I want to be a strong athlete who will be able to run for years. Anthony said it best; I'm not a professional athlete with access to expensive therapy and round-the-clock trainers. I don't have the time for it either. I work full time and have a million other things I do in addition, so I need to be smart.

This new training schedule should also help me enjoy running again, I hope. It's been so hard these past few weeks and not really any fun at all.

Friday, August 08, 2008

8.8.08

The Olympics start today in Beijing! Not many people know this, but I am a sucker for the opening ceremony. I gotta say, it gets me right in the heart every time. Tears, I say. Tears.

Where does the time go? It's already August and I'm not feeling the marathon training this year. I'm no where near ready. I'll do my first 13 mile run this weekend, and I'll see how I feel after that, but I gotta admit I'm having a tough time. I'm tired. My body, generally, does not want to move. And, my little disc problem is flaring up again. What the hell?

OK, ok, so I'm complaining -- AGAIN. I know it's not fun to read someone bitch and moan, so let me give out some positive energy as I replay the running week.

Good stuff did happen. Speed work day was actually pretty good. My quad did not seize up and I did my "don't be afraid to be uncomfortable" chant as I ran around Sheep's Meadow in 3rd gear. And, we did some crazy sprints up a hill where I got to practice high knees. Abby says I'm improving.

Also this week: Alison and I finally got around to the weight training we've been threatening to incorporate. We're doing Wednesday mornings in the gym. Six pack here I come.

This morning: well, I did not feel like running, but I got my ass out of bed and ran 4 miles in the park. Once I got going I felt pretty good. I was anticipating a slow, painful drudge, but I was pretty speedy and comfortable.

The weather has been mild. Mornings are relatively cool and almost humidity-free. Maybe this change in the weather will re-energize me, get me feelin' good again.

I am so going back to Asics! Mizunos aren't my friend. They have a serious grudge against my feet, my toes in particular.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Gossip

Mariana told me that her friend told her not to be afraid to be uncomfortable.

Scandalous.

I woke up on Tuesday, early, and headed to CP for the torture that is speed work. I didn't give myself enough time to stretch, so I was stressed. The threat of re-injury whispers to me periodically, so I try never to start a run without at least 20 minutes of stretching. When we got to our location I tried to cram in some hamstring and quad stretches, but noticed that my left quad was still sore from the previous week, which seemed strange since it never takes my muscles that long to recover; plus, my right side was fine. I decided to ignore it and go about the business of "gear shifting" around Sheep's Meadow. Basically, we started running in 1st gear and had to work our way up to 5th so by the time we were at the the south part of the loop we were sprinting. (This is a hard exercise, by the way, and I highly recommend it.) So, there I was trotting along in 1st gear until the point where I had to shift to 2nd. Still ok, just a little faster, not bad. Then it was time to shift to 3rd, which is definitely out of the comfort zone. I sped up, started breathing harder, thought about slowing down for a split second, when Mariana's friend's words flashed in my head:

"Don't be afraid to be uncomfortable."

I shifted to 4th gear.

"Don't be afraid to be uncomfortable."

Shifted to 5th and sprinted up the slight incline, then came back down the other side, only putting on the brakes so as not to loose complete control. As I rounded the corner, full speed, Abby told me to keep my elbows at my sides and not let my arms cross in front. She also clapped in support.

We were given time to let our heart rates come down before the next assignment, which was the loop again, but this time running the whole thing in 3rd gear. Halfway through I kept up my mantra "don't be afraid to be uncomfortable", and I was very uncomfortable, but at least I wasn't afraid.

I'd love to say this story ends with the heroine empowered and faster than a speeding bullet, but she was thwarted by the aforementioned quad pain that resulted in a major cramp during the last exercise -- sprinting to a tree and back. I've never felt my leg seize up like that before. It was like that runner at the Olympic trials this year who, during his sprint, just collapsed because his muscles wouldn't cooperate. I have since taken a rolling pin to the offending quad and am hoping for a better result next week.

Saturday will be my first long run since the injury. 13 miles. I'm going to stretch like there's no tomorrow. And, I'm not going to be afraid.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Training Runs

In an effort to get re-inspired / learn something new about running / get faster I've started running with Nike's 26.2 training group on Saturdays and I'm doing Abby's speed work class on Tuesday mornings.

Nike splits you up by pace and designs different running courses every week, which is great for me because I've been married to the West Side Highway / Hudson River and Central Park 5 and 6 mile loops for the past few years. So, learning new routes will be a nice change. Plus, running with a pacer will let me know if my 3:45:59 goal for this year is completely insane or just slightly crazy.

Abby's speed work class is a killer. It's an hour of all kinds of sprints -- sprint up hill, sprint around Sheep's Meadow, sprint to the tree and back, do some crazy leg exercise then sprint to the volleyball court and back. Holy crap. I did it for the first time last week and was in so much pain for the rest of the week. But, I'm going back tomorrow.

My attitude this season is very different from the last two years. I'm not as excited as I've been in the past; I feel like I'm starting over, which is slightly frustrating. The injury has forced me to take a look at everything I do wrong as a runner. I don't use my whole leg -- I use my thighs, but my calves aren't engaged. (Hopefully, the speed work classes will help solve that problem.) And, I don't push through my whole foot. Usually I either run on my toes or I'm too flat footed. Last week I practiced changing my gait to get my calves working and get my feet to do the right thing. It's hard work, though, leaving my comfort zone. And, it's exhausting.

Something that hasn't changed from the past is that my feet hurt like hell. Alison is going to try a more padded pair of Asics to see if it relieves some of her foot pain. If it works I think I'll do the same. I've got a pair of Mizunos right now that I'm not in love with. Why did I feel the need to change shoes? I've been wearing Asics for three years and they've been fine. The idea of something new is almost always better than the reality. Ain't it the truth.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I'm back (sorta)

(When you have a second check out Recession This! which is a new blog of which I am a founder and contributer.)

After eight weeks of therapy two times a week I'm finally running again! I'm not at 100% yet, and I'm only running about 20 minutes at a time. (I cheated over the weekend and ran 30 minutes. I blame Madonna. I was listening to music and one of her songs came on just as I was coming to the end, so I decided one more song wouldn't hurt. That's probably what A-Rod thought, too.) But, I do feel much better than when this mess first started.

I'm totally inspired by the Olympics this year. It's always pretty inspiring, but Dara Torres is the woman! 41 years old and breaking records. I hope we don't find out in a week or five years that she was "juiced". Not my terminology, btw -- Dr. Amico said that this morning as he's very skeptical of my girl. Every time I start doubting my Boston Marathon goal I think of Dara, who is not only 41, but also a mom. I'm not a mom and I'm not 41. And, my injury is not life threatening or going to prevent me from running 3:45:59 this year, dammit!

Alison is getting ready for the triathalon in less than two weeks. I'm looking forward to being a spectator. I thought I'd change my mind about doing a tri, but I'm still not feeling it. I'm perfectly happy swimming simply to get relief from the heat and have no desire to dunk my head in the Hudson. Nor do I wish to experience the sore butt cycling brings, though I have mad respect for those who do.

July 14: Run in Central Park for the first time in 3 months.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pain in the...

I've been on a forced hiatus from running since May. I may or may not have a herniated disc in my lower back; the question will be answered by Thursday when the results of my MRI come in. Dr. Amico says he'll be surprised if it's not a herniated disc. I still don't know exactly what it means in terms of recovery. Dr. A says it can take from six weeks to six months to fully recover. I'm hanging on to the six week diagnosis.

So, this pain started about seven weeks ago, and instead of taking care of it right away I continued to run, which made it worse. In my defense the pain in my lower back wasn't all that different from pain I've had in the past. It always went away before; I didn't think this time would be different, like life altering different. And, I'm not being dramatic when I say it's "life altering". The pain travels from my lower back down my left leg to the bottom of my foot, making sitting, standing, walking, and lying down challenging, at best. I brace myself when I sneeze or cough. In addition, I'm in physical therapy twice a week, I sit on an ice pack four times a day, and I'm on my third doctor as of Thursday. (I'm going to see a physical medicine doctor per my primary care physician's suggestion. What the hell is physical medicine?)

I can't run, which is the most life altering part of all. To go from running five or six days a week to not running at all has changed me physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Not being able to run, simply put, totally sucks. Being in constant pain, unless I take a ton of Advil, totally sucks. Sitting down sucks. Standing up sucks. It all sucks. It makes me appreciate my life before that day in April when I went to the gym and did too many squat-lunge-twist-with-ten-pound-weights. I know it's a cliche, the whole "I'll never take my health for granted again", and it's bullshit because, yes, we all take everything for granted until something goes wrong. But, I am going to remember this so that the minute I start taking my health for granted I'll read this blog and tell myself to stop being an idiot.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blah

I was just reading Kristin Armstrong's blog on Runner's World. (If you don't read it you should. Her recap of her Boston Marathon experience is inspiring, while also a totally fun read.) In her latest entry she talks about taking a break from running and how she enjoys the time off (a week off after running the marathon), and wonders if she should start "seeing" other forms of exercise, like yoga or pilates. I often dream of a life where I don't take a break from running, but am able to add stuff like yoga and weight training (I've never done pilates) to my workout. It's nearly impossible to fit anything else into my schedule, especially when I'm training for the marathon. I blame my full time job. If I just didn't have it I'd be able to do all the extra-curricular exercising I want. I wouldn't be able to afford those yoga classes, however, so, ok, maybe quitting my job is not the best idea.

Actually, right now I'm in a bit of a funk, hence the title of this entry. My schedule got all messed up for a few weeks for very good reasons. First, there was that pesky Living In Captivity shooting schedule. A script I co-wrote with Uma and Nicole (hey, NUmErical!) was funded with a bunch of money (ok, not a "bunch", but enough, and most of it was not ours) so we could actually shoot it, submit it to some t.v. festivals, and live out our dreams of being paid writers / executive producers / rich ladies. It was six days of very early mornings, with about 11 hours of shooting per day, surrounded by the snack-filled craft services table that, even if you're not hungry, you can't help but grab a handful of kettle corn and stuff it in your mouth. Then, I went to Florida where I tended to my family, specifically my sister who had surgery. (She is doing very well, thanks for asking.)

So, running took a back seat while I was dealing with life, and I missed it terribly. While I was doing cool stuff and being a responsible member of my very awesome family, I really missed the routine of my life.

But, when I attempted to get back into the routine of my life I discovered I couldn't do everything I'd done before. Yes, I was back at work, and yes, Kirk and I were back to spending time together. But, I couldn't run and here's why. I've had a pain in my lower back for weeks that I've managed not to deal with because I've been dealing with everything else. While I was in Florida I told my mom about it and, of course, she wouldn't stop bugging me about it until I promised to see a doctor as soon as I returned to New York. (Note: I did run twice in Florida, I think a total of four miles.)

I have an appointment with a chiropractor reccomended by a triathlete friend of Alison's. Fingers crossed it's something that can be solved with a few anti-inflammatories.