A tale of seventeen miles

It should not take me until I am about to go on my long run to write about the previous weekend’s long run. But it did. So be it. 

I promise I won’t become one of those…but Garmins are so cool.

I had a little trouble recovering from the half marathon. Overall, I felt just fine, walking around and everything, but when I went to run on Wednesday, it was the most tiring run since I had an iron deficiency. I wasn’t worried though, I just thought it meant I raced hard. Friday’s run went better, and I wore the Garmin again. I know I have the tendency to become a stat junkie, but I promise when I actually get my own Garmin I will only make note of the overall pace! I was really curious as to how well I have been estimating distance on a mixed road and trail run…for…five years? As it turns out, I have been pretty darn accurate. My splits on the 7.23-mile run were 7:35-45 on the road portions, and 8:10-20 once I was on the trail (which was rather muddy). My first observation: that’s a big difference! I guess I thought I was running more 7:50 on the road, 8:10 on the trail to average 8:00. My “dividing by 8, 8.25 on a bad day, 7.75 on a good day” method (runnerd alert) has been a very close estimation on these hybrid runs, which are most of my runs. My second observation was how much faster 7:35-45 sounds than it actually felt. Maybe 7:40 is the new 8:00? (Insert continued crazy runner thoughts about the M word….) So, that’s my little “omg, Garmins are cool” spiel (I just learned the spelling of that word now, how cool is that).  

Moving on. I have been pretty disciplined since December in terms of sleeping and hydrating the night before my long runs…but I decided to cut myself a break for once, one week post-race, to not worry too much about it, and “run whenever.” As in, not at 6:15am, which is when a small group was meeting (long story…so freaking early). To cut to the chase/skip a lot of non-running related detail, I ended up running at 10:45 with a new running buddy. I didn’t have work so the time was no big deal, and I’m actually glad I got to enjoy the best weather of the day, after extra sleep! I didn’t have the Garmin anymore (it isn’t mine, after all…), and I didn’t map a single thing. Time to have some fun. We hit up Witherspoon Woods first, then cut out to Pretty Brook via the boardwalk (tangent: when I type “Brook” I accidentally write “Brooks” first by habit and have to go back and delete the “s”…every time). Pretty Brook, as a loop, is about 7.5 miles, so adding that in the middle was sure to add distance easily. I usually run this route in the dark, so it was strange to see the huge houses…and see the hills coming.  And…a sign that said something about “recreational paths”?!?! Finding new trails is probably one of the most exciting things ever for me. We weren’t expecting much when we decided to check it out, but we were pleasantly surprised! The area was much bigger than we imagined, and we found tons of well-marked trails! There was a landmark called “Tent Rock,” which we tried to find desperately, and did, but they all kind of looked like tents at the time in their own ways….They first time on a trail is always the best, because the ground in front of you is ground you have never set foot on before. You have no idea what’s coming. I can remember every run during which I discovered trails, and they were always awesome runs – how can they not be?

Spoiler alert (scroll down for map).

I did some searching later and found that the trails actually had a name, the Woodfield Reservation. Part of me doesn’t want to do that, after discovering trails. Especially searching Google Images. I almost want to be the only one to know where the trails are, and to have snapshots in my mind only, not see any from someone else’s camera. But, it was a cool discovery regardless. 

Tent Rock…I think.

We continued on the loop after exiting the woods, and headed back toward town. My plan for this run: assess at 13 miles. I knew I would decide long before that how far I would run. Seventeen was the actual plan, but I thought if I felt awful, I would somehow push it to next week. Around mile 11, I decided I was doing it. I actually said it out loud: “I’m doing it! Seventeen!” And I did. After a quick nuun stop at the car and dropping my running buddy off at his place, I went down to the towpath. Completely overshot the additional mileage and walked about a half mile at the end, but that was nice. Afterthoughts: I definitely wanted to be done when I was done; I was pretty darn tired and I could feel my right hip starting to “click” or something in the last quarter mile (it stopped when I stopped and was fine). My next longest-run-ever is going to take a little more prior hydration, perhaps more hydration on the run, and more sleep. This will not be difficult. The sixteen miler three weeks ago was a little easier at the end, but that was because I prepared better for it, I think. 

If I can run 17 miles and then go country line dancing, I think I’ll be fine. 🙂 Seriously though, this place needs to start giving out free tap water.

All the pictures with Elana are too dark…thanks for the boots, Brennan!

I mentioned my race chafing from hell…this is what happens after:

Georgewash style. I had to, unfortunately.

Go Better Than Naked capris! They felt just like wearing shorts. (Or not?)

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Week catchup: NYC, Admission, & crazy runner thoughts…

It’s been over a week since I wrote my half marathon recap, and with good reason! Lots of time to spend living life, not so much time to write about it. After the race I was understandably tired, but nothing was overly sore and I didn’t have pain anywhere. I took a day off and a day of swimming, and was already itching to run again come Wednesday! Our rep from The North Face, Helen, visited on Tuesday night to tell us all about Flashdry technology – really cool stuff, you should try Better Than Naked if you haven’t yet! Helen mentioned that she was heading up to our two New York stores the next morning, and I casually asked, “Can I come?” I was only half serious, but this query somehow landed me on the 9:04 train to NY Penn Station. Works for me.

NYC for the day

So, we went Running Company hopping. It is significantly less fun than bar hopping, but still mildly entertaining. It is always fun (for me…) to visit other stores and see what they are doing differently, or similarly, to us. Also, the New York stores always have wider clothing selections than us, so I tried on some apparel pieces we don’t carry just for fun…like the Oiselle Diamond Roga Short and The North Face Better Than Naked Jacket (love this). I also helped merchandise, because why not. One of our stores is in the Time Warner Center, the other on the Upper East Side, so we cut through Central Park on our walk over there. Note: this was not very efficient, but it was pretty. Especially if you pretend it was twenty degrees warmer than it actually was.

Central Park on the first day of spring! 48 degrees, nice and balmy....

Central Park on the first day of spring! 48 degrees, nice and balmy….

We ran into a strange sight on the way into the park, though…not totally unusual for NYC, but this was probably the creepiest thing I have witnessed. At first it was cute and confusing…and then it was creepy and confusing….

SO MANY BUNNIES! I think one of them is doing Gangnam Style?

One of them walked right up to me; his name tag said Uncle Bob. I was eating a banana and he seemed to want to make a comment about it. Helen almost gave him my other banana, but I’m glad she didn’t because it was quite literally all the food I had for the day.

IMG-20130320-01820One final shot before we ran away from the bunnies:

I fear for the life of that girl trying to weave through them.

I fear for the life of that girl trying to weave through them.

So, what was all this madness? I looked it up on the train ride home, and apparently it;s the Easter Bunny saying “sorry” for giving kids junky candy for all these years. When you don’t know about this campaign ahead of time…well, this bunny congregation is mad creepy.

The trip to NYC was very short, but before I left I got a chance to run for about an hour through Central Park from the Eastside store. I was hoping to run with my former coworker Matt, but they couldn’t spare a person to runch with me. 😦  I will spare the details of what happens when you run in shorts three days after major chafing from a race. It’s a messy subject, a lot of bandages were involved, and that’s all I’ll say about that (I am now fine, fortunately).

Admission

The movie Admission premiered on Friday, March 22. I had no idea this was the case, since I just consider going to see any movie in the theater out of my budget priorities right now. But on Thursday night, I happened to be on the street with two friends, ready to head home around 11:30pm, when I noticed a huge crowd outside the theater. We soon realized it was for Admission, the Tina Fey and Paul Rudd movie about Princeton. Students were offered free tickets to the premiere, but the one grad student who was with us at the time said he wasn’t there to pick one up, and they had “sold” out. We decided to go see what the deal was regardless. And…got on a waiting list! I was exhausted and would have never ordinarily opted to see a midnight showing of anything, but…we were here, so why not?

The line outside the theater.

The line outside the theater.

Princeton City-20130321-01830We ended up in the front row…there were freezing cold vents in front of us, and I had popcorn for dinner. I don’t even like popcorn. Other than all that, the movie was good! And free. Watching it among undergrads was an experience in itself – listening to the hoots and hollers when certain buildings were shown for the first time, or when statements were made about Princeton. I am definitely glad I did this, despite the sleep I lost! I’m not sure when I’ll see a midnight showing again, but probably not for awhile….

Crazy thoughts

So, I titled the last part of this post “crazy runner thoughts.” Let me elaborate. Have you ever accomplished something a step ahead of what you thought you might be capable of? Or even just raced a new distance and felt great? Every runner experiences a certain level of satisfaction, but it wears off, and it comes and goes in waves. Runners are ambitious people who enjoy a challenge like <insert clever pop culture analogy, I’m getting tired here>. My point is, we crave more. We also set goals, and not just write them on paper or tell a friend, but consciously or subconsciously live that wonderful future moment in our minds as we do so, and in our legs as we finish up any ordinary run. I’ve felt it before, dozens of times. Most recently: when I did the PI mile in 5:53 in December and it felt great, I immediately thought, how fast could I have ran a 3200 in if I had kept going? After a 5×1200 workout, would I be able to reach the 6k goal time I had set for myself in college right now if I ran a little slower and strung all those together? After the 30-minute tempo: How fast could I run a 5k right now if I just ran a 5k at the pace I actually raced in November? Things like that.  After the half marathon, it was only natural for me to think similar crazy thoughts. Like:

(Note the hill…now you understand.)

– What if I kept going and ran the whole thing over again for 26.2?

– How much longer could I have kept up an average pace of 7:08/09?

– What if I just doubled that whole race exactly and ran a 3:07 marathon? WHOAAAA that’s crazy to even think about (but I did).

– If I could have ran 4 more miles at that pace with some water in me (this is how I answered the second question), how much faster could I have ran the actual half marathon itself?

– Someday, could I run 1:30 on a flatter course? On this one?

– Someone (an experienced-marathoner someone, I mean) told me a good marathon prediction time is HM x 2 + 10…3:17? What if I actually could do that?

Just a snapshot of what popped into my head the few days after the race. One thing is certain: training doesn’t lie. If your training is going really well, like mine was and is, and there are no signs of nagging pain or impending injury, it is highly unlikely that you will suffer from horrible ailments during the race. The race is more likely than not going to go very similar to how your training went. This is a new concept to me, and I’m not sure why since when I think back, it was always true.

CR1So now that the race is over and I survived the week after just fine (though that NYC run was a killer – I was still so tired and had no idea until I started running), it’s time to take “what’s next” seriously. I have had a “secret plan” for a couple months now, and it is sneaking up on me really quickly. So quickly, in fact, that I’ll need to make a major decision about it within four days. I am currently 95% in favor of choosing yay over nay. An extra 5% may have come today from my friends Brennan and Selena, who registered for their first marathons today and GOT IN to the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon (despite horrible server issues, phew)!!!

My own announcement to come soon! As well as a post about my long run, which should go hand-in hand nicely…. 🙂

Caesar Rodney Half Marathon Race Report

On Sunday I raced my first half marathon! Now on the other side of those 13.1 miles, I am pleased with the result and have lots to report…Sunday was a whirlwind of events, and so I haven’t had much time to reflect on the experience and what it means to me. So, here we go.

Image

Flashing our bibs…bangs are out of control….

The race was in Wilmington, Delaware, and honestly, my plan was to drive south and hope we ended up in Rodney Square (bad plan). Fortunately, Brennan was with me, and helped me decide which historical figure in bridge form we should drive across. We also read up on Caesar Rodney, a pretty important guy. It was cold. Luckily there was a bag check area at the start, so we ran around in warmer clothes for a bit prior to the start. Whatever nerves I had had on Friday had seemingly dissipated, and I was now pretty excited. My legs, calves especially, definitely could have felt more refreshed, but they weren’t exhausted. I found my mom and grandmother before the race, and they took some pre-race pictures of us. I was beginning to think I was crazy for deciding on short sleeves, but once we took our outer layers off, it was surprisingly fine. We lined up at the start, apparently seven seconds behind the line, I learned later. Brennan had a mini freak-out when she realized she forgot her gel, so I ended up not starting off next to her.

Brian (co-worker, boss, store manager) was nice enough to let me borrow his newly acquired Garmin 10, which I tested out on Thursday and decided to wear during the race! This helped me so much. I knew I would go out too fast. This was just inevitable. But I felt good. Beep – 6:23. Ha. Okay, don’t panic. This was exactly what I did in the tempo last Tuesday, and that worked out okay. I tried to make myself slow down, but at the same time I didn’t enjoy people passing me. The first part of the race was a loop down by the waterfront. Note: I did not look at this course very closely at all, aside from knowing approximately where the hilly section began. It was windy, not just by the water, but at random points during the entire race. There was a band playing at mile 2, which was cool. I saw some funny signs, such as “worst St. Patty’s Day parade ever,” which is standard, yet I liked it, because it was indeed a parade-worthy holiday! There was a little loop at the third mile marker that allowed us to see runners coming the other way. I saw Brennan and was relieved she made it to the start okay after the gel emergency! I cheered for her, and kept rolling along…

Random non-race photo taken at a section of the course at the waterfront. Feeling good here.

Miles 1-5: 6:23, 6:52, 7:01, 7:09, 7:01.

Running sub-7:10 was feeling very comfortable. My breathing was totally in check, heart rate was not high, but my legs were straining a bit. I recognized this and tried to shift the focus on what did feel good: breathing, heart rate, this tempo. The song Feel Again by OneRepublic, which got me through my five mile tempo and matched my mood the past week and a half or so. How does a three-minute long song stick in your head for miles? Beats me, but I won’t try to understand it. I started to feel really good right before the sixth mile. I have no idea why. That was when the “13.1” felt very doable, and I was ready to take on the remaining miles. I thought back to River to Sea 2011, and how I ran that 7.95-mile leg at 7:05 pace. I could do this – that was the moment I decided I wanted to do this. I was running beside a girl who looked around my age at that point, and we got blasted by wind. “This wind sucks,” she said. I said something like “yeah” and then passed her a minute later…felt bad, but that was when my confidence surge occurred.

I knew miles 6-9 were the hills. I almost sectioned off those four miles in my head as a separate race altogether: there was everything before mile 6 (going out too fast + finding a good pace), then a hilly four miles, then a tempo to the finish. I could tell when it was starting; we ran under an overpass and into Brandywine Park. What was great about this race that I was not expecting was all the spectators with funny signs and cheers. I thought that would only happen in big-city races, or on warmer days, but there was not one street without at least a few people cheering on the curb! So cool!

Brandywine Park

I just tried to not run too slow up the hills, and keep the same effort. These hills were pretty long and gradual. Coming out of the park was when I wished I had looked at a map more closely, because I was curious as to where we were relative to the downtown finish. Having the Garmin helped me immensely. Each mile felt so short! It would beep, I would glance, the next time I would look down I was usually over 0.7 into that next mile. The feedback really helped me run the mile I was in.

Miles 6-9: 7:11, 7:17, 7:35, 7:31.

For the elevation profile, I was okay with those splits. 7:20s would have required me to work a lot harder than I was the rest of the race and therefore slow my last 4.1 miles down. At least, I think. At the start of the hills, my mental soundtrack had switched to Phoenix’s new song “Entertainment,” for those keeping track…seemed to work fine. The tenth and eleventh miles consisted of this long loop in a neighborhood with a grassy meridian. It was around 11.5 when I made my first face. The face, an expression that says, damn, this is not comfortable anymore, can I stop soon? is an inevitable part of most runners’ races. I had a feeling it would come around then, since Brennan warned me, and also since this was the “hang on ’til the finish after the hilly part” section of the race I had prepared for. I wiped the face off quickly, because the more you make the face, the more the sentiment involved in the face spreads to the entire body. In short: I was trying to stay positive and still run fast.

Miles 10-12: 7:07, 7:10, 7:07.

I was pleased with how easily I was able to get right back to 7:10 pace or under following the hills, and how I was able to kick myself while making the face during that 7:10 and get back to 7:07. I found myself really looking forward to drinking water and bolting into a porta-potty at the finish, since I was dehydrated but doing the first would cause me to want to do the second if I took in water at mile 12. Incentive. In hindsight, I should have ran faster in the last mile and a half. However, I had been warned about the killer last quarter mile…it was all uphill. I wan’t sure of the gradient, though, and therefore how much energy to conserve, if at all. I am not lying when I say this was the most difficult, poorly-placed hill I have ever ran in my life. I am a strong finisher, and could have kicked from a mile out. But this monster of a hill was right at the finish. As in, you were a quarter mile from the finish line on the same, straight street, yet couldn’t see the line because the hill was so steep. Let me share the elevation profile with you again:

Let me clarify: I am not complaining, I really did enjoy the challenge – what is a race without a challenge?! In fact, the ending was a funny story all the finishers have to share with one another. 🙂 I undoubtedly made the face again during the last half mile, as will be evidenced when photos are posted, I am sure. I knew after the halfway point that unless I dropped some really slow miles in the second half, my goal of sub-1:35 was mine. I was still elated when I crossed the line in a time of 1:33:33, putting me at sub-7:10 per mile, five seconds per mile faster than I initially thought I was capable of!

Miles 13, 0.19 (according to the Garmin): 6:52, 1:23.

Stats:

After seeing my family and realizing I had suffered some major chafage (oops), I ran back down the hill to cheer Brennan up to the finish. “This is the hardest hill ever but it’s shorter than you think! Power up!” <– not sure if that helped or hurt…?

Before major chills happened, we took some happy post-race photos – with the man Caesar himself.

As usual, I couldn’t stomach any food for awhile, but eventually, we took advantage of our FREE MEALS offered in our race bags, and had delicious burgers and $3 recoverosas at Scratch Magoo’s! Bonus: there were two other restaurants where we can get free entrees in Wilmington…and it expires in August! So, I’ll definitely be back to Delaware, if not for anything else, then for that (#runger…). A thought I had while running and driving through the city: Wilmington reminded me of Richmond, VA. Anyone else get that connection? I was there to spectate the marathon in 2011, and I definitely had flashbacks in Wilmington. The finish of that race was the opposite elevation-wise of this one, though! I guess I don’t visit many cities that aren’t major cities like NYC and Philly often, so they seem similar. Anyway, Wilmington > Richmond for the time being, because I had way more fun there!

Part of the largest bead necklace ever…good times.

I finished off the weekend with some St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and despite having some typical post-race stomach distress (and exhaustion), I enjoyed the time with friends and all things Irish as best I could! An adventure to Woodrow Wilson’s old office and a necessary trip to the campus Wawa for my first Irish Potatoes in years capped off the night.

Feeling lucky. 🙂 

I will recap some more thoughts on where this race fits in to my life as a runner soon. For now, it’s off to the pool to stretch out with some relaxing laps, since this became a mad long post.

Last pre-race workout + Oiselle shorts review

Tomorrow is RACE DAY! It sounds so foreign to say that, because it doesn’t happen often….

My training over the past week has left me fairly confident in my ability to just run fast and have a good time, in both senses of the word. Last Sunday, I ran about 11.5 miles with fellow Running Company shoe nerds. We met at Summit Running Company at 8 AM…which felt like 7 AM due to DST (which, by the way, am I very glad is in effect). We set off towards the Watchung Reservation and enjoyed some slippery, muddy trails, then ran back to the store. Whenever I run with a group of guys (um…most of my runs), I’m never sure if I’m going to get dropped or not. Fortunately, I did not, but at times I could tell we were definitely moving up the hills. We chatted about work, past and present, for the whole run and it was lots of fun. The fact that we stopped after an hour and a half and that felt like a short run to me was very, very good. I like it. My only complaint is that I destroyed my white compression socks…which I wanted to wear in the race. My black ones were dirty, so I risked staining the white ones with mud. BAD CHOICE. The mud did not come out. Anyway, sock crises aside, we snapped a nice group picture:

RunC

Tuesday was my last PI workout before the half! We ended up doing our 30 minute tempo on an out-and-back, straight (but hilly!) road instead of the planned half-trail pond loop, because of  several inches of rain. I had no one to run with or chase, but I felt strong and it made me excited for Sunday. I don’t have splits, but I ran 31:59 for 4.7 miles of rolling hills. Afterwards, I did 4 x 1/3 mile around six-minute pace. At work last week, I found out that I could get a sweet discount on Oiselle apparel off their website. I have been searching for the perfect compression short for forever. I raced in Lululemon’s Groove Short last summer, even for the triathlon, and that seemed to be perfect. However, it’s not actually meant for running (or biking or swimming…), so the waistband is a little thick, and the inseam is a little longer than I would prefer. Oiselle is known for their top-notch, flattering women’s running apparel, so with my discount code in hand, I ordered the Stride Short. A four-inch inseam sounded ideal, and I am a sucker for reviews – the second I saw a comment claiming that they don’t ride up, I bought it. Luckily, they came in the mail in time for Tuesday’s workout! I tested them out and even before I began the tempo, I was convinced they would be my go-to racing short. Seriously, if you are still racing in Nike Pro shorts and yanking them down at the crotch, please buy these. I promise they will be infinitely better. No adjusting necessary (they were also true to size, fyi).

The stride short! And yes, I wore a tank top for the workout - it was WARM on Tuesday night!

The stride short! And yes, I wore a tank top for the workout – it was WARM on Tuesday night! And yes, I am in the fitting room at work because I spend too much time (and showers) there, you know that.

The ten total miles I accumulated that day didn’t leave me feeling too great Thursday, but the work is done and I am excited to see what I can do tomorrow! I was really nervous at work yesterday, and tried desperately to shake the nerves off. I think I will be fine once I start running tomorrow. Seeing people’s times from the RnR USA half and full today, I know I can accomplish my goal if I stay in it mentally…and if the hills don’t kill me. But let’s not talk about that.

In the meantime, I am staying off Facebook so I don’t see a thousand statuses and pictures involving St. Patrick’s Day, bar crawls, and beer. I am not sabotaging my race after all this training. I will resume celebrations tomorrow evening. Also – SNOW, DON’T YOU DARE STICK!

One week to go!

I can’t believe there is only one more week left until the half marathon! I realized I never “announced” which one I was running! Back in January, I decided a half marathon around the third week of March would be ideal for my training plan and my history of when I tend to feel best in a training cycle. I thought about the RnR USA Half on March 16, but thought there were too many logistics to worry about (place to crash, etc.), so I chose the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in Wilmington, Delaware on Sunday the 17th. (It was cheaper than USA, too….)

This sounds strange, but I set my goal for this race on July 30, 2011. That was River to Sea, when I averaged 7:05 pace for both my first 6.5-mile leg and my second 7.95-mile leg and felt even better at the end of that last one. It was then that I realized I could probably run a half marathon, race it, fast. Obviously, things did not work out at all regarding this plan since that day. So, I am finally running this half marathon that I planned to run, hypothetically, in 2011. I had done two workouts prior to the relay…as in, two workouts in July having not been ready for them since the prior March due to injury. My goal right now, for next week? I would like to run under 1:35:00, meaning 7:15 pace or faster. Doable. I know it is. Some days I am really confident, others I am not. I think that means this is a good goal. 

I skipped the Intervals workout Tuesday for the first time this season, so I could finally  get this tempo run over with. It was sad. But I am glad I did the tempo. Tempo day was Thursday, but it may as well have been Tuesday, because I was flying on Tuesday. Unfortunately, I paid for it Thursday, because I was tired. I mapped a five mile route…actually, like five of them, but I finally decided to do a mix of towpath and hilly roads, to mimic the elevation profile of the race, on a smaller scale. Oh, want to see it? It’s beautiful:

More on this later.

The weather was strange, cold and warm at the same time, humid, snowing, raining, not raining – just confusing. I wore shorts, obviously, and sweat like crazy of course. I did a longer warmup than I intended. At 7:38 pace. Short story: it was not my ideal tempo day, but in the end, I thought this might be a good thing. All my workouts have been mentally easy, and somewhat physically easy, so I needed to be prepared for this come next week, just in case. I wrote the mile marker landmarks on my arm. I hate writing on myself for some reason, but I had to do what I had to do! Reason #1 why I need a Garmin!

…does anyone else do this for tempo runs? Or am I just a lone, sad GPS-less runner?

Splits…well, approximately (+/- ~2 seconds?) since I did not specify which side of each house/driveway I was supposed to split my watch: 6:44 (flat towpath and climbing up from the lake), 7:12 (hilly roads, mini shock to the system for a moment), 7:11 (more hilly roads, almost quit), 6:54 (uphill, flat, and downhill roads), 6:29 (all flat towpath, might have stopped a little early, around 20 meters?). The splits sound so varied, but the “course” I mapped was even more rolling than I thought it would be! At the end, I was sufficiently spent. The nice cooldown felt well deserved and good, like cooldowns post-workout should be. 

I literally ran to work, and later that day, we received a visit from our New Balance rep, who is super cool. There was this movement around Princeton a couple years ago called “Eat More Kale.” It is a Vermont thing, apparently (and a hipster thing…a vegetarian thing, the list goes on…), but it was big here; people had bumper stickers and t-shirts. Anyway, now we are going for “Sell More New Balance!” They have reinvented themselves, make good running shoes, and deserve to be known, and worn! I like any excuse for dinner and drinks post-work, so it was a good night. 

I am a bit behind on writing, but next up will be my run at Watchung Reservation with fellow RunCo employees this morning, and some interesting, thought-provoking (if I say so myself) musings about life that came to me this (great) weekend. 

In the meantime, a few questions for you: What are your initial thoughts when you hear “New Balance” in regards to running? Have you/do you run in NB? How much longer can I get away with training without a Garmin and not waste a ridiculous amount of time mapping routes and writing on my arm?

 

 

 

My Champ, aka the best juicer ever

I said I wouldn’t write about food again. So I might as well just get this post out of the way. If you spent a couple days hanging out with me, you will probably quickly learn: 1.) I love to run, 2.) I am a big fan of Brooks, 3.) I am almost always up for going out, and 4.) I love banana whips and my Champion 2000 juicer. I think it’s easy to catch on to the first three, but let me go into that last point a bit more….

There is this little place on the Ocean City (NJ) boardwalk I discovered, I think in 2005, called the Bashful Banana. I am getting excited just visiting their website right now. It is amazing.

ImageIt is right on the boardwalk but kind of hidden…take a turn by Curly’s Fries and it’s situated right across from some pirate ship. Anyway, you must go. A cheaper and more convenient option? Get to know me in person, because I can make anything they serve here. Why? Because of the Champion 2000 juicer, which I now own. The whips they make are made entirely from frozen fruit. When homogenized using a special filter through the juicer, they come out like soft-serve ice cream. Except it is better than soft-serve ice cream. Trust me. It is sweeter, healthier, and tastier. Bananas are the best, because they provide the creaminess that is essential to the ideal whip. You can add other frozen fruits, such as strawberries, to the frozen bananas, and it becomes pink strawberry-banana whip! I have experimented with several fruits to find the best combinations: banana-peach, banana-pineapple, banana-strawberry, banana-blueberry-raspberry. The possibilities are endless, but you need to get the ratio right for the best texture and flavor. Nobody wants too many berry skins in their whip. You know?

Whips can serve as breakfast: banana whip + granola + peanut butter = can you say best start to your day ever? Or dessert: banana whip + chocolate syrup + whipped cream = I will say it one more time: better than ice cream. Then there is the summer drink menu option: banana-pineapple whip with an infusion of Malibu coconut rum…this is complicated though. Leave a comment and I will tell you exactly how this can be done! Let me provide some photos of this gourmet goodness…even those won’t do it much justice though….

Me, hard at work juicing. As for the running store backdrop…what can I say, I invited the Champ to a little work party.

A little strawberry-banana on banana action.

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Banana-mango: a fan favorite.

My favorite way to eat banana whips: with a side of peanut butter!

And there was the time this happened, but again, it’s more complicated than just throwing frozen fruit in the thing:

ImageThis is the kind of contraption that will cause you to know the cheapest bananas in a ten-mile radius, I am warning you. Addicting. (It’s Trader Joe’s: 19 cents. Boom – I just saved you so much time.)

The amount of juicer photos I have on my computer is kind of ridiculous. I could make a juicing blog. Instead, I’ll leave you with this. You can actually make real juice with it too, of course. You just need to switch the homogenizing filter with the juicing filter (homogenizing = smooth, juicing = has holes for the juice to separate and fall through). Orange juice is always a winner. Strawberry kiwi is not.

Success (add water though!).

Don’t do this. It looks all sweet and colorful, but the second you try it you will realize you wasted your time….ALSO: you can see the homogenizing filter – the white thing to the left of the juicer – if you are intrigued by this.

I don’t hug inanimate objects easily. So clearly, I really like my Champ.

It was a gift from one of my best friends for Christmas in 2010. Best gift ever, right? I had been raving about this juicer for five years, so maybe he was just sick of me talking about how much I wanted it in my own kitchen. If you don’t end up becoming friends with me in real life (sad face), some other places in NJ you can buy banana whips include The Bent Spoon (they call it “frozen banana”) & Animo Juice.

Social tip: it’s really cool to ask someone you might be interested in dating, “Hey, want to juice tonight?” Really, works every time.*

*Disclaimer: Success rate: 1/1.

My best run ever

Running-related Facebook pages and magazines will prompt you: “what was your best run ever?” What a question! How can you sift through years and years of runs and choose the very “best” one? What does “best” mean, anyway? Can we choose a best race, a best distance run, and a best workout? A best run in fall, winter, spring, and summer? Alone and with a group? Before and after an injury? So many different, relative “best” runs! While a few runs have stood out to me as contenders for my “best” run of all time, I did not have one true “best” run until June 3, 2012. Since I did not have a blog back then, I will share the run with you now. 🙂

SPOILER ALERT! A DOUBLE RAINBOW IS INVOLVED!!!!! (Does that make you want to keep reading? Good.)

Fireworks on the last night of Reunions: view from the baseball field.

To preface the run recap, let me set the scene. I had just moved from Ewing to Princeton three days prior. It is important to note that these three days were spent a.) working, and b.) at Reunions. If you are unfamiliar with Reunions…just Google it. It is runner-up to the Indy 500 as the country’s largest beer order. I got my ticket’s worth, and spent three late nights having a great time with new friends.

Reunions: party tent city.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend. I ran Thursday and Friday and took Saturday off…I anticipated a nice long run on Sunday after the craziness. A sort of cleanse, if you will. I got back home on Sunday morning at…around 5:30am, which was the first time I have ever stayed up that late besides all-nighters writing papers! It was quite eerie. I slept until noon and started the day. Ominous clouds and an impromptu thunderstorm cut some of my plans short. It promptly got sunny again. Confusing. I went to a yoga class at 3:00, because it was now too hot and humid to start my long run. I would do it after, risking some fatigue but oh well. Right after yoga, the storm started again. What. 

I checked the current sunset time and realized around 6:45 that I did not have much time to spare if I wanted to get in eight miles (that was my longest post-ITB injury at the time). So, with thunder rumbling in the distance and the temperature having dropped to around 65, I set off. With every crack of thunder and swaying tree branch overhead, I picked up the pace. I went all the way down to the towpath until I questioned whether or not running beside still water in a thunderstorm was a good idea. Because I couldn’t remember storm safety rules at the moment, I veered toward campus after a short (scared) stint on a nearby trail. The tents from Reunions were mostly still up, some were in the process of being deconstructed. I passed by the 5th year tent, where just two nights before we had tried to seek shelter from the growing sinkhole (exaggeration, but not by much) on the “grass” caused by the downpour. We had done quite some damage to the ground!

I looped around to Jadwin Gym and the track. The rain had subsided, but the air was still damp and chilly. The storm clearly could return any second. As I rounded the bush and brick-lined corner of the far side of the track, what awaited me was pure amazement. Right in front of me was the thickest, boldest rainbow I had ever seen. It seemed to come right from the ground, as if it were planted on the adjacent street. To the left was an identical beam, following the first all the way past its curve. (Double rainbows: not just on Youtube, friends.) I picked up the pace as I ran to it. I was smiling and I was all alone. I looked around frantically for someone in the parking lot to beg for a picture, but there was no one. I was practically in a trance, chasing this rainbow, probably going at it at 7:20 pace at this point. I didn’t even feel my body, running just felt like being, right then. I ran down a road away from the rainbow, and kept turning around to smile at it. I passed a guy when running up a hill shortly after, and I wanted to shout, “Did you see the rainbow? Isn’t it amazing?!” I was definitely still smiling, because I think he smiled back. The rainbow was contagious. When I saw it, the words: “Princeton after the storm” popped into my head. It made so much sense. I had never seen anything that meant so much symbolically to me as that double rainbow.

You see, for the past six months, I did not have the best feelings about Princeton. This place was haunted with memories and I could hardly handle them. I had wanted to get out, go anywhere but here or home – I thought about moving to Boston, or to Colorado, or to Pennsylvania. Because this was Princeton, and I didn’t think I could stand it another year. I had serious doubts about if it was possible for me to stay here and start fresh. That weekend, however, I had taken the first steps to doing exactly that: I met a whole new group of friends, and I had spent that weekend, a particular weekend I had been worried about for the aforementioned reasons, with them, being myself and having a great time. I had moved and left behind the memories of senior year and my old house (and my mother’s steam carpet cleaner…but that’s another part of the weekend I won’t get into…). This run turned out to be more than just a detox after the crazy weekend of partying, working, and little sleep. This was Princeton After the Storm. It really was the start of something new, and for the first time in months, I was happy to be here and excited to see what was next.

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I have been on a mission since that day to find photographs others took of the rainbow(s) while I was running…photo credit: friend of a friend.

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Another one.

Food.

Can I make an intervention for myself? Is that a thing? Oh well, let’s do it. 

As I read up on all these different running blogs, it seems like a lot of people write about food. Fairly simple subject, yet so much has been researched, thought, and written about it. Yesterday at the Endurance Sports Expo I was uber-aware of food and nutrition because a.) tons of different recovery, hydration, and energy product brands were present, and b.) I had just done my longest run to date and felt great…I was hungry and wanted to refuel properly. If I could have magically requested anything in the world to consume post-long run, it would have been a protein smoothie with some kind of protein powder, yogurt/milk, bananas, and peanut butter. Then, I would have spent the rest of the day munching on berries, apples, and veggies, with a chicken sandwich or something in there somewhere. In. My. Dreams. Times are tough. I can’t eat the way I want to, because it is expensive. I have not been feeling great – I am back to daily acid reflux, hunger, not-hunger, etc…and it is about time I try to fix it. 

I want I want I want!

I blame work first and foremost. It is often so busy that I can’t take a break for a meal, and when I do, it’s standing up feeling anxious and guilty for not doing work – just taking in the food because I will be hungry if I don’t. This has to cause issues. Also, I am often gone for 10-12 hours every day, yet I fail to pack breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Packing all three meals for the day is hard! It takes a lot of time and thought, and it is really easy to underestimate how hungry I will be throughout the day, and what I will want to eat at a given time. Because that task seems tiring and annoying to me each night, I usually don’t pack much and end up eating whatever we sell at the store because I don’t want to go out and spend more money elsewhere. This stuff is better than starving, but it does not leave me feeling good at the end of the day. obviously, when a Clif bar is your “junk food,” you are not the unhealthiest person ever, but the problem is when I have a Clif bar, I don’t want it! I want apple slices with peanut butter, or something, but it’s not there. That is my issue – I need to make it be there when I need it as much as possible. Even when payday is far away, there has to be some random thing to snack on I can pack…hopefully. Even plain brown rice or dry cereal. It’s not taken off my dream menu of healthy, yummy things, but I need to make things better even when I don’t have the money for lots of healthy things.

No comment…

It’s causing stress, anxiety, jealousy (“Did you hear that ___ is great for recovery?” “Try adding ___ to a smoothie” “I love ___, you should buy some!” <– these things have been making me cringe for weeks. I don’t have the money, and this stuff sounds so good!), and actual stomach and chest pain – and none of that is good for running. 

I don’t want to get all into certain ways of eating, like Paleo, or gluten-free, or dairy-free…because it doesn’t seem like anything in particular sets these problems off for me – just food itself. In conjunction with my work schedule. Monday is usually the worst day – not eating breakfast until past noon sometimes, and not eating dinner until 11:30 because that’s when I often get home from work and the gym (I usually lift and/or swim Monday nights). I spent a lot of time packing stuff after a mini healthy shopping trip that I took tonight out of frustration. We’ll see how it goes.

Do you have any ideas for taking the stress out of eating on-the-go for a ~12-hour block of time (with no available refrigerator or stovetop…)?    Is there any kind of food that sets your stomach off/causes acid reflux? Have you added anything to your diet that has made a big difference? Taken anything out? I usually don’t think twice about food; I just make sure that I am eating balanced and healthy…so this is probably the first and last food post I will make!

Yup…sounds about right. Except I am jealous of this girl’s food money allocation.

 

Sweet Sixteen

If I told myself I would run my longest run to date in New Brunswick, I would protest…maybe cry…definitely question my sanity. It’s not a bad place or anything, but NB and I don’t get along very well. My stress level skyrockets when I drive there, I have never had a fun time going out there…it just isn’t the town for me. I like my trees, trails, farms, two-way streets, and higher quality bars. Sorry. It’s true. Princeton does this to you. 

SO SCARY.

All of these thoughts aside, I ran sixteen miles this morning…in New Brunswick. How on earth did this happen? Well, I knew Kate and Martin were running the E. Murray Todd Half Marathon Sunday, so they wouldn’t be up for a long run with me this weekend. Brennan told me Thursday that she was meeting up with fellow blogger Amy and the Raritan Valley Road Runners Saturday at 9:00 in New Brunswick. I got excited at the prospect of long run company and meeting new runners…and not excited when I heard “New Brunswick.” Actually, it was a Rutgers Half preview run. I have a lot of friends at Rutgers, including one of my best friends, Elana, so I apologize for saying all these negative things about the city in which your school happens to be located. 

I switched work days again, Saturday for Sunday, which was a lot easier than last week’s crisis, and planned on going to the run. For future reference, if I am ever on the fence about going to a group run, my thought process always ends up something like this: “Maybe I will meet an attractive guy there. And it will change my life. I need to go!” What can I say, I am easily swayed. And dramatic. 

The guy who played Jake was such a bad actor…but for some reason nobody seemed to notice….

So I went (The above circumstance did not come to fruition, unfortunately). I got there at 8:00 and ran about 6.5-7 miles alone, an out-and-back on the towpath. It was windy. You’d think I would have nice clothes for that. I don’t. It was definitely a shorts day though, which made me happy. I returned to the meeting spot at 9:00 and found Brennan and Amy. Luckily I stood still for a very short period of time before we were off. The “groups” that formed were extremely confusing, so the short story is: I didn’t want to slow my pace too much because I was in a good rhythm, so I passed pretty much everyone. Oops. I think we all have a pace threshold at which we change our form, which isn’t good. It kind of feels like the phrase “spinning your wheels.” Except literally. Except not. Anyway. I think mine is probably 8:45. When I run slower than that I feel like I’m skipping or something to stay behind where my legs want to go. I found myself running next to a girl with hot pink tights who I didn’t seem to be passing easily. We introduced ourselves, and ended up running together for the next seven miles or so. Apparently I was pushing her to run her half marathon PR pace (again, oops), but she was talking the whole time so I think she can run much faster! She let me go once we were back in the park after a mini-tour of the Rutgers campus (7 miles = mini only at Rutgers…) and I picked the pace back up (we were holding 8:20-30 which was nice in the wind) for my last couple miles. I stopped once I had given myself a couple minutes of a buffer to ensure I ran very close to sixteen miles. I was so glad I found someone to run with! I was seriously discouraged the first mile of running with the group….

Endless Pool! That guy so did not want to get in there….

Afterwards, we showered at Amy’s (thank you so much! The “shivers” came quickly today…) and headed to the Endurance Sports Expo in Edison! It was kind of odd to be at an expo that was not for a race. And that I wasn’t working!  I saw a few familiar faces…got every free sample possible…including a bottle opener (score! Okay I asked if I could have it). I witnessed an Endless Pool demonstration – it does work. Crazy. I decided I would get one if I ever ended up a rich triathlete in Milwaukee. I randomly announced, “I want pizza” at one point, which sparked a movement to leave the expo and find the best local pizza place. The search was successful. 

Overall, a fun day of running! The best part was, I could have ran six miles instead of sixteen, the way I feel! I had a gel and water ready in the car in case I needed it for the final miles, but I decided I felt fine. I even picked up the pace! Add four miles to that (and probably that Gu and water) and that’s twenty miles. Doable? Hmmm.

I am taking food donations (for myself…) for the rest of the night, by the way. Need. It. Now.