Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Ground

Hel-LO New York!

A quick update!

I've settled into my new corporate job in Manhattan and have finally adopted a running routine again, in none other than the amazing Central Park.

Route - October 6th
New York's Nike Run Club is absolutely organized chaos compared to Miami's, and I only made it through two runs with them until I decided to simply drop my stuff off at the five-story Niketown on 57th Avenue and settle into a nice jog at my own pace.



I've got a small secret:: I'm tentatively training for the ING marathon - yes, eek! marathon! - at the end of January. I'm at 6.5 miles as of last week. I've set my own schedule to increase my mileage by one mile each week until two weeks before the race, which will put me at a maximum of 22 miles. I think that's ample enough time and distance to prepare for it. I'd love to qualify for Boston when/if I make it to Miami. I'm pretty sure I'll never want to run a marathon ever again, so if I qualify, I can put it in the books and consider it done. I wouldn't even necessarily RUN Boston. Doesn't qualifying for it sound like an accomplishment in and of itself??? YES IT DOES!  I need to keep my pace at less than nine minutes per mile. It's been steady at 8:45-9:30 minutes per mile for the last 3 weeks which is completely acceptable to me. I honestly have no idea if I can keep this up as the weather gets wicked cold in December and January, and I adamantly refuse to join a gym. But the fire's been lit, and I think it's one that I won't be able to douse!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Missing Miami

I've been running sporadically here and there; dabbling in soccer and you know, the occasional run-for-your-life backyard water balloon fight. But I don't even feel guilty admitting that it's hard to stay motivated about running while I'm living here. I really miss my boardwalk runs. I miss smelling the salty sea air and feeling that breeze on my body. I wouldn't have any distractions but the occasional fellow walker/jogger and the ocean as my constant companion. I could follow the boardwalk planks for miles, until they merged into a concrete pathway lined with rows of palm trees. It's no wonder that I got into running while I was living in South Florida. I could tolerate the humidity really well, it was so flat and open; the sidewalks and paths were calling my name every evening. Back here, the streets and sidewalks are crowded, hilly and filled with stagnant summer air. I realize that I was running in this environment for years prior to living in Miami so it seems silly to gripe about the difference. But I can honestly say that the running atmosphere is one thing that I can't toss into the 'Grass is Always Greener' syndrome that's come over me since I've moved back home. When I was living down there, I missed home. Now that I live here, I miss it there. I'm sure if I were to go back down, I would miss it here again. But for not even one moment did I ever prefer running here than down there. Miami really is a paradise - for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to be home. But I think it's fair and understandable that I miss the quintessential paradise destination that was my home for one year. I must say, I've been running around wonderful Rock Creek Park and finding myself gazing over the Potomac River at our gorgeous skyline dotted with so many famous memorials in the sunset. But it's not the same. I was spoiled!

Last night I had a great 7 mile run, hills and all. You can see me sporting the awesome zany sports bra that Victoria gave me as a goodbye gift at my last dinner in Miami. It cheered me up instantly! Keep posting your Facebook pictures, all of my Miami friends. And Victoria, keep booking your infamous Tri's. You've been motivating me from Day 1!! I'm thinking of you each time I go out there.

I miss all of you guys down there - and my Nike's miss you, boardwalk planks! 

xoxo

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Antietam Battlefield 10K - Success!

It was a grey and quiet when I woke up, late, at 7:15am on Sunday morning to drive 90 miles out to Antietam Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD for this 'local' 10K. Who am I kidding - I didn't drive. Alejandro bravely took the wheel since I could hardly keep my eyes open, recovering from a wonderful Saturday night.

Antietam is the site of the bloodiest single day battle of the American Civil War. Over 23,000 men, including six generals, between the Confederate and Union forces, were killed in a 12 hour period. As we pulled into the National Park, their sacrifice was palpable.


This was the friendliest race I had ever been to! There were about 450 registrants total, including the 10k and 5k. Local volunteers greeted us warmly when we picked up our packets and directed me to the (clean and toilet paper-filled!) port-a-Johns. Yep, I was prepared this time. Volunteers and racers were still cheering every participant from the earlier 5k as they came across the finish line. Before our race, a high school junior sang the National Anthem. She blew Deborah Cox out of the water. (Deborah sang the National Anthem at the ING Marathon in Miami earlier this year for 25,000 people.) This girl's powerful voice cut straight across the National Park and directly into my heart; my hairs bristled.  We stood in a moment of silence for all soldiers, past and present. I felt a lump forming in my throat. To stand in silence over a battlefield was pretty damn powerful for a bleak, Sunday morning. Then the starting gun screamed... and we were off!

There were big hills, there was lots of uneven pavement and the air was muggy and thick. But I could hardly keep my eyes off of the beautiful countryside. Alejandro ran with me for the first 3.5 miles then took off when I slowed, as symptoms of a hangover and sleep deprivation crept in hard.

Award Ceremony at the Finish
This was the second race in which I found a running buddy for the last two miles. I passed a 44 year old Navy retiree, Mark, walking in his toe-shoes and everything, who picked up his pace to jog with me in the final miles. You can learn a lot about someone when you're running next to them. It's like sitting on a plane; you're next to that person until you reach the destination so you might as well make the most of it. He had quite an inspiring story - he lost 200+ lbs and quit his 2 pack a day smoking habit about five years ago, when he found himself winded after climbing a flight of stairs. I asked him how I would ever get my little brother to stop smoking and he said, "He won't stop until he's found something that's worth living for. You're just going to irritate him by asking him to stop; he's got to want to do it for himself." He told me that he had failed out of college and was driving home from a late night bartending shift at 22 years old and pulled into the Naval recruiting station thinking, 'Anything is better than what I've got going for me right now.' That man changed his own stars. I asked him about any little idiosyncracies he has when he races. He said every time he runs, he remembers all the buddies that he lost in Iraq and Vietnam and feels that they're running there with him.
Burnside Bridge




PS - My three idiosyncracies are:
 1. Lucky pink underwear reserved only for race days
2. Never, ever walk
3. Always sprint over the finish line

We finished in under an hour, sprinting over the finish line. I said goodbye to him and was suddenly flooded with nausea. I proceeded to sprint down to the port-a-Johns and yak my brains out. I instantly felt better and we had a lovely morning driving the 8 mile loop and touring the battlefields. I highly recommend a visit to this historic site during the summer months; its an amazing story. Oh, and while you're there, why don't you go for a little jog?  :)
------------------------------------
Gallery photos of Antietam National Park; taken on days a little brighter than mine!




 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Alexandria Half Marathon - SUCCESS!

All smiles at the finish line
I must say, this was more of a crap-a-thon than a half mar-a-thon. I thought I was doing myself a favor by carbo loading on Saturday night with chicken, red pepper and broccoli alfredo (and a little Texas Toast, num nums). Turns out, the only favor I was doing myself was a solid colon cleansing in the middle of the race. I wasn't racing for a medal for the first seven miles, I was racing for port-a-Johns. Have you ever jogged while actually clenching your butt cheeks together? Let me tell you, it's as challenging as it is hilarious. I'm going to pump myself full of Immodium before the next race. I timed my pit stops to about nine minutes total so considering my overall time was a pathetic 2:10, I'd like to think that I ran this bad boy in about two hours. Alejandro was smart not to wait for me at my first pull over. He finished in 270th place. I finished in... 561st...

This was the first time that I've ever A) Stopped to go to the bathroom in a race and B) Grabbed a mouthful of water at the water stations - probably because I had just crapped out what felt like 70% of my body fluid. I'll gladly take any advice on how to avoid Runner's Trots in the middle of a race.

Something, almost beautiful, happened in the last two miles. It was a flat, colorless run between highway and residences and hardly a motivator to bring you home. I was merrily trotting down the home stretch when a tall, lanky and muscular girl about my age passed me ever so slowly. I'm not sure if she slowed down or if I sped up, but we ended up running next to each other for several yards with a little over one mile left to go. We didn't even look at each other, but our paces matched so well that we almost telepathically agreed to push the other through the finish line. Though I've paced myself behind runners before, I've never actually picked up a 'run buddy' in the middle of a race. With maybe about a 1/4 mile left, we jogged past an older man who instantly crept back up to us, smiled and yelled at me with a thumbs up sign, "GOOD PACE!" The three of us tackled the final hill together. I was in the center and felt like Cameron Diaz in her center position of the Charlie's Angel's pose and thinking - YEA! We can do this! - As we steadily increased our speed to round the final turn, our gentleman friend was grunting loudly. I smiled and yelled at him, "Use your arms! Lengthen your stride!" and though I broke into my traditional oh-my-god-a-jaguar-is-chasing-me sprint for the last hundred yards, the three of us slapped high fives at the end and exchanged "I couldn't have done it without you"'s. It was a really, really cool feeling.

As you can tell by my suffering run blog, I didn't exactly train for this race, but thankfully I'm hardly sore today and I've got a new medal hanging on my rear view mirror! I'm doing a 10K next weekend and I think I can tackle a half marathon in PA in two weeks as my June race. There aren't many half races in the surrounding states during the summer because it's so hot, so I've got to head north or south to get in a race a month. It's too bad that my overactive digestive system slowed me a bit for this race, but as they say....

...shit happens.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Evening


A cloudy evening in Arlington. But I managed a fantastic, familiar run up to Georgetown and back before the rain came a-pourin'. Those were some serious hills - my butt still hurts! Just a quick and easy four miler, but I did it as fast as I could. I'm recovering from a mild case of strep throat, acquired on Friday, so my airway seemed to tighten quicker than usual. Wow, those pictures are DARK, aren't they! I've got to pump up the intensity to get ready for my race in two weeks. I'm off to Las Vegas this week for work. Talk about some serious isometric exercise. Standing for 9 hours at a time will do it to you! Sooo proud of Victoria for her tri this morning. She's the one that even got me into this racing addiction, back in Miami. Wish I was there to race with you again, V! Thanks for inspiring me.

Time to snuggle in with some Runner's World. Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bugs on Burke Lake


 The last two nights have been fantastic runs on the Burke Lake Loop, about five miles in circumference.  Second to having a beach house in South Florida some day, please remind me to purchase property on a lake when I'm filthy rich. There's something about the woods and the still water that breathes peace and tranquility. The five miles went quickly -  it was thrilling to have raised roots, mud patches, twists and turns shaded by a rooftop of greenery to run through. I enjoyed it so much that I made runs two days in a row. When's the last time that I would have run two days in a row?? I didn't feel fatigued at all from Thursday's run and tonight I ran the loop in the opposite direction while my mother took a bit of a stroll around the piers. Now I'm not sure how many individual bugs, bug families, or bug colonies I might have swallowed in the last 48 hours, but I'm thinking of investing in or inventing a pair of sunglasses with mini-windshield wipers on them to remove the squashed bug carcasses from them. There were so many that I was nearly gagging. What on earth am I supposed to do about it? I mean, if they fly into your mouth, you can try and spit them out. But if they fly up your nose... ? Well, I'm moving back into Lorcom Lane today (!!!) so my new water side runs will be on the Potomac River. Maybe riverside gnats aren't quite as people friendly as lakeside gnats!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Get Angry

"Anger is a short madness"

I think we can all agree that to a certain degree and in specific applications, we humans can perform much more efficiently when propelled by a controlled, inner rage. For example, those cars reversing down 395 over the bridge this afternoon to make an earlier ramp (illegal, schmillegal) because of dead stopped traffic, were going to get to their destinations much faster than the rest of us. Oh, and I have never sent more effective work e-mails or handled matters more efficiently at work when in a more-than-slightly elevated degree of frustration.  And probably the most effective times are when we are mad at ourselves. We take a step back, re-evaluate and then go and KICK SOME SERIOUS ASS!!! Right?

I've always played better soccer when I was angry. Tonight's game revitalized that philosophy and thank goodness because last week at my first game with my new team - The Foot Clan - I was running around like some delicate fairy, afraid to even touch the ball. What a pansy! This week, my personal trainer and lifelong soccer coach, aka my mother, knew exactly how to light the inner tiger and get my butt in gear out on the field. We came out of the second half with a win (1-0) assisted by yours truly, and Katie limping on her crushed left foot, which is nicely elevated and iced as I type. Now that's how to come out of a good game!

On Sunday, when I knew I hadn't run nearly 7 days prior, I was furious that I thought I could excuse one day after the next of not running, and banged out 7.4 miles from Hobart Street and down to the Kennedy Center. That's right, I'll show you, lazy anti-running little red devil on my shoulder. Take it!

When an event triggers you to an angry reaction, it's okay. In fact, your amygdala, or the emotion-center of your brain, is wired to tell you that you're angry much faster than the cortex, or the thought and judgment center of your brain, can react and tell you the degree of reaction that you will have towards that trigger. This phenomenon is not an excuse to give the cop that pulls you over for road rage and definitely won't fly in court, so what's crucial is learning to manage the degree of your anger. Have you heard the phrase, "You can't help how you feel, but you can help how you react to it"? I'm a fan of this one. The initial reaction is also your 'gut instinct'. (And always, always, trust your gut!)

Relaxation techniques will reduce the activity of your amygdala, though it takes a long time to reduce anger as the adrenaline is already coarsing through your veins. Your best bet is to remove the antagonist or control your thoughts about the trigger. Yes, anger has been linked to heart disease, but it also is a very important emotion, to help us distinguish when things are perceived as unjust or unfair.

So... GET ANGRY, let it out. Work harder to get the raise that your co-worker already did, tell your boyfriend that you're tired of his dirty socks lying on the floor, spend an extra 15 minutes training your puppy to not pee indoors, whatever you need to do. If it's a controlled rage, you might just be pleased with the results!

What Does Your Finale Sound Like?

I hope you're not blinded by the explosion of pink on my page. My last 12 months were filled with one season - summer on Botox - so I'm really excited about Spring and DC's cherry blossoms!

Toasting a Potomac River
sunset before the show
"To truly appreciate the destination, one must first understand the path." 

Last Saturday I had a fantastic evening filled with the flawless punctuation of notes from The National Symphony Orchestra and their world-famous, distinguished guest of honor, Sarah Chang. My wonderful date was the former student band director of Stanford University's Symphony Orchestra and is a great trumpet player. I dare to boast that he can identify nearly any jazz musician within the first measure of their song and he would definitely be my first pick of partners in musical trivia. This is essentially the perfect man to take you to the symphony - one who will appreciate it. The Arts can be a tricky destination for some. A gentleman escorted me to my favorite winter ballet, The Nutcracker, last December and it must have been either the imaginary ants in his pants or the strangulation of the top button of his dress shirt that couldn't keep that man still in his seat. Bless his heart, he managed to survive the evening, but it was sad to me that he didn't appreciate the hours of practice and the blistering toes (come on, we all saw Black Swan) that those performers had conquered to bring us an evening of entertainment. 

Violin Concerto No.1
I found myself staring in awe at the speed at which Sarah's fingers moved up and down the neck of her instrument. When she played a solo, she would command the stage, stomp her foot, swing her hair or flourish her bow coming out of a long string. When she played in confluence with the rest of the orchestra, she would soften a bit, blending perfectly with their sound. When the orchestra would pick notes with their fingers instead of using their bows, it sounded as if only one member was playing with not a single note struck out of its proper time and place. These are details that Alejandro and I sat nearly on the edge of our seats to absorb. We appreciated the range of effects, from each note that was struck to the entire feeling that the piece gives you as it fills the concert hall. Suddenly, my thoughts drifted into a parallel with running. 

Running, like the Arts, is not meant for all. Some can't endure the pressure on their muscles and joints. Some find it mundane, even trite. But for those who love running, we see it for more than the repetition-of-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other facade that it appears to have. We understand the importance of every single step and how it contributes to our goals, whether they be weight loss, a decreased race time or simply its contribution to a resolved healthier lifestyle. Much like those orchestra players who become frustrated with certain notes that they can't hit, or speeds that they struggle to reach in practice, so does a runner slow after exertion, caused by anything from a side cramp to a serious injury. But when that music lover contemplates and recognizes the magnanimous effect that the entire symphony will have upon its audience, he'll continue to pluck and play until he has achieved the perfection that constitutes the essence of the piece. And if a runner hits his third mile for the first time in his life, or sees his LDL levels dropping after a physical exam, he understands that he has achieved a goal from perseverance and the sweat of every step along the way.

Sarah Chang could have missed one or two notes in the overwhelming display of scales in Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 and I'm pretty sure that no one in the audience would have noticed it. But she would. And the conductor would. And you darn well better believe that Max Christian Friederick Bruch would have noticed it from his grave. Yes, even a world-famous musician, making more money than most of us will ever attain by her age, will make mistakes. You'll have a bad day on the track, on the course, on the hill. You'll want to kick yourself for pushing too hard when things didn't turn out just the way you envisioned them. Start slow, try again. Every step, every note, gets you closer to the extraordinary feeling that will overcome you when you get it right. And whether the applause you hear is coming from the hands of 500 people in a concert hall, or is simply the beat of your own proud, bulging heart, turn around and take a look at that well-traveled road and smile. You wouldn't be here without it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A New Race, Soccer and DC

I've done it! I've finally signed up for my next race. It's in one month which gives me plenty of time to train for a competitive finish time. I bet I could run one within the next two weeks, but I would probably clock a personally disappointing finish time (over two hours) so it's best to take the extra two weeks and 'git er dun the right way. It's the Alexandria Running Festival (yea... I'm pretty sure I can think of about five other titles that are more creative than 'running... festival...') which involves a 5K, a half marathon and a relay half marathon; I'm only doing the half.

Tonight was my first 7v7 outdoor co-ed soccer game down on the National Mall. There are so many athletes out on those fields after 5:30pm. The mall was teeming with frisbee, soccer and softball leagues in their bright colored jerseys all the way from Pennsylvania Avenue to Rock Creek Parkway. It was great to see so many people being so active! We played just next to the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial - see it here! - and in front of the lazy Potomac River where a sleepy, orange sun was dropping into bed. I kept my comments to myself at our laughable playing fields considering the grass was almost as tall as the ball and being as I've just come off playing on gorgeous rooftop turf fields in Miami. I mean, it's all about being out there, playing the game, rallying with friends. (But seriously, I hope the lawn mowers are scheduling some maintenance before next Wednesday!) My mom drove up after work to watch me play. The other team didn't have enough players so they forfeit, we got a Win, and we scrimmaged for a solid hour in the ... marsh. It was great; I met my new teammates and am excited for next week. My car arrives next Tuesday, just in time to get my cleats. I played in indoor shoes tonight and I think I spent more time on my rear end than charging towards the goal.

Tried to get Barack to come out but his cell went straight to VM

On a side note: I love this city. Late for the game and departing from Farragut North metro station, I jogged past The White House, the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, in front of the Jefferson Memorial, through (oops, sorry!) the Korean War Veterans Memorial and behind a barrage of DC tour buses to get to the field. When I ran through a tornado of cherry blossoms descending on my path next to the Reflecting Pool, I didn't run around them this time. They looked like a giant pillow fight for yards down the dirt path. But instead of feathers flying through the air, it was white and purple cherry flower petals and the situation of them blowing hard against my body in the wind actually made me giggle like a little kid. My family used to have picnics on the National Mall all the time when I was younger. I would feed the swans and chase the pigeons with my brothers. (Which I think actually trained me to hunt pigeons on the street, even as an adult. If I see one standing there as I walk by, I can't resist the urge to make him fly away.) My mom still loves to visit the museums several times a year and I hope to get down to National Geographic's exhibit at the Museum of National Art this weekend. This city is powerful, historical and smart. I have so many memories here. I could never call any other place my home.

My friend Sebastian captures the essence of DC

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A 'Welcome Home' Bouquet of ... Pollen

'Virginia is for Lovers'. You'll frequently see this slogan on the back of some proud Virginian's bumper, or splashed across a store front. I think it relates to the rolling hills of the suburban towns, the grassy green, cow-spotted southern pastures, the dogwood-laden front lawns or a lovely purple and pink sunset across our wine vineyards. That's probably how the average non-allergy person would see it. Sounds great, right? Sure!

But for someone like myself, and the other 20% of Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, stumbling blindly to their medicine cabinet every morning and reaching for a near-toxic dose of Claritin, Sudafed, eyedrops and nose spray (yep, we're a sexy bunch), we don't quite feel the same about Virginia's outdoors.  As serene as Loverland sounds, let me tell you that someone like me will only find this to be picturesque and romantic when safely protected from the outside air and behind the glass windows of a car or inside the solid walls of a restaurant while under the heavy mask of anti-allergen drugs. People like us know that the only tissues to buy are Puffs Plus with Lotion because after your thirteen hundredth nose blow of the morning, you won't be able to walk into that staff meeting without looking like Rudolph with swollen eyelids, unless you've been using the touchably-soft magic that is Puffs. Thank you, Proctor & Gamble.

Somehow the thought of my Nike's hitting concrete through picket-fence neighborhoods or taking a trail down by the Potomac on a warm spring evening after a long day at work always brainwashes me into thinking that I'm immune to the pollen. After being indoors all day, I can remember, even last summer, all I want to do is stretch my legs. It's always pleasant on the first half of the run. Then the eyes start itching a little bit. Next I'm rubbing my nose every block or two. Suddenly I'm sneezing so hard that it rocks my gait and I'm again, blindly sprinting for a cold rag and my medicine cabinet.

Tonight was no different. I've been trying to take meds every 12 hours or so, but I didn't think to take anything before my run tonight. I started out great on my first run since being back home in Virginia; briskly trotting 4.8 miles down and back Sydenstricker Road (here's my route!), taking in the baseball practices, homeward bound commuters and reminiscing about my boardwalk runs... when about halfway through, a gust of wind dropped forty three hundred pounds of dogwood blossoms onto the approaching path. Really, I weighed them.

I didn't see gorgeous, white blossoms descend slowly in the breeze and touch lightly upon the sidewalk. I saw a vortex of extrinsic proteins commanded by that 'beautiful' tree to attack the IgE on every mast cell in my head and provoke the immunoglobulin-mediated response of releasing histamine, tryptase, chymase, kinins, and heparin into my bloodstream sending my face into a mash of congestion, sneezing, itching, redness, tearing, swelling, ear pressure and postnasal drip. My mucous glands would be stimulated, leading to increased secretions. My vascular permeability would increase, leading to plasma exudation. My veins would dilate causing congestion and pressure and my sensory nerves would be stimulated into a fit of sneezing and itching. And that would be what's called only the 'immediate' or 'early' phase of the reaction. So what did I do? I ran around the death trap, across the road, and up the hill on the other side. *sigh* If only it was that easy. As you and I both know, pollen grains are everywhere: outdoors and indoors. Magically... I survived the run. I let the cool shower water seep into my eyeballs for about 15 minutes as soon as I got back home. So what did we learn? Run with a plastic bag over our heads. Drug up a solid 30 minutes before departure.

For my fellow allergy-suffering compadres out there, here are a few quick tips to take with you this season:
  • Make sure you shower after a day outdoors to get the pollen out of your hair, off your skin and out of your bed!
  • Drug up. Find out what meds work for you. Hopefully it's as simple as some over the counter anithistamines and decongestants though I've seen it as serious as monthly shots used to manage reactions. Get it under control so you can go about your busy days and nights as symptom free as possible.
  • As depressing as this sounds: stay indoors. If you have the option of eating outside or inside, just grab a table indoors by the window. It could be the difference of a sneeze-filled afternoon.
  • You will undoubtedly track pollen right onto the pillow that your face is stuffed in for seven hours of the night. Wash your sheets frequently and invest in a nice set of anti-allergen bedding.
  • Drink more water. Consuming half your body weight in ounces of water will thin mucous secretions and hydrate your mucous membrane tissues.
  • Consider an air purifier with a HEPA filtration system for your house to help decrease the amount of pollenated air entering your house.
According to pollen.com, I live in one of the highest pollen producing states in the entire country. Alllllrighty then! I'm popping my Loratadine and tucking in under my brand new anti-allergen bed set. Would you still be my friend if I wore a doctor's mask every day for the next four months...?

xoxo

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Superhero for a Day

Tiptoeing through the Tulip Library
I don't know much about DC. But I do know a lot about being a superhero. For example, anyone crossing a street in high-waisted, pink, elastic underwear over black tights and a Superwoman In Training t-shirt is impenetrable to oncoming cars.  I also know that anyone in superhero tights can get a bunch of tourists to do almost anything. This is but a taste of our DC Challenge Scavenger Hunt yesterday afternoon. Over 400 teams gathered at 1pm in The Yards Park, adjacent to the National's double hitter which was coincidentally in the same area on the same day. I haven't clocked it yet, but I'm pretty sure we scurried about 9-10 miles on foot around our nation's capital, solving 11 out of 12 clues of landmarks to be photographed. The only clue I solved was thanks to Google's brilliant search engine which identified the tulips in front of the only 'bookless library' as the Tulip Library (not the National Archives which we found ourselves circling for several long minutes trying to locate tulips...)
 
The Libery Bell, Union Station

 All teams received their clue list at the same time then broke after the countdown to solve the clues and plan the fastest route. We were Team Superheroes In Training. Shira, aka Francis, was our team captain, supplying sunblock, bananas and clementine's before the clues were handed out. Captain Marvel Morgan, aka Ben, was amply prepared with his hydrating supply of rum and diet in his camelback. Batman, aka Alejandro, was our 'scouter' who sprinted ahead to affirm our suspected destinations and dear Eric was himself, the fifth member who was shang-highed into join our team only one day prior, bringing his awesome can-do attitude. (We lost two team members, Kara and Mollie, as the race organizers pushed the event back one day due to heavy rains all day on Saturday and the girls couldn't make it on Sunday. We missed you, girls!)

 
Japanese-American Memorial. Francis: "Quick guys, run this way FAST to throw off that team behind us!"
 It's true that DC is a small city and I couldn't imagine doing this in say, New York City. You also absolutely needed to know your history. The clues were tricky and between Ben's Political Science degree, Alejandro's International Relations degree, and Francis' general ingenuity for ... everything, we were able to solve all of our clues within the allotted 3.5 hrs and cross the finish line just in the knick of time. Eric and I mutually agreed that if we were our own team, we wouldn't have made it beyond registration, and/or the nearest bar touting Sunday afternoon drink specials. Tourists didn't hesitate to ask why the heck we were racing. I couldn't help but snicker when a little boy told me that he just saw these 'silly' Elmo people run by.  I replied, "Oh yes... they must look ridiculous!" I'm pretty sure I made a gaping little girl's day when I said, "See? You can still dress up when you're an adult!"

Red River Inn
  The finish line brought plenty of food and beverages (four dining carts and your choice of beer, wine and soda with your drink ticket). Plenty of ice cold water was supplied as usual. We sat on the water and consoled our aching bodies and weary brains. The weather was absolutely beautiful; cool in the breeze and warm in the sun. My friends and I soaked up the proud moment of being Washingtonians as we sat on the harbor. Dusk brought a chilly breeze and as our team departed for our last Metro ride of the day, we agreed that the DC Challenge is a MUST-DO in 2012.

Washington Monument
Ulysses Grant Memorial and The Capital

Thursday, April 14, 2011

1 More Day in Paradise

Well, this is it! I'm moving back to DC tomorrow. I'm all packed, a bunch of light warm-weathered clothes aren't tough to throw into boxes. No furniture, no TV - what can I say, I travel light. I'm excited to get back to the cherry blossoms, the downtown happy hours, the sloping hills of the city, the skyline of historical monuments, and of course, my fabulous friends and family. I'm trying to block out what I'm leaving behind: the sky blue Carribean waters, the smell of the sea on every tropical breeze, these amazing palm trees, and of course, my fabulous friends.

This Saturday, five friends and myself are running the DC Challenge Adventure Race: The Ultimate Urban Scavenger Race What a perfect way to get back into my DC scene! Our team name is Superheroes in Training. Yeah, I bet you can't WAIT to see those pictures.

My blogs will revert very quickly to run-focused entries upon my return. Lately it's been soccer-driven exercise. I was in a 6v6 tournament last weekend. It was great to be on the outdoor field again. There's so much more... space out there.  The night games were easy to run in, but playing soccer at noontime on a Saturday afternoon in Florida, WHOO-EE! I hope you've stocked up on Gatorade and water! In the second game, after my hat trick, I managed to land a nice, fat ball in my face and went down hard. Of course I didn't go to the emergency room until after I played the four remaining games of the tournament (all in true soccer spirit!) where I discovered that I had bruised my retina. Sounds bad, I know. Fortunately the only residual effects (after my headache dissipated a whole three days later...) is a cloudy vision spot on the lower hemisphere of my left eye at nighttime. I came out of the hit with not even a scratch. I'm really, really lucky. Since we're talking about soccer injuries, I must say that my favorite soccer injury (and by far, the coolest one to get), is when the ball hits you so hard that it leaves the indent of the ball pattern on your body. "So, what sports do you play?" -- "Oh, well, just take a look at this trusty ball print on my thigh. Yep, I play soccer!" If you're going to go out with an injury, whether its a sprained ankle, or a torn ACL, I sure hope it's doing something that you love. For me, a soccer injury will alwaysss be worth it.

If you need me, I'll be face down, hugging the sand for the remainder of the day. I wonder if I can pack some gecko's in my carry-on...

xoxo

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cravings

I've hit a run rut. I've decided that I'm not going to run the race in Pensacola in two weeks. That will be my last weekend in Miami and I can't be on the road for 10 hours when there's friends to say goodbye to and caipirinha's to be toasted to a wonderful year spent here. So I'm a little stuck in my motivation since I'm not training for a race.

Tonight I stepped back up on that treadmill, after 10 days out of my Nike's. It felt a little like that of a desert wanderer who comes across a pool of fresh, crisp water after 10 days of dehydration. Oh, you haven't been lost in a desert recently? Me neither. But I'm pretty sure that the reuniting of a runner with her stride parallels the reuniting of cracked, dry lips with cold, cool water. At least that's what it felt like. Satiety had been harnessed. The first mile was rough: the right ankle is tight, the left hip isn't rotating all the way, the blister under my left big toe is adjusting to the sock, etc. But OH, did it all feel good. That's what I am, I'm a runner. I always have been. Maybe not on a course or a track, but it's been in me to sprint yards down a soccer field since I was five years old. It just something that my body craves, and might almost be an addiction. My body is dependent on the adrenaline, the endorphins, the blood surging through my... okay, let's not get carried away. At least at the end of the day I know I'll be back up and running, even when I'm stuck in a rut or two. I think things will settle out much better when I return to DC and can sign up for more races.

Soccer game Wednesday!

xoxo

Monday, March 21, 2011

Runner's Trots

It's a well know secret within the runner's world, which I never even closely considered as a hindrance to long distance running until I became victim to it several times myself.  When you think about what you're doing to your body for one, two, three or four plus hours during these races, it makes it understandable. Approaching mile 5 or 6, you suddenly become acutely aware of your stomach, more specifically, your clenched colon. Welcome to the world of Runner's Trots.

To spare you the time of Google-ing the definition of this phrase and to make it sound nicer than it actually is, let's just say that this is when your stomach is dying to expel your last meal. The violent up-and-down motion rocking your digestive organs for an extended period of time, catalyzes the natural process. It can range from mild cramping to the 'oh-my-god-i-need-a-toilet-now!' It brings me back to the similar exercise of ... dancing. I'm sure that my friend Olga can count on two hands, the number of times we've been racing home from a night of dancing our feet off to reach the medicine cabinet for Katie's dose of Pepto Bismal.  The same jarring, up-and-down motion would upset my stomach. Ah, good times, eh, Olga? Maybe I'm alone in this in the dancing world, but I'm definitely not alone in the runner's world. My comrades can be found under Google search terms such as "running and upset stomach", "running and digestion", etc. Hello, friends.

Runner's trots are usually related to a diet that's incompatible with running therefore a simple adjustment of such can remedy the predicament. For example, I've stopped eating hummus before I run after I learned my lesson the hard way. Sabra's delectable Pine-Nut flavor used to be a favorite post-work, pre-run favorite, but hummus contains a very high fiber content. We all know that fiber, well let's just say, encourages a healthy urge to 'go'. Experts recommend the following:
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can cause diarrhea. Pre-run fluid intake shouldn't include sugary fruit drinks or those concentrated energy drinks.
  • Avoid high-fiber foods (yes... thank you) and stick with naturally constipating foods like bananas and bagels.
  • Avoid eating 2-3 hours prior to running
  • Avoid caffeine.
I've only fallen victim to Runner's Trots three times. Once in the middle of my run in South Beach (thank God for some public event going on at the time supplying plenty of public toilets - whew), another time I barely made it up the front stairs, only to find out that I was locked out of the house (don't ask what I did) and finally just yesterday, on my 6-miler at the gym (I left everything and jumped on the elevator back upstairs!). Yes, the situation is hilarious. I mean, how many people can say that they almost crapped their pants at age 26, ...repeatedly?

Olga's coming into town this Wednesday for 6 days (yay!!!!!!!). Guess what my medicine cabinet is stocked with?

xoxo

PS - Want to see pics of my gym?

What do you MEAN that bouncing up and down on them isn't really an 'exercise'???








Bring it on!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bored, Fat and Lazy

10 days since my last post - can you believe it?? Disgusting.

There might have been a slow 3-miler or two in the last few days, but this move into the Midtown apartments is making it tough to get motivated. I'm so frustrated and mad at myself. I didn't even want to go to the gym tonight but I was literally BORED, feeling FAT and LAZY. I probably 'dragged' myself down the 15 floors to the gym as a punishment for having horrible thoughts like "I don't need to exercise today...". You may think that race trainees are always happy-go-lucky about running; that they're excited to put their shoes on and once they've finished their run, they write merry articles in their run blogs, eat a fantastically healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner and are giddy with delight in thinking about their next run. Please allow me to put those assumptions to rest.

Just in moving to Midtown and missing several run clubs, I can absolutely believe facts like 7 out of every 10 Americans are overweight (according to a 2011 published study by The Lancet). Once you return to your nest in a high rise, why would you want to leave, after a long day at work? You've got to get changed, walk or drive to the gym, hope your machines are open, work out in the recycled air of a 4-walled room, stimulated by a TV or fans in your face, etc. And that's if you even HAVE the time to do it. If you have other commitments after work, then forget about it. The smart ones will find time on their lunch breaks or get up early in the morning to exercise - something I could never, ever do as I've always been a night worker out-er. I think that's a word. Anyway, I was bit hard by The Bug tonight. The 'you-can-just-run-tomorrow' Bug. I'm pretty sure that's the same Bug that says '...sure, eat this delicious Steak Gorgonzola Panini at 1am on St. Patrick's Day... you can work it off tomorrow'. This bug needs to be squashed immediately.

I managed to get myself downstairs and did a hard 30 minutes on the treadmill; which I've come to discover is 110% boring to me. I was almost drooling at the concrete of Biscayne Blvd that I could see out the windows; I'm just a little nervous to run where I'm unfamiliar. Clearly, this will be rectified immediately because I was almost rolling my eyes at how monotonous the repetition of foot-in-front-of-foot-on-a-conveyor-belt has become. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate gyms for everything that they are, but I've been priveleged to run in a gorgeous environment on the beach and have come to realize that it's the great outdoors that gets me going. That's what you've gotta do - find out what gets you going. Do you need the outdoors? Do you need a gym? Do you need top of the line clothes? Do you need a buddy? Do you need a great playlist? Do you need a schedule? I've discovered that I need to register for races and set a goal time to complete it. That keeps me motivated in my training. Currently I'm looking at completing the Pensacola Half Marathon on April 10th in 1:35:00.

Find out what it is that will work for you. Because there will always be those days when seeing your feet up on the sofa will be much more tempting than seeing your feet laced up in those tennis shoes!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Treadmill vs. Outdoor Running

I actually had to Google this when I got back from the gym.  The treadmill confuses me. It hurts my body in ways that the outdoors doesn't. My knees ache, my abs get really tight (not that that's necessarily a 'bad' thing). Anyway, I couldn't make it to the beach tonight so I thought I'd drop into the trusty gym-bo instead. I guess after running outdoors for the last few months, it's bound to be a little awkward scrambling one foot in front of the other on a rotating rubber mat. I'm sure it didn't help that I ran without headphones or a TV screen in front of me, making me acutely aware of every bone, muscle and nerve in my body.

Tonight, Running Planet tells me "...a slight, whole body, forward lean will enlist the help of gravity just enough to assist with directing your momentum smoothly forward. Keep your hips pressed forward and your butt tucked in." Check. At least my form is correct.  It also says that, "...studies have estimated that outside air resistance creates an increase in your workload between 2% and 10%, depending upon your running speed." So, apparently I'm performing between 2% and 10% less on a treadmill?

Well, what I did tonight was something that Frankie taught us last week at Run Club. Sprints. Last week, I thought I was going to ...die. We ran 1 mile to the track, then we ran 4 laps as fast as we could, with a 2 minute break in between each lap. I came in as one of the 1st girls for each sprint! To be honest though, I only ran 3 laps since I felt entirely too nauseous and dizzy to attempt the 4th. Wouldn't want to be that girl - vomiting on the track in front of 100 people that you only see once a week! But I digress. So, tonight I ran 10 minutes at a steady 6.4mph then alternated between an 8.0mph sprint and the steady 6.4mph at 1-minute intervals for the next 10 minutes. So I was only up there for 20 minutes, but like Frankie said, "If you want to get faster and faster in the long runs, you gotta do the sprints." So here I am. I'm a-sprintin'.

In my immediate research of a few other websites, the seemingly obvious difference between treadmill and outdoor running comes down to the fact that on a treadmill you will have:

  • Decreased wind resistance (unless... what? the fan is blowing on you...?)
  • Assistance via the propelling belt
  • No terrain changes
Therefore, the only way to comparably use the treadmill in place of the outdoors is when you maintain the same effort as if you were outdoors. It's funny when I think about this. I was only breathing through my nose until 8 minutes in. Not exactly the huffing|puffing outdoor momentum encountered on those  boardwalk runs. Time to step it up. According to the Journal of Sports Science "...a 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running." Okay, so we'll up it by 1% next time. Though I don't see myself doing long runs on the treadmill. To be perfectly honest, it is really boring to stare at the same traffic lights, BP gas station, 6 palm trees, giving an occasional, awkward wave to the same guard circling the terrace for 20 minutes. So maybe I'll just use it for sprint practice nights. But what's nice about the gym is that I can pack in those isolated muscle exercises as well with the free weights, that giant, bouncy, neon orange exercise ab ball thing...y..., and of course the leg press machines.

Best part about tonight? One night away from Nike South Beach Run Club on Thursday nights!

xoxo

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Miami Beach 13.1: SUCCESS!

What a gorgeous, gorgeous morning to run a half marathon. And the best part about the day is how 14 hours after the race, my body feels fantastic! I know, I know... the last time we spoke, I was in the middle of a 'slow recovery' routine. But by Friday afternoon, I could fully rotate my left ankle without so much as an ounce of pain anywhere and I wanted that third medal so badly. This 13.1. has been teasing me for weeks now and I was too stubborn to refuse it. Encouraged by Erin Wolff and Emilio Arrieta, I decided to run the race. I knew that I could mentally handle the distance since I had done it twice before, and as far as physical completion, well, I knew I'd have to listen to my body and take it nice and easy. Today wasn't about running to beat a certain time, it came down to my addiction commitment to the amazing feeling of running side-by-side with thousands of people of all shapes and sizes who are pushing themselves to accomplish a personal goal. My stepmom once told me that of all the gaits that horses could do 'forever', it's the trot. So I figured that I could trot my way through the course. And yes, I just called myself a horse.

Emilio, Janet, Liz, Erin, Katie

 There were only 2,000+ registered participants in this race. It was a quiet morning on Ocean Drive but  buzzing with excited runners by 5:30am.  I ran with my friend Emilio (in his first race, ever!). It was a wonderful distraction: running alongside such a friendly, upbeat, equally-out-of-long-distance-shape-but-fiercely-determined-to-just-...finish conversationalist. The first 7 or 8 miles were cake as we trotted over the Rickenbacker Causeway in the early morning sun.  The race carried a Latin theme and the DJ cheer posts encouraged me and my Ecuadorian compadre up and over into downtown Miami. Coming back over the Julia Tuttle Causeway in the rising sun prompted the loss of Emilio's shirt and a few rising groans about our tight extremities.  The last three miles were the toughest by far for Emilio's screaming knees and my lead weight hamstrings. But true to tradition... with 0.1 miles left, rounding the corners of the sidewalk through the welcoming crowd, I gave Emilio a mischievious look, and took off at a sprint. Let it be known that Emilio is fast. I've seen him play soccer and run circles around defenders. But this poor guy couldn't catch me for the life of him. I looked back twice and I couldn't help but smile, partly because I was winning -muahaha - and partly because I was so proud of him for pushing it so hard in the end when I knew he was exhausted.

The finishing time was 2:11 and I couldn't be happier. A 10 minute-mile average when three days ago I wasn't even considering the run? That's awesome!

I feel like I can safely say that what separates days of muscle agony from a pleasant feeling of accomplishment with only minor aches and pains, is your post-race cool down. Miami Beach 13.1 did it up! A masseuse tent, trays of fresh, hot paella, a Michelob Ultra tent, fruit tables, gatorade and water by the gallon, a live DJ and dance floor, two female Latin dancers showing us 'how it's done', and best of all... about 30 port-a-potties with my name on them. After stuffing ourselves full of beer and food, we headed straight to the beach for a swim. The salt water felt a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

 Sure enough, true to another tradition, I took a fantastic 3 hour nap when I got home. I'm not sure which race I'll do next, though I'd like to do one more before I return to DC in April. I'll never be able to beat this terrain! Looking forward to my run next Tuesday :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Mile

I’ve been good about staying out of my heels and wrapping my leg, but when I got back from my tax accountant (looking better than I thought!) and convincing Milena at Verizon to replace my malfunctioning phone for free (yes!), I figured it would be a good idea to take a shot at the treadmills in our new (totally-amazing-22nd-floor-in-the-heart-of-midtown-and-katie's-first-high-rise-ever!) apartment building.



I haven’t been in a gym in, gosh, probably over a year. I was never, ever a fan of gyms. Something about everyone looking around at each other, or having to actually look like I know what I’m going to do next, or wondering if I can stretch as limberly as the 40-year old woman next to me, or confused as to whether or not I should look at myself in the mirror when I’m ‘pumping’ my 15 lb irons or just down at the weights in front of me… so many weird idiosyncrasies that I found myself facing and entirely too stressful overall.  But back in Urbania  you had to belong to a gym, unless you wanted to hit the hilly, pavement surrounded by inner city congestion and pollen-producing trees in the summer or exercise through the cold, snowy winters. What’s funny is that when I mounted the treadmill tonight and could see myself in the mirror, I was pleasantly surprised. It was kind of cool to see myself up there, looking fit and athletic (thank you, Nike gear...). *happy sigh*. (Oh, and the gym was completely deserted. Anxieties alleviated.)

It was my first attempt at real exercise in one week. I only planned to walk out my crinks, but the leg felt fine and I hustled up to 5.8mph and steadily and carefully jogged one mile! I ran a mile tonight!! A full mile at 5.8mph on the treadmill! This is progress! I don’t know if anyone else experiences this, but if I listen to music as I run, I can’t ‘listen’ to my body. I have a tough time deciphering between pain that I should run through and pain that is screaming, “STOP STOP STOP”. I get so pumped up with my music that I pretty much think I’m Hercules. That’s likely what got me into trouble with this leg in the first place. I shouldn’t have done all 8 miles one week ago. I might’ve heard: ‘Katie. This is your leg speaking. Slow down.’ But Benny Benassi was screaming… KEEP GOING! YEAH, YOU’RE A ROCK STAR! GET IT, GIRLLLL!   *thump thump thump thump.’ Well, tonight I ran with only one ear bud in to be… how shall I say this? …one with my leg? Weird, I know. But it worked! I stopped at a mile and I feel good.

Unless I experience a miraculous recovery within the next 10 days, I’ve decided not to run the 13.1 on March 6th. It’s not worth it. This injury is much more serious than I imagined it to be one week ago. Plantarflexion is out of the question. As Kat Munoz wisely advised me yesterday over a bottle of wine on the balcony in christening the new apartment, “It’s only your first year of training. You’re bound to get your worst injuries now, while you figure out what you can and can’t handle. I had a friend who recently ran on an injury and she came out of the race on a stretcher and ended up in the operating room.” Yikes. Point taken.

So as inwardly disappointed as I feel, I’ll continue to get excited about little victories like running a mile on the treadmill and lifting 25 lbs on the leg press machine. I can start with 5K’s and work back up. There’s always another race just around the corner; whenever I round that corner.

And for now, there’s the rest of my White Zin, a hot shower, and some more boxes to unpack!
xoxo



Saturday, February 19, 2011

Stupid Nerve Damage

It's ironic that my last post was about smiling - because I was definitely not smiling for the last two days :(

See that body part, hiding my fibularis longus, superficial peroneal nerve, anterior tibialis, or whatever the heck is underneath there that's causing this miserable, pain-inducing, run-preventing calf and foot pain? I have no idea what I did to it, but I think it's a combination of the kick I took two weeks ago in soccer and the stumble I made in those gorgeous 4", red high heels on Valentine's Day earlier this week. If I run my hand down the exterior lateral part of my calf - exactly what you see - all I feel is bruising and pain. But there's no swelling or inflammation! The muscles are tight, my leg alternates between numbness and tingling, and it hurts to bear weight on it for more than a few minutes. Mom says it's tendon or nerve damage and to rest rest rest.  So there I sat at work yesterday with a 12" Thermacare heat patch on my leg, underneath an ACE bandage and meticulously counting out 600mg of Motrin every 8 hrs.  I'm out of my running shoes for a few more days. I've been able to keep up with stretching, abs and arms, but this ill-timed injury is doing nothing for helping me reach my 1:37 half marathon time in 2 weeks. Boy am I frustratedddddd. ARGH!

What am I going to do? Wrap up my leg and head down to Virginia Key for a beach bbq. The view from my bedroom says it's looking like a gorgeous way to start this (immobile!) weekend.

Have a wonderful President's Day weekend!


xoxo

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Do I Make You Smile?

I couldn't help but test this question on my run tonight. It was my standard 8 miles [If you have any interest in checking out my route, I've mapped it for you here!] and I was in a good mood and began considering the social psychology of other runners.

South Beach is a very public place to run. And I find myself quite naturally shifting eyes towards oncoming runners and giving them a toothy smile as we cross paths. Maybe it's awkward for them or maybe they appreciate the friendly fellow-runner motivation and acknowledgment. Tonight, I made a point to smile at as many oncoming pedestrians and runners as I could.

Here are my stats on successful smile-returns:

90% Lone men or men in pairs (Goooo figure, right!)
70% Older man as part of a couple
40% Groups of drunks
25% Older women in the company of other women
10% Girls who were running
0% Girls power walking or walking

There were definitely people who just stared. As if they'd never seen a smile before. I didn't include them. They seemed very confused. I wish the girls smiled more. I hope I wasn't creeping them out. I probably was.  Well anyway, while I can appreciate everyone who smiled back at me, I'm going to have to commend those who weren't returning the effort of flexing those 17 facial muscles. Maybe they weren't psyched to be out on the boardwalk exercising, but they were. Good for them!

I also have an apparel review for you tonight: Nike's Livestrong Women's Capri's.
Two thumbs up!


(Only 6 more days in this apartment, then onto Midtown!)




These are so lightweight; the waist band fits snug without digging into my skin. There's also a convenient key-holder pocket on the top part of the waist band in the rear. As you can see, they land just below my knee, but I didn't experience any tugging on the material while running. I would recommend them to anyone, for cooler weather running!

I'll spare you the details of locking myself out of my own house for two hours on the return. Just always make sure that you have the CORRECT house key when you depart!

A small request, as you start your Wednesday: Find someone who might need a little pick-me-up and give them a smile. Nothinig over-the-top, extravagant and borderline obnoxious... maybe just lift the corners of your mouth and with kind eyes. Valentine's Day is over ~ but keep the love coming. After all, what do you have to lose! 

xoxo

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Interruptions

I wanted to squeeze a good run in before the Art Walk tonight, but there were a few interruptions. The first two startled me so badly that I had to pause for a "be still my heart" moment:

1. Homeless man sleeping in the shadows of the board walk
2. Cat fell from palm tree branches directly in front of my face
3. Fireworks show on the beach!

 
4. Heather's phone call about meeting up at Art Walk. I generally never ever ever pick up my phone during my runs, but we had plans to meet up. In fact, after I got the call, I realized I was completely out of time and turned around and sprinted hard back home, to make up for the shortened overall distance.


Friends back home would probably slap me for saying this, but it's getting chilly down in South Florida. I was running in 55 degree weather. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. My wonderful roommate, Natalie, advised me to wear some extra clothes; advice which I confidently ignored saying I would get hot quickly. Well... it was cold. The chest, legs and arms get heated the fastest, but all of my appendages were co-co-cold. People at the Art Walk were decked out in New York style black leggings and heavy jackets. I guess it really is winter!  Hopefully I won't catch the flu tomorrow after paddle boarding (my first attempt!) in winter water.

Gene Harris' "At Last" is putting me to sleep. Gorgeous version here. I would highly recommend adding it to the soundtrack of your Valentine's Day evening!

Eyelids are so so heavy...

xoxo

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Run Fun!

So so so much fun tonight at Run Club! The Photo Hunt was awesome.

We were broken off into our pace groups and the pacer held a list of things that we had to locate and get the entire group behind for a photo. For example: tourist wearing Nike gear, the Apple Genius' from the Apple Store on Lincoln, an exotic car (surprisingly hard to find tonight! I was hoping for a Cobra or a Phantom. We could only find a Bentley. COME ON South Beach, haha), the bunny statues at The W, the Infinite Pool at Delano, things like that. We were all crazy people running around, mostly scaring the tourists and staff of all targeted venues. You should've seen the staff at Delano, and the horror on their faces to see 30 sweaty bodies running through their gorgeous lobby restaurant. Haha! Pictures will be up soon enough.

I was worried about how much exercise was actually going to be involved in this evening's shennanigans since we would stop every several hundred yards for a new photo. Well, when you're hiking up to the top floor of a parking garage, or sprinting down Alton Rd because you only have "2 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" to get back to home base, it's amazing what muscles you can discover that you thought you never had...

And of course, wonderful Shake Shack discounted beer and (phenomenal!) burgers for the runners, post-race. I hope the SS staff knew what they were in for tonight. 150+ runners walking in the front door is a lot of mouths to feed. They were on point. Emilio and I were easily one of the last runners to grab some Shackmeister Ale's (yes, Shackmeisters) and that guy behind the counter was still smiling and joking with us.

I hope they put in some more of these interactive runs, though it'll be nice to hit our solid 3.5 on the beach again next week. One million thanks to Frankie and his team (props to our pacer, Sadie!) for organizing an awesome evening: Way to shaaaake shake shake it up!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Getting Back on Top

What a great run tonight! Probably just a little shy of four miles, but that's perfect for getting back into the swing of things. I had a great pace and I don't feel sore anywhere. Well, except my right gluteus maximus... which is actually an exciting injury because it means my brand-new post-running lunges are doing exactly what they're supposed to!

Yep... <--- THAT glut. Haha.

Tonight was all about listening to my body. I wasn't blogging back in October when this addiction to running birthed itself, but you've got to understand that I didn't start out anywhere even CLOSE to the pace that I have now. I would run 4 miles so slowly that I was almost walking. Alejandro could tell you about it. I feel so bad that he had to run next to me; I was sooooo slow! But it was all part of building up. I knew that injury or not meeting certain run times would instantly cause frustration and contribute exactly ZERO to the chance of building endurance. You've got to get into a pace, you've got to get into a zone. Tonight I was listening to all my muscles so I didn't further harm anything that was still recovering from Sunday. Total success; systems are g-o!

Alright, be aware that tonight I'm setting a goal! I need to clock 1:37:00 at the Miami Beach 13.1 on March 6th. If I do that... I will automatically qualify for the New York City marathon this fall. Wouldn't that be crazy! It would also put me in direct alignment with achieving my ultimate goal:  clocking a 1:20:00 on the half marathon... but that's months and months away. So here I go: running faster and harder, and even running 13.1 or more miles before the actual race. The daunting part is that this all needs to be done in less than one month (yikes!). Girlfriend, you got it. Be unstoppable!

My mom was in town this weekend. On Sunday, we went biking in the Everglades. It took Erin, mom and I about 30 minutes to go only one mile - we took pictures of every single turtle, alligator, bird and fish that we saw. An old couple was walking the bike path and kept passing us. It was a little embarassing. Finally, after the mid-point lookout tower, we biked like MAD people back to the lodge. Nothing like 15 miles on a beach cruiser to stretch those quads out.  Good times.
This little guy came up out of the water to play with my bike. He looked so docile! I wanted to just jump on his back. Then I recalled Discovery Channel's 'Migrations' series and alligators (or were they ...crocodiles?) mauling the wildebeest calf's and decided to lay low.

PS - Thanks Erin for holding my bike while Fluffy here sniffed out my tire!