Categories
Running

Running Social

If you would have told me two years ago I’d voluntarily leave a rooftop party with an unparalleled skyline view celebrating the most gorgeous birthday girl around at 10:30 p.m. because I had to be up to run nine miles before the sun, I’d have thought you were crazy.

Turns out, I’m the crazy one.

Registering for a fall marathon, I knew I’d have to log some miles in the summer heat, but I don’t think I’d fully appreciated just what, exactly, that would mean for my social life.

Last week, I was out until just before sunup with these heartbreakers, who – judging by the blinding reflection in this photo – may also be Planeteers. (Rachel is totally heart.)

Today, I was dressed, hydrated and making my way to the park at about the same hour in an effort to complete my long run before the New York City heat advisory went into effect.

There are certainly perks to running at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday mornings, like having the park loop to myself and being able to justify a day of sheer slothfulness from 7 a.m. on. But summer marathon training also means learning to turn down social invites and/or another glass of wine in favor of early bedtimes and even earlier wake-up calls, making me just about the lamest Manhattan socialite around.

But all is not lost! I may not be able to fraternize on my usual timeframe during the next four months, but with a little creative scheduling, I think I’ll be able to maintain a semblance of a social life despite running 40+ miles a week. Here’s how you can be a part of it.

  • Step one: Print out a copy of the following training schedule, courtesy of my pal Hal, and hang it on your refrigerator next to my Christmas card photo.
  • Step two: Make plans to hang out with me on days when I’m not waking up to, you know, run 18 miles the following morning. Good times: Sunday nights, Thursday nights, Saturday brunch, etc. Bad times: Tuesday nights, Saturday mornings, October 28, etc. If you’re super into carb loading and other stationary activities, Friday nights are also some prime social real estate. Pencil me in now.

Better yet: Join me on my next long run for a few miles! I know where all the Central Park water fountains are hidden AND I’ll take you out for a 7 a.m. post-run bagel and/or burger (don’t judge). Who’s with me?

Categories
Races Running

Hot-Blooded (Check it and See)

Sweltering summer days are perfect for a whole host of activities. Tasting all 16 flavors of frozen yogurt in the name of science? Sure. Openly resenting your best friend for describing her 50-degree morning run in the Bay Area? Oh, yes. Lazily basking in the shade at a Central Park lobster bake with a brood of your favorite good-looking women (and one good-looking man)?

Abso–f’ing–lutely.

Recording a new personal record in the blazing New York heat? Not so much.

Spoiled by a (nearly) snow-filled Manhattan winter, I’ve been running outside almost daily since the start of the year and – much to my surprise – have been logging PR after PR as the mercury rises. I had started to half believe I would get incrementally faster forever, but it turns out, Saturday’s heat wave had other plans.

As I joined my colorful corral at the Front Runners NY Lesbian and Gay Pride 5-mile Run before the 9 a.m. gun, the temperature was already clocking in at an uncomfortable 69 degrees, with humidity levels grazing a suffocating 97 percent. Sweating profusely before I even crossed the starting mat, I conceded this might not be my fastest endeavor yet but internally committed to still logging a 7:50 pace — or a full 10 seconds slower than my recent 10K performance. Seemed like a realistic goal.

Turns out, realism isn’t my strong suit. Within two miles, my breathing was strained, my legs felt like lead and I’d developed a stitch in my side I couldn’t shake until the final stretch. I’ve always heard running in the heat is a challenge, but I’d vainly assumed that it was only a challenge for other runners —like all the elite althetes at this year’s Boston Marathon — not this seasoned expert with, um, about 15 months of experience in her arsenal. Hello, hubris, my old friend.

Legitimately concerned I would not be able to finish the course, I bit the bullet about 15 minutes in and forced myself to slow from a 7:30 pace to a 9:00 pace, walk through each and every water station and – at the suggestion of my wise friend Leigh-Ann who like a guardian angel sprinted past mid-race shouting sage advice – concentrate on my breathing. In doing so, I fended off the side-stitch, crossed the finish line at 41:41 for an 8:21 average pace and was rewarded with a delicious rainbow popsicle. That marks my slowest timed pace since the Irish Sprint 10K in March, but, hey, the popsicle stick included a riddle, so I guess it’s a wash.

On a completely unrelated note: How do bunnies keep their fur neat? They use a hare brush! Thanks for the laughs, popsicle-stick joke writer No. 14!

Marine Corps Marathon training officially began for me today, so putting my running on hold until the first frost isn’t really an option. Any tips for logging miles in a sauna of a city?

Categories
Running Travel Uncategorized

Rise and Shine

When I arrive at the office on Monday mornings and inquire about my co-workers’ weekends, I get the sneaking suspicion everyone is just reading out loud the thesaurus entry for “relaxing.”

“Oh, I just took it easy,” one seemingly well-rested colleague says. “Never left my apartment,” says another. “I took the chance to get caught up on sleep,” chimes in a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed third.

Caught up on sleep? What am I doing wrong here!? Never once in my life have I awoken on a Monday morning more revitalized than when I ended the week on Friday, with perhaps the exception of a single bed-ridden weekend during the summer of 2005 (thank you, freshman Ivies Weekend and subsequent Mononucleosis.) I may enter my weekends with honest intentions of logging two full nights of uninterrupted shuteye, but I invariably come out the other side yawning, puffy-eyed and clambering for the nearest coffee cart.  

But I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. On the contrary: my whirlwind weekends may be jam-packed, but they’re fortunately equally awesome – and arguably good training for completing an exhausting 26.2 miles. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself as justification. It’s either science or wishful thinking, and I’m going with the former.

This past weekend was no exception. There may have been only 62 hours between closing time Friday and this morning’s return to the grind, but that didn’t stop me from squeezing in a Father’s Day brunch in Baltimore, 12 uninterrupted hours with my puppy niece and 14 brief innings at the Nationals/Yankees game in DC.

I even fit in a 5-miler in Virginia on Saturday and a two-a-day (2.5 morning miles in Baltimore and 4.5 evening miles in New York) on Sunday for good measure and/or to help burn off those $12 Nats Stadium tallboys. Two-a-days are supposed to be good practice for running in a pre-fatigued state, according to the experts, but I’m fairly certain performing when fatigued is not really something I need to practice.

Where did your weekend take you? If your name is Sarah, I know it took you down the aisle. So congratulations, gorgeous!

Categories
Races Running

Chase Challenge for the Masses

Have you ever run the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge? If not, have you ever watched a colony of 12,000 penguins waddle slowly down a crowded ice shoot? Well, visually, it’s pretty much the same thing.

This week, I ran/penguin-waddled the most crowded road race I’ve ever experienced in my adult life. Don’t believe me? Just ask this photo I borrowed from the JP Morgan website.

As I lined up in my corral Wednesday night alongside thousands and thousands of my closest friends, it became immediately clear that recording a new personal best amid a sea of bodies was going to be a real challenge. I’ve been a bit spoiled recently with my consistent week-after-week PRs, but with every New Yorker and his mother participating in this week’s event, I quickly understood a race of this magnitude was not going to afford me the opportunity to run quickly (or perhaps even forward).

And oh, was I right.

A proud owner of a new Garmin watch that lets me track my speed, I was able to observe – and cringe – as my pace hovered around 10:00 for my first mile of the 3.5-mile course. Don’t get me wrong – 10-minute miles are nothing to scoff at – but after my 7:40-pace during last week’s Mini 10K, I felt a little like a caged animal as I tried to weave my way through the crowds.

Fortunately, caged animalism is a good quality to have as you’re trying to pull ahead. While Mile 1 left me nothing but frustrated, Miles 2 and 3 thinned out and allowed me to make up for lost time with some surprise sub-7:00 splits. (Plus I raced by my favorite running blogger ever cheering on the sidelines and felt immediately star struck.) I was able to make up just enough lost time to cross the finish line at 26:43 for a 7:38 pace and No. 2 woman on my company team. Can’t help but thinking I could have done better, but considering the spooning-like circumstances on the race course, I’ll take it.

20120615-195621.jpg

I’m now off to DC for the weekend on what is already proving to be a cookie-filled road trip. Does running two races in the course of five days justify the eight cookies I just ate for dinner? This traveler says yes.

I’m taking the weekend off from racing, but I’d like to live vicariously through you. What are you running in the days ahead?

Categories
Races Running

When the Sun Goes Down

There are plenty of things I’d happily do after 6 p.m. Drink a beer? Yes, please. Drink a beer on a rooftop bar? Absolutely. Drink a beer on a rooftop bar … in Brooklyn? It’s been known to happen, but I reserve the right to complain for the entire first round about having to leave Manhattan. At least you know my terms.

Oh hey, Manhattan. I cheated on you with your ironic cousin, Brooklyn.

But while happy hour joins “eating dinner” and “sleeping” as acceptable post-6 p.m. activities in my book, the idea of running a road race at the end of the day has never been at the top of my list. That is, until now.

Tonight, I’ll be joining 6,000+ of my closest friends in Central Park for the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, a 3.5-mile race held over two days in New York to promote “health and fitness, teamwork and camaraderie in the corporate communities across the U.S. and abroad,” according to a statement from a senior vice president who did not testify on Capitol Hill today. The event, now in its 35th year, takes place in cities across the globe, and will be coming to mine in T-minus 90 minutes.

I’ve never before laced up my racing shoes after 10 a.m., so I didn’t know how to approach a day’s worth of activity and eating ahead of an evening starting gun. I skipped my morning jog and started the day with a carb-filled bowl of flaxseed oatmeal (a solid start), only to give in to a lunch of delivery Thai food when the rain made a trip outside unpalatable (we’re all human.) I usually run short morning races on an empty stomach and long morning races on a toast-and-peanut-butter-filled stomach, so we’ll see whether gallons of pad see ew does the trick. I’m thinking not, but rice noodles have been known to work miracles*.

*False.

So runners: how do you prepare for an evening race? It may be too late for me today, but I promise I’ll store your good advice for later. (And then likely disregard it when the Thai menu gets passed around the office again.)

Categories
Races Running

Run Like a Girl

This morning, I ran the NYRR New York Mini 10K – a race launched 40 years ago as the first ever women’s only road race. Established in the early years of the running revolution as a daintier alternative to the men’s only half marathon, the Mini 10K (originally called the “Miniskirt 10K,” according to legend) was a chance for the fairer sex to try their hands (er, feet) at what was at that time an extremely new and completely male-dominated sport.

Fortunately, society has come a long way since 1972 and a women’s only road race is no longer a novelty sideshow of the New York running scene; instead, it’s an opportunity to showcase some of the best athletes – male or female – on a global scale. Toeing the starting line at today’s race, for example, were Edna Kiplagat (reigning world marathon champion), Desiree Davila (Team USA 2012) and, oh yeah, me.

Damn you, Sarah, and your lack of sweat.

I may not have logged 5:11-minute miles like my close friend Edna, but I did manage to maintain a solid 7:40 pace and a new PR of 47:31 – more than a minute faster than my last 10K. More excitingly, my 5K split clocked in at 23:27, or more than 30 seconds faster than my previous 5K PR logged in Texas in May. Turns out, a week of terrible eating, curtailed workouts and utter indulgence in Brazil can work wonders for speed. I guess I’ll be making caipirinha cocktails and doce de leite breakfast pastries part of my normal running routine here on out. It’s science.

Photographic evidence, just in case you forgot I went to Rio earlier this week.

This was also my first ever women’s only race, and for the most part, it was glorious. Pros of women’s only races: the t-shirts are cut better, the swag bags include beauty products, no one makes grunting noises as they sprint up Harlem Hill and NYRR distributes flowers (flowers!) at the finish line. Cons of women’s only races: the pre-race bathroom lines are insane, and everyone feels the need to make the same lame joke about it over and over again. I get it. Women take a long time in the bathroom. Let’s all agree to accept this fact and move on.

Next on the racing schedule is Wednesday’s JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge, widely considered – to use the scientific term – the biggest cluster-F of a race ever held in the city. Over two days, 12,667 entrants from 403 companies – including thousands of non-runners required to participate by their bosses – will descend on the Central Park Loop for 3.5 awkward miles of cursing and elbow-throwing. Alright, Wall Street bros. Bring it.

Any of the 12,666 other JPMorgan runners reading this? If so, any tips for Wednesday’s madhouse? 

Categories
Travel

Her Name is Rio and She Dances on the Sand

Two weeks ago, I was pretty pleased with my Dallas, Texas, hotel room view.

And what’s not to like? Space-needle-like architecture, didn’t overlook a public landfill, smelled slightly of barbecue and came complete with a dramatic sunrise or sunset, although I now couldn’t tell you which one. After years of opting for the local Bates Motel in an effort to submit the cheapest expenses my company has ever reimbursed, I had moved into the big leagues of short-term accommodations.

Or so I thought. Just two short weeks ago, staying in a downtown Dallas hotel that glowed rainbow colors after sundown was enough to get my rocks off. But five minutes at the Rio de Janeiro Sheraton, and the bar has been raised infinitely higher. I apologize in advance for being super obnoxious here, but check out my view today:

But that’s only if I step out on my 22nd-floor balcony and look right. If I look left instead, the view is even more awesome, to use the word as it was meant to be used.

What’s that? You can see the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue from your bedroom, too? Oh, never mind then.

But before you go getting all jealous of my ridiculous views, I should point out that traveling in Brazil isn’t all fun and games. In fact, I’ve been dealt a pretty big blow today:

I guess we all have to make sacrifices.

Where’s the most epic place your work travel has brought you?