Categories
Running

Time Flies Like an Arrow (Fruit Flies Like a Banana)

As I made my way to the subway this morning without a line of sweat beading my upper lip for the first time since April (eat your heart out, boys), I was left in utter disbelief at how quickly this summer has passed me by. It seems just yesterday I was trading in my spandex pants and fleece-lined gloves for my summer running wardrobe of short shorts and singlets. With August coming precipitously close to a close, I can’t help but wonder where the heck this summer went.

Oh, that’s right. It went everywhere.

It went to five Major League Baseball games in five different cities (if you consider the Bronx and Queens different cities, which I most certainly do.)

Rumor has it they’ve invented more high-tech software than Microsoft Paint, but I can’t be sure.

It went 257.6 miles on foot since June 1 as I ramped up mileage ahead of my first-ever marathon. The vast majority of these miles were logged on the Central Park loop, but a few dozen transpired in such far-flung locales as San Francisco, the Hamptons and this little remote oasis I’ll call Prospect Park. You’ve probably never heard of it. I sure hadn’t.

It went to rooftop bars and communal beer gardens, scandalous Texas tractor festivals and family-friendly burlesque shows. It went on first dates and second dates and the occasional something better. It went on fishing trips and brewery tours, outdoor concerts and IMAX films, lobster bakes and softball games, and, oh yeah, to Rio De Janeiro.

Psych! This picture was actually taken on Staten Island.

Most importantly, this summer went to show me I have some of the very best friends around: the kinds of friends who drop everything when you need them, whether that’s in the form of a late-night phone call from Baltimore, Boston or the Bay Area; a pint of soup or an Arnold Palmer on a particularly heartbreaking afternoon; a patient listener when my thoughts are on auto-repeat and a date to the latest Hollywood blockbuster when I’d rather not think at all.    

So while the days may be shortening with each passing week, I’m not going to mourn the fact that this summer flew by faster than Rep. Todd Akin’s career prospects. Where did my summer go, you ask?

It went above and beyond my wildest expectations.

Thanks, everyone.

But enough about me. How was yours?

Categories
Races Running

Redcoats and Relays

Yesterday morning, I ran a road race that really “got” me.

­What does that mean? You ask. Was it a Pamplona-style running with the goldendoodles? Did Foreigner perform the post-race festivities? Did a circa-1998 Shawn Hunter – not to be confused with real-life actor Rider Strong – greet every participant at the finish line with his bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold charm and a Double ShackBurger?

Wow, readers. I’m flattered by your remarkably astute characterization of how a road race might “get me.” Flattered, and quite frankly, a little concerned.

No, this road race – the JackRabbit Battle of Brooklyn 10-Mile Relay – “got” me because instead of distributing to participants yet another XL cotton t-shirt, this race’s swag was (wait for it) a pint glass. Finally, something useful! But don’t believe me. Just ask my heightened hydration today at work.

The race itself – which took runners on three loops of Prospect Park  – commemorated the first “major engagement” between the freshly formed United States of America and the British after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I learned on Sunday. Fighting broke out on Aug. 22, 1776 and transpired from Park Slope to Brooklyn Heights in what was likely the most hipster battle of the Revolutionary War. The Americans lost, ironic eyeglasses and all, but Gen. Washington was able to escape with his remaining troops across the East River to Manhattan before proceeding to do some other less exciting things with the rest of his life that no one remembers. Poor Washington.

My race on Sunday fortunately did not result in 1,000 casualties, but it did afford me my first opportunity to run as part of a relay team. Ten miles can be daunting, but 10 miles divided up between three slightly hungover marathon hopefuls? Perfect. We crossed the finish line in 1:31.57 for an average team pace of 9:12 and then proceeded to refuel with steak and eggs as if we’d completed the entire three-loop course. And by “we,” I mean “me.” Intervention, anyone?

They didn’t break out the individual splits, but my Garmin clocked in at an average 7:59 pace, which I’d say is not too shabby considering I’d already lost a toenail during Friday night’s 15-miler. I never thought I’d say it, but for all of your sakes, thank God sandal season is coming to a close.

How is your fall marathon training progressing? Acceptable units of measurement include miles-per-week and toenails-per-foot.

Categories
Running Training

I’ll Take the Long Road

If every evil villain subplot in the history of Hollywood has taught me anything, it’s that there’s always an easy way and a hard way, and the hard way makes for significantly better entertainment.

(Spoiler alerts ahead, although, honestly, you really should have seen all these movies by now.)

Why destroy Gotham in one fell swoop when you can detonate a fusion bomb with a five-month countdown? Why use your superpowers to cripple The Avengers when you can devise a roundabout plan to get Bruce Banner angry? Why kill infant Simba when you can exile him from the Pridelands with the hope he doesn’t make a triumphant third-act return as an adult lion to retake his place as rightful king?

Likewise, there’s an easy way and a hard way home to my apartment after work. The easy way involves three stops on an express train for a total travel time of about 18 minutes. The hard way involves multiple treks across Manhattan’s suspension bridges for a total travel time of about 145 minutes. Last Friday night, I opted for the latter, and tomorrow, I’m planning a reprise.

What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment.

That, and I’m eight weeks into marathon training. Though really, I think we can all agree those are pretty much the same thing.

My past experiences with run-commuting – awkwardly dubbed runnuting by this wordsmith – have been largely negative: changing at work, weaving through tourists, regretting my stomach-annihilating lunch decisions. But with enough planning, I’ve learned a double-digit post-work runnute is not only achievable; it’s actually preferable to a Saturday morning long run. That’s because a Saturday morning long run destroys an entire weekend – early to bed on Friday night and exhausted on Saturday night – while a Friday long run preserves the promise of a real, honest-to-god Saturday night on the town.

Or Sunday afternoon on the town. Whatever.

Both of these extra-large beers may or may not have belonged to this girl. I’ll let you be the judge.

For anyone else considering making the switch, here are my tips:

PACK AHEAD. You’ll want to bring the bare minimum with you to work and wear clothes you don’t mind leaving in your desk drawer for an entire weekend. Last Friday, I arrived at work with the following in a reusable bag:

  • Metro card/workplace ID/license/credit card/$20, all cinched together with a hair tie, instead of a full-blown wallet.
  • Running shorts/tank/bra/socks/shoes/headband.
  • iPhone.
  • GUs.
  • House keys.
  • Running belt with small pocket to hold all of the above while I made my way home.

EAT THOUGHTFULLY. Traditionally a morning runner, I’m not used to logging miles with anything more than the previous night’s dinner in my stomach. That means I had to remain mindful as I snacked throughout the day ahead of my evening long run. I opted for a normal breakfast; an early, carby lunch; and a light snack about an hour before the workday ended. When I got home at 9 p.m. after logging 14 miles, I also proceeded to eat the entire contents of my refrigerator. No big deal.

PLAN YOUR ROUTE CAREFULLY. Running up Lexington Ave. or down Wall Street or through Times Square at rush hour is a surefire way to ruin your life. Opt instead for the East or West Side highways or the less-traversed avenues like 1st Ave or 10th Ave. And whether or not you have a Garmin, plot your course before leaving the office, or you may find yourself 14-miles in and still in Brooklyn. And I can imagine no worse fate.

PARTY HARD ON SATURDAY. Seriously. Make it worth the hurt.

Categories
Running Training

First Things First

As Curiosity touched down on Mars’ surface last week—marking the fourth NASA unmanned surface rover to explore the red planet since 1996—I was struck by how few firsts my generation has experienced.

Sure, Generation Y has lived through some momentous and empowering firsts, from the United States’ first black president to the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage to Cory and Topanga’s first onscreen kiss, but when compared to the series of subsequent firsts lived by my parents’ generation, the Millennials’ cut seems pretty paltry indeed.

Take my father, for example. Born in 1953, this man has lived through cultural first after first after first, from the civil rights movement to music to breakthroughs in technology. Just considering the space race alone, the Baby Boomer generation was awarded one first after another for decades.

  • Oct. 4, 1957: USSR launches first artificial earth satellite.
  • May 5, 1961: Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space.
  • July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first men to walk on the Moon. The moon!

Compare that line-up to my generation’s most memorable firsts:

  • June 2, 1992: Lisa Frank releases her first line of Trapper Keepers.

You get my point.

Living as a 26-year-old New Yorker with quite a few life experiences already under belt, I’m often struck with the same feeling on an individual scale: that the vast majority of my notable firsts are already behind me. First kiss? Hey there, middle school boyfriend. First drink? Hey there, Smirnoff Ice in some parents’ basement. First lady? Hey there, Michelle Obama.

Fortunately, this summer spent training for my first marathon has afforded me the opportunity to once again experience firsts on a nearly weekly basis. And it’s a glorious feeling.

On Friday night, I forwent a night on the town to run my first ever 14-mile run. I changed at work (note: applying body glide to your inner thighs while sitting in your cubicle may or may not be OK by HR standards), set my watch and made my way to the East River. And then I just ran.

My route took me down to 14th St., over the Williamsburg Bridge and back, up 1st Ave., back to the East River Promenade into Spanish Harlem and then home.

It wasn’t particularly fast and it wasn’t particularly pretty, but clocking in at a full 0.9 miles longer than my previous record, it was particularly new. And with 15 miles on the schedule this Saturday, working up to 20 by the first weekend of October, I can bask in the knowledge that this well-lived runner has at least a handful of more firsts in her immediate future.

And once these new firsts are behind me? Well, then I’ll just have to learn to take pleasure in seconds. Because if life has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes the second, or fourth, or fiftieth time around is even better than the first. And this 26-year old fortunately has a lot of fiftieths still ahead.

What notable first is coming up for you? Leave me a comment telling me about it, and then come back and let me know when you’ve accomplished it. If you do, I’ll toast you with a Smirnoff Ice, in some parents’ basement.

Categories
Running

Running: Taking its Toll on Your Wallet and Knees

Somewhere along the line, we’ve collectively consented to accept a series of seemingly harmless lies as fact.

Swallow gum and it will stay in your digestive track for seven years. Daddy longlegs are the world’s most poisonous spiders but their mouths are too small to bite humans. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

One more myth to add to the list: Running is the cheapest sport around.

We’ve all heard it before. “All you need is a pair of sneakers!” Unlike any number of athletic pastimes that demand the purchase of rackets or bats or sticks or balls, running is said to be an activity that you can add to your collection of hobbies with little more investment than a quick raid of your existing shoe rack.

Oh, sweet, simple world. It’s time we stop disseminating these lies.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m fairly certain running is a cheaper sport than, say, equestrianism. But to contend that all you need is a pair of shoes is a bit of false advertising. Although there do exist minimalist runners, I certainly am not one, as evidenced by the piles of spillover spandex lining my window sills. From satellite watches to high-tech shirts to anti-chaffing body glide (stay sexy, runners), the sheer accumulation of gear quickly takes its toll on any runner’s (wicking) wallet.

And that’s in addition to the shoes. But just one pair won’t do. According to Runner’s World contributing editor David Kuehls, when it comes to pairs of $100+ footwear, an aspiring marathon runner needs – count ’em – three.

“To train for a 4-hour marathon, I recommend three pairs,” he writes in 4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon. “You need two pairs to rotate during training. … Then, three weeks before the marathon, put (a) third pair of shoes into the rotation.”

I hadn’t been heeding Ol’ Dave’s advice, but with my ASICS Gel-Neo33s starting to lose their bounce after carrying me 485.8 miles since February (costing me 22/cents a mile, my nerdy running log calculates), I decided it was time to add a few new pairs into the rotation. My ASICS have served me well, so rather than gambling on a new model altogether, I opted for two new pairs of Gel-Neo33s in the most obnoxiously bright colors possible. Because we all know wearing neon makes you run faster. It’s science.

Image

I’ve also recently stocked up on 100-calorie energy gels to carry with me on long runs and throw back after every 45 minutes of exercise. At $1.25 a pop, they’re not prohibitively expensive, but with 10 weeks of double-digit Saturday long runs in my immediate future, these sugar-filled bad boys are going to start costing a pretty penny.  Luckily, they taste like cake icing, making the all-around experience a positive one.

Fortunately, although marathon training has started to become a rather expensive hobby, I’ve been able to largely counteract the added spend by doing awesome New York activities for free. Like going to city museums at no cost during the first weekend of the month as a Bank of America card holder (note: Visiting the New York Hall of Science without a small child makes you feel super creepy). Or making our own chocolate-covered frozen bananas instead of buying the Trader Joe’s ones for an exorbitant $1.29 a box (note: If you put me in charge of this process, very few actual bananas will make it onto the serving platter instead of my mouth). Or going to free outdoor Williamsburg block parties (note: Real hipsters wear Indian headdresses.)

Runners: Any tips for keeping the costs associated with our sport to a minimum? Non-runners: Start running! All you need is a pair of sneakers!