Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Run Is In the Air

This past Sunday I was supposed to run 12 miles, but it ended up being 8.22.  I slept in and by the time I got ready to go, I could sense some irritation from Pete.  Now that my marathon cycle is over, I think he is not thrilled that I'm aiming to keep my mileage up.  Actually, I'm not even sure if he's aware of my aim.  I do know that if I'm going to be out for more than an hour and I don't get it done while everyone's still in bed, the resentment vibes are loud and clear.

This morning I did 5 miles before the little ones needed to get up for school.  It was a cool 45 degrees.  I incorporated 5 x 100m strides.

Marathon season is in full swing.  This past weekend was the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.  A friend was able to PR in it.  Nice job, Leah!  Then the two Tova(h)s will be running a little marathon in the city this upcoming Sunday.  So exciting!  I will be watching, as we do every year, either in Queens or the Bronx.  I love getting out there to support the runners.  The kids have fun high fiving as many people as they can.  The weather has been great the past couple of years for spectating.  The forecast for Sunday is partly sunny and 53 degrees.  Perfect day for a run.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I went out a little after 7am and ran a slow and easy 6.38 miles.  It was cool, about 41 degrees.  I broke out the fleece, capri leggings, and a hat.  My hands were cold for most of the run.  No pictures of the run, but how about of me  blogging?

It would be so much more efficient if someone could just hook me up to a chocolate/sugar IV.

"Aimée, what are your favorite running songs?" you ask.  Why, here is a list of my Top Twenty in no particular order:

1.   Lose Yourself - Eminem
2.   Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
3.   Stronger - Kanye West
4.   Gone - Kanye West
5.   Rock Star - N.E.R.D.
6.   In Step - Girl Talk
7.   Play Your Part - Girl Talk
8.   La Grange - ZZ Top
9.   Over the Hills and Far Away - Led Zeppelin
10. Let's Go Crazy - Prince & the Revolution
11. Fire Woman - The Cult
12. L.A. Woman - The Doors
13. Hold On Tight - E.L.O.
14. Somewhere Only We Know - Keane
15. All These Things That I've Done - The Killers
16. Uprising - Muse
17. Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
18. What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction
19. Boom Boom Boom - The Outthere Brothers
20. Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones

My list mostly consists of songs with a pumping beat, my preference for when I'm running fast.  However, if I'm out for a long run, I like to listen to music along the lines of Jeff Buckley or Simon & Garfunkel.   My play list has everything from Tony Christie to AC/DC to Run D.M.C.    

What songs get you moving?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Food For Thought. Literally.

I am easing my way back, running 3 miles last Thursday, 4 on Saturday, and 4 this morning.  Fall weather has finally arrived.  It was a perfect 58 degrees going out.  I wore a thermal long sleeve with a t-shirt over and a pair of shorts that were falling down until I stopped to tie the waist (drawer dropping during a run might be fun for spectators, not so much for the performer).  After a mile I realized I could have done without the thermal.   I will begin a reverse taper schedule this week and next week I will resume my speed work.

Someone on Runners World Online (RWOL) posted a couple of videos to demonstrate examples of what it is like to hit "the wall".  Someone on the message board, who is likely a physician, explained that hitting the wall is not a total deficit of glycogen, but a combination of different factors all leading to a sudden physical halt.  The videos are both of leading Ironman female athletes, both world class competitors, who hit the wall and as a result fall apart pretty dramatically.  One is actually really scary because the woman says that she thinks she is dying.  She looks it, too.  Thankfully (knock on wood!), I have never hit the wall while running.  However, I have felt that weak delirium in other instances due to my poor eating habits.  Sometimes I am so busy throughout the day that I forget to eat until I either get a severe migraine headache (A puke-a-palooza, if you will, topped with the constant desire to have someone steamroll over my head) or my body feels weak and worn down and my thinking gets somewhat "foggy".  I have run into acquaintances and unfortunately had to attempt conversations during these episodes.  I'm sure they thought I was on drugs or crazy afterwards.  No.  Just hungry.

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Totally scary, right??

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Three Days Post Race

My legs are still sore, but not as much as Monday.  I have been rolling my quadriceps and calves with the Stick.  It helps tremendously.  I am able to walk down the stairs almost as fast as my two year old now.  I will go for a short thirty minute run to loosen the legs some more either this evening or tomorrow.

Three days later thinking about the race, I wonder what I could have done to finish faster.  I hit the half marathon mark at 1:50:18 which means I ran a negative split once again.  My second half was run in 1:46:10.  I ran a negative split in Baltimore, but much closer together.  Sunday my split was almost four minutes apart.  This makes me think if  I had picked up the pace instead of going out so conservatively at the beginning, I would have been able to hit my goal of 3:35.  I think if I had a better night's sleep the night before, I might have had more energy to push it the first half.  A fellow runner who ran Mohawk this year in 3:24 was able to figure out that I passed 146 people in my second half without anyone passing me.  That's kind of cool.

My plan for the next couple of months is to keep my mileage up around 35-40 miles per week and then resume a training schedule in January for Boston.  My next race will be the Rockville Centre 10k on November 9.

I'm sure I've posted this video before, but I absolutely love it.
So true.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Mohawk Hudson River Marathon Review

We arrived at the Albany Hilton where the race expo took place around 4pm on Saturday.  There was a nice variety of vendors giving out free samples of every kind of power bar you could want, upcoming race pamphlets, candy, even jump ropes.  There were a couple of clothing racks, but not much.  My favorite stand was the photo booth that made a nice collage with the race logo.  Packet pickup was quick and efficient.

Part of the job description for being a little boy is to 
always make funny faces for the camera.  
Smiling is never an option.

The pasta dinner was conveniently located in the same hotel.  For $21.95 ($13.95 per child) they offered a do-it-yourself Caesar salad,  grilled chicken, lemon butter tilapia, pasta shells with marinara sauce,  rigatoni bolognese, and chocolate and vanilla ice cream for dessert.  I'd like to say the pasta wasn't overcooked and underseasoned, but then of course I would be lying.  The fish and chicken were slightly more palatable than the pasta.  I passed on the ice cream to avoid any possible bathroom emergencies the next day.

We went back to our hotel, the Marriott Springhill Suites, in the town of Colonie which is right in between the start and finish.  I went to bed early, but didn't sleep much due to nerves and my son suddenly coming down with a fever.  The next morning I was up at 5 to eat and digest my bagel.  We left by 7:30 and I arrived at the start in Schenectady by 8.

Marathon morning photo shoot in the hotel bathroom.
Now a tradition and a superstition.

It was about 54 degrees at the start.  I had a throwaway sweatshirt on to stay warm.  I saw only two porta-potties and they were locked up in a cage.  Hmmm.  I asked an official who said the rest of the porta-potties were down a hill and around a corner.  They were not close and the line was definitely more than thirty minutes long.  I decided to be one with nature in the woods.  I was done in thirty seconds.

I found the 3:45 pacer and decided to line up in front of him.  It turned out there were a lot of women who wanted to run at a 3:40 pace.  They were all over 40 and hoping to qualify for Boston (BQ) which is sub 3:45 for our age group.  I had on my 3:40 pace temporary tattoo, but even still, I am not good at pacing myself.  During a marathon, even just a few seconds ahead or behind per mile can make or break your race.  I met Kathrine from Atlanta who said she was good at pacing herself and she was wearing a Garmin.  I was not.

When I got home, I told my 11 year old that this was my new real tattoo.
She almost cried.

The gun went off at exactly 8:30.  I hit the start mat about 30 seconds later.  I stayed with Kathrine for much of the first half.  We were running consistently between an 8:23 and an 8:24 pace.  Perfect.  Until I noticed she would announce the pace a couple of hundred yards before we saw each mile marker.  She started her Garmin early.  She said it didn't matter because it was still a mile distance.  I knew this, but she was still off by the race clock.  At some point, we would have to play catch up, especially if we wanted to run sub 3:40.  At Mile 9 I ran ahead of Kathrine.  I passed what seemed like a boatload of people.  I must be running at an 8:12 pace, I thought.  Kathrine caught up with me at Mile 11 only to inform me we were still at an 8:24 pace.  Really?!  The people I passed were just slowing down, I was not speeding up.  

After the half marathon point, I decided I needed to run faster if I was going to finish in the 3:30s.  I picked up the pace and started passing as many people as I could, which turned out to be a lot.  I do this while driving on the highway, too.  I don't know if this is my competitive nature or just a weird thing I have, but I always feel the need to be ahead.  I kept referring to my arm to make sure I wasn't falling behind.  Instead, I was hitting the mile markers about two minutes ahead of schedule.  

The scenery was pretty.  We started out in Central Park,  then were quickly led onto the residential streets of Schenectady.  The homes were mostly older colonial, my favorite kind.  We stayed in the neighborhood for five miles and then headed back onto the bicycle path.  The entrance back into the park boasted a gorgeous view of the Hudson River surrounded by the autumn golds, oranges, and reds of the changing trees.  We stayed in the park for the next twelve miles.  The path was narrow.  It never felt crowded, but there were times you had to jockey to get ahead.    There was some crowd support at the water stations and on the neighborhood streets, but if you're looking to be cheered along the entire race, some of the bigger events might be more suitable.  

When I signed up for this race, all I kept hearing and reading was how fast this course was.  I expected it to be 26.2 miles of downhill.  I wanted to fly through the race, as I did in Hood to Coast.  I guess I wasn't expecting to actually have to work.  Yes, flat is definitely faster than rolling hills, but you still need to put effort into it.  For some reason, I thought the race was going to be effortless.  Not sure why I thought a marathon was going to be effortless.  Yes, I was surprised throughout the race that my muscles and bones were aching.  In fact, I was tired in the first 10k.  I wondered how I was going to pick up the pace and run under 3:40.  I found the strength somehow.  I didn't get a second wind, but I just pushed along almost on auto-pilot.  The more people I passed, the more determined I was to keep going.  

Around Mile 17 we left the park and ran on the streets of Watervliet.  Once I passed Mile 20 and felt like I could keep going, I felt a bit of relief.  If I didn't hit the wall by now, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to hit it at all.  We reentered the park after Mile 21.  I was passing a lot of people walking at this point.  At Mile 25, I saw a guy just stop running.  I reassured him that we were almost there.  He didn't respond.  I never know if I should say something to others for encouragement or  not.  I, personally, would appreciate the boost from fellow runners.  Some people might just get pissed off.

I finally reached the finish line.  3:37:08.  This is a four minute PR.  The post race party was great.  There was plenty of food and drinks.  They had some vats of steaming hot vegetable soup.  There was even a canoe filled with Hood chocolate milks.  It was like a dream.  

Overall, the scenery was beautiful, the people (runners, spectators, and volunteers) were all golden, and the post race party was one of the best I've been to.  I would definitely change the location of the porta-potties at the start.  I also would tell prospective runners that even though it's a fast course, it's still 26.2 miles of running.  Well, I guess most people know this.  Except me.

I looked Kathrine up in the results.  She finished in 3:43:xx.  I'm sorry she didn't hit her goal, but I'm also glad I decided to run my own race when I did.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Stick

My quadriceps were still sore for yesterday's 5 miler.  Lucky for me, The Stick arrived in the mail from Amazon.  I paid $27.45 with free shipping.  Cheaper than Dick's Sporting Goods.  I couldn't wait to try it out.  How do I describe the product in one word?  How about FANfreakingTASTIC?!  Oh my God!  The relief was immediate.  The best massage of my life.  My only regret is that I didn't get this years ago.

I also purchased a pair of Reebok compression sleeves with The Stick.  They will probably arrive in the next couple of days.  I thought I might wear them in the marathon on Sunday, but trying something new on race day is a big no-no. I'll wear them during the car ride home while simultaneously rolling out the lactic acid with my Stick.  Love my gadgets and accessories!

Monday, October 7, 2013

T Minus Six Days

Friday, I ran 5 miles with 6 x 100 strides.  Yesterday,  I ran an easy 12 miles at 1:30pm.  It was cool and overcast with some misting.  I started with my local 8 mile loop followed by my 4 mile loop.  My quadriceps were sore from walking around Manhattan Friday night in heels.  My daily shoe wear alternates between sneakers, flip flops, or Timberlands, depending on the season.  On the rare occasion I wear heels, it throws my body off completely.  The soreness negatively affected my form toward the end.  That, plus the fact that I was wearing my Adidas Supernova Glides which have well over 1,000 miles on them.  I love them and they have served me well in the past, but their time to shine is over.  Parting with a good pair of sneakers is such sweet sorrow.

I may modify my schedule this last week if my quadriceps and/or toes are not totally recovered.  My training is done.  I cannot add or detract from it at this point in the game.  Showing up on race day injury free is now more important than anything else.

T minus six days.  Cue the flashing red lights and blaring emergency horn.  The "Alien" movie franchise left an indelible mark on my psyche growing up.  Am I being a little dramatic?

What is more frightening?  
An alien invasion or running 26.2 miles?  
Hard to say.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Little Prince

It has been a few days since my last post.  My 34 year old cousin passed away unexpectedly leaving behind his lovely wife, two beautiful babies, his loving parents, and heartbroken older sister.  I posted about the restaurant he just opened this past spring.  He was a talented chef with the creativity of a true artist.  When tragedy strikes, it's easy to say, "Well, things happen for a reason."  In this case, I find no acceptable explanation.  He was too young.  His dream of owning a restaurant was just being realized.  He has a 3 year old daughter and 5 MONTH old son, both of whom were the center of his universe.  The only thing that brings me comfort is knowing he lived a happy life.  He was so positive.  He was one of those people who lit up a room.  You always knew when he was there and also, when he wasn't.  Family gatherings will never be the same.  At least in this modern world, his wife will be able to keep his spirit alive through the many family pictures and videos for his children.  He will never be forgotten.

My three runs since hearing the news on Saturday night have been somewhat therapeutic.  In times like these, I prefer to run without music.  I never run with music on September 11th.  The week after the Newtown shootings, I ran "quietly".  Reflecting and remembering while only listening to my footfalls and my breathing is like prayer.   Maybe it sounds corny or even self-absorbed (which I hope it's not), but I feel like these people whose lives have been cut short don't get to run anymore.  I will run for them.

Anyway, my cousin told me if I ever get into the New York City Marathon, he would be happy to cheer me on.  I have no doubt he will be watching.

"And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure... And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up to the sky! Then you will say to them, 'Yes, the stars always make me laugh.'"- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

(This quote from the French classic is perfect in so many ways.  My cousin spoke French fluently.  French and Italian were his first languages before English.  He was born in Tuscany and spent his childhood on the beach in Sardegna.  He was a best friend to each of his friends, as is evidenced through the countless posts left on his and his wife's Facebook pages.  And he will forever be my aunt and uncle's Little Prince.)