Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 In Review

I love End of the Year Retrospectives.  I love watching the tv specials, listening to the radio's top 20 songs of the year, reading the top news stories, etc.  I also enjoyed reading other runners' blogs.  They have inspired me to write my own running retrospective.

2013 was the year I started this blog!  I really didn't (don't) know what I was doing.  All I knew was that I loved running, I loved talking about running, and I loved to write.  I cautiously dipped my toe into the blogosphere.  I hoped people might read what I wrote, but wasn't sure how.  First, I told a small group of friends, then eventually announced it on Facebook with a virtual bullhorn.  I looked up other blogs to get ideas, but also to get advice.  I was shocked to learn how many other running blogs were out there.  Too much competition, I initially worried.  I came to realize these fellow bloggers would become helpful teachers, faithful readers, and in some cases, great running friends and compadres (Yo!  Shout out to my Musketeers!).  

I ran 13 races in 2013.  I got shut out of some races: Marine Corps 17.75k, the Marine Corps Marathon, and the Sayville Run to the Brewery.  However, I made it into other races, the Hood to Coast "Mother of All Relays" and most notably, the Boston Marathon (whoo hoo!).   I PR'd in all of my distances, but at the same time failed to meet many of my goals.  I am coming to terms that I am not as fast as I think I am.  My most memorable races were the Sacred Heart 5k because I ran my first race in a sub-7 minute mile pace; the Jamestown Half Marathon simply because of the beautiful scenery and rolling hills (yes, hills!); and of course my one marathon for the year, the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon.

As of this evening, December 30th I ran a total of 1742.85 miles since January 1, 2013.  This is considerably more than my 1117.26 in 2012.  I had no serious injuries (thank you, whoever is in charge of not injuring me!) despite spraining some toes, losing some toe nails, an unfortunate incident or two of nasty chafing, and faceplanting a couple of times.   It was a good year.

Looking forward, I'm not sure what my 2014 goals are, other than completing Boston and ending this Runner's World streak.  I  might try another fall marathon depending on how I feel after this next marathon cycle.  I'm just thankful to be healthy and able to run out the door ready for the next adventure.

Here's to age group awards, overall awards, The Stick, clean porta potties, plenty o' toilet paper, BQs & PRs!  May at least one of them, if not all, find its way into your life in 2014.  Happy New Year, running freaks!!!  I couldn't ask for better company.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

I Heart Washington, DC

We got to our hotel in Washington, DC at 6pm Friday evening.  I did my 5 miles on the treadmill in the hotel gym.

The next morning I was ecstatic to get outside and run.  I absolutely love DC.  I started coming down in college to visit my best friend at Georgetown University.  She had a great apartment right by the canal.  I have fond memories of smoking, eating, and walking all over the city (I still get nostalgic about my hoo).  My husband's headquarters are in DC, so we have visited about once a year during the last fourteen years.  We even lived in Crystal City, Virginia for six months.

I love that DC is a walking city, much like New York.  I love the extra-terrestrial subway system.  I love the monuments.  I really love the free museums (If we brought the whole family to just one museum in NYC it would cost us over $100 just to walk through the door!) !  And I love the energy.  It's exciting to be in the heart of our country's government.  The only downside to living in the area is the unholy traffic on I-95.  I dare say it is worse than the Long Island Expressway.  If we ever lived here, we would just have to live in an adorable brownstone in Georgetown so we wouldn't have to deal with rush hour.  Problem solved.

I set out for my ten miler at 10:30am.  It was around 40 degrees and the sky was a cloudless bright blue.  I had shorts on, a tech t-shirt, my daughter's bright yellow American Eagle hoodie, my son's wool army hat, and my new sunglasses.  The JW Marriott is on 14th street and Pennsylvania Avenue.  I ran down 14th to the mall and then back up to Pennsylvania to  the White House.  There were tourists everywhere, sometimes I had to zig zag to get through their groups.

Home sweet home

I ran back to the mall to the Lincoln Memorial.  Running on the path along the Reflecting Pool toward the memorial is an amazing experience.  I ran up the stairs and looked east toward the Washington Monument.  It's hard not to feel patriotic during moments like these.

I cannot believe Abe had the nerve to photobomb 
my picture of that nice family!  

Isn't that sky unreal?!

I ran behind the Lincoln Memorial and took the Memorial Bridge over to the Arlington National Cemetery.  There is no running on the cemetery grounds so I just did a u-turn and went back over the bridge.  There were a lot of runners crossing the bridge in both directions.  Back in DC proper, I stopped at the World War II Memorial.  I took a terrible selfie in front of the New York pillar (there are 52 pillars with the names of the states and US territories inscribed on them).  An older woman asked a man who had just taken his family's portrait if they were from NY.  The man proceeded to tell her that he was from Yonkers and is the landlord to President Clinton in NYC.  He said his young son and the president are besties and then showed us (because I inserted myself into this conversation) pictures to prove it.  He said Mr. Clinton is extremely kind, thoughtful,  and classy.  He then apologized for bragging.  I had to tell him that Mr. Clinton just happens to be my favorite president so I was happy to hear confirmation of what I had always suspected (this is a running blog, not a political blog.  I only mention my admiration for President Clinton because of this chance meeting.  It is not meant to start a political debate.  I understand he may not be your fav prez, but he's mine.)

At my 8 mile mark I was heading up Capitol Hill.  Yes, it really is a hill.  Just 75 feet elevation, but at the end of my run it was a challenge.  It pays off though, because when you run to the front of the capitol building, it can take your breath away.  It is such a magnificent, majestic work of architecture, you can't help but be in awe.  Too bad there are a bunch of knuckleheads who work there.  Maybe if they took the time to appreciate where they were, they would take more pride in their jobs (oops, sorry.  Now I'm getting all politically preachy.  I'll stop.).  I flew down the hill and back to the hotel feeling more energized than ever,  The run was 10.25 in 1:28:09, an 8:36 pace.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Willkommen in Deutschland

It is our last two nights in Florida and we have moved to the Disney Vero Beach Vacation Club resort.  The weather took a turn for the worse today, it was raining and very windy.  By the time I got my act together at 1:30pm, I decided to do my 8 miles in the hotel gym.  Yes, I made this decision mostly for fear of having to use the bathroom (which, of course, I did) than for the weather.  Yesterday morning I ran on Indian River Boulevard for my almost 12 miler (11.7 miles) and by 3 miles I was on Potty Alert.  Luckily, there was a park with a clean restroom on my route.  Because I waited today's run out, I knew for sure it would be interrupted.

There are two treadmills in the Disney gym.  One is the basic LifeFitness where you look at a screen with a red dot traveling an oval shape for every quarter mile.  The other treadmill is the Cadillac of all treadmills, the Lifescape.  I chose the Caddy.  I set my pace at 8:27 per mile and then sped up to a 7:03 pace for my 8x100 strides.  There is a video screen on this treadmill with a button reading "Courses".  I pressed this and was presented with multiple locations:  Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon, Germany, Auckland & Wellington,   and the Trinity Mountains were just a few.  I tried Auckland & Wellington.  This virtual course started on the city streets along the marina.  I wasn't too impressed, so I switched to Germany.  I loved it.  The course begins on a dirt path in a national forest, it then switched to historic city streets in Munich.  The scenery was so interesting and beautiful with fantastic details.  The time flew by.  I had to cut my run short to 7 miles because we had Christmas Eve dinner plans.  I'm looking forward to finishing my German tour tomorrow.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Motion Traxx's Cardio Express Review

I read a lot of running blogs and have always envied those lucky writers who are asked to review a product.  How do I get in that game, I wondered.  Well, my blogger buddy, The Emerging Runner, and now colleague invited me to join his tech review blog called Running Gear Adviser.  Perfect!  And now...(drum roll) is my first review:

Motion Traxx, the fitness music people, now offers new "Cardio Express" audio workouts.  The first album is called "Cycle Express".  They have a "Treadmill Express" and "Elliptical Express", but they are not available yet.  Cycle Express is an album split in three 20 minute sessions.  Each session features coaching by Schwinn Master Trainer Gregg Cook (also Nicole Kidman's personal trainer!)  over a techno soundtrack.  You can do as many sessions at a time as you like.

You're thinking, does Aimée even own a bicycle?  And, did she bring it down to Florida with her?  Yes, I own a bicycle.  It's more of a leisurely-riding-up-and-down-the-block-with-the-kids bike.  Not a racing bike.  And no, I didn't bring my leisure bike to Florida.  I also do not have my own spin cycle.  However, cycling and running are similar enough cardio workouts, so I just ran with it (ha...get it?).

Yesterday, was my Pfitz marathon training 9 mile day.  I put off my run until the afternoon, about an hour after eating a huge goat cheese salad poolside.  Do I take a chance and run 9 miles along A1A, roughage and all?  Not a good idea, with my track record (ha...get it?).  I decided the dreadmill in the gym at my in-laws' gated community would be my safest bet.

Session 1 starts with a three minute warmup.  This session focuses on lactic power.  After the warmup, during which Mr. Cook gives an encouraging pep talk, there are four 40 second high intensity workouts with 80 seconds of recovery between each.  The entire time Mr. Cook is coaching you through it.  I thought this would be annoying since I'm not really a gym class/personal trainee type person.  Instead, his commentary really helped me push myself, especially when the going got tough.  I ran the first 40 second sprint at the 8.5 treadmill speed, which is a 7:03 pace.  I increased the speed with each sprint up to 8.8, a 6:48 pace.  I held this pace for the rest of the workout sprints.  After the last 40 second run, there is a 2:20 recovery, then the sprints decrease to six 20 second bursts with 60 second recovery in between each.

The first session was so challenging and invigorating, I decided to do the second one.  This second session focuses on lactic capacity.  Again, there is a three minute warmup.  It is followed by five sprints from 90 seconds to two minutes in length with 90 second recoveries in between.  Mr. Cook coaches you throughout the session.  By the third sprint, my legs began to feel rubbery from the intense running.  I completed the session at 5.2 miles, but was in no condition to attempt session 3.  I ran the remaining miles (3.8) at an easy 8:30 minute pace.  Next week, I will do Sessions 2 and 3 on my next speed workout day.

I definitely recommend this album for cardio workouts, especially if you are looking to improve your speed.  Even though, this was a cycle session, I felt like it was completely compatible for a treadmill workout, as well.  Mr. Cook's positive, yet no-nonsense direction really motivates you, as does the background music which changes with the intensity of the workout.

As my two year old daughter might say, ta-da!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Have Sneakers, Will Travel

We are on vacation!  Yay!  We drove down to Florida from New York with the four children!  Boo!   Actually, it wasn't as painful as our drive down last April.  The two littlest girls are older and Pete and I got wiser (not really).  We left Wednesday night at 10pm and stopped in Fredericksburg, Virginia at 3:30am.  The next morning we had an overpriced not-so-good breakfast at the Battlefield Restaurant, and then walked across the street to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery.  It was a glorious morning, 75 and sunny.  The grounds of the cemetery were hilly.  The kids had a blast stretching their legs on the dirt paths.

Steep steps leading up to the cemetery.  
Great glute and quadricep workout!

I loved this sign.

This happens to also be my first week of training for the Boston Marathon!  I'm using the Pfitzinger 18/55 training schedule again, the same one I used for my last marathon.  This is an 18 week schedule that starts with a 35 mile week and peaks at 55 miles per week.  This is a lot of mileage for me, but I preferred the speed work over the Hal Higdon marathon plans I used in the past.  Pfitzinger's plan is also touted as one of the best on the Runner's World marathon training forums.  

If you recall, I said Week One is supposed to be a 35 mile week.  Well, today is Day Five and I've completed 18 miles so far, but only because I've been streaking.  Monday and Tuesday I ran 1.12 miles each because I was lazy and the road conditions back in New York were icy.  Wednesday I was going to make up the 8 miles I should have run on Tuesday, but came up short with 5.3.  Considering this was the day we left for our vacation, I'm pretty shocked I even got 5 in.  

Thursday we drove 12 hours to Savannah, Georgia.  We arrived at the hotel at 9pm.  Instead of running my scheduled 9 miles, I ran a whopping one mile on the hotel dreadmill.  Easy, right?  Unless you're running in Converse Chuck Taylors.  I was rushed to get this run in before going out for a late dinner because the kids were starving.  I figured I should just run as is, rather than get changed into my running gear.  Here is my quick review of Converse Chuck Taylors as running shoes.  They suck as running shoes.  There is absolutely no support anywhere.  And if you think your usual double knot will hold for more than 5 minutes, you're mistaken.  If your shoelace happens to untie itself while running on a dreadmill, I highly recommend you immediately stop to fix the problem, rather than run with a loose shoe.  Not safe.  Speaking from experience.  

Today we arrived at our final destination, Vero Beach, Florida at 1pm.  I was hungry so I decided to have lunch before doing my 9 mile makeup run (which I ended up doing on the dreadmill while listening to the new awesome app I'm going to review in my next post!).

In conclusion, although it might require some restructuring, it is possible to follow a training plan while on a road trip with children.  You just have to be flexible and creative.  Now I must pass out from utter exhaustion.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

And Bloggers Make Three

Saturday I met up with my favorite bloggers for another group run.  This time we met at the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC) headquarters in Plainview, NY to participate in their larger group run.  As soon as I arrived, the snow started to fall.  It was around 27 degrees.  I didn't wait long for The Petite Pacer (TPP) and The Emerging Runner (ER) to arrive.  A GLIRC group photo was taken, for which we hung out in the back, yet still managed to "photo bomb".

You may be able to find moi.  
If you can pick out TPP and ER, 
then your detective skills are being wasted 
(unless, of course, you're a detective).  

We all quickly set off on our run.  Early on we managed to lose the group by taking a wooded trail.  It was tricky in the snow and ice, but fun.  However, I tripped on a tree root and hit the dirt.  ER and TPP helped me up.  I was not hurt badly, brushed myself off, and kept going.  This is my second fall in the past two months, and third in over twenty years.  I am lucky not to have seriously injured myself.  I hope I'm not tempting fate.  We found the bike trail again and the other runners at around the 3 mile mark.  I was pleasantly surprised we were at 3 miles so soon because it felt like not even one.  We decided to go a little farther before turning back.  The way back was a little hilly, which I loved because I hadn't run hills in months. TPP had tremendous energy from the beginning of the run through the finish, despite a couple of low mileage weeks and a chest cold.  I had to work to keep up with her.  ER  was a trooper and wouldn't give up, even though I could hear his breathing was labored at times.   Back at GLIRC headquarters, there was a wonderful spread of coffee, cake, bagels, and muffins.  After our carbo load, we stopped for some decaf at Stabucks, planned our next run together (the Long Island Road Runners Club New Year's Day 5 Mile Hangover Run), and then said our goodbyes.  I really enjoy running with these two and can't wait for our next outing.

left to right:  Clumsy, Techy & Peppy

Friday, December 13, 2013

Mizuno E Numero Uno!

I wasn't going to go out yesterday morning in the frigid 24 degree weather!  No way!  I waited it out until the afternoon when it was a balmy 29 degrees!  Ha!  Actually, I wore my new Mizuno cold weather running tights (On sale for $50 at National Running Center).  My legs were as toasty as a couple of melted marshmallows roasting over a campfire (I know, it's as though you're reading a line right out of a Robert Frost poem).  There are zippers at the ankles to make them easier to pull on and take off.  I've had my struggles trying to peel other tights off.  There is also a zipper at the waist in the back for gels.  So far, these are the my favorite tights to date.  I had my Uniqlo heat tech turtle neck, a thermal Old Navy shirt, and a fleece to keep me warm up top.  My face felt like I had stuck my head in a freezer, but thawed out after a couple of miles.  I wound up running an easy 8 miles.

I also received my new Nathan iPhone carrier in the mail!  It's a little loose at the tightest fitting, but it doesn't slide.  My phone won't fit inside with its protective case so I'm a little nervous about the bottom velcro giving and the phone falling out onto the street, but I haven't heard of this happening to others so far.

Today I ran 6.45 miles at 4pm.  The streak is going strong!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Evolution of a Run

I'm the type of runner who never really knows how far I'm going to run sometimes until I'm actually running.  Am I spontaneous?  Am I a poor planner?  I like to think of myself as highly evolved, or at least my runs are.  I head out the door with one distance in mind, but it could very well end up being something completely different.  The change could be due to fatigue, boredom, pain, time constraints, bathroom emergency, you name it!  I can be flexible.  For example, you would think Sunday would be a perfect day to get in a long run.  Unless, Sunday was the only day you could sleep in (meaning 9am).  And you had to make pancakes for your children and other people's children who slept over.  And you were pressured into going to church (no offense, God).  And you had to go Christmas shopping.  I could go on and on with my excuses, but I won't (because I just did).  A long run evolved into a 1.12 mile run with my 7 year old son.  At least I'm not breaking my streak.

Monday morning was cold.  Lucky for me, I waited until all the kids were home from school.  By then, it had warmed up.  I went out at 3:45pm and felt great.  My 3 mile run evolved into a 5 mile run.

And today?  Today it snowed and it was also my oldest daughter's birthday.  I put off running until dinner time.  She joined me and we ran 2.3 miles in the wintry dark.  It wasn't too cold, but the light blanket of snow and Christmas lights on many of the homes made for a festive little outing.  The best part was when we came home, my daughter told me how great she felt afterwards.  I explained endorphins to her.  The Runner's High is reason enough to take up the sport.  I may not have run as far as I should have, but I got to spend some quality one on one time with my first born.  It was a great end to her birthday.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Seaford Hot Chocolate 5k Review

I arrived at Seaford High School this morning at 8:10am.  The sun felt good on this 40 degree morning.  I entered the high school and made my way to the auditorium.  There was a band playing Christmas songs in the hallway.  At first, I thought they were practicing for a school performance, but it turned out they were there for the race!  What a nice touch!  There were a lot of people milling about inside.  Winter races with indoor facilities made available to the runners pre- and post-race are aces in my book!  Fellow blogger, The Emerging Runner (ER) arrived about fifteen minutes later.  I was disappointed to hear that our other blogging buddy, The Petite Pacer would not be joining us due to her petite car overheating (boo!).  We got our numbers and eventually made our way to the start.  The organizers announced there would be over 900 runners!


Musical accompaniment

ER and I were chatting it up at the start about everything from family to sailing to martial arts.  I realized I had forgotten my watch which was annoying.  It's not a Garmin, but it helps me keep track of time (Imagine that!) and estimate my miles.  We were lined up around the 7 minute mile pace sign, but there was still a good size crowd ahead of us.  The gun must have gone off because suddenly people were running.  It was hard for me to understand the emcee whose full time job must be teaching Charlie Brown & the Peanuts gang.  

I'm pretty sure there was no start mat to activate the chip.  The frontrunners' start time was the same as the back of the pack's.  We were near the front, so probably only seconds were lost, not minutes.  However, every second counts in a short race.   A couple of hundred yards in, my useless Yurbuds iPhone arm band unravelled (the velcro fell off months ago so I've been tying it) and began to slip down my arm.  I tried tightening the knot, but to no avail.  I decided to just take it off and carry it.  This was also annoying, but manageable.  

The 5k course was flat and basically a loop with turns at each mile marker.  The Mile One clock read 9:13 when I passed.  I asked the man next to me who assured me that was the wheelchair start time.  Whew.  Mile Two's clock read 16:20.  When I hit Mile 3 at 22:xx, I thought the clock must still be at least 1:30 ahead so I wasn't worried about finishing sub 22.  I crossed the finish line, grabbed an orange slice and water, and then waited for ER to finish.  I thought he might come in around 29 minutes give or take 30 seconds.  Of course, I looked down to get my camera ready and in that split second, he ran by.  In 27:xx, no less!  I was sorry not to get a shot of him crossing the finish line, but psyched he had such a fantastic time!  I think if given the choice between a photo op or an awesome time, he would choose the latter.

ER stands for Excellent Run!

We went to the Finish Line Road Race Technicians' (FLRRT) van to check out our results.  These timing guys are super efficient in posting the results in real time and getting them online within a couple of hours.  My 22:46 time was just that, according to them.  I ran at a 7:20 pace and finished 2nd in my age group.  I was in the top 4% of women and top 11% overall.  Not a PR, but I was happy.  

Overall, I highly recommend this race.  The organization and amenities for the runners were terrific.  The course was fast and easy.  I would definitely consider doing this again in the future.  Hopefully, with our third Musketeer!

not shown: TPP

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Short Post For A Short Run

Day #5 of the running streak:  Monday.  My RDO (Regular Day Off).  A day off defeats the purpose of the running streak.  Runner's World suggested running just one mile on these RDOs so as not to burn out.  They also recommend not racing this mile, as tempting as it may be.  The whole point is to just log the mile, so why not run it nice and easy?  And that's  what I did.  I ran 1.12 miles at 6pm in 43 degrees.  It took 9:30 to finish.  It felt great.  When I "retire" from long distance running, I think I could get used to running a mile day!  A 5-7 mile week sounds sweet.... (daydreaming...)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dress For Success

Day #4 of the Runner's World Streak.  The first day of the streak, Thanksgiving, I ran the Garden City 5 Mile Turkey Trot.  The next day was tough getting out the door.  The longer I waited, the colder it got.  Temperatures were still in the 30s.  After announcing to the world that I was participating in this streak, I was very close to ending it on just the second day.  I couldn't be that ridiculous.  I finally got my arse out the door by 3:30pm for a 6+ miler.

Yesterday and today were slightly warmer than earlier in the week, low 40s.  I bought a new Avalanche running top at T.J. Maxx on Black Friday so I tested it out yesterday for an 8 miler.

Take me to your leader.
Do you love thumb holes as much as me?

The Voltiac hooded pullover was $24.99 at T.J. Maxx instead of $50.00-$75.00 online.  I wore a tank top sports bra and a Uniqlo heattech turtle neck underneath,   The Uniqlo heattech technology redistributes your body heat to keep you nice and toasty.  I love it for my cold weather runs.  However it does not wick away sweat, so when your run is over, you should immediately remove the top because it will be soaked.  The Avalanche top has a soft liner inside for warmth.  By the second mile, I realized I could have done without the turtle neck. The Avalanche inner liner also wicks away sweat.  The outer layer stretches for optimal movement.  The high scuba collar keeps your neck warm when the hood is up.  This is a perfect top for the winter, as both a base and outer layer.

Today was a balmy 43 degrees at 9am when I went out for another 8 miler.  I wore a pair of shorts, but didn't forget my hat and gloves!  I'm not crazy, you know.