Thursday, September 25, 2014

What Not To Wear

Knowing how to dress for a run in certain kinds of weather can be daunting.  I was going to go out this rainy 63 degree afternoon wearing this because I just LOVE the sleeves and thought they doubled as arm warmers:

They are neither warm nor warmers.  I wore this instead:

Even better.  You can't go wrong with an official long sleeve Boston Marathon race shirt.

4 miles in 31:35, a 7:54 pace

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

My Cow Harbor Race review was my first post since June 23, about three months.  I had the best intentions of keeping up  with the blog this summer, however as the legendary songwriter Vanilla J. Ice once said, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." Yep, I'm pretty sure it was the Artist Formerly Known As Robert Van Winkle who said it, not that other guy from that British boy band...One Direction.

There were some weeks this summer when I ran just one day and some when I ran five, but my weekly mileage never exceeded 28 and usually averaged about 15.  This was a huge drop from my 40+mpw minimum base I had maintained for two years.  There really wasn't much to write about as far as my running was concerned.  As far as my life was concerned, I did go to some pretty cool places.  For starters, I brought my two oldest children to Europe, while their father stayed home with the two youngest (Yeah, I know).  

We flew SAS (which I totally would fly again) to Rome with a 24 layover in Copenhagen on the way there and an overnight in Stockholm on the way home.  We stayed at the CabInn in Denmark which was walking distance from both the main train station and Tivoli Gardens.  Our triple room was tiny despite the name, but clean with a private bathroom.   There was no time to go for a run and I was in no mood due to jet lag.

Our view from the CabInn in Copenhagen

Our beautiful hotel in Rome, the Visconti Palace, had a gym which is key if you want to run when traveling solo with children.  We were only a couple of blocks from the Tiber River where I saw many runners along its banks, but as much as I would have liked to, I did not join them.  My oldest daughter was not too keen on running along the river and my son would not be able to run more than a couple of miles.  I was not comfortable leaving them alone in the hotel in a foreign country.  We ended up using the hotel gym every night.  We usually were the only ones in there.  My daughter loved the one elliptical machine which was fine because I despise it, and my son and I took turns on the treadmill.  It is a well known fact that treadmills are not fun.  They are even less fun in a country with the metric system.  I have run five miles on a treadmill more times than I can count.  I have even run twelve miles on the treadmill during my marathon training.  But running 8.04 kilometers on a treadmill is absolutely the worst!  Whenever you run on a treadmill, it's a mindfuck.    You play these games in your head while you are constantly looking at the dashboard counting down or up on the clock or the distance or the pace.  To do this in kilometers is downright torture.  My saving grace was spending that time with the kids.  Every day they looked forward to going to the gym after sightseeing.  It was our time to unwind and have fun.  I loved it and hated it simultaneously.

Our "hotel" in Stockholm was called Jumbo Stay.  It is actually a jumbo jet converted into a hostel.  We arrived in Stockholm at 10pm and had to fly out the next morning.  Jumbo Stay made the most sense for a layover since you literally did not have to leave the airport!  The kids and I loved this hotel.   Technically, it is a hostel.  There is a communal bathroom, but it was so clean I did not mind walking in there barefoot (That's right!  BAREfoot!  You have to take off your shoes before entering the plane and leave them at the door!).  The only downside was the lack of a fitness center, but really, there was no time to work out.

Our room at Jumbo Stay 
in Stockholm

You can walk out on the wing for a late night cocktail 
or morning coffee.

My next vacation was less than a week after arriving home from Europe.  We spent three nights camping in Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard and a week in a rental house (a remote converted barn on a compound) on Chappaquiddick.  The Vineyard is a runner's paradise.  There are bicycle paths throughout the island making running safe and convenient.  There is a large, dedicated running community on the island.  Our friend, Dana is one of the veterans.  I ran exactly a 10k from the campsite to Dana's house one day.  The next day I met up with his friends and ran 6 easy miles along the water in Oak Beach.

During the time on Chappy, I explored the island either on foot or bicycle with the kids.  There are only two paved roads on Chappaquiddick, the rest are dirt.  This was great for my legs when running, however it totally sucked on the bike, particularly when there was an occupant in the baby seat.  Chappy is nice for those who don't mind isolation.  If you like restaurants, shopping, and occasional conversation with people who you're not related to, stick to the Vineyard.

The dirt road from our barn, 
aka The Middle of Nowhere,
 to the rest of Chappy

I came back to reality (oh, there goes gravity!)  the week before Labor Day weekend just in time for back-to-school shopping.  Then it was back to school.  And now back to our regularly scheduled program - She Is Out Running...Again

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Great Cow Harbor Race Review

Great Cow Harbor Race Recap

I woke up at 6am, put on my awesome Boston Strong t-shirt (Courtesy of The Emerging Runner.), popped an ibuprofen (Mistake numero uno...) for my calcified shoulder that doesn't seem to be getting better, and two generic Imodiums (Uh-huh!), chugged a glass of orange juice, and packed three sleeping children into the car (Child #1 stayed home because...she's twelve).  We left the house by 7 and arrived at the Laurel Avenue School in Northport by 7:40.  I found The Petite Pacer (TPP) easily and she handed me my bib that she graciously picked up the night before.  We had over 45 minutes to kill before the start so we went inside the school to look for some pre-race water.  I found the most awesome water fountain in the history of water fountains (Cold as though it had a direct line to the peak of Mount Everest.  Okay, slight exaggeration, but man, did it hit the spot!).  We ran into Mr. & Mrs, Freighbor which is always a treat.  Mrs. Freighbor is training for the New York City Marathon and Mr. Freighbor is a trooper!  We also met up with our friend Leah whose bib TPP also picked up.  (I'm not sure what happened to the indentation in this paragraph, but I can't fix it.  I tried.)

We headed to the start and waited on line for the porta potties.  I was confident (Generic Imodiums!) I didn't have to go, but I wanted to chit chat with my buds for a bit.  While talking shop, I realized I didn't have my Casio watch (Mistake numero due...).  I would have to rely on Map My Run on my phone to keep track of my progress.  By 8:25, we headed to our corrals.  Because of the large amount of participants (4,300), there is a staggered start.  My bib number began with the number 4 so that meant I would be starting 4 minutes after the gun went off.  

Today was the third time I ran Cow Harbor.  It is a prestigious 10k ranked among the top races in the country.  The course leads you along the scenic, hilly north shore coast of Long Island.   It is well organized with plenty of crowd support.  The first time I ran Cow Harbor was in 2004 during Hurricane Ivan.  That race was almost a biathlon because you could practically swim to the finish line.  The water was knee deep, no joke.  My second Cow Harbor was in 2012 just a couple of weeks before the Baltimore Marathon.  After months of preparation, I was pretty happy with my time of 49:11, over four minutes faster than the previous attempt.  This time around, I wasn't expecting much.  Since the Boston Marathon, I have been running anywhere from a measly six to twenty miles per week.  This is half as much as the base I had been maintaining since the beginning of 2012.  I just wanted to finish Cow Harbor, preferably without walking and ideally under fifty minutes.  

The first mile (7:48 pace) of the race is great mainly because it is mostly downhill.  As I was taking it easy down the steep Scudder Avenue, Mr. Bozo-I'm-Acting-Like-I've-Never-Run-A-Race-Before flies through the crowd at full speed, arms flailing and all.  I shook my head and quietly wondered to myself at what point I would be seeing his dumb ass doing the walk-of-shame.  Turns out it would be James Street, mile two (7:55 pace).  James Street is the infamous hill in this race with an almost 200 foot ascent.  Steep.  I find the best way to tackle this hill is to just keep moving, if you can.  I make it a point to never walk this early.    The next couple of miles are surprisingly easy peasy.  Then comes the never ending Waterside Road mile.  It is a slight incline, but it feels like it will never end (see previous sentence).  A few people were shouting, "Boston Strong!" which helped me along tremendously.  It finally does end when we make a right at Pumpernickel's Restaurant onto Main Street.  There is a small uphill which basically does me in temporarily.  When I reached the top, I ran out of steam and decided to walk for a little bit ("This is a fun run", "This is a fun run," I rationalized to myself.  I knew a PR was not happening from the get-go).   I saw a sign that read, "It's all downhill from here!" and then I was off again.  The sign did not lie.  Map My Run told me I hit mile 6 in 47:xx which was totally a pleasant surprise since I would have sworn I was in the 50s.  By this time, my stomach and throat were feeling the acid effects of the ibuprofen.  I kept it together until the end.  Once I crossed the finish line, I threw up a little (It happens!).  My official time is 49:37, top 10% in my age group, and top 18% overall.  I hit two out of my three goals which was just dandy for me.

Coming down Main Street

Pete and the kids were waiting at the finish.  We grabbed our freebies (Delicious flavored water, bagels, peanut butter crackers, bananas, watermelon, and juice bags) at the post-race party and met up with TPP and Leah again.  I missed the Freighbors, but saw them once I got home.  

To sum up, I had a great time and will definitely run this again.  The course, the crowds, and the organization make it worthwhile.  Moo!

Leah, TPP, and She Is Back 

Postscript:  I know I have been MIA in both my running and posting.  I have no excuses, but I hope you'll excuse me anyway.