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Brooklyn Half Marathon and Spring Training

May 21, 2012

Last I wrote, you read (anyone listen to Doug Loves Movies?), I was training hard for the Brooklyn Half. Which was yesterday. And my goal was 1:44:xx. Yes—I ran. No—I did not reach my goal. Sigh.

So what has been going on between my last post and now? Well, I trained my tush off. When I said I was going to focus hard on speed this spring, I really did. I tried to do some type of focused workout twice a week, be it mile repeats, a tempo run, or repeats of the Bridle Path loop (FUN), and I kept up my hill work and did race pace miles during almost every one of my long runs. I had a huge 10K PR, and am sure I would have PR’d if I had run other race distances. If you asked me three weeks ago, I would have said I would have no problem reaching my goal time. Things were going swimmingly, and I had just finished a 14 miler with the last three miles at 7:30 pace, feeling awesome. I was, without a doubt, the fastest I’ve ever been. And then…I don’t know…my legs stopped working correctly. My fall injury was acting up again, my right upper IT was being a brat, and in general my right leg, knee to hip, was all kinds of angry. And because of all that, I just couldn’t run as fast anymore. So, I had to rethink my expectations for the race, and my goal was 1:49:xx. Just a PR, not a huge PR.

And how about race day? I met running bestie Megan at 5:20am (omg…so early), and we grabbed a cab to Brooklyn. We got to Grand Army Plaza a little after 6, and started the march to the staging area, along with every single other runner in NYC. Seriously…it was crowded. The only other time I’ve ever seen runners swarm like that is the walk from the buses at Fort Wadsworth at the start of NYCM. Considering they increased the race size from 5k to 15k this year, the swarm wasn’t surprising. I was nervous, however, that because of the size increase, some of the race logistics would go wrong, but things seemed pretty smooth (although I do think the race was too big…). We stashed our bags behind the Brooklyn Museum and BBG, ran into familiar faces galore (even among the 15k others, I still run into lots of runner friends), used the port-a-potties and headed to the corrals. I hoped there would be port-a-potties in the corrals, considering the size of the race (any other NYRR race this size, and sometimes smaller, have had them in the corrals), but no dice.

I got on my corral around 6:30 (supposedly they closed at 6:40), and spent the next 30 minutes starting to panic slowly. I’m not the calmest person, and can get pretty anxious pretty easily. I would have loved to have a friend in my corral to talk to, which would have helped calm my nerves, but I didn’t see anyone I knew. Therefore, for the 30 minutes before the start, I went over every scenario that would cause me to get a terrible time or have to drop out. I thought of all the pain I had been having in my legs over the past two weeks, was sure things were going to get so severe I would have a DNF. Also…I had to pee. It was warm, so I had been hydrating all morning, and could have really used a corral port-a-potty. This was not my favorite 30 minutes.

Finally, the gun went off, and I had one focus: find a port-a-potty. I had to cross that need off my list to see if I could focus on my running. I found one a little after one mile, and got right in line. Looks like many other runners were unhappy with the lack of port-a-potties at the corral, as there was quite a line. But, I found out soon enough that there was no tp. And…I needed it. So, I got back to running, and went looking for another one. However, in that first mile, when I was distracted and not focused on my running, my legs totally loosened up, and I felt great. I had energy, little pain, and was able to bring my pace down to goal race pace, which was about 8m/m. I was still looking, though, and finally found another port-a-potty around mile 3.5. Between the two, I lost about 4 minutes (LINES!), and once that was taken care of, felt like I could finally start my race—I wasn’t distracted by anything, and could really run. And for the next 4 miles or so, I kept feeling great. My pace was around 8:05, and felt good, cruising along, sipping Nuun regularly, seeing friends on the sidelines, enjoying the shade of Prospect Park. But then, pretty much the second we turned out of the park onto Ocean Parkway, I was done. Seeing all of the runners in front of me, in the hot sun, looked miserable and I just didn’t want to keep going. I am not a summer runner, and run much better in the cold. It was getting warm, the shaded park was behind us and a long, sunny straight road was in front. I always forget how Brooklyn Half is not my favorite course…

Miles 7-11 were a struggle. My legs were starting to hurt a lot, and I was feeling exhausted and hot. My pace rose, and I gave up any chance of reaching my goal. I had to keep talking myself out of taking breaks, and ended up taking a walk break for about 2 minutes at mile 10. Starting again was difficult (of course…which is why it’s never a good idea for me to take walk breaks in races), and everything that had been hurting in the past weeks hurt like never before. Running was not fun. But, seeing the mile 11 marker was a welcome sight, and I found a second wind to finish out the race, keeping my last 2+ miles at about 8:10 pace.

As with every other Brooklyn half, finishing on the boardwalk was exhilarating, with the ocean breeze from the left, and the ferris wheel up ahead. I don’t actually know what my official finish time was (I haven’t quite gotten the nerve to look it up yet…), but my time sans-port-a-potty time (I stopped my watch during those breaks, because I wanted to see what my actual running time was) was 1:49:35. An unofficial PR for sure, but not what I wanted (official time is not a PR. bummer).

No matter what, I actually had a fantastic time training for this race. Watching myself get noticeably faster was amazing, and was proof to myself that consistent speedwork…works! I had so many more wonderful runs this cycle than I can remember. Two great races: Urban Environmental Challenge 10K and Scotland 10K; lovely early morning runs around Central Park; and peaceful runs when I was in Cleveland last week.

Actually, I contracted a pretty horrid case of poison ivy from the Urban Environmental Challenge in the beginning of April, all over my legs. I’ve never had it before, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. During those horrible weeks, the only time I wasn’t in misery was when I was in shorts, and hence spent more time running than I ever have; I only felt relief running: no fabric touching, the breeze keeping the itching at bay, no noticeable oozing. And it was during those poison ivy-fueled runs that I feel in love with training. I always loved racing, but training was a bit of a pain. I truly learned to enjoy training during these past few months, and I can’t wait to train hard for future races.

So I didn’t PR and reach my goal. But I think I learned a lot about myself as a runner this spring, and am a better and smarter runner, and I really know how to train. I didn’t reach the goal I had been focusing on; I reached a goal I never knew I needed to achieve, thus making this as successful a training cycle as I’ve ever had.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Bridge Running

March 26, 2012

Songs stuck in my head during this run:

West Coast by Coconut Records
In da Club by 50 Cent (no clue where that one came from)
Cry When You Get Older by Robyn

I finally got my bum down to the Williamsburg Bridge last Saturday, and it made me one happy runner. I headed out for a see-how-far-I-wanted-to-run run, which included my favorite thing about New York City running: bridges.

When I say it was a see-how-far-I-wanted-to-run run, I mean that I had an out after about 11 miles and could keep going up to 15 (or longer, if I felt like it). My goal was to run 13, but I hadn’t run anything longer than 10 in 3 weeks, and didn’t want to push too hard with the distance, but I also wanted to see what distance I could get to. As I said back in January (I think), even though I’m only training for a half, I want to get up to regular long runs of about 15 miles to help build a strong, solid base for my fall races plans. Therefore, I’m working towards going above my goal race distance, but not going too far. So this week…11 to 15 miles…whatever my legs were up to!

I headed out with a basic plan, but left the exact route to be decided at the moment. As someone who runs way too often on the same routes in Central Park, it was nice to have a run that was a bit more unpredictable. After standing at my corner for way too long waiting for satellite (worst thing about my stupid Garmin. That and the fact that it hates me and refuses to give me accurate splits anymore), I started running south down York till I hit the end—what is that…53rd?—and turned onto 1st ave where I continued until 34th to could cut over to the East River Path. I ran down with path with pretty solid splits, staying in the 8:20 range, and enjoying the weather. I was in a long sleeve and shorts, and got pretty warm quickly, especially when I was in the sun along the River. I didn’t have any water with me, as I didn’t think it was warm enough (it was about 50 degrees when I left my apartment) to need it, but was sweating up a storm, and wanted some. I held off but got a small bottle a few miles later, right before I headed across the bridge.

I ran down the East River Path, past Houston, into the land of where I used to run almost every single day when I lived in Alphabet City—I really miss running regularly down there. I was deciding between running down to the Brooklyn Bridge and running back to the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, or do the opposite, and decided to start at the Williamsburg Bridge. I felt so happy to start running it—it is such an ideal bridge to run. A big, wide path with plenty of room so the runners and bikers don’t start glaring at each other because they’re invading the other’s space (like on the Queensboro Bridge), lots of pedestrians, runners and bikers to people watch, great views all around, and never crowded (I’m looking at you, Brooklyn Bridge) Yup, it’s still my favorite. But, I remember it being steeper and harder and feeling like it went on forever. Not this time—it felt fairly short and not too hard. I think it’s my constant running the Queensboro…now THAT is a bridge that I swear goes on forever (especially Queens to Manhattan), and is pretty steep. This morning, the Williamsburg almost felt like a walk in the park.

Once I hit Brooklyn, my goal was to mosey my way over to Dumbo, using whatever streets I came across. I have a general sense of where I’m going and know Brooklyn well, but never know the names of the streets. So…I ran some streets in Brooklyn, around Williamsburg and the Navy Yard and wound up in Dumbo (I could upload my Garmin data, but that would mean it cooperating with me, and that’s not happening). I had thought I was going to run the Brooklyn Bridge back, but realized it was after 9, and any day that the weather is fairly nice, it is a smart idea to avoid running the Brooklyn Bridge between the hours of 9am and 9pm. Tourists galore, that don’t respect runners or bikers. Therefore, I ran the Manhattan Bridge back into Manhattan, which was much less crowded, save for the occasional club kid having a photo shoot (there were two of these. Hmm). By this point I hit 11 miles, and was honestly feeling a little tired, and decided to top it off when I reached 13. I ended up running up to Union Square and calling it a day right as my Garmin beeped 13.2. I would have probably been disappointed if I stopped at anything shorter than 13, but 15 would have been too much. I actually stayed in Union Square to buy some produce at the Farmers Market (yay for always bringing cash with me on my run), and hopped on the First Avenue bus uptown.

I came home, foam rolled (no, I didn’t. I should have), and skyped with this fellow.

We're singing Old MacDonald. That's why my mouth is wide open. He's really good (and freaking adorable) and E-I-E-I-O.

He can say my name now. Bessy. We’re working on it.

All in all, it was a great run, and nice to get out of the Central Park routine, and plan a run by ear, as I was running. Where my feet wanted to go Saturday, that’s where I went.

Beach Running in South Beach

March 23, 2012

Guys, my hell week is over, so that’s awesome. Well, until my next hell week in three weeks. Although I think next week is going to be pretty rough too. I’m pretty psyched to sleep tonight, as I basically haven’t slept in a week. Last Wednesday night was the last time I got a solid night of sleep. Yeah…I’m tired. I just took a horrible exam, and when I was going over my answers the second time, I literally almost fell asleep. Pathetic.

So, I was in Miami last weekend! It was awesome. I was there for one of my college best friend’s wedding, and it was pretty much the most fun weekend of my life. They’re a college couple, so almost all of the bridesmaids (like me!) and groomsmen were college friends, so it was one big giant college reunion.

Best college girlfriends. I love them.

There was beach time and mani/pedi time and girlie time and wine time and dancing time. (I would like to apologize to the pedicurist for my toes. I haven’t gotten a pedicure since 2006, and my runners toes are a scary mess. And fugggly. She saw them and literally flinched. And I had to convince her that I didn’t want my feet scrubbed with the scary scrub thing because I didn’t want my callouses removed. And she did a pretty good job! You can only kinda see the black toe nails. Ew.)

My roommate saw this and said "oh, look how good your toes look!" My response: "those aren't mine. Mine are on the right." Her: "oh, I know. I know your toes can't look THAT good." (sad)

And, I even got running time in on top of all that other fun time! Friday morning, I convinced my two friends to hit the beach for some miles. Still having fun with not being able to sleep in, I was up at 6, and was hoping they would be up by 7:30 so we could be out the door by 8, but no go. They’re normal, and sleep in on vacation. Me? I left our hotel room, wandered the streets for some coffee and hit the roof of the hotel for study time.

Soon enough, though, they rose and we got our running in. We did a mix of packed-sand and sidewalk, enjoying the views of the water, and remembering what it’s like to sweat a lot while running. The three of us got in about 2.5 miles together, and I did another 3 or so by myself on the beach. Beach running! So fun. Something I never get to do in New York (unless I feel like venturing out to Coney Island). And not easy. But definitely a great change of pace from asphalt and concrete.

I was able to get another run in Sunday too, amazingly. Sunday, after the wedding. After dancing my butt off for hours on end. And after drinking a fair amount. After going swimming at 2am. After going to bed at 3am.

That's not nuun or gatorade...

But, I was awake at 6:30, knew I wasn’t going to go back to sleep, and decided to just get up, put on my running clothes, and see what would happen. I walked out to the beach and it was so quiet and peaceful…the only people out were those setting up hotel beach chairs for the day. And a few people walking their dogs. And even with the hangover and super sore feet, I started running, and ran about 20 minutes out, and 20 minutes back. Perfect for a little pick-me-up.

And then I got on an airplane and might have cried. Cause I knew this week was going to suck and I did not want to leave the fun escape at the beach, and go to my busy life. And this week did suck. But at least I still have sand in my running shoes!

Read Me

March 20, 2012

Because I don’t have time to write a new post and I’m planning on sitting in the library tonight until 1am and that makes me want to cry and whatever and whatever and whatever…you all should read this. Pointed out to me by Jocelyn and Celia via twitter.



We are different kinds of runners. We don’t run to run. We run to fly.

Goal: Don’t Puke

March 14, 2012

I am totally and completely a morning runner—whether it be super early or more mid-morning. My legs feel fresher, I have more energy, and most of all, my stomach is happiest. I’m not known for my stomach of steel…I have more like the opposite. Stomach of…rubber? Anyway, I pretty much am always a little nauseous in the afternoon, and any bit of running in the evening really jostles it around too much.

However, I used to run on weekday evenings all the time. I would run, maybe, once a week with my team, and I would join the Wednesday evening running group at the east side Run Co store. Every time, though, I would have to take breaks because I got too nauseous, and would end feeling really sick to my stomach. I never felt as good as I should have during evening runs, because of my damn stomach. The low point, though, was about a year ago when I did an evening run with Run Co, and felt not great during, and about an hour after I got home that night, puked, big time. All from that my evil stomach hating evening runs. After that horrible incident, I tried to slowly move away from evening runs to doing the majority in the morning—I did NOT want that to happen again.

Luckily, my school schedule this year has allowed me to get in two morning weekday runs per week, so I’ve all but eliminated the need for evening runs (to run in the morning when I’m working, I’d have to be home from my run at 6am, and I’m not quite up to running at 5am right now…). Today, though, I found myself faced with an evening run. This week I’m working M, T, W and if I wanted to get my Tuesday run in, I’d have to run after work. Sigh.

I went to work with my running clothes, and thought I had a 50/50 chance of actually running: I’m pretty good at psyching myself out from evening runs, thinking about my stomach revolting. However, the weather was amazing, and walking to the subway after work, I realized it would be stupid to waste the evening, and headed to the park.

I dropped my stuff off at NYRR and started my run. Along with the rest of New York. Holy crap, the park was crowded tonight. Lots of groups out running and every more recreational runner was out there. I hit the bridle path (of course) where it was a little less crowded, and did a five-mile loop (72 to Harlem hills, with the extended bridle path). My goals for this run were A) not puke and B) get in some solid miles. Overall? It was okay, and I achieved both goals. Yay? My stomach felt not great, but there was no puking. My legs felt tired, but not horrible. I felt…like I had had a full day before, not nearly as great as I do in the morning. They were a fine five miles…not fast, not slow…you could honestly call them junk miles. But I got out there, even when I really didn’t want to.

Am I glad I got out there? Of course I am. Will I make evening runs a regular part of my schedule once again? Hell no. They are officially emergency-only runs. I’m sticking with my morning runs.

(Hey Meggie…I watched Dance Moms while writing this. WTF is this show? Is this supposed to be child abuse?)


March 12, 2012

I really didn’t want to do my long run today. My last run, on Thursday, was not good in the slightest. I felt sluggish, my joints ached, my IT band was tight; nothing went right. And whenever I have a bad run, I dread the next one. What if that run is bad too? What if this is the beginning of all my runs being bad? What if I never have a good run again? These are the silly thoughts that flood my brain between every bad run and the next.

Therefore, this morning, I lingered as long as I could, pushing back my run until the last possible second. Make a cup of coffee? Sure! That takes time. Why not review my cobalamin study guide? If I do that, I can go over it in my head on my run! Email my dad? I bet he needs my answer to his question in the next 5 minutes, not in 2 hours, when I would get back. I did everything I could to avoid that run. And then I realized my window to run was slowly shrinking, as I had to be out the door to head to the library by 10:30 and it was 7:30. So I yelled at myself to suck it up, get dressed and get out the freaking door.

I had originally planned on running 12 miles again, but because I had wasted so much time, I had to cut it down to whatever I could do in an hour and a half. I also had originally planned to run in the park, but decided to stay really close by and run the East River and Queensboro Bridge. And guess what…pretty much the second my feet hit the pavement, I felt great. Energetic, springy, relaxed, happy. All that anxious anticipation for nothing.

The river path was fine, but the bridge was the real highlight. I try to run the Queensboro every other week or so. I find running any bridge a great challenge, and probably the best hill workout in the city. I lived down the block from the Williamsburg Bridge for many years, and used to run it as often as possible. It is by far my favorite bridge to run, nice and long with a bit of a break in the middle of the incline. Williamsburg Bridge is a solid 5 miles away, so it’s a bit of a stretch to run besides for long runs…unless I do a destination run. Anyone? Williamsburg to Dumbo run? Bridge to bridge? Anyway, the Queensboro was especially awesome today. I felt strong but challenged, and excited that I was getting my bridge in. It was particularly windy today, as well as sunny, and my face for the rest of the day has been bright red from both the wind and sun. Time to find my sunscreen again!

And I made it home by 9:30, with 10 solid miles under my belt and was in and out of my apartment within an hour, headed for my favorite place in the world: the library. It’s spring break…so I was basically the only one there. It was kinda awesome. Kinda. Not nearly as awesome as my run, that I should have never been nervous about in the first place.

Oren's. Nuun. Tocophenols. Good times.


March 9, 2012

First, this happened.

Obviously that "has" is supposed to be a "had." Sigh.

I know. I hate myself too.

I did some mile repeats today. They blew. I planned on doing four but only ended up doing three. And I did them on the Bridle Path where the rest of New Your City was running at 7am this morning. Doing mile repeats on the Bridle Path is not easy, especially when your Garmin is being extra moody. I have no idea what my times were. But I felt beat the entire time.

I accidentally wore matching shirt and shorts on my run today. Both were the exact same color of teal. I looked like one of those crazy people who only wears one color.

On my way home from my run I saw Andrew McCarthy taking his kids to work, and then Tea Leoni walking her dog. New York is fun like that. I love Andrew McCarthy.

I had my last class before spring break. But I’m going to Miami next week for a wedding, and have to get all of my work for the week after done this weekend. I’m not looking forward the next few days

I had a mini anxiety attack in the library tonight when I realized that when the second half of the semester starts, I am going to become exponentially busier than I am now. I am starting another class next week and my volunteering position re-starts. I don’t have time for any of that.

I had Sedutto with three spoons with Susan tonight. I had three samples of chocolate/coffee stuff, and ended up getting raspberry chocolate chip yogurt. It’s my favorite. I love Sedutto. I am thankful that Susan lives a block away from me. Susan and I were shooting the breeze in Sedutto, when my roommate walks in, to buy some for her dinner. Sedutto is a cult.

The light in Sedutto makes this deliciousness look psycho. It's not. It's amazing.

Everyone should watch Happy Endings. And watch Community next week.

The end.