Thursday, May 31, 2012

Save the Date!

It's not what you think.  I won't be walking down the aisle anytime soon.  And I don't have a ring on my finger. But I've finally made a commitment to something that's almost as big as getting married.  I just signed up for my first marathon!  PHILADELPHIA MARATHON, NOVEMBER 18!  

It did take me filling out the registration form online at work today, then deciding not to submit it. Then filling it out again at home tonight, hovering over the "Pay Now" button for 5-10 minutes, looking up training plans, calculating predicted finish times on multiple sites and closing my eyes when I finally clicked the button...but I'm doing it!

I'm nervous. I'm excited. I'm wondering if I'm insane (but hundreds of thousands of people run marathons every week, so it can't be THAT hard, right....????!)

Before the Boston Marathon this year, I always said that I didn't know if I ever wanted to run a marathon.  But watching the marathon online (while I was supposed to be working!) really motivated me.  I'm not sure why this one made me want to run a marathon more than any other marathon I've ever watched, but it planted the seed that maybe I COULD do it.  And maybe one day I would want to.  After hearing so many other people's awesome marathon stories recently, I decided that I want to have that experience too.  I've never run a step past 13.1 miles, and every time I've finished a half, I am convinced that I couldn't run another step.  But in November, I'm going to prove to myself that I can run twice as far.

I've heard the course is great from all but one person.  My sister and brother-in-law live in Philly, and my mom and boyfriend already said they'd come cheer me on.  Okay, let's be honest.  I'm still trying to convince my boyfriend that he wants to run too....  But regardless, I'll have people either running alongside me, or standing along the side lines cheering. Hopefully it'll be enough to keep me excited and energized to run twice as far as I ever have.  Although I suppose I've doubled my distance before- 2 to 4 miles, 6 to 12 miles, etc., so why can't I do it again- 13.1 to 26.2?!

While writing this post, I've had thoughts of dreading doing this marathon, and thoughts of extreme excitement.  I imagine I'll continue with this slightly bi-polar  thinking for the next 5 1/2 months, until I cross the finish line in Philly!

Are you running a fall marathon?  Are you running Philly?!  If you've run Philly before, what'd you think of it?  Do you WANT to run Philly with me??

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

RW Summer Running Streak Fail-To-Be and Modifications

I've made it 3 days into the Runner's World Summer Running Streak.  I plan to run tomorrow, so that'll be 4.  But I'm pretty sure there won't be a 5th day.

After trying it for a few days and giving it some thought, here's my reasoning for bagging it so early:
1. I've never run 7 days in a row.  I've never run 5 days in a row.  And I still love running.  Do I need to run 38 days in a row to love it more?  Or would I end up not liking it as much (more likely!) because I'm "forcing" myself to do it?
2. I originally thought it would be a good idea because it would keep me motivated to run in the summer heat, and this may be true.  But running in the heat everyday makes me never want to run again.  So if I only run 3 or 4 days a week, it'll give me a break, but I (hopefully) won't end up hating it and giving up like I have every other summer.
3. I'm attempting to change my foot striking because I've seen multiple pictures that look like this recently.

My heel is in pain just seeing this picture.  While I've been fortunate enough not to have any serious injuries due to how I hit the ground, I can't imagine that it's good for me.  And I have had some minor leg issues so think it's time to change this.  While I'm adjusting, I figure I shouldn't try anything else new.  My calves are already sore from mid-foot striking for just a few days, so I want to be able to give them a rest when I think they need it.
4. I love to sleep.  Today I only had to get up and run one mile, but you would have thought I was forcing myself to eat rocks (did you know that there are people that actually do that?? Weird...).  It was a struggle, it wasn't fun, and I don't want to do this to myself for 4+ weeks.  I can handle waking up early to run a few days a week, but not everyday in the summer.  Isn't that when I'm supposed to relax and sleep more?!

I'm not going to stop running, and I still want to stay motivated, so I'm going to create my own Summer Workout Streak that I think will work better for me.  I'll start in full swing next week, since this week is already half over, and will go through July 14.

1. Run at least 20 miles a week.  (Seeing that I only ran 26 miles in all of July last year, this will be a struggle for me.)
2. Do plank everyday. Do squats everyday.  (Ever wonder how to work your inner thighs?  Try these squats!)
3. Go to one cross training class a week.  (I haven't done this in a year, and know it's good to will get back into it!)

AND! I'm giving myself an incentive if I do it!: Buy something running related that I want.  Yay!

For me, I feel like this new plan is well balanced, challenging, and will make me a better runner.  Verdict is still out on whether the Runner's World Streak would make me a better, happier runner, or a more tired, less excited runner.  Although I think I know the answer to this...

Stay tuned to see if I do THIS streak since we can be quite certain that the Runner's World one will not be completed!

Are you doing the RW Summer Running Streak?  Do you have your own summer training/workout plans?  Who wants to cross train with me?!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Running Break, Vacation and Runner's World Summer Running Streak!

I took exactly one week off of running after the Brooklyn Half Marathon.  At the end of 2011, I planned on running exactly one half marathon during the early months of 2012.  Five months later, I've run three, and raced two.  (The Manhattan Half marathon doesn't count as a race for me, since I ended up running it a day late, by myself.)  But I definitely gave the NYC Half and Brooklyn Half my all.  Since I've never done so many weeks of training and half marathons in a row (which I know is nothing for most people!) I decided I wanted to give myself a break and take a week off.

I was really sore after Brooklyn, so was okay the first few days without running.  But by Wednesday, day 4, I wanted to get back out there.  On Thursday, we left for Traverse City, Michigan, which would have been the perfect place to run everyday!

But I still waited.  Instead, I ate.  A LOT. And stayed up way too late many nights in a row. And went wine tasting.

On Saturday, one week after Brooklyn, I finally went for a slow, 3 mile run along the lake.  It was great to get back out there, even just for a short run.  Now I'm excited to be back to running on a normal basis again!  Or perhaps not so normal.

Last week, while taking my running break, I saw a Twitter post about the Runner's World Summer Running Streak and was intrigued.  I've never run more than 4 days in a row.  And now I'm going to attempt to run 38 days in a row.  While the mileage isn't a problem (if I only run 1 or 2 miles three days a week), the heat, showering situation and making myself get out there every day might be!

I'm not a morning person. AT ALL.  I struggle to wake up at 8am, 9am, 11am, or 4pm from a nap.  (Hmm, maybe I just have a sleeping problem!)  The Runner's World Running Streak means I'll either have to wake up to run everyday before work, or shower twice a day if I wait to run after work.  I suppose some days it'll be so hot that I'll want to shower twice, but that gets old, and my hairdresser would not be pleased with me washing my hair twice a day! :) So, stay tuned and check back for updates to see if I make it 3 or 4 days, or 38 days!  The Streak starts tomorrow!

What's the maximum number of days you've run in a row?  Are you trying the Runner's World Summer Running Streak?

Monday, May 21, 2012


While waiting for the subway on my way home from a Girls on the Run volunteer info session tonight (more on that below), I genuinely smiled and was happy, maybe for the first time, about my Brooklyn Half race time.  I ran a PR, I ran my hardest (my legs are still hurting, so I'm taking that as a sign that I gave it everything I had!) and I had a great time.  Yesterday I was grumpy and maybe slightly depressed, but today I realize that whether a PR for you is 1 hour 10 minutes, 1 hour 45 minutes or 2 hours 55 minutes, it's still a great accomplishment!  Doing something better/faster than you've ever done before is amazing and definitely something to be celebrated.  So I apologize for my less than upbeat post yesterday, and hope this one will make up for it!  And, I'm not going to lie, but it also helps that I signed up for the NYRR Queens 10k yesterday....

Lessons I learned from this half: always have another race on the calendar before finishing a big goal race!  Don't expect running a PR to be easy, no matter how big or small the PR is!  But, when you get that PR, be super excited!!

On another note, I'm happy that yesterday I figured out how to make my blog cooler by adding different tabs/pages.  Keep checking back for updates as I have more time to write/navigate blogspot!

I'm happy that I went to a Girls on the Run volunteer info session tonight and learned more about this great organization and how to get involved.  I'm excited to get started and make a difference.

I'm happy that not all of my race photos look like this

And that some of them look like this

I'm happy that I've been trying new things, meeting new people, coming up with new ideas and getting involved in new ways.

I'm happy that I only have to work one more day this week, and that on Wednesday I'm going to have brunch with friends at a time when I'd usually be stuck at my desk.  And I'm happy that I'm going to get a mani/pedi after brunch and count how many black toenails I have.  And I'm happy that on Thursday, I'll be on a plane to Michigan for vacation for a few days and my views will be like this:

Okay, actually, I'm 100% sure that that isn't our room, and that our view won't be like that...but that's our hotel so hopefully our view will be half as nice!

And lastly, and most embarassingly, I'm happy that once I publish this blog post, I'm going to go watch The Bachelorette, even if the guys this season might be a bit questionable.  I almost never admit that I watch this show, but tonight, it's the only thing I want to be doing.  On my couch, in my pjs, icing my legs and eating chocolate, and being happy about my PR and the week ahead of me.

Sometimes all it takes in life to make you happy is a PR and another race to look forward to, or a (trashy?) TV show to watch.  Sometimes it's the little things that matter most.

What made you happy today?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Brooklyn Half Recap!

On Friday afternoon, my boyfriend (Anthony) and I went out to Brooklyn.  He had a rehearsal for a concert he was playing Friday night at 10pm, and I took a nice long nap.  :)  Seems fair, even though we were both running Saturday, right??  Since we knew he was going to be playing in Park Slope Friday night, and the start of the Brooklyn Half Marathon was at 7am on Saturday, we got a hotel room for Friday night, near where he was playing and sort of near the start.  In retrospect, this was one of our best ideas ever, because without this hotel room, neither of us would have slept more than 3 hours Friday night.  This was the view from our hotel rooftop  

I left Anthony's concert halfway through at 11:30pm, and made it to bed by midnight.  He got to bed after 1am and was less than excited (I gathered) about waking up at 5:45am to run a half marathon.  It really was my idea to run it, and I think he went along to be a good sport, so props to him for not wanting to kill me when I jumped out of bed excited and ready to go when we got our wake up call!  And good thing I asked for a wake up call, because I set my phone alarm for 5:45PM.  Uhhh....

When we woke up, we still weren't sure how we were going to get to the start.  We had the subway option, but it was at least a 10 minute walk to the 2/3 line. We could take a cab, or we could walk/run to the start (1.5 miles).  When we were finally dressed, had eaten (bread and peanut butter out of the jar. Yum.  What do people eat when they stay in hotels the night before a race!?) and had all of the necessary GUs, Garmins, beans and iPods, we tried to get a cab.  The first cab said that it was bumper to bumper traffic all the way to the start, so we decided to start walking.  Note: we didn't see ANY traffic on our run/walk over to the start.  Thanks, cabbie.  However, it was good to warm up before we started running, so I guess it worked out.  

Since Wednesday, I had been slightly worried about my right leg, because after my last run, it was feeling tight/slightly sore and just a little off.  Okay, let's be honest. I was terrified that my leg was going to fall off during the race.  Not because it hurt that much, but because that's how much I freak out about the littlest amounts of tightness/pain! For 3 days, I iced it constantly, foam rolled it, elevated it, rested it, strengthened the opposite muscle, and hoped that it would be fine for Saturday.  On our way to the start, I could feel the same issue coming back and was worried that I was going to have to DNF the race.  I've never done that before, and know that I would be completely crushed if it came to that.  Once we got to our corral, (btw, there were SO many people!) I massaged my leg as much as possible and tried not to freak out about it.  

There was a lot of talking over the loudspeakers that we couldn't hear, and before we knew it, the race started!  It took us over 5 minutes to cross the starting line, but we were finally on our way!  The course was slightly different this time (and better, I thought!), with the first miles outside of Prospect Park before only making one loop of the park.  My goal time for this race was sub 1:45.  This was my goal time for the NYC Half in March too, but I finished that in 1:45:54, so I was really hoping to get it this time.  I knew I was going to have to run an 8:00 pace consistently, but thought I had it in me.

The first few miles of the race were the most exciting  By mile 3, the lead pack had passed us going in the other direction so we were cheering for them, I saw someone who had already peed their shorts (that must make for a remaining long 11 miles...) and I saw Jocelyn!!  We said hi quickly, and I yelled "GO JOCELYN" like a crazy person, but it was fun :) 
Miles 1-3: 8:04, 7:55, 7:38

The miles through Prospect Park moved along...slowly.  I knew the hill in the park wasn't as big as the Central Park hills, and I didn't think that we were running slower, but my Garmin told me otherwise. However, since mile 3 was fast, I knew we could take some time and still be okay.
Miles 4-6: 7:54, 8:07, 8:07

After leaving the park, I knew that a co-worker would be waiting to cheer us on around 7.5 miles.  I think also knowing that we were out of the park, which means more than halfway done, got us moving faster.  But somewhere between mile 8 and 9, I started to mentally struggle.  I never felt that I got into the zone yesterday.  Ever.  And I have a hard time on straightaways, which always happen to the be in the 2nd half of the race, when I'm tired and need some things to look forward to. 
Miles 7-9: 7:40, 7:40, 7:49

Anthony and I ran the Brooklyn half together two years ago, and yesterday was like deja vu.  Somewhere between mile 10-12, he ditches me.  Without saying bye.  I wanted him to push himself and do his best, but he could at least warn me that he's going to leave me in the dust, no!?  :)  I thought I was pushing myself once I got to mile 10, knowing that there was only a 5k between me and the finish line, but again, my Garmin did not agree.  Next time, I'm definitely having friends/family cheering somewhere between miles 9-12!  This is also when I began having thoughts on whether I would want to/could ever really run a marathon. Could I really make myself run another 14 miles+?!  There's a reason I haven't signed up for Philly yet, and it's because I wanted to see how I felt after Brooklyn....
Miles 10-12: 7:46, 7:48, 7:56

At this point, I was really struggling, although just in my head.  I had to keep telling myself to keep going, because I knew that if I kept up at least an 8:00 pace, I was going to PR.  And the faster I ran, the bigger the PR would be.  My body felt fine, and I never once had any of the leg pain that I was worried about! Woohoo!  So knowing that my body felt good, it was frustrating that I couldn't get my mind on board.  However, I knew there was going to be a turn around 12.5 miles, so I was just trying to focus on that because then the end would be so close!  Occasionally, I caught a glimpse of Anthony up ahead and that motivated me to push it.  However, the little ramp up to the boardwalk did NOT make me want to push to the finish!  I forgot about that from 2 years ago, and was unpleasantly surprised.  But once I was on the boardwalk and could see the finish, I used everything that I had left (really, not that much!) 
Mile 13: 7:40
0.1: 7:13 pace

Official finish time: 1:43:23 (7:54 pace)

And Anthony, who hadn't run a half marathon in 2 years, and really only started running consistently again in late March, finished in 1:43:06 (a PR for him by 8.5 minutes)!  Clearly the speedwork that we've started doing helps a lot! 

After finishing, we were handed these medals, which was a nice surprise since we didn't get a medal in when I ran this race in 2010!

Since the race, I've been going back and forth between being super excited about a sub 8 pace, and being disappointed with my finish time.  I think I'm somewhat disappointed because I (stupidly) thought it was going to be easier for me to get this PR.  I knew I was stronger than when I ran the NYC Half in March, so I had unrealistic thoughts that it would be a walk in the park.  Or at least not as hard as it was for me.  I definitely need to work on my mental thoughts when running a race.  And learn to get in the zone more, like I do on my long runs.  I KNOW I should be so happy with a sub 8 minute pace.  And the last time I ran the Brooklyn Half, my time was 10 minutes slower!  I know I gave it everything I had yesterday.  I remember wanting to stop, feeling like I couldn't go any faster, and wondering if I might throw up, so it's not like I didn't try.  And I got a PR!  So for now, until I have a better reason, I'm going to blame it on the post-race blues.  I was planning to focus on the Philadelphia Marathon next, but now I'm not sure that I want to take on that challenge...yet, which leaves me without ANY races coming up.  It's also the first time since late November that I won't be training for a half.  I plan to take the week off from running, but am wondering how I'm going to feel about running without a training plan next week.  I'm such a type A person that I don't often run without a plan telling me what to do and when.  I'm kind of excited to just run when I want and for how long I want, but we'll see how long that lasts! :)

We went to see The Avengers last night, and for the first 15 minutes of the movie, all I was thinking about was, "What race should I do next? How is Brooklyn over already?! Did I run as hard as I could have? No really, what race should I do next?? What the heck is going on in this movie!?!?"

All in all, looking back now that I'm no longer at mile 11, this was a really fun race.  It was the first race that Anthony and I have run (mostly) together in 2 years.  I PR'ed, the weather was beautiful, and the course was good.  In a way, I wish the race was tomorrow, not necessarily because I would run it differently, but so it wouldn't be over yet!  

But since it is already over, I need to go drink more water, foam roll and look up races to sign up for!  

What did you think of the new course yesterday?  What's your next race?  Do you get post-race blues? What's your favorite marathon (in case I decide I could double the distance...)?  What do you eat for breakfast when you're not home the morning of a longer race?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Taper Week!

In case you can't tell by the title of this post, it's taper week for me!  The Brooklyn Half is on Saturday, so I'm resting and relaxing this week.  Or at least trying to.  Saturday will be my 4th half marathon (although the 5th time I'm tapering for one- I was supposed to run the 2012 Manhattan Half but it was changed to unscored and untimed due to weather, and I was sick, so I stayed in my warm little bed that morning!) and I've had the same experience each time I've tapered.  Part of me loves it, part of me hates it and the other part is just really confused about what to think & feel! 

First of all, my taper week started off like this:

In case you don't have a Garmin, that is NOT how it's supposed to look when you're ready to go out for a run!  Usually I can't get the damn thing to stop beeping, but it didn't beep once to tell me that it was dying a slow death overnight, and wouldn't be ready for me in the morning!

Once I decided that I could survive one run without my Garmin, and in fact it might be a good thing, I set out for a 3 mile easy run.  Apparently, during taper week, a 3 mile run = 5 minutes.  Clearly, this is not the case. After a few minutes, I want to die because mentally, I'm not in it.  That's not dramatic at all...  8 miles should be easier than 12, but after a run, I post tweets like this: 

I stress about every little body part that doesn't feel 110%.  What if [insert body part] feels like crap on Saturday and I can't finish?  If I've felt fine all throughout training, so why do I suddenly think that I won't be able to put one leg in front of the other on Saturday?! Once I get through all of these mind games & potential issues, I start over at the beginning and completely stress myself out.

However, once in a while, I'll think some happy things about taper week, like 

I LOVE getting excited that the race is coming up soon!  I've been training for half marathons since early December, so am happy that another goal date is fast approaching!

I LOVE going out of my way to eat lots of carbs like these:

[Although, I did read today that carb loading doesn't really help women for half marathons, but I've done it for other races, so I'll do it for this one too!] I don't normally limit myself when it comes to carbs, but in the days leading up to the race, I go out of my way to consume more than normal! It's fun! Except when I carb loaded for the Manhattan half and then I didn't run it.  Then I just felt gross.

I LOVE getting my outfit together for the race!

And stalking the weather forecast to make sure that my outfit is appropriate!

I LOVE that I don't have to wake up early to get my runs in before work and can go out and party with friends at night instead!  Hmm....or not.  But I do love the sleeping in part!

Lastly, and most importantly, I LOVE getting to the starting line with fresh feeling legs that are ready to race!   

So, bring it Brooklyn!  I'm ready for you!

Do you like taper week?  Do you have similar (irrational or positive) thoughts??

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Meet NYCRunningGirl

Thanks for stopping by my blog!  My name is Abby and I grew up in Syracuse, NY.  I'm not sure how often I'll update, what I'll be writing about (well yes, probably running stuff!), how interesting it'll be, etc, but if I inspire at least one person (or can keep motivating myself to be a better person, runner, writer along the way) then it'll be worth it!  And for those of you that already have blogs, you can now read about my life (if you want), instead of me just stalking you reading about yours. :)

When I was in 7th grade, a few of my best friends and I ran Cross Country.  It turned out that I was naturally pretty good at running, and I loved it.  I recently found these ribbons while cleaning out some boxes in my mom's house!

At the beginning of 8th grade, my friends decided to join the swim team (I probably would have drowned, and hate(d) cold water) so I signed up for Cross Country again. After a few days of practice with a new coach and without my friends, I told my coach that I felt like I was going to throw up after ever run, and quit the team.  Duh, I was just out of shape (I think I secretly knew that, but didn't tell anyone else that that was the reason) and was sad that my friends weren't there anymore.  That was the end of my Cross Country career.  I missed the bus rides to Invitationals on the weekends and the feeling of placing for my team, but friends are really important during those terrible awkward teen years, and I guess it wasn't enough to make myself get back into shape and keep working hard.

I didn't run again for many years.  After college, I found myself working and living here(!)

with a boyfriend that I was mad at for most of our relationship, so I got back into running to clear my head and get un-mad at him several days a week.  He also encouraged me to run to lose some weight.  I was 120 and 5'7".  We're no longer together.  Yay!

A year later, I decided that paradise on the beach was a little too perfect for me, and I missed the East coast, so moved here

and began running here:

I probably never ran more than two miles, but am not sure because I definitely didn't have anything fancy like a Garmin at this point.  In the summer of 2009, my boyfriend (a different guy than the one mentioned above, thankfully!) and I rented a car in NJ, which meant we had to return it to NJ.  It was a hot beautiful day, and he suggested that after we returned the car, we'd take the PATH train back to NYC and run from Battery City to his apartment on the UWS.  Which is 7 miles.  I hadn't run 7 miles since 7th grade. And I was a lot older and a lot less fit now.  But for some crazy reason, I agreed.  It was horrible not fun.  I was definitely not in shape to run this far and wasn't in the mood to push myself.  I walked a lot, I wanted to cry, and wanted to kill him by the end of the run. Somehow, we're still together, and even though I couldn't walk the next day, I was hooked again.  And by hooked, I mean obsessed with running.

Within a few months, we were training for our first half marathon, the 2010 NYC Half.  I didn't get in through the lottery, but wanted to run so badly (even though I had really not liked running very much just a few months earlier...) that I raised $1,000 so I could run as part of the American Cancer Society team.  So quickly, running had become one of my passions and I found myself arranging my entire weekend schedule around a long run.

When I registered for the NYC Half, I put 2:15 as my projected finish time.  I ended up finishing in 1:57:47!  This only furthered my obsession with running, because I knew I could push myself harder to get a PR at my next half.  Since then, I've run 2 other half marathons, and am running the Brooklyn half again in 6 days, and of course am hoping/praying/doing everything I can to get another PR.  Also, as of the last few months, I'm finally officially faster than I was when I was in 7th grade!  And I'm running most likely running the Philadelphia marathon in November, which will be my first.  If I commit....