Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Familiar 16 miles.

Today was a great run, from beginning to end. It was one of those runs that reinforced my love for all of this training.

I won't go into detail about scenery and route, because it's more or less the same, except I ran all the way through and didn't take the bus. I meant to run 13 miles, but because it felt so great, it ended up being 16 miles. You just don't fight it when you're on a groove! (Although, many running articles state the contrary, and warn about over-training... Whatevs.)

I'm completely a creature of habit in all sorts ways. I eat the same thing over and over. I do the same thing every night. I run the same route week after week after week. I run on the streets, and there are sections where I'm usually the only person running. After 4 months of running in the same area, I definitely notice familiar faces, and they recognize me as well. In fact, there's a homeless man with missing front teeth who stands right next to the Dunkin Donuts every morning, that does a little Running Man routine each time I pass by. I can't do a whole lot except smile and run past, since I don't carry change when I run, but it's a city experience in itself.

Once I start crossing the Queensborough Bridge, I notice familiar running faces too. It makes my day when strangers wave, or give a quick nod. There are a lot of bikers on the bridge, as well, and the nice ones also acknowledge my presence. (The mean ones yell at me to get out of they way.)

In Central Park, it's rarer that I see someone I recognize, but I see types of people that make it all the more interesting. It made me smile today to see an older man carry an F. A. O. Shwartz bag, which I completely assumed that it was for a grand child. I'm always impressed with the hardcore moms and dads that run with those fancy-wheeled baby strollers. There are tons of dog walkers. Today, there was a skateboarder who had a Rottweiler by the leash, and they were both mad-dashing parallel to each other down some steep hills. The skater knew what he was doing, though, and steered clear of other people, so it was highly entertaining to watch.

Running outside allows me to be part of other people's daily lives too, and it's especially true in a place like New York where there are constantly tons of people outside. Back in the suburbs of LA, there were only about 5 people outside walking/running when I would run. That has it's charm too, because we got to the point of stopping and chatting at traffic lights, and get friendly.

Anyhoo, today was great, and I'm glad to have gotten the mileage in. Must have been the stuffing+pumpkin pie carbo power that really fueled me for those 16 miles. My ass is sore, and I haven't moved much since 3 hours ago, but it's the type of exhaustion that makes me feel accomplished.

Hasta la next week!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Slow But Steady

What. A. Week.

I think the way I feel about my long run (before the day of the run) is determined by how the rest of the week had been. This week, I have to admit that I wasn't very enthusiastic about my long run because I've had one of the most exhausting week since I moved here 4(!) months ago. It started with getting over a cold from that dreadful fever last week, and proceeded with a non-stop work week, thanks to the Annual Elected Coordinated Period for Medicare. (In layman's term, it's a period of free-for-all for most people who have Medicare, and the phones won't stop ringing.) I worked and worked, and even went to an off-site some where 30 minutes away from Jamaica, Queens to do presentations. I was already exhausted on Monday from being sick, and I was depleted on Friday.

I was battling a general fatigue throughout the week, but I had completely gotten over the cold and really didn't have any excuse to ditch my run. After stalling for a little bit, I finally just got over it, got ready, and went out the door.

This entire week, when I first start running, I've had this sensation that I'm not really there. My mind becomes a big blur, and it's almost miraculous that my legs keep moving, because I have no conscious thought through my head. I'm blaming it on the fact that I'm tired. I had this sensation again this morning, and I wasn't really aware of what I was doing until after I crossed the bridge, which is pretty much 3 miles into the run.

On Sundays, there are considerably more people running then any other mornings. I try to not pass any judgments, but you can tell right away if someone is not a frequent runner. The dead give-away is if anyone, male or female, is running in sweats. After you run a couple of time, you realize how burdensome it is to wear heavy clothing, and you pretty much shy away from anything cotton. When I see someone running in big old sweats I assume right away that they don't run very often.

I ran to Central Park. I went around the reservoir twice today (SO much better puddle-free), got back on the loop route, and kept running. Around mile 8ish, I noticed how slowly I was going, and these sweats-clad people were passing me. When I run for more than an hour, I never feel like I'm flying the entire time, but the fact that these infrequent runners were passing me left and right made me realize how SLOWLY I must have been going. I couldn't go any faster, though. I just couldn't. I shook off the dumb pride and kept at my own speed, and trucked along the E 110th St. hill. (Just fyi, you're going to hear about this hill often. It's pretty killer and long.)

Last week, I had a problem of mustering the energy to keep going. This week, that was not an issue. I was going tortoise-slow, but I didn't want to stop. I ran the entire 12.7 miles I ended up running. (That 0.3 miles that would have made it 13 kind of kills me) I was slow but steady, and I felt good when I saw Columbus Circle. Columbus Circle is on the last mile of my route, and I've made the mistake several times of expecting to see the CNN building at Columbus Circle way too early, and thus being discouraged and tired. Today, I was surprised to see it at the time that I saw it, and went on my merry way towards 5th Ave, which is the end of the route.

I could have gone further and crossed the bridge, but there's something about going from the beautiful park to the industrial part of the bridge that makes it unappealing, especially at the end of the run when you kind of need a boost. I figured I ran at least 12 miles at that point ( I need my heart rate monitor to actually track this kind of shiz), and saw the bus and took it home.

So that's that. FINALLY a successful run. I suppose next week is my half-marathon mileage week. I should be more than ready, since I have ample time to rest before, aka Thanksgiving weekend. HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama fever weekend.

I rarely get sick. I get sick once a year, if that. When I do get sick, it hits my like a brick wall, and I'm usually surprised and unsure what to do, because it's so unfamiliar to me.

The last time I got sick was on Election Day last year, and is illustrated here. On Friday evening, right when people were leaving for a happy hour, which I intended on attending, I suddenly got this sensation of extreme warmth around my head, but chills on my body. The heater/AC tends to shut off around 5:30pm - 6:00pm sometimes, so I first thought that the chills were due to that, but I still couldn't shake off the odd feeling, so I passed on the happy hour and went home.

I still had an appetite so I ate dinner, but I definitely felt the fever coming. I started calling it Obama Fever, when talking about it to my roommate, because it's quite literally a year after his election/my last fever. I went to bed, waking up several times in sweats, chills, hives, you name it, and spent the rest of Saturday in bed. It's also been a year since I spent 17-18 hours in bed, the majority of it being sleeping.

I thought about the proposed long run, that I had told myself I'd do today. Internet gives contradictory advice on exercise + illness. I was on the borderline of a lot of things. I had an appetite (good), my fever broke (good), I had some throat issues (bad), and my chest was feeling tight (bad). I woke up this morning feeling alright, with evidence that I had gone through another fever fight, with sweat on my pjs as evidence. However, I felt fresh, no aches in my body, and I had eaten the last night, and no stomach issues. I decided to try the 11 miles out, with the condition that I not brand it as a failed run if I don't make it the 11 miles.

So, I strapped my gear, and my pod-cast, and off I went.

The beginning felt great this morning. I'm telling you, RANDOM. However, around the 3rd mile, I definitely felt tightness in my chest that was new. It didn't help that I was breathing in colder air than my body temperature, but it wasn't enough to stop. I made it across the bridge to Central Park, as usual, and went on my merry way around the park route.

One of the many great things about Central Park as a running route, is that it's easy to add mileage, and make it an enjoyable run. This time around, since I was adding a mile, I decided to run around the reservoir, which is a 1.58 mile addition, and a beautiful scene to run along. I made it to the reservoir, expecting a nice scene, but was met with one of my least favorite running obstacles: puddles. It had rained the day before, and along the entire narrow running route were huge puddles of water. I hate puddles more than running in the rain. It made everyone running/walking along the reservoir to slow down, and hop, skip, and splash along it. It could have been worse, because there weren't that many people running around it, but...meh.

I ran and ran, and ran the hill of E. 110th St., and I just totally crashed, energy-wise. From the moment I hit E. 90th something street, I started walking/running and about half a mile from Columbus Circle, I just started walking. I drank all the water that I had, and ate my Shot Block, but I just couldn't get the energy to continue running. I finally exited the park, and got on the 59th and Lexington, where I took a bus home. I think I ended up running about 8ish miles, give or take.

I'm showered, and inhaled a bunch of steam from the hot water, ate a bowl of oatmeal, and have NPR Weekend Edition Sunday streaming. I'm feeling a little off, but I can't tell if it's because of the cold, or because of the run. I'm coughing a little, but not more than before, and nursing my throat with a trusty Ricola cough drop. Crossing my fingers that this won't last past tonight.

Again, not a FAILED run, but an honest attempt. Sigh. Stay tuned for next week.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Brain can say 13, but legs may say 10.

After a glorious rest day on Saturday, I was all geared up for my 10 mile run this morning. I was more excited than usual because I had a new water belt, new running gear, and a new iPod Shuffle. (My old one that lasted for 2+ years died just last week... Oh the places I've taken that Shuffle..)

I told myself I would do 10 miles, and off I went to Central Park.

My usual route takes me from my apartment, across the Queensborough Bridge, a little into Manhattan up the tip of the SE corner of Central Park, and back across the bridge to my humble (rented) abode. That's about 6-7ish miles. When I want to run more, I enter Central Park and work my way around.

I don't care how cliched it is to say this, but Central Park is such a gorgeous park to run through. If you decide to do the entire loop, it's about 6 miles. What I had planned on doing today was half of my usual route crossing the bridge, the 6 mile Central Park loop, and across the Queensborough Bridge to go home and take a bus home. This equals to 10 miles.

On top of running in one of the prettiest parks, we are currently in the best running season of the year: fall. I hate running in the heat. I'd rather run in the winter, than run in the summer. Fall is just perfect because of the crispness in the air. This morning was no different. The air was fresh (or as fresh as it can be in NYC) and I was out the door, after loading 2 episodes of "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" on to the Shuffle.

I still haven't figured out the science in how to get a good start. It's still random to me. There are some mornings when I feel like shit, but the minute I start running, I feel like I'm the lightest being on earth. Then there are mornings like today, where I wake up with no problem, excited about the run, and my legs feel slightly like dead-bolts. I couldn't get a groove. Thankfully, the first part of my route is down hill, so I built some aided momentum, but I was still struggling when I crossed the bridge. It wasn't until around the 6th mile that I actually felt like I had a good pace. The rest of the time, I felt pretty slow. My sister told me during my last marathon that I picked up the pace from the 13th mile and on. I guess it's better to be stronger in the latter half than the first.

The park was breathtaking. The trees were all sorts of yellow, red, and green. I was looking up at the trees throughout my run, which might be why my 6th mile felt great, because it was in the midst of the autumn foliage. I admit to almost crashing into people because I was so distracted. I used to do that while driving, where I would be distracted by the clouds and almost run red lights. This space cadet is much safer for herself and society when not maneuvering a vehicle. Now, it is just other runners, which is less hazardous...?

Central Park is FULL of runners, bikers, walkers, etc. Some people have complained about the crowd, but I honestly don't mind it. I don't feel cramped, and there's enough space for everyone. For the most part, people are courteous, and I feel an unspoken camaraderie. Sure, there may be some snooty elite runners who look down on my running and my iPod (a huge no-no, apparently) but there are so many runners on different levels that I don't feel intimidated to the slightest.

The 6 mile loop ended up being wonderful, despite the steep hill on E. 110th St when crossing over to the west side. I was feeling really good up until Columbus Circle, where I drank my first sip of water, 1hr 15 min into my run. I'm glad I had the water belt. Once I exited Central Park, I only had the bridge left to complete my 10 mile run, which was my plan. I had refueled with one of those Shot Blocks from Clif Bar (which is just like a giant gummy bear) and began crossing the bridge.

Going towards Manhattan on the Queensborough bridge is a long but gradual hill. The other way around is a short but STEEP STEEP hill, and the Shot Block definitely did what it was supposed to, especially because it was the 9th mile. I conquered the hill, and was running across the bridge, and entertained the idea of running the whole way home, instead of taking the bus, which would turn my run from a 10 mile run to 13 mile run. I was feeling good. I thought I could do it. I got off the bridge and started running more, when my legs started protesting. It wasn't in pain, but it wasn't moving much. It was as if my legs had entered into an agreement with my brain that it would do 10 miles today, and they were protesting the breach of contract. I obliged with a compromise, and instead of running it, I walked the way home. It was actually a nice cool down, and hopefully it will make me less sore.

Now I am here, in my room. I ate my favorite breakfast of peanut butter and banana sandwich, and am listening to NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, while punching out this post. My ass is already sore, but I can't ask for a better way to spend a Sunday. Next week will be 11!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Marathon, round 2!

Hello there. Have you abandoned me? I don't blame you. I'd like to say that I have a lot to report, but alas, such is not the case. I can't even say that I've been incredibly busy, because that would be a lie. I can start saying that as of this week, because several projects have picked up and I was occupied a lot more than before, but it doesn't give me an excuse for the extended absence from this blog, except the fact that I had nothing to say.

HOWEVER! That is about to change! HAZZAH!

I've decided to dedicate this blog from now until March 21st, 2010 to write and report about my marathon training. Yes! You heard it right. I am running ANOTHER marathon, and it is the same marathon, the great Los Angeles Marathon. It's going to be the 25th race, with a brand new course. I happened to watch the New York City Marathon last weekend, and I simply could not sit still. I signed up a couple of days later, and I am extremely excited!

I'm going to record how each of my long runs go, which is mostly going to happen on Sundays. It'll give me something to look back on, and perhaps there will be some tidbits that you all might find entertaining.

There are some things that I'm going to change about this marathon training that I wanted to share with you:
1. Really monitor my eating the night before my long runs. Before, I thought it was a free-for-all when it comes to carbo-loading. It is not so. I think this lead to my weight gain from my marathon training (which I haven't lost, but meh, it's also extra muscle) and there have been mornings where I felt less than stellar right before the race. Carbo-loading means a meal of mostly carbs, and not a LARGE meal with mostly carbs. Less fun, but that's the way it goes.
2. I'm going to get a heart rate monitor. I'm not going to be running for speed, for several reasons, but I think finding out my heart rate will help me understand how much I should be pushing at what mileage. (I'm eyeing the expensive Garmin... it's just so cool...)
3. I'm going to rest. I have a problem with resting. I can't sit still these days, so I don't really do the advised rest days. I'm usually swimming, or running. This really doesn't help. I've designated Saturdays as rest days, although this isn't set in stone. I am going to rest, and it starts today. ( Just FYI, I ran 6 miles on M, swam 2k meters on Tu, ran 6 miles on W, swam 2k on Thu, and ran 5 miles on F. REST NEEDED.)
4. I'm going to get a water belt, and use it on my long runs, along with some sort of sugar boost. I've totally zonked out on several long runs to Central Park, and I think it's good to get used to supplementing myself with some sort of sugar. When I trained in LA, I only used a water belt once, and I've hit the mental wall many many many times.

SO! HERE WE GO! I will report how my long run goes tomorrow. I'm going to be doing 10 miles, which is the most that I've ran since my half-marathon in September. I'm not too worried about it, but am looking forward to let you know how it goes.

Now off to enjoy my REST Saturday!