Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Carefree running and vacay-ing.

Sorry for the delay. Didn't mean to upset my one reader that I have (Jimmy). I saw you on Saturday, Jimmy, so you don't really need to be updated, right?

Anyhoo, I went on my 16-17ish mile long run in SoCal this Friday. It was such great weather, high 60s, clear, and carefree. In New York, I'm constantly aware and looking out for possible dangers. It could be cars, pedestrians, icy roads, etc etc. Here at home, there is barely anyone walking on the streets, and there is nothing to worry about as far as weather. It was also Christmas morning, so there were NO cars. I didn't have to think about anything, but just zone out and run. I love that about suburban running. I also love that about Central Park in New York. I think that's why I keep going back there.

Southern California has some seasons. Right now, it is "winter", but it's actually fall. This lasts for a couple of months, and it skips right over to summer. It's actually pretty, though. Here's what the streets look like right now in So Cali Caliente. I'll take my camera on my long run this weekend to get a better sense of my routes.

After my Friday run, I have not done any exercise. Actually, I did some spontaneous yoga:

But I mostly played around in fantasy lands like this:

I also got a medium size tattoo on my back, and have been on hiatus from anything that makes me sweat while this thing heals. I am itching (in more ways then one) to pound some cement, though. I think I'll be able to go out on the road tomorrow.

Sorry for the brief post, but I'm on vacay! HAPPY HOLIDAYS! and I'll see you all in a few days. Jimmy, I'll see you Thursday night.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Playing" in the snow!!

There was a blizzard warning this weekend, which is why I did my 13 miles on Saturday AM, before the winter storm watch started. Went to the park, blah blah blah, nothing to note, let's forget about that one.

IT SNOWED IT SNOWED IT SNOWED! Holy crap, did it snow! I stayed with a friend Saturday evening in Manhattan, because she was going through some tough times. We stayed in, watched happy movies, ate pizza, baked cookies, and squealed (well, I squealed) every hour as a legit blizzard hit the city.

I came back to Queens later on today (Sunday) and I wanted to go out into the snow so badly. However, I didn't feel like going out to Central Park by myself. My roommate was gone for the holidays, my other friend that I had just left had to take care of family, and I didn't really have anyone else to call on. So! I decided to run in the snow. I have been warned fairly often NOT to do so, but I also have been told by several runner friends that it's freakin fun. I decided to go out on a short run, not go for speed or anything competitive, and just run through the snow like a 10 year-old.

O M G. It was the best thing I've ever done. So SO Sosososososoo fun! And, for you readers, I brought my camera!

Here's a shot of the street near my apartment. I love looking down this street, because you see Manhattan. Can you spot the Chrysler Building?

I had made several rules for myself. 1) This is purely for fun, and not for any training purposes. 2) Therefore, walking and running is permitted, if not recommended. 3) Icy streets can take me out for an entire season, so don't run fast, and run carefully. 4) Be attentive of surrounding. With these commandments in my head, I was off!

I think I ended up doing about 5-6 miles, but I was out for longer than an hour. The snow in Queens was not as plowed as it was in Manhattan, and there were mounds and mounds of untouched snow. It was like an obstacle course, and I hopped, skipped, did little jumps here and there, and sometimes straight up fell into the snow. Oh my oh my, this was just SO SO SO fun. I ran through the snow, when I saw a path made out like this:

I ran to my usual bridge, and the uphill:

Ain't no thang.

The bridge was WINDY but empty, and at another level of challenge. I stopped sometimes to look at Manhattan and it's snow-covered wonder.
I finished running the bridge and headed home. I thought I was done, but couldn't help sneaking in one more childish picture:

I thought this snow-danger-talk was all paranoia. I was about to turn the corner to get to my apartment, when I was suddenly was met with a group of fire trucks. I feared that there was a major accident in front of me. It turned out to be a fire.

Although this had nothing to do with running, I felt like it was a reminder to me that I could not take today's accident-free run as something that's expected. Safety first, safety first, safety first... (continuing mantra)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Next long run will be in LOS ANGELES! CAN'T WAIT!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

When you own up to the label: hardcore

Today was brutal.

This is what I did:

You can click on the link above to get a larger map, but the total mileage today was 17.7. Ooof. I also ran apx 8-9 miles yesterday (I'll calculate later), which is a grand total of at least 25 miles this weekend.

To make things a tad more difficult, it rained today and was 38 degrees, and my iPod stopped working around the 6th mile. I ended up running about 2 hours without any music, which actually wasn't so bad.

It was brutal in the sense that it was fucking hard, but it wasn't brutal in the sense that it sucked. It didn't suck. It was one of those runs that made me feel hardcore, because I was getting drenched when it was cold enough to see my breath, and the whole experience was totally Rocky-like, when he was running up those stairs. (I won't criticize Rocky for wearing cotton sweats.) Everyone running around me were wearing leggings and shooting snot rockets, and were legit training runners.

There are 3 rules to abide by when running in the rain. They are:
1. Do NOT wear cotton, or sweats, because it will weigh a ton in 20 minutes.
2. Watch out for cars. You are not a horse. You CAN stop.
3. Don't give a flying fuck about anything else.

The last rule is crucial. You get to a certain point where you don't care that your shoes are wet, and you don't care that you are cold, because you're in a strange limbo of internal warm from accelerated heart rate and numbness because of the actual outside temperature. You look crazy, but you worked hard to look crazy and BE crazy to be running in said condition.

I ran from the QB bridge to Central Park, where I did a loop around the reservoir. I then went out of the park to the Upper West Side and went to Riverside Park. I at first regretted going out of the park because I had to stop and go according to traffic signals, and had to go through a tunnel. Tunnels = foul smell, because many people live and go to the bathroom there. However, once I got through that, I was met with a long clear and wide road, which was an absolute dream. I ran down with no one around, and it was so freeing. I could have gone forever. I reached the top of the park, turned around, and ran back to go back into Central Park and back home.

Needless to say, when I came home, I was chilled to the bone. I showered and ate, and I've been wrapped up in my Slanket for about an hour and a half now, but still feel cold. Here is a cameo of my Slanket (gift from Carmen - Thank you!!):

Trying to defrost and get on with the rest of the day.

FYI, totally underrated use of the Slanket: wearing it backwards, which just really means wearing it like a giant robe.

See you later, and HAPPY HANUKKAH!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Too cold? Never!

Last night, it snowed for the first time since I've been living here in New York. The term snow is used broadly here, because it was technically sleet, but I ignored the wet streets and just looked up at the sky, amazed at the flake-like drops falling from the sky. It's getting colder and colder as the days go by.

When it comes to running in the winter, the temperature never bothers me. I would MUCH rather run in the freezing cold as opposed to the blistering heat. I've done both, and I'm convinced that it's never too cold to run. HOWEVER, there are weather-related obstacles like icy streets and lower visibility that genuinely scare me. I thought about those 2 possibilities while gazing at the "snow" last night.

Thankfully, it cleared up this morning, but it was even more colder than yesterday. 33 degrees! Coldest run yet.

The first half of the battle of running in the cold is actually getting the urge to get out there. My urge is fueled by the fact that I'm going to be running a marathon, and that it will just get harder and harder to get out there as it gets colder. It's also fueled by Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, which I load on to my iPod to listen to during long runs. Today in particular, it was also fueled by the desire of running to Lady Gaga's new Fame Monster album. (I can't get enough of her. Her ferosh-ness has trumped my general distaste for electronic music. )

For whatever reason, I was really craving an apple before my run, which is not something I normally eat. ( I usually opt for yogurt with jam - I know, dairy before run, but it's just been working for me.) I ate the apple, and stepped out into the painfully cold wind. It was painful at first, but the apple allowed me to get a good pace going right away, and after about 10 minutes into the run, I was not cold any more. I was only reminded of the winter when my face hurt from the cold, or when my finger tips lost the sense of touch. ( I don't know how to fix this problem with my fingers. Every winter, my hands get red and chapped because of my tendency to expose it to extreme temperatures, but I HATE running with gloves on.... Hmmmmmmm...)

I went to Central Park again, surprise surprise. I'll think of another route one of these days, but I can't help it. I love repeating what works. Since I ran 16 miles last week, and since I still have about 14-15 weeks before marathon day, I decided to "take it easy" by scaling my mileage to 13 miles today. That just simply means that I run from my apartment and around the park and run all the way back. It's nice because I don't have to think very much about it.

The scaling back of mileage is also something I'm doing new this time around, compared to my last marathon training. Last marathon, I ran Tue Thu Sun, and cross trained Mon Wed Fri and Sat, especially being conscious of not running on Saturday, since it's the day before my long runs. However, after doing some research, I've started running 6-7 miles on Saturdays as well, and taking it easy on Friday. Apparently, training the body to run hard during the weekends will make me stronger. I've been afraid of injuries, but so far, my long runs have been slightly stronger after running about an hour the day before, sometimes at race pace. I ran 6 quick miles yesterday, and ran a steady 13 miles today. I think it's working so far, especially with the swimming I do on Mondays.

Anyhoo the 13 miles were great, starting with Lady Gaga, and then with This American Life, and then Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and finishing with Lady Gaga again. I don't know if it was the apple, but I didn't need a Shot Block or a water break, and ran all the way through with no supplements. Might have been the gigantic bowl of hot rice I ate yesterday which warmed me after a day out in the snow (sleet).

The next couple of weeks will be about balancing holiday activities and my training schedule. I might have to run some of my long runs on Saturdays, or even Mondays, and some runs may be delayed... I have to be honest here, I am totally OCD about my running, and I hate when things interrupt my running schedule. In fact, I haven't gone out on Saturday nights for the last couple of weeks so that I will have a descent long run. Yes, this is not normal, and yes, I know that it's no big deal if I miss one run. And no, I am no Grinch, and I actually love the holiday season, and the activities that come with it. I'm especially excited to see my family in Los Angeles, and go on runs in Los Angeles again. ( Los Angeles is an AWESOME running city, by the way. )

Now that my fingers have regained feeling, and I'm properly showered and fed, I am off to Manhattan to get some holiday shopping done. I've done this a couple of times, and end up purchasing things for myself. This WILL NOT WILL NOT be the case today.

Sorry for the disorganization of this entry. Perhaps, I'll think of a new route to run soon, or perhaps carry my camera with me next time...? Esca-laters!