Sunday, January 31, 2010


12:20PM 15°F. That's what it said today on CNN building in Columbus Circle when I ran across it today. I don't know about you North Easterners, but I'd like to think that's pretty f-in cold.

The human body is amazing because it can still heat up and sweat in that kind of temperature.

Today's run was one of the best. It was one of the best because yesterday was well spent. I recently came to terms with the fact that the small support network of friends I have here may disband and be no-longer in the next couple of months. I was kind of worried that I would be roaming the city by myself for a little bit, but I spent the day with a friend that I had met through my roommate, and felt encouraged. I walked around the city with him in the biting cold but felt really lucky to be in the city. I went home, and felt adventurous and ordered delivery from a Turkish restaurant down the street that I always passed by but never tried. I had a delicious carb bomb of rustic Turkish bread and all sorts of dips. I committed carbicide a la Bruno, but the carb goggles made everything rosy, especially because I was already feeling good about that day.

I woke up this morning feeling a little bloated but plenty energetic. I knew that it was cold outside, but I did a little Rocky boxing shuffle, put my gloves, headband, wool socks, fleece sweater, etc etc etc. on and ran out the door.

The cold really hurt. Literally. My toes were in pain, and nose felt like needles were poking at it. But it was exhilarating. The sun was out and clear, and it was a really pretty day. I had good pod-casts on, and I just ran through the park without drama. I had extra strength today on the hills, and never slowed down, which I think is thanks to the Turkish bread. There was this one time during my last marathon training, when my old roommate Peter and I decided to watch South Park for the night and KILLED a box of pita chips. Killed. The box was huge, and the chips were thick, oily, crisp and DERRISHUS. Of course, I regretted it afterwards, and I woke up bloaty. I did, however, go on my long run, and it turned out FABULOUS. I had so so much energy. It was the first time I felt the advantage of simple processed carbs. Obviously, we over did it, and I probably over did it a little last night too, but man o man does it work!

Anyhoo, without any hitting any walls, or crashing, or even feeling any type of fatigue, the 14.5 miles were absolutely amazing. I sped through. I swear, I could have gone another hour when I got home. I know my limits to my muscle, though, so I made it a day and ended while it was good.

Today is also said-ex-roommate's birthday. I still have no digital camera and have no visuals, but here is a virtual shout out to one of my best dearest friends. He is someone who is basically my family, and I'm sad I'm not with him right now. HAPPY BIRTHDAY PETER!! I LOVE AND MISS YOU XOXOXOXOXO.

Yes, it's a little lame because I wrote it on my newspaper, but I DID write it mirror image so that it would reflect correctly on my webcam. XOXO That is love.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

FINALLY! First NY 20!

I am at a stage right now where I keep falling in and out of sleep because of the fact that I FINALLY RAN 20 MILES in NYC!!!

I did it, I did it, and with no real roadblocks along the way. Sure, it was hard, but I ran the whole way through, with some welcome surprises.

First, here's my route:

You're probably thinking, "But Lisa, that's just you going to Central Park... AGAIN". Indeed, my friend, it is. What you can't really see, though, is that I ran to Central Park, did the whole loop (6 miles), ran the reservoir twice (3 miles), ran out of the park at W. 96th St and around the park to enter back in at E 96th St, and cut straight to the West Side (3 miles), ran out of the park again at E. 90th St, and ran back all the way down passing the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art until E. 60th St. (2.5 miles) and ran back home (round trip is about 6.5 miles). 6+3+3+2.5+6.5 =21 !! I actually did 21 miles.

And here is the killer elevation:

The spike at the beginning is me crossing the bridge the first time, and the gradual increase after the 10th mile is the killer hill at E. 110th St. The last spike, of course, is me crossing the bridge the second time.

I treated this run as if it was an event. I didn't go out the night before, I ate a delish bowl of squash curry and rice (which is my own creation that makes me want to pat my own back, it's so delicious), and went to bed really early after downing several cups of water. I woke up bright and early at 7AM, so that I could be out the door by 8AM, to avoid the predicted afternoon rain.

I reached the park, and it was already full of runners because NYRR was holding a half marathon. I knew about this and was a little worried about it, but it actually was pretty fun running along with a gang of race runners. There were less bikers, and the road was entirely taken up by runners. In a way, I had more space. I was running towards the reservoir, when I saw a girl who was volunteering who looked really familiar. When I got closer to her, I realized that it was Betsy who I had never met in person. I've been reading her blog regularly, though, and she's been sweet enough to comment here on some occasions. I had to go up and say hi, and she was just as sweet as the way she writes.

With that fun surprise, I got more energized and attacked the reservoir. The path was practically empty because of the race. I think it was the most enjoyable reservoir run to date. I ran around it, looking at the buildings, and also at the ducks that were walking on the frozen parts of the water (and also slipping and falling).

The rest of the run was difficult, but not mind-numbing. I felt pain, and my thighs and hip flexer were killing me around mile 15, but the air was crisp and I had a good pace. The hills in the park actually gave a relief to my overworked muscles, just the way that it did when I ran the marathon last year. I think I'm pushing in a different way that gives a break to my thighs and starts using my ass in a different way.

Once I got to E. 90th for the second time and ran down to E. 60th, I knew that I was going to make it. I went tortoise slow, but the tortoise won the race, so it was all good with me. I crossed the bridge and ran back home, and felt great. I did it! I did it, and I'm confident that I'll be able to get in another 20ish run before the marathon.

This is how I looked and felt immediately after:

It is now officially 2 months before the marathon. That means, I have about 5-6 more good long runs in me to get ready. NERVES! I bought my flight tickets too. It's getting more and more real!

See you next week!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Wall and Music

My good friend Carmen was celebrating her birthday this weekend, and based on last week's drinking debacle, I learned my lesson and ran my long run the day of the celebration, as opposed to the day after.

I scaled back this week and ran 14 miles, because I was feeling tired from the 17ish miles I ran last week. It's interesting how long certain fatigues can linger, and this one really stuck throughout the week. I've realized that what I had faced last Sunday was the notorious "wall" that people talk about, when running a marathon. When I realized that, it made me more upset that I had quit and gone home. It made me more upset that I had quit, because I will very likely hit the "wall" during the actual marathon, and I might quit and not finish the race like I did last Sunday.

With that on my back, I woke up Saturday not wanting to go out and run. I woke up later than usual, and loaded up my iPod with some pod-casts, but I was not feeling it. I started listening to some music while warming up with some dynamic movements, and finally felt like going outside. This whole process took about 2 hours. I hate it when I do this. It is the biggest waste of time, and I do it often.

I rarely listen to music on my long runs, simply because 2 hours of music is not as stimulating to me as 3 pod-casts show about current events, jokes, and other stories (i.e. Fresh Air, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and This American Life). However, I ran the 14 miles yesterday with just music, and I felt myself going faster than usual. I love running music that has a similar tempo as a heartbeat, with a strong cadence. I love cadence that is almost marching-band-like, with heavy snare, or a simple bass. Usually, when I listen to music while running, there is one song that keeps me going and keeps me really digging into my muscles to muster up the strength to lift my leg and conquer the ground. These songs are never profound or emotionally moving songs, but a song with a catchy rhythm. During my last marathon, it was "Get Em High" by Kanye West ft. Talib Kwali. This particular run was "Say it in a Love Song" by Alicia Keys ft. Beyonce. I told you that they are never profound songs. Catchy does the job well.

It was also a beautiful day in the 40s, which hasn't happened in a month. I was actually sweating a LOT and feeling warmth that I hadn't in a while. It felt good, and I'm glad that I had gone out to run, even though I wasn't feeling it.

I sadly have no photos to share, because my camera is no longer with us. I don't have enough discretionary funds to buy a new one... so I am weighing my options.

I don't know when I'm going to tackle that 20 again. I think it might be next week, but I'm honestly losing some confidence. To be frank, there are a lot of things that I am feeling less sure about when it comes to running these days. Ironically, the one thing that frees me from these thoughts is running. So, I guess I'll just keep going outside and face the cement jungle.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

No to perfectionists

Today was a failed run. I did not run 20 miles.

Training for a marathon takes a lot of planning. Planning when to run, how long to run, when to not run, what to eat, how to eat... etc etc. I admit that training for marathons have made me into someone of habits, with some compulsive behaviors. I don't like being thrown off from my training schedule, and I don't like not being able to complete what I had proposed to do.

That said, I've also learned that being a perfectionist is not conducive to successful training. Shit happens. I'm the type of perfectionist that would rather not do something if it won't be done the way that I want it to be done (as opposed to the type A perfectionists). I've been able to slightly change that behavior, and it's definitely kept a positive spin on my marathon training, and life.

This slight change of state of mind was evident today. I went out last night for a birthday celebration for my roommate. I had planned on only staying an hour. I wanted to come home early, eat a late dinner (as opposed to the grease bombs that were served at the bar), and go to bed by 1AM to wake up at 9AM so I could be out the door by 10AM for my 20 mile run.

Here's what actually happened: I had fun. The drinks were cheap, the company great, and I was able to have really entertaining conversations with some new friends I had made in the last couple of months. As a newbie in town, you do have to make an effort to go out and make some connections. I've been trying to do that a lot more, and I realized that I couldn't just leave, after having only been there an hour. I ended up coming home at 2AM, ate, and going to bed at 3AM, and waking up at 10:45AM, and out the door at 12:00PM.

I've never been out this late for a long run, especially as long as 20 miles. I decided to do some different rounds of Central Park to make it 20, but was not successful. First, it was 25 degrees, which is below freezing. Granted, I had all my gears on, but my finger tips and toes lost feeling after around the 3rd hour. I also had drank more beer than usual last night, and wasn't feeling 100%. There was one moment where I felt like I was in a daze. I was definitely conscious, but felt a weird sleepy sensation coming over my body. I'm a paranoid WebMD person, and had read that drowsy-ness is a sign of hypothermia. While I knew that I wasn't cold enough to have hypothermia, I knew that it wasn't normal to feel that way. I ate some gummy sugar supplements and tried to finish the last 6 miles of my route. However, after the 3rd mile, I saw the sun starting to set a little bit, and a darkness that I wasn't used to started covering the park. I was also just plain tired of running. I wasn't tired. I could have gone another 3 miles. I was just tired of running. I made a deal with myself that I would continue running if I didn't see a bus, but right when I decided that, I saw my bus right in front of me. If that isn't a divine intervention or some extraterrestrial power telling me to get my ass home, I don't know what is. Needless to say, I'm disappointed about not completing the 20 miles. But, I am also conscious about being flexible and not being a destructive perfectionist. I ran 17 miles, and I'm going to swallow that as progress, even if it's not a success.

I'm home now, and I did a little of something that I should do more often: stretching.

I also did something I've never done before recently: bought 2 pairs of running shoes. I decided that I needed a regular pair of running shoes and a pair of trail running shoes for this somewhat snowy and icy winter. You like? That's me stretching (questionably) and showing you my new kicks at the same time.

I'm still a little bit annoyed about those last 3 miles that I didn't run. I'll get over it, because I made some potentially good friends yesterday.

P.S. My camera won't turn on. Batteries are charged, and it won't turn on!! GAHHH!!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

I <3 LA (run)

After a slew of holiday indulgences, I was more than ready for my long run in my beloved hometown.

I started out from my parents' house and headed east towards San Marino. I entered a really expensive residential area near Huntington Library, which is a mansion surrounded by gardens, tall bushes, and palm trees. It always reminds me of the outside of Jurassic Park. I love running in that area because it's really hilly and it keeps things interesting. Here's a hill I tackled. (Yes, it's a self-timed photo, and that tiny person is me.)

I then went towards Pasadena, and ran through the southern parts of Old Town, and ran back towards my parents' house. This is my 3 city run, going from South Pasadena, San Marino, Pasadena, and back to South Pasadena. I repeated this several times during my last marathon training, and I love the green scenery, the shades, the clear side walks, and the silence of suburban neighborhoods. (I'm sure it's Desperate Housewives mayhem inside those houses.)

I love running in the suburbs of LA because it's so calming and carefree. I can truly zone out (for the most part) because I'm running in practically people-free sidewalks, and the climate is as stress-free as the run. There are some perks to urban running that I've been doing in Manhattan and Queens, but I definitely missed these runs too.

It was a pretty strong and steady run, and I came home to a sleeping old darling adorable lovable dog. He just turned 13 a few days ago, and I try to make sure to acknowledge his presence whenever possible. He, for the most part, is not as enthusiastic about my unconditional attention, but entertains me because he's too lazy to protest.

I enjoyed my time outside in the sun and 70 degree weather. It was a nice last LA run before the actual marathon in March. Next week might just be the first time I will have to hit 20 miles, but the weather is not looking very positive in NYC... we'll see.