Starting from scratch in an elite fitness-blog-world full of expensive gear, and Personal Records she couldn't beat with a car.

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's not the length of the run...

Its the motion of the... oh wait, no, that's something else entirely.

It is absolutely the length of the run.

As it turns out I'm a bit of a workout size queen! Today I finished week two of 5k to 10k and the mileage drop is becoming a real point of annoyance.

First there's the actual mileage drop.  I'm sticking to the training program which means three structured runs per week, which is about what I was doing before, but given the structure of the runs I'm only doing about one and a half to two miles per workout compared to a minimum of 5K per run previously. It doesn't help that mile two is typically my least favorite part. Today's run was actually long enough to get a full 5k in but looking at the next few workouts I probably won't get to do that again until next weekend.

While I'm sure the speed-work will help me make better use of my time so that I will be pushing my mileage back up again quite quickly I won't get to exceed my current longest run (time wise) until week 6 day 3! It's kind of frustrating at the moment to be cutting my mileage in order to... run more miles? I'm sure it wouldn't be as much of an issue if I hadn't run so little in the storm aftermath, but regardless scrolling back through my last month and a half worth of workouts is making me feel like a massive slacker and I'm itching to rack the miles back up.

As much as I question whether running a marathon is really a good idea for me, based on my reaction to this mileage drop I have a feeling that in the long run (hah!) I'm going to end up doing one anyway. "That's good enough, I'm done now" did not come as a standard feature in this model.

Secondly there's the Nike/treadmill issue. As flawed as its measurements have been Nike has been my favorite fitness community hands down. It's shiny and I get all sorts of awards and badges and nifty metrics when I do stuff. Apparently I must have really internalized all of that gold star sticker stuff when I was a kid because every time I get a new badge on Nike+ I totally eat it up.

However I don't have the Nike footpod so none of my treadmill workouts are counting toward my stats and it is kind of driving me a little bit bonkers. My listed November mileage is literally half my October mileage.

I feel rather blessed that I can recognize just how much of a ridiculous First World Problem this is.
Luckily Gigi from Running on Candy showed me this super nifty conversion site that takes Garmin data and uploads it to Nike, but it seems like the code is being a little glitchy at the moment so I'm hoping that's back up and running soon (and thank you to Angus Smithson for setting it up in the first place - please consider checking out his page and donating for his chosen cause "In 2012 I am running 2,012 miles (equivalent to nearly 77 marathons) to raise money for CLIC Sargent, a charity supporting my cousin’s son Hamish who is fighting rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of children’s cancer").

While we're on the subject of First World Running Problems - I tried to pull out a pair of dressy pants for a work holiday party this weekend and all of mine are too big, including a brand new pair in size small that are so new I hadn't even had a chance to have them hemmed! Pants shouldn't puddle when you are wearing five inch platforms, right? Hopefully I can just shrink the new ones a bit in the wash and re-claim them but finding out I'm too small for a pair of smalls was a bit ridiculous at that point in time.

It actually isn't so dire as that as I still have a lot of old clothes I have yet to slim down to, but even if it fits my body I don't know if my college wardrobe will fit me so much anymore.

5k to 10k Week 2

Sorry, I know I've been slacking on this, I have no excuse really.
Here, have three days worth of runs!

Just for reference I'm aiming for about 10:00 or under as "fast", somewhere between 11:00 and 12:00 as "steady", and anything over 12:00 as "jog".

Day 1 - Tues Dec 4 - Treadmill - Steady run
1.7miles at an  average pace of 11:46
goal - 20 min at an "easy pace"  plus warmup/cooldown

It's just way too hot in the gym

Day 2  - Thurs Dec 6 - Treadmill - Intervals
2.11 mi 27 minutes at a 12:35 pace
goal - 10 min jog, 2 minute fast runs alternating with 2 min jogs - 2 times , 8 minute steady run plus warmup/cooldown

I could have pushed the fast run way more but I have been feeling like I am maybe coming down with something and I'm still trying to get used to the treadmill. I figure there's plenty of time to work up to it. Still way too hot a the gym

Day 3 - Sun Dec 9 - Road - Steady run
3.23 miles at an average pace of 11:10 min/mile
goal -35 min at an "easy pace"  plus warmup/cooldown 

I think I pushed myself a bit overly hard during the first half of mile three, anything slower than 10:15 at that point felt impossibly slow! As a result I got a sidestitch just before mile three but otherwise I felt good.
It rained in a really annoying spitty manner the majority of the time but I got to see a red fox make a full-on dash across the street about thirty yds in front of me so that was TOTALLY worth it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

We must, we must...

I've been wondering for months, what is with all the padded running bras?

I think I may have finally found my answer.

When I started running all I had in the way of sports bras were a fairly well aged three pack of Hane's cotton sports bras. These were pretty functional for yoga and belly dance practice, but as you can probably imagine not too awesome for running. The elastic had seen better days and the cotton held on to sweat like someone was gonna sell it on the black market afterward.

I replaced those early on with a pair of bras from Old Navy (this style in the colour shown and in a light purple with salmon accents) which I have been using regularly. I also bought a pair of bra core active tanks (this style but in black and grey - respectively) but for a couple of reasons I have not found them terribly useful up until, well actually today.

All of the Old Navy items came standard equipped with removable bust pads - which I promptly removed and shoved in the back of a drawer along with all of the pads I'd removed from my swimwear over the years.

I've always been on the *ahm* petite side. Think J-Lo-esque... without the firming benefits of all the personal trainers and professional dance background and oodles of money and stylists.  While I admit I haven't always been utterly thrilled by that fact, eventually I stopped being a self conscious teenager and embraced the positive aspects of my figure. Either way I've never seen much point in artificially altering it. The American over the shoulder boulder holder industry apparently thinks we are all yearning to let loose our inner Christina Hendricks, but a) variety is the spice of life and b) I REALLY LIKE that I can wear slinky backless dresses without resorting to uncomfortable and expensive hidden scaffolding.

I got what I got and if you don't like it feel free to look elsewhere. Nyah.

That goes double for workout clothing. I try not to look too much like a schlump in any context, but by the same token amorous interest is just about the last thing I want to deal with while working out in the gym or on the street. I'm there for MY benefit so I don't see the point of advertising, much less false advertising. In truth the Old Navy stuff has about as much "padding" as the average tee shirt bra so given the compression the effect is pretty neutral, but still the idea of it bothered me. Anyway running is sweaty work, why add extra layers between me and the air?

A couple of weeks ago I found out that I had won a giveaway from For The Love Of The Run and part of the giveaway was a bra from a company called Handful. I chose their adjustable style bra in purple size XS (I typically wear a 30 or 32 band size) and received it by mail a few days later. It came with a lovely matching mesh washing bag and... matching removable bust pads! In this case the internal pockets do make a great deal of sense as they are approved as mastectomy bras but I opted to yank out the pads as with my other bras. The pads are slightly thicker than the Old Navy ones but again with the compression effects of the fabric the sum effect on my figure is pretty much nil.

I ran with the new bra last Sunday and didn't notice anything in particular about it, except that it's cut a bit lower than the Old Navy ones so in warmer settings I'll probably layer it with higher cut tank tops in the interest of modesty. I'm so swaddled in layers for outside runs at this point I can't say one way or another how good the sweat wicking and drying properties are until I get a chance to try it out at the gym. The colour is however LOVELY.

I did notice a funny thing earlier this week. I did my first run at the gym Tuesday wearing one of my Old Navy bras and I don't know if the bra has sprung, if I've lost that much weight, or if I was just feeling self-conscious enough to notice for the first time; but either way I'm glad those bras have a lot of coverage because the effects were positively... seismic. I can't say as I've ever cared about what my boobs were doing while I run, but I was AWFULLY aware of it then.

It occurred to me that the only way to salvage the situation without buying more bras may actually be to put all of the padding back in and hope it provides a bit more structure to keep things in place!

Structure overkill? source:
I've experimented with running padding-in for the last two runs, but to be honest I think running outside is too distracting (and swaddled) to compare properly so I think my next treadmill run will tell me more of what I need to know.

What about you?
Do you care one way or another about padding in your sport specific structure garments?
If you have a favorite sports bra brand; is it padded and do you think the padding adds to the function of the bra? 

Saturday's run - 5k to 10k wk1 d2 -street run
2 miles over 23 minutes at an average pace of 11:33

5 minutes warm up/cool down
10 minutes of running at an "easy conversational pace"
3 minutes "tempo" run (challenging but not exhausting pace)
10 minutes of running at an "easy conversational pace"

I aimed for 12:00 as the easy pace and 10:00 for the challenging pace and pretty much hit it, though I was keeping closer to 11:30 for the second set of 10 minutes. I think I could have even pushed that 10:00 a bit more but I'm not going to sweat it for now.

The run overall felt pretty good, however I did have to do a very sudden stop to avoid a car that apparently wasn't terribly interested in stopping at a stop sign, and that torqued my outer right shin a bit. It was fairly tight throughout the run but calmed down shortly after I finished.

Sunday's run - 5k to 10k wk1 d3 -street run
2.48 miles over 30 minutes at an average pace of 12:75 minutes warm up/cool down
30 minutes of running at an "easy conversational pace"

Again I aimed for 12:00 and did not have ANY trouble keeping my pace that slow since my right calf was still pissed from the hard stop I made Saturday. By the time the endorphins had kicked in enough to ignore the discomfort in the muscle I was already kind of gassed out and it was dark enough for me to full on collide with the end of a large invisible tree branch sticking out of a refuse pile. Based on the initial impact marks I expect a spectacular bruise by morning.

I think this might have actually been my first time running two days back to back. I'll have to check back through my past runs.

Interesting side note: my boyfriend decided to take a walk at the same time as I was running but due to the lateness of the hour (running was a very last minute decision) he ended up pretty much keeping up with me the whole way to make sure I was safe. He doesn't normally run so he was wearing his usual dark wash jeans, dark jacket, black gloves, and black stocking cap.

Apparently no one in my neighborhood thinks anything of a small woman out in fluorescent orange running gear being followed at about 20 to 50 feet by a man in all black, so that's good to know!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Very slow and very steady

That's what she said!


I used a treadmill for the very first time on Wednesday. Hooray for not getting launched off at any point!

I have seen enough of The Biggest Loser to recognize the unending shame of being launched bodily off of a treadmill so I decided to take it as slow as I needed to until I knew I was truly comfortable.

I started out at pretty much dead minimum pace and clicked up the speed one notch at a time until I was thoroughly bored of walking and knew I could safely run.

I felt a little silly moving along at a snails pace for as long as I did (I literally "warmed up" for about 25 minutes and only covered a mile) but the way I see it one day of feeling a touch silly in front of strangers totally beats wasting a year's worth of gym membership because I'm too mortified to ever go back.

Once I decided it was run time I started day one of the 5k to 10k training program app I got for my iPhone.

5k to 10k wk 1 d 1
5 minutes warm up/cool down and  20 minutes of running at an "easy conversational pace".
1.5 miles over 20 minutes at an average pace of 13:28

I started out the run section holding on to the handles but quickly realized that it was really uncomfortable and messing with my posture something fierce, so I let go of them as soon as I (again) was reasonably sure I wasn't going to launch myself.

I ended up starting out much slower than I expected (between 13:00 and 14:00) and struggled a surprising amount for about the first mile. I think in retrospect the newness of the situation and a bit of social anxiety (am I breathing to loud? is everyone watching? NO DON'T LOOK AT THEM, THEY WILL KNOW YOUR SHAME) may have had me breathing more shallow than I normally would. By the end I was able to up the speed considerably and I think I got up to running at a bit slower than 11:00 at one point, but the treadmill readout was not very conductive to tracking that sort of thing so I don't have exact numbers. I had the treadmill at the recommended 1% rise to make the run feel more properly outside-ish.

The treadmill was (as advertised) insanely boring and the lack of wind in your face seriously sucks. Next time I'm putting on the TV - even if I don't listen to it - and positioning myself as close as possible to the giant fan. I am VERY glad I remembered my towel this time. That was gross.

image from but props to Douglas Adams
I do not see myself doing my weekend runs indoors unless I absolutely have to.

I received my Garmin footpod yesterday and after some fiddling I got my watch to notice it. If you get one make sure you're moving while pairing, it took a number of tries and more than a few Google queries to work this one out. I'm really excited to try it out because it annoys me a great deal when I can't functionally upload my runs to the various run sites and trying to read the pace for that split second it shows up on the treadmill readout when you change the speed was awful. I don't understand why you can't toggle between the two if it's obviously programmed in anyway.


I was going to hit the gym tonight in the hopes that working out would fix the unrelenting skull-in-a-vice headache, but I fear running with the unrelenting tummy blahs will have a different ending.

The usual sick rule (above the neck - suck it up, below the neck - go take a nap already!) makes a lot of sense to me with colds... would you say the same line applies to other body systems?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Running from my problems

Running once a week is NOT cutting it.

How do I stay sane when I'm not working out regularly?  

Oh yeah, that's right, I don't. 

I become a tightly wound ball of nerves and I physicalize every last bit of it; my back seizes, my joints stop working (so working out now leads to injury, catch 22!), my skin erupts and then sloughs off, my adrenaline spikes for little to no reason, I become depressive, and my immune system implodes on itself taking the majority of my favorite foods with it.

Hell on earth, or as I like to call it, the entirety of my twenties!

Don't get me wrong, there were good days too
This past week was a bit extra stressy for me for a number of reasons and on Friday I found myself somewhat melancholic and yearning to take a midnight drive to Montauk Point. Unfortunately however it's about a five hour round trip for me and I couldn't see eating through an entire tank of gas in the name of catharsis* (also at that point I wasn't sure the whole route was open as much of it runs along beach).

I had officially signed up for the gym earlier that day so now that I had noticed the inverse proportion between my mileage and my mood (*cough* not to mention the firmness of my tummy *cough*) I resolved that this was the week I was going to get back in the swing of things and try to make my runs the cathartic road experience I was clearly lacking.

Sanity: a mile at a time.

Saturday was a bit whirlwind and draining so I headed out Sunday afternoon resolved to get my kinetic therapy ON.

Sunday afternoon run: Steady run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks
4.03 miles (!!) at an average of 10:53 per mile -  total run time of 43:54

Another distance first for me made all the better by the fact that I felt really good! I wasn't sure how much I wanted to push after a whole week off but even mile two was pleasant so I figured I might as well go for it. Pretty consistent splits (10:59, 10:55, 10:43, 10:54) and I didn't feel like I was swinging back and forth as wildly throughout. I think 11:00 is shaping up to be a pretty reasonable road covering pace for me for the moment.

The 43 degree temperature wasn't thrilling to be sure. My eyes watered for the first mile and I felt like I spent the rest of the night clearing out a layer of gunk my lungs apparently formed to protect themselves against the cold (I must find my balaclava!). Otherwise I was pretty comfortable but I do see why people get extra sleeve layers. I'm almost tempted to reroute so that my first mile loops back to my house so I can drop my vest off after I have worked up a bit of real body heat... then again maybe not, it's not even December yet, it's only getting colder for the next three months. *sigh*

I am mildly concerned that I could feel a slight ache in my right arch again during the middle of my run and afterward I felt it in both arches and in both knees (though all discomfort was gone within an hour). If this continues much longer I may hit up the running store and see if they have a suggestion.

As far as my brain? Road zen officially achieved.
This is usually in the form of my brain just plain shutting off somewhere around mile three, but I'll take it.
I felt better for the rest of the day and formulated a plan of action going forward, so I'm going to call that mission accomplished.

I purchased the 5k to 10k App and the Garmin Footpod today (that will arrive Thursday), and my plan is to hit the gym three nights a week through the winter to do 10K training, and hopefully get out for a long unstructured run on Sundays when the weather permits.

I'm not sure how the app works without GPS (and there is NO support for ANYTHING from Active) but they do offer the ability to disable GPS so I suppose it must work without.

If I follow fairly consistently that will take me through February/March and I can start thinking about whether I want to move the Half Marathon training plan up from its current start time of July.

*I've only driven to Montauk once (December 19, 2010) and it was (and is) the longest I've ever been behind the wheel.

After spending an evening cleaning the last of my stuff out of storage at my ex- boyfriends house I realized I couldn't just sit home among the box pile, so I hit the road for a drive. I just sort of randomly resolved to go to Montauk after about an hour of aimless driving.

I listened to Nine Inch Nails on shuffle the whole way, enjoyed a light snowfall, almost ran out of gas, nearly collided with about a million deer, and initiated the functional part of reclaiming my sanity in the wake of what had become a rather horrible couple of years (capped off by an exceptionally soul grinding couple of weeks).

I consider it the hard point that separates that time of my life from this one. It wasn't a cure all, but aside from the near wildlife collisions it stands out as one of the calmest and most centered points of my life, and that clarity carried me through.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Push it real good!

I think maybe I pushed it a little too good?

Salt n Pepa got nothing on Jillian Michaels!!!
Friday afternoon I went back to Retro Fitness to test out the gym by taking advantage of their free personal trainer session offer. I figured that would give me the best overview of the place and make it a little less awkward to be running around looking like a spaz.

Garrett and I started with a rough overview: my diet, experience, interests, goals, body fat % (I think it was 24% which is apparently the upper end of "fit"?) and a very general idea of how they structure their programs. He pretty much went out of a binder on this part which was admittedly not terribly impressive but I suppose they can't all be Bob Harper.

We got going with a few minutes warmup on the elliptical and then moved on to body weight exercises in their TRX Training area. This basically worked out to doing immensely awkward movements while holding onto a pair of wall mounted straps. Oh, and sweating a whole lot. This is the sort of thing I think most people are going to want to do with some sort of live instruction as the body mechanics are not terribly intuitive. Looking like a spaz achievement: UNLOCKED!

See how effortless they look? Now imagine THE EXACT OPPOSITE.

After that we bounced between a few machines sort of whirlwind style. My favorite was the assisted pull up machine because a) I miss being able to do pull ups b) I had to really climb to get on to it (I'm five foot two) and c) I had to climb off three times for him to adjust the counterbalance to be lighter because I was stuck on top of the arc like the small kid on the see saw.

I was very sweaty and felt terrible that I did not have the opportunity to wipe the equipment off as we were going through. Proper hydration is so overrated. I have a towel ready for next time though (actually I had it ready for that time, not sure why he suggested I leave it with the rest of my stuff). I feel this was an excellent object lesson in wiping off machines before I begin.

We finished up by doing intervals on an elliptical and I got to show the trainer how whacked out my heart rate is!

During the intake we were talking about intervals on the cardio machines and he said something like "you would do say a minute at an easy pace and then maybe a minute at a hard pace, aiming for say a heart rate of 150..." at which point I laughed. He looked at me quizzically and said "I'm a hummingbird, my heart rate runs fast". He asked how my blood pressure was (insanely low, for the record) and said "well as long as you don't have that in combination with high blood pressure it shouldn't be too bad".

Fast forward back to the actual intervals, I'm chugging away and he's standing off to the side so that he can reach the controls but isn't really watching the readouts too closely. He ups the difficulty and I'm going at a pretty good clip, sweating and expending effort but not feeling too badly (still conversant but a bit out of breath) and I look at the HR readout which reads 195. I point it out and he blinks at it a few times and says "I... I don't even know what my body would be doing... wow".

The trainer session was neat and I'm glad I did it, but in the "pitch" part of the session at the end I found  that their cheapest deal is the Black Friday special which involves a mandatory full year signup with a minimum of ONE SESSION A WEEK.

The DISCOUNTED price of $20 a session comes to just over a grand with fees (keeping in mind that membership for the entire rest of the gym is only $240) and the internet indicates that their trainer sessions are even harder to cancel than their memberships.

Overall it was pretty enjoyable though I feel bad that the trainer went so deep into my potential training possibilities pretty much entirely for nothing.

The next morning my legs were doing surprisingly well (a bit of quad soreness but not terrible) but my upper body was PISSED. I got to do everything T-Rex style for about three days because my arms pretty much refused to do anything useful.
My left biceps was so tight I couldn't straighten my arm for most of the weekend. I feel good now but after Sunday's run I actually got stuck getting out of a new blinding orange mesh jacket (Low light visibility issues you say? Solved!) to the point of requiring assistance. Removing my sports bra for showering involved many curses, a couple of popped stitch noises, and possibly bending space very slightly.

Regardless of what my upper body felt about physical activities I ended up running Sunday and decided about a mile into it that I would keep things easy pace-wise but aim for 3.5 miles instead of my usual 3.1. This made it my longest non-stop run ever.

3.5 miles at an average of 11:05 per mile -  total time of 38:48, max pace of 5:24 (???)
Avg HR of 193bpm

Overall I felt good and while my pace was sort of all over from minute to minute, my splits were extremely consistent. My quads were still a touch sore to start but I think running actually helped work a lot of that soreness out. The inside of my right foot was complainy for a bit but otherwise it felt great!

I'll be doing gym sign-up tomorrow, though ironically I'll probably do a road run since I have the day off. I plan on testing out a new Handful Adjustable bra I won in a giveaway from For The Love of the Run (I've only tried it on standing still so right now all I can really say about it is "SHINY PURPLE!" and "ooh, bonus matching mesh laundry bag!").

I've decided to hold off on the half marathon training for a bit and will be doing some sort of 5k to 10k training program in the meantime, but I haven't decided which yet.

I'm leaning toward getting the same brand of app I used for C25K, but I'm not sure how well it will work on the treadmill.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Apparently it's bandwagon week!

As I've mentioned a few times over the last week or so I've been contemplating a gym membership with Retro Fitness as there is one within walking distance of my place and the cost is actually within my budget.

I have been mooning around for a little while, asking my friends what they knew about Retro Fitness, figuring out whether we'd be a good match, stalking it on Facebook, writing our names together in the inside of my English notebook to see how they look together... you know, the usual.

I finally screwed up my courage Wednesday and formally introduced myself (I had stopped in once before but I basically took a flyer and ran away). It took a bit of working up to because I'm kind of a wuss about new situations, but I've found over the last few years that smiling and admitting cheerfully that you have not the first clue what you're doing gets you WAY farther than silently toughing it out or being too scared to try in the first place.

I had printed out a guest pass for the occasion, but I was working with limited time so instead of using that pass to work out I got a bit of a tour and eventually ended up talking with their staff personal trainer. While the young woman at the desk was a) clearly not used to giving overview tours and b) nearly inaudible over the din of the machines, I still managed to get a general idea of the place. It was clean, spacious, and there were a LOT of cardio machines peppered in throughout the place (bonus, they have a darkened theater where they have cardio machines and play movies) and they have Zumba starting soon (also spinning classes, but that's not an interest of mine).

It's pretty stripped down, but I don't use public pools (eeeeeeew) and for the cost of dinner at a Long Island diner per month I'm not sure how much more one can reasonably expect.

David Barton Gym in Bellevue WA - it's only nearly 10x the cost! Click image for more info.
The Personal Trainer (Garrett of EFT Group, which is a company Retro Fitness contracts to do their Personal Training ) was very pleasant and attentive, and seemed mildly confused that I wasn't looking to lose a specific number of pounds or focus on a specific body part. I think my body is at a very good baseline shape right now and so I'm just looking to tighten things up.

I set up a free Personal Trainer session for Friday at 5pm so that will be the final test, but I'm pretty positive about the whole thing. If I do sign up it will be during Thanksgiving weekend as they have a special 11-23 to 11-26 for no processing or enrollment fees.

I was so excited I bought Sport Wash!*

I figure if I have to see the same people day after day without immediately running away the least I can do is make sure my workout clothes are as non-funky as I can get them.

*(also a workout towel, some longish shorts, a padlock, and a new water bottle)

On a completely separate note: Gigi of Runnning On Candy (the original running Cheerleader) strikes again. She got an email from that they were offering a beginners Half Marathon training program for free and forwarded it along to me (Active hates me and won't fix my account so that I can update my information or get emails or anything useful like that) and somehow convinced me along the way to sign up for the Diva Half Marathon in October 2013?!?!?

Currently I have the training set to start in July but I suspect I'll move it earlier as I am looking for something fresh to do and having some sort of solid schedule for over the winter at the gym will probably be helpful.

I signed up for an opportunity to earn a free race entry from Instead Softcups (more on that later) so I think I'm going to use that for this race.

Oh, I'm also seriously considering the NYS Parks Winter Run Series as they actually start at what I consider to be a reasonable time on a Sunday, though I'm sure when I'm standing out in the wind in Tech fabric in the middle of January I will have a different opinion about what sorts of activities can be called reasonable.

So yeah, on the bandwagon for a couple of things this winter and I can't say I'm particularly unhappy with that.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How fuchsia footie pajamas made me a runner.

I've been feeling a little more off every day for the last couple of weeks.

To be fair there has been a *bit* of stuff going on in the world around me, so at first I passed everything off as temporary reactions to the immediate environmental stresses.

By this past Thursday it became clear that regardless of what was going on my body had just plain settled into full on Bleah! mode; complete with allergies, tiredness, crappy eating, random adrenaline spikes, headaches, and a solid case of the HULK SMASHes.

Only then did it occur to me that I had switched from running three 5ks every week (with all the healthful eating and hydrating that entails) to a single 5k in two weeks, eating absolute junk, living in front of my computer (or my phone when the power was off), and drinking a glass or two of wine every couple of nights... and that maybe this had a little something to do with my general feelings of crappyness too.

I have apparently transitioned into the time of my life that living healthy actually feels better than doing whatever. Weird.

I was already determined to run this weekend because I had signed up for the run4nyc virtual 5k,  but this mood shift made me all the more determined to get out and get moving again.

I don't get a lot of sleep on average during the week so sleeping in and chilling out on weekends is key to my sanity. I recently dug out all of my winter gear so for the first time this year I got to rock out my fave winter PJs while kicking around my apartment.

I have clearly cornered the market on everyday sexy. Hope I don't get any of you in trouble at work with the racy content!
I spent the late morning and early afternoon relaxing in my footies. It was starting to get late and if I wanted to get a run during full daylight I would have to GO.

And so it came time to remove my delicious warm microfleece Muppet pajamas to put a meager few layers of cold flimsy tech fabric between me and the universe. I readied to leave my wonderful boyfriend and snuggly cats behind; to venture out into the cold; to test and exhaust myself on messy dangerous litter strewn roads... and I didn't think twice about a single second of it.

I think it was sometime around when I finished painstakingly weaving and tucking my earphones around and through a carefully crafted bra strap/safety pin maze that I fully recognized the decision I had made, and what that meant to me about who I am now and what I'm about.

Running is just what I do now, I'm a runner. Hunh.

Sure I may be a painfully slow runner all things considered, and apparently I set myself up to suck wind big time by going a week with only one short walk for exercise, (who put all that invisible plastic wrap in my lungs anyway?) but if any of that sort of stuff was going to stop me it probably would have done so months ago, and being able to say that feels pretty darn awesome.

Incidentally: if you're looking for some sexy Muppet footie PJs of your own you can get them here.

My Saturday run: run4nyc virtual 5k - a 5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks
3.10 miles at an average of 11:34 per mile -  total time of 35:53
Positive splits all around! Not kidding, this one was hard.

So, what are my options for running at this point?

Like it or not road running has officially become a weekend activity. I don't typically get home from work until four thirty, and with daylight savings time it's pretty much dark at five now, so weeknight running is pretty much out until spring. The sun rises at about six forty am this time of year, which is less than a half hour before I already get up to be at work at eight. Given the amount of time it would take me to cool down and shower if I ran in the morning I would still be running in the dark then too (I do have to admit I'm immensely happy that's not a remotely viable option).

I have an extremely generous offer from Gigi of Running On Candy to use her treadmill since she lives very close (and is awesome), but transitioning my entire running workout routine to right in the middle of someone's home seems like it would get intrusive right quick and we Jawas are shy, retiring creatures. I love her for the offer but I think I'd be too mortified to actually make good on it. She does have cats which rival mine in awesomeness, (and she has a whole extra one) but by the same token I see treadmill + amazing cat time rapidly devolving to shenanigans.

I had already been looking into a Retro Fitness extremely close to me and I found out that they are running a cash special Thanksgiving weekend that makes the dues work out to ACTUALLY twenty dollars a month. I had already figured out a few things I could easily cut out of my budget to cover that and then my parents offered to kick in a sizable proportion of the membership as a holiday gift, so I'm pretty much decided.

I plan to do a guest pass one day in the intervening time to check it out (make sure they're not a front for trafficking endangered animals or anything like that) and if it seems worth it I'm going for it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

In brief

I think if I do not go running tomorrow I may go a touch batty.

Ren and Stimpy - Space Madness
Ren and Stimpy - Space Madness 

I'm actually pretty tired so more on what's going on in Jawaville after that run (which will be my run4nyc virtual run, by the way), but while I'm thinking of it I thought I would also mention...

I'm going completely stir crazy with this newfangled five pm sunset. This running thing is messing with me something fierce. I'm a night person! I've never been annoyed about the Fall Daylight Savings before! As a result I am finally seriously contemplating a gym membership.

However, on the totally awesome side:

I won stuff! I almost never win stuff! rocks my socks!

Actually now that I mention it; I won another stuff and I've been very rude in not mentioning it. I guess by extension rocks my shoes?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

On the road again

Today was my first run post Sandy.

My last run was the Freaky 5K on Sunday so it's been just about a week. The majority of this time was spent sitting on my butt in my tiny apartment (being very thankful I had that option), checking in on friends and family, checking the latest news, trying to figure out when (and how) to return to work, willing the power to go back on, eating starchy pre-packaged foods, and drinking chardonnay.

There probably have been better fitness routines.

By Wednesday I had gotten pretty antsy but I had no idea of the condition of the local roads so I went on a walk with my boyfriend to check things out. We took a brisk walk through my normal running route to get some air, watch trick-or-treaters, and stop occasionally for pictures.

There was only one really hazardous spot on my normal path but it was a doozy. Even on the clear streets the roads were COVERED in shattered branches and other debris, there were many spots where I would probably have to run down the middle of the road to avoid breaking an ankle. Probably the most concerning thing was how many compromised trees and branches were clearly being held up entirely by power lines.

I would have loved to run Thursday or Friday but by then I was back at work and the traffic generated by the gas shortage meant I was leaving too early and getting home too late to run (especially given much of my neighborhood had no power) so Saturday it was.

I ended up going out in the late afternoon and since the street from the pic above was still blocked off I had to make one major detour, but otherwise my path was open. The ground was shockingly clear and there were very few areas with bad footing. I was also pretty thankful at the relative emptiness of the streets given I was in head to toe dark grey, but I feel bad that that is pretty much directly due to the gas shortages.

At 48° and windy (my clear streets came at a price) it was officially too cold for my tropical genetics. I was EXCEEDINGLY glad for my long sleeve Freaky5K swag shirt, leggings, and fleece vest, and I noticed that I'm no longer particularly bothered by being covered in sweaty clothing, so that's a plus... I guess?

The aim was to take an easy run but I did find myself pushing 10:00 a bit more often than I had wanted. It's getting harder to go as slow as I need to to maintain stamina, anything slower than 10:30 feels a little awkward, like I'm running through molasses. I guess it's more fun to focus on the burning in my lungs than whatever is going on in the rest of my body? The cold was a bit hard on my lungs and I was unexpectedly winded for most of my run, otherwise it felt great to be back out on the road. I was however VERY dizzy during cool-down and for a bit afterward, and it took a long time to warm up.

My Saturday run: a 5K run plus 5 minute warmup and cooldown walks and negative splits
3.11 miles at an average of 11:01 per mile -  total time of 34:18, max pace of 5:25 (???)

My Nike+Running app has completely lost it's little mind and somehow added an extra mile in to the first mile of my run.

Click image for the runNYC page
I saw this posted via DailyMile on FB a little while ago and as soon as they get their donation page working I'm signing up for the 5k

Per their page:

What is it?
It's a virtual race for those hit hardest by the hurricane. Choose your distance, decide on a donation amount, and lace up to race Nov 4 through Nov 11! Run loops around your neighborhood, through your city… anywhere you please. 100% of all money collected goes to the American National Red Cross relief fund. We'll have a leaderboard and printable certificates for all finishers!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The right choice, in lieu of any GOOD choice.

The 2012 NYC Marathon has been cancelled.

I deeply appreciate the respect for the needs of the city, and feel terribly for those who are missing out.

I can only hope that the various vendors and organizers involved have respect for the efforts of the runners who will lose out on their race and that every effort will be made to pave the way for their return (rather than just their dollars).

Bloomberg however?

After reading the statement from the mayor's office on the subject, Bloomberg can take a long walk off a short pier.

If he can find an intact one that is.

The Rockaway boardwalk in Queens, New York, was stripped down to the piers by Superstorm Sandy.Click image for link to original posting article

I don't pretend to know the best ways to offer and ask for help, but here is a link to's Hurricane Sandy recovery page which I hope will be a helpful starting point.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Running on a torn city - The NYC Marathon

I am so divided on this.

As a stubborn New Yorker I so desperately want to call out "The Show Must Go On!" 

As a proud New Yorker I want you to see the gritty, fast paced, art deco glories of my home.

As a fledgeling runner I want to bask in the excitement of the first NYC marathon that's really been on my radar.

But as a fellow human being looking at the devastation around me I really wonder if it's actively irresponsible to shoulder another burden so soon. Especially one which will directly pull so many necessary resources.

The New York City skyline darkened after millions lost power on Monday. Click image for link to original source

This image makes me want to cry a little bit. Ok, more than a little bit.

People keep talking about the money this will bring into the city... as if that somehow balances out all of the expected downsides. As wonderful as it is that people want to help the situation with their money, we can't even get the access to many of these resources with OUR money and that puts us in direct competition for our own resources.

That money would be an incredible boon in one week, or two, or a month from now, but all it is doing right now is buying resources AWAY from the people that need them.

We're not talking about a shortage of I♥NY shirts, FDNY baseball caps, dirty water dogs, and commemorative Lady Liberty statuettes.

Image via LouiseHB on flickr - Click image for link
People are already without shelter, transit, food, electricity, police protection, cleanup crews, and from what I'm hearing access to clean tap water is going away as well. It's BAD, and now with the VERY rapidly descending gas shortage it's only getting worse for many people.

Yet these are all of the same things that the marathon goers will need.

Is this fair to us? Patently not.

Is this fair to THEM? Nope, not fair there either. I assure you that their experience here will NOT be the one they signed up and paid good money for.

I Love this NY, but we've been together a long time and I've had a lifetime to embrace all of her aspects. But this is not the NY I want you to meet, much less fall in Love with. This is a scraped up distracted NY who would love to spend time with you but the insurance adjustor will be here any minute, and anyway she had to skip lunch to get here in time and coffee is a distant hazy memory so please bear with her a bit.

I count myself among the EXTREMELY lucky few who did not suffer direct property damage. My family is safe and I have a lot of support, but by the same token the situation is still pretty grim for the coming days and I wouldn't recommend it as a lifestyle personally. There is a lot at stake.

Would you run a marathon on a torn tendon? 

Would you run a marathon on a torn city?

I do not blame anyone who is still psyched on the idea, but I do recommend having a look at the page below, there are some very compelling statements here.

This post came out of my thoughts regarding this post on the NYC Marathon by BlistersandBlackToenails.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's official! I'm an... um... something?

I'm not entirely sure what exactly is it that has become official, but running The John Theissen Children's Foundation Freaky 5K: a for-real brick-and-mortar 5K in Wantagh, NY (my old stomping grounds) sure does feel officially SOMETHING. And so in celebration I have added the giant magenta DailyMile 5K badge over there on the right side of this blog. Woo!

I totally get the appeal of races now, though I'm still roundly unsold on the "waking up at butt o clock in the morning to go make myself sweaty and tired and sore in the cold... and also a bit nauseous for that one stretch there, but hey at least I didn't actually throw up!" aspect.

It is however pretty funny to realize that the only thing that varies from my usual run experience in the above statement is the morning part. Me and the predawn hours are none too friendly, that is of course unless I'm meeting up with them from the back end.

This was an especially bad weekend for it as I helped throw a Halloween party on Friday, slept VERY late afterward, and then lived underneath (and attended) a Halloween party Saturday. I left the party early, but by six am on Sunday my body had pretty much given up on the idea of a cohesive sleep schedule.

Luckily for me my boyfriend is a walking, talking, Hey Girl meme and got up with me, made sure I was properly nourished, and then drove me out to the race; all on even less sleep than I had gotten.

We got to the race with plenty of time to spare, and then we parted ways so that he could park and I could get my bib and snazzy commemorative long sleeve tech shirt. I met up with some friends and we spent the half an hour or so before the race stretching, chatting, and wondering where my boyfriend had gotten to (McDonalds, as it turns out). Start time snuck up on us before he got back so we ended up stashing our gear in Purple's car and scootching for the start line, which I like to think provided that last necessary bit of warmup.

Here I am (in the Batman themed gear) in a pre-race photo with my friend Purple (ironically NOT the one wearing purple, she is the one dressed as a Star Trek Red Shirt) and Gigi of Running On Candy (The Motley Shues Proud Momma Bear as she put it. Her impression of the race is in this post). This was my first 5K race, Purple's first 5K where she planned on running, and Gigi's first weekend back after a foot injury.
We moseyed up to the start *mob* and I tried to find the right pace group, but before I knew it the race started. I got my Nike+ and watch going but the start was slooooooow and I didn't see where the actual line was so my personal device times and distances are pretty far off. I also completely failed to set up my running playlist so I was stuck with whatever came up on shuffle from my iPhone. Luckily it never went too off the rails, though I think I'll pass on running to Captain Beefheart or one of the slower Editors songs again if I can avoid it. 

Due to the confusion of the mob at the beginning I started out on my own. I caught sight of Gigi pretty early so I followed along behind her for a while just sort of keeping her in view. I caught up with her sometime a bit before mile one and we kept pace for a bit, but then she apparently slowed for a water stop and I lost track of her for the rest of the race. She later reported that she spent the rest of the race following my butt as it was *ahm* rather easy to find in the crowd.

I love these shorts, but I'm REALLY glad I opted for the leggings
From that point on I just sort of trucked along, tried to listen to my body, and did what I could to avoid careening wildly into others. It's pretty humbling to be struggling along and seeing eleven year olds and women with double strollers flying past you, but if this was all about ego I think I would have been out months ago. It was cool to have different scenery, people in costumes to watch, and that one family toward the end that gave me a well timed "Woo, Go Batman Wooooooo!".

The race situation had me pretty disoriented and my phone was giving me mile marker updates at some really bizarre points. I had this weird moment pretty early on where I totally lost track of how far in I was and pushed it a bit more than I should have so early, which caught up with me at the end. According to my Garmin I spent a LOT of this race paced between 9:00 and 10:00 though I had a lot of short recovery slowdowns which took my overall pace to 10:35 (chip time). On a whole I felt really good though, my legs were really happy with me and though I definitely was aware of the effort I was putting in, for the most part my stamina kept up with whatever I asked of it.

My main issue I think was in the disconnect between the course distance and the distance shown on my personal devices. My Nike+ was giving me mile marker alerts a good quarter mile early and I really wasn't sure how off my Garmin watch was reading. This was mostly an issue at the end because I knew I wanted to give a final kick but I wasn't sure when I could reasonably do that and still have enough juice left to actually get over the finish line. 

True story. My boyfriend for-real rocks the way people PRETEND Ryan Gosling rocks.
I actually think is Ryan Gosling is faintly weird looking... except for his torso, that part's pretty okay.
The answer to that by the way is that per my Garmin I hit a 5:37 pace at roughly 2.95 miles and varied wildly between there and about 8:30 maintaining a HR of 206 until I finished (except for that one blip at 207, which I'm pretty sure is when I caught sight of my boyfriend at the finish line. Yeah, we're gross). This was rapidly followed by a good two minutes of "Yes, I know you're there my Love, but leave me alone to walk this off or I'm going to puke on you" during which I apparently forgot to turn off my devices for a bit and also missed Gigi's finish. 

Once I settled my system (and stopped my devices) we went back to the finish to wait for Gigi and Purple. Purple finished a few minutes later, and Gigi came back from the medic area with an ice pack while we were trying to figure out if she was still on the course. 

Look at us all upright and not about to puke or anything!
My Nike+ listed me as running a 28:49??? at a 9:36 pace (a total of 34:33 over 4 miles???) and my Garmin had a full 3.29 distance at 34:43 and won't let me trim off the extra bits so my averages are completely off, though it's still showing my overall pace as 10:21, even listing the average pace for my last split as 12:00.

I got my clock results from the FLRRT bus and they listed me as running a 32:53 with a 10:35 pace which was a PR for me by about 8 seconds! Gigi said later that morning that since the slips we got were clock time only she thought that may be off by about 30 seconds based on her watch. She texted me later in the evening to tell me that the chip times were up on I looked myself up on the site and found my chip results...

Which makes it a PR by nearly 45 seconds!

Sorry this post was a bit delayed, there was this hurricane thing going on and I've been a mite distracted.

Both my neighborhood and my office are without power but luckily my landlord has a generator so I'm sitting things out pretty nicely all things considered.

Bonus for you: my totally bizarre race playlist - welcome to the bizarreness that is shuffle on my phone.

Puscifer - The Rapture (Fear is a Mind Killa Mix)
Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
Daft Punk - Around the World/Harder Better Faster Stronger (Alive 2007)
Editors - Life as a Ghost
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band - Call On Me
The Doors - I Looked at You
Black Sabbath - Lord of this World
Marilyn Manson - GodEatGod
Primus - Puddin Taine
Alice In Chains - I Stay Away