fitness


if you’re female, and you have any aspirations of ever running a race that allows you to showcase your love of all things girlie while simultaneously achieving a great physical accomplishment, i advise you to seriously consider signing up for this one:

trust me on this. it’s an absolutely incredible, once-in-a-lifetime (or however many times you decide to run it in a lifetime) experience. i’ve never seen so many people run like girls.

and the best thing is, we all did it on purpose.

photo: runDisney
photographer: Preston Mack

by “we all,” i mean about 20,000 of us (5% whom were males!) Disney-crazed lunatics who signed up for a 5:30 start time for the sheer girlieness of running Disney’s Princess Half Marathon on February 26. i was more nervous about waking up at 3:30am and being able to function like a normal girl (let alone a PRINCESS!) than i was about running 13.1 miles, but as was the case in my last race, God put his little angels on my shoulders and made sure that everything went better than i could have ever expected.

i can’t lie — i was realllly excited to finally be running this race.

i’d recommend running this even if you’ve never run a half marathon before, or doubt that you can. it’s an ideal first half for a girl to choose. the energy and enthusiasm is incredibly infectious, as women of all ages, athletic abilities, & backgrounds flock from all around the country/world to run like princesses through Cinderella’s Castle (yes, that’s part of the route!). it was such a FUN race, my cheeks were sore from grinning so much.

as you’d expect from a Disney event, the race was extremely well-organized. i mean, do they ever do anything poorly? as if the energy and enthusiasm of 20,000 women wasn’t contagious enough to keep us all peppy throughout 2 hours of running, they set up entertainment for us at every mile by having various Disney characters staged to cheer us on and serve as photo opps. some were hilarious, like the barrage of Disney men (Eric, Aladdin, etc.) who posed with the runners as the song “Whatta Man” by Salt n Peppa blared in the background. (you can bet that photo line was looooong.)

if i run it again, i think i’d forgo running for a time goal and instead bring my camera to take advantage of every character photo opp i could. what a cool collage this race would lend itself toward!

sadly, i dropped the ball on procuring a costume and failed to dress up as a princess (although they ask you your favorite princess and print it on your bib! any guesses as to who is mine??), so that’s a goal for next year. i was surrounded by thousands of women in costumes — wings, tutus, glitter, tiaras, you name it — and i felt sadly unfestive.

next year, i will princess it up. anyone with me?

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appealing, no?  i mean, who doesn’t want to make sure they’re in bed by 11pm to wake up bright-eyed and jumpy-toed to start off their Saturday mornings in a boot camp class?

i’m growing quite accustomed to staying in on Friday nights, and truth be told, i’m lovin’ it.

i was excited to score a sweet online coupon deal for 10 hour-long group bootcamp sessions with the Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp, where “butt kicking now has a view” (hey, not my words, just the messenger). i was even more stoked when i found out that i didn’t actually have to go to the Brooklyn Bridge at 6:30am (phew) in order to take advantage of these hardcore workouts: they offer Saturday morning (9am) and Tuesday evening classes (6:30pm, now an “after-dark” class…spoookyyyy) in Central Park, which is my favorite place to work out.

i don’t think i’ve ever regreted a moment spent in Central Park, not even when i found myself inadvertently misplaced and running in the dark one night when i first moved here last Autumn. i love this Park in all its seasons, in the heat and the rain, in the pre-dawn stillness and in the purplish glow of dusk. no, i don’t want to lose myself here at midnight, rambling aimlessly for the sheer sake of a fantastical romantic notion that may or may not end up badly, but you get the idea. i’d say about a quarter of the reasons i (heart) NY revolve around this iconic park.

so if you have to take a boot camp class, where better place to venture? it’s definitely worth checking out, if you’re looking for a way to spice up your workouts with some variety, and it offers a challenging, fun course. i love how the exercises are structured around the park elements: we run and weave through the heart of the park, using benches for step-ups and push-ups and dips; running the stairs and then doing wall-sits by the central fountain; doing lunges along the Bridle Path and burpees in a little grove of trees; sprinting down the main walkway that leads to the fountain — you hardly mind being put through a grueling workout, the environment is so beautiful.

if you’re gonna sweat somewhere, you might as well sweat here.

Brooklyn Boot Camp in CP = definitely a great workout, in a hard-to-beat location.

*note: i’m sure their sessions that actually occur on the Brooklyn Bridge are fab, too, but i can’t speak to that firsthand. maybe one day!

other than the fact that it sent my photo-fiending to a whooooole new level of lens-lusting, that is.

i gave my mother a crash-course in using a camera phone while i was scrambling to get in place at the starting line, and then made sure she followed me around like my own personal paparazzi when the race was done. clearly, i have the world’s most amazing, patient, loving mother.

but honestly, i emerged from this experience with so much more than a album-full of fun photos, and running this race definitely taught me some invaluable lessons to keep in mind as i (hopefully) continue running more races in the future.

1. don’t underestimate yourself. i definitely did this during my preparation, right up to the morning of the race. i freaked out about my injuries, hemmed and hawed over my sneaker choices, was sure i couldn’t run without music, and set myself an unimpressive goal of “not dying.” in actuality, i felt great the day of the race, managed to approach it with an entirely calm mentality (thank you God for that little surprise gift!), and ran so much better than i had during any of my training runs. i psyched myself out only to have an incredible race, and all that worrying left me with nothing but chewed fingernails. bottom line: train hard, of course, but believe in yourself. you’re capable of way more than you’d expect.

i didn’t even come CLOSE to dying, so thank goodness i beat that ridiculous goal.

2. running with a friend is fabulous. i could probably make that #s 2-5 and still not be able to stress it enough. i’ve always considered myself a solo runner, preferring to take off alone and have my “me” time. that, and i’ll admit i’ve also been afraid to run with people and discover i’m holding someone back, or have them be a “better” runner than i am. all of this silliness and insecurity went out the window immediately when the race began, and i discovered just how much i absolutely loved running with Krystle. we’ve never gone on a single run together before that day, and yet looking back, i honestly cannot imagine having run my first half marathon any other way than with her. we encouraged each other, chatted, sang, giggled, and had an absolute blast running the whole thing side-by-side. i’m 100% certain i wouldn’t have done as well, felt as great, or had such an incredible experience had i not been running it with her, and i’m now a firm believer in the power of a fabulous running partner.

3. slow & steady actually does pay off. we started off at a slower pace than i probably begin most of my longer runs with, and i am positive that contributed immensely to how strong we felt and to helping us beat our goal time of under 2 hours. if i’d pushed myself harder in the beginning, i’m sure my knee would have begun to ache long before mile 10, and i know i wouldn’t have finished as strongly as i did. going slower and maintaining a consistent pace throughout the race made it possible for me to pick up the pace for the last 3 miles, and i think my fastest mile was actually my final one. i felt amazing going across the finish line, and the comfortable beginning pace definitely is what made that possible.

 

4. vanilla bean Gu is a gift from the gods. i’ve only tried using Gu during 2 runs prior to my race (both over 10 miles), and i wasn’t entirely sure when i’d want to take it. around mile 6.5-7, i decided maybe i could use the little extra boost of caffeine and hoped that taking it before i felt tired would pay off — and it did. i certainly felt the Gu kick in and add a little sugar-jolting pep to my steps, and let me tell you — Vanilla Bean Gu tastes like a shot of vanilla icing. it was so delicious, i just make cupcakes this week so i have an excuse to try out a new frosting. (maybe i’tll catch on in the running community?) 
the only mistake i made was not washing it down with water, so i felt a little sugary-sick for a few minutes aftewards. next time, i’ll definitely time it so that i can hit a water station right after i take the treat.


5. drinking saves your life.
and herein lay my horrible mistake: i didn’t drink.
i guess those weeks of training in which i severely cut down my wine consumption to maybe one glass a week unfortunately carried over into my refusal to suck down water or gatorade during the race, because i was a silly girl and hardly drank a thing during those 13.1 miles. sure, i hydrated plenty the day before and drank some water that morning, but i just felt so great and so strong and so excited cruising through those miles that i barely wanted to pay attention to the water stations. oh, i grabbed a cup of water or gatorade at most of them, but i rarely did more than wet my lips and take one tiny sip before chucking it to the side. honestly, i didn’t think twice about this decision at the time…
and afterward,  i spent the entire day sick as a dog. i felt wonderful for the first two hours after the race, riding high on my post-run glow, but things went downhill quickly when i got home. i spent about 8-10 hours on the couch or in my bed suffering from severe dehydration, with my wonderful mom trying to coax me to drink water. i’ve never been dehydrated before, and i can’t remember the last time i felt that awful. soooooo dumb on my part to think i could run for two hours in bright sunlight and barely take in more than a few sips of liquid. whoops! lesson learned the hard way. water is like a magic potion to a runner.


6. bring your fan club. i can’t lie: having my parents there to cheer me on (at the beginning, a 2 different locations during the race, and at the ending) was sooooo encouraging and meant the world to me. my dad kept me laughing by making sure to tell me that “people have already crossed the finish line, you better hurry up!” multiple times, and my mom could spot me and start screaming my name from miles away. i felt super loved to have people cheering me on, not to mention all the friends who were praying for me and sending me texts, emails and messages that whole weekend. a big accomplishment is that much better when you can share it with the people you care about, and this whole experience wouldn’t have been as wonderful for me had i not been so supported by those in my life.
so THANK YOU, friends. i love you all!

i ran my first half marathon this morning!! eeeeeeeeee!!


probably couldn’t possibly be any happier at this moment. this truly was one of the greatest accomplishments of my adult life (and definitely my biggest accomplishment physically), and i was feeling pretttty good right here.

from start to finish, i couldn’t have hand-picked a more perfect day. everything just went so right. don’t you love when that happens? it was the most beautiful Indian Summer Day with an entirely cloudless sky and no humidity, and i woke up feeling great.

the best part was that i ran it with my friend Krystle, and i’m absolutely positive that having a great friend to run this whole race with (yes, we stayed together almost the entire time, until about mile 12!) made it a bajillion times more fabulous. i wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way.


we talked, laughed, sang a little bit, and encouraged each other to keep up a strong, steady pace, and it seriously felt like i was just going out for a great morning run on an absolutely gorgeous day with a friend. i was honestly shocked by how strong and healthy i felt the whole way through. at one point, we passed two girls who were running together, and one of them commented, “you two just look like you’re out for a leisurely jog together!”

well, to be honest, it kinda felt that way, too. and i was lovin’ it.

the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon & Half-Marathon truly was an ideal race, especially for my first half. the course is entirely flat and downhill, which is a runner’s dream, and the last four miles drop you onto a bike path right beside the Hudson River. it’s an easy, lovely run, with plenty of water and Gu stations, and enough sporadic spectators to make you feel loved & encouraged but not so many that it’s overwhelming. i thought it was a very well-organized, awesome race.


oh, and the foliage wasn’t so bad, either.

talk about a fantastic time of the year to run a race in upstate NY! seriously, God. thanks sooooo much for this golden day!

i didn’t have one single moment where i thought i was going to die, and my knee didn’t start acting up until about mile 11, so i really felt so great throughout the entire race. i made sure to conserve enough energy throughout the first 12 miles to build up to a strong finish, and my adrenalin kicked in for sure when i saw that finish line up ahead.


so thankful for friends who came to cheer us on and take action shots! 🙂

oh, and my time: 1:57:59! absolutely thrilled. i was hoping to beat 2 hours, so i couldn’t be happier.

and a big “THANK YOU” to these amazingly special people who made this day sooooo incredible with their encouragement, support, chauffeuring, and multiple water-stop & finish line cheering:



have i mentioned before that i have the world’s best parents? because i sooooo do. for about 4839 different reasons…and today is just a really big one. 🙂

so my first half was an absolute smashing success in every way imaginable. THANK YOU so much to everyone who supported me, prayed for me, and encouraged me throughout this entire process — you mean more than you can imagine and i love every last one of you!

and of course, we had to end it on a silly note.


because running for nearly 2 hours straight is enough to make the most serious person just a little giddy…

and you could say i’m pretttty far from serious.

 

on a typical weekday morning, my alarm goes off at 7am. i’m okay with that, but seeing a 6 or a 5 on my clock when i open my eyes generally sends me into an instant panic. unless i’m getting on an airplane, anything before 7 is just too early. i’d love to change that and become a regular morning runner, but that would mean doing what i did last night —
going to bed at 8:30pm. like, sound asleep at that time. when my brother called me at 10pm to tell me i’m now an aunt to this lil cutie pie, i almost had a heart attack thinking i was being woken up in the wee hours of the morning:

asdfhighialfdhksghsdjk how cute is she?! who cares if she’ll grow up to be this ridiculous beast who weighs nearly as much as i do. right now, she’s the cutest thing ever and i want to cuddle her right up to my face and squish our noses together. i’m going to convince him to send me pix of my new little niece on the regular, so hopefully you’ll get used to seeing her on here.

thank goodness one of us decided to add on to the family. (Ry, i owe you big time…)

moving on…

so when you go to bed as early as a pre-schooler, getting up at 5am to go for the earliest run of your life seems like the most natural thing in the world.

i don’t even know who i am this morning, but i’m really digging this new mutant self. next time i’m considering bringing my amazeballs ninja skills to the park with me…because as i discovered this morning, it’s a scary place in the dark. the sun apparently doesn’t rise in time to illuminate your morning run simply because you decided to get up earlier. who knew.

i was out of the apartment and running (literally) at 5:35am. it was just me and some random rastafarian (fumbling through garbage cans) gracing my street. let me tell you, the city sure is an entirely different world before 7am. i don’t think i saw a single taxi, camera-toting tourist, pack of girls in impossibly high heels and tight skirts, or illegal immigrant trying to convince me to buy a tour bus package. weird.

i ran to Central Park and found it basically entirely empty. i maybe saw 10 other runners on the Bridle Path and a handful of bikers, and i was quite surprised. i figured at least a few thousand of the city’s runners would be enticed to zoom around the Park in the pitch dark at an ungodly hour. it reminded me of one of my favorite stories my best friend tells, about the time she couldn’t find the tracks in Penn Station (being so used to Grand Central) and ran up to some random guy, completely flustered, and desperately asked him, “where are all the trains?”

like, where were all the people? i suddenly saw the advantages to having a running buddy.

here was my view from the Jackie O Reservoir around 6 am:

see those lights? (duh. that’s the only thing you can see.) those would be the street lamps weakly designed to help me not die (which is my primary running goal, in case you haven’t caught on.) somewhere between fighting my first little tastes of vertigo and dashing from illuminated patch to illuminated patch, the thought struck me that this would be a perfect place for some bad guy to kill a runner girl and dump her sweaty little body right into the reservoir. this added a whole new meaning to the goal of not dying while running.

i ran those 7 miles pretty well this morning, and i’d only been planning on doing 5. nothing like a good little dose of Central Park in the Dark nerves to add some pep into your step. remember that prayer i talked about? definitely put that into full effect this morning.

not only did i not die, but i actually had a really nice run. i finished an unexpected 7 miles in an hour, so i’m happy with that pace, especially for the earliest run of my life. here’s my course:

i love google maps. especially when they prove to me that i ran further than i thought. we’re tight these days.

as if my morning wasn’t off to such an adrenalin-laden high already, i happened to walk smack into this smile-inducing sign getting off the subway this morning:

best.advertising.ever.

and it was nice of Him to remind me that He took care of me on my run this morning, too.

i give this day a standing O already. i can’t wait to change my new bedtime to 8pm…and maybe to ask my brother to let me borrow his guard dog when she grows up. i mean, i’m sure Jesus alone is enough to help me not die…but i’d rather cover all my bases.

what.a.weekend!!

i purposefully didn’t plan anything crazy this weekend because i knew what my priorities were:

1. run 11 miles on Saturday morning (and hopefully live to tell about it)
2. go check out Hillsong NYC (finally!!) on Sunday morning.

more about the 2nd one in another post…this one is all about running, since i’ve been finally able to do a lot more of it (post 2-month injury) lately.

so at 7:30am on Saturday, i was out the door and trying not to psych myself out over my long run in Central Park.


the expected rain thankfully held off, and i actually made it not 11, but 13 miles around various loops in the Park! i really couldn’t believe it when i Google mapped it later. that’s two miles further than i’ve ever run at one time before, and even though i might not be the world’s fastest runner, i’m ridiculously thrilled to have made it that far without any major catastrophes or sudden epiphanies to take up Zumba instead.

as i’ve become more “serious” about my running lately, i’ve stumbled across some must-haves that help make my long runs much more bearable. since so many of my friends have asked how i can possibly run 10+ miles (and trust me, i ask myself that, too — i can hardly believe it, since i never pushed myself past 6-7 miles before this past month!), i figured i’d share a few favorite things this runner swears by.

1. a foam roller.

yes, mine’s pink, but yours doesn’t have to be. pick your favorite color, position your calves or hips across it, and roll. it should hurt, in the best “i hate this but it feels so good” way possible. i swear, it’s done wonders for my IT bands and more recently, my ever-sore calves. just a little rolling after a run goes a long way.

2. bananas.


truthfully, i’ve always been more of an apple girl when grabbing a piece of fruit on the go, but i’ve found that bananas are a fabulous food to eat pre-run. they don’t give me stomach problems, and they leave me sufficiently (but not uncomfortably) full. i know every runner has his/her personal preferred pre-run fuel source, and these do it for me. they have a lot of potassium, which boosts your energy and endurance, and they’re higher in (good) carbohydrates than a lot of other fruits, so they’re a runner’s ally. i swear by these lil babies.

3. gel shots.


i just recently began using these for my 10+ mile runs, and they really do make a difference. i prefer the strawberry (and no, not because they’re pink), and i happen to think it’s a big portion — i rarely feel like i want to stomach the whole thing at once, so i usually split it up at two different intervals during my run (this is for a half marathon training only). i much prefer them to the chews, because who wants to have to chew something when they can just shoot this down? these are great sugar + caffeine shots to give you a much-needed boost during a lengthy run.

4. body glide. if i ever venture out for another long run without lubing myself up with this gift from the gods, somebody please shoot me. after my first bad chafing experience (beneath my arms, where they hit up against the side of my sports bra/tank top…try eleven miles of that and imagine how red and painful they were), i sprinted so quickly to The Running Company to buy this stuff that i might have been mistaken for an Olympic relay team member. it’s non-greasy, non-sticky, non-smelly, non-messy, and hypoallergenic. it’s like a miracle with a pink top to boot. i can’t praise this product enough. it’s right up there with water for me as a running essential.

5. prayer.

(if i had my blog to live over…)

this one would be the most important, though. seriously. God knows he needs to help me if i’m going to keep running, so i make sure i’m keeping him right in the middle of it. i pray for no sudden death by running, no anxiety over under performing and letting myself down, no physical injury, no pain or discomfort whatsoever, no potholes to fall into or bicyclists trampling me, no negative thoughts to discourage me from ever lacing up a pair of sneakers again. i pray that i’ll enjoy every second of it and remember why i run in the first place.

this list isn’t exclusive, but just a little glimpse into my life as a runner… with a lot of Pandora thrown in to smooth it all out. i’m stuck on the Passion Pit, Phoenix or Two Door Cinema Club stations for my long runs these days. i need a little shimmy-sound to put some pep in my step.

happy running, running friends!

it’s no secret that my blog is kind of all over the place.

i started it a few years ago just to sort of keep myself accountable in my writing (mainly creative), since i didn’t have a set focus or any deadlines propelling me forward. i work well under pressure and to be honest, i wouldn’t mind someone breathing down my neck to get me to eek out some poetry on a weekly basis.

but it quickly evolved into just a mishmosh of ramblings about my life, mostly in relation to my travel and now my adventures in NYC — with dashes of poetry thrown in, of course. i can’t forget my first love.

so lately, i’ve been thinking a lot about my blog, trying to discover what my “niche” is and what i should and shouldn’t write about…and i came to the conclusion that it’s okay if it’s not exclusive to one topic. i feel like there are areas of my life that are soooo integral to my identity, namely running and fitness and my obsession with leading a balanced, healthy life, that i don’t really talk about that regularly. i think i shied away from writing about them consistently, because i didn’t originate this blog with those areas in mind. and honestly, i guess i was a little afraid of my blog losing its “artsy” feel.

so you're saying i don't look like a starving artist...

now, i’m not planning to start posting pictures of each non-restaurant meal i eat (hello, i’m sure most of you aren’t super interested in my bananas, salad and froyo staples), but i definitely am planning to include more of my fitness & eating habits into my posts. health, fitness & clean eating are true passions of mine, and i think incorporating them into my blog regularly will help me keep myself accountable in this area as well.

no, this was not my breakfast…but i kinda wish.

so, what prompted this “announcement” of a new blog shift (or semi-shift, at least)?

i’m currently training for my first half marathon, which i’ll get into more later, and i was talking with one of my other runner girlfriends down here in the city, who encouraged me to join New York Road Runner’s. of course i’d heard of it, as it’s the premier running club here, and i’d visited their site 4356 times in the past year (i can’t believe i’ve almost been here for a full year already! eee!!!), but i just hadn’t gotten involved.

honestly, i think i was too nervous of being a “not good enough” runner. what does that even mean, really? my friend helped me talk through these worries last night, reminding me that that’s the great thing about running: it’s such an individualized activity. runners come in all shapes and sizes, at all fitness and ability levels, and there’s no such thing as “not good enough.” if you run, and you like running, and you’re devoted to running, you’re a runner. you start from there and move forward.

i tend to get extremely hard on myself, especially in areas where i want to excel, and at times like last night, i was super grateful for such an encouraging friend.

and this morning, i signed up for NYRR, and for my first race with them: the Poland Spring 5-Miler Marathon Kick-Off. after running a half marathon on Oct. 9, hopefully this 5-miler will feel like a piece of cake…or at least like a big bowl of froyo, which i plan to devour immediately after all my long runs.

priorities, people. will run for Pinkberry.

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