NYC Marathon Baggage Policy Change

For anyone who hasn't heard, NYRR announced the other day that they are no longer going to have a bag check available for the NYC Marathon this year. And, as has almost become the norm with NYRR's policy-changing announcements, it caused a shitstorm.

I find this to be an interesting move by NYRR, since the registration fees for the marathon have steadily increased. I believe this year's registration fee was something like $250.00, which feels like way too much money to be able to do the exact same thing you do every time you throw on clothes and go for a run from your house. They cited the bag check as one of the perks of this fee, and in light of their change of policy, are issuing NYRR ponchos to the angry mob those who registered. (Side note: a poncho? Not even like a sweatshirt, or some of the fairly high-quality NYCM technical gear available? Or a complimentary gym/duffel bag, which, wholesale, would cost the same, if not less than a poncho? That seems to have been a poor choice of appeasing gift, if for no other reason than I can't think of anyone that would actually wear a poncho.)

Last year I chose not to check a bag, and had a designated meetup location right outside the park established so I wouldn't need to carry a phone. I had heard nightmarish things about the baggage congestion, but when I finished the race, I had to go through the same route to get out of the park as I would have to retrieve a checked bag, and a friend I met up with was able to get hers in about 25 seconds, so for me, it would have made no difference - there was no extra wait. That may have been due to my fairly late finishing time, and I can imagine the wait to get bags for the 4:30 marathoners was much longer, but my personal experience was very easy. Of course, for people not familiar with the city or travelling alone I could see how not having access to a bag would be quite an issue. Still, NYRR could very easily have set up a baggage retrieval site elsewhere and do what the airlines do - charge those wishing to check a bag an extra $5 or $10 to cover the cost of the baggage transportation and pick-up site. Since their decisions tend to be fairly unpopular anyway, it seems like it is the most reasonable way to resolve it (at least moreso than a poncho).

It seems to boil down to NYRR seeking to maximize their profits while providing as few services as possible for their runners. And since they have more or less had a monopoly on NYC races for several decades (although less so recently due to their rising unpopularity) they have been able to do so, to their participants' detriment and dismay, because at the end of the day, we all want to run and race, and they provide the largest platform to do so. Will I personally continue to participate in NYRR races? Probably, but I'll think a lot harder before sending in my registration, and explore other local races, even if they are not quite as convenient. In this case, I admit that I'm part of the problem, because I'm still forking over money to NYRR despite the fact that I don't agree with everything they're doing. At this point, I still plan to run the 2013 NYCM, because it's a special race for me, and as long as I can justify and afford the cost of the race (which currently, at $255 I'm not sure I can) but I find it very disappointing that an organization such as NYRR continues to make these poorly-thought-out, almost amateur decisions.


Final steps of preparation and first steps toward the finish

[I meant to post this the morning of the bar exam - July 24th - and then in the whirlwind of getting out the door and getting to the exam on time, I forgot. It's probably a good thing that this was the thing I forgot, instead of, say, my laptop, or admissions ticket.]

I distinctly remember the anxiety I felt about a half mile into the NYC Marathon on November 6th of last year. As I moved along the gradual incline of the Verrazano Bridge I felt this sense of discomfort and dread that I had such a long way left to go. I had trained and come so far, but those 25+ miles left for me seemed like an eternity.

I remember at mile 17, running up First Avenue, when everyone had told me to enjoy it, because it was the best part of the course, how miserable I was, how tired my legs felt, and how much I wanted to be done. How I couldn't wait for this torture to be over with. How I couldn't remember why doing this damn marathon was a good idea. 

I remember crossing the finish line, and how numb I felt, how I couldn't really understand what had just transpired. How drained I felt, how it was all over, and I couldn't really comprehend it. 

I signed up for the marathon to pull myself out of my ordinary-ness, to shake the malaise that I had allowed to rule my life, to prove to myself that I could do something extraordinary. I felt so under-prepared on that bridge into Brooklyn, so unsure of my abilities, and unaware of what kind of obstacles, physical or mental, I might face to get to the end. My training was not perfect - far from it. In those months I learned to stretch the fabric of my mental stamina to its limits, and then past that. When I struggled, I had to regroup, switching gears to accomplish what I had set out to do. When I had to make an emergency porta-potty-pit-stop at mile 23, I had to make up time in order to make my goal, forcing my legs to keep moving, and faster, harder,  than they were, or wanted to, or I thought I could. 

And I keep reminding myself that this anxiety I am feeling is not foreign, but that doesn't make it any less uncomfortable. I have been there before, maybe not in this particular sense, but I have tackled obstacles and unknowns of this magnitude. If anything, I needed to tackle the marathon before I could even get to this point, to prove to myself my capabilities for strenuous effort towards a goal. 

I am feeling so many things right now - anxiety over the next two days, uncertainty, but also a feeling of accomplishment to have gotten this far. Looking back, it's kind of unbelievable to me that I have been able to do all of this in the past year - run a marathon, graduate law school, and now, sit for the bar exam. And while I am anxious, I can't help but feel proud of myself for my efforts. I may not feel totally prepared, but I think I have a pretty good chance of passing, and if nothing else, I feel like I am putting my best efforts forward. 

Five amazing miles.

The past few months have been very trying and very humbling. After finally getting the clear to begin running again from my podiatrist (and officially graduating law school) I made it about two weeks before the energy I  had to put toward running had to be diverted towards passing the bar. I haven't yet reached the point where running is an easy, natural, or habitual thing, especially after taking three months off, and coupled with 12-15 hours of studying a day, stress-induced insomnia, soaring temperatures and the development of what is likely a peptic ulcer, my running fell by the wayside. I don't necessarily regret it - I did what I needed to do to get through the bar exam, and then tried (and failed) to relax. Finally, two weeks later, I have been able to really start getting back into an exercise mindset the last couple of days. And it feels so good. 

This morning, I set out to run for a full hour, and I have so missed that feeling of euphoria when you're pushing yourself and your body is just cooperating, you're moving at a pace almost fast enough so that people don't wonder why you don't just walk, and it just feels good. I had forgotten how much I love Saturday morning runs - even if I'm doing a longer distance on the weekday, there's something about Saturday morning that feels different and special. I feel like I've stumbled on a secret that I'm sharing with everyone else who is out exercising at 7 am while the rest of the world is sleeping. 

It feels so good to be back. 


Racing Bucket List

The more I get into running, the more races I hear about that I'm dying to participate in, but haven't been able to due to my overriding academic commitments. But now that I'm only two and a half short weeks away from re-entering the real world (read: the bar exam will be over and I'll be full-time job searching until something good comes along) I can't wait to do more races outside of Central Park. 

Case in point - last weekend was the NYC Triathlon. A year ago, I was too consumed with surviving marathon training for it to even cross my radar, but this year I see the photos from the event and I'm dying to be out there and in the thick of it. So on that note, I'm putting together my racing bucket list.

The List (in no particular order):
- a 50K
-NYC Tri
-Tour de Cure NYC Century ride
-Nike Womens Marathon (for the Tiffany bling, natch)
-Wineglass Marathon (because it has wine in the name)
-Napa2Sonoma Marathon (notice a theme here?)
-Napa Valley Marathon (great swag)
-RockNRoll Phoenix Marathon or Half
-Chicago Marathon
-Marine Corps Marathon
-LA Marathon

Any great races I'm missing?


Baby Steps

Saturday morning was the 5 mile NYRR Pride Run - a run I've been wanting to do for a couple of years, and it definitely didn't disappoint. I had missed the Central Park loop, and it was so nice to be back in familiar territory. My biggest accomplishment, however? Running the whole five miles, no walk breaks. Boo ya. After the first 15 minutes or so, I kept telling myself "make it to 20 minutes" then "make it to two miles, then "make it to thirty minutes," at which point I realized that I could, and should, just push through to the finish. It wasn't fast, but I kept telling myself that it's going to take baby steps to get back in shape...baby steps up Harlem Hill... baby steps up Cat Hill... It was a great feeling, and made especially so since my foot cooperated quite nicely.

This morning I finished three miles in between thunderstorms. My hills kicked ass, and I wasn't even startled by the guy waving his wang all over the place by the giant booze warehouse. I live in a colorful neighborhood. The best part? (definitely not Captain Indecent Exposure) My last mile was under 11:00. And my slowest was just over. I just keep telling myself that as long as I keep putting in the work, the results will come, and that I just need to trust that it'll come together. This run definitely started my week off on the right foot (ha), and I'm already looking forward to my next run on Wednesday. It feels so good to be back.


Over-Analyzers Anonymous

I went on my second run "back" yesterday. It was awesome, even in spite of it being 75 and humid as crap at 6 am. I'm fully back in the OMG I LOVE RUNNING OMG ITS SO AWESOME camp, because I have had zero foot pain during or after this run. I ran a mile warm-up, and then, since my neighborhood has a plethora of monster hills, I ran 3-4 minutes at an easy pace, booked it up whatever hill presented itself (for a total of 4), then walked briskly down for 2-3 minutes to catch my breath for the next mile and a half. It seems like doing that, coupled with paying really close attention to my foot position/alignment is a fantastic workout, based on how sore certain muscles in my legs are that are a) never sore, and b) probably underused, since I don't even know what muscles they are (ETA: they are my quads. Apparently they are really weak, which makes my form suuuuck). Needless to say, despite my pace still being less than desirable, I'm not stressing about that and just focusing on correcting my foot form, and developing those things called quads that are apparently supposed to be a big running muscle. 

On Saturday, I'm doing the NYRR Pride Run, which will be my longest run since I've returned to the land of the running, and I have two goals: 1) not to give a shit about overall time/pace, and 2) listen to my body, so I can keep doing form-wise what I did yesterday and take walk breaks as needed. Central Park tends to be less hilly than Inwood though, which will be nice. It'll also put me at about 10 miles for the week, which is exciting for me, after two months of NO miles per week. 

I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with running. I really enjoy it, and I'd love to be able to get up every day and go for a run. At this point, doing that makes me really concerned about both burnout and injury, since I seem to be easily prone to both of those things. I'm thinking of signing up for one of the running classes with NYRR, and also taking a break from races/training after Hartford and just focus on building my endurance/mileage for the 2013 NYC Marathon. I have a pretty lofty (for me) goal set for my next marathon, and I'd love to be able to really maximize my training for it, but properly. 

I'm also toying with the idea of a little 2 mile jog tomorrow morning to test out the new arch support insoles I ordered before I use them on Saturday. Yay running! 



Back to "running" - although it involves a lot of walk breaks and some playtime with my gait/stride/whatever you call running form. I got the official word that Dr. A was in fact, totally incorrect and a grade-A moron, and I never, at any point, had a stress fracture. Cool. Although I had massive amounts of tendonitis in pretty much every foot joint, so I had needed to take the time I did off anyway. My foot feels fine, about in line with the rest of me, which pretty much feels like death on all runs of any distance these days.

NYC Half 2012: how to have terrible form and  make your feet hate you.
I'm pretty sure feet are not naturally supposed to point that way.

It's frustrating - I lost a lot of conditioning over the last two months. But I have to keep reminding myself that Rome wasn't built in a day, and let's be real here, even on a good day, I'm not exactly Kara Goucher. So here's the game plan for the next couple of weeks: get in 3 runs of 30+ minutes a week. Walk breaks as necessary. Hill work is fun. Maybe keep doing it. I have no idea what I'm doing form-wise, so I should probably stop obsessing about it. Order supportive insoles (check) and try not to BUY ALL OF THE SHOES. Keep working with Dr. Happyfeet to get custom orthotic insoles that will hopefully correct my foot issues so that I'm not overpronating and twisting my foot like a crazy woman. (Can you tell that I'm obsessed with the fact that my running form is terrible? I'm guessing that has a lot to do with why I'm so. freaking. slow.) And I'm still so paranoid that the foot pain is going to come back, I overanalyze everything I'm doing and it takes away from the whole "running is relaxing" component of working out. Pass the cookies. Advice/benzodiazepines also welcome.

(Hartford training starts July 1st!! I'm freaking out that I can barely run a full mile!)


In a slump

I'm in a workout funk. I had two glorious runs on Saturday and Monday, with no real foot pain, and was so geared up to get back running. And then on Wednesday I saw a Podiatrist to make sure my foot was all better and cleared to run.....short story is I'm not supposed to run until at least my follow-up on June 18th. On the plus side, I finally got x-rays done and the doctor, who is also a runner, was 100% more professional and just...better than that a-hole I saw in April. He didn't confirm or deny whether it was, in fact, a stress fracture, but I'm hoping it wasn't and I can get cleared to run by the end of June.

In the meantime, I have been riding the bike, and I'm hitting a bit of a wall with it. My legs have been really heavy the last couple of days from the biking and the strength training I've been doing, and I've noticed a tiny ITB twinge. I foam rolled the crap out of it today (HOLY SHIT that is painful) and will keep my eye on it so it doesn't get worse. I'm debating whether to take a couple of days off and let my body recharge or screw the doctor's orders and go run (or at least walk) to mix things up. I'm just so unmotivated and fitting in my workout the last two days has been a Sisyphean task. I'd also like to try a week of yoga to kind of immerse myself in it, which may be a good plan for me both mentally and physically, but truth be told, I'm a little intimidated. Maybe I'll try the OnDemand yoga for runners a couple times this weekend to get the feel for it.

Also, I've been curious about trying protein powder with my lunch smoothies: does anyone have a good powder or good recipes they would recommend?

This is what I imagine yoga for cats would be like. Don't you wish you could do this all day?


The Next Big Thing

It's finally sinking in that I'm done with law school. The biggest difference that I've noticed is how I no longer wake up with these intense feelings of panic and dread in the middle of the night, and I actually get up in the morning not hating 90% of the things I have to do during the day. Yes, I still have bar prep, but the whole "learning things that are given to you in a way that makes sense" thing is much more agreeable to me than the whole "let's try to bore everyone to tears while simultaneously confusing the hell out of them" that was my day-to-day existence during the school year.

Definitely makes you want to try it, no? I can say with a good degree of certainty that it was a pretty unpleasant experience. Nonetheless, finishing was a great accomplishment for me, and I am definitely a better person because of it.

One great thing I've discovered? The bar prep lectures are all on video, and the lecturers are pretty entertaining. Which means they make great material to watch while I ride the exercise bike in the mornings. Yes, I watch pre-recorded lectures while riding the bike, and I actually enjoy it. I am a sick person.

But that's not my point. My point is that, after a six-week hiatus, in which three of those weeks were spent doing not a single iota of physical activity, I finally ran again on Saturday. 1.7 whole miles. At about an 11:15 pace, which, for me, isn't all that bad. On Wednesday I'm seeing a Podiatrist to get my foot checked out, and if all looks good (fingers crossed that it does - I have had no pain since my run on Saturday) I can start building back up slowly and start training for my fall goal half marathon, which is officially the Hartford Half Marathon in October, with Emily (and Alyssa, and Kari who are doing the full marathon).

I'm not sure what my goal is for the half, although a PR would be nice (so like 2:19 or better), and I have a really solid training plan in place that should get me there. I have a feeling, based on the workouts I had last week, that I'm going to spend the next few months raising the bar on the level of fatigue my body is comfortable tolerating, and probably won't see much of an improvement speed-wise until the race. I say this because I had some great workouts last week on the bike and strength-training, and I feel a little tired today, but in an "I can push through this because it means my body is getting stronger" kind of way. It's a little bit exciting. I've been running now for almost a year, and am starting to feel comfortable knowing what I can do and what is good for me and then using that information to push myself safely and productively.

I'm really excited for this training cycle, even if I'm exhausted for the entirety of it, and don't see any results until the end, because I have a good feeling that I'll see some great results come October. Because, in a way, that's exactly how it was with law school.


Hard work, done well, feels great

There are some people, coaches in particular, that come into your lives and leave a lasting impression, no matter how old you are. When I was about six years old, I swam with the Phoenix JCC's summer swim team, under coach Brian Metheny. Coach Metheny had a manner about him that inspired us all to strive for our best, but he made it fun - and after years of coaching myself, I can't imagine successfully convincing a bunch of 6 to10 year-olds that working hard during swim practice was awesome. But Coach Metheny did. He had a saying: "hard work, done well, feels great" that instilled a swell of pride from all of his swimmers at an early age after we finished our races, knowing the satisfaction of an accomplishment well-earned.

It was a year ago that I started training for the NYC marathon and subsequently started blogging my experience, first on my Team in Training website, and then here. The blog, and subsequently, the journey, has given me a lot of space for reflection. It was during some of the most difficult parts of marathon training where I learned how hard I could push myself, physically, but mostly mentally. I didn't realize how much of an impact that the marathon had on me until recently.

I don't think I ever thought of the marathon as something I would do only once. It was hard, but worth it, and I always thought that when I crossed the finish line, that it stood for more of the beginning of my journey in running, rather than a singular accomplishment - something to do, then only bring up again if it suited me in conversation. "Oh yeah, well when I ran my marathon..." I completed it to test myself, and because I wanted to see what I was made of.

Today, I crossed another sort of finish line, and once again, I feel like this accomplishment marks the beginning of something, rather than the end. Today I finished my final exam of law school, and on Friday I will graduate as a Doctor of Jurisprudence. The huge significance of this hasn't quite set in yet, but I know one thing - I couldn't have done it without having first done that marathon, without learning what it felt like to feel like absolute shit in every part of your body, and to come head to head with a nagging, continuous desire to stop, to quit, and to take the easy way out. And to ignore that desire for however long it takes until you get to your goal, not with any tangible reassurance making it any easier, just with the fortitude to stick it out and do what it takes to finish.

When I walked out of the law school today, I felt like that six-year-old kid again in a blissful reality of awesomeness of my own doing. I had finished. Hard work, done well, feels great.


It's supposed to feel like that

I have a confession.

After I finished the marathon last fall, it took me almost a day and a half to appreciate my accomplishment. The first and strongest emotion I felt after I finished? Disappointment.

I was disappointed in myself. 

After finishing my first marathon.

Not the usual reaction people have, but I couldn't get that lingering disappointment out of my mind. For weeks afterward, when people congratulated me, I always felt a bit bashful, not quite sure why they thought what I had done was a big deal. I didn't feel like I lived up to my expectations for myself, and didn't feel like I had done a good enough job.


Because I had taken walk breaks (although I always reminded myself that they were really fast walk breaks, and my walking was, at most points, faster than my actual running.) And because I had hit a wall. Around mile 16 or 17...or 18.... it got really unpleasant. And I just assumed that meant I hadn't trained hard enough, that I hadn't done enough to prepare myself. And maybe it was, to a degree. I had been beating myself up for hitting the ubiquitous wall. In my first marathon. After about five months of training. I didn't realize how ridiculous I was being until after the NYC Half in March. For the half, I stepped up my training, and absolutely would not let myself take any walk breaks. And yet, around mile 10, things got pretty difficult and I felt like I was falling apart mentally for the last few miles. 

Again, for a couple of weeks afterward, I had this nagging little inner voice that kept going over what it could have been that had gone wrong, when I thought that I had done so much of my training right. How had I managed to hit the wall yet again?

And then it dawned on me. It's supposed to feel like that. 

The wall is not the barrier to what you want. The wall is what you want - to find it, to push yourself up against it, and to overcome it. I had come from a place of such self doubt last spring, and I thought that all of a sudden, now that I had finished, and accomplished my goals, that doubt would dissipate. But it doesn't work that way, and that's the beauty of the marathon. That wall is always going to be there, and odds are pretty good that physically, you'll hit it more often than not. But knowing how to expect it, understand it, and embrace it, it seems, is the real challenge. It's not really something you can train for, or even prepare for - you just have to experience it, let it happen, and use those experiences to build your own corporeal weapon of destruction. 

I imagine it's the closest possible experience to being a Transformer. 

And as I realized this, it dawned on me how much more I could really push myself. Yes, I had taken on some decent challenges last year. Yeah, I did a pretty good job. But that nagging feeling of disappointment made me realize that I had so much more. Not just in races, but in my training - every day - that I had been okay with mediocrity in whatever capacities in which I defined it. 

I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's disquieting, realizing just how much I let excuses dictate the choices I make. And it's remarkably uncomfortable sitting in a constant state of choice - conscious knowledge of the easier route suddenly makes it less appealing, but fear and uncertainty hold me back from the challenge. 

And it's not a choice you make that's one and done. Those choices present themselves every day, all the time. And the only way to break through that wall is to hit it, over and over, and know exactly how strong you must be to get through it.

I'd hit that.


Patience, Grasshopper

I think TLC needs a new reality show called American Pickers: Curbs of New York. Curb finds are a secret gem of living in the city, because people will toss all sorts of things out that are in remarkably good condition and ripe for young, broke, 20-somethings to haul home and pretend that they didn't just pull it out of someone else's trash. I'm willing to bet that every New York apartment (at least the ones without doormen) has a minimum of two curb finds being used as regular furniture. And odds are you can't tell which ones they are.

Last Friday, Christian was sick of my moping around and whining about my foot so he packed up some adult beverages in a thermos and dragged me to the park a couple blocks from our apartment. After a much-needed bottle of wine and some vitamin D (and a pretty impressive tree-climbing expedition for him) we headed home. And came across the GREATEST CURB FIND EVER. 

An exercise bike.

Zoe is enthralled with this new torture device.
It's not too big and completely silent - perfect for our tiny apartment. Just what I needed to get back into an exercise routine.

I definitely didn't expect my first few workouts on it to be so difficult. At this point in my life, I'm in decent aerobic shape, so I thought  - half an hour on the bike, bump up a couple levels, no big deal, right?


I have zero experience with bike riding, stationary or otherwise, and it was a huge shock to me how much slack I needed to cut myself to start working out on this thing. It was pretty humbling, and a very good wake-up call to remind me that I can't just dive right into something and expect to be able to go all out without hurting myself and/or burning out right away. 

Right now I'm building up to 30 minutes a day, and stay mostly at level 1, but I try to throw in a few intervals at level 2 and try to maintain the same RPMs. It's a fantastic workout and I had forgotten how much I enjoy a good workout. Actually, that's a lie - I have never really enjoyed a good workout and I'm pretty sure aliens have taken over my body and convinced me that this fitness thing is fun. Regardless, I think the pity party is over (thank god) and I hope that by the time I can run again, I'll be able to get back to where I was mileage and fitness-wise without too much difficulty. But if not, getting on this bike has reminded me that any sort of meaningful progress and development will take time. It's so hard to be patient with yourself when you want to see results, but it's a good reminder for me that that patience, and that journey, is the most important part.

After all, the freaking bike IS stationary. It's not like it's going to magically take off and start moving forward if I pedal hard enough. So yes, the journey...


Giveaway winner and the Foot.

First off, the fun stuff: The winner of the Words to Sweat By™ giveaway is Emily! Congrats!!!

Second, the not-so-fun stuff. I've been having some ankle pain since mid-February when I was training for the NYC Half. It would show up about halfway through my long runs and by the end of 10 or 12 miles, my right foot seemed a little swollen. I've had a couple ankle sprains on that foot and it felt like the joints were a little loose, so I RICE'd it up  and hoped it would go away. It didn't, and actually felt like it got worse, to the point where I was barely able to put weight on it. I continued to RICE and took some time off from running after the half, but the pain never fully subsided. After last weekend's disastrous Scotland 10k, where I was in sufficient pain to merit a number of walk breaks and grimaces, and saw splits on my watch that I haven't seen since my run/walk days, I decided that it was more than just a tendonitis issue, which was my previous hypothesis. I had an inkling in the back of my mind that it might be a stress fracture because of the nature of the pain, but I didn't think I had done all that much to injure myself to that degree. I've always been cautious about my mileage increases and pay pretty good attention to my body, but I guess I got overzealous with training for the half, making my goal time, and getting faster that I discarded that little voice in the back of my mind that kept reminding me to rein it in a little and not get overexcited. 

If you saw my ridiculous/upset posts on facebook yesterday, you know that I was significantly more upset than I thought I would be about the diagnosis (and the terrible fail of a doctor I saw). It hit home how much I have really come to enjoy running - something I never thought I would say in a million years. So I think that this injury has a definite silver lining: it has shown me how important having physical activity is in my life, and I know that once I'm cleared to run again it will become significantly more prioritized. I guess that sometimes we have to have something taken from us to realize how valuable it is, but I know that I'm going to definitely not take my physical conditioning that I've built up in the last year for granted. Besides, I have to fit into a wedding dress in six (!!!!) months so I can't let myself go too much. So on that note, here is a picture of a cat with cheese on its face. Cause that's about how I feel today. 


Words to Sweat By™ giveaway!

I'm so excited to announce the first Journey to the Center of Manhattan blog giveaway!

The amazing people at Words to Sweat By have generously agreed to give the winner her choice of either the "Healthy. Strong. Happy" and "Exert. Hydrate. Repeat" mantra tees.

A little bit about Words to Sweat By:

For those who are lacking that exercise high, or are left craving the workout rush, Words to Sweat by™ helps us reach out, read it, and feel the burn! With catchy mantras such as ‘There will be no jiggle in my wiggle,’  Carpe Dumbbells’ and ‘Squat is a four-letter word,’ printed on each towel in colorful appliqu├ęs, you will never be short on workout fuel or fitness fashion.

The Words to Sweat by mantras help remind people why they work hard in their quest to stay healthy in a simple, useful way and because the towels are one-size-fits-all, they’re great for active people at every stage from the workout novice to the hard-core athlete.

Popular Words to Sweat by mantras are also offered as t-shirts, reusable snack bags, key chains, and notecards.

In order to enter, you must "Like" Words to Sweat By on facebook and leave a blog comment here with your favorite workout mantra.

You can also retweet this info once a day for an extra entry - just leave a comment below each day you retweet it. (I can be found on twitter @em_runs_mnhtn)

A winner will be chosen at random on the evening of Wednesday, April 11th! Good luck!


I'm over there today!

Today I'm guest-blogging over at Hungry, Healthy, Happy - big thanks to Melissa who runs a great blog about fitness, food, and fun. Go check it out!


What's next

After giving myself a rigidly enforced week off after  the NYC Half, I finally ventured out for a 3 mile run with my completely awesome birthday present (the Soleus GPS 2.0 watch I had been lusting after ever since the 1.0 came out). It was.... less than stellar. But that's ok, because I was kind of a fail in the recovery department this week. But this post isn't about my crappy first run back, it's about what I have planned for the next 11 weeks.

First and foremost, I have 10 weeks (and 6 days) until the NYRR Women's Mini 10k on June 9th. This race will commemorate my 1 year runniversary, and my goal is a sub 1:00 (hour, not minute) 10K. That's 6.2 miles at a 9:40 pace. To make a comparison, on June 11th, 2011, I did 1.75 miles at approximately 1 minute run/1 minute walk and thought I was going to die. Just looking at that on the screen blows my mind a little bit, partly because I've come such a long way, and partly because I can't believe I was so out of shape.

So, because I need to see it in print to keep me accountable, and because I'm a little bit excited to shake things up a bit, here's what I have going on for my first training venture on my own.

I live across the street from a really nice track, which I have no excuse for not utilizing more. My neighborhood also is terribly lacking in interesting running routes, so I think a little change will be good. Here's what I have in mind for the next few weeks:


  • Stadium running once a week
  • 400s/800s once a week
  • 2x30 second plank once a day(maybe work up to a minute each on these? 30 seconds seems kind of wussy, but I can be a little bit of a wuss when it comes to any sort of strength training. I hate it.)
  • tackle the Inwood hill monster once a week (I live on a very hilly street, un-affectionately known as the "hill monster")
  • get in a Saturday long run of min. 6-8 miles each week
  • get in 2 yoga/pilates classes a week (and conquer my fear of yoga, get some sort of balance, and strength my apparently very weak quads)
  • find my handheld weights and figure out something to do regularly with them (this may or may not happen unless I'm doing some sort of track workout holding weights and I'm not sure that's even safe.) 

Eventually I will figure out what tempo/fartlek (hahaha...fart) runs are and do those. But right now, baby steps.

Now that I know I can run 13.1 miles without suffering a heart attack, it's time to make some improvements on my form. This is where I fell apart on the half last week the most, and it resulted in a fun little injury known as posterior tibial tendonitis.

  • focus on shorter strides & stronger arm swings, especially on hills
  • figure out whether I need different shoes. Right now I'm in a neutral shoe, but my right foot tends to flatten out as I get tired. I'm not sure how much of this is my form falling apart from fatigue and how much of it would be helped with some sort of stability shoe. I'm hoping to make a trip to Jackrabbit sometime in the next couple of weeks and talk to the people there. My gut says I would benefit from a stability shoe, but I've been told by a couple of running shops I'm ok in a neutral shoe. I think I will probably end up doing shorter/track runs in my current shoes (Brooks Defyance) and maybe pick up a pair with reinforced arch support for longer runs. 
  • keep a general focus on my form. I'm pretty good about this now, so no reason to stop.
  • Saturday April 7th - Scotland Run 10k (NYRR)
  • Saturday May 12th - Healthy Kidney 10k (NYRR)
  • Thursday May 31st - Wall Street 3 miler (NYRR)
  • Saturday June 9th - Mini 10k (NYRR)
  • Saturday June 23, Pride 5 mile (NYRR)
This will put me at 7 out of 9 races needed for my 9+1 automatic bid to the 2013 NYC Marathon. I may or may not run on May 12th, because I will be going into my last week of final exams for law school. Additionally, I will be sitting for the NYS bar exam at the end of July, so I'm not planning on doing anything other than workouts for my sanity (and a few weekend fun races) until that's over. But once I finish with the bar, I'm planning on doing at least one fall half-marathon. Right now, I'm debating between:
  • Hamptons half marathon (Sept. 29th on Long Island)
  • Grete's Great Gallop (Sept. 29th in Central Park)
  • Diva Half Marathon (Oct 7th on Long Island)
  • Jersey Shore half marathon (and fist-pumping/name Snooki's baby competition - date TBD, New Jersey)
  • Wineglass half marathon (upstate NY)
  • Woodrow Wilson Half marathon (Oct 7th in DC/MD/VA)
  • Shades of Death Half (Oct. 7th in NJ - I pretty much would do this one and the leaf peeper half just because I love the names)
  • Hartford Half Marathon (Oct. 13th in CT) 
  • Leaf Peeper half (Oct. 21st in Upstate NY)
And a couple more in NY and NJ that would be relatively close. Anyone have any experience or recommendations with any of these races? Any other fall half marathons that I should know about?


365 days

Today I turn 27 years old. To say that the past 365 (366? Leap Year? I don't know.) days have been life-changing would be an understatement.

You see, last year, I gave myself a very unusual 26th birthday present. I wanted to give myself the gift of health. I have a sweet tooth the likes of which is rarely seen (random fact: I also still have a baby tooth! I think that's the sweet tooth.) and committed to 1 month of healthy eating. Not necessarily to lose weight, although that was the end result, but to begin a new road in which I respected and cared for my body a heck of a lot more than I was doing. 

That was one year ago. In that year, I have lost 40 pounds and finished a marathon. On June 11, 2011, I went to my first practice with Team in Training in Central Park. I couldn't run a continuous mile and had committed to finishing a marathon in under 6 hours. 

I just want to sit down!
Full disclosure - I'm writing this post a few days early (March 13th) because I have a heck of a weekend coming up, not in the least the NYC Half Marathon. I've been nervous about the race - nervous about the points where it will get hard. The times where it will get real and I'm really really really going to want to stop. But regardless of my time, it will be a Personal Record for me in innumerable ways. I will celebrate the completion of my 26th year with another amazing accomplishment that one year ago, no one, including myself, thought I could do. 

Crybaby :)
This is my second half marathon - the first one I completed was in the fall of 2008, and I did the least possible amount of training to be able to finish. And while I finished, it wasn't something I was particularly proud of. I had shied away from so much of the training, afraid that if I pushed myself I would find myself unknown territory. I was scared of stepping up to the line with a dream and a goal and a fire in my gut, knowing full well that there was a chance that I would disappoint myself. I lived a lot of my life that way, and this past year has been a journey through that unknown reality once you push past your comfort zone and start to realize that your limits aren't even close to what you thought they could possibly be. 

So, to conclude, I'm offering up some terrible race pictures to the birthday gods to remind myself that we DO get better as we get older.
November 2011
October 2008
July 2011


NYC Half Marathon 2012

What a great way to finish year 26!

Made my goal (under 2:30) and my reach goal (under 2:20) with a PR of 2:19.5 and had a great time, minus the last two miles which were sheer and utter torture....but even those ended eventually =)



My brother has a dog named Mel Gibson.
This is Mel Gibson. He's part greyhound, part german shepherd, 100% awkward.
He's a pretty funny dog, and loves my brother. Every time Mel gets nervous (as dogs are wont to do) my brother yells at him "OH MEL YOU'RE SO NERRRRRRRRRRVYYYYYYYYYYY" and Mel perks up, runs over to my brother, and goes nuts, completely forgetting what it was that had him concerned.

I realize this story has no point other than to explain the title of this entry, but every time I get nervous, I think of Mel, getting all NERRRVYYY and it makes me feel better. Also, I realized that people like blogs with weirdo dogs, and it doesn't get much better than a dog named Mel Gibson, does it? 

And now for something completely different: 
If you've seen this, you just earned 10 points.
I have the NYC half coming up on Sunday. I'm psyched. I'm nervous. I'm hoping I stretch as much as I need to this week. I'm also turning 27 on Monday, so if anyone wants to make happy birthday signs and/or get me flowers and balloons and make a big deal about my birthday at the race finish, please feel free. I've got a great goal in mind, and I am starting to get antsy to get out and race. It clearly shows, as this is quite possibly the worst blog post I've ever written. Oh well. 

Send me good race vibes! And good school vibes, so I can make it through the week without losing my mind.


PR and stretching buddies

Coogan's Shamrock, Salsa and Blues 5K - 29.58!!!

PR by something in the neighborhood of 10 minutes and made my goal of finishing under 30 minutes. By two entire seconds - I like to keep things interesting and clearly wanted to do the last .1 in a dead sprint(ish).

After eating a delicious green bagel, I came home to my stretching buddy:

Next up, the NYC half in two weeks!

Then I may return to the land of speedwork and some strength training, now that I've proven to myself I'm actually capable of running reasonable distances without walk breaks. I think I'll try to shoot for a sub-60-minute 10k by the mini in June!


June Races

Just signed up for the NYRR Mini 10K!

I'm so excited - this will mark my 1 year run-iversary!

Who else is signed up?


Pacing and Racing

Last weekend I finished my 12 mile dress rehearsal run for the NYC Half marathon, which is - gulp - 18 days away. It went so well, just like my 20 mile dress rehearsal for the marathon. That makes me a little nervous, because I think my 20 miler went significantly better than my actual marathon, and so I'm a little worried that the 12 miler might not be indicative of how I can actually perform on race day. I finished 12.13 miles in 2 hours and 12 minutes, so a 10:53 average pace. I did feel like I could have pushed a little harder at the end, but the people I was with were struggling, so I hung back to get them through. That put me at just over 50 miles (53.65, to be exact) for the month of February. I'd like to see my monthly mileage get up to 60 by the summer.

So... pacing. I have done all of my long runs under an 11:00/mile pace, which according to the Runner's World pace calculator for my best 4 mile time (40.13) should be more like my tempo run pace, and my long runs should be closer to 12 minute miles. The thing is, I feel like that's my comfortable speed. When I get a chance to do speedwork, those paces are more appropriately on target, but should I be doing my long runs slower? And what if I don't want to? On the plus side, my predicted finish time for the half, according to the pace thingey is in the neighborhood of 2:21! My reach goal is to finish under 2:20. I know I can get under 2:25, and my totally-doable-no-worries goal is to be under 2:30.

And racing. I'm doing the Coogans 5K with NYRR on Sunday and am starting to get really excited. I would love to finish under 30:00 for a 5k (for the first time ever) but really, I'm just looking to get a sense of how I feel pushing myself without having anything hurt. I know those hills pretty well, and the last time I did this race, I finished in 42:06, so at the very least I'll be looking at setting the PR bar just a bit higher for myself. And if I don't make that sub-30, I'll be back out on the track in April and working on some speedwork to get there.


Awesome Sauce

This morning's run: 2.65 miles in 25:52 - average pace 9:43! So pretty much my fastest run ever. Boom. 

I went out wayyy too fast. I blame the iPod. I never run with an ipod but I needed a change of pace/ some motivation and since it was light out, I figured it would be safe. It definitely helped, except for my dying on my last mile. I really need to learn how to pace my shorter runs, or buck up and suffer through the pain of pushing myself hard. Also, maybe it 's time I invest in a pace watch (as soon as the Soleus 2.0 comes out). 

I think it helped that I took yesterday as a stretching/foam rolling day instead of running, to help my recovery from my 10 miles on Saturday. Since I only have about 30 or so minutes each day to realistically devote to a workout, I opted for some hardcore stretching, and I'm SO glad I did. It felt great and clearly it made a difference today!

However, cats are terrible workout buddies. All they do is lounge in bed with you and tempt you to get under the covers and snuggle with them. Hardly inspiring motivation. Yesterday, Charlie kept throwing himself down in front of the foam roller and demanding to be petted. It was really cute. 

Also, is it allergy season already? I have been sneezing like mad after I run lately and could probably be a test rat for Allegra. Ugh. I have never had seasonal allergies like this before!


Balancing Act

I've been feeling rather on the outs with running lately. I think there are a lot of factors involved - school has been tremendously stressful and my workload has been nothing shy of overwhelming, and I have hit the point in the semester where I am perpetually sleep-deprived, and given any opportunities for free time, I will always pick sleep. I know once the semester and the bar exam are both over, I will likely sleep about 12-14 hours a day for a week in order to recover. But until then, I just have to make peace with the fact that I am not going to feel good or rested pretty much ever. Adding to the cycle is the fact that when I'm tired, it's much more difficult for me to eat healthy. Clearly this is a vicious cycle, because the more crap I eat, the more sluggish I feel, and the less likely I am to go for a run. I remember that I felt this way for about two months prior to the marathon as well. The one thing that I would have liked to change with the marathon was my conditioning - I felt like I was not in quite good enough shape to push myself as hard as I wanted. I am a little worried that this will be the case with the half. While I know that I'm in significantly better shape now, and running half the distance, I would still like to get in 1-2 more runs a week, and get my weekly mileage up between 15-18 miles a week. Right now my high weeks are about 14 and I'm getting in about 3 runs a week. Not terrible and a definite improvement from the marathon training, but still room to do better. I just keep reminding myself that I won't be a law student forever, and as long as I try to stay reasonably healthy with my diet and exercise that I will be able to maintain a level of fitness and sanity that is much needed for the next few months. But damn  it if I hold my self-expectations too damn high!


Whine to the Finish

I had 8 miles planned for the morning, but even before I got on the train, my brain started to crank up the cranky. I bought new running shoes last week, and they're a little bit too big. Not terrible, but enough to be noticeable. Although if anything, it may have affected my stride positively - or maybe that's just because they're new and cushion-y. I was pissed at myself because I've worn them twice now and can't return them, and may be stuck ordering both an 8 wide and 8.5 regular on zappos and trying out both in my apartment, then sending one pair back. Or both. They're adorable shoes, too... because clearly the style is the crucial aspect of shoe/runner compatibility.

And then it was flurry-ing all morning in the park. My hands were cold. Things felt hard. I was pretty sure I was holding like a 15 minute mile pace. Ugh. I had really wanted to hit 8 miles today so that I would be back where I needed to be distance-wise for the NYC half. But I was SO ready to call it quits at 6. And then at 7. Definitely moments of sheer torture. But I hit 8 (almost - 7.86...close enough) at a 10:30 pace, to boot. And just like that, all of the agonizing moments I felt all throughout the run seemed so inconsequential, so trivial. And I came home with a smile on my face, proud to have gutted it out and pushed myself so far this morning. Sometimes the crappiest runs are the most rewarding.


Aches and Pains

I feel like every time I go out for a run, I have a new pain cropping up. First, it was my right knee/IT band. Two weeks of no running later, it felt great. Then a few weeks ago, my right peroneal tendon in my foot started making some noise. I took a week off and it felt better. Then last Sunday, after a week off, I busted out my badass PR in the Gridiron race. Things felt kind of rough after that, and school reared its ugly head, so I ended up being out for another three days. Today was my first run after the race in my very hilly neighborhood. Everything hurts right now - my left achilles feels sore, my right IT band is not painful but tight/present, and I feel like my chest is going to explode. It could be the new shoes I'm breaking in, or the fact that I've lost some fitness, or stress settling in my joints, or all three. It just doesn't make it any less frustrating! I miss my carefree runs where I'd go for two or three miles and come home feeling like I owned the world. Lately I come home and don't have enough ice packs for every place that hurts.


I still exist!

I am just in the land of the 6th-semester-law-student. It's not pretty, trust me.

Just a couple of little notes since I haven't had time or energy for much deep introspection lately:

1. New running shoes!!! Brooks Defyance 5 (does it annoy anyone else that they spell "defiance" wrong?) and trying out some gorgeous pinkish-red Brooks Glycerins! Thank you Brooks, for your large(ish) selection of wide-width shoes for my feet that like to make like a pancake and spread out on any run longer than two miles.

2. New PR! I ran the NYRR Gridiron 4 miler on Sunday, and finished in 40:13 - over two minutes faster than the last time I ran that race (or any four mile race, for that matter). It's hard for me to believe that six months ago I was struggling to finish a full mile all running and would barely break 12 minutes, and now I can fairly regularly push my splits very close to a 10-minute mile. (The 10-minute mile has been the gold standard for me in terms of running speed for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure why. But I've always measured my ability to "be a runner" at my proximity to that magic split).

3. Upcoming 5k! In March, I'll be running the Shamrock 5k up here in WaHi (Washington Heights) one of my other favorite races. I'm particularly excited about it because if things continue the way they have, I may be able to post a sob-30 minute 5k for the first time in my life. For someone who has always been more comfortable with long slow distance than speed, it looks like my mornings doing speedwork at the track have paid off. (Hangs head in shame for sleeping in and missing it this morning...)

4. Which brings me to my last, less exciting, piece of news: injuries. Of which I have had many. I think that's par for the course for someone like me who lacks the physical comfort to keep up with her intensity, but since last December I've had a pain in the ass IT band flare-up and peroneal tendinitis in my right foot. And I took this morning off to give my IT band another day to recover from Sunday. It's not hurting me yet, but I think that if I push it any more this week, it will be rather upset. Also, I am SORE from my ass-kicking race, and buried neck deep in schoolwork. It;s all about balance, right? I know that the last few months of law school are going to be full of stress and less full of good, recovery-inducing sleep, and that I need to be very aware of the type of running I do - more easy, enjoyable, stress-clearing miles, and less high intensity, needing-lots-of-recovery miles. It boils down to being able to listen to my body and know that while I will continue to run when I can, it just isn't and can't be a priority that takes up too much of my time and energy. Which makes me sad, but I think I'll live.

I'm running the NYC half marathon on March 18th - the day before my 27th birthday - and at this point I know I'm behind on my training. But in registering for the race I knew that training was going to get the short straw to a lot of other things, and that's ok. Although I had originally wanted to try to break 2:30 (and still very well may), my ultimate goal with the half is to have fun and finish without any injuries. After that, I'll be taking a break from longer distances and keep doing the shorter NYRR races in order to get my 9+1 automatic bid for the 2013 NYC Marathon (which I will run on my first wedding anniversary! What a lucky and understanding guy I have!). I have a pretty lofty goal set up for myself for NYC, and will have a full year to make it happen: a sub-5 hour marathon. Pretty wild, eh? Just the thought of running NYC again makes me so excited, and has definitely gotten me out of bed for early morning runs more than once recently.

And now, back to the grind - but if anyone is wondering about NY intestate distribution of a will or the provisions of UCC article 2, I'm your girl.