Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2012 Year in Review & Goals for 2013

2013? Already?
It's hard to believe that my second full calendar year of running has passed by so quickly. It seems like only yesterday that I was setting my goals for 2012. Now, let's review these goals and see how they went.

2012 Goals / 2012 Stats*
*2012 Stats are estimated on the assumption that week 1 of marathon training will go as planned

Overall Mileage

  • Total Miles Run: 1500 / 1686
  • Average Miles Per Month: 125 / 140.51
  • Average Miles Per Week: 28.85 / 32.24
  • Average Miles Per Day:  4.10 / 4.61

Racing Goals*

  • 1 Mile:     6:59 / N/A
  • 5K:          23:59 / 23:55
  • 4 Miles:   31:59 / 31:31
  • 5 Miles:   41:59 / N/A
  • 10K:        52:xx / 50:45
  • 15K:        1:17:xx / N/A
  • HM:          1:49:xx / 1:48:16
  • Marathon: 4:29:xx / N/A

*N/A indicates that this distance was not raced in 2012

Miscellaneous Goals
Get over a 60% AG - accomplished in the 4 mile, HM & 5K distances
Get a NYRR bib time of 7:xx - improved bib time from 8:11 to 7:52 in April

Lessons Learned
But achievement is not just about the numbers. I learned some valuable lessons along the way

  • You can plan your runs around the weather all you want, but sometimes, running in extreme conditions is unavoidable, as long as it is within reason and safe. 
  • It is better to DNS a race and take a blow to your pride than to aggravate a potential injury serious enough to stop a goal race
  • It is ok to be sad over losing the opportunity to do you first marathon. But after a while, it is time to move on and pick a plan B.
Here are some lessons rehashed from my November blog entry
  • Don't be afraid to be a tourist in your own city, within reason of course. Establishing new running routes can be fun!
  • Although running with friends is fun, running long distances by yourself builds mental toughness far quicker
  • Life & Running doesn't always go as planned. Do what you can to make up for it, but risking injury is never worth it.
  • Getting out the door is always the hardest part of any run, especially when it's a warm bed vs. freezing temperatures. 
  • Make lots of running friends both through your local running club and online, as long as you're careful about it. Believe me, close friends and family, as much as they love you, will be completely bored after about two minutes of running conversation. You have to have someone to obsess with over every minute detail of the sport!
  • Apparently, fashion is just as important in the running world as it is in the professional world, and that some colors are faster than others. 
  • Find your ideal number of races and don't pressure yourself to do more than you're comfortable with. I've gotten to the point where I don't like signing up for events just to do the distance unless it has a purpose within a structured training plan, such as doing an MP pace half-marathon during marathon training. 

Not Running Related
I also had some amazing non-running related moments over the course of this year
  • Business School: In this calendar year, Zahava, Brooke & I not only competed in an academic competition, but we put together an amazing Capstone project that was very close to getting top honors. Also, we graduated with our MBAs this past June, and as wonderful as the whole experience was, I am very happy to finally be out of school.
  • Work: Shortly after graduating, I have started to move up the career ladder and moved up from a Staff Analyst at HSS to a Senior Financial Analyst at New York-Presbyterian. The work is more complex, and I feel like I have learned a great deal in the six months that I have been there
  • Music: As much as I have enjoyed playing in Wind Ensembles over the past year, I was happy to find an opportunity to play in an Orchestra. I got to play several pretty flute & piccolo solos in December, and now I have the opportunity to improve my orchestral oboe playing for the next concert. 
  • Personal: Two of my close friends, my brother, and my former manager all married this year, and it was a privilege to serve as a bridesmaid in three out of four of the weddings. I also got a new sister out of the deal, who has been a great new addition to our family. 

2013 Goals
Although not all of my goals are set in stone, I already have a few of them mapped out, and I hope that I will be able to achieve them in this coming year
  • Run 1750 miles this year
  • Run my first marathon - hopefully in under four hours - and my second marathon. With any luck, I will be running R&R DC on March 16th and NYCM on November 3rd. 
  • Run a sub-50 minute 10K and a sub-7 minute mile
  • Lower my NYRR bib time even further
  • Win an AG award. This will be very difficult to do. However, in a smaller race, this is a possibility considering I got 4th place this year.
With any luck, at least some of these goals will be achieved. I have scheduled in some tune-up races leading up to R&R DC. After that, other than NYCM 2013, I don't have anything set in stone other than the Fifth Avenue Mile. 

I also have some non-running related goals for this year, some of which will be harder to achieve than others
  • Take things one day at a time. Worrying about things several months down the line is useless
  • Learn as much as possible in my new job so that I can develop my career
  • Develop my oboe playing skills, as well as practicing my other instruments on a more consistent basis. 
  • Take further advantage of the gym membership which I shell out lots of money for, especially since I should be doing more cross training and weight lifting as a runner. 
  • Be the best daughter, sister, relative & friend that I can be. 
  • Learn to truly appreciate what I have, and not unnecessarily mourn what I lack. All things will come along in their own time

I would like to thank my supportive readers for keeping up with the blog this year. You all know who you are. I hope that you all have a happy and healthy 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Marathon Training. Take 2.

This week marks the start of another marathon training cycle, something that I didn't think that I would be taking up again so soon. Then again, life sometimes turns out differently than planned. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I will be embarking on what is known as the Pfitz 12/55 training plan. It's basically a twelve week torture devise combination of long runs, speedwork, and carefully paced tempo runs that will have a highest planned week of 55 miles, something which will hopefully result in an optimal marathon result in March. Tomorrow is the first day, but there will be no running involved - I will be attending a spin class at 6:45am. Since it's Christmas Eve, I wouldn't be surprised if the only two people to show up were the instructor and myself!

In other news, NYRR finally reached a resolution regarding the cancellation of NYCM 2012. Basically, all entrants have the option of either 1) receiving a refund for 2012 or 2) receiving guaranteed entry to one of the following races: 2013 NYCH or NYCM, 2014 NYCM, or 2015 NYCM. They would have to pay the entry fee again. 

However, everyone who completed the 9+1 for 2013, like myself, already have guaranteed entry to the 2013 marathon, so we have more options to choose from. I emailed NYRR, and they confirmed that if we did the 9+1, we can get the refund and still get guaranteed entry for 2013. So hopefully, if all goes well, I will get a second chance to do my first NYCM this coming November. Since I don't plan on doing NYCM in 2014 or 2015, I will happily take the refund offered. 

While I am very pleased with this resolution, NYRR has been dropping the ball this past year, and I find myself gravitating towards NYCRuns more and more, mainly because they are better communicators, and the fact that I've been gravitating towards smaller sized races. For the first time, I am currently registered for more NYCRuns races than I am for NYRR ones. However, NYRR is the organization that helped me get into running, and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, so I will give them another year of membership to get their collective act together. 

That's all for now. Let the Games Begin!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Hot Chocolate 5K RR (aka the race distance that I love to hate)

It had been almost two years since I had done a 5K. It's not like I avoided the distance on purpose or anything. It's just that when I was a newer runner, I mostly did NYRR races since I got membership discounts, and they didn't offer more than two to three 5K races per year.

As I was training for NYCM, I decided to pick a race approximately one month after the marathon so that I could both have enough recovery time and capitalize on my improved fitness. NYCRuns had become a more prominent running club over the last couple of years, and when I realized that they had the Hot Chocolate 5K on December 16th, I knew that this would be the perfect opportunity to smash my PR from March 2011. 

Although the marathon was cancelled, and I didn't end up running much of November, I still hoped that I maintained at least most of my fitness from marathon training. When it came time to figure out a goal, I wasn't really sure what to aim for. Since my best 4 mile pace was 7:52, I figured that I would aim for approximately a 7:45 pace and see how that went. 

I knew that picking my race outfit would be of paramount importance. I wanted something that screamed "fast". After thinking about it for a few minutes, I settled with red shorts and the black tank top that I bought for the marathon. I had made the mistake of overdressing for my last 5K, which was held in similar weather conditions, and I didn't want history to repeat itself. 

The morning of the race, I get to Roosevelt Island really early, but it ended up being a good thing as I ran into my friend Leiba as we were getting off of the train. She & I were reverse twins that day. After picking up her race bib, we ran into my other friend, Sarah. Apparently NYCRuns recycles past bibs - Sarah was wearing one from the Brooklyn Marathon that was held less than a month before. 

Eventually, I check my bag, and of course, I'm freezing in my tank and shorts. There was a good chance of rain, but so far, it had not yet arrived other than a slight mist. We walk towards the start, and gather around the start line. A volunteer was nice enough to let me wear a spare sweater for a few minutes while we were waiting to line up. I told her that she was my new best friend for the day. 

The organizers pretty much told everyone who could run faster than a 9 minute mile to go up towards the front, and for everyone else to line up in the back. I lined up next to Leiba, and suddenly felt very nervous. But I didn't have much time to dwell on that thought - the horn went off, and instinctively, I took off. 

Not surprisingly, I probably started off the first mile way too fast. Sometime during the early part of the first mile, Leiba surged ahead of me, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to catch her without ruining my race. Instead, I made sure to use her as my "rabbit", and my goal was to not lose sight of her the entire time. A part of me wasn't surprised at that point, as I thought that she would finish way before I did.

My mile splits were slightly off, but my Garmin hit the first mile at 7:28. I knew that I wouldn't be able to maintain that pace, so I did my best to keep the pace as close to 7:45 as possible without dropping off too much. By the middle of the second mile, I was already hating myself for signing up, and at that point, it was pure race adrenaline that was getting me through this experience. 

Midway through the second mile, I managed to catch up with Leiba and pass her. I couldn't tell how far behind me she was, so instead I managed to focus in on a girl wearing pink in front of me. I had no way to know whether she was in my AG or not, but I decided to try and keep her within my sight for as long as possible. Mile two was done in 7:41, and at that point, I did my best to ensure that I wouldn't slow down even further. 

The course was altered slightly due to Hurricane damage, so some of the third mile was spent on a dirt path. Thankfully, since it wasn't raining, the course wasn't as muddy as I feared it would be. I just remember breathing very hard at this point, and counting down the tenths of a mile until I could finally stop running. I was relieved when I hit the mile three marker and that mile split was 7:47. 

I then forced myself to run the last tenth of a mile as fast as possible and ended up finishing the last 0.14 miles at a 7:02 pace. Just as I crossed the finishing line, I suddenly saw Leiba come up very quickly on my right and we ended up crossing the finish line at the exact same time. She told me afterwards that she had predicted that we would tie, and at the end, wanted to make that final surge so that could come true. We didn't know what our official times were, but we were both pretty confident that we each got sub-24

As for me? My first words to her were the following: "I hate 5Ks, and I am never doing one again!" That's not quite true however - I have signed up for the Coogan's 5K in March as a time trial for marathon training, but I know that I won't get a new PR - it's much hillier than Roosevelt Island, which is as flat as a pancake compared to Central Park. 

I eagerly waited the posting of the results. Although I knew that it was highly unlikely, a part of me hoped for an age group award. In NYRR races, I never would have stood a chance, but since this race had about 500 people, I knew that this would be my best opportunity in the near future. 

However, it was not meant to be. I was technically 6th in my age group (20-29), but the top two were overall winners. The next three people won the age group awards, while Leiba and I technically tied at 4th place with an official time of 23:55. However, since I must have beaten her by like a tenth of a second or something, I placed 4th and she placed 5th. Still, getting 4th was by far the closest I have ever come to receiving an AG award, and will probably be the closest I will get in the near future. 

Looking back at McMillan, however, I realized that according to my HM PR, I should have been able to race a 5K in 23:23. Oh well. It just goes to show you that I am still better at racing longer distances. The official results are below - I had to figure out my gender placement by counting the number of women in the race by adding up each age group. I also found a website for calculating my AG percentage. 

Previous PR: 27:26  @ 8:50mm
New PR: 23:55 @ 7:43mm
Overall Placement: 56/506
Gender Placement: 15/336
Age Place: 4/136
Age Graded Percentage: 60.32%

While I would have loved to get my first AG award, I am very happy that I finally broke my 5K PR, and got above a 60% AG for that distance. 

In hindsight, I realized that although the race itself is painful, the feeling of leaving nothing on the course can be very addicting. While I am still not in love with the distance, I can appreciate why others are obsessed with it. 

I think that NYCRuns does an amazing job of putting on races. They are well organized, and have the sense to keep races on the small side so that they course is not too overcrowded. I never felt that I was impeded from running my race in any way. I had a great time, and plan on doing more of their races in the future. 

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Marathon Training is Quickly Approaching....

First of all, I would like to express my sympathy and deep sorrow for what the people of Newtown, CT went through yesterday. There are just not enough words to describe what a tragedy this is. I can't even imagine what it feels like to send a child to school, only to lose them in one of the places that was supposed to be safe for them. The entire town will be in my thoughts and prayers. 

I usually don't express political opinions in this blog, but it is pretty clear that action needs to be taken. Gun ownership needs to be more tightly regulated, and there needs to be a better system in place to help identify those who are mentally struggling before it's too late.  How many tragedies like this need to happen before the nation wakes up?

Time to get off my soapbox and get back to running. While last month was a wash, things are starting to change. 

It took a while, but it seems like I am finally getting back in the game, so to speak. Last week was the first time I ran over 30 miles since marathon training, and I will most likely accomplish the same thing this week. I realized that although I faced personal disappointment over the last couple of months, the year isn't over yet. 

I will be running my first 5K since March 2011, and to be honest, I am very nervous about it. I don't know the course, and the distance has become very foreign to me. While I expect to get a personal record by default, I know that I will still be disappointed in myself if I don't race to my full potential. I would love to average around a 7:45mm (or better) but we'll see what happens. 

On the bright side, I get this pretty mug. It's
nice not to get another shirt for a change!
I have also finalized my marathon training plan for R&R DC, which will include a few races either as marathon pace runs or tune-ups. I decided to use Pfitz's 12/55 week training plan. For those of you who don't know, this is a 12 week plan that peaks at 55 miles per week. I made slight modifications to the plan, mostly to change some of the long runs to Saturdays instead of Sundays, but otherwise it is very close to the original. I hope that I will be able to handle it. 

I hope to be able to write a positive race report tomorrow, but one will be written no matter what the outcome is. Even if I don't have the race I want, it will be a learning experience that will be worth analyzing. Thanks for reading! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

November in Review: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Here is November in a Nutshell....because it certainly didn't revolve around a turkey this year

The Good

The weekend after what should have been my first marathon, one of my best friends married her college sweetheart, and I got the privilege of being a bridesmaid for the third time this year, along with two other really close friends from within our group. I got to hang out in the bridal suite the night before, and I even managed to get on the treadmill the morning of before all of the craziness of getting ready closed in on me. It was a wonderful occasion, and this is now the second person of my close group of college friends to get married. 

As most of you know, my younger sister, Belle, has been studying abroad in Salamanca and travelling pretty much everywhere else in Europe. My parents and I went to visit her over Thanksgiving week, and we had an amazing time in Madrid, Salamanca, & Barcelona. I learned so much about the Spanish language, or more accurately, the surprising amount I actually retained, as well as about some of the architecture and history of the Spanish (and Catalan) peoples. 

I had three favorite parts - the Barcelona bike tour, going to the Madrid/Bilbao soccer game on the first night, and getting to meet the host mom (although the entire trip was pretty much fantastic). Living the Spanish lifestyle for a short while was a nice vacation from my own life, and it left me relaxed, and ready to get back into the swing of things, or so I thought. All of my pics (thanks to my amazing photographer dad) are on Facebook, but here are a few nice ones of me. 

 The Bad

Two Words: My Running. Or, more accurately, my complete lack of it, and in retrospect, it was all psychological. Since I didn't run a marathon, I shouldn't have had any problem getting back to my 30-40 per mile week schedule. The week after the marathon should have taken place, I had intended on getting back into my normal routine, but for some reason, it just got much harder to get out the door. Every time I got out there and ran, it felt great, and I never regretted it, but the part of my mind that made excuses was simply stronger. 

I thought that this week would be better since I was all relaxed from vacation, and so far, I have run 10 miles, but it still has been hard to motivate myself to get out there, especially since I originally planned on taking it easy the rest of the year. In retrospect, and after much thinking and discussion, I realized that the marathon cancellation affected me worse than I thought it would. While I was initially optomistic about getting back onto the saddle, there is a part of me deep down that asks this question:

"What's the point in working so hard, when the race can be taken away from you so easily?" 

While the hurricane was a fluke, there are a million other things that could happen along the line, and I'm worried that if I start really looking forward to my marathon, something bad is inevitable. It's not the healthiest way of thinking, but I guess I'm not as over the NYCM cancellation as much as I thought I was. 

All of this lead to my lowest month of running since I first started keeping track in November 2010: 49.36 miles. Although I was out of the country for ten days of this, I know that this is far lower than what I should have been capable of, especially since I didn't have to physically recover from a marathon. I can't help but feel ashamed of myself, and think that I probably lost some fitness this month, fitness that I worked really hard to earn during marathon training. However, I know that it's useless to beat myself up, even though I probably will at least for a day or two, so I'm going to try and make the best of a bad month, and to use it to motivate me to have a strong final month of 2012, and to build-up towards my next training cycle. I look forward to a fresh new start on December 1st. 

The Ugly

People have always reported losing toe nails through running. Two years after I started running, I finally lost some of a toe nail - however, it was because of dancing at the wedding. 

Thanks for reading everyone! Now it's time for me to find my mojo and start building up that mileage again. What inspires you to get back into running, and how do you convince yourself to get out the door on a daily basis?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Two Years & Still Enjoying the Ride

It's hard to believe that another year has passed. It seems like only yesterday that I wrote about my one year running anniversary

Coincidentally, I had my annual physical this morning, and to my pleasant surprise, I weighed almost 10 pounds less than I thought I did. Although it's possible this scale was not calibrated correctly, I was still very pleased by this information. Thankfully, everything else seemed normal for someone my age. 

I don't think I look any different from last year. The best comparison I could come up with was the Staten Island finishing photo last year (left) vs. this year (right). I just realized that I'm wearing the exact same shirt - it just looks a little different because of the lighting. 

I hit the 3,000 mile lifetime mark sometime in October as well. From January - October of last year, I averaged about 25mpw, and from January - October of this year, I averaged about 35mpw. 

Looking back at last year's entry, I realized that I accomplished several of my goals. Here is what they were, along with whether they were fulfilled or not

Year 2 Goals
1) Run my first marathon - ideally under 4:30 but I'll take making the NY Times - not accomplished due to cancellation - will hopefully be accomplished in 2013 (first marathon in March, and making the NY Times after NYCM 2013)
2) Beat my 2011 PRs - I beat my 2011 PRs for the HM, 10K & 4 miler, and will beat my 5K PR in December by default since it's so old
3) Run 1,500 miles for the year - done as of the end of October
4) Increase base mileage - I ran 1,298.04 miles during my first year, and 1,781.58 during my second year, so I can safely say that this was accomplished
5) Get an AG rating of 60% in at least one race this year - Did so for the 4 mile & HM distance, and barely missed it for the 10K distance
6) Get a NYRR bib time of 7:xx - My bib time became 7:52 as of April's 4 miler
7) Eat healthier and actually keep an accurate food log. I started to do that this year but I fell off track and never quite got back on - Didn't really happen

The following is basically the same as last year...

Long Term Goals
1) Sub-4 hour marathon on the way to...
2) BQ eventually....maybe....
3) Do the Clam Chowder Challenge in Cape Cod

I think the most disappointing part of this past year was not being able to say that I finished my first marathon just days before my two year anniversary, but like I discussed in my previous entry, things happen for a reason, and that the past 16 weeks will only be helpful in ensuring my success in March. 

I also learned (or reaffirmed) several things this year...

Lessons Learned
1) Don't be afraid to be a tourist in your own city, within reason of course. Establishing new running routes can be fun!
2) Although running with friends is fun, running long distances by yourself builds mental toughness far quicker
3) Life & Running doesn't always go as planned. Do what you can to make up for it, but risking injury is never worth it.
4) Getting out the door is always the hardest part of any run, especially when it's a warm bed vs. freezing temperatures. 
5) Make lots of running friends both through your local running club and online, as long as you're careful about it. Believe me, close friends and family, as much as they love you, will be completely bored after about two minutes of running conversation. You have to have someone to obsess with over every minute detail of the sport!
6) Apparently, fashion is just as important in the running world as it is in the professional world, and that some colors are faster than others. 
7) Find your ideal number of races and don't pressure yourself to do more than you're comfortable with. I've gotten to the point where I don't like signing up for events just to do the distance unless it has a purpose within a structured training plan, such as doing an MP pace half-marathon during marathon training. 

I don't have all of my goals for year three of running set in stone, but I do have a few ideas so far...

1) Run my first marathon, and get a sub-4 hour time
2) A sub-50 minute 10K
3) Run 1750 miles in 2013
4) Make sure that my enjoyment of running doesn't decrease, and that I don't pressure myself into doing anything that I do not really want to do. 

I would like to thank all of my family, friends & my running community for being there for me this year. You are all important to me, and each and every one of you contributed to my running success, whether it be through advice, encouragement, or just lending an ear. And now, here is one last picture as a token of my appreciation...

In case you didn't already think I was crazy,
I had just finished a half-marathon in a snowstorm
when I took this picture. But I think that most of
you already knew that

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Marathon Interrupted: A "Race Report" from this past weekend

As all of you probably know, I was supposed to run my first marathon this past Sunday. Although I had mixed feelings about whether it should go on, I resolved to make the best of it. On Thursday, I went to the expo, and picked up my bib and shirt. Apparently, as I found out later, mine must have been a mislabeled shirt - no x-small on the planet would be too big on me and fit my friend Rachel perfectly. It was probably a medium. Oh well! 

However, some things were not meant to be. The next day, I get a text with the following news:

At first, I couldn't believe it, so I called everyone I could think of to try and confirm it. Ultimately, the guy sitting in the pedicure chair next to me did so, and I saw it shortly after on the TV in the nail salon. 

Although in my heart I knew that cancelling the marathon was the right thing to do, I still needed to go through a mourning period, so to speak. I started running in late 2010 with the focus of taking two years to qualify, then train for, NYCM 2012. A person can't just be expected to get over something that they've been dreaming about for two years, no matter what the reason was. 

I spent Friday and most of Saturday in shock. On Saturday morning, I went out to run in Central Park, and in an attempt to cheer myself up, I decided to wear as much orange as possible. 

I don't know whether I was trying to put salt in the wound, but I deliberately routed my run so that I would pass mile markers 24, 25, 26, and the finish line. I hadn't planned on doing a full loop of the park, but the transverse I had planned on crossing was closed off, so I didn't have much of a choice. 

Later that morning, I had brunch with Warren, who flew into NYC for the marathon, and his wife Kristin. They were very nice people, and although we had never met in person, we had corresponded so much online that it felt like we were old friends. 

After spending some of the afternoon at my brother and sister in law's apartment looking at their wedding photos, I went home, and that night, my shock turned into anger and sorrow. I was angry at the mayor and NYRR for not doing the right thing three days earlier, and I was devastated that two years of building towards a dream was suddenly wiped out. I was in a bad place emotionally that night, and to make matters worse, I was feeling guilty for being upset, as thousands upon thousands of people were far worse off than I was. 

Shortly after the marathon was cancelled, I made plans with a few friends to run some of the marathon course together on Sunday. A huge group of runners went to help on Staten Island, while even more runners completed the marathon distance in Central Park. Both sounded like great ideas, but I personally didn't see the point of running 26.2 if it wasn't official, and I really needed to have a cheerful day of running with friends in hopes that I would get out of my mental funk.

I met Kathy, Wallis, Sarah and their friend Al on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge. After running across the Brooklyn bridge, we picked up the marathon course, and ran it all the way to Queens via the Pulaski bridge, then back across to Manhattan via the Queensborough bridge. Since Kathy's hip was acting up, I walked up the Pulaski bridge with her, and managed to get a couple of pictures in with the help of a tourist. 

I got about a total of close to ten and a half miles in, and I felt great the entire time.  After we finished our run, thanks to the handy navigation skills of Wallis, we found a diner near the Queensborough bridge to get coffee and brunch. I ate my weight in pancakes and bacon. 

To my surprise, Kathy presented homemade medals that her kids made for us after learning that the marathon had been cancelled. Mine says "faster than 3:59:59" on the front and "don't stop running on the back". Her kids are really the sweetest, and I can't wait to give them a big hug (or a hi five if they prefer it) when I see them. I think that this will be my favorite medal of all time!
Wallis, me, Kathy, and Sarah 
While all of my running friends have supported me in numerous ways, Wallis was the one who wrote my training plan, and while I never got the chance to see what I could do in a marathon today, I am sure that whatever I would have accomplished would have been largely due to her help in crafting what I jokingly call the "Wallis Pfitzglover" plan. It was a 16 week plan that peaked at 50 miles, which was essentially a tamer version of the Pfitz 18/55 plan. 

While I am disappointed to never know what would have happened if I ran in the marathon, the entire group run experience put things in perspective. I was so angry last night that I considered not even running NYCM, but after running some of the course, I started to feel excited again. 

I originally had wanted to cancel the party that my parents were throwing tonight, but they told me that the ice cream cake had already been ordered. Well, as talented as I am, eating a Haagen Daaz ice cream cake by myself is not happening, so we still had people over and ordered pizza and salads. 

There are tons of pictures which I plan on posting on Facebook soon, including pictures of the signs that my parents had made me in anticipation of the marathon, but here are a few favorites. 
Me & Amy - the roommate who got the brunt
of my taper / hurricane madness
Dad & Me. He takes much better pictures
than Brightroom
Mom & Me in front of one of the signs that
she worked so hard on
The source of my crazy running gene & me
Zahava, me & Lily. The hat that Zahava is wearing
says my name, then "NYC Marathon 2012". These
hats will be recycled for NYCM 2013
As my father put it, he used to joke that only an act of nature would prevent me from doing NYCM 2012. Although that actually happened, life goes on, and it's time to come up with a Plan B, which is why I registered for the Rock n' Roll DC Marathon on March 16, 2013. I didn't really want to wait another year to attempt my first marathon, and hopefully I can build upon the training for this one and use it to propel me into my second cycle. I may not be a marathoner in 2012, but nothing will stop me from being one in 2013! 

Thanks for reading! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Week 16: There Are No Winners Here

On Sunday night, they shut down the entire NYC transportation system. At the time, I wasn't too worried – they had done the same thing for Irene and while there was damage, it was for the most part sustained outside of the city. I thought that perhaps we’d be back to normal pretty quickly.

But as the weekend unfolded, it was pretty clear that we would be facing a far direr situation. Since we were on the wrong side of the eye of the storm, we would be hit far worse than we were during Irene. I had considered walking the 2.7 miles to my office on Monday, but doing so would have been extremely dangerous, especially coming home. So I stayed indoors all day Monday, watching the news as more and more of Manhattan was losing power, wondering whether my neighborhood would be next.

I ended up being one of the lucky ones, and didn't lose power, but others were not so lucky. Manhattan lost power south of midtown, and there was a crane in the process of falling that forced thousands of people to evacuate. In the outer boroughs and New Jersey, some people lost power, while others lost their homes, and even their loved ones.

I haven’t been able to go to my office all week, as it lost power, and wasn't reassigned anywhere until Wednesday. While I’m grateful that I have not lost anything significant, I think that it’s incredibly unfair that I am being docked vacation for Monday and Tuesday, even though there was no way for me to get to work, and I wasn't informed of any alternatives at that time. It sucks, but as I said earlier, I was one of the lucky ones. My family and friends remained safe, and although a few lost power, they faced no significant damage as far as I know.

But the real controversy I’d like to address is the New York City Marathon. After I saw how bad the damage was, I had started to mentally prepare myself for the inevitable cancellation. They couldn’t possibly hold this marathon when our transportation is crippled, millions of people are without electricity, and there was so much repair work to be done, right? Although I would be heartbroken about losing my two year long dream, I knew that it could be necessary. Nothing a night or two of crying, eating ice cream, and drinking couldn't fix, right? Then obviously, I would go for a run, and start making up contingency plans like I usually do.

However, to my surprise, I found out that the marathon was going on as planned, with some minor adjustments. I felt relieved at first, but then wondered whether this was really the right decision. On the one hand, the city’s infrastructure was nowhere near completely recovered, but on the other hand, holding the marathon would bring economic relief into the city, and symbolize the determination and grit that us New Yorkers are famous for. It was a tough decision for the Mayor to make, and although I’m not certain that it was the right decision, it had been made nonetheless. I fully expected disagreement on this, but not only were people saying terrible things about the mayor and NYRR, but they were even insulting the runners, saying that their participation would be a slap in the face to those who had lost their lives, homes, and power, and were still waiting on aid.

This is beyond unacceptable. How dare someone suggest that I don’t care about the city that I have lived my entire life! Do people really think that I am not devastated at the losses that these people are suffering? I have donated money towards two different relief efforts, and I plan on donating blood next week and volunteering if possible.

 It is up to the individual runner to decide whether they would still like to participate in this year’s event. While I respect any and all decisions made, here is something to keep in mind: Boycotting will not change the fact that this event is being run, nor will it change the resources used that day. It certainly won’t undo the damage that has been done to the NYC metro area and beyond.
If you don’t want to support the runners, that is fine. Just do us all a favor and stay away. If you’re angry that this race is being run, that’s fine. Just don’t take your anger at Mayor Bloomberg and Mary Wittenberg out on the runners on the course. They didn't decide to hold this race, and it would be a slap in the face to the running community, especially to the locals who have decided to use this as an opportunity to raise money on behalf of the victims.

Either way, whether the right decision was made or not, the NYC Marathon will never be the same as it has been, and I don’t think that it will be looked on favorably by the community for a long time to come. As for me, I will still give it my all, but despite the support that I have received from my family and friends, finishing it will just not be as meaningful as it once was. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Week 15: Training milestones, new accessories, fame, and a new hair style!

Just over one week from today, all of us will be making our way across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to start our 26.2 mile journey. I had heard about an Asics sponsored exhibit in the Columbus Circle Station, and that there was a wall with the names of the marathon runners. I resolved to check it out sometime this week and get a picture. 

I didn't run Monday, and although I planned on running Tuesday, I should have known better than to schedule a run the day after orchestra rehearsal. I get back late from White Plains, and I am usually so wired up that it takes me forever to fall asleep. I wanted to go after work, but it just didn't happen. 

Wednesday I went out for an easy 5 mile run, and didn't bother with the Garmin. It's very uplifting to see the marathon route signs, and the bleachers by the finish line are now starting to be covered in orange. 

Thursday was my "dress rehearsal" so to speak. I wore my entire marathon outfit, down to the arm warmers, and did 6 miles with 2 @ goal marathon pace. 

Happily, miles 2 & 3 were on pace, and I ended up with 6.11 miles - as usual, the Garmin didn't catch a signal until I reached Central Park.

During Friday evening's run, I decided to take a detour into the Columbus Circle train station to look at the Asics marathon exhibit. This includes a wall that has all of the marathoners names on them (in theory). So, I look at the wall, and after a few minutes, look what I found.

I didn't have my phone with me, but a fellow first time marathoner was nice enough to take these pictures and email them to me. Thanks Tanya! I then ran up the West Side, and less than two miles name, I heard my name being shouted out. I turn around, stop, and see two figures racing towards me. It's my former co-workers from HSS, Jerry & Anny! What a pleasant surprise. We run a couple of miles together before they go to NYRR Headquarters to pick up their bibs for Sunday's race, which may or may not be cancelled for the second year in a row due to weather circumstances. Miles 5 & 6 were faster than planned because of this, but it was great to have the company. 

The next morning, I decided to stick to Central Park. I had considered taking another crack at the Queensborough bridge, but I didn't feel like carrying water with me. I ran as much of the race route as I could. I started off by running down the park drive towards Columbus Circle, then went onto Central Park South and back towards the finish line. After crossing the still not-set up finish line, I ran towards Harlem Hill, but I left the park after doing the first hill, I ran on Central Park North until I hit Fifth Avenue. 

Last weekend, I only hit Fifth Avenue at 96th street, but even a mile and a half made a huge difference in how I felt about that stretch. It felt far hillier than last time, and my thought was "geez this course is going to be HARD! Exactly why did I think that sub-4 was possible?" Then I told that voice in my head to shut up. 

Anyway, I finished just over 7.5 miles. Below are the Garmin stats and route I used. I was faster than expected, and I didn't eat anything, but I felt great almost the entire time. 

After finishing this run, I realized that I hit an extremely important milestone. At the end of last year, I made it my goal to run 1,500.76 miles this year, and as of today, I have achieved that goal by running an average of approximately 5 miles per day in 301 days....and it's not even the end of October yet. 

I celebrated this important milestone like any other girl with extremely unmanageable hair would do. I went to get the Keratin treatment done on my hair, and the results came out very nicely in my humble opinion.

I don't know how my hair matched the "blonde" swatch at the hair salon, but oddly enough, it did. I don't get it. 

My next mission was to get more orange bling for my outfit. After Thursday's dress rehearsal run, and after looking at the weather, I realized that it would be too warm for my orange arm warmers. I compensated by buying a headband and orange socks. There cannot be too much orange in my marathon outfit! 

Even the bloks are orange. No worries -
I plan on trying one before assuming
that I can take them with me next weekend.
After that, I didn't do much for the rest of the day, other than buy some non-perishables in case NYC loses power because of Hurricane Sandy. It's unlikely, but better safe than sorry. I still don't know whether the subways will be running Monday morning, and I won't be finding out until tomorrow. Even if the MTA isn't running, I still might have to go to work and take extra security measures to prevent my hair from getting wet. 

Since I can't wash it until Tuesday, and since the weather will be awful due to the storm, I won't be running tomorrow or Monday. I will call these days SHDs - scheduled hair days. 

Anyway, thanks for reading. Please keep an eye out for a spectator guide later this week, and I will be writing one other entry to cover my week 16 runs before the marathon. Thanks for reading!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Intermezzo: Or why music & running are not so different after all

As I was sitting in orchestra rehearsal on Monday night, I started to realize how many similarities there truly are between being a musician and being a runner. While I had always known how music and math were linked, I never thought about the relationship between my two favorite past times. Here is a list of everything that I have thought of so far

1. Both activities are easier to begin at a young age. The older you get, the harder it is to learn how to read music, and the older you get, the harder it is to start running. There are exceptions to the rule, but had I started running at the same age I started playing the flute, odds are that I would probably be much better at it. 

2. In running, we call it base building and speed work. In music, we call it practicing scales, etudes, arpeggios, long tones, and music theory. There has to be that foundation before learning music before a concert, or before beginning a new training cycle for a race. 

3. At rehearsals or at a concert, it is easy to see who put in the work, and who didn't even look at their music. While this is not as easy to spot in a race, each individual knows whether they trained to the best of their ability

4. Confidence is key. No matter how much you prepare, you won't do nearly as well if you do not believe in yourself. This applies to both races and concert. Stage fright and taper madness are far more similar than one might believe. 

5. There is always something new to learn both in the running world and in the music world.  There are just as many interpretations of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" as there are books on running technique. No single way is entirely correct. It is up to the individual to determine what works best as each scenario is unique. 

6. Playing in groups is fun, but you have to have the confidence to stand on your own two feet. As a flute player, there are times when I play the same part as others, and there are times when I am playing the melody on my own, and I need the confidence to pull off solos since all eyes will be on me. In running, going with a group is fun, but ultimately, each person has to be able to run their own race. 

That's my ramble for today. On a different note, after considering my candidates, I have decided to give my triathlete entry to a high school friend who like me, is a musician and an athlete. Not only is he a talented trumpet player and athlete, he has devoted a lot of time and energy raising money for charity. Chris Coletti, I look forward to seeing what you're capable of in July 2013. 

Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

NYCM Week #14: The taper has begun!

Monday & Tuesday
To my intense relief, I was in better spirits this week. I took my usual SRD Monday, but my legs were still not 100% recovered from Sunday's 21 miler by the end of the day. So I decided to hold off my run until Tuesday night.

However, that didn't quite work out as planned. I had a meeting which involved going up to Columbia, and it was the first time that a business plan of mine was presented to the COO. That morning, I ended up being late for work because due to a stalled train, I had to get out of the subway at 59th street and figure out what to do. Thankfully, as a native New Yorker, I managed to get to the Second Avenue bus and I was only fifteen minutes late. Crisis averted! As for the meeting, it went as well as it could have, and I did my part, but a combination of nerves and all of the travelling involved to get up there combined with the stressful morning commute, tired me out, so when I got home, I just couldn't bring myself to go out. I felt car sick, even though I wasn't car sick when I was actually travelling. 

On the bright side, I had some face time with my little sister, and even got to meet her madre - we didn't get far past "hola, como esta" since my Spanish is a bit rusty, but she seemed really nice, and I look forward to meeting the family in person in November. Necesito practicar mi español antes de la vacación en Noviembre. Belle - did I say that right?

Wednesday & Thursday
I ran 6.14 miles on both Wednesday morning, and Thursday night. I decided to ditch the Garmin and just go by feel, and whatever the pace was, it felt pretty good. It was nice to just be outside, and enjoy the slow arrival of fall. The air felt crisp, and I was reminded of why I loved running so much. 

I had planned on running Friday, but after running Thursday night and staying up to watch the Presidential debate on DVR, I ended up skipping. Considering it was pouring in the morning, that was probably a good thing. That night, I went out to Koren BBQ with my friends Jen and Paul due to Paul's moving out of the city. He accepted a job in DC and will be there for the next couple of years. I didn't need another excuse to visit the capitol during Obama's second term *fingers crossed* but now I have one!

On Saturday, I put the Garmin back on to do my last 12 mile run before the marathon. At first, my only route idea was to go over the Queensborough bridge a couple of times and then go to Central Park, but then I got inspired.... 


I started off at my place and ran towards the East River path. On my way, I passed some runners going up first avenue, and that's when a thought began to form. I decided to run the Queensborough bridge twice, then simulate the marathon course and go up first avenue. Team in Training had a couple of pace groups on the bridge, but they were easy to get around, so they didn't bother me. 

Although there was a bike path on first avenue, I decided to stick on the sidewalks since they weren't crowded to avoid any possible bike incidents. Although I had to stop more than I wanted to, I was glad to get the experience of running the course. At 96th street, I pulled a Rosie Ruiz, cut upper Manhattan & the Bronx out and started heading west. What I had forgotten was how hilly that block was. It was a straight uphill for the next few avenues, but at least the elevation was similar to the Pulaski bridge. 

After that, I ran down Fifth Avenue like I would during the marathon, and entered the park at Engineer's Gate and noticed that orange signs saying "Marathon Course" had been posted in the park. I ran down the park drive, and exited the park, ran down Central Park South, then re-entered the park and ran to the finish. As I crossed where the finish line would be set up, I started to feel excited, especially when I saw the bleachers being set up. I then ran two more miles to get home. 

After I showered, I decided to go to lululemon to see whether I could find an outfit for NYCM. More details on that later in the post! That night, I went to my friend's bachelorette party, and while I had a great time, I ate a bit too much BBQ, which affected my run the next day...

...but thankfully, not too badly. I still had an enjoyable run in Central Park, even with an unhappy stomach. 

I noticed that they were setting up for a cancer walk, but I got out there early enough so that they didn't really start taking up most of the park drive until I was about to finish my run. It was kind of neat seeing people's enthusiasm, and seeing all of the pink, but I'm glad that I didn't have to deal with the crowds for too long. 

After my run, I went to meet up with my aunt Edie, Matt, and Erin for brunch on the west side. I was a little annoyed that the bus was nowhere to be found and I had to take a cab across town. Considering what happened on Tuesday, especially since the MTA wanted to raise prices, I was not too pleased by that. Still, my meal was worth it. 

Banana stuffed French Toast. Yes, you all should be
very, very jealous!
The Outfit
With NYCM two weeks away, I knew that I needed to figure out what to wear. My mother had ordered some things from Nike, but their tanks didn't fit me right, so I decided to go to lululemon and try some things on. 

Long story short, after trying on a few things, I found an outfit which I really loved and bought it. But after I bought orange arm warmers, I realized that I could do a complete orange theme. So, I had a very important decision to make between the following two combinations. Everything is the same except for the shorts/skort. The back of the skort had a really cute, pleated pattern. 


I was really torn, because while I though the skirt was adorable, I liked the idea of an all orange theme. However, my mind was made up after doing Sunday's 9 mile run with the skirt and the tank. I just felt so amazing and comfortable in a way that I hadn't felt in my running clothes in a long time. My decision was made.  An orange / blueish purple theme it is! Thanks Cheryl for helping me locate the gel pockets in my skirt - they're kind of hard to see if you don't know where to look the first time. In addition, I had a back pocket I could use. Maybe if I can wear an armband for my phone, I'll have a way to carry everything with the new NYCM luggage policy. 

I got the arm warmers at Super Runners along with these really cute gloves. They're both official NYCM marathon gear, but I just couldn't resist

For my Triathlete Friends
As promised, now it's time to discuss something very important. This past summer I volunteered for the NYC Olympic Triathlon in order to get guaranteed entry for next year's event. But after serious consideration, I realized that I'm not ready to tackle a triathlon at that distance, especially one at that size with the crazy logistics that any NYC race has. My running goals haven't been set for next year, and I don't want to compromise any dreams that I may have after NYCM.

So, as a result, I have one guaranteed entry to the triathlon to give away, but I am only going to give it to someone who I know personally, someone who I know will respect the distance, train properly for it, and will be able to finish it. Speed doesn't matter to me - this person could get last place for all I care - but I don't want this entry to go wasted. This race is one of the toughest Olympic triathlons to get into, and this person would be extremely lucky to get this opportunity. I would feel terrible if I gave away my entry, only to find out that the person has flaked out. 

You can find all of the information, including the date and registration costs, here. If you are still interested, feel free to either comment on my blog or send me a personal email. Time is of the essence as the person has to sign up by November 5. I will give everyone equal and fair consideration, but to be fair, if family applies, they will come first. Since I want to get this out of the way well before the marathon, you'll have to let me know by the end of Wednesday night. I know it's not a long time to think about this commitment, but if the worst case scenario happens and the entry goes back to the lottery pool, I'll be alright with that. However, I want to give my friends and loyal readers this opportunity first. 

Stay tuned for next week's entry discussing my goals, my timing, and other fun and entertaining topics. Thanks for reading!