What Happened: NYRR United Airlines NYC Half Marathon 2017

You want me to run in 32 degrees?! Hilarious. No.

I’m one of those people that CANNOT stand the cold. I become a horrible, mean, pathetic mess when I’m cold. So the idea of running 13.1 miles in 32 degrees was not okay. Somehow this actually worked in my favor because, please pardon me while I toot my own horn here, I ran a new personal record! I finished in 1 hour, 41 minutes, and 7 seconds with an average pace of 7:43. I’m thrilled and surprised by this, though. I was just a ball of anxiety leading up to this race.

I was really nervous the night (slash day slash week) before thinking about the weather. Was I ready for the race? Was I going to finish? What if I get another stress fracture? My worries were abound. C and I watched couple March madness games, got plain turkey sandwiches for dinner, and went home early. We watched Moana (adorable and I recommend) and were in bed by 10. My sleep wasn’t exactly restful… I woke up at 2, 3:30, 4, and when I woke up at 4:30 I figured that was close enough to 5, when I was planning on getting up, and started my pre-race prep.

I had coffee and oatmeal with banana, pepitas, and almond butter. We watched the news and I tried to calm my nerves. I bundled up with all warm running gear I had and then put on top all the throwaway gear I got from Old Navy the day before. I wish I took a picture of the throwaway gear because I looked ridiculous. I was wearing ginormous Hammer-Time sweatpants and the brightest Easter-egg-teal hoodie. Underneath I had on my earth-friendly Girlfriend Collective leggings, Under Armour ColdGear long sleeve, NYRR United Half tech shirt, Old Navy running vest, gloves, ear warmers, and two hand warmers I stuffed into my gloves.

Both C and I were in Wave 1, scheduled to start running at 7:30. They recommended getting there an hour early because of security and other random wait times. We left the apartment at 6:05 (I was aiming for 6) and headed over to the subway. We live in the Financial District and were heading up to Wall St. On a normal, frequent express trains, this would take about 20-25 minutes all in wait and travel time. But the MTA doesn’t particularly care about our race schedule so we waited 10 minutes for a train and it went local all the way up so we got there closer to 6:45.

It took about 10 minutes to get through security, which was a line of metal detectors for runners only. We walked past the first long lines of porta-pottys and found a shorter line for bathrooms. We huddle together for warmth while we waited another 10 minutes or so in line. We decided to say goodbye there since we were in different starting corrals (C is in B and I was in C).

I ditched the swishy Hammer pants because there was no way I could run in those but I kept the sweatshirt and hand warmers through the start. Eventually I ditched those around mile 2.

Mile 6-7 through Times Square

It was a good run — all the hills were on the front half of the race in Central Park and then it was pretty flat after that. Running through Times Square was SO cool (and I was that person who was trying to run and take pictures). After that, we ran down the West Side highway with a view of the World Trade Center guiding us downtown. That route was easy and familiar since it’s the route C and I usually run on the weekends. The race finished on Wall St, which is right next to our apartment so we crossed the finish line (me 9 minutes behind C) and crawled home.

After a snack, hot shower, and cat nap, C and I headed out to Stout to treat ourselves to a couple Bud Lights and spinach and artichoke dip. We chatted about the course, the weather, runners we encountered (man in a banana suit and man in a full dress suit), and our aches and pains.

Celebrations post-race

I’m really proud of myself because I didn’t really have any expectations coming into this since this was my first race back from the stress fracture last year. I only wanted to finish feeling healthy (and not frozen). I owe it to the cross training I’ve done in the past 5-6 months (you can read about my obsession here). But I’m already thinking about the next race and how I can make my next PR. The next race we’re running is the NYRR Airbnb Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 20. I’m resting up this week but then it’s back to training!

 

 

How I Fell in Love with HIIT: Tabata and MetCon

I used to run. A lot. That’s all I did. I thought I was in the best shape of my life but it turns out, it’s not a great idea to do the same exercise over and over and over again (great article to read about the topic). You want to be challenging your body in different ways and working different muscle groups. Having a rotation of various types of workouts is the only way to be holistically fit.

I thought I wouldn’t find anything I loved as much as running. But I think I loved it because it was only what I knew. I was afraid to try anything else. Until one day I found myself standing awkwardly in my first Equinox fitness class.

Everyone raves about the Equinox classes and despite being a member for over a year, I had never tried one. The push that got me there was thinking that it is already included in the cost of my membership and I’m losing money if I don’t take these classes.

I didn’t want to go alone so C signed up with me. We picked a class called Tabata. Tabata is the definition of high intensity interval training — 20 seconds of very hard work then 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times is one tabata and you do 8 tabatas total. It doesn’t sound that hard, right? But when you’re on your 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th iteration of plank walks, you’ll feel it’s the longest 20 seconds of your life.

We did burpees, squats, lunges, using dumbells, sandbells, gliding disks. Here are some classic tabatas you can try. It was a full body work out and I left feeling spent. It was one of those workouts where you feel like you need to lie flat on your back and pant out the pain with a smile on your face. It felt amazing. I thought it was one of the best workouts of my life because I could feel every muscle twinge and ache, every artery and vein expand and contract.

The thought was confirmed in the following days because I had NEVER been so sore in my life. I hurt in places I didn’t know I could. I gingerly walked in those days following incredulous that I ever thought that running 30 miles a week made me in shape. I didn’t stretch, I didn’t lift, of course I wasn’t in shape!

I was hooked on that feeling — the post-HIIT high endorphin rush. We found a class called MetCon. MetCon is short for metabolic conditioning and is designed to burn calories during your workout but also maximize the calories burned after (afterburn effect). Ultimately, MetCon will make your workouts better because you increase the efficiency of storage and delivery of energy.

In Equinox’s MetCon 3 class, you do an exercise for 1 minute, followed by a short rest. There are 8 exercises in a set an 3 sets in a class. And at the end of each class you do 3 “finishers”, which is just another way to sneak in more reps. You do similar exercises as in Tabata, just spaced out differently with rests.

I am completely and totally addicted to these classes. I moved from the back of the class to the front. I usually get there at least 10 minutes early to be first one in and get my favorite spot. The instructors recognize me and we chat (shout out to Amy, John, and Chris at Equinox Wall St/Brookfield). And now I ALWAYS bring at least two sweat towels in with me.

It’s really cool to watch myself get stronger. It’s sad to say but I couldn’t do a real push-up before. And now I can breeze through(-ish) push-up burpees. When I’m planning workouts for the week, I always want to do Tabata or MetCon, and not run 8 miles. I still will sometimes but HIIT is faster, more fun, and I leave feeling like I got in a serious full-body workout.


Have you tried Tabata or MetCon? Loved it? Hated it? Any suggestions for what else I can try? I’d love to hear! Comment below!

How to Become a 5AM Gym Goer

You can consider yourself a morning person and still think the idea of working out first thing in the morning is complete and utter nonsense. I did. In college, I used to wake up at 5am to go the library but that’s because that’s when I was most focused. After college, I slept until exactly 20 minutes until I had to get out the door to make it to work on time. So no, I was not keen on the idea of working out early.

But alas, I became one. It started just over a year ago as training for the Disney World Marathon was coming to a close. I was reading blog posts and reviews about people who had previously run it. One thing that EVERYONE mentioned was the 2AM wake up call to get going. I knew that was not going to be a pretty morning. We did all of our training races in the morning but that’s the middle of the night! A lot of training for these races is trying to mimic conditions you’ll have on race day so your body is used to it. The race itself began at 5AM so we figured waking up around then for a couple weeks before the race would suffice.

There’s a reason why there aren’t many people wake up at 5AM to get to the gym… it’s HARD. Really really hard. No matter how psyched you get about the idea the day before, and regardless of needing to do it for a big race you’ve spent months prepping for, when that alarm goes off, you will think “Oh my god, I can’t.” And I did. Many times. And yet, here I am. So the million dollar question… HOW?!

1. Find a partner.

Like with meal planning, finding a partner and having someone to keep you motivated and honest is essential. Having a a roommate/bedmate willing to do it with you makes it even easier but I have friends who ask me to text or call them at 5AM to get them out of bed in the morning. Knowing that there is someone out there who expects you to get up and out makes it much easier to do it.

2. Prep the night before.

Get everything you’ll need for your workout and morning ready the night before. You don’t want anything slowing you down the morning of. Gym clothes, work clothes, headphones, keys, water bottle, pre/post workout snack. You just want to grab and go. Getting out of that door is the hardest part.

3. Do something you LIKE!

You’re not going to make it to the gym if you dread what you’re going there to get done. Spend some time figuring out what kind of classes or work outs you actually enjoy. I’m lucky in that I’ve found a lot of things I like but I leave myself the option to do whatever I want to on any given day. If I want to run, lift weights, do some HIIT, or bike, that’s what I do. If you dread what you’ll do at the gym, you won’t be keeping up this habit.

4. Reward yourself.

Habits are created from cue (alarm), routine (gym), and REWARD (highly recommend Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habit). You need to have an incentive to keep this up. And yes, wanting to be healthier, be prepared for a race, lose weight, etc. are all great reasons but those are long-term. You want to create an immediate reward to tie to the routine. For me, it’s a sweet treat — a creamy latte, triple-cream Siggi’s, or even a cookie.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQ5TpqpgKDh

This isn’t easy, but I promise you can do it. It takes a while to get into a the swing of things but after a few weeks, you’ll get the hang of it. And it’s totally worth it. Before, I made it to the gym pretty often but I also found myself missing it because of work or impromptu happy hours and I would feel guilty. Social events and client calls aren’t usually an issue at 5AM. You can always get in your work out and have your evenings free. And honestly, people are super impressed when you tell them you’re a morning gym-goer. This is its own kind of reward. I feel proud and accomplished after a morning at the gym. I think this is the best motivation I need to keep up the ritual. It just makes me feel good. Siggi’s doesn’t hurt either 😉


Have you made the switch? Are you trying? What worked? What hasn’t? Comment below!

My First Half Marathon: Staten Island 2014

I’m running the United Airlines NYC Half this year! I’m so excited and a little terrified. I’ve been reflecting on my first half marathon and how I got started in all this.

I wasn’t a runner. I only got into running about two and a half years ago. Before that, I played varsity softball in high school but wasn’t a really active person. I could probably run a couple miles at a slow pace as a work out. But I was NOT a runner. In the summer of 2014, my friend Travis was in the process of doing NYRR 9+1 to qualify for the NYC Marathon. He asked if I wanted to do a race or two with him. I thought it sounded like fun so I said yes. I signed up for two races — a 4 miler and a half marathon. Why you ask? Why did I pick a 4 miler and then a 13 miler? I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA. Maybe I was feeling particularly ambitious or spunky that day. Who knows. But I signed up for both. I ran the 4 miler on a miserably humid day in August and I immediately regretted signing up for the half. One would probably think, “Obviously if this race was difficult, she will train for a race that is three times this length.” Think again. I avoided training at all costs. I went into my first half marathon completely unprepared.

The day of the Staten Island Half was October 12, 2014. It was 45 degrees with high humidity. I took the ferry over with Travis, dropped off my bags, and stood shaking in terror at the starting line. I finished. And averaged about a 10 minute mile. I was just thrilled to have finished. I met Travis at the finish line. He had finished about half an hour earlier. We got bagels and water and took the ferry back. I was really proud of myself! From then on, I was hooked. I ran the United Airlines NYC Half in March 2015, Brooklyn Half May 2015, Midnight Color Run July 2015, Inaugural Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half October 2015, Tough Mudder November 2015, and my first full marathon in Disney World January 2016.


 

October 2014, Staten Island Half, NYRR
Rock n Roll Half, October 2015 *C finished before I did
NJ Tough Mudder, November 2015 *Team included my older sister, little brother, and other strong men
Disney World Marathon, January 2016 *Ran step-for-step with C

I’ve had so many great races and amazing memories, but I got injured last March. I was out of commission for 6 months. This half in March will be my first race back since my injury so the training and prep has been nerve wracking. I’ll do a full post on my injury soon but for now, looking back at all the good times above, staying positive about my future races!

Thanks for reading! Happy Hump Day 🙂

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