running

RACE RECAP: A Half Marathon PR In Buffalo

I’m writing this from my hotel room bed, where I have been laying/sitting for approximately 5 hours – rotating between answering emails, eating snacks, accidentally dozing off and consistently cursing when I need to get up to go to the bathroom because I have never felt post-race soreness like I am currently experiencing.

Personal Rest: Healthy Kidney 10K Race Recap

I had a really eye-opening realization last week. The 2015 Brooklyn Half Marathon, a full year ago, was the last time that I ran 13 miles. 

For one full year my body has been pretty damn finicky when it comes to running. I've had 2 double-digit runs since last May and it blows my mind to think of how great I felt going into the Pittsburgh Marathon a year ago to how I feel now. 

I wish I could say I knew why it's been such a struggle, but your guess is as good as mine. I'm frustrated and I'm sad. I swing pretty drastically from, "Running is the worst and I should just quit forever because clearly my body hates it," to "What am I going to do if I can't be a runner anymore?" Anger to total sadness to fear - pretty much I feel all of these emotions simultaneously. 

Needless to say, the goal for Saturday's Brooklyn Half Marathon is to get myself across the finish line and to run 13.1 miles for the first time in 12 months. 

In preparation for that goal, I knew I needed to slow my roll during last weekend's Healthy Kidney 10K in Central Park. Operation: Save Your Legs For Brooklyn was in full effect. 

NYRR Healthy Kidney 10K

The night before the race, my best friend from high school came to NYC for the weekend. I cooked us a Blue Apron dinner and we got to sleep nice and early. 

PRE-RACE 

The Healthy Kidney 10K was a 9:00 a.m. start so I got to sleep in until 7:00 a.m. 

FUEL

Friday night, I actually said to Allison, "I've been excited for my pre-race breakfast all week." So pathetic, but true. Ezekiel toast smeared with PB, topped with 1/2 a sliced banana, drizzled with honey, sprinkled with coconut flakes and a cup of jo. 

GEAR

I raced in my pink Asics shirt again - it's my new favorite for sure. That and my Asics spandex + Saucony Rides + SPIBelt - the usual. 

It was supah dupah balmy out there Saturday morning which was fine by me - I hate being cold before a race and really don't mind the heat all that much. 

STRETCH 

My stretching was a little lax on Saturday but I did get in some one-legged deadlifts (not weighted) while my bread toasted and some glute bridges and side planks. 

WARM UP

Non-existent. I wasn't looking to race this or go over the 6.2 miles so I took the bus with Allison and met up with November Project at Tavern on the Green before heading to my coral. 

NYRR Healthy Kidney 10K

THE RACE 

By the time I was crossing the start line, my watch hadn't synced and I didn't worry about it. My mantra throughout the race was "stay comfortable, stay comfortable." I repeated this as people whizzed by me and I repeated it when I found myself charging up hills and I repeated it when I felt good and knew I had more in me that I shouldn't necessarily give. And I'm proud to report that it worked. I didn't push it and I didn't cross the finish line feeling like I had given it my all - but that was the goal. 

I love racing, but this was not the day for a race. 

The Healthy Kidney 10K is run in the opposite direction of almost every other NYRR race in Central Park which was a nice change. Going up the west-side of Harlem Hill and coming down on the east is SO much nicer, but then you have a pretty long and steady incline all the way up to Engineer's Gate. No matter how you run it, Central Park is just damn hilly - a fact that never ceases to surprise me or my legs. 

The November Project cheer squad + special guest Allison were in the perfect location - 200 meters to go and a pretty steep incline to the finish. I didn't really kick ("Keep it comfortable") but it certainly put a smile on my face. 

Thanks for the picture,  Alex ! 

Thanks for the picture, Alex

It was damn hot out there and I took water at every station. When I finished, I chugged 4 cups which is a lot for this non-water-drinker over here. I met up with Melissa and Allison and we hung out at the finish for a little bit before making our way home across the park for free juice and brunch. 

But not before taking a picture with Sidney the Kidney! 

NYRR Healthy Kidney 10K

It wasn't until much later that afternoon that I even looked up my finish time - 51:12 for an 8:15 pace. I was happy that that felt comfortable :) 

Up next, Brooklyn. Gulp. 

 

 

Spring In The Air, Spring In My Step: 4 Mile Race Recap

Somehow, I'm still not sick of racing. And it's a good thing - because I've still got 4 races left on the schedule of events! 

I think the main reason I haven't tired of races is because, quite frankly, they are so damn convenient for me. Sometimes, races are practically in my backyard. Other times, they're the perfect 2 mile warm-up jog to the start line. It doesn't get any better than that. 

On Sunday, I ran another 4 miler in Central Park - the Run As One. This course was identical to the Run For the Parks 4 Miler.

NYRR Run As One 4 Miler

PRE-RACE 

I'm trying to be better about my pre-race routine. That meant setting my alarm for an hour before I wanted to be out the door. 

FUEL

I've been fueling for each race with a piece of Ezekiel toast smeared with PB, topped with 1/2 a banana and drizzled with honey while slowly sipping on a cup of coffee. 

My new favorite tool is the Runner's World "What Do I Wear?" that lets me plug in the temperature and tells me if it's shorts, pants, singlet or long-sleeve weather. I'm still always filled with panic that I'll be cold though. 

GEAR

On Sunday, I put on my new Asics short-sleeved shirt that my friend sent me. So much for no new clothes on race day. I ended up looooving it though. Sometimes short sleeves bother me so I tend to stick with tanks but I was feelin' this shirt. THANKS EMILY!

Side note: I recently realized that I have SO MUCH PINK when it comes to running shirts. Which is odd, because I'm not the pink type. 

I wore shorts and, since I'm always afraid of being cold, my knee-high pink CEP compression socks for a little extra coverage. 

I ran with my SPIBelt (did you know that SPI stands for small personal items? Now ya do) since I wanted to have my phone on me. 

On my feet were my go-tos - Saucony Rides. Sans inserts. 

STRETCH 

Alright - here is the big change in my pre-race routine. Motivating myself to activate my glutes before I run. 

I gave them a big old HELLO GOOD MORNING with one-legged glute bridges, side planks with a leg lift (works your glutes SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU REALIZE. Really, I cry), and heel raises to remind my body the right way to transfer weight - between my big toe and second toe - NOT the outside of my foot. 

I also did some rolling with my new Addaday massage roller because my calf knots have been comin' in hot with the more consistent mileage. 

Most importantly, I did my INTERNAL hip rotation stretch for :60 on each side. Who knew - all this time I was cranking out clam shells and fire hydrants to improve my external rotation hip strength when it's really the OTHER way I need to teach my hips to turn. 

WARM UP

I ran the two miles to the start line and hopped into my coral when I saw a fellow NP teammate. We chatted while we waited for the race to start - marveling at the PERFECT spring race weather. It was such a gorgeous morning. 

Central Park Spring

RACE

MILE ONE 

I was coming off of 6 days of no running, so I was hoping for fresh legs. Despite the two mile warm-up, they didn't feel all that fresh since the race starts by climbing Cat Hill. Once I got up and over that, I caught up to my teammate and tried to stay with her. 

MILE TWO 

I settled into a rhythm here - I could tell I was going at a fairly speedy pace, but I was also pretty comfortable. The best feeling. 

MILE THREE 

Mile three is by far the most challenging in this course as you have to go up and over the 3 Sisters. In Central Park, these are the three large rolling hills along the West Side. 

Hills are kind of my jam. I hate them, don't get me wrong, but I recognize that they're one of my strengths. My pace did slow down a bit for mile 3, but I felt strong and pushed myself to get 'em done as quickly as possible. 

MILE FOUR 

I waited until around mile 3.5 to kick things up a notch. I told myself to relax my body, let my leggies do their thing, and to not think about it too much. It was luckily one of those times where my body cooperated and the pace dropped without me feeling like I was going to hurl. 

I read a quote after the race that described this feeling perfectly:

Fast running isn’t forced. You have to relax and let the run come out of you.
— Des Linden

You make a turn and then the finish line is in sight! I was able to speed through the line knowing that I had put in a solid effort, and still feeling fairly good. 

RESULTS 

I finished in 29:24 for a pace of 7:21 - better than the Run for the Parks two weekends ago! I was happy with the result. 

Post-Race 

I grabbed an apple, caught my breathe, and fairly quickly set off on my cool down run of 2 miles home. My legs still felt pretty good - except when it came to running up Cat Hill for a second time. 

I like the 4 mile distance and I love courses that don't involve Harlem Hill. It was a beautiful morning and a fun race. 

UP NEXT: 

April 30 - Bear Mountain Marathon Relay
May 1 - 5 Borough Bike Tour (40 Miles) 
May 14 - Healthy Kidney 10K
May 21 - Brooklyn Half Marathon

YOUR TURN: 
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE RACE DISTANCE? 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 

 

 

 

 

Every Weekend a New Race

I am in the thick of 9 + 1 which, for those of your who don't know, is a way to guarantee entry into the 2017 New York City Marathon. You pay NYRR to run 9 races, and you volunteer at one of their races (for free) and then you are granted the privilege of paying them ANOTHER $200+ to register for the New York City Marathon. 

Okay, okay I'm sorry for being a grouch. New York Road Runners is a really fabulous organization and when you pay for an annual membership, you save a ton of money on race registration. Plus, having guaranteed entry into the marathon as opposed to crossing my fingers and praying come lottery time is much better for my mental sanity and life planning. 

So far I've run 5 NYRR races this year and already volunteered at the NYC Half. That means 4 more races and I've all but committed to running a third marathon. Gulp.

Every one of my weekends seems to be running-focused now that the races are in full swing. In 8 week I'll have run 6 races and gone for a 40 mile bike ride. It's a bit overwhelming, but it's also re-focusing me.

Since I last did a race recap I ran the Scotland Run (10K) and the City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks (4 Miler) - both in Central Park. 

Race Recap

Scotland Run 10K

The 10K was a welcomed surprise because my shins were virtually pain free! I was able to negative split and felt pretty good about my 48:00 time considering I haven't been doing a whole lot of running. The Scotland Run was my first ever NYRR race and one of the first times I ever stepped foot in Central Park back in 2014. I ran the race with no watch and finished 12th in my age group with a 45:23 (7:19 pace) which remains one of my best 10K times. Crazy looking back on it that it was my first organized race other than a half marathon. First time running Harlem Hill. Nuts. 

Baby runner Lauren had wheels 

Baby runner Lauren had wheels 

Anyway, I like that the Scotland Run goes in the opposite direction than what I always run the park in because it's a distraction and helps make it seem different. 

The entire time I kept thinking I had to run 6.1 miles so my kick was a little too early. .1 may not seem like a lot but I felt it by 6.2 

City Parks Foundation Run for the Parks 4 Miler

The City Parks 4 miler my shins were back to not-so-great but not-bad-enough-to-stop. I ran to the start which meant a solid 2 miles under my belt before the start of the race. NYRR implemented a staggered start for this one - which I am a proponent of. There's nothing worse than that first mile dodging in and out of a massive crowd of people who all seem to be going different speeds. 

Despite the annoying pain in my left shin, my legs were turning over quickly even up and down Central Park's many hills and I was able to finish with a 7:24 pace. After a cup of water I finished with another mile at the end for 7 miles total at around a 7:44 pace which made me feel like the Brooklyn Half might not be tooo awful if I can keep increasing the mileage between now and then. 

I wrapped up the morning with free yoga at lululemon but it was pretty miserable and I did a lot of unprompted child's pose.  

Coming Up

This weekend I'll be shipping up to Boston as a marathon spectator and I'm so pumped to go to a November Project workout and experience the marathon for the first time. The goal is to one day qualify to run it and I think this might be just what I need to light that BQ fire once again. 

I'm hoping to get in 8 miles Saturday or Sunday and a mid-week 10 miler is bouncing around my head for sometime next week so that I can focus on racing my 4 miler on Sunday. 

I'm cautiously optimistic that physical therapy has been somewhat successful - I've been going twice a week for a month now and am trying to be diligent with my exercises and stretches during the week. I haven't been 100% successful but the pain in my shin has started to subside a little and it's moved to a new place which we're thinking may be due to the inserts I've been experimenting with. 

Time will tell, but I'm trying to keep it slow and steady. My weekly mileage has been 10, 14, 16 and this week will be 16 again. 

Here's what's next: 

Sunday, April 24: Run As One 4 Miler
Saturday, April 30: North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain Marathon Relay
Sunday, May 1: 5 Borough Bike Tour
Saturday, May 14: UAE Healthy Kidney 10K
Saturday, May 21: Brooklyn Half Marathon

YOUR TURN: 
WHAT ARE YOU TRAINING FOR? 
DO YOU LIKE RACING OR DO YOU PREFER DOING YOUR OWN THING? 
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE RACE DISTANCE?

The Definitive Guide for Your Trip to Austin, Texas

So you've heard that Austin is a pretty cool city - lots of young professionals, lots of outdoor activities and lots of bars and nightlife on 6th Street. You think it might be a cool place to take a trip.

Well I'm here to tell you that you should. And I'm also going to tell you the things that you should do while you're visiting Because yes, there's more to do than drinking your face off on 6th Street. Although you'll definitely want to check that out as well. 

In early December, Peter and my friend Melissa joined me on a 5 day getaway to Austin, Texas and like the Type A individual that I am, I did a ton of research, planning and itinerary building. I tried to be flexible, take into account the interests of 3 different people and to leave time for the inevitable suggestions from locals that we would have to find the time to fit in. 

You'll have to ask Peter and Melissa how I did. But when our time was up and it was time to head home, I felt we had seen a ton of the city - but also could have spent even more time exploring! 

So what are the things you need do for the complete Austin experience? Here we go. 

12 Things To Do In Austin, Texas

1) Bar Hop on 6th Street 

Let's just get right down to it. 6th Street is to Austin what Bourbon Street is to New Orleans. It's the Vegas Strip of Austin. It's bars, clubs, late night pizza, and more bars. 

Before I left, I read a Thrillist article ranking the bars on 6th Street according to which sucked the most. Not exactly a gleaming review of what we were in for. A lot of people consider 6th Street a bunch of terrible, fratty bars frequented by college kids and dudes having Bachelor Parties so I wanted to find the hidden gems. I mean, the nickname for 6th Street is "Dirty Sixth," after all. 

But I'm happy to report that we spent 3 nights happily bar hopping 6th Street and enjoyed our time.  The best part? Austin is the Live Music Capital of the WORLD - so everywhere you go - you'll be listening to extremely talented, live performers.

Maggie Mae's 

Our first night, we stopped in a bar called Maggie Mae's that I had read about in my research. If you're from a city or town where space is limited - Austin bars will blow your mind with their vastness. Maggie Mae's had 3 levels with at least 5 different bars. There was a DJ, a live band, a rooftop, dancing, big screen TVs - it was craziness. 

The one con was being told we couldn't use the bathroom when they closed at 2 a.m. and we were headed out. But it's OK because like typical New Yorkers, we ignored the rules and walked into the bathroom. 

Pete's Dueling Piano Bar

Although I'm pretty sure this is a place no true Austinite frequents, Pete's Dueling Piano Bar is a hell of a good time for tourists.  Two talented pianists taking requests and encouraging the audience to sing along - I didn't stop singing for 3 hours. 

The cocktails are a little pricey, but if you go on a weeknight you'll avoid the cover charge.

Pete's Dueling Piano Bar Austin

Easy Tiger

We made our trip to Easy Tiger on a Wednesday afternoon, so it was pretty dead, but it's a cool German place with a huge beer selection, bakery, sausages, ping pong and outdoor seating (pretty common in Austin). 

Chupacabra Restaurant & Cantina 

This was a late night stop for tacos before heading home - the tacos are massive and they have a margarita flavor on tap. 

The Chuggin' Monkey

WIth a name like that, are you surprised we stopped by for a drink? OK, we actually stopped in because Peter liked the sound of the band. And they ended up being great - it's like he has an ear for music or something...

Other than that, it was a pretty standard bar. Though apparently, owned by The Bachelor's Brad Womack. 

Iron Cactus

Peter had a craving for a frozen margarita (let's be real, this isn't so much a craving as an eternal longing) and we ended up at Iron Cactus after plenty of Yelping. Though we were saddened by their lack of nachos (they only had crab fritter nachos) their margaritas were pricey for Austin but worth it for deliciousness. Melissa and I got ours on the rocks but Peter's frozen mango marg was the real winner. 

2) Bike Ride Everywhere 

We were incredibly lucky that our AirBnB provided beautiful bikes for us to use during our stay. Without them, we would have racked up far more Uber rides. 

AirBnB Austin

If you're taking a trip to Austin, I highly suggest renting bikes for a day or two to get to places around town that are just a little too far to walk between.  

Lady Bird Lake Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail

There is an incredible 10-mile path around Austin that you can bike, walk or run for gorgeous views and fresh air. Every day we explored a different part of this trail - bringing us (and our bikes) on rocky terrain to a beautiful waterfall, over pedestrian bridges, and on a paved boardwalk with great views of the city. 

We probably could have been more strategic in our explorations had we realized how many different points of interest this one path connected. As a runner, this 10 mile path was like a dream. Can I train for my next marathon while living in Austin, please? Check out this map to come up with a game plan.

3) Explore Zilker Park 

Zilker Park is the Central Park of Austin - if we want to go with a comparison to NYC. But really, it's much more woodsy with a lot more open space than Central Park. 

There's a ton to do in Zilker Park, and we only did a fraction of it. 

($5 Admission and Closed on Mondays)

This place was gorgeous and when the sun came out, we wished we had been brave enough to bring our bathing suits. The man-made pool is fed by underground springs - maintaining a year-round water temperature of 68-70 degrees. It's around 900 feet long and only closed on Thursday's from 9 am - 7 pm for the intense maintenance that needs to be performed. From November - March admittance is free and it's open from 5 am - 10 pm throughout the year. Entrance fees during the spring and summer months are around $8 for non-residents.

There are also places around the park to rent canoes and kayaks, picnic areas, a little mini train ride, hiking trails and the botanical gardens. 

Barton Springs Pool Austin

In the Winter, there's the "Trail of Lights" which I would have loved to check out, but we never made it. 

4) Check Out Local Farmer's Markets

Almost every day of the week you can find a farmers market in Austin. We had so much fun riding our bikes to one on Saturday morning and perusing the booths while filling up on free samples. You can even get BREAKFAST TACOS. 

I was obsessed with the kegs of kombucha and I ended up buying zero souvenirs but left perfectly happy with my reusable glass jar. 

Buddha's Brew Kombucha  was heavenly!

Check out all the local farmer's markets here

5) Visit Texas' Flagship Whole Foods Store

If you're anything like me - grocery shopping is the best day of the week (minus the part where you see your total on the cash register). 

Perusing produce and shopping for spices is more enjoyable than trying on jeans or bathing suits, that's for damn sure! 

Was the flagship Austin Whole Foods Market on my Austin itinerary? You better believe it. I was like a kid in a candy store going from free sample to free sample to free sample. They had a smoothie/acai bowl station, a taco bar, salad bar, bakery, oatmeal station - everything you could ever want. And did I mention 25 cent giant cookies? 

We stopped twice during our stay. 

6) Eat. A Lot. 

Austin is known for it's tacos, migas (a breakfast dish) and BBQ. I personally make it a mission to discover insane donuts wherever I travel. Therefore, these were the main culinary missions while in Austin. I'd say we succeeded - with some Bloody Mary's, late night nachos and pancakes and killer brunches making their way in our bellies along with the previously mentioned Austin-staples. 

Here's how the chow went down.

Tacos

We had a tally in our trailer to see how many tacos we would consume in 5 days - answer? 24. That's a solid sampling of tacos. 

Torchy's Tacos 

Torchy's is a chain that has 12 Austin locations and when we arrived on Saturday afternoon the line was out the door. It moved quickly and we were soon chowing down on our first 8 tacos of the trip. 

We unanimously decided that "The Independent" was the best taco of the bunch. Ordered on a corn tortilla instead of flour (because, duh) The Independent consisted of deep fried portobello mushroom strips with refried black beans, roasted corn, escabeche carrots, queso fresco, cilanto and avocado - drizzled with ancho aioli.

Torchy's Tacos

Among the group we also tried the Monk Special (a breakfast taco with eggs, bacon, green chiles and cheese), The Democrat (shredded beef barbacoa topped with fresh avocado, queso fresco, cilantro, onions and a wedge of lime with tomatillo salsa), and a few others that I can't quite remember. 

The place even served mimosas and Bloody Mary's for $4! 

Taco Deli 

Taco Deli was another joint I had heard great things about that has multiple locations in Austin - 5 to be exact! 

We headed to the Spyglass location after trekking/hiking/biking through Zilker Park to reach it. Then, Melissa and I did a deck of cards workout to really get our appetites going. 

I wish I could tell you what everyone ordered but I can't remember anything except the delicious "Papadulce" vegetarian taco that I devoured. Loaded with roasted sweet potatoes, grilled corn, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, toasted pepitas and chipotle camote sauce - this was my favorite taco of the trip! 

Taco Deli Austin

Taco Deli's tacos are on the smaller side but they pack a powerful punch of flavor AND smaller tacos means you'll just have to try more of them! 

Chupacabra Cantina Y Taqueria 

We stopped at Chupacabra after our last night out on 6th Street and ordered far too many tacos. These tacos were by far the largest we ate and overflowing with ingredients. 

I know we ordered the Hippy Taco (refried black beans, rajas, avocado, cotija cheese, jacama slaw and habanero sour cream) and the Honey Jalapeno Fried Chicken (hand-breaded chicken tender, honey jalapeno sauce, jack cheese, bacon, jalapenos and chipotle mayo) along with one of the pork-centered tacos. 

This place knew their clientele and created some absurd flavor combinations that sounded appealing at the time but were maybe just a little bit over the top. We chowed down regardless. 

Bomb Tacos 

Bomb Tacos was a food trailer parked in the back of Bar 96 on Rainey Street. Peter and Melissa both ordered tacos and neither were impressed. Sad tacos :( 

Doughnuts / Donuts 

Which spelling of doughnuts do you prefer? I donut care because either way they are delicious. 

For the past year or so I've been obsessed with trying different doughnuts. It seems that every city in America has "the" doughnut spot you need to check out. I'm still dreaming of the day I make a cross-country trip for the sole purpose of checking out America's best doughnuts. In the meantime, New York has enough to keep me full of sugary breakfast pastries. 

So naturally, while I was in Austin I added two doughnut joints to the itinerary.

Gordough's Doughnuts

This place was ridiculous! There are a bunch of different outposts, but we visited the Gordough's Public House location in downtown Austin. The doughnut trailer is attached to a bar/restaurant and this particular spot serves not just donuts but doughnut MEALS - sandwiches between doughnuts and burgers with doughnut buns...even salads served with a hot garlic doughnut. I kid you not. 

We were there for dessert though and decided to sample 3 sweet doughnuts. We didn't realize what we were getting ourselves into by opting for 3 doughnuts - these things were massive. 

Each came out as a deep-friend dough mass topped with tons of toppings. The donut itself wasn't my favorite - it tasted more like a funnel cake than anything else, but the presentation, novelty and toppings made up for it. 

So what did we order? A good mix, I think. 

Ring O' Fire (Chipotle Infused Brownie Batter, Chocolate Icing, Brownie Bites, Salted Butter Caramel Sauce and Cayenne Candied Pecans) 

The Freebird (Cheesecake Filling, Cream Cheese Icing, Graham Cracker Crumbles, Fresh Strawberries and Blackberries) 

Granny's Pie (Cream Cheese Icing, Caramel Pecans, Bananas and Graham Crackers) 

*Side Note: We weren't away when we left for Austin that we would be seeing pecans on EVERY menu. Apparently, Texas is a HUGE exporter of pecans. Who knew? 

Voodoo Doughnuts

Peter, the Oregonian grad student, has told me how popular and delicious Voodoo Doughnuts are in Portland. Well, lucky for us - Voodoo Doughnuts just recently opened up a location in Austin. 

 They're closed from the time they sell out on Sunday until Wednesdays at 7 a.m., so we made our visit on Wednesday morning before we left Austin and had a ton of doughnuts to choose from. 

In fact, Voodoo, a cash only chain, makes over 50 different doughnuts! 

We sampled a respectable 5 during our pre-bike ride visit and always my biggest dilemma was the internal debate between a yeast doughnut or a cake doughnut. Luckily, the cake doughnuts were moist enough that I didn't regret the decision to sample one!

Voodoo Doughnuts Austin

Chocolate Ring Doughnut - Raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting.

Dirty Snowballs Doughnut - Chocolate cake doughnut with marshmallow topping, dipped in coconut and a dollop of peanut butter in the middle. 

Old Dirty Bastard Doughnut - Raised yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting, Oreo's and peanut butter.

Bacon Maple Bar Doughnut - Peter told us this was their signature doughnut - Raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and bacon on top. 

Voodoo Doll Doughnut - Seemed like a must order considering the name of the chain! Plus, it looked so cute! Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly and topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake. 

Voodoo Doughnuts gets a thumbs up from me - tons of flavor options, pretty to photograph, lots of FILLINGS (my favorite) and super sweet (sorry teeth). 

Barbecue 

The place to go for BBQ in Austin is Franklin Barbecue - where tourists and locals alike line up for hours in the mornings just waiting for the place to open. Apparently, it's a bonding experience - people bring coolers and essentially tailgate while they wait. 

With so many other things on my itinerary, we didn't ever find a chance to commit to the hours long wait at Franklin's. 

The other well-known barbecue place in Austin is The Salt Lick - a little bit of a drive from the downtown area. Since we didn't have a car, that wasn't a great option for us either. 

After some research and some inquiries with locals we settled on getting our 'cue on at: 

Iron Works BBQ

The ambiance at Iron Works was spot on - a counter to order at, picnic tables with red plaid tablecloths, no frills, metal trays, Styrofoam cups. 

The menu was exactly what you'd expect and want when ordering barbecue - pulled pork, ribs and brisket with sides like coleslaw, potato salad and mac and cheese. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal in the old iron workshop (now a historical site!) 

Brunch

Brunch is a way of life. Brunch brings people together. Brunch is sacred. In Austin, like in life, my most enjoyed meals took place between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Prime breakfast and brunchin' time that is. 

Bouldin Creek Cafe 

Despite being a vegetarian cafe, Bouldin Creek got thumbs up from all three of us meat-eaters (though Melissa and I love our veggie-centric dishes!) 

Before I discuss the food - can we discuss how ADORABLE and artsy this place is? I couldn't stop looking around at all the cool decor. I loved the vibe of Bouldin Creek. 

I started off with some hot chocolate because my new-found obsession is really real. It was so filling, but so worth it. 

Peter and I immediately spotted the cornbread on the menu and got an order for the three of us to split as an appetizer. It wasn't just any cornbread - it was grilled blueberry cornbread. And it was phenomenal. 

My meal of choice was the tamale breakfast served with two eggs, two sweet potato pecan tamales, warm tortillas and homemade salsa. The filling in the tamales weren't as delicious as I was hoping considering they contained two delicious ingredients, but wrapped up in a tortilla with egg and salsa, I still enjoyed. 

Bouldin Creek Cafe Austin

Melissa ordered the Zucchini Migas and gave it good reviews while Peter got an omelette. 

South Congress Cafe 

All week I was excited for brunch at South Congress Cafe. Lucky for us, we didn't need a reservation since it was a random weekday morning, but I imagine this place is packed on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Throughout my research I had read about a breakfast dish called "migas" that I "had to" try. 

Migas is essentially a scrambled egg dish with veggies, cheese and the special ingredients - fried tortilla strips. South Congress Cafe is known for having one of the best migas in town and I also discovered another important accolade...

South Congress Cafe's Bloody Mary was voted one of the best in the country by the Huffington Post! 

When we arrived we were told we could save 20% by sitting at the bar. Our server/bartender was super friendly and awesome. We were shocked to find that the Bloody Mary isn't even on the menu - I guess when you're known for having one of the best Bloody Mary's in America you don't really need to advertise. 

South Congress Cafe Bloody Mary

Even Melissa, not usually a Bloody Mary fan, ordered one. And let me tell ya - that Bloody was DAMN good. None of this bacon, bourbon, shrimp nonsense. Just a straight up delicious Bloody Mary with great seasoning, a wonderful kick, a simple stalk of lettuce and a happy little olive. 

I ordered my migas "Enchilada" style - with the spicy ranchero sauce on the side. They were delicious and made with eggs, corn tortillas, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, three cheese blend and served with refried black beans and a smoked gouda potato pancake. 

South Congress Cafe Austin Migas

Stellar meal and stellar lighting in the restaurant ;) 

Coffee

When you're biking and moving non-stop with 8 - 9 am wake-ups, you need to stay caffeinated. 

Ok, actually, the reason we stopped at so many coffee places is because Peter is a straight up caffeine addict. So I was sure to scope out the best cups of Joe around town so he could always get his fix - and spare Melissa and I the caffeine crash. 

Cenote

Peter took a trip to Cenote alone while Melissa and I waited in line for a table one afternoon and said it was "super adorbs." Okay, he definitely didn't use those words but he did say it was a trendy little shop with a good cup of coffee. It's built in an old church in one of the oldest buildings in the neighborhood which automatically makes it so fetch

Caffe Medici

There were a few Caffe Medici's that we passed around town and this received the coveted "Best Coffee of the Trip" award from the coffee connoisseur himself. They had his favorite brand of espresso machine I think. Yes, he has a favorite espresso machine. So European. A quick look at their website reveals that Cafee Medici uses Cuvee espresso in 3 group La Marzocco FB 80's.

Jo's 

There are three Jo's outposts in Austin and they not only serve coffee but food and alcohol including wine in a can! We sat out at the downtown location one night watching people walk by and also took a trip to their South Congress location for a picture with their famous "I Love You So Much" wall. 

They're famous for their iced turbos -  cream, chocolate, espresso, coffee and hazlenut. We didn't sample one, but it sure sounds tasty! 

Picnic

Picnic is a paleo food truck that is perched on a little hill with picnic tables and cacti. What brought us their wasn't their paleo food, but their BULLETPROOF COFFEE. 

Have you heard of this new trend? Coffee + Grassfed Butter + MCT Oil. Some people claim that this cup of healthy fats to start your morning can help curve cravings and promote weight loss. 

I was not a fan of the taste, but Peter enjoyed it!

Other

I swear, I didn't have each and every meal pre-planned! We stumbled across two other wonderful places. 

Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Right near our AirBnb was a super popular Shake Shack-esque burger joint called Hopdoddy Burger Bar with lines out the door. One night we stopped in for a late dinner and dayum, one of the best burgers I've ever had - though nothing will ever compare with my dad's homemade hamburgers on the grill. 

I ordered a monstrosity of a burger called the Terlingua. Angust beef burger loaded with chile con carne, tillamood cheddar, corn fritos and "sassy sauce." I was clearly feeling the "Everything Is Bigger In Texas" motto that night. 

Magnolia Cafe  

When you've been out drinking on 6th Street and realize there's a 24 Hour Diner on your Air BnB's street - you definitely stop by and you definitely order a large platter of "super deluxe" chicken nachos (against Peter's pleas of, "WE ONLY NEED A SMALL." Overruled by the two girls) and a plate full of blueberry pancakes (EXPLODING with blueberries). 

Magnolia Cafe Austin Nachos

Both of these were mind mindbogglingly good - and I'm pretty sure it wasn't just because of the alcohol we had consumed! Two thumbs up Magnolia Cafe

Botticelli's 

Melissa found this AWESOME spot for happy hour. Botticelli's looked like a tiny little restaurant from the outside, but there was a HUGE outdoor seating area with heat lamps (the first time I was warm that entire day). We plopped ourselves right under one and enjoyed their all day Monday happy hour specials ($5 cocktails!) as well as two orders of their famous STUFFED BREAD. It was killer. 

Botticellis Bread Austin

7.) Go Country Dancing at the Broken Spoke (Or Just Watch)

By far one of the best experiences of the trip was our visit to The Broken Spoke. This place opened in 1964 and the people who frequent it are true Austinites.  

We felt extremely out of place, and weren't exactly welcomed with open arms, but it was worth it for a look at a true Texas Honky Tonk Dance Hall. 

Wednesday - Saturday from 8:30 - 9:30 p.m. they give two-step and swing lessons. Unfortunately, we missed them. But we grabbed a beer at the bar (after paying our $12 cover) and sat down at a picnic table where we spent a long time people watching the rotating partners two-stepping across the huge wooden dance floor. 

The bathroom stalls didn't have doors - they had American flag curtains that brushed your knees as you sat. 

People got up to go dance and just left their iPhones sitting unattended on their tables. 

A live band played country music that not even Peter recognized one word of. 

By the end of the night I finally convinced Peter to twirl me around a few times and while I looked like a fool, he looked handsome and we had a good laugh! 

Broken Spoke Austin Texas

This is definitely a must on your trip! 

8.) Take a Walk Around the UT Austin Campus 

Did you know the Longhorns' color has a specific name? That browny-orange color (that I personally find hideous) is referred to as "Burnt Orange." 

University of Texas at Austin

We spent a little while on our first afternoon riding our bikes around campus - stopping by Caffe Medici and Torchy's Tacos before discovering Moojo - a place that makes cheap and amazingly delicious cookie ice cream sandwiches! 

But there is more to do at UT than eat. We stopped at the Harry Ransom Center to see the first photograph (spoiler alert: it's really terrible and we almost couldn't see it and thought it had been stolen) and one of the original Gutenberg Bibles.  Unfortunately, we visited while they were getting ready for their next exhibition, but usually they have more on-site. 

The Longhorns' stadium was closed but we got to peak through a gate. 

There were pretty buildings, statues, fountains, etc. along our walk and an art museum that we were too uncultured to visit. 

9.) Take Pictures with Graffiti 

What we were not too uncultured to do was appreciate the various murals painted on buildings across the city. I loved these, and there were a bunch of famous ones we never even made it to. Each mural has an interesting history and story to go along with it!

Graffiti Castle 

This place is an Instagrammer's dream. It's essentially an unfinished housing foundation that local artists can paint giant murals on. While it's called Graffiti Castle, it's official name is the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. Unfortunately, tourists tend to walk up to the wall with their spray paint bottles to write "Lauren Was X" or cover up real artwork with spray painted hearts - but there are still sections of the walls that have some impressive images painted on them. 

Grafitti Castle Austin Free Hugs

We even got to see one artist in action - it was amazing! 

Wear sneakers - it's no joke climbing the different levels of Graffiti Castle. And go around dusk to see the sunset from the top! 

I Love You So Much Wall

A classic, located on the side of Jo's coffee shop on South Congress (1300 S Congress Ave). We had a full out photo shoot at this one! 

I Love You So Much Jo's Austin

Hi, How Are You?

We spotted this one while we were near the UT campus and I forced everyone to pull the bikes over for a photo op. Little did I know, it's one of the famous murals in Austin. Later that day we even saw t-shirts depicting it! The Hi, How Are You frog mural is on the building currently occupied by Thai Spice (3600 N Capital of Texas Hwy #110). 

Jeremiah Frog Austin Hi, How Are You?

You Make My Heart Sing

This ones on the side of Threadgill's (301 W Riverside Dr.).

You Make My Heart Sing Threadgill's Austin

The two we missed but I would have loved a picture with were the "Greetings From Austin" mural (1720 S. First Street) and the "You're My Butter Half" mural (2000 E. MLK Jr. Blvd.)

10.) Sunday Funday on Rainey Street 

Is there anything better than a good Sunday Funday? 

Yes. 

Sunday Funday after a race! 

Peter and I ran a half marathon and 5K respectively and once we showered we headed to Rainey Street to begin the festivities. Rainey Street is a fairly new popular neighborhood in Austin where homes have been converted into bars and restaurants - giving them an awesome vibe. 

Brunch at Banger's Sausage and Beer Garden 

We waited a solid 40 minutes to get in to Banger's Sausage and Beer Garden, but once we did, it was totally worth it. A huge open backyard with beer hall styled seating on picnic tables and a live jazz band. A HUGE beer list. And a drool-worthy brunch menu. 

We learned very quickly that bars and restaurants welcome dogs with open arms and Banger's even had a little mini dog park in the back! 

I ordered the beet and goat cheese "sausage" with yellow beets, red beets, walnuts and goat cheese. I didn't love it, but I probably should have picked something different anyway. 

What I did love was the atmosphere, the music and the company. 

Banger's Brunch Austin Texas

Pro Tip: They are famous for their "Manmosa" - a 1 liter glass of champagne with a splash of orange or cranberry juice. 

Sangria and Jazz at Icenhauer's

I had read that Icenhauer's was the place to be on a Sunday on Rainey Street and it did not disappoint. The size of these sangria glasses was unreal! And only $8. Again, we were able to be outside, though the inside was awesome as well and we enjoyed the company of  a bunch of adorable puppies. 

Icenhauer's Sangria Sunday

Bar 96

Another hopping spot to be on a Sunday is Bar 96. Another big open area in the back (with the Bomb Taco truck) and the real reason we went - the string game! 

We met a girl who was pretty damn good at it - and she tried to help us work on our technique. I was a pretty worthless student at that point in the day, but it was still fun! 

Bar 96 Austin

And more puppies. 

11.) Visit a Brewery or Distillery 

There are two breweries that are easy to get to in the downtown area but if you have a car, there are a number of other options for breweries and distilleries (big names like Deep Eddy and Tito's!) 

Hops and Grain 

The Hops and Grain tap room is open 7 days a week from 8 am - 10 pm. Tours are given on Thursday and Fridays at 5 pm and Saturdays at 1, 3 and 5 - they are FREE and last around 45 minutes (all according to their website since we weren't able to make it for a tour!) 

Zilker Brewing

At Zilker we actually sat down and did some sampling - I was a fan of a few of them but I can't remember anything specific. The place was empty on a Sunday night but the bartender was nice to us after our marathon Sunday Funday when I'm sure he just wanted us to shut up and go home. Zilker Brewing is open Wednesday - Thursday from 4 pm - 10 pm, Friday from 2 pm - 12 am, Saturday from noon - 12 am and Sunday from noon to 8 pm. 

Zilker Brewing Company Austin Texas

12.) Take a Touristy Picture at the State Capitol Building

It's not that exciting, but it is a pretty impressive building - it's 308 feet tall, making it taller than the capitol building in D.C. and the 6th tallest capitol building in the U.S. (Louisiana's is the tallest). 

Texas State Capitol Building

So there you have - 12 activities to make your trip to Austin EPIC. 

But I'm not done yet. 

There's a few things to consider before you hit the ground running. 

Lodging

For SURE check out Airbnb. There were TONS of options, although I'm biased and think we picked the absolute sickest, illest, dopest Airbnb in Austin. Heck, maybe in Texas. Maybe even in America. 

The three of us stayed in an amazing airstream trailer - how much more Austin can you get? 

Austin Airbnb Trailer

The space was perfect for 3 people and when we arrived it was twinkling with lights and SO welcoming. Our host, Miles, has set up a bunch of trailers in a little compound tucked away behind an apartment complex. There are tables, hammocks, and an amazing little outdoor TV room with seating, a stereo, games and oh did I mention 2 KEGS of beer? 

You can also use All The Rooms to find alternatives to hotel rooms!

Transportation 

Uber in Austin was so simple and by the end of the trip, all of our rides total came to less than $50 each. That's less than $150 total. #Math

The bikes helped a TON but having a rental car for at least a day would have enabled us to go to places like Mount Bonnell (to climb to the highest point in Austin) or The Salt Lick for barbecue. 

A lot of people also suggested we try to drive the 45-60 minutes to check out the San Antonio River Walk. 

You'll definitely want bikes, Ubers or a rental car as things aren't super close together and from what we gathered the public bus system wasn't all that popular. 

AUSTIN, WE LOVE YOU 

Austin Airbnb




Race Recap: 5K In Austin, Texas

While I’m in the process of writing up my big, wonderful guide to vacationing in Austin, Texas – since I’m a pro now – I thought I would at least recap the race I ran while I was in the Lone Star State.

For months I planned on running the Decker Half Challenge with Peter – a half marathon known for its extremely hilly terrain. 13.1 miles and the plan was an 8:00 – 8:15 pace. But as the date drew closer, I knew that my legs just didn’t have a half marathon in them.

So I made the call to skip the half and instead, signed up for the Brown Santa 5K starting 15 minutes later at the same location. I hadn’t raced a 5K in a while and was excited to see what would happen.

Unlike the Turkey Trot I ran on Thanksgiving, I was prepared for the hills this time around – though not as prepared as I should have been. I didn’t look at an elevation chart. I didn’t know if the hills would be in the first half or the second half. I just knew there would be hills and I would need to be mentally prepared to see an upward sloping road.  And to not freak out. To not throw in the towel. To just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

We woke up and took an Uber to the race location – the Travis County Expo Center. We watched a beautiful sunrise and were able to hang out in a heated building before the start of the race. The men’s bathroom line was 10X longer than the women’s. There wasn’t a bag check, people just kept their stuff chilling in the expo center. It was not like races I’m used to running.

I gave Peter a good luck hug and as he went to the start of the half with around 900 other runners, I set out for a few laps of the parking lot for a 2 mile warm up (first mile at 8:44 pace and second mile at 8:15 pace). That’s right – I made sure Melissa and Peter forced me to get in a long warm-up.

By the time I finished, there was limited time to take off my layers and get to the start line so I just ditched my pants in the grass – they were there when I finished.

The Brown Santa 5K only had 105 runners and I was able to get a spot right on the start line. The weather was beautiful and the course started off fairly flat while I found a comfortable rhythm.

Or rather, I found a pace that was comfortable for a mile. Not exactly a pace that was sustainable for 3.1 miles.

The course was an out and back and by the time we hit the turn-around I knew I was the first female. A few other runners gave me some cheers as I passed them, and one of the guys in front of me kept walking and would immediately run again as soon as I drew near. That’s when I promised myself I would beat him.

I knew I had gone out too fast and needed to just keep moving. I knew these were pretty legit hills. I knew it was the hardest I had run in a long time. I thought the finish line would never come but I also knew I was moving fast, I was the first female, I had a boy who didn’t want a girl to beat him a few feet ahead of me, and that I would have the rest of the day to relax – I’m happy to report that I gave that finish everything I had and I honestly thought I was going to puke the second I crossed the finish line. 

As I approached the finish line I could hear the MC saying things like, “And here we have our first female! You can see her pony tail bobbing in the distance – she’s hanging in there. Actually, she’s not just hanging in, she’s finishing strong!”

I somehow found a kick that I didn’t think I had in me when he announced my name and that I was from New York. REPRESENT.

I crossed the finish line and immediately saw Melissa standing there which was the icing on top.

Brown Santa 5K

The sprinkles were the trophy and $40 gift card to race sponsor Rogue Running - a running store/crossfit box/yoga studio/community space. I got this amazing Oiselle scarf that I didn't take off the rest of the trip. 

I ended up finishing in 22.13.8 according to my watch which recorded 3.2 miles for a 6:57 pace. The official results on the Brown Santa 5K page say I finished in 21.08.9. Who knows? All I know is my goal is 21:00 or less so I still have some work to do – but this was a huge confidence boost that on the right day with the right course (aka: less hills) I can make that happen. I was the 5th overall finisher and the first female – out of all 105 runners hehe.

Wanna talk about negative splits? Yeah me neither… Mile 1: 6:45 Mile 2: 7:04 Mile 3: 7:11. Nailed it.

While Melissa and I waited for Peter to finish his race, we did one of Chris Mosier’s famous deck of cards workouts in the expo center. In the middle of clamshells and donkey kicks, my phone started ringing and Peter’s name came up on the screen.

I panicked. I thought he was injured or feeling terrible or quitting. But nope, he was asking me how my race went. Can I get a giant AW?

Awwwwwwww.

When I told him I was the first female finisher his response was, “were you the only female finisher?” HA.HA. babe!

Peter was running his race to win the “Call Your Shot” contest – he had predicted his pace and was doing everything he could to hit it perfectly. He had me tracking him and reporting back to him and when Melissa and I got outside to cheer him on at the finish line I jumped in to run a few feet with him – he nailed it and won a free pair of New Balance sneakers!

Decker Half Challenge

So what did we learn? Peter is basically a professional pacer and I am the worst. And next year, the Decker Challenge will include rules to ensure that out of towners don’t win $150 worth of running gear.

The expo after the race was MAGNIFICENT. There were tons of vendors that were extremely chatty and friendly. We got avocado shaped stress balls and free samples of my favorite iced coffee – High Brew!

Did I mention the FREE BEER from a local brewery that we later found out was over 7% alcohol? LOL. We left feeling prettttty smiley.

Decker Half Challenge Austin

Austin Runner’s Club and Rogue Running put on a GREAT race that was super well organized. The race photos were FREE and soo gorgeous!

Decker Half Challenge
Decker Half Challenge

I have a feeling we might find ourselves back there one day…

PS: If you ever see Philosophizer beer by Adelbert’s – buy it buy it buy it because it’s deeee-licious. 

Six Sunday Links November 8 - Avocados, Running and Singing

 

I did a whole lot of nothing today and it was wonderful. Sleeping in, bagels and watching Unbroken were the only things I had to worry about. In fact, Peter even picked up the bagels so I didn't have to move. 

Yesterday was an extremely productive Saturday which is the reason I didn't stress about being rendered completely useless by this morning's hangover. I just can't hang anymore. 

Saturday I was up and running by 8:15 a.m. and successfully ran 8 miles - my longest run in 6 months. It’s still unseasonably warm and I was able to take in Central Park’s foliage in a t-shirt and shorts.

I did laundry, cleaned my room, cooked, caught up on some work and set out to meet up with a professor and friend from graduate school for brunch at The Upsider.

Next was a “quick” stop at TJ Maxx just to have a look around. Of course I left a little poorer. I also found a genius creation that I’m going to need to find in my size - gloves with a pocket in the hand! That way when it’s winter and I’m big and puffy in layers and a jacket I can slip my metro card right in my glove! Genius.

I got home, got ready and then it was time to party. We had so much fun at a friend's birthday party - I forget how fun it can be to just dance it out in the basement of some bar. 

I'm a little sad thinking about the start of another busy week - but before we get to Monday morning - links! (Or, wait to check out the links until you're sitting at your desk Monday morning and procrastinating the start of any actual work). 

I snapped this picture on my Saturday morning run!

I snapped this picture on my Saturday morning run!


1. Dating In Your Twenties is Like Eating an Avocado

Anyone who can legitimately write an article with this title, and make some compelling points along the way, is wonderful in my book! 

2. Running In The Rain

I still remember one of the first times I ran in the rain - it makes you feel like such a badass. It usually means you're the only one out there, no one to dodge, no one to clog up the sidewalks. This is one of those videos that makes you want to go out and be awesome. It's supposed to rain this week - so before you resign yourself to running on the treadmill, watch this video. It might change your mind. 

3. How Salad Can Make You Fat

A very interesting article about how making healthy choices often encourages us to make more unhealthy choices throughout the day. 

4. Lin-Manuel Miranda Freestyling on Jimmy Fallon

If you don't know who Lin-Manuel Miranda is - I DEMAND you watch this video. He is an incredibly talented musician, singer, writer, lyricist and actor. I first fell in love with his work on the Broadway musical In The Heights and his newest musical, Hamilton, is taking the world by STORM. People really think it might be the best musical EVER. I have yet to see it but I think it's even higher than Book of Mormon on my "must see" list (also, Fun Home!). 

5. Kelly Clarkson and Josh Groban sing Phantom

Two of my favorite voices in the history of the world - Josh Groban and Kelly Clarkson. Singing. Together. I die. This has been on repeat allllllll week and probably will be again this week. 

6. Sport Has Not Learned About Periods

Definitely an interesting idea that periods are the "last taboo" in sport. After that woman ran a marathon while on her period, opting to go sans tampon and letting the blood flow freely, it's definitely a topic that's appearing more often in the media.

Anyone have any thoughts? I personally am lucky to not face any serious challenges to my running while I'm on my period. I get pretty bad cramps, but actually find that exercising can temporarily relieve the pain. That being said, I would 100% like to avoid ever running a marathon or big race while on my period. Tampons moving around, feeling bloated, tender boobs bouncing up and down for 26.2 miles - no thank you! 

I apologize for the poor word to picture ratio. But I am le tired

YOUR TURN
How was your weekend? 
What's your hangover cure? (Light blue Gatorade for me!) 


  

What's Next on My Fitness Journey?

During a cold, wintry long-run last February, my friend Rebecca and I ran together for a few miles in Central Park. My foot was giving me problems, we were dressed in 20 layers to stay warm, and we very quickly fell into an easy conversation that helped distract us from the general unpleasantness of an outdoor run in February. 

The topic of conversation? Food. I had found my culinary-counterpart. We bonded over our love of all things epicurean – and since then I’ve come to the conclusion that no one can make eating look as life-changing as Rebecca. Just look at her with this Pepe’s pizza. Is she not making you want to hop on Metro North for a slice 

right now?

(I don't make it look as believable) 

Anywho, since then, Rebecca and I have bonded over things besides food – one of those being fitness! Like me, sometimes (lots of times) Rebecca likes to lift heavy things. I love that she knows MUSCLES ARE SEXY. And let me tell you, her gun show is the best in town.

Recently, we both started to do Kayla Itsine’s 12 week “Bikini Body Guide.”

I’ve explained in previous posts

that originally, I thought this program would be no big deal. I mean, it’s called the “Bikini Body Guide.” How legit could it be? It sounded like just another trend that would over promise and under deliver. But as I wasn’t able to run at the time, I figured I would give it a shot.

Shit that shit was hard.

Leg day? I would be sore for at least 2 or 3 days afterwards.

Kayla Itsine’s guide isn’t anything revolutionary. She’s taken a bunch of standard strength and cardio moves and put them into an easy to follow plan – it’s short but high intensity. You WILL be dripping in sweat by the end.

As someone who generally despises any and all jumping exercises – this was especially challenging for me. If I never have to do another jumping lunge in my life it would be too soon.

I was loving Kayla’s BBG for a while. And then I started running again. And suddenly the 3X a week commitment on top of trying to run 18 miles a week, swim and fit in yoga got to be overwhelming. I wasn’t looking forward to the workouts anymore and while the leg and ab routines were awesome, my arms weren’t feeling challenged.

Not usually one to quit things, especially fitness-based things, I pretty un-guiltily just…stopped…

After a solid 8 weeks of completing all the workouts, I had had enough. I felt a little bummed. But I also felt excited to be running again, and that off-set any “You’re a quitter” thoughts that I was having about cutting Kayla’s BBG short.

Last week at November Project, I got really excited when Rebecca arrived and I got to run with her for 2 miles. And again, we totally bonded over the conversation topic of choice– Rebecca’s statement of, “I’m just kind of confused on my fitness journey.”

DING DING DING!

Exactly how I have been feeling! And since that run together, I’ve been thinking about it even more. I’m feeling a little lost on my fitness journey so I’m going to try to write it out to gain some clarity.

I’m not training for a marathon.

 The fall marathon I thought I was going to run as an attempt to BQ – that most definitely didn’t happen. I've been a little sad lately watching everyone around me planning for and running their long runs – especially when it’s so beautiful out!

Do I want to run a spring marathon? I still can’t decide. I trained for Pittsburgh over the long winter months last year and it was hard. I know Peter will be an amazing source of support if I decide to do it again, but I just don’t know if I have the motivation right now for 7 a.m. alarms when the thermometer is in the teens. Then again – I want that BQ. The weather for spring marathons is beautiful. What else am I going to do all winter? So – the jury is still out.

I have been slowly increasing my weekly mileage and so far so good – except that it's still frustrating that I feel like I'm having a fast, strong run - putting in a ton of effort and left completely gassed after 4 miles - yet my pace is so. much. slower. than a few months ago. I know I need to be patient, but I may or may not have cried on a rock in Central Park after Saturday's run. I used to wake up and run the 6 mile loop at a 7:50 pace pretty consistently while training for Pittsburgh. Saturday, it took every ounce of energy to run 4 miles at 7:58. Grr. 

I

do

have a few running-related goals to work towards, however.

I just signed up for the NYC Runs 10K on Roosevelt Island on Halloween! I want to be excited, but I know the reality of how much speed and endurance I’ve lost in the past 5 months is going to hit me like a ton of bricks when I cross this finish line. At the 2014 Scotland Run 10K, I threw down a 45:23 – 7:19 pace.  Yikes.

I plan on running a new Turkey Trot this year – a 5 miler near my home on Long Island. My official 5 miler PR is the Poland Spring Marathon Kick Off which I ran monstrously hungover last fall – so we’ll see if a 7:45 pace is something I can top.

With our upcoming trip to Austin, Texas planned – my 4

th

half marathon is on the calendar. The Decker Challenge is a hilllllly course that I’m not expecting to PR, but hoping to feel OK running. It will be my longest run since May’s Brooklyn Half Marathon if/when I cross the finish.

Ted Corbitt 15K is the last NYRR points race of the year – and since I’ve been unable to race as a member of November Project’s team yet, I want to be out there running! It will be a PR no matter what, as it’s a new distance for me.

Last but not least on the calendar (for now) is the Blue Point 10 Miler – which was an AMAZING race I ran last winter. This year it will be even better since I will hopefully have friends to drink with after. By then, who in the world knows what my pace will be like – but I don’t anticipate it being easy to beat last year’s 8:13 pace. Time will tell!

Focusing on these shorter distance races will be different for me and I’m hoping it eases me back into running/racing/going fast and then if I decide I want to go far – we’ll see about that spring marathon. I have another month or two to decide.

Strength Training

has not being something I’ve been focusing on a lot – but I do really love it! I love going to the gym and coming up with my own circuits focused on certain body parts – waking up in the morning and knowing within a minute, “Oh yeah right, I did triceps yesterday – definitely worked!” Marathon training makes it really hard to spend a ton of time doing much besides running. And it makes it really reallllly hard to spend any time at all focused on arms. I’ve come to accept that I need to include one day a week of leg strength training to keep my hips and glutes strong. But in the next few weeks I hope to incorporate some more abs and arms as well, despite the fact that I’m not still following Kayla Itsine’s guides.

If anyone has fun strength training ladders/HIIT/Tabata/etc. that they’d like to share, please do!

Triathlons

are something I’ve been super gung ho about for a few months now. I started saving, I started researching bikes, I started bothering people with a million and one questions (sorry everyone). I spent $80 on shoes for spin class that I have yet to attach the cleats to. I started swimming once or twice a week. And now, I’m signed up for swimming lessons once a week.

And suddenly – I don’t know if I want to do a tri.

Oops.

That’s not true. I know I want to do a tri. I think I would like it. Maybe love it. That “Iron Man” challenge is definitely still in the back of my crazy mind. But I just don’t know if right now is the time. Triathloning (yes, it’s a word…) is

really really expensive

.

I just booked a flight to Austin for a 6 day vacation and half marathon and it’s probably going to end up costing me less than a bike would cost me. Not to mention the $200 entry fees, a wet suit, and the tons of biking things I’m sure I don’t even know about yet.

So, jury is also out on whether or not a tri is in my future at the moment -  but I do still plan on stopping at a bike store to get myself fitted so that I can properly stalk Craiglist for a used bike in my size. Doesn’t hurt to keep my eyes open!

And in the meantime, I’ve found that swimming is a nice new challenge and I’m looking forward to finishing this 8 week course and keeping a weekly swim in my fitness repertoire.

Yoga

continues to bore me for the most part – but I

do

notice a huge difference when I go twice a week as opposed to, you know, thinking my body will magically be fine without zero stretching. So, I’ve been trying to be consistent with that!

Unfortunately, writing all of that out didn’t give me any real clarity on why I’m feeling kind of “meh” at the moment – why I can’t seem to figure out what I want to put my energy towards.  

But maybe the moral of this incredibly long blog post isn’t, “Figure out what your next challenge is” or, “Figure out what muscle you want to develop next!” Maybe the moral of it is that I’m going to accept the fact that sometimes, we don’t know exactly where we’re headed. 

If there’s nothing calling to me right now, maybe it’s because physically or mentally I need to take a chill pill. Or maybe the lack of direction is making room for something else to unexpectedly turn up – roller blading, that field hockey league I’ve been wanting to join, trapeze school? I’m keeping an open mind and not ruling anything out. 

Some days it makes me a little antsy. Without a calendar to tell me how many miles I need to run on Saturday morning, who am I?! Answer: still Lauren.  

And sometimes, for a lot of fitness-loving ladies and lads – I think that’s harder for us to believe than it should be.

So listen up. I’m talking to you and I’m talking to myself: If you’re ever feeling a little down because you feel “lazy” without a big shiny goal – stop.

Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you aren’t preparing to run a marathon. Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you aren’t spiritually moved by downward dog. Stop scrolling through your Instagram and getting down on yourself because you didn’t do a WOD at the box this morning.

Maybe you enjoyed a walk through the fall foliage. Or a jog. Or a giant picnic. Maybe you dragged yourself to yoga because you know you needed to stretch your calves. Maybe you hope to never use the term WOD in your life. Maybe you slept in.

 As long as we are moving our bodies in ways that feel good and right for us in the moment, and letting them rest when they want to rest, we shouldn’t feeling anything but appreciation.

Appreciate that we’ve found ways to move and be active that we genuinely enjoy. Appreciate that we’ve realized endorphins really are like drugs. Appreciate that fitness is a great way to connect with your body – to know when it wants to move and how it wants to move and when it wants to rest.

To know on the day that you’re signing up for a marathon that you are ready to commit to it.

To know on a certain day that you can go that extra 100 meters in the pool.

To know on a certain day that you are definitely not going to make it to that spin class you signed up for.

To know on a certain day that the time has come to train for your first tri.

To walk into the gym ready for a tricep workout only to get there and see tthe TRX machine is empty and you feel like doing some back exercises instead.

I loved that Rebecca referred to it as her

fitness journey

.

No two people’s journeys are going to be the same. Some days your journey is going to be awesomely downhill and wonderful and fun and some days or weeks or months it’s going to be slow going. Then there are those forks in the road where you’re not quite sure what’s coming up next.

It’s allllll part of it. 

So instead of getting down, embrace it and keep your eyes open for the moment when your next goal appears on the horizon. And when it presents itself, you give that goal your all.

Friday Funk

Happy Friday to y'all!

I should be smiling - lots of great things happened to me this week. But it's cold and rainy and there's a hurricane coming and for some reason I just feel super BLAH.

I'm not sore. I don't have any "injuries" per say. I just have zero motivation or energy and everything feels achy - like I have the flu minus the cold symptoms. So I'm not really sure what's up.

I do know that I failed at completing all 3 Kayla Itsine's workouts this week for the first time in 7 weeks. I did legs on Monday and Abs/Arms on Tuesday but Abs/Cardio? I did the first 7 minute circuit this morning and then I quit. Yep - complete honesty. I was feeling grumpy and lazy and achy and I laid down on the floor and I tapped out.

I'm trying to give myself some grace. It's very unlike me to get started in a workout with a plan and then not to follow through. I'm trying to give myself the benefit of the doubt - listening to my body which is very clearly saying, "WE DON'T WANT TO DO THIS. We want to lay in bed and binge watch Orange is the New Black!"

I get it body, message received. In a few short hours we will be home spending quality time with Piper and the crew.

So here are a few reasons why I should turn my frown upside down.

1) Tuesday's run felt pretty OK which is all I'm really asking for at this point. I let my brain get a little carried away, and somewhere around mile 2.5 I decided, "Ok, you're wrapping up 5 miles with a sub 8:00 pace." While that may have been totally do-able 4 months ago - it is certainly not realistic at the moment. And you know what? Instead of feeling really discouraged by the actual pace I finished at - I felt satisfied that I had pushed myself and gotten in a run at a solid effort - no phoning it in, no saying "I'm slow now so it doesn't matter." The past few weeks getting back into running, it's been really easy for me to settle for a slow, easy, casual run just because that feels comfortable. But Tuesday's run pushed me outside of my comfort zone which in turn gave me a much better mindset for the rest of the day.

2) Wednesday I challenged myself again - with the goal of swimming a total of 1 mile at the gym. Though it definitely wasn't continuous, I accomplished my goal!

3) I GOT A GOPRO and my Instagram game is going to go WAY up ;)

4) The running store won a Brooks contest and I get a free pair of sneakers. I'm excited to try out the Pure Flows! I know, I know - they're neutral and everyone in the world tells me I should be running in a stability shoe. But both sneakers I trained for Pittsburgh in were neutral sneakers and I made it through relatively pain and injury free - so I'm just going to keep on keepin' on that neutral flow. For now.

5) Peter and I's Date Night this week was my first time seeing an IMAX movie in about a million years. I'm pretty sure the last time I went was in high school to see Harry Potter. We saw "The Walk" about Philippe Petit who walked a high wire that he illegally rigged across the Twin Towers. I thought the movie was really well done, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great and now I MUST read the book ("To Reach The Clouds").

6) I had a dream last night that I actually remembered when I woke up- which is very rare for me. In the dream, I was just doing Greek things on Paros Island (where I took a 3 week photography class back in 2011). It made waking up a little bit harder, but it was nice to take a few minutes to remember what an amazing opportunity it was to visit Greece. It was also a reason to spend some time flipping through the pictures in my (Facebook) albums and remind myself to make an ACTUAL physical photo album of my pictures. 

Speaking of pictures - I used to be so so interested in photography, and I've been missing it. Taking my DSLR out is usually a pain in the butt but I DO still try to some ~artsy~ pictures with my iPhone. I liked these two that I took this week. They're kind of boring on their own - but as a little mini "pop of pink" series I like 'em.

7) Last week I discovered the joys of picking a salad theme and stickin' to it when I created an Asian-inspired salad. This week, I went for Greek (hmmm, wonder if that's why I had the dream about Paros?) It was pretty damn delicious if I do say so myself - I had it Monday, Wednesday and Thursday night - and still have ingredients to make one more salad tonight! 

Here's what it had:

Peppers

Carrots

Sundried Tomatoes

Plum Tomatoes

Olives

Feta

Cucumber

Chick Peas

Sprouts

Spinach

Balsamic Vinegar for dressing 

One day I'll figure out the proper leaf to topic ration but until then, I will continue to essentially eat bowls of salad toppings. 

8) Avocados exist and were 99 cents at the grocery store this week. I've been digging half an avo mashed with feta, chili flakes, sunflower seeds, sundried tomatoes, olive oil and sea salt! 

9) I got free coffee for National Coffee Day AND my box of Quest bars was delivered - although I've already eaten half of them... (did everyone see they have PUMPKIN PIE QUEST BARS for a limited time? I mightttt need to order a box!) 

10) New snack alert! 2 new snacks this week. The first was an idea from

Georgie at In It For the Long Run - nut butter dates! 

 I didn't make mine as pretty as fancy as hers - all I really did was dunk a date in peanut butter and call it a day -  but it was delicious and sweet and satisfying after my run and before I had time to sit and eat a real breakfast! The other snack was this DIY Kale Chip bag - in theory it's great - open the bag, pour in the olive oil, bake, voila! In execution - the chips still came out a little soggy. But texture aside, I dressed them up with some sea salt and NUTRITIONAL YEAST (cheesy, mmm) and they were pretty bomb.com. 

In other news, I'm really trying to make this blog more than just a running account of my life.

I really enjoyed writing Wednesday's post

and was happy with the feedback!

I've been brainstorming some other post ideas - but if anyone has any suggestions or anything they'd like to see on PB is my BF - please feel free to share your thoughts :)

In the meantime, here are some blogs that have been really inspiring me:

arunnarounddlife

Just The Elevator Pitch 

The Real Life RD

In It For the Long Run 

Any other favorite blogs I should check out? 

Are You "That" Girl?

She holds a fancy Starbucks drink in one hand while the other masterfully flips through the pages of the latest book from the New York Times bestseller list. “That” girl. A Michael Kors bag is perfectly perched in the elegant space between her wrist and her elbow and her outfit looks like it was thrown together effortlessly despite the fact that it could be featured in the pages of Vogue. Her Essie manicured nails are perfect  - not a chip to be seen. “That” girl. Straight from your Pinterest board.

How did she juggle her morning coffee, her book, her purse and her metro card to step through the subway turnstiles like she was walking down a runway? How does she only have one small purse to get through the day, while I’ve felt like a bag lady since the second I moved to Manhattan? Because she’s “that” girl. A different species from you entirely, right?

Her hair is long and gleaming in the early morning sun and she’s outfitted from head to toe in Nike gear. This season’s newest fashions, of course. She looks like her morning miles in Central Park should be used in a commercial. “That” girl.

She’s floating, and girls and guys alike can’t help but follow her with their eyes as she makes the rolling hills of Central Park look like an enjoyable amusement park ride instead of a pain in the ass. “That” girl is who you will never, ever, manage to be – right?

We’ve all seen these women, and chances are you’ve asked yourself, “How do they do it? How do they make it seem so easy? So natural?”

Each and every morning I try to figure out how to somehow read my book (very rarely is it a New York Times bestseller – more like something I’ve pulled from the shelves of the New York Public Library), answer text messages I’ve failed to respond to, and get my metro card out from its Vera Bradley change purse. The change purse which resides in my backpack – not a Michael Kors purse that sits perfectly in the crook of my arm. But what does sit in the crook of my arm is a reusable bag filled with my food for the day – since I definitely can’t afford $12 Chop’t salads and $10 fresh squeezed juices every day. Adding a morning coffee into the mix? Heels? Impossible.  I’m just not “that” girl.

When my alarm goes off for a run in the morning my hair resembles a rat’s nest and I’m likely wearing Old Navy or some other running apparel I’ve managed to get on clearance for less than $20.

But this morning during my run I had an interesting thought. “That” girl ran by and I thought, “Does she know that she’s the object of envy?”

And you know what I realized? She probably has no idea. She probably groaned when her alarm went off too. And maybe her Uncle Bob works for Nike and gets all her pretty gear for free. And chances are her legs are burning up those hills just like everyone else’s.

And then my next thought was, “Oh my GOD. What if people look at me and think

I’m

making it seem so easy? Could I possibly be “that” girl in someone else’s eyes?” And honestly – yes. Any one of us can be. Because we all have admirable strengths and qualities and we all have days when we’re rockin’ it. Our outfit is on point. We aren’t a bag lady for once. Weeks of yoga has made it possible to make the commute in wedges instead of your Saucony’s. Weeks of hard work have paid off and Harlem Hill is a little less torturous. In those moments, we can unknowingly become “that” girl to someone else.

If someone saw me running up Cat Hill this morning, chances are they didn’t give me a second thought. But I was pushing the pace past Engineer’s Gate and my shorts were pretty cute – so maybe for a split second someone compared themselves to me. Without knowing anything about me.

“That” girl that you see in the morning and use to put yourself down and make yourself feel inferior – is probably doing the same exact thing. And she’s probably no different than you. With good days and bad days – confident days and days she isn’t feelin’ so hot.  

Are there girls that walk around

knowing

they are the shit? Yes. But those aren’t girls you really want to strive to be, are they?

Instead, take a little comfort in the fact that you 

don’t

feel superior. You can’t imagine someone looking at you and thinking that you’re one of the ones that have your shit together. 

We can’t imagine being “that” girl. But chances are that whoever we look at and put on a pedestal – feels just as insecure at times as everyone else.

So yeah,

we’re all “that” girl.

But seriously, there has to be a better way to juggle all my shit in the morning... 

Weekly Mileage 22!

Let's do a recap of last week shall we? It's not a novel for once - things are settling into more of a routine and I can't say I mind!

Monday - Kayla Itsine's leg day and closing shift at the running store. 

Tuesday - Kayla Itsine's arm and ab day, a few extra arm exercises and a little night time yoga session. 

Wednesday - Double session at November Project for a total of 6.5 miles! Beautiful sunrise and RING POPS to celebrate the wonderful

Ali on The Run

's last workout as a Feyonce! Another closing shift at the running store. 

Thursday - Kayla Itsine's abs and cardio + 75 lengths of the pool after work! My most substantial swim yet! And then - Avenue Q for Peter's birthday! I think seeing it now was even better than the first time, when I was still in high school. So funny, and such a great concept with the puppets. On my way to getting Peter hooked on Broadway...hopefully! 

(Worst part of seeing a show? Dealing with this place.)

Friday - We woke up bright and early for the 7 mile run to Brooklyn Bridge Park! The sunrise and view were unbeatable and I spent the hour taking pictures instead of working out. So damn pretty! 

Saturday - I ran 5 miles total - to the running store and back - for a really interesting/exciting staff meeting in between. New York Running Company + JackRabbit Sports plus

all

Running Company's across the country are now "

JackRabbit

." A new and improved website is just the start of the exciting changes to come. 

When I got home I showered and made a smoothie and avocado toast. The avocado toast came out pretty damn delicious if I do say so myself! 

{Avocado + Olive Oil + Sea Salt + Chili Pepper + Sunflower Seeds}

The next 8+ hours were spent waiting in line for Global Citizen's Festival, waiting in line for the bathroom at Global Citizen's Festival, and finally, falling in love with Beyonce. 

(AND MICHELLE OBAMA!)

Sunday I went to Lululemon yoga and slept through the swim I had planned. Oh well! 

Later in the day Peter and I got some a pumpkin beer to celebrate fall and the one year anniversary of the day we met - aww! 

In total last week I ran 22 miles! My legs are feeling pretty tired though - so I think I'll dial it back a little bit this week before trying to go for a weekly total of 25. 

Happy Monday! 

The Running Update!

It's time for a recap on my fitness life for the past oh, I don't know...4 months? The last thing I blogged about was really the Brooklyn Half Marathon back on May 16. 

And unfortunately, that was my last real run where I felt good (well, I was even hurting by the end of Brooklyn). 

(Remember when I ran a 1:40:34 half marathon?)

If you remember way back to May - I had boldly declared that I would be attempting to BQ at the Suffolk County Marathon. Well, that race was on Sunday and needless to say, I wasn't there to even slowly run the half. 

The problem has been my IT band and it's been frustrating to say the least. For 4 months I've attempted to rest for weeks at a time (and by rest I mean no running) only to feel pain 2 or 3 miles into a run when I finally decided to give it another try. A run in Tampa - ended in stabbing pain. My first "training run" for the Suffolk County Marathon in Las Vegas - awful. The first attempt at 8 miles in Central Park with Peter? Frustrated tears and stabbing pain. There were a few three mile runs I was able to run without pain - but they mainly made me grumpy because I realized how much speed and endurance I had lost. 

Not to mention not exactly feeling my best in terms of the weight department either - if you've been reading my blog and reading about my summer - it pretty much consisted of a LOT of eating out and drinking. Pair that with practically no running - and I haven't been feeling super confident rockin' my bikinis. 

BUT I also had an amazing summer and just keep trying to tell myself that this whole not running thing won't last forever (please, don't last forever!)

The most frustrating thing about IT band pain is when you try Googling ways to fix it and half the Internet tells you foam roll, foam roll, foam roll and then other people tell you rest rest rest while simultaneously telling you to strengthen your hips and glutes and then other people tell you that foam rolling will only make things worse.


So, what have I been doing in an attempt to get rid of this awful tightness in my IT band? And still exercise? (By no means should you follow my lead here if you're trying to overcome ITBS).

1) Not running - but not exactly resting. 
I was pretty good about taking a serious break with running. Every two weeks or so I would lace up my sneakers and head out for a run to see if things had improved, but most of the time the answer was a big fat no. I listened when that was the case and I never went more than three miles (OK, except for the time I ran to NP Chicago). 




But should I have been going to spin class twice a week? Probably not.

I know it wasn't helping speed up my recovery - but it was low impact cardio and it didn't bother my knee when I did it. So that's what I've been doing - spin twice a week. Some days I was actually OK with the break from running because I was able to find other things I like to do. And one of those things was getting back to spinning. So while it may have slowed down my recovery, it at least kept me sane. 


2) Kayla Itsines 12 Week Bikini Body Guide. 
This chick is all the rage on Instagram. 


She's from Australia and she created a workout and nutrition guide that has completely taken off. The other day, myself and another girl were both doing the same routine at the gym! 

When I first saw all the posts, I rolled my eyes. And to be honest, I thought the workouts would be a joke. I'm hear to admit that I was wrong. 

I just started week 6 of the workouts and while I haven't noticed much of a change (I haven't exactly been following the whole nutrition aspect of this guide...) I am consistently sweaty and out of breath at the end of the workout. 




The way the program works is this:
3 days a week you complete a strength workout - either abs, arms or legs or some combination of those with some cardio. Each workout consists of 2 circuits that you complete twice each. 


Circuit one is 4 exercises. You set a timer for 7 minutes and go through the circuit as many times as you can. 

Circuit two is 4 different exercises. You set a timer for 7 minutes and go through the circuit as many times as you can. 

Then, you repeat circuit 1. Then, you repeat circuit 2. 

28 minutes of work and you'll good to go! 

The guides call for 30 seconds of rest in between each 7 minute circuit but I usually take more than that if we're being honest. 

Set-up to finish is usually 45 minutes for me. 

The other days of the week you're supposed to do either low-intensity steady state cardio or HIIT but I've just been doing my spin classes as cardio.

I really like these because they aren't super time consuming but I definitely feel like I'm getting a good workout in. After leg day, it's pretty daunting arriving at Peter's apartment and knowing I have to walk up 5 flights of stairs. 

Should I be doing 28 minutes of jump squats and lunges and burpees when I'm trying to heal my IT band? Debatable. I will say that my legs have felt stronger, which can't be a bad thing for a runner in the long run, right? 

3) Hip-Strengthening 
Last time I had IT band problems I consistently did a few hip strengthening exercises that I attribute to getting things working again. I've started to do them again. 


-Hip hikes



-Single leg squat onto box




-Clam shells with resistance band
-Leg lifts with resistance band
-Side shuffle with resistance band


Here's a video that includes some other good exercises

4) Foam rolling...sometimes.
My foam rolling game has, admittedly, been pretty weak. 

5) Icing when needed.
Sometimes after an attempted run, my knee would KILL. Any time I have knee discomfort just from walking or sitting, I try to ice it. 


6) Yoga.
I've been trying to get to yoga twice a week, even though sometimes it's only once. It's crazy how fast I lost my flexibility. During Pittsburgh Marathon training I was killin' it with yoga - sometimes going three times a week. Slowly but surely I'm getting back into it and it definitely makes a difference. The other day in the store, I told Peter my chatarunga was on fleek AND HE DIDN'T LAUGH! Someone tell me I'm funny. 


7) Daydreaming about all the things I'm going to do when I can run again. 
And that still includes a big fat BQ. Recently, I've allowed myself to start thinking about a spring marathon.



(This is what I do in my free time...anyone run any of these marathons? Suggestions for a good spring BQ course? Minimal travel? Early May?)


Even bigger than that is this crazy idea that has always semi-existed in my head of completing an Iron Man. I always said I was going to be a bad-ass 50 year old completing an IronMan but recently I've been wanting to do it sooner. But not soon. Like, 10 year plan soon. 

But that means that I'm gunna need to start somewhere in the world of triathlons! Which is why I am officially saving up to buy myself a bike (I'm also accepting donations! And recommendations, advice, etc.) I've got a loooong way to go - as in my current savings are at $35 and I figure I need $1,500. But what's important is that I've started! 

I already bought myself a pair of cycling shoes and cleats so I can start clipping in during my spin classes just to get used to it. 

And the biggest step in all this triathlon jazz is that I started...

7) Swimming. 
GULP. 

You're talking to the girl who DOESN'T put her head under water for fear of instantaneously getting swimmer's ear like she did as a child - ruining many a pool party or summer day. 

I can swim fine - just not for real

Peter has been enlisted as my swim coach. 5 minutes into my first lesson I was totally over it, getting cranky and frustrated. 




But I've been consistently going at least once a week and have improved a TON from that first trip to the pool - there's still so much work to be done though. I can basically get about 15 meters before I'm hanging onto the side of the pool gulping in lungfuls of air. 

Yes, I love lifting weights and strength training - but I need my cardio! So swimming has been good for that too.


8) Plunging. 
I bought a $7 sink plunger and I use it on my IT Band. Yes, this was a day I was feeling particularly desperate. But I've read a bunch about it and it's a real think! Similar to cupping - it's supposed to distract the soft tissue and increase blood flow to the area...or something like that. It feels weird but I'm willing to try anything at this point. 


You can watch it here. 


9. Reading a lot of running related books. 
It helps keep me motivated instead of convincing myself I'm over running completely just because it's going to be a lot harder now. Read these if you need to get yourself out the door!


Two weeks ago, I went to November Project for PR Day and Yearbook picture day. Really, I went for yearbook picture day. The PR day part I was dreading. I woke up and went out to get to the 5:30 workout and on my way there I swear I almost turned around and ran in the opposite direction. I suddenly felt so self-conscious. I know it sounds stupid, but I didn't want my seriously diminished running abilities to be out on display to a bunch of bad-ass, speedy-ass people pushing their limits to PR. 

But then I realized - if there was any place to make a comeback run, it was at NP - home to not only some of the speediest runners, but home to some of the most motivating, understanding, supportive people in Manhattan. Tons of these people know what it's like to come back after an injury. And the best part of November Project is celebrating everyone's accomplishments - not just the super fast and impressive accomplishments. A BQ is just as impressive as someone running their first mile without taking a walking break. 

So I made my way to the East River, got my bounce on, and threw down 3.5 miles that were far from a PR but were a start. 



And I am happy to report that I had a pretty good 3 miles last Sunday when Peter was on Long Island, and a solid 3.5 mile run to November Project Toronto on Wednesday of last week. So Peter and I set out to run the 6 miles to South Street Seaport for November Project on Friday - and it was wonderful! 

I was on cloud 9 when we reached the pier. I'm pretty sure I told everyone that I saw, "I JUST RAN 6 MILES! I JUST RAN MY LONGEST RUN SINCE BROOKLYN! I HAVEN'T FELT THIS GOOD IN 4 MONTHS!"
I was expecting to be super frustrated with my pace and had mentally prepared myself with a "Just be happy if you make it there pain free" speech, but with Peter by my side I was able to run close to my Pittsburgh pace! Granted, 6 miles vs. 26.2 miles is a lot different, but it was awesome to feel my legs underneath me and to feel them giving me a little power. 



I feel like a weirdo but on Friday it really felt like my body was telling me, "Okay, you can start running again - but ONLY if you promise not to be stupid about it!!!!" 

That second part is what I know I really need to focus on. Saturday I was already asking Peter, "Should I run the Hartford Half on October 10?"

The answer is most certainly no. 


But already I feel more like myself. On Sunday morning, Melissa and I jogged the mile and a half over to 63rd Street to cheer on November Project people running the 5th Avenue Mile. Just being back with running friends in the race environment on a crisp early fall morning made me so happy. I jogged with Peter to a Starbucks. I jogged the mile and a half home. Being able to use my favorite mode of transportation was exciting to say the least. More exciting? The half mile from 86th to 97th street where I really let my legs fly. And they worked! I flew! 

I am so ready to ease back into runs a few nights/mornings a week with a little longer run on Saturday mornings. With no humidity too! 

I just hope all this excitement and optimism isn't going to come crashing down this week or in the next few weeks... 

So that's the update. 

But enough about me. I'm also really happy that Peter's feeling better too, though still having some foot aches and pains, his hip seems to be holding up and he was able to break 6:00 at the 5th Avenue Mile this year :) And he looked good doing it too. Like a Disney Prince, some might say! 


The best part about being back to running is being able to do it together - I just hope we can both stay semi-pain free for the best running weather of the year!!



More running, more smiles!





Running Is A Roller Coaster

Running is a roller coaster.

When I first started running regularly, I was a junior in college and I ran 27 laps of the indoor track at Quinnipiac University. 3 miles. I never timed myself.

My next encounter with running was as a graduate student at Baruch College where I consistently ran 3 miles on the treadmill at a 6.0 speed. 10  minute miles. I didn't think I was capable of going any faster.

That is until I started attending weekly social group runs around New York City. My fear of losing the group and being left behind translated into running faster than I knew I could. It also convinced me that treadmills are the absolute worst. 

Much like a roller coaster, the initial ascent is slow, shaky and stressful. Looking back, I don't even know how many miles it took until I was able to comfortably run 9 minute miles, and eventually, miles in the upper 8's. There were bumps along the way - achy body parts that needed to be iced and stretched, stressful days leading up to that first half marathon where I just wanted it to be over and done with or to never happen at all. A lot of that has to do with the fact that if we're using the top of the ascent as a symbol for race day - you have no idea what to expect. 

You can read statistics of the roller coaster you're on - height, material it's built from, top speed, biggest drop. Just like runners read race recaps of those who ran the race before them. You can study altitude charts and figure out where in your race it will feel like you're climbing Harlem Hill. But until you're at the race, running it, you just don't know what you're in for. 

Working up to a 5K, a 10K etc. is the hard part. It takes time. It builds up anticipation. 

And just like a roller coaster, the descent is the reason that you do it. The weightless feeling of joy and invincibility is what we hope running will feel like on race day. We hope the moments of psyching ourselves out, stressing about every little detail, those aches and pains we felt so acutely on the slow climb to the top all fall away.

We throw our heads back and scream out - "THIS IS SO SCARY BUT SO MUCH FUN!" "MY LEGS HATE ME BUT I DID IT!" "I'M GOING TO THROW UP BUT IT'S FINE!"

After a drop like that, after a race like that - you need some time to soak it all in. The track leading you back to the unloading area of a roller roaster is the recovery time. If you're anything like me, that time includes a lot of relaxing and deep breathing. 

During the days after a race, I tend to let go a little bit in terms of my healthy eating, drinking, sleeping and exercise habits. The effort of the race, the intensity of the roller coaster, determines how much time I need to decompress. 

But without a doubt, eventually, I'm ready for that next big thrill ride. Once you ride Superman, you know that eventually you need to put on your big girl pants and go for Kingda Ka.  Finished your first half? You knew the day you'd sign up for a marathon was inevitable.

It's important to take the time you need to feel ready for the next challenge. Unfortunately, while you take the time to feel mentally prepared, your physical preparedness takes a hit fairly quickly. 

You finished that half marathon with an 8:30 pace, so how come when the safety bar comes down and you start making your way back up to the top of the newest coaster, you're running 9:30 miles and it all feels so hard and scary again? 

That's what we as runners, and brave humans do.  We are to willing submit ourselves to hard work and uncomfortableness because we know what it feels like to reach that crest.

If we want to take the metaphor one step further, within The World of Running amusement park you have some other common attractions. 

The Ferris Wheel is like yoga and stretching. You usually forget about it, can't be bothered to take a second to slow down with so many other exciting things around. But when you finally do it, the view from the top reminds you of the bigger picture. In full bind when you finally feel that hip flexor relax, you're grateful for the tortuously slow and boring yoga class you dragged  yourself to.

The tilt-a-whirl is foam rolling because you have a total love-hate relationship with it. It works. As a ride, it succeeds in getting your adrenaline pumping. As injury relief, it succeeds in breaking up knots and releasing tension. But as a ride AND as injury relief - damn does it hurt! I think we all know the feeling of being crammed in a tilt-a-whirl with people who seem 200 pounds heavier than you. When you spin left, it's great. When you spin right, the life is being squeezed out of you. When you lay on the foam roller and crack your back - ahh, sweet relief. When you roll over that knot-ridden hamstring - Sweet Jesus!
Every amusement park is different - a different layout, a different strategy for making the most of your day there. Every race is different - different workout plans, different paces, different amounts of hill work.

And though there's a world full of races and a world full of roller coasters and amusement parks - sometimes it's nice to go back to ones we've loved in the past and experience it all over again. 

Especially if the line is short or the entrance fees are low. 


Brooklyn Half Race Recap

Just 2 weeks after running the Pittsburgh Marathon, FOMO motivated me to run the Airbmb Brooklyn Half Marathon - the largest half marathon in the country. A group of over 60 NPers were out both running the race, and volunteering at a water station - so I bit the bullet, paid the non-NYRR member entry fee, and began to dread the journey to Brooklyn. 

Between Pittsburgh and Brooklyn I didn't run much at all, figuring that giving my legs some time to rest was going to help me in Brooklyn more than making them even more sore and sleepy. 

Given my experience at the Brooklyn Half last year, I'm completely shocked that I wanted to go through the experience again. But that's the funny thing about races - you stress before them, you're miserable during them, the logistics frustrate the hell out of you, and then you cross the finish line and you're ready to sign up for another one.  

Like last year, packet pick-up was only offered at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Looking back on my recap of the 2014 Brooklyn Half, I find it funny that I wrote, "the view was AWESOME! Had it been a nicer night, and had I been there with a group of people, I definitely would have loved to stay, had a drink, eaten some Chickpea and Olive, and enjoyed the music." 

This year, the weather was nicer and I was with Peter, who I convinced to try Chickpea and Olive (I loved mine, he wasn't sold), while we sat outside and listened to the music (and got two free ice cream cones each). 

(If you haven't tried anything from Chickpea and Olive - you need too! They make their patties out of beets and they're amazing!)



The morning of the race a big group of Upper East Side NPers met at the subway pre-5:00 a.m. to trek to Brooklyn. We had prepared ourselves for miserably packed subway cars - but shockingly, it really wasn't bad at all! When we got off the subway we were very close to security and bag drop (much closer than last year). We took some pictures and headed to our corrals. 



I desperately needed to use the bathroom, but the line for the portapotties snaked through the corral and barely moved. I legitimately almost cried at one point. It was miserable. 

Once I went we stood and waited for the start! Peter was still recovering from  being really sick, so he was going to try to pace me/keep me going. I didn't have a strict "goal" time, I just wanted to run fast (but not stupid). Peter's job was to NOT let me go out like I did in Pittsburgh. 

The first half of the Brooklyn Half is an awesome course through Prospect Park. There's a "hill" that people complain about/dread but after months of training in Central Park, it was nothing. The weather was nice, the spectators were great, I was with Peter, and I was genuinely enjoying myself. The course wasn't as crowded as I remembered it being last year, probably because of the two different start waves. 




Around mile 6/7 I started to lag behind Peter a little and he seemed to be feeling good, so I begged him to just stop looking back to make sure I was with him and to run his own race. I had just had an amazing Pittsburgh, and I wanted him to have an amazing race. He said "Ok" but I didn't believe him for a minute. 

Once you're out of the park, the course gets slightly less exciting. Ok, a lot less exciting. The spectators are gone and you're on a long, flat stretch of highway. Around mile 10 I knew exactly what Peter was doing - he was staying just far enough ahead of me that I would keep trying to hang with him. And it was working, except for the fact that my IT band was absolutely screaming at me, causing me to limp at some points. I knew I only had 3 miles left and then I could rest for as long as I needed so I pushed ahead and eventually Peter let me catch up to him so we could chase down the finish line. We were both wanting to cry a little at that point I think, but we pushed each other as it started to pour rain and we turned onto the Coney Island Boardwalk. I love the ending of this race - it's full of people cheering and it's such a cool place to cross a finish line. I only wish the turn onto the boardwalk weren't so narrow - it slows you down right at the moment you want to be breaking into your final sprint. 

Peter crossed a second before me, and I finished in 1:40:34 (a pace of 7:41). I was extremely happy. And extremely wet. 


Rain!

Luckily, within a few minutes of finishing, the rain let up as we went to get our bags.  Unlike last year, when I had to wait over an hour for my bag to turn up, this was an extremely easy bag pick up. 




Once we had our bags and our pictures, it was time to celebrate with some giant beers. The sun came out and felt amazing - if I were to describe my perfect day, it would probably be running a race before some serious day drinking. Nothing better. 



(I think we both agree that this was a fun day)

NYRR - bravo on all the improvements to the Brooklyn Half - I'll definitely be back next year! My goal after 2014 was 1:45:00 or faster.  New goal? 1:38:00 (I want a 7:30 pace!) 

*Thank you for pretending this race recap isn't approximately 2 months over due...



122 Days Until Marathon #3 - Eeeek.

10 days ago I ran the Pittsburgh Marathon. 

9 days ago I wrote down what I wanted to focus on between now, and training for an October marathon:
Strength (more deadlifts, more squats, more weights!)
Yoga
Maintaining a weekly mileage around 25

I narrowed my "Fast, Flat, Fall Marathon" hunt down to two races - the Mohawk-Hudson River Marathon vs. the Hartford Marathon.

Mohawk-Hudson River because it's fast, flat, in the fall, scenic, small.  Hartford because it's a little bigger, nearby, logistically easier, and my best friend is running her first half marathon there that day! 


But I was concerned Mohawk-Hudson was too small, and another marathon with a long car ride, hotel, etc. didn't excite me. Hartford's course definitely wasn't as fast or flat. 

There was also the fact that I wanted to be sure my parents would be able to make it to my next marathon. 

A wise man then told me, "If either of those were the right race, it wouldn't be hard for you to pick one." Then he gave me frankincense and myrrh. 

Fast forward a few days of deliberation and - I went rogue. 

Signed myself up for the inaugural Suffolk County Marathon on September 13. 122 days away. And that's right, inaugural. A "proposed" course with zero elevation chart for me to pre-review, I'm simply trusting the website which promises a "fast, flat 26.2 mile course featuring long straightaways" that "will give you the perfect opportunity to shatter your own personal goal." I don't even know if there will be pacers.

Seems a little risky when the goal is the BQ, and oh yeah, it means starting a training plan again in approximately...a week. But there are reasons that make it seem less crazy, I swear! 

A) Logistically, it's easy. I can sleep in my bed the night before.
B) It ends at the "Taste of Long Island" Festival - do you know me?
C) I LOVE running along the water. 

D) Hometown vibes, family can be there.
E) Cheap
F) If I have to, I can switch to the Half up  until the day of the race. And for $65, that's still a good deal.
G) The website says fast and flat, it must be true, right? 
H) That wise-man said he would consider ditching the camel and running his first 26.2

The most daunting thing is the fact that I'm going right back into training - something I hope my body doesn't punish me for. The plan is running the Brooklyn Half on Saturday and taking a full week off from running before slowly increasing the mileage again. 


So that's that. Anyone care to join me? Long Island is pretty great. 

SORRY THERE ARE NO PICTURES.  HERE: 



Avocados are the Oprah of Instagram. 

Pittsburgh Marathon Part 2

At around mile 4, on the 2nd bridge, I started looking for Peter and Erin since they planned to be there. Eventually, I spotted them standing on the side of the bridge. I yelled, but neither of them saw or heard me. So I jumped into the air, waved my hands, screamed Peter, and got their attention. I was so excited. Maybe leaping into the air and flailing my arms like a crazy octopus wasn’t the best energy-conservation strategy but the pay-off – getting a second to make eye contact and smile at both of them, was totally worth it. 


After that bridge, we went right over a 3rd bridge – they weren’t bad at all. The race was still flying along at this point- the bridges were short and had basically no incline. My memory of everything after that point is vague with a few moments that stick out for one reason or another. Here are those random moments that I can clearly remember:

Around mile 6 there was a turn and a big downhill. Waiting at the bottom of the hill was a band and a big cheer section. It was an exciting, “Woohoo running marathons is fun!” moment. It was probably the last time I thought that until I crossed the finish line.

At mile 9 I took my first gel because I knew mile 12 was where the big hill was. I wanted to give it 20 minutes to kick in. I passed a photographer while I was eating it and totally hammed it up for the camera.

Someone was holding a sign that said “Smile if you peed yourself!” I thought it was a little too soon for someone to have peed themselves, but laughed at the sign. Foreshadowing.

There was a sprinkler archway set up for us to run through and when I passed under it, the water was ICE cold – it literally took my breath away and it was scary to stop breathing for a second as you’re running and not be able to catch your breath.

Also around mile 9 I caught up to the 8:40 pace group (that’s how far behind the 3:35 guy had lined up in the corral. I stayed with the group for about a mile and the girl who had left the 3:35 group with me was there too.  We exchanged a, “holy shit that pacer was so far back,” confirmed that our watches had the same time, and eventually lost each other. 

Looking back, this was the moment I should have relaxed, stuck with the 3:40 pace group the rest of the race, and probably would have qualified for Boston. That’s not what I did, however. I got impatient and continued to run far too fast for the first half of the race.

Miles 5-10 were run at the following paces: 7:46, 7:37, 7:33, 7:55, 7:43, 7:42.

The bridge leading up to the mile 12 hill wasn’t bad at all.  The mile 12 hill was like a 2 part hill (similar to Harlem Hill). The first part gave me a false sense of security that I was going to be fine. Then I rounded the corner and saw the second half looming in front of me and thought grrrrrreat. But I made it up and over without too much trouble.

I felt good for a few more miles, but I could tell I was running out of steam. I just kept telling myself to get to Peter and Erin at mile 15ish, and then I would get an energy boost and feel better. Miles 11-15 were 7:42, 8:11, 7:55, 8:11, and 7:48.

I didn’t see Erin and Peter again, but I did take another gel, hoping it would give me a boost. I was really starting to feel awful. There was no specific pain anywhere and my breathing was fine but my body was just tired and my legs didn’t want to turn over as fast as I had been asking them to. At the end of the race if you had asked me to guess where I started to slow down, I probably would have said mile 15, but it turns out miles 16-18 were still pretty fast at 7:54, 7:56, and 8:01. But mentally, I knew the rest of the race was going to suck. I had burnt out. I also really had to pee.

I can’t say when exactly it happened, but I knew I was going to have to pee, and I knew that I was very close to a BQ finish time – so there was no way I was stopping at wasting precious time at a portapotty. I grabbed a stick of Vaseline from someone at a fluid station and rubbed it on my thighs in case I had the guts to actually follow-through with the peeing as you run thing. It happened, people. At first it was pretty contained and I didn’t think it would be a big deal, but then my bladder was like, “Oh you’re letting this happen? K, we actually have another gallon of urine, comin’ right up.” There’s no way people that I passed didn’t know what was happening, but I was oddly ok with it in the moment. And I guessed it meant I had been drinking enough water? 

Speaking of water, I was also really proud of my grabbing water cups on the run, folding it in half, holding the top half closed, drinking it sideways technique. It was pretty solid. Plus it was really hot out and whatever I spilled all over myself felt great. There were also people handing out some ice cold towels which felt amazing around my neck. I also used one and attempted to clean my legs off a little…

It was sunny and it was pretty damn hot. I had lost the arm warmers really early on in the race.

Mile 19 on was where it was REALLY bad. I never ever thought I would come as close as I did to walking. One minute I was telling myself, “RUN FASTER YOU IDIOT! You can BQ! Leave it all out on the course! You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t give this everything you’ve got!” And the next minute I was telling myself, “There’s no way you’re BQing at this point, just walk and try not to be so hard on yourself- it’s not happening, you already ruined it, what’s the point just walk a little.” Back and forth, those two schools of thought battled it out in my head for 8 miles, while my legs battled the hilly back end of the course.

I waited for that moment I had in Wineglass where the pain didn’t matter and I just “ran with my heart.” There were brief spurts where I was able to pick up the pace but I couldn’t sustain it more than a few seconds. 19-24 paces were 8:18, 8:52, 8:47, 8:50, 9:05, 8:46.

I would pass spectators who would cheer me on, tell me how great my pace was, tell me I could do it and I wanted to badly to believe that I could still come in under that 3:35 mark.  Even if I ran a typically easy pace for me, I could have done it. But nope, 9 minute miles were all I had left. Every, “You look great!” cheer just made me want to cry because a) I knew I didn’t look great and b) I sure as hell didn’t feel great. As a shuffled my feet one in front of the other some people told me to pick it up, we’re at the end, you got this, let’s go – further proof that I looked like I was hurtin’ and as I passed some people I did the same for them.

Around mile 24 the 3:35 group came up behind me. Of course my heart wanted to finish strong with them, but it honestly just wasn’t possible. The 8:40 group came along shortly after that, and I put in a little more of an effort to stay with them, but that wasn’t sustainable either.

At Wineglass, I ran the last 2 miles like I was never going to run again – I blew past that finish line so strong. But no amount of cheering spectators or internal mantras could get my legs to move any faster in Pittsburgh.  

I saw Peter and Erin as I came to the finish line and I made a “I’m gunna die” face (I’m sure it was super adorable!) When I crossed the finish line, I’m happy to say I wasn’t sad and disappointed that I didn’t BQ – that was never the goal. 


I did PR by a TON, I completed my second marathon, I ran my own race, I learned a ton about race strategy, I had PEED MYSELF, and I knew that I had given it all that I had  - there was just nothing left to give by the end. My last two miles were 9:26 and 8:56.



When I crossed the finish line in 3:37:03, I was way out of it. I felt like everything was really far away, and my legs – oh my freaking legs. Volunteers helped me shuffle away but I really was on the verge of collapsing. I stubbornly told them I was fine, but I really probably could have used a medical tent. Everything was so tight and hurt more than I’ve ever experienced.

I got my medal (SO HEAVY!) and remember thinking “Seriously? A banana? I DON’T WANT YOUR BANANA.” Wineglass had soup and pizza and other delicious things. 
Pittsburgh – a banana. Not amused. Anyway, I chugged some Gatorade, chugged a water bottle, and was happy to see smiley face cookies and Panera bagels (mmm cinnamon crunch bagel!) At least a little better than a damn banana.

I just wanted to get to the finisher’s festival, but the walk there seemed to last for years. I stopped to have some pictures taken but the whole time I was on the verge of tears. We had planned to meet in the finisher’s festival near the family reunion area but luckily, Peter found be before that point and I basically collapsed into him and I don’t know how I wasn’t sobbing, I think it would have taken too much energy. I was so glad to see him, I was in so much pain, and he was saying such nice things about how well I’d done and how proud he was.  And he got me a TEDDY BEAR which I clutched the rest of the afternoon and he took all my pictures with me. His name is still being negotiated.


When we found an area to sit down I literally need Peter to pick me up and put me down, I couldn’t just squat to sit down. They just hurt. So, so badly. About 5 minutes into him trying to massage some life back into them, I let him know that I had peed all over myself. I was horrified and felt so bad but he just laughed at me and gave me a kiss and I think that’s pretty much proof of how amazingly wonderful he is.


Once Melissa finished, Erin met up with us and I get in line for the massage tent. Melissa found us and joined us in line as Pure Protein bars were pushed on us (not delicious). It was such a gorgeous sunny day, there was music, and I finally started to feel that “post-marathon high” that is the reason I will certainly be signing up for another one. Peter went and got my medal engraved, because again, he’s the best.



My massage was OK but not amazing and it didn’t make me feel any better afterwards, but the lady was nice. We met up with Taylor, took some pictures, and headed back to the car. 


Walking was less torturous than right after I finished. Peter and Erin walked up the parking garage to get our bags since I definitely wasn’t about to tackle stairs yet. We took some more pictures in front of the bridge and headed to brunch!


Brunch was wonderful, because we met up with the rest of the November Project people who had run – Natasha, Emily, Nina all ran the half and Taylor, Laura, myself and Melissa had run the full. Plus, Myles, Peter and Erin, Taylor’s boyfriend, and three of Peter’s friends who live in Pittsburgh. It was a partay!

We went to a place called Sonoma Grille that I had found online – for $23 you got an appetizer, entrée and brunch cocktail! Everything on the menu sounded so good, but I ended up ordering the Crab Tian – lump crab, avocado, onion, cilantro, chili oil and sesame crisp. This was killer.  SO much crab. So much avocado.


The entrée I chose was the Kurobuta Benedict – it came with big hunks of pork that were cooked really well, but it was a little much. I preferred the quail eggs and asparagus muffin it came with. The Hollandaise Curry Sauce was a bit of a letdown because it didn’t taste much like curry to me.


I was also bummed that the Bloody Mary tasted overwhelmingly of Worcestershire sauce. That didn’t stop me from eating it, of course.


After brunch we headed back to Erin’s and I promptly showered and organized all my things so that it would be done and I wouldn’t have to think about it again. We sat outside on the porch in the beautiful sunshine and Erin’s family had an delicious outdoor dinner for us – complete with beers and wine, obviously.


Also obviously, dessert. Brownie sundaes! The brownies were Ghirardelli and soooo yum.

(Such a beautiful night!)

It was, understandably, a pretty early night. I was looking forward to a great night’s sleep, but I tossed and turned all night because everything hurt so badly – every time I went to kick the sheet away, it literally felt like I was being stabbed. It was not the wonderful post marathon sleep I had expected, sadly.

(Bye Sophie! :(

In the morning we got on the road (after getting salted caramel iced coffee) and made a stop at Penn State to eat at Waffle Shop (Peter and I ordered ALL THE FOOD) and then Peter drove us through the campus. 

(Eggs, bacon, English Muffin, Home fries, French Toast AND blueberry pancakes)

(Ice Dancing)

It was a long day. After like 9 hours, we got the car back to Long Island and had dinner at Peter’s parent’s house. Lasagna was everything I needed. Next, it was the train to Penn Station, subway to my apartment, cab to Peter’s. Going up stairs wasn’t awful, though it was definitely slow going. Down stairs was a different story. It was SO ROUGH.

Tuesday night I jogged a mile and Wednesday I jogged less than a mile. My first real run since the marathon was Saturday when Melissa and I did 5 miles in the park. My quads are FINALLY feeling almost completely normal. Next weekend is the Brooklyn Half Marathon, so I hope I’m ready to go!

I also said I wasn’t racing in Brooklyn, but now that I know how fast I was able to run the first 18 miles of my marathon, I want to see what I can do in a half!

Overall, Pittsburgh was an amazing weekend. Being there with Peter, Erin and Melissa made me feel so relaxed. The weather was beautiful. Everything was well organized. The course was challenging and I am so so happy to have shaved 12+ minutes off my PR time. I’m not done with marathons yet, that’s for sure.


There’s so many people who encourage and inspire me to get up and run at 6:00 a.m., in the freezing cold, for 3 hours. There’s so many people who encourage and inspire me to go to bed early, to choose race registration fees over nights out, to keep myself healthy. Running and marathon training has completely changed my way of life in so many ways and I’m so happy to be a marathoner. 

(These are our Saturday nights and I LOVE IT)



Pittsburgh Marathon Part 1

If we’re being honest, putting my fingers to the keyboard to type up a recap of last weekend is an extremely daunting task. I hope you’re somewhere comfortable, or have something that you’re really trying to avoid doing, because this is going to be long.

I spent all of last week slowly packing. By Thursday night, my Vera Bradley duffel bag and my backpack were stuffed with every running-related item that I owned, “Just in case.” Ice packs, ace bandages, icy hot, compression socks, foam roller, 4 different outfit possibilities, 3 pairs of sneakers – and did I mention all of the food I brought? My own Ziploc bags of quinoa, oatmeal and carrots (none of which I ended up eating, for the record). There was pita bread and Gatorades and 6 pairs of socks (because obviously you can’t buy Gatorade in Pittsburgh…) It was a small miracle that I contained everything to two bags.

Friday at 3 I left the office (got a good luck hug from Tiffanie!), walking slowly under the weight of all my extremely necessary luggage, and made my way uptown to Peter’s apartment, where his parents had just arrived to drop off his car for us.  We settled in for a long drive (Long Drive – Jason Mraz, quality song that you should download) through the incredibly large state of Pennsylvania.

(Thanks for the hug!)


Our first stop was somewhere in Jersey because Mr. Caffeine needed a hit. As we left Dunkin Donuts, Peter told me to, “Do something funny in front of my car!” Naturally, I climbed onto the hood of the silver car in front of me, only to realize as a man walked by that I was in fact sitting on the hood of a stranger’s car. Good one, Lauren.

(This was actually Peter's car...)

Once we got out of New York/New Jersey it was smooth sailing. We made another pit stop in the Poconos at, you guessed it, Dunkin Donuts, where I changed into my comfy clothes and squeezed my legs into compression socks.

(The drive was beautiful! I took approximately 173 sunset pictures, just ask Peter!)

Next stop was dinner near State College aka Penn State aka Peter’s Alma Mater. I loved listening to his trip down memory lane and seriously wished I had toured Penn State as a high school junior/senior. I had zero interest in going to a big school, but damn, that place is kind of amazing. We sat and ate at Panera and I was reminded that Panera is an underrated fast-casual restaurant that’s actually really really delicious, healthy and wholesome. I had half of a turkey/cranberry flatbread and the chicken hummus power bowl – I loved that the salad was legitimately baby spinach, cucumbers, tomato, chicken, hummus, and a lemon. Not drenched in some fake dressing that probably would have wreaked havoc on my stomach come race day.


Around midnight, we made it to Sewickley, the suburb outside of Pittsburgh where my friend and roommate Erin grew up. Her and Melissa had taken a bus there earlier in the day. Erin showed us where we would be staying in her giant, beautiful, amazing, maze of a Victorian house and we went straight to sleep with plans to wake up around 9 to head out to the expo and Saturday market nice and early. Right before bed Peter gave me a note to read that got me really excited for Sunday, calmed some of my nerves, and reminded me again of just how glad I was that he was there for this, even though he couldn’t run the half marathon like he planned. The note ended with my favorite running quote lately,

“Who of us hasn’t considered how our peers will react to our performance in a given race, whether good or bad? And in those moments, whom are we ultimately running for? The sport is difficult enough as it is; doing it for anyone but ourselves makes it unsustainable.”

I woke up, showered, and went downstairs with my Ziploc back of oatmeal to find Melissa, Erin and Erin’s mom standing around a griddle making banana and strawberry pancakes. Erin’s family makes their pancakes with oil instead of butter too (the best way to make pancakes, trust me). I chose pancakes over oatmeal and Melissa and I did some serious damage – soo many pancakes were consumed in the pretty sun room while the new Australian Shepherd puppy Sophie provided entertainment (Erin’s parents picked her up on Friday and she was the sweetest thing ever!)

(Flowers, puppies, pancakes - perfect start to the day!)

It took us a little longer to get going than we anticipated but eventually, we piled in the car and made our way to Pittsburgh. Along the way Erin showed us the ginormous homes of people like Sidney Crosby and Mario Lemieux (no big deal, just a hockey rink complete with Zambonis in the backyard!) We also stopped at Sheetz which is like a 7-11 on crack. Apparently Sheetz vs. WaWa is the big debate in Pennsylvania. I didn’t end up trying anything from either, so I can’t make any judgments.

(F'Real f'real?)

We entered the city and it was so much prettier than I had expected – 3 rivers, tons of bridges, and a beautifully sunny day – Pittsburgh was picture-perfect. We parked near the Strip District and walked along all of the booths/shops. I was overwhelmed by all the delicious food, but I was still so stuffed with pancakes that I managed not to buy anything (except a toothbrush, because I somehow succeeded in forgetting something while simultaneously packing everything).


With my eyes, I ate baklava, pastries, lobster rolls, olives, fudge and more. Then, we walked over to the convention center for the EXPO! After seeing the Boston Marathon expo just two weekends earlier, the Pittsburgh Marathon had a lot to live up to – overall, I thought it was pretty good! We first walked in and got our bibs which was easy enough. Unfortunately, I had ordered a small shirt instead of an extra small since the ones from Wineglass were so teeny tiny and when I went to swap it at the shirt exchange table, there were no extra smalls to be found. Oh well! Another thing Melissa and I were bummed with was the fact that the girls and guys shirts were different colors – the guys had green and the girls had pink. Sexist! Although green is my favorite color, I still like the pink shirt.


After walking around and having some samples (why do protein bars taste so bad?) I fell in love with a Nike Pittsburgh Marathon t-shirt but convinced myself I have a million exercise clothes and don’t need any more. 


Peter was still really sick, but being a trooper as we dragged him around. We sat down while Melissa and Erin got the car and we made our way home.

I made a turkey sandwich, did some organizing of all my things, painted my nails, and had a serious discussion with Melissa about which of my four outfit options I was going to wear. After a lot of back and forth, some modeling for the group and some jogging in place, I decided to go with the same outfit I had worn for my first marathon. Original, Lauren. But at least I knew that I would be comfortable and it was one less thing I had to worry about bothering me during 4 hours of running.

We sat outside on the beautiful porch for a little while before heading inside to watch the Kentucky Derby! It’s crazy to think a) how long the race has been going on b) how much money is at stake c) how short the jockeys are. I still have so many good memories from going to Saratoga when I was younger and I’ve really been meaning to make a trip to Belmont one of these days! Mainly for the outdoor drinking if we’re being real.

Anyway. Erin and her parents went out for a family dinner and Peter, Melissa and I headed to the grocery store for dinner supplies. Since Peter’s throat was hurting so much, his dinner was a lot of ice cream and soup. Melissa and I made a pretty delicious meal of rotisserie chicken and sautéed veggies. Easy peasy. I ate my chicken on a whole wheat pita with guacamole and had some veggies on the side. We each had a spoonful of Phish Food ice cream because – because.


Next up was reading the card Rebecca had given Melissa and I and attempting some foam rolling.  All the foam rolling did was make me panic about tight/sore spots which Peter reminded me weren’t going to go away at this point so it was no use worrying about them. What was going to happen in the morning was going to happen. But while I was foam rolling, Sophie totally thought I was another puppy and all she wanted to do was play/attack me. TOO CUTE I TELL YA!



I went up to bed and Peter and I read through “The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances” quickly. I’m so glad Peter thought to pack it because it was just what I needed – to laugh at the craziness that is training for and running marathons, to remember the amazing sense of accomplishment and peace I feel while running, and to remember not to take it all so seriously. Shockingly, I fell asleep pretty easily. I woke up a couple of times throughout the night to use the bathroom, so I suppose my pre-race day hydration had been successful.

(Ready or not, here I come!)
At 5 a.m., my alarm was going off. The first thing I did was read the card from Kayla and Jess. Then, I was pinning a bib to my shirt, putting on my throwaway sweatshirt, grabbing my bag, and walking down the stairs for breakfast. Ok, there were a few other steps in there, like brushing my teeth, putting my watch on, etc. But you get the point. 

I was so worried about my stomach after the Wineglass Marathon and Brooklyn Half Marathon. I just prayed #2 wouldn’t be an issue this time around. Like I said, I never really figured out my nutrition situation, so I was winging it. I had some Kashi cereal and crossed my fingers.

Then it was time to put on my Tattly temporary tattoo! It said, "OKAY LETS DO THIS" and I loved it. 


The four of us hopped in Erin’s car and we were off. The traffic was fine and we drove to the second or third parking garage off the highway and had no trouble finding a spot. Just like at Wineglass, I had a last minute struggle about using my Goodwill Chobani half-zip as a throwaway and decided against it. Unlike at Wineglass, it wasn’t freezing cold out. I was fine in my shorts, arm sleeves, and heatsheet from an old race. I left my phone behind with Peter, but had decided to run with my Spibelt – 3 gels, a tampon, ID and debit card. I was ready.

We walked towards the corrals and I gave our adoring fans (Erin and Peter) hugs and kisses goodbye. (I hugged Erin, kissed Peter, in case there was a question about that…)


(Mt 99 cent knee socks/arm warmers are AWESOME don't deny it)

Melissa and I ran into Taylor in line for the portapotty and chatted while I anxiously awaited the moment of truth – would I be able to go to the bathroom before the race, and would that be enough? (If you’re not comfortable reading about my bodily functions as they relate to running, then you’re probably not going to love around mile 17 of this race recap, just a heads up). Answer: I was able to go. I breathed a sigh of relief and we walked to corral B.

The corral was a little bit of a mess. We couldn’t find any pacers. I had told myself I wanted to find the 3:40 pacer to go out conservatively and if I felt amazing somehow, I would chase down the 3:35 group later in the race. Qualifying for Boston was a goal I wouldn’t even let myself consider because I knew I would most likely end up disappointed if I went in with that as my goal. Of course, the only pacer I saw in the entire corral was the 3:35 pacer. And of course, I couldn’t resist lining up near him to see how it went.

Without much fanfare, the race started. And it was packed. It was hard to run very fast at all, and dodging people to keep the pacer in sight was stressful. Eventually, I started to notice everyone around me making comments about our group – wondering why we were so far back. I pushed it out of my mind and tried to ignore it, but if became more and more obvious that we were fighting to navigate through a crowd of people that were much slower than us. At some point in the first 1-2 miles I saw Melissa which was exciting. But then it was back to worrying as I literally heard someone say, “That pacer’s broken!”

The first 3 miles flew by. Literally, I don’t know how they went by in such a blur. It was on the first bridge at mile 3 that I finally took some of the words Peter had said to me and decided to go with them: “Run your own race.”  The whole pace group situation was stressing me out and I didn’t want to be mentally frazzled, especially since my legs were feeling good. So I took off on my own. Another girl who had started near me did the same, and we chatted for a brief moment about how concerned we were the 3:35 pacer and how off he already was. I wish I had gotten her bib number so I could see how she finished, because I know she kicked my butt and I should have stayed with her!

Anyway, with the pacer behind me, I picked up speed. Too much speed. While my first 3 miles with the pacer were 8:37, 8:27, 8:18 (totally not a reason for me to have been freaking out, by the way…) my pace dropped to 7:26 when I went off on my own. Sure it felt fine at the time, but to think that I was going to be able to sustain that was stupid.


At around mile 4, on the 2nd bridge, I started looking for Peter and Erin since they planned to be there. Eventually, I spotted them standing on the side of the bridge. I yelled, but neither of them saw or heard me. So I jumped into the air, waved my hands, screamed Peter, and got their attention. I was so excited. Maybe leaping into the air and flailing my arms like a crazy octopus wasn’t the best energy-conservation strategy but the pay-off – getting a second to make eye contact and smile at both of them, was totally worth it. 


To be continued!

Am I Ready to Beat the Burgh?

Welcome to May! Crazy. I literally cannot even think beyond May 3 to the fact that my birthday is in 6 days. Nonsense. 

I registered to run the Pittsburgh Marathon 7 MONTHS ago. Over half a year ago, now. Just a month after I ran my first marathon! 

And now, I'm about 50 hours away from hopefully crossing my second marathon finish line. It won't be the same as Wineglass, but this race will be amazing and special in its own ways. 


(Pittsburgh will be great, but I won't love my bib number as much as I loved this one!)

For one, Pittsburgh is a different kind of race. Whereas Wineglass was small and rural, with a few big cheer areas, but mainly solitary miles through upstate New York, Pittsburgh is an urban race with bands and cheerleaders and DJs every few miles. I motivated myself through Wineglass (with the boosts from my grandparents and some cheering from the wonderful volunteers at fuel stations) but in Pittsburgh, I expect the spectators to help motivate me. I'm also slightly worried that the Broadway-themed performance group at mile 6 is going to make me slow down because I want to hear what they're singing. I can see it now - running up to XTreme Teen Broadway after just 6 miles of the race, pulling off the course and saying, "Eh, that was enough for me - now let's sing Spring Awakening and Les Mis!"

While Wineglass was beautifully flat, Pittsburgh's elevation chart gives me anxiety. 5 bridges. I've sat here crunching numbers - elevation, length of the hill, rate of the incline - trying to compare it to hills I've come to know (and hate) - Harlem Hill, Cat Hill, Randall's Island footbridge. But honestly, I'm going to be freaked out going into my corral no matter what, so I'm putting the calculator down! 


Pittsburgh...

Wineglass...

Training in the winter vs. training in the summer was my biggest concern going into this and looking back, it's easy for me to say it was no big deal. But I know the only reason I was able to get out of bed on mornings that were in the single digits to put on sneakers (and several layers) was because of the amazing people I'm surrounded by. All winter long my Instagram feed was filled with athletes who braved the cold and got it done. All winter long, the people who have become some of my best friends, were there to meet me at Engineer's Gate on a snowy Saturday morning. All winter long, I had someone who would literally have dragged me out of bed if I needed him to. 




And this time around, it's some of those people who will be there in Pittsburgh with me. I'll get to run into the arms of the one who listened to every complaint, every ache and pain. Who drove me to races and stayed in Friday nights to wake up early on Saturday mornings. Who gave me hugs even when I was horribly sweaty. 

I was also inspired by the crazy November Project badasses I'm surrounded by. They seriously race everything. And they race it fast. But I got an even bigger "WOOHOO RUNNING" boost each and every time a friend texted me about their running progress.  Tina's running more and we got to run a 5K together in Columbus. Staci is training for a 10K. Lauren just ran a 5K and said my blog gave her motivation. Allison ran a 5K and is signed up for her first half marathon. Nicole is doing the Couch to 5K. Melissa just went out her front door and ran a 5K. I'M SO HAPPY that people so important to me are taking the plunge!

I did some things differently this time. The biggest change was my mileage. It was significantly less than during my training for Wineglass and less than what NYRR Virtual Trainer had in store for me. My training almost fell apart early on when I started in January. Looking back, I was crazy to think I could jump right into running over 30 miles in a week. At the height of my long runs (18, 20 and 22) my weekly mileage got up around 30 - and I found that 3 or 4 days of running was my sweet spot - definitely not 5 or 6. 

I foam rolled MUCH more than ever before. It's become a habit that instead of going out to eat lunch during the work day, I foam roll at NYSC for 30 minutes. 5 minutes for each calf, 10 minutes for the rest of each leg. I eat lunch at my desk instead, although on some of the nice spring days we've been having, it's even more torturous to drag myself to foam roll.

Girls hate discussing their weight, but we'll see if the fact that I'm 10 pounds heavier at the Pittsburgh starting line is a good thing, or a bad thing. (It's 10 pounds of pure muscle, surely...)

Yoga. Yep, I hopped on board the yoga train and slowly but surely my opinion on it is changing. For 3 weeks I've consistently gone 3 days a week (last week I went 4!) and the skeptic in me has been convinced of yoga's benefits. Woops.

My sneaker shuffle has changed a bit too - instead of running my marathon in Saucony Guides (a stability shoe) I'll be rocking the Saucony Ride (neutral). I also did a ton of training in New Balance fresh foams. Anything under 10 miles I wore my New Balance, and anything over 10 I wore my Sauconys. Once I get back out for speed work, my Adidas will be my speed shoe. I like this new system! 

I used to run all my long runs in compression socks (CEP). But now, I only wear them to sleep for recovery.  

After a brief stint with insoles - I trashed them (bye $60).  

There were also a bunch of things I should have changed, and didn't. Like the fact that I still have no idea what I should eat the night before a long run. Or the morning of a long run. My plan for marathon morning is - well, I don't really have one in terms of what I'm going to eat. Because stupidly, for my long training runs I rarely ate more than a banana. 



All my grand plans to figure out what upset my stomach while running? After a brief stint as a gluten-free and dairy-free runner, I gave up. But I certainly tested out a variety of racing fuels to figure out what I could stomach, right? Oh, if only. At the Boston Marathon Expo I bought my old go-tos - espresso Clif energy shots - and I tested one out on a 7 mile run, but that's hardly "figuring out my nutrition plan." So come Sunday, it's kind of, "cross my fingers and hope for the best." 

I've packed 4 outfits for Sunday. 4. And I don't know how I'm going to figure out which one to wear. 

I have my foam roller, my lacrosse ball, my stick, my icy hot, some ace bandages, and basically every little thing I could ever need. 

My compression socks are ready for the 8 hour drive. 

I'm officially in crazy mode - one minute I'm terrified, one minute I just really don't want to run 26.2 miles, one minute I just one to cross the finish line with a smile, one minute I want to crush my Wineglass time, one minute I'm having a panic attack at a twinge I felt in my ankle. It's exhausting, quite frankly. 


(I'm smiling because this was the only bridge...)

Mentally, it's very different running marathon #2 because on one hand I know I can do this because I've done it before but I also know that miles 20-26.2 are going to be an extremely unpleasant ~hour of my life. Despite the fact that I've completed a marathon, I still want to scream when I hear, "Trust your training. Trust your body." I don't trust it. Hell, I don't even trust what my watch is telling me most days. 

I know that all the training and preparation and foam rolling and yoga in the world can't guarantee that a race is going to go your way. And so instead of trusting my training and my body, I  trust that whatever happens on Sunday will become another part of my running journey. 

Instead of focusing on the fact that everything could quite possibly go horribly wrong, I focus on all the things that went right along the way. The 25K with Peter, my 22 miler at a pace that got me pumped for Pittsburgh, the slow snowy miles, feeling happy enough while running to sing Katy Perry as a plastic bag floated in our path, More than anything, I'll remember telling Peter during the 25K that I felt like the more I relaxed and tried to take it easy, the faster our pace got. That's a feeling that I hadn't had in what felt like years and I'm happy to say towards the end of training it was happening once in awhile.

Whatever happens on Sunday, it's been a great 16 weeks of running and working out with friends, of getting to know my body better, and of treating it better. It's a strange feeling when double-digit mileage Saturday morning runs just feel normal. When training for a marathon just becomes the lifestyle you want to live. It has become a part of my social life, it gives me structure - it challenges me and motivates me and (mostly) makes me smile. 


(But please legs, can you show up big-time on Sunday?)





20 Miles of Smiles

Life has just been speeding along and I am a little concerned that tomorrow is APRIL already. Where is time going? 

For the past two weeks I attempted to be gluten and dairy free - it was going really well for awhile. I think the reason I felt better wasn't necessarily because my body doesn't like gluten or dairy (in moderate amounts) but because I was taking the time to really think about what I was eating - lots of quinoa, veggies and chicken - all real food instead of processed and packaged things. 


(What my dinner looked like most nights!)


But then Peter and I FINALLY found the Speculoos Cookie Core Ben & Jerry's flavor. 


(DELICIOUS! However, I don't think I would say it's my favorite B&J's.)

And then I was out for happy hour (sorry, but Bud Light is more budget-friendly than cider, wine or cocktails) and needless to say I quickly fell off the wagon. I would like to try again to make it an entire month and I'm definitely going to try to be good the 2 weeks prior to the Pittsburgh Marathon! My key finding was that Soy yogurt is vile and is in no way an appropriate replacement for Greek yogurt. Instead, I started making lots of chia seed pudding - big fan! 


(Chia seed pudding is an acceptable yogurt substitute as long as it's CHOCOLATE)


Let's see. Last weekend I had a 12 mile run that seemed like it was never going to end. I was not a happy camper and it was pretty torturous if we're being honest. But, it got done.  

That afternoon, Allison came into the city and we met up with her parents for suchhhh an awesome night - dinner at PJ Clarke's followed by The King and I at Lincoln Center! 


(Dinner was delicious, I had a chopped shrimp salad that had chickpeas and lots of other yummy things. The dressed was light and not drowning the salad.)

(This was my first time seeing a show at Lincoln Center - It's so beautiful!)


(The show was GREAT. I didn't know what to expect going into it, and I didn't know any of the music (except "Getting to Know You") but Kelli O'Hara was PHENOMENAL. Seriously, she opens her mouth and makes it seem absolutely effortless.  The plot reminded me of The Sound of Music, the cast was great, and it was very classic Broadway.) 

After the show, Allison and I sat and chatted over a glass of wine at ABV on Lex and 97th - it's super cute inside, the bartender was really nice and let us try like 4 different wines each, it was quiet so we could actually talk, and although it cost more than I would usually try to spend, the prices really are average and totally do-able especially if you're just going out for one drink! I definitely want to go back to check out the food one night. 

We slept in, something I hadn't done in far too long, and got ready for brunch (I mean, Sunday morning, what else would we do?) Did you know that Bareburger has a brunch menu now? Well, it does, and you should seriously get on that. My love of Bareburger was newly ignited with my Farmstead Burger. I need it again. Nowwww. 


(Farmstead = Sweet Potato & Wild Rice burger with cauliflower hummus (!!!), tomatoes and baby kale wrapped in a collard green)

Next we headed downtown to check out the Macy's Flower Show - my mom always tells me to go and I usually roll my eyes but I guess I'm getting old because I suggested it and actually enjoyed it. 


(Basically anything where I can just wander around taking pictures is something I'm going to enjoy!)

It was finally feeling a little springy outside so we walked from Herald Square to Grand Central, stopping for a few pictures of the ever-lovely Empire State Building. Truly never gets old. 


(This is the view from near my desk at work!)

I've been trying to be consistent with Monday morning Bodypump classes at NYSC so that was my Monday morning. I found someone to cover for me at the running store and went straight home and into my bed where I proceeded to listen to showtunes while coloring in an adult coloring book for approximately 2.5 hours. That's not an exaggeration and I have no regrets. 




Tuesday morning I was up early for 5 miles in the park because after work Peter and I got on a train to head to Long Island for his first ISLANDERS GAME at Nassau Coliseum. I'm getting seriously emotional about them not being there next season. Of course, since I was there, the Isles lost, but it was still great, as usual, to be there. 


(Two of my favorite things! Well Peter's not a thing, he's a person, but you get it.)

We went from my comfort zone of the Coliseum to way way wayy out of my comfort zone at a country night at a bar nearby - line dancing and me, as I suspected, are not exactly a match made in heaven. I probably learned one of the steps correctly. But what I DIDN'T expect was for me to find myself thinking that I want to learn! Everyone looked like they were having so much fun, plus I don't like being bad at things, so I may just have to give it another try. 

Wednesday we woke up super early to get a 6 a.m. train back to the city and I went to NYSC for a back workout before work. Back day = favorite day. One day I'll be able to do an unassisted pull-up...

Thursday I finally got to check-out Mile High Run Club - you can read my review here

Friday happy hour and Quinnpiac hockey game watch resulted in a few more drinks than I had planned on, but nothing to derail my plans for my 20 miler! Ahhhhhhh. 


(QU lost BIG TIME but the bar had lots of fun pom poms and beads and thunder sticks. We managed to destroy all of these things - woops.)

Saturday morning I ran the 2 miles to Nike's store on 57th and then had a couple minute break while we waited for them to get their group run started.  Then it was out for a 16 mile route down the west side, around lower Manhattan, over and back over the Manhattan Bridge, and back up to the store. Once we got back to the store, I still had 2 to go, which I finished still feeling mahvelous. 




I've run with Nike Run Club one other time (which you can read about here) and while I was grateful to have company for the 16 miles, I definitely felt like I was cheating because we stopped and started so much (running through Chinatown, really?) The water breaks and snacks to refuel are really clutch, And having a pacer was what kept me feeling so strong and confident the entire run - I wasn't wasting energy changing my tempo the entire time. But I reallllly don't like stopping. 

Peter, Kaitlin, Tiffanie and Taylor all made the 20 miles so much more bearable. And I felt surprisingly strong the entire time. I kept being seriously confused as to why everything felt so good. When I finished at 20 miles, I definitely could have kept going, which made me feel confident and also a little nervous! It's really not that far away now, and already thoughts of PRing are starting to slip back into my head. 



(My boyfriend REALLY LOVES RUNNING WITH ME can't you tell?)


Another plus to running with Nike? PICTURES! My favorite! And I love how some of these turned out. 



After my 20 miles I had no time to rest. It was time to shower, pack and head to Connecticut for my wonderful college rommate's birthday party! I was really nervous I would be too tired and cranky and sore to have a good time, and I was worried about bringing the mood down (and I think I was really out of it the beginning of the night - sorry guys!) but when you're surrounded by your best friends and the best music, you can't help but have an amazing night. 



(LOVE THESE CREATURES)

(QU + Allison who may as well have gone there at this point!)

And that's just what happened - the bar played one song after the other that elicited singing at the top of our lungs and somehow I was able to Cotton Eye Joe till the cows came home (my legs on Sunday though, different story). 


(Iiiiiii wanna dance with somebodyyyyyy, Iiii wanna feel the heeattttt with someboddyyy)


All that's really left besides some shorter-long runs (oxymoron?) is the 22 miler on April 11th and then it's time to run a marathon! WHAT. Cannot believe it. 


(A little Cheno love)





Not So Fly Mile High Run Club Review

For over a month, I have been beyond excited to try a class at the new fitness studio Mile High Run Club. A boutique fitness studio in NOHO (28 East 4th Street to be exact), Mile High Run Club is neither conveniently located or cost-effective - but I was determined to experience a class that attempts to turn the typically solitary and boring act of treadmill running into a black-light, music-blasting group fitness-fest. Unfortunately, MHRC didn't live up to the hype. 

A group of us decided to go on a Thursday night after work, using a code for a free class that we got from the wonderful  blog Ali on the Run

We showed up at around 6:15 for our 6:30 p.m. class - the lobby was nice, and the receptionist let me know which treadmill I had signed up for before giving us a little tour - there's locker rooms, showers, and a wall of lockers outside of the studio. They're the complicated lockers with the built in programmable locks that I somehow always manage to screw up -  but I guess it's for the best since I recently lost my real lock (which I've had since freshman year of high school - so I'm really sad it's gone!) The lockers were like Mary Poppins' bag. They looked so teeny, yet somehow fit my giant ass bag. 

We stood outside the studio waiting to be let inside, and it was a little cramped and crowded but not too horrible. This is the part where I should have scoped out the locker rooms and bathrooms/showers so I could write a little something about them but, I didn't, so sorry 'bout it. From others' accounts the locker room had very few lockers which were all taken and the bathroom had two showers. There, now you know everything! (Spring Awakening reference, anyone, anyone? Probably not.) 




One of my biggest pet peeves is when classes don't start on time. We still hadn't been allowed in the room when the clock struck 6:30, which was a big no-no for me. They let us in around then, but obviously, there was no way we were actually starting the workout at 6:30. The part that was frustrating was that no one was in the studio before us, so I'm not sure why we couldn't have been in there filling up our water bottles and getting settled a few minutes earlier. 

The studio itself is what you would expect, a big room with lots of treadmills. The room is dark and black-lit, so pro-tip - if you plan on taking pictures (for Instagram, obviously) then wear neon! 

(Rebecca got the neon memo, apparently!)

There's a spot in the back to fill up your water bottles and each treadmill has a towel waiting at it. (As I mentioned earlier, when you sign up online you pick a treadmill and that's your assigned spot for the class). 

Another pro-tip (since I am obviously a pro after just 1 class) - treadmills 4, 9, 17 and 21 have giant columns in front of them, so you a) won't see the instructor and b) won't be able to yourself in the mirrors. Seeing the instructor isn't all that important, but I'd imagine staring straight at a blank wall for a half hour could get kind of annoying. That's just me. Maybe it would help you get in the zone. Do you. 



I was treadmill 20 - but if I were to take another class, I would probably pick something in the back row. My reason is such an asshole reason, but I'm going to be honest about it because I'm sure there's more than a few people out there who would be the same way. If I had been in the back row,  I would have been able to see a lot more people's treadmill screens and have been able to see how fast they were going throughout the class.  No, I would not have used this information to judge the people going slower than me, but I sure as hell would have used it to push myself to try to get on some of the speedier people's levels. 

Mile High Run Club offers 3 different classes at the studio:
The Distance: Our advanced performance improving class incorporates 60 minutes of continuous intervals, tempo, and hills on the treadmill and is coached by elite runners.
Ultra: Our advanced performance improving class incorporates 90 minutes of continuous intervals, tempo, and hills on the treadmill and is coached by elite runners. 
Dash 28: This 45-minute class provides a foundation for runners of all levels with about 28 minutes of structured intervals followed by 10 minutes of strength plus power training with kettle bells.

We took a Dash 28 class with Debora Warner, the founder and program director of Mile High Run Club. Once we had all settled in, we stood besides our treadmills for a warm up of squats, high knees, butt kicks, etc.  

Each treadmill comes with a pace card, giving suggestions for the speeds you should hit during each interval as a beginner ("joggers") or a more advanced runner ("racers"). The treadmill portion of the class went a little something like this: 

4 minutes warm-up pace
1 minute level 2 pace
1 minute level 3 pace
1 minute level 2 pace
2 minutes level 3 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace at a 3.0 incline
2 minutes level 4 pace 

2 minutes warm-up pace

1 minute level 2 pace
1 minute level 3 pace
1 minute level 2 pace
2 minutes level 3 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace
2 minutes level 2 pace at a 5.0 incline
2 minutes level 4 pace 

Thoughts on the interval portion of class:
-I was a fan of the actual intervals. Nothing was too long - you could always tell yourself, "Only 90 seconds left, Only 45 seconds left, etc." 

-Debora's counting was horrendous. Each time she counted down from 5 was completely different - but not once was 5 seconds actually 5 seconds. There was even a digital clock in the middle of the room for her to use, so I'm not really sure what the issue was.

-5.0 incline is no joke and I totally had to decrease it before the 2 minutes were up.  Pittsburgh Marathon, City of Bridges...here I come? Gulp. 

-It would have been a lot more motivational had the instructor been on a treadmill too. It's like going to a spin class and having an instructor who walks around the whole time. Or even worse, just sits on their bike not spinning. 

-It was a little difficult to understand Debora - the mic was fuzzy and the music was loud and her prompts weren't always clear. I'm pretty sure I was on that 5.0 hill earlier than I was supposed to be because her counts and directions were so hard to understand. And it's not like it was anything too difficult to understand! 

-The playlist - so meh. 

-Apparently these are state of the art treadmills used at Mile High Run Club, and it was nice that you don't run into the front of it, although I'm still not sold on the ribbed belt ever since I tripped on one at New York Sports Club. I did a little research, and MHRC uses Woodway treadmills which feature "slat belt" technology and are supposed to feel like you're running outside. Yada yada. They felt nice. 


(This is the Woodway 4Front treadmill - there's 30 of them in the MHRC Studio. I'm assuming they cost a lot of money.)


-IT WAS SO HOT AND SWEATY IN THERE! Finally with 5 minutes left of class Debora was like, "Oh, does anyone need a fan?" Uhm, yes dear lord, please. There were sweat puddles in my sneakers. And I'm not someone who sweats a ton! 

After some light jogging/walking it was time to get to the power/strength portion of the class. Everyone grabbed some kettlebells in various weights and brought them back to their treadmills. 

I actually really liked the combination of exercises we did during this part of the Dash 28 class and I thought it was great. However, the instructor did such a poor job of explaining what exactly we were supposed to be doing. And I've been to a lot of classes, I'm usually pretty quick at picking things up. Nothing we had to do was that complicated, but she just didn't explain them very well. Or would demonstrate them in a way that wasn't how she actually wanted US to do them, which just makes no sense. 

ANYWHO. 

We started by alternating for 30 seconds between kettlebell squat and presses and kettlebell curls (2 rounds of each exercise). 

Next were step ups onto the treadmill (finally a good song! Shots is my new favorite song for step-ups). 

We also did lunges, pushups, squats onto the belt followed by a hop up, and hip dips with our feet on the treadmill and our elbows on the ground (those burned). 

I was a sweaty mess by the end of class, which is usually all I need in order to be satisfied with a class, but this time I just felt so meh about what I'd just done. 

I ended up running about 3.1 miles or so. 

Worst part - we end class and Debora DOESN'T HAVE US STRETCH. I swear, it's like she just wanted to be out of there. She basically said, "If you want to stretch go ahead." Ok. 

After class, the locker area that felt just slightly crowded earlier felt catastrophically crowded as our class came out and the 7:30 class went in. Double the people plus all the sweat = ugh. 

I can definitely see how MHRC could be a great class - but unfortunately, the unenthusiastic instructor really ruined it for me. I would still be interested in trying one of the longer classes with more running, but at $34 per class, I'm not sure that's in the cards. 

I also think that what makes spin classes and even indoor group rowing classes work is the fact that at times, everyone in the room is doing the same thing. With indoor treadmilling (yes, that's a word now) there's no point where everyone's at the same pace or doing the same "choreography" (sometime's jumps in spinning remind me of dancing, OK? And everyone rowing in sync looks pretty!) There's also no real way to push yourself against others at MHRC, and obviously you can always compete against yourself, but when your instructor isn't saying things that encourage that mindset, it's hard to get into it.  

Not to mention you can go on Pinterest and get endless treadmill interval routines and save yourself a whole lot of money. You'll still be next to people who are also running and you can listen to a playlist of your own creation.

So, in conclusion, Mile High Run Club isn't really for me. HOWEVER, I do think it's great that it's seeing so much success and getting more and more people into a fitness class that includes RUNNING! It's usually such an intimidating concept to people, and I think MHRC is changing that perception for some people which is wonderful!