Thursday, November 29, 2012

Don't Forget, It's Thankful Thursday!

Happy Thursday! I missed the big Thankful Thursday last week because I was busy running 15.5 miles and enjoying an awesome meal with my family...but let's pick it right back up this week!  This week, I'm thankful...

...for my new car.  And it's heated seats.  :)

...that my nephew baby is coming in less than 2 months! We threw him a fabulous party last weekend to celebrate and I think he had a blast!  

...for my rockstar Dad.  Anyone sick of me saying that yet?  Don't care.  He's awesome and supports me and inspires me everyday.  Also, I'm thankful for this awesome picture of us running together (before he left me in the dust, yet again...).  

...that I got myself some new sparkle! Since I pretty much wear a Sparkly Soul headband on every run, I scooped up a blue and charcoal headband to add to the collection!  

...that my very best friend in the whole wide world is taking on the challenge of the NYC Half Marathon and running with Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  This will be her first half and I couldn't be more excited to cheer for her and watch her rock it out.  Please check out her fundraising page and donate to this awesome cause! And keep your fingers crossed that Dad & I will be accepted into the lottery and can run with her! your turn.  What has you feeling thankful this week?!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Race Recap: MHRRC Turkey Trot 2012

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to you and yours!  Enjoying good food with family and friends makes Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays.  Not to mention I'm a big fan of reflecting on all the things we're thankful this is my kind of day!  Another reason I love Turkey Day is because it's becoming a holiday for running!  Turkey Trots are becoming a popular Thanksgiving tradition and I can't think of a better way to start a day of feasting than a few sweaty miles shared with family and friends.

For as long as I can remember, my dad has run our local Turkey Trot.  And my brothers and I would either be out there freezing cheering for him or joining in the kids races. The Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club offers a few distances so that runners of any level can participate in the Turkey Trot: Kids 1-mile, 2-mile fun run, 5-mile and 25K (AKA 15.5 miles).  The last few years I've run the 5-mile race and every time I struggled with the hilly course.  It's not like anything I'm used to running in NYC, but I can push through anything for 5 miles, right?  Sometime back in July, I was reassessing my 2012 goals and decided that this would be the year to take on the challenge of the 25K race.  It sounded like a great idea at the time...

Come Thursday morning the weather was perfect--Mid 40s and sunny for the 8:30 a.m. start.  I wore shorts, a thin long-sleeve tee, vest, compression socks and (of course) a Sparkly Soul headband.  As I've never run 15.5 miles before, let alone "raced" it, I had no idea how to plan for this race.  Dad had sent me the course map and elevation, so you'd think I knew what I was getting myself into, but nope!  My ultimate goal was to survive (and not cry) and I guess we could say 10:30 min/miles was goal pace (given the hills).  The 25K distance typically draws only about 75-80 runners, most being faster and more seasoned than me, so I also mentally prepared myself to come in last for this race.  

Dad and I at the start

Since I already established that there was no way I was racing 15.5 miles, Dad decided we would just "have fun" and run together.  That plan worked for awhile.  The hills were tough but the downhills helped.  Dad and I had driven the course prior to the race and strategically dropped Gatorade where we wanted it.  I also brought my fuel belt and my favorite Gu Chomps for fuel.  In sharp contrast to NYC races, there was not water at every mile and definitely not many cheerleaders out on this course. There were a few water stations staffed by running club members and volunteers, who were very friendly and encouraging.  And then there were the few families (not affiliated with the running club) who stood out on their lawns or at the ends of their driveways to clap, cheer and hand out additional water to runners!!!  Talk about thankful! That's some awesome "small town" spirit to push a girl through an otherwise tough course.   

My new favorite photo.  Check out our matching form!
I mentally broke the distance down to 5, 5, 3 and 2.5 miles.  I decided early on that if I was going to meet my goal of surviving, I would have to walk most of the hills.  The inclines were hurting my calves and my lower back pretty badly, but I fought through it and felt strong for the first 10 miles.  My Nike+ app GPS was really thrown off, so I have no clue what my pace or splits were, but I also didn't care.  Despite the walking on inclines, I was starting to lose my umph.

Seriously, hills?
After the 10-mile marker, I told Dad to go on his own because I knew he could run faster and I didn't want to hold him back.  I tried to keep him in my sight for as long as I could, but that man is a beast and took off.  He's currently training for another Goofy Challenge in January so this was a good long run for him to practice.
Go, Dad, Go!
As I watched him disappear up over a hill, I turned up my music and dug deep to finish out the last 5.5 miles solo.  I thought to myself, "you run 5 miles all the time, no big can do this."  But I felt super slow and just wanted to finish.  My feet hurt, I was hating the pitch of the road making me run on a slant and I kept feeling anxious that drivers were not paying attention and I would get run over.

Can you see the ridiculous hill wayyy in the distance?

Mile 12 was (gasp!) yet another hill.  I distracted myself by singing (okay, rapping) to myself and thinking about all of the yummy food I was planning to eat later.  Sweet potatoes, turnips, pumpkin pie, beer...oh my! I thought about how I was missing the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I thought about how crazy those people are for sitting in the freezing cold for hours to watch that parade.  I thought about how people probably think I'm crazy for choosing to run 15.5 miles on Thanksgiving.  They're right. It is crazy, but in my opinion it's always a good idea to be active and moving and sweating! :)

I was so excited when I saw Mile marker 15 and my Dad cheering me on shortly after! That last stretch was the longest half mile of my life.  The course heads back into the high school parking lot where it started, but in order to make up the complete distance, you have to run a little loop of the parking lot before crossing the finish line.  So you can SEE the finish line, but have to run a loop to actually get there.  Awful!  I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, but I felt like I going backward.

Almost there.
And finally....I crossed the finish line!  With a new PDR of 15.5 miles!

My official time was 2:48:27 (avg pace 10:52) which ended up being 89th of 96 total runners (not last!).  It could have been 3+ hours and I wouldn't have cared.  I was just happy to be done!  The first thing I said to my dad was "Okay, now I can say I've done that.  And I'm never doing it again."

Dad's offiical time was 2:41:01 (avg pace 10:23), which undoubtedly would have been much faster if he didn't stick with me in the early miles!  But I'm glad that he did (thanks, Dad!) because no matter how fast or slow...I love running with that guy!

In the end...I'm so THANKFUL that I survived my first (and most likely last) 25K Turkey Trot and was able to spend the rest of the holiday enjoying family and good food!

What are you Thankful for this Thanksgiving? Did you run a Turkey Trot this year?  Eat a lot of turkey & mashed potatoes? Tell me about it!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pre-Thanksgiving Thankful Thursday

With Thanksgiving only one week away, it's time to reflect on the things we're thankful for.    Family, friends, turkey, pumpkin pie...there are so many things, big and small, to appreciate now and always!  So join me in being thankful this week! 

I feel thankful...

....for amazing runs, that have nothing to do with distance, speed or time.  Last weekend, I got in a few pre-wedding miles along the beach in Cape May, NJ.  I was so distracted by the amazing views of the sunrise and the ocean that I didn't pay attention to my pace or distance.  Perfect start to a perfect day!

...that I do something that makes me happy.  Everyday I meet or hear about people who are miserable in their careers.  I hear "I hate my job" and I immediately think (and often say) "so quit!".  I know it's not as simple as that, but then again...why isn't it that simple?  It's cheesy but very true, life is just too short.  Do what makes you happy, both in your career and your hobbies.

...that my family has always encouraged me and allowed me to do what makes me happy.  I definitely could not have achieved what I have so far without them and I'm thankful everyday for it.

...for my nephew baby.  He's growing very quickly and I can't wait to hug him next week (hope my SIL is ready for a belly squeeze!).  I'll be hanging out with him on Thanksgiving and then again for a BABY SHOWER on Saturday! Woo! 

...that Rocky is back home, drooling and snoring as usual.  I think he's thankful he's back too.

Happy Thursday, everyone! Now tell me...what are you feeling thankful for today? 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful Thursday--Winter & Wedding Time!

This week I'm thankful...

...that I waited only 20 minutes in line for my now full tank of gas.  This is a rare thing in these crazy times.

...for the NYC ASP twitter account. So helpful! Also thankful that alternate side parking has pretty much been suspended since Sandy hit. 

...for the running community.  Runners are amazing people and have huge hearts.  Period.

...for chocolate chip cookies. Yes, I'm a dietitian. And I bake & eat cookies.  And then I share them with friends so they don't sit around to tempt me! ;)

...that it's snowy & wintery outside! 

Just kidding!  But I am thankful that it's officially time for scarves & (Curly Hair Conspiracy) winter hats! 

...that the Curly Hair Conspirator herself is getting married this weekend! Woohoo! Congrats Lar & Foti!  I'm so ready to dance and drink and celebrate with my NJ loves.

Okay. You go! What are you thankful for this week?!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Runners In Support of Staten Island

Less than one month ago, I ran 13.1 miles through the streets and along the waterfront of Staten Island.  It was beautiful, I had a blast and I crushed my half-marathon PR.  This Sunday morning, I ran on Staten Island again.  Not to race and not for the ING NYC Marathon like so many others were hoping to do before Sandy came crashing down on our city.  On Sunday morning, I got on the Staten Island Ferry with about 1,000 fellow runners (marathoners and non-marathoners alike) each carrying a backpack (or two) jam-packed with supplies like flashlights, toothpaste, hats, gloves, tampons, batteries, Home Depot gift cards and more.  

New York Runners in Support of Staten Island, organized by runner/triathlete/my amazing doctor Jordan Metzl created an opportunity to turn the disaster left by Hurricane Sandy and the disappointment of the ensuing cancellation of the NYCM into an incredibly positive and uplifting effort.

Sea of orange runners heading to SI Ferry 
Runners dressed in their best & brightest orange (many in the ING NYC Marathon tee), broke into smaller running groups going varying distances and delivered essentials to drop-off locations and helped in anyway we could.

While many came to SI with their running teams, friends, family, etc., I came by myself but was quickly welcomed into a group of about 10 others.  We got to know each other as we ran and encouraged each other up those tough SI hills.  Running has introduced me to so many amazing people and I'm glad to have met more new runner friends on Sunday. Go "Dream Team"!

Our first stop was at Wagner High School, an donation center that was also acting as a temporary home to many families and animals who lost or were evacuated from their homes.

After dropping most of our backpacks, our group decided to continue further and into Midland Beach where we might be able to help more.  We held onto a few things to aid in the cleanup and were able to pass those out in neighborhoods close to the beach.  

There are a lot of pictures of the destruction on Staten Island (a few other runners posted some on the NY Runners in Support of SI facebook page).  I personally didn't take any photos of the damage mainly because it didn't feel right to me, but also because I was (and still am) busy struggling to digest everything that I observed.  In the days after Sandy hit, I heard so many people complaining that they lost power/internet/cable or had to wait hours to get a few gallons of gas.  I can't understand how you can complain when these people have swept up their entire water-logged lives into garbage bags and piled them on their front lawns to be thrown away.  And despite all of it, they were unbelievably appreciative.  And even apologetic to would-be marathoners that the race was canceled! Unreal.

Although we witnessed a lot of destruction, the focus has now shifted to recovering and rebuilding.  I continue to be in awe of the strength and resiliency of those impacted by this storm.  It was only appropriate that the ride to and from Staten Island includes an incredible view of Lady Liberty standing tall and strong in NY harbor.

Although we brought tons of supplies and volunteers to help with recovery on Sunday morning, there is so much still to be done to get people back on their feet.  Help is needed in Staten Island, the Rockaways, many parts of New Jersey, and other areas so hard hit by the storm.  And so I urge you...donate, volunteer, help in anyway you can!

Here is some info on volunteering/donating:

Donation for a friend in Hoboken (a little more near & dear to me personally)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Hurricane Sandy Edition

Thankful Thursday this week has been brought to you by Hurricane Sandy.  This disaster has made a huge impact on the North East but has more personally reminded me how thankful I should be for what I have.  

Although I always have a lot to be thankful for, this week I'm thankful...

...that my people are all safe & sound.  My family, friends, coworkers and colleagues have all pretty much come out of this unscathed.  Some have lost power, some have flood damage...but most importantly, everyone is alive and well. be reminded of what matters.  To put it simply, things don't. People do.  It's hard to hear people complain about not having TV or internet.  Stop worrying about being able to update Facebook and start worrying about people who lost their lives and homes.

...for the first-responders, medical personnel, government employees and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help others despite whatever personal tragedies they were experiencing at home.

...that my city (and state) is resilient.  We are strong and will rebuild, as we have every time something or someone has tried to knock us down.  

...that I'll be cheering on the amazing runners this Sunday in the ING NYC Marathon (with this lovely lady).  I'm not really sure what my own opinion is on the post-Sandy marathon debate, but I'm sure the decision to host the marathon despite the hurricane aftermath was not an easy one.  And no matter what the final decision was, people would be angry.  What I do know is that this race will be an inspirational event that can restore a sense of normalcy and hope for New York.  So join me in supporting a race that highlights the strength of our runners and the incredible strength of our city!

What are you thankful for this week?  Tell me.  And let me know if you're running/cheering for the marathon on Sunday! :)