What Marathon?

Hello from post-Sandy New York City! JB and I are just fine, have power and no flooding. In other words, we are the luckiest people on the island of Manhattan.

Just outside our apartment building.

Down the block.

As I walked around my part of town and surveyed the damage, I became even more appreciative of our good fortune. Many of my friends and classmates are without power, cell phones, and all the amenities that go along with that infrastructure. And there is no end in site for them, as Con Ed works to get the power back on.

Pumping out one of the basements in Stuy Town.

This was washed ashore A FULL CITY BLOCK and demolished a car. Thankfully, it wasn’t a person.

This storm was no joke. People were killed. People are now homeless. NYU Langone Medical Center lost power and had to transport more than 200 patients to other hospitals in the middle of the night last night. Thankfully, we have a massive team of First Responders here to help.

Ready to go.

Thankfully, we still have a President who believes FEMA is important enough to fund.

Our city is trying desperately to hold it together and help one another. Downtowners, come on uptown. We got you. Our beloved Central Park is being cleaned up. Our Rivers are still washing stuff onto running paths. We have a lot to do to bring our city back to normal.

The sirens have been going all day and night. I’m just glad they’re responding to emergencies.

Debris under the FDR.

The clean-up effort has already begun and is tremendous. I high-fived a sanitation worker over on Avenue C today who was kind enough to smile at me as I passed by his job site (a massive tree that had toppled over). The city services are out in force!

The scene from Broad St. into a below ground parking garage this afternoon.

One of the tunnels that merges with the FDR downtown.

But we have a long, long way to go before things are back to where they need to be in order for us to get back to school and work and life. You know what the last thing on my mind is?

The New York City Marathon.

Yes, I am part of the Medical Team. But right now, my efforts and energy are elsewhere.

Both Bloomberg & Wittenberg say the marathon will happen and I believe them. There is far too much money in it for them to cancel such a main event for the city. It will turn into some “enduring spirit of New York-ers” sort of PR event and the city will make lots and lots of money.

I don’t care.

I feel for you who have trained for it and would be so, so disappointed if it were cancelled. I do. I’ve been there. But you know what? Let’s put things into perspective and quit bombarding the {New York} Road Runners Facebook page and Twitter account with your panicked messages.

It’s going to happen. Come as planned. Quit your bitching.

Yada, yada, yada, the bleachers are up. Quit freaking out.

That’s two days in a row that I’ve sworn on my blog. I supposed hurricanes bring out my saucy side.

As for my New York neighbors, there are plenty of places to volunteer now that we are all out of work and school for a few days:

Our NYC Marathon Medical Team needs more volunteers since so many docs were pulled away because of Sandy. Email me: runstrongereveryday{at)gmail{dot)com if you are a medical professional or student who would like to volunteer on Marathon Sunday.

Please, give of your time, your talent, and your resources to help those who are in need and those who are helping to get our fairy city back on her feet. If anything, just be thankful it wasn’t you. And quit bitching about the marathon.

(There I go again…)

Now go out and run!

PS. I will see all of you at Flywheel Sports (11:30am @ JCC), luluelmon E 66th St., and the Javits Center tomorrow. Sweating, hugging, and volunteering. Hope to see some of you there! 

My “1st” Race

When I first moved to the city, I made it my mission to find a running shoe store that actually knew what they were doing when fitting a runner for shoes. I went to a popular one near a popular running club and it wasn’t great. The shoes were the wrong size for my foot (I would find out later) and I do not, as they insisted, pronate.

I’m not actually sure their salespeople knew what the word “pronate” meant, but they for sure didn’t know it when they saw it.

Thank God I found JackRabbit Sports.

Holla at my homies.

I go to JackRabbit whenever I need new shoes because they know what they’re doing. Really. They spend A LOT of time fitting my Princess and the Pea feet for new (HOT PINK) shoes. I love them. The shoes AND the people.

My feet are on TV!

The best part about being a part of the I ♥ JackRabbit fan club is being in the know on the races going on in the city that they support, sponsor, or host. That other club has a total monopoly but for my money, I’d prefer to be cheered for at road races, not yelled at. Last year was my first Battle of Brooklyn with JackRabbit. The weather was beastly and there were only 7 POJs (my year-long flare had kicked into gear) but the race was a lot of fun.

So I came back for more.

 

So. Much. Fun.

I wanted my 1st race back to be fun, a little challenging, and low-maintenance.

Two school friends committed to running the race and both kicked butt! I mean, one of them CAME IN THIRD PLACE. The other, who had never run farther than something like 8 miles, ran all 10 miles without stopping at 8 minutes per mile pace. JB was out with his cowbell, cheering us on, and I was wearing hot pink. Fun? Check.

Hot. Pink. Saucony + lululemon. Can’t miss me :)

Prospect Park, though only 3 and change miles around, has some pretty annoying inclines. They are met with nice, rolling declines, but three loops around the park really makes for an interesting progression of times on one hill in particular. That’s why JackRabbit has the Time Your Climb. Whoever has the most consistent 3 climbs on this hill, man and woman, gets a prize. I never win. My third is consistently markedly slower than my first two. A little challenging? Check!

This map is going in the opposite direction from our race. Think of going from mile 2.75 to mile 2.25 (right to left). That was our hill. We climbed it three times.

I signed up online between classes and even used a $5 off coupon that made registration a grand total of $25. JackRabbit package pickup is always a breeze. The four of us shared a cab to the race. The bathroom line only took 5 minutes thanks to many more than 7 POJs this year. There were signs (and Redcoats!) everywhere. The start of the race was with a gun (maybe it was a musket?) with drums and flutes sending us off and on our way to fight the Brits. There were even British troops spraying us with water cannons on the climb. Fun. Fun. Fun. Low maintenance? Check!

Last of our group to finish, but I had the biggest smile, I think.

I may not have run my best race (1:22, 8:14 avg pace) or won any prizes like soooooome people, but I had a ball. I felt better on my third lap than the previous two and finished strong. I didn’t even notice Rosebud was there, which is the best part of it all and totally the point of having surgery in the first place.

I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t bummed to be the last of our team to finish or that I didn’t match last year’s time. Yeah, I was bummed. For approximately 10 seconds and then I realized how far I’d come and how happy I was to be there and how awesome it felt to run with friends and be smiling afterwards. Not that I don’t have my moments, but this was just too much fun to get down on myself about finishing 30th in my age group. A friend told me to “run happy” and so I did.

:)

Ready for the Marine Corps? You bet.

Now go out and run!

Change Your Shoes, Change Your Life

This is what my awesome cousin Chi-Chi says to me. I love her. And I think this applies to ALL the shoes in your life, especially your running shoes.

I spent the vast majority of my youth wearing the wrong size running shoes. They kept telling me I needed to leave room because my feet were going to grow some more. Little did they know that at age 14, I was fully grown at 5’9″ with size 8 1/2 feet. Well, my left foot is an 8 1/2 and my right is an 8 but, hey, nobody’s perfect.

Oh, little right foot you are small but I love you still

Your running shoes can make or *literally* break you. I found that out the hard way freshman year of high school when I tried to substitute cooler looking cross trainers for my usual hideous running shoes. I got shin splints. Lesson learned.

Thankfully, running has become a lot cooler since then (who knew my sport of choice would ever be cool?) and there are some awesome stores that share my geekyness and specialize in outfitting runners with the best shoe for them. JackRabbit Sports is my shop of choice.

I love you, JackRabbit

The staff is knowledgable, experienced and just as nerdy as me as knowing the latest specs of the newest editions of popular running shoes. I’ve never been disappointed with their service and decided that since I haven’t had my feet checked in a while that I should probably make sure I’m still in the right shoe for my gait. Did you know that your stride and foot strike can change? True story.

Look Mom! I'm flying!

The best part about JackRabbit is they have treadmills with cameras on the back of them that record your foot strike as you run (fly) on the treadmills. This is key in analyzing your foot strike and making sure you get the right shoe. Me? My left foot has perfect strike and my right only pronates slightly, which is fixed easily with arch supporting inserts.

Let's hear it for my perfect left foot!

I don’t have seriously high arches, but most of us have a whole lot more than shoe companies allot for in their inserts.

Top: mine. Bottom: theirs. Ummm...who has arches this flat?

If you stand in your sneakers and cannot feel the shoe on every single part of the bottom of your feet, most importantly every part of your arch, then you need an insert. Try Spenko or Superfeet. Both are good. This is a very cheap way to avoid nagging injuries like Plantar Faciitis and Shin Splints and can help prevent knee problems. Take good care of your arches!

My arches aren't crazy, but they definitely need a little extra love.

Now you’re looking for fit. Try every single shoe that fits your foot strike style. I like a little less shoe than what Saucony makes and Asics’ toe box is too wide for my foot. Brooks Ghost is too wide in the mid-foot but the Defyance fits me like a glove. Be Goldilocks when choosing a running shoe. There are way too many out there to be in a shoe that doesn’t fit you perfectly. Be picky. Try them all on.

Once you’ve found your shoe and got the arch situation handled, you can slap them into your new kicks and take them for a ride on the treadmill one last time to ensure your foot strike is straight up and down. Then, my friends, you have found your new shoe. Ta-da!

Brooks Defyance 5, never leave me!

So here’s your check list:

  1. Bring your old shoes so they can take a look at how your tread wears
  2. Come ready to jog a little (like, not in a skirt)
  3. Get your foot strike analyzed
  4. Try on lots and lots of different brands, styles and sizes
  5. Check your arch support
  6. Run one more time with the arch support and your new kicks and re-check your foot strike

Voila! Change your shoes, change your life.

Now go out and run!

Too Much is TOO MUCH (and how to avoid doing too much)

You ever have that nagging pain that just won’t go away? Do you feel tired on every single run and never get anything resembling a “runner’s high”? Are you getting sick all the time? Do you have trouble completing what would normally be an easy run? Does it take you forever to recover from a workout?

You might be doing too much.

Things like tendonitis, stress fractures, torn labrums, illness, muscle strains and stupid injuries sustained from tripping over curbs and face-planting because you’re too tired to lift your own feet while running…wait, don’t tell me I’m the only person who’s done that. Well, there you go. I trip when I’m tired. It’s very embarrassing and always leaves a mark.

These things happen when you’re doing too much. And where your body is concerned, too much is too much.

As someone who has an auto-immune disease, I have to learn the very hard and painful way what is too much for me. For most of you out there, you can still power on through for days and maybe weeks before your body starts to talk to you. Maybe it comes in the form of tendonitis or a more serious injury. Whatever it is, you will know it because it will stop you dead in your tracks if you don’t take care of it. But there are always warning signs you’ve chosen to ignore. Here’s how to avoid doing too much:

#1. Schedule your days off. At least one day completely off from working out. This doesn’t mean, “Oh, I’ll hop into an easy spin class” or “It’s just a 60 minute yoga class. Stretching is good, right?” Wrong. Yoga is NOT just stretching and breathing. It is hard and it is a workout. Rest is rest. You’ll know it because you’ll feel RESTED after having done it.

#2. Add mileage gradually. Jumping into a marathon training schedule before you can run 8 miles straight without stopping or finishing in torturous pain is a recipe for failure and injury. Stress fractures and muscle strains are common in people who decide that this is the way to go and they are not easy to come back from. Plan ahead at least six months before undertaking such a long race. You’re much more likely to succeed if you take your time with adding miles.

#3. Cross-train year-round. Cross training isn’t just for the off-season. You should be cross-training throughout your race season, but just do it less. You don’t try to set your personal squat record during training season, but you do incorporate lower body strength training into your schedule at least once a week. See the difference? Cross-training will keep you healthy and balanced so that you can best stave off overuse injuries like tendonitis that happen when you do TOO MUCH of one thing.

#4. Listen to your body. It’s talking to you.

#5. If it hurts, don’t do it. If you have a sudden pain that just won’t go away, something is not right and you should stop what you are doing that causes that pain and get it checked out. Good rule of thumb for many things in the fitness world. You know the difference between “it hurts because it’s hard” and “it hurts because it hurts” so don’t go commenting on how all exercise hurts. It’s a different kind of pain and you know it when you feel it.

Really, though, you have to know your body and know your trigger points. When my hips start to ache, I know I’m overdue for new sneakers and I kick myself for not remembering to stop by JackRabbit last time I was down in Union Square. My hips never hurt unless it’s my damn shoes, so if they suddenly start hurting, it’s either the shoes or something serious. Know thy self.

Be kind to your body. It’s the only one you’re going to get.

Now go out and run!

From A Newbie Marathoner

Tonight, I am shamelessly going to direct you to my blog friend Ali’s recap of her very first marathon that she completed on Saturday in the Hamptons. You might think, “oh, the Hamptons sounds like ann exciting place to run…maybe I’ll run right into J. Lo or Alec Baldwin.” Can I tell you, it is no small feat that Ali #1. completed her first marathon and #2. did it out in the Hamptons. The Hamptons is the boonies, people. I mean, farmland and deserted roads with scattered mansions along the beach. The season of everybody going out and partying in the Hamptons ended Labor Day weekend and that place is a ghost town these days. No small feat at all for her to have slogged through late miles with few crowds to cheer her on (though her family gets and A++ for cheerleading). It’s not like the New York Marathon where there are crowds everywhere. So, mad props on both fronts, Ali!

Ali’s journey to the marathon was part of the Run For The Rabbit campaign sponsored by my favorite running shoe store here in the city, JackRabbit Sports. Ali has Chron’s disease and her charity of choice was the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation of America. She finished second in her fundraising efforts (amazing!) and raised over $20,000 for CCFA. This charity is close to my heart, too, because I was diagnosed and am learning to live with Ulcerative Colitis. I’d like to thank Ali *very* publicly for all of her efforts to help researchers discover more about our collective diseases and work towards a cure. *sniff*

Marathons (or any races at all) always mean more to me when I’m running for someone besides myself. Don’t get me wrong, I run for me, too. But when I’m struggling through a tough part of the race, what gets me through is not my vanity or my desire to be a better runner, it’s the idea that I’m out there for people who can’t be out there for themselves. Ali ran for herself, but she ran for me, too. And I will never forget that. *sniff*sniff*

Imagine the impact you could have on someone’s life just by choosing run for a charity…

Consider this next time you sign up for a race. Did you know you can always raise money at any race for any charity? Just contact them and find out how to set up a donation page. Simple as that.

Anyway, her recap is worth reading. It made me cry, which is apparently not too hard to do today. Ali’s hard work and dedication to her training is both admirable and inspiring. She is also to blame for my current addiction to 16 Handles.

Now go out and run, friends!

Maybe share a little about who/what inspires you these days???