Category Archives: new york city

Pacing my other half at the Airbnb BK Half.

Somehow, training (and, like, ALL the months) absolutely FLEW and it was already the week of the Brooklyn Half!

BK Half Pre-Party

Thursday after work, Justin and I met in Brooklyn to walk over to the pre-party to get our bibs for the race. This was the first time we’ve been to this area since this happened:

It was the hottest day of the year so far so our intention was to get in and out of there as quickly as possible, grab some pizza, and head back home to shower off the grossness. Even without the heat, we’d have done our best to get in and out of there quickly – the music was so loud! My 30 years may as well been 80 while we were there because I was so unbelievably agitated by the volume. #turnitdown #youregonnaloseyourhearing #iammygrandpa

Once we booked it out of there, we walked over to Juliana’s to meet up with Jenny and enjoy some pre-race pizza and conversation. Looking back, we ate really well the days prior to the race with Juliana’s on Thursday and Carmine’s on Friday night 🙂 #carbloadingbride

BK Half

Pre-Race

I decided to jump back to Wave 2 so Justin and I could run together (and also sleep in just a little bit longer) on Saturday morning.  We were up by 5am and in a car to the start by 5:45. Before we left, I checked the weather one last time – low 60s, cloudy, 0% chance of rain. About halfway into our drive, guess what started? RAIN. I crossed my fingers that it’d be a passing shower because I didn’t bring a running hat with me and running without a hat in the rain is so, so miserable.

Luckily, the rain stopped by the time we got to the start village and we took our time getting through security and dropping Justin’s bag off at his assigned UPS truck. It was so cold and windy and I instantly regretted not bringing throwaway pants in addition to my long sleeve shirt.

To stay warm, we sat on top of a subway grate until the corrals started collapsing. Once in the corrals, I did my best to huddle in the middle of taller runners to block the wind until we started moving. #shortpeopleperk

By 7:45, we were off and Justin’s second half-marathon was underway!

The Race

The first mile was quite congested and was most definitely our slowest running mile (we made a port-a-potty stop in Prospect Park which was definitely our slowest overall mile). I was super careful not to do any weaving and just let that first mile serve as a solid warm up. After that, things cleared out a bit and I made sure to keep us right around last year’s overall pace (10:07). I told Justin that I would assess pace again once we got to the 10k mark and I checked in with how he was feeling. Satisfied with that, he let me lead.

Maybe it was the fact that I spent the first half of Prospect Park looking for open port-a-potties for me and Justin or that running in a circle isn’t my idea of a good time but OMG Prospect Park seemed to never end. I started to get super whiny about the fact that we were still running through the park and not getting out of the park and onto Ocean Avenue quick enough. As promised, I checked in with Justin at the 10k mark, he still felt good and said he’d be okay picking it up a little, I responded “actually, I’m gonna keep us right here for a little while longer and check in around mile 8” and chose to omit the fact that I had already picked up our pace. #ignoranceisbliss

Once we left the park and meandered on over to Ocean Avenue, my mental state got a million times better. I know some people hate the monotony of Ocean Avenue but it doesn’t really bother me until Mile 12 or so. I like just being able to zone out and keep on keeping on down the road. At mile 8, Justin started running ahead and I had to pull him back a bunch of times. He eventually told me he wanted to beat his time from last year and we needed to pick it up (he didn’t have a watch so LOL what do you know, Justin?!?). Anywho, I told him that I had already adjusted, that we were going to beat his time from last year without issue, and he needed to just trust me.

At mile 11, I had a solid idea of what time we’d cross the finish line (I was exactly correct too – math degree FTW!) and asked Justin if he wanted to know how ahead we were and was met with a very stern “no.”

As I’d been doing all race, I picked it up again for mile 11 and a little bit more with mile 12. That last mile was a bit of a struggle bus for Justin so I knew my pacing was on point and that any faster during the race wouldn’t have been smart.

We finished in 2:05:25 (9:34), a 7 minute PR for Justin!

Post-Race

After we grabbed our bag and changed in the parking lot (#imsofancy), we walked over to Coney Island Brewing Company to meet up with Daniel and wait for Jenny (who had a totally badass run after dealing with injuries for months. She’s back, ladies and ‘gents!). It was pretty packed and the weather wasn’t the greatest so we stayed for a beer or two and then decided to head on back to Manhattan.

Once home, it was time for lunch, a serious nap, lots of tv watching, and eggplant rollatini and baked ziti leftovers for dinner. Perfect ending to a great day 🙂

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Congrats to all BK Half finishers!

With this half behind me, I’ve got a few weeks until NYCM training officially starts and less than 4 months until wedding day! Who has tips on balancing it all? Send ’em my way. 

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Filed under half-marathon, new york city, running

Volunteering with NYC Parks & Rec.

When a work opportunity presented itself to volunteer with NYC Department of Parks and Rec, I was ON IT. We were given three options and the first one was only two days away. Luckily, the weather forecast looked beautiful and the location wasn’t far from home so it all couldn’t have worked out any better 🙂

I spend a lot of time in NYC Parks as my apartment is situated between Riverside Park and Central Park and I happen to enjoy an activity that takes me to both multiple times a week (I wonder what that could be…).

Inwood Hill Park

Inwood, Manhattan NY

Inwood is a neighborhood at the upper tip of Manhattan and not one I’m familiar with so I was excited to head uptown to a new-to-me park, Inwood Hill (so appropriately named IMO), to volunteer my time and play in the dirt with my colleagues.

It was a perfect sunny day with temps in the low 60s so jeans, a sweatshirt, and my gardening gloves were perfect for keeping me comfortable and poison-ivy free.

I arrived by 9am and met up with our NYC Parks Dept. “handlers” for the day, Joe and Leslie. While we waited for other colleagues to arrive, Joe and Leslie explained how the morning would work and what we would be doing to prep Inwood Hill Park for the spring/summer season.

The task for the day? Getting rid of the super invasive plant, garlic mustard.

Garlic mustard is not native to NYC (it is European) and can be found throughout the United States invading grassy areas and destroying native plants quickly. Because garlic mustard is self-fertile, it is quite difficult to completely eradicate once it is established in a certain area. Joe and Leslie explained that this seems to be a particularly bad year for garlic mustard plants in NYC for any number of reasons, one possibly being the warm winter we experienced (I don’t recall being warm this winter but I cocoon myself in a fleece blanket when it’s 70 degrees out so…).

We walked through Inwood Hill Park, identifying areas where the garlic mustard growth was particularly bad. At each spot, we spent time pulling out the garlic mustard plants from the root as that is the only way to ensure that the garlic mustard plant will not come back. I was really glad that the garlic mustard plant was so easy to recognize because my biggest fear for the day was that I wouldn’t be able to discern what was an invasive plant and that I’d be pulling out good plants. I have no green thumb to speak of (I couldn’t tell you what my flowers are for my wedding except to say that they’re a mix of different oranges, corals, and pinks and are apparently local and seasonal in upstate NY in September) so needless to say, my fear was warranted.

As we weeded and walked around, Joe and Leslie made sure to point out any poison ivy so we could be extra careful and gave us tips on how to spot poison ivy ourselves. They also stopped to show us other interesting plants and share fun little tidbits of information that I can’t even imagine having enough room in my brain to store. Leslie pointed out one plant, commonly referred to as a “Touch-Me-Not,” that is a natural antidote to poison ivy. I’ll never forget these plants because her follow-up comment was that she didn’t know why they were called “touch-me-nots” because she thinks “touch-me-please” seems more apropos.

By midday I was starving (note to self: next time, bring snacks) and happy to be heading home to make myself a big ol’ lunch. I’m quite thankful to live in this city and even more thankful to be able to help out and spend a day enjoying one of NYC’s parks in a way that isn’t just running through them.

Alright alright, I like running through them too.

For more than just the post-run pizza. Sometimes.

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Next up: Brooklyn Half-Marathon! See you Saturday 🙂

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Carb-loading Bride.

Before I knew that I’d be getting married in Fall 2017, I already had my eyes on Fall 2017 for another reason, the NYC Marathon. I imagined the months leading up to November as filled with pasta, early mornings, long runs, and foam rolling, not seating arrangements, color palettes, and dance song selections.

But then this happened:

Engagement – 11/18/2016

And then the venue we wanted had only one date that wasn’t in the winter (many reasons a winter wedding wouldn’t have been a wise choice for us).

And then I had a decision to make.

Do I “defer” my guaranteed NYCM entry by registering, canceling, and then re-registering in 2018, having to pay twice? Do I not accept my guaranteed entry and do 9+1 again? Is that even worth it? Would 9 races equate to the price of the marathon entry fee? Would I even be in a position to run a marathon in fall 2018?

Or… is it possible to train for a marathon, plan a wedding, peak the weeks of my wedding and honeymoon, and then come back from paradise and run a marathon less than three weeks later? Could I do that?

I went for a run (and it happened to be one of those gloriously beautiful days where running feels easy and you’re all “hey, i could run for-ev-er” so that may have played a role here) and I came back with a plan. I sat down down and made a draft based on the last time I trained for the NYCM but also worked around my wedding/honeymoon schedule.

And then this happened almost immediately:

So yea, I’m in. And I’ll be simultaneously wedding planning and marathon training.. and then carb-loading at my wedding because #peakweeks.

First Draft (click to enlarge)

It’s doable. And honestly, when I look at it, my schedule doesn’t even seem so bad to me. Two 10-mile runs in Hawaii? That sounds amazing.

But i’m letting the PR go. I know myself well enough to know that the pressure of having to train for a PR and also plan a wedding, get married, and then go on a honeymoon weeks before the race would not be beneficial for anyone (me, Justin, unsuspecting people on the street who may cross my path, etc.).

So yea, I may be crazy, but it’s happening… and it’s going to be awesome. #carbloadingbride

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Stay tuned for wedding & marathon training adventures 🙂

 

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Tips for running the NYC Marathon.

A week or so ago, a friend of mine from middle school asked for tips for running the NYC marathon and I happily wrote him a monster of an e-mail all about my favorite race. As a lifetime New Yorker and a four-time NYC Marathon finisher (2009-2011, 2014), I know this race. I have actually had very detailed dreams of running this race (not exaggerating, I was once told I was talking in my sleep and calling out the mile markers). This race is a part of me. 

nyc-marathons2014 NYCM Recap

2011 NYCM Recap

2010 NYCM Recap

Because my friend is probably not the only person looking for some advice this week (it’s marathon week, baby!), I’m taking that e-mail and putting it out on the interwebs. 

Tips for Running the NYC Marathon

Pre-Marathon

  • If you haven’t already done so, put your name on your shirt. People will call your name out and it will be all sorts of amazing. Because people will be screaming your first name all day, it may be hard to recognize when it’s someone you know screaming your name. Ask friends/family to call you by your last name if they can’t get your attention.
  • On that note, know where your friends/family will be ahead of time and most importantly, know which side of the street they will be on. I cannot stress the importance of the side of the street more.
  • If you don’t already have throwaway clothes for the start line, get them now. Ask friends/family for old sweats/hats/gloves/whatever. Everything at the start line gets donated. If you want, use old baseball socks as throwaway arm sleeves. Cut the feet off and put them on your arms until you feel warmed up and then drop them along the course. This has helped me during marathons that are in-between weather.
  • For the start, it’s a good idea to bring something like a garbage bag to sit on, even if you’ll be in a tent area. If it rained the day or days before, it will be muddy, so bring extra garbage bags to sit on, wear old sneakers that you won’t mind parting with and then switch into your race sneakers last minute or cover your sneakers with bags so they don’t get muddy and wet prior to the start. Also, bring yourself some toilet paper. It’s not uncommon to see people standing on the port-a-potty line with their own roll of TP.
  • Come up with a plan/strategy for when things got rough, I’m thinking specifically for 5th Avenue before the park. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, this is the worst part of that course. My first NYCM, this is where I told a random stranger that I wanted to quit. My coach for the 2014 NYCM told me to come up with my strategy for this section early and it helped. I focused on who I had tracking me and who was waiting for me in the bleachers and I literally repeated their names in my head for the entire mile. My good friend last year tried to focus on her husband but it wasn’t working for her so she switched to mentally baking cookies in her head and spent the mile working out the recipe. Figure out a plan for this spot and then figure out a back-up plan.
  • Come up with a meeting spot with your friends/family for after the race. Do not count on cell service being good at the finish line. If you can, avoid the family reunion area and pick another part of the UWS or UES (I heard from a NYRR staff member that they will have East side access for the first time this year). In 2014, I met my family in front of the Jack Rabbit on 72nd near Broadway. Pick a street corner, pick anything, as long as it is a specific location

Race

Brooklyn
  • Start slow – holy hell just go so damn slow. Don’t weave on the bridge. If you do this right, your first two miles should be your slowest.
  • When you get into Brooklyn and the crowds start to thicken, it may get emotional. It’s okay, just don’t speed up because of it.
  • You don’t want to add any extra mileage by weaving. The course is measured exactly 26.2 miles from the middle of the street (marked by a blue line that may be faded by the time you start). Unless you’re super familiar with the course, running the tangents isn’t a good strategy here. When in doubt, run in the middle of the street. Run only to the side when you know you have a family/friends on that side.
  • These miles are generally flat with some rolling hills and the crowds are good. Enjoy them. No lie, this is probably the best you’ll feel (physically) all day. Be smart and run slow. Your legs will thank you.
Queens
  • This area is typically not so crowded so it’s a good place to see people.
  • Be careful to conserve your energy here because you’ve got the 59th street bridge ahead of you.
  • People walk on the bridge and/or slow down significantly, try not to get frustrated and definitely do not weave. Get around slower folks by moving just the bare minimum amount to get by them.
  • Forget your pace and focus on exerting the same amount of effort that you were before the bridge. Having people on 1st Avenue is good because it gives you something to look forward to on the bridge. I’ve used the bridge to focus on who is waiting for me and that if they’ve been tracking, they know I’m getting close.
Manhattan
  • It’s exciting and too easy to pick up the pace on 1st Ave. Try to keep yourself in check and maintain pace. There is a steady incline and lots of miles ahead.
Bronx
  • You’re only here a short time but the Bronx typically has good crowds so enjoy the atmosphere.
  • Concentrate on the fact that you’ve only got one more bridge and then you are in the final borough!
Manhattan/5th Ave
  • There’s no way around it, the closer you get to Engineer’s Gate (where the course turns into Central Park), the more everything is going to suck.
  • Having people here is good (it’s where I always stand to cheer!)
  • It is a nasty, no-good, horrible, slow incline up 5th and into Central Park. Use your strategy to get through this little rough patch. If it doesn’t work, use your back up. If that doesn’t work, come up with a new one. Anything. Focus on the person’s feet in front of you and count their steps. Think of the finish line as being the turn into Central Park. You just need to get to the park.
Central Park
  • THIS. I could cry just thinking about this. You are in the most famous park in the world, running the best marathon in the world. You have people waiting for you at the finish line or people at home following your every step and waiting to see that you have finished.  This is a huge fcuking deal.
  • When you get to the bottom of the park, you exit out and run along Central Park South. I’ve made the mistake of trying to pick it up here thinking I was close. I was an idiot. The finish is still far enough away. Soak up the crowds and focus on that turn back into the park.
  • When you get to the 800m mark in the park, that’s your time. Pick it up, leave nothing out there. You will feel like you’re barely going anywhere. Last NYCM, I picked up my pace and had you asked me then, I felt like I was running 12 minute miles. Turns out, I was at an 8:30. Nothing feels normal at this point. Just move your damn legs as fast as they can. You can do anything for 5 more minutes.

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For everyone running, ENJOY THIS RACE BECAUSE THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT DAMN WELL GETS. Love every second of this day and of this city. It’s a 26.2 mile party and you’ve got a VIP pass.

As for me, I’ll be out there next year running my heart out. This year, I’ll be on the sidelines cheering my heart out. Happy running, NYC 🙂

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