How I Learned to Walk

Rewind.  Remember when I ran the TCS New York City Marathon?  Yeah, so do I.

Rewind again.  Remember when I ran the Navy Air-Force Half Marathon in DC?  Ummhmm, I remember that too.

Well, then we all remember that I got very overheated and sick after that half marathon and nearly deferred my entry for the marathon.  I was terrified of getting sick again, not being able to finish a race, disappointing myself… not be able to do something I love- run distance.

What ya’ll may not know is how I’ve worked to overcome that fear and physical reaction.  To meet my body half way and find a way to run safely and enjoy it…  first, I had to learn to walk.


Yup, you read that right- WALK.

I walked a lot during the NYC Marathon and all the other half marathons sense.  I walk during long training runs and really any other time I feel like it’s what my body needs.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t fall into a “tourist stroll” no no!  I keep up a nice power walk pace and can smoothly transition from a jog to a walk and back again. I keep my legs and arms moving, I keep my breath steady, and my posture correct.  But I slow down a little which gives my body a change to cool off.

For both the Maine Coast Half Marathon and the Brooklyn Half this month (reviews coming your way soon), I worked with a walk-a-mile/run-a-mile game plan after mile 4 or so.  Alternating gave me time to consume gels and water as well as cool down.  This was also time to take in the surroundings and enjoy each race a little more knowing I would finish feeling good!  At the end of the day, this was the desired outcome.  Sure maybe my pace has taken a slight hit, but I’m not going for a PR every time I run and if I keep pushing it so I get sick, eventually there will not be a next time.


At first, yes, this whole “walk if and as you need too” was very hard to accept.  It felt like failure.  Like I was lazy and not working hard enough.  The thing is though, that I was training right and eating right and it was still happening.  I wasn’t being lazy– I wasn’t listening to my body.

Completing 13.1 or 26.2 is nothing to sneeze at!  No matter how you do it.


Sense I started this method, I have felt so much better while racing and while living my life afterwards.  Less pain, no getting sick, and I can actually enjoy the rest of the day after a morning race!

Finishing each race that I start on my own two feet, this is what really matters to me.

While I was running the Maine Coast Half Marathon a few weeks ago, I was thinking about this post.  Actually, I was in a “walking mile” while I was thinking about it… and I had an experience I won’t soon forget.

A woman came up behind me and passed on the left.  OK, totally normal.

As she passed she asked, “Are you walking this whole thing?”

I nearly fell over (or slapped her)!

I replied, “No, just every other mile” and managed a smile… continuing on the rest of my walk mile and the rest of the race… but I was actually pretty annoyed by the comment.

For me, racing is personal.  I don’t want to talk to anyone, I want to be with myself in the moment of every step of each mile.  I’ve never had someone say something to me in a race.  Sure, usually I participate in much larger races that have a different caliber of runner, but also there are just so many people you can’t talk to everyone, so you don’t say anything.  (Unless it’s something encouraging while going up a big hill or approaching the finish, we all cheer and support one another).

But this woman stayed with me.  I mean that literally!  She was alternating run/walk as well!  So for the next few miles- up to the finish when I couldn’t let her cross before me and I pushed through with an amazing finish sprint- we played a little unspoken tag, I’d pass her as she walked and she would pass me when she started running again and I would have started walking again.  All the while I was thinking about this post.

Because in that moment with her, I realized SO MUCH!  It shouldn’t matter to anyone if I’m walking in a race.  No one but me… and well, now all of you… know what I’m working through or what I have going on.


The long and short message- I walk in all of my major races and it’s the best thing I’ve allowed myself to do.  Yes, at first I felt like I was failing and not worthy to take on these major races.   But now, now I am finishing races and not feeling like I’m doing to die.  I feel stronger and happier during and after each race.  I’ve accepted what works for me so that I can continue doing something that I love.  I not longer feel like a failure, I feel like I can take on any course and any race I pin on a number for!

 

What helps you through long runs?  Share, comment, and like! Most importantly, don’t worry about what anyone else says or thinks, this is just for you.

Always,

C

TSC NYC Marathon 2016

So, incase you are just joining us or somehow missed it, I ran THE New York City Marathon this year… on November 6th to be exact.  It took about a week to fully take in the whole event of the marathon and be able to actually talk about it and then another week to try and collect all my thoughts into a post.  I’m not sure where to begin, other then the beginning of “marathon weekend” and see where that takes us.

Everything really began last year when I secured my guaranteed entry into the race.  That basically meant a month of thinking about, talking about, stressing about, and training for the epic 26.6 adventure.  Races and training runs alike were well thought out and strategically placed to support progress throughout the year. Then summer happened… and training took a nose dive as heat, humidity and illness kept me from adding on miles.  Fall teased me a little and I welcomed the cool break, which of course stood me up at the Navy-Air Force Half in DC back in September (read all about that here).  In what ended up being the worst half I’ve had to date, I seriously considered deferring my marathon entry for a year, thinking HOW can I get  through 26.2 miles when I can hardly get through 13.1 and that’s supposed to be easy this far into training?

Well, I took 2 weeks off.  Put the shoes on a shelf and thought long and hard about what I was going to do and if I was going to get my New York on this year.  Yes, I was getting physical sick but a lot of it was because I was pushing myself to much mentally.  I stepped back.  I re-evaluated.  I thought about how I would feel November 7th- Marathon Monday… seeing everyone with their medals and knowing I gave it up.  (Not to mention I really couldn’t afford to pay this race again).   I decided to approach a long training run with a new mind set— go for time.  Go out for 3-4 hours and see how much ground I could cover in that time, but slowing down if I felt like I was getting exhausted.  And that’s what I did.  3 hours and 15 miles later I felt on top of the world and knew in that moment I had found my key to success for 26.2.  Slow down, enjoy it, maintain a roughly 12 minute miles and get 5 miles to the hour.  I wanted to finish the marathon and feel just as amazing as I did that day with only 15 miles.

So that gave me 4 weeks to continue running and cross training and trying not to panic!

Fast forward: Marathon weekend started as soon as I clocked out for work on Nov. 3rd and went to check out the Marathon Pavillion in Central Park. The best part of that?  The wall with all 50,000 runners names on it.  I was able to find mine at eye level and take tons of annoying photos with it!

Next was the Expo- a HUGE event- for getting race numbers, pre and post race info, t-shirts, and all the gear you could want! Basically it’s an amazing and overwhelming experience and Megan and family came along to keep me on track, as well as get in the New York Marathon Weekend spirit.  Ran into some other runners I’ve “met” through Social Media and checked out all the vendors.  We had fun, although there was no no size Medium in the official Asics marathon jacket… which was a little itty bitty teeny weeny issue cause I wanted that jacket.  Like I really wanted  it… so I now strategically fit into a Small and just can’t gain and weight.  No problem.

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Dinner followed by outfit prep and a foot soak were the perfect way to end the day and get ready for the 4:45am wake up call I had to start the adventure to the start line.

Marathon Day

Oh goodness early morning to get to the train to get to the ferry to get to Staten Island to then stand in a huge mess of a crowd/line to get on a bus to get to security to get to the start village to find you holding zone to wait to get into your corral to get to the start line…

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Up, dressed, packed, and out.  Megan came down on the train with me to be sure I 1. ate breakfast and 2. made it there.  LOL.

img_8466 Having never been on the Staten Island Ferry, I was very content to stand at my spot in the front and watch the morning unfold over the city.  Seeing the Verrazano Bridge come into view and pass Lady Liberty was pretty amazing.

Once we docked the real tedious waiting started.  I didn’t start the race till 11am and I was like “Oh a 7am ferry is soon early”, nope best thing… cause there is a LOT of tedious waiting.  First in a mess of a line… more like a crowd… that moved slowly to a stair case that eventually lead outside.  But no, not to the start… to a LOVELY *sarcasm* cue that funneled us on to busses that sat in traffic to shuttle us to the Start Village.

Standing on the ferry and in about an hour of lines, the bus was a welcome fluffy seat, but the traffic was creating panic among other runners who were frustratingly close to missing their wave start times.   Eventually we were allowed to jump ship and go through security check points, which was actually very smooth. If  anyone remembers Brooklyn Half 2015- work security check point EVER (but that’s seriously another story).

Start Village is color coded and has all the comforts of home- coffee and apples, glamorous portaletts, cold concrete curbs to perch on, and bins full of outer layers to be donated.

Now this would be a good time to mention that the day was perfect for the race.  Clear blue skies and sunny, but with a constant breeze, it didn’t get to hot.  The ground was dry, the air was light, and humidity was low- in my book, all perfect conditions.

I munched, I walked, I stood in lines… finally Wave 4 opened for corral line up.  Somehow I was placed in Corral A which was pretty cool cause I was so close to the Start Line.  I could hear all the announcements and music- we danced to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” before starting, and watch the start gun go off.  Over the bridge and through BK.

The next 6-10 miles are a blur.  So much adrenaline and energy from the crowds, I felt like I flew through the first 6 miles and the next 4 felt pretty awesome too.  Right before the bridge to Queens at the 13 mile mark, I was starting to feel some chaffing threatening to be a problem (tank top issues) and by a stroke of luck the medical tent was out in full force with TONS of Vaseline!  It’s like they knew I would need it right then, haha.  While Brooklyn was pretty straight and flat, Queens threw a curve ball (literally we had a lot of turns and winding roads) with different terrain.

img_8485 I was actually excited to hit the 59th St.  Queensbouro Bridge at mile 15/16.  I’ve heard about this bit sense I started talking about going the Marathon and here it was.  *Disclaimer, by this time I was rocking the “jog a mile, power walk a mile” option.  So YES, I walked parts of the bridge.*  The view was amazing and a photo op. was definitely taken.  But it’s true it’s so QUIET!  I usually run with music and this race was no different- although I turned it off when the crowds were cheering or bands where playing- and I had to turn it off for part of this bridge.  To hear the talked about quiet and just take in that we were shutting down the city to do this!

img_8646 Coming off the bridge- the Wall of Sound!  As we turned on to 1st Ave. the crowds were AMAZING.  The noise and the signs.  So many people right there to share this amazing experience with us.  Megan and family found me a few times along the way, as did friends Amanda and Tyler.  Seeing signed with my name on them was totally thrilling and encouraging.  I didn’t run with my name on my shirt…. it’s SO long… but that didn’t stop me from enjoying support from every single spectator I locked eyes with.

I don’t really remember running over into the Bronx.  I was starting to get seriously tired and the feeling of actually working set in.  Yes, the sign about the talked about “hitting of the wall” reminded me this was probably what my body and mind were working with… but I wan’t stopping.  I just started wanted every sort of food I could think of!  Once again, the medical teams were at just the right place with a little salty pretzel snack, which I darted back to grab and continued on.

Then we were back on a bridge (the last one as everyone around was excited about) and back to Manhattan.  While it was starting to get later in the day, so many people were still out, leaving no runner un-cheered.  Finally turning onto 5th Ave. meant only one thing- Central park and mile 24 here near.  A little pain and rubbing in my left shoe required a short pull over to adjust a sock and put into perspective that I had less then a 5K (3 miles) and definitely less then 30 minutes left to run.

This was thrilling and scary all at the same time- I was about to finish the New York City Marathon- oh wow but then it will be over and THANK GOODNESS I’m tired and sweaty!

Mile 25 included charging West along Central Park South just as the sun was setting over the buildings and a wall of spectators lining the left side of the street.  I’d been power walking to try and ease the slight pain I was feeling in my left heal, but I promised myself I would run the finish and as we turned into Central Park for the last 800 meters, I picked up the pace and did just that.

The sounds of the announcers and the lights of the finish line got nearer and nearer.  I could feel myself choking up and focused on breathing to finish happy and strong. (But tears happened at the finish anyway)

img_8490 Snapped this pic and had that medal hung around my neck.  I DID IT.  Still smiling, I finished the TCS NYC Marathon.

Now other stories I’d heard came to mind.  The walk and the wait to get to your soft fuzzy desired Post Race Poncho and get out of the park.  The finish shoot is ridiculously long and after grabbing a “recovery bag” and managing to open the water bottle, I was slow… every muscle was beyond tired and this bag was like the heaviest thing I’ve ever carried.  For fear of having to go to the medical tent, I refrained from leaning along the fence even just for a moment and just kept walking.

Finally we turned off to see the iconic ponchos up ahead!  Once wrapped in fleecy loveliness- and YES PLEASE I would like my hood put up, thank you VERY much- you are set loose on the streets on New York.

This was hard, slowly wandering down the street to the meet up point with friends, but the energy of every other runner was humming throughout the city streets on the Upper Wests Side.

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Let’s fast forward  cause this is getting a little long… that night I showered, got home, had a grilled cheese and a lot of fluids, soaked my feet and went to bed super early.

Yes, I was sore but no bad pain.  My knees hurt a little but that went away and my left ankle was a little inflamed for a time.  BUT no headache and no back pain, no getting sick!!

img_8531Monday Marathon Monday

It means taking off work and sleeping in.  Wearing your medal all day long and as much Marathon gear as you want. You are a super hero for the day and no one rushed you across the street.

I followed the advice of my dear friends Holly and went to get my medal engraved then we hung out and took ALL of the post race finisher photos.

I’m still reeling about that day.  I ran a marathon.  I ran the New York City Marathon.  I have the medal and all the memories.  The question I get now is, “Will you run it again?”. The answer— I’m not sure.

I never thought I would run a full marathon to begin with and sense I had such a great experience, I don’t feel a need right now to change that.  What I would hate is to do it again and get sick or hurt.  For now I’m going to enjoy that I had (for me) the perfect race and that’s how I want to remember it.

Perfect weather, conditions, outfit, training, course, city, people, everything.  I finished right were I thought I would and I felt great, can’t argue with that.

Did you Get Your New York On?  Share!!

Always,

Cimg_8521

The Last Half: Navy Air-Force Half Marathon 2016

With the NYC Marathon just days away, I figured it was time to look back on another of the races that helped get me this far.  It’s not always pretty… it’s certainly not easy… and sometimes the reward doesn’t show up till much later.  But every mile is another one closer to the big 26.2, it’s another mile I that wouldn’t have been run otherwise.

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Early morning train rides call for glasses & sweats!

Back in September, Megan and I packed bags, jumped on a train, and head down to Washington DC for the Navy Air-Force Half Marathon.  Let’s just say the trip started out on the opposite then right foot, with a cab driver who wasn’t quite sure how to get to Penn Station (NYC problems)… and the fun continued as we, in early morning Amtrak required glasses and oversize sweatshirt, watched very drunk people tottle around Penn waiting for their commuter trains home on a Saturday night (morning).

Once on the train, it was smooth track for the morning.  Having never been to the country’s capitol, I was excited to see a new city, earn a new medal, and see the sights.  We pulled in as the sun was just starting to lighten the sky over the White House and bound past the chatty homeless people outside into out waiting car (thanks Aunt Diane!).

img_7997 Saturday morning was for coffee, monument viewing, and packet pickup.  The Expo… sort of disappointing I have to say.  Either I’ve been spoiled by the BK Half party of an expo or I was looking forward to the massive Marathon every… There just wasn’t must to see or things to do.  Get your number, get your shirt.. look over the green of the ball park and head back to the car.  Ok, so at least it was easy to get into and out of!  With race numbers acquired, the only other thing to do was eat well and sight see- not wearing ourselves out to much- and rest before the race the next day.

This is when we really got a taste of the weekend weather— seasonally way to hot and HUMID— so not my ideal race conditions.  * Side note, I’ll run in rain, snow, wind, the dark, etc without a single complaint… but as soon as it’s excessively hot and humid without a breeze, I’m out.  I overheat way to fast! *  I should have known then to re-evaluate my race plan and not push it.  But did I listen, of course not.


5:30AM Sunday morning- We are up, dressed, hydrated, and out by 6.  The Start line right by the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial was beautiful as the sun rose with just a few clouds in the sky.  Energy was high all around as runners and teams assembled to start out on the 13.1 mile trek.  I felt good till about mile 4, that’s when I started to feel the heat.  The sun was up and the course, while relatives flat, had minimal coverage and only breeze when we were by the water.  Starting around mile 6 (at least I got through the 10k) I started alternating Run a Mile, Walk a Mile.  I was determined to finish, but could feel my shoulders locking up and my breath getting short.

It was about this time that I started to question HOW I was going to make it through the 26.2 miles in November that I was planning on doing.  But anyone else who runs (any distance really) you know that running is as much mental as it is physical.  I had to get my head space into a better place- fast! other wise I knew I wouldn’t finish this race or any other.  Singing, reading other runners shirts, looking at the scenery all around me, feeding off the crowds and giving every high-5 I came across.

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Finisher photo with the White House in the background!

Having family and friends on the course seriously helped.  The community support and energy was amazing on this race and I would say really kept me going.  Each water station had a different theme and made all kinds of noise!  We actually got to vote for our favorite water/cheer station, so they had an awesome reason to pull out all the stops and make noise!  Leading up to the finish line, more and more people could be heard cheering and encouraging us along.  To exhausted to sprint the finish and knowing I wasn’t gunning for a PR, I crossed in at 2:45 and, the hot sweaty tired mess that I was, earned her DC medal!

OK, so the race itself wasn’t bad… it was all me… and the bad part came later……. post walk to the car and post shower… my usual post race migraine.  Ok, that’s nothing to surprising, I’m sure you are tired of hearing me mention it.  Usually I can sleep it off, eat something and be fine- ready to see more of the city… but not this time.  Hours later there I am, curled up on the couch, so sick to my stomach, migraine and all with ice and crackers.  What a great way to end a race day!  Could it get any worse?  Of course!- I had to get on a train and get back to NYC.  Oh great…

Once the actual being sick part stopped I was just tired.  I was that annoying person on the train taking up 2 seats (sorry y’all).  Try sleeping curled up on a train car with a migraine after running 13.1 miles… actually, don’t try that- take my word for it- NOT FUN!


Sunday night- September 18th, 2016… what happened that night?  Anyone? Anyone at all?  Elizabeth, NJ.  Ring any bells yet?

Yes, that night- while I (and tons of other passengers) were just trying to get back to NYC, although very few of them had just run a half and even fewer had a stomach bug and migraine… I digress- there were bombs discovered at a train station in Elizabeth NJ.  (this is after the Chelsea NYC incident)

We got stopped in Trenton NJ.  For like 3 hours.  Stuck on a train in the middle of nowhere New Jersey at 11pm.  You can imagine how thrilled everyone was.

After about an hour of being stuck, contacts came out and glasses went on.  The social media and google searches began to find out exactly what was going on… cause, bless our train crew, they were not telling us much and clearly overwhelmed (and tired… wait, that was ALL of us).  Eventually we were moved up a few station and a little closer to the city.  There we de-trained and were told, “Shuttle busses will be available for transport to New York or stations past the incident”.  That’s great!  We all thought… till it was only 2 busses.  2 busses for a whole train of passengers.

Now, 2am maybe, due tempers!

Ok, maybe it didn’t get that bad… but as the wait for more busses continued (and we were eventually told they got lost and not coming, so other busses were being arranged) people- complete strangers- began banding together to get home.  Calling Uber cars to various destinations there 4-6 people were headed.

We broke down and went in with 4 others to get back to Penn.  It’s 4:45am.  Trying not to totally pass out in the very back seat of as SUV, I honestly hardly remember getting to Penn and promptly falling into a cab with Megan to get home.

5:30am Monday morning- When I fall into my bed, fully dressed and totally exhausted, just so glad to be home and off that darn train.  Pain, hunger, excitement all gone, all I wanted to do was sleep and sleep and sleep.

I don’t know that I’ve had a longer 24 hours.  Needless to say, I was not at work that day.  About 3pm, when I woke up, it was time to evaluate the food situation, stinky laundry pile, and add the medal to the wall.  I got through one of those things before promptly going back to bed.

Maybe not the best race.  Maybe not the best travel.  But it does make a great story.

Anyone else run the 2016 Navy-Air Force Half in DC?  Or get stuck on a commuter train that night?  I’d love to hear shared stories here!

Always,

C

What’s in a Name?

A Marathon by any other word would be as daunting?!


It’s time again for one of those obligatory part entertaining, part reality, and part sarcastic posts on running… specifically, running pertaining to marathon training.  Yeah, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I’m participating in the New York City Marathon on November 6th.

OMG WAIT WHAT?!  Ah, that’s like 50 something days away… and getting closer every day… and recently like I have hardly run more then 3 or 4 miles at at time… and it’s been SO HOT and I don’t know what I was thinking when I got myself into this… and just NO!

Well, not NO but oh goodness help.


Ok, done panicking for now, cause the fact of the matter is that I will be participating in this iconic race and while I may not have the best time ever I am going to complete it.  I am going to cross that finish line on my own two feet no matter how long it takes.

I love the various reactions I get when I mention I’m training for the marathon because it ranges from “you are crazy” to “me too!  How is it going” to “Good for you but I’d never to that”.   Other then that it’s running (or walking, dragging, crawling) yourself 26.2 miles all at one time, what is it about a marathon that makes it sound so daunting?

Perhaps it’s the physical demand.  Maybe it’s the time commitment to training and the gym.  No, I got it— it’s the financial side- signing up for all those races and paying for countless pairs of shoes and clothes for ALL types of weather.  No, that’s not it either?  Well then I suppose it’s a combo of all of the above and then some.

Personally it’s the name… the word marathon, that just sounds so big and intimidating (and long).  Unlike a 5K or 10K, the distance is not part of the title.  You don’t really know how long it is just from throwing the word around.  You either know the distance or you don’t and you don’t worry to ask because it sounds intense and long anyway.  Then of course half marathon still doesn’t have and distance notated in it, but it’s clearly shorter… so more doable and less intimidating… sort of.

There isn’t much else to call a marathon.  But what gets me is when people call a half marathon a “Mini Marathon”.  That I don’t like.  I find this title to be demeaning and belittling, like “aww, how cute you ran your mini marathon of 13 miles”.  Well there is nothing mini about it and there is still plenty of training and planning and spending involved.

And something else that is truly intimidating is the “ultrathons”…  no way I’m heading out for 50 miles!

oops, off on a tangent… coming back from that now.

It all comes down to the name.  No matter where we run it or who we say it.  A marathon is a marathon is a marathon.  It’s 26.2 consecutive miles that loom on the calendar for months  and take so many more hours and miles to train for that there is always a moment of “What am I doing!”  The nice thing to know, is that you are not along.  Maybe during your training you are, but when it’s show time on race day you are surrounded by tons of other runners and spectators.  You are surrounded by a community and that energy come up and sweeps you along just when you wonder if you can go another mile.

So, I guess whatever we were to call it, anything that means 26.2 miles run at one time will be daunting… but runners will continue to pound out the miles again and again.

Who is in training for NYC 2016?  What other races are you all working on?

Always,

C

Beach Body

Summer is here and it’s hot hot hot!  The sun is bright and the sky is blue, making it time to hit the beach, play in the surf, and relax.  It’s the season for chilled cocktails, grilling, friendly get togethers on rooftops.  Stores are stocked full of shorts, tanks, bikinis, crop tops- the less you have on the better the day is going!

WAIT!!  did you say “shorts, tanks, bikinis, crop tops”!?

I sure did.  And with that, in the blink of a eye, everyone goes rushing out to lose weight, change their figure, make themselves more presentable, and get “beach body ready”.

What I’m interested in?  What does it mean to be Beach Body Ready?

Does it mean to starve yourself for weeks so you “look so skinny” in your string bikini?  What about take a “magic diet pill” so you “look so skinny in your string” bikini?              Perhaps it mean you hit up the gym excessively to “look so skinny” in your string bikini?

Why can’t it mean you eat healthy, workout in moderation, and feel proud of who you are even if you are not “looking so skinny” in your string bikini? And for that matter, why a string bikini at all??  High neck is totally in this season anyway.


Last summer I had a huge problem with an ad campaign that flooded the New York City subways promoting a meal replacement and supplement pill that promoted weight loss and getting “beach body ready”.

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Not only did that campaign fail to mention anywhere that diet and exercise are crucial to weight loss, but that model is totally air brushed!  Take this pill and look like that?  NO people!! NO that’s not the way it works!

So this year I kept it in mind and took a (albeit small) stand at that ad.  I have been working out and training all winter and spring.  I went out and got myself some great looking bikinis and hit the beach.

You know what, I felt empowered… Held myself with confidence and no, maybe I wasn’t the skinniest woman out there but I felt great.


So, as we head into another fall and winter season- do we loose it all again?  Do we fall into a fluffy state and cover it all with layers and sweaters?  We can.  We all gain and loose due to seasons changing, stress at work, life changes, age…. you name it.  And you know what- THAT’S OK!  Believe, I’ve been hearing it for years how “Skinny I am” but it doesn’t always mean that’s how I feel.  BUT, what’s important is that you maintain a healthy balanced lifestyle.  Eat well (remember fruits and vegetables… green things are good!) and stay active.  That’s right, even if you are not willing to run on the trails durning the dark winter months, your gym is open!  Check out your local yoga studio or cross fit class.


All in all, a “Beach Body” is a total idea.  Cause anyone can be a body on a beach!                    Be confident and love yourself.

 

Always,

C

Be strong… But Why?

 

I have started this post 3 times and can’t find the right words.  Seldom do I feel judged about my fitness choices or workout routines.  I also try my very best to make no judgments about the choices others make, especially when I’m at work.  I know everyone is on a different “path” and have all come to fitness for different reasons.  Some people are looking for strength others for stretch, some want to relax while others want to socialize.  We are all at different places seeking  for various results and some of us will be on the trail longer then others… for some it will be a steep climb while for others an enjoyable stroll.  The fact is that we are all working to better ourselves and only we can do that.  Where we are on the path is not always clear but with support and encouragement from those around us, we will succeed and have amazing results.

Something I’ve almost always loved about working in the fitness community is the built in support system.  Not everyone but most people will share a supportive nod or wave when passing on the running trail… a nice compliment after class… or a commiserating smile while in SPIN class.  For those that partake in this “fitness karma” it’s a community and a way of life.  We know it’s hard but we are all there doing our best and we are all getting through it, together.  It feels good to support and be supported by others around us.

Sure, I’ve worked in the posh gym environment where everyone walks around in their LuLuLemon outfits (not slamming Lulu, I love their stuff!), the body builders strut so pumped up they can’t put their arms by their sides, and the men show off their trophy wives while discussing which country club they will be golfing at that weekend.  Yes, these can be the less friendly places to be… but in the dead of winter when you are out for a 6 mile run along a one way path of packed ice, wearing more layers then you know what to do with (and none of them match) and a runner coming the opposite way shouts “keep it up, great job”, it feels pretty good.  That’s the only other person you pass that day and you both know what a brutal but rewarding run it was.


I digress, where was I going with this?

Oh yes- so I work in yoga and mindful fitness and I see people of all ages, walks of life, and fitness levels taking all kinds of classes.

A few weeks ago I had a very interesting experience that I haven’t been able to shake.

I show up at work and discuss with one co-worker her great bike ride that morning and my TRX class that weekend.  Now, I don’t bike very much and she hasn’t done a TRX class- so we are talking about very different things but can easily relate to the heat, the work, and the reward after.   A third coworker pipes up… this is where it gets good.

“Oh my god!”  she says, “You do TRX?  You take that class?  TRX, isn’t it like so hard and like it hurts your upper body?  That’s like, so much work.  It like, works your arms and like really hurts.”  Her face says it all, the disgust of the thought, as she grips her biceps in figurative pain, and keeps talking… “I can’t believe you do that.  It’s so bad, like, it really hurts your arms and, like, is a lot of work and like, you sweat.”

I shut it down quick and retreat into my office.  I can’t listen to it.  It’s perfectly fine to say “wow that’s intense, I couldn’t take a class like that but it’s intense that you do” or just keep your mouth shut…

Yes, I LOVE taking TRX class.  I LOVE going for a 6-10 mile run.  I LOVE sweating and hurting like crazy.  Cause you know what?  The sweat washes right off and the pain only lasts a few days but the results last much longer.

And I don’t care if it’s not for you.  If you find your best self in a restorative yoga class- amazing!  I want you to know I’m not going to stop you after class and say, “Oh gosh, you take that class?  It’s like SO boring and like you hardly move.  Like, I don’t understand how anyone could do that”.  (I would never say this anyway because I TAKE restorative yoga at least once a week for by body and sanity)…. but the point is made.  I hope.

When I was at the beach earlier this summer the best thing- even more then the sun and my resulting tan, the phone free time, or the air-conditioned abode- it was by body.  For the first time in a long time  I felt really confident in my bikini.  THAT makes all the pain and sweat and cursing under my breath in TRX and on long runs all worth it.  And I get to thank myself for that.

I love being strong.  It’s a point of pride when I can life more weight then the men around me and seemingly feel more confident in my body then most women my age.  That I have bicep and tricep definition as well as abs.  That I’m not mousy and can carry myself with confidence- cause I know if you come at me, I can (and will) defeat myself.  That I can carry my bag and do my own projects.  This is why I work out, why I strive to better myself and develop the best version of me.

Closing words to wrap up this insightful little rant?  Let me do me and I’ll let you do you.  At the end of the day we all got up and out to do something for ourselves, no matter what that is.

What do you do for yourself?  Rant and share!

Always,

C

RUN Mystic-Half in Review

I know… I know, I’ve been MIA from posting and this race was back in May, but I feel like it’s taken me a while to mentally be ready to write about it or write n general.  So here you go, a fun post about running the Mystic Half Marathon 2016, Mystic CT.

So many factors some into play when prepping for and running a half marathon… location, accessibility, the course, the expo, and the bling.


LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION

All I can say is that we were spoiled for this race,   Megan has family just minutes from the start/finish… meaning amazing accommodations and no crazy early morning walk up call.    Beds, showers, food, transportation to and from the race- Can’t beat that!  Like really truly, if you have ever run a race then had to travel several hours to get home much less to get cleaned up and eat, you know what a little luxury this is and should not be taken for granted.

It also means there are familiar things- like the dog to play with, the foods you like, the space you need to roll out, and so on.  Traveling for races is fun and a great way to see new cities, but lets be honest- hotel beds a tough and space is limited.  Words of advice- make the most of your connections.  An additional plus is having people there to cheer for you!


THE EXPO

The experience always starts with the race expo- a day or so before the race when you (and all your closest new running friends) have  to pick up your number and race shirt as well as any additional stuffage you want to buy.  Usually you can learn more about the race course and the sponsors at the expo too.   I find that the organization and structure of the expo can be a decent indicator of the organization of the race.

One of the worst things is if the expo is stressful and confusing.  It kinda sets the tone for race weekend and can throw you off our game.

The Mystic Expo was small and held where the race would  be starting- Old Mystic Village.  I’m not gonna lie, it was a little confusing to find the packet pickup and it was split up over 2 locations- number pickup in location A and shirt pickup in location B.  Once you knew what signage you were looking for it was easier and I get it, they want you  to walk through the village and shop while getting race ready.  Overall, it was smooth.  There were plenty of volunteers and the lines moved very quickly!

I also finally found a solid black tech-half zip jacket!  I’ve been looking for one at race expos for a while now and have been disappointed, so I was head over heals to find one ay Mystic- plus it’s so unique it’s fun to wear!


THE COURSE

I’d run a portion of the race course on pervious visits to Mystic while training for various other races, so I knew it was lovely.  Races with scenery to look at go by so much better and distract me from the miles.  We started at Old Mystic Village and ran around the water by “downtown” before getting into some residential areas and a protected nature reserve.  I mentioned only running half the course… yup that’s right, the flat half!  So I had convinced myself that the race would be mostly flat.  Yeah I was so wrong and my body beat me up for that!  (Note to self… and readers… check the elevation charts)

Something that was hard for me was that this was a 10K and Half Marathon… running along the same route until the 10K-ers split off to finish and the Half-ers continue up a HUGE endless hill to complete the back end of the course.  Can we say brutal… in so many ways!  A 10K is nothing to sneeze at the I’m proud of all those runners, but the energy that they were about to finish threw me off my game… I was not about to finish.  Then of course there was the face that the course got hilly and the road we were on got less maintained.  I had to walk.  I know that’s ok to do and better that then hurt myself… but I underestimated the course… the hills.  (Disclaimer- not as bad a Central Park Harlem Hills or Inwood Hills Park… I just wasn’t ready for it)

BUT, did I mention the view!?!?!  (photos from pervious training runs in Mystic, CT.)

There was also amazing community support out for this race.  Families and groups were out all over to cheer us on and pass out water.  The support is great and keeps me going, so long as it doesn’t get in the way.


THE FINISH and THE BLING

Possibly the most important part of any race, LOL!

I don’t really remember much of the second half of the course.  I was just so focussed on breathing and putting one foot in front of the other that I wasn’t looking at much and I wasn’t thinking of much.  There was “one last hill” and I had to chant that up the whole thing.  Another runner caught up with me to share words of encouragement and then promptly passed me! But I remember coming up on the finish line.  You could hear it before you saw it- surprising you as you came around the final turn, back by Old Mystic Village.IMG_7056

The sidelines were packed!  Announcers, music, spectators, and other runners make any finish line feel like the best thing and even though you know your are not the only one finishing, for a second you know all that cheering is just for you.

Top off being done with hills and over the finish line with the MEDAL!  — A beautiful nautical themed piece that will not only be a great addition to my collection, but a always a reminder of this beautiful race.  — And of course finish line photos before teetering to the post race food and festivities.  This race, again, had some great stuff including ICE CREAM!

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Look out for more race reviews and training posts.  The new York City marathon is creeping up on me and summer training is kicking my butt.  I’ve started taking more classes and I’m excited to share that with you all… plus beach vacay is coming up!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Always,

C

Weight! Let’s Recap

Remember back a few weeks ago when my dear friend Akeem was featured in my very first Q&A post “Just One Rep at a Time”?  Well, to recap- Akeem is really focused and developing his weight lifting.  And what does that mean? As he put it, “Take it in the simplest of terms, I go to the gym and I push/pull weights in a way that’s smart and allows my body to progress in strength and physique. Not just physically, but mentally as well.”

Akeem and I keep in touch pretty well (text, social media, etc) and the other day I got this email from him:

“Oh my gosh, so I’m working out this morning and all I can think about is all of the benefits of cross training and how they are integral in the improvement of lifting in general. Flexibility helps with mobility and posture which in turn allows you to complete the movements with proper form and stress on the correct body parts. And that’s just flexibility! I still come home at nights and if I’m feeling tight in the hips or the legs I sit on the floor and do the dance stretches we were taught so many years ago in High School, and that definitely aids in recovery and allowing the muscles to grow to their best capacity. I don’t think I can stress enough how important cross training is, LOL!”

I had to share this because 1) I didn’t ask him to send it, it came to my inbox un-provoked (haha) and 2) It stresses something I find to crucial to my fitness and lifestyle but hard to explain- the importance and benefits of cross training!

I work in fitness (at a Yoga and Pilates studio) and I don’t know how many people cancel their memberships because “Well, I’m training for the New York Marathon and I’m just running all the time, so I really don’t have time for anything else, like my yoga.”  That’s great and all, and believe me I know it’s hard to train for a race balancing work, sleep, food, social time, and cross training… but it’s so darn important!

I can talk from experience; you can run all day long but if you are not stretching and toning and rolling and strengthening and resting… you are gonna hurt yourself and it’s gonna be bad.  (I don’t say that to scare anyone or turn them away from running distance, but to encourage them to add in additional strength training and stretching).

Cross training gives your body a chance to reset, to center, to balance out, and to focus.   I love working on hip and ankle stability, cause it’s something I struggle with.  Having a strong core aids in lifting the bones and joints- putting the work in the muscles so they can do their job and you run lighter with more ease.

However, it’s important to know that not all athletes will benefit from the same type of cross training.  For example, Akeem lifts weights- that’s his focus and he will work his body in the best way to benefit that… running is part of his cross training.  Then look at me, I train my body to run long distance- I weight train as a cross training means.  We are literally the inverse because our goals are different.  What works for one may not… will not… work for all!

Yes, to much of a good thing can be a bad thing… I started doing a LOT more yoga after my last half marathon, and it really over strained something in my shoulder, which of course made me stop everything until that recovered.  But I encourage all of my readers and viewers who are active, to add in something new this month.  We just celebrated Global Running Day… so if you are a runner, add something to your workout plan.  If you are a yogi, add in some log impact cardio.  Whatever you choose to do, see if your body doesn’t feel different (lighter, stronger, more pain free) and go from there.

Whatever you do, have fun and be safe!

Also, HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY AKEEM!!!

Always,

C

Global Running Day!

It’s Global Running Day!  A day to celebrate and challenge being active and all levels of fitness.  I’ve talked some about how I started running and have to date run 4 half marathons and countless other races of all lengths.

I’ve been really out of the running game the past 2 weeks due to post Mystic Half recovery and a very painful tight shoulder.  It’s hard to me to talk about my injuries, but I’m sure it will happen eventually.  IMG_7160

So today, a new month and new races to train for, I got up and did a pretty nice little 3 mile run through the park.  It’s getting hot and humid here and of course that’s a challenge, but I’m seeing great things ahead for this summer!

Here is a little review on how running has transformed me… and whatever you do today, whether it be running for a minute, a mile, or a marathon- get up and go!

 


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All my runners out there you know this number.  The mile count for a half marathon.  Perhaps you’ve run so many you’ve lost count, or you have just begun training towards your first 5K with your sights set on the miles ahead.  Where ever you are, be proud of where you are and excited for where you will go.

Me, a runner?  Tell me that a few years ago and I would have laughed in your face.  I was perfectly happy on the elliptical for my cardio and running the occasional 5K that took the better part of an hour to complete.  I didn’t love running… if anything it hurt my body like crazy and I couldn’t breath.

Ok, yes- in college I started to run more, like outside for distances greater then 2 miles, with the proper shoes and with a group of people.  My times weren’t anything special and I was worn out by the activity.  Skip ahead to my move to NYC and I was trying very hard to maintain my miles.  But city running and summer heat made me put on the breaks.  Fast forward to moving in with the boyfriend, running at the gym increased as we both joined Planet Fitness but try to run outside with someone who’s legs are twice as long and I was left in the dust.  Losing self respect and self confidence, my running shoes say the dark of my closet.

Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and set out to accomplish something just for you. I was broken up with, kicked out, homeless, and exhausted.  But I got back on my feet, found a new home, new friends and set my sights on new challenges.

IMG_7161“Ruin is the road to transformation” ~ Eat Pray Love

Had I not fallen so far, felt like I lost so much, and desperately not wanted to give in and leave… I never would have decided to conquer a half marathon.  I wanted, no needed, to be a part of something. I needed to do something that only I could control… that i had to hold myself accountable too (training), and that wasn’t FOR anyone else but me.  I didn’t run these races or set expectations to show off for anyone but myself and honestly, I didn’t care what others thought or if anyone else even cared.


 

Reppin my RUN ATL crew back in Atlanta… you can take the girl from the south, but never the South out of the girl.  Dogwoods and miles logged!

 

Always,

C

Q&A- Brendan Rooney Style!

It’s that time again!  This Q&A with Brendan Rooney is sure to be entertaining and enlightening.  I work with Brendan, but he has written a great bio, so I’ll let him introduce himself and go from there!


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After over 20 years of training in various forms of dance, Brendan’s fascination with movement of the human body was already in full force upon moving to New York City in 2010. Shortly after he began running and training for races and half-marathons, Brendan discovered his passion for the grounding, centering experience of Hatha Yoga. His interest in the physical, asana practice soon broadened to incorporate the philosophical aspects of Yoga while under the guidance of Jodie Rufty during his 200-hour Teacher Training program with YogaWorks in NYC. Brendan went on to complete his 500-hour Teacher Training with YogaWorks and furthered his studies by completing Jillian Pransky’s Restorative Yoga Teacher Training and TRX training under Maeve McCaffrey. Most recently, Brendan became certified in the YogaWorks method, created by Maty Ezraty, and assisted several 200-hour Teacher Trainings with YogaWorks led by Caitlin Casella and Julie Mellk (formerly Marx).

Considering Yoga to be just as much of a ‘work-in’ as it is a workout, Brendan’s alignment-focused classes encourage students to move mindfully as they explore the potential they have in their bodies and minds. Brendan truly believes Yoga is a personal practice that is specific to the individual’s needs and hopes to inspire his students to think less of the picture and more of the moment.

Q:  So what exactly are you trained and certified in?

A: In addition to 20+ years of dance training, including ballet, modern, and jazz, and TRX training (not technically certified) I am a 500hr RYT. I’m also certified in Restorative Yoga (level 1) and the YogaWorks Method.

Q:  What drew you into fitness and teaching?

A: I was a very (over)active child, and my parents put me in dance classes at the age of 6 to provide an outlet for my excess energy. After moving to NYC, my interest in Yoga began to peak as a calming counter to all of the frenetic energy in the city. Although I had taught dance classes in high school and college, I never had a strong desire to be a dance teacher. I originally planned to start teaching Yoga as a side job while I continued to audition and dance in the city; however, about halfway through my certification process I realized that I was developing a passion for teaching Yoga. I felt that I had received such a precious gift in developing my Yoga practice and found new methods to work and appreciate my body in ways that dance couldn’t offer. My goal as a teacher is to offer this experience that so profoundly changed me to others, so that perhaps they can find a moment of serenity in this chaotic city and come to discover a new respect for their body.

Q: What would if the up-side to having knowledge of so many fitness methods?image3

A:  Everything can be overdone, including stretching and strengthening, so I’m a firm believer in bringing balance to the body and mind. The upside of being well versed in so many modes of fitness is that I’ve been able to fine-tune my listening skills when it comes to my body.  I listen to what my body is telling me on any given day and adjust my regiment to suite what I need at the moment, whether it calls for strengthening and cardio work, stretching and Yoga, or resting. I personally believe the most important concept in teaching Yoga (and fitness in general) is the Law of Compensation. Essentially, when dealing with a lack of flexibility or strength, the body will still find a way to do whatever it is you are asking it to do and shift that work into other areas of the body, regardless of how safe it is. Being able to listen to the subtle clues my body gives me allows me to discern what I’m trying to do from what I’m actually doing.

Q:  How do you integrate various techniques when planning a class?

A: When incorporating other forms of fitness, like dance or TRX into a Yoga class and vice versa, I first think of my component parts of my class. In other words, what needs to be stretched? / what needs to be strengthened? / what is the MOST important concept? From there I decide if there are specific exercises or stretches that highlight that concept. For example, in most TRX classes I teach, I spend some time at the beginning of class highlighting the alignment points of plank position (Ardha Chaturanga Dandasana)- specifically the subtle action of lifting the hip bones to the bottom front ribs to help engage the core and prevent the pelvis from dropping and causing strain to the lower back. This is an important action to highlight early on because plank is the foundational pose of nearly exercise in TRX, and the tendency in the majority of students is to allow the low back to sway and become excessively lordotic, losing the engagement of the stabilizing core muscles.

Q:  Why is this integration important? Can’t we all just do one form of workout and be in shape?

image4A:  Integration of various forms of movement and exercise is important because, in my experience, nothing does everything. Yoga is great for stretching the hamstrings, but there are no asanas that strengthen the hamstrings as effectively as running does. We do a lot of pushing in Yoga, working the triceps and serratus anterior, but there are more opportunities to work our pulling muscles like the biceps and lats in TRX (not to mention grip strength!) When students ask me if Yoga will help them lose weight, I hate to break it to them, but as great as Yoga is for finding more range of movement and developing a stronger sense of proprioception, it doesn’t really count as cardiovascular fitness (sustained aerobic exercise). Those students are better off going for a jog, swim, or bike ride.

Q: What’s it like in “a day in the life” of a New York City fitness instructor?

A: “A day in the life” with me would look different depending on the day. My schedule is constantly fluctuating, depending on what private clients I have that week and what additional classes I might sub for another teacher. Generally, each week is a bit different from the prior week; some days I start teaching around 9am and will teach up to 5 classes before finishing my day 12 hours later, and other days, I may have just one class and have the whole rest of the day to do as I please while everyone else is at work. It can be a very sporadic schedule, but it keeps me stimulated. Change is always good- one of the main requirements of my job is being able to easily adapt. Just like each day’s schedule may be completely different from the last, each group of students is different from the ones before and may require a different approach.

Q: What are the physical demands of teaching fitness class(es) and what do you do to stay in shape- ready to demonstrate in class?

A: The physical demands of teaching fitness classes can certainly start to weigh on the body. Predominantly, I teach more beginner-level Yoga classes, which tends to require a good bit of demonstration (as does most every TRX class), so when I practice on my own, I tend to work on countering all of the demonstrating that I do throughout the day. I have a brief morning ritual that I repeat about 4-5 more times throughout the day (usually while waiting for the subway in between classes) that consists of shoulder openers, side stretches, and twists. Teaching can take a lot of energy, both mentally and physically, so fitting in my own workout regime (Yoga, running, gym, TRX) requires some planning and negotiating. There are also times when I’m assisting a Yoga Teacher Training or just teaching so much that I can’t always adhere to my own fitness schedule, and those are the times when I try to cut myself some slack and do more Restorative Yoga.

Q:  When you are not teaching what are you up to?IMG_7123

A: When I’m not teaching, I spend as much time reaping the rewards of my hard work as I can. I absolutely love NYC, and I spend much of my free time exploring the city and discovering new places. My ideal day would consist of a nice walk with my dogs, some time resting outside at a park, and spending the evening cooking dinner with my man and watching our shows on TV.

Q:  What are your long term goals?

A:  I don’t really set many long-term goals. I’ve worked very hard the last few years to get to a position where I can teach full-time, and it is such a rewarding experience that I don’t imagine I’ll be changing career paths anytime soon. Now, I’m starting to focus more on anatomy and Yoga therapeutics, so I imagine the next step will be a deeper dive into more specific teaching methods. Eventually, I would love to lead my own Yoga Teacher Trainings, and pass on all that I’ve learned to new, eager teachers. On a personal level, I’m beginning to physically and mentally prepare myself to run the NYC Marathon in the future.

Q: Give me some words of wisdom!image1

A:   “We are what we think” ~Buddha~ We will always have ups and downs, good days and bad days, but the one thing that we can rely on is that the only constant in life is change. So it’s important to be kind to ourselves during those rough patches. What you think about yourself can build you up or tear you down. That’s why the brain is the most important muscle to exercise.


And I’m still looking at the puppy picture!  But really, I take classes with Brendan at least twice a week (yoga and TRX) and he is one of the most inspiring and encouraging instructors I know.

Learn more about Brendan, what he’s up to and when he’s teaching on Instagram @_brendan_rooney_ and on Facebook here!


Have a great Memorial Day weekend, ya’ll!

Always,

C