Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Thinking

As I am sitting here thankful it's finally Friday, my thoughts have been doing a little wandering. Now that summer is gone, we enter one of my favorite times of the year, Fall. With Fall the weather is starting to cool off, which makes being outside more bearable, and soon we'll get to enjoy the colors of the season.

So my thoughts started here...
Hiking at Minnewaska State Park.
 ...and then jumped to here...
Snowboarding for the first time at Sugarloaf.
 ...but they should really be here...
Crossing the NYC Finish Line in 2006.
Just my random thinking for a Friday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Whatcha Readin' Wednesday

Growing up, my mother was a big fan of making sure my bedroom shelves were filled with books. As a pre-teen, I read anything from the Hardy Boys (my sister had the Nancy Drew's) to Judy Blume. Once I hit my teen years though, my time spent with books were minimal. I didn't read unless I absolutely had to, and that was for school.

Fast forward to my mid-twenties and I started to fall in love with reading. It all began with the fantasy book, "Belgarath the Sorcerer" by David Eddings. I remember I couldn't put this book down and just started devouring book after book. 
Not much has changed today. I have been known to read a book a week, if not more. I am the proud holder of 2 library cards and have put many miles on each of them through the past few years. I am the type of person that makes time for reading everyday because I have come to enjoy it so much. I have read some really great books and of course ones that have been a struggle to finish, but I finish them because I have to know how it turns out in the end. I think also a little part of me hopes that maybe the book will just get better.

I come from a family of readers which I personally think is wonderful. We all like to read similar type books so I am always receiving some great suggestions for new authors from my parents or my sister. It's also great that a few of my co-workers are avid readers and we are always suggestions books to one another.
I will read almost anything. I am not one for liking the Fabio romance novels. However, if it's a mystery or historical fiction that has some romance in it, I am game. I may also be a sucker for Young Adult novels too.

Last year I decided it was time to become an eReader owner. Even though I am a traditional girl who loves being able to hold a book and turn the pages, I realized that it was a lot more practical to commute on the subway with an eReader. I ended up purchasing a Nook and have not regretted it at all. 
I have purchased a few books for it, but the majority of books I read on it are from my public libraries. I consider myself to be pretty lucky to have access to the NY Public Library system. They have a lot more eBooks available than a smaller library system with not much funding has. From time to time you will still see me with a real live book in my hand, but for the most part, if I can get it from the library in electronic format first, I will.

So what am I reading right now? 
I am currently finishing up the second novel, "From Bad to Cursed" by Young Adult writer Katie Alender, from the Bad Girls Don't Die series. 
When I was visiting my sister this past July, we came across the third book in this series at Barnes and Noble and we were intrigued by the description on the back cover. I remember it said something like it was the Stephen King of Young Adults. Now, I never read Stephen King because I remember both my sister and mother not being able to sleep at night because of his books. I figured since this was for Young Adults, it would be something I could maybe get a little spooked by, but still get to sleep at night.

I finished the first book a few weeks ago and wasn't disappointed. You can tell it is for young readers and I thought it was well written. There is one part of the book that I was reading at 10pm one night and got totally spooked. I asked myself, "Why didn't you stop a chapter earlier?" Fortunately, I don't sleep alone anymore, so I had a warm body snoring next to me so I felt safe. I can be such a baby sometimes.

I will be finishing my current book tonight for sure. I am not quite sure what will be next. I have a few books on hold at the library right now and hopefully at least one of them will become available soon. Until then, I will pick something that I can read quickly.
What are you reading right now?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mama Needs New Boots

With the fall weather definitely upon us, I am in need of some new boots! I had a pair from Nine West that I bought at a year end sale many many moons ago which I totally loved to death. Unfortunately I had to throw them out this past winter because if I didn't one day the heel was going to pop right off.

Every morning as I walk to work I tell myself that I need to remember to search online for some boots. I can't really walk into a store and buy off the rack because my ginormous muscular calves need a little extra room to breath. For the past week, once I get to work I forget that I told myself, not 30 minutes earlier, that I needed wanted to look at boots. Well let me tell ya I have forgotten no more!

After spending some quality time consulting my favorite site,, I have narrowed the search down to three boots and one just for fun. My requirements for the boots are for them to be black, have a ginormous calf circumference and either no heel or a low 1"-2" heel.

Choice #1: Naya Gazelle
This boot is listed as a knee high boot (14.5" shaft) and I like the little buckle detail. The heel is a 2 incher and will work with my wide girth of a calf. The only downside is that they are a bit on the pricey side of $265.

This boot is listed as a mid-calf boot (13" shaft) and also has a little ring detail going on both sides of the boot that I like. I've never worn a mid-calf boot and this one is a half inch larger in it's circumference than the other boots I have listed here which is fine because one calf is larger than the other. I also like that these are categorized as a cowboy boot. The heel on this is also a 2 incher. The cost of these are more reasonable at $200. That's how much I paid for my last boots and I got my $ worth out of them.

Choice #3: Nine West Shiza
This boot is listed as a knee high boot (16.5" shaft - Wowza) and has a 1" heel. The ankles also have buckle action going on with them. The only reservation I have about these is the length of the boot. Not sure my leggies can handle it. These babies come in at a price of $159.

Not a Choice - Just for Fun: Madden Girl Gemiini
I think these boots are super funky/quirky and would be great with jeans. I love the lace detail on the front with the colored zipper on the back. These are a super low price of $69.95, but from reading the reviews I think the quality is reflected in the price. Many said they fell apart and that even though the calf circumference is suppose to accommodate my calf requirement, many said they ran narrow. If not for those issues I probably would of picked these up for fun.

So now I am faced with the tough decision of which ones to get! What do ya'll think? You have any favorite fall boots you can't live without? I am hoping to have a new pair by next week.

Monday, September 24, 2012

18 Miles of Bliss?

Week 10 of marathon training has been complete, however it doesn't resemble exactly what was on my schedule. I was suppose to complete a total of 36 miles for the week with an 18 mile long run on Sunday. However, this past week my body had its own idea of what it was going to allow me to do. 

What I was suppose to do:
Monday: 3 miles, Cross-Train or Rest
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 18 miles
Total Mileage - 36

What I actually did:
Monday: Cross-Train (30 minutes on bike trainer)
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 3 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 18 miles
Total Mileage - 28

As you can see the mileage on Tuesday through Thursday didn't quite hit it's mark. Why? Well let's just say that a little lower back pain (S1 / Sciatica) on Tuesday reared it's ugly little head this week and the longer I ran the worse it got and started going down my right leg into my heel. I was really worried that I wouldn't get the 18 miles done on Sunday.

Well as it turned out, when Sunday came I got down to business and completed the run.

I didn't realize until today that I could include the elevation chart with the map from Daily Mile. It's pretty cool because you can see that from the start of my run the elevation begins at 300 feet and climbs close to 650 feet through Mile 2. I wasn't kidding when I said the first 2 to 3 miles were one serious hill climb. And let me just say that I love that beautiful decline in elevation from mile 3 to just past the 4th mile mark. My legs love this part of the recovery and I end up feeling strong into miles 5 and 6. Besides the first 3 miles the next hill I dread is at mile 11. It's one serious steady climb from around 225 feet to just over 400-450 feet. The past few weeks I have been able to run this hill without any grumbling or profanities escaping my mouth. Very proud of myself for that!

My splits show what kind of pace I was running. I keep having to tell myself that this is trail running so my pace it going to be slower than if I was on pavement.
So how was the pain? When I first started running I felt a twinge in my lower back and thought there was no way I was going to be able to complete the full 18 miles. However, within a few minutes the pain subsided and I was given some hope. 

I clocked the first 6 miles and hit the car for more hydration/potty break feeling pretty good. Clocked the next 6 miles and hit the car again for another round of hydration/another potty break (seriously need to re-evaluate my nutrition). Said hello to my honey and told him that I felt good, a bit tired and was feeling some lower back pain which intensified during the mile 11 climb. I was originally hoping to turn this 18 miles into a 20 mile run because I really want to be able to get a 22 mile run in before the marathon. So we decided that I was going to run the next 6 miles around the lake, which is relatively easy, and re-access the situation.

All motivated I went back out to finish my challenge. Mile 13 wasn't too bad. Mile 14 the pain in my back was saying hello. Mile 15 it was getting worse and I knew I would be lucky to get the 18 done, totally forgetting about 20. Mile 16 I was telling myself "Failure Is Not An Option." Mile 17 I was saying, "Run Fat Boy Run" (love that movie). Mile 18 the pain was pounding my back down my right leg to my heel. I was questioning how I would get to 26.2 on race day if I could barely eek out 18 with the pain. (Not to self: You can never ask those questions prior to and during a long run. You are not thinking clearly.) I clicked my Garmin for mile 18 in the parking lot next to the car. I immediately told my honey that I was done and I couldn't go for another 2 miles. I could barely bend over my back was so stiff. I spent a lot of time in the parking lot stretching and loosening things back up and as soon as I got home I started ice pack therapy on my back.

When all is said and done, I hit my goal of 18 miles. That's all my schedule was asking of me. I may not have hit the total miles for the week, and my long run may have suffered from it, but I did it. I will have to decide in a couple of weeks about the 22 mile run. Until then, I am working on icing, stretching and strengthening exercises in hopes of fixing this little problem. 

I am not sure how much, if at all, I will have to alter my training this week. I am taking today as a rest from running and may ride the bike trainer for 30 minutes after work just to shake my legs out. I am not in any major pain today. My lower back this morning was throbbing and stiff, but the discomfort is gone now. Tomorrow I will run on the track and see how it goes. Right now, I am hoping things will go well this week in the land of marathon training.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Handstamped with Love - bama + ry

I am all about the handmade items. I am an avid sewer, scrapbooker and knitter. So back in August I was stalking reading one of my newly found favorite blogs, Healthy Tipping Point, and was blown away by some very pretty copper handstamped jewelry that a friend of hers makes and sells on Etsy.

After reading Jasmine's story in that post about how her jewelry business came to fruition, I was completely filled with heartache for someone I have never met.  I was moved by how she used her grief of losing her twin babies earlier this year and turned it into something so beautiful that would be sure to put smiles on the faces of so many people. 

After perusing bama + ry on Etsy, I knew that I had to have one of her pieces. The tough decision was on deciding exactly what I wanted. There was so much I liked, especially in the running theme. After much debating, I finally narrowed down what I wanted and placed my order.

I arrived to work one day last week and was surprised to see a package waiting for me on my desk. At first I didn't know what it could be. My mind was racing to remember if I had placed an Amazon order recently ('cause you know I am a sucker for Prime Shipping). I came up blank so I tore into the package and a huge smile crossed my face when I realized it was my necklace. I hadn't even opened the box yet and I was smiling like a silly schoolgirl.

After I read the handwritten note that was included, tears filled my eyes. This little note from a complete stranger meant so much to me because I knew that the necklace was indeed made with love!

So do you think these charms are me?

Running IS my superpower! It came with the 26.2 charm and I added the 13.1 charm since I have raced both distances.

It sits so nicely on my chest and close to my heart...

...and throughout the day I love hearing the little tinkling sound the charms make when I make the slightest movement. I told my co-worker the other day that I felt like a little kitty cat. We both had a chuckle over that one.

I hope you all will go over and check out bama +ry! She offers items from inspirational, mommy/family, running/fitness to custom made items. These would make wonderful gifts to yourself or someone special in your life!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fitness 4 Mile Race Recap

This past Saturday marked my return to racing in over a year! Ever since I started my marathon training, and it going so well, I have been itching to get back to racing. I had been on the fence all last week about whether or not I wanted to interrupt my harmonious training with a race the day before a long run. I even put it out there on Facebook about me being on the fence knowing that I would get some positive feedback in encouraging me to do it. On Friday I made up my mind and to make it concrete I asked a very dear friend of mine if she wanted to do brunch in the city so there was no backing out the morning of the race.

Let me tell you, it felt awesome being back out amongst the racing crowd. I forgot just how much I loved the atmosphere and being amongst others who love running as much as I do. I ended up going to this race without any support. My honey had planned on a long bike ride that morning and I didn't have the heart to ask my dear friend if she wanted to come cheer me on. Call me silly or stubborn, but something that was said to me in the past prevents me from asking any of my friends to come out with me anymore. I don't want to feel like they have to come out and support me because I asked them to. I want them to be there because they want to be there. So if a friend asks me if they can come and cheer me on I don't hesitate to say "Heck Yes!"

So how was I going to approach this race? I honestly didn't know how I was going to handle running the race since I knew I had a 10 mile run the next morning. On one hand my heart wanted to see what I was made of and on the other hand my heart was telling me to take it easy because technically this race was a training run the day before a long run on hilly trails. My heart didn't make up it's mind until I was standing in the corral and the race horn blared. When I clicked my Garmin as I crossed the start line me heart said "Let's see what you can do!"

This is what the course looked like:

Mile 1 has an uphill that is called Cat Hill. As you are running up the hill and you look up the stone wall on your left you see this:

Many people dread this hill. I use to be one of them. After all my training on the trails with major hills, the hills in Central Park are not so bad.  I attacked this hill with a new outlook on hills and was able to charge up it without any problems.

Mile 2 provides a nice recovery from the hill we just climbed. There is downhill, a minor hill climb and flat road in this mile.

As you turned left onto the west side of the park, you are faced with an uphill. Mile 3 consists of 3 hills. In the past this part of the park use to be "Oh My Goodness Kill Me Now" part. Now it was "Bring It On." I actually enjoyed this challenge because it showed me how far I have come with my running just this year, or I should say just the past 2 months. With each footstep I felt strong and to my amazement I was passing other runners.

Coming off of mile 3 there is a nice downhill portion bringing you closer to the 4 mile mark. Unfortunately to get to the finish line there is a slight uphill climb. I managed to get my sprint on at the end and finished in 39:31! Believe you me I was SURPRISED! I was THRILLED! I was HAPPY! I proved to myself that I am a strong and my hard work is paying off.

Here's my Splits from my Garmin:
My pace from miles 1 and 3 reflect the hills and overall my pace was phenomenal through the entire race. I haven't run 9:30's in like forever!

Here's my official stats from NYRR:
It's kinda hard to see the F41. This is my first time racing in a new age group. Not that I am ever going to place within my age group, but it's still hard because I have mixed feelings about being in my 40's. Anyhoo, my place within the age group is not too shabby. I placed 179 out of a total of 336 which puts me in the top 50%.

Overall I am thrilled with my performance and look forward to getting back on the race course again!

Of course, no race experience is ever complete without a post-race meal! After I crossed the finish line and picked up my bag, I immediately texted my dear friend that I was on my way to our meeting point. We made a pit stop at my local running store where I dashed in to pick up a new pair of running shoes (yes I believe I mentioned I bought a new pair about 3 weeks ago, another story for another post). Then we were off to Almond for brunch.

Let me tell you it was the perfect place! It's located on 22nd Street between Broadway and Park Avenue and if you live in NYC I highly recommend checking it out sometime.  I had never been there before and I will definitely be going back. It was a super adorable restaurant. The staff was attentive and friendly. The food was to die for. I wish I had remembered to take some pictures to share, but unfortunately in my state I forgot to whip the camera out that I had with me.

We started out with a basket (or two) of mini biscuits which were perfect. I think I would have been happy just having several baskets of these as my meal. Since I could not, I chose to order the Ricotta Pancakes served with Lemon Curd. OH MY GOSH! These babies melted in your mouth. I thought I died and went to pancake heaven! My mouth is watering just thinking about them.

Running a race, catching up with my friend and sharing a delicious meal was a perfect way to spend my Saturday morning!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 8 Training Recap

I have officially hit the halfway mark in my NYC Marathon training! This past week was a monumental week for running. The total miles logged this week jumped from 28 to 34 miles with a long run of 16 miles. I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but I can tell you that it went fantastic! According to Daily Mile I had an Impressive week of training. They show me at a total of 36 miles, but that's because it includes all my cool down walks after running whatever distance I need to hit each day and they also round to the nearest mile.

Despite the really humid weather during the past week, I did get out at 5:30am every morning (with the exception of Monday) and logged my miles.

Monday: 3 miles - Since it was Labor Day I chose to ignore the alarm clock and went for my run around 11am. Call me crazy because it was a HOT, HUMID day.

Tuesday: 4 miles - I ran 2 miles and then did 2 miles of Intervals.

Wednesday: Rest - thank you very much!

Thursday: 5 miles - Not a great run. Just decent. My legs were tired.

Friday: 6 miles - This was not an easy run. My legs were still not having it plus I think the humidity didn't help. The important thing was that I didn't give up and got the mileage done.

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: 16 miles - I was fearing this run all week long. I knew how I bonked, mentally and physically, towards the end of my 14 miler a couple weeks earlier and I was afraid it was going to happen again. As you can see from the map...

...I got it done! Everything for this run was spot on and clicked. I broke the run into 3 segments so I could mentally handle it. I knocked out 6 miles and then switched out my hydration bottles. I knocked out the next 6 miles and switched out my hydration bottles. I knocked out the last 4 miles and went back to the car with a big smile on my face. My honey told me that I looked so much better after this run than with the 14 miler. I felt great!

I have reviewed over and over what I did for this run that helped me get to the finish. It's a combination of nutrition, hydration, mental strategy and approach on how I would pace myself. As I have said before, this long run course is not easy. It is full of hills and part of it can be very challenging on tired legs. While many wouldn't agree on putting these kind of hills in with a long run, for me it is paying off. This run showed me just how much stronger I have gotten and I know it will help me cross the marathon finish line in November.

*Side Note: The Rockefeller State Park Preserve is the stomping ground for many people who are training for various marathons. Every Sunday the parking lot is packed with cars and groups of runners talking about whatever long distance they have to cover. The last 2 weeks there have even been buses filled with runners coming out for a training run. Evidently I am not the only one who thinks these beautiful hilly trails are a great place for a long run!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Addiction?

Several months ago I decided that I needed to bring my lunch to work with me everyday. It not only saved my wallet but also my waistline. For the past few weeks I decided that Friday's were going to be my "Treat Yourself to Lunch Day." The old me would probably get some 99 cent pizza, but the new me decides to go to Pret A Manger and get this yummy salad:

This is Pret's Farmer's Market Salad. Let me tell you, it is freaking yummy and very filling! It contains Avocado, Garbanzo Beans, Mediterranean Lentil Salad, Pine Nuts, Shredded Beets and Carrots, Cherry Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers on a bed of Spinach for only 260 calories.

Pret also offers six different dressings ranging from your basic Balsamic to Wild Berry. I usually choose the Lemon & Shallot Vinaigrette. It's only 100 calories for the whole packet. I find it's a very light and tangy dressing for not a whole lot of calories.

What I love about Pret the most is that everything they offer is natural, some items are organic, and made fresh throughout the day! Now can you say YUM?!?!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week 7 Training Recap

I hope everyone enjoyed the Labor Day holiday weekend! I didn't have anything special planned for the long weekend except to start feeling better and get my long run done on Sunday.  I am happy to report that as of Friday, my antibiotics finally kicked in and I truly started to feel better. The best I felt in weeks! I am amazed at just how bad I was feeling during the past three weeks and still managed to get all of my marathon training done. This year I told myself  "No Excuses" and I certainly plugged along during the past few weeks despite the nasty sinus infection. I am committed to making it to the starting line on November 4th.

It's hard to believe that the summer is over and I have been training for 7 weeks. The summer has flown by and I can only imagine just how fast the next 9 weeks will be. Anyway, Week 7 of training ended on Sunday and I have now entered the week where my total mileage will jump up an additional 6 mile. Usually it's just 2 mile increases, but this one is a big one and it frightens me just a tad because my long run this Sunday will be 16 miles. But alas, Sunday is still a few days away. I will continue to focus on one day at a time and will deal with Sunday when it comes.

So how did this past week go? Not too bad. I hooked myself up with Daily Mile the other week. I am finding its a great place to connect with other like minded individuals when it comes to running, cycling, etc. I can easily synch my runs from my Garmin to the site. What I also love is that you can easily see your exercise recap for the week. See your total mileage was for the week and a break out for each day. Total time spent exercising and calories burned. This is what mine looked like for last week:

Monday: 3 mile recovery run that I ended up doing at the gym during lunch. I was tired in the morning (ya know from that 14 miler on Sunday) and wanted a couple more hours sleep. This run was easy and done at a 10:40 pace.

Tuesday: 4 mile run at Astoria Park Track. Wasn't too bad even though I did it in the down pouring rain! I did an easy 1 mile warm-up, 2 miles of sprints and 1 mile recovery. Legs were dead after I was done. Also took myself to the doctor and got my antibiotics to treat a sinus infection. Yay!

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: 5 mile run at Astoria Park Track. I struggled a bit with this run. My calves were aching (despite rocking the compression sleeves) for the first 3 miles and this was my first outside run wearing my new running shoes. I changed up the brand of shoes I had been wearing because I was dealing with some issues and these ones were to fix them. By the end of my run I was hating them! I vowed to give them 2 weeks and if I still hated them I was going to buy different one that I had tried on that was better than the original pair I was running in but not as perfect as this pair.

Friday: 6 mile run at Astoria Park Track. Can I say that this run was BEAUTIFUL! In 7 weeks this was the first run that just felt great. No aches. No pains. Everything clicked. I even fell in love with my new running shoes. I started this run with a 10:50 pace and with each passing mile I picked up speed. Mile 6 was done at a 10:13 pace. I was super happy! Think my meds finally kicked in by this day.

Saturday: Rest Day

Sunday: 10 mile Long Run at Rockefeller State Park Preserve. I showed you what my 14 miler looked like last week. Here is my 10 miler:

I used the map from Daily Mile so I could show you each mile mark so you get an idea of the direction I took. My Garmin map is nice but it won't show all the mile marks for my longer runs. 

Mile marks 1 and 2 have some serious hills. Let me just note that no matter where you run in this park you will encounter hills. Some are gentle as others are intense. So these first 2 miles have the most intense hills of my course. But what is nice about a big hill is that there is always a nice downhill. Miles 3 to 4 is where I recover from the first 2 hills. By the time I hit Swan Lake after mile 4 my legs are feeling pretty good and my pace picks up to a sub 11:00. After mile 5 I encounter another hill. It's a moderate hill that is out in the open from the tree cover and it is a long climb. Mile 6 is the beginning of a downhill recovery. I will loop back up around and then head over to another part of the part. Right after mile 7 I begin another long hill climb. It's not terrible in grade. Just long. A little bit after mile 8 I hit a nice down hill and the course flattens back out some with minor climbs to mile 9. About mile 9.5 you start another long climb back up to mile 10. Again it's not terrible but on tired legs it can feel like torture. For this run I hit my 10 mile mark right before I turned out of this portion of the park. I was thankful because the trek back up to where the parking lot is, is one serious long hill. This hill kicked my butt the last time I HAD to run up it. Unfortunately next week I will be running up it and then have to run another 4 miles after, but that's ok. I am working on my re-hydration plan for that day and know I will have to go by the car after that hill to refuel so I will take a moment to get what I need and recover and then take off to conquer the 16 miles.

So that's my Week 7 training in a nutshell!