Archive | December 2011

A Long Long Run

Usually, my long runs are my favorite workout. At school, they are sometimes the only “me time” that I get all week long. I eagerly go to bed at 10:30 p.m. on Friday nights in anticipation of hopping out of the covers at 6:30 (I know most of you guys do that every day, but I’m a college kid and most of my classmates don’t wake up till noon!) and setting out for 2 plus hours of running. I love the excitement of plotting out my route before I leave and the satisfaction of coming home, chugging some chocolate milk, and hitting the books with that pleasant heavy/tired feeling in your legs that comes only after a 15 mile jaunt around the city.

But lately, I just haven’t been feeling it. I resent the way I have to plan my entire day around getting my heavy mileage done. I dread the long long hours of running alone. And I don’t like waking up early! I think maybe it’s because during winter break, every day is like a Saturday and I have all the “me time” I need or want. Instead of being a welcome break from the daily grind, my 2-hour long runs are an interruption to the regularly scheduled programming of baking, reading, meeting up with friends, and watching too much TV.

Todays long run felt especially long, mostly because it was COLD (Around 28 degrees when I set out!) and kinda boring. Normally for my long runs when I’m at home I’ll go across the Brooklyn Bridge and run around in Manhattan, but it was pretty windy this morning and I didn’t like the idea of being close to the water. Instead I did 4.5 loops of Prospect Park for a 16 mile run. It was rough, but 3 things kept me going:

1. Mint Chocolate GU: Normally I don’t like GU very much, but this stuff is great! It tastes exactly like Christmas.

2. My gorgeous craft running gloves: They’re regular gloves, but they also have a mitten flap that goes over your fingers, so it’s like wearing two pairs of gloves at once without having to wear bulky layers! These were a Hannukah present to myself and worth every penny! Plus they’re blue and pink, so how can you go wrong?

3. My podcasts: I had 2.5 hours of podcasts saved up for this run, and that’s really what got me through. Mostly I listened to Stuff You Missed in History Class (I’m a nerd, what can I say?), where I learned about interesting history topics from the first olympics (women were not allowed to even watch the olympics in Ancient Greece, on penalty of death!) to the Navajo code talkers.

These guys got me through the 4.5 loops and the freezing cold, and I’m not exhibiting any signs of frostbite yet, so that’s good!

The rest of my day consisted of working on my application for my major, reading, watching The Princess Bride (SUCH A GREAT MOVIE!), and snacking. My new favorite snack is granny smith apples sliced thin with cheddar cheese on top. I may or may not have consumed three apples today in exactly that manner.

Do you look forward to long runs? What gets you out the door and running when you don’t really want to be?

Back to Business and Best of the Web

Well, the holidays are over and it’s back to business as usual (kind of) for the remainder of break. It’s going to be a busy 13 days, between all of the work I need to get done before school starts, friends who are visiting, and runs I need to fit in.

My runs the past week have been pretty blah. My legs have been feeling kinda tight and tired and my head just isn’t really into it (maybe because my brains and body are still reeling from the clouds of sugar forced into them last week… maybe.) This morning was my first run in a while where I’ve felt really good. My mom dragged me out of bed at 5:45 a.m. to do two loops of Prospect Park with her (about 7 miles). I hated her for about 10 minutes as I got dressed but it was actually really fun to be out so early once we got going. The sky slowly changed from pitch black to gray to blue streaked with pink and gold, and  it was cool to see how different the park looked from our first loop in the dark to the second loop during sunrise. As if that weren’t enough, we also went to the Y afterwards to lift weights. It wasn’t nearly as fun as the run, but I’m glad I went. It made me appreciate eating breakfast while reading the newspaper all the more.

In the spirit of going back to business, here’s my best of the web post for today:

1. Map My Run: This is the website I use to track all of my running. I don’t have a garmin or any way of tracking how far I run on a given day, but I love coming home to map out my run and see how far I went. It’s also really satisfying to see how the miles add up at the end of the month. I’ve run 137 miles so far this month, and I’m shooting for over 150 by the 31st (I’ve got a 16 miler planned for Thursday so that shouldn’t be too hard). I think in January I might hit 200, depending on how marathon training goes!

Hmm. Looking at this I think I might have forgotten to log a few workouts. I almost always run 5 days a week, so its weird that there are so many weeks with 4. Oops!

2. Joy the Baker: Before I started reading running blogs, I was obsessed with baking blogs. I still am! (My parents gave me a spatula, a slotted spoon, a microplane and a muffin tin last night for Hannukah, so clearly I’m that kind of girl.) Joy the Baker was the first blog I read. She is so funny and has such beautiful pictures of all the delicious foods she makes. She also has two awesome and hilarious podcasts that I often listen to when I’m running!

Honorary mention: My school’s online course listings. Unfortunately, that’s not a whole lot of fun for anyone besides me, since only students at my college can access the website. I’m in the process of declaring my major (eek!) and part of the application is to draw up proposed schedule for the classes you want to take for the remainder of your semesters at college. It’s so much fun! There are so many courses I want to take, from the history of women in athletics to a seminar on North African politics to an English class about Oscar Wilde. The only problem is that the registrar’s website is like a black hole for nerds – I could spend hours searching different department’s websites.

How are you recovering from the holidays? Do you like waking up early? What was your favorite class that you took while in college (or if you’re still in school, what’s your favorite class that you’re taking now?)

 

Cookies and More Cookies

The whole spirit of the Christmas season is generally lost on my family (partly because we’re Jewish, but we forgot to light the menorah on Tuesday night so that’s not really an excuse either). We don’t have big family gatherings. We don’t give presents. We don’t visit the tree in Rockefeller Center or look at the window displays on 5th avenue.

But the one way we really do appreciate the Christmas spirit is through cookies. MASSIVE amounts of cookies. In the seven days since I’ve been home from school I’ve made five different kinds of cookies. Most of them we give away, but plenty find their way into my belly. In the interest of saving the rest of my family from gaining an extra 20 pounds during the 3 weeks that I’m home, I went over to my friend V’s house yesterday to help HER family make THEIR christmas cookies. We made Italian Rainbow cookies (I don’t have any pictures but you can hop on over to Smitten Kitchen for photos and the recipe!) and gingerbread men.

They came out pretty cute, if I do say so myself! My favorite is the one with the blue vest and the bow tie in the last photo. I was pretty proud of him! He has a wife with a blue dress and a purple bow (she’s upside down on the same tray) and we joked that they were dressed up to go to a party.

V drove me home (a Brooklyn girl who can drive! I just got my permit this summer and have no idea how to drive, so that’s a completely foreign concept to me) and we drove through Dyker Heights, a neighborhood of Brooklyn famous for their crazy Christmas decorations. Here’s an example:

If you can believe it, some of the lights are even more elaborate than the ones at this house! It used to be a tradition for my dad and I to go drive through Dyker Heights every year, but we’re busier now so I haven’t gone in a while. This was a great way to revisit an old tradition and feel a little bit of Christmas spirit.

What are your Christmas traditions? Do you like baking/decorating cookies? (Piping frosting is my new favorite activity!)

Aaaaand, We’re Back!

You know how TV shows stop running new episodes over Christmas and New Years? Well, consider finals week my yearly winter hiatus from blogging. It was a rough one, but after writing four papers (one of them in Arabic!) and taking two finals, I am ready to revel in my 3 weeks of freedom before school starts up again! Now, what will that entail?

1. LONG RUNS like the one I did Saturday. Whew! It was 18 miles (a new personal distance record) and took me across two bridges and all around lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. I didn’t have my phone so sadly there are no pictures, but some of the highlights included crossing the Manhattan Bridge, where I had an awesome view of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Harbor, running in East River Park (I’d never been there before and it’s so cool!) and finding out that I did have some energy left in the tank when I sprinted up the hill back to my house because I really needed to go the bathroom. The downside? 18 miles is a looong way and basically starting from when I crossed back over the Brooklyn Bridge to when I finished I felt like my legs were going to give out on me at any minute. My hips, knees, and ankles all alternated screaming the loudest for my death. And I felt pretty stiff during my recovery run yesterday. I know I’ve got a while to train, but I’m feeling a little nervous about how I’m going to feel at mile 18 of my marathon.

2. LOTS OF BAKING – So far I’ve made pumpkin chocolate chip cake and iced sugar cookies. Today I’m planning on tackling these cranberry pistachio biscotti that I found on tastespotting. Except I’m going to one up them by dipping them in white chocolate! Normally I’m more of a dark chocolate girl, but everything is improved by the addition of chocolate of any variety, and I think the white will look pretty with the green and red of the pistachios and the cranberries.

3. AWESOME CLASSES AT THE YMCA – This morning I went to a “total body conditioning class” with my mom. My abs are going to be crying for the next three days, but it felt really good lift weights and do squats and crunches and have upbeat music playing. I don’t usually have time  make time to go to strengthening classes during the school year. Hopefully I’ll get hooked enough during this break that I’ll be motivated to give some fitness classes other than yoga a try when I get back to school.

4. HANGING OUT IN MY FAVORITE CITY – I didn’t have nearly enough time over Thanksgiving to visit all my favorite places in New York, and I plan on taking full advantage of this city during the next 3 weeks that I’m here. Some places on my “to visit” list are the new Islamic art wing at the Met, Union Square, the crazy christmas lights in Dyker Heights, the Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Flea in Williamsburg, the store windows on 5th avenue, and a gazillion other places!

Thats all for now, but I’d like to hear from you! What are your favorite activities to do when you go home? What’s your favorite kind of chocolate? Do you take a lot of group fitness classes? If you’re a New Yorker  — is there any place I should make sure I visit before the end of break?

 

Best of the Web

Hey there!

So I’m thinking of establishing a new Tuesday tradition called “Best of the Web,” which basically involves me posting about my favorite things on the internet. So here goes:

1. Most Powerful Images of 2011: I could literally spend all day looking at this. I have a secret passion for photojournalism (sorry print newspapers! I love you!) and if I didn’t actually hate photographing things so much (I don’t have the patience for it, I like to be IN the moment too much) my dream job would involve being a photographer for National Geographic. But seriously, these photos are beautiful. I love the very first one — it almost brought me to tears. I love newswriting and I want to make a career out of it, but seeing images like these makes me realize how insufficient words can be. Each photo tells an entire story, more succinctly and completely than any news article could. It’s amazing.

2. On a less serious note, this laughing baby  is the best cure for finals-induced depression.

3. I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes. I literally want to cook/eat every recipe he’s written.

Running-wise, the past few days have been pretty straightforward. I did a 13 mile long run on Saturday, bringing my total mileage for last week to 38 miles, which is exciting for me! This week is a scale back week, which is good because I have three papers and a final to study for so I’m not going to have a lot of brain power/energy to push myself to run. The goal is to do a 6 mile tempo run (at 8:30 pace, NOT 7:55 pace this time!) on Thursday and a 10 miler on Saturday, on top of a speedy-ish 4 miler today and an easy 5 miler yesterday, which would bring me to 25 miles for the week. Seems kinda wimpy after almost 40 miles, but I’m happy to have the break.

Of course, since I can’t let a day go by without breaking out SOME sort of exercise clothes, I’m planning on heading to 7:15 yoga tomorrow morning. I don’t know why the university thinks that college students are going to wake up that early (I’m sure plenty of people are going to bed at the time, given that it is the last week of classes and papers/projects are due!) but I’ve been feeling kinda sore so I think yoga will be good. I’m also hoping that putting this decision in writing will help make me stick to it. Now that my readers (if you exist? Anyone?) know I’m waking up in 7.5 hours, I HAVE to get out of bed when my alarm goes off.

Alright, that’s it for now! I’ve got a 7:15 date with what’s guaranteed to be an almost-empty yoga studio!

Tempo Run Triumph

There are few things in the running world that scare me more than my tempo runs. I can’t really explain why they freak me out so much, but they do. The night before a tempo run I go to bed feeling anxious. When my alarm rings the next morning I automatically feel my stomach fill with dread, certain that I’ll never be able to run as fast as I need to for as long as I’m supposed to. I try to talk myself out of talking myself out of going for a run, a dialogue that continues through my warm up mile. As I approach the mile marker that signals the beginning of the workout, I can’t help but wonder what I’m getting myself into.

Of course, the answer is almost always nothing bad. Sure, I have the occasional tempo run where my legs are heavy and I can’t meet my goal pace. But far more frequently I actually wind up surprising myself with how fast I can be.

Yesterday fell into that second category, and it was awesome.

My goal pace for tempo runs is about 8:25 minutes per mile. Instead, I ran 2 consecutive sub-8 minute miles. I’ve never done that before! I felt so amazingly accomplished when I looked down at my watch and saw “15:52” on its face (I forgot to press the split button between miles 3 and 4). For the rest of the day, I could do anything.

This is the great thing about tempo runs! Yes they’re hard and yes they’re scary, but they’re also a concrete achievement, a weekly measure of how far you’ve come. When these runs go well, I feel like I’m on top of the world. I feel accomplished. It’s an awesome experience, and I should embrace it, not spend the preceding 24 hours dreading it. I don’t really know how to do that, but I’m going to try.

Not much exciting has been happening in the non-running world. My life is filled to the brim with papers, finals, and newspaper production. I complain a lot about it (both here and in real life!) but I still love college. In spite of all the craziness and business, it’s an exciting place to be.

That’s all for now!