Archive | May 2012

The Weekend

My weekend, in a sentence: lots of good food and biking, served with a small side of crappy running.

My weekend, in a blog post:

Despite the gross, rainy weather that has graced New York City this week, the past two days have been relatively sunny and warm, if a little sticky. Yesterday (amid humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife) I biked over to Williamsburg to meet up with my friend R- at Smorgasburg, a giant outdoor food festival that’s held in East River State Park every Saturday. My mom raved about the festival last summer, but I was working at a sleepaway camp all summer so I never got a chance to check it out. It was definitely worth the wait. Though super crowded (it seemed like every hipster within a 10 mile radius had shown up for his or her share of bite-sized, organic, locally grown ethnic food), the sheer array of foods available was amazing. I was tempted by everything from papusas to pie. Unforunately, it was so hot and sticky that I didn’t really feel like eating much, so instead I got a delicious strawberry, mango and coconut smoothie, which I sipped on as R- and I wandered around the park and up to Bedford Ave. to look in the stores and people watch.

By the time I got home the sky was gearing up for a thunderstorm, and all of a sudden I was seized by the urge to go for a run in the rain. My right knee has been feeling very sore all week and I hadn’t really been planning on running yesterday, but if there was going to be a thunderstorm, I wanted to be out frolicking in it. So I laced up my Adrenalines and headed out to Prospect Park. My knee was pretty cranky the whole time, and between the gross heat and general achey-ness it felt like I was I was inching along, but midway through I got my wish and the rain started coming down. By the time I got home I was SOAKED (and ready to stop running!) but happy. I love summer rainstorms.

Super awkward looking picture of me, post-rainy run. Sorry about the see-through white tanktop. Didn’t really think that one through before heading out… 

Unfortunately, my legs were NOT so pleased. My knee felt very sore the entire time, and on top of that, when I woke up this morning I had a horrible, cramp-y pain in my left calf. I don’t really know how to describe it. It feels like the muscle there has seized up, but no amount of massaging it has been able to make the pain go away. It kind of hurts when I walk and REALLY hurts when I run. I’m hoping it’s some kind of fluke thing and that it’ll all be better in the morning. In the meantime, I have tried icing, tiger balm, and massaging with a baseball. Here’s hoping one of them works.

Since I clearly wasn’t going to be able to go on my planned long run today, I decided to head out for a long bike ride instead (biking, along with vegging out on the couch and watching TV, does not appear to be something that aggravates whatever it is that’s going on in my calf). I have a 6-year old commuter bike that I used to use to bike to school in high school, which is not really ideal if you’re trying to bike for exercise, but it’s a trusty old clunker and I love it nonetheless. Today, I trekked across the Brooklyn Bridge and up the West SideHighway through Riverside Park to the GW Bridge (where I made a hour-long pit stop to read and enjoy the nice weather).

Then I headed back down to Central Park (I made another pit stop here to meet up with my friend V- and get a waffle with cookie butter from the truck in Columbus Circle – YUM!), and then back down along the Hudson River, over the Brooklyn Bridge and home again. All told, it was 31 miles. Not bad for a clunky commuter bike and a girl who hasn’t ridden in the city in almost a year!

To top it all off, when I got home one of my best friends from high school came over and helped me bake for a picnic my mom and I are going to tomorrow. We made lemon ginger cookies and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Because I’m lazy, there are no photos.

How have you been enjoying your Memorial Day weekend? Any idea what that cramp in my calf might be? Do you like to bike when you can’t run? 

Never Say Die

It was just one of those mornings when circumstances seem to be screaming at me, “Don’t get out of bed!” Loudly. In flashing, neon colors. It was rainy and humid and gray, the sidewalks were slick with pollen-infused rain puddles (not good for allergies either  — aaaaachoo!) and to top it all off, I’d only gotten 5 hours of sleep last night because it’s so hot and sticky in my un-air conditioned house.

Nevertheless, I’d promised my mom I would go to a strength training class with her at the Y at 7, which meant that if I was ever going to do the half mile repeats I said I’d do today, I needed to be out the door by 6 a.m. Which I did, mostly successfully (I started my watch at 6:08), though not without a little moaning and groaning and cursing the cloudy sky.

I really hate raining mornings.

The goal for this workout was six (revised down to five after I got caught in a 3 minute rain storm and realized I’d have to go home first and change clothes before heading to the Y — again, stupid rain) half mile repeats at goal 5K pace — roughly a 7:45 min/mile, or 3:52 per half mile — with a 1 minute easy jog in between. At the outset, my prospects for meeting this goal did not look good. I felt pretty heavy and slow (maybe because the air was as thick as molasses) during my warmup mile, and I finished the first repeat in 4:06, way above what I was shooting for. During the second repeat I managed to bring down the pace a little bit, but I still wasn’t hitting my goal of 3:52.

Splits from my Garmin: the first column is time, second is distance, and third is pace

Going into the the third repeat, I entertained thoughts of just bagging the workout altogether and going easy the rest of the way home. My legs felt like lead and I really just wasn’t in the mood to run, let alone run fast. Plus, I was approaching the infamous big hill in Prospect Park (it’s not actually that big, but it’s looming enough to be offputting if you’re trying to run a sub-8 min/mile pace up it). If I couldn’t run at 7:45 min/mile pace on the easy, flat part of the park, how was I going to do it going up this hill? But I knew that I’d feel terrible if I quit, not to mention the fact that I’d already committed to this workout in my last post. So I told myself, “You want to do this,” and I kept at it.

Good thing, too, because things started getting better, even with the hill. Still repeating the words “you want to do this” over and over again (out loud!), I ticked off my third repeat in 3:55, and by the fourth one I was finally at the pace I needed to be. For the last half mile I really booked it (I was late to meet my mom, and it was downhill also, which made being speedy a lot easier) and came in at 3:40.

This was by no means the perfect run — I’m kind of mad at myself for not doing the full 6 repeats, and the fact that I was able to bring the pace down to a 7:24 min/mile for the last repeat makes me question whether I was really pushing myself on the first few or just being mentally lazy — but I’m happy with how I did in the end. I kept going even though the going was tough, and funnily enough, as I kept running the run got easier. This run reminded me to never give up just because a run isn’t going the way I’d planned. Things will get easier, and even if they don’t, at least I’ll feel good when I’m done.

How do you power though a tough run? Do you ever talk to yourself out loud? (I did!)

Pizza Pizza Pizza

I know that my last few posts have just been a continuous ode to the wonder that is New York City, but unfortunately (for anyone who’s reading, anyway) it’s gonna continue a bit longer.

I realized Monday that there was one thing missing from my list of amazing things about New York that I don’t really appreciate till I’m home: real life, thin crust, New York style pizza. Oooooh my gosh, pizza. You are one delicious substance. How I have missed your thin crust and delicately flavored sauce. It’s been far too long since I last sampled a slice of true New York pizza, a situation I set about rectifying Monday night with a veggie pie from Fornino in my neighborhood.

Folks, it was one happy reunion.

Image from the Fornino website

Fornino grills their pizza and drizzles it with olive oil and it was about one of the most delicious things I could have wished for on a cold and rainy Monday. Five thumbs up!

If that weren’t enough, after attending jury duty on Tuesday (I don’t have to serve on a jury! Yay! Free for another 8 years!) I met up with two friends from high school to grab dinner in the East Village. We went to a place called Motorino, which was very different from the Fornino-style pizza but also delicious. We shared one margherita pie and one with olives and mushrooms. Both were great.

On the running front, things haven’t been too exciting recently. I had a truly excellent run on Tuesday (possibly because I was cooped up inside the District courthouse all day for jury duty and was just excited to get moving again) and a pretty awful run this morning. Let’s compare the stats, shall we?

I didn’t really have any goals for this run. It wasn’t intended to be a speed workout or anything, but my legs were feeling pretty good so I decided to pick up the pace a little bit. The results? Pretty great! Four miles, one at a little over 5K pace, and half a mile at “Lets see how fast I can run this” pace (turns out, pretty darn fast!).

Having run so well yesterday, I set out with pretty high expectations for my actual workout this morning. I had hoped to do 6 X 800 meter repeats at 5K pace, with a 1 minute rest in between each of them. And I was going to do them in the park, because I am running a 5K there next weekend and want to practice the hills and things. Unfortunately, I woke up with terrible cramps this morning (sorry if this is TMI, but being a girl can kinda suck sometimes) and as soon as I headed out the door I knew a speed workout was just not going to happen. I forced myself to do a full loop of the park, but I did not enjoy it.

Ah well, you win some you lose some. My legs have been feeling kinda heavy and tired all day, and I’ve had a small but unsettling pain in my right knee since the Brooklyn Half on Saturday, so I’m going to take tomorrow off and try for the speed workout again on Friday. Instead, I’m planning on a bike ride up to the Upper West Side to get lunch with a friend and then a stop at the NY Public Library to pick up the 583970521 books I put on hold there during finals week (nerd alert: my primary procrastination techniques consisted of browsing the NYT list of “best books of 2011” and picking out which ones I want to read this summer). Top picks include Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, and The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. I am super excited.


Boy, do I have questions for you! What’s your favorite place to get pizza in NYC (or elsewhere)? Do you have any fun jury duty stories? Do you have a favorite workout to train for a 5K? What are you reading this summer? 

My Extremely Wild and Exciting Summer Life

Oh, it’s hopping.

First off, lets all just take a moment appreciate my supreme attractiveness during the Brooklyn Half on Saturday.

I can’t really figure out what I’m doing here? Philosophically scratching my chin? Yawning? Licking my fingers? Either way, I look extremely dissatisfied with the state of the world. And I need to wear more sunscreen.

Moving on. One might think that, given my total lack of responsibilities for the next four weeks (wheeee summer!) and the fact that I am currently residing in the most fabulous and exciting city in the world (some have even said it never sleeps), that I would take this opportunity to really let loose and live it up a bit. You know, go to some parties, visit a museum, at least stay up past 11 pm. Sadly, none of those things have happened. Instead, I’ve run a half marathon, gotten an HIV test (a prerequisite for my trip to Egypt) and submitted a visa application at the Egyptian consulate, and crunched numbers for my mom, who works from home. My dad actually asked me today whether I plan on having any fun at all during my summer break (for the record, the half marathon was fun. Not so much the HIV test or the number crunching.) And tomorrow, I get to report for jury duty. Whoopee! Not.

I will say, however, that the fact that I haven’t been able to enjoy New York these past few days means that I’m really starting to appreciate the little things that make this city such a wonderful place. Namely, the bagels (D.C. bagels are just round, flavorless blobs of dough with holes in the middle), the fact that the Sunday New York Times is 50 cents cheaper (oh Metropolitan Section, how I’ve missed you!), the Q express train (It took me 20 minutes to get from DeKalb Ave. to 57th street. It was a miracle!), and running in Prospect Park in the morning. Even this morning, when the heavens decided to open up halfway through my run and I got absolutely DRENCHED. I was literally wringing out my socks when I finished.

Unexciting though my life may be, it’s good to be home.

Have you done anything wild and exciting recently? What are the little things that make you happy?

New York!!!

Well, not only am I back in New York, but half marathon number 3 is done and in the books! I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon this morning (fewer than 12 hours after arriving home from college, no less!)

I wasn’t feeling too hot (still fighting off a bout of food poisoning from the gross food in my college’s dining hall) and was forced to make a bathroom stop around mile 10, which I almost never do, so I kind of broke down towards the end of the race. I finished in exactly 2 hours and 1 minute, which is about 6 minutes off my PR, but still respectable. Plus, it was a really fun race (until my stomach decided to start acting up). Even though I love college, I miss my city a lot when I’m away. There’s literally no better way I can think of to celebrate coming home from school than running a race through my favorite borough.

Here are the splits. Things were going so well until mile 10! Ah, well. Better luck next time. Also, I have a full extra 0.1 mile going on here. Run the tangents Sarah!

My mom rode her bike out to Coney Island to meet me at the finish, and we took the F train home together. I never thought I’d say it, but I actually really miss taking the subway! It was so much fun to be on a train literally full to the brim of other runners (though we stunk up the car pretty bad, I have to say). Then we went to my favorite bakery in the entire world, Ladybird in Park Slope, and I got a blueberry oatmeal scone. It was the perfect post-race breakfast.

This afternoon, my uncle (he’s really my dad’s best friend but I call him my uncle because I’ve known him forever), who is actually kind of a hotshot in the theater business, took me to see a play on Broadway called Peter and the Starcatcher. It’s kind of a prequel to Peter Pan. We thought it was okay, not great, though I did like the female lead character. She was a smart cookie and pretty funny.

After the play, I kind of came home and crashed, only waking up to eat dinner and watch some of the Mets game with my dad. It’s been a busy day for my first full day at home, but lots of fun. And I am SO glad to be back in New York. I’m planning on having lots of city adventures during my free time before I go abroad next month!

Are you doing (slash did you do) any races in the nearish future? What’s your favorite post-race breakfast? Any advice on awesome places in New York to go during the summer? I have a whole month free!

Someone Stop Me Before I Do Something Stupid

So my mom called today. Apparently one of her friends who’s signed up to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon is injured, and she wants me to take her spot in the race.

On the one hand, this is awesome. The race is on my first full day at home from college (Even though I’m done with finals, I’m still at school right  to produce the graduation issue of the paper) and what better way to celebrate my homecoming than a race through my favorite borough?

On the other hand, it’s going to be really hard to convince myself not to RACE this race. It’s not a very good idea. I’m just getting back into regular running after the marathon, I haven’t trained for a half or even run more than 11 miles since the marathon (my running mileage totally dropped off during the last few weeks of school and finals), and I will be running after spending most of the day in the car driving home from school.

On the other other hand (apparently I have three hands now) I really want to race this race. It’s in Brooklyn, my favorite place in the entire universe, and ending a fantastic race at Coney Island seems like an awesome way to say hello to my favorite borough after a year of school.

Plus, look at this elevation profile. All downhill from mile 6 onwards! What is there not to love about that?

That hill from miles 4 to 5.8 looks scary, but it’s the one in Prospect Park, one that I run every day when I’m at home. I KNOW I can power up that hill. I do it all the time. I know this course, and I’ve run every bit of it at some point or another. Sounds like a recipe for a good race to me!

Not to mention the fact that even though I’m not training for a half marathon, I HAVE been training. I’ve had some really incredible runs — last Thursday I ran 8 miles at an 8:20 min/mile pace, including 3 miles at or below 7:50 min/mile. I’m faster than I’ve ever been, and my current half marathon PR is 1:54:43, which is about a 8:45 min/mile pace. I feel like, with training, I can definitely beat that sometime in the nearish future. The question is, is now the time to try? My brain says probs not, but my legs are saying GO!

In the meantime, I am fully enjoying my last week at college before summer (and summer classes) kick in. It’s so much fun being at college when you don’t have to work. Like a giant sleepover! Aside from working on the newspaper, there’s been a lot of movie-watching, baking, eating junk food, general traipsing around D.C., and probably more partying than is healthy the week of a half marathon (perhaps another reason why maybe I shouldn’t try and PR on Saturday?)

What do you guys think? To race or not to race? I’m thinking I’ll see how I’m feeling on race day. I’ll start off conservative, around 8:55 to 9 min/mile pace, and if I’m feeling good by the time I hit the park, I’ll pick it up. Either way, I’m pumped for this race! Is anyone else running?

Ramblings from an Official College Junior

First things first: I am officially halfway done with college. It’s a scary thought. I don’t really know what the world is like after college (most of my knowledge of life as a 20-something college grad comes from reading copious amounts of running and food blogs. Also watching a lot of Friends) but I can guarantee you I’m not prepared for it. Ah, well. At least I have two more years to get ready, right?

Right. Now, back to business. Running, that’s what I’m here to talk about, I think. Sadly, there’s not much to report on the running front. I got an ugly bout of food poisoning from my college’s dining hall (I HAVE AN APARTMENT NEXT YEAR AND DON’T HAVE TO EAT CAFETERIA FOOD ANYMORE IT’S THE BEST NEWS EVER!) and was sidelined for most of the weekend. I’m still on campus in order to produce the graduation issue of the newspaper, but I go home on Friday and the first thing I’m going to do is cook myself some real food in my convection oven. It’s gonna be great.

Today I did a 3.5 mile run in the rain with my friend K-, which felt so nice after spending two days lying in bed watching Mad Men and subsisting on saltines and ginger tea. I hate being sick. I also taught my friend how to swim. He’s 20 and had never learned, which I simply don’t understand. He’s from Chicago, not Mars. Don’t they have a YMCA in Chicago? Luckily, I taught swim lessons at a sleepaway camp for 3 years and am lifeguard/CPR/first aid certified, so I volunteered to rectify the situation. After a 1.5 hour session in the pool, S- mastered floating, rotary breathing, and the flutter kick. We’re still working on putting it all together with the arms, but I’m pretty sure he’ll be good to go (or at least, not drown if he falls into the Potomac) if we do a few more lessons before the end of the week. Compared to teaching 8 year old girls, giving S- swim lessons was no problem. He didn’t even spend 20 minutes whining about how cold the water was, which was always a HUGE time suck when teaching swim lessons at camp.

Other things… Finals week is the perfect time to master the art of procrastination, which for me took the form of watching a lot of Youtube videos and reading a lot of tumblrs. Here are some of my favorite finds:

Running or The Worm?  Can I just say, I really want to run track in Hawaii after watching this.

 

The #realtalk from your Editor tumblr: This thing is great. As a journalist and editor, I can vouch for the accuracy of many of these emotions. Especially this one. I visited the NYT offices over winter break and it was THE BEST EVER.

This article about how the marathon got to be so long. Fun fact: the first finisher of an official 26.2 mile marathon was an Italian pastry chef. Is there some sort of secret ingredient in baking that makes people run fast? Can I use that as an excuse to bake more?

Alright, that’s it for now. How do you feel about swimming, slash where did you learn to swim? What are your favorite gems from random corners of the interwebs?