Monday, July 30, 2012

Up with the Sun

We are spending the next 10 days in Corolla, North Carolina. Ten. Whole. Days. In the spirit of a true vacation, I'll likely be as lazy as possible without falling off the wagon. This means, squeezing in a run nearly every morning and then parking my bum in a chair (or, more likely, on the sand, digging holes and building castles with E & N) for the rest of the day. My goal is to get my runs in first thing...bypass the tempting donuts usually piled on the kitchen counter...which is somewhere in the ballpark of 6:30. Brutal.

For a lot of runners and triathletes, waking up at 6:30 is a lovely sleep in. For me, it's anything but. I stay up late (usually working), so mornings are always difficult for me. Running in the morning is even more of a challenge. But it always feels so great once I'm finished and allow myself to veg for the rest of the day. I just don't always remember that sense of satisfaction when my alarm's buzzing well before I'm ready to open my eyes.

But,the benefits of running before breakfast have been touted by plenty of researchers (it's better for stress release, speeds up your metabolism, keeps your energy levels up, and you're likely to run farther because of reduced heat and humidity). Plus, considering the fact that I have a bunch of extra hands to help with the little ones if they happen to rise before I return and that I can take a nap or two throughout the day (like the one I took on the sand this afternoon...just perfect), I am determined to churn out those miles with the sunrise. Or at least before high noon.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chasing Sunsets

Last night I had a lot of my mind. So as soon as M walked in the door, I headed out for a head-clearing five mile run. After writing about meditation technique for Girls Life magazine, I made a point to not think about anything. I didn't want to search for answers. I wanted to focus on nothing but the road in front of me, inviting resolutions to seamlessly enter my conscious like a whisper. (Isn't it amazing how just one run can solve so many problems?!)

Typically, I'll run an out-and-back hugging the Hudson River, a meandering and flat route with million-dollar views of Manhattan's skyline. But last night, I felt a need for a lift, literally. So three miles into my run, I made a sharp left turn and climbed a rather ominous 150-foot-high hill to the top of the cliff-like overlook on the edge of West New York. Completely engrossed in my run (and still recovering from the climb), I continued to keep my eyes trained in front of me. But suddenly, I felt the urge to peer to my left. And this is what I saw:

A fireball over midtown Manhattan. 7/25/12

It was at that very moment that the sun began its final descent beyond the horizon. I reached for my phone, snapped the shot, and ran along. No more than 45 seconds later, I looked over my shoulder and the fiery sun had slipped out of view, leaving only a dazzling golden light in its wake. I ran home feeling lighter, refreshed, my mind disposed of the clutter I'd been carting around all day. 

After five years of living on this side of the city, I have yet to be anything but awed by its panorama. And it's these moments--these fleeting images of the day turning into night--that inspire me, take my breath away, and keep me motivated to keep chasing those sunsets. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An interesting column...

Well, if I'm going to blog, I better be more consistent about it! A few days away at my parents' and I've fallen behind. And with vacation looming next week, I'm making a promise to myself  to NOT drop the ball! 
Picture of heartbreak: The girl on the left won--and gets to go to the Olympics. (Source: AP)
Anyway, speaking of parents, I recently read this column by Scott Lucas, a writer in Charlotte and the father of elite runner Julia Lucas. For those of you non-track geeks out there, Julia failed to make the Olympic team in the 5,000 meters in the most painful way possible—by being outleaned at the finish line after leading for much of the latter part of the race. The difference between her booking her ticket to London and staying home and watching the Games from her couch at home came down to a miniscule 4/100ths of a second. Heartbreaking? Yes, at least for Julia. But for the girl who got her at the line—Kim Conley—it was a dazzling display of pure guts. She made up an enormous gap in the final 200 meters of the race and ran Julia down with an explosive sprint—something no human being should be capable of at the end of a 15-minute-plus race.
To go through that anguish as an athlete must be completely gut-wrenching. But what about enduring it as that athlete's parents? Scott Lucas offers this unique perspective in his column. The pride he describes for his daughter, regardless of the results, is touching. And it highlights an issue that all parents wrestle with on various levels. It's cliché to say, but as a mom or dad, you truly do want nothing but the best for your children. And when that doesn't happen? Your heart may break along with theirs, but at the same time you have to be there to help hold their chin up and realize that life goes on. To do otherwise only gives off the impression that that they've failed you some how. Because we all know that feeling, when we have a bad result--in a race or otherwise in life--when we feel like we've let everyone down. Through his words about his own daughter, Lucas offers a reminder, that as a mom or dad, as much as you want to cry along with your kid or kiss the hurt away, there's a point that you just have to step back and let her "bear her own burdens." Because, in the end, I guess we all rebound from loss, whether huge or tiny, in our own ways and our own time. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pity Part of 1

What I feel like after a bad race (Note: Outside of this moment, NC is a very happy kid. Swear.)

Confession: I am a sore loser.

Nearly every single day, I tell E—who is the most sports-obsessed almost-4-year-old in the world—that winning isn't important. When he sticks out his bottom lip in a pouty reaction to the news that the D.C. Nationals lost or bursts into tears after one of his buddies beats him in a sprint down the sidewalk, I am quick to step in with my “Everyone has to lose sometimes” life lesson. But deep down inside, I get it. I know it sucks to get outnipped at the line or to watch someone else celebrate a victory that you wish was yours. And while I would (obviously!) never throw a tantrum as a result of a loss like my dear son, I do experience a similar raw, emotional response, only internally. I may smile and shrug it off as a bad day, but later on, when it's just me and my thoughts, I all too easily stumble into a puddle of pity, which I wallow in for way too long.

It's not like I'm even used to winning. As a runner, I've had moderate success but never on a level that would ever give me any sort of sense of entitlement. I don't approach the starting line with the “I'm the fastest one here, I can win this” mentality. Rather, I assume that even the gray-haired 80-year-old can beat me (hey, it's happened). For me, “winning” a race is running smart, setting a PR, maybe even placing in my age group. Mostly, I just want to feel strong from start to finish without letting a negative thought cross my mind.

And when that doesn't happen? When I go out too fast or let self-doubt step between me and a solid finish? When I tell myself I'm too tired to pick up the pace or to pass that person steps ahead of me? To me, that's a loss. And I can't help but beat myself up for it. Was all of that training a waste of time? Am I just so weak that I can't push through the pain? Do I even deserve to call myself a runner?

Dramatic? Yep. But my long-term relationship with running is an extremely intimate, though volatile one. I love it. I hate it. I want it to be better. Maybe I'd be happier if we just parted ways. 

I read once that Dathan Ritzenhein gives himself one day to get over a bad race. (I think it's a rule his wife enforces...which I totally get...who wants a grumpy husband moping around the house for longer than that?). I try to live by that standard. I tell myself, take 24 hours to analyze splits, rehash the race, figure out what went wrong. After that, you've just gotta move on. Or at least try to.

That works. Sometimes. But nearly 48 hours after my last (not-so-great) race, I'm still hanging out at that pity party like a bad guest who refuses to leave. And because I clearly need work in this area, I'm curious: How do you move beyond a sub-par performance?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One Piece Wonders

Holy heck is it hot outside. The temps topped 97 on this side of the Hudson today, and all I wanted to do is float in an ice cold pool. But instead, I worked and ran a 5K. You can guess how that went (or you can read my previous post...).

Anyway, thinking about swimming gets me thinking about bathing suits. I'm still on a mission to find the perfect suit...the same mission I've been on ever since I had E back in August 2008. Despite gaining 60 pounds with him (yes, 60. Over 9 pounds of that was baby, but that still doesn't make it right. Copious amounts of ice cream were involved...), my body eventually morphed back to its original shape and managed to do so again after NC popped out in November 2010 (I was smarter with her, only gaining 25 pounds. Thank God). Yep, back to normal everywhere, except for one major area: My stomach. While 8 years of competitive running in high school and college earned me some decently-defined abs, pregnancy introduced me to that ugly thing called a diastasis recti. And a pretty bad one at that. Post-pregnancy, my six pack went wayward—to either side of my body, to be exact. My rectus abdominals completely separated, leaving a fugly gap in the center of my stomach, disfiguring my belly button, and, well, I'll spare you the rest of the details.

The abs have slowly knitted themselves back to the point where I don't feel like a circus freak without my shirt on. But I'm too traumatized from the nastiness that was my stomach for so long to rock a bikini on the regular. Not to mention I have four little hands grabbing me at all times in the pool just ready to rip off a skimpy top. So, point is, I've become pals with the one piece. I've found some decent suits over the past couple of summers, but nothing I'm absolutely in love with. It doesn't help that I spend way too much money on E and NC's wardrobe (baby needs a new pair of shoes...or four), so I'm usually left shopping the clearance rack at Old Navy for myself. Not that there's anything wrong with Old Navy, but, as my sister likes to say, those racks are usually a bit to' up. an effort to locate The. Perfect. Suit., I've gathered together some of my faves. Who knows how these will actually look like on me, but they look pretty hot on these models. Now to decide which one to actually order...

It's technically not a one piece, but this Ralph Lauren Ikat Multi Stripe tankini will do the trick. I'm currently into all things ikat. And the bold blues would look great with a bright yellow beach tote. 

J. Crew Seersucker Underwire Tank. Gotta love anything in seersucker. And the underwire offers a much needed, uh, boost. 
Anthropologie Natalie One-Piece. Loving the retro vibe, the halter style, the boy-cut shorts, and the polka dots. The $148 price tag, however? Not so much.  
Kenneth Cole Reaction Bandeau Ruffle Swimdress. So girly and sweet--and a perk that the color is called pinkberry. Besides, who wouldn't want to wear something called a swimDRESS?
I'm all for a plunging neckline like this Pucci Isfahan Twist  One-Piece. Especially because the bold Pucci print transports me right into Capri. Bellissimo!   

And to toss on after the pool or beach, how cute are these OndadeMar Eyelet Shorts

J. Crew off-the-shoulder tank. I've been a fan of this style ever since my Aunt Jeanie made me an asymmetrical Prom dress senior year of high school (we were so ahead of the trend!). Plus, the draping and pleating is super-flattering.

Feeling HOT

Racing to the finish line. I use the term "racing" loosely because I was actually STRUGGLING. 

What do you get when you mix a 90-degree night with a 5K race and toss in a too-fast first mile?

You get heat exhaustion, that's what. At least that's what happened to me.

I was really excited to run the Partywith a Purpose 5K in Hoboken tonight. It's a local race that I've done a few times, they have a post-finish beer garden, and it's on a Tuesday evening, so it's a fun way to break up the week. Going into the race, I told myself to just take it easy and see how I feel. If I could push the last half, I would. No expectations. When the gun went off, I went out in what felt like a solid but relaxed pace. I left my Garmin at home and wanted to just run on instinct, a la Ryan Hall (except I don't have the voice of God telling me what to do). So that's just what I did.

Turns out I should have tuned those instincts out. Because I ran a 6:20 first mile. Ugh. A few months ago, this would have been the perfect pace. That was when I was cranking out speed work and intervals three times a week in preparation for a that didn't go so well because it was HOT. (Sensing a pattern here?). Since I just started incorporating intervals and tempo runs into my workouts again, I've kept my expectations realistic. A 6:45 pace would have been ideal tonight.

Which is what I ran my second mile in, and as for the third, who knows, but I'm sure it was way over 7. I could hardly get my legs to move towards the end. My total time was way off any recent 5K finishes, which is super frustrating, especially considering what happened next. After dousing myself with one bottle of water and chugging another, I could not shake this feeling that I was going to pass out. My heart raced, my eyes were heavy, and I could not concentrate. Then, my arms started to go numb and I could hardly stand. All this after a mere 3.1 miles of racing. I sat down, ate some pretzels, drank more water, and willed myself to stand and shake off this feeling. It worked, sorta. Now, almost four hours after finishing, I'm still a little woozy. (Yes, I should be sleeping, but I'm a night owl with or without heat stroke).

Maybe I should have stopped after that first mile. But I had M, E, NC, and my good friend R all waiting for me at the finish line. Maybe I should have gone to the medic tent after finishing. But I thought I would be OK on my own. Maybe I shouldn't have even attempted to run given that I basically melt down in any race over 80 degrees. Who knows. One thing's for sure: I should not have gone out so fast. It's a lesson I reminded of over and over yet never seem to full grasp...even after over 15 years of racing.When will I ever learn?

Here I Go!

I'm supposed to be working.

In fact, because I write for a living, I tend to feel a touch guilty whenever I'm typing words that don't have to do with an assignment. Even my emails are sparse. I always wonder what people think of my choppy, straight-to-the-point messages. (Uh, and she calls herself a writer?!). I usually save my eloquence for my editors. Until now. Because today I will start my very own blog. One that does not focus on my wedding (the impetus for my original blog, started way back in 2005!) or my children (a spinoff of the original, hatched in 2008). Although surely my little darlings will make plenty of appearances, because, well, why not? They're cute.

In short, this will be the receptacle for my thoughts on all things to do with running, endurance sports, and motherhood. Yes, I am attempting to become a running mommy blogger.

I had no idea this niche even existed until a couple of months ago, when I happened upon the online home of rockstar writers Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell, the authors of Another Mother Runner. They have like a zillion followers, run marathons all the time, and are way more accomplished than I ever imagine being, but hey, one can dream. From there, I happened upon a slew of other similarly-themed blogs and was completely inspired to do something like that for myself. So, thanks for the kick in the butt, ladies! 

Anyway, that's where I'm coming from. From here on out, I hope to entertain, inform, and enlighten those of you out there who want to read my thoughts on being a runner, a writer, and a mom—and whatever other random thoughts that cross my mind. And in return, I have one small favor: I want you to keep me on task, to inspire me to go after my goals (and not continue to put them off because I'm “too busy” or "too tired" as has been the case pretty much my whole life), and to join me in an ongoing conversation about this crazy life we're all leading. 

Oh, and if you're wondering about the title of this blog? It's a little tribute to my little ones, E (almost 4) and NC (1.5)  who have both at some point shouted those words to me from their perch in our trusty BOB jogging stroller when they want their chance to run. "I go, mommy, I go!" It's this simple phrase that reminds me of the relentless drive and motivation that we're all born with...and gives me the hope that I'll be able to recapture that endless amount of of these days.