Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TNT packed weekend!

We've had a fun week of team in training!
One thing we are known for is our willingness to go out and party on a weeknight. We are marathoners; when we commit to something we mean business. Coach Ramon wrote in a recent email "If you would put as much effort and commitment to your running as you put to your socializing/drinking/misbehaving, you would all be winning marathons!"

I think he is right.

Anyway, Wednesday night we went to a beautiful venue on 18th and 10th called "The Park." We had the rooftop/penthouse area reserved for team in training, and we could not have asked for a more beautiful night! Fun was had by all :-)

Saturday, instead of having our regular group GTS (Saturdays are long run days) we had a special nutrition clinic, followed by a short fun run (not short enough- we were dripping with sweat after 10 minutes!), followed by a "Connection to the Cause" ceremony. During Connection to the Cause, our honorees, those affected by Leukemia and Lymphoma, share their stories to help us really realize what we are running and fundraising for. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house.

Which brings me to what I'm running for- my roommate and the most wonderful girl I know, Kate, has had a tough past few months. Her dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March, and mere weeks later, here mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. I hope you will extend your prayers to the strongest family I know. Even though they do not have a blood cancer, team in training's mission extends beyond that- funds for blood cancer research benefit all cancer research. It really helps me to keep in the McCormicks in mind when running a long run.

Sunday, we had the Achilles foundation "Hope and Possibility" race in the park. It was a 5 mile race, and we couldn't have had more perfect weather. It was our first TNT race, so many people on the team were running their first races ever! It was a very exciting and nervous atmosphere. Nothing makes you want to race like a pack of TNTers cheering you on to the finish line- I wish they could be there for all my runs! My time was OK, nothing like my times last season. In fact, my pace per mile was 42 seconds slower than my first 5 mile race of last season. But I FELT good at the end, and that's all that matters. Baby-steps. I will get there, this season is definitely long enough.
Tonight we had practice in the rain! We were originally going to do a hill workout in the trails of the park. However, because of the rain and slip factor, Ramon gave us all the choice to run either a 4, 5, or 6 mile loop. I ran with our mentor captain, Antonella, who ran with me last season, and has been having the same kinds of running doubts that I have had recently. We ran a leisurely 5-miler, finishing the run with my go-to coach, Sandy. We will definitely be running together again, hopefully not in this monsoon weather we had tonight though.
Finished off the night with Shake Shack with my new mentee, Christy. Can't think of a better end to the night than a Shack burger to ruin all the calories I just burned!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Some Wise Words

This was Ramon's description for Tuesday night's workout:

ADVANCE WORKOUT The Course: 6 Mile loop. Whole loop of the park. Run East to West. The Workout: From East 72nd street warm up to East 90th street.There you’ll start your1st Pick up from the East 90th to 102nd street transverse. This should be done at about 10k effort. From East 102nd recover easy to the traffic light at 110th street, north end most part of the park (bottom of Harlem hill) then start your2nd pick up, this one goes from 110 to West 102nd street (west side of transverse) you are going to run this one at faster than 5k pace. Meaning you are going to push the uphill as well as the downhill, breathing gets hard from the get go. From W102 recover to Weast 90th street (long recovery, same as last week) at W90th start you3rd pick up, this goes from West 90th to West 64th street (about 1.2 mile). This should be done at 10k effort, hard but in control. From west 64nd street recover to 59th street and 7th avenue entrance of the park (note that this is short recovery, that’s why you need to control the previous pick-up) then you Start 4th pick up from 59th 7th avenue all the way to the finish at your meeting spot at East 72nd street. This is a spend whatever you have left kind of pick up. Basically if you feel strong push it, if you feel like crap, survive it.Be aware that I say 5k and 10k effort, not speed, today is going to be hot and your pace will not be as fast as you could run under better weather conditions. So, concentrate in putting the effort, as long as you put the effort you are getting the benefit of the workout.

To me, this seemed much better than last week. A workout without recovery scares me, and I thought these recovery stations would be just what I needed. Unfortunately, I did not push as hard as I could during the pick ups. My first 10K pace felt really good (up to 102nd) because I was keeping up with a group of runners doing an "Indian Run" right next to me (you line up while running, and the person in the back has to sprint to get to the front of the line. I used to do this with my friends at boarding school when I was not a runner. It was not as fun back then :-) ) My 5K pace up Harlem Hill was a little brutal. When one of our coaches, Pete, caught up to me, I got faster for a few seconds, but quickly lost my momentum. The rest of the run was discouraging, because I knew I could push harder than I did, but mentally I didn't feel I had the motivation. The worst part was, when I finished and met the advanced group at the end to stretch, I was one of the very last people in, yet I didn't even feel that tired. It's as if my legs wouldn't move because of the pressure and fear my body put on them.

After practice, I watched the Bach concert (conveniently located in the 72nd st. mall) until intermission. As I was leaving, the last remaining coaches were packing up and walking to the westside, so I joined them. Among them was Coach Ramon, head coach for the NYC chapter of TNT. (He is the amazing and crazy man who decided to run 42 upper loops on his birthday) I asked him how he was doing, and he said something along the lines of "not so well, my runs have not been going as well as I have hoped mentally." Turns out we are having the same problem (on a slightly different scale..). On our walk to the westside, he advised me on the importance of doing the work, and the other stuff will come later. He reminded me of how good my run was in Disney, because I was just running it to run, and I didn't have any pre-existing expectations of time goals. Now, I expect myself to be faster and want faster times, and this is putting pressure on my body and I am not able to run well. Basically, I have to forget about trying to improve my time goals and just run. If I do what he says, and put the miles in, it will come naturally. This talk made me feel a lot better :-)

Speed aside, I hope this pressure comes off soon. The fear my body goes through before a hard run or intense hill is really uncomfortable and scary. My body feels like jello sometimes. I have to keep remembering ITS JUST RUNNING!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Time to run faster!

I was dreading practice last Tuesday night. 5 mile race? It's HARD to push yourself for 5 miles. I have been in a "running slump" lately, and I find it almost impossible to have motivation to push myself hard anymore. At the end of the 5 mile loop, instead of feeling near-death and nauseous, I felt OK. Which is not what the workout was supposed to be. Maybe I should start running with music. Or try to run with the intermediates and push myself for shorter distances.

Anyway, my 5-miler was OK. I ran with another mentor, Carlos, for the first half. Then I let him run ahead and tried to fall into my own pace. I always slow down when I let my running buddy run ahead of me. It is kind of like giving up. No matter what, I always push myself at the end though, which is a good jumping off point for success in the rest of my runs. My time ended up being 48 minutes, which is much slower than I had been running last season and up until the beginning of this year, but I guess I did take some time off running and my body does have four months until the marathon to get fast again.

On Saturday, we had our long run day. I had planned to run with Lauren (my running buddy from Disney) in the 9:30 pace group (which would have been comfortable previously). I had so much trouble warming up my legs, so I dropped back to a slower pace and ran with a new half-marathoner, Becky. I love running with new people during these long runs. It's amazing how much you will learn about a person before you even find out their name. Runner's are a very close knit crowd :-) Anyway, I ran the 1st 5 miles with Becky, and then Lauren caught up with us after running 6. I ran with Lauren most of the rest of the 2nd loop. Lauren and I have spent countless hours running together since we met September of last year for the Disney Marathon. She has come so far since our last marathon together. In fact, she ran the Long Island Marathon alone and PR'd by 40 minutes! (from a 4:44 to a 4:04). She gave me some pointers to get back on track with my speed work. I need to get back on the treadmill and do my speed/interval training no matter how much I hate it! I have been do interval workouts on the treadmill for the past 2 days, so hopefully I will see some progress soon.

Also, that Saturday, our crazy coach, Ramon, was celebrating his 42nd birthday by doing 42 upper loops of the park! For those who don't know, the upper loop is the hilliest loop of the park. I try to avoid it at all costs. It is 1.5 miles. He ran 65 hilly miles on Saturday! Thats insane! (I guess he is training for another 100 miler, so I already knew he was insane). What an impressive man.

Tonight our workout consists of running the 6 mile full loop around the park, and pushing ourselves to 10K and 5K paces at various points throughout the loop, with recoveries to follow. This one seems a little more do-able than fast the entire run :-)

I just got the new Ipod shuffle in the mail! Its 4GB, and TINY. There's not even room for a dial! It talks to you and tells you what you're listening to you and gives you choices of playlists. It's amazing what technology can do! It should be great for running!

iPod shuffles.
(I got the darker color)

Hopefully I can handle this weather! Should be a long summer...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tonight's Workout

A day before our weekly workouts, Coach Ramon always sends us an explanation of what our workout will consist of that day. We are broken into three groups- Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Although I have been feeling out of shape and not as confident with my running, I am too stubborn to train with anything less than the advanced group because of how much I improved last season. It's all about pushing your personal effort levels anyway...

This is the Advanced workout for tonight's practice. I'm scared.


Ready for your first Test of the season? BRING YOUR WATCHES!

So, You are the advance, and that means you have time goals, to make sure you are moving on the right direction we need to make sure we first know where we stand now, and continue to test ourselves during the season and see our improvement.

This first test is going to be a little 5 mile tempo race kind of thing.

From your meeting location at Eat 86th on the Bridle Path, you will warm up by running to East 90th street, once you get there, get your watches and start timing your 5 mile run.

You will run the lower 5 mile loop. Go north on 102nd street, make a left at the transverse and head to the westside, then make a left at the westside to head south, all the way around to the south end of the park, and head north on the east side to finish at east 90th.

Approach to the Workout: This is pretty much a high effort 5 mile. See what kind of shape you are. Not just physically, but mentally as well. Being able to race, to run fast, to push, to do your best you need to get comfortable with the discomfort, this is one of those workouts that will start to get your ready on that area. Nothing is better than a continuous hard run to get your mind and body ready.

The key of this workout is to recognize your effort level, try to figure out early on what kind of effort you can maintain for the whole 5 miles, it is not about starting really fast and trying to keep it up as long as you can and then die when you get tired, not at all, it's all about knowing you are pushing it and you are pushing it within control early on.

Time yourself and maintain a log of your time, how you felt during the run, so next time you get to do it you can compare.

Tips: use the first 5 minutes to get into a pace, get to the point where you feel you pushing it but you still have 2 gears left.

Have Fun!

I haven't pushed myself like this in a while. I need to be careful about starting too quickly. I have been trying to keep up with the fast people and then I die later on. I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

This Weeks Training

We are currently at the beginning of our season for "team in training." We run together on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings for practices, with the occasional Sunday race.

This week has been a hard week. Last Sunday, I ran the "mini women's 10K" in the park. Everyone who I talked to who ran it agreed that it was a very hard race. Could have been the weather, could have been over confidence when we weren't really ready to race at all in this stage of training. I felt like I have been getting slower and less confident on my runs, but hopefully I will build up more confidence throughout the season. (Oh, i know I will).

Tuesday night at practice was "crosstraining day." For some reason, we get really excited for cross-training. (Maybe its because it doesn't involve running until we feel nauseous...). Anyway, our cross training practice involved being split up into 2 groups- one group would go out and run 12 minutes (6 minutes out and 6 back) and the other group does a series of strength training exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups etc.). Then we switch. We did this rotation 3 times, and it was KILLER. Coach Ramon doesn't let us get away with anything less than a 90 degree squat! I definitely felt like I deserved my dinosaur bbq that night though :-)

If you don't know what Dinosaur BBQ is, let me enlighten you: it is arguably the best BBQ in New York. Located on 131st and 12th ave (across from fairway), my friends and I occasionally spoil ourselves with the "big ass pork plate" and a large selection of beer. The steep hill on the walk home gives us the false hopes that we burned off all those calories, but nonetheless, its worth it :-)

Today I dragged my roommate (Brian) and 2 of my friends to my hometown of Litchfield, CT to run the Litchfield HIlls Road Race! The LHRR is 7.1 miles through our gorgeous little country town. It's not so gorgeous when we hit mile 6- Gallows lane, the steepest hill I have ever run up. No matter how much I move my arms it feels like I'm not moving! I don't think Brian was very happy with me for that one....

Pictures of the happy finishers to come!

Monday, June 8, 2009

1st post!


This is my first time blogging, so bear with me. I am a music student studying in New York City currently training for my second marathon. I ran my first marathon, the Disney World Marathon, on January 11th, 2009. The decision to become a "runner" was purely impulsive. My friends will tell you that I simply decided to run a marathon one day, and then stubbornly stuck with it (this is how I make most of my decisions).

I trained for the Disney marathon with a group called "team in training," which is a endurance training program that raises money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS). Over the course of 5 months, I went from being a novice runner (if you consider running for a bus novice! That's a hard workout!) to a marathon runner. The process was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Not only did I accomplish something so physically daunting, but I also became so emotionally connected to the LLS cause. It really opened my eyes to the strides we are making in the cancer world, how much further we have to go, and what we can do to help. This is what we can do to help. Check it out: teamintraining.org and LLS.org

Anyway, after running the marathon in January, I am back for my second season! I am running the Nike Women's marathon in San Francisco, on October 18th, 2009. I have never been to San Francisco, so I am very excited! I am also excited about this season because I am a team in training mentor! Right now I have 6 1st time marathoners that I help guide through this experience. What could be more rewarding than that?

This blog will be devoted to

1) Tracking my training progress for the marathon

2) Reviews of exercise classes I take

3) Reviews of New York restaurants (and cheap eats; I am on a budget!)

4) Whatever else I feel like talking about

Here we go!