Friday, August 21, 2009

Heat Wave in NYC

Happy Friday!

I have taken great pride in not turning on my air conditioning all summer. Some may call me crazy, but I have managed to survive up to this point in my fifth floor walk up in Washington Heights without hiking up my utilities bill with "unnecessary" air conditioning. (okay, fine: the reason for not turning on the air is less of a money saving endeavor as it is pure laziness. I can't fit the plug behind my bed and I'm too lazy to find a solution).

New York City has been brutal for the past week. The weather has been hoovering in the 90s all day and all night, and suddenly, that lack of air conditioning has become brutally apparent. (Don't worry- I do have fans. AND I'm still alive. I think I'm going to stick it out until next summer).

What is more scary than the thought of trying to sleep in the sweltering heat, is trying to RUN in the sweltering heat. I was very nervous for the half marathon on Sunday; people were dropping like flies. Seriously. Stretchers were everywhere. Luckily, the race was early enough and there were enough water/gatorade stations for me to feel okay. Tuesday night practice was a different story. We got this email from Ramon on Monday night:

(you see, I do have a soft side and do have a heart )


WE will have 2 Workout options, you make you own decision which one you want to attend:

OPTION 1: Meet at 90th street at benches (inside park) for a 5-6 Miles EASY Hot/sweaty/sucky run !!
OPTION 2: Meet at 97th street off 5th (inside the park) for a Cross Training Killing Workout + Running !!

You decide which of the workouts/options you want to do, just go to the proper location.

NOTE: KEEP in mind that if the weather gets better, the coaches could/may change the workout at the last minute.

I was verrry relieved. Plus, I LOVE cross training workouts! After this marathon, I'm going to take a nice, long break from running and devote myself to strength training and yoga. I want to be toned!

Tuesday night was very very hot. We were sweating profusely by the end of our warm up to the edge of Harlem Hill at 108th. I was very grateful that Ramon was going easy on us by making us hold 90 degree squats for minutes at a time (right). Unfortunately, Ramon took advantage of his authority to change the workout at the last minute (in his note at the bottom of his email). Yes, we were going to do lots of cross training (in the form of squats), but we were going to break up the monotony of the squats by running Harlem Hill! and he meant push it. I wasn't feeling all that great, so I didn't go to my limit. But it was still HARD. We did 4 sets of hills/squats, called it a day and jogged back to Urban Athletics. Oh, we didn't even stretch. It was too hot out :-)

Exciting news: I bought new sneakers on Tuesday! After the half marathon on Sunday, I noticed that my sneakers were a little worn in. It was time for change. I went down to Jack Rabbit Sports on 14th and 6th and tried on a few different pairs. I love Jack Rabbit. They are awesome because they pick out some shoes based on what you need (for me, I need a good stability shoe. I run outward too much) and then you get to try them on the treadmill while a camera videotapes you! My last three pairs have been Saucony brand (2 of them being the Hurricane). I love Saucony, they are great for stability, however, I've been feeling that they've been a little "mushy" around the ankles. This time, I opted for the Brooks Adrenaline brand- they were snugger around the ankles, and loser at the toe of the shoe. I wish they had a size 8 1/4- I seemed to need one of those "in-between" sizes- but it is better to go bigger than smaller. Here's the shoe:

So, I've been breaking these shoes in. Will let you know my full report when they've been beaten up enough.

I have recently starting seeing a nutrition counselor. This is mainly for digestive reasons; making me feel better about the foods I eat and giving me more energy for daily life and my workouts. Some of the most important things I've learned and have tried to incorporate are 1) eating light to heavy throughout the day and 2) food combining.

There are many misconceptions about eating a big meal at the beginning of the day. The truth is, digestion is a lot of hard work for the body, and the less work your body has to do, the more energy you will have. This doesn't mean it's good to starve yourself all day (very bad actually!). I am just trying to eat lighter and simpler meals for breakfast and lunch, and save dinner to really satisfy myself and signal that the day is over!

Food combining is a simple concept: Foods from different food groups (protein, starch, nuts, and fruits) digest at different rates, and therefore eating them together slows down and clogs digestion, making the body work harder. Vegetables are neutral, so you can eat them with anything. I have been trying to avoid combining the 2 biggest groups, proteins and starches. This simple change has made a huge difference in how I feel. I really notice when I miscombine now, especially before a hard run.

On Thursday, I not only ate a huge meal of Indian food early in the day, but I also ate my proteins with my starches. I had planned on doing hill repeats a few hours later. Not a good combintation. After my hour and a half food-coma induced nap, I begrudgingly pulled on my running clothes and dragged myself to do some Cat Hill repeats. I am very impressed that I was able to get a workout when I kept wanting to vomit everytime I pushed myself up the hill (sorry, too much information). I guess this is how you learn! And I will continue to work on the light-heavy concept and food combining, no matter how good Indian food sounds at 1PM. I'm going to blame my roommate Brian for being a bad influence :-)

Tomorrows's workout- the last Saturday of Summer Streets. I am scheduled for a 16 miler at 7AM. Woohoo!

PS- Recently became obsessed with young thai coconuts and the raw, unpasturized water inside. Yum. Natural electrolytes! This is truly nature's candy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

NYC half marathon!

So the reason I haven't posted in over a week, is that I missed practice Tuesday night (gasp!). Instead, I got guilted into taking the yearly trip to Six Flags Great Adventure with the boys. As much as I love spending time with these boys, I tend to get tired very quickly at amusement parks. I was ready to go home by 2PM. Unfortunately, the first bus did not leave until 6:30, which resulted in missing my Tuesday night tempo run. This was the description of the workout:


YOU are doing a nice little tempo run. Nice and steady !

Course: From your meeting location at East 72nd. You will do a 6 mile loop of the park, by heading north on east side, around north end of park, south on westside, around south end of park, and north on east to finish at East 72nd.

How to approach it: You have done it before. Do a little warm up, from East 72nd to East 90th (1 mile) and then start your tempo run.
Again, the tempo run should be run at a controlled challenging equal effort pace, for those that have a 10k time, it should be about 20 seconds slower per mile than your 10k pace (maybe 25 if it's hot tomorrow)
The key is to maintain the effort even thru out most of the run, focus on the breathing, your speed should change on the up, down and flats.
Your effort could be a bit higher towards the end as you get tired and dehydrated, but because your body is tired, not because you try to put more effort.

I was planning on doing this workout later in the week, or that night if I had the energy, but six flags really tired me out! I bet I walked more than 6 miles that day anyway...and I needed to taper for the NYC half marathon today!

Brian (the roommate) and I

I quickly and discreetly took this picture at the photo viewing area. The people working there were not happy with me. I'm the one with my arms up :-)


It was hot. When I woke up at 5AM and it was already 73 degrees, I knew the weather would be a problem. This was a very slow race for me. The combination of the heat, amount of people and having to use the bathroom at MILE TWELVE (I know. it was annoying) resulted in a half marathon that was about 15 minutes slower than my slowest half marathon to date (This was my fourth half marathon. My next one is the Queens half marathon on September 20th. Hopefully I'll blow that one out of the water!)

Despite the disappointment of not making a "personal record" (PR) or even close to that, I had a great time today. The race started in the park, and after 7.5 miles, we ran down 7th Ave. from 59th street all the way to Times Square. (At this point, one of our coaches, Rev, joined me on the run. I must have looked realllly bad because she kept checking to make sure I had enough electrolytes).

Running down 7th Ave. towards Times Square was the funnest part of the race- I loved running in an area so familiar and dear to me without having to worry about traffic or tourists (with the exception of the ones cheering for us!). There was even a giant karaokee screen and people singing "Mamma Mia," which was definitely a highlight. I almost joined in, and then realized that if I was running slowly enough to sing, that was not good. Oops.

We then turned right onto 42nd street and left onto 12th Ave. by the Hudson. We continued south until we reached the finish line at Battery Park. This was the biggest race I have ever run in New York, and had far more of a cheering section than any of the other NYRR races in the park. The support for Team In Training was incredible, and I was VERY glad I was wearing my TNT racing shirt. It made me very popular on the course.

After my mandatory bathroom break at mile 12 (I was very upset about having to take this break. I never stop during races. EVER), I knew that there was no chance that I could get a good time. So, I enjoyed the end of the race and ran in really fast at the end! That's my favorite part- as soon as I see the finish line, I sprint as fast as possible and pass everyone. This shows that yes, I do have the speed, and maybe I should use it throughout the race and not just save it for the end. But its so rewarding to go fast at the end! It makes it all worth it :-)

Race pictures to come! Hopefully the race photographers got some nice, smiling ones of me. Not sad, electrolyte and energy deprived ones.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Treats (and streets) of the summer!

Some food news!

On Wednesday night, a few of my friends and I went to Dinosaur BBQ (it may seem this is the only place we frequent. In reality, we can only handle it once a month or so).

I tried to vary my choices a little bit this time. After waiting over an hour and a half for a table for 6, we were ready to eat. I opted for the ultimate BLT (a regular BLT with fried green tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes. incredible. and a TON of bacon) with 2 sides. For my 2 sides, I got the soup of the day (potato corn chowder) and the vegetable of the day (a green bean salad with a balsamic vinaigrette-very refreshing). I was feeling adventurous for sure! I don't think I've ever enjoyed a meal more (especially after waiting 2 hours for it! and after consuming a Dogfish Head Raison D'etre at 8%...)

We then headed down to George Keeley's, a beer bar on 83rd and Amsterdam. What's cool about Keeley's is they give you free popcorn (!!!!) and you can bring dogs. We didn't have a dog with us, but that's still pretty cool. Also, the beer is awesome. All in all, a successful evening for food and drink, even though my tummy was very full by the end of it.

I've also forgotten how much I love bubble tea. A friend gave me a recommendation for this Chinese/Japanese Restaurant on 72nd and Amsterdam called "Ivy's Cafe." I researched it further, and apparently it has quite the reputation for having some of the best bubble tea in NYC. I tried the "taro" flavor yesterday. I didn't even know what a taro is (some kind of root? I'll describe the flavor as "purple." Kind of tasted like rice pudding. mmm!). Anyway, the tea was fantastic and I had to restrain myself from going today after my long run (I don't want to be known as bubble tea girl). Some other flavors that were recommended to me were coconut and almond. I can't wait to try those also!

My Long run today:

Instead of running the monotonous central park loop over and over again, we ran on Park Ave! For three Saturdays from 7AM to 1PM starting today, traffic is closed on Park Ave up to 72nd st for a program called "Summer Streets." Team in Training had the honor of kicking off the celebration and being the first to run! Mayor Bloomberg was supposed to run with us, but inevitably his bed seemed more inviting at 7:30 in the morning. The route was from the base of City Hall to 72nd st. and back. You could add or subtract distance based on how much mileage you wanted to cover. Those of us running the NYC half marathon next Sunday has a dilemma- should we taper and only do eight miles (the coach's recommendation for those running the half) or go all out with the 15 miles Ramon recommended for the advanced group? Tapering is important before an endurance event because it gives the body time to rest and absorb the work you have already done. The NYC half marathon is many TNTers' main event of the season. If I really wanted to race and put all my effort of the season into it, I would definitely taper. However, my main goal is to rock it in San Francisco for the marathon in October. So I compromised....kind of. I had made up my mind to run to 72nd and back (9 miles) and if I had a lot of energy, I would keep going. Because I had made the decision to run a short(ish) distance, I didn't take my GUs (nutrition runners should consume during long runs). I ended up running 13.5 miles (to 72nd and back and then back up to 72nd). I was weak, dehydrated and dizzy from the lack of nutrition and water on the way (I had carried one waterbottle, but it wasn't enough. And there weren't many waterstops). Other than that, I had a great time! I never make it to that part of the city and was excited to explore a completely different world than the one I frequent. For most of the run I ran with my running buddy Nicole. We even got to pass her wedding venue! (68th and Park)

She turned around at 24th st. on our 2nd lap and I kept running uptown, with the intention of getting on the next subway I saw. Unfortunately (and fortunately) I met up with 2 other TNTers who wanted to go all the way to 72nd.


So I felt like I had to accompany them all the way to the end, even though I felt like crap. BUT I did get that sense of accomplishment in :-) It ended up being a 13.5 mile run. Waking up at 5AM followed by a 13.5 mile run followed by a visit from my mother and work from 1 - 10:30 = a lonnngg day.

Hopefully my taper for the rest of the week will go better. I think Ramon would call what I ran today "misbehaving."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

hills and prayers

Harlem Hill is much longer than I thought.

We began Tuesday night's practice at our meeting spot at 86th street in the bridle path on the east side. I thought this was an interesting meeting spot, considering we were running harlem hill repeats, which doesn't even start until 107th st (approximately). We had a 1.5 mile warm-up and then we were supposed to push all the way to the top of harlem hill and recover down. Seems simple enough. Unfortunately, I underestimated the length of the hill. My 1st repeat I took out confidently, and quickly. I thought the hill would never end. Towards the top my breathing became heavy and labored, even though I wasn't moving quickly at all (it's all about effort; not speed...). ANYWAY, since my recoveries down the hill were SO slow (I could have been walking), I only ended up getting 5 repeats in. Most people got 6. Hmph. I was happy enough to finish that last hill and run back to stretch though! My legs DID NOT want to move after all those hills. As one of my teammates stated on our cooldown to the stretching area, "Why does this feel like mile 23?"

The point of the workout was to get the lactic acid to build up and teach the body to recycle it quickly. That must have been why my legs were so sluggish at the end. All in all, a hard workout, and a GOOD night's sleep!

On a sadder note...

On Tuesday night, Pat McCormick (Kate's dad) lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. He was recently taken off chemo and has been spending time at home for the past week. He is finally whole and well again, and in no more pain. He was one of the best men I knew, and has raised a wonderful, beautiful family. He will be greatly missed and I hope anyone reading this will extend their prayers to him and his family.

Here is his obituary:


Patrick Dean McCormick, 52, Henderson, Kentucky, died of pancreatic/liver cancer at 10:25 p.m. Tuesday, August 4, 2009, at his home.
He was a piano tuner and technician, wonderful jazz pianist, but more importantly, the nicest man you could ever hope to meet. He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Henderson, where he was organist until March of this year. Pat loved to play the piano, and his music was enjoyed by many throughout the tri-state area.
He was preceded in death by his father, Carlos Archie McCormick, and his father-in-law, Charles William “Bill” McClure.
Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Heather McCormick; one son, Seth Patrick McCormick of Henderson; one daughter, Meredith Kate McCormick of Henderson; his mother, Juanita McCormick of Harrisburg, Illinois; one brother, Steve McCormick and his wife, Janice, of Harrisburg; nephew, Brad McCormick and his wife, Sherie, and their four children of Harrisburg; nephew, Mike McCormick and his wife, Penny, and their three children of Harrisburg; niece, Sheena Lowrey and her husband, Talon, of Harrisburg; mother-in-law, Mary Ann Blackwell and her husband, Chap, of Columbus, Indiana; brother-in-law, Brett McClure and his wife, Kim, and their sons, Alex and Drew, all of Anchorage, Kentucky.
Services will be at noon Saturday at First United Methodist Church. The Reverend Gary Chapman and the Reverend Willard Knipp will officiate. Private family burial will be in Fernwood Cemetery.
Friends may call from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Saturday at Rudy-Rowland Funeral Home.
Expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to American Cancer Society, First United Methodist Church Music Ministry, or St. Anthony’s Hospice.
Honorary pallbearers will be members of the choirs and praise teams at First United Methodist Church and Chapel Hill United Methodist Church and the musicians with whom Pat has enjoyed playing throughout his musical career.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

hills in the heat

Coach Ramon's Email about tonight's workout:


Course: hmmmm..... you are doing the Harlem Hill !! lucky you !!

The workout: simple, up and down Harlem hill for as long as the coaches want to keep you there.

Goal of the workout: pure strengthening workout. No much to cover here.
Push the way up, recover the way down. This will strengthen your calf, hip, quad muscles as it will give your aerobic system a good push therefore making your fitter !!
This is a long uphill, concentrate on effort not speed, don't think or focus on keeping speed, focus on putting effort, your breathing is challenging pretty much from the get go, the goal is to build the lactic acid kind of early and continue to push thru it, so the body will be force to flush it.
Yes, it is a hard workout, go ahead, try to enjoy it.

There is nothing like a hill repeat workout that will make you feel like you are really accomplishing something! and make you sleep REALLLLY well.

Yesterday I tried the "Core Fusion Sport" class at the Exhale Spa on Central Park South. This is the description from the website: Our newest proprietary class, Core Fusion Sport, is a total body workout that is designed to help you improve your performance in sports while reducing your risk of sports related injuries. Using a combination of lateral and twisting movements, this barreless one-hour class will chisel and firm your arms, shoulders, legs and butt while focusing on your core ¬ the center of your strength. This calorie-burning class works with resistance bands, core balls and mat abdominals with periodic jump backs for cardio and stamina benefits. Balanced flexibility exercises at the end will cool you down and increase your range of movement for sports. We will do this class in a slightly elevated temp room with motivating music, so be prepared to sweat and work out with a passion!
I was excited to sweat, and sweat I did (then again, I am a sweater. I will sweat after a very small amount of exertion). The first 40 minutes of the class was the hard part (strength training alternated with cardio without much break) and was very reminiscent of what I would have done with one of my trainers- without the one on one attention. It was hard, but I had to do the exercises right to get the full benefits- which meant I had to concentrate on form (my weakness). The prop we used for most of the class was a medicine ball with 2 handles- we used it for pushups, plank, extended weight lifting, etc. The end of the class got a little easier, and by the end I was not sweating anymore. I had planned to go running on the treadmill later that evening to get my cardio in, however, around 7PM exhaustion hit me. Pure exhaustion. Like, I need a nap exhaustion. I love getting this feeling after strength training. It means I'm really working out new muscles and I WILL see results. Turns out, I did not make it to the gym that night....

I will definitely try it again. With the student rate, it is $20 per walk in class. This may seem expensive, but compared to the regular price (I think that's in the $30s) and compared to what a personal training session would cost, I am saving a lot of money.

Off to go run some hills in the heat! Stay hydrated.

Monday, August 3, 2009

14 milers

I'm sorry it has been so long since Ive made an update!

Since I last posted, I have run two 14 milers in the park (both on Saturday mornings. For the 1st of the 14 milers, I ran with my running buddy, Nicole, who also happens to be a musician: opera singer. We had a lovely time exploring the upper 5 mile loop, the lower 5 mile loop, and the middle 4 (for variety sake). It is always nice to run with someone new because you learn so much! You can run for hours and the last thing you learn will be the person's name. (Nicole and I did meet last season though, we were both late for the "Christmas practice" and we ran around with blinking jewelery asking anyone in the park who would listen if they had seen Santa run by. Santa being our coach Ramon, of course).

This Saturday, I ran alone. This is something I am not used to, but is slowly starting to be comfortable. The problem is that I want to run the advanced distances (crazy) but I cannot keep up with the advanced speeds. Since the advanced group is usually so small on Saturdays, I have been finding myself alone. Which is okay. For the 1st 6 miles I ran mostly alone, catching up with my friend Emily for the the last mile before the 72nd st transverse (she was finishing her run however because she opted for the 7AM time- FYI, we have a choice. we can either run at 7AM or 830AM. Guess which one I usually choose...). For the rest of my run, I was joined here and there for a mile or so by one of my teammates but for the most part, enjoyed the solitude. While Team in Training was running, there was also a New York Road Runner long training run going in the park. Hundreds upon hundreds of people with race numbers were running in different pace groups for up to 20 miles. It was a crowded morning. I did appreciate the free water and Gatorade. and Pacers. Very convenient. I felt like I was running with schools of fish.

For the past 2 and 1/4 years, I have been a member of the Bally Sports Club at the world wide plaza on 50th st (I used to live on 48th and 9th). Since then, I have had a personal trainer, named Marissa, who I have come to love not only as a trainer but also as a friend and confidante. Training sessions turned into therapy on some levels. Unfortunately for me (but great for her!) she has been accepted to a full scholarship theater program in Ohio and quit Bally a few months ago. I had about 20 sessions left. So I was passed on to her roommate, Nick (who is also great) and continued to finish my sessions. Unfortunately, he left the gym too when I had 9 sessions left. I got arbitrarily placed with a different trainer who I did not mesh as well with. He did not care about me as a person, just as a client. Which is fine. I appreciated the exercises he gave me and learned a lot. Finally, I have no sessions left (yet, I think I'm still in debt with the gym...) and I have to find a new way to get my strength training in. Preferably not by videos, because I have no self discipline. Oops.

Today I am trying a class at the exhale spa on 57th and 6th. It is called "core fusion sport." I have tried their regular beginner level core fusion class before, and wasn't that big of a fan. When I work out, I will give it my all, but i have TERRIBLE form. I want to feel results and work hard, but not necessarily execute it correctly (I know, I know. It's harder!). This class focuses more on smaller movements, and although I can't do some of the exercises because those muscles aren't as developed, it doesn't feel like I"m getting much of a workout. Hopefully this "sport" version will be more challenging. I am excited for find a way to get my strength training in again!

In food news...

Some of the best food I eat in New York doesn't cost me any money. I am very lucky to have a wonderful aunt and uncle who have adopted a tradition of "Sunday Dinners." They live on the upper west side in a beautiful apartment I have come to know as my 2nd home (often it makes it to the 1st place spot..). For the past 3 years, they have been hosting dinner for my friends and I every Sunday night (groups usually range from 6-16. and this is a one bedroom). As humble as my aunt Mary is (she will never admit to being a good cook and is nervous when she tries something new), she is a fantastic chef who makes huge portions of some of my favorite foods. Some of her most popular dishes include: Meatloaf and mashed potatoes (the BEST meatloaf you will every try. and potatoes), rice pilaf, "flat" chicken (our family version of chicken francaise. I came up with the name), fillet mignon (yes, that's what I said), grilled salmon, lasagna, "make your own pasta," cheesy potatoes, ham, and much more. There is also an endless amount of vegetables and salad (she is our new york mom! we need our veggies!), and at least 5 or 6 ice cream choices along with fruit for dessert. Last night we had salmon with a pasta primavera recipe I found online, a butternut squash salad, and vegetables. For dessert, she made a banana pudding and nilla wafers creation (mmm) with ice cream, of course. We are very, very lucky people.

This week I hope to try the new bar "Dutch Kills" in Long Island City (not as far as one would think!). It is run by the same people as the infamous and private "Milk and Honey" (you need a special key to get in- I would love to accompany anyone with one of those!). They are famous for their tailored cocktails, and Dutch Kills has them for lower prices. Will let you know if I actually make it out there.

This Tuesday we are doing more hills! Last week was a cat hill workout, but I was doing bag watch (one of my mentor duties) so I didn't partake in the workout, although my friend Lauren and I did a pre-bag watch hill workout before practice. It just was not as hardcore as the one my teammates did.

Happy Monday!