me, actually

i’ve never been a morning person.  i thought i would grow out of it, and eventually love waking up at dawn, chipper and ready to kick serious ass at 6am.  i’m almost forty years old, and i love sleeping in, so…nope–thats a negative, my friend. if left to design my own schedule, i would sleep in until noon, and i would eat breakfast for dinner. this isn’t to say that i haven’t tried waking up super early, and regularly.  when i first started running in 2013, i would run in the morning.  before i had coffee!  this baffles me.  if i remember correctly, it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t awesome.  after logging in the miles over the last year or so, i’ve evolved into being more of a mid-day/night runner, and it suits me just fine.

i often bundle up and run home from work in the evenings.  the first part of the run is a westward mile across the dense, kinetic sidewalks of 26th street. i break my rules by making this mile the fastest one of the run, by dodging and darting around people, dogs, ice puddles, poop, and taxicabs.  it’s not the most graceful mile of the run, either. i look as though i’m hotfooting it across piles of garbage, my arms flapping like a chicken, but i like the challenge. i like to turn the street into an obstacle course that nobody knows they’re taking part in, except for me.

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at the end of 26th street, the west side highway hums predictably with evening traffic.  here i can run easy because it’s just me and a few other runners and an occasional cyclist.

there’s two ways to deal with bad weather as a runner.  you either stay inside, or you lace up and do it.

when you do, you’re probably one of the only runners outside.  if you do see other runners while you’re out suffering the elements, you can take comfort in the fact that there’s other people that are just as batty as you are.  solidarity!

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when you stay inside, there’s the internet and snacks.  you’re all alone.  also, there’s the sun that is shining through the window, tricking you into thinking that you should have gone outside.  the lackadaisical inert part of you (who forgets in the moment how ambitious you can be) thinks: who runs outside when it’s windy and cold with slush absolutely everywhere? 

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well…that would be me, actually.

bittersweet

nothing like a blizzard snow storm to slow this runner (who hates the treadmill) down.  it’s a good thing, though.  i’m keeping it easy, remember?  and easy it has been!

on saturday, todd and i went out for a 5k run around the hood.  i dialed it down this time, and lo! my hip was like, thanks, dude! i don’t feel a thing!  we did negative splits.  the last mile’s time ended up being what i would have normally run for the first mile.  not bad.  good job, us!

because of the snow storm, i’ve been working from home the past two days, watching the snow fall from the comfort of my dining room table.  oh boy, having that extra hour of sleep in the morning is awesome.  no commuting!  no having to pay attention to my appearance!  the only drawback?  looking down this afternoon at myself and realizing that i’ve been wearing sweatpants since saturday.  the same pair.  by night i looked pretty much the same, except i wasn’t at my dining room table, but on my couch across the room eating panic-pringles and sipping on fear-booze while watching movies.  j/k about the panic-food and fear-booze (kind of), but man did NYC go nuts on monday!

tomorrow’s a new day (and an opportunity to wear real pants and some kind of intentional hairstyle).  my dull of commute in the morning will be brightened by some of the songs i just added to my running playlist.

i’m stoked about this one, for sure:

i hadn’t heard this song in almost 20 years until a few nights ago.  i have to warn you though…only listen to this one track because the rest of the songs on this album reeks of 90s jam band.  that being said, this song really is lovely and reminds me of my junior year in high school (1993).  this was a time when jeans only had one cut/style.  this was a time when i tried (and failed) to hide my botched at-home nose piercing from my mom. this was a time when it seemed that my full-time job was to hide in my room, wear pajamas, stare out the window, and dream of leaving my small town for the city.

funny how things turn out.

something > nothing

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Brooklyn Bridge Park, Christmas Day

i have to say, i totally surprised myself by running almost every day during the holiday break.  maybe it was all of the baked mac and cheese, chips, dip and whiskey that motivated me to get outside and run fast and far (both as a reward for and repentance from).  perhaps it was all of the awesome new gear i got.

cold weather running requires way more accoutrements than warm weather running does.  gone are the days of sunblock and running tanks.  getting ready for a run in the nowadays feels like i’m preparing for a five day survival excursion out on the tundra.   thick socks?  check.  gloves?  check.  wooly hat that looks like a tea-cozy?  check.  long insulated pants with reflective thingies on them?  check.  skin tight, moisture-wicking base layer top?  check.  windbreaker?  check.  chapstick?  snot rag?  check!

lately i’ve been running in brooks running shoes.  both the glycerins and the pureconnects have been oh-so-supportive of my forefoot striking on the cold hard pavement of brooklyn and on the squishy trails of beacon.

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Denning Point, Beacon, NY

so yeah, todd, nolan and i spent half of the holiday break in brooklyn and the other half upstate in pine bush.  while up there, todd and i worked remotely during the day, noshed on delicious home-cooked meals by night, and inserted a bunch of chilly five-mile runs in between.

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pine bush, ny

this is one of our favorite local five-mile routes.  it has a combination of picturesque rolling hills winding through farmland and about a mile of flat road where at any moment you could get clipped by a semi going 60 mph.  i love a challenge!

in brooklyn, you have to slalom around uncurbed dog poop and errant trash, but in pine bush you get to dodge a rotting roadside deer carcass and a flattened cat in a ditch!  who said the rural life was boring?

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Riverfront Park, Beacon, NY

we wrapped up our time upstate with one last run up in beacon.  as beautiful as this picture is, it was probably the worst and weirdest run of the week. let’s just say i drank too much water before we left the house–a grim realization i made while we pulled into the parking lot.  there are no public restrooms on the riverfront of beacon. the only restroom i know of is located in the boathouse by the docks.  the restroom is located at the top of the stairs outside of the building and is usually locked by a padlock. i was relieved to see that the padlock wasn’t there, but when i went to open it, it wouldn’t budge.  i figured i didn’t try hard enough the first time, so i yanked on the door again.  turns out it was locked from the inside because the next thing i knew, the door knob rattled on its own and a gurgling voice behind the door yelled “GO AWAY!”  my legs went weak with terror.  i clumsily trampled back down the stairs to todd, unaware of what was happening because he had already put in his headphones. confused by my frantic gestures, he followed me as i scurried away from the boathouse.  i’m laughing now about it, but i really did get quite a scare.  what the heck was in that bathroom?!?  i’ll never know.  probably a good thing.

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Beacon, NY

since coming back from upstate, i’ve been busy with work.  january is a very intense time for the fitness industry, so it’s been difficult keeping up with the miles.  only 30 miles run so far this month.  i can’t be too hard on myself.  i was just thinking this morning about how far i’ve come, and how much has changed in the last two years.  i went from nothing to something great within a short period of time, really.  can’t wait to see what the next two years will bring!  but for now?  i’m in a good place.  just need to keep moving is all.  and i will.

 

the long and short of it

the good news?  i’ve been adding more distance to my runs (8 miles in SF <–).

the bad news?  i’m not running as often as i want to lately (although my mileage per week remains the same).

this isn’t to say that i’ve been sitting on my tuchus.  i’ve been cross training, doing new kinds of workouts, and staying ahead of the daylight savings blues which is muy, muy, importante.  

here’s a rundown of my workouts this week:

on monday night, i hightailed on over to a 90’s music themed ride at peloton cycle with marion berrian roaman.   i always leave their studio a sweaty, exhilarated mess.  spin classes like these make me feel ready to take on the rest of the week!

on tuesday afternoon, i went to SLT in their flatiron location to take a complimentary group class.  also in attendance?  my awesome, fellow co-workers at dailyburn!  according to their site “…(SLT) is largely based on the holistic principles of Pilates, but also emphasizes the strength training and cardio elements not inherent to Pilates…”  and how!  my obliques have never felt so sore.  on wednesday, i was clutching my sides and hobbling around like james brown exiting stage left.

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on wednesday night (the coldest night of the week, it turns out), i decided to run 4.5 miles after i got out of work.  oh boy, that was a mistake. there were NO OTHER RUNNERS on the west side highway, and the windchill was 23 degrees with the wind rushing at me at 25 mph. this coupled with feeling sore all over, my pace slowed down by 1-1.5 minutes per mile.  all i could think (bittersweetly) about was the writing on the wall at the SLT studio: better sore than sorry.  by the time i reached the brooklyn bridge/city hall train station at the end of my run, i’d broken up with running and made up with it a thousand times.  while on the crowded train ride home, my sinuses, traumatized by the cold, acted up like WOAH.  i snorted and slobbered helplessly within inches of visibly disgusted commuters.  should have gone to gym!

thursday morning, after waking up super early with a mild sinus medicine hangover, i zombie-commuted to equinox in soho to take a my first barre burn class with the talented lindsay brooke davis.  she is a wonderful instructor, and her class was just what i needed after that regrettable run the night before.  i danced ballet (and tap!) from ages 3-17, so the movements felt familiar and like home to me. now i’m not saying it was easy!  the class was challenging and made me sweat like crazy.  i’ll be back again.

today?  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.  i’m keeping my people clothes on!  no sweating, no nothing.  just resting up so i can go on a long run this weekend.  i’ve been trotting around in some new kicks these days which make my legs feel fantastic.  they’ve been great on short and fast runs, and even greater for those long and steady runs.  these brooks are my new jam!

next week? i’m looking forward to spending quality time with the ones i love.  good eats.  good workouts.  warmer weather.  can’t wait!

my own steam

forgive the hyperbole, but the world is a much safer place because i run.  whenever i’m unmotivated/feel like crap/want to throw things, all i have to do is put on my running clothes and i’m halfway to feeling better.  then, once i’m hauling ass, i’ve pretty much quashed the urge to rage quit the world. the act of running is on my own steam, but i have to say that my running gear is what generally makes me feel all super-hero-y and prepared to face down the villain that is depression.  running is my way of stomping all over its face with my size seven shoes.

yesterday, i decided to wear my running gear to work.

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it made the commute easier to navigate.  getting to work during rush hour fills me with mild anxiety, so i love being able to boogie up and down train platform steps without being slowed down by cumbersome strappy sandals and a giant purse.  as a sweaty person, it also helps that i’m wearing sweat-appropriate clothes while sweating in the 80 degree heat of the subway stations.

i wore my new mizuno evo levitas shoes, and they felt fantastic on my feet. i spent the work day at my standing desk, and only sat down once for 30 minutes.

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my commute home was even more rad.  i didn’t plan on it, but somehow i managed to run the longest distance i’ve ever run in one workout.  my trusty legs carried me down the west side highway, across town, over the brooklyn bridge, through downtown brooklyn and over to crown heights.  if you had caught a glimpse of me while i dashed down the home stretch that is my block, you would have seen the goofiest, unsuperhero-y looking expression on my face.  i was finally home.  i had kicked ass.  i was happy.

never too much

for sunday’s long run, todd and i planned on running easy and far. also, there were a few key items we wanted to buy from ikea, so we decided to mash the two things we wanted to accomplish that day together.   after lacing up, we mapped out a route, and took off at a nice and slow pace.  i’ve been reading up on running longer distances at an easy pace without wanting to die, and what do you know?  shit works!  by the time we arrived, we felt ready to run MORE miles.  legs still fresh, yet minds were blown.

these are the kinds of runs where my running app can kiss my butt.  while generally helpful, those audible mile/pace updates have a tendency to wheedle and cajole me into running faster when i don’t necessarily need to.  now i’m not giving up speed, or the ambition to break a few PRs.  it’s just that long runs seemed really intimidating because, well…they’re long runs.  i hadn’t thought about the fact that i could slow it down and actually ENJOY them. 

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once we arrived in red hook, we picked a lovely spot to stop and stretch…in front of a long line of weary ikea shoppers waiting for the ferry.  oops.  i have this irrational-ish fear of looking like an obnoxious strechibitionist, so i did some half-assed, self conscious stretches while staring out over the water–sort of like how a cat does that faraway stare while using the litter box.  turns out that there isn’t an un-awkward way to stretch in front of other people.  i lose.

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but, the view was gorgeous!

it turns out that sunday night is the best night to shop ikea. no cart-crashing with other shoppers, no crying babies, no long lines!  we also found everything we were looking for and piled them into our cart, including baskets to put all of our stuff in.  when you grow up to become an adult with stuff, you realize that you can never have enough baskets to put your stuff in.  you can even put baskets inside of baskets to hold even smaller stuff.  basket inception!

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on monday, during my lunch hour, i took a peloton class and came back to stretch my soleus muscles while they were warm.  i realized in the middle of my stretch (at my standing desk next to the office gym) how lucky i am to work for a fitness company, and be able to do what i actually love, in the city that i love. also, it doesn’t hurt that the temps have gone below swamp-sweat conditions.  can’t get enough of it.  i feel like a whole other part of my wardrobe has opened up for me to use again.

i’m excited to push on through the rest of the week.  more runs, a PTA meeting at nolan’s new school, some core strength training, and books to finish/start reading.

i’ll close this post with one of my favorite fugazi tracks, which has somehow made its way onto both of my running playlists,  one can never have too much fugazi, i guess.

done did

when i decided to run 100 miles in 30 days back in july, i had no idea that it would conclude in northern california.

at first i thought it would be difficult to complete the challenge while on vacation, but i managed to run every day (to keep the miles from piling up toward the end).  i adopted a regular route–a flat four mile loop around the neighborhood where i was staying in berkeley. i was also able to run around lake merrit, and alongside the berkeley marina with todd.

while i was primarily concerned with keeping up on the miles, i was also worried that i might injure myself somehow before i could finish the challenge.  while i generally held it together since day one, the final two days had me wobbling around like a errant marble in the mornings.  fortunately, by the time the afternoons rolled around, i was feeling fresh and ready to run. i even broke my PR for the mile at 7:34 on one of those days.

friday was the 30th and last day of the challenge.  i made tentative plans to hit 100 miles on the golden gate bridge, but changed my mind after seeing photographs of the armstrong redwoods reserve.  that afternoon, we packed up the car and headed north to sonoma county.   on our way to the reserve, we picked up our friend, eduardo, in santa rosa.  when we arrived, the parking lot was nearly empty. score!

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after a quick pee-stop at the ranger’s station, we poked quizzically at the map where i would run, and then wandered into the woods.

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1,300 year old trees.  no big deal.

the running path, it turned out, involved a bridge, several hairpin curves hugging a steep ledge, a quarter mile of paved road, and a spongy, pine needle-y pathway flanked by gigantic redwoods.  i had to run four loops of the path in order to complete the last four miles of the challenge.

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holy moly.

for the first two miles, i did some starry eyed sightseeing. i’ve run across the brooklyn bridge at sunset, down the lakefront trail in sunny chicago, and over the golden gate bridge on a clear day, but this was probably the most beautiful place i’ve ever run through.  i kept an eye on the trail, but craned my neck at times to gaze past the trees ahead of me. beyond those trees were vertically sliced views of more trees, going on and on into the distance.  essentially, i was running through the forest moon of endor.

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here i am at mile three, super stoked to see todd, nolan, and eduardo cheering me on.

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YES.  SO STOKED!!!1!1!!

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but seriously, guys.  i did it!

after hitting the 100th mile, i found myself standing alone on the path, out of breath, and dwarfed by the redwoods.  i had earlier learned that some of these fuckers have been around since the magna carta was signed in 1215.  that’s about 800 years ago. what did 38 year old tamara do?  run 100 miles in 30 days?  that’s nothing compared to living through centuries of plagues, wars, and famine.  but you know…what i did wasn’t nothing:

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humbled, sweaty, and at ease, i turned around and ran back to the start where everyone was waiting for me.  for the first time in 30 days, i didn’t have to keep track of my running distance.

now that i’m finished with the 100 miles challenge, i’m ready to take on something new.  i’ll still run, hovering around 60-70 miles a month, of course.  once i figure out what that will be, i’ll let you know.

in the meantime, i’m going to finish up my vacation with mexican food, movies and sleepy-times.