Jinx!

I should’ve known posting an Instagram picture saying “I’m back!” and writing a post about how I was finally at a good place with running would come back to bite me. That’s just how my luck goes (and often why I try to keep quiet on things for fear of jinxing myself).

If you follow me on social media, then you already know that I’ve been out with a (likely) femoral shaft stress reaction for just under three weeks. It all started on March 10th. I ran 11 miles after work on the 9th and felt fine. Went for a run on the 10th and also felt fine during… but as soon as I stopped I felt a weird sensation on the side of my right thigh. I chalked it up to tightness, took Friday off, and ran 11 miles on Saturday without issue. I carried on the following week pretty normally with some unspecified discomfort in my leg; I was never really able to pinpoint it, and it didn’t hurt enough for me to alter my gait or have to stop. I felt discomfort up more towards my hip at the end of the week, so I foam rolled and massaged myself to the point that I was bruised. I ran a 5k that Saturday and was fine.  Again, there was something there, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I went for a run on Sunday and it was pretty uncomfortable, but I wasn’t sure if that was because I raced the day before. So I took Monday off, and did a speed workout on Tuesday. It still felt off, so I immediately started to panic. I decided to stop running (this was March 22nd), Googled non-stop for two days, tried poking and prodding to find the source of the discomfort, but I came up empty handed. Panicked, I called my doctor at the Women’s Sports Medicine Office at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and got an appointment to see her the following Monday (3/28). I had x-rays and talked to her… and nothing showed up on the x-ray (no surprise), so she ordered an MRI. She said it was possible it was a stress fracture, but it could also just be a deep muscle strain. The pain wasn’t in my hip (so we ruled out femoral neck or labrum issues), which actually put me at a slight advantage. I had my MRI that Wednesday, and then went back to the doctor to review my results on Friday.

We looked at the MRI together, as I pretended to have any clue as to what I was seeing on the screen as she scrolled to zoom in and zoom out. I’ve been through the “OMG I HAVE A STRESS FRACTURE” panic so may times before, and each time the results have been in my favor. This time, though, I wasn’t so lucky (but wasn’t completely unlucky, either). She said there was a little something that didn’t look quite right, but it wasn’t a fracture line, either. Both the MRI technician and my doctor had the same diagnosis — it was likely a stress reaction and even if it wasn’t, it should be treated as such. Whomp, whomp.

While I was disappointed to hear the diagnosis, I was also relieved. It meant that the discomfort I was feeling had an actual cause. More importantly, it meant I could put a plan in place to heal and get myself back to running again. Since I caught it early, my doctor ordered no running or high impact activity for three weeks. After that, she said I could try a run, doing a run-walk method to see if I had any discomfort during or after. At the time of my diagnosis, I had already been off my feet for a week and a half… in fact, I hadn’t done any physical activity since March 22nd (and was starting to go crazy). I was so thankful to have the green-light for other activities mostly for my sanity, but also so I could attempt to maintain some of the fitness I had finally started to gain back after my last running hiatus. Since my diagnosis on April 1st, I’ve taken three spin classes, swam once, did hot yoga once, and returned to Refine Method over the weekend. I also did a few at-home workouts focusing on my core and glutes, which always need work. And as of today, I only have two more weeks of no running before I can give it a try… which really isn’t that bad!

I’m really thankful that I was smart and stopped running as soon as things really started to feel off. I’m thankful that I have a lot of other workout options easily available to me. And I’m thankful this was only a stress reaction and not a stress fracture. While it’s troublesome that I wound up with this injury — I had blood work done this past weekend to see if there’s anything I can do with my nutrition to help, since the femur is such a big and strong bone — it isn’t a nail in the coffin for me. I am confident I’ll be able to run my fall marathons.

Onward an upward!

 

Tell me…
Have you ever had a stress fracture? Reaction?

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Running is Dumb… and Awesome!

The title of this post represents the type of internal monologue I have with myself (re: running) on a daily basis. It’s a love/hate relationship. It’s hot and cold. On and off. You get the gist. It isn’t how I feel just towards running, though. When I swam in high school and college I had a similar approach. I hated swimming when it meant waking up at 5am for practice in the middle of January. But I loved it when it meant swimming a PR, winning a championship, and forging life long friendships. The same is true for me when it comes to running. And I’m sure a lot of you feel similarly about your sports/hobbies/extra curricular/life. But it’s that up and down that keeps us going, right?

My running friends and I joke to each other a lot about how we hate running, especially when the weather is terrible or we have to get up super early for a run. We joke that it’s terrible, but we keep doing it. So obviously, we don’t hate it that much. Or maybe we’re just masochists who like to punish ourselves a little. Whatever it is, its kept me coming back to running year after year, injury after injury. And I don’t think that’s going to ever change. While those awful training runs are a plenty, and waking up in the cold and dark to run alone in a park is never enjoyable, those slightly unpleasant moments are far outweighed by the feeling of success and accomplishment when you nail a workout or crush a race. At least they are for me.

This past Saturday I committed to running the NYC Runs Spring Fling 5k. Like I usually do about mid-week before a race, I was whining about how I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to have to wake up early and travel all the way to Roosevelt Island. It was going to be cold, and I was tired of figuring out just how many layers were the right amount for running. I was also hesitant at my level of fitness. I’m wildly competitive with myself and am also easily disappointed. I knew that I could be setting myself up for frustration… but I could also be setting myself up to be pleasantly surprised. I’ve been running pretty consistently since mid-November, but only recently started doing anything in the way of speed work. I was in phenomenal shape the last time I raced a 5k, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I wouldn’t know unless I toed the line on Saturday morning. So with slight trepidation I met up with my Jersey City pal Miranda and made the trek to Roosevelt Island, wearing a lot more layers than I would have liked.

You sure it's spring?

You sure it’s spring?

We arrived at 7:30am, an hour before the start. It was just enough time to each get a picture, whine about the cold, visit the port-o-potties, bring our gear to bag check, and run a mile. As we were waiting for things to get started we saw Carla, and walked to the start with her. We lined up towards the front (yet there were still somehow little children in front of us?), and things got underway right at 8:30am. Since I was towards the front but not IN front I took it out a little faster than I would have liked, just to try and get away from some of the crowd (there’s a hairpin turn less than a quarter mile into the race, so I wanted as much breathing room as possible). I looked down at my watch and saw 6:15, laughed, and tried to reign it in a little; there was no way I was holding onto that for 3 miles. I slowed down slightly, continued to chug along, and tried to figure out exactly what I wanted to do during the race (better late than never?). I thought my best bet was to keep it feeling hard but not impossible and to see what happened. So that’s what I did. I did my best to keep my effort around 90% and chug along. It felt hard, but not like I was running out of steam or really, really pushing the pace. Before I knew it we were at the lighthouse turnaround point with the wind at our backs, so I pushed the pace slightly for the last half mile or so. There weren’t a lot of people near me, so I knew I had a pretty good chance at placing in my age group.

Spoiler alert: I won my age group

Spoiler alert: I won my age group

There was another hairpin turn right before the finish which was slightly annoying, but thankfully there wasn’t really anyone around me so I didn’t have to worry about crashing into someone. Before the last turn I quickly looked at my watch, realized I could make it in under 21, and hustled my way to the finish. I wound up crossing in 20:43, exactly 8 seconds off my PR from September 2014. It was good enough for 26th overall, 6th woman, and 1st in my age group (gotta rack up those 20-29 AG points before I move up June)! And more importantly, I couldn’t be more pleased! Considering I’ve only been running consistently for about 3 1/2 months after all my injury drama and my 5k PR is from when I was in tip-top running shape, this bodes well for my 2016 racing season… so long as I can stay healthy. I’d love to be able to run a sub-20 5k, but I know that will require a lot more work; those 35 seconds will be hard to shave off. It was a huge confidence booster, and it makes me excited for the spring, summer, and fall. I’ll have to remind myself of days like Saturday when I’m up at 5am trying to beat the heat, trudging through less than enjoyable long runs, and having one of those “running is dumb” moments.

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Spin City

No, this blog post isn’t going to be about the Michael J. Fox TV show from the late 90’s, but rather (a few) studio spin classes in New York City. Sorry to disappoint!

I’ve mentioned a few times over the last year or so that since living in Jersey City and working in NYC that I’ve been exposed to more fitness studios and workout classes than I could ever imagine. You name the type of workout, it’s available. It’s actually one of my favorite parts about NYC and something I longed for when I was living in suburbia. While I’m not on a quest (yet) to try as many different workout classes as possible, I’ve found myself recently trying a lot of different spin studios.

When I was injured this past summer, spinning was my saving grace. I was able to get in a serious sweat and keep my cardio up, without further aggravating my sinus tarsi. I was going to Flywheel two to three times a week, and reaping the benefits. I started running again in the fall, and was thrilled to see that I hadn’t lost nearly as much fitness as I had feared. While there’s still plenty of work I need to put in, I was in a much better place this go around than any other time I’ve come off an injury.

But I digress… I realized that a few weeks ago I went to FOUR different spin studios. Four! In one week! And I didn’t even crack the surface of spin studio offerings in the city. I thought it would be fun to recap and breakdown the differences between the four I visited, since I’m always looking for workout class recaps and feedback from others. With the four studios I visited, two were studios I’ve been going to since I started spinning last year, and two were new-to-me as of last week. I’m going to break down each studio so you can easily compare them!

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Flywheel Sports
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know Flywheel is where I spent the majority of my summer getting in cardio. There are a TON of locations, so it was easy for me to get to; whether I was near work, meeting a friend, visiting my parents in New Jersey or traveling to Chicago, there was a studio nearby.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 7.43.37 PM

Cost: $28-$34, depending on your location. Includes shoes, water, fruit.

Studio: The studios are all pretty small. As most of you know, space is hard to come by in NYC, and it’s no exception for Flywheel. Some studios are more spacious than others (like the Millburn, NJ location – SO MUCH SPACE!), but generally speaking you often feel like you’re in someone’s way no matter where you are or what you’re doing. But it comes with the territory. They all have a little retail area, and depending on the location, either a men’s & women’s locker room, or individual shower and toilet rooms. Again, the size and set-up varies at each location, but they follow the same general concept.

Bikes: Easy to set up and comfortable. Each bike has a ‘tech pack’ that displays your RPM, resistance, current power output, and total power. Everyone’s total power is tracked throughout the class, and if you opt in, you can have yours displayed on the Torq board during class. This set-up favors the competitive types, but can be intimidating for those that aren’t. The good news is that you can opt-out of having your name and stats display on the Torq board. The number of bikes depend on the size of the studio, but the set-up is ‘stadium’ style, so even if you’re in the back you have a good view of the instructor. It’s dark and the music is loud, so you really have the opportunity to get in the zone and leave everything behind for 45 (or 60 or even 90!) minutes.

Class itself: Think combination of heavy hills, leg flying flat roads, and tons of sprints, ranging anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds. The playlists are always great, and I’m yet to take an instructor I don’t like. An arms sequence is done towards the end of class (you don’t have to do it) using a 2 and/or 4 pound bar. Different locations have different vibes (like the Flatiron and Upper East Side locations have regulars that know one another and the instructors well, while Tribeca is more of a business get in/get out), but they all deliver the same high energy classes. And, if you’re into barre workouts, there are a few locations that offer barre too!

Peloton
I stumbled upon Peloton early last year when I found a deal on Gilt City for a 5-class pack. At the time, I didn’t realize that their primary business was selling bikes for at-home riders, and their studio is where they actually shoot and live stream the classes for the at-home riders.

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 7.43.22 PM

Cost: $30, includes shoes, water, fruit

Studio size: Impressive! This studio is on the larger side and offers more than just a retail section and locker rooms. They have a fun little lounge area that encourages riders to come early or stay later after rides to just hang out and relax. They also have a smoothie & coffee bar, where you can order drinks before your ride to have them ready for afterwards! The locker rooms have an impressive number of showers and toilet stalls, and a decent amount of lockers. I also love that they have face wash! It sounds silly, but most studios that offer bath products only have body wash, shampoo, and conditioner, so I appreciate the face wash. It can still get pretty crowded (especially in the locker room), but it feels much less cramped than a lot of other studios in the city.

Bikes: Best I’ve ever ridden! Seriously. They are SO incredibly smooth and comfortable. Considering their main focus (at least at the start of the business) was the sale of these bikes, it makes sense. Each bike has a little tablet that displays your stats, and you can see others in the class — both studio and at-home riders — stats and where you rank. It’s nice to have it right there in front of you, rather than on a giant board for all to see.

Class itself: Similar to Flywheel, the classes offer sprints, hills, intervals, riding to the beat, and an optional arms section towards the end of class. Also stadium style seating, this has an added bonus of cameras for the at-home riders! The cameras are facing the instructor, so you don’t have to worry about being seen, but that changes the dynamic a bit since the instructors are there not only for you in the studio, but also for everyone riding along at home either live, or as a replay.

SWERVE Fitness

SWERVE is a new-to-me studio with the theme, “together we ride.” When their PR team sent out an e-mail blast about their soon to open Midtown studio offering the chance to come in for a ride, I jumped at the offer. I’m all for trying new workouts and I was interested to try a team themed workout.

Cost: $34, includes shoes (water available for purchase)

Studio size: Impressive. They have a similar set-up to Peloton in that there is a lot of space; the studio is actually downstairs, leaving plenty of room for lockers and a lounge area including a smoothie bar! It encourages riders to come early/stay after classes to relax and socialize, which is a nice change of pace from the head down, always in someone’s way feeling at a lot of studios in the city. They have separate locker rooms for women and men, but only two bathrooms. So the line for a quick pre-class pee can get pretty long… something to keep in mind!

Bikes: Okay. Admittedly I had a little bit of a rough start due to my own mix up of dates for class, so I was on someone else’s bike then had to quickly switch to a different open one right as class was starting, so I didn’t really settle in until class was already a few songs deep. That being said, the bikes were fine, but nothing to write home about. Since the class does focus on some numbers here and there, there is a tech pack of sorts that provides you basic information like your RPMs, your current resistance, and your overall output.

Class itself: Really different! The concept at Swerve is teamwork; the studio is split into three groups that are color coded (blue, red, and green) and your goal throughout class is to work together during different segments. There are a few TV screens throughout the studio, but they don’t display everyone’s output, but rather the team output. Like most spin classes there are sprints, hills, and portions where you ride to the beat. The TVs display a countdown of the different sections the teacher calls out to be a competition, and as a color team, you work together to hit whatever goal (maybe 75 beats per minute for 38 seconds… or sprinting as fast as you can at a certain resistance number to get you to a specific output number). This approach is a nice medium between the competitiveness of say the Torq Board at Flywheel, and the complete lack of it at a place like Soul Cycle or Cyc Fitness. You also get an e-mail right after class letting you know all your stats (your personal output, estimated number of calories, etc.).

Cyc Fitness
I’ve known about Cyc for awhile since I know a bunch of runners who enjoy frequenting their classes. Up until a few weeks ago, though, I hadn’t made my way over to take a class.

Cost: $28, includes shoes (water available for purchase)

Studio size: I visited their location at Astor Place, which is inside a David Barton’s Gym. Therefore, I guess you could say the location is huge. The locker rooms are shared with the gym, so there is plenty of space for you to get ready and store things (but you need to bring your own lock!). I think their newer Hell’s Kitchen location is stand alone, so that may be smaller. That being said, there was plenty of room near the actual Cyc section of the gym to wait for class to begin, and I liked that they had little cubby shelves for people that maybe don’t have enough stuff to warrant bringing a lock and going into the locker room, but need to put their street shoes somewhere.

Bikes: Meh. The bikes themselves weren’t really that great; I couldn’t seem to get the handle bars to not jostle despite tightening it as much as I could, it wasn’t a very smooth ride, and turning the knob seemed to make it either dangerously easy or impossibly hard; there wasn’t much middle ground. There also isn’t any type of “tech pack” so you’re really not sure about your resistance or RPMs. I know that could be a deal breaker for some, but I think it’s nice to not focus on the numbers sometimes.

Class itself: Party on a bike! Seriously. There was so much movement and while intimidating at first, it was so much fun. While I’ve never taken a Soul Cycle class, based on what people have told me, it seemed similar in terms of the constant moving on the bike. This was also the first class I’ve taken where arms were done two separate times, once towards the beginning of class and once closer to the end. All other studios do their arms sequence towards the end of class. The moves were also geared towards other sports moves (think mimicking shooting a basket, spiking a volleyball, etc.) which was interesting.

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Overall, I’ve realized quite a few things about myself and what I look for in a spinning studio after visiting four different studios in one week. I’m extremely competitive, and thrive off of that in a workout environment. My competitiveness is often hidden because I’m an introvert, but not only am I constantly competing with myself, I’m often sizing up and competing with other people in a class. Call it a strength or a weakness (I suppose it depends on the day), but it’s my reality. That being said, despite hating math, when it comes to workouts, I’m a numbers girl. BUT with all that said, every so often I need a break from that constant competition, so having the option to spin somewhere that isn’t so numbers focused is great. Workouts don’t always have to be something where you’re teetering on the edge of exhaustion and aren’t sure if you’re loving it or hating it — they should be fun!

I’m thankful to have so many options for cross-training available to me. I wouldn’t have been able to get through my last two bouts of running injuries without them, I’m sure of it. It is hard sometimes to pick and choose what I want to do, just because I want to try everything and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit in cross-training workouts, running, and a little thing called work (not even including a social life!).

I’d love to know if you have any favorite spin studios I haven’t checked out yet! OR another favorite cross training workout? Tell me!

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Come Run With Me: Newport 10k

Despite living in Jersey City for about a year and a half, I’m yet to run a race in the city. Sure, I’ve logged hundreds of miles in this great city of mine, but never in the form of a race. That isn’t because there aren’t many local races. There are actually a lot! There’s one in particular that I’ve known about for a while and has a pretty great reputation – the Newport 10,000 (aka Newport 10k). This race attracts a lot of runners from all over the state (and NYC), and is fast. So when I saw it would work with my schedule this year, I immediately signed up. Then, as luck would have it, I was contacted and asked if I was interested in being a VIP Blogger for the race. Of course I said yes!

There are a few reasons why I’m so excited for the race this year:

  • It starts so close to home! That means I don’t need to take the PATH and subway and worry about travel plans just to get there like I do for most other races.
  • It runs through my neighborhood. It runs down the street on the opposite side of a small park from my apartment. You can see my apartment as you run by!
  • It’s flat and has minimal turns, which means it’s fast.
  • The views! Yes, I live here and run in the park and along the water multiple times a week, but the views of the city skyline never get old.
  • I know a bunch of people that have run it in the past and sing its praises, which is good enough for me!

So, if you’re looking for a fast spring 10k, come run in Newport with me in May! (Hey look, that rhymed and I didn’t even do it on purpose). Need more details? Here you go!

What: Newport 10K

When: Saturday, May 14th, 2016 at 8:30 a.m.

Where: Newport Town Square, 100 Town Square Pl, Jersey City, NJ 07310

Background: Known as the fastest course in the tri-state area, the Newport 10,000 is a 10K road race along the Hudson River waterfront in Jersey City’s community of Newport. Recreational and elite runners will have the opportunity to compete at the highest level for their share of $15,400 in prize money. The USA Track & Field-certified course is comprised of flat and local roads that interweave along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and provide spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Racers have access to four water stops during the race, as well as clocks at each mile. The race will be followed by Newport’s annual Post-Race Party, which is going to feature a live DJ, refreshments and prize drawings. Win NY Mets tickets, NY Red Bulls Tickets, a 1-hour massage or several restaurant gift certificates!

Beneficiary: Proceeds will be donated to the Barnibas Health, Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional referral teaching hospital, providing the highest level of care for women and infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Sponsors: Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP (title sponsor), Cosi, Courtyard Marriott Jersey City, New Jersey Beer Co., Yelp, Verizon

Distance: 10 kilometers (6.2 miles)

Registration fee: $30

Event Website: http://www.newport10k.com/

Seriously, come run with me! Or if you’re in the area, come out and cheer! It was absolutely beautiful last year and I had a fun time cheering. I’m planning to go out for a beer (and food) afterwards… so the more the merrier! And even if you can’t make it this year, keep it in mind for next year.

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Friday Favorites: Winter Edition

Now would you look at that – another blog post! Don’t get too excited; usually when I have this mojo to blog more often it lasts for a week or two and then I disappear again. Maybe 2016 will be different, but I’m not making any promises!

At any rate, with the weather finally feeling like winter (boo!) I thought it would be fun to make this Friday Favorites more about things that help me get through the winter.

Mario Badescu’s Olive Eye Cream
My skin, like most people’s, can get extremely dry during the winter months. It wasn’t until a few years ago, though, that I noticed the skin around my eyes also getting extremely dry. Since my skin is rather sensitive and I’m not really looking for any “anti-aging” properties (though I guess I should probably start…) I just wanted a good, thick lotion.

mario

Enter Mario Badescu’s olive eye cream. This eye cream fits the bill – it’s thick and creamy without being greasy. And most importantly, it doesn’t break me out! I’ve been using it around my nose as well as a barrier since I have a cold, and it’s been a game changer.

Oiselle Katron Vest
I bought the Katron jacket late last year, and love it. I don’t run in it, but it’s the perfect jacket to throw on for before and after workouts. It’s warm without being suffocating, and there are SO MANY POCKETS! When the weather started getting cool again, I began lusting over the vest version and started to kick myself for not ordering one (in burgen) last year.

For work AND for run. I'm really glad I didn't have to crop out Miranda's face.

For work AND for run. I’m really glad I didn’t have to crop out Miranda’s face.

I wasn’t originally sold on the shiny fabric of the 2015/16 version, but after comparing it to other options, I realized that shiny is in for sportswear puffy vests. The deciding factor for me between this vest and other brands was the removable hood. I’ve only taken it off once, but having that option made a difference to me. While it doesn’t have as many pockets as the jacket, it still has 7… which is A LOT! I can easily stash my phone, keys, a little wallet that has the essentials (ID, PATH/Metrocard, cash, debit card), and I still have room for extras… I’ve even stashed a shirt in the back pocket to be able to change into after a run! And maybe most important, is that I can easily wear it for a run or wear it as a vest with a pair of jeans and long sleeve shirt. Versatility is key!

Kahtoola Microspikes
I was actually sent a pair of Kahtoola Nanospikes in the fall to try out, but knew it would likely be some time before I was able to give them a go (which I didn’t mind, I don’t like winter and snow). We had a mostly mild early winter – I’m talking light coat for Christmas, running in shorts well into January – until this past weekend. Apparently mother nature wanted to make up for lost time, because she dumped nearly 2 feet of snow on us over the weekend! Since Jersey City was mostly shutdown all day on Saturday, I figured it would be the perfect time to give the nanospikes a try.

A little snow? Meh.

A little snow? Meh.

When I set out for my run, there was already a decent amount of snow on the ground. The plows had come through maybe once or twice, so the roads had snow on them, but it was packed and not nearly as much as the sidewalks. After being out there for only 5 minutes, I realized how much of a game changer the nanospikes are. My feet weren’t slipping nearly as much as they would have been without the grips, and I had a little extra confidence with every step (this isn’t to say I wasn’t still cautious, though, because I was was!). I was exhausted after 3 miles, but I know it would have been even more tiring without the extra grip the nanospikes provided. I can’t believe I waited all these years to give them a try!

Birchbox ARROW Boost Enhancing Lip Color
I’ve been using Birchbox since August after my sister raved about it. When I saw they were coming out with their own makeup and skincare product line that caters to those living the active lifestyle, I was immediately interested.  The line itself is still a work in progress (they have a few things available now and more launching soon), but one thing immediately caught my attention – their Boost Enhancing Lip Color. I must admit I was a little skeptical. A lip moisturizer that adjusts to your pH to give you a little color? It reminded me of those terrible “mood” lipsticks from the early 90’s that somehow always turned your lips a terrible blue. Despite this initial feeling, since I’m trying to embrace colored lips a little more and Birchbox is yet to let me down, I ordered a stick.

birchbox

Let me tell you – I am obsessed with this lip color!! It’s really just a tinted lip moisturizer/lip gloss, but it’s awesome. It gives my lips a slight flushed pink color, moisturizes them, and lasts a long time. I’ve been using it every single day (and mulitiple times a day!) since I got it a few weeks ago and I’m already thinking about how I should order more to stock up. I can’t wait to try the other products in their line as they come out!

Tieks Flats
You’re probably thinking, “why in the world would someone put flats on their “winter favorites” list?!” Well, hear me out. I’ve had Tieks on my wish list for quite some time, but never pulled the trigger (I mean, they aren’t exactly cheap!). I finally got a pair for Christmas this year, and for obvious reasons (NYC should be renamed to Puddle City in the winter), haven’t worn them outside yet. That being said, I HAVE worn them inside!

I got the Vegan Silver Lake color!

I got the Vegan Silver Lake color!

Thanks to the fact that they fold in half and come with a little pouch that you can store them in, they’re the ultimate portable shoe. So, when it was snowing this morning and I thought to myself, “I don’t think I want to wear my Sorel snow boots ALL day in the office, I should bring another pair of shoes to change into…” I immediately grabbed my Tieks! They are super comfortable and really cute, and I’m already thinking about my next pair!

So that’s what I’m loving {so far} this winter!

Tell me…
What are you loving this winter? 

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I Ran a Race!

Yes, you read that title correctly. After not pinning on a bib for over 7 months (the beer mile doesn’t count) I got to race not once, but twice two weekends ago! If you’re wondering why it’s been so long since I last raced, you can catch up on my string of injuries here and here. To say 2015 was a lackluster running year would be quite the understatement. But there’s no point in dwelling on the past, and I’m oh so very excited to finally write about running again.

I’ve been running somewhat consistently since early November and things have been going really well. I’ve kept my weekly mileage relatively low (I’m talking 20 mpw) and I’ve kept up with my strength training love, Refine Method. I haven’t done any speed work or tempo miles (yet), but I’m finally starting to feel like my old runner self, and it’s great! That being said, I went down to good ‘ole Orlando for the Walt Disney World 10k and Half Marathon two weeks ago with the confidence I’d be able to finish the races, but there wouldn’t be any PRs. It’s worth noting that this is the FIRST Disney race weekend I attended without an injury! And I’ve attended SIX runDisney race weekends prior to this one starting in 2011!

Finally!

Finally!

I’ll start with the 10k, since that was the race that happened first. And it started like any other runDisney race – early! The race started at 5:30am, so this meant a 3:30am wake-up call, and 4am bus ride. Since we were staying at the Beach Club resort, we had a short(er) bus ride over to the starting area in the Epcot parking lot. We arrived at the start with plenty of time to check a bag (it was drizzling on and off so we wanted to make sure we each had a dry top to put on after the race), visit the always lovely port-o-potties, and get lined up in the A corral. Going into the race, my intention was to push the pace a little, but not truly race it. So when I lined up in the corral I didn’t think much of being pretty far back. After the usual runDisney fanfare of fireworks, we were off!

The first mile or so of the race was pretty crowded. Like I said, I started relatively far back in that first corral, so I spent a lot of time trying to find open road. Thankfully after that first mile it thinned out quite a bit, and the rest of the race was much more comfortable. My first mile was around a 7:50, which was good enough for me. The next three miles, however, we were all on empty service roads, and I dropped the pace to 7:15. I didn’t feel like I was killing myself, and each time I looked down at my watch I was floored by the pace… I really didn’t think I had that speed in me after all that time off. Remembering that I still had a half marathon to run the next day and that I really wasn’t in shape, I pulled back just a bit. The rain also started to pick up as we entered the parks, so things got slippery. I ran the last two miles between 7:20 and 7:30, and crossed the finish line (soaked) in 45:51. Turns out, that’s a slight PR! I’ve only run three other 10k’s before, and the last one being in 2013, so the PR was due for an upgrade. While I know I can go much faster when I’m in shape, I’m happy that the pace of this 10k was the same pace as my current half marathon PR from 2014. It was a huge confidence booster after such a rough 2015!

Thrilled to have finished a race. Not thrilled to be soaking wet.

Thrilled to have finished a race. Not thrilled to be soaking wet.

With a little déjà vu on Saturday, I found myself back at the start for the half marathon. My plan for this race was different – I just wanted to finish! My longest run in months up to that point had been 10 miles, and after Friday’s performance I knew an “accidental PR” wasn’t in the cards for me again… which was fine! I started a few corrals back with my pal Ellen who was doing the Dopey Challenge, and we spent the first 7 or so miles together, chatting and enjoying the characters on the course and running in the dark… we even stopped for a picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle! Since Ellen was doing the Dopey Challenge, we kept our pace around 9:30’s, which was fine by me. Somewhere between mile 6 and 7, though, we got separated. Since it was still dark and the roadway was relatively narrow, I knew I should just soldier on rather than try to find her. This is where I decided to also pick up my pace. I figured I only had 5ish miles left and kept it relatively conservative for the first half, so why not. I should also mention it was SO incredibly humid that I was just as wet by this point as I had been the day before from the rain.

By mile 10 I realized that if I kept my pace, I would likely be able to squeeze in just under 2 hours. This became my new goal. I kept trucking, had a nice little conversation with a random guy who asked me how I was doing as I ran past him, and after what felt like an eternity (remember, I hadn’t run more than 10 miles in over 8 months at this point) we were in Epcot making our final loops and turns to the finish. I crossed the line in 1:59:38, achieving my mid-race goal of sub-2 hours. I was thrilled to have my race weekend over, and I was ready to cheer for the marathon the next day!

Perks of staying at a hotel on the race course... perfect spot to spectate!

Perks of staying at a hotel on the race course… perfect spot to spectate!

This race weekend was just what I needed to remind myself that even though 2015 was a sucky year for my running, not all was lost. I just need to continue to be smart as I add on mileage, and focus more on the training than the racing. Naturally with this positive turn of events in my running comes the frigid temperatures of winter in the northeast that we’ve been missing… but good thing I have lots of layers! So here’s to putting in the work this winter in hopes of finally getting myself back to racing shape for the summer and fall!

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Back At It

I mentioned at the beginning of October that I was finally ready to get back to running. My injury seemed to be a thing of the past, and more importantly, my attitude towards running was back to being a positive one. Turns out, I still had a little work to do; I ran a few times in October, but struggled a bit prioritizing it over my other workouts and commitments. Then on November 1st, something magical happened. I cheered for the New York City Marathon (like I do every year), and the once fiery flame that had dwindled down to embers caught it’s second wind.

watch

I’ve been trying to be smart – for the first time in a long time – when it comes to my running. The big difference between this go-around and the past is that previously, I’d do the rehab for my injury, feel good, and jump back into it too quickly. The first few weeks were cautious, but I’d get a taste of the good stuff and go full steam ahead, often too soon. It’s tricky to build a schedule for yourself with low mileage when you’re used to a much heavier load, but it’s also a relief. I have little to no pressure on myself; if I don’t feel like running one day, I don’t really have to. If I need to switch things around to accommodate my schedule, it isn’t nearly as difficult to figure out where to fit in 3 or 4 miles, versus 10. Right now, my main focus is to get myself prepared to gallivant through Disney World in January for the 10k and half marathon I’m signed up for. I have no doubts about being able to finish, I just want to make sure I don’t hurt myself in the process and I have a good time.

sunrise

My first week back (three weeks ago now) I ran 15.5 miles, not running more than 4 at once, and keeping a day in between each of my runs. This week I’ll top out at 20 (if everything goes according to plan), and I’ll have run my first three days in a row since early May. I’m doing all of my runs in the morning (unless I work from home one day where I get the luxury of a lunchtime run), and I’m keeping up with cross training. For me, cross training means going to Refine Method at least 3 times a week and doing the “little things” (ankle and foot strengthening exercises, IT band exercises). I’m hopeful that I can keep this momentum going and have a solid winter of training (we’ll see what mother nature thinks about that), so I can do some type of racing in the spring… likely just shorter distances. I’m not going to hold my breath, though. For now, I’m just going to enjoy the run. That’s what it’s all about anyway, isn’t it?!

Tell me…
Any advice for coming back from injury? 
How do you get your running mojo back when you’ve lost it?

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Monday Favorites!

Since I’m not really a fan of Mondays, I thought it would be fun to switch up my typical “Friday Favorites” and make it a Monday Favorites instead!

Flannel Shirts

Nothing says fall like flannel – am I right?

Merp.

I call this my ‘late summer, early fall flannel’

Of course, there’s a fine line between fall chic and lumberjack, but I’ve fallen in love with flannel shirts this fall. Not all prints, colors, and cuts are created equal, but most stores seem to have some really great options this season… Some of my favorites have come from J.Crew and Old Navy. I love seeing them worn open as a cardigan, layered with sweaters, and worn just as a regular button-down. So despite their lumber jack qualities, they scream fall to me.

Supergoop CC Cream

I first tried Supergoop‘s sunscreen as a sample from my sister’s Birchbox before ordering my own. I was impressed with the coverage and its ability to not make me look like a grease ball. So I was thrilled when I received a sample of their CC cream in my own Birchbox a few months later.

supergoop

I knew after wearing it just one day that I needed to purchase the full size. It provides just the right amount of color to even and smooth everything out, isn’t heavy, and somehow manages to keep my extreme combination skin from getting dry or oily. I struggle a lot with my combination skin – part of it can be dry and flaking while another part looks like an oil slick. The Supergoop CC cream manages to keep it all at bay, with sunscreen as an added bonus!

Kindle

I’ve always been a die-hard book reader. When e-readers first came out I scoffed at the idea of not having a hard copy of a book… There’s just something about the way turning the page feels! But then I started commuting on a train that’s typically (crowded) standing room only.

Kindle + coffee... two of my favorite things.

Kindle + coffee… two of my favorite things.

In a perfect world I’d be able to hold my book and turn the pages with ease while standing on the packed train, but that just isn’t the reality. Half the time I’m lucky if I can even get a spot on the pole to hold on, so trying to turn the page of a book with one hand is tricky. I did it for a while, but with how slow the PATH is some days, I found myself having to turn the page too many times during a one-way trip. So I decided it was time for a Kindle. I bought the paperwhite a few months ago and haven’t looked back. I can hold it and turn the pages easily with one hand and it’s so small and compact there’s always room for it in my bag. Sure, I can’t publicize the awesome books that I’m reading to my fellow commuters, but no one really gives a shit anyway. They just don’t want my page turning to invade their space.

Birchbox

As I mentioned when talking about the Supergoop, I recently signed up for Birchbox. My sister decided to give it a try and was really enjoying it, so I figured I’d give it a shot as well.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 5.34.20 PM

For only $10 a month, I figured if it didn’t work out it wouldn’t be a big deal, but it turns out I’m really loving it so far! I’ve gotten to try a lot of new-to-me products that have all been the perfect size to throw in my gym bag or take with me on a trip, and some of them have been so great I’ve purchased their full-size counterpart! I mean, $10/month is just two fancy lattes!

Scream Queens

This new FOX show is a new favorite of mine.

ScreamQueens

It’s basically a slightly scary Halloween version of Mean Girls; sorority girls being typical sorority girls but with the twist of a killer on the loose whose targets are a specific group of people. My favorite part is that every episode leaves me I question who I think the “red devil” killer is. Emma Roberts is fantastic in it, and I love seeing Abigail Breslin all grown up!

So tell me, on this fine Monday, what are you loving?!

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So… Do You Still Run?

Alternate title for this post: do you still blog?

The answer to both of these questions – I suppose – is yes, but I took a little break! I realized that after signing up and starting to train for marathon three years in a row only to wind up injured and out a race fee, a break was necessary. I’ve spent A LOT of money on race entries for races I never got to do and copays for doctor and physical therapy appointments. Not to mention all that time training only to have it cut short. Aside from the time and money spent, I’ve also had plenty of time to wallow in self pity and feel sorry for myself. Questioning whether or not I was “cut out for running” has been the theme for the last few years. But now that it’s been a full year of yo-yo running with my longest no running streak since I started in 2009, I’m ready to refocus.

Part of my problem – self inflicted of course – has been my obsession with running a marathon. Not because I like running them – and I like training for them even less! – but because at some point along the way I decided THAT was what would make me a runner. Thinking about it now that I’ve gotten out of my own head, I realize how silly that is. I can be a badass runner no matter the distance I train and race! But because I had this idea in my head that I needed to run a good marathon, I set myself up for repeated failure. I’d start to train, get hurt and take time off, get back to running and try to make up for lost time, and start the cycle all over again. Each time, my body cried out and I ignored it. Until this time.

If you’ve been following along, you know the last marathon I truly trained for (and even that was half-assed!) was Chicago 2012. I had plans to run Richmond in 2013, but issues with my sinus tarsi in my right foot forced me to drop to the half. I was able to spring board off of that and have a killer spring and summer where I crushed my half marathon and 5k PRs, but just under a month before the 2014 Philadelphia marathon I developed a really stubborn case of ITBS… and running hasn’t really been the same since. I got back to double digit runs by late spring 2015, but managed to develop sinus tarsi pain in my left foot this time. Being as stubborn as my previous ITBS injury, I knew Chicago 2015 wasn’t going to happen for me. So if you’re counting, that’s three marathons in a row I’ve been forced to DNS. Thankfully Chicago allowed me to defer to 2016. So, fourth time’s the charm?

I went to Chicago for the marathon this past weekend even though I wasn’t running. It’s one of my favorite cities and I knew a lot of people racing; it was a perfect excuse for a long weekend away. I spent all day Sunday cheering and being inspired. But I really never had a “I wish I was running a marathon!” moment. Instead, I just wanted to be running. That realization was a big shift for me. Since my last injury I’ve been afraid to start again. Worried I’d just be counting down to my next injury. Convinced I’d never reach the lofty but attainable goals I had once set for myself. But I can’t just quit something I enjoy because it’s been a bit of a struggle, can I? That’s not who I am as an athlete — I know I have some raw ability, but I need to work for it. I know what needs to be done, and I need to just start doing it.

So back to the title of this post: do I still run? Well, I haven’t consistently in a year. But that changed on Monday, October 12th when I decided it was time to stop being afraid and to get back to doing something I love – running. But it also marked a change in my approach. I am a HUGE planner and love to throw races up on my calendar… which is great until you get injured. So that’s the first thing I’m doing differently. I’m not signing up for any races. The only thing on my calendar is the 2016 Disney 10k and half marathon in January. There’s nothing else on my calendar and I plan to keep it that way. If something presents itself in a month where I can sign up the day before or day-of, I’ll consider it, but I’m otherwise not committing to anything. And nothing longer than a 10k. I also plan to spend more time focusing on ‘the little things.’ I think I’ve improved on that front during each running cycle, but it obviously hasn’t been good enough. I need to make the extras a priority. I’m hopeful that this new laid back but focused approach will work for me, and I can get back to a place where my relationship with running is more “on” than “off.” And besides, I know I’m a great cowbeller, but it’d be nice to get the cheers for a change!

So here’s to my comeback. One methodical step at a time.

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Friday Favorites & a Virtual Race!

Hello friends! I know it’s been a while and I’m doing a bad job at this whole ‘blogging on the reg’ thing, but we’ll take what we can get, yes? It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over (sure there’s technically a month left, but if we’re being honest, August is just one giant Sunday night). But let’s get to the good stuff!

by Chloe
I’ve gone to this restaurant three times since it opened two weeks ago, and I would absolutely go every day if I could swing it. In fact, just last week I went for lunch and dinner on the same day. I’m planning on doing a full post about it soon, but in the meantime I wanted to mention here how I’m completely obsessed with it and want to try every single menu item (and I’m well on my way).

Guac burger. Possibly the best veggie burger I've ever had

Guac burger. Possibly the best veggie burger I’ve ever had

I remember watching Chloe Coscarelli on Cupcake Wars and I’ve made a few of her recipes, and they’ve all be fabulous… and her restaurant is no exception. If you’re in the NYC area, you need to get yourself over to by Chloe in the village. Whether you’re a vegan or not, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by this deliciousness. I promise!

Nothin’ But – coconut chocolate almond granola bar
This was a total impulse purchase earlier in the week at Whole Foods. I popped in after spin glass to grab a coconut water, and somehow left with coconut water, a box of whoopie pies, and this granola bar. Oops?

Nothin' but delicious

Nothin’ but delicious

It’s a sizable bar, and the flavor is fantastic. It isn’t your typical hard and chewy granola bar; it tastes like homemade granola and you can tell that it just has simple, whole ingredients. I want more.

May Designs notebooks
I’ve become slightly obsessed with these notebooks, and I’m not ashamed! It’s no secret that I love notebooks and pens/pencils (so I’m obviously loving that it’s back to school season) and these are my absolute favorites.

maydesigns

They are small and portable, but big enough so you don’t feel like you’re straining to write in them. They are completely customize-able and offer a ton of really fun options. There are multiple prints and monogram options to choose from, and also different kinds of notebooks; I have both lined and unlined books, an agenda, and even a food + fitness journal!

The Mustache Dache!
So this is a race I’ve watched play out year after year, envious of everyone that was able to slap on a fake mustache and run a 5k. I had hoped the event would make it’s way to my area, and while it hasn’t just yet, they have the next best thing – a virtual race! Earlier this week I was contacted and asked if I’d like to participate and if you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE MUSTACHES, so I didn’t even have to think before replying yes!

Side note: Don’t ask me why I love mustaches. I have no logical explanation. I just do. They’ve somehow become my ‘thing’ over the last few years and I now bring some type of mustache to every party or wedding (finger tattoos, ones to put on bottles, ones on sticks… I’ve tried them all).

See!  This is just a small sampling of my mustache photos!

See! This is just a small sampling of my mustache photos!

Anyway, when I said that I’d be interested in participating in the virtual run, I was able to get a discount code for my readers, too! So, if you’re interested in running the virtual Mustache Dache with me this November, you can sign up here! And if you’re in the NYC area, we can all do the run together (yes, I will provide fake mustaches for us)! Just let me know in the comments if you register!

So that’s what I’m currently obsessing over. Still not really running, but thankfully I’ve been keeping myself busy with other workouts. I have a follow-up doctor appointment today, so we’ll see what she says about my lack of real progress.

So tell me…
What are you loving lately?

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Filed under Food Blogging, Food Review, Life, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan