Category Archives: Running

Newport Half Marathon: Let’s Run Together!

By this point, I’ve written a few “let’s run together!” posts. Last year thanks to my silly stress reaction they were both busts and I didn’t run (but I did cheer, and get called a bitch for cowbelling at 9am, LOLZ)… but this year is different! I posted about and actually ran the Newport 10k, and it’s almost time for the Newport Half… and I want you to come run with me!

The Newport Half runs basically along a similar route that I run almost every time I lace up my sneakers and head out the door in Jersey City. It’s flat, fast, and timed perfectly; mid-September, which allows you to get in a decent half marathon and see where all those humid slogfest miles have gotten you, right before your fall marathon! Here are some of the details:

What: Newport Half Marathon

When: September 17, 2016 at 8:30am

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

Background: Jersey City’s popular half marathon championship marks its 23rd year! Recreational and elite runners from around the country can compete for $3,000 in prize money on a USA Track & Field-certified course that interweaves with the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway from Newport to Liberty State Park.

Beneficiary: Proceeds are being donated to the Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional teaching hospital, proving the highest level of care for women, infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Registration Price: $50

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.

You can use this link to sign up!

If you’re registered (or wind up registering because of this post), let me know!

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I’m Running & A Giveaway!

Well hello there… it’s been awhile, huh?!

I always think about things I want to blog, but I never take the time to sit down and actually write something up. I’ve also found that any time I’m coming back from a running injury or down time (which has been pretty frequent over the last 3.5 years) when I come here to blog and talk about how I’m finally back, things will be different this time, yadda yadda yadda… I jinx myself and wind up hurt again. So call me crazy, but I’ve been afraid to come here and talk about my running for fear of winding up hurt again! But I’m sure the words on this blog do not correlate to my running injuries, so might as well rip off that proverbial band-aid. And what better way to do it than with a giveaway?! But first, let’s recap running lately.

After my weird femoral stress reaction in March 2016, I took some time off and tried to slowly get back into running. It seemed like I was a little overzealous coming back (not doing anything super long, but maybe running too fast), and so I wound up taking off about another 2 months in the late summer/early fall to try finally get rid of any issues hanging around. I started running again consistently in October to prepare myself for the Disney Half in January. I just wanted to be able to finish the 13.1 miles in one piece, so my mileage wasn’t anything crazy; I was running 3-4x a week with two to three of those runs being 3 to 4 miles, and then one longer run. Everything seemed fine. I went to Disney World… and then the race was cancelled due to bad weather (but I ran around the resort anyway!). When I got back home, I tried to increase my speed and mileage thinking that I was finally far enough away from my initial injury that I could just jump back into things… wrong. I started to feel some weird pains and discomfort in my hip and thigh again in late February, and shut things down. I was SO frustrated because we were now coming up on a year of this femoral drama, with it still nagging me. And I’d been going to PT almost every week for a year! I took off another month and then decided to get back into things VERY slowly. I didn’t have any big races on my calendar, so I was happy with being able to get back into things without stressing over future races. Since starting to run again in mid-March, I’ve just been slowly building my weekly mileage. I’ve done a handful of races, but they’ve all been at a moderate effort; I don’t see myself completing a race at race effort for another few months. In fact, last week was the first week I broke 20 miles per week!

My goal for the summer is to just continue building a solid base for myself. I’ve completed a bunch of New York Road Runner’s races and am signed up for a few more, because no matter how much I try to ignore the facts, the hills of Central Park are helpful for building strength. I love running in Jersey City, but it’s just so flat! No race I’ve completed (with the exception of the Brooklyn Half) or have on my schedule for the foreseeable future is over 10k. It only took 3.5 years, but I’m finally figuring out the combination of things that seem to consistently lead towards my demise. My biggest issue, I think, is that each year I’ve had a big race looming on my schedule in the future, and I’ve tried to scramble to start training for it to get in the appropriate mileage. This has obviously not worked, so I’m excited to not have anything on my schedule over 10k, and nothing past July (as of right now). If the summer goes well, I may consider a late fall half marathon, but I’m not signing up until the last moment if I decide to do it! I’ve also realized that there is a precise way for me to do strength work in conjunction with my running. As much as I’d like to be the person that does multiple workouts a day, that just isn’t for me. Sure, my body can handle it if I’m not running, but once I throw running into the mix, all bets are off. And at the end of the day I want to run… so why jeopardize it?! That isn’t to say I’m not doing anything else, I am… strength training is important! But I’m being more deliberate in what I do and when, and I’m hoping that will make a big difference. So fingers crossed that my relaxed (but smarter) approach to running this summer works out! And now onto the giveaway!

I’m sure most of you have heard of NATHAN Sports. Since I’ve used a few of their products before (their power wash, some reflective gear), I was excited when they reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in partnering with them for Global Running Day. Now I know Global Running Day happened last week, BUT I wanted to make sure I had enough time to test out everything before offering it up as a giveaway… I wouldn’t want to do a giveaway for stuff I didn’t like myself! With summer running in full-swing here in the Northeast, all of these products are great additions. You can enter to win a package with the following goodies:

  • uCool Ultra Cooling Towel – This is a copper infused towel that can cool surface temperature by up to 30 degrees! I can see this coming in mighty handy this summer.
  • Hipster – I’ve been thinking about getting a belt like this for awhile, and I was sold on this one as soon as I read about it. It’s the #1 product across all categories of running essentials. It can hold your keys, gels, ID, cash, lip balm, tissues, hair tie, and even sunglasses! I used mine during the Mini10k this past Saturday and it was so great. Being able to have everything right there on me without needing to check a bag or worry about it fitting in my shorts pocket is a great option.
  • SpeedShot Plus Insulated – An insulated handheld that keeps 12 ounces of fluids, and has a pocket for running essentials. This will be great to have available to me when it starts to get really hot… I’m looking at you, July!
  • Power Wash – I’ve used this wash before, and highly recommend it. It’s eco-friendly, pH neutral and fragrance free, and has a new detergent formulation to combat smelly workout gear. Considering I could smell myself on the train on the way home after the race Saturday, I need to use this more often!

So, how do you enter? Simple! Follow the instructions on Rafflecopter below! This giveaway ends Monday, 6/19 at 1pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Let’s Run Together – For Real This Time!

It’s currently snowing (and hailing) outside, but I’m trying to distract myself from it by thinking of warm weather running…

If you remember, last year I wrote a blog post about the Newport 10k in Jersey City that happens each year in May. I was excited to finally run a race in my city, only to have it thwarted with my femoral stress reaction. But good news, I’m going to (attempt to) run it this year! I was so excited when they asked if I’d be a VIP blogger again this year, because I’m determined to get myself to the start (and finish) line this go-around.

Just like last year, there are a few key reasons why I think this race is so great:

  • 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. And if even you don’t live IN Jersey City, it’s super easy to get to (you can take the PATH from NYC, or drive since there is ample parking).
  • 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 6th, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. (registration starts at 7am)

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’s been really great weather the last few years (hoping this isn’t jinxing it) 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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Surprise! I Did Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix

Yup, you read correctly. I didn’t mention it on social media at all, but from November 7th to November 27th, I completed Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix.

I know, I know… you’re probably thinking “WHY?” There is a pretty negative connotation surrounding all things Beachbody, because like with most things, people get overzealous and talk about it non-stop while trying to rope others into it, and I don’t “look like someone that needs to go on a diet.” I actually never had anyone approach me and ask me to ‘join their challenge group’ or ‘think about becoming a coach to make some extra money’ like I’ve heard has happened to a lot of other people. So while I was wary of it, like I am with any ‘quick fix’ type of programs or products, I didn’t have any personal negative experiences with it. In fact, I knew a few people who — wary of it like me — gave it a try and were pleased with their results.

So, why did I decide to try it? Well, I’ve been feeling a little ‘meh’ in my own skin lately. I’ve never been someone to focus on the number on the scale because it can fluctuate A LOT and isn’t always indicative of how I’m feeling. Instead, I focus more on how I’m feeling and the way my clothes are fitting. Since I’ve been in a running injury cycle for the last two-ish years, I’ve been doing a lot of cross-training, not a lot of running, and a lot of eating like crap. I was always convinced that I was working out enough to cancel out my poor eating habits, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that isn’t the case (boo metabolism slowing down). When I was in high school and college I was solidly in the 130-135 pound range, but wore generally the same sizes I do now, and I was in really great shape… I was swimming 2+ hours a day! So when I ate, I ATE. I also had the metabolism of a teenager/someone in their early 20’s, so I could order a double quarter pounder with cheese (super sized!) from McDonalds, eat the whole thing, and live to tell the tale. Gross, I know. Now I can range anywhere from 120-127, and usually feel most comfortable and my ‘fittest’ when I’m closer to 120. So, despite working out 7x a week (sometimes more than once a day), I wasn’t seeing any big changes. I mean, with the weights I was lifting and the cardio I was doing, I felt like I should’ve seen more muscle definition. That’s when I had the unfortunate realization that all those kitschy sayings are true… “abs are made in the kitchen,” “you can’t outrun a bad diet,” etc. Whomp, whomp.

My main goal for the 21-day fix was to get better with my eating. I knew my workouts, generally speaking, were fine on their own. But I also knew that I was definitely not eating enough of the right stuff, and eating too much of the wrong stuff. I didn’t want to do anything wildly restrictive because I knew it wouldn’t be long-lasting, so that’s why the 21-day fix was most appealing. Rather than count calories, you use color coded containers that correspond to different food groups. Green and purple, the largest containers, are for your fruits and veggies. The sizes get smaller from there, but there really isn’t anything you have to completely eliminate. And yes, there’s the Shakeology portion. This isn’t required, but is widely encouraged… I think mostly because it’s actually really expensive. I bought it because it was on sale with the challenge pack, and figured if I was going to do it, I’d go all in. Guess what? Shakeology tastes just like every other kind of protein powder out there… generally gross, but okay enough to suck down. If anyone tells you they love the taste, they’re lying to you… or they don’t have tastebuds. I ordered everything online off of Beachbody’s website, selected my twitter-friend Nicole as my coach, and started trying to plan out how I was going to make it through the 21 days. There are three calorie ranges to choose from based on calculating your current height/weight and how much weight you want to lose. Since I wasn’t really focused on losing weight per say, I selected the middle option. I went through periods of thinking the containers were so small and I was going to starve, to thinking it was actually enough food.

This was the first time I actually did ‘meal prep’ which is all the rage these days. I had given it the side eye in the past, but mostly because I’m lazy and the last thing I want to do on a Sunday afternoon is roast veggies and cook grains for hours. Turns out, though, it isn’t nearly as time consuming as it seems. I bought tons of vegetables, threw them on a pan, and popped them into the oven for awhile. I also cooked a bunch of brown rice and quinoa, and hardboiled eggs. It was relatively quick and easy, and it allowed me to be prepared (and in some cases over prepared), for the week ahead. I pre-portioned out my lunches and snacks to fit the guidelines, and had everything in the fridge organized so there was no thinking involved when it came time to pack my lunch in the morning before work. Having everything planned and a lot of it already cooked made it SO much easier to stick to it. I’m confident that if I hadn’t done all that prep work I would’ve cheated… which defeats the whole purpose!

Of course, I didn’t stick to the plan 100%. During the first week, I attended a wine and cheese party on Saturday. There was no way I was going to pass up delicious cheese, wine, and bread. It just wasn’t going to happen. I tried to be mindful of how much I was eating (and what), but I also didn’t restrict myself. Having that kind of flexibility and wiggle room was important for me. Similarly, during the second week, I was in Philly to run the 8k, cheer for the marathon, and see some friends. Since most of my friend outings revolve around food, I wasn’t about to restrict myself then, either. I had a doughnut on Saturday morning after my race, and then enjoyed wine and plenty of (delicious!) food at dinner on Saturday night. Again, I was mindful of how much I was eating and what it was, but I didn’t think twice about it. And of course the end of the 21 days, Thanksgiving happened. Just like the first two ‘cheat’ days, I paid attention to what I was eating and didn’t overeat, but I at no point turned something down because of my ‘diet.’ Eating right really is all about balance. There’s no way I’d be able to follow an eating plan that didn’t have any wiggle room.

Aside from the eating portion, there’s the workouts. I didn’t do any of the cardio workouts because I supplemented that with running, and I avoided the lower body specific workouts just to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it as I’m getting back into running. I did, however, do the ‘Upper Fix,’ ‘Dirty 30,’ and ’10 minute ab fix’ weekly in addition to my running, some yoga, and some spinning. The workouts are short (30 minutes total if you include the warm-up and cool-down, which I usually didn’t) and are deceptively hard. I was using two 5 pound weights which I assumed would be too light, but doing each exercise for a minute straight proved to be a lot more difficult than I originally anticipated. I was sore after each workout the first time I did it, but it got better as I continued doing them over the course of the three weeks.

So after all that, what did I think? I actually really, really liked the 21-day fix. I learned a lot about my eating habits! I definitely don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables despite being a vegetarian, I lean too heavily on my workouts as excuses for poor food choices, and I definitely don’t drink enough water. We were encouraged to weigh ourselves and take measurements before the challenge as well as at the end. While my measurements weren’t anything staggering (my quads got bigger because I’m running more again – YAY!, but I lost almost a full inch at my hips and a half inch at my waist), I did loose about 5 pounds (give or take, of course). Considering the challenge ended the weekend after Thanksgiving, my numbers probably would’ve been more ‘impressive’ if that wasn’t the case. But more importantly than those numbers, I feel better. Some of the pants I’d been avoiding because they were just a little too tight fit much more comfortably. And I have some baby ab muscles poking through… just in time for layering season, ha.

I would definitely recommend this to someone looking to overhaul their eating habits a bit. I wouldn’t (and couldn’t) do this if I was in the middle of training for a race, but this was the perfect time for me to try it. You can definitely do it on the cheaper side by not including Shakeology and ordering the containers on Amazon rather than through Beachbody. You also don’t have to join a challenge group, but I found the camaraderie of a group (via an app) motivating. There are tons of resources online (meal planning sheets you can download, blogs full of recipes, tips and tricks, and more), and it really isn’t that hard or drastic. Basically, it’s just a way to make sure you’re not overeating, and what you are eating is good for you. Like they say, not all calories are created equal… and as someone who relies on my body a lot to achieve goals and feel good about myself, I need to treat it better. But I am also all about those indulgences (give me booze! cheese! chocolate!)… I just needed to learn how to control them a bit better.

Now let’s see how I do during the month of December!

Tell me…
Have you ever done 21-day fix, or something similar? What did you think?
If you haven’t, would you try it?

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Filed under Home Cooking, Life, Running

A Most Welcomed TGIF and a Giveaway!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Thanks to everyone who reached out to me about Kennedy; it hasn’t been easy, but like I said in my post, getting to spend 12 years with him was a true treat. I miss him every single day.

I thought I’d attempt my return to sporadic blogging with a Friday Favorites post! That’s lighthearted and fun, yes? After my sad last post, and current events, a little fluff could be nice. Also a winner because it includes a giveaway! Aw yeah. Skip down to the end if you don’t care about the favorites and just want to enter the giveaway. But in the meantime, here’s what I’m loving lately:

Finish Line Physical Therapy
As most of you know, I started visiting Finish Line after I was diagnosed with a stress reaction in my femur back in March. And as most of you know (or figured out), once again I didn’t run a fall marathon. That’s another post for another day, but I do want to spend a little time waxing poetic about physical therapy! I’ve been to a few different physical therapy places in my day (a place for shoulder tendinitis when I was in high school, a place for my IT band issues two years ago, etc.), but none of them were runner-specific. I have to say, going to a place that not only understands and caters to runners is a bonus, but having physical therapists that are also runners really brings it to the next level.

Finish Line has everything a runner could need when it comes to both rehab and prehab. Alter-G treadmills! Normatec compression sleeves! Vibrating foam rollers! And aside from all the ‘gadgets’ they have a really knowledgeable and friendly staff. I’ve been going every few weeks to see Caroline, and I always look forward to my appointment. Not only is she super friendly and someone who I would want to be friends with outside of PT, but she knows her stuff. I can e-mail her and run things by her, get her advice about my shoes, mileage, cross-training, and more. Even though I’ve had some setbacks during my return to running, they’ve been minimal and mostly due to my own stubbornness.

Going to Finish Line has opened my eyes to the importance of having a physical therapist in your corner for a proper prehab routine. This is definitely something I’m going to continue to invest in for my future!

The Skimm (and Skimm Ahead)
I’ve been an on-and-off reader of The Skimm for quite a few years now, but as of the last few months have been reading it daily. I think a big part of why I’ve been so dilligent in reading it in part due to their new app, Skimm Ahead!

For those of you not familiar with The Skimm, it’s a daily e-mail that comes straight to your inbox in the morning, Monday through Friday, with a brief overview of what’s going on in the world. It includes the latest top stories and headlines broken down into just a few paragraphs each, in digestable and easy to read (and funny) language. It’s the perfect thing to read on your commute, or when you first get to work and aren’t quite ready to start your workday.

The app, Skimm Ahead, includes the daily e-mail in the app, along with a lot of other fun features. Here are just a few:

  1. They’ve created a bunch of different calendars that you can easily integrate into your own so you can stay on top of important upcoming events (or you can just view it in the app without adding it to your personal calendar).
  2. There’s a section of top reads that don’t necessarily make it into their e-mails, but are worth reading,
  3. A list of best sellers and suggested reading is also available, which I actually love.

Needless to say I’m all about TheSkimm these days. If you aren’t subscribed, you really should!

Top Shop’s Black Ripped Jeans

If we’ve ever talked about clothing (in real life or on the internets) you’ve probably heard me complain about my super long torso and regular length legs. This often presents itself as a problem when it comes to finding jeans. As I’ve gotten older (and they’ve come back in style), I’ve learned and come to embrace high-waisted jeans as my friend. The higher, the better! Anything low-cut (or not specifically designated mid-rise or high-rise) seems to give me a muffin top, have me constantly pulling at my pants, and just generally not feeling comfortable or good about myself. Oh, and I definitely need ‘ankle’ jeans, because apparently I have short legs, too. Go figure!

So, when I saw these Topshop Destroyed High Rise Ankle Skinny Jeans (that was a mouthful!) at Nordstrom, I knew I had to give them a try. They are AMAZING. They hit right below my belly button, have just the right amount of stretch so they aren’t restrictive, and are distressed which is totally on-trend right now. I wish they had them in more colors because I’d buy one of each. I’m actually considering a second pair…

Go Macro’s new Thrive Bars – GIVEAWAY!

For some of you, this is why you’re here; the Go Macro Thrive Bars! I was sent a few to sample about two months ago, but wanted to wait until I had a chance to try all of the flavors before writing about them. I’ve been a Go Macro Bar fan for quite some time, so when I heard they were coming out with a new bar that included all I loved from the original bars plus some ancient grains for a little extra fiber I couldn’t wait to try. The new Thrive bars “contain plant-based protein, essential fatty acids, and prebiotic fiber to fuel your body and mind.” As with all of Go Macro’s products, they are USDA-Certified Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Kosher, Gluten-Free certified, 100% Vegan, and soy-free. AND they’re currently available to purchase online and in Whole Foods as of October!

They’re just under 200 calories and are dense without being too much. They’re a perfect snack for anytime. And most importantly, they’re delicious! I received a sample pack, and it was no surprise that my favorite is the chocolate, nuts, and sea salt. I also really enjoyed the caramel coconut, and the chocolate peanut butter chip. I didn’t, however, enjoy the blueberry lavender… but that’s just my personal preference. I generally prefer to smell my lavender, not eat it!

The kind people at Go Macro offered a giveaway for my readers! They’re giving away a Thrive Assorted Tray to one of you! All you have to do is tell me what your favorite quick go-to snack is in the comments below and mark it as complete in Rafflecopter… and there are other options you can complete to up your chances! The giveaway will end on Wednesday 11/23!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Filed under Food Review, Life, Running

Let’s Run Together!

Back in February I had a post called “Come Run With Me!” It was before I had the dreaded injury, and I was all set to run the Newport 10k in Jersey City, and I wanted you to join me. While I didn’t get to run, I did cheer and get called an ‘asshole’ for cowbelling at 9am. But that’s besides the point. Lucky for me, they also host a half marathon in September so I’m going to run that… and I want you to run it with me!!

Similar to the 10k, this is a race I have yet to do, despite living in Jersey City for almost two years. It’s in September, so it actually fits in really nicely with people’s longer training runs for upcoming fall marathons. I’m scheduled to run 18 miles that day, so why not do 13.1 with a few hundred people? I mean, I’d be running in Jersey City anyway! 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! So seriously, let’s run this together!

What: Newport Half Marathon

When: September 18, 2016 at 8:30am

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

Background: Jersey City’s popular half marathon championship marks its 23rd year! Recreational and elite runners from around the country can compete for $3,000 in prize money on a USA Track & Field-certified course that interweaves with the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway from Newport to Liberty State Park.

Beneficiary: Proceeds are being donated to the Jersey City Medical Center, the area’s newest regional teaching hospital, proving the highest level of care for women, infants, and trauma and heart patients.

Registration Price: $50

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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Let’s Try This Again…

“Is this thing on?”

Well hello there! I know, I know, once again I popped in to say hello and tell my latest sob-story, and then I disappeared. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, haven’t I?! I know I’m well overdue for an update but I didn’t want to speak too soon, like last time. So let’s take a step back, shall we?

Last time I blogged was April. I’d run a pretty solid 5k while dealing with some weird non-specific quad discomfort, that after getting checked out resulted in an inconclusive assumption I had a femoral stress reaction. This latest injury put me at number three in the run/injure myself cycle since fall 2014. I’d gotten numb to the disappointment and frustration of a running injury, so I once again put away my running shoes and carried on as best I could. This time, however, was slightly different since it was a pretty clear-cut (and slightly serious) injury which required a more diligent and cautious rehab approach than my previous weird ankle and IT band issues. After the diagnosis I immediately got in touch with Finish Line Physical Therapy, and started seeing my PT, Caroline, about two weeks after the initial diagnosis.

Originally my doctor told me I could continue with any cross-training that didn’t include high impact to my legs (so no running, jumping, etc.), while holding off on running for a solid 3 weeks. It sounded a little short, but I figured it would be fine. When I went to physical therapy, though, Caroline wanted to take a more cautious approach… So I waited a full month before trying anything running related. While I wasn’t running, I kept going to Refine Method (and modifying any type of jumping with other, equally difficult exercises), took a few spin classes, and started taking hot yoga. My last run was on March 22nd, and my first short and slow run/walk outside was on April 23rd. After that initial run/walk outside in April, I switched over to the Alter-G for the next 5ish weeks (about 2x a week). [Side note: I am SO thankful Finish Line has an Alter-G! It was a mental game changer for me this injury go-around.] I continued with the run/walk approach, but rather than doing just two or three minutes at a time, the Alter-G allowed me to bump up the amount of time I was spending doing continuous running, sooner. This was all while going to PT once a week and getting some great soft tissue release on my quad and doing stability exercises for not only my legs, but also my glutes and core. By the time I hit the end of May, I was ready to tackle a continuous 15 minute run outdoors… two full months after I stopped running.

I thought the first run back was going to be terrible. Now don’t get me wrong, it was pretty uncomfortable and awkward, but I was running! And I didn’t have any pain during or after the run! There were — and still are — some aches here and there along my quad, but that’s just everything getting back in business and I’ve been reassured is totally normal. Since that first 17 minute run on May 30th, I’ve gotten up to a 16 mile week, including my longest run of 5 miles since March. I’m trying to keep a day in between each run as I ease back into things to give myself a little break, and I’m not running more than 4 times a week right now. There’s no point in pushing myself too soon, because I’ll wind up with another injury. I mean heck, with my history even if I don’t run much there’s still a chance I’ll get an injury. So slow and steady is the name of the game for me right now… which is fine because it is, of course, hot AF in the northeast. Yay for humidity!

So where does that leave me? What are my plans? Well, I went to PT this morning and was told that I’m progressing really well, and if I’m diligent and careful over the next few weeks, everything should be back to normal. Which means… I’m going to run the Chicago Marathon!! I deferred last year because of my weird ankle and foot issues, so I have an entry for this year that’s either use it or lose it. I made a tentative training plan and reviewed it with Caroline and she gave me the go-ahead. The race isn’t going to be fast or pretty (I’m topping out at an 18  mile long run with a max of 35 mpw), but I only have 13 weeks between now and race day and my number one priority is to get to the damn start line without an injury! If I can keep myself healthy (how many times have I said that here in the last two years? I’m a broken — almost literally — record…) and get over this injury cycle hump, I’ll feel a lot more confident to actually tackle racing a marathon. But right now I’m setting my sights on just getting to the start line in one piece. There are no goals for race day except to finish in one piece, so I’m hopeful I can at least accomplish that.

So here we go, again…

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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.

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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.

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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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