26 2 Miles for a Cause: Chicago Marathon ’19

It’s time once again for 26.2 for a great cause! Truth is I’m always amazed at how fast this time comes around. How well I know, every year it seems I barely get time to shake off my last run before it’s full on training mode again. Such is the life of a runner; one is either running races or training for them. We, my friends, are back in training camp and this year I’m dedicating my miles-for-a-cause charity run to Back on my Feet Chicago, a nonprofit organization that—literally and figuratively—helps individuals experiencing homelessness get back on their feet through self development, empowerment, and running. I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon on October 9 for this amazing and very close-to-my-heart cause.

What they do: (click here) ↩️

https://youtu.be/LBtyydzyu1Q

Why, Back on my Feet? You might ask. Well, I first came across this organization about five years ago when I began volunteering with a local non-profit, Hope for New York. This organization partners with a wide range of affiliates to serve the various needs of marginalized New Yorkers. Suffice to say, Back on my Feet is one of the affiliates with a chapter in our great city. I connected with them because of their unique idea of using running as a tool to connect, mobilize, and empower individuals who were at the time mainly down-on-their-luck, returning veterans who were struggling to reintegrate within society. Running, I thought, well there’s something I can do. We would meet three times per week at 5:30 am in 42nd Street, near Times Square, and spend about an hour running and getting to know the guys, developing a rapport, and sometimes sharing a snack or other niceties. We’ve even had award functions and special runs/events geared at community building where the guys were honored for reaching a mile marker or achieving a goal. My first-hand involvement in the running aspect left me with a truly memorable and inspired running ethic. It’s one thing when you run for yourself – you reap the benefits of calories lost, self development, and/or physical well being – but it’s entirely different when you come to understand that what you take for granted can be life-changing in every way for someone else. Truth is I haven’t looked at running the same since.

I haven’t run with Back on my Feet for a while now, not because I haven’t wanted to, but because my schedule doesn’t allow. So of course when I saw the opportunity to run for the organization, albeit the Chicago chapter, I was thrilled to do so as I greatly admire their work and feel that while I’ve been a part of what they’ve been doing in the past, I’d love to continue to do so and see their impact grow nationwide. Running as a tool for self development is empowering and liberating and has already been proven to be making a difference in our communities. With the support of our leaders, educators, and ordinary people like you and me, who feel we can help make that difference and make our world a better place, there’s no limit to the lives we can help change.

That said, I’m inviting you to join my efforts to support the work of Back on my Feet Chicago through donating to my miles-for-a-cause campaign by giving a tax-deductible gift of any amount to this phenomenal cause. Click the link below to pledge your support and please share the link with anyone or any entity/organization you think would like to support the work of empowering individuals in our society, especially veterans, to get back on their feet. I am blessed to be a blessing and so are you!

Donate here⬇️

https://give.backonmyfeet.org/2019chicagomarathon/lorimilesforacause?tab=MyPage

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Running & The Charm of Small Town America

Impromptu, unplanned, random, and direction-less runs is turning out to be the best kind of running these days. Over the past two weeks I’ve had the good fortune to find myself with time, mornings, and some country roads. It’s not hard to guess what’s been going down. In fact, I feel quite stranded this morning in the city. Like, what? Am I really having to deal with all the city smog, noise, and standard mayhem that is New York City life already? I fear I’ve been irrevocably spoiled in only a matter of days.

While Long Island is not that far away from New York City, the two-hour train ride sure does serve to transport one away from the hectic pace of coperate life to the simple charm of small-town America in a click of wheels so-to-speak. In fact, so much so that 40 minutes outside the city has one already believing in fairies as highrises and the ceaseless hustle of pedestrian and vehicular traffic give way to a panorama of greenery amidst the cacophony of rural life. A study in contrast, I thought as I sat staring out the window gleefully contemplating the next few mornings. Then I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of guilt as the thought raced through my mind that there I was all too eager to disassociate myself from the city I claim to love. The truth is it’s not disassociation as much as it’s restlessness and a desire for variation. City life is a bit of a rat race and it’s all too easy to get stuck in the rut. Fortunately, I’m not good at sticking.

For the most part, I cherish morning runs. After the initial pull on the covers and attempt to burrow deeper comes the sudden start and realization that I need to get out before the sun rises. My next thought is a vision of me laboring in 90° weather dodging the sun as I wrap up a run. That’s all I need to jump out the bed and into my sneakers.

Suffolk County, New York is rural and vast and reminds me of southern countryside with a town every few miles and in every direction. I spent a few fun mornings heading out in random directions at different paces with a mind to discover, get some views, pics, and beat the sun.

I succeeded for the most part and cherished the quiet, dewy mornings, the fresh air, the squirrels, rabbits, ducks, geese, the birds, the farms, churches, shops, the Marina with the boats, various ponds, and lakes.

It was all so natrual and untouched and so much more attractive as it all just sat there being, awaiting the world as it slowly awoke.

At some points I meandered a bit, at other times I powered up to do some tempo miles. So fun with the only pressure being the heat from which there really was little escape. Wet, tired, and oh so very hot was my default post- run state and I revelled in it. Yes, I’m telling everyone, countryside runs is the life, at the very least this summer and quite possibly every summer thereafter if I have anything to say about it. My reasoning is simple, life is short, you cover a lot more ground if you get off to a running start 😉.

Bring back the days of easy, fun runs this Summer

If I had to describe Summer in so many words it would have to be: running, sunshine, outdoors, travel, beach, books, and adventure. I could live a thousands Summers and they’d never get old. There are just too many places to run, travel, and explore and one can ever have too many beach trips or read too many books. Since the weather has been so iffy for a while already, I’ve been trying to maximize these sort of cooler days to get some early runs in, nothing crazy, as I’m off the clock – so to speak – I’m on break! And so excited to return to a time when runs were easy and fun and took you anywhere – no strings attached. That, my friends, is the life! My life for the next five weeks anyhow. Let the good times/runs begin!

They say the best things happen when you don’t plan, so I’m making a studied effort to remain plans-less and let the chips fall where they may. Sadly, these five weeks will go by too quickly, but I’ll try to focus on the things within my control, which by the way, is nothing really. Be that as it may, I’m running whenever it’s cool and conducive to do so. That means away with the midday runs and hello early mornings and late evenings! Yesterday and last weekend saw me strapped up and out the door by 6:15am and still the sun was already out, not as high as later on when I was done, but it was surely out and about before I was. This, I’ve decided that if I persist with these weekend runs throughout the summer, it’ll have to be around 5am. I certainly love running as the world is just awakening and the sun is rising so it’ll be well worth the sacrifice to get up earlier.

As I write this, I’m thinking of my not-so-random 10 mile jaunt yesterday. It sure is easy to talk about making no plans, but the routine animal in me is a sucker for a schedule and so I sorta did plan my route. However, I’m hoping that with no training plans breathing down my neck, I can be a bit more spontaneous with very minor, and only when necessary, advance planning. To this end, while some of my friends have been talking about races, I’ve intentionally made no such plans and will leave it open as to whether I want to jump into a 5K, or 10K, or even a fun run in the next few weeks. Spartan or Rugged Maniac anyone? Keep in mind it’s Summer and yours truly is truly oppose to running in the heat, so it’ll take some convincing and a good reason to do so. On the other hand, adventure is totally a good reason. Just saying.

I’d like to encourage you though. Don’t let my reasoning keep you back from getting out there and doing your running thing. In fact, what would summertime be like to a runner without a bit of friendly competition, so bring on the races! There’s a lot of exciting running going on this Summer here in the Big A and in other states across the country. Find yourself something fun, something different, and exciting even if you have to cross state lines to do so; In fact you should make it a point to cross a few of those lines and go have yourself a summer adventure to rival past summers.

Memorial Weekend Running @ Vermont City Marathon

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May has turned into June and Spring into Summer bringing with it lots of sunshine and a lessening of the showers we’ve been getting of late. Before we run on though, I ought to pause for a worthy mention of a pretty 26.2 I recently experienced.

IMG_20190526_074203Two weekends ago, aka Memorial Day Weekend, a couple of friends and I drove up to Vermont to run the marathon in Burlington. The course was scenic and somewhat hilly with many unknowns including the weather. It was my first visit and I found the city and its people quite charming. While we didn’t get to poke around too much so as to save my legs for the race, we did venture into the city to absorb the local scene the evening before the race. Unfortunately, it rained cats and dogs then, which more or less ruined our outdoor dining experience at a popular local restaurant with supposedly good food. On the other hand, the Expo, which was held at the DoubleTree Hilton, made for a fine experience and really showed up the warmth and friendliness of the people of Vermont. We met some fine folks and got some tips on how to take on the course from a couple of veteran Vermont marathoners. I made sure to voice my concern as to the uncertainty of the weather, and the then current downpour, and was told my fears were unwarranted, Marathon Day was going to be great, a little wet early on but the weather would dry out and turn out a beautiful race day. One thing was certain, we were told, the race would be memorable and it was hoped we would enjoy it enough to come back next year.

As it turned out, the course was indeed pretty but it had a few hills that wrecked havoc on my back on both the ascent and the descent. Now I’ve been having back issues since soon after I started CrossFit and I’ve recently started working to adopt correct form, wearing a belt when I lift, and rolling out, and taping up. But that weekend, I was in recovery from a previous week of heavy lifting and was experiencing some pains in my lower back. I was optimistic that I would get taped up at the expo since I am terrible at taping up myself, and even walked with my tape to show the good folks at the KT Tape booth – who I hoped, more than expected, would be there. Turned out they weren’t and there went my hope of running anywhere close to a 3:30 time. I reluctantly engaged my friend to help with the tape but as expected that didn’t turn out so well, and so I adjusted my expectations and went to bed.

Race day dawned with beautiful skies, a bit of clouds here and there but nothing major, and I was pretty glad that we were scheduled to run as early as 7am. Early start translates to early finish so I was ready to run. God may have had other ideas because we were barely in Battery Park, where the start line was located, amidst the rolling out of the stars of the show – the elite guests – when amidst the blue skies, there came an announcement for all runners to exit the Park area due to inclement extreme weather condition that was expected momentarily but should only last for about 20 minutes. We all thought it was a joke, then we thought it was something else, maybe a bomb threat or some such thing, because, how could there be a storm? Well to make a long story short, it stormed alright, while many of us took shelter in a nearby church. There were others scattered about in nearby hotels and other buildings. The priest and others at the church were so gracious and welcoming it was heartening to sit and receive a blessing as he prayed for us and sang accompanied by a pianist. Out of nowhere the skies burst and lightening and thunder put on a display we were able to witness from the inside. Time passed by and 20 minutes turned into an hour and so we didn’t start until about 8:20am. By then the sky was once again blue and the sun was out. One would never have guessed a thunderstorm just happened except there were puddles everywhere and everything was wet. With little fanfare now, except for the singing of the national anthem, the race started and we were off.

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Some things I enjoyed about the course were that they kept the race in the city for the most part, which made it easy for supporters and so I was able to see my friends three different times. I also liked the bits of trails they threw in, it broke up the running on asphalt bit as well as provided shade as it got hotter and miles seemed longer. I also enjoyed that it was scenic, which allowed me to take pictures, and that we ran along Lake Champlain, it was refreshing. I loved the support from the locals who were handing out refreshments as well as providing encouragement and various forms of music like drums and flutes etc at odd points. Too, I appreciated the volunteers – so encouraging, especially the kids, who were so very cute. I thought interesting the aspect of the relay runners which made the run different and a study for me as there were quite a bit of youth runners, which was new to me as far as running with them.

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A few things I was a bit “meh” about were the hills of course, seeing spectators 2-3 times meant that there were a few loops in there – not a few of my favorite things. Then there was the puddle jumping and muddy areas of the trails brought on by the rain and the omniscient sun. All in all though, I lean in favor of the positives as we ended on a grassy, softer finish with a finish line that was right there and medals soon thereafter. Pizza and snacks wrapped up the Vermont City Marathon experience and a photo op with one of my running inspirations, Bart Yasso, was the cherry on top.

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May – Be Running, but definitely Raining

May weather has been may-be a bit disturbing. Used to be April showers, May flowers, only there’s been a lot of May showers and flowers! We’ve had two and a half weeks of vacillating weather jumping from one end of the spectrum to the next and everywhere in between. That is to say, I’ve run in the cold, wet, chilly, windy, hot, humid, mild, and even had the odd perfect day, all in just that space of time. Odd weather much? Mind you, I’m not complaining, not really, for while I dislike cold weather, I’m game to work with anything else, and it hasn’t been that bad really just inconvenient. I’ve slowed down on the running for the past four weeks, which is kinda, sorta, maybe, a bad thing given I spontaneously decided a week ago to run away to Vermont for the memorial day weekend and marathon.

Since my last run, I’ve been careful to keep up with my once-a-week group speed workouts while I do a longish run at least once a week with other arbitrary shorter runs here and there, but my long runs have all but disappeared. Weekend before last, in lieu of a long run, I opted for a 26 mile, 10,000 feet hike that turned into an all-day-into-night affair and left me pretty depleted and struggling all week after. Heavy legs, tight muscles, and laboured breathing were the highlight of my runs for the past 10 days. I’m thinking it’s good I decided on a slightly relaxed, – slightly because I know myself and running just for fun is hard when I’m running a marathon – enjoy the view, and take pictures kinda run this time around. So ideally, I’m under no pressure regarding projected pace or finish time. I hope. This will be a first.

Last weekend it rained so hard, I copped out on running. My body was also just plain ‘ole exhausted and I was in no mood for the rain to add insult to injury if I pushed myself to go out there only to catch a cold. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it (cheeky grin). Turns out I had it coming, the rainy run, not catching a cold thank God, as I got caught in a downpour while running a medium- paced 7 miler on Tuesday. It turned into an all out splash and race to the finish, which actually ended up rather well. Since I happen to love running in thunderstorms, it wasn’t too hard to pretend as the day was overcast and a tad humid. Getting rained on turned out to be a God idea.

With all this “May” weather, it’s CrossFit that’s been getting all the attention. I’ve been at it in the gym consistently working on strength, skill, and conditioning; It’s no wonder I remain fatigued. I sorta owe myself some rest this week: to take it easy and try to get in a yoga session or a massage, whichever is cheaper (lol), in preparation for this weekend. I have a lot of faith in God and in me but only in so far as I listen to my body and take care of its needs. Its been giving cues for a while now: “Rest is very necessary for recovery and remaining injury free.” I am listening.

Recapping the 2019 Boston Marathon: 26.2 miles that just won’t quit

“Wow It’s over!” That was the first thought I had last Monday at just around 2:20pm. Yep, that was about the time I crossed the finish line at Bolyston Street in Boston at the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon – my fourth and best one thus far. Oops! Did I just leave myself open to another one? I just may have at that. I can just hear you thinking now… hmm, it must’ve been a good one for her to come out thinking of going back yet again! Especially after I said this would more than likely be my last Boston providing I had a good race. Well now, let’s see what qualifies as a good race: weather – all over the place, pace – conservative and consistent, course – manageable, BAA event handling – a bit of room for improvement, and volunteer and spectator experience – exceptional. Were I then to rate the 2019 Boston Marathon, it would get a score of 7/10. Quite an improvement from the last three times and a bit of a quandary for me in terms of deciding on whether I should go back next year.

Let me just say that the only reason I would even consider this is because I got within my goal range of 3:30 – 3:35, which has led me to believe that a goal of 3:30 is attainable after all. But what is it about Boston though that has be coming back for more? Am I some sort of maschiost that enjoys the hurt on those Newton hills? Or is it as simple as loving the challenge of a good course, which Boston altogether certainly is. Like every other runner of this race, I resent those hills and maybe I, along with those who’ve done it multiple times, even more so because we know exactly when they’re up and what it takes to get through and over them. They are undoubtedly the most difficult aspect of the race and a common cause of many failures to accomplish goals. Can you ever really be prepared for them? I don’t know. I think you can devise a strategy and with experience and commitment pull it off but whether one can conquer those hills would be a good question for the elite runners. I’d love to watch them run that particular aspect of the course. In any event, I got through them with a slow, steady, and sure strategy. The plan was never to race those hills but to keep a sure and steady pace on the incline and I stuck to it like glue. No stopping, or faltering, or walking, which would kill one’s momentum faster than you could think it. Again, you learn by experience sometimes and while I have stopped a few times while racing, they’ve never been on hills. I plan on keeping it that way.

But let’s go back a bit. In the past I’ve said that the easiest portion of this race is the first sixteen miles and that did not change. It was made a bit more challenging obviously when the sun came out around mile five, but its been hotter before. From there it got pretty hot pretty fast and stayed that way for the duration of my run. To be fair, we were promised a break in the weather, which started off with heavy rains and thunderstorms earlier that morning up to and during the loading of the busses to Hopkington. This window was supposed to have been between 10am and 2pm when the rains would stop. It was spot on, leaving us to start under overcast skies. Everyone seemed pretty happy with that and I was ecstatic. Not so much about the muddy mess that was Athletes Village, and after my harrowing experience to get to a port-a-pottie, I didn’t hang around but got started on the long trek to the start line. I had a late start being in wave 3 and too much time to think but we eventually got going and were toe to toe for the first 3-4 miles after which it spaced out some as we entered Ashland. Not too long after that the sun came out amidst the bluest of skies, the heat soon followed, backed up by the wonderful crowds that were with us from the beginning to the end. It’s easy to see that Bostonians are a patriotic and loyal bunch. It was Patriot’s Day in Boston and they were out in their numbers to celebrate and support the marathon with all of the fervor and leftover zeal from the Red Sox game the evening before. I figure one out of three wasn’t bad given perfect doesn’t exist. Only, the heat just never let up and while I’ve run in hotter conditions, and in Boston too, it does wear on you and will always cost you some time as it generally means more hydration and getting in between other runners and the water/Gatorade stops. A few noteworthy mentions are: the Wall at Wellesley, always fun to see the college girls out cheering us on like their lives depended on it and with the most outrageous signs too. For me, the pleasure is watching the faces of first time runners as they bathe in the experience..priceless! The supporters on the hills at Newton – I do so appreciate that they had to find their way there and were prepared to stay for hours to cheer the runners on. God bless their hearts they were all over those hills screaming and urging us on. They kept at it, wouldn’t let up, and gave tremendous boosts of encouragement at the moments they were direly needed. Then there were the hydration stations – perfectly positioned every 2/3 miles, we didn’t want for fuel at any point, and given the heat, that was super important.

Of course we couldn’t have done it without the thousands of volunteers..they’re a steadfast and amazing lot and at every race I remain dumbfounded by their generosity of spirit in giving their time (sometimes the entire day and/ or weekend) to ensure we have an amazing experience. They’ll always hold a special place in my heart. And after heartbreak hill, I was even more beholden to them and to the crowds of spectators who did more than cheer. Everything under the sun (and many were begging for rain then) that one could think about was out for grabs: Vaseline (came in so handy as my tighs were chaffing badly), candy, water, beer, fruit, wet towels, water hoses., you name it, were all made available by those cherry folks. Little do they know the impact they have on runners at this point. Most of us are either struggling or revelling at miles 21-26 and in either case need this jubilant display of support and generosity to take us to the finish line. For my part, I was in the zone about then and was aware only peripherally of what was happening around me and could only manage a few palm touches for fear of losing my momentum. Mile 25 was surreal in that I kept zoning in and out and can clearly remember some parts of it and nothing of other parts. I recall stopping at the last water station and being grasped by someone and getting pulled along for a few yards particularly, but then I blank until the final 800 meters, which looked like a distant star on the horizon. I mean, I thought that run down Bolyston street would never end, and was probably what prompted the words I started this narrative with, “wow, it’s over,” when I finally crossed the finish line in a time of 3:34:15. Soon after the rains came down in all it’s might and windy fury. And just then was I ever so glad I didn’t get caught in that. It was indeed over for me.

Celebrating One Year of CrossFit and 10+ Years of Running 🎊🎊🎊

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be an avid Cross fitter and runner, approaching my sixteenth marathon in a week’s time, and living in New York City for seven out of those 10 years, I’d probably have believed you on everything but surviving seven winters here in the Big Apple state. It’s a testament to my spirit of adventure, and, I might add, survival skills, that I have lived here this long despite vowing to the contrary when I was younger. It is that spirit of adventure, with which I credit my athletic proclivities and the propensity to push and redefine so-called limits.

One year ago, after much ado, and yeah I had a few misgivings with my running in full swing, I started CrossFit. I didn’t know then if I would be able to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to, what seemed back then, such an aggressive form of fitness training. I mean by all accounts it was tough and demanding. Did I have the time and ability to commit to that type of thing? I didn’t know. But dammit I hoped so, since the buzz was it could help my running. So yeah, I was a bit trepidatious, actually a helluva lot. After all, those guys lifting looked mad strong in all the pics I’d seen, and I’d seen a lot combing the internet and other media images. A year later, I can safely say that you should never let apprehension get the better of you.

These days, I like to say, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s unlikely I’ll ever be able to go back to a regular gym. I now know all gyms are definitely not created equal. But while CrossFit boxes might hold the edge in the exercise arena, which is possibly because of their badass reputation and commitment to High Intensity Training and Olympic Style Lifting/ Weight Training, I’m also aware that there are many competing fitness ideas popping up all over the place. CrossFit’s ability to maintain their edge will depend on their ability to diversify, develop, and reinvent their core concepts in the coming years. In the meantime, it’s been pretty interesting, challenging, and invigorating.

Those who know me know that I have never been one to back down at anything , even less so when it came to exercise. So that CrossFit was or rather is a challenge means only that you can be sure I’ll give it my best. Thus far I’ve enjoyed the competitive but encouraging spirit among gym members and the variety in the programs offered at my gym. The comraderie among athletes when we do class WODs (work-out of the day) and at in-house competitions have been truly inspiring as have been the coaches’ knowledge, experience, and willingness and ability to impart said knowledge. The CrossFit environment is one where one can thrive with the right attitude no matter their level. We can all agree that you don’t pay a lot of money for someone to kick your ass and have nothing to show for it. The gains are where it’s at people.

So yes, I’m feeling the gains some: I’m already so much stronger than I’ve ever been, my lifts are getting better all the time, though I do struggle in a couple of areas..my damn humanity..and I’m developing a host of existing skills while learning new ones and new ways to do old ones. Next Monday I’m running the Boston Marathon, yet again, and I’m hoping that, weather aside this time, I can possibly see some of those gains extend itself to stronger running, better endurance, a lot more confidence, and the absence of injuries. Yay! Go me!

Let’s go Running

The barren trees vs the green leaves, the chorus of Springtime vs the death knell of Winter. Who amongst us doesn’t appreciate the spark of hope – the added vigor to life that descends on us all. So long to the cold, chilly, freezing, and not-much-snow temps of Winter. Hello to Spring – rain, warmer sunshine, and cooler temps! With great anticipation and a huge sigh of relief, we welcome the season of new birth, as only runners can, with big smiles and longer miles. Bring on the races!

Adventure runs await as the promise of better weather arrives..no longer relegated to what we can get, we now get to choose where and what to run. While there are the staple marathons like Boston and London coming up in just about a month and six weeks respectively, they remain an option only for those who have pre-qualified or chosen the charity route and hopefully submitted to rigorous months of winter training. The lucky ones, I call them, those runners who are under no such obligation or aspiration, are free to jump into the many spring races happening around the country, though the shorter ones for sure for our newbie runners, to jumpstart their running goals, or for others, simply for the heck of good running weather and destination runs. How’s that for fun running!

Check out these 10 popular, fun, and perhaps challenging, runs happening this Spring:

(1) April 7, Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run – Washington, D.C.
(2) April 6, Cooper River Bridge 10k Run – Mount Pleasant, SC
(3) April 7, Carlsbad 5000, the world’s fastest 5k, Carlsbad, CA
(4) April 28, Big Sur International Marathon/21 Miler/Marathon Relay/11 Miler/ 12K/5K- Monterey, CA
(5) April 13, Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon – Roanoke, VA
(6) May 5, Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon – Cincinnati, OH
(7) June 2, Steamboat Marathon /Half/10K -Steamboat Springs, CO
(8) May 26, Keybank Vermont City Marathon & Relay – Burlington, VT
(9) The Color Run, a free-spirited 5K, great for beginners – April to June, Nationwide
(10) April 20, Barkin’ Dog Duathlon – Run, Bike, Run, one of the largest Duathlons in the western US, Denver CO.

While going through the too many lists to count put forward by the likes of Runners World, Shape Magazine, and Daily Burn, I will admit to some bias and ended up choosing the ones I reviewed and either have done or would like to do. Total disclaimer in that this is based soley on my preference for destination, fun and challenging races. Run at your own risk! Lol. But really, at your own level, which keeps getting better all the time. Hope you totally enjoy my picks. And oh, be a love and let me know if you give any on the list a try. Happy Spring Running!
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February: Superbowl, Valentine’s and Brr Weekend Runs

Stretching time post long run @home

The first week in February flew by in an arctic flash..as fast as it was cold. That Saturday, Superbowl weekend, along with a few runners from my Wednesday run group, I did my first February winter run in 18℉. Running along the water, across two bridges, up and down stairs, and dodging black ice was the order of the run as we ended up in Queens after making our way from Manhattan, though Brooklyn, then to Queens. As it often happens on these Saturday jaunts, aka long runs, only this time it was 12 miles, we ended up in a new dive as excited to eat and drink as we were to run, and were prepared to forget all about the chill with beers, Bloody Marys and surprisingly, sunshine. Too much fun meant we had to rely on Uber on the return, but who’s keeping tabs? Recovery took place on Superbowl Sunday to the tune of four hours of football, including a decent half-time show, amidst lots of food, drinks, and friendly chatter aka noise.

@Battle of the Fittest – Cross Fit Competition

The following weekend, I attended a Cross Fit local competition held at our gym, only not for the purpose of participating. I helped out with organizing and setting up throughout the event, which was a whole-day affair. As such, my Saturday long run was put off for Sunday instead. I opted to stay local and ran solo through my neighborhood; in the parks, and along its trails, which was good until I had to make up some mileage with a few laps around the local park. Suffice to say, doing laps are not a favorite of mine and neither was the weather. Chilled, but thankful for no winds, I wrapped it up at eighteen miles and called it a day.

@the gym for Valentine’s Day Mid-day workout

Last Thursday was Valentine’s Day, much more into Galentine’s this year, I did some speed work with my run group the Wednesday before and a short midday run to my gym workout on Thursday. Saturday, a friend and I, decided on a 20 miler through upper Manhattan. For most of the run we had sunshine, while it was still chilly and windy in some parts, especially by the water, We started off on the upper east side, along the east river, ran up to 119th street, in East Harlem, across the bridge and over and up all the way across to the West Side and up those crazy stairs at Morning Side Park. Exiting there, we ran down and across 116th Street and through Columbia University, then continued through the Morning Side neighborhood veering off to the Hudson River Greenway, where we ran along the water accompanied by sunshine and a strong wind at times. We made it all the way up and under the GW (George Washington) bridge, at 175th Street, and ran on to 185th and up and over a dastardly hill to emerge on Morning Side drive in the Hudson Heights area. From there, we ran across West 183rd street, I think we were in and around the Bronx area at this point, and we ran over to the Washington bridge, across and aound to US Highway 1 and then we were down hill for a bit, dangerously so at some points on an uneven path with loose rocks. We prevailed without injury all way to the Macombs Dam Bridge, in the vicinity of Yankee’s Stadium, ran across and then onto Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd all the way down to West 138th Street. This area in Harlem is reminiscent of the New York City marathon route and indeed at this point we were able to do a reversal of a bit of the official route across West 138th and over the Madsion Ave Bridge to end up back on the east side, still following the marathon route all the way to and over the Willis Avenue Bridge. We finally veered off to cross over at East 116th Street and back unto the East River running path. From there, it was pretty much a straight, and tiring, path to the 59th Street bridge. Once over that mountain, we were on York Ave on the UES (Upper East Side) and had just about three quarters of a mile left as we navigated our way back to the starting point and wrapped up our 20 miles in 2 hours and 43 minutes. Dang it! I was tired, cold, and dying of thirst; but I was sorta tickled that we had pulled it off minus two stops, one, to grab a bottle of water at a deli around mile 16, and before that, for 30 seconds around mile 11 after that dastardly hill, which played havoc with my back that I had forgotten to tape up.

Post run in Queens

All in all, not a bad showing for February so far and the weather has been good for running with no major snow storms – the cold, and areas of black ice, and frost are expected and have served to keep things interesting and to keep us alert and running. Boston is now about seven weeks away and we have one more weekend long run in February. The challenge is to always keep it interesting. Thus far, I am thankful!

Winter Running is on!

This is not the typical January for me. Granted, it’s the first one since my cross fit debut last March and may account for my somewhat adhoc running pattern this month. Then, there’s the cold weather, which truth be told hasn’t been too insane so far with little to no snow really except for that one freak storm in November last year. Knock on wood! They say. While getting in those runs have been a bit of a challenge, oddly enough I have no qualms as once again the Boston Marathon sits on the horizon with just over two and a half months left to go .

My mileage has seen a decline this month primarily because of the cold weather and associated scheduling conflicts, which has resulted in an average of 25 miles per week. Weekend long runs have been the most consistent. Fortunately, I had decided at the beginning of the year that I was not going to hold fast to any particular training plan as I have done in the past. My road to Boston in April is really simplified this year with focus placed on my long runs and on getting a couple speed workouts in during the week. Of course I don’t recommend this to anyone running Boston. For my part, I determined a more relaxed strategy this year based on my three previous years of preparation that resulted in less than favorable outcomes. So yes, there’s a bit of frustration in my deliberate non-planning, but I figure four times in a row affords me that leeway. In fact, I plan on not stressing with running this year at all and just enjoying it as much as I can.

With no hard and fast training plans, I’ve been able to relax my usual hectic schedule somewhat and enjoy cross training a bit more. I even had a workout challenge going on for a couple of weeks, streaks and all.

My long runs though, have seen me running solo, and with other runners, all over the city from Manhattan to Queens to Brooklyn, over our bridges; through our parks; alongside our waterways; via some trails; and around our neighborhoods. I’ve increased mileage incrementally and this past Saturday I ran 18.6 miles from Manhattan to Brooklyn in what started out as freezing temps but progressed to really great running weather by the time the sun came out. A few of us braved the cold and hammered out those miles and rewarded ourselves with a post run brunch. All things remaining equal, I’ll be heading out this coming Saturday for 20 miles. I can only hope the weather cooperates as we’re in full on winter running mode in these parts.

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