Exercise Your Way to a Strong Mind & Body “Alice”.

I woke up yesterday to April 1. What in the world! How dare time keep moving on as if my life hasn’t been turned upside-down and reality isn’t now likened to a scene from Alice in Wonderland; except then, who am I? Shrinking Alice, the Rabbit, the Mad Queen of Hearts? And where the heck am I? Where is the comfort of my life – my everyday routine of busy days and never-long-enough-weekends, my complaining and grandstanding of never enough time to do..well..anything. Ironic though it is time is all we have these days amidst the craziness of a virus hellbent on upsetting our routine and leaving disquiet and unsettling changes in its wake. And one thing is becoming quite clear, whomsoever we choose to be may very well determine who we are when this is all over.

Under normal circumstances and in the routine of our everyday, it’s oftentimes a challenge to juggle the many interests and day-to-day activities we engage in to maximize the best use of our time and resources. These days may be the “new normal” but they are anything but normal. Time, one of our most valuable resources on any given day, is in endless supply these days. However, this has in no way diminished its value; In fact, I want to stress on the importance of seeing time, in these “non normal” days, as an opportunity to invest in ourselves with the benefits/returns to be derived in the not-too-distant future. Let’s dive into how.

Exercise is what I do and in the most challenging of times I run to what I know for comfort and a sense of wellness. If I can catch my breath, work up a sweat, release some feel good endorphins, and stimulate my senses, then the world is still on its axis and there’s hope yet. This is not unique to me, there is a lot of literature on the effects of exercise on our physical and mental well-being and there are many people who benefit from adopting a healthy exercise routine. So allow me to share with you a variety of simple exercises you can use as a template to inspire your endorphins rush as our world goes through this crisis alone but together.

Running, Jogging, Walking – a relatively easy, cheap, and safe way to enjoy the outdoors alone. Spring is the ideal season, minus the wet days, to enjoy the chirping birds, budding leaves, and flowers in bloom in neighborhoods and parks. Nature is awakening and so will your senses. Just be mindful of doing so in daylight and keep your social distance. New to this form of exercise? Start slowly and with shorter distances that you can build upon as time goes on. For example; start with a goal of a 1 mile walk which you can increase to a jog, then to a run, or utilize a combination of any two or even all three. Remember, it’s your body and your journey. Listen to it, and take pride in your daily accomplishments.

Cycling – another great calorie burner and a great way to get your exercise outside of the four walls of your home and to enjoy the outdoors when the weather is great. This is of course for those who have bikes. It’s become my newest crave and I like to think I’m a Cyclist-in-the-making. It’s so much faster on the bike than on my feet too!

Yoga and Stretching – Stretching should ideally be performed before and after your workout, whether its an at-home workout, or before or after a run or jog. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints (Harvard Health). It’s a way to warm up the muscles before so as to prepare for it’s use and works to keep you free from injury. After that run or workout, post workout stretching provides the same benefit as above and helps with releasing muscle tension.

Yoga can be different things for different people. For me it is an excellent way to get my stretches in and practice my breath or breathing. This is really important, not only for me as I’m a runner, but, for all of us in general as per the usual stresses of life but especially now under present quarantine conditions. Practicing deep breathing can bring you calm, energize you, and reduce health problems. The best thing about stretching and yoga is that you can follow a guided video at home or on a mat in the quiet area of the park/ outside (my favorite) and use this as a meditative form of relaxation. There are many videos online, I especially enjoy Alo Yoga from which you can choose, short or longer, sessions particular to your taste.

Ab Workouts – Ideally targeted to that area of the body that makes us crazy with envy when we see a person boasting a six-pack. I mean, yes please! Of course much of that has to do with our diet but some is attributed to exercise and a minute amount to age. Again, thank God that we can do these alone, at home, in the park, or in the backyard. There are tons of YouTube videos and many exercises we can do on our own as well. You can make a list of your favorite, most challenging, or an ideal combination and set up a schedule to workout. If inside, it’s best to clear a spot in your living room for those days when you’re stuck in and designate it as your workout area. Stack up your mat and any workout additions in that area and allow it to work as a reminder of your intention. Some common and simple core exercises include: sit ups, crunches, Russian twists, planks, on the back leg raises, V-ups, and leg sissors.

Dancing – a fun way to release stress, burn calories, and enjoy yourself. You can do this alone with just a dance playlist in the privacy of your own home or join an online class. Virtual dance classes present a fun opportunity to let your hair down and shake “it” off.

Photo Credz @Pinterest.com

Swimming – A great cardio workout, which sadly many of us will be unable to utilize during this time with all the restrictions in place. But it’s a definite plus for those with access at home where you can work on drills and laps to develop technique and build endurance. It’s something I had planned on taking up this year for my triathlon training, now we’ll just have to wait and see. The intention is still there. Hope springs eternal.

Gymnastics movements – I’m limited here by the fact that I have no bars at home. But hey I have a wall; so while I can’t do pull ups and toes-to-bars, knee or elbow raises, I can manage some wall walks, practice my handstands and handstand push-ups, which is great shoulder strength and mobility. Since this is a movement that requires demonstration and YouTube is a treasure trove when it comes to learning a new skill, check out a beginner video to help you on your way.

Cardio Exercises – outside of running and cycling there are many other easily accessible exercises we can do to get our heart rates up and release those endorphins. 1. Jump Rope/ Skipping is a favorite of mine and doesn’t require much technique unless you want to graduate to a more advanced skill level. In the CrossFit world we use the term Single Unders for when the rope passes under your feet once and Double Unders for when it passes twice in one jump. 2. Burpees can be done easily by dropping to the floor facedown and using one’s hand in a push up motion to jump straight up as you feet leaves the floor and your hands meet overhead. This is repeated as many times as you decide. It’s an exercise we love to hate for it’s constant movement and high intensity. 3. Jumping Squats are almost self explanatory except to remember that squats need to be below hip level to maintain proper form. 4. Jumping Jacks, high knees and butt kicks on the spot are also self explanatory. 5. Sprinting is short distance running at high speed with short recovery efforts after each Sprint (100 meters is my favorite). 6. Lunges: walking, jumping, and reverse are great glute exercises and a great addition to any cardio workout. Begin with feet hip width apart and step forward with the preferred leg and lower your body until the front knee is over your shoe while your back knee bends until it touches the floor in a straight L while you balance on the back toes. Stand and alternate legs and repeat. You can include a jump or do them in the reverse with a step back and knees back approach instead of forward. 7. HIT workouts are high intensity exercises that combine short bursts of different exercises like mountain climbers, push ups, squats, and burpees. They are great sweat-it-out workouts with constant and rapid movement.

The ideal workout would consist of a combination of warm up exercises, strength, and cardio. And could look like any variation of my daily workout these days: stretches, running/ sprints/ cycling/ jump rope; some combination of strength – these days I make use of books, backpacks, resistance bands, and other safe household items to add some weight and challenge – and could include weighted sit-ups, weighted squats/overhead squats, hip thrusters, deadlifts, plank rows, man makers, and some ab exercises. Some days I switch it up to emphasize yoga and core workout or sometimes, like today, I have a cardio day: 1500-2000 jump rope – a combination of Single and Double Unders and a 10 minute Ab workout. Go me!

One thing I’m super thankful for during this time is technology and the ability to vary workouts and generate new and refurbished ideas into tailored workouts because of the tons of resources that are available online and on YouTube particularly. Technology has given us the added advantage of doing these workouts alone, but together. Who’s not thankful we can “Zoom” in with our friends anywhere, or Skype, or FaceTime, or do a live video call to share our time and workout with others if we so choose. Because, I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m not digging this solitary confinement at all. Praise the Good Lord for technology and our tech gurus!

March Madnes, Spring Fever: life lessons in a new season


March means the new year is officially over – no more happy new year greetings. We’re marching into spring, whether we feel it or not, and making crazy plans to overcome the winter malaise that has shrouded us for the past two and a half months; hence my “march madness” concept. The actual concept has everything to do with American college basketball and nothing to do with my take. LOL. But let’s go with my spin for a second as I was heaven bent on sticking with it but for our new reality. You might say, that’s what March used to mean and you may be right. A normal year ago that could be what it meant. What we’re currently facing today is challenging that entire premise.

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Never, in a hundred years, would I have thought I’d be discussing or writing about a virus, on this platform. But our world climate has changed, and the reality has now taken on a somewhat sci-fi feel that has left me and everyone else grasping at the remnants of a world we use to know. A virus that was non-existent in these parts of the world just 10 weeks ago now seems to have the world in its grips and have left millions of Americans and people all over the world grappling with a “new normal”. What do you do when all you have known is suddenly taken from you? To whom do you turn and where do you go? If and when those questions have been answered you may then get a glimpse into the why of it all, but even that is not certain. The only certainty we’re dealing with these days is that life as we once knew it is over. That is the chilling truth. Chilling because while change is anathema to us humans when you add uncertainty and illpreparedness to that, what you have is the making of a perfect storm fanned by the waves of fear.

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People are dying, others are fearful, many are losing their jobs and livelihoods, some are in constant danger and exhausted (our healthcare workers that are on the frontline battling this virus), while there are others still who are tasked with the job of governing and administrating this global disaster. Let’s not forget the sick and vulnerable members of our society like children in foster care and our elderly. And those are only the ones I’ve listed. There are so many other members of society who are also being affected in a very real way by the Covid-19 virus. It’s almost certain that at the end of this no one will escape unscratched. We can only pray. The truth is since little is known about this strain of the coronavirus, its origin,  development, or mutating ability, and certainly there is no conclusive information on how it spreads, or even its most susepctible targets – information appears to be evolving quite rapidly – this leaves many of us in the least favorite and very discomforting position of having little answers and trusting in that which we cannot see. What!

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Humbling and scary as heck to suddenly find ourselves in a position of ignorance with no control over what’s unfolding before our eyes. What to do? Anyone? Since our very lives depend on the actions we take, I want to suggest that we cannot possibly take this lightly. Our next steps could mean anything from gaining hope, perspective, a new understanding, developing a new and/or healthier appreciation for life, faith, health, a new or different habit or may just mean changing our thought patterns and actions to align with a stark new reality. Whatever we do, and decide we must, it will mean embracing a new normal that will forever alter the way we live. My purpose is not to dwell on the fear factor and what may or may not happen or any other “scary” elements of the unknown, that would be an exercise in futility. I’d rather focus on working with what I have right now – the present – and allow the future to take care of itself. In fact, let me be clear, I prefer to let God take care of that for me.

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Since I’ve always been about good health, exercise, and overall well-being, I’m left with the overwhelming sense that these are essentially the things that I must fight for now. It all appears under attack at this time and I dare say it’s both a physical and spiritual battle. How can we respond? Well unarguably, we have more time on our hands these days than we’ve had in some time, with so many people here in the United States, and around the world, facing lockdowns and stay-at-home guidelines. Since we are a people who love to stay busy, it is actually a good thing that we now have to slow down and take the time to intentionally do things that matter for our well-being. There is no better time than now to spend quality time with each other within the family, to incorporate an exercise routine into your day, to focus on cultivating healthy eating, thought, and lifestyle practices, to develop a new hobby, business idea, and/or to build or develop a faith base and spiritual relationship with God. The physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and even financial benefits to be derived from spending time on each of these aspects of, or involving, you, is immeasurable and is worth every moment of your very valuable time. Since time is money, you can be sure you will see the return on your investment in the not-too-distant future.

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Mindful that some of us need to be motivated and encouraged in the area of exercise, in my next post I’ll look at some ideas on how we can take advantage of the time we have now to develop an exercise plan that will allow us a healthy avenue to channel our energy and avoid stress during these challenging times. Stay tuned!

My 2020 Running Bucket List

It’s true that I’ve scaled back running this year to attend to my knees but I’m not dead yet! I’m still all up in running news and on the look out for some sure ways to get the interested or curious reader or runner-to-be to lace up and hit the streets and trails. Who knows? You might even see me there! 

Destination Runs have always been a favorite of mine for combining two things I love doing: running and traveling. They present the best opportunities to discover new places, take a mini vacay, and feel super accomplished all at the same time. The following is a list of ten races/ runs that are giving me itchy feet this year. I may or may or may not have done a couple on there or a variation of sorts. Nonetheless, I’ve got my sights set on them all.

1. The Carlsbad 5000 – dubbed the world fastest 5K – there are individual races for Masters, Age Group runners, Party People, and Elites, the Carlsbad 5000 is a full day of road racing on the scenic, coastal streets of Carlsbad, California. I’ve always wanted to record an official 5K time so I’m in it for the record and bragging rights!

2. The Poconos Sprint Triathlon – a bit of a newer race, the Pocono Triathlon Festival is nestled in the Pocono Mountains, Lake Wallenp aupack, North East Pennsylvania and plays host to a weekend of racing with crystal clear water,a challenging bike course, beautiful runs and fantastic post race activities. I’m super excited about considering this Tri as oppose to my initial idea of the one in St Petersburg, which is way to soon for my knees as well as way to far for my first time. I’m in it for the experience and bragging rights of course!


3. Ragnar Team Relay Trail Run – likened to summer camp for adults with trail running and race medals, this is similar to the road races except it’s on trails – sounds a bit more scary (the woods at night anyone?) – teams of 4-8 divvy up about 120 miles for a continuous day/night race to the finish. I’m open to any fun new area like New Hampshire or even Twin Cities, MN for this one but I prefer a summer experience. I’m in it for the adventure!

4. Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon – happening on November 14-15 this year in this run-the-strip-at-night series. It sounds super fun and while I’m not a big half marathon fan, I will totally make an exception for this one. I’m in in for the fun!

5. Empire State Building Run Up – 5/12 – the world’s first and most famous tower race—challenges runners from around the globe to race up its famed 86 flights—1,576 stairs. The fastest runners cover the 86 floors in about 10 minutes. Leaders in the sport of professional tower-running converge at the Empire State Building on May 12, 2020, in what some consider the ultimate test of endurance. I’ve entered the lottery but I’m leaning on the side of doing it for a really good cause – The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), official charity of the run-up. If I do decide, knee issues under consideration, I’ll be in it for the charitable cause and don’t mind the bragging rights!

6. Kaua’i Half/ Full Marathon – September 6, 2020 – this run has all the makings of a running vacay and is known as one of the most beautiful and scenic destination races in the world. I can’t even! Who doesn’t want to go Hawaii and run. I’m in it for the destination!

7. Spartan/Tough Mudder – Obstacle type races that are run throughout the year from February and are the rave these days. I’m not immune. I’ve had the Rugged Maniac experience and aside from the water bit, I need more. I’ve heard Spartan races are tougher but still crazy fun. As a semi first timer, I’m open but take me somewhere fun. From Montana to Florida I’m in and in it to earn [Spartan] badasses bragging rights!

8. Ultra/Endurance Race – Jay Peak Trail Running Festival – 53.1KM Ultra Labor Day Weekend, September 5-6. I’ve only ever done one ultra running event in the vicinity of 32 miles, and while it was tough, I didn’t train for it so I can’t really give a fair assessment. I’d love to see what time I can do with training though. For this one, I’m all about pushing limits. What limits!

9. San Francisco Marathon – July 26, 2020. Usually one of the few marathons around in the summer months and probably so because of its location. I did this race a few years ago. It was awesome; very scenic with a versatile course and the priceless Golden Gate bridge experience. For all the good, there were two major drawbacks: the hills, more so the descent, and a big loop around the half distance, which included a major incline. I’m in it for the views and a better time!


10. Trail Run – I’ve always wanted to take part in the North Face Endurance Challenge. Recently, I was disappointed to learn that they are discontinuing the series and pushing off with something new. No details are as yet available but I’m hoping it’ll still involve Bear Mountain State Park here in New York and various challenges along its trails, which used to be an early summer event in May each year. Fingers crossed they announce something soon!🤞

I know the list is a bit ambitious, but it’s right up my alley and if I only get to do a few on there this year, it’ll still be an awesome running year. Do you have any running dreams this year? Don’t give them up. Modify and adapt all you have to but never give up. Here’s to a great chance that I’ll see you out there on one of these amazing runs.✌️

New Year’s Intentions Not Goals

Ahh January! Breathe in a New Year with all the possibilities, energy, and good intentions. What will we do with it? In fact, what should we? How many times have a new year come and gone and so much of what we thought to do have remained..well, undone. What’s different about this year and how will we mark the onset of a new decade?

So I’ve been thinking maybe it’s time for a change. If we’ve been doing the same thing every year for the past decade with little to no positive results, then we should consider tweaking things a bit in order to get the result we seek. So if neither goals nor resolutions have been working over the years then you might want to think about setting an intention instead, the difference being that an intention is something you plan to do irrespective of the outcome while a goal is something you hope to achieve. Small word change yes? But some argue that it’s more mental, intentional, and logical and can result in successful outcomes. According to business blog Inc., by building on your intentions first, you set the path in your mind. Goals can be seen as a milestone or milestones along that path. For example, I might determine to do an Ironman this year and have a goal of finishing in say 10 hours (slightly ambitious for a newbie I think). I may or may not fall short but you know what, I intend to complete it anyway, time notwithstanding. See in this example, the goal seems stressful to me (10 hours!) but my intention, while challenging sure, is pretty exciting.

Setting intentions are simple and stress-free. You can determine to take a new step forward – beginning with your thoughts. After all, it’s right there that the very first seeds of intent are planted.

In fact, I’ve gotten a jump on this whole setting an intention thing and have been on it since last month when I set one practical and one spiritual intention. It’s important to me that I remain healthy, get healed, and grow spiritually and intellectually this year so I went ahead and set my intentions to ensure this, as much as I can anyway. With that in mind, I’m spending the first couple months of the year in PT for my knees and taking a step back from running. While I’m not giving it up entirely, I’m hoping one to two short runs per week will be acceptable and that modified movements at the gym, to keep the stress off my knees, will help the healing process along.

On the practical (physical and adventuresome) side, I intend to finish a Sprint Triathlon this year and while I’ve been thinking to do one in April, I’m debating, with my knees in recovery, if that’s too soon. I’ll make a final decision in about two weeks. I’ve also decided on just one marathon this year (unbelievable I know), which will bring me up to a total of twenty. And no, I’m not ruling out more running, I’m just putting healing first and allowing my body to lead the way. My Spiritual journey, on the other hand, is a process I’m fully engaged in and embracing as an opportunity to develop and overflow into the other areas of my life. I’ve also embraced the idea of learning a new skill to help with a business idea.

So far, so great! Challenging but not stressful. 2020 is looking good and we’re feeling positive and purposeful; that’s a very important foot to step out on. Next steps are pretty straightforward, there is really only one strategy that will work to see those intentions through: daily reminders to myself and consistent effort turning the wheels of progress each day. Some days will require a lot more effort than others, but I believe that each day dedicated to following through on my plans and completing it will be exciting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding.

Here’s to an exciting, challenging, rewarding, [and some fun running too] 2020! 🥂🏃‍♀️✨

2019 Running Pains amidst CrossFit Gains

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. – Hebrews 12:1

Photo: guvendemir / Getty Images

I’ve had a bit of a wild ride this year! For the first time in forever, earlier on this year, I intentionally didn’t set myself any goals per se, not in running or in any other area of my life. I had a couple runs that were forgone conclusions because of pre qualifying criteria I had met but in general I opted to be an open book, pen in hand, ending unplanned, as the song goes. From the beginning, I invited our Good Lord to write our story together and I have to believe I’ve been holding up my end of the bargain (though I’m almost certain He doesn’t do bargains..maybe agreements?) because I know He’s certainly been keeping to His. So it’s any wonder that I’ve been having an eventful year then! I mean, I did ask and all.

As it is I’ve run four major marathons this year, three of which are World Marathon Majors, and one other which was a bit of a destination run. My times were moderate with the there majors happening under 3 hours and 45 minutes and one being a Boston PR and qualifying time. The three major races were also all Chicago qualifiers and aided my decision to register for the Chicago Marathon 2020 – the only Marathon that is on the books for next year. Amidst all of this I indulged in a major hike of distance, elevation, and difficulty I had never done before and as a result of which I ended up with some knee complications that I’m still struggling with. Of course I think it’s a combination of the running and the arduous hike, in which there was some downhill running, which possibly made matters worse, and resulted in weeks of discomfort and pain especially with the the last two races I had in the last two months.

Anyone who knows me know that the chances of getting me to stop running is slim until or unless it is becoming unhealthy to the point of affecting other areas of my life. Unfortunately, such is the case: walking, climbing, sitting, squatting, and lunging has become very painful – even exercising and cross training presents a difficulty that I didn’t foresee . And so when my normal exercise routine is being turned on its head I have to pay attention. I’m forced to press pause and heed my body’s warnings and take off running and other extreme aggravating knee movements for the next 4-6 weeks. Way to end the year right! Even so, I’m ever so grateful for all that I’ve been able to accomplish this year – I even took part in my first in-house CrossFit competition – and look forward to stepping into the unknown and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

I already have some ideas for the duration of this year and have started PT exercises to repair my knees. My CrossFit workouts are going amazingly well and no wonder with so much focus on my upper body I’m becoming super sculpt LOL but more importantly, stronger and more skillful with my gymnastic movements. I’m also finding out alternative and challenging exercises to minimize the impact on my knees, which has propelled me to finally give attention to one thing I’ve been thinking and talking about for the past three years. The opportunity has presented itself and I’m super stoked to talk about this new year challenge in my next blog post. Stay tuned! Cliffhanger or no? 😉

Endless Runners, Perfect Weather, New Champions, Missing Cheers, and my Best Attempt @ the TCS New York City Marathon this year!

Ready, set, go…

Four times brings the charm. Who knew! Yep. Here I am once more, my fourth time, recapping the New York City Marathon. Thankfully, it’s my last! Back in 2014 when I had then decided that I would run this course until I was comfortable with the results, I never dreamed it would take four attempts. Well here we are five years later, and I’ve finally decided to call it quits and it’s hardly because I’ve finally run a “good” race. That in and of itself is arguable and only a small part of my decision to make this my last NYC marathon. What is closer to the truth is that I’m over fighting this race: the course, my body, and the change in weather, and the fact that over the years each time I stood in Staten Island toeing the startline, I have been somewhat incapacitated with everything from a sprain ankle to the flu. I’ve finally had enough and so I’m quitting while I’m ahead. It helps me feel better that I met my goal of finishing under 3 hours and 40 minutes though just barely. Many of my friends point out that this year I’ve had to deal with just a cold and cough so things are progressing..the cheek!..and point to this being my best time even so; therefore I couldn’t be serious. I am! For the foreseeable future, I will be leaving well enough alone and spreading my adventurous wings elsewhere. That being said, I have enjoyed the running challenge that this wonderfully diverse city has handed me. Many will agree that there is nothing straight forward or easy about the NYC Marathon. Fun tangential fact: many New Yorkers will also agree that there’s nothing straight forward or easy about living in NY either. LOL. In fact, of the eleven other courses I’ve run around the country, this course remains the most challenging outside of a Ragnar event I did in Cape Cod two years ago. The attraction for this race for many runners, I believe, is its location and famed one million strong spectators.

On to Marathon Village we go

This year was better than most as far as the weather was concerned. It began at 5:30 am with a 40 minute ride to the start in Staten Island via the midtown bus option, my preferred mode of transport now that I’ve had a go at the various options. We got off the busses to the usual flow of runners – hundreds of us – making our way to the security check point and through to marathon village. Windy and Staten Island is all the same with the water around us so you can appreciate that 7 am was no picnic but more like a refugee zone  with everyone staking out a bit of sunshine, covering – a rare sight- or a break from the wind behind a tarp, or under a blanket, or blankets, or covered up in just about any and everything warm you could legally bring into the area, right there in the middle of everything and everyone.

the masses cloak and dagger style

We were all layered up to our eyes and reaching out to the free buffet of coffee, tea, hot water, hot cocoa, and bagels courtesy the super amazing folks of Dunkin Donuts. No donuts though. I know! In any event we had lots to eat and hydrate us until start time, which in my case came soon enough as I was in the first wave and carded to start at 9:45 am.

they say it’s therapeutic

It helped some when I ran into some runners from my running group and we sorta hung out; got to pet the therapy dogs, visited the bathroom, took a couple pics, and then it was time to head to our assigned corrals. Apparently time flies when you’re hopping to keep the blood flowing.

Into the corrals we flowed and there were lines everywhere for the bathrooms, which I decided I definitely had to have a go at once more before the race started. But things were moving along nicely, though albeit too orderly – did I really have to stand in one line and wait my turn? I mean, come on! Cooling my heels in this cold? I had a race to run! Fine, so did everyone. And that’s how chill took on two very different meanings. Pretty soon it was our turn and we were moving and headed towards the Verrazano bridge and the start.

the bridge

It just never gets old on the top looking out: runners are divided into two groups when headed towards the bridge, some go under while others get the top – my preferred view – to ensure a smoother and safer start given the large number.

giving us the send off

On the bridge we can see the helicopters (NYPD and news) and cameras, the elite runners starting out, race officials and other VIP personnel. More importantly, we have an amazing view of the water as we run across the bridge to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s New York and into Brooklyn.

On the Verrazano Bridge

This year I stopped to snap a

on the Verrazano Bridge

few pics and strangely enough totally missed hearing Sinatra during my run across. I’m sure they started playing it eventually, Wave 1 was a big wave of runners after all.  Guess I’m just spoiled from the previous times.

selfie on the VB

Running through Brooklyn is always a huge hit. It is the most densely populated of all the boroughs in NYC and boy do they represent. Only this time I felt the crowds on Fourth Ave were a bit sparse here and there. Again, I’m just spoiled and feel confident that I’ve experienced a better showing at this race. Lafayette Ave is always a total scream show, it did not disappoint, miles 8-10 were amazing. Brooklyn remains my favorite part of the marathon course mainly because of the noisely cheering crowds and the fact that I’m usually still feeling great and running as strong as possible under whatever the prevailing circumstances are at the time. We entered the borough of Queens around mile 13 and I’m never looking forward to the advent of bridges on this rolling course much less to the mile-long Queensboro Bridge. The promise of a million spectators cheering for you on First Avenue in Manhattan is hard to beat though so that’s the head space I occupied while running those four miles in Queens. The crowds are never as large or as loud in this borough but they’re decent enough and hugely appreciated by all. Up till then, I’d been doing a good job of staying wide of the fuel stations so as not to get bogged down by runners in the rush to grab a drink. My strategy was to hit every other station and stick to the outer end. It worked to keep a steady momentum and to avoid any slip ups. Those volunteers though, were pulling double duty with their smiling, cheering, while serving us. Truly the best and the backbone of an event such as this.

Queensboro bridge is memorable because of its quiet – no spectators here – and the laboring breath of runners as we dig deep on its ascent. One miles feels more like two and I suppose everyone was glad when they finally began its descent to First Ave and the crowds, it has always been a welcome sight and sound to runners as we enter the borough of Manhattan. Only this time it wasn’t party as usual, the crowds appeared pushed back somewhat as you came off the bridge and the sea of spectators that are usually right there waiting weren’t. The question came up with some runners behind me, who appeared to be visitors, as they wondered aloud about the famed cheer crowd at this location. I offered that they should give it a minute and they would be sure to get that promised standing ovation, thinking that maybe the push back of the crowd meant that the cheers were imminent, except that never quite happened. For as I made my way under the bridge and onto first avenue while the crowds were there, for the most part anyway, they were not nearly as deafening as they’re so famous for. In fact, as my run slowly progressed up the avenue the crowds were downright thin in some areas and almost quiet in others. I thought about this for a few seconds then realized that that which I thought would be helpful at this point was not going to happen. I needed a distraction there and then, my feet were numb from my bad choice in shoes and my knees were beginning to hurt like hell. Support wasn’t coming on the waves of the crowd that day and so I did the only thing I could think of – I video-called my sister in Trinidad and allowed her chatter (which I couldn’t hear a lick of LOL) and excitement (no sense in not showing her what I was a part of) to push me up First Ave and all the way over the Willis Avenue Bridge and into the Bronx.

In the past when I had run through this area I had always been aware that Manhattan wasn’t far away; race day was no different. Six miles to go and I realized that it was pretty neat that I was actually going for another finish at this race that had plagued me in my inability to run it well and finish strong. At that point I started focusing on keeping a consistent pace and giving the fuel stations a wider berth. I also refused to look at my clock anymore from then, it was not helpful and I just couldn’t deal with another disappointment just then.

We were in Harlem and closing down on Fifth Avenue – my least favorite part of the race – mainly because it just wouldn’t quit and by then I was so ready to be done already. In hindsight, I have never really enjoyed this part of the race because of my get-to-the-finish-mindset. I’ve never taken the time to appreciate the hundreds of spectators lining the roadway screaming their hearts out with encouragement, maybe if I had been able to tap into that it would have inspired a more positive response at that point in the race. In any event, we eventually came to Engineer’s Gate entrance to Central Park and I’ll tell you right now, it felt amazing to be home. Yes, Central Park is my running home, so I was now on home turf and slowly closing in. With the help of the crowds and the familiarity of the course, I was able to pick up the pace a bit going down Cat Hill, and it lasted untill we turned off to head out to Central Park South. Then it was back to plodding away for the final mile, though I did try somewhat successfully, to focus on the spectators on this final leg and was ecstatic to find myself sooner that I expected back in the park with 800 meters to go. On the final run up, I was able to locate and touch the Trinidad and Tobago flag – as I have always done – and sprinted to the finish line to make it there in 3:39:41. Another one in the books and an apple for my efforts. While I’m not at all certain that was my best effort, it certainly was the best result I’ve had on this course. As to my best effort, I’m hardly itching to find out. 😜

I can still walk!

                          🍎🏅💐

Chicago Marathon Recap: Running gains or pains?

@ Abbott Fitness Expo (Chicago Marathon’19)

Let me just start by saying this marathon course remains my favorite in all the cities I’ve run in the United States. From the start on Columbus Drive in the Grant Park area through its popular wide (NYC it’s not) city streets and local districts just outside the city loop: Lincoln Park, University Village, Chinatown etc… and back to the finish in Grant Park, it really is a beautiful course with all the trimmings of sights, sounds, and support. One couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day outside of the winds that picked up in the last few miles. No surprise there though, they don’t call it the windy city for nothing. Indeed, notwithstanding the wind, the weather was miles better than last year when it rained the entire time. This brought the fans out in their numbers along the route while sunshine littered the course. A good day for a marathon I’d say!

I’m afraid my back and knees wouldn’t agree. I mean, we had some fun out there during the first half. I enjoyed the crowd support, the pace was great, and so were the volunteers and fuel stations as per always. But man, it was hugely disappointing around mile 13 to feel my lower back caving to the pressure of the tempo pace I had been sticking to from miles 5 through 13. Up till then I had been ignoring the twinges in my right knee, hoping the other knee would remain silent. Unfortunately for me, with the start of those lower back pains, I had to yield to a slower pace and a couple bathroom breaks, which were more rest-my-back breaks, and slowly embrace the pains in both knees by this time, made much worse by my having to overcompensate for my lower back. By mile 18 I was in suck-it-up mode and was working on keeping a steady pace with minor interruptions for fuel – always sticking to the outside and picking it up close to the end of the line. I was aiming for no stops for two reasons: so as to minimize the pain and the length of time for which I was experiencing it, and yes, I was still keeping an eye on my pace. I figured finishing under 3:45 wouldn’t be so bad all things considering.

One thing I have learned over the years with racing and running marathons, and I think I’ve become good at, is adapting and adjusting a racing strategy. Experience has taught me that there’s a 50/50 chance on any given race day that I will actually run the race I had been training for. Because there are factors at play beyond my control such as the weather and, yes, God forbid injuries, one is always hoping and praying that all things being equal it will be a typical/ normal running day. However, if you know anything about typical/ normal these days, you’ve already realized that its no longer a thing. One must roll with the punches and play the hand you’re dealt to avoid being left somewhere at the side of the road eating the proverbial dust.That being said, I was prepared to let my body and how it felt that day determine the race I was going to run. Since I was well aware of my knee issues going in I figured I at least knew what, if any, my challenge would be. Imagine my surprise when the back issue popped out of seemingly no where. Only, on further thought – not while I was running but later on after the race, I remember the unfortunate instance of doing a round of heavy deadlifts at the gym the week prior, which had left me sore and pained. Days later the soreness and pain were gone and so was the unfortunate memory. But these things, left untreated, have a way of resurecting. And so that is just what happened.

At the end of the day, the why is less important than the how and the fact remains that because of my experience, training, and sheer determination I was able to suck it up and got to the finish line in a time I could live with and for a phenomenal cause too! I often joke when asked “what if you don’t finish?” that it’s never a question of if, but when. I’ll endeavor to stay true to that philosophy and in the event I ever feel that I don’t have it within me anymore, I will bow out gracefully, 26.2 miles intact. For now, I can only hope the rolling hills of New York City will be kinder to me. I know what you’re thinking, and in all probability you may be right, I’m hardly likely to fare much better in NYC given the wide disparity in gradients of these two courses. Add to that my obvious disadvantage of being three weeks out from my last race, and with injuries, and well it all seems to add up to one possible outcome right? The only thing is I’m sorta in the habit of defying odds 😉.

Oh ye of little faith. 😊

Running Feels heading into Chicago #hopeful

on the streets of NYC

Over the last couple months running has not been as easy as it used to be. My body’s telling me something’s up. You know that feeling, the one that nags at you and won’t go away. It sits on your chest and reminds you, hey, I’m still here. Stopping during runs are more frequent, breathing’s a little harder, running’s requiring a bit more effort, and then there are those knee pains. When you hear that nagging voice or see those little flags, you should pay attention. That being said, I know my body’s going through some changes and it’s all part of the growing older bit so I’m not too worried though I’d obviously love to stay in mint condition all the days of my earthly life. Lol. One can dream.

Nagging voices and colored flags aside, I’m so excited for the things that are happening in our sport! Once considered a one-man sport, and some may still agree, running is growing into this diverse, multi-varied, and interpersonal sport with all the coming-of-age, ultra adventure running experiences that are now everywhere you turn. I, for one, am super excited by this new showing up of the sport and want to do it all – go as far as this human body will take me. Hence why it’s even more important to make sure we’re (all the parts lol) working together on this. So we’ve scheduled doctor visits and tests etc and are actively working to get within the 95-100% performance range. Meanwhile, running continues!

I’m presently on my way to Chicago for my race there on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it and hoping this human machine of mine cooperates so we can have an amazing run as per past experiences. But the devil’s in the details really with my main focus being my knees and the weather, of which the weather promises to be fine. Looks a bit windy from where I sit but I’m praying it’s not adverse & cold winds. I’ve been following some really exciting running these past few days and I gotta say I’m really inspired to get out there and do my best in these exciting times.

Elucid Kipchoge ran a 1:59:40 marathon time at the Ineos 159 Challenge earlier today, 2:30AM in fact, and I was up for the entire thing! Probably not the wisest move on my part, with my run hours away now, but I had to see his #NoHumanIsLimited effort. He was, and is, amazing really. I mean, wow! Who the heck runs splits of 14, 28, 42 min… for 5K, 10K, 15K resp. I think he’s superhuman actually – a superb human machine – and we could only watch in awe and be inspired along the way. Now, if only I could get some of that Kenyan magic tomorrow, and I’m thinking just a fraction, I’ll settle for being slightly-less amazing. 😄

I simply couldn’t help taking these snaps live as I watched him bring it home! #amazingrace #makinghistory #ineos159challenge #NoHumanIsLimited #viennaaustria

Loving September Runs

It’s been a tad less crazy around here weather wise this month. Less blistering sun, fewer humid days, cooler mornings and evenings and a lot of overcast skies with little rain. All this means is running is much more fun now even with this slight change. Indeed, the leaves are already turning and falling and the air has a bit of a crisp bite to it at times; and yes, there’s even a whiff of pumpkin spice. Whoa… Halloween, Thanksgiving, Autumn, wait a minute! We’re still dragging out Summer!

There’s no denying it though; Fall is coming, and so are its races. Some of you may know that my two main runs this Fall are the Chicago and New York City Marathons. They’re an average of three weeks apart in October and November respectively. This places me right in the midst of training season and very thankful for September. I’ve been getting in a bit of early morning and evening running, and some long runs on the weekends. There’s much more to be had of course, but, as always, the challenge lies in managing my time around all my other tasks. I often think about the elite runners, for whom running is a job, I imagine it must be nice to just have to run, eat, sleep, repeat. Though I fear I should soon become bored of the monotony. No chance of that now as time tick-tocks away and it’s all I can do to keep up.

More so, it appears it’s open season on competitions in the CrossFit world. The 2019 Open is almost upon us, there’s also the Concept 2 Fall Challenge – this one I opted to participate in as it’s only rowing. Then there are a couple in-house competitions coming up, as well as those at other local gyms. I’ve taken a non-committal stance there and pleading my case citing impending races. But it’s all so crazy busy and bursting with energy that it’s hard to be a bystander. I find that good in so many ways but somewhat unnerving in others. Where is the downtime? Don’t I already live this life with running? But wait, now I’m doing it with running and CrossFit! I guess one always makes time for things that are important. I dare say that finding balance among those important things is even more important. And so my quest continues to be to create that balance in order to maximize joy and fulfillment in my life. For isn’t that the point of all this.

Amidst all these Autumn musings is the reality of the Chicago Marathon. Less than four weeks away now, I have two weeks of training left before tapering begins. Running’s the name of the game as I try to wrap up my long runs and speed work. I haven’t done much hill work since Chicago’s course is flat and fast but I can’t forget that New York’s course rolls. This week I’ll endeavor to incorporate some hills in my speed workouts and stay injury-free, even as I continue to experience some nagging knee pains. In light of this, I’m off to the doctor this week and hoping for some magic portion to give me the knees of an 18 year old. Because eighteen or not, it’s the weekend And a long run is up for the final day of Summer!🏃‍♀️👙🤗

End of Summer Runs are nigh

Happy Labor Day USA! And just like that we are saying goodbye to hot Summer runs, for the most part anyway. In my world that is a good thing. But hang on, this has got to be the fastest Summer I’ve ever experienced! It’s as if it started off in a sprint and never quite slowed down to marathon pace. In fact, Summer appears to still be running full speed ahead, even as I write this.

Yesterday was Labor day, for crying out loud, the unofficial last weekend of hot, raucous, random, and irresponsible runs. The worst part: I didn’t even run! Sadly – not really – I succumbed to “the lazies” and did everything but running. It didn’t help that our part of the world is currently caught up in the deathly grip of hurricane mania, namely Hurricane Dorian, that’s been furiously pounding the islands of the Bahamas for the past 2 days. It’s now ever so slowly moving its way up the south-eastern Atlantic coast and is expected to cause major damage with unprecedented storm surge and flooding. And so it rained the entire day! What a summer send off! I’m still seething with disappointment about not getting to the beach ( severe frown). It’s my guess that the overcast, rainy day we had yesterday may have been related to that extreme weather pattern.

This morning came all too soon. I was up and running at 5:15am as I felt some redemption was in order after that patch of no-running on the long weekend. As it turns out, I’m pretty glad I decided on that random guilt-filled run. I’m using it as motivation to run everyday for the rest of this week.

Despite it being the crack of dawn and post labor day, we still had a 90% humidity that almost lit me on fire – and I’m not talking pace here, though I did try to stick to tempo to wrap it up as fast as possible. I had work after all. Five miles and thirty-nine minutes later I was back, the world was awake, I had just enough time to get ready – breakfast not included, and I was off.

In every attempt to keep up the tempo, I went to the gym after work and managed an hour of insanity. I’m hoping to jump right back in tomorrow morning as I have group run scheduled in the evening. I expect it’ll be a bit cooler than last week and that can only be a good thing. In fact, I’m rubbing my hands together gleefully – though not too much as I fear what’s to follow in a couple of months. And yes, it’s reasonable to look ahead, especially with time being what it is and doing what it does, as I anticipate the cooler weather and what that means for running: cooler runs of course! They are on the way and with a lot else besides, but I’ll just focus on that one amazing fact for now. There’s only so much excitement a girl can take. LOL.

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