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.

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

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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