Staten Island Half Marathon in Review

Two words describe my feelings about last Sunday’s 13.1 PR attempt – “epic failure.” Had the stars aligned themselves purposely for this reason, things could not have marshalled themselves together any better for the making of what was akin to the perfect storm. By the way, I feel totally entitled to wallow here for a few after which I am bound to refocus and jump right back in. In that vein, humor me if you will while I reminisce.

As luck would have it, I didn’t have to wait for Sunday to see that things wouldn’t go as planned. In fact, it took less than a minute on Friday night to twist my ankle. After railing at fate for a bit, practicality soon set in and I was forced to suck it up and move on. I spent the major part of that night and the next day employing the RICE method (rest, ice, compress, elevate) and felt that it helped, for the most part, during the run. The problem was the inability to count on so many other factors. Continuing with my streak of luck was no sweat as Sunday morning greeted us with dark skies and the ominous threat of rain. My only comfort was that at least my ankle seemed to be cooperating then.

We were into about 4 miles, I think, when the rains came down, and man did it pour. For about 2 miles it fell quite hard and made running a soggy affair that had the effect of providing an initial welcome damper to runners over the heat. However, it didn’t stop there; the continued lighter rain, wetness and water all over the streets contributed to decreasing the overall pace of the race. But more importantly, the rain made my run more difficult since by this time we were on the loop and had to make our way back via at least three major inclines – amidst 95% humidity. By the time I was at mile 8, Teklu Deneke, Ethiopian native and West Side Club runner, had taken first place overall (1st Male), with Serkalem Abrha as 1st female. At that time, I was forced to reduce my pace and fall back on stopping at least three times at different water tables – manned by amazing volunteers in the pouring rain – something I’ve always been dead set against. The last few miles went by in a blur, made even harder when my ankle came to life with a dull throbbing.

I can only say sometimes the medal is worth it. The final mile or so was reminiscent of my last Staten Island run, only tougher hills, and in fact it was with an odd feeling of déjà vu that I crossed the finish line to the cheers and support of some phenomenal spectators who did not allow the dank weather to dampen their spirit and enthusiasm for the race.

As is often the case when I run with an injury, I’m left with a feeling of consternation that I can make it to the finish line, hobble or not, but then barely have the wherewithal to get to the first aid tent. I’m convinced it’s all in the mind even though my body disagrees. As it happened, I spent about an hour there recuperating with the help of NYRR’s awesome volunteer doctors. I remain immensely awed by the giving hearts of these incredible souls that come out race after race and give of their time and talent to the efficacious running of these races. Last Sunday in Staten Island, we couldn’t have done it with out them. #GoNYRRVolunteers

Photos courtesy gamefacephotos.com

[ http://www.gameface.photos/events ]

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Run Rio-Inspired


Rio-Olympics-2016-600x375

 

The Olympic games are here! It’s the only other time beside the World Cup, when I log enough television viewing time to be compared to a couch potato. Better still, track and field, my favorite part, is on. I cannot pretend not to be extremely awed by those runners in Rio; their speed, agility and determination is something that we, runners, would love to be able to bottle up and save for ourselves. It’s no wonder they are the best in the world. I, however, can dream. And that’s what the Olympic games bring to us: the dreams of ordinary people finding within themselves the fortitude, determination and commitment to make extraordinary happen.

The most awesome thing about these games are that athletes come from everywhere with their stories of hope;many overcoming adversity to get a few brief moments to show the world a small piece of why they matter. Few will make it through the first rounds, fewer still will medal, but all will have been changed by the process of qualifying to get there. This, if nothing else, makes the sacrifice and hard work worth it in my view and, I wager, most runners agree.

Living in the United States gives one the opportunity, while being from anywhere in the world, to support any athlete or country and feel right at home doing it. Too, it’s totally cool to be seen supporting multiple teams; that’s one of the beautiful things about this country and its rich and diverse population and culture. You can bet that Team USA is a melting pot with athletes hailing from every country under the sun but who now call the United States home and thus for all accounts and purposes are deemed American.

Don’t be surprised to see my tweets featuring Americans, Trinidadians, Jamaicans, Italians, Portuguese, Brazilians and Australians. I throw a lot of support into the ring when it comes to swimming, gymnastics, soccer, track & field, basketball, cycling and tennis and who I’m supporting varies depending on my favorites at the time. I must say, I love it; the excitement, looking forward to watching the games and meeting up with friends to enjoy some Olympics hanging-out-time. It’s all about celebrating sports, athletes, and their journeys to the Olympic world stage; inspiring, encouraging, celebrating and rewarding those who have given their best to the sporting world in true Olympic-spirit-style.

Why a Tune-Up Race Is Important

irish

Four weeks out and I figure now is as good a time as any to gauge how I’m holding up in a half marathon – my practice run – and hopefully I get the pot of gold aka a PR.

While there are many reasons for running a tune-up race when training for a marathon, chief among them is the opportunity to ascertain one’s state of preparedness for the big event. This can be done by running a simulation race of sorts to mirror the actual goal race or as close to it as possible given the difference in distance and course. The idea is to practice pacing, breathing and fueling so as to work out any kinks that may arise. I have already decided I may have to adjust my marathon goal pace with the discovery of my recent condition; however, I’ll wait and see how this run goes before making a decision.

Hence my dress-rehearsal tomorrow at the St. Pat’s Rockaway Half Marathon. Thirteen miles along the broadwalk with the ocean stretching into infinity might turn out to be just what I need heading into Boston – at least I’m hoping. While there are no shortage of races to choose from around this time in these parts, I chose an unknown course and a relatively minor half in order to have a quiet and focused run. I will have a slight strain going in, even so, I’m hoping for a PR to satisfy my training thus far and build my confidence as I head into a final week of full-out running before slowing it down in the two weeks before the marathon. With that in mind, I’m testing out my racing strategy of starting out with a moderate pace and slowly building to a fast finish.

That being said, we all know things rarely work out as planned and there’s still the uncertainty of the weather to contend with; be that as it may, I plan on only concerning myself with the things within my control. Even though God’s got those as well, He especially holds the unknown in His more-than-capable hands. Wish me the luck o’ the irish or even better.. I’ll take your prayers.

            🍀💚😜💚🍀

Races to Keep You Running this Winter

Source: running magazine.ca

Source: running magazine.ca

Rumor has it we may be in for a mild winter or maybe that’s just me and wishful thinking. Yesterday on my speed workout, our group were surmising that it could have either been a mild or stormy one given the presence of El Niño affecting the pacific jet stream. Our coach, the authority figure on all things weather..NOT..pointed out that this winter phenomenon occurs every seven years or so and we’re about due. I’m not sure how much of that I’m buying but I’m a bit of an idealist and cannot help but lean and hope on the mild side. Mind you, I love snow – the pretty kind – just like the next person but living in New York has taught me to appreciate it only when it serves my purpose, selfish I know, but the reality can be just as brutal I promise you. Either way we’re running, so it’s all about finding a way to make the most of it. One way to do this is to run races that will bring out the best in you; challenge, fun, variety, adventure and/or excitement is but a race away, all it takes is the right pair of eyes and a heart determined to make it happen. I’ve scrounged up a few with you, and well, me in mind:

1. Emerald Nuts Midnight Run, 4 miles, Dec 31, Central Park, NYC
2. NYCRUNS Central Park, Jan 10, 10 & 5 Miler
3. The Color Run, Jan 13, The Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
4. Walt Disney World Marathon, Jan 10, Orlando, FL
5. The Battan Memorial Death March Marathon & 14.2 miler, March 20, White Sands Missiles Lane, New Mexico
6. Mississippi Blues Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K, Jan 9, Jackson MI
7. Arkansas: Little Rock Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K & 5K, March 5-6, Little Rock, AK
8. The Spartan Cruise featuring a Private Island Obstacle Sprint Race, 3+ miles,March 6-9, The Bahamas

If you’re thinking traveling is too much of a hassle, then you’re probably a bit more sedentary than I am, as I look forward to races outside of home and usually take to places I haven’t visited yet, all for the novelty and excitement of a new course, a new crowd and a new experience. Regardless of winter, I’ve always been about getting the most out of life as much as I can and when I can. I won’t allow a mere change in season to alter that nor will I allow it to pass me by without taking advantage of the covert opportunities for running enjoyment. All you have to do is step out on faith with one of the races mentioned above. You’re welcome!

Recapping Chicago: 26.2 miles of Awesome

@ mile 13 along the course

@ mile 13 along the course

If I had to sum it up in three words, I’d say the Chicago Marathon was “a thrilling experience.” It is the ideal race a runner desires for a PR, a qualifying time, or simply to finish well. Fast and mostly flat, the course boasted 26.2 miles of cheering, energy-giving, vibrant and entertaining spectators and awesome volunteers.

Whatever you needed was available, from volunteers handing out the expected Gatorade and water and continuos encouragement, to random spectators with pain killers, Vaseline, fruit, snacks, water hoses, beer – if you didn’t cross the finish line it was not from a lack of support. There seemed an organized and concentrated effort to get you through, from the range of awesome Nike pacers with those looking to finish in times of 3 thru 5 & 1/2 hours, to the enthusiastic spectators. I mean, what do you do when faced with an average of 1.7 million people cheering you on? Chances are you run your heart out, even if you’re in pain, want to give up or you’re sick to your stomach; you run because the odds are there will never be another occasion or opportunity where you get to take center stage to such a large audience. Finally, an understanding  of why there are so many in show biz, being in the limelight can be a heady feeling alright.

For the most part, I barely remembered I was nursing an ankle injury I sustained a week before, not until mile 22 when it appeared I developed a blister under the other foot. My struggle began in ernest at that point and it was all I could do to stay focused on the crowd and the finish line. However difficult those final four miles – my personal goliath if you will – it cannot take away from the sense of utter satisfaction I feel about the overall experience. Over 40,000 runners took to the streets to “own Chicago” as Nike’s official hastag for the event encouraged, to the thrilling accompaniment of music, cheers, chants and dance. It was similar to New York, only better. Here I was able to enjoy it more. You may recall that I was also nursing an injury in the New York race, only I ran that entire time in pain. It appears I am doomed to repeat past mistakes.

Chicago is a beautiful city with its towering skyscrapers and modern architecture, which was on spectacular display. Our course took us from Grant Park,through the city and neighborhoods, and back again. A much bigger city than New York, one would think this would allow for more running space as it did for the big buildings, sadly not. Runners were toe to heel for most of the race with enough bobbing and weaving to make you a little crazy trying to keep pace. But with perfect weather conditions, albeit a bit sunny, you really couldn’t complain. For as much as it was within the control of the organizers of the Chicago marathon, they ran a well-executed race. As a result, Chicago is high up there on the few courses I want to re-run, minus the injury of course.

Tips for your Best Running this Summer

source:123rf.com

source:123rf.com

We’ve entered the official phrase of Summer, and without much fanfare I might add. Given the circus of a weather we’ve been having, it is no wonder. In any event, now that’s it here I encourage you to milk it for all that’s it worth and strive to derive the maximum pleasure allowed while running. Here’s how:

  • Run either early mornings before the sun rises or late evenings after it sets. While we love the sun, it’s only the extremely adventurous or crazy who run in it.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Nothing screams newbie as  one who goes for a run in clothing made of non-breathable material in summer!
  • It follows, you should wear proper running shoes. This is a strict rule for runners, as we value staying injury-free above all else. Plus, it fits right in with that “dress for success” saying.
  • Hydrate well. Practicing proper hydration during summer is valuable not just for runners but everyone who’s concerned with pursuing good heaIth. It can determine your efficiency & effectiveness out on the track or roads as well as save you time and a hospital bill should you collapse from heat exhaustion or the like. Plus, it’s pretty affordable to keep water on hand at all times.
  • I maintain that variety is the spice of life. Mix it up a little and get adventurous in your running this summer. Why not try some trail running. Download a trail app and discover running trails in your area you never even knew existed. Something new, something different, something that will add a twist of fun to your running routine. Running during the day is an option here, as trails come with trees and lots of overhead cover.
  • Talking about variety: What’s summer without an extreme racing experience! Ever tried an obstacle race, a mud run, the Spartan experience, a color run or any one of the dozens of races geared at thrill seekers? I promise it’s a must-have experience, even if you only ever do it just one time, though I’m betting you’ll be back for more.
  • Finally, running and friends go hand in hand. Though it can have its solitary moments, running is a social sport. Runners love people and this summer is the perfect time to hook up with a running group of some kind. Hint: I’m a meet-up kinda girl myself and I’ve met some really awesome people through those groups, so here’s another opportunity to try something different. It comes with an almost money-back-guarantee you’ll be pleased with the outcome.

Summer is all about having fun and exploring new opportunities. It carries a feeling of all-that-you-can-do-before-the-good-days-are-gone; but you want to enjoy yourself and have fun doing it all. If you try a few of these, your running is sure to be fun -which is the main goal – hell, try them all and you’re sure to have your best summer of running yet. Runners honor!

Running And the Weight Factor

 

Source: runners world.co.za

Source: runners world.co.za

We live in a society consumed by weight, size and looks. Too often, you hear the words, “I’m too fat” spoken. And all too often you would find it incredulous the owner of those said words. Or would you?  Hardly ever will you hear someone complain about being too skinny or rather, under-weight, which is the purpose of this post.

I have always been a small-boned person and so never thought much of it in a Trinidadian culture that approved women with a more rounded figure. Later on, as first-world ideology creeped in, it became more apparant that skinny was not just cool, it was sexy. In fact, the skinnier, the sexier..say what? Exactly! It is now the aspiration of almost everyone. I mean forget health, it is the measuring rod by which society gauges whether one is cool or not.
For my part, I struggle with this weight issue in so far as it pertains to keeping it on. As a runner it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a I-feel-incredibly-healthy-weight, and so, it is a goal of mine to strive to stay within the range of my BMI (body max index). There was a time I went to the gym for the chief purpose of putting on weight; exercise, eating, even entertainment, was designed around this goal. The problem was and is that, as with any diet, it requires adherence to the plan. The truth is, I have neither the time nor inclination to eat six meals a day – a nutrition analysis showed this to be the case as I have an extremly high metabolism. In addition, it’s extremely expensive to eat healthy; I have no doubt I would be unable to sustain the cost of six meals a day for even six weeks, far less six months or longer. Between work, activities and running daily, my schedule is an endless hustle to get through my to-do
list, eating included.
I should say, I have a huge appetite for food, not snacks or junk, just food, but I’m really only in the company of food twice a day so that leaves me with a lot of meals to make up for. Thus, between time, cost and running, my weight has suffered.
While I have no problem with being skinny, my goal has always been to be healthy. In striving to attain this perfect balance, I tend to always overcompensate on my vegetable and fruit portions as I like to say it replaces snack for me. However, the truth is I just love it. I drink two of the Ensure protein drinks per day, these particularly, were made with active people in mind, and I take a Creatin supplement when training. I  also indulge in protein shakes – a passion of mine.
The struggle continues though. I think it’s getting to that place where I make an appointment to see my doctor. Maybe she can help.




Gearing Up For Summer Runs

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It’s been a long time coming… as the song goes..only some of us couldn’t help but wonder if it would ever get here. Summer is nigh! And I’m so overjoyed, you’d think I won the lottery. Well, all body parts are accounted for, I’m healthy and strong after surviving a brutal winter, running even, that’s a bit of a win as far as I’m concerned and enough reason to throw a party; a running party that is, since, runner that I am, there’s really only one way I know to celebrate. I figure anytime you combine running and wine at the finish, it’s officially party-time. So here’s looking forward to some awesome summer running. We will endeavor to stretch it out for as long as we can, humidity and hundred-degree-days notwithstanding.

Now that the right frame of mind has been achieved, let’s take a look at a few running events in store for us in these beautiful United States and around the world this summer:

1. Heart and Soul 10k and Half Marathon (Boulder, Colo) June 29
From the Boulder Reservoir to the heart of downtown , it’s a runner’s paradise on this dpectator-friendly course. Finishers enjoy a post-race block party.

2. Lake Tahoe Marathon (South Lake Tahoe, CA) Sept. 11-14
Options for racing include: marathon, double marathon, half marathon, 72 Ultra, 20 miler, 10k, relay or 5-mile kyack or swim.

3. Fifth Avenue Mile (New York, NY)  Sept. 13
A PR anyone? For speeders, like myself, this is a great opportunity to get in your fastest mile on record.

4. Big Five Marathon (Limpopo, South Africa) June 20                                                 Held among the wildlife of the the African savannah, it’s where marathon meets safari. Runners experience magnificent surroundings, exciting game drives and a challenging marathon route through the  the habitat of the most famous African game.

5. Lidingöloppet (Sweeden) Sept. 26-28
A bucket-list event maybe? The largest and longest cross-country race in the world hosts its 50th anniversary with its famous 30km and a few other race options.

6. San Francisco Marathon (San Francisco, CA) July 27
An opportunity for fantastic waterfront views and to run across the golden gate bridge. Who doesn’t crave some hilly terrain every now and again.

7. Summerfest Rock and Sole Series (Milwaukee, WI) June 14
Milwaukee Summerfest is the world’s largest live music festival over 11 days and 800 performers and its namkesake racing event hosts a marathon, quarter marsthon and 5k. Finishers join the after-party and get a free ticket to one day of the festival.

8. 2015 Endless Summer Trail Run Series ( Hyland Park Reserve – Bloomington, Minnesota) August 4                                       A fun and runnable 7 mile course mostly run on double-track grass and wood-chip trails with a few bills thrown in.

It’s all well and good to have information at our fingertips but it behooves us to not only take it in but to use it to our advantage. Enjoying a great summer of running means that we will have to actively engage the resources available to us. This will most likely mean setting forth a plan to do so, since life has a habit of happening and before we know it, it’ll be that time again. We don’t want that. We want to relive those memories and carry it through the cold months that will surely come.

A good and purposeful plan should include some of the most basic stuff like purchasing some new active summer wear, signing up for a few races – including some fun runs, hitting up a running meet-up to get some form and fitness in and eating and hydrating well. There’s nothing like new sexy shorts & racer backs & even a new hot running shoes to make you all excited about getting out and signing up for a few races. While we’re at it, let’s remember to get our music hook-up; a hot new mix on our running song list to inspire some bad-ass running. Another important hook-up is either a hydration belt or a funky water bottle..they so do funky. We have to be especially cognizant of the humidity and the potential for dehydration and a funky reminder works. Always keep it filled up and ready to go.

Also, summer running comes with the opportunity for forging friendships and hooking up in the best way in some really fun places. Who knows you might even get a goal or two in, hell even a bucket-list event. It’s all good. That’s the promise of summer along with some intense heat. Did I mention it’ll be hot? Hella hot but such a calorie burner.

sources: competitor.com, activetimes.com, Runnersworld.com, Forbes.com

For the love of Running

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Like it or not the cold season is upon us and many are going to be the days when we will not feel “it,” when the couch and a host of other things will seem more attractive than lacing up those running shoes and hitting the road. Let’s face it, the cold season brings out the human in most of us and running really becomes “second” nature as we become the worst form of cheaters and yes, liars, full of excuses and reasons for ditching, sidelining or just giving up. Goals determined in the Spring and dreams designed in Summer are oftentimes not winter proof and many fall through, no pun intended, lose momentum and may even die. If you’re a new runner it can be even harder to stay on track and true to the decisions you made early on in the year. We need help.

Here are 10 things we can do to keep us motivated and running through the worst of Fall and Winter:

  • Dig into some Running Reading; there are lots of good reads by tried and true runners to keep your interest and inspire your run
  • Movies, Clips and Videos about running or races can sensitize and facilitate positive thoughts and feelings about running
  • Group Running is a sure way to create solidarity and provide support and motivation; you can hook up with a meet up group or join a club
  • Friendships are forged and cemented on cold runs and there’s the added layer of accountability; invite, encourage and share a run with someone
  • Join a gym or YMCA; packed with equipment, classes and various opportunities for running and exercise, there are no lack of things to peek and keep your interest
  • Choose Indoor Running; various arenas like schools, the gym, stadiums and the like host indoor tracks and with the right connections or just plain brass you can get access
  • Use Music to Inspire Your Runs; create a kick-ass song list to keep you company on your runs
  • Run In Company; choose to run in locations where other like-minded runners frequent such as parks and various popular running routes in your area
  • Shopping for Running Gear is always fun for us girls and staying trendy can provide the impetus for stepping out as we’re more likely to want to get a feel for how it fits
  • Sign Up for a Race or Two; this is a sure way to get you training and keep you in a running frame of mind

For sure there are a whole lot more ideas out there, maybe even more fun ones, that’s all well and good we’ll take it any way we can get it, just as long as it keeps us running. Maybe you have some ideas and tips, please share. We, runners love to encourage others and be encouraged ourselves.

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Running, one breath at a time

imageYou never realize what you have till it’s gone. How often have I heard that and commented on its truth, yet it has never been more true than when applied to the ability to breathe. How many of us has given this gift of life any thought at all and wondered what it means, aside from death, if it is threatened. Runners, fitness enthusiasts and other athletes should strongly identify and give thanks, but I doubt it, for we are often a people too caught up, too busy getting there to wonder or question how it is at all possible.

Recently, I’ve begun having difficulty with breathing while running. At first I associated this difficulty with not practicing proper breathing techniques and not pacing myself properly. After all, It is common knowledge that a strong respiratory system is a gift to runners and improves your running tremendously; and so there I thought I had it. Now, I’m trying to imagine the difficulty for runners with asthma. It is fortunate that as with most things, breathing or lung exercises can be taught to increase oxygen to your muscles and fuel your endurance. Pilates and Yoga are two forms of exercise that some runners use to give focus to proper or deep breathing techniques. And even with asthma, it is said, one can get treatment and run quite effectively.

image

Yet, I am not convinced that any of the above fits my symptoms which leans more on the side of a well-known condition, known in running circles as Running-Induced Asthma. I am still in the early phases of checking this out and for sure will visit with a doctor, but in the mean time I’ve been hearing all sorts of rumors of this condition also known as Exercise-Induced Asthma and one other, Exercise-Induced Laryngeal Obstruction; two different conditions, which may not be associated with a prior asthmatic condition at all. On the one hand, the former is brought on by vigorous or prolonged exercise or physical exertion. According to an article titled “Exercise-Induced Asthma” on WebMD, In exercise-induced asthma, the muscle bands around the airways are sensitive to the changes in temperature and humidity brought on by inhaling colder and drier air through the mouth as is common with runners as oppose to normal breathing which is done via the nasal passage through which the air is warmed and moistened. Thus, they react by contracting, which narrows the airway. The result is symptoms such as:
Coughing with asthma
Tightening of the chest
Wheezing
Unusual fatigue while exercising
Shortness of breath when exercising

The other interesting condition that turned up in my research is Exercise-Induced Laryngeal Obstruction. Runners World, Running Times, posted an article in May on their Newswire about a recent study: “High Prevalence of Laryngeal Obstruction in Athletes” when conducted, it was found that although many athletes are diagnosed with asthma, and given bronchodilators and other forms of treatment, a large percentage of these athletes continue to have respiratory problems when exercising. One common problem, the study authors say, is exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction, or hindrances to breathing fully in the larynx, commonly known as the voice box. Authors claim that the 2/3 of the athletes under study were mistakenly taking asthma medication while showing no evidence of an asthmatic condition. They found this to be quite alarming.

At this point, I am “say what!” Too much, too soon; but this is all too real. The lesson here I guess, is to be thankful for every little sense and ability you have, to not take it for granted but to cherish and use it to its full potential while it lasts. With that said, to plod ahead in hope of some enlightenment even as I continue to run one breath at a time.

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