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 😉.

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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.

Let’s go Running

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

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

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

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

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

Wow..Summer huh! Who can explain this crazy weather! There have been few really hot days so far but a lot of others; everything from a drizzle and overcast skies to torrential downpours and thunderstorms, all under a thin veil of humidity. Overall though, it’s been a runner’s paradise so yours truly is not complaining. Wait a minute! I’m actually raving about the weather! Now that hasn’t happened in recent times, so it must be making me crazy as well! Whatever though, if I get to run to the tune of its randomness and have fun while doing it then that’s quite a feat these days.

For instance, last Saturday amidst the annual summer streets event held here in the Big A, we had the fortune, or misfortune, depends on which side you’re on, of running some 15 miles in an epic thunderstorm. I was so hopping glad it wasn’t in 90° sunshine that even with the prevailing humidity, when the rains eventually let up some, I couldn’t complain. Additionally, the Saturday prior we also got caught in a torrential downpour out in Brooklyn. Before and since then, I’ve had many rain-run encounters leaving me sodden (as the Brits would say) but quite the happy runner. In case you haven’t already guessed, I love running in the rain – thunderstorms are a favorite of mine.

So whilst there has been that enjoyable element added to the summer of 2018, the standard marathon training is in full swing. For many of us racing in the Fall or those with early September runs, now is the time to hop back on the training wagon. And if ever there was a time for an impromptu run, now is the time. Quick, before summer, and free time, and nice weather, and get-out-of-your-box adventure runs are gone. Living in New York is pretty amazing on its own but it’s doubly so because of the amazing opportunities for getting out of one’s comfort zone. A gazillion chances exists to push oneself to try new things. I’d wager that wherever you are there are similar opportunities for those with the urge to make something meaningful of what’s left of these summer days.

Here are some slightly off-beat suggestions to help you to that point:

  • Tag a friend for an extreme racing event – for example; a mud run, an obstacle race, or a slightly tougher warrior race and get your fun-o-meter up there.
  • Run a 5K – it requires minimal training.
  • Do a charity run or walk and make an impact – there are various good cause events hosted throughout the summer, like the Susan Komen Walk to Fight Breast Cancer.
  • Sign up for a sporting or exercise event that incorporates a form of exercise and something fun or relaxing, like a yoga retreat or a surfing workshop. Make sure running is part of the deal..kidding. Or not.
  • Run a half-marathon, a marathon, or an ultra. You knew it was coming! Just be sure training is part of the plan. The goal is to have fun while pushing those perceived limits, not getting injured.
  • Make any of the above a destination race/ experience by traveling somewhere new to add a slightly different -maybe cultural- twist.

I’m just saying. Why should summer just roll on out of here without you putting your stamp on it. All to often, we are so caught up in the day-to-day drudge, barely getting by, and not fully living and engaging with life and those around us. Wouldn’t it be something if this summer was the summer we decided to live out loud.

Downtime Running in my Shoes

It’s not very often that I get to run just because – with no marathon on the horizon. You heard right! No deadlines, no training, no Saturday long runs, or crunch-time cross training, or speed and tempo runs. Things are just happening on a slightly ad-hoc basis, though runs and workouts are pretty consistent across the average week.

Gotta say, it feels different, and strange, and good, and uncertain, all at the same time. Earlier in the year, I had plans for a repeat summer marathon in San Francisco, but things have changed and I’m planning a few fun/adventure runs with the possibility of a longer run at the end of summer now. One of the things I prize about myself is my ability to be flexible as circumstances change and/or different opportunities present themselves; so while I’m holding fast to my larger goals, I’m open to changing things up a bit in favor of unavoidable circumstances, adventure, opportunity variety and so on. The situation, as is life, remains fluid and since I’m a keep-your-overnight-bag-packed kinda girl, I’m pretty much stuck in a rut proof. But for now, I’m cool with chilling and not having to sweat the details and complexities that come with the long run.

Meanwhile, there are lots of running and running-related things keeping me busy and I’m reveling in it. I have a few running events lined up, cross-fit training on the horizon, swimming in the summer and then there’s my regular workouts and fit classes at the gym. Next stop – Ragnar, Cape Cod. It’s happening this weekend. Stay tuned to hear all about how it went down next week!

Summer Fun Runs Allowed

source: healthista.com

source: healthista.com


One of the best things about Summer and nicer weather for us running folks is the mix of wild and crazy runs out there. Time enough for the serious long races; summer is about getting out; adventure, travelling, and discovering the free spirit within. All the better if you can do it while running and in a group; just add some color, mud, friends and obstacles and what you are promised a summer you’ll remember for some time.

Based on my experience and a bit of digging around, I’ve put together a list of eight of my favorite races for some of the best fun running around these United States. Here are my “easy” (wink) running picks. Hmm decisions, decisions…

(1) Rugged Maniac 5k & Obstacle Race, Brooklyn New York, June 25. A combination of about 26 obstacles including Piromaniac, Leap of Faith and the Warped Wall.

(2) Wicked Wine Run, Houston, El Paso, Fresno CA, Louisiana just to name a few this Summer with many other locations in Texas and a few other cities all the way through Fall.

(3) Tough Mudder, Long Island NY, July 23, 24. Option for 10-12 miles, 20+ obstacles or 5 miles, 14+ obstacles. Obstacles include the block mess monster, swing arm, electroshock or cold shock top and a lot more.

(4) Rock n’ Roll Chicago Half-Marathon, July 16-17. Fun Option: run the 5k on Sat & the half-marathon or 10k on Sun and you earn the spinning guitar remix challenge medal.

(5) Reebok Spartan Tri-State New York Sprint, June 18-19, 3-5 miles, 20-23 Obstacles. Vie for the fastest finish time.

(6) ROC (Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge), June -NYC, June – SoCal, July – NoCal  and August – Washington DC & New England. A fun, untimed race with 12 larger than life obstacles.

(7) Warrior Dash, from May 14, till early September from Maryland then New York to Colorado and everywhere in-between. 3-4 fierce miles featuring 12 extreme obstacles including leaping through flames and over the vertical vicious valley. You could earn a spot to compete in the world championships for the grand prize of $100,000.

(8) The Color Run; June, July & August at various locations in Pennsylvania. It’s the original paint run dubbed the happiest 5k on the planet. Of course they’re all over the country throughout the year but it’s happening in PA.

There’re a lot more summer races: for fun, bragging rights, competitiveness, challenge and yes, prize money too. For almost every one of them, you can pitch in for a good cause, which is super worth it. The way I see it, running can at times be not about the marathon, summer is the reason, plus more often than not it’s way too hot for that sort of distance anyhow. The rest of the year is all about training and racing so if I can get a couple runs in, for variety sake, heck yeah!

A quick disclaimer: races appear easier than they actually are and though fun can be grueling and extremely challenging; a slighty above-average level of fitness is required. Be prepared in most cases to get down, dirty and bruised. And finally, race at your own risk but always with company as that’s a big part of the fun.

Running Ahead

running aheadThere’s not a lot of racing going on in winter on my end. I tend to plan my Spring and on runs during this time when my running is limited to the treadmill with very few outside runs and one or two races out-of-town wherever warmer temperatures can be found.  As such, I like to think of this as training season for the months ahead, which will consist of a few marathons, half marathons, and some fun runs with goals of a few PR and raising money for charity.

I have my sights set on at least four marathons this year: New Jersey, Chicago, New York and Savannah SC. There’s also a very good chance of a run upstate, while my shorter runs will be at local competitive level here in the city.  I’m also always open to exploring the area around New York with the fun races hosted in and around town over the summer.  Lastly, but just as important, is my goal of training for and completing a triathlon; I’m searching out a place that does not involve these cold waters but isn’t so far away to maximize cost and potential.

The Marathon is a much more comfortable race for me now that I have four under my belt (shoes), at least in my mind, when I don’t have an injury to contend with. I feel pretty sure I can make one this year my best yet if I could just run issue and injury free – that’s my prayer anyway. Half-marathons are my babies. I feel confident, fit and at my peak during most runs of this ilk and feel I can qualify for the NYC marathon 2016 with a PR this year. On the other hand, Fun Runs are what I call any race less than 10 miles and would include obstacle, mud etc., These are my relax and roll with the tide races that I oftentimes take too seriously, such is my competitive spirit. This year, the triathlon will be my biggest challenge. Though I’m a Caribbean girl and love the open waters, experience has taught me to have a healthy respect for water I cannot stand in. So while I swim, I am timid when it comes to exploring my potential out there; this I feel will be my biggest obstacle in such an event. I am to begin brush up classes in Swimming in February, hopefully it helps to build my confidence. Cycling, I don’t consider too much of a big deal, except that I haven’t ridden a bike for any time for a couple of years now. I’m hoping that “like riding a bike” cliché is true in my case. These minor (thinking positive) obstacles aside, I’m looking ahead with much anticipation, excitement and determination. By God’s grace and with the help of my two feet, I can get this done and have a blast while I’m at it.

All my running this year provides an opportunity to support the causes I care about and in so doing give a little back to the community that has given me so much. Whether it’s through fundraising, donations and/ or volunteering, it is with the deepest pleasure and gratitude that I give. My mind’s running ahead now.. better wait on my feet.

Summer’s Running Away

 

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Consider that Winter seems like it was just a few months ago..when we were talking crazy-cold-how-do-I-get-my-run-on weather and now we’re running through August, no stop signs in sight. To use my, of late, favorite expression – “What the hell!” Whatever happened to slow down, take time to smell the roses and all that cute stuff? Maybe, I’m just complaining cause I’m preempting what follows summer (to which I will not give a name so as to delay it as long as possible) but really the wisest course to follow would be to abstain from such thinking and do as much running damage as possible, which brings me to the matter at hand.. Summer runs rock!

I don’t know when was the last time we’ve had or even if we’ve ever had such amazing running weather in the summer in New York City! I mean this is the time to run and if you happen to be lucky and you’re in NY, then this is the place to run, and you totally lucked in cause we also have the company to get you out and about in this summer city. Some may complain of the crazy-weather-days where the highest we’ve seen so far is just about 89 and that we have lows in the 50s but this right here is runner’s paradise. It just doesn’t get better than this. And so you want to take advantage of it cause..well..hell, you never know.

Here are some ways to get running in the city that never sleeps for the visitor and New Yorker alike:

Run Central Park. You’ll never find a place more likely to make you into a runner. Running enthusiasts, visitors, sightseers, any and everyone active can be found here..Central Park is New York in action and home to everyone.

Run City Streets. Every summer for about one month, the city opens up some of the busiest  and most popular streets so that runners, joggers, cyclists, walkers, skateboarders and rollerbladers can do their thing. Yep..that’s right. No cars. The road is yours. Where else in the world can you stop traffic at your fancy?

Run with company. The Running Company is just one of the running stores that hosts free runs for running enthusiasts throughout the city. Nike, Paragon Sports, Lululemon and North Brooklyn Runners are some others to name a few. With just a click, join them and you’re in. These groups usually pace out into sub groups so everyone fits in never mind your level. It’s on to keep you fit and fab.

Run official. Do what I did; join a running club or organization that provides days, times and run workouts. Whether it is to train, to get you to your goal or to assume competitive level, such organizations exists with your purpose in mind. These clubs have an annual membership fee upon registration and acceptance; Central Park Track Club, Brooklyn Road Runners, Jack Rabbit and Dashing Whippets are among a host of others that provide the “athlete” runner with the impetus for racing.

Run with Meetup NYC. Throughout the city there are meetup groups happening for runners of all persuasions. For those who don’t know, Meetup.com exists with the sole purpose of bringing like-minded people together so that they can be passionate about whatever they care about. So of course running. And of course in NYC. Get online, join a group, reserve a spot for a suggested meetup run and voliá. You get to run all over this beautiful, crazy city for free.

Run with NYRR (New York Road Runners). Here is the mastermind behind the New York City Marathon, which is run by thousands from all over the world each year. NYRR is a running community that hosts races throughout the year in the five boroughs of New York. Most races can help with your eligibility for the ” big” race but ideally all runners are invited to belong to a community of runners that run and share the New York we know and love. Races are priced for members at a lower rate while non-members can run for a fee, though not all the races. Why not be a New York Road Runner?

Run for fun, for charity, for personal satisfaction. Whatever you decide, you have to take it to the next level. There are so many fun and charity races all over the five boroughs and beyond you couldn’t hide..but why would you want to? Summer in New York, especially this summer, is a time to make a difference in your and someone else’s life. You just wouldn’t be able to wrap it up come September and call it a great summer if you didn’t. There are color runs, mud runs, obstacle races, 5ks for Cancer research, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Kidney research and so much more. Whichever you decide, in any and all of them you can make a donation and make a difference. You’re running anyway right?

Do you doubt that we, runners, have it made? To not only live in the greatest city in the world, but to run the show. New York is not only about The Arts and Broadway and Wall Street and the Stock Market and Fashion and Times Square and Sightseeing and Tall Buildings. New York is about Running. Runners RUN this Empire State.

Spring into Action on the Trails

Running TrailOh yeah..beautiful, luscious, picturesque Spring is here! Goodby to the treadmill, to freezing nose and toes and layers of clothes!

It’s such an exciting time for us runners and outdoorsy people. However, if you live in New York, it may be a few more days before you feel that magical, spring-fever-energy that craves adventure, as we rally to push a winter that will not leave gracefully, out of here.  But if you’re anything like me, you’re already hearing the call of the wild; though it’s more likely that after the winter we’ve had, you’ll settle for warm sunshine and cool temperatures to start with.  Just the thought of Spring though, I’ve seen those colorful buds pushing their way through the still-cold ground, brings to mind outdoors: fresh air and dirt, and green and birds, and its got me thinking… Trail Running.

Spring presents the perfect opportunity to get so much done beginning with those exercise and running goals we had from the beginning of the year. So what if it means getting those rain boots & ponchos out, you gotta give and take a little. From long walks to long runs to hikes, rock climbing, cross-country runs, obstacle and fun races, and my favorite, trail runs; there are just so many ways to get your run on, and what’s even better is that you can get the entire family involved, from your five-year old to grandpa and yes..even the dog; everyone loves Spring.

So grab your gear, your running bud and your camera, because you just can’t let such gorgeousness go by without trying to steal and savor some, and let’s figure out where our running adventures can take us this Spring.

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