August Long Run Shenanigans; Be encouraged.

Battery Park – along the Hudson River

This month has come and almost gone and it’s been crazy! Crazy weather. Crazy busy. Crazy training runs. It’s crazy that it all happened so fast! Rewind to a few weeks ago when I started marathon training and it was seventeen weeks to race day. Now, we’re down to six. Wait. What? How in the world did it all happen so fast? Meanwhile, I’m here trying to stop time for like one week so I could at least rerun one of my last two long runs. I’ll stop short of saying they were disasters, only they were not at all where I want to be at this point. And I’m sure to be disappointed because apparently time waits on no one. So with September on the horizon here’s a quick sum of August runs.

Summer Streets on Park Ave.

Shout out to my New York City and Summer Streets. Every summer we are treated to 3 consecutive Saturdays of 5 miles of running/exercise bliss aka a shutdown of  Park Avenue in Manhattan from the upper east side all the way down to the Brooklyn bridge. On a typical day iconic Park Avenue is a traffic thoroughfare, so to have it closed to vehicular traffic is a sight for sore eyes. There were strollers, joggers, cyclists, roller blades, skate boards, scooters, anything with momentum, and runners of course. The heat, the people, the activities, the music, and the energy on those streets – it was crazy fun! You might have heard of the term “sweating bullets” yup, that was us out there. I ran with the Nike run club on one of their runs on a summer street Saturday and it was a treat to run alongside other runners, most in training for a fall marathon, with many getting ready for the nyc marathon. It was a large group with many pacers and paces so it was easy to fit in. It was a great 12 miles! The only downside is the late, by which I mean 8:15 a.m start. Summer sun don’t play and neither do I when it comes to getting my long runs done early (by 8:30am) so I don’t have to suffer under its brilliant rays.

End of the Broadwalk @ Coney Island Beach

Another long run I did was out to Coney Island and the beach, which was really an epic fail and my bad. I was exhausted from shenanigans the night before and got up so much later than I had hoped. And so started 15.5 miles of unpreparedness. It sucked but I was determined to run to the beach and back and I did. Just barely. I encountered, what is termed “the wall” in running speak. It’s the feeling you get of not being able to run any further, like a wall is blocking your way forward – hence the term. It happened on the way back, around mile 11, with the sun high in the sky and me without any shade or water. Gosh, I wanted to quit. Call an Uber, I had my phone, no one else would know. But there’s no motivation like self motivation. Somehow, through my inate grit and a merciful God I’m sure, I dug deep and deeper still a few times after stopping for some breaths, and was able to climb over that wall to make it back home just about 2 hours later. You can be sure it was my first and last wall encounter.

Along the Pier on the west side highway
Brooklyn Bridge

The long-run saga continues with a run through a big chunk of The Big Apple. Two weeks before the last run I mentioned above, I did a 2-hour run around the lower perimeter of Manhattan one weekend after a nice 1-hour long active stretch. Crazy me, I decided to go for a sunset run along the East River and the Hudson River starting on the lower east side with some late sunshine and really phenomenal views. I always say NYC has the best skyline in the world. Forgive my bias, as well as my ignorance, I don’t have much basis for comparison. But I imagine it is pretty special as visitors from all over the world come to get in on the action. The downside to that run was the crowds..there were so many people out and about as I ran along the Seaport, Battery Park, and along the piers and the Hudson River on the west side highway. A bit of a zoo. Eeek. But it was also Saturday evening in New York City, go figure. In addition to which, I was also very distracted with the view and felt the urge to take a dozen photos. Just poor planning on my part, or a lack thereof really, and I was left chasing this 2-hour clock all the way up to West 96th Street and back down to midtown to wrap up at Bryant Park sometime after 9pm. Can I just say I hardly noticed that I was running through Times Square at night because it looked like midday – the noise, yes noise, the crowds, and the bright lights everywhere was disconcerting to say the least. I was thorough annoyed with myself to have run into that. Shouldn’t I have known better? Surely never again! Then I had a sense of dejavu. Might I have done that before? Now, that’s just crazy! I don’t dwell on it.

Jersey City skyline from Battery City
Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan’s Financial District

This month, I’ve had early morning runs and evening runs – those are the times that work best with my schecule. I much prefer early mornings even though it takes me a couple of miles before I’m really awake. Once I get going and the sun is a non-issue then it’s going to be a good one. I ran local the last weekend of August and kept within a few miles of home but in a different area from which I’m accustomed. I don’t know how I feel about running around Brooklyn yet. I’ve had some encounters with unmentionable creatures that I’m hoping won’t become a thing so I’ll wait for a bit before that influences my views. LoL. But what I do know is it’s much busier and noisier than where I lived before. I don’t like running around nor into people. I prefer serenity and stupendous views. Sadly, the two don’t come together in this city so one has to be willing to gain some and lose some. I’m ok with that because the upside is that with each run I get stronger mentally, build endurance, discover new depths to myself, and push those limits.

Sunset over the Hudson River

Are you ready to push those limits? This may look different for you. Whether it’s your first 5K, marathon #10, your first ironman or ultra, or you’re thinking grander or smaller – even starting an exercise program, or getting a coach or trainer; you are on to something. Be encouraged and like the good book says, do not despise these small beginnings. One step is always better than none and step two is easier and sets you up to keep stepping and keep moving. Know that every step outside of comfortable and routine is a step forward. September, Fall, Chicago marathon, and new beginnings are all just around the corner and like me, you too can stumble along until you get those feet steady and sure. Running, as is the case with all journeys, is about progression and not perfection.

Nike Group Run

Who Run the World; Not a trick question

img1592225938848In the words of Beyonce, “Who run the world…” I don’t think it was a question as much as it was a rallying cry for women everywhere to stand up and take their place. I’m happy to say we are responding in ways, means, and numbers like never before. Pretty cool but we’re also having everyone along for the ride, it’s a wonderful thing to see. Of course I’m using the song as a metaphor of sorts to the movement for change that is sweeping across this nation and around the world. But the truth is we’ve left the song behind awhile back when the protesters became bigger than any one group, class, or segment of people, when people everywhere decided that injustice is a humanity problem and a call to be our brother’s keeper. The irony of ironies is that while we’re marching in our cities together, we’re still, for the most part, running and working out alone.

Here in NYC, we’re in the initial phase of reopening since the March shutdown due to Covid-19. Major solo runs are still my thing and I’m also cycling every which way in an attempt to discover the borough of Queens and, if I’m being honest, stave off boredom as well. I’m heartened to see some of the local running organisations coming up with various challenges to keep people motivated and running in and around the city these days, God knows we need all the motivation we can get. This way many have the opportunity to run wherever they can and  get a medal for their efforts if they’re so inclined.  I, too, would like to encourage you to set some running intentions for yourselves during this summer. Only make sure to run smart – for me this means running early mornings and late evenings in order to minimize heat and sun exposure, and please, hydrate properly.

I wouldn’t ever suggest something that I haven’t already done or that I didn’t think has some measure of interest or value. Because I know these times are challenging enough as it is and we, meaning me primarily, need to stay running or else, I think it’s a good idea to set some intentions with the least amount of stress involved. During these times it’s primarily up to us to motivate and hold ourselves accountable. How or if you implement any of these ideas is really up to you. Only be sure to have fun, be safe, and stay healthy.

  • Set a mile/distance challenge – a fix number of (uncommon amount, it’s a challenge after all eg. 100) miles you want to run in the next few weeks, say 6-8 weeks, and make sure you have a comfortable pair of running shoes and log your milage on Strava. 
  • Set a bridges challenge. We have lots of bridges here in NYC, pick some or pick all. Log your miles, take photos and post them.
  • Choose various places of interest to run to and make it a discovery run – maybe one per week. Take pictures. You can even journal your runs and discoveries. I’m only recently coming to know my neighborhood and environs and I’ve lived there for over 5 years!
  • Train for and run a marathon distance. I would go so far as to say if you live here in the city to run the NYC Marathon route if possible. Obviously, if you’re a newbie runner I wouldn’t recommend this, I recommend working towards a half marathon distance instead. There are numerous training plans online to help with training or you can always ask me!
  • Forgoing the NYC Marathon, you can run the 5-borough  challenge if you live in or around the city. Running Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island is no easy feat. You can divvy it up and choose your milage and where and when with the goal of completing a run in each borough in the decided-upon time. It’s also an opportunity to discovery your city! You can totally customize this idea to wherever you are and add a local twist.

Since you’re running solo, it’s important for you, the runner, to make an effort to include others in your efforts to help motivate yourself but also you just might inspire someone. I encourage you to post pictures, share insights, stories on your discoveries,  your mileage, and any other information you might have learned or found useful, which can be helpful to others. Another idea might be to start a running blog – of sorts – to share your running journey during these momentous times. Where that may lead is anyone’s guess. But you’re bound to have something to share – a story to tell even – and it might just inspire someone to start their own journey.

Running Inspiration: Ed Whitlock

Ed Whitlock @ the 2016 Toronto Marathon (competitor.com)

Inspiration abounds, you have only to look around.

There is nothing more disappointing or wasted than an unfulfilled dream or unrealized goal. Now imagine going through life not once allowing yourself the chance to see where “it” could have taken you; by “it” I mean that dream or goal that started as a little seed, planted by some per chance wind somewhere in the deep recesses of your psyche. I have a theory that many of us will never achieve our full or real potential, that fear and/or the lack of motivation and inspiration will be the chief deterrents to our success and happiness. However, that is another issue. Here we’ll focus on how, despite that theory, there are those who will go on to inspire, motivate and encourage others to greatness, even in spite of themselves, as was the case with Ed Whitlock, an older Canadian long distance runner and Master, who died in March.

The running world has indeed lost a great soldier and runner in Ed. Without much fanfare but with a lot of heart, he set about running, on and off over his lifetime, a simple life as he termed it – and incurred a host of records to his name and the history books in his latter years and leading up to his death. Over a course of about twenty years from ages 65 to 85 he acquired single-age world records for the 5K, half marathon, and marathon. What is particularly fascinating about Ed is that he never employed any expensive, extensive or intricate system or even had a secret to his success, he simply had a passion for running, was good at it, and had the ability. As far as he was concerned, he just ran and would argue against being called an inspiration by those of us who revered him. Simplicity and humility more than any specific training regimen seemed to be Ed’s modus operandi. I would argue that his investments, unlike so many current-day runners, never graduated to high-tech or inventive methods to improve efficiency or performance but stayed modest and relatively unchanged over the years. Old sneakers, a relatively normal diet, the average shorts and tank in good weather, slightly more for the colder temps, and a body fully engaged in continuous running motion at a steady pace were in essence his tools of trade. He went on to die of prostate cancer at the age of 86, a few months after running a sub 4:00 marathon time.

It would be a mistake if we did not take a step back and see what we can learn from Ed’s life and running ethic. If we want to honor his memory, we would do well to adopt at the very least his modesty and passion for what he believed in, his ability to defy convention and worldly standards. Ed proved once and for all that the only limits that exist are the ones we place on ourselves; that while we operate within the confines of life, we are solely responsible for our choices, attitudes and perspective. Ed chose to live his life each day limitless, ran when he could, as well as he could, where he could and he did it as long as he could. He did it his way.

Ed Whitlock @ Rotterdam Marathon
(globalnews.ca.com) The Canadian Press

Motivate, Inspire, Encourage..Run to the Power of Words

Source: shape women's magazine

        Source: shape magazine

It’s not the average person who gets up on a typical day and decides – you know what, this is it..this is my kick-butt, bad- ass day; today I decide to stop with the excuses and show up and do shit ( yep I said it). No, even if you’re a veteran in the game, most days you have to do some heavy self-motivating to get those feet moving out the door. So for the newbie or ambivalent, I imagine it’s much harder. Lucky for you, I’ve been there, I’m still here and likely to be here for sometime into the indefinite future. That way I can always motivate my and your asses to lace up those sneakers and hit it up for some mileage.

Very often I’ve found that if you distance yourself from the naysayers and immerse yourself in an environment that’s supportive of your goals and ideals, you’ve gotten rid of the biggest obstacle to your success. We’ve heard it often enough – words are powerful, they have the power to change the world..to start wars or bring about peace (on a global scale). If this is true, and history tells us it is, then consider if we use, or allow them to be used, to allow positive change in our lives. Of course this is already the case with all the self-help books and other motivational material out there, but what if you and I, we, decide to make it our personal goal to immerse ourselves in those positive, transformational and inspiring words to motivate our next step? What if we make it so it’s the first thing we see and ingest in the morning and the last thing we breathe at night? I think crazy stuff will happen..blow-your-mind stuff.. I mean, we’d be unstoppable, both physically and emotionally; talk about goal achieved!

See, I’ve always believed that our destiny is inherently ours to decide, granted it’s guided and overseen by our Heavenly Father, but ultimately ours, as a by-product of His gifts of unconditional love and freedom of choice to us. We get to take these beautiful, and often self-serving machines, and make it into what we will. And the funny thing is words can help us, be it ours or someone else’s, verbosely, orally or in print. Stick it up, write it down, tattoo it on..however works best to get and keep you moving on the good days and not so good days.

Here are five of my favourite get up and kick ass quotes:

“Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to a stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.” –  ascribed to Leonardo Da Vinci

“Once you make the decision that you will not fail, the heart and body will follow.” – Kara Groucher

“Nothing great in this world was ever accomplished without passion.” – ascribed to George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

“It’s when discomfort strikes they realize, a strong mind is the most powerful weapon.” – Chrissie Wellington

“Our limitations and success will be based, most often, on our own expectations of ourselves. What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon.” – Dennis Waitley

Of the millions out there, these are my every day mantras. You need to suss yours out and wear it like a talisman, Scouts (runners) honor it will serve you well!

 

 

 

Running is Empowerment, Ownership and Control; don’t hate, Run.

Source: blogdoctoroz.com

Source: blogdoctoroz.com

Someone once asked me if there was anything that couldn’t be cured by running..my answer – of course no! LOL. I mean you have to believe in something right? After God that is. While it seems the world’s all upside down these days and people are all torn up about this and that and a lot of politics are involved, I try to keep it simple. It’s not that the politics of Washington and the issues affecting this great country doesn’t affect me, it sure does. However, through running I’ve discovered the power of compartmentalizing. Since then, there’s a place for everything and everything’s in its place.

You live and learn is truer than you think. You live long enough, you learn well enough that life is not so much a sprint as it is a marathon – in which case it’s all about the strategy (how well you run) to get to the finish line. Know that as with any endurance event, there will be uncertainties and/or unknown elements and even disappointments from time to time. But just as we never throw in the trowel and quit before we reach the finish line, so too we must face life head-on determined to persevere and not just finish, but do so well.

Forgive me while I don’t indulge in all the whining and bitching (excuse my candor) about life and politics and our undetermined future. The recent political upheaval notwithstanding, I’ve embraced running as the friend it is – to empower me; to give me the sense of purpose and freedom that is so indelible to my nature. On my runs I can think, breathe, process and compartmentalize. I have perspective and faith that things are not going to get the better of me.

Running allows me to own my problems..the issues I face and the responsibility I have to forge a path forward, finish line in focus. It is through running that I can regain control of my sense of self and purpose and so use it to inform and empower others to own and control their destiny as well. One step at a time, we have the power, the right, and the freedom in these United States and beyond to overcome whatever challenges that threaten our right to live, love, let our voices be heard and even run freely. We must not take it lightly nor should we let anyone or group de legitimize our right to do so.

Happy New Year: 13.1 reasons to stay running

new-year-2017-fitnessTwo Sunday’s ago despite my best intentions and feelings that day I couldn’t pull of the goal time needed to qualify for NYC’s marathon next year. Off the top, I could come up with a few reasons as to why – as there are always excuses when a run doesn’t go our way. However, this time I’m owning my failing and moving on. While I have yet to figure out how I’m getting into said marathon – you didn’t think I’d just give it up, did you? I’ve already set my sights on ways/runs to keep me on point with training for my next big goal in 2017. I figure if I ever needed to keep my running mojo happening during winter, then now is the time to focus and get my game face on. Perhaps you too may have found yourself stranded in the valley of indecision as it pertains to running in the cold weather. Here’s why you need to stay strong and focused:

  • Running this winter provides an opportunity to add cross training and other versatile methods, encompassing the treadmill among others, to improve performance.
  • Less crowded streets and parks to get your workout in. Amen!
  • Easier and more flexible schedule over the holidays to employ a training plan that will bring about the desired results.
  • A consistent running schedule and/or plan ensures maximum fitness for racing in the Spring.
  • Running is a great way to off-load those holiday calories and then some.
  • Running is convenient and mostly accessible to provide stress relief or as a means of getting away or even when seeking inspiration.
  • It’s a good way to meet people and make new friends, especially now to help carry out your new year goals.
  • If you ever needed motivation to get outfitted and be fit and healthy running is it.
  • Despite the cold weather associated with winter, running generates enough heat to give you a good sweat and keep your temps at a comfortable level leaving you better off than when you started.
  • They say summer bodies are made in the winter, they’re right. Put in the work now and reap the rewards when it counts.
  • Running is a great escape for winter blues. What better way to give it a well deserved kick than getting some miles under those shoes.
  • In a time that often comes with so much change and ups and downs, running can provide necessary routine and balance to your life.
  • Just in case you didn’t know it, people who exercise and run are known to be, aside from healthier, happier, more confident, driven and successful. Now this definitely is the way you want to step into this new year.

There’s no denying challenges abound, in society, our lives and the world at large. Our best chance at getting this right and making the most of life is to give it our best shot and we can only do so if we’re healthy and happy. Don’t think me bias if I say running may be the way to get you there.

All I Need to Get Up and Keep Going

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ricepirate.tumblr.com

They say a promise is a comfort to a fool. Hmm… I don’t know, maybe it depends on the promise? And the fool? All I know is the promise of Spring keeps me running. These winter days are numbered and so are all the layers that go with them. So in-between time, I focus on keeping myself motivated and getting in tip-top shape for the glory days.. heck yeah!

Staying focused, happy, confident and motivated is a lot of work; It demands many self-lectures and constant support mentally, spiritually and physically. Aside from that, there are a few things I just can’t go without, especially during this time. I find comfort, speed and my get-up-and-go attitude in these running must-haves:

Faith: in God and in myself. One depends on the other and I depend on both. I find strength and hope in the One who runs with me every day. His quiet presence and constant care helps me to rely on and trust in His love for me through all seasons and all things.        

My Running Group: this is how I get the majority of my speedwork in. Since the importance of speedwork to the competitive runner cannot be overestimated, I swear by these speedies, they’ve made me question the term “limits” time and again.      

Running shoes: my Mizunos are my road babies while on the trails Saucony gives me wings.                                                       

GU gels: for anything over 10 miles these gels have become a necessity for running efficiency. Half the time, I suspect age is the culprit. I never needed these things till recently.

Head/Ear band:  I only don’t wear these in the summer, in every other season they provide comfort from the cold and acts as a buffer from the noisiness of my surroundings.                                               

My Gamin/Phone: used to be a time not so long ago when I wouldn’t hesitate to leave either of these behind but it turns out I’m often competing with myself out there and they act as my time keepers.

My Nike Rain/Wind Jacket: I am the real deal and I even have a talisman to prove it. Lol. Really, since the cold has started, I have not been a day without it. Indeed I shudder to think of running without my second skin, I would not survive..I mean that.

As they are, they may seem a pithy list but in truth I don’t need much and I like to keep it simple as there’s only so much keeping up I can do – at least in this instance I’m a minimalist. On the other hand, what’s on this list actually have a big responsibility: getting me to Boston and beyond. So far they’re doing a darn good job of keeping me focused. My faith expects nothing less of course.

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