Running In Sochi

The Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics is on! And it’s buzzing. From Track Speed Skating to Moguls and Freestyle Skiing and any and everywhere in between, the games provide something for everyone. Spanning some 90 years with its first official game in 1924, its been hosted more or less every four years like its summer counterpart, and have graduated from its early history of Scandinavian domination, its predecessor The Nordic Games, to include countries as far north as Canada and as far south as New Zealand and Australia. It also includes countries from South America and the Caribbean.

imageThis year the games of The XXII Olympiad boast a field of events that tests athletes endurance, skill, precision and speed on the ice.  To my way of thinking, many of these “snow/ice sports” share something in common with running, the big difference being  that they’re performed on ice. Take the Biathlon, Speed Skating, Short Track and Cross-Country, these are all sports with a running component with the adage of skates and skis as it would be impossible to run on ice without them. I recently watched a video of learning to cross-country ski and it was telling to see how one literally has to learn to run (diagonal stride) with skis on, only adding poles as you become more proficient. Since running is all about speed and endurance, I relate on a less icy level.

However, my favorite to watch at the Winter Games has always been Figure Skating. This year Russia’s own 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya, the youngest recipient of a gold medal for Team Russia, is a treat to watch.  Yulia LipnitskayIn the women short program on Monday, she put on one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen in figure skating and could well be the star of the show. I suspect an upset is imminent as former predictions for the popular Women’s Figure Skating event did not include her among USA, Japan, South Korea and Italy favorites. It’s the event to watch Feb 19 & 20.

What is super cool is that these games show us that while winter could be cold, harsh and unsettling to a lot of us, we’d do better to accept it for what it is, and what it brings and too, for all the sporty running things we can get up to.  If over 2000 athletes can do it then so can we. Winter Olympics 2014, we ❤️ you!

The Miami (Famous) Marathon

I review this race with mixed feelings; excitement, disappointment, heart and some regret, but with a pretty cool medal! 

IMG_4193I think I have a lot to learn about races, expectations, course differences, weather inhibitions and a host of other tiny seemingly unimportant details that are in reality super important, so don’t judge me too harshly as I already did. Plus, this was just my second marathon.

In all fairness the race wasn’t bad, but it was long, hard on my foot and quite warm.  I’m careful not to say hot, as I had feared it would be much hotter than it actually was.  Somehow it was 78 degrees and not breathing fire and gosh, was I ever so thankful.  Heat aside, I had major shoe issues with my right foot.  You would think the injury right? Wrong.  I made sure to wrap my ankle, wore my ankle sleeve and heel inserts to take care of my still-recovering injury but went and added insult to injury by running in a pair of sneakers I had never run a full marathon in.  After mile 13, every right step felt like I was stepping on a sharp object, by mile 18 I was super ready to remove said sneaker and run bare-footed.  I held off only because I didn’t want to spend time, better spent running, taking my shoe off.  I shouldn’t have minded that, as I pretty much ended up walking when it became near impossible to run the last few miles and I had to run-walk to the finish line.  My bad, my fault.  As with New York, I had such high hopes for this marathon as it was so scenic and a new course too; I should have been in my element and ace it. On the other hand, I have a pet peeve with running prolonged stretches without variation.  This race had quite a few of those, which of course was made worse by my shoe aggravation and the heat.  Nevertheless, help came in the outpouring of love and support from those cheering on along the route and those who handed out fruit, power bars, wet rags, ices and had their personal spray stations going on, these are the people who make my run possible and worthwhile.  It’s the essence of running that I’ll always appreciate and love; people coming together in recognition and support of and to encourage those who step out and take a chance at something great.  Then there was the brief but timely, just-like-God, shower, which couldn’t hurt and cooled things down some.  We, on mile 21, were thankful.  But if I was feeling sorry for myself, it all ran away, when I got within the last 100 meters and had the opportunity to help a fellow runner complete his last steps to the finish to claim his medal and me mine.

I promise you, not a day goes by that I don’t learn something and as it turns out there were a lot of lessons learnt that day. Lessons that I’ll take with me on my next race, The Rock and Roll DC Marathon, next month. You see my eye is still on the prize: Boston 2015.

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Tools for the Skeptic Runner: Beginner Tips

One of your New Year goals may have been to start exercising or running; to lose weight, be fit or just because. Well, it’s been twenty-two days and counting already: Where’d the time go? I’m so not ready for this. I still haven’t found the time! I’ll start next month. These may be some excuses that’s been running around in your head while your feet have been going nowhere fast. Well I’m here to remind you. I’m a big believer in a person keeping their word. The way I see it, when it’s all’s said and done, that’s all you have left and it defines you.

So I found this video on YouTube and it’s really great for those starting out, wanting to start or even if you’re still in the debating-which-form-of-exercise zone. The key is really just starting, putting aside all reservations, making time in your busy schedule-just as you would make time to do any of the other very important things on there – cause really, you have to want it badly enough, and putting one foot in front of the other and stepping up and out. You look at others who are fit and you admire that, you want what they have, then you have to be willing to do the work.

First off, you have to commit to it, do whatever is necessary to get what you want; go to bed early to be well rested so you feel good. Get out there – if you can’t make running to start, then walk. You walk until you can run, never mind others and what they’re doing. This is about you and your don’t-give-up mentality because you want to look better and feel better. Like I always say, running is no easy feat sure but it’s not just for talented runners, who by the way, have the same natural ability you have, they’ve just cultivated it more and so it’s only natural and fair that they reap the benefits..they did the work. No BS excuses. They had a goal and saw it through. Now how about you?

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The Joy of Trail Running

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Running is a sport that’s hard to love. It could be because it requires so much of one’s energy among other emotions that there’s hardly room left for anything else. Most runners run either because they’re good at it, are very competitive, like the physical & psychological results of running or a combination of the above. Very few, I believe, will admit to loving the constant pounding of heart, feet and muscle to the insistent beat of their personal-health-aspiration-drum.

imageQuite frankly, after my teenage years and before I discovered trail running, I saw running as strictly a competitive sport and would hardly consider it something I did for fun. The trails changed all that. There among nature, I discovered my inner ying that responded to the call of the wild with a resounding yes that echoes wherever trails are found. I want to discover, explore and enjoy them all. Within those trails I am able to step outside of myself and see the beauty of God’s creation as He intended it and it’s a wonder to behold. I don’t know why I respond this way, what it is within me that unfurls at the sight, sounds and smell of nature blossoming in my midst..I just know that I do and that to be given the opportunity to experience it is a precious gift I treasure. Upon my return to the track and roads there’s really no comparison. Time stands still among the quiet chatter of birds and insects; the cackle of leaves underfoot is background music to the sighting of a unique flower or plant as the fresh air pleasantly tickles my nostrils, and my senses are thoroughly assaulted by the explosion of color as the seasons change. And If per chance I encounter one of my wild friends, it’s always with a gaze of awe as I humbly submit to their authority in this world of theirs..where I am but a guest..a world seemingly untouched, unspoiled by the passage of time and those who are fortunate to enter in.

I try to get to the trails as often as I can, which is not often enough in my mind. Thank goodness New York offers lots of opportunities to the desirous trail runner, as there are lots of parks surrounding the city that one can get lost in. Venture a little further upstate or head out to the Catskills and it’s trail heaven out there and great for hiking too. What I have not been so fortunate to find are running events that involve the trails, I guess it’s harder to organize those, but be that as it may, there are always opportunities for those so inclined; my eyes and ears are open to new trail experiences this year.

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New Year’s Running Goals

imageWow! It’s already January 3! And I just couldn’t let another day go by without sharing my goals for this year.

For most of us, New Year resolutions give us an opportunity to begin afresh, dream big, have a meaningful purpose and/or do something we’ve always wanted to do.  There’s something about a new year that gives us guts and passion, fire and determination and everything else that is needed to make us feel that we can conquer the world.  Never mind that midway during the year one would be hard-pressed to find that well of positivity, but hey let’s not get ahead of ourselves and be content to run, no pun intended, with all we feel.  For this reason, among many others, I think setting goals are important while doing our best to fulfill them; reviewing and revising as life circumstances permit.

With that in mind, my running goals and it’s affiliates for this year include:
. Running the Miami Marathon
. Qualifying for the Boston Marathon 2015
. Doing a Mud Run in Summer
. Exploring new running territories in the NY area and Expanding my running base
. Running at least two other out-of-state marathons, hopefully one to include the Chicago Marathon
. Running a PR of 1:30 in a half marathon
. Logging my mileage

I think I’ll stop here.  Oftentimes, I’ve fallen into the trap of having too many goals, which can be either unrealistic or too constraining.  This year I’ve decided to set wisely and save myself a lot of stress by making them achievable and time-bound.

Cheers to 2014 & fulfilling Running Goals!

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Reflections of a Runnerholic

image“Run out the old, ring in the new;” should be my chant as we stand on the threshold of the eve of 2014.  But I just don’t know, I mean, I’m looking forward to the new year and everything but there’s just something about 2013 that I’m not yet ready to give up and see gone.   The more I think about it, I realize that it’s my dreams, the goals that remain unrealized and cooped up in a corner of my mind – those that never found wings – that causes me pause and hinders my joy at the advent of the new year.

Let’s see, I accomplished my major running goal this year, which was to run the NYC Marathon, so what’s the big deal then? You may ask.  Well, these are the times it truly bothers me that I’m owner to a really over-active type A personality, cause there were a few other sub-goals attached to that big one, which didn’t quite make it.  Like my desire to qualify for the Boston Marathon 2015 via my time running New York, then there was my running New York in my goal time of 3:30 – those were two separate goals that just happened to share a time similarity – then there was qualifying for the NYC Half Marathon 2014 which didn’t happen either.

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The truth is, it’s not that big of a deal nor is it all bad really.  I’m just indulging in a little drama as for sure I’m entitled since I ran my butt off this year and had a few disappointments, that were..well, disappointing.  But putting those aside, It’s been a rather good running year as there were more ups than downs; the injury that I sustained happened in the latter part of this year, which allowed for some really awesome running up till then. I pretty much ran all over New York for fun as well as training and races.  Thus, my mileage is probably pretty awesome and I didn’t even record the total covered. I really should next year.

So enough of the self-recriminations, no more indulging in feelings of consternation or that of regret. I am blessed. I am happy that I had the opportunity to accomplish some of my goals.  I am thankful for the new year. 2014 brings with it New Dreams, New Opportunities, New Blessings and New Races with the chance to Run Faster, Do Better and Dream Bigger. image

Your First Long Run

So you’ve decided to give it a try.  Step out of your 3-5 mile comfort zone and enter the world of longer runs.

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Maybe you’re thinking 10 miles, a half marathon or even a full marathon.  I say let’s start with the half.  It’s a safer bet and you’ll get to them all eventually anyway.  It’s all good.  I’d wager you’re well on your way already given your decision to challenge yourself.  I’ve always agreed that whatever the path of life you choose, you should always give it your best shot; it’s the only way you grow and have the opportunity to realize your full potential.  With that in mind and with you half-way there, after-all making the decision to stretch yourself being the toughest part, here are a few tips to help you along the way.

  • Build up slowly; you’ve done 5 miles so make your next goal 6 miles in say two weeks, three times a week then to 7 miles, then eight and so on.
  • Have an overarching goal/race in mind, that way you’ll be working towards something and will be motivated to see it through.
  • It sometimes helps to have a physical reminder, especially on those days you’re not feeling it; write down your goal and place it where you’re sure to see it and be reminded daily.
  • Find a running buddy; someone who shares your goal and will help you in the areas of encouragement and accountability, one with whom you can discuss healthy eating, rest habits and get motivated.                                          
  • Lastly, as you work your way up the mile rack, it may help if you do trial/test runs. Do a 10k, then as you progress try a 9 miler etc., and always, always, prepare yourself mentally as well as emotionally. Running is no easy feat and the best runners will tell you it’s as much mental as it’s physical.

Good Luck! You’ll do awesome!!!

Smart & Fun Running

imagesSome people have the wrong idea..they look at running and think, “I can never do that! It’s too boring, to difficult, too tiring and in sme cases, even dangerous…” “Did you hear of tht guy who collapsed after running the marathon…” Propaganda and truth abound over the subject of running but whatever side of the spectrum you’re on there’s one over-riding truth that stands out: running can be and is beneficial to your well being.  However, as with every good thing, there is always the opportunity for abuse and its subsequent consequences.

It is true tht running can become monotonous, that is, if you run the same course, distance and races all with little or no variation.  For that matter, I have a hard time thinking of any activity tht wouldn’t afford the same result if done the same way all the time. If one is to assume the maximum benefit from this “mind sport,” variation is key.

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Today there are so many forms of running and so much fun attached to the sport that it is impossible to maintain an air of indifference or even incredulity. You have the traditional track & field and long distance races such as marathons, and now there are decathlons, urbanathlons, iron man, cross country racing, trail running (my favorite) and so many other shorter fun-type races like mud runs, color runs and obstacle races among others.  Also, if you ever needed a reason to run, there are races for just about every cause you care about.  Running to advance literacy & cancer are two important ones for me, with these races, you get to make an important contribution to society while getting your exercise on.  How’s that for a bonus! I mean that is so FUN! Somewhere among the lot is a run for you, cause you have to believe me when I tell you that YOU were born to RUN!

Now all you have to do is find a running buddy: join a club, find a meet up group or get your friend involved cause it’s so much better to have a reason to run and others to share your running adventures with.

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Preparing for the Marathon

IMG_2441So I’m in! What does that mean? What does it look like?

Honestly, it means a lot.  I dreamt about it sure, I’ve talked and thought about it but I never really thought I would be given the opportunity of running it.  Back in the day, I know I sound ancient, but back home in the islands, we’re bombarded by western media, fashion, culture even and so we think of the United States and it’s like.. that place, we love to hate.  Truth be told, you really want to visit but not to be seen as wanting to.  Anyway, to think that after all these years of having this dream of running the New York City Marathon on my peripheral mind, that I’m actually here, loving it and running it!!! Way cool!

On the other hand, running is no strut on the catwalk.  Competitive running , even some-what competitive (me) demands so much commitment and determination.  I call it, “the sport of the mind” because a lot of preparation begins there.  I’ve written my goal, I tell it to myself daily and even have alert reminders on my phone and running buddies to keep me focused.  It’s like having another job minus the monthly paycheck.  My reward will be 26.2 miles under my shoes come Nov 3 and my medal stating so!

Some idea of what my crazy starting schedule looks like : 5/7 days of running, avg of 50 miles p/wk, strength training 2/7 days, high-intensity cardio, yoga and toning classes 3/7 days p/wk.  I’m also considering joining a  running group that’s doing training runs for the marathon as I feel this is important in acquiring a support base to help with mental and physical preparedness.  Now all I need is more hours in the day; if you can help in this regard, please let me know.

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