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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Have a Spring Fling with Running

Source: AMP womensrunningmagazine

Source: AMP . womensrunningmagazine

Hard to believe March is only a couple of days away. And I feel as if I say this every month-end, which by the way, comes about way too soon, as I’m practically leaping to keep up. I mean what’s the hurry..why the rush? Not that I’m not happy to get out of February and the dastardly cold, which in all fairness hasn’t been bad at all this year. Still, any likeliness of a snow storm has me breaking out in chills, ready to burrow in a hole somewhere, so I’m practically jumping up and down in anticipation of March and the advent of Spring. I will not entertain one thought or word about how it’s likely be cold for a while yet. I prefer to live passionately in an alternate reality, which for all intents and purposes will be here soon enough anyway.

While we’re here envisioning everything green and blooming and embracing kisses of sunshine and showers of blessings,  we can definitely go about planning some Spring-inspired really fun things:

(1) Rock n’ Roll Mini Marathon 5k, March 11, 2017 – Washington DC.                       This is part of the Rock n’ Roll series and feature a full (did it!) & half marathon but since I’m focusing on fun, tagging along a newbie and Boston will be about one month away, a 5k is a safe fun focus.

(2) Bloomsday 12k, May 17, 2017 – Spokane, WA.                                                 A hugely popular run that sees large numbers of runners from all walks. It sounds, different and promises a picturesque course and a fabulous after-party. A definite drag-some-one(s)-along run, plus it’s cheap.

(3) Carlsbad 5000, Carlsbad, California, April 11, 2017.                                                 The flattest, fastest, scenic 5k in southern California you will ever run. For newbies to avid competitors alike, you gotta dig this killer 3.1 course.

(4) Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon, May 7, 2017.                                                           Touted as the best-named Marathon, it promises a challenge, which is offset by the spectacular views. Who doesn’t run just for those? It’s a new course for me, there’s beer, goody bags and other adventurers. I’m stoked.

(5) St. Jude’s Country Music Rock n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon, April 29, 2017 – Nashville, TN.                                      A once in a lifetime must-do run through of the iconic sites in country-famous Nashville. There’s bound to be a free concert or a few happening with lots of music on hand.

Really, I could go on and on. There are just so much races to choose from. From mud to color to music, there is a run for everyone in practically every state and beyond. Those listed above are just a few of which I plan on running at least two from.

I invite you to consider taking a step out of your comfort zone, whatever that may be for you, maybe it’s running in another state, a new course, a new distance or a different type of race, Let it be your Spring fling if you will and commit to dive in and enjoy it from start to finish; chances are you may develop a hankering for this running thing.

Getting Boston-Ready

Less than six weeks to the Boston Marathon 2016 and I can hardly believe how quickly the time has gone by. Added to that Spring is practically upon us; after all the talk about cold weather, we can finally breathe easier and run a bit harder as there are still a few weeks left to shape up our training. Speaking of breathe, without any fanfare, I’ve finally given in to the condition of Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA), which explains what I assumed was pacing-only problems I had. Quite likely it was a case of denial with all the symptoms staring me down since winter started, but aside from saying that I will do everything I can to see this through my next race, I’ll let it rest for now as I have neither the time nor energy to dwell on what this means for my future in running. My only concession now is to try to keep my runs within marathon goal pace, which is around an 8 min/mile.
Looking ahead to what’s in store specific to shaping up for race day, I have planned:
1. Weekend Long Runs for the next four weeks alternating: 20, half-marathon tune-up, 18, 15/16 miles
2. Medium long runs (12-11-10 miles) at marathon goal pace, while practicing surges on the downhills.
3. Weekly tempo runs/intervals
Alternate weekly hill repeats and tempo runs
4. One tune-up race to replace long run raced at marathon pace and
5. Alternate weekly Sprints (800m)
Two weeks out from race day it’ll be down to taper time but there’s still time, so I’m embracing marathon mode where very little exist outside of preparation for April 18. It’s a bit of a nerve-wrecking time all things considered, but that’s just it, we’re not considering all things just those that are necessary to take us to the finish line at Boylston Street.

 

Some Fun Spring Runs

Source: Precor.com

              Source: Precor.com

After a long, cold Winter you deserve some fun. And I’m not talking laying-under-a-beach-with-an-umbrella-drink type of fun, heck no, we’re not sedentary like that. I’m talking body painting-mud covering-rock climbing, kinda running fun. Don’t mind if we celebrate everything with a run, we don’t know any other way. It’s just too darn bad that some of us are still experiencing winter-type air but for the rest of us, there’s nothing like a crazy, adrenaline-pumping, butt-kicking running adventure for Spring initiation. Never mind the rains we’ve been promised, plan on getting soaked anyway with all the sweat and grime that’s coming your way.

I did some digging and scored what I think are some of the best fun runs around the country – only because I think hopping around adds more adventure and fun and you get to meet runners. Here’s hoping these 10 suggestions help to kick off Spring and get you on your way to earning a bad-ass runner reputation.

1. The Original Mud Run – DFW Spring 2015, Bear Creek Road, Lancaster TX 4/04/2015
This race boasts three courses: 5k fun run, 10k fun run and 10k competition and a new Apex 200 yard – Super Obstacle Course (competition only). All courses are Military Style Obstacle Courses and boots and loose-fitting cargo or sweat pants are mandatory for competition categories while recommended for non-competition runs where crazy costumes are also welcomed.

2. Mud on the Mountain – Seven Springs,Pennsylvania 5/09/2015
A 7-mile mud run through some of the most challenging terrain in Pennsylvania traversing ponds, scaling boulder fields, climbing over obstacles and clawing up impossible inclines to a triumphant finish.

3. Savage Race – Georgia Spring 2015, Dallas, GA 4/18/2015
An intense 5 miles, 25 obstacles on rolling hills and rocky terrain to include mud, fire and barbed wire. Run individually or as part of a team.

4. Spartan Race – Tri-State New Jersey Beast 4/18/2015
A distance of 12-14 miles over New Jersey’s Mountain Creek with steep inclines and rocky track descents. Athletes are asked to carry a headlamp & water supply in a camelback or similar type pack as the average finish time is 5+ hours. Teams are encouraged but there is also individual registration.

5. Spartan Race – Citi Field, NY Sprint (Stadium) 5/09/2015
3 miles of throwing, jumping, crawling and grueling climbing will take you to the remotest corners and every level of this ball park.

6. Virginia Rugged Maniac – spring 2015 Petersburg, VA 5/02/2015
A 3.1-mile run averaging 30-60 minutes with 25 obstacles the likes of 12′ high walls and 50′ water slides while running, crawling and jumping through a combination of forests, fields, motocross tracks and ski slopes.

7. Ultimate Challenge Mud Run – Columbia, SC 4/11/2015
Run 36 military style obstacles spread over 6.2 miles with Marines to “motivate” your team at each one. This is a team event only challenging you both physically and mentally through mud, water, and over obstacles just like veterans do in training. Obstacles are built with the same materials and techniques as used in military training courses around the world.

8. The Color Run – Camden Waterfront, Philadelphia, PA 4/25/2015
Dubbed “the happiest 5k on the planet” this run is designed to uplift and inspire runners to shine and live in a happy healthy way. Get ready to do that with special sparkle/ glittery attractions on the course, new shine elements at the finish and paint of course.

9. Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon – Loudon County, VA 5/30/2015
Who needs mud when you have wine. The race starts and finishes at Doukenie Winery, with post-race access to the Wine & Music Festival. This scenic, grape-scented course runs north of the winery on historic byways, passing vineyards, farms, ranches and estates along the way. Midway is your water and wine stop.

10. Barkin’ Dog Duathalon – Denver, CO 5/30/2015
The largest duathalon in Colorado and a popular run-bike-run race, this race has two distances participants can choose from: a 1.2-mile run, 18k bike, and 5k run or a 5k run, 34k bike, and 5k run as they transverse the trails and roads through Cherry Creek State Park. Enjoy a post-race picnic and the 4200 acres of the park upon finishing.

Of course there are a lot more going on this spring, hundreds of mud runs and obstacle races in each state through the end of the year actually, and sometimes multiple in any given state, at various locations. The point is that there are so many races and so much fun to be had, it would be a tragedy to let it all slip away without stepping out and grabbing as much as you can. Another positive is that these races have a charity component and so you could always do good while you’re having fun. Enjoy Spring!

Carpe Diem: Run with It

Source: blulabelbungalow.com

Source: blulabelbungalow.com

“Life is often compared to a marathon, but I think it is more like being a sprinter; long stretches of hard work punctuated by brief moments in which we are given the opportunity to perform at our best.”
-Michael Johnson

What a difference a week makes! From banks of snow and tunnels of cold air to kisses of sunshine and the keen almost-there scent of glorious Spring. Admittedly, there are still traces of snow on the ground but the rain is doing its thing, so am I, and so should you; which brings me to outdoor running and races. With the advent of Spring, there is a lot of running going on in these parts, and forgive me for being an overly enthusiastic runner, but, I am once again super-excited to be living in the running capital of the world.

Living in New York affords one the year-round opportunity for running, though I try to pretend otherwise when winter comes around. However, that is only for self-preservation as there are countless runners who brave the chill and ice to religiously get their daily runs in. Don’t ask me how or why, as the couple of times that I’ve given in and done so have left me convinced that it is not for me. In a perfect world, there are ten months of Summer, one month of Spring and one of Fall; no worries. Winter aside, it’s time to put your game face on. I’m so into what’s ahead that I’ve had a few shopping sprees specifically dedicated to running gear; nothing like new shoes, leggings and racer backs to get you into a total running frame of mind.

To get things going, I’m looking for a PR on Sunday at the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. The weather looks promising, I feel fantastic as I’m revelling in racer-mode, only possible with a half marathon or less, the course is awesome -#TimeSquare- and so I expect great things to propel me into next month’s New Jersey marathon. Did I mention that I’m looking for a faster qualifying time for Boston 2016? That’s my next goal in the next race. Stay tuned for more on that. Till next week, seize these beautiful running days!

Setting yourself up for a GREAT. RUN. this Spring

imageYou may have gotten over the initial excitement of Spring only to be faced with the harsh reality of life: that it’s not all a run; there are stumbles and stops and even falls but to reap the benefits of success, we must pick up and press on, and on those odd times when we fall off the proverbial wagon, begin again.

There are two perspectives that lie in tangent: seeing Spring as a season of growth, change and newness in other living things or living each day as Spring and applying the growth, change and newness to include oneself, since we fall under the category of living things. The latter allows for facing each day with an attitude of challenge and expectation. I have always maintained that running is a sport of the mind performed by the body. Since the mind is where it all begins, it follows that perspective makes or breaks a runner. With the right attitude, there is no race that is unattainable and no run that is unconquerable. Whether it’s 1 mile, a 5k, 26.2 miles or even an ultra marathon; through mud or fire, over obstacles, in color, whatever it may be, it all begins the same place, which by the way, is half-way accomplished when its been committed to. Believe it or not, that was the toughest part; setting the goal and coming up with a plan to follow through.

imageWith that out of the way, we can now focus on fun things like gearing up, partnering up, diet and motivation. Since Spring is one of the best seasons for running, running gear is pretty easy to select and readily accessible. Running shoes are very important and therefore, one should select wisely. Here, I recommend going to a running store and using the treadmill there so that the sales associate, who is generally more knowledgable on these matters, can asses your gait and stride to get you a right fit. While brands abound with regards to design, color, fit, taste and price, one should be careful to never sacrifice on fit and comfort. A tip here is to always buy one size up your normal shoe size and to ensure you have enough support for your heels if that’s where you place emphasis or in my case, the balls of the feet. Now shoes in hand or more likely, on feet, we can look for comfort and style in choosing breathable running clothes that fit properly. Here, try to avoid all-cotton materials and restrictive clothing. Choose something functional but fun as I’m sure you also want to look good. Being able to wear shorts and tanks are way cool after three plus months of layers so that’s half the decision made. We’re geared up and ready to hit the tracks, roads, trails..whatever your passion..be careful to fuel up before, during and after your runs to stay hydrated. Some drinking options include: Gatorade, Powerade and coconut water, while chocolate milk and fruit or vegetable smoothies with granola make a great recovery drink. In addition, it is always wiser to eat a couple of hours before your run so there’s ample time for digestion. If eating later on, after your run and closer to late evening and night-time, then foods that are easily digested and low in calories and fat are recommended.

imageMotivating yourself through Spring may become a bit difficult from time to time as the weather can be quite crazy: wet, windy, chilly etc. But the trick is to stay on target by friendly reminders from partners, friends, your phone and written goals, and to surround yourself with like-minded people who will encourage and allow you to not only dream, but to run those dreams and become the champion you are. Plus, we do get those oh-so-gorgeous-sun-shiny-days..so grab those ear buds if that’s your fancy, make sure to choose ones that stay put while running; those that go around the ears or over the head are fine, with proper kick-ass music and strap on your watch or timer and keep it moving.

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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