The Sun Deck, 12 Laps per Mile

As I sit here in my living room, my new 80's haircut saturated with Manic Panic Vampire Red and wrapped in a Duane Reade bag, I am going over the list of things I still need to pack for vacation.

Do I pack my running gear?

Every trip begins the same, with the best intentions to continue some semblance of my daily routine. And I really do have the best intentions. Really. I do. But in the end I rarely, if ever, lace up my sneakers and go for a run.

It's not because I'm lazy or unmotivated (most of the time). Generally, it's because I feel guilty. Guilty that I'm taking time away from spending time with the boy. He's such a good sport about all my early morning runs, the weekend runs and the races out of town. We spend so little time together at home, how do I walk away from him on our vacation?

I will pack my sneakers. I will pack the mp3 player. I will pack my best intentions and place them beside my Bodyglide and sunblock. I'd love for this next week to be a change of scenery rather than an upheaval of routine. But whatever it will be, it is first and foremost an opportunity to spend time with someone I love.

And if that means my sneakers languish in solitiude, so be it. That may be the price I pay for surf, sun and sipping an umbrella drink with my sweetheart.

Run strong, my friends. Add a mile or so for me :)

Time Keeps on Slipping...


For Time:
100 pull ups - assisted
100 push ups - from knees
100 sit ups
100 squats


Finally got a decent run in today - a slow, luxurious 6 miles on the Dreadmill. I really need to move my runs back outside at the crack of dawn. By the time I get changed into running clothes, run, clean up and change back into people clothes, at least 1.5 hours has been eaten up. That's an hour and a half of work I'm neither doing nor getting paid for. Now that we're working human hours again, there's no opportunity to make it up! And then taking a class cuts into my work day even more - I think I actually was in my office yesterday for about 3.5 hours total. Not a financially responsible day, that's for sure.

I'm having a lot of trouble scheduling everything these days. It's typical of me to overextend myself, but even I'm amazed at how I've managed to do this to myself this time. I want to get my runs in, I want to go to CrossFit, I need to take dance class, I want to take pilates and yoga. I have to work, eat and sleep. What makes it difficult is that yoga, pilates, CF and work all take place in NYC. That window of time is from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday thru Friday. Oh, and auditions. Can't forget about auditions. Can someone help squeeze all of those things into my day?

My only thoughts are to get up by 5 am to get the run in before work, limit myself to 1 or 2 yoga and pilates classes a week apiece (alternating), make dance a priority when it doesn't conflict with auditions, and either CF at the gym at home after work, or stay after work for CF and then take the bus home. I don't even want to think about trying to do all of this once I start to actually train for my next big race.

I think I'm going to need a wall chart to keep it all under control.

Desperately Seeking Style

There is something wrong with the world when the sight of a female in old cotton gym capris and a singlet (complete with sports bra uni-boob) can illicit a cacophony of "Damn!", "Nice.", "Sexy!" and a host of other things that I probably wasn't meant to hear or would have been better off being unaware of.

As if I didn't feel self-conscious enough walking from the gym to dance (see, I told you I'd go back). Aside from feeling as though my clothing was entirely too tight for a walk down 8th Avenue, nothing matched! The capris were black and worn out, with a torquoise stripe down the side. Singlet - royal blue and emblazoned with the phrase "Run like La Palestra!". And my sneakers - cute little Converse flats with pink fake laces.

Trust me, I'm not being modest. Not a flattering look for me. Really. Being in NYC, I'll be surprised if I don't wind up in some magazine with the evil black bar across my eyes, held up as an example of what not to wear this spring season.

Which leads me to the question - What's a girl to do when she's going from a run, to dance class, to CrossFit, to Pilates and everything in between? At what point is it OK to throw fashion sense (which I do have, really, I just prefer comfort over couture) by the wayside and let your active needs dictate your wardrobe?

I Can't Get No...Satisfaction

I wonder what it is about the human psyche that propels us to push past our limits? Is it the desire to progress and grow, or simply some masochistic need to feel like an idiot the majority of the time?

For example, yesterday I took a dance class. Most of the class focused on alignment and stretching, with about half an hour of choreography at the end. Me - not a dancer. A mover. Eventually. And I can do a pretty good job convincing people that I know what I'm doing. But not in dance class (and we're talking easy dance class, people). I spent that half hour in complete misery, feeling like a failure. It was awful. I hated it. And I'll go back.

Same goes for running. As soon as I was able to run for 5 consecutive minutes, I stretched that to 8 minutes, then 10 all the way up to my very first 5K race. After that I had to try 5 miles, and we all know where I wound up ;) And if it's not distance, it's speed. Every time I run a race that I've run before, I have to run it faster. There always has to be some sort of measurable improvement that I can point to and say "See! See what I can do, what I've accomplished!" I always have to be moving forward to the next mile marker, the next PR, the next big goal.

CrossFit plays into that mentality as well - the workouts are designed to push the athelete. Do it faster, do it heavier. Do it better.

Is satisfied the same as complacent?

Fridays Kick Ass


Three rounds for time of:
Run 800 meters - I subbed 50 walking lunges
50 Back Extensions
50 Sit-ups


Subbed walking lunges for the run (ouch!) - I'm not ready to reintroduce speed work just yet. Especially not on concrete sidewalks, dodging pedestrians that would tax my patience even if I were walking.

Now that I'm at home (oh, beautiful half-day Fridays), I may head out for a short jog - unless of course the wonderful couch proves to be too tempting for my admittedly weak will. I plan to get outside for some light mileage over the weekend, perhaps at the lake or over at Rockefeller. It will be so nice to go for a run on the fly, without negotiating work schedules and cold-weather gear needs.

Tomorrow begins the first weekend I've had to myself in over 8 weeks. It will be filled with cleaning, shopping and cooking for Passover. I couldn't be happier, and it's good to be back :) I plan to sleep until I wake up.

The alarm clock will have to look to someone else for heavy petting.



21-15-9 reps of:
Clean 135 pounds (31 pounds for moi)
Ring dips (jumping ring dips, x2)


This afternoon, I went to my very first official WOD (workout of the day) at CrossFit NYC. After a month of taking the Elements Workshop (where they introduce you to various elements of training), and every beginners class I could attend - I can safely say that I am still a pussy :) But ya gotta start somewhere, and luckily for me the guys at CrossFit NYC are both infinitely helpful and welcoming. Thanks, guys.

Cross-training is something that I've been very lax about this past year. At some point last August, it seems as though a switch were flipped somewhere inside me and I became a mileage whore. All other workouts were pushed aside so that I could get more miles in. As much as I tried to make sure that they were quality miles, I know that a good majority had to have been junk. But at the same time, my stamina increased in leaps and bounds, so it was a really hard habit (compulsion) to break. The only thing that finally did break it was the onset of winter. I had been running the bulk of my mileage pre-dawn, and though the area is well lit I knew there was no way I'd be able to see the icy conditions. Reluctantly, the running moved into the gym, where I could sneak away during the work day. As such, the amount of time I could devote was virtually cut in half, bringing my whoring days to an abrupt halt.

It is with high hopes that I move my running outdoors once again. My goal is to run smart and strong, in the hopes that I can get another step closer to realizing my potential as a runner (even we recreational runners can have lofty goals). To that end I look forward to experimenting with more speedwork, less mileage, and CrossFit.

'Cause, yeah - I want to be able to do a pullup. Maybe even two.

It isn't you, it's me.

Tax day has come and gone, and it's time to reclaim my life. Topping the list of the things that have gone by the wayside for the past 8 weeks - running. Outdoors! I'm looking forward to a nice, leisurely, completely-devoid-of-rocks-and-roots afternoon run this weekend. Afternoon, because next on the sorely neglected list is sleep!

It just isn't natural for an alarm clock to go off at 6 am 7 days a week. I've been having a torrid affair with the snooze button - I think it's time to break up. Don't you?

TNF Endurance Challenge Accelerade 50K, Bear Mountain NY.

Yesterday, I met the mountain. The mountain had some friends – the trails. Together, they kicked my ass and used it as a hackey-sack for approximately 10 hours and 50 minutes.

I may have enjoyed it. Only time will tell.

Start to 1777 Aid Station:

The total distance on this portion is 5.3 miles. This section is likely the most difficult section of the course. After a 2 mile warm up, this leg quickly turns vertical. There is an aggressive climb up the Yellow Trail, then a descent before climbing up The Timp Trail. Once you reach the top of the Timp Trail, it’s an easy run to the first Aid Station, 1777.

I got to the start around 6:15 am. It was nice not to have to schlep to a race for once, or look at directions! I pulled into the lot, next to Scott and Garth - with whom I’d attempted to scout the race course a few weeks earlier. After dropping our gear bags and hitting the rest room, we lined up for the pre-race speech. I kept an eye out for Emmy, who was going to be starting out with me before meeting up with Anthony to pace him for the final 11 miles of the 50 mile race. The weather was clear and getting warmer every minute. I debated the wisdom of wearing my windbreaker, but chose to keep it on for a bit. As we gathered around for the official start, Emmy was nowhere to be seen. At 7 am, we were off.

2 mile warm up my ass. It was 2 miles that gave runners a false sense of security. Sure, it was mostly uphill, but the pathway was wide and fairly easy to run, save for the massive amounts of mud left from the early morning storms. You think, “OK – I can do this”. But I knew better. From my earlier scouting trip of the trails, I had an inkling of what lay before me. So I took my time and kept an easy pace, settling into my position at the back of the pack. By the time we came to the two climbs in this section, I was the back of the pack. I didn’t find the climbs particularly difficult, compared to what I experienced a few weeks back when we tried to run the trail. They were definitely time consuming, and slick, but altogether I thought they were fun. I had by this point met up with the rest of the runners that made up the back of the pack. We were a motley crew, made up of a few very experienced ultra runners and some newer to the sport. One gentleman, who was a frequent contributor to UltraRunning magazine, said that of the hundreds of ultra marathons he’s participated in, this was by far the most difficult. We finally breezed into the first aid station at close to 9 am, 30 minutes past the first cut off.

1777 to Lake Welch Dr. Aid Station:

The total distance of this portion is 5.2 miles. Runners will set out on the Blue Trail and descend the South side of The Timp Trail. Runners will need to use caution as the last part of the descent is a rock staircase (extreme caution if it is wet). The Red Cross Trail follows this section with a climb over The Pines. Circumnavigate Pingyp Mountain as the descent on the South side is too dangerous. You’ll be following Pines Rd, then a newly marked route along Stillwater Brook which will lead you to the shoulder of the Palisades Parkway. Remain on the shoulder down to the police-assisted crossing and wait for the police to signal you across. Once across Palisades Parkway, runners will hit the Lake Welch Dr. Aid Station.

I think this is where I took my dirtiest spill. In the previous section I had slipped and caught myself with my right hand. Naked as it was, I managed to give myself a lovely cut that bled profusely until I hid it with my gloves. As we made our way down the steep rocks, yours truly slipped and went splat! into the mud. I had a very purdy tush for a while. At some point, I also had a run in with a tree branch that left a lovely scratch and bruise all over my right thigh. During this section, I also pulled away from the back of the pack fairly early on. I made some nice gains while power-hiking some of the rockier portions, and soon I was all alone. It was here where I also found my “trail legs” for a while. I realized that if I just let go, I could navigate the rocky sections of trail, hopping this way and that. It was exhilarating, and I can honestly say that I was enjoying myself. I bounded through the woods, completely alone, and headed towards the Palisades Interstate Parkway. Where I promptly stopped short. Oh, look. A stream crossing. Hmmm, how to best get across? I wandered to the left and to the right, searching for an easy (dry) place to cross. I may as well have saved myself the trouble. The only way to cross and still manage to climb up to the shoulder of the road involved stepping across onto a submerged rock. So, I bit the bullet, dunked my foot, and made it to the other side.

After that it was smooth sailing as I ran down the grassy shoulder of the PIP (the weirdest sensation, as it’s the highway I drive most often) and headed southbound to the waiting State Trooper for my “police-assisted crossing”. In reality, the assistance amounted to him saying “If you can cross before that car gets here, you can go now”. Thanks, officer. From there I jogged into the aid station, refilled my hydration pack, had a snack and was on my way. By this point it was close to 11 am, and I was now at least an hour behind their suggested cut-off times

Lake Welch Dr. to Camp Lanowa:

The total distance of this section is 5.2 miles. This leg includes several moderate to hard climbs as you ascend Pound Swamp Mountain, Irish Mountain, Jackie Jones Mountain, then up to Big Hill. This section is mostly single track running. Use caution on the final descent into the Camp Lanowa Aid Station as the trail is extremely steep. This is, also, the separation point for the 50 Mile and Accelerade 50K course.

It was during this leg of the race that I had my first bleak moments. Around mile 13 or so, I decided that I didn’t like running long distances, and perhaps I should return to my days of 3 miles on the treadmill in the gym. Screw that, maybe I just shouldn’t run at all. Period. I passed another runner who seemed to be even less enthused than I, who lamented that it just wasn’t fun anymore. He was the first person I had seen in hours. As I made my way to the next aid station, the time was coming up upon 1 pm. It had taken me 6 hours to go 15.7 miles. The idea that I was just now halfway through the course was daunting, and it was difficult to envision another 6 hours navigating the lonesome course. I found myself hoping that they’d pull me at the next aid station – that way I could go home, shower, have a bite to eat and head back into work. Anything would be better than this sorry excuse of a race performance.

Camp Lanowa to Tiorati Book Rd. Aid Station:

The total distance of this portion is 4.9 miles. This section is fairly easy with the first 3.0 miles running mostly downhill on single track. Runners will then face a 1.9 mile climb on old rocky roads before reaching Torati Brook. The 50 Mile course rejoins the Accelerade 50K during this leg.

OK, so they weren’t pulling us slugs off the course – I had no choice but to continue on.

Which is good, because if I dropped out I’d certainly have hell to pay for taking the day off from work 3 days before the end of tax season! I took it slowly coming out of the aid station – it was a paved road and somewhat uphill. I ate my sandwich, drank my water and merrily went on my way. Once I was back on the trails, I took off at an easy jog and found my trail legs once again! They hadn’t deserted me! The bleakness of the previous section left me, and my spirits were once gain buoyed by the sights surrounding me as I made my way through the mud and water to the next aid station. I arrived at approximately 2:30 pm, almost a full aid station behind the original cut-offs. As I was refilling my water and refueling my belly, who should drive up but Emmy! She had (quite smartly) opted against starting the 50k with me earlier that morning, and chose instead to run the half marathon option. I spent far too much time lollygagging at the aid station (Meri would have been so disappointed in me), but it was the first human contact I’d had in over two hours!

Tiorati Brook to Anthony Wayne Aid Station:

The total distance of this portion is 6.1 miles. This section is perhaps the nicest section of the race. This is a long stretch of trail that is wide, with several stream crossings and passing multiple waterfalls. There is a short climb up the 1779 Trail before descending to the Anthony Wayne Aid Station.

I made my way from the aid station with Emmy, chomping on an apple and feeling as though I were out for an afternoon stroll. Brennan, running the 50 milers, quickly zoomed past us, effortlessly bounding through the stream that Emmy and I had tentatively crossed. That’s why he’s a rock star and I’m just a groupie J About 10 minutes in, Emmy headed back to the aid station to wait for Anthony, and I moved onward in my quest. But what started out as a great leg quickly descended into my very first truly unpleasant race experience. The bloating that had started to plague me a few hours earlier had escalated to the point where my hands resembled those of a fat man (I kept thinking of Artie Lange, “hmm, this must be what Artie’s hands look like”) – my fingers were as thick as sausages, and flushed with pink. I could feel my flesh stretching as I continually flexed my fingers into a fist. Looking down, I could see that my stomach was distended – it looked like I had just gotten up from the Thanksgiving table (or that I had eaten a small child, along with one of those big bouncy balls they keep in a huge cage at Toys-R-Us).

It certainly didn’t help that this section, while touted as one of the nicest sections of the race, was boring. It was flat and I could see the trail stretching out in front of me. Add that to the beginnings of some low level nausea and I just didn’t want to run anymore. I had tried so hard to be responsible, drinking water and supplementing with S Caps. Either I didn’t do it well enough, or the unexpected heat had taken its toll. I managed to jog for a while, but when after I stopped to reapply some anti-chafing crème, I found that I just didn’t have it in me to bounce anymore. The sloshing noise of my hydration pack (I hadn’t done the cool anti-slosh thing that Meri taught me at the last aid station) was not helping the nausea. As a fresh looking 50 miler jetted past me and asked if I was ok, I realized that I must look as lousy as I felt. It was a tough mental blow – I usually manage to stay strong and positive, even in the most miserable of conditions. How could I be so weak? I continued to walk the remainder of this leg, mentally berating myself for giving in to physical weakness, lack of motivation and staying power. I was questioning my desire to run ultra distances, and decided that if this was how the 50 and 100 milers felt, then they could keep those races for themselves! I wanted no part of it.

The solitude that I had been so proud of myself for embracing soon become burdensome, I had been running/hiking/climbing for close to 4:30, and save for a few brief moments I had been completely on my own. I soldiered on - alternating brisk power-hiking with some admittedly relaxed strolling. I was feeling altogether “off” and having some trouble with my balance. I had some pretty impressive burps, too, but kept the nausea at bay. About a mile from the next aid station, two of the runners I had started the race with over took me. Once again, as we made our way to the final aid station before the finish, I was at the back of the pack.

Anthony Wayne to Finish:

The total distance of this portion is 3.9 miles. Following a short climb right out of the Aid Station, runners will clear the first ridge and begin the last stretch which is mostly downhill and double wide rocky trail the rest of the way home.

Breezing through the final aid station, I sipped a bit of flat soda, used the porta-john, and ducked back into the woods for my final 4 mile stretch.
The end was in sight. I had never had any doubts about my ability to complete the distance, just the style and manner in which I would. The short climbs were taking a disproportionate toll on me, but I was excited to be so close to the finish. About 2 miles to the finish, I heard a runner approaching. Thinking it was yet another fresh-looking 50 milers, I moved aside to let him pass. To my surprise it was another one of the runners I had started out with. He’d suffered a bad leg cramp at mile 7, rested a bit, and was now back on track to finish. When I offered to let him pass, he said he’d been planning on stopping behind me and walking – he had no motivation to run at the moment. He and I stayed together until the end, where he sprinted to the finish. Amazingly, he wasn’t a runner at all. Just a hiker. He said that every so often he did something to test his endurance. Prior to this, it was 175 mile bike ride. All in preparation to climb Mt. Everest in 4 years, his ultimate goal. His company pulled me through those last miles, and I began to think that maybe this wasn’t such an awful day after all.

By my watch, I completed the race in 10 hours and 50 minutes.

Total distance = 30.6 miles

Final thoughts:

  1. I like hiking and climbing, even though the steep ascents petrify me (the descents are even worse). This is something I’d like to become more proficient at.

  1. I don’t like cut-offs. Neither the daisy duke kind, nor the race kind. Feeling as though I were always behind, racing this imaginary time constraint was the number one mind fuck that I had to deal with throughout the race. Had the cut-off not been an issue, I would have been able to find more enjoyment in my surroundings – savor the vistas, take some pictures.

  1. My trail shoes suck.

  1. Don’t bother trying to go around the mud or over the streams. Dive right in and keep on going. It’s faster, easier, and infinitely more fun.

  1. I am perfectly capable of running for 11 hours with neither live company nor audio distractions.

  1. It is entirely too easy to give in to physical and mental pain when you’re alone – I understand now why pacers are such a boon to ultra runners.

  1. If you think you’ll need to catch yourself, wear gloves, even when it’s not cold out. More importantly, don’t leave said gloves at an aid station halfway through the race.

  1. Don’t bother looking for toilet paper in the porta-potty.

  1. Singing “The Hills Are Alive” has more impact on top of a mountain than in the midst of one.

Embrace the suck, but don’t lose sight of the joy. There is something about this sport, as masochistic as it can be at times, that calls to us. Explore that and revel in it. It makes us special.