2013: Lucky Number 13

Happy new year to you all. I hope this new year is filled with great moments that you will cherish for years to come. Be safe and warm this day. And remember this feeling of jubilation, reflection, and celebration. Remember this exact feeling because this is exactly how we are to live our lives not just on holidays, but each and every day.

I spent the evening sipping champagne at 6 pm with my friends Liz and Elizabeth, and then running the Emerald Nuts Midnight Runs in Central Park. There’s no greater feeling than starting 2013 with cocktails, fireworks, and a 4 mile PR. I have a feeling 2013 is going to be a good one. Lucky number 13.

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Book Review: My Life On The Run

I don’t usually read personal memoirs for two reasons:
1. No one’s life fascinates me THAT much.
2. One who has a fascinating life does not mean one possesses the skills to write a book.

My friend Brianne picked up a copy for me when she met the author and running maverick Bart Yasso at a Mizuno event in NYC. She proceeded to tell me how inspiring he was and how he encouraged her to run, even though her doctors advise against it. little did I know that my friend Had just met a road race celebrity. The book’s been sitting on my shelf for almost a year until this past week when Sandy kept me indoors. I figured it would also help me calm nerves for the marathon.

“My Life On The Run” chronicles the challenges and triumphs of Yasso, Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World magazine, and that’s and understatement. Yasso’s stories are sometimes unbelievable because one thing that is apparent is the man is crazy: 1000+ races (marathons, ultra marathons, relays…) including a cross country bike ride in three weeks on seven different continents. Imagine the amount of travel, the extreme weather conditions, the lack of hospitality, and the different kinds of food (he’s a vegetarian). Those don’t make for a comfortable or easy journey. On top of it all, he was diagnosed with Lyme disease early in his career.

I’m not touting Yasso to be a superman or someone to be adored. Instead, I thank him for reminding me of all the reasons I fell in love with running: the people, the sites, the travel, and most importantly the human spirit.

Yasso’s greatest accomplishment with his book is that he reminds people, runner or not, that we are capable of far more than we think. Most of the time, the thing that separates us from greatness is ourselves and our fear. Running redirects our energy and gives us an opportunity to clear fear out of our heads and replace it with dreams. Once those dreams are acknowledged they have a chance at becoming reality.

Thanks Bart Yasso, for your humor, insight, and honesty. This is the kind of book I hope to write one day, one that inspires those around me to live a life worth living.

I’m Not A Runner

We’re eight weeks away from the 2012 ING NYC Marathon and I’m experiencing achilles, feet and knee pain. Great. Eight weeks away and not this. I scheduled an appointment with a podiatrist my coworker highly recommended on the Upper West Side. Let’s call him Dr. G.

He’s lovely. He’s gentle and personal. He listened to me and my concerns, even massaged my feet a little. And then told me I’m not built to be a runner, I’m not the ideal athlete, I’m bow-legged, and need to be stronger. (Insert record player scratch).

I was offended for a milli-second. I get it, I’m not built to be a runner. I’ve spent more of my life being a couch potato than I have being active. Maybe I do have bow-legs. But I’m not going to let that stop me from running. And he knew that.

I start physical therapy next week and have to go every week for the next six weeks. Dr. G didn’t even try to convince me to quit, he’s just going to “help me be stronger.” (Let’s not ignore the fact that I’m the strongest I’ve ever been in my life.)

The point is I have to work harder than the average person to do something I love to do. But isn’t that the irony of life? What we love to do is not always what we’re most naturally inclined to do, it’s usually the opposite. Anything worth having doesn’t come easy. And that’s why it’s so rewarding and fun when you actually get to do it. That’s what makes one an athlete. Not a jersey, or a fancy contract, or actually being the best at a sport. It’s hard work, persistence, and continuously aiming to be better.

Eight weeks ’til the NYC Marathon.

I may not be the ideal runner, but I will show them what an athlete looks like.

I’m In! Lessons Learned from A Marathon Qualifying Race

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been silent. While I’m talkative and outgoing, I’m very silent when things get hectic in my life. It helps me process and handle the chaos. I’ve been on the road traveling for work this month and things have finally settled down after this week.

Saturday I qualified for my second NYC Marathon by completing the nine races required.  Woohoo! But it didn’t come easy. Not just because it was a 15k. Let me back up a bit.

After spending  two weeks following an artist around the country promoting an album, I flew to LA for a few important meetings. I flew in Thursday morning from NYC and flew out Friday night, landing in NYC at 6 am on Saturday morning. That’s right. Yours truly took a red-eye and then headed straight to the Ted Corbitt 15k (about 9+ miles) race to qualify for the 2012 NYC Marathon.

Everyone and their mother told me I was crazy.  While I automatically responded that I’d be fine, I was wrong. I WAS crazy. I lacked sleep, had no fuel, and my legs were killing me from being on a plane for six hours. I went to Central Park lacking the confidence to run the 9+ miles and almost gave up on my marathon dream. But instead, I sucked it up convinced myself that I’d at least try. If I ran three miles and really felt like I couldn’t finish, then I would allow myself to go home. But I finished. The race absolutely sucked and my time reflects it, but I finished. But having been so painful, I will carry these lessons learned with me for the rest of my life:

1. Don’t wait ’til the last minute. I had to do this race because there were very few qualifiers left in 2011. Sure, I could have run another race, but the last qualifier is NYE night at midnight in Central Park. :/ I have a tendency to procrastinate in all that do. It’s probably because I’ve always made it work somehow. But as I get older, I’m learning that procrastinating has its own unique consequences. Whether in life or wellness, never prolong what can be done now. It may be too late!

 

2. Fuel properly. I had oatmeal for breakfast. That’s what I always eat. But eating the same oatmeal before a 15k was probably not smart. Why would I think that eating the same amount of food would carry me through an almost-half-marathon?

 

3. Lower the bar…a bit. The idea of running 15k Saturday morning was daunting. But telling myself to run three miles and having an exit strategy ready, put my mind at ease. So the next time you don’t feel like working out, tell yourself to go to the gym for 20 minutes. Chances are once you’re there, you’ll want to do more. If you don’t, then it’s probably your body telling you that it needs rest.

 

4. Love what you do. My boyfriend asked me if I enjoy getting up early to run races? The answer is hell no. I am a sleeper. I fear becoming a parent not because of the huge responsibilities, but rather the lack of sleep that follows. I may not love waking up before the sun rises, but I love WHY I do. Waking up early is a circumstance  of wanting to qualify for a marathon. Racing makes me feel good. It empowers me. I love the strangers who surround me. We all have to do crappy things in life, but make sure there’s a “love” reason for enduring them. Otherwise, it’s not worth it.

 

5. Believe in yourself, always. Plain and simple. Everyone else thought I was crazy. Sure, I was but I didn’t let others get to me. I knew I could do it. Had I doubted myself from the beginning, I probably would’ve gone home that morning.

Tips for Staying Safe When Exercising Outdoors

We all know the biggest downside to working out in the winter is the lack of sunlight. It’s a struggle to wake up in the morning and work out when it’s still dark outside. It’s a struggle to have the motivation to go to the gym after work when it’s dark outside.

Saturday I was feeling inspired and went for a six mile run outside. It was 50+ degrees so I thought I’d take advantage of the remaining warm days in 2011. The sun set halfway through my run so on the way back, I made sure to run in well lit areas.

Long story short, a man followed me for a few blocks. He was walking and I passed him. As I passed him he said hello, which I ignored as most women do in NYC, and then shortly began to run. Not just run, but run right behind me. Step by step with me. I could his his step in sync with mine. His shadow was right next to mine.

I didn’t confront him. What did I do instead? I ran into traffic and stood in front of a car and waited for him to pass. If this guy was going to do something, I was going to make him do it in front of countless others. He ended up cutting through a few other cars and ran into obscurity.

Whether this guy really was following me or intending to scare me, it got my thinking about safety precautions when one is exercising outdoors. NYC is not a dangerous place. Any New Yorker will tell you they feel safer on the streets of NY than when walking a dog in the suburbs. Wherever you live, here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years.

  • No Headphones – I realize that it’s painful running in silence for many of you, but it’s also quite peaceful not having noise constantly in my ears. You can hear yourself breathe, the pounding of your feet, the wind blowing, etc. There’s a rhythm to running. Discover yours! Actually, I would strongly encourage you to stay from anything that obstructs your hearing.
  • Cell phone – pretty self explanatory but learn to not be dependent on the cell phone. In a really emergency, you may or may not have a chance to call anyone.
  • Have a game plan – tell someone beforehand where you’ll be going, how far you’ll be running, and how long you expect it will take. If you’re out longer, have him or her check in on you. If you run the same route each time, mark “Safe Zones” where you know you can turn to for help. Perhaps it’s a cafe or deli, or a friend’s apartment you run by each time.
  • No shortcuts – Stay on the path, always.
  • Identification – I  wouldn’t suggest carrying your license or passport with you, but carry something that identifies you. I’m a big fan of the company Road Id. They offer plenty of products that’ll give you some peace of mind when hitting the pavement alone.
  • Buddy Up – it’s hard finding a work out buddy who is at the exact same fitness level. But it’s better to be with someone you know, rather than finding yourself with someone you don’t know.
  • Wear Proper Gear – When working out in the dark, don reflective gear. Really loving this Nike Vapor Flash Jacket but wish it wasn’t so expensive!
  • Response Required Words – In a self defense class, I learned that screaming “HELP” or just plain screaming is not always effective. Opt to yell “Fire!” or “Call 911, I’m being attacked.” Don’t hesitate to be descriptive: “I’m being attacked by a tall man with brown hair, wearing a blue t-shirt.”  It will help whoever is making the call to 911.
  • Safety Device – I prefer a noise maker over  mace. Why? I’m a person that believes that any weapon you carry can be used against you. But I won’t lie, I do own mace…just never have carried it.

 

How do you stay safe when working out? Leave a comment and share your tips!

 

 

Inspiration Starts with Me

I’ve been leading a running group with my church. And by leading, I don’t mean teaching running. I’m talking about organizing our meeting location, leading discussions, encouraging people to talk and be engaged…that kind of leading. I’m definitely not the fastest but it’s nice been nice knowing that I can run with runners of all levels now.

When I find myself with the advanced, athletic crowd, I often whine and get down in the dumps about where I am NOT. “I can’t do push ups.” “I’m not as skinny as that girl.” “I hate to exercise.” And the list of negative declarations goes on. If this is you, raise your hand (hand raised). The reality is that is not the point of running with the faster kids. You should always run and/or hang out with people who push you to be better. You never want to be the one in the front because it means you have nothing to strive towards.

Last night I ran with the beginner group. I may not have burned as many calories as I would’ve liked or logged my high intensity cardio for the week but I learned a valuable lesson.

My words are much more positive and encouraging with other people than for myself.

“You can do it.”

“One foot in front of the other.”

“It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you’re going, you’re doing it!”

“You’re doing great.”

I truly did believe that he could run 4.5 miles. I knew it was hard for him, but he had determination all over his face. He was going to finish, no matter what. So why did I believe that he could do something that was obviously a challenge for him, but when it comes to myself and my challenges, I have no faith in myself? Why can’t I be encouraging with myself? Why no faith in myself?

Sometimes when we look for encouragement we look in the wrong places. We expect people to give us a hand, to tell us we’re doing great, and to push us. Me. Me. Me. It’s nice when they do it, but it’s not their job.

When you take on the responsibility of motivating others, you’re challenged to lead by example. It makes you want to be better. It doesn’t cripple you and make you feel unworthy, but rather empowers you. When you are looking for inspiration and encouragement for yourself, be that for someone else! When you are looking for generosity from others, be generous first. When you are looking for kindness, be kind first. Whatever you seek in life, be that for someone else.

It’ll come back to you.

Running with UGS and Athleta – Part 1

New York City has seen so much rain this past week that I thought I would need to start building an ark. (Bada-ching!) It rained so much that my first run with Urban Girl Squad and Athleta was postponed to … Continue reading

I’m A Guest Writer @ Early Morning Run

Hey Lean Girls- I’m a guest writer at Early Morning Run today. Head over there and find out what started my weight loss journey and why I love running.

Lisa at Early Morning Run has been one of my best friends in NYC and we’ve helped each other through: tough runs, injuries, abstaining from sweets, and even the NYC Marathon. She’s a fighter and inspiring. Head over there now!