Hair of the Dog

As I dragged myself from bed this morning after last night’s housewarming to purchase the largest iced coffee of my adult life and curse Dionysus himself, it occurred to me that all these “Life in Your Late 20s” buzzfeed listicles* have it right: bouncing back takes significantly longer as you approach the rightful age of 30.

(*Even though Oxford University Press now recognizes listicle as a word, my iPhone still underlines it with a red squiggly line and for that I am eternally grateful.)

In college, we could pregame with a bottle of “champagne,” drink some jug wine and host a social house party, and we’d be in perfect shape by the time we exited the next day’s brunch. No hangover was so severe it couldn’t be cured with a plate full of eggs and a fresh Maine lobster.

IMG_5699.JPG

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Knowing I had an early train this morning, I wasn’t even excessive last night — a few glasses of rosé, a sampling of whites, enough stromboli to fuel the Ravens — yet when my alarm went off in perfect synchronization with my nascent headache this morning, I heard that all-too-familiar refrain regardless: you just can’t drink like a 21-year-old anymore.

IMG_5698.JPG

You also can’t wear corduroy hats anymore. Oh, 21-year-old past me studying in Spain on your birthday, what were you thinking?

But alcohol isn’t the only thing my body doesn’t bounce back from as quickly now that I’m approaching the end of my third decade. It has also become painstakingly clear this summer that bouncing back from workouts is taking much longer than ever before.

Take, for example, my 10K race in Delaware earlier this month. I told you all last post that I happened to place first in my age group at that road racing event. What I didn’t tell you is I had to take off the next two days entirely as I iced my shin splits.

The following Saturday, I ran 12 miles along the Delaware coastline for my scheduled long run; the following two days, my right calf was so tight, I went down my apartment stairs on my butt.

Last Sunday, I raced a 10-miler in Prospect Park. The second half, I felt so sore and miserable that I nearly skipped the free ShakeShack at the end to wallow instead.

Key word: nearly.

IMG_5637.JPG

This newfangled notion that it takes several days instead of just an afternoon nap to recover from a hard running event is uncharted territory for me, and I’m still figuring out how best to manage it. The first few times this marathon training cycle I felt uncharacteristically sore, I followed the traditional RICE method of recovery: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. But mostly just rest.

IMG_5536.JPG

A few days off seemed to work for the shin splints, but when the injuries kept a’comin, I started to wonder if taking too many recovery days would do more harm than good and ultimately derail my marathon training plan.

So I tried something a bit unorthodox last week: when my legs were feeling excruciatingly tight, instead of staying in to rest them as I’d been doing all summer long, I laced up anyways and logged a few slow miles on a soft surface. The first lap of the bridle path was brutal, but with each quarter mile, my legs loosened up a little more, and by the time I’d covered a three-mile stretch, I felt like a new woman. So good, in fact, that I finished this weekend’s hilly Harlem 5K at a sub-8:00 clip. Not as speedy as I used to be, but moving once again in the right direction.

A little hair of the dog can work wonders sometimes. At least when it comes to fitness. Although if someone on this Amtrak wanted to buy me a Bloody Mary right now, I probably wouldn’t turn it down.

Do you believe in the hair of the dog fitness (or boozing) hangover cure?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Choice Words

Anything can sound impressive if you add enough adjectives.

Take my student newspaper, for example. We weren’t the oldest newspaper in the country. We weren’t the oldest college newspaper in the country. Heck, we weren’t even the oldest college newspaper published on a weekly basis in the country. But we were the oldest continuously-published college weekly in the country, not having missed an issue during wartime, and that long string of modifiers somehow made us sound impressive indeed.

Adjectives have a way of dressing up other things as well. “They make the city’s best pizza (north of 14th St.)” “He’s the best looking ninja turtle (if you don’t count Raf.)” “This is the only photo of Keira I’ve taken this weekend (that I’m including on today’s blog post.)”

20140803-212903.jpg

It’s with this caveat — that superfluous descriptions can make some things appear far more momentous than they actually are — that I share this next tidbit of information: this morning, I won first place in a road race.

20140803-213751.jpg

Of course, that statement needs a few key modifiers to put it in context. This morning, I won first place — in the 10K distance. Or more specifically, this morning, I won first place in the 10K distance — for my age group. Or most accurately, this morning, I won first place in the 10K distance for my age group — in which there were only seven 24-29 year-old women competing.

But if middle school grammar taught me anything, it’s that adjectives, while descriptive, don’t necessarily add to the basic understanding of the text. In other words, even if he is neither quick nor brown, it doesn’t change the fact that the fox has jumped over the (laziness-status-unclear) dog.

And that means that even though I was really only the fastest woman out of a small pool running a local 6.2-mile race while vacationing in Delaware, I’m still allowed to shout it from the rooftops: I placed first in this morning’s road race, adjectives be damned.

20140803-215324.jpg

What are you proud of this weekend?

Posted in Races | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

And on the Seventh Day

Organized religion has had a lot of great ideas – loving thy neighbor, turning the other cheek, serving wine before noon on Sundays – but there’s one tenet in particular that appeals to believers and infidels alike: a weekly day of rest.

Whether you call it the Lord’s Day or the Sabbath or, heck, even a Sunday morning hangover, taking a day off once a week is not only a mandate from above; it’s also good for the mind, body and soul.

20140724-094415.jpg

Weekly rest is also a core tenet of marathon training. For all the tempo runs and long runs and intervals we complete in the 20 weeks leading up to the big event, many would argue the most important day of any training plan is the time each week we kick off our shoes, put up our feet and accidentally watch the entire third season of How I Met Your Mother in one sitting without pants on. Hello, my life. Goodbye, Stella.

In fact, my pseudo coach and probably best friend if we ever met in real life, 83-year-old online running expert Hal Higdon, writes on all his marathon training plans that rest is the most important component of his training programs, hands down.

“Scientists will tell you that it is during the rest period (the 24 to 72 hours between hard bouts of exercise) that the muscles actually regenerate and get stronger. Coaches also will tell you that you can’t run hard unless you are well rested. And it is hard running (such as the long runs) that allows you to improve. If you’re constantly fatigued, you will fail to reach your potential,” he writes. He can run. He can write. He can remember FDR’s first term in office. What can’t this man do?

I usually listen to Mr. Higdon as if his last name were Miyagi, but this marathon cycle, I’ve started to stray. Several weeks ago, I missed one of my scheduled 4-milers, and instead of just letting it go as he’d recommend, I vowed to make it up during my so-called rest day instead.

In the infamous words of Gob Bluth, I’ve made a huge mistake.

20140724-094524.jpg

For ten straight days, I’ve been lacing up and running the reservoir (and the East River, and Prospect Park, and to H&H Bagels, let’s be honest), and while I had thought that making up that skipped workout would make me a better marathoner, it’s done just the opposite: it’s left me sore and tired and mentally unwilling to log another mile. Turns out rest days aren’t just for your knees — they’re also a necessary respite for your sanity. All runs and no rest makes Anne a dull Shining reference, or something.

Fortunately, all that’s about to change. As I write this, I’m Amtraking my way up the Connecticut coast for a long weekend away in Rhode Island. I’ll be laying on the beach, eating clam cakes, and not so much as touching my Aisics today in an effort to log some much needed rest. Of course, I may have signed up for a 10-mile road race in Narragansett tomorrow night, but for 36 glorious hours between now and then, I’ll be off my feet and on the mend.

And then back to the races again!

How are you resting this weekend?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Land of the Free

This Fourth of July, Americans gathered around the world to celebrate a holiday that has come to mean different things at different points in our shared history.

20140706-192141.jpg

To our forefathers in 1776, Independence Day meant fighting for freedom from tyranny, oppression and persecution.

To Bill Pullman circa 1996, Independence Day meant fighting for freedom not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution — but from annihilation. Fighting for our right to live. To exist.

To my brother and me this past weekend, Independence Day meant fighting for our right to have beer delivered via crab net straight to our inflatable raft. Thomas Jefferson and/or Will Smith would have been proud.

20140706-184628.jpg

Beer delivery aside, the Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a kid, it was a chance to ride in the local parade, then catch chlorine-doomed goldfish from the neighborhood swimming pool. As a teenager, it was a chance to light sparklers and watch fireworks from my best friend’s front yard. (You know, ’cause we’ve totally outgrown that.) As an adult, it’s a chance to reflect on all the things that make this nation great, from freedom of the press and universal health care to country music and women’s rights, Hobby Lobby be damned. And with my marine cousin returning from Afghanistan this summer, it’s also an important chance to reflect on all those who serve our country to protect those freedoms we so enjoy.

But while millions of Americans around the world were celebrating July 4 for all the traditional reasons, several thousand people — U.S. citizens and foreigners alike — were acknowledging this past weekend for a different reason altogether. If you’re running the Philadelphia Marathon and following a 20-week training schedule like me, this weekend was our last weekend of flexibility, spontaneity and, you guessed it: independence. Fitting, huh?

I had originally planned to follow Hal Higdon’s 18-week Intermediate 1 marathon training plan, since his Novice 2 plan had successfully carried me through two 26.2 mile feats and I was looking for a new challenge. But when I opened my Runner’s World magazine this month to find a 20-week schedule laid out for me explaining this was a good plan for runners who had plateaued, I knew instantly it was the routine for me. Didn’t hurt that the layout included an infographic telling you what day to start the plan if you were running any of the big fall races, from Chicago to NYC to, you guessed it, Philly. July 7, and I didn’t even have to do the math myself. Thank you, Runner’s World.

20140706-191653.jpg

So with Monday officially marking the beginning of marathon training, I did what any good runner would do on her last weekend of freedom: I laid in the hammock. To be fair, I did a 7-miler on the 4th itself to make sure I was ready to tackle 8 miles during my first long run next Saturday and an easy 3-miler yesterday to take advantage of the glorious Baltimore weather, but when it came time today to lace up my running shoes, I opted to curl up with my trashy summer read instead. Between now and November 23, my opportunities to take a surprise day off are going to be far and few between, and on this glorious Independence Day weekend, I wasn’t going to miss a chance to be free.

How did you celebrate the holiday? This year, Fourth of July was also a chance to restock my Keira photo coffers. You’re welcome in advance.

20140706-184809.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Watch What Happens

If the new Transformers movie has taught us anything, it’s that technology is a terribly dangerous thing — primarily because it allows us to create more and more Transformers movies.*

*Full disclosure: I have not actually seen Transformers: Age of Extinction, but due to my firmly held conviction Mark Wahlberg may only play blue-color men with Boston accents and/or ape slaves with Boston accents, this Texas casting call is not at the top of my list.

Sure, penicillin and hot water heaters and World Cup streaming are wonderful things, but ever-expanding technology also has its dangerous side: it ruins our employability if we’ve ever posted questionable content, it keeps us working well after we’ve left the office and it cuts into our sleeping hours when we’ve accidentally stumbled on an obscure acquaintance’s 32 albums of must-see wedding photos.

Technology also encourages once-athletic canines to forgo the great outdoors in favor of a lazy morning spooning with the electric fan.

What? I'm helping dad study for the bar!

What? I’m helping dad study for the bar!

But while technology brings its fair share of challenges, there’s at least one place it’s been instrumental in my adult life: making me a runner.

At risk of sounding a bit like Holden Caulfield, I can pinpoint the exact moment I started feeling like an authentic runner instead of a phony. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t when I crossed my first finish line. It wasn’t when I placed in my first (fine, only) local race. It wasn’t when I learned the hard way that pre-race portapots are more often than not BYOTP.

The first time I felt like a bonafide runner was in summer 2012 when, after months of tech-free training, I went out and bought myself a running watch. A Garmin Forerunner 210, to be exact. It was big and clunky and took 10 solid minutes to locate satellites. I was in love. And out $250.

Now, I know one doesn’t NEED a fancy running watch to be deemed a real runner. Heck, some of the world’s greatest train without watches — or even shoes — in the hills of Kenya and the canyons of Mexico and the loops of Central Park (seriously though, barefoot dude, what’s up with that?)

But if you’re like me — results-driven and number-oriented and uninterested in running unless you can log exactly how far you’ve gone — a watch is a crucial accessory when it comes to setting your fitness goals and meeting them.

That’s why when my watch stopped charging over Easter, I found myself at a bit of a loss.

OH CRUEL WORLD.

OH CRUEL WORLD.

Also tough that week? Learning Keira had eaten the Easter bunny.

IMG_0441

I’m not averting your gaze because I’m guilty, I swear.

Without my Garmin, I no longer knew how far I was running if I went off the beaten track, so I started to stick exclusively to familiar routes with known mileages — a good trick for getting out the door without thinking but an easy to way to fall into a quick rut. I also gave up all speed work and interval training once my Garmin went the way of the Treasure Troll because 1. It seemed pointless to run fast without knowing just how fast that was and 2. I’ve been looking for an excuse to give up speed work for years. Let’s be honest here.

Needless to say, my training during Pentecost has been lazy indeed.

Lazy is not always a bad thing. My Garmin-free second quarter meant weeks of low-impact easy runs and carefree miles, but with marathon training just around the corner (well, weekend), I knew it was time to finally rectify the situation and get a new watch.

I’ve heard for years that Garmin customer support is superb, and unlike Ken Follett novels or New Years Eve plans, this one actually lived up to the hype. After the technician walked me through all sorts of failed restarts on my dead watch, she determined there was no saving it and offered to send me a new one for $89 — or a fraction of what a new Garmin would cost me at the store. It was going to take 6-8 weeks to arrive, which I said was just too long (you know, after I waited three whole months to call and complain…), so she offered to charge me double, expedite the order and reimburse the remaining $89 when my old watch arrived at their warehouse for processing.

Not only that, but when it arrived a few days later, it had a sweet green border on it. Lucky!

photo

Unfortunately, I tested it Sunday and learned that the 3-mile route I’d plotted from my new apartment was really only 2.5 miles, so Mr. Watch and I are already in a fight. But I’m expecting we’ll make up after spending the next four months together for upwards of 40 miles a week. Stockholm syndrome does great things for friendships.

How do you incorporate a running watch into your workout? Counting down minutes until you’re done totally counts.

 

 

 

Posted in Running | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four More Years

As buzz surrounding a certain international men’s football tournament crescendos to a frenzy, I’m finding myself thinking back on my last several World Cup cycles, during which my watching locale has been varied indeed.

  • In 2010, I watched matches alongside my former co-ed soccer team with a plate of sliders on my lap and a beer in each hand.
  • In 2006, I watched matches in rural China with multiple children on my lap and a dumpling in each hand.
  • In 2002, I watched matches from an air-conditioned camp staff lounge with my summer crush on my lap and a gimp bracelet on each hand.

Of course, World Cup tournaments aren’t the only thing that happens every four years. From Feb. 29 and presidential elections to the Olympics and Kim Kardashian weddings, plenty of the world’s biggest events ebb into the forefront in four-year rotations.

But in my case, the biggest thing that happened four years ago wasn’t watching Spain win the World Cup – it was packing up my first New York City apartment and making the big move across the park. In summer 2010, with the vuvuzelas still ringing in our ears, I officially became an East Side resident.

At the time, the new apartment was kind of a tough sell. It was more expensive than I was targeting. It was on a fifth-floor walk-up. I was moving in with a friend of my then boyfriend who I liked, but, when it came down to it, hardly knew at all. This whole Upper East Side thing could have gone either way.

Luckily, it went the way of legends. I got named editor and the rent no longer felt prohibitive. I became a runner and the walk-up doubled as hill repeats. I spent more one-on-one time with my new roommate, and I learned we were more compatible than I ever knew flatmates could be.

liz2

Also, shinier.

We threw Halloween parties and drank wine and lived the life of Riley in that apartment all mid-20s long, but we were also there for the tough stuff, from LSAT review courses and stomach bugs to more broken hearts than four walls should see. And let’s not forget the time we both forgot to wax.

I mustache you a question.

I mustache you a question.

With so many fond memories, it was bittersweet packing up my room in late May as a prepared to move into what is now my third NYC home. As I filled box after box, I was reminded of all the wonderful times I had in that apartment and also of how much I changed in those four years. I went from a husky, awkward 24-year-old to the confident, fit, independent woman I am today – a transformation in which those five flights of stairs undoubtedly played a role.

These medals I acquired during my four-year stint didn't hurt, either.

These medals I acquired during my four-year stint didn’t hurt, either.

But while there’s always something sad about closing a chapter in one’s life, I’m fortunately beside myself with excitement about my new place. It’s still on the Upper East Side. It’s a duplex. It has outdoor space. And I’m positively in love with my new roommate.

ben2

Just like my old apartment, I hope I leave this one in several years’ time stronger and happier and healthier (and on speaking terms with my co-tenant.)

Luckily, even after four years of self improvement, I still have plenty of room to grow, and this apartment – like my fifth-floor walk-up before it – is going to help me do that. You know why?

‘Cause it’s a sixth-floor walk-up.

So what’s new with you this summer?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Faking It

I self-identify as a lot of things, but my level of actual participation in some categories would suggest my membership is tenuous as best. Case in point:

  • I call myself an “avid reader,” but the last book I read before this past weekend was teen filth Divergent.
  • I call myself an “active blogger,” but you know as well as I do that these pages have been quiet for weeks.
  • I call myself a “healthy eater,” but I’ve spent three of the last four weekends dining below the Mason Dixon line. On a completely unrelated note, I also call myself in need of more work clothes with an elastic waistband.
This are the kinds of classy establishments I ate at in the former Confederate states.

This are the kinds of classy establishments I ate at in the former Confederate states.

But one self-classification in particular has grown increasingly shaky: my claim that I’m a runner.

Now don’t get me wrong: I in no way believe distance or speed or competition are mandatory for calling oneself a runner. From Olympic elites to Central Park joggers to everything in between, all you need to call yourself a runner is a pro-running attitude.

Unfortunately, it’s that runner’s mentality specifically that I’m severely lacking. Don’t believe me? My running log since the marathon has fallen faster than Chris Christie’s approval rating.

running graph

There are plenty of reasons my running may have lost momentum these last few months. My spring half marathon was canceled. I’ve been working my way up the East Coast wedding circuit. I’m in the process of moving from one fifth floor walk-up to another. It’s getting hot.

But I know deep down inside the real reason I’ve been pushing workouts to the backburner is that July means for me the onset of fall marathon training, and I’m just not mentally there yet. The prospect of running up to 40 miles a week — when I’m currently lucky to squeeze in 6 — is more than a little daunting for this out-of-shape athlete. Sure, logically it makes sense to build a base now so the first few weeks of training don’t hit me like a brick, but I’m not always a logical being, and ignoring the looming deadline seems like a much safer prospect indeed. I’m nothing if not an ostrich playing in the sand.

Of course, that was also my mindset last summer, and I paid brutally come marathon morning.

When it comes down to it, I guess it’s time I stop lollygagging and get out there. In truth, life is full of things we don’t want to do but do anyways, from small talking at cocktail parties to putting on pants, and maybe running is just going to have to be one of those things for a while. I assume once I get stronger and faster again, I’ll get out of my rut and pride myself in my runner classification once more, but until then, perhaps I just have to fake it.

Much like Keira’s weak attempt at a fake smile when I told her we’d be having company on board the boat this weekend in Baltimore.

You must be joking.

“You must be joking.”

At least our guest did not notice the death stares.

"Can bull terriers swim?"

“Can bull terriers swim? I’m just asking. No particular reason.”

How do you motivate yourself to run when you simply, stubbornly, childishly just don’t wanna?

Posted in Running | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments