Mama Mia

What did you inherit from your mother?

  • Your affinity for peanut butter?
  • Your sun-kissed complexion?
  • Your entrepreneurial spirit?
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Anne & Claire say DRINK THE KOOL-AID.

In my case, all of the above, plus something practically guaranteed to extend the length and quality of my adult life: my dedication to health.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t think I’d have been able to maintain the new healthy lifestyle I adopted in 2011 all these years if not for my mother’s influence. A woman who hits the gym several days a week, gets enough sleep, eats well and still understands the importance of a glass of wine, my mama is just the kind of balanced and sustainable fitness role model a young woman needs.

Of course, it took 25 years of me being out of shape to realize that, but better late than never, right?

At 60 years old, my mom is in the best shape of her life (and she was a leggy 16 year old), and I attribute her success to something most of us forget to prioritize in fitness: variation. That is, she doesn’t always go to the gym and always get on the same machine and always log the same 30 minute cardio routine. She shakes it up, from the elliptical to BodyPump, and her most recent routine shake-up was one particularly near and dear to my heart: she trained for and raced a half marathon.

Game time.

Game time.

The race, the More/Fitness/Shape Women’s Half Marathon, took place last Sunday in Central Park, and it was a mother-daughter success. I logged a 1:52:54 time, or exactly where I wanted to be given a winter off the race course, and my mom finished in 2:21:22, or ahead of more than 3,000 other runners who were surprised to see a speedy 60 year old runner picking them off one by one.

Bragging rights: My mom’s faster than your mom, unless you’re a Benoit Samuelson. Or one of my siblings.

As mother’s day fast approaches, how are you celebrating your mom this year?

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Leaving Your Mark

Hey there, injury prone comrades! Shout if you’ve ever had any of the following sidelining ailments:

  • The one where pain on the underside of the kneecap flares when sitting still or walking down stairs (i.e. runner’s knee)
  • The one where the ligaments along the arch of the foot feel tight and achy (i.e. plantar fasciitis)
  • The one where you appear to have a giant hickey for several weeks straight because your new long-sleeved running shirt rubs your collarbone in exactly the wrong spot?

Oh, that’s just me? Awesome.

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The culprit was a long-sleeved white running top that I treated myself to at Christmastime as part of my traditional “one gift for you, one gift for me…” purchasing pattern. The brand? None other than my pals over at Asics whose praises I just sang. I guess we all have bad days.

I’d worn the shirt once right after buying it for an easy 2-miler and thought the skin near the neckline felt kind of raw afterwards, but I shrugged it off as a one-time inconvenience that would disappear after I’d put it through the wash. I didn’t pull it out again until late March, when I needed something lightweight for an early morning 10K. I threw it on, pinned on my bib and shot out of the starting gate. It’s sunny, it’s crisp, it’s not that crowded, I thought to myself as I rounded mile 2. Nothing can stop me now.

And then the pain began. It’s amazing that something so minor — the slight, rubbing pull of a synthetic fiber against the collarbone for 51 minutes — could cause so much pain, but, my God, I would have sold out my own sister by the time I crossed that finish line to make it stop. I don’t think I’d hold up well in a hostage situation.

Sorry, Claire. I'm weak.

Sorry, Claire. I’m weak.

As anyone who has ever had a clothing-induced running injury knows, you only really know how bad it is once you get in the shower. The neighbors who heard me yelp can attest to the fact that it was bad. Over the next several days, the red chafing turned into a bloody scab, then a dark red splotch, and then a light red splotch, where it’s sat unchanged now for several days.

And all this time, it’s just looked like I’ve had a giant love bite on the side of my neck. I’m so glad I had meetings with the new editor in chief several times these last few weeks. First impression? I’m a lothario.

I was understandably ready to toss the offending shirt to the curb, but then some book club friends gave me the idea: why not torture it right back cut out the neckline using a pair of fabric scissors?

DIE, SHIRT!

DIE, SHIRT!

So I watched a video online about how to cut a neckline off a shirt (spoiler alert: If you know how to use scissors, you don’t need to watch this rather obvious video) and then went about hacking.

In the battle of Anne Vs. Shirt, Anne was won!

But I still have the hickey.

But I still have the hickey.

Have any of your running clothes ever left their mark on you?

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Gear Up

I’ve been off the grid blogwise for three weeks and counting, and I know I’ve left you with all sorts of unanswered questions. I’ll plow through them quickly, as I have something much more important to address.

  • Did we choose to renew our apartment lease? Yes.
  • Did we book our summer trip to Greece? Yes.
  • Did Ben find me weeping upstairs last night after I read the final pages of ‘Of Mice and Men’ because I so badly wanted Lennie to get to raise the rabbits? I’ll never tell.

And now onto the real purpose of today’s post, a subject near and dear to my heart: shoes.

No, I’m not talking about the shoe rack I so painstakingly organized last weekend in an exuberant bout of spring cleaning that I already instagrammed the hell out of and am clearly going to make you admire as well:

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All together now: “Ooh ahh.”

 

I’m talking about a shoe matter even more significant: the Asics Warehouse Sample Sale. You’re welcome, New York.

I learned about this sale — which goes through Sunday — when a running friend sent me a link suggesting it sounded right up my alley. And boy, was it. Asics trainers? Neon colors? Discount prices? Weird abandoned warehouses? What’s not to love?

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I stopped by the pop-up shop today in hopes I’d be able to find a new pair of Gel Cumulus 15s, my favorite shoe since the original Gel Neo 33s were retired. Unfortunately, no dice. Still, I wasn’t prepared to leave empty handed. Enticed by the $59 price tag and — let’s be honest, the vibrant colors — I decided to choose another unknown pair instead, the Gel Evate 2s.

I know, I know, that’s exactly how you’re not supposed to pick new running shoes. But I could tell they were multi-functional, neutral shoes with a similar weight to my existing line-up and by a brand I trust, so I figured I’d take the plunge. I googled the fit as soon as I got home to find out how the reviews hold up. The only con listed on RunRepeat? “The vibrant hues of the shoes may be too much for some runners who only want a simple style for running.”

I think I have chosen… wisely.

Of course, shoes weren’t the only items in stock. The sale was also full of leftover New York City marathon gear, from $30 zip-up jackets to $14 racer-back tees. I grabbed several, plus some socks for good form, and left with just $140 in damage. Not bad, considering the shoes alone cost $145 new.

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Behold: My haul.

I try not to overly covet earthly possessions, but these new pieces are going to be crucial as I race my two spring half marathons and gear up for November’s 26.2. Besides, I’m pretty sure the big guy’s a fan of neon running gear, too.

What’s on your gear wish list this spring? 

 

 

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Get a Move On

The Sharks and the Jets may no longer pachanga down the West Side, but don’t let that fool you: New York City is still a cutthroat place.

We push on the subway, we death stare at tourists, and according to reports from the trenches, we are the meanest online daters in the history of the world. Right, and we committed 8 murders in the last week alone.

None of that (well, except the death toll) compares to the city’s most brutal experience of all: apartment hunting.

Welcome to my nightmare. Also, welcome to my spring.

Our lease is coming due June 1, and with the management company hiking our rent 12 percent next year without having ever fixed a single problem, my boyfriend and I are weighing our options.

Do we stay put and grow increasingly resentful that our dining room dimmer light is nothing more than a frayed wire sticking precariously out of a broken electrical socket, even though we first reported it last May? Or do we barrel head first into the ruthless world of NYC real estate brokers, fees, debt and tears?

Option C: We skip town and live off the grid in Maine.

Gridless.

Gridless.

The downside of moving is literally thousands of dollars down, a lot of weekends searching, and no guarantee we’ll find something better, within our budget, that’s still close to work and running paths and Ben’s favorite basset hound neighbor.

The plus side is the possibility we find a real runner’s dream of an apartment with a washing machine to clean all my sweaty spandex and a giant tub for taking icebaths and an elevator for post-long runs and a dishwasher to collect the cups I leave around like I’m in the penultimate scene of M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs.

What would you do? More specifically, do you have a NYC apartment you’d like to give us on June 1?

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Like Night and Day

There are several core truths about myself I hold to be true. I’m right handed. I’m a dog person. I’m afraid of ET. I’m team Peeta, team Jacob and team embarrassed to have read so many novels originally written for 12-year-old girls.

One more core truth: I am a morning runner.

For as long as I can remember, fitness has been a morning activity for me. I mostly chalk it up to my disciplined mother’s standing 5:30 a.m. date with the YMCA, but even without her good influence, I understand the appeal of daybreak workouts: I’m well rested, I don’t have a full stomach, I’m not exhausted from a day at the office, and the roads before sun-up are mine alone.

Setting a pre-dawn alarm clock isn’t always fun, but it’s rewarding to finish a workout before your first cup of coffee.

That’s why this week has been so darn challenging: because of a shift in my work schedule, I haven’t been able to work out at my usual hour. For the first time in Lord knows how many years, I’ve discarded the core tenet of my fitness routine and logged my miles at night.

And you know what? It wasn’t that bad.

I had been bracing for the worst situation imaginable, from being so full from a day’s worth of eating that I’d cramp up at mile 3 to being so hungry before dinner that I’d pass out mid-loop. (Yes, most of the scenarios I pictured involved me being carted out of the park on a stretcher. Another core truth: I have an overactive imagination.)

Now I’m not going to lie: it wasn’t easy coming home from an 11-hour workday and changing into Spandex instead of sweatpants. Every single day this week, I tried to come up with excuses to take a last-minute rest day, from it being too dark out to run safely to my Netflix being too lonely if I delayed our New Girl date an hour.

But once I got myself out the door, putting one leg in front of the other wasn’t actually all that different at 7 p.m. vs. 7 a.m. The biggest roadblock was my own mindset, and once I got past that, I was grateful to have gotten those miles in after all. They say the only workout you regret is the one you didn’t do, and even though I wouldn’t have chosen the timing, I’m glad I got those evening miles in.

I guess you can teach a dog new tricks. (Let’s be honest: you were all waiting for this.)

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Runs in the Family

One of the great things about growing up in a family of five is getting to experience different kinds of bonds with every single member. If I want to share a baseball-sized beef steak with someone I know will enjoy it as much as me, I call my dad. If I want validation that Anastasia was, in fact, the best princess movie of the 1990s despite what BuzzFeed says, I call my sister. If my lenses are smudged and I left my glasses cleaner in the car, I call my niece.

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If I realize a 5K road race is taking place during the same 42 hour period that I’m planning on being home in Baltimore, I call my mother, and if I’m invited to an 80s themed dance party, I call my brother.

Today, I got to do two of those things at once. No, I didn’t ingest a quarter cow with my father and sister while watching Hank Azaria voice the best darn sidekick bat villain an animated movie has ever seen; I ran an 80s themed 5K with my mother and brother.

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The race was the Junior League of Baltimore’s Flaskback 5K, and I stumbled across it in a news digest email from lovely Maryland running store Charm City Run. Advertised as a small-scale 80s and 90s themed race on a paved, college campus loop less than two miles from my childhood home, I knew I couldn’t pass it up during my brief visit south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Luckily, my mother and brother felt the same way.

Undeterred by the foot of snow on the ground or the cruelty of spring daylight savings time, we donned our best neon heat gear this morning and made our way to Goucher College for the 9 am (ahem, 8 am) start time. Within minutes, all 92 (!) registered runners were lined up at the starting line, and with a blast of the airhorn, we were off.

And it was glorious. Just as I’d hoped when I’d shelled out the registration fee, the course was wide and paved, the temperature was just the right level of crisp, and the crowd of runners was so thin I didn’t have to weave once. In November, I’ll be crossing the Verrazano Bridge with nearly 50,000 of my closest friends. Today, I crossed the finish line 11th.

And my family wasn’t far behind. Although my mom had just run 7 miles the previous day for half marathon training and my brother was racing in combat boots and a weighted backpack like the Marine he is, they came bolting across the finish line just minutes after me, barely breaking a sweat. We got our water bottles, got our bananas, and then make a beeline for Starbucks because, you know, priorities.

We then looped back for the awards ceremony, hoping that in a field of less than 100 runners at least one of us might have a chance of placing. And what do you know?

We ALL placed second in our respective age groups! I guess that’s something else we have in common.

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That, and not believing something is really metal until we bite it.

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How do you mix family time with workouts?

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Baby, It’s Cold Outside

The winter seems to be full of acceptable excuses not to workout. The days are shorter. The Central Park water fountains don’t work. Bathing suit season is still several months away. House of Cards won’t watch itself.

And of course, the most tangible excuse to skip winter workouts of all: the world outside my apartment today looks like this:

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Some runners appear unfazed by the snow and ice, lacing up anyways for a few loops of the park regardless of the precipitation. I, on the other hand, have little to no balance and appreciate the value of an unbroken ankle. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather keep my fitness routine and my storm systems separate. I think skeptical snow-dog Keira agrees.

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So what to do if you’re training for two spring half marathons and the snow it still falling by the foot come March? I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered the art of maintaining peak fitness in the off-season or anything close to it, but I have learned a few tricks along the way to keep myself fitting into my skinny jeans (ok fine, skinny sweat pants) during New York City’s cruel five-month winter. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Time Your Workouts. Weather apps have come a long way in recent years, with most now offering a fairly accurate hour-by-hour forecast for your five-digit zip code. Check tomorrow’s weather before you go to bed tonight, and if the snow isn’t going start until after 8 a.m., squeeze in a quick pre-work run before the storm hits. Likewise, if you see the sleet is going to let up for 60 minutes at mid-day, see if you can hit the park at lunch. The same goes for weekend long runs: I moved my regularly scheduled 8-miler from Sunday to Saturday this weekend since I could see what today’s forecast would bring. Knowing when the winter weather will be lightest and planning your workouts accordingly will help keep you on track even with a nor’easter barreling your way.
  • Move It Inside. I hate the treadmill as much as the next athlete who was nearly murdered by a treadmill in recent history, but it can be a necessary evil during the first quarter of the year. In fact, I’ve even learned to enjoy it. Part of my past distain for the electric running machine was due to the fact that I was using it wrong: I was setting a single pace and plowing forward in unending tedium until the clock ran out. Up your fitness and your attention level by using your time indoors to practice important speed work skills, like tempo runs and intervals and even hill sprints. Put Guy Fieri on the TV in front of you and you’ll be guaranteed to run faster in an effort to end the torture sooner.
  • Stay Home and Workout. Some snowy days, even walking the two (long, uphill) blocks to my gym is a chore. That doesn’t mean you can’t still work up a sweat. Pull up a workout video like this one on your apple TV. Or do yoga in your living room. Or binge watch New Girl and do squats every time Schmidt makes you laugh. Find your favorite show here and follow along, courtesy of my good friend Arianna H.  You’ll have toned quads before Netflix can say “Hey, are you still watching?”
  • Stay Home and Don’t Workout. Some winter days, you’ll get in a workout. Some winter days, you won’t. It’s a tough time of year, and to be honest, you should be proud you’re even considering some self-improvement during such a dreary month. If you don’t workout today, do something else good for the body or soul: curl up with your loved one or a good book, cook a healthy meal, get a good night sleep, and plan to try again tomorrow. March is too cold for lingering guilt.

Don’t believe me? Just ask my snow-adverse mascot.

I'll work out tomorrow, I swear.

I’ll workout tomorrow, I swear.

How are you keeping at fighting weight this winter?

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