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Happy New Year! My race calendar is mostly empty for 2016, but after a packed Fall running schedule, that’s fine with me. Next up is the Big Sur Marathon in April – 16 weeks from today! Being from Santa Cruz, I’ve visited Big Sur regularly since I was little. It’s one of the most gorgeous places on earth, and this marathon has been on my bucket list for a long time. I can’t wait to soak up those coastal views while doing one of my favorite activities. I mean, doesn’t this photo almost look fake? Northern California never ceases to amaze me with its beauty.

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After the JFK50, I was really hurting, between a terrible cold/flu and my busted foot. My whole body felt broken yet I somehow managed to avoid serious injury and within a couple weeks, felt like my old self again. I wanted to give my foot plenty of time to heal so I took a month off running and other high-impact exercise, and it was exactly what I needed! I did a two-week free trial with ClassPass, which was perfect. I had the best time trying new activities around the city – spinning, strength training, pilates, barre, deep water running, you name it! Some of my favorites – Peloton, Flywheel and Swerve for spin, Uplift and Throwback Fitness for strength, RJ Valentin’s deep water running, and FlexPilates. There are so many other great studios on there (e.g. MHRC, boot camps etc).

It was fun to try so many new things, and the variety did wonders for body and mind. I lost some of my running fitness by mid December, but I felt stronger, mentally refreshed, and hungry to start running again. Now that I’m running regularly, it doesn’t make sense to pay $125 for the full membership, but the 5 classes for $75 per month option isn’t bad, considering what these studios charge otherwise per class!

I’m quickly regaining my running fitness, and am now extra committed to incorporating non-running activities into my exercise routine. My running goals for 2016 are simple. Forget time – all I want is to be consistent, feel strong, and remain injury free. The end of the year was filled with too many accidents and injuries. I don’t wish to repeat that!

Most of all, I want to keep my running and other physical activities fun. I recently accepted two new jobs in addition to working full time at the hospital – I start this week as a private practice dietitian at Nutrition Energy Tues/Thurs evenings (we accept insurance, so get in touch if you’d like to book a session!), and will continue coaching Team Lipstick once a week. I’m super excited for these opportunities, but it means even less time to myself. Exercise will have to be my “me time,” so I have to make it count!

I started 2016 on the right foot (pun intended!) in the fun running department! E and I did NYRR’s Midnight Run on New Year’s Eve – 4 miles of fireworks, crazy costumes, glowing shoe laces, and all around awesomeness. I haven’t had such a great NYE in years! We aren’t huge fans of NYE, but felt like we finally found our scene. No cover charges, no dressing up, no fuss – just lots of people drinking, dancing, running and enjoying themselves. Yes, please! We were lucky enough to score two entries on behalf of the Time Warner-HBO Fit Nation team, pictured above. I look like a marshmallow as I was literally wearing five layers to stay warm. I know this year was “warm” compared to usual, but I’m a wimp when it comes to cold!

The race doesn’t start until midnight, but from 10pm there was a huge dance party and other fun things going on near the start. It felt like a huge outdoor party! I was surprised by how many non-runners hanging out and celebrating, and after the race started, cheering us along! I suppose it’s a nice free alternative to Times Square.

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The race itself was great. I was amazed by how awake and good I felt – I’m usually half asleep by midnight, and am not used to running after having a drink! We started the race with fireworks, which made it hard to run as I wanted to watch and couldn’t do both without falling on my face! This race obviously wasn’t one for time, so we stopped a few times to take it all in. We also enjoyed the DJ’d sparkling cider aid station – nice touch!

After we finished, we made our way to a bar on the UWS, where HBO had kindly sponsored our post-run party. We were the only runners in the place, so we got a few strange looks, but I think they were just jealous. It was awesome to drink and dance until the wee hours in our sweaty, crazy outfits and comfy shoes – who needs heels! We finished the night with a 4am pitstop at our local deli for ice cream – we had earned a treat after hours of running and dancing. All in all, a great evening and wonderful start to the new year.

I wasn’t able to run long this past weekend due to my work schedule, so I kicked off this training cycle with a long run this morning. It was freezing but sunny and clear on the river today. I reached 12.5 miles and felt strong. For that, I am grateful!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, active and fun 2016.

If you have resolved to run a race, improve your diet, lose some weight, or achieve any other health/fitness resolution, get in touch! I’d love to help, with your nutrition and/or training goals. Check out www.eatforendurance.com for more information. 

Training hasn’t gone perfectly for the Ultra Trail du Harricana 65km, but I made it through my peak week (kind of) and now it’s just 10 days of rest and recovery until I attempt my second ultra marathon. I definitely need some recovery after a few bumps in training recently. First, I got hit by a cab that ran a red light during my run home from Central Park a week and a half ago (thankfully just some bruising along my right side, but pretty scary), and then on Sunday, I tripped and fell TWICE during my long trail run, tearing up and bruising both legs and especially my left side. At least I’m symmetrically injured now! I should be okay after a few more days of rest – and I can actually not run at all for the next week or so and it would be fine – but it sure doesn’t help with the taper crazies!

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Aside from these frustrating setbacks, training has been going very well. Two weeks ago, I brought my weekly mileage up to 50 miles with a strong 20 miler in Central Park with the Gilda’s Club NYC marathon team followed by an awesome 11.5 mile trail run in Breakneck Ridge the following day (more on that in a minute). We had a small group of faster runners at our third coached run, which challenged me to ditch my slower ultra pace and get back to sub-9 min miles in the park! E and I capped off our run with a bagel stop in midtown at our favorite bagel shop, Ess-a-Bagel. We’ve been bagel deprived since they closed their Stuy town location, so when I realized I could strap a bunch to my ultra vest, we knew what we had to do!

After this run, E and I decided to officially sign up to run the NYC Marathon as part of the Gilda’s Club team. I’ve been coaching the Gilda’s marathon team since 2012, and it’s become a significant part of my running and coaching life. For anyone not familiar with Gilda’s, it’s a wonderful organization that provides free support to everyone living with cancer and their loved ones. E and I love to take on running challenges together, and this year we decided to join the team in memory of our friend Noirin, who passed away in June and whose tenacious, positive spirit continues to inspire us every day. We are running both our ultra marathon on September 19th as well as the NYC marathon on November 1st as part of this fundraiser, and appreciate your donation, no matter how small, to benefit a wonderful cause. I love the photo below as it captures such a happy moment after the NYC half marathon. We ran into Noirin at the finish line, all of us with big smiles after achieving PRs on a cold but beautiful day! Check out our Crowdrise page for more info, and thank you to everyone who has already contributed!

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The next day, E and I took the train back to Breakneck Ridge, but this time started on the Wilkinson Memorial Trail (right across from the train station) and did a 11.5M loop back to Cold Spring, where we enjoyed another well-deserved ice cream at Moo Moo’s creamery! The Wilkinson trail was far less crowded and more runnable – highly recommend it if you want a longer and more peaceful trail run. I felt really strong on this run – minimal soreness from the previous day’s 20 miler, and far more confident on the more technical parts of the trail. Gear and nutrition all worked out great too. Here are a few action shots.

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The following week was a much needed drop down week (that’s when I got hit by that cab). I continued to focus on PT, which has been going very well. My hamstring still gets a little angry towards the end of a long run, but it’s feeling much better and using the kinesio tape continues to help.

This past week – what was supposed to be our peak week – we only got up to ~47 miles due to my falls, but it’s fine. I’ve already put in the hard work, and another 10-12M trail run (our original plan for Labor Day) wouldn’t have added much, especially since our 23 miler in Palisades Park was quite grueling. I had never been there before and was surprised by how nice it was to run there! Sure, the trail was really close to the cars in many sections, but there were many lovely lookouts onto the water, and for training purposes, it was perfect. The Long Trail was mostly deserted (at least at 8am on a Sunday morning), fairly close to the city (we took the A train to 175th street, ran across the GW bridge and went north from there), mostly shaded by trees (important on such a hot day), and offered technical trails with a decent amount of elevation gain (~1800 ft).

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I packed my vest as if it were race day and practiced my race nutrition strategy. I’m aiming to take in about 200 calories an hour from gels, so with our estimated time, that works out to 18 gels – 6 each of SIS go gel (orange), Vfuel (cool citrus), and Powergel (vanilla) + 400 calories worth of Tailwind endurance fuel (naked flavor – 1 scoop in each small bottle filled with ice water, and another 2 scoops of powder for later). It’s a lot of variety, but I can’t stomach the idea of one thing for 10+ hours! I carried 2L of water in my vest, which was not enough in the heat (ran out at mile 19), but during the race we’ll have 5 aid stations, so that won’t be a problem. I brought salt pills but only took one – likely will not take very many during the race. I plan to eat a little off the aid station tables – likely salty foods to take a break from all the sweet stuff. I also carried a light jacket, a space blanket, a whistle, and some first aid/other misc things. The vest was really bulk and bouncy at first with so much extra weight, but gradually got better as I consumed water and gels.

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Our run lasted 4 hours and 35 minutes. My marathons are always under 4 hours, so this run was the second longest amount of time I have spent running after the 50k. It was such a beautiful day and I was feeling great until I tripped on a root and face planted at mile 12. I really busted up my knees and the side of my leg hit a rock, swelling up immediately. It was my first time falling on a run (surprisingly, since I’m a total klutz) and it really caught me off guard. I’m glad I was able to pick myself up and keep moving forward, with E’s help. He was amazing with me when I fell – he remained calm while I had my (brief) tantrum, helped clean me up, made me laugh, and on we went. I managed to get back into a groove, but I guess fatigue and soreness from the first fall, combined with running out of water made me vulnerable to falling again. At mile 21, I was trying to maneuver around a huge rock and collapsed on my left side, banging my butt quite hard and slamming my left leg and knee again too. I was beyond frustrated and in pain – but again, I managed to get up and eventually start running again. I just wanted to finish the run as fast as possible and was surprised by how fast I was moving in those last miles. It reminded me that I can be tough when I need to be, which I will surely need on race day!

I learned a lot from our last long run. My Brooks Cascadia trail shoes were super comfy, as were my Injinji socks, so they made the cut for race day. While it was gross to eat 2 gels an hour, I needed the calories and my body handled it without a problem. The vest chaffed my back pretty badly in two spots, but now I know where to put some tape to protect my skin. Running with someone for more than 3.5 hours is challenging; it’s impossible to sync your highs and lows with a running partner, however E and I have been learning how to deal with each other during our low points and really make a great team. I can’t wait to take on this challenge together next weekend!

So the plan is to keep icing and resting my legs this week, with a little cross training thrown in when I am ready. Hopefully I can get back to running by the end of the week, but my main goal is to focus on feeling rested and recovered for race day! I’ll leave you with a couple weekday sunrise running shots from the East River and some pics of my latest kitchen creations. Check out my Instagram (@eatforendurance) for more!

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E and I both like to read something inspirational leading up to a big race. It doesn’t have to be about running, but any story that captures the journey of chasing a goal, overcoming a challenging situation and accomplishing something spectacular. As I train for my upcoming ultra, I’m enjoying a book called “The Ultra Mindset” by Travis Macy, a very accomplished endurance athlete. This book is all about changing your attitude, and is not just geared towards athletes. I’m only about halfway through, but I’m enjoying the various exercises that he has you do to rethink the obstacles you face, such as negative stories you tell yourself that can be reframed, all in the context of his own story about becoming the athlete he is today.

One tidbit that motivated me through some tough long run miles is something Macy wrote while narrating his solo race across Zion National park. He was pushing to the finish and said to himself, “You can do it. The harder it is, the stronger I get.” That last sentence resonated with me – a great new mantra – and it is also very true! The last two weeks have been my biggest mileage weeks in a long time – 45 and 41 miles, respectively. Granted, that’s nothing for most ultra runners, but for me recently and especially while rehabbing my hamstring, I’m pleased! It certainly hasn’t been easy, but I feel myself getting stronger. Strong enough to run 40 miles in the mountains? Not so sure about that yet, but I have a few more long runs and trail excursions to work that out.

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Over the last two weeks, I’ve been including a longer midweek run on the East River to boost my mileage. The run pictured above right is one such morning – it was gorgeous out and the miles flew by. The following Saturday, I ran 16 miles on Summer Streets NYC, which if you’re not familiar with, involves closing Park Avenue to traffic from 72nd street down to the Brooklyn Bridge for runners, cyclists and everyone else to enjoy. It gets a little too crowded for my liking but if you go early in the morning, it’s pretty cool. Part of this run was spent coaching the Gilda’s Club team, which is going well with two coached runs under our belt. We enjoyed many of the “rest stops,” including the coconut water station complete with a hammock (dangerous – I almost didn’t get back up).  I won’t lie – this was a tough run for me. My body was not feeling great after mile 12, but I managed to finish and thankfully recovered well for the next day’s adventure.

We are trying to do back to back runs each weekend to practice running on tired legs, with a long run Saturday and if able, a trail run/hike outside of the city on Sunday. Last weekend, E and I ventured back to the Appalachian Trail, but this time to Bear Mountain. We took Metro North to Manitou and ran along a quiet road (Manitou Station Rd –> Manitou Rd –> S Mountain Pass Rd) that intersects the AT after about 1.3M. We could have gone along the main road (9D) to the bridge like everyone else on our train, but we wanted to get away from the cars and people, while maximizing our trail time.

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Like in Vermont, this section of the AT was rocky and technical, but that was short lived. We soon hit a long stretch of road – 9D and the bridge (above) that takes you across the river to Bear Mountain and into the park along a paved path that hugs a lake and eventually leads to the trailhead. It was a gorgeous day, but we were still surprised by how many families were having huge loud BBQs by the lake. Everywhere smelled of smoke and kerosene. It looked fun but it’s a shame that they permit it in what could be such a peaceful place.

The trail to the top of Bear Mountain is essentially a stone staircase that turns into a trail and crosses a road 3 or 4 times. The trail and the top of bear mountain were PACKED – all in all this excursion was not the escape to nature that we had envisioned but the view was nice and we certainly had a great workout!

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Trains are infrequent from Manitou and when we realized that we would just barely be able to make our train with the next one several hours later, we booked it down the mountain. Nothing like racing 5M on a hot day after a big mileage week! Flying down those steps was SO fun – and great practice. I’m working on gaining confidence on steep downhill running and we were MOVING.

We had 3M and less than 30 minutes left on rolling hilly road when we both really started to feel it. At one point E said “I don’t think I can make it,” to which I responded, “we WILL make that cutoff.” He perked up and that suddenly became our motto – make the cutoff! It sounds silly but we are running the 65km race together and being able to motivate one another and work as a team is really important. Also, cutoffs really are a concern if you are a slower runner (as we will be in this race given all the hiking we’ll be doing), so it was a good motivator! We made the train with two minutes to spare – ending the run at 11M, tired but feeling very strong. After eating the healthy lunch I packed for us on the train, we beelined to Davey’s Ice Cream in the East Village (one of my fav spots) for a well-deserved summer treat. Dietitians need dessert too and this stuff is seriously worth the calories!

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Gear update: I’ve been using Saucony’s Omni Progrid as my road show for years and have been on the hunt for a good trail shoe as my feet were not happy after I ran the 50k in my Omni’s! I tested out the cliftons by HokaOneOne. Those are road shoes too but E swears by them protecting the legs over long distances. They were super comfy at first but they had to be returned as they were too narrow for my feet, causing a gigantic blister to form after just an hour. Ouch. On Sunday, I tested out the Brooks Cascadia 10 pictured above. This is a popular trail shoe with much more structure than I am used to, which means more protection from rocks. They held up well during our part trail part road run. Much better traction on rocks for sure, although still trying to decide if they are comfy enough with the structures upper. A longer run will surely tell! I’m grateful for the awesome return policies that these two companies have, as it’s impossible to tell if a shoe will work until you’ve done a long run in them, and shoes are really expensive!

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As for this past week, I threw in some cross training to mix things up. On Monday, I participated in a super fun Ironstrength group workout with Dr. Jordan Metzl aboard the Intrepid with 1000 other people! I’ve done one other Ironstrength class before in Central Park and love that it’s free (usually), open to anyone, and takes place all over the city. It was a gorgeous night, and although E and were sore from our big weekend, we had a great time working up a sweat in such a unique location. On Wednesday, a co-worker and I tried out a spin class at the Peloton Cycle studio in Chelsea with Robin Arzon, a fellow ultra runner (E and I saw her at Endurance Challenge DC) and all around bad-ass and inspirational athlete. She is gorgeous and her energy is infectious! The studio and the bikes are amazing too. Obviously I’m a huge fan of Peloton and will be back! I did a short shakeout run after the class and ran into E on the river – I wish I could run commute home from work!

This weekend, E and I ran 18 miles yesterday, partly on Summer Streets. We managed to run at least 6 miles on trails, between the bridal path and north woods in Central Park, and a dirt trail that ran all along Riverside Park! Pretty cool. This run was tough but overall I felt better than last week, and the tape on my hamstring still seems to be helping, as I didn’t feel any pain throughout. Our experiment of the day was testing a new nutrition strategy, as we are still trying to nail down our plan for race day. We used Tailwind Nutrition endurance fuel naked flavor in our 16oz handhelds. We ran for ~3hrs and used 1.5 scoops per bottle x 3 (450 cal). It tasted great – not too sweet, especially with all the ice we used in that first bottle – but after 2-3 hours and with warmer water I found myself craving plain cold water, even though I had been drinking a lot (we were filling our bottles at fountains along the way). Also, I’m not sure how I would use it during the ultra, given we’ll be running for 10+ hours with only 5 aid stations. I could put it in my hydration vest bladder, but it’s much harder to gauge how many calories you are drinking this way compared to a handheld. Overall it’s a great product that I would like to experiment with more, and I wonder if in colder weather I would have had a different reaction. It could be useful in conjunction with food and/or gels, although I realize that their motto is “all you need, all day, really.”

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Today, we opted to stay in the city and hit some “hills” on the Williamsburg bridge for 8M rather than do another trail excursion out of the city. It was hot, but overall I felt quite strong, which gave me a confidence boost.

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On the cooking front, I’ve been making all kinds of good stuff lately that you can check out on my Instagram page. I’ve included a few photos here too.

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I’m in the process of setting up my new Eat for Endurance nutrition counseling website (finally!!!) so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to get in touch (thefightandflightresponse@gmail.com) if you wish to work with me, either for nutrition counseling or run coaching, in person or online. Have a wonderful week!

This week has been a light training week for me with the NYC Triathlon Relay this Sunday. Team Dietitian Divas will be racing for our third podium – with 1st place female relay in 2013 and 2nd in 2014! I’m not sure my hamstring will allow for a 100% racing effort (not to mention my lack of speed work since since April!) but I’ll still go for it!!

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After Sunday, it’s full steam ahead on the training front. E and I have been searching for another ultra to run in the fall and finally settled on the 65km Ultra Trail Harricana of Canada in La Malbaie, Quebec on September 19th. We plan to fly into Montreal, celebrate my birthday there, then rent a car and drive past Quebec City to La Malbaie (about 4 hours). Worst case – if the weather is really horrible or we can’t do this for another reason – we’ll have a fun weekend in Canada!

Just to give you a little preview, here’s an excerpt from the race website: “A perfect mix of flow and technical. The race will get underway at the Hautes-Gorge de la Riviere Malbaie National Park and end at the Mont Grand-Fonds Ski Center. The course will take you halfway through the famous trail called La Traversee de Charlevoix. Passing several lakes, runners will have the chance to encounter Canadian wildlife, including beaver, porcupine or moose.” Apparently, we also need a bell for bears – well, that’s on the optional gear list at least!

I’ve only been averaging about 20-25 weekly miles since April, thus two months isn’t exactly an ideal amount of time to prepare for a 40 mile trail run with 6500 ft of elevation gain. However, I think we can handle it – we’ve gotten some great trail running and hiking in over the last month, and I hope to build a good base supplemented with hill and strength training.

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A key part of our training, given that we mostly run along the East River and in Central Park, will be escaping the city to hit the trails. Last weekend, we ventured out to the Breakneck Ridge Trail Loop for some cross training. The trailhead is a 90 minute ride from Grand Central on Metro North, and the train was packed with hikers given the beautiful weather! It was a perfect start to our upcoming “back to back” Saturday/Sunday training runs, given we did 13M the previous day.

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The first 1M or so involves some serious scrambling and climbing – I was pretty much on all fours for the first hour. These pictures don’t quite capture how steep it was – and the trees disappeared after the first section! I don’t have a lot of climbing experience, so I had planned on taking the easier ascents, but in the end we stuck with the more challenging route. I was surprised how natural it felt to climb – I just moved by instinct and was able to put any fears out of my head. E has a lot of experience with climbing, so whenever I got in a bind (which happened on one very big rock), he talked me through it. It was amazing training and super fun.

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The views of the Hudson weren’t too shabby either! A good excuse to take a break and catch our breath, with the viewpoints all throughout the scrambling section and the sun beating down on us.

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Once we made it to the fourth peak, we stopped for a quick lunch in the shade. It was simple but I cannot tell you how delicious it tasted – especially since I had placed a frozen water bottle with the bag to keep the food ice cold! Hummus, smoked turkey, dill, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles on whole wheat with sliced apples and a big bag of raw veggies. SO refreshing!

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We opted to do a 5.5M loop from Breakneck Ridge to Cold Spring (white to blue to red to blue trails). The trail became a bit more runnable after this point and also mostly flat / downhill, so we ran the remaining 3M. The trail was beautiful – mostly in the forest, which felt great after being in the sun – and towards the end the trail was even paved. It ended with a single track parallel to the road, and then about 0.5 on the actual road into town. I was pretty shocked my stomach was able to handle running after lunch – but that’s a good sign for ultra training! We ended at Moo Moo’s Creamery for ice cream, obviously – SO worth it. The ice cream tasted so homemade and really hit the spot!

This was a great hike and so easily reached from the city. We’re definitely planning to go back to do a longer loop with more running!

E and I recently spent 10 days in Maui and 4 days in the Catskills. As usual, our travel was filled with some unforgettable runs, hikes and meals!

MAUI, HAWAII

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It was E’s first trip to Hawaii and I hadn’t been there in seven years, so we were excited to do some exploring in between chilling out on the beach with my family.

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Our first adventure was a 10M run from Makena to Kihei literally on every terrain imaginable – road, pavement, sand, grass, gravel trail and dirt trail. The paved beach trail (pictured above) meanders through the fancy Waliea hotels (from the Fairmont to the Andaz) and is a popular path among runners and walkers. What you may not know is that you can keep running past the Andaz along the beach (bottom left) for another mile or so to the Mana Kai hotel, along the grass (middle) around the hotel across more grass and onto a gravel trail leading past a boat ramp and onto another trail that takes you into Kihei (bottom right). Most tourists don’t go this far so you can get some peace and quiet! We did a shorter version of this run – from the Fairmont to the trail and back (~5-6M) – a couple times later in the week.

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The views are magnificent, and the earlier you go the better! We started our runs no later than 6:45am and already, the sun was beating down on us and the path was crowded (at least in Wailea). These runs were not easy between the sand, the heat and the rolling hills, but the scenery certainly made the miles fly by.

We also went on a 12M run/hike in Poli Poli State Park, which is way up a volcano towards Haleakala National Park along a tiny VERy windy road. We planned to devote one day just to a long run/hike somewhere far away from the beaten path and after some research, E decided upon Poli Poli. I won’t bother to write about this because E already wrote an awesome recap on his new trail running website, trailz.io, that truly captures the spirit of our adventure. The terrain was incredibly varied, but here are a couple photos to give you a sense of two sections of the trail…

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Lastly, we did a beautiful hike (with a little running) along the King’s Highway trail. It’s rocky but runable in certain sections. We happened to go there on a breezy, slightly cooler day, which made the temperature manageable in the late morning, but this is one place to watch out for the sun and to be sure to bring enough hydration! We only hiked for a couple hours but this trail goes on and on and on.

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Eating and being active of course go hand in hand, so I’ll leave you with a few of my Maui fav’s in case you find yourself in the area. We spent a week with my family in a condo and did a lot of grilling (my favorite fish is Opah moonfish – marinated in ginger, tamari and lemon – pictured bottom right with spinach and purple sweet potatoes), but here are some great restaurants that we love (some new, some very old):

  • Monkeypod kitchen: Good happy hour, have to get the Mai Tai
  • Cafe O’lei: Great value especially for lunch
  • Kimo’s: An old fav in Lahaina, go at sunset and don’t miss the hula pie
  • Coconut’s Fish Cafe: Yummy fish tacos in Kihei
  • Flatbread Company: Great pizzas in Paia

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We can’t wait to go back to Maui next year!

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CATSKILLS, NEW YORK

A week after we got back from Hawaii, we rented an adorable log cabin near Phoenicia to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary. The weather was horrible (heavy rain most of the time), which initially really bummed us out. It ended up being a blessing, as it forced us to relax by the fire for two days and get some much needed recovery. We did a lot of resting, reading, and s’mores eating! We ventured out once our first day to grab lunch at Phoenicia Diner – the town seemed completely dead but apparently that’s where everyone was hanging out. Totally packed! We opted for breakfast but the lunch items looked incredible too.

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The rain let up just long enough for us to squeeze in a few hikes. All that rain explains why the area is so incredibly lush, but it also meant that the trails were super muddy and slick. Even on a dry day the trails are quite rocky and steep, so we ditched the idea of trail running and were happy to hike instead (enough of a challenge!).

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Our first hike was on the Slide-Wittenberg Trail, one of the trail-heads that originates in the Woodland Valley Campground just a few miles from our cabin. We got a late start (mid-afternoon), as the rain had only just stopped, and there literally wasn’t a soul on the trails, so we only did an out and back on a section of the loop (about 3.3 miles). The trail was beautiful, although sections of the trail were engulfed in water and at times we were essentially hiking up a rocky stream. Nevertheless, it was very peaceful and it felt great to be active after lounging around the cabin!

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Our second and main hike was a 7 mile out and back on the Giant Ledge-Panther Mountain Trail. You can get on this trail from Woodland Valley Campgrounds, but we decided to try something different and instead catch the trail-head near Big Indian (a 30 minute drive from Phoenicia). We started on the footbridge and from there it was essentially one very long climb up to a series of ledges with stunning views. The weather was still variable (we had sun and rain) and the trail was a mud bath, but thankfully the weather was clear enough when we reached the view points to glimpse the endless tree-covered mountains.

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After passing these ledges, we carried on towards what we thought would be the peak of Panther mountain, but strangely the trail started to go back down and we eventually decided to turn around. We later found out we went too far. There were a couple nice view points, but not so dramatic that we thought we had reached our final destination! Giant Ledge is the best feature of this trail and were it not for the fact that we wanted a longer workout, I think we would have been happy stopping at that point. Overall, a beautiful and challenging hike and well worth the effort!

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Of course, one of the best parts of doing a long run or hike is the awesome meal afterwards. We finished our hike around 4pm, just in time for Peekamoose restaurant in Big Indian to open for “dinner.” This was our favorite restaurant in the area – we had a huge meal including appetizers and dessert since we hadn’t eaten a real lunch. Everything was delicious and homemade. The restaurant was empty (because who eats dinner at 4pm?!), which was a good thing since we had attempted to clean ourselves up after our hike but we were still pretty gross! I don’t eat red meat that often but sometimes I really crave a good burger and this burger was INSANE. Definitely the opposite from the other burger pictured above from a few nights before – a delicious black bean burger at the adorable Woodstock Garden Cafe. We stopped here on our way to Phoenicia – beautiful garden and tasty, healthy vegan fare!

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Our last day was our anniversary  – I made the above photo collage from all our wedding and honeymoon pics. Before our drive back to NYC, we checked out the Tanbark traila short loop that starts right by the post office in Phoenicia. It was a lovely, less technical trail that we could have run in parts had we not been so sore from the previous day’s hike! Worth checking out if you’re in the area and want something a bit less strenuous.

We’re back in NYC now without any trips planned for awhile. I can’t complain after two incredible vacations! We’re hoping to enjoy some local running/hiking to build up for our Fall races, which we still haven’t locked in but we’re getting close to pulling the trigger on a few.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend filled with awesome workouts and delicious food!

Happy holidays everyone! It’s been a very busy year in running, school and work, and I am quite happy 2014 is coming to an end. I’ve adjusted to my new job at Montefiore as a clinical dietitian, all my big races are behind me, and I can FINALLY see the light at the end of my never-ending grad school tunnel (i.e. May 2015). E and I are heading to Europe over the holidays for a MUCH needed break – our first real chunk of time off in a year. It will be a cold, wet and not exactly relaxing big city tour, but we’re excited to see E’s family in Amsterdam and visit some of our favorite spots in London and Paris.

My 2015 race calendar is pretty much empty, which is a strange yet refreshing feeling coming off of Spring and Fall marathon training as well as E’s late November ultra (during which I ran an impromptu almost marathon). I’m a firm believer in enjoying some unstructured no pressure runs after a training cycle – for me, that has translated into 4 mostly easy paced runs per week, including one longish run to maintain endurance. It’s still hard to get out of bed for those 6am pre-work East River runs, especially on dreary wet days like today, but with the right music and warm, reflective gear, it’s not so bad.

That said, without any big races to motivate me, I’m starting to feel a running rut come on, and that means it’s time to mix up my fitness routine. Usually I opt for cross training classes (spin, boot camp, pilates, etc), but this past week, I signed up for Ironstrength, a combined running/strength training workout led by Sports doctor Jordan Metzl that I’ve been meaning to try for ages, and “The Distance” class at Mile High Run Club (MHRC), the so-called “Soul Cycle of running” that recently opened in NYC and piqued my curiosity. Note to self – DO NOT try these classes on consecutive days. I honestly did not realize that Ironstrength involved so much running, and that the “distance” class was mostly hill repeats and intervals. Oops. I could hardly move yesterday.

Let’s start with Ironstrength. It’s a fun, usually FREE group workout that incorporates running and strength training in various outdoor and indoor locations around NYC. All you have to do is join Dr. Metzl’s email list on his Ironstrength page and you will receive information regarding upcoming classes, which occur on a fairly regular basis. As stated on Metzl’s website, Ironstrength “teaches athletes of all ages how to build strength and reduce the aches and pains of every life in the process.” Or perhaps the pain you’ll feel during and after the workout will make the rest of your life feel less painful by comparison… 🙂

My understanding/assumption is that the specific workout changes based on location (outdoor parks, indoor studios etc) and that day’s focus (i.e. yoga for runners vs the type of class that I did). I like that variety is built into the class in both location, time/day and workout, though I suppose that makes it more difficult to go regularly. For some reason, I thought our class would be mostly strength training based, even though E said he had read otherwise. Having skipped our planned Saturday long run, I convinced him that we should run the 5M from our apartment up to Central Park to squeeze in some cardio.

We met up with a large group at the Delacorte Theater, along with many regulars and other newbies like us. Dr. Metzl arrived with a gigantic Santa-like bag of Thorlo socks, which he promised we would receive if we completed the workout. Bribery with awesome free socks for finishing a grueling but awesome free class – right up my alley!

We quickly discovered that the first half of the 1hr+ workout would involve hill repeats. E gave me his best “not impressed” with me face. Oops. At least we were very warmed up! The running segment was about 30min/3M, as follows: Skip up the hill (harder than it sounds on uneven, sandy terrain), jog down; sprint up, 10 push-ups at top, jog down; skip up/jog down, sprint up/jog down x 2 with another set of push-ups; skip up/jog down, sprint up/jog down x 3 with another set of push-ups; then skip up/jog down, jog up and over to the strength training area a few minutes away. Given how cold it was, I was glad we ran beforehand – though I think 1-2M would have sufficed!

With 8M under my belt and months of being a delinquent in the strength training arena, the next part was very challenging, but Dr. Metzl made it fun. He blasted some great music, including holiday favorites while we warmed up and Baby Got Back for the jump squat sequence, which amused many passers-by. Then there were scissor lunges, planks, two variations of burpees, core exercises, and other things I must have mentally blocked out. We got very dirty as we were doing all of this on the ground – thankfully my gloves protected my hands and I wore dark clothing.

When we finished, Metzl dumped the socks into a pile on the ground and it was like dozens of brides at a sample sale swarmed in to find their size. People really wanted those socks! I don’t blame them – they’re great and quite pricey. I snagged a neon green pair in my size. In return for hooking us up with free gear, we had to take a photo with the Thorlo logo at the end showing off what we got (I’m all the way on the right). Good deal if you ask me.

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The verdict: E and I will definitely be back for another Ironstrength class, though next time after a shorter warm up so we can push ourselves harder and get more out of the class. Good vibe, adjustable to most levels, and often free (if not, it’s for charity).

Now let’s turn to the Mile High Run Club (MHRC), which is on the other end of the class spectrum. It’s indoor, high end, smaller group (up to 30 runners per class) and definitely not free. Well, to be fair, I had a promo code that made my first class free, but they run $34 a pop or less if you get a 5/10 pack.

MHRC has two types of classes – “dash 28,” which includes 2-3M of running plus strength training, and “the distance,” which includes at least 5M of running. I chose the latter thinking it would involve fewer intervals/hill repeats, but I was very wrong. That was pretty much the entire class, which makes sense. No one would pay that much for an easy treadmill workout.

As a mostly outdoor runner, I was really curious about this studio when I heard about it. I once again convinced E to come with me. I’ve never tried Soul Cycle, but I often do speed-work on the treadmill and enjoy spin classes, so I understand the appeal of challenging group indoor workouts, particularly when the weather turns cold and nasty. The concept of a treadmill club is pretty brilliant, given the success of spinning studios and the lack of a running counterpart until now. Just like with spinning, you have control over how hard you push yourself on the treadmill in the context of whatever your instructor is telling you to do, thus allowing for some flexibility. I do feel, however, that there is a higher risk of injury with running classes, especially in a group (potentially competitive) setting, making it important that the coach help runners find that balance between challenging themselves and going too far.

The facilities are very new and pretty – a welcome area out front selling running books, accessories, clothes, drinks etc, small but lovely changing rooms with showers and lockers (great toiletries, towels, hair dryer etc provided), more lockers outside near the studio, a foam rolling area (which I didn’t get a chance to see) and the studio itself, with mirrors and special lighting lining the walls, a soft type of material on the ground, and 30 Woodway 4Front treadmills, which I’ve been told are the best machines out there.

I expected the studio to be packed based on when I signed up online (you can choose your treadmill and they were mostly booked), but only about 10 people showed up. The studio was dimly lit, and the music was loud. I really did feel like I was in a spin class – except I was running on a somewhat intimidating treadmill. Michael (a Lululemon ambassador and head coach of Team Lipstick in NYC) was our coach and before class started, he introduced himself to each runner, asked if it was our first time, and reviewed various effort levels/speeds (they have “jogger” and “racer” categories for levels 1-4, with each level specifying a speed range), which I thought was nice.

As a group, he started us off with about 9min of warm up, during which he explained the workout ahead, essentially hill repeats and “follow throughs” (running at high incline and then lowering slightly while speeding up), intervals at various effort levels (mostly 1-2min), and at the end, a mini “race” that simulated a 4 miler in Central park and the various ups and downs along with it. All the while, music blasted and the dim lighting shifted to the beat, but not so much that it was distracting. I really liked that Michael picked a race to tie into the workout – for me, it was a reminder that the whole purpose of treadmill running is to help me prepare for outdoor running/racing, even if that’s not true for everyone. It was a tough session in my opinion – but again, you make it as easy or as hard as you want. E took it fairly easy, I pushed myself a little but definitely not as much as I would in a true speed/hill session on fresh legs.

Our main issue with the entire experience involved the treadmills. I expected a really smooth ride based on everyone raving about them, but instead these machines bounced furiously with each step. I felt so unstable at times that I held back for fear I’d fly off (my towel and shirt kept doing so), and the added movement made my stomach uneasy. E said it hurt his feet. I was especially worried given how dark it was. E was more turned off by the treadmills than I was, but I agreed that I would not want to run on those machines again with that much bounce.

Michael and I chatted after class and he informed me that they’re replacing the soft flooring (which is causing the bounce) with a harder surface in the next few days, which will hopefully resolve the issue. I’d add to this the recommendation that they place glow tape along the edges of the treadmill to make it a bit safer. Michael and I also talked about the variation between classes, and he explained that every coach does something different, so I’m curious to go back and try someone else’s class, once the ground is fixed.

I thought Michael did a great job – good energy, good music, and he circled about the room the entire time to dole out encouragement and running tips. I’ve never taught a group class like this one, but I think I would have fun doing it – something to consider for the new year, as they said they’re still looking for coaches.

The verdict: Cool modern space and great concept that just needs a few tweaks, as you might expect from a new business. It’s pricey, but they have promotions and offer student discounts. Personally, I would probably only go on occasion, but that’s mainly because I prefer outdoor running and sometimes would rather do speed-work alone. I would love to try another class once the treadmills become less bouncy, and I may even submit my resume to become a coach at some point.

Interestingly, Metzl taught an Ironstrength class at MHRC not long ago, and I was told he would be teaching once a month next year. So perhaps that means the best of both? I’ll certainly sign up and report back!

Happy Holidays!

Yes you read that correctly – there is such a thing as “affordable” massage in this crazy expensive city and you don’t have to go to Chinatown to find it. I view massage as an integral part of training and general well being, and I’ve been very massage-deprived since I moved to NYC in January. I did find a great sports masseuse, but $150+ massages aren’t exactly in tune with my student budget. With Chicago Marathon training kicking off recently, and my legs needing some attention, I was desperate to find somewhere that wouldn’t completely break the bank. And that’s when I discovered Sal Athony’s Movement Salon!

I actually found out about their massage services by chance – it’s a pilates, dance, yoga and gyrotonic studio in Grammercy, with a beautiful studio upstairs (it’s a historic building with wood paneling and a gorgeous stained glass ceiling) and massage rooms downstairs. Bloomspot was running a deal for  10 pilates machine classes for only $66 – I had always wanted to try pilates (great strength training) and the studio was recommended to me, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I’ve only done three classes, but so far I really like it. Granted, I usually go at off hours, so it is practically a private session, but their classes are capped at five people and the teachers I’ve had thus far have been very good. It’s nice to get out of the gym and do something a bit different that still targets strengthening my core and other areas that are essential for becoming a strong runner.

As for the massage, there is a slight catch – in order to get the real discount you have to go between Monday – Friday 9am- 4pm ($55 for an hour and $82 for 90 minutes) but even the regular prices aren’t too bad, and the rooms aren’t super fancy but very peaceful and clean. I had Crissy the first time I went, and I really liked her. It wasn’t quite a full-on sports massage, but she did a lot of deep tissue work and I wasn’t exactly asking for more pressure (I was in the mood for something a bit more relaxing). Today I had Juliette, who was also quite good. She said that my soleus is what’s causing my pain around my right achilles, so I need to make sure I stretch out my calf regularly.

I plan to incorporate semi-regular massage into my marathon training – ideally I would have one once every couple of weeks, but if I make it once a month I will be happy. It’s still a splurge for a student, but for me massage is a necessity, both for my athletic performance and my mental health!

Happy (belated) New Year! I just finished up another wonderful California visit with E, who flew in from London on New Year’s Eve and returned this past Sunday. It’ll be my turn to fly in four days, when I move to NYC and begin grad school shortly thereafter. Starting a year filled with so much change – for both of us – wouldn’t have felt right without him by my side. I’m grateful that we were able to take full advantage of my last moments in Santa Cruz and kick off 2012 with a few more adventures!

As usual, our days were packed with beautiful trail runs and hikes and tons of amazing food, with a bit of relaxation thrown in here and there. Every day or two I experienced something special that I wanted to share, such as our blissful New Year’s Day in Santa Cruz, our exhausting but EPIC trip to Yosemite, our 14 mile run in Nisene the following day, our day trip to St. Helena (Napa) and many unforgettable meals throughout the week. However, the incredible (January?!) weather and the fact that we were constantly on the go left very few opportunities for computer work, and those spare moments were better spent enjoying each other’s company. Anyone else who is in a long distance relationship surely understands that!

In other words, I have a lot of catching up to do on FFR! I’ll power through the highlights, and for those of you who don’t feel like reading, I’ve included plenty of photos for your viewing pleasure.

After a fun, low-key NYE spent at my friend’s house, E and I woke up to one of the most beautiful days we’ve had in months – 70 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. It was hard to believe it was January 1st! I had done my long run the previous day, but Sunday still meant pancakes were on the menu. My Dad made a delicious batch of his gluten-free banana pecan pancakes, which we enjoyed out on the deck.

  

It would’ve been a crime to be indoors, so we all went for a 4+ mile walk on my local beach in the afternoon, and returned later in the day to catch a colorful sunset. I also took E for a relaxing 6M run the next morning at low tide. I love my beach – can’t get enough of it – and E was in heaven after many months of sun deprivation!

Since we had already visited Big Sur and San Francisco in September, we decided to spend a couple days in Yosemite and join my family for a day trip to St. Helena (with an overnight in Concord) later in the week. E had never been to Yosemite before as an adult, while I’ve been twice – once in June about 11 years ago (peak season, packed with tourists, and extremely hot – stayed in a platform tent in Curry Village), and another time in September about five years ago (slightly off season but still busy, mixed weather – backpacked and camped along the trail but had to leave early to escape an unexpected blizzard). Both trips bring back great memories, but my visit with E was particularly unique due to the unseasonably warm and dry weather and the lack of crowds. We certainly got the best of both worlds!

Temperatures were a bit chilly in the mornings and evenings, but they peaked in the high 60s and felt even warmer in the sun. Nearly all the roads and trails were open (except for Half Dome) because there hadn’t been any rain or snow for over a month. I realize that this isn’t good for the park, but the sunshine and perfectly clear blue skies made for incredible hiking conditions – great views and no slipping on ice! Because it was off-season, we were able to book the night before we left (usually, you have to reserve months in advance) and the lower prices meant that we could stay at Yosemite Lodge. I love to camp but it was a nice change to sleep in a warm, clean bed! Our hotel was full, the restaurants were relatively busy and there were a fair number of people roaming around the valley, but you could hardly call it crowded compared to my previous visits. There weren’t many cars in the park or on Hwy 140 and we saw very few hikers on the trails, so at times it felt like we had the place to ourselves. It was refreshing to finally experience Yosemite as it should be experienced – without tour buses, traffic and hordes of hikers everywhere you turn!

   

We arrived in the early afternoon after 4+ hours of driving and decided to continue all the way up to Glacier Point. I had forgotten just how far away it was, but I thought it would be a lovely picnic spot for lunch (it was – very quiet, spectacular views) and once we had already committed 30 minutes we didn’t want to turn back! We checked out Bridal Veil falls (very little water) in the late afternoon on the way to checking into our hotel, then relaxed by the fire in the Awahnee hotel (the main room is beautiful) and had a nice dinner back at the Mountain Room near Yosemite Lodge. FYI, food is very overpriced in the park, so if you visit I recommend bringing things for breakfast (I brought instant oatmeal, bananas and almond butter) as well as snacks and lunch for hikes if possible (I brought sandwiches, hard-boiled eggs, granola bars, fruit etc.). The cafeteria at the Lodge has hot water and utensils, and rooms have fridges, so it is really easy to save money this way and ensure you have something healthy and nutritious to eat!

  

Our hotel was a ten minute walk to the Upper Yosemite Falls/Yosemite Point trail head, so we opted to make this our main hike of the trip. We set out at 7:15am – it was cold but given that this trail involves nonstop climbing for several hours, we warmed up very quickly, particularly once the sun started to shine in the valley.

We stopped at the Yosemite Falls overlook (we found a nice flat rock, set away from the railings with insane views) for some lunch in the late morning. My avocado and cheese sandwiches on honey whole wheat bread were pretty tasty after all our hard work! We had passed a few people on our way up, but we didn’t see anybody for the 30-45 minutes we spent at what is usually one of Yosemite’s busiest attractions. By this point, the sun was quite strong, and we enjoyed a nice long sunbath before continuing our journey. Simply amazing.

   

Last time I hiked up here, I turned around at the falls. It was blisteringly hot, extremely crowded and sticking my feet in the cool river just beyond the overlook seemed like a good ending point. Yosemite Point is an additional mile (bringing our total to about 10 miles roundtrip, with 3,000 ft of elevation gain, probably double in net gain) and was well worth the additional effort. We hit an icy patch across the bridge, which was the only tricky, wintery part of our hike. I decided to slide down on my butt and nearly fell into the bushes/partially frozen river, but thankfully E caught me at the bottom. The rest of the trail was forested and beautiful, with patches of ice and snow on either side until we reached the actual point, which was all stone, exposed and extremely warm.

 

We would’ve loved to have continued further towards North Dome, but we were running low on water and thus decided to end our hike here. We found this amazing rock towards the edge of the Point (slightly scary, but not dangerous) with two big holes that made the perfect seats! We sat in our little holes, which secured us safely into the rock, side by side for at least 45 minutes, enjoying the silence (there was no one up there – only one person passed by briefly), the sunshine and the views.

   

This was by far my favorite part of our trip – I’ve been pretty stressed out lately, but up on that rock, my stress melted away. All that mattered to me in that moment was spending time with the man I love, feeling the sun on my skin and staring out into the valley. Next time I feel anxious, I am going to close my eyes and imagine I am back at Yosemite Point with E, sitting in that rock. It’s my new place of calm. Problems become insignificant when you’re up in the mountains, so far removed from everything and faced with so much natural beauty.

It took awhile to motivate ourselves to get up, but once we did, we checked out the other side of the Point to get some different views. I made a little rock pile to celebrate our wonderful start to 2012 and all of the challenging but exciting things coming our way!

   

The way back down was pretty challenging – the trail was practically all downhill on rocks (too technical to run down, for the most part), and it was very hot. We didn’t bring nearly enough water, so we were feeling dehydrated and tired. Nevertheless, the views were amazing and we had a great time – I always love my adventures with E! We really are incredible travel companions. The best part was getting to the bottom and having beer, hot chocolate and ice cream sandwiches, followed by hot showers, passing out by the Awahnee fireplace and a nice big dinner! I know camping is a bit more authentic, but it was pretty awesome returning to a comfy bed and some trashy TV after such a long day.

   

Our day two hike was slightly less strenuous, given that we had to check out of the hotel at 12:30pm and drive back to Santa Cruz. However, we still managed about 8 miles of hiking and 2,000 ft of elevation gain (far more in net gain) up to Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail. I was dying to do a loop – out on the Mist Trail and back (slightly longer route) via the John Muir trail, but given our time constraints, we decided to do an out and back instead.

  

We drove to a parking lot near the trail head and started our hike at 7:45am – it was even quieter than the previous day! We saw one guy for only a couple minutes throughout our entire ascent – it was so dead it was almost creepy, especially since the entire hike was shaded – but then small groups of hikers started to emerge as we made our way back down. As with Yosemite Falls, it was a strange and wonderful experience to be able to enjoy what is normally a VERY crowded trail in such a peaceful way!

   

It was also pretty amazing to see Vernal Falls – a wall of water during my last visit – so dry. As a result, the “Mist” trail was not only fully open, but it was not misty at all! I was actually very grateful for this, since it was colder our second day (so cold at the top of Nevada Falls that we turned around almost immediately) and I was afraid that the stone steps, which are normally wet, would be very icy. Thankfully, every inch of the trail was dry, although there was plenty of snow and ice in the rivers and around the falls.

   

Coming back via the Mist trail meant that we had some extra time to take photos (we were going pretty fast on the way up, since we weren’t sure how long it would take us). We also ran the last mile or so back to the trail head given it was on pavement and felt easier on our legs, which by this point were feeling pretty trashed! It was fun to speed past various hikers giving us crazy looks.

After a nice hot shower and some hot chocolate, we left the park and had a lovely lunch in Mariposa at the Deli Garden. I highly recommend this place – super cute, friendly owners and a wonderful patio if the weather is nice! We enjoyed a sun bath as we devoured our sandwiches – felt good to relax for a bit before the long journey back home.

 

The photos above are only a fraction of what we took (and I got some really great shots) – check out the rest of my Yosemite album here.

Although we woke up feeling somewhat broken on Friday morning, we decided to head to Nisene Marks around noon to go for a run. I know, crazy right? But after all that hiking, we were actually craving something long and slow, and the weather was far too nice not to be outside. We were only planning to do do 10ish (we drove into the park to cut out the relatively boring initial miles) but the trails were so awesome that we became fixated on reaching Sand Point overlook. I had only been there once back when I did a long NYC marathon training run, and was dying to show it to E. It ended up being slightly further away than I remembered…whoops! E was a bit grumpy in the last miles but was a real trooper.

 

Surprisingly, we had an awesome run – 13.75M in 2:22 – and finished feeling strong, perhaps aided by the fact that two lovely rest days awaited us! I wish I had a photo of the trails towards the top and in particular, the views of the redwoods and the ocean from Sand Point, but we opted to leave our cameras behind. All I have is two tired, sweaty but happy runners back at the trail head – and our post-run lunch!

 

I made this pizza using Trader Joe’s whole wheat dough (which I had always wanted to try), mozzarella and a variety of grilled vegetables. It was cheap, delicious, healthy and easy to make – this is definitely going in my poor grad student cook book!

On Saturday, we left Santa Cruz early in the morning with my parents to pick up my sister, brother-in-law and niece in Concord and drive up to St. Helena, in Napa Valley. We were celebrating my sister’s and mom’s birthdays with a day of wine tasting, a bit of shopping/wandering around town and two incredible meals (lunch at Market and dinner at La Condesa). It was a lot of time in the car, especially having just done Yosemite, but we had a lovely day together and I’m glad I was able to spend some time with my family before moving to NYC. Elisia looked like a little doll in her French outfit! It’s impossible not to be obsessed with her when she is around.

   

Check out my full set of NYE, Santa Cruz and St. Helena photos HERE.

We stayed the night in Concord, which gave us some much-needed time to relax before E caught his flight Sunday afternoon. It was sad to say goodbye yet again, but our fabulous week together will carry us through until our next visit. We’re aiming for NYC or London sometime in early/mid February…

Now that my blissful week with E is over, it’s time to bring my focus back to my upcoming move. I still can’t believe that it’s all about to happen! I’m excited but it’s also overwhelming, particularly dealing with all the logistics. Thankfully, everything seems to be coming together, albeit slowly. Last week was a good reminder that when I start to stress out, I need to step back and put things in perspective! I’m so grateful to have such a loving family and so many friends to support me through this next phase of my life.

A frightening number of changes are coming my way, but if the first eight days of January are any indicator, this year is going to be epic! My Jan. 1st SF Chronicle horoscope, at least, seems to be on the right track…

As I mentioned in a recent post, I bought a 20-day pass to my local Bikram Yoga studio in London so that I could supplement my North Face Endurance Challenge schedule with some cross-training. I have not had access to a gym during my two weeks here and Hot Bikram Yoga just opened a new studio a short walk from where I’m staying, so I figured it would be a great opportunity to get back into yoga after a six month hiatus (I took a break when my hip started to hurt last summer).

If you’re not familiar with Bikram Yoga, it was developed by Bikram Choudhury and consists of a 90-minute long series of 26 postures practiced at 105°F. For more information, this page on Bikram’s website is useful.

I was very curious as to how my body would react, both in terms of the heat and my recovering hip injury. I have done hot yoga before, but not for well over a year, so I knew it would take some time to adjust to the heat. My past classes were at 8am, and I usually only drank water and/or juice beforehand as eating anything heavy 1-3 hours before class wasn’t recommended. I remembered enjoying the postures and feeling extremely energized and toned every time I left the yoga studio so I was excited to give it another try.

Each of the five classes I have done so far has been a very different experience. I experimented with several things, including how much food and water I consumed prior to class and whether or not I did a short easy run beforehand to keep my mileage up. The temperature of the room also seemed to differ.

My first class was surprisingly strong – it was at 5pm and the room was PACKED, which meant the temperature felt extra high. I had done a relatively challenging race pace run that morning, but had eaten and hydrated well throughout the day and felt very flexible. The occasional wave of dizziness and nausea washed over me, but overall I was comfortable and maintained great focus despite how little space I had to do my postures. I was slightly sore the next day, but nothing abnormal.

Two days later, I attended an 8:45am class and had the complete opposite experience. The room was far less crowded and I struggled to make it through the standing series. I felt so dizzy and sick to my stomach that I had to sit down many times and simply focus on my breath. For the postures I did do, I was unable to stretch as far as I had during the last class. I ran two miles prior to class, which is hardly anything at all, but that may have affected my energy levels. What’s tough with the 8:45 timing is that it’s too early to have a full breakfast (unless you get up extremely early) and too late to not eat anything, so I had a banana and a liter of water 30 minutes before my run. Clearly that combination wasn’t right for me or I was simply having a tougher time that day. The instructors always tell beginners that feeling sick is very normal as your body adjusts to the heat, and it’s important to stay in the room for the full 90 minutes, so I did and felt fine shortly after leaving the studio.

My third class was a few days later at the same time and I swung back to the other extreme. I had a rice cake with almond butter and jam and tons of water about an hour before running three miles easy, then drank water mixed with some energy drink throughout class. I was 100% focused and felt incredible. The room felt far less hot, partly because the instructor kept opening the windows, which made the yoga slightly easier. I still felt stiff, but I think my body is just less flexible at that time of the morning, plus I ran over 12 miles a couple days earlier. By this point, my hip was hardly hurting anymore after my runs, so that was a good sign!

My fourth class a couple days later was even stronger – this time I didn’t run beforehand and had a light breakfast. I also hydrated very well the day before, as the instructor had said that it’s 24 hours prior to practicing that really helps your yoga, not chugging water as you rush to the studio. The room was warmer again and I pushed myself a bit harder in the postures, which is perhaps why I later felt some soreness in my knees and lower back. This worried me during my coaching session the next day, as we were due to work on barefoot technique (which I am starting to explore) followed by a hill pyramid workout (for my upcoming half marathon). We focused more on technique and the aching went away after a rest day, which put my mind at ease.

I completed 14.5 miles – my longest run of this mini training cycle – on Saturday morning with minimal pain. My hip ached a tiny bit a few hours later, but I think that was mostly because I rushed off to catch a train and spent several hours sitting down without taking the time to stretch as I usually do. Thankfully, I made up for it by spending two days relaxing in a wonderful B&B on the edge of the New Forest, which is where I did this 10 mile race back in July!

And that brings me to my fifth class this morning, which I must admit I didn’t particularly enjoy. I’m glad I went, but I wasn’t as into it and thus didn’t get as much out of it. I opted to save my run for this afternoon, so I ate a relatively substantial breakfast 45 minutes beforehand, which perhaps contributed to my not feeling great. In terms of my lack of focus, I’ve been feeling a bit anxious about leaving London in two days and trying to get everything done in time. I did my best to acknowledge my thoughts and let them go during each posture, but it was tough not to feel distracted. That’s okay though – some days just aren’t your best days, and that goes for yoga, running or whatever else. You simply try your best and learn for the next time. The feelings of boredom, anger, stress etc that bubble up are natural and it’s healthy to work them out through yoga, meditation or other forms of exercise.

I realize that my two weeks of Bikram do not qualify me to make any sweeping conclusions, but I do believe this type of yoga is beneficial and can be a great addition to a runner’s training. It can be easy to get caught up with the instructor’s narrative and push yourself beyond what your body is ready to do, so just make sure you don’t rush the process, particularly if you are naturally flexible but weak in certain areas like I am. I found some of the postures to be difficult on my knees and hips, but in those instances I took it easy or skipped the postures.

I can’t say that I loved every minute of each Bikram session, but I always felt great afterwards (eventually) and really notice the difference in my body, even after five sessions. I will certainly make it a regular part of my training in the future if I live near a good studio, and encourage others to try it out!

Forgive my silence. I’ve needed the past few days to process some upsetting news I received on Friday, during an eye-opening physiotherapy session. I just wish I had gone sooner, rather than at the end of week 5 of my marathon training cycle.

I resisted seeing a physiotherapist until now partly because rest and sports massage has healed most nagging aches and pains in the past and I was convinced that the pain in my right hip and groin would eventually go away on its own. Also, I didn’t want to shell out hundreds of pounds if I didn’t have to. But most of all, I really didn’t want to hear the dreaded words that I knew would be spoken:

YOU CAN’T RUN.

I can handle a week or two off – that’s what I just did. But longer? As I enter week 6 of an already messed up marathon training cycle? As I prepare to leave my job and become a running coach while starting the long road to becoming an R.D.? As I count the (relatively few) weeks left until an expensive and exciting destination half marathon in Iceland? That’s a bit harder to handle. Running is my foundation beneath all the positive but scary changes going on right now. I want to be feeling strong and in control as everything unfolds, not like someone is yanking the rug out from under me!

Finally, after weeks of faffing around and trying every single thing I could think of to get back to feeling 100% (rest, sports massage, icing, anti-inflammatory pills and gels, hot/cold water therapy, foam roller etc.), I stopped wasting time and sought professional advice. I went to Pure Sports Medicine, a brilliant clinic that I’ve visited many times for sports massage. It’s pricey but it’s worth it.

The news I received sucks – but it certainly could’ve been much worse. Let’s start with the good news first, shall we?

  • My physio is awesome – I have confidence that he’ll get me back to feeling strong again ASAP. And he’s cute too, which surely helps! 🙂
  • I finally know what’s wrong with my hip – and can fix the problem relatively quickly. Essentially, the head of my right femur is sliding forward when I put weight on my right leg, causing labral irritation in the hip joint as well as soreness in certain muscles. This is in part due to weak right hip stabilizer muscles, but also because I’m sticking my pelvis too far forward when I stand/run. Thus, I simply need to strengthen these muscles and adopt a more neutral position.
  • Although highly frustrating, this is only a temporary setback. I should be fine to run the Portland marathon in October and my hopes for Vegas, if I’m fortunate enough to win the Cheribundi marathon challenge, will not be affected.
  • I will become a stronger runner in the long-term – both physically and mentally.

And the bad news?

  • I can’t run – for now. As my physio said, he can’t stop me from running – but obviously I don’t want to risk further injury! I’m looking forward to decades and decades of running in my future, as well as new PB’s, and that means making a sacrifice right now.
  • My time goals for Portland may need some revising. I’m not going to predict anything just yet, but I know I have to be realistic given that I haven’t done sufficient mileage for a couple weeks now. I’m not too upset about this, however – I’m still in great shape. Plus, I wasn’t banking on Portland to be my fastest race – I entered it more for fun, to accompany my coaching certification course. That’s why, in part, I would love to have another marathon opportunity in December.
  • I may not be able to run the half marathon in Iceland – that would be disappointing. The physio said that it’s not completely ruled out, but obviously I have to build up to 13.1 miles gradually, so we’ll see.
  • I’m currently limited to what I CAN do for exercise, which is driving me nuts – my appetite is weird, my body is changing (and not in a good way) and I’m bummed that I can’t do something that makes me happy. I miss running!
  • I must avoid other exercises that may further irritate my hip – this means no yoga, elliptical, lower body strength training or cycling out of the saddle. That makes my usual spin class slightly less fun and I love yoga, but I’ll deal. I can do the stair master and rowing machines, as well as seated cycling and upper body weights. A bit boring, but I’m trying my best to be patient.
  • I can also swim, so this is a great opportunity to finally improve my swimming technique, which I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now so that I can enter a triathlon at some point as well as make swimming a regular part of my cross-training. This morning, instead of a long run, I did some laps – it was tough but fun. I even bought purple goggles and a purple swim cap! I hope to take a private swim lesson this week.

Today was sunny and it was torture to watch so many runners out and about – but I’m staying focused on the task at hand, and have appreciated all the support I’ve received from friends and family. I’m already feeling better after a couple days of cross-training, so that’s a good sign.

I’m seeing my physio again Tuesday afternoon. I’m praying he’ll let me run again soon, but I know it may be another week or so before I’m allowed to – and then only short distances (2M) at first. But I’m committed to allowing my body plenty of time to heal so that I can make a strong comeback.

And I WILL make a strong comeback. 

Welcome to FFR

Hi, I'm Claire! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (MS, RD, CDN) and a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. This is where I share my latest adventures in running, racing, food & travel! If you'd like to work with me, please visit my professional website, Eat for Endurance.

My PRs

Marathon (Chicago): 3:33:18
Boston Marathon: 3:36:14
Half-Marathon: 1:37:21
10M: 1:14:52
10k: 44:52

My latest photos

Received an exciting package in the mail yesterday!! Thanks @headsweats for my new gear. This quarter, I picked out some extra fun, breathable, and colorful stuff to sport in these last super hot days of Summer and early Fall. Especially love the 🦄 visor! Don’t forget that you can get 25% off with the code EatforEndurance25 if you need some new gear too! #headsweatsambassador #headsweatsforlife #keepacoolhead #headsweats #summer #gear
Guys - I am so grateful for all the feedback and support I have received in response to launching The Eat for Endurance podcast! Thank you so much for listening, and if you haven’t already, please rate/review on iTunes 🙏🏻 This really is a passion project of mine and I’m furiously lining up as many guests as I can, in between all my client work, before this baby arrives! Probably need to take it easy and actually prepare for the baby too at some point, but ya know - #secondbaby. 🤣 Anyway, back to regular food programming - this was yesterday’s 2min lunch, as that’s all the time I had - WW wrap with cheese and baby spinach + shredded rotisserie chicken, microwave for 1 min, put avo inside and wrap it up. 💥 Who says lunch can’t be tasty, quick and healthy?
I am incredibly excited to announce a project that I've been meaning to start for years and finally - at 33 weeks pregnant of course - have managed to launch...The Eat for Endurance Podcast! {Link in bio} . You can expect a variety of formats, including solo episodes on various nutrition topics, interviews with fellow dietitians and other people of interest, and - what I am most excited about - my Athlete Nutrition Profile Series, which explores the life and careers of my guests through a nutrition lens. I would also love to record shorter episodes dedicated to answering YOUR burning nutrition questions! Email me if you'd like to submit one (or several) for my next Q&A episode! . The over-arching message I wish to send through the podcast is that there is no one-size fits all way of eating for optimal health and performance. Equally, there is no such thing as "perfect" eating. Yes we have specific guidelines and goals that we aim for and keep in mind while striving to eat well and fuel adequately, but balanced, healthy eating is far more complex than consuming a combination of macro and micronutrients! My hope is to show that there are so many different, wonderful ways of eating that can be successful - or perhaps at times not so successful - for active individuals, and to inspire my listeners to shy away from dogmatic nutrition approaches and instead to be open to exploring and experimenting with their diets to find out what works specifically for their unique bodies, preferences and lifestyles. . I plan to release 2-3 episodes per month, but to kick things off, I have an intro plus 2 full episodes ready for you to download! Episode 2 is an interview with RD Heather Caplan @heatherdcrd @rdrealtalk on Intuitive Eating & Athletes and Episode 3 features @onepeloton coach @mattwilpers. Click the link in my bio for the full blog post and links to the episodes. If you like what you hear, please consider rating/reviewing in iTunes. Thank you for listening!! #eatforendurancepodcast
Good morning! Put in an hour of breakfast prep this morning for a delicious brunch and plenty of leftovers for the week. Made a big batch of veg egg cups (18 eggs!) and a double batch of banana pancakes (@kodiakcakes mix with eggs, milk, cinnamon, & ground flax seeds). Will make mornings easier this week!
Fun morning walk with A along @summerstreets while @trailrunr_ did his 10 miler! She loved cheering on all the runners who sped by 😍
Super fun 250th ride with @codyrigsby and the yummiest @sweetgreen salad afterwards from their new menu (got the ratatouille). Happy Friday, all! #32weekspregnant #onepeloton

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