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This post is very belated, but I am still very excited to report that I graduated from NYU with my Master’s in Clinical Nutrition a few weeks ago! Passing the RD exam in September was an amazing feeling, but finishing my graduate degree and celebrating with my family, friends and classmates was even better. Graduation was held in Madison Square Garden and was very entertaining, with dancing, singing, and a hashtag screen for #Steinhardt2015.

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I often forget that my decision to become a Registered Dietitian stemmed from the creation of this blog nearly five years ago. It has been such a long, challenging road, and I am having trouble believing that it is finally over. I recently perused some of my old blog posts and it amazes me just how much has happened in my personal, professional and athletic life throughout this time. I am forever grateful for the support of my family, friends, and most of all my husband for helping me succeed in my professional journey. Going back to school in your 30s is a very daunting task!

I’m still adjusting to the idea of no longer being a student. I keep thinking that this is just a break and summer classes are right around the corner. I can’t even express how relieved I am to finally be done. I am still working full time as a clinical dietitian at Montefiore, but I am cherishing my new “free time” on week nights and weekends. I think I will need at least a month or two to catch up on sleep and recover from 3.5 years of craziness. I am also looking forward to my first true vacation in ages – a week of R&R in Maui, starting tomorrow, followed by a long weekend in a log cabin (literally) without TV or phone service in the Catskills! E and I are celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary, and I can’t think of a better way to do so than some quality time out in nature, completely unplugged from the rest of the world.

I plan to focus on next steps professionally once I’m back. I will begin coaching the Gilda’s Club NYC marathon team for the 4th consecutive year, and will continue to coach private run clients and counsel private nutrition clients through Physical Equilibrium (get in touch if you’re interested). I also plan to build the website for my new nutrition business, “Eat for Endurance: Nutrition counseling for longevity in life and in sport.” In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @eatforendurance for nutrition and fitness tips!

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E and I have been enjoying some down time on the running front since the Brooklyn Half Marathon a few weeks ago. And we are so thankful that the weather finally turned – how gorgeous were those Spring blossoms?! My hamstring has been bothering me recently, but I hope I can start training properly again later this month with the NYC triathlon relay approaching! After having such a blast at our April TNF ultra, E and I are on the hunt for an exciting a Fall race. We haven’t picked one yet but did come across a 65km trail race outside of Quebec in September that sounds intriguing! I am slightly concerned, however, about the bell that is on the “recommended” (not required) list of gear to ward of bears…hmmm.

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful warm weather! Happy running!

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Now that you’ve read about E’s recent racing triumphs (which continue to blow me away – a half marathon PR two weeks after his first 50k?!), I suppose it’s time I share what I’ve been up to since Boston. I too ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon this past weekend. No PR for me – that wasn’t the goal – but I had an amazing time, which certainly was part of the goal! It was a great experience pacing E two years ago, but I really enjoyed running for myself this year.

The Brooklyn Half has really changed since 2012. The expo two years ago wasn’t memorable at all, while this year’s expo – or shall I say pre-party, as NYRR aptly called it – certainly was unique! It was a trek getting there, but with beautiful views it felt like an “urban hike” and was worth the effort. Definitely the hippest expo I’ve ever been to, with local food trucks/stands, a bar, DJ/live music, graffiti artists customizing racing shirts (also sporting a cooler design this year), a barber shop (?), coffee bar (with excellent baristas and coffee, of course), and prominently displayed Brooklyn Half hashtags (obviously), all overlooking Manhattan. A great celebration of Brooklyn before taking to the streets!

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The race is a LOT bigger now than it was in 2012, with over 25,000 finishers compared to around 14,000. And I thought it was crowded back then! The course essentially is a Brooklyn version of the NYC Half, with 7M of rolling hills in Prospect park followed by a flat and fast stretch on Ocean Ave towards the beach (sure beats finishing in downtown Manhattan). It was VERY crowded in the park, and I found it frustrating at times to navigate around everyone particularly at water stations (next time I’ll carry my own small bottle so I can save time), but once we left the park the roads opened up and it was easier to get into a groove. The boardwalk finish was beautiful but I echo E – not fun to sprint on. I was gunning it towards the finish once I saw the 400m sign but then hit a wall of runners on the tiny ramp onto the last stretch, and it was tough to regain my speed on the sandy, slippery surface of the boardwalk. I guess that’s the price to pay for the scenery!

I had a fantastic race, which was a pleasant surprise. I’ve been recovering fairly well post-Boston but lately my legs have felt unusually fatigued. I spend a lot of time on my feet each day and things have continued to be so busy on the school & internship front that I haven’t been able to prioritze my training nor my recovery/sleep for that matter (working on that). I’m in the middle of my 3-week Staff Relief rotation, which is the culmination of my clinical rotations that started in late January. I essentially cover for other RDs and thus am treated more like an entry level dietitian than a dietetic intern, which means that my preceptors push me to see an increasing number of patients in the same amount of time over the course of three weeks. The goal is to reach 10 – I am currently at 7 up from 4 – which may not sound like a lot but believe me, 7 feels hard right now. This push along with less hand holding is exactly what I need and I welcome the challenge, but it has been mentally and physically taxing. I’ve been getting home from the hospital feeling utterly exhausted, body aching. Going for an evening run at that point is the last thing I want to (or have time to) do, but I’ve managed to get out there and squeeze in some miles a few times a week, which usually makes me feel better (emotionally, at least).

I felt pretty miserable when I woke up at 3:45am to make and eat breakfast on race morning, but that changed to excitement once we got to the start. I was aiming to enjoy the race and get a good workout in; if I felt up for it, I planned to run around marathon effort in the park and then gradually speed up towards the finish. Turned out I felt quite strong! I still refrained from going full-out, sticking with a cautious just below marathon pace effort in the park, but when I still felt good at mile 7, I started to pick up the pace and was able to stay around my usual half marathon range. Only in the last mile did my hamstrings start to ache slightly, but otherwise I was extremely comfortable. The weather was awesome which helped – warm but not too hot (there was shade on a large part of the course too) with a lovely but not overpowering breeze. Made the insanely early morning start worthwhile, as the temps began to rise shortly after our finish!

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I ended up finishing in 1:42:03 (Garmin details here), which funny enough is only less than a minute slower than my NYC Half time with far less effort exerted and certainly less prep work done. The atmosphere at Coney Island was amazing. I found E shortly after I finished – since he finished only FOUR MINUTES after me (he’s catching up!!!!!) – and we headed to the post-race party at the stadium for a nap in the sunshine on our space blankets. It was glorious (SO much better than the way too crowded boardwalk two years ago) – with live music, food, great people watching, perfect blue skies…too early for beer but I had a nice buzz going from my runner’s high. Wasn’t too early for ice-cream though, which we got on the way to the subway!

We just barely squeezed ourself onto the Q train back to Manhattan. I felt bad for the non-runners on that train, pressed up against all of us who had just raced. The mixture of smells was extremely unpleasant and I was contributing to it, so I can only imagine how they felt! The fatigue began to set in by the end of that hour-long standing journey. A nice hot shower and crashing on the couch when we got home felt like heaven!

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I managed to make these quinoa pecan muffins (via NY Times recipes for health, pictured on the left) in the afternoon, which I hadn’t made for years. Super tasty, not too sweet and very wholesome! They make a great pre/post run snack, packed with protein, whole grains and healthy fats. We put a touch of jam or honey on ours to make it a bit sweeter, but on its own it would go great with a savory meal. I had some leftover quinoa and quinoa flour so I tried out another version today – this time adding ripe mashed banana, substituting almond milk for skim milk (which I add 1 tsp lemon juice to make “buttermilk”), and coconut oil for canola oil. Definitely preferred version number 2 (pictured on the right) – extremely moist and a touch sweeter from the banana! I ran out of pecans otherwise would have added them. The black specks btw are from the tricolor quinoa I used (ran out of normal). These freeze very well so I popped a bunch into the freezer for quick snacks in the coming weeks!

So another great Brooklyn half in the books – and the verdict is, it’s even better than it was in 2012.  I highly recommend this race and look forward to running it again next year!

 

 

 

 

 

The only thing I had to do this weekend was kick ass and write a guest post. And I’m all done kicking ass!

brooklyn

Brooklyn Pre-Race Party Views

The Brooklyn Half Marathon is now the largest half marathon in the United States, with over 25 thousand finishers and at least 2,000 hot dogs sold. The atmosphere is a party. A hipster party. A hipster party with a beard; microbrewed to perfection.

Feeling Fresh @ 6AM?

Two years ago, the race I ran was something else entirely: a nightmare. New to speed, pain and pressure the course treated me to a fist-size helping of humility. A perfect storm of inadequate preparation, relentless humidity & jet lag left me far away from my goal – the boardwalk was almost that, creeping into the finishers shoot @ 1:53 and change.

Coming off my first 50K two weeks prior, I had pretty low expectations on how I’d be able to perform on Saturday. Even though I was stronger, smarter, and better prepared you just can’t rush adequate recovery. Well, you can. But that’s stupid. Just call me Mr Stupid. My quads still don’t bounce the way they used to – it’s just going to take more time. Normally, I like to race in my Pearl Izumi N1s but today HOKKAS were the order of the day – been really getting into my BONDI B 3s lately – tasty marshmallows.

The plan was to practice for perfect execution and if I didn’t have the goods on race day then it just wasn’t meant to be. The difference this year was that I was very focused and really on my mental game.

The Course

 

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A camel with two humps.

One of my strengths is I love to run downhill. While it crushes the quads, it affords me faster turnover and lets me push the pace without taxing my heart-rate. Along those lines, this course was built for me – aside from one major run up at mile 5, it was mostly a downhill course from mile 7 – if I could make it to mile 8 without blowing up, I knew I could bring it home.

One downside of the course is that the final stretch is on the boardwalk. While it’s a beautiful sight to see the ocean, the sand on the boardwalk just sucks the power out of your legs.

One huge positive of the course is that wave 1 was lined with bathrooms adjacent to all of the corals. The organizers really figured this one out and it took the pressure off when it came down to getting down to business.

This year, the weather was also perfect. Hot, but not too hot. Windy, but not too windy. Shady, but not too shady. Early, but not …. no, it was pretty damn early. Still, a great day.

Execution

The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is the part of the brain that controls how you deal with suffering. When they talk about long distance being mental, they literally talk about controlling the part of your brain that can suppress pain, drive you up that hill, even when the other voices are telling you to stop. To truly endure, you must believe you can and even more than that kick in that part of your brain that doesn’t have the good sense to stop.

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Kill! Kill!

For my mental game, I turned the race into a hunt. With a sharpy “kill stamp” on my forearm I was ready to pick-off the other racers in front of me. Execute on my nutrition plan (SaltStick tablets, wrapped in tin foil to the back of my visor), focus on the big mile marker (mile 5, 8, 10, 12), and focus on reeling in the competition. Line them up and knock them dead.

Mile 10 is always the stake in the ground. From there, I always figure out where I’m at by assuming even if I blow up I’m looking at another 30 minutes into the shoot. This year, I knew I was in PR territory but when to turn on the screws? This time, I kept it consistent until about mile 12 and then cranked it for mile 13 to the end – a strong finish and several minutes faster than two years ago.

The week before I also got my mind in the game by reading a fantastic race report on one of the greatest Ironman rivalries ever known – Scott vs Allen. It really put me in a blood-thirsty mood.pain

1:45:57 – my fastest time yet. This time was over two minutes faster than my previous PR. I sure do hate running fast but damn if it doesn’t feel good to break new ground.

Post Game

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What a difference two years makes – is this the same person?!?! Definitely not.

The New York Road Runners put on a good race now and again. The after-party was perfect – they even organized the sunshine. Well done.

They finally rented out MCU field so with perfect blue skies, Nathan’s signature hot dogs and hydration in hand, we spent the rest of the morning laying out and enjoying a successful day. We didn’t partake in the Brooklyn lager (given we finished the race around 9AM) but that was clearly a ROOKIE MISTAKE.

I strongly recommend this race for next year – put it in your calendar ASAP.

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This was my third consecutive year running the NYC Half Marathon. Although conditions were brutal this year and I didn’t have the amazing race I had last year (PR of 1:37), I enjoyed the new course and got a good sense of how I will perform in Boston. I didn’t hit my sub-1:40 goal, but my knee felt fine, no GI issues, I ran smart and held back the pace slightly as soon as I felt I may risk straining my hamstring in the cold, and finished feeling very strong. Overall, a great training race!

A 1:41:24 finish was about right for me today given the frigid temps and my current fitness level. My head also wasn’t exactly in the game – I find it hard to motivate sometimes when I’m that far away from a PR or when I haven’t raced in awhile – so it was really good for me to get back into the racing mentality before the marathon, even if I decide not to give it my all.

I missed E at the start (he ran the past two years but didn’t get into the lottery this year), but certainly appreciated his support. He was kind enough to wait 45min for me in the cold to see me run by at mile 10. Don’t I look like I’m enjoying myself?! This was right after I passed a water station and was handed a solid block of ice in a cup. No joke.

NYC Half 2014

E also scooped me up at the finish with several jackets on hand, given I opted not to check a bag. The security this year was pretty hard-core – metal detectors to get into the corrals and no bags of any kind after security (even my clear ziplock with a few pre-race items). It’s amazing how things have changed since last April. I know security will be pretty nuts at this year’s marathon – for the best of course, but it still takes some getting used to.

Boston is on the horizon – just two more long runs left then taper time! It was awesome to see so many Boston runners in my corral this morning. Got me excited for April! E and I both decided to enter the lotteries for the NYC marathon (I still dream of running a marathon where I actually live) and also for the Marine Corps Marathon, so we’ll see if we get in. After such a crazy winter, summer training doesn’t sound half bad (I’m sure I’ll regret that statement later!).

It’s Sunday and growing up, that meant one thing in my house: a big stack of my Dad’s amazing pancakes! I usually make my healthier wholegrain Triple B pancakes, but today I decided to experiment with my new (well, inherited) waffle maker.

I’ve never made waffles before. I wanted a runner-friendly recipe given I have the NYC Half Marathon next weekend – something with whole grains, healthy fats and some protein – that would make a crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside waffle. The results were SO incredible I confess I may be a waffle girl now! Also, the recipe is super easy – a big plus in my book given how much work I have to do today.

Here’s a photo of what I came up with post-syrup pre-loading them up with fresh berries and a dollop of almond butter:

Whole wheat waffles

This was a really nice way to celebrate my return to running after taking a nasty spill on the subway stairs almost two weeks ago. Being the klutz that I am, I managed to fall right on my knee in the exact same spot I fell on last September when I fell off my bike. Pure talent! This was off course two days after I had finished my second 20 miler after a really strong long run sequence over the previous 3 weeks (20M – 18M – 20M) so it was a real bummer. Thankfully I didn’t break anything and only had to take a little over a week off. I ran 14M with some marathon pace miles at the end yesterday without any pain, which was awesome especially in the beautiful weather. I’ve definitely lost some fitness (and wasn’t exactly running as fast as usual before that) so I’m not expecting to break any records next weekend, but I am excited to race! I can’t believe it’s been 8 months since my last race and a full year since my last half marathon. But I digress from my waffles…

View/print my whole wheat banana ricotta waffle recipe or see below for details.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Whole Wheat Banana Ricotta Waffles

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 ¾ cups nonfat or low fat milk (or almond milk, soy milk etc)

  • ¼ cup oil (I used olive oil since that was all I had around – tasted fine – canola oil is a good choice)

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 ½ cups 100% whole-wheat flour

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

  • 1 ripe, mashed banana

  • ~ ¾ cup ricotta, can do a little more or a little less (I love Calabro brand nonfat ricotta, which my local Whole Foods carries – very fluffy – do not recommend TJ’s nonfat version, their part-skim may taste better).

  • Maple syrup (I prefer to warm mine up before serving)

  • Toppings of choice: fresh fruit (berries, sliced banana, etc), nut butter, chopped walnuts or pecans (you can also put these into the batter), jam, etc

Directions

  • Preheat your waffle iron (mine makes 2 waffle squares, as pictured above).

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, mashed banana, milk, vanilla, ricotta, oil, honey, cinnamon, and baking soda until well combined.

  • Add in flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk together until the large lumps disappear.

  • When the waffle iron is hot, spray or brush with cooking oil and then ladle some batter onto the center of the iron (don’t fill completely as it will then overflow). Follow instructions of your waffle iron – mine took about 3-4 minutes to cook. They should be golden brown and crispy to the touch.

  • Eat as you go as we do or keep the waffles warm until you finish cooking all of them. Serve with pure maple syrup and other toppings of your choice.

Yield:

With my waffle iron, this recipe made about 6.5 servings (1 serving = 2 waffle squares pictured above), which should feed about 3-4 people depending on how hungry you all are (E and I could easily eat all of these ourselves, although we managed to save 4 squares for tomorrow). I have also cut this recipe in half, which makes a good amount for 2 ppl (about 4 squares per person). Keep leftovers in the fridge (each square fits nicely in the toaster) or freeze for another Sunday when you’re feeling extra lazy!

Nutrition info per serving (2 squares):

Without  toppings and using olive oil, nonfat milk, nonfat ricotta, and 1 medium banana, 1 serving is about 245 kcal, 10.5g fat (mostly unsaturated), 30g carbohydrate, 9.7g protein and 3.2g fiber.

Between breaking my 4-year PR at the NYC Half, running my first Boston marathon, getting married and beginning my dietetic internship, 2013 was quite a year! I’m happy to report that I had a very successful (although stressful) semester since my last blog post, as well as a wonderful, much-needed vacation with E to celebrate reaching the half-way point in my internship (2 weeks in California with my family, 1 week in Tulum, Mexico). It was the first time in years that I had time off that was actual time off – no exams to study for, DI applications to complete, wedding planning to do, or anything else to distract me from spending quality time with my loved ones and getting some R&R in between two tough semesters. So much sleep and incredible food. It was awesome, not to mention good timing as we missed some pretty horrendous weather on the East Coast! Bad weather ended up hitting us in Mexico for 4 out of our 6 days, and of course the polar vortex has returned to NYC recently, but at least we got to skip a couple weeks of it! This California girl is not built for extreme cold, that’s for sure.

Here are a few shots from our trip:

Hanging out with my beautiful niece! Ice cream at Bi-rite creamery in SF  SF Two days of sunshine in Mexico better than nothing!

I could use another few weeks of winter break, but overall I’m feeling mentally recharged and ready to get back to it, which is a good thing because tomorrow is my first day of hospital rotations. The hospital is starting me with clinical rotations so I get to dive right into the deep end! It will be a bigger adjustment than starting with food service but this way I get to tackle the most challenging rotations first while the material from last semester is still somewhat fresh in my mind. It’s clear that the next 6 months will make last semester feel like a piece of cake, but I’m looking forward to helping actual patients and getting some great experience.

So with 6 months of hospital rotations ahead of me, as well as another go at the NYC Half and Boston marathons and my RD exam later in the year, 2014 looks to be just as busy, exciting and challenging as 2013. I can’t say that I’m feeling quite as positive about my training as I am about my internship, but I’m doing my best. I’m five weeks into my current  training cycle and with each week I feel like I’m moving backwards. I felt great in my first two weeks while training in California – it’s hard not to when you get run for hours in gorgeous Nisene Marks forest and on the beach in the sunshine! Pure bliss. Also, my hamstring and other niggles seem to have finally healed from all the time off, so although I felt a bit out of shape, I was able to begin speed work again feeling relatively strong.

Cut to being back in NYC and everything just feels ten times harder. I did the exact same tempo run on the treadmill that felt easy in California and could hardly finish it. Same with my interval session. I’m sure not being as well-rested and relaxed played a role, as well as the insanely frigid weather, but it’s still been discouraging. E and I ran 18 miles this past weekend in the coldest weather I’ve ever run in, and 16 the weekend before (which probably was the worst run I’ve had in months). I had three hats on, two pairs of pants, three long sleeve layers/jackets on top of my tank, and resorted to wearing wool socks over my gloves and hand warmers to keep my fingers warm (always my biggest challenge). We were out there for nearly three hours and I’m impressed that we made it to the end. Certainly the type of run that I could not have finished without the company of E and my other running buddies!

I’m not excited about the rest of this training cycle especially since I have to begin training at night, if time even allows for that. My internship obviously takes priority so I’ll just have to see how it goes and fit in whatever I can. It’s looking like Boston #2 may be the first marathon I run without a real time goal, and I’m actually totally fine with that. I ran strong last year and after everything that happened at the finish, I think Boston 2014 is the perfect race to relax my pace and enjoy being out on the course!

Claire’s been busy with everything since Boston, so we thought it was the perfect time for a guest post on my recent trail race in upstate NY. Enjoy! — E

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When people ask me why I love running on the trails, it usually comes back to the same answers: simplicity, beautiful scenery, softness of pine needles and earth under your feet. There’s nothing quite like an oasis from the relentless miles of pavement that plague being a runner in an unforgiving concrete city like New York.

What a sweet and beautiful delusion.

Back in the real world, the mountains devour their young, feet first, followed by the legs…with plenty of room left over for dessert. The North Face Endurance Challenge is one of the tougher race series in the U.S. While reasonably accessible to the trail novice due to the lack of high elevation, these courses make up for the comforts of sea level by blistering ascents and quad crushing scrambles. Bear Mountain, in upstate NY, kicks off the 2013 series and as expected, the race did not disappoint. Even the half marathon distance was a gnarly, toothy beast that left many a runner bloody, broken and wondering why they didn’t just stay in bed that morning.

This man is delusional.

This man is delusional.

I knew something was wrong the minute I got to the race site. The transportation was flawless, the weather was perfect, and the facilities 1st class, including internet stations, post-race ice bath/massage tents and even a gas fireplace to keep you warm before the start (sadly, no smores). There may as well have been a trail of breadcrumbs leading all the way to a pot of boiling water. Sure enough, at 8AM, 700 runners started up the side of the mountain to one of the more rocky starts I’ve ever seen.

ice baths!  ok - let's do this thing!

I’m pretty sure if there was a rock, boulder, or pebble this side of the Appalachian Trail it was left on Bear Mountain that Sunday. It seemed like every time there was a section that was runnable, I would turn a corner and the shards would poke out of the ground like gophers at an amusement park, slowing my pace to a stagger.

The stakes kept on going up. Every step increased the risk for a turned ankle, face plant, or branch in the face. Fatigue made that all the more likely. Navigating your way through the rocks required a heightened sense of awareness. It’s an unfortunate maxum that you run better when relaxed and in a rhythm – alas, there was no taking your eyes off the road and no room for complacency.

mile 9 why DO you mock me so....

mile 9 why DO you mock me so….

The race profile really doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the course. It really had everything: roots, low hanging trees, downed trees you had to climb over, steep ups, steep steep downs, wooden bridges that worked, wooden bridges that buckled like a trampoline, stream crossings, road, scree, dirt, mud, pavement, scrambles, slab, and grass. A punishing course to be sure, but it was still a lot of fun and well worth the price of admission.

Just a few scratches...

Just a few scratches…

Here are a few more highlights and insights:
– Dean Karnazes, again. I think that guy is stalking me. He was at Boston, Chicago and now here. Leave me alone, ultra-skinny man.
– Hot day. Why must we always over-dress for the heat? Admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it – get with the program, son!
– I must have kicked several rocks during the race and knew it would be trouble later; didn’t slow me down but two days later: it’s black toe city.
– Had a major trail shoe failure – Brooks Cascadia are awesome, but they just didn’t do the trick this time around – blisters 2 miles in. Too much lateral shifting.
– If your blisters don’t pop, then ride it out – two days later and all healed without doing anything other than applying some patience.
– Hydration vest new gear success – Ultimate Direction AK pack; real helpful for the balancing act over uneven terrain to have both hands free and enough fluid for close to 3 hours on the trail.
– Still loving Tailwind Nutrition. Also incorporating SHOT blocks with extra salt and once again, zero crampage.
– Ok, let’s climb over a tree. Now under a tree. Now over a tree. You get the idea.

Come on everyone - the beer is THIS way!

Come on everyone – the beer is THIS way!

– People still wear iPods; I really don’t know why TNF doesn’t ban them. Yet again, my calls for “passing on the left” were ignored. Just say No to music in the woods (I hope the Bear ate ‘em ).
– Even walking the ascents (hands on legs), I still placed in the top 35%; think that’s more a comment on the challenge of the terrain over my leg-speed.
– I could really see the difference in technical skills on the descents; I had the afterburners on for the ride downhill, screaming past people that were faster than me on the ups – so walking the uphills didn’t really make a difference.
– One section was at a 45 degree sideways slant; destroys the ankles and the spirit.
– Lots of roots, a few river crossings – and even some bog to make me homesick for the UK.
– Lots of bloody knees at the end of this race. I didn’t see any casualties; maybe they left them in the woods as a peace offering for The Bear.
– By the end, I was begging for asphalt and ashamed for saying it out loud. So sad I have forsaken you, noble forest!
– There were more than two sections of road/pavement – more than I would have expected. However, it did mean an outhouse if people needed to pit stop; I didn’t use it but talk about 1st class accommodations – I wasn’t kidding.
– Two words: false summit – talk about tricks on the mind. These false summits just kept on coming – no way to run it out; think I counted 5 consecutive monster hills in the last 2 miles – there was just no stopping the bear…

OMG - What did I do?!?!

OMG – What did I do?!?!

I finished in just over 2.5 hours and felt pretty good about it even though my road time is now approaching 1:48 ( the sprint finish with a 61 year old probably didn’t help my ego, but still ). Road runners will be shocked at just how slow one travels off-road, but it is “good thing” to be humbled by the environment. The elements cough you up like a Jonah and this experience will pay dividends in the future. Given how many sections were so treacherous, I was going to be happy with any time that put me ahead of the cut-offs and out of harms way.

The true measure of any race is not the time it takes to get it done, but the quality of the experience. Running the trails is a great way to keep perspective and hopefully bring it back with you to the road. TNF Bear Mountain was a great experience and I expect to do many more in the future. I’m almost positive that by next year the bite marks will heal.

Barefoot Victory!

Barefoot Victory!

Links:

TNF Endurance Challenge

Ultimate Direction Hydration Vest

Brooks Cascadia

Tailwind Nutrition Products

CLIF Shots – Margaritas w/Con Mucho Sol

Six months and nearly a full marathon training cycle have passed since I last wrote in this blog to confirm my acceptance into the 2013 Boston Marathon. So much has happened during this time that I don’t even know where to begin – but I do know that it wouldn’t feel right to cross the start line of the Boston Marathon this Monday without saying a few words here first! The creation of FFR was, after all, inspired by my first BQ in the 2010 NYC Marathon, and through this blog I’ve documented the many ups and downs that ultimately led me to my second (and more importantly, accepted) BQ in the 2012 Chicago Marathon.

Runner's Passport  Last 20 miler in my Boston gear!  Pace bands

It’s Boston Marathon weekend at last and I finally have some time to take a step back and appreciate how hard I’ve worked to get here. Before I comment on my training and how I feel going into this epic weekend, let’s give this race some context with some highlights from October – April!

 Before the start  Crossing the finish line  Beer at the finish  Post-finish with E

October of course was all about crushing the Chicago Marathon and getting one of the last remaining Boston Marathon spots, with registration closing the following weekend. My semester became really challenging, hence the extended blog hiatus, which meant that I didn’t have the opportunity to finish writing about my wonderful experience coaching the Gilda’s Club. The NYC Marathon in November was of course cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy (which is another story, given E and I practically live on the East River) but many of my runners completed other races and made me very proud. I really hope that I get the chance to coach Gilda’s again this year!

Post-engagement in Nisene  At the beach before sharing the news!  Redwood forest

Thankfully November wasn’t just about natural disasters…E proposed to me on Thanksgiving morning in Nisene Marks, in the middle of a long run (obviously) on the most gorgeous day. Forget about Chicago or Boston – that will always be the best run of my life! We’re getting married this June in a beautiful outdoor venue amongst the redwoods – basically a wedding-appropriate version of Nisene. Check out that staircase – what an entrance! Planning this event from across the country while in grad school, through marathon training and everything else has been a huge challenge, but everything will come together….eventually…I hope!

My accomplishments of December – February  included successfully finishing a hellish semester, celebrating the New Year with E, making progress on wedding planning in CA, kicking off Boston Marathon training and completing my Dietetic Internship applications (which took FOREVER). By this point I felt like I was just in one endless marathon without any recovery time, which is I suppose a fairly accurate description since I started this program in January 2012.

Leading a pack of men!  PR woohoo!  NYC Half finish line

In March, despite not being able to prioritize my Boston training and fighting off an old injury, I somehow managed to PR in the NYC Half, beating my previous best time from 4.5 years ago (the Royal Parks Half Marathon, in London) with a time of 1:37:21. Granted, it was a PR of only 13 seconds or so, but I hadn’t even come close to this time since I set it. The fastest I had run up until this race was 1:39:47, 2.5 years ago, so this was a very long awaited victory! The best part was that I felt so strong throughout the race and at the finish. My supposed peak training week that followed the race, which I spent in CA doing another week of intensive wedding planning, was pretty much thwarted by a bad stomach flu followed immediately by a cold, but at least I had my shiny new PR to build confidence for Boston!

And that brings us to April…which thus far seems to resemble the start of the Boston Marathon course, with a lot of downhills throughout the first half. Actually, the last week has felt more like someone came up from behind and shoved me off a cliff. You’re probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about so I’ll share – Match Day was on April 7th and I did not match. DI matching is an insanely competitive process, but to say that this came as a shock to me is a massive understatement. I haven’t talked much about it since I found out because, quite frankly, it’s embarrassing. It’s the first time I’ve failed at something significant in my life – I’m trying to put a positive spin on it by telling myself it’s a healthy thing to experience (ha!). It’s true, but after how hard I’ve worked since starting this program, and with everything building up to Match Day, receiving this news was a huge blow. Thankfully, I can continue to work on my Master’s (I have about two more semesters left anyway) and reapply to DI’s next year, so not the end of the world!

It took me a few days to accept what happened, mainly because I couldn’t make any sense of it. And I still can’t. But hey – if I’ve learned anything from Boston, it’s that you may not always succeed the first time around and if you want something, you just have to pick yourself up and try again. I qualified nearly three years ago, but my time was rejected and it took two more tries to get my acceptance! So, the timing of this race is perfect. I need a reminder that not everything comes easily, and I also need something positive and exciting this week to help me move forward, literally and figuratively.

That said, the sleep deprivation and anxiety I’ve been experiencing have not been so great for my marathon prep and despite my half PR, I’m not quite sure what to expect on Monday. I’m exhausted. And it’s been awhile since I’ve run a tough marathon course. My sights are still set on attempting to run a 3:35 again – would be pretty cool to BQ in Boston – but the great news is that I don’t have to! My Chicago time qualifies me for next year’s Boston, so if on Monday I want to focus on enjoying the race more than racing it, or if I race it and just don’t have a BQ in me that day, no biggie!

I want to run a strong race but it’s a relief not feeling the pressure I felt before running Chicago. In Chicago, I was there to get the job done. In Boston, I’ll be at the start simply grateful to be a part of such a historic and incredible race – and hoping not to get my ass handed to me at the finish. I’m really looking forward to driving to Boston with E and my parents (who flew in from CA to watch me race), focusing on this long-awaited weekend and leaving everything else behind me. No homework, no DI stress, no to do lists – just Boston, my loved ones, my fellow runners and the amazing crowds.

I can’t wait! Good luck to everyone else running on Monday! If you want to track me, I’m 14865. 🙂

I’m still buzzing from this morning’s Bronx 10 miler. At last, I set a goal for myself and I didn’t let it slip away (and believe me, I was close)! My target was 1:15 – an average pace of 7:30min/mile – which I thought would challenge me in the context of this week’s training without killing me and would also serve as a good diagnostic in terms of how my body is feeling, with only four weeks to go until the Chicago marathon! I ran a PR of 1:14:52, placing 687 of 5719 finishers, 84 of 2546 women and 27 of 1402 in my age group. I felt strong while I was running, I felt even better after the race and my new shoes rock (despite the fact that they are not purple)!

  

Ten miles is officially my new favorite distance to race! It has all the fun of a half but without the pain of those last few miles. Don’t get me wrong, there’s pain involved, but it’s not as speedy and sharp as a 10k or as drawn out as a half. It’s just right. I must sign up for another one soon!

The course was an out and back, starting right near Yankee Stadium – a bit boring in parts and certainly not flat, but the roads were wide and for once, crowds were not an issue. The only thing slowing me down was myself! I wasn’t feeling super confident about my speed, so I started out relatively conservatively. My motivation started to lag around mile 5 – it was warm and I could feel the effects of not doing enough speed work. I also was out of practice with water stations and was losing too much time grabbing a cup, so I stopped drinking after mile 6, since I was already about 30 seconds off my goal. I knew I could make up the time, and reminded myself of how I had just barely missed my NYC half goal and had a lot left in the tank because I had waited too long to get back on track. I’m often on the cusp and am so glad that I was able to turn my race around, to prove that I can and will dig deep rather than give up when I am fighting for my time in Chicago.

My last three miles were strong and I had one of the best sprint finishes that I’ve had in ages. I must give some credit to a man who yelled out, “Strong finish, come on!” and began his surge with two miles to go. I had already picked up the pace but forced myself to stay right behind him – no backing down! I’ve often served, unknowingly, as a pacer to other runners who thank me at the end for getting them through – it was nice to be on the other end today. I mean, that’s why we race, right? Not only to test ourselves and keep our bodies strong and fit, but also to run with others – to socialize, to help each other out, to fire up the competitive spirit, to be part of something larger.

Here I am with friends before the race…

And after!

 

Because all on my own, today just wouldn’t have been as fun or as meaningful. It’s all about sharing pre-race nerves/excitement on the way to the start line as well as post-race exuberance/pain/frustration etc. at the finish line – that completes my racing experience. I didn’t have E with me today, who visited family this weekend and could no longer race, but I did have the support and encouragement of my running buddy and four of my Gilda’s runners, who all rocked the race and made me proud! Also, I finally met Celia, who blogs at runningseal.com – it was a brief hello but nice to finally meet someone I have been interacting with online for a long time!

Now I’m home and thinking about my last four weeks of training, which I have yet to plan out. Perhaps I should have been aiming for a faster 10M time (1:13ish?) today to match my Chicago goal of sub-3:35. According to my RRCA race predictor chart, my 10M time of 1:14:52 is right in line with a half marathon time of 1:39:47, which is the exact time I ran in the Run to the Beat half marathon in September 2010. These charts are always a bit off in my experience – the marathon times are very generous, and there are just so many variables that affect race times – but I find it very interesting that today’s time lines up exactly with my other half time. If that half marathon time led to my 3:39 in NYC, a much tougher course than Chicago, then maybe – just maybe – I have some hope of getting under 3:35 next month. If nothing else, I think (hope!) I can get a marathon PR!

Either way, I have my work cut out for me in the next couple of weeks. I need to start working in some faster running and I also need to do a bit more hills/strength training. I haven’t been totally delinquent, but not as disciplined as I was a couple years ago. I was contemplating chucking my last 20 miler this weekend but I think I will stick with a long run, perhaps cut down a few miles and add a chunk of MP running. School still has to be my priority this month – and it’s going to be a very, very crazy month as far as my classes go – but today’s race renewed my determination to give it my all in Chicago.

Nothing like running in a downpour and getting soaked to the bone to kick off the week! It’s NASTY out there for sure – but it kinda felt good after the heat of Saturday’s Brooklyn Half Marathon. Okay, maybe only for the first few minutes (as I still try to get water out of my ears)…

As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t sure how this race was going to go. Both E and I were a bit of a mess this week – E in particular, with jet lag, the beginnings of a cold and no recent experience running in warm weather. We ended up missing our sub-1:50 goal by a few minutes, but it was still a great race and a fun, productive weekend overall.

  

We woke up at 4am to eat and arrived at Prospect Park around 5:45am – surprisingly we were both feeling somewhat awake! Even at that early hour, it felt a little too comfortable out – no need for garbage bags or long sleeved shirts. Yep, it was going to be a hot one!

The race was fairly well organized – we dropped our bag and headed to the start. My one complaint was that there were no bathrooms in the corrals, which closed at 6:40am for the 7am start. E had to make a last minute run to the trees! I was tempted to do the same but managed to control myself.

The first couple of miles of the race were CROWDED – much more so than the NYC Half, partly because the roads were a bit more narrow but also because we were of course quite a bit further back than where I usually start. It was frustrating having to weave so much and zapped some of E’s energy, but eventually we got into a groove and we were right on pace by mile 2.

However, by that point, it was already obvious that E was going to have some trouble with the heat. I established a system for each water station to try to keep him hydrated and moving at a steady pace – I would sprint ahead to grab two waters – one for him at that point, and another one for a half mile or so later to carry him through to the next station. It was a bit hard to keep the water in the cup as I ran, but I managed to keep enough in there most of the time (once I handed it to him and it was empty – oops – he was pissed!). It was a good system for the most part – and a great fartlek workout for me – although he did say that later in the race when he was really struggling, my offering water in between miles was a slight distraction from his attempts to “get in the zone.”

Once we hit the big hill after mile 4, he started to struggle a bit. We were still within reach of our goal as we left the park around mile 7, and I tried practically every motivational technique I could think of to get him to keep up with me and make up lost time in the park, but it just wasn’t working. I was hoping we would at least get him a PR (under 1:52:40ish), but he kept slowing down with each mile and by mile 11/12 it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen unless he really picked it up.

It was a slightly frustrating experience for me. I was concerned about him in the later miles so that was of course my priority – making sure he was okay and staying hydrated – but I also really wanted him to reach his goal and I couldn’t get him to stay anywhere close to on pace. You can only do so much to get your runner to stay with you, I suppose! It just wasn’t his day. I did get a compliment from another runner along the way that I was a “great support team” so that was nice.

I’m not sure why, but every NYRR race lately seems to involve narrowing roads and multiple sharp turns in the last 400 meters. Very annoying! In this case it didn’t matter so much as we were already off our goal, but I was still trying to get E to pick it up at the end. There was a slight bottle neck as we turned onto the boardwalk and then it was a straight shot to the finish. After all those miles of trying to get E to stop slowing down and to keep up with me, he suddenly sprinted towards the finish like a bat out of hell. We had joked that this race – our first race we were running together – would be his golden opportunity to cross the finish line before me (I had told him that would be his reward if he reached his goal). He had been struggling so much I was shocked by how fast he was going – I obviously wasn’t going to let him finish first so I went into full gear. A woman was right in front of me so I had to slow down at the last second, thinking E had finished first, but guess what? We tied, with a time of 1:53:57 – haha! Nice try, E – you will never beat me!

  

Despite not reaching our goal, finishing together was pretty special. He gave me a big sweaty hug and it was just so nice to share the actual finishing experience. I was proud of him – even though that sprint indicated a bit too much left in the tank, I know he tried his best.

I was also really pleased with my first pacing experience – it certainly is a fine art, figuring out how to motivate your runner, what to say (if anything), what to do if your runner is struggling etc. You need to know your runner well, and you also have to accept that you can only do so much to make it happen! I also discovered that running a half around that pace with minimal training is not a problem at all for me – it wasn’t easy but I wasn’t working that hard either, so that’s good to know for the future, as I definitely plan to offer pacing as one of my coaching services. I would certainly pay someone to pace me, sprint ahead to get me water etc!

  

We met up with my running buddy afterwards, who got a PR – impressive in that heat! It was my first time in Coney Island and we had a great time wandering around on such a beautiful day and in such a festive atmosphere. I would definitely do that race again!

  

We tried to wait on line for a Nathan’s hotdog but it was just too long…oh well, another time!

We did, however, have some amazing food later in the day in the West Village. We wandered all around town and ended up meeting a friend at a great little restaurant with outdoor tables. A bottle of bubbly, pizza, salad, burrata, sunshine….oh yeah, it was awesome. My first weekend without any studying to do, in great company and incredible weather! It felt amazing.

  

And now, after a wonderful weekend, I’m flying to California. Time to head to the airport! My family, friends, redwood forests and beautiful beach await me…

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

Big bowl of healthy and mostly plant-based goodness after some mid-day strength training! Chopped kale (massaged with miso lemon vinaigrette), spinach, leftover roasted spiced cauliflower, sliced almonds, hemp seeds, black beans, feta & golden raisins. Don’t forget to register for tonight’s NYC Marathon event at @finishlinept tonight (link in bio), where I will be answering all of your nutrition questions! Having a plank off with the babe! 😂 #gameface #Repost @wellseek (@get_repost)
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Quality fuel means quality runs. 🙌🏃
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From micros to macros, it's important for endurance runners to cover all of your essential fueling needs. Let’s break down what’s needed and where to get it from with @eatforendurance #linkinbio #ExpertsWhoSeek Fueling an active morning (heading to the @crunchfitnesss #crunchgoespink event shortly) with this tasty, balanced breakfast! Ricotta and homemade blueberry compote (thanks leftover baby food!) and almond butter and banana on @shewolfbakery bread from the farmer's market. 👌🏻 This may not be much to look at, but was seriously tasty!! Sautéed two portobello mushrooms in olive oil and white miso paste (added an awesome flavor) and added a fried egg and a dollop of whole milk ricotta. Happy Friday! Who's running the @nycmarathon? @finishlinept is hosting a great event (register at link in bio), and I'll be on a panel of experts to answer all of your burning nutrition questions!

Join Finish Line Physical Therapy and Tailwind Endurance on Monday, October 23, as we welcome a panel of experts to discuss the ins, outs and secrets to success at the New York City Marathon. If you’re racing, you won’t want to miss this!

We’re assuming you’ve already gotten great advice from a coach about marathon training (“nothing new on race day,” right?). Now you need all of the inside-scoop, nitty-gritty details to have your best race at the New York City Marathon – and we’re here to give it to you! Join us for what promises to be a great night of discussion and insider knowledge on race weekend, event logistics and the race course.​

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