You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘travel’ category.

img_0056

The Big Sur marathon offers a chance to experience dramatic landscapes along Highway 1 while tackling a challenging course. For this reason, it’s considered a great destination race for runners across the globe. This marathon has been on my bucket list for years, as it combines two things I love: running, which started in high school not far from the finish line in Monterey, and Northern California, where I grew up. Big Sur in particular has always been a magical place for me, in part due to yearly camping trips with my family when I was young, which is why I wanted it to be the first marathon I ran in my home state!

E and I had already signed up for the marathon when an old friend of mine from high school asked if we would join his relay team, We Be Crazies. He’s been trying to get me to run for the last 7 years, but the timing was never quite right. Doing the relay and the marathon seemed a bit nuts, but apparently we could run Leg 1 (4.9 miles) and then continue onwards to complete the marathon. I was on the “A” open female team that won 1st place last year, which meant that I was expected to run as fast as possible for the first 5 miles. Not exactly ideal marathon pacing strategy, but I was never planning for this race to be a fast one, and I was excited for a potential podium finish!

img_0182

img_0231

 

 

 

 

 

We flew in from NYC late Thursday night before the Sunday race, allowing us to stay on East Coast time. Very important when you have a 3am wakeup call race morning! We had a relaxing day at my parent’s house in Santa Cruz on Friday, including some nice walks on the beach to calm our taper crazies, and drove down to the expo on Saturday. The expo was small (you don’t need much time there) but had some great speakers. I particularly enjoyed meeting Bart Yasso – he shared an entertaining and powerful story about how he became the Chief Running Officer of RW, and all the adventures and health challenges that he has experienced since. His book is great too!

Bart’s main message was the following: you may not always have your health, but no one can take away your positive attitude or your passion for the sport. This proved very helpful on race day while being blown to pieces by crazy headwinds and feeling unusually fatigued early in the race. I could either think about how crappy I felt, or focus on the gorgeous views and how fortunate I was to be running in such a special part of the world. Attitude is everything!

The race was very well organized, with shuttles in several convenient locations. We stayed at the Hampton Inn (5 min walk from the shuttle at Embassy Suites), which was brand new and very comfy. It also was only a short drive from the expo (note – it says Monterey but really it is one block away from Seaside). The staff was great about letting us use their microwave to reheat our pre-race meals (salmon, zucchini and rice for lunch and pasta with mushrooms for dinner), and cooking oatmeal at 3am. As for gear, I had never run in my relay singlet and it was very big, so I layered it over my usual racing tank and the awkward baton fit nicely into my arm sleeve so I didn’t have to grip it.

The bus took about 75 minutes to get to the start line in Big Sur – a slow ride of peering out into the darkness. We got to the athlete village around 5:30am, which was extremely small and crowded (there isn’t much space to put everyone off of the highway). We were essentially dumped into a convoluted, massive line for the porta potties. Thankfully, the hilarious signs on each one kept us laughing. For example, “Tesla charging station,” “Las Vegas bus leaves here,” “Only for under 40 years old,” “Toasty 75 degrees inside,” and my favorite – “Condo for rent.” Not much of an exaggeration for California! The mile markers also had funny pictures and sayings – the race organizers definitely have a great sense of humor, and I appreciated the laughs while mentally toughing it out on the course.

Despite the crowds, we soon reunited with our fellow We Be Crazies Leg 1 runners. Because the highway remains open until 6am, the start line is only put up right before the race begins. They also load the corals differently – slowest runners first to get them further down the highway and fastest first. My friend encouraged me to start at the very front, which seemed crazy since my “fast” pace is slow compared to the front runners. But hey – it was my only opportunity to start at the very front of a major race, so I figured why not go for it! It was such a rush, running down that hill. I knew I would be passed immediately (and I was) at my 7:07 pace, however it was still awesome.

13220985_10100537568944406_6695302231882239940_n

The weather was cool and cloudy but fairly protected by the redwoods during my relay leg. It was so peaceful and mostly downhill – though certainly not “all downhill” as everyone kept saying (never believe that statement with regards to this race). There were several climbs though relative to the rest of the course, I suppose they were quite small. I felt strong and happy with my pacing, even though it would bite me later in the race.

After the handoff at mile 4.9, I felt sick. But sick = nice job on the relay! I shifted gears and slowed down to catch my breath and settle into a more sustainable pace. It wasn’t really a choice anyway as this was the point at which the roads opened up and the wind reared its ugly head! Large groups of runners kept passing me by, making me wish I could run fast enough to keep up so that I could get some protection from the wind. This sign definitely rubbed it in – all lies! Those hills felt endless…because they were.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

By mile 10 I was exhausted and the wind and slanted roads were taking a toll. I focused on how lucky I was to be there and on one of many long hills, the following mantra popped into m head: “Never ever ever give up.” I repeated it to myself over and over again and particularly while climbing hills to the rhythm of my feet.

13115977_10100530316613136_3672200462265853345_o

The taiko drums before hurricane point really locked in my mantra. You feel the sounds reverberate in your soul. These drums are a call to battle – in this case, the battle within against the never-ending hill! The fluid, powerful movements of the drummers were inspiring.

At the top of hurricane point it was so windy I literally could not move forward. It stopped me in my tracks and nearly blew me over! Good thing I ran during some crazy snowstorms back in NYC – who would’ve guessed it would be great Big Sur training? Usually you can make up time running downhill but the wind was so strong, it wasn’t worth the energy to push against it.

Bixby bridge was magical. We didn’t have blue skies like the last time I visited Big Sur, but the views were just as beautiful. You could hear the piano way before you even saw the bridge – the music floating faintly in the wind with sounds of crashing waves down below. This race clearly was not going to be a fast one, so I made sure to stop and really soak it in.

Just after the bridge, E cruised by me! I was beyond happy to see his face. He was looking strong and I could barely keep up with him at first. We settled into a slow but steady pace for 10 miles or so, occasionally saying a few words but mostly focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

Around mile 22 or 23, I finally got my groove back while E started to fall behind. I needed to keep moving so we parted ways. I hit the strawberry aid station – yes, an aid station with super sweet, fresh local strawberries – where I ran into an old friend from college. Turns out she lives in the neighborhood, and since they’re blocked in for the day they have a party!

The slant of the roads was tough on the body – I tried to find a sweet spot on the road but getting comfortable was nearly impossible. It was the first time in a marathon I wanted to walk but somehow I kept myself running. Knowing my parents were waiting for me at the finish helped me finish strong – it was the first time they were watching me race a marathon since Boston 2013. I saw my parents screaming in the spectator stands and was proud to finish in 4:08. It was my slowest marathon time ever but I still fought hard for it and took time to soak in the scenery – and that’s what matters.

E finished shortly after me in 4:16 – it was a strong run for him, given it was only a few minutes off of his flat course PR. The medals were awesome – ceramic with leather cords. Definitely a unique one to add to our collection!

Our relay team’s success certainly sweetened my slow personal finish! We Be Crazies won four awards – 1st overall, 1st open male, and 2nd and 3rd open female. My team won 2nd – we missed 1st by 15min – but we still rocked it with a time of 3:19!

After the awards ceremony, we celebrated together with an Indian buffet before heading back to Santa Cruz. As much as I love the solo nature of running and racing, I also enjoy being part of a competitive team. It’s not just about you achieving your personal goals – people are counting on you, which make you want to push that much harder. Doing both the relay and the marathon was a real challenge, but it was pretty cool to race hard for my team and then be able to battle it out for myself. I highly recommend this race – you can choose one of the shorter distances if you wish to experience the course without committing to the full 26.2!

After Big Sur, we got to relax in Santa Cruz with my family. As much as I love NYC, I hadn’t been home  in a year and I can’t tell you how amazing it was to be back. Our bodies ached for several days but we quickly recovered with daily beach walks, lots of delicious food, and massage. One week later, my legs felt refreshed and I had one of my all-time best beach runs, from La Selva to Seacliff (10 miles)! Perfect conditions – low tide and sunny with a cool breeze – combined with an awesome playlist led to some unexpectedly fast miles.

A trip to California wouldn’t be complete without a run in the redwoods. I did a couple short runs with E on the trails in Nisene Marks as well as a hike and meditation session with a close friend down by the Buddha bridge, my favorite spot in the forest. It was the perfect way to end a beautiful, active week!

I’ve had two weeks to process my second ultra marathon, and I’m still amazed that I pulled it off. I wasn’t just attempting to run 65km in the Canadian wilderness; I was flying to Montreal after work, driving 5+ hours to La Malbaie, getting on a bus the next morning at 5am with a small group of mostly French speaking locals to run 40 miles on an unfamiliar trail with a potentially fractured wrist, then driving back to Montreal and flying to NYC the following day. It was a full-on endurance weekend in unknown territory on all fronts. Then again, it’s not the first time I’ve done crazy things in the name of running, and I wasn’t alone on my trail running adventure!

E and I found the North Face sponsored Ultra Trail du Harricana (UTHC) race somewhat by chance, when searching for a “fun” ultra that fit into our restrictive fall schedule. E ran the JFK50 last year and originally wanted do a longer ultra closer to home on his own, but we had so much fun running the North Face ECSDC 50k in April – my first ultra – that I convinced him we should take on our next challenge together. UTHC was appealing in that it offered a point to point course on trails at a distance that seemed like a reasonable next step up from a 50k (in retrospect, JFK50 would have been easier). I’m very much a solo racer on road, but out on the trails I love company, especially for a race that advises you to carry a bell to ward off bears, only has four aid stations and isn’t heavily populated. Also, it was my birthday – what better way to celebrate entering my mid 30s than eating delicious food in Montreal, driving to middle-of-nowhere Quebec, and running together for 11 hours? That sounds like a romantic, fun weekend – sign me up!

IMG_7852 IMG_7864

After a long day of driving, we arrived at Le Mont Grand-Fonds (the race finish area) in Charlevoix around 5pm the day before the race for packet pickup. It was a gorgeous day – not a cloud in the sky and quite warm. I had feared icy rain (common weather this time of the year, apparently) and was very grateful the skies remained clear for us! As we wandered up to the finish line to take a few photos, I had trouble believing that I was racing the following day. I had barely run for two weeks, so my legs felt heavier than usual during a taper. Although I had received the all-clear from my sports Dr to run, he was concerned about the weight of my splint (potential strain to my neck) and the risk of me falling again and worsening my injury. My MRI was scheduled for two days after the race, so we didn’t even know if my wrist was broken or sprained, and my legs remained bruised from my fall. As if I needed more reasons to be nervous! I promised myself that I would try my best and pursue three goals, in order of importance: be safe (i.e. stay upright), have fun, and finish (if able).

UTHC offered several distances – 125k, 65k, 28k, 10k and 5k. Most of the people we met were doing the ultras. We explored the finish line area, which mainly consisted of a merchandise stand, an info tent, and a couple food/sports product stands. I was shocked that the race did not include a t-shirt given the North Face sponsorship and the price to enter – it was the first race that I have done that didn’t give one with entry! I caved and forked over $30 for a t-shirt…cool wolf logo, though didn’t have our event distance on it sadly and wasn’t great quality fabric.

We attended the small opening ceremony, thinking the race organizers would explain important details about the course, but it mostly included speeches in French about the history of the race. We had a TON of organizing to do back at the hotel, but we were glad we stayed to experience the energy and excitement of the other runners. They had a translator on site, which was a nice touch for a race seeking to attract more international participants (there were only a few other “yanks” this year). Too bad no one was around to interpret the key race details that were announced right before the gun went off the next morning, such as what color flags to follow and which to avoid! Thankfully I speak a little French and we caught the important bits.

IMG_7839

Back at the hotel, we frantically crammed our hydration vests with everything we would need for the race. We stayed at the Hotel-Motel Castel del la Mer – highly recommend for a comfy, affordable room! The first floor with handicapped shower was a plus (amazing for post-race). Poor E had to do the bulk of the packing given I had limited use of my right hand, and just when we thought we were done the outer strap broke on my vest, so we had to get creative to keep my jacket in place. We managed to cram in 22 gels (I used SIS Go-gels orange flavor, PowerGel Vanilla, and VFuel citrus), 2L of water, salt pills (S-tabs), light jacket, extra calf sleeve (which I used under my splint to prevent chaffing), whistle, and a variety of smaller items. My original plan was to use 400 cal of Tailwind instead of some gels, but I wasn’t able to grab the bottles with my wrist in the splint. Packing took forever, but we had just enough time to put our feet up, watch some horrible French dubbed TV, and get to bed early for our 3:30am wakeup!

IMG_7858

Runners in the 65k event had to catch a 5am shuttle at the finish area, which is about 20-30min drive from the hotel. This worked well, as that way we could drive home after finishing, and we were also able to leave a drop bag at the start that would be driven to the end so we wouldn’t have to forfeit our warm clothing. Everything was very well organized – we got on the school bus and were shuttled in the darkness to Hautes-Gorges National Park. It took about an hour to get there, at which point the sun was rising and the sky was neon pink. The bus stopped in a parking lot and no one really knew what was going on – we started to trickle off the bus and runners wandered in all directions. Only a few people spoke English. Eventually some race officials turned up and pointed us towards the start area, where there was a welcome center (warmth! bathrooms!) and then further on, the actual start line. Well, for us at least – for the 125k runners, it was just another aid station!

IMG_7862

We started at 7am with beautiful mountains in the distance. I had expected some great views from the tops of those mountains, but our course didn’t seem to have any – we were more in the thick of things – still beautiful though! We started out conservatively, my usual pacing strategy, plus it always takes me at least a few miles to wake up in these early, long trail races. Sun was streaming through the trees and the air was cool and fresh. Runners quickly spread out once we hit the trails, and we ended up towards the back of the pack. Fast field!

FullSizeRender-2

Although we had read the course description and studied the elevation profile (above), the course was not quite what we had expected. Actually, we didn’t know what to expect! We knew there would be challenging terrain and some tough climbs, but we had hoped the trails would be a little more runnable than they were…to us at least! Many runners were flying over sections that we had to power hike. We encountered pretty much every terrain you can possibly imagine – paved road, packed dirt, sand, rocks, roots, mud, SERIOUS mud (thigh deep, the kind that suctions you down), streams, all forms of sketchy moss covered planks and bridges with huge holes, gravel, fallen trees, trees trying to trap you and poke your eyes out, bushes smacking you in the face, dusty fire roads…you name it, it was there.

Amazingly, except for the quicksand mud and the water we ran through, we had managed to train for all of it throughout the summer, during our trips to Hawaii, Vermont, and throughout NY. The terrain was particularly challenging given I had to be extra careful not to fall, and could not use my right hand to grab onto trees etc while circumnavigating various obstacles. We did a lot more walking than usual to avoid taking risks on tricky technical sections. It was amazing to see runners pass us and quickly disappear – especially the 125k runners! Truly inspiring. 

IMG_7868 IMG_7867 IMG_7856

One of my favorite things about running trail races is making new trail buddies. We thought everyone had passed us as we made our way towards the first aid station when we met a lovely woman from Nova Scotia tagging along behind us. I was beyond grateful for her company, between her helping me through the insane mud to laughing together at E when the mud ate his leg to chatting about music among many other things. Trail buddies are the best and certainly help the miles go by! We separated at the first aid station (pictured below) and were happy to see her cheering for us at the finish line later that day. She was one of many DNFs that day – 10 in the 65k and 34 in the 125k! Really tough course!

FullSizeRender-6

E wrote a detailed, awesome description of the course on Trailz.io, his trail running site. Check it out! He captures the spirit of our race and covers all the gory details, so I won’t rehash it all here.

However, I do want to talk about race cut-offs. I am usually a mid-pack runner and have never had to worry about them before. UTHC had cut-offs at the last three aid stations that they called “very generous.” I think that’s a stretch, but I understand that they were for safety purposes (mostly, to match hours of sunlight). It never occurred to me that cut-offs would be an issue for our race, but after having done a LOT more power hiking than we had planned to do, we found out that we were already running at cut-off pace at the first aid station (mile 13). We started to panic – had we done all that training and come all this way only to be pulled from the course? We had to pick up the pace or else!

FullSizeRender-4

I continued to feel strong and as the hours ticked by, the idea of not being allowed to finish when I knew I could made me angry. There was no f-ing way we were not going to finish! (So much for being goal #3).

I wish I had been able to enjoy the beautiful scenery a bit more and chill out at the aid stations, but racing against those cut-offs actually made our race AMAZING. It lit a fire inside of us and made us truly run as a team. And that sense of teamwork – of accomplishing something great with the man I love – that is exactly why I wanted to run another ultra with E!!

The following moments stand out to me.

*Passing runners after the first aid station – slowly reeling them in after they left us in the dust hours earlier! One of my strengths is pacing over long distances, and I love that feeling of passing runners in the later stages of a race as I hone in on my goals. I don’t say this from a competitive standpoint – UTHC’s tagline is “Je suis loup” or “I am wolf,” pointing to running as a team or wolf pack, and supporting one another throughout the race. That’s what trail running is all about! Passing people wasn’t about placement, but rather about making progress, coming back to life, and seizing control of our race. Each runner I passed gave me energy.

*Flying down a dusty fire road towards what we thought was the first official cut off and thinking we had over an hour to spare (nope – that would be the next one)! It was crazy hot by this point. We had run out of water. I somehow never had any severe emotional or physical lows in this race, but I certainly felt fear and doubt at this point.

*Coming across bear (or some big animal we didn’t want to encounter) poop on the trail. E singing Taylor Swift loudly – really E?! Okay, I sang too.

*Fighting to make the real first cut-off (3:30pm at 46.5km). The distance between the second and third aid stations seemed relatively short (~7km) and yet we needed every minute we had to cover it. The trails were technical and we had to hike many sections. Finally hitting a steady downhill that we could run was a relief. The trail remained technical, yet I had a mantra that got me in the zone – “focus, small steps.” I said this aloud to myself over and over again for several km to stay focused and avoid a fall. Every step was intentionally placed. E and I seemed to enter an altered state – each focused intensely on our own bodies and yet moving together, cursing under our breath, “we’re going to f-ing make that cut-off,” practically sprinting towards the aid station down a fire road. By the time we got there, I felt superhuman. I have never experienced such intense euphoria like that before. After a brief refuel, I took off up a hill and E had to calm me down so I would better pace myself for the next tough section!

*REALLY fighting to make the last cut-off (4:53pm at 54km). We had another 7km to go and it was HARD. I didn’t crash but that high ended. We had a long climb ahead of us and E was hitting some pretty bad lows. Lots of power hiking and words of encouragement got him through. We finally hit another glorious downhill and morphed back into our crazed, focused states. We had actually trained for this exact moment – we raced miles from the top of Bear Mountain all the way to Manitou station, sprinting down the final hill to make a train. Little did I know how important that training run would be! We flew into that last aid station with more than ten minutes to spare. It was a glorious feeling. Only 8km to go and no more cut-offs to worry about. This photo says it all – YES!

FullSizeRender-5

Those last 8km were BRUTAL. “Oh, this will be easy,” we thought. “No more cut-offs.” Ha! Turns out sprinting downhill after having run for nearly 10 hours does not feel so good. And the easy downhill mostly road course that I had imagined in my mind turned out to be more mud, more climbing, painful steep downhill, some grass, and uphill to the finish. Of course. By this point, my achilles and ankle were bothering me – surprisingly not my wrist, neck, hamstring, quads or the bruised parts of my leg. Finishing was painful, but spirits were high, and we were eager to bring it home.

IMG_7869

We finished in 10 hours 51 minutes and 48 seconds. We came in 178th and 179th – 15 runners finished the 65k after us, the last runner finishing in nearly 15 hours! After all that, we learned that the cut-offs were not actually being enforced…SERIOUSLY?! In truth, I’m grateful for those cut-offs – I can’t imagine taking any longer to cover that distance, and no way in hell was I running in the dark without a head lamp!

IMG_7872

It was a very proud moment, crossing that finish line hand in hand.

IMG_7859 IMG_7861

The race finish area was great and the party had been going on for hours, given the first person finished our distance around lunchtime and we arrived at 6pm. There were hot showers, a tent with free food (veggie chili, soup, etc), and another tent with local music and beer. We could hardly move but eventually managed to get semi-cleaned up and partake in the festivities. By the time we got in our car and drove back to town, we were wrecked. We had meant to go out to dinner for a nice post race meal, but instead stopped at a grocery store to get some food (not knowing the restaurant was literally next door to our hotel). We were half asleep randomly grabbing things, and ended up with ice cream, beer, prosciutto, cheese, and apples. I swear, I really am a Dietitian!

IMG_7860

The next morning I was very stiff, but by the end of the day was moving fairly well. It’s incredible how the body adapts, and how much stronger I’ve become over the last five years since I started to run longer distances.

A few more details on nutrition and gear: I only ended up taking about 15 gels. It was hard to stay on top of my two gels per hour goal, but I was also eating at aid stations and my energy levels were good. Stomach felt solid. My Garmin died after 9.5 hours, but you can see what it captured here. Watch fail! My Brooks Cascadia trail shoes worked well – I had some ankle and achilles pain at the end, but I think that was more the distance not the shoes. They held up well through water and mud. Lululemon shorts were solid. My Ultimate Direction vest was a disappointment – mostly because it is new and it broke – so that will be returned.

Overall, my second ultra was a huge success – all three goals achieved – and the race organizers did a great job. Big thumbs up to UTHC! I’m recovering well and slowly easing back into training, with the NYC Marathon less than a month away. I’m nursing my sprained wrist – it will be a couple more months until it heals. I am right hand dominant so it is a challenging injury, but I know things could have been much worse. I am grateful.

Next up for me is the National Endurance Sports Summit at Princeton University this weekend. I’m one of four speakers on the Nutrition Panel on Saturday morning, followed by an amazing lineup throughout the day. Here’s a great article on Competitor.com covering the event – visit Elevateendurance.org to register. It’s only $75 and if you use code cs10, you’ll get a 10% discount! Will be a fun weekend.

Lastly, thank you to everyone who has donated to our fundraising efforts for the Gilda’s Club. If you haven’t already done so, please consider supporting us. Any contribution is greatly appreciated as we honor our friend Noirin while supporting a wonderful charity!

Oh, and yes, we’re already starting to plot our next ultra. These things are addictive!

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!!

11100924_1448376648805583_3858284475503924856_n

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.

19636462612_ba9e72f3e1_z

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.

19456349329_2df56322b3_z 19635917712_d85fb50661_z

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.

19455529370_531040d89d_z

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.

19643497465_033179f3fb_z 19617239166_d57c7bdb2b_z

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!

19020961794_6f250b1ea7_z 19455397448_fa247ba02c_z

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

18790457419_2785fdae78_z

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.

19162307565_da690116db_z

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.

19162320015_82c65bf503_z 18975185078_1b94c36a83_z 19162356965_fc67d9eb60_z

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…

19075310026_48c046dfc8_z 18753725808_14c6f6289b_z 18755039329_926d3e3a30_z

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.

19136661406_f07b3f7ff4_z 

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

18976071769_a06d8a7337_z 18762209579_3d1ea125ce_z 18976617449_dc24204154_z

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

18695234700_b433bce3ab_z

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.

19280906606_414e5a35dc_z 18686384783_627b69bb3f_z

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!).

19120871089_5ee30ff4e0_k

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!

18684439434_479c927b00_z 19311122665_30455c1df5_z

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.

19281015586_c84e57a796_z 19123531878_efa92acea6_z

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!

19310860131_1a479302a8_z 18684086434_0d205d984e_z

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!

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 10.06.29 PM

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!

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.

IMG_6658 IMG_6654

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!

IMG_6530 IMG_6626

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!

Do you have a special place to run or walk that immediately makes everything else melt away once you get there? I do. Actually, I’m lucky enough to have two – La Selva Beach (aka “my beach”) and Nisene Marks in Santa Cruz. Every time I come home to California for a visit, I look forward to experiencing the beauty and serenity of these spots. Running these routes brings me great comfort, and allows me to temporarily escape everything else going on in my life. 

After a very late arrival home yesterday due to my delayed flight, I only managed to sleep for a few hours and woke up this morning feeling exhausted and cranky. I headed straight to the beach to clear my head. It was foggy and breezy, with the sun threatening to come out and make way for blue skies later on (typical for August). I was fortunate to catch low tide and enjoyed the long stretch of packed level sand beneath my feet. The beach was mostly empty – a few surfers and walkers here and there, but otherwise very peaceful. The sounds of waves crashing made up my running soundtrack – no iPod needed. At least ten different types of birds were in the water and sky in the middle of some sort of feeding frenzy, and a couple seals poked their heads up every few minutes in the shallow parts of the water, almost seeming to swim alongside me. I almost forgot how awesome real wildlife is – you spend enough time in New York City and you begin to define wildlife as dirty pigeons, massive rats, and psycho squirrels. 

Afternoon shot of La Selva Beach

La Selva Beach, after the fog burned away

It was just a 4M run, but by the time it was over, it was as if I had hit my personal reset button. I needed to wash away the last seven challenging months in New York City without any vacation or significant mental breaks. Even if this isn’t truly “time off” in that I have to start cramming for the RD exam, at least I’m getting “time away,” which is nearly as valuable to me. Such a long stretch of time in NYC makes me feel trapped and burnt out. 

So here I am, sitting out on my parent’s deck in the sunshine, listening to the sounds of distant waves and bird chirping, watching hummingbirds fly by and deer hanging out in the backyard, munching on some delicious California produce, and feeling so grateful to have grown up here. I really wish I didn’t have to study, but I guess if I have to, this isn’t a bad way to get it done! 

I’m looking forward to running my first 20 miler in Nisene this weekend. I was signed up to do the NYRR long training run #2 before I booked this trip; running up and down the mountain will be a lot more enjoyable and SO much harder than doing loops around Central Park, that’s for sure. I wish E could join me out here – it’s our shared special place, after all – but it will be good practice for race day, when I’m out there on the road by myself. 

It’s been quite an exciting summer so far! And after yesterday’s turn of events, I think it’s safe to say I’m enjoying a bit of a winning streak…

First, an amazing wedding and honeymoon: After five weeks of frantic wedding planning, E and I got married amongst the redwoods on June 30th at Nestldown, up in the Santa Cruz mountains. The day was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined and filled with so many special moments. We can’t wait to get the professional photos – here are a few taken by friends!

Photo Jun 30, 6 47 00 PM (1) Photo Jun 30, 6 47 21 PM (1) IMG_0244 Mr & Mrs! IMG_0392 First dance

Nothing beats marrying the person you know you are meant to spend your life with and celebrating with your loved ones…except perhaps escaping all the craziness and enjoying your first days alone together as husband and wife! 🙂 We spent a week in Tofino and Sooke on Vancouver Island – a perfect place to relax and explore the outdoors (cycling, sea kayaking, and of course running). We loved the weather (which was perfect every day – apparently that never happens), dramatic landscapes, running long on Long Beach, and all the awesome food and wine. It was blissful!!

Ferry to Vancouver Island Dinner in Tofino Tofino view Pacific Rim National Forest, Tofino Schooner Cove Trail Long run on Long Beach Cycling on the beach Sea kayaking Sooke

Second, winning 1st place in the NYC Triathlon relay: Just a few days after our return to NYC, after having eaten waaaay too much and trained far too little, I competed in the NYC Triathlon as part of a relay team (I had committed to this race before I got engaged, in case you were wondering). It was my first triathlon as well as my first relay, so even though I wasn’t too thrilled to wake up at 3:30am and wait around until 8:45am to run 10k in the heat and humidity, I was really excited to race in such a different type of event.  And let’s not forget about the body markings – at the expo I thought it was ridiculous that they would make me mark my age on my calf and my number on my arm (isn’t that what the bib is for?!), but I felt hard-core when I got marked up in transition! My two teammates (our team name was “Dietitian Divas,” since they are both RDs), had competed with a different runner two years prior and had placed 2nd, right behind a team that had won four years in a row, so we knew what we had to do. It was such an interesting experience – and made me realize how simple running is by comparison! I have always said I want to try a triathlon someday, but man, that is a complicated sport! Maybe I’ll try a sprint at some point though…

993311_10153044546530556_197575489_n  67908_10153046095560556_1923478095_n  1013093_10153044709295556_321742989_n

We each gave it our all – it was really tough waiting around for so many hours and then suddenly springing yourself into full-on 10k racing mode, but I tried my best and managed to run  an extremely strong race in the heat, helping my team win FIRST PLACE in our division by just over two minutes! I ran 44:52 – which technically is a PR as that time and distance are up on the race website – although *technically* it is not a PR, since the distance I ran was not a full 10k. It was closer to 6 miles – the short run that our swimmer had to do to get back to transition counted as part of my distance but not my time. But hey, I still ran a 7:29ish or faster pace in crazy weather, with jet lag and hardly any training, and we WON! It was my first 1st place and first podium finish, so I consider that a huge accomplishment!

NYC Triathlon results  Beast mode Screen Shot 2013-07-16 at 6.43.12 PM Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 9.38.06 PM

The best part, aside from winning of course, was passing people along the course. I’ve never passed so many people in a race before!! It was such a morale boost, even if I knew it was completely unfair since nearly every person I passed was doing the full triathlon. I kept getting these exhausted looks of disbelief as I sped past them because the body marker had forgotten to put an “R” on my leg to indicate I was doing the relay. Haha! I can’t imagine how the triathletes felt after swimming and biking – I was struggling and I hadn’t been racing for hours. By the end of the course, I was in complete beast mode – it was awesome to really push myself and know I had tried my hardest when I crossed the finish line. It felt even better knowing that my teammates were counting on me – a new feeling in what is usually a solo sport for me – and that I hadn’t let them down! I will definitely be doing more relays in the future – SO much fun.

Number 1! 1006145_10153046095850556_1817005045_n 1003446_10153046096070556_1619386541_n 1000847_10153046096360556_301344681_n 1005742_10153046096955556_586055853_n

Third, acceptance into the NYU Dietetic Internship: Yep, you read that correctly. I received an extremely unexpected phone call yesterday morning notifying me that a spot had opened up in the NYU Dietetic Internship (which basically never happens) and I was next on the list, meaning that I am now starting the DI this September, just as if I had originally matched back in April. I am still in shock. After working so hard, and receiving such devastating news that I didn’t match, followed by everything that happened in Boston, it’s beyond gratifying that everything somehow worked itself out and now I’m suddenly where I had hoped to be in the first place. Simply amazing.

This year certainly has been an adventure! This wonderful turn of events suddenly happening right at the time that I was starting to feel discouraged and frustrated with the process once again really reaffirms my belief that things have a way of working themselves out for the best. I am still surprised I wasn’t accepted in the first place, but I’ve put all that behind me – all’s well that ends well. Right now, I’m just grateful – I realize how unusual this opportunity is, and how lucky I am that it came my way.

While luck is of course a factor in all of this, none of these wonderful things would have happened had I not worked so hard planning the wedding, running the race, applying to internships etc. So it’s nice to be reminded that hard work really does pay off.

Now, off to celebrate!

  

Hello from Chicago! E and I arrived yesterday morning and all I can say is that I hope my race goes as smoothly as these two days have gone thus far! Our flight was very delayed and the check in lines at the airport were unreal, yet I somehow was able to check in at the first class desk which switched us onto a much better path. Our unusually friendly agent offered to put us, free of charge, onto another flight which was scheduled to leave at our original departure time. Not only did we land early, but we were also each given $250 vouchers to use on a future United flight. Apparently everyone else on the flight had been bumped from a flight that had been cancelled the night prior and we still got the reward!

Our journey into the city was quick and we had a nice reunion with my parents. We are staying with family friends about 1.5M from the marathon start, with beautiful views of the lake and all of Chicago. After a surprisingly delicious lunch that I made (my pre-marathon diet of bland, carbohydrate rich foods gets boring real fast), E and I headed to the expo. We spent a bit too much time on our feet wandering around, but it was a great expo, much larger than NYC. E got to meet one of his favorite ultrarunners, Dean Karnazes, and we both loaded up on marathon gear. I probably didn’t need FOUR different Chicago tops but I felt justified buying them, because THIS race is going to be a memorable one!

  

  

We relaxed the rest of the evening – we were both exhausted from a crazy week at school/work and the early flight. We both hadn’t run for three days and our legs felt heavy and tired – typical taper stuff, though! We crashed by 9:30pm, as my parents and their friends were out and about on the town until 1am! Talk about role reversal…!

I was a bit concerned about the weather – it really is cold here – but this morning’s 20 minute jaunt on the lake front put my mind at ease. I wore compression tights, a tank, arm sleeves and fingerless gloves – pretty much my exact outfit from NYC 2010. My hands were chilly but with the sun shining, I was sufficiently warm once I got going. I’m not quite sure I hit my MP spot on, but I felt pretty good! My throat was a bit scratchy this morning but I’m trying to ignore it – mind over matter! I practiced my new mantra – “I want it more than I fear it” – which naturally went into mental replay as I soaked up the beautiful views. It was gorgeous on the lake – so many runners out there! Definitely the Chicago equivalent of running in Central Park the day before the race!

It will be cold at the start, with temperatures in the high 30’s, but at least we won’t have to wait for hours on end like we did on Staten Island. My corral closes at 7:20am and I’d like to be inside by 7:05ish to get a good place, so I figure I’ll get there by 6:30 to have time to hit the bathroom lines. As always, that’s my paranoia – not being able to go to the bathroom when I need to before starting the race. I just keep reminding myself that in NYC, they moved us towards the start 30 minutes before the gun went off and I was completely fine.

  

But the REAL reason why I’m posting is to share the unexpected, awesome experience that I just had. E and I were relaxing back at the apartment and I happened to read on Twitter that Paula Radcliffe was making an appearance at Nike Chicago, less than a five minute walk away. I believe it’s the first time she’s been back in Chicago for the marathon since she set the world record here in 2002. She was supposed to speak at 1pm – we were already late and had no clue what it would be like, but we needed a walk after a big lunch and decided to check it out. As we headed out the door, I decided to grab my marathon bib – how incredible would it be to have the running legend herself sign my bib, to wear on the very course on which she made history?! Of course, I didn’t actually expect it would happen – but guess what? It did!

We had perfect timing. She started late, and the interview only lasted about 5-10 minutes. We arrived a minute or two after she began. I heard that she was originally supposed to speak elsewhere (maybe the expo?) and the location moved – perhaps that explains why there weren’t that many crowds. I mean, there were a fair number of people there, but for someone as famous as Paula, I was surprised. Many people didn’t even seem to know who she was! She gave some advice to everyone racing tomorrow – not starting out too fast, hydrating, having fun etc – and spoke a bit about “making it count” on Sunday herself with her own workout. Unfortunately she just had foot surgery – so she won’t be running the race.

 

I easily made my way right up to the front and as soon as she finished, asked her to sign my bib. I wanted to say something to her about how much she has inspired me or I hope she feels better soon – but instead I just grinned like an idiot as she bent over and signed my bib on her thigh and then smiled back at me and walked onwards. I was so emotional I couldn’t get any words out!

  

But seriously – how AMAZING is that?! My bib has been blessed! My good luck this weekend must continue – because Paula said so!! I doubt anyone else had their bibs with them – hardly anyone even had a pen – and I don’t think she was hanging around there very long. Wow. Just wow. I feel doubly inspired now to run my best tomorrow – to have a smart race and not start too fast, to believe in myself when I start to really struggle, to overcome my fears of failure and really make tomorrow count!

Good luck runners!!

In exactly five days, I will have completed the Chicago Marathon, hopefully in less than 3 hours and 35 minutes! E will have also just crossed the finish line, where I hopefully watched him crush his PR by 20-30 minutes. Visualizing this makes me incredibly excited – it’s been a long time since I have raced such a major marathon, with the support of both my parents and E, and I can’t wait.

However, right now, I’m a mess! I have mountains of school work to do this week, as well as a midterm and several assignments immediately after the race, and I can’t focus on any of it. I thought I could distract myself by concentrating on school, but I’m completely useless. Every time I attempt to be productive, I obsessively check the weather (which is looking increasingly chilly…), revise my pre-race menu, search for Chicago marathon news, freak out over phantom leg pains or watch videos of the course (for whatever reason, this one really scared me – what’s with the music?! I was practically crying by the end!). This taper is driving me INSANE.

My taper started on my 31st birthday, which capped off five days of celebrating and decadent eating. I had a great time and thankfully my last long run slightly offset my indulgences, but I’ve watched my racing weight slip away since then, which isn’t good because that of course equates to precious speed lost. With my reduced mileage and carbo loading beginning on Thursday, I guess I just need to concentrate on not doing any more damage. Funny how quickly your body can go from toned to squishy! I’m sure part of that is the usual taper crazies – i.e. thinking your muscles are wasting away, legs not working, imagined pain etc. We’re only talking a few pounds at most. E and I have been trying to keep each other on track – here’s a note I found in the fridge (I have a weakness for almond butter):

I haven’t felt this nervous prior to a race since I ran NYC. I know I just need to take a deep breath and remind myself that I’ve trained to the best of my abilities and am ready to kick butt on Sunday. I can’t wait to see my parents, see Chicago, experience the energy of the crowds and celebrate yet another marathon victory with E. I believe that I can achieve my goal – at the very least I can certainly PR – but I’m still terrified. I vividly remember how hard Portland was for me – how I fought (unsuccessfully) to maintain pace and how I practically collapsed at that finish line. But I also remember how troubled my training was before that race, especially how I only reached 18M once. I had just completed an intensive RRCA weekend and felt mentally fatigued. With three 17-18 milers, one 19 miler and two 20 milers under my belt, I am WAY more prepared for Chicago than I was for Portland! Okay, maybe school is causing an equal amount of mental fatigue, but still – I got this!

There are three main obstacles that could stand in my way:

1. The weather, which is out of my control so I will just have to roll with whatever happens. Freezing temperatures aren’t ideal but I suppose I prefer that to high 80’s! So much for my running skirt…time to bust out my compression tights and arm sleeves!

2. GI issues, which will always be my greatest paranoia. That is somewhat in my control, but still you never know. I just stick to a specific menu three days before the race and pray that I will never again suffer through what I experienced in Paris. Never. Again. (PLEASE!) My stomach has remained strong in my last two marathons so I just hope everything goes well this time too!

3. Myself – it’s so tough in the second half of a marathon to keep negative thoughts at bay, particularly if you are struggling to stay on pace. I just hope I have enough mental strength and faith in myself to not let failure be an option! That is how I BQ’d in NYC, and that is how I will BQ in Chicago. I know I can push my body further than I think it will ever go because I have done it before – and I will do it again. I’m eager to find out what I can accomplish!

As impatient as I am right now, my body needs this time off to recover from so many months of hard training. I incorporated more long runs into my overall plan, which is a first for me, and squeezed in a few challenging speed/strength circuit workouts after the Bronx 10 miler. My hip isn’t 100% but I hope it will remain okay for the race. As for marathon pace, my attempts have been somewhat hit or miss lately. I think when the time comes, I will have a general sense of where I need to be (8:10/11) and will try my best to remain on pace until mile 20. I must run my own race and not get overly excited at the start, given I am way up in corral B. I have started out slightly too fast in every marathon so far and have certainly paid the price (especially in Portland). I created my own pace bands with Races2remember as I usually do, so that should help!

The decreased mileage is making me feel sluggish, but that is normal – by Sunday I will feel revved up and ready to go. The nerves come in waves – my stomach is churning as I write – and I am trying to let them wash over me. Now it’s time to relax, do one last short MP run (tomorrow) and focus on the task at hand. Oh yes, and maybe do some school work so I don’t fail my classes.

I’ll try to say hello from Chicago – but in case I don’t get the chance and you’d like to track my progress, my bib number is 3824 and I am in the first wave at 7:30am. Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

I’m not sure you can classify spending less than 48 hours somewhere as a “holiday,” but my brief visit to Rome certainly was a much-needed escape – both from NYC and organic chemistry!

Normally I travel everywhere with my Saucony’s – I love to explore a city on foot and see the sights early in the morning before the streets get busy – but last weekend, running wasn’t on my list of priorities. Not when I had so little time in such a great city and less than two days with E, who I hadn’t seen in 6 weeks, and certainly not when I hadn’t slept much in a week and had a wedding to attend the day I landed. As much as I love to run, it was liberating traveling without any form of exercise gear whatsoever.

So I swapped my running shoes for flip flops and heels. Yep, those were the only two pairs of shoes in my bag, along with a couple sundresses and an evening gown. What took up the most space was my massive orgo book, but thankfully I left studying just for the plane. I gave myself two days to pretend that I wasn’t a student, that I didn’t have a billion things to do, and it was amazing. I actually felt like I was back in London and it was just another one of my weekend getaways with E. Being in Europe again felt perfectly normal – strangely, more normal than coming back to NYC a couple days later. I guess I still am adjusting to being back in the US, even 10 months after leaving the UK.

Rome was exhausting but exhilarating – the NYC heat wave seemed to have followed me to Italy, but when you are surrounded by so many incredible gelaterias, and when it’s perfectly normal to take a mid-day siesta on a weekday for several hours, the scorching sun doesn’t seem quite so bad. I hadn’t been to Rome since 2002, but I had a vivid memory of one of my favorite gelato places and it’s exact location in relation to the Pantheon. So, as soon as I made it to the city and was reunited with E (who looked very Italian I might add, waiting for me outside the hotel, reading a paper), we headed to the Pantheon, got a coffee at one of the best coffee places in Rome (Sant Eustachio) and then a massive three-flavor gelato with fresh whipped cream at Giolitti. Not exactly the healthiest of lunches, but when in Rome…also I knew that a wonderful, huge dinner awaited us at my friend’s wedding reception that evening.

  

The wedding was beautiful – unbearably hot in the church, which made me regret my wardrobe decision (long evening gown rather than the shorter dress I had worn to last year’s wedding in Ravello) but it eventually cooled off up at the villa overlooking the city, where the reception was held outdoors. I had taken a redeye and landed at 10am the day of the wedding, so I was quite proud of myself for staying up until 2am and waking up early the next morning to enjoy my one full day in the city. I definitely paid for it upon my return to NYC, but it was worth it!

Here are a few photos from the wedding:

  

  

I could certainly use another escape right now. As you may have noticed, I’ve been particularly silent recently, mostly due to my second orgo midterm and final exam (with Rome squeezed in between), and moving apartments, all in a 10-day period. It’s hard to believe that it all starts anew this week – I begin volunteering at Sloan-Kettering tomorrow morning, followed by my first of two new summer classes (food microbiology & sanitation and life cycle nutrition, both at NYU). Class is every day, Monday – Thursday. My coached runs with Gilda’s Club begin this Sunday, and I also start volunteering once again with City Harvest. At some point, I will also furnish my apartment so that my clothes aren’t lying around in garbage bags and I have more than a mattress on the floor and a makeshift desk!

I am starting to feel a bit drained, having had very little down time since I started school in January, and very little sleep in recent weeks, but I am excited for my new schedule and I am VERY excited to get settled in my new apartment. I can’t tell you how nice it is to finally have my own space – specifically, a fairly large, air-conditioned and quiet space, with a small but really nice kitchen! Most of all, I can’t wait for E to FINALLY move here from London later in July. It’s been nearly a year since I left London and now I only have to wait 26 more days. I’m living a bit further away from transportation and from campus, but closer to the river and in a much more peaceful, green location. Hopefully that, along with my new awesome bed, will translate into better (and more) sleep and better running!

Speaking of which, I’ll end with a quick training update. I managed to knock out 15.5 miles in Central Park very early on Friday morning, in an attempt to beat the heat. I’m still struggling to adjust to the summer weather, which means my long runs have been on the slower side (although that’s as much due to not sleeping enough), but at least I finished the run. My calf/hamstring are still not feeling 100%, which has been frustrating this early on in Chicago training, but I’m trying to just take it day by day. I think the lack of sleep and added stress of school has made it harder for my body to recover. I need to respect that I am not a machine – I really do try to do it all, but I have to accept that I have limits and need to give my body and brain the rest it requires!

On the gel front, I tried Hammer gels on my long run – orange and huckleberry flavors – and they actually didn’t taste too bad, so they are still in the running. I didn’t really like the consistency all that much though – they seemed particularly sticky and like the power bar gels, I think I would want to take them with water. But at least I didn’t want to spit them out when I tried them!

As much as I wish I had another day to get myself organized, it will be nice to shift gears and dive into my second summer session. At least I have Wednesday off, as well as a massage booked for Tuesday! Most of all, orgo is DONE and I did very well in the class – that in itself calls for celebration!

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

Asparagus stir fried to crunchy perfection with shallots and garlic - sooooo tasty! A great delicious and healthy summer side dish. Rough 18-hour travel day made better by our fav brunch @thesmithrestaurant, after a quick shower and nap! Avo toast with poached eggs, Brussels sprouts, and fresh grapefruit juice. 👌🏻 Peaceful moment early this morning as we get ready to fly back to the hustle and bustle of NYC! We don't exactly have that rested vacation feeling after our time in California & Hawaii with the baby, but it's been amazing to escape the city and be together as a new family in such beautiful places. See ya next time, Maui! 🌺 One of my favorite ways to explore when I travel is with my running shoes, and the best thing is when you discover new running routes in a place you've been going to for decades! Found a beautiful trail and paved running path through Kihei right from our condo - not quite the crazy volcano adventure we had last year, but a wonderful way to wrap up our Maui trip. #Repost @wellseek with @repostapp
・・・
Training hard for a race or event? Don't sell yourself short on your protein intake during recovery! @eatforendurance shares her of nutritious, protein-packed picks to refuel on your off days 👍#linkinbio #ExpertsWhoSeek Happy Summer Solstice! We love to grill when in Hawaii, especially all the delicious local fish. Here we have grilled Opakapaka (aka Hawaiian pink snapper) marinated in tamari sauce and fresh ginger with greens and fresh papaya. 👌🏻

Flying Tweets

Recent Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 61 other followers

Oldies but goodies

Categories

%d bloggers like this: