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I’m finally breaking my month of blogging silence. I didn’t intentionally abandon FFR for this long, but E’s move to NYC, final exams, recovering from final exams, ten days in Colorado, finally setting up our apartment (still in progress) and much more yanked me out of my weekly writing routine. I go back to school tomorrow so I figured it’s a perfect time to get back into the groove.

Where to begin…!!! Colorado deserves a separate post, including a recap of the 15M Continental Divide trail race (which was pretty much equal parts hiking as it was a running – or shall I say shuffling – at two miles above sea level) so I’ll leave that for later this week. It was a fantastic trip, filled with gorgeous scenery, tons of physical activity and ice cream cones the size of my head.

Caught on camera!

As for final exams – suffice to say, I was a stress case as usual, managed to maintain my GPA (just barely) and pray that I will never have to endure summer school ever again (unlikely). E and I celebrated my last final with an amazing dinner at Blue Hill. I had been dying to go back to the NYC restaurant for years, and it didn’t disappoint! I’m hoping to check out Blue Hill at Stone Barns sometime later this year…it’s supposedly even better!

Only after exams ended did I realize just how burnt out I was. And I thought I was run down after Spring semester! Ha. What a crazy summer. Even though I still had so much to do after exams, it was a huge relief to finally have some time off! Simply not studying has been incredibly liberating and restorative. I wish I could say that I’m excited for the Fall semester to begin – I guess I am, but not for it to begin tomorrow. My brain could use another week of recovery…

Speaking of recovery, I’ve been trying my best to err on the side of caution in terms of my training, sticking with running only four times a week and incorporating drop back weeks when necessary to help me reach the Chicago marathon start line in one piece. Race day is less than five weeks away, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about how it’s going to turn out. I still haven’t done any speed work aside from some tempo runs at half marathon pace (I’m up to 17 minutes) and marathon pace runs of 5-6M, and I haven’t done any hill work beyond what I encounter naturally in Central Park and, more recently, in Colorado. I also haven’t done many structured long runs, as I had originally planned. My weekly mileage has only gone above 30 miles a handful of times (!!), including my peak so far of this past week’s 38.7 miles.

But it’s hard to say how I will fare on race day at this stage. On the one hand, I haven’t trained as hard as I had intended to (part school, part injury), and the resulting lower mileage and lack of consistent speed work and strength training may end up thwarting my goal to BQ. My hip pain seems to be under control, but I have to be careful. On the other hand, I am leaner now, running in cooler conditions will hopefully begin producing faster results, all of my Colorado activities made me feel stronger and I have done many more long runs than in previous training cycles. I just completed my second 20 miler this past Saturday, and plan to run another the week after next. This is quite different to past training cycles, which included only one 20 miler.

Normally I race a half marathon to test where I’m at 5 weeks or so before marathon day. I couldn’t find an appropriate race nearby, so I’ve settled on running the Bronx 10 miler on September 9th. I’ve only run one 10M race before, and I ran it as a tempo run, so I’m interested to see how my first 10M racing experience will go, especially having done so little speed work. Hopefully it will give me a better sense of where I stand, so I can adjust my Chicago goals accordingly.

It’s getting late – how quickly my last weekend of freedom slipped through my fingers! I’ll leave you with a couple photo of two great meals I made for myself recently – breakfast soft tacos (veggie scramble with avocado) and an incredible, colorful fig and goats cheese salad. Fig season is the best – I hope to have my own fig tree someday!

 

Today is my first day as a graduate student at NYU Steinhardt. I’m feeling a bit nervous, but mostly excited. January 23rd has been circled on my calendar for quite some time!

My first class is at 2pm – Nutrition & Health – and my second class is at 4:55pm – Intro to Food & Food Science. Both are in the same lecture hall, with a ten minute break in between, so I get to stay put from 2pm until 6:35pm.

I received all my textbooks in the mail over the weekend. I still can’t believe that a stack of five books that I’m only using for one semester cost me $690. Sigh. Hopefully they’ll be useful for reference later on, particularly when I’m studying for the RD exam. If you’re wondering why they don’t look particularly advanced, that’s because I have about a year and a half of undergraduate prerequisites to complete before I actually begin my graduate work. Thankfully, it’s interesting stuff (for the most part – can’t say I’m excited for Orgo this summer), and apparently (so I’m told) I won’t be the only older student in these classes. Still, I’m sure it will feel a bit weird to be surrounded by college kids – then again, it will probably feel strange simply being in a classroom again! I’ll keep you posted.

I managed to get a decent night of sleep – my white noise iPhone app at full volume + fan on high + earplugs + eyeshades system seems to be working, thankfully. I had originally planned another track speed session, but my quads are still a bit sore from Saturday’s long run so I opted for an easy 4.4 miler along the East river instead. It felt good to do something active but relatively low key to get myself into the first day of school spirit!

I’m a firm believer in having a healthy, hearty breakfast, particularly on big days like today. After my run, I had my latest favorite – a healthy twist on Bircher muesli. It’s delicious, but for whatever reason it hasn’t played a role in my breakfast repertoire for awhile. I rediscovered it in a post on Peanut Butter runner called “Overnight oats make a comeback,” which provided a great recipe. I like to make a slightly different version, but the fundamentals are essentially the same. As the name suggests, you soak the oats (rolled or steel cut) overnight and serve cold. You can also just leave them in the fridge for 20-30 minutes if you forget the night before, still tastes great. Super easy, tasty and so good for you! You can find my recipe here.

 

Today’s oats included plain nonfat greek yogurt, skim milk, agave, honey, pecan pieces, kiwi, blueberries, dried cranberries and one large banana. This time, I did remember to soak the oats overnight (I included everything but the fresh fruit), and it came out a bit softer than my usual 30 minutes. I’m sure this – plus my huge mug of coffee – will keep me feeling high energy for hours!

But let’s get back to school. Here’s the quick run down on my program, in case you’re interested. I’m working towards a Master’s of Science in Nutrition & Dietetics, with a concentration in Clinical Nutrition. I have only completed one of the required courses (Modern Chemistry – in high school!), so I have about 35 credits to go before I am eligible to apply for my Dietetic Internship. These requirements, which are determined by the American Dietetics Association, collectively make up the DPD, or Didactic Program of Dietetics. In order to secure a good Dietetic Internship (it’s extremely competitive – 50% match rate), I need a very high GPA as well as a substantial number of volunteer hours at a community center and a hospital. The internship is about one year long and can be done in NYC or elsewhere (UCSF, for instance, has a great internship). After that, I study for and pass an exam to become a Registered Dietitian, and finally, I take my remaining advanced coursework back at NYU. Yeah, it’ll be awhile until I graduate!

I plan to study year-round – two full semesters and two summer sessions per year – so I can begin work as a paid RD as soon as possible. This will be mentally and logistically challenging with volunteering, work and LIFE (running, blogging, relationships etc.), but I’ll do my best. NYU may not offer every course when I need to take it, but if all goes according to plan, I hope to finish my DPD plus some grad courses (Sports Nutrition and The Nutritional Aspects of Eating Disorders) by the end of Summer 2013. I hope to begin my internship in Fall 2013 and take my RD exam in Summer 2014 or soon after. Finally, I hope to finish my degree by the end of 2014, or Spring 2015 at the latest, to graduate in May 2015.

That feels so far off right now – but I guess it is only the first day of school! Time will fly, as it always does.

I am taking 13 credits this semester – four courses and a lab. Check out the schedule I made for myself – color coded and all! I am so type A, it’s ridiculous.

I had hoped to condense school into fewer days, rather than have big gaps every Wednesday and on certain Tuesdays. I had also hoped not to have “early” morning classes three days a week. Oh well! Campus is only 20 minutes away (if I walk quickly), and if I don’t feel like going back home in between classes, I always have my new second home – the massive NYU library.

I snapped that photo before someone told me that you’re not allowed to use cameras in there…apparently it’s a high security area. Whoops!

There are so many different study areas and student lounges around campus, many just for graduate students, so I’ll have plenty of options. I also can use the various branches of my gym, 24 hour fitness, or the two different NYU gyms included in my tuition. Once I get a part-time job and begin volunteering, on top of everything else, that schedule will no longer have all those nice white spaces! Things already feel crazy as I try to find work and volunteer opportunities, fill out grant applications, start my reading assignments etc. However, I’m very organized and I was a great student in the past, so hopefully I’ll be able to stay on top of everything, get straight A’s, do well in the NYC Half Marathon in March and begin coaching too. Those are some of my goals, at least!

Alright…time to sign off and get ready for class! But first, I wanted to share a few words of wisdom that E sent me this morning (via “The Daily Davar” emails he receives from Tikun), while wishing me good luck on my first day. It seemed particularly relevant to NYC, where so many people are constantly rushing around, absorbed in their own little worlds.

‘Greet every person with a smile.’ (Avos 3:17) When people smile at us, it makes us feel good – even if we are feeling miserable. You come into contact with hundreds of human beings every day – that’s hundreds of opportunities to make someone feel good by simply smiling at them.

And with that, I am sending you all virtual smiles! I hope you have a wonderful Monday.

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

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