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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!).

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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!

Happy St. Patricks Day! It’s a gorgeous day here in NYC, and it looks like the Spring weather will continue through race day tomorrow. Woo-hoo! I wish I could get out and enjoy the festivities, but instead I plan to spend the day relaxing in my neighborhood so I can get myself up at 4:30am tomorrow. At least my NYC Half Marathon bib and t-shirt are festive!

E and I went to the expo yesterday morning to pick up our goodies. I was pretty surprised when I saw 5600 – I have never been such a nice round number! Pretty cool. But what really caught me off-guard was the number of runners participating in tomorrow’s half marathon – how did I not realize that this is a massive event? Somehow I thought it was 10,000, not 22,999! Yikes.

I don’t know if it’s the stress from recent weeks (on top of midterms and everything else, I had a huge leak in my apartment the day E arrived, leaving us without a bathroom ceiling for several days), the fact that I haven’t “raced” a half marathon since my somewhat unsuccessful effort at Fleet last year or the unexpected crazy size of tomorrow’s event, but I suddenly started to feel VERY nervous. Almost as nervous as I felt the day before the NYC Marathon! And not a good, excited type of nervous either – more of a panicky nervous.

I suppose I’ve had yet another somewhat bumpy training cycle, which never helps. I have been dealing with right hamstring issues for the last month (which have improved greatly, but not 100%) and haven’t had as much time to train (or sleep) with school (no hill repeats, not enough tempo runs etc). Mentally, I keep wavering between seriously doubting my abilities and believing I can knock out a sub-1:40, no problem. I suppose that’s fairly normal, though.

I’m dying to run a strong half marathon tomorrow. I considered pacing E instead of going after my own goals, but I NEED a victory for myself tomorrow. E will be fine – I have every bit of faith that he’s going to PR tomorrow on his own. Run to the Beat in September 2010 was my last 13.1M effort that made me proud, and I want to prove to myself that I can get back there before I launch into Chicago training. I don’t want to make myself miserable if I miss my goal by a couple minutes, but I can’t help but lay on the pressure – I WANT that time! So I’m just going to give it my best shot and see what happens.

At least E and I got to unwind for a few days in Manchester, Vermont earlier this week. I was eager to escape the city and get some R&R after my first two insane months in grad school. Manchester wasn’t particularly exciting, but it was peaceful and empty, and I loved our B&B, the Reluctant Panther.

The B&B was a short drive from the Equinox Preserve, where we did about 5M of hiking along several trails on our second day. Nothing strenuous – and nothing spectacular, scenery-wise, but it was nice to get some fresh air and stretch our legs after the long drive. I have a feeling Manchester is GORGEOUS at other times of the year – when the leaves change color, when covered in snow, or when lush and green – unfortunately, we were there when the weather was mild but everything was still very barren. Plus, our Yosemite adventures were still quite fresh in our minds, and obviously that kind of scenery is hard to beat! But it was still pretty, and I was simply happy to be out of the city, spending quality time with E.

Speaking of seasons, we grabbed a casual dinner that night at a local spot called “Seasons” – the food was pretty good, but I really loved the beer (or at least, the glass it came in):

The other side said, “Take a Hike!” I really should’ve just taken that glass. It was awesome. We also had lovely dinners at the Silver Fork and Bistro Henry. Recommend both!

But back to race day prep…I wasn’t expecting such warm weather and only practiced my long runs wearing my 2XU tights. Should I run in shorts, which I haven’t worn in ages and am not 100% sure I’ll be comfortable wearing (probably fine, since I’ve worn them in the past, but I don’t like not having worn them recently…) or should I wear my 2XU compression tights, which I’ve worn every single race and training long run but may be too warm for tomorrow? Decisions, decisions.

Good luck tomorrow to the thousands of runners invading the NYC streets tomorrow! I’ll leave you with a few words of Yogi wisdom, my from ginger tea bag last night. Thought it was very appropriate for me, given my lack of work-life balance recently…

So very true. Work hard and kick butt tomorrow runners – but don’t forget to enjoy yourselves!!

As I write that title, I realize that I’m nowhere close to finishing anything. I’m trying to convince myself that there’s light at the end of the tunnel while I cram for my next two midterms (both on Monday), but I’m a first semester grad student who just started chipping away at a long list of prereq’s. With school, volunteering, training and much more, it’s go-go-go all the time. And this is supposed to be the easy semester!

Forgive me for being a physiology nerd, but this graph kinda sums up my life right now:

If you’re familiar with muscle contraction, then you know what I’m talking about. My big finish line is graduation, and that is a LONG way off – unfortunately it will take me much longer than 300 milliseconds to get there!

However, as with anything, you have to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks to avoid going insane. I can’t help but focus on the future, but I’m trying my best to also be fully present. I’m trying to enjoy the craziness (it’s stressful but awesome stuff, for the most part) and take things One. Step. At. A. Time.

My physiology midterm this past Tuesday morning was my first big step. It was my first exam in eight years, I studied my butt off for it and I CRUSHED it. I only missed one question! It had been so long since I had taken an important test, the closest thing I can relate the experience to is racing. And really, when you think about it, racing and testing aren’t that different. You set goals, you work hard to prepare – and then you perform and get your results.

I woke up early Tuesday morning and pretty much went into race mode until I handed in my exam. I was even wearing running clothes (since I had planned a tempo run following the exam)! I ate a good breakfast, drank lots of water, gave myself a little pep talk in the mirror and then headed to campus, blasting upbeat music to rev myself up. In the classroom, I blocked out the chatter of my classmates with some calming music, closed my eyes and just chilled out. I was focused and ready, just waiting to begin. I could’ve been at a race start – same exact feeling!

So, with my physiology midterm under my belt and my last NYC half marathon long training run completed as of this morning, I’m going to let myself consider the next couple of weeks my HOME STRETCH! Two midterms and a race – I can handle that. Sure I have another midterm the week after spring break, and mountains of reading, assignments and a billion other things to deal with in the meantime, and then another round of exams shortly followed by final exams, all very tightly packed together, but I’m not going to think about that right now.

What I AM thinking about right now is the incredible bagel I just ate. Whole wheat everything Ess-a-bagel, still piping hot from the oven, with cream cheese and eggs (made a mini omelet with egg white and feta cheese) on top. It was so delicious I nearly cried. Ah I love my post-long run food! The second bagel is taunting me – but I’m going to try to save it for tomorrow morning. I did a HUGE shop at TJ’s earlier this week and have tons of other tasty things waiting to be cooked!

I logged 16.85M this morning at 9:12 average pace, bringing my weekly mileage to 40.45M! AT LAST, I crossed the 40 mile threshold. It’s been awhile – since Portland marathon training, I believe.

Today’s long run was very wet, but awesome – my last long run before the NYC half marathon on March 18th. My hamstring was a bit tight at the beginning and end, and I was tired from not sleeping enough lately, but overall I felt really good. I ran with a friend for the first 11.5M and then finished on my own. As you can see in my Garmin details, we covered most of the race course, which starts on 64th st, loops counter-clockwise around the park, cuts over to the west side highway and finishes at South Street Seaport. I really appreciated the change in scenery – I love Central Park, but after a loop or two I get bored. I suppose one way to alleviate that would be to a loop of the bridal path and reservoir – I’ll do that next time. It was also really nice being able to run back to my neighborhood and immediately stuff my face with a bagel!

I ran in my new shoes, and they were very comfy. I got the same ones I always get – Saucony Omni 10 – but in a new color. Loving the black shoe laces! I almost didn’t wear them given the rain, but I figured they’re bound to get nasty eventually, so it may as well be today! Plus, I need to get some mileage on them before the race. They were soaked by the end of my run, but still I’m glad I wore them.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention that I learned something quite useful in the park from my running buddy today. This is probably common knowledge, and I feel a bit silly admitting this, but I didn’t realize that every lamppost on the loop is marked with a cross street. I often wonder where I am in between the larger park entrances and exits, and now that will never be an issue!

I should probably stop procrastinating and start studying for my Intro to Food and Food Science exam. I wish I could take a nap! Instead I get to learn a long list of food borne illnesses and other things relating to food safety and sanitation; various pigments in fruits and vegetables and how they react when cooked; all kinds of information relating to potatoes; tons of information on fats, oils, sauces and emulsions; how to make stocks; “mother” sauces (that just sounds so wrong to me) and their various uses; and much much more! It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds, but at least it’s all very interesting. My other midterm, Nutrition & Health, is your typical intro to nutrition, so things like dietary planning and guidelines, digestion and absorption of the macronutrients (fats, carbs, proteins) in great detail etc…I’ll tackle that tomorrow. Fun weekend ahead!

The last time I wrote about the joys of winter running and racing was almost a year ago, after completing a frigid 10k race in London.

This morning’s early morning long run in Central Park reminded me of winter’s true meaning. That day in London last year wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t 23 degrees (16 with wind chill), windy and snowing. My eyelashes weren’t frozen together. I didn’t have icicle brows. I wasn’t freaking out and getting ready to call it a day because my hands were so painfully freezing.

❄ Welcome to New York City in January! ❄

Or, as a friend said to me, “You’re in NYC, babe. Nothing’s easy. Welcome back!” Ha!

I know, I know – NYC certainly isn’t the coldest place in North America! Many of you are probably rolling your eyes and telling me to go to Minneapolis, Montreal, Chicago or wherever else. I’m not sure if you’ve read the book Just a Little Run Around the World by Rosie Swale Pope (it’s awesome – very inspirational), but having read that, and knowing that many of you probably ran in FAR worse conditions today, makes me feel slightly ashamed to be bitching about today’s weather. But what can I do? It’s in my California blood – more than a decade of winters hasn’t eliminated the fact that I’m a total wimp in the cold. But I’m not a quitter, which is why I wouldn’t let the weather beat me down today!

I had made plans to meet a friend in Central park at 7:30am this morning. I wasn’t too excited about the early time, given I still haven’t managed to switch to EST, but I figured it would be nice to get the run out of the way. I always feel so pleased with myself when it’s only 9:30 or 10am and I’ve already finished a tough, long weekend workout. Also, it would help me get on an earlier schedule for classes, which begin on Monday!

Everyone always says that having a running or exercise partner helps you stick to your goals – it’s so true! Had I not made running plans, I definitely would not have gotten up at 6:45am, even if it hadn’t been snowing. Had I seen the view below out of my window (which I took at 7am, right after it started to snow), I may not have done my long run at all, especially since I still haven’t created a NYC half training plan for myself yet (schedules help keep me motivated). However, someone would soon be waiting for me out in that weather, so I bundled up, made an “I really don’t want to go outside” face and forced myself out the door.

  

I wish I had brought my camera – Central Park was completely white and very pretty, at least from what I could see through my frozen eyelashes! My last run in Central Park was a wonderful 10 miler on a sunny, crisp morning the day before the NYC marathon. What a transformation!

I met my friend at the 59th street entrance and we planned to do two complete laps of the park, which would total around 12.2M. I also jogged to and from the subway stations, adding an extra 1.35M or so (it was WAY too cold to walk). The Manhattan Half Marathon (which had been turned into a fun run, for safety reasons) started 30 minutes behind us, so it was relatively quiet in the park at first but there were quite a few runners out and about by mile 4 or 5. I was pretty impressed by the number of runners who showed up, and even more the volunteers for the race! The race photographers took some photos of us (will try to track them down) and various people kept asking us if we were doing the half marathon. Nope, we’re even crazier, I responded. We’re just here.

It was cold but I felt okay during the first lap. I’ll take fresh snow over slush or ice any day. I had slightly more trouble chatting than usual at a 9:30-10min/mile pace, due to the freezing air and of course the two hills, and the weather was far worse than I had expected it to be, but I was hanging in there. I was wearing my 2XU tights, warm socks, a sports bra, tshirt, lightweight long sleeve shirt, thicker high-necked long sleeve shirt, lightweight water/wind resistant jacket, winter hat, baseball cap, lightweight gloves and hand warmers in the gloves. My core was fine, but my legs, hands and face were not. The warmers didn’t seem to be warming up quite enough (they did later on, so next time I’ll open them up well before I begin running) and my water bottle was tough to hold because I couldn’t hold it while making a fist, to warm up my unbearably freezing finger tips.

My hands reached danger zone as we were about to begin our second lap. Mentally, I was losing it – if my hands are cold (and I’m talking EXTREME pain in my fingers), I really struggle, even if the rest of me is fine. I simply couldn’t get warm. The rest of my body started to hurt. I tried holding the bottle under my arm but that made me run awkwardly. My friend encouraged me to stop but I wanted to at least go another mile or two – I’m stubborn and wanted to at least reach 8M – so she kindly carried my bottle for me as I desperately tried to warm up.

Just as I was getting ready to throw in the towel, we ran into a mutual friend, who had run part of the Manhattan Half course and was about to head home. The distraction of seeing and chatting with her – as well as inheriting her set of hand warmers, which were far toastier than mine – snapped me out of my dark place. Suddenly, my inner temperature spiked and I was raring to finish the second lap! I had come all the way there, why turn back now?! And so we continued. My legs started to ache and my pace slowed a bit in those last few miles, but I slowly recovered feeling in my fingers, returned to my chatty, happy runner self and most importantly, I finished! My Garmin didn’t work during the first lap (it was that cold), but based on my friend’s timing and the park mileage, we ran an average of 9:50 – 9:55min/mile. I was very pleased.

Mental toughness needs to be trained like anything else, and I think it’s safe to say that this one was one of the more challenging runs I’ve done in quite some time. Obviously you should never risk injury, but if it’s something you believe you can safely push through, go for it.

A big part of my discomfort was due to my gear fail. I’m sure my body simply hasn’t yet adjusted to the below freezing temperatures after so many months in California, and I need to give it a couple more weeks to do so. However, I also am lacking a few crucial items, namely thicker running tights and warmer gloves (perhaps ones that I can layer over the thin pair I wore today). I didn’t become a regular runner until I moved to London, and although I ran in some pretty horrendous rainy and snowy weather, I don’t think it ever got down to extreme temperatures. I discovered this new REI in Soho (their first NYC store) the other day, so I guess I have a good excuse now to check it out! If you have any suggestions as I shop for gloves or tights, at REI or elsewhere, please let me know!

By the time I finally made it back home, I was frozen again. My hands were back in the danger zone, and, as luck would have it, the front door to my building wouldn’t open. There’s a lock box (before a second door with a key) which is finicky on the best of days, and the cold somehow made it refuse to open. Thankfully, the guys in my local deli helped me and I was back in my apartment soon enough. Phew! I immediately made myself a cup of hot tea and took a post-run I can’t believe I just ran for two hours in that weather photo. I kept those hand warmers in my hands for the rest of the morning and afternoon – they stayed warm for so long!

  

Speaking of teas, I want to share one of my favorite kinds of herbal teas at the moment! Aside from my usual peppermint (which I have every night after dinner), I love Good Earth Sweet & Spicy tea. It’s amazing – no honey or sugar necessary! Really gets you nice and warm. I just finished a huge cup of it to get me all toasty before bedtime.

After a LONG hot shower, I made myself a delicious brunch: a huge mug of Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company coffee and a spinach, tomato, garlic and feta omelet (Trader Joe’s “Pastures of Eden” sheep’s milk feta is AMAZING – in eggs, salad, wherever) with a small fruit salad on the side. YUM. It was right up there with the previous day’s breakfast – a twist on Bircher muesli, made with 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 skim milk, 1/3 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt, and cinnamon, agave, blueberries, dried cranberries and almonds to taste (stir together and let sit in the fridge for at least 30min, or overnight, and serve cold). I love breakfast!

  

After I finished eating, the plan was to not move for the rest of the day…but as many of you know, relaxation isn’t my strong suit! Instead, I proceeded to clean my apartment, do two huge loads of laundry and pick up my textbooks, so I can get a head start on my reading tomorrow before classes begin. I know, I’m such a nerd. I even bought an insulated purple lunchbox and reusable ice cubes (both made by Thermos), which I plan to bring to class on days I can’t eat at home to save money and ensure I eat nutritious, homemade meals! I tested it out on Friday in between my various orientation sessions – I LOVE it! Less messy and more environmentally friendly than my usual plastic bag. Here’s my colorful salad including edamame hummus (another TJ favorite), cheese, fruit and nuts.

  

One thing I didn’t do was a post-run stretch – I may regret that tomorrow (oops) – but I did squeeze in some TV and vegging on the couch. Getting to bed way too late as I often do (the noise is still making it tough to sleep, but it’s getting slightly better), but all in all, a productive Saturday! I definitely earned my rest day tomorrow…that makes two full rest days this week! My body is craving it, especially since I have a big week ahead – at last, my first week of grad school!! Stay tuned…

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

This morning's breakfast bowl isn't exactly pretty, but really delicious and filling! Two fried eggs in a pan with black beans (I used 1/2 cup = 1 serving), a little feta, a few spoonfuls of ricotta, some pesto (random but had some leftover and tastes great with eggs), and 1/4 avocado. Cooked all together for a high protein tasty breakfast! Awesome @onepeloton endurance ride earlier today with my buddy @mattwilpers before enjoying some family time outdoors on this beautiful day. Arielle came to visit afterwards and clearly is a big Peloton fan too! Speaking of which, check out the latest episode of the Clip Out (a Peloton fan podcast) - had such a great time talking all things nutrition and Peloton with @clipoutcrystal and Tom, who are hilarious btw! (Link in bio - my segment ~20min in). Wishing everyone a very happy first day of Fall! 🍁🍂 It's my favorite time of year to get out into nature and go for a run. L'Shana Tova to those who celebrate! We started the New Year with some apple picking at @wilkloworchards on our way back to NYC yesterday. Was so much fun, and Arielle was a great little helper! We don't have much food in the house after being away so these crisp local apples with almond butter will be our tasty, healthy snacks today. Getting ready for the loooong drive back to NYC after unplugging in Lake Placid for my bday! Fueling with a bowl of 5% plain Greek yogurt, bananas, peaches, and apple cinnamon granola. Not much of a view from our balcony this morning of Mirror Lake - swipe right for our view yesterday! So beautiful and peaceful here - minus screaming baby, of course. 😂 #Tbt to earlier this week, when one of my awesome @nutritionenergy clients surprised me with a @levainbakery cookie after we talked about them at our last session. I had planned to save half for my husband (those cookies are seriously dense!), but it was so delicious, I changed my mind and had the second half later in the day. Did I feel bad about it afterwards? Did I end up skipping dinner or working out more to compensate? Nope! I had already eaten a healthy balanced lunch, and it's not everyday that I enjoy such a decadent treat (although you will find me having smaller treats quite often 😀).

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