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I ran the NYC marathon for the first time in 2010, back when I was still living in London. It was my second marathon, and I had trained extremely hard with the help of my coach to BQ (sub-3:40 at the time). I remember waiting to start on a perfectly sunny, crisp day. The atmosphere was electric, and I was overcome by emotion as I crossed the start line and took in the amazing views from the Verrazano Bridge.

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Brooklyn was a huge party – I got caught up in the excitement (all smiles pictured above left) and reached mile 13 feeling unusually fatigued. It was way too early to be tired as I entered Queens, and yet every mile was a battle to stay on pace. Cheers from my friends, family and thousands of strangers carried me along 1st ave. I felt my goal slipping away as I made my way through the Bronx and up 5th avenue (where did that hill come from?!), but then something happened when I entered Central Park. I felt a renewed sense of determination and clawed my way back to my goal over the last two miles, unleashing this fury I didn’t know existed. I simply refused to accept defeat – I had worked too hard for that – and found another gear that catapulted me forward to finish in 3:39:36. I was in complete shock as I hobbled my way through the chute. I eventually found my Dad and whispered “I did it” as he gave me a huge hug, which unlocked a flood of tears and a huge smile. My all time favorite post race photo above captures that moment!

That first NYC marathon was a pivotal experience. It inspired me to create this blog, become a running coach, and push myself harder to reach new running goals. It gave me the courage to leave London and go back to grad school to become a dietitian. It solidified my relatively new relationship with E, who also ran that day (his first marathon). It motivated me to coach the Gilda’s club team for the past four years, as I love to share this incredible NYC event with other runners while supporting a great charity. This marathon holds a very special place in my heart, and I had always wanted to run it again – not racing it all out, but at a pace that would allow me to be more present and enjoy every step. This year I finally got to do just that.

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Sunday’s marathon represented many things. Most importantly, E and I raised over $6,000 for team Gilda’s in memory of our friend Noirin, who passed away in June. She started the NYC marathon last year but wasn’t able to finish due to a painful side effect of her cancer treatment. Her DNF must have been very disappointing after training hard and finishing the previous year, but she remained cheerful as always and eager to hear about everyone else’s race. This year, we celebrated her life and finished the marathon for her. As we crossed the start line, I pictured her smile, her laugh, her strength, her determination. It was an ongoing source of inspiration during our race. E and I are so grateful for the generosity of so many friends, family members and co-workers who helped us achieve our fundraising goals – we cannot thank you enough!

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The marathon also happened to be E’s birthday – and what better way to celebrate than by participating in NYC’s biggest block party?! I made special birthday running hats just for the occasion…so silly and fun! (The visor fanny pack will be saved for another time…)

Lastly, the NYC marathon was the first time that E and I actually raced together. We ran two ultras together but these were at a more leisurely pace on trails – very different from racing a road marathon. Sunday actually was a training race for the JFK 50 miler on November 21, which we entered somewhat last minute after being inspired by so many legendary athletes at NESS. E ran it last year (check out his race report) and I had so much fun pacing him, I wanted to give it a go myself! Staying healthy and having fun were our top goals, but since we usually don’t race marathons together, it was a great opportunity for me to pace E to finish in 4 hours. He always tends to go out too fast in road marathons and it was my mission to hold him back, as I know he is capable of sub-4!

One AMAZING thing that we experienced for the first time was waking up in our own beds and going to a marathon start – and hopping on the subway and being back home soon after the finish. I can’t believe it was our first marathon in our home city! I kept forgetting that we were actually running, because there was no hotel or hours of travel involved. AMAZING.

That said, I forgot how logistically challenging this race is! It took us 2.5 hours to get to the start village – cab to ferry to bus to corrals. Getting on the ferry was crazy (took over 30 min to get on due to crowding) and the bus was stuck in tons of traffic. The Wave 1 folks were getting very nervous! We finally made it and wandered around for a bit before making our way to the green corrals. We had more than enough time, there were a billion toilets, and everything was extremely well organized. It was very mild out – turns out E didn’t need that crazy bear suit after all for warmth, but we did get some good laughs!

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We started in wave 2 on the bottom of the bridge, which was a really different experience. Fun but not as dramatic without those great views. It was SO crowded – not at all like in wave 1 five years ago! It was difficult to keep track of E while we each tried to find openings to pass people. I kept telling him not to surge and pass too much to conserve energy but it was difficult given we were constantly slowed down and trapped behind walls of people. By mile 2, we were slightly ahead of pace and I tried to slow him down, which he did but not enough. Those early miles definitely zapped a lot of energy! We finally hit a steady pace around mile 5 or 6, although crowding remained an issue – navigating water stations was particularly challenging – but I guess this is the largest marathon in the world!

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Despite these frustrations, we had an amazing time. The spectator support was even better than I remembered – likely due to warmer weather and the later time. I felt very present and in tune with my surroundings, which was a nice change from my usual tunnel vision hanging on for dear life race experience. Seeing friends was uplifting as were all the great signs (“Never trust a fart,” “Pet for power” with an actual dog in the sign, and so many more), bands, costumes etc. Brooklyn was the same huge party that I remembered and the miles flew by.

E and I chatted and ran comfortably for the first half, singing and taking it all in. As we entered Queens, we knew it was time to work it. What is it about mile 13 in this particular race that always gets to me?! I guess the fun of Brooklyn is over and you know the struggle that lies ahead. The warm weather was starting to get to E but he was doing a great job maintaining pace. The 59th street bridge was challenging as usual – I felt like I was encountering an old enemy as we approached it – and sure enough this is where we started to lose goal pace, but we planned on changing gears and getting back on track later on. E was still hanging on in the Bronx, and I was tired but feeling good at mile 20 – uplifted by the Gilda’s cheer station!

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E started to slow down and the wheels came off as we made our way back into Manhattan. He felt very sick and had to walk it out a number of times between miles 21 and 25. It’s funny how the second you need to take care of someone else, your own pain goes away. All I cared about was making sure he was okay and keeping him moving – running ahead to get him water and Gatorade, and using every motivational phrase and tactic I could think of to get him running again. It was a disappointment to see him struggling – we both really thought he had a 4 hour race or at least a PR in the bag – but hey, we were still running the NYC marathon and we were doing it together, and the rest didn’t matter.

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I thought entering the park would have the same motivating effect on him as it did on me many years ago, but he couldn’t shake off his nausea. I took advantage of these miles to work the crowd – drum up more cheers, tell everyone it was his birthday, and admire the gorgeous Fall colors in the park. Reminded me of all those times when I was struggling late in a marathon, and there always was a runner with WAY too much energy waving his arms around trying to get more cheers from the crowd. Finally, I got to be that person! When we hit mile 25, I pretty much ordered him to stop walking with only 2km to go and things finally turned around. “It never always gets worse,” as Dave Horton always says – so true. He finished so strong and I’m really proud of him, clocking in at 4:13, only about 1 min off his flat marathon PR.

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All in all, it was a great day. Despite some painful miles, E had a wonderful birthday run. I did my best to help him reach his goal and am sorry we didn’t get there, but we learned from what went wrong and will try again next time. Running NYC again really made me appreciate just how challenging the course is –  it’s not exactly “hilly” but there are so many long inclines that can exhaust you over time that you need to be very strategic in how you run it. I don’t have a desire to go back and race it again, but I do hope to run it for fun again someday! You can’t find the same energy and crowd support anywhere else in the world.

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We celebrated with dinner at Babbo – the same restaurant we went to in 2010 (left). Delicious as always!!

So next up is the JFK 50. I felt great during the marathon and recovery was going well until a couple days ago, when my foot randomly started hurting a lot…I’m hoping that this passes quickly with rest! Either way, I can be happy with two great Fall races in the books.

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How’s everyone handling this incredibly hot, first official day of summer? I’m trying to convince myself that it’s easing me into the similarly high temperatures in Rome, where I’m spending the weekend, but there’s no easing into a sudden heat advisory, is there?! Although tomorrow is supposed to be even worse, so I suppose that’s progress…

Class today felt particularly draining – I couldn’t sleep last night, lab this morning was long and hot, my quiz was harder than I expected and then I spent a few hours taking practice exams to prepare for my orgo midterm tomorrow. By the time I headed back to Manhattan in the late afternoon the temperatures were starting to soar and I was completely fried, both mentally and physically. Needless to say, the last thing I wanted to do was go for a tempo run. I hate the dreadmill, but there was no way I was going to attempt a hard session outdoors. At least the gym had AC!

But what really motivated me to quit my whining and put on my running shoes, aside from the promise of AC, was this article written by one of my Gilda’s Club runners. Mary Beth, who is a journalist as well as a member of Gilda’s Club, asked me after our first meeting if I would be willing to talk to her about the rising popularity of marathoning for an article she was writing for Salon.com. The article would also discuss her own decision to run her first marathon after enduring a grueling phase-1 clinical trial for cancer treatment. I of course said yes!

We had a really lovely chat over the weekend, and I’m really pleased with how the article came out. Funny enough, one of the other coaches she interviewed is Patti Finke, who taught my RRCA coaching certification course. I agree with everything Patti says – I certainly don’t think anyone off the street can run a marathon, but if you train properly and you have the DETERMINATION, yes I think you can do it. It pains me just how many people go into marathons poorly prepared – I remember overhearing a man tell his friend at mile eight of the Portland Marathon that he was officially in unchartered territory, since he had never run more than eight miles. That’s NOT what I meant when I was talking about proving something to yourself! That’s just plain stupid.

I have faith in my runners and in my own ability to motivate them – that is why I 100% believe they CAN do it. But WILL they do it? That depends entirely on them – because at the end of the day, there’s only so much a coach can do! It all comes down to the individual runner. You have to have the desire, as well as the discipline – not only to train but also to respect your body. And of course there are always things out of our control that happen – injuries, stomach problems, or whatever else. But yes I know my runners can do it – and I’m going to do my best to help them actually do it. 🙂

After reading that article, what excuse could I really give to skip my run? I headed to the gym and although my run was pretty crappy, I’m glad I ran. It’s going to be a low mileage week with Rome so I have to front load my training this week as much as possible!

Time to pack for Rome and start studying for my midterm – 8pm already?! Yikes. My exam is mid-day and I head to the airport directly afterwards. Unfortunately I only have 48 hours in Italy, since I have to be back for class on Monday (and yet another exam shortly thereafter), but I’m excited. I am finally seeing E, celebrating the wedding of a dear friend and last but certainly not least, taking two entire days off of studying orgo – woo-hoo!

Happy Summer Solstice everyone – and be careful if you’re running outdoors!

Happy Father’s Day! I’m about to head down to the library to finally start studying for my organic chemistry midterm, but first I thought I’d post a few updates.

I had my first Gilda’s Club NYC Marathon team meeting this past week, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be coaching them this year. In the past, running has mostly been tied with my personal goals – I will of course still be focused on my own training as I prepare for Chicago, but my goals will also be intertwined with those of my runners. It brings me so much joy to be able to share my passion with other people and help them finish their first marathon (or improve upon their previous races).

I met about half of the runners on the team, including two cancer survivors who will be running their first marathon. The clubhouse is very welcoming, and I felt very inspired by everyone in that room! It was a wonderful feeling to put on my “Coach Claire” hat and offer advice and information to get my runners amped up to begin training. I sometimes forget just how much I know about running and what I have to offer runners with less experience – hearing myself talk to my runners reminded me that I DO have a lot of knowledge and experience, which gave me a nice confidence boost. It’s my first time coaching a large group, so I am learning too! Our first group run is on July 8th, and we officially begin training a couple weeks later.

As I touched upon in a previous post, I am on the hunt for a new gel. I went to REI and this is what I grabbed to test out on my long runs (my old UK gel, SIS, is at the bottom). I had already tried a vanilla Power Bar gel and hated it – way too sweet and salty – but bought a couple fruity flavors to see if they were more tolerable. Unfortunately, I think Power Bar is no longer a contender. I tried Kona Punch during yesterday’s 13 miler and it was equally wretched. With SIS, the taste is toned down enough (almost refreshing in a way) that I can take it without water and be fine. With Power Bar gels, I wanted to drink my entire bottle with each little taste of the gel. I suppose I could time my gels with water stations during the marathon, but I’d prefer to have the option of taking a gel in between stations and not gagging. Sorry Power Bar!

The Hammer Gels looked promising from the flavors, so those are next on the list. Someone had also told me that the honey gels are quite tasty – we shall see! I have tried the chews and they do taste pretty good, so I might pick those up too.

Chicago Marathon training has officially begun. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to actually make my schedule, so I’m going against my own advice and “winging it” at the moment, but at least I have a skeleton of long runs plotted out. My body wasn’t too happy with me (particularly my back and hamstring) after pushing myself in the mini 10k, so I have struggled to hit my harder workouts this week. I did make it through my grueling long run yesterday, though, and managed to get up to 28.3M with my easy 6 miler this morning.

I wanted to make sure I got enough miles in given that this coming week is insane –  I have a midterm on Thursday, after which I am heading to the airport to fly to Rome for a wedding. I am in Rome for 48 hours, get back Sunday and then have to cram for a final exam, after which I have two days to pack and move into my new apartment. It’s definitely going to be a crazy couple of weeks! Ideally I wouldn’t back down to 15ish miles this week but instead get above 30M. However, with my hamstring being so iffy lately and my stress levels soaring, I think some time off won’t be a bad thing.

 

Not like I’ve been working that hard lately, generally speaking – this past week I’ve been quite the slacker. Who can really blame me given the weather lately? Instead of studying, I had a picnic in Sheep Meadow. I made pizza (shallots, tomatoes, mozzarella, kale and mushrooms). I read the Hunger Games (note to self – NEVER EVER start books you know you’ll want to finish in the middle of a four-week orgo class – “just one more chapter” – ha!). I watched TV. I did some online shopping for new apartment stuff. I suppose it was a good move for my mental health – my motivation really has been at an all time low this week to study – but with a midterm and a final exam both in the next week and a half, that probably wasn’t the smartest move. Oh well!

Before I sign off, here are a few race photos – one from the Brooklyn Half and a couple from the mini 10k.

  

I watched my finish video and not only did they call my name out (they never call my name) but I also noticed that Mary Wittenberg, president of NYRR, finished right behind me!

Lastly, here’s a funny someecards E sent me the other day – made me laugh. That was me, not that long ago – now I eat cupcakes AND run marathons!

Happy Monday everyone! I’m feeling a bit groggy today, but at least my extended hangover from this past week has finally worn off. It’s time to get back to business, with final exams around the corner!

Somehow everything converged on last week after my exam on Monday – every day had at least one or two things planned, whether it was just brunch/dinner, a high school get together, a department reception, a bachelorette party…yes, I am aware that this is called having a normal, healthy SOCIAL LIFE but after so many weeks of hibernation with my books it was very refreshing. And a bit intense…I really don’t drink much anymore, so one drink pretty much does the job for me these days!

As a result, I didn’t have a very productive weekend in terms of school work, but I did manage to finally add a few races to the calendar. (Cut to me, tipsy, entering random races in the middle of the night – “Oh yes this will be FUN!”). Now that my coaching dates have been determined and my class schedule is set, I have a better sense of what races I am able to do. Before this weekend, I was only entered into the Brooklyn Half (in which I’m pacing E), the NYRR women’s mini 10k and the Chicago Marathon. So, my first goal was to plan two training half marathons to prep for Chicago – ideally I would race in mid/late July to see where I stand, but I couldn’t find anything I liked around then. So I plan to enter the Bronx Half Marathon on August 12th. I know it will be hot and I think the course is hilly, so I am not expecting a fast time, but I am expecting a hard effort.

I usually like to race a second half marathon about 4-5 weeks before race day to finalize my marathon race pace. However, I’m struggling to find a local race on the weekend of September 8th – the only one I can find that looks good is the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9th, which obviously is not local at all. I’m dying to enter but it seems so indulgent (and not at all within my budget) to fly to Chicago twice. But how perfect a training tool would it be to race a half right near where I’ll be running the marathon?! So tempted…but still on the hunt for something a bit more reasonable. Any ideas, please send them my way!

I also like to mix up my training by running one or two of my long runs in races – kind of like the Jog Shop Jog 20 miler I ran in the South Downs before the 2010 NYC marathon. It was a killer trail race and a great way to squeeze in my last long run and practice my race-day nutrition. I plan to do the NYRR long training run #1 (20M) on July 28th – I need a road race atmosphere to supplement my other long runs, most of which I’ll be doing by myself on Friday mornings.

I also finally entered another trail race! E and I were trying to figure out where to go on vacation in August, and we were contemplating Colorado (I’ve always wanted to go there). When a friend recommended a perfectly timed 15M trail race in Steamboat Springs, that sealed the deal! We have both entered Steamboat and are in the process of getting some running friends together to join us. It will be like a TNF Endurance Challenge San Francisco reunion! The course looks TOUGH – the first 3M are straight uphill, not to mention the fact that we’re not used to running at altitude (hopefully arriving three days before will help…). I’m supposed to run 20M that day and am using the race as a more exciting way to get the miles in (i.e. no time pressure), but I’m guessing I might be walking quite a bit on that course. Thankfully, as one of my Colorado friends said after a recent trail race, walking on a trail is known as hiking – so it will be a fun trail run/hike!

Last but certainly not least, this morning in my post-weekend haze, I “accidentally” entered the ING NYC Marathon lottery. I had promised myself I wouldn’t and held out all this time the lottery was open – it’s a month after Chicago, it’s money I shouldn’t be spending if I’m lucky enough to get in and I’m more focused on coaching for that race this year, but with all those “last day to enter” tweets and facebook messages I couldn’t help myself. Suddenly my hands were typing and entering info and I was entered – oops! Of course, I also roped E in too.

If I do get in, it will be a fun run. After the 2010 race, I really wanted to enter one year and run without any pressure, with a camera, interacting with everyone and just enjoying myself – so maybe 2012 will be that year!

Good luck to all 2012 ING NYC Marathon hopefuls – I believe we find out later this week. And congrats to the London Marathon finishers – yet another race on my list. Maybe I’ll enter that lottery too…it does open on April 30th…

This week has been pretty calm in terms of running (taking it easy after the half marathon), but extremely high intensity in just about every other area of my life! It’s also been filled with blossoms – I can’t tell you how excited I am that Spring is finally here. Makes it tough to lock myself up in the library with the gorgeous weather we’ve been having, but my runs have been glorious.

I finally took my last midterm this morning – it was an online exam that I could take anytime this week and was more challenging than I expected so I am very glad that it’s over. Not my favorite Sunday morning activity, I must say! I wish that I could take the rest of the day off to relax, but unfortunately my next round of exams start up next week, and I have a lot of studying to do, not to mention other work for my two volunteer positions and countless other things. But I did want to take a few minutes to share my latest updates!

Firstly, I am very excited to report that I have secured my first formal coaching gig, coaching the Gilda’s Club team to run the 2012 NYC Marathon! This has been in the works for several weeks, but I didn’t want to mention it until my position was official. Physical Equilibrium, where I intern, coaches Gilda’s club every year for the marathon and needed a running coach, so I obviously expressed interest and interviewed for the job. I can’t wait to finally make use of my RRCA certification and get some great experience – earning money obviously is helpful too, given that my two other positions are unpaid!

I will be coaching seven long runs and attending several meetings beginning in June. I will of course be doing my own training for the Chicago marathon, so I’ll need to make sure I remain available and committed to my runners without sacrificing the quality of my own runs. The solution I’ve come up with is to do my long runs the day before or day after the group runs (since I have the flexibility to choose the group long run days), and use group runs as recovery (since I don’t have to run more than 6M with them, unless I want to). I can also perhaps bike alongside my runners if I’m too tired to run (if I can borrow a bike). I’m sure I’ll also do a few longer runs with them too, but I’ll figure that out once I have a better sense of everyone’s pacing and what my own training schedule will be like. Should be fun! Also makes me feel better about not running NYC this year, as this way I still get to be involved.

Second, in this past week’s cooking class, I learned how to butcher a whole chicken. I realize that doesn’t sound all that exciting, but it was pretty cool. It will also help me save some money, as buying a whole chicken is far more economical. Obviously, I took photos (look away if you don’t like chicken).

 

I also had my first training with City Harvest on Friday – it was our own training on the Fruit Bowl program, so that we are prepared to begin training teachers next week. I will be working with two other volunteers to train about 500 teachers at 60 or 70 sites (preschools, after school programs etc) on the basics of healthy nutrition, the goals and objectives of Fruit Bowl (essentially, promoting healthy eating habits and regular physical activity to fight childhood obesity) and various activities they can use in their classrooms. The goal is to enhance participants’ knowledge about the Fruit Bowl program resources and prepare them to provide healthy snacks and nutrition education activities for the children they teach.

The training went very well – we essentially reviewed the entire presentation we will be giving and practiced leading nutrition activities. I was slightly nervous but I got positive feedback from my trainer, which gave me confidence. It’s a lot of information, and I have quite a lot of prep to do to familiarize myself with the materials, but it was fun, interesting and I really like the two other volunteers. I think we’ll make a great team! Our first site is a preschool up on West 155th street early Friday morning. It’s going to be a lot of work, given that we will be doing several site visits a week (and each will take up to 4.5 hours), but I think it will be worth it. Certainly my experience as a nutrition educator will help me develop skills that will prepare me for coaching this summer, and also for my career as an RD.

Lastly, I decided to enter the Brooklyn Half Marathon tomorrow, which is on May 19th. I really want to get another shot at improving my time, but after speaking with my PT on Wednesday, I decided that I need to focus on letting my hamstring heal 100% before getting back into structured training. She reminded me that running strong in Chicago is far more important to me than shaving a minute or two off my half time. My hamstring has been a bit sore after the race, but I’m hoping that with some low mileage weeks, lots of stretching and continued PT, I’ll bounce back soon. I’m tired of being in this weird gray area of injury – well enough to run but not well enough to push myself as much as I’d like – so I need to put in the time now to make sure I’m feeling great before my next training cycle begins in May.

What a perfect marathon Sunday! Congratulations runners – you looked great out there from mile 11.5 in Williamsburg. I wish I could’ve joined you – next year I hope! Definitely makes me want to sign up for my next marathon ASAP. The energy out there was unbeatable!

I saw the two professional women (fellow West coasters) I was looking out for – Lauren and Devon – they looked amazing and I snapped some good shots of them. Also cheered for my friend Elana who looked great and finished strong! Congrats Elana!

Here are some of my race photos, as well as an awesome video of the lead men: http://www.youtube.com/embed/9WsuzTbhZyE.

                       

I’m also including some great shots taken by a guy named Brian who I met while spectating – he’s much taller than me as you can probably tell! He was looking for his sister, who we saw before Elana. He then went to the finish line – I included some of those shots since I wasn’t able to go! Looks like so much fun. Thanks for sharing your photos, Brian!

                    

Lastly, my friend Julia (Facebook.com/ExerciseIntention) who I stayed with in Brooklyn took some amazing photos with her fancy camera (I was just using my iPhone). These three were my favorites!

Time to pack my things for tomorrow’s flight and get dressed for my friend’s wedding – what an exciting day!

Sorry for my recent silence! As I wrote in my last post, I have been in NYC this past week and am getting ready to head to London early Monday morning. I’ve been having an amazing time – it feels so great to be back in the city – but my schedule has been very intense!

I’m getting ready to head out the door once again – moving from the West Village to Williamsburg in a few minutes – but wanted to quickly update you on what I’ve been up to, and of course wish all the NYC marathon runners GOOD LUCK for tomorrow’s race! I will be spectating from around mile 11.5 from 10am. Very excited!

Here are some highlights from my NYC visit so far:

I arrived very late on Friday night – I happened to sit next to a lovely, interesting woman on the plane who lives outside of San Francisco and is a harpist. We chatted for hours and shared a cab into the city – I felt so lucky as I usually just hope to sit next to someone who doesn’t smell!

Due to the crazy snowstorm on Saturday, the NYRR 5 miler on Sunday morning was cancelled. I was disappointed but grateful for the extra sleep and enjoyed a chilled out run along the Hudson on the west side before having my first of many delicious NYC meals. Chilly but gorgeous day!

Halloween on Monday was AMAZING! I slept in and then spent most of the afternoon wandering all around Soho, Nolita and the LES, where I visited some of my favorite places (essentially, a food tour of the area, including a bagel with lox & cream cheese from Russ & Daughters that I had been looking forward to for the past year). On my way home, I stopped at Sephora on a whim and got my makeup done. I was dressing up as the black swan for a party later that night and couldn’t help myself when I saw some of the incredible makeup artists at work. My party was at 15th and 6th ave and I was coming from Spring and Greenwich, so I figured why walk or cab there when I could march in the Halloween parade?! Best night ever!

The next day, I explored my old stomping grounds – Hell’s Kitchen and around Columbus Circle – which of course meant that I went into Central Park to check out the fall foliage as well as the marathon finish line!

On Wednesday, I visited Yale to have lunch with some of my old professors (who wrote recommendations for my NYU application), to meet the beautiful baby of one of my Yale friends and of course to simply wander around and soak up the amazing atmosphere of Yale on a random, gorgeous fall day! As you can imagine, this made me very nostalgic.

       

Thursday I went to the marathon expo with my friend Elana, who is running on Sunday. Go Elana!! I didn’t buy as much as I feared I would, only a shirt for E and some arm sleeves and a massage stick for me. What I REALLY wanted was the official long sleeved t-shirt, not only because it looked great but because this year they have women’s sizes (last year they only had a medium unisex and I can pretty much wear it as a dress). I tried to talk my way into getting one, but even I couldn’t make it happen! Apparently they’re only for runners…

On Friday, I visited the NYU campus – between wandering around Yale and NYU, it made me SO excited to be a student again! I had a great meeting with the graduate advisor of the Nutrition program in the afternoon, which was very helpful and informative. He told me I should expect to hear back in early December – so soon! I feel confident about my application but I am obviously eagerly awaiting that letter, especially because if I get in, I will only have a month to move, find a place to live and get ready for an intensive first semester. I got a very positive vibe from the campus and really hope I am able to join the community. It feels like a great fit for me.

And that brings me to today! I was scheduled to run 10 miles this morning and hoped to do so in Central Park, but wasn’t sure if the loop would be somewhat blocked off given that tomorrow is marathon Sunday. Thankfully it wasn’t, and the atmosphere was ELECTRIC! Central Park during marathon week really is unique – a running mecca! I must confess, I kind of wish I were running tomorrow, not for a time, but just for fun. It is a very special race and I look forward to running it again soon!

Running the marathon course was so much fun – it gave me an opportunity to remember last year’s race while observing all the runners who are racing tomorrow. I couldn’t even count the number of different languages I heard during my run, and everyone was smiling and practically levitating with excitement. I started and finished at the marathon finish line – went against the race direction along the course and up to the top of the park and back down along the west side, and then went back the same way so that I could run the last miles of the course. I remembered how much I was hurting last year – and how I somehow cranked up my pace and accomplished my goal. Those downhills from mile 24 to 26 certainly helped!

Okay runners – I can’t help but offer my two cents as you rest up and prepare for your big day. As you all know but perhaps often forget (it’s so easy to get excited), DON’T START TOO FAST! It’s a tough course and you need to save yourself for those later miles, so keep a steady pace at least until the second half, but perhaps even until 20. Brooklyn is a huge party and I went a little overboard in my high-fiving and dancing during the first 8 miles, which I slightly regretted later in the race – have fun but conserve your energy.

When you enter the park, you get a nice gentle downhill after so much climbing, which will feel great. Then you turn a corner and you see it – MILE 24, you’re almost there! From here, there are a few uphills (including right at the end) but more importantly, some AMAZING downhills. Propel yourself down those downhills! This is what saved me last year – there’s no way I could have BQ’d had I not picked up the pace at 24 and used gravity to my advantage. On the ups, the crowds will carry you as will the thought of being so close to the finish – and hopefully you have done your hill training so your legs can help power you up. I can hardly remember anything past mile 25 but I do remember the energy of the crowds – it’s unbeatable. But most of all, enjoy every mile – NYC is an incredible marathon, every step of the way!

I will leave you with some visual inspiration – you will be right here SO SOON! Good luck runners!

        

This exact time last year, I was on a flight from London to New York City, gearing up to run the NYC marathon. Today I’m flying to New York City as well, but this time from the other side of the world and with a different set of objectives. I’ll still be at the marathon, but on the other side of the fence, cheering on all the runners! It will be nice to give back after receiving so much support last November.

I will be on the road for about five weeks, first in NYC, then London and lastly New Hampshire and Boston for Thanksgiving. I’m really excited – I love being home but I miss city life, my friends and getting out of the house on a regular basis.

In terms of training, I am now starting to prepare for the North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon on December 4th, which I’m just running for fun but the course is very challenging so I really need to keep up my fitness. I ran my first longish run since the marathon this morning – 8M in Nisene Marks – and I felt great (insomnia-induced exhaustion aside). It’s been a really crazy morning of last minute preparations and I really needed some quiet time before resuming the chaos of trying to get out the door. Speaking of which, I probably should get on that…

I have more to say but sadly if I do not hit publish this minute I will miss my flight! I won’t have my laptop with me but hopefully I can blog without too much difficulty from my iPad…we shall see!

Guest Post

Given that spring marathon season is approaching, Claire asked me to give a quick run down on my first experience of running a marathon. So here is some sound and thoughtful advice to those of you who are about to unleash your forward fury upon the world and breach the physical and physiological barrier of the great unknown that is 26.2 miles – The Marathon!

Come ye, all hear the wise words and rejoice I say! Rejoice!! Hey now… stop that! That’s my foot!

Well then, perhaps I should just take questions – yes, you there. Go ahead… What? I can’t hear you – please speak up!

Okay, not literally YOUR questions, but certainly the questions from my friends and loved ones that infected and informed my own journey to the finish line of the NYC Marathon in 2010.

Q: How far is that?

It depends. My GPS watch said I actually ran 28 miles – I’m told that the zigging and zagging can start to add up over time so I’m not going to dispute this (besides the fact that my watch once had me going 200mph in a UFO over Kansas, but I digress). The point is: don’t be a hero – run in a straight line.

Q: How did you do that?

It’s easy. You put one foot in front of the other. And you stop when you’re done. I really expected a lot more from you, Grandma.

Q: What’s your secret?

Good looks. Good genes. Vaseline and Ibuprofen. Don’t under-estimate the power of anti-inflammatory chemicals to reduce swelling on the run. Now, if only for the swelling of my head…

Q: How did you not destroy your legs? Or did you?

Invest in form. The single best piece of advice is to have a team of people teach you how to run correctly. Proper alignment, form, foot-strike, cadence, arm motion and breathing approach will trump any piece of technology that exists on the planet (and trust me, I’ve bought them all).

Q: Best thing you saw during the race?

Not saw – heard. One woman spectator shouted, “You guys have great stamina…AND I AM SINGLE!” I’m not sure how she found out about me; Facebook really is amazing these days.

Q: Did you listen to music?

I debated this question for a long time. Music really helped me in my training, and it’s a nice companion when the voices in your head are telling you to stop. The problem is that after 2 hours, the voices telling you to stop will always be louder then the music in your ears, so you need to spend time getting acquainted with these voices in your training. Reason with them, and if all else fails, tell them to go !@#!@# themselves.

Q: What fuel did you use?

Everything. I would have ordered a pizza had I had any loose change on me.

Q: Did you hit the wall? What was it like?

People talk about hitting the wall like it’s something unfamiliar – something unique and troubling that will shake you to your core and that you couldn’t have possibly experienced before the last 10km of a race this distance. I found the reality to be quite different. As soon as I felt “the wall,” my first instinct was, “Hey, I’ve felt this feeling before…” It’s a feeling of exhaustion and depletion that comes to us all from time to time; normally for me, after sitting and answering questions for 20 minutes.

Q: Did you win?

Yes.

Q: Really?

Okay, not really. But I DID beat world record marathon holder Haile Gebrselassie, who was so battered from my relentless psychological taunting that he just gave up half way through the race. I really expected more from a world champion, to be honest.

Q: Would you do it again?

Honestly, I can’t wait. I was so excited at the finish line that I basically jumped over a fence, sprinted past the goodie bags, and then ran 10 blocks up to meet my family for a celebratory, “Hey look! I can still walk!” high-five session.

Q: Did you use a mantra?

Yes, “This is what you came here for” – Deadmau5 track. My mantra worked until about mile 25, at which point I felt myself mentally lather: “Please just enjoy this exquisite pain – swim in the exquisiteness of this. Bathe in this experience – over and over again – the exquisite pain…”

It’s true – I came for the pain, and then the pain came for me. And THAT’s what I came there for.

-E

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

Grateful for quality time this week with my little pumpkin! 🎃😍 Happy Monday from California! I haven’t posted any running pics for a long time as I’ve been dealing with a hip injury for the last few months (and zero running for the last 5 weeks). 😓 I haven’t run a race, even a short one, in over a year - so different than how I imagined my postpartum running life to be. It makes me sad that I can’t run especially while in Santa Cruz, but I’m trying to stay active in different ways, be diligent about my PT, and remain positive even though the road to recovery feels endless at times. Yesterday, E and I went on a beautiful beach walk in the morning and then I did a hike with a friend and our babes in the afternoon, where I normally run in Nisene. I miss running but hopefully will get back to it soon, stronger than before! Baking “for the baby” tonight (so I say as I gobble up these delicious treats). Made mini pumpkin muffins (and a few mama sized ones), recipe adapted from @babyfoode. So easy to make - I added full fat Greek yogurt and almond butter to include some healthy fats. I think Arielle will love these - if for some crazy reason she doesn’t, more for me!! 😂 Nice work on tonight’s dinner, @trailz.io!! So good I’m going back for seconds. Veg bake with layers of eggplant, red onions, tomatoes, zucchini, ricotta, breadcrumbs, & spices with arugula on top. 👌🏻 Surprise package in the mail today! Thx @rxbar - stoked to try out the new gingerbread flavor. Speaking of, how on earth is it already the holiday season?!?! #rxbar Love @siggisdairy triple cream yogurts - perfect to satisfy a craving for something sweet and indulgent while providing 9g protein, relatively few calories (170), and calcium. The chocolate flavor was so delicious! #dailysiggis

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