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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!

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!

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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