Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Live every week like it's peak week

This week is peak week in my Boston training. Only a few more hard days of workouts, and then it will be time for the taper.

But what if we live every week like it's peak week? All out, no questioning of the difficulties ahead, knowing that the hard work will pay off...and that rest will soon be on its way.

Last night's track workout was excellent! The weather was absolute perfect: 50 and the sun was not too high in the sky and a light breeze. The task: 2.5 mile warm up, then 6 x 1 mile repeats (starting at 7:30 and knocking 5-7 seconds off for each), 2.5 mile cool down - 12.5 miles.

The result: 7:26, 7:18, 7:10, 7:04, 6:59, 6:49. When I got through the first mile, I was not sure how the rest would pan out. Granted, I had a half marathon a few days ago, but the first few miles were still slower than half marathon pace (7:14). It was after the fourth repeat that some doubt set in. I wasn't necessary too fatigued, but I knew I would have to keep digging in order to accomplish what was laid out. The following German phrase (I'm learning German this semester) kept coming back to me:

Immer schneller und immer schwieriger. Increasingly faster and increasingly difficult. That is exactly what these workouts are supposed to be. So, yes, it took a little more oomph to go faster in the end, but that is what lies at the heart of training -- the ability to find the next layer and dig deep.

This morning I rowed 5600 meters in 30:01 and did some weights. It felt awesome. I think one of the things that has improved is my strength - while I am never going to bench 100 pounds, I am a lot stronger than I was 3 months ago, and that is a great feeling. Elliptical will happen this afternoon. Tomorrow is my shortest training day of the week - 8 mile run. These were a couple of the professional pictures from Saturday: I am in the back in the second one, but it's just me and the guys. While I am in no way beating all of the women, I am moving up to where I can run comfortably with men, and that is a cool feeling.

Off to read and take on peak week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How will you be tenacious today?

I participate in a forum on Runner's World with people who train for the Marine Corps Marathon. We write to each other daily about workouts, training, and life outside of running too (if there is such a thing). It is like we are a virtual team - we train all over the country, but are good about holding each other accountable and also celebrating each other's victories. The daily posts have some sort of title indicating the first poster's mood going into the day. But since the fall, every Tuesday has been...
Tenacious Tuesday
I absolutely love it - because it ends being a challenge to the entire group - to go out and be tenacious. It is one of my favorite "power" words. Tenacious -
holding together; cohesive; not easily pulled asunder; tough. It was my attitude going into my master's comprehensive exams in the summer, and now we challenge each other to be tenacious every week.
I was so overwhelmed by all of the positive comments about the National Half Marathon. It was an absolutely fabulous race, and I am just on cloud 9. It is a sign that the training (and cross training) is working, and the Boston (less than 3 weeks away) will awesome.
On Sunday, I had to do a 13 mile recovery run. Sunday's 13 was a lot harder and slower than Saturday's! But I got through it, and it did loosen me up a little bit.
This week is my peak week of training, and then I will have a 2 week taper. School and work are really picking up right now, so it is going to be a mega busy week in general. Yesterday was one of my double days, and I had to keep reminding myself that a) the training is clearly working and b) the hard stuff will be over soon! I rowed for 30 minutes in the morning (5500 meters). I am really starting to like the rowing (have been doing it for about a month now) - I think because it incorporates both cardio and strength work in the same exercise (and it's no impact). School was a blur, and it was hard to get myself back to the gym for the second workout. But again, I just had to remind myself that I am so close to my goal, and that ultimately it will be great (I don't have to motivate myself so much on running days). Within 15 minutes of being on the elliptical, my energy kicked back in, and I was on there for an hour (7.5 miles). Also did some weights and core work. Feel like I have finally gained some core strength, because doing 9 x 13 Roman chairs (in sets of 3) is no longer as difficult as it was in the fall. And then it was all done!
After school and work today, I have a mega track workout that I am really looking forward to. 6 x 1 mile repeats (getting progressively faster). That will be my tenacious run for the day. But I feel like our tenacious challenge is good at keeping us steadfast and persistent all day long, beyond the running world. It is not a question of "Will you be tenacious today?" but "How will you be tenacious?" It means I can channel my training energy into the rest of my day, be tough, and hopefully come out stronger!

How will you be tenacious today?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Start spreading the news: National Half Marathon

What a GREAT race!
Last night, I went out to zpizza (they have gluten free pizza!) and coldstone with my friend Amanda, who is taking her master's exams this weekend. Perfect Friday night: we both needed to just relax. Definitely got the job done - just fun for both of us! And I had had a good shakeout run yesterday morning, and felt ready to go. I talked to my parents and friends as I was getting ready for bed and just felt so relaxed and ready to sleep. And I was asleep by 9:15. I have really gotten good about relaxing the day before a race to the point where I can go to bed very early and not spend the whole night tossing and turning.
Alarm went off at 4:30 playing Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" - what a good sign! Jenny and I danced around to that right before MCM, so I was very pumped to wake up to it. A fellow Pacers Ambassador, Cindy, picked me up and we drove to RFK stadium together - it was nice to have some company. I dropped off my stuff, shedded my gear, and headed outside to do my warm up. Definitely needed it - it was about 29 at the start, so ran for 15 minutes, then headed to my corral. Was so fortunate to bump into my MCM buddy Brian and get a hug from him right before the start. That gave me the last dose of relaxation I needed. And then, BANG, the gun went off!
I went through the first mile at 7:22 - perfect, this will keep me right on for sub 1:37. And then...there weren't mile markers. What? At first, I thought I just missed the one at mile 2, but no, they weren't there. I was a bit surprised, but decided to just trust my pace and go by feel - surely one will appear. Weather was beautiful - cold, but brisk and sunny. First few miles were quiet, but that's what you need at the beginning of a race - just time to unwind. The pace did not feel too fast, and it was my hope that at some point I would get confirmation about how far I actually had went. Saw a couple of Pacers people during the race, including my friend Reza, whom I've done some training runs with. There was a mat at the 10k, which I crossed in 45:08 - a little ahead of goal pace. This was my favorite part of the race. This segment had some hills, which I am fairly strong at, and I can pass people well on them. Plus. the crowds were absolutely wonderful -- cheering and ringing cowbells. I knew I could draw in from that excitement. At mile 8ish, somone was playing Katy Pary's "Firework," which I love and we hit a beautiful section of town. Okay, less than 5 miles to go. There was no mile marker at 9 either, but I was trusting that I was still on pace. The crowds at this point were just so exciting and invigorating, which was what I needed, and I knew they could keep me going. I did smile a bit at this point, and figured enjoying myself was the best way to go. Went through mile 10 in 1:12:40, again, still ahead of pace. I was pretty sure I wouldn't see another marker, so when I got to 1:21, I threw out the index cards listing my splits - all about running by feel! At this point, I was uncomfortable, but had to remind myself that I would only be uncomfortable for 15 more minutes at most.
Again, no marker at mile 12, but I knew I was ahead of goal pace, and so I just tried to keep pushing and passing people. Then, it was time for the half and full to split off, so I just tried to take off. There was a slight hill, but you cannot have mercy so close to the end. I could hear the announcer saying, "You know, the people coming in right now are fast, take a lot, these are people in the top 20% of the country..." Just tried to keep going, and I looked down at my watch, and was so excited to see low numbers with the final steps. I crossed the line:
(7:14 pace)
I punched my ticket to NYC with over 2 minutes to spare! You need 1:37:00, and now I have automatically qualified for the NYC Marathon! My PR from last year was 1:39:30, so I knocked off almost 5 minutes in a year!
I could not stop smiling - I was so excited, shocked, overjoyed, surprised, relieved. It just felt incredible: my pace felt relatively comfortable for most of the race. I stuck with my plan, I didn't go out to fast or do anything stupid, and it all worked! The plan, the diet, the training, it is all working. And also, my mental plan is working - I am learning how to relax and enjoy myself, and it is paying off. I was just beaming on the metro.
I am very blessed that I have people in my life who can share in my joy and who understand how important it is to me. I was so excited to talk to my parents and let them know how I did: they were stunned and excited. They just mean so much to me and I can't wait to have them on the streets of Boston! I had a chat with Sarah (my trainer), who said she knew I was in 1:35 shape but thought it might have freaked me out to hear that. She says this proves that sub 3:30 at Boston is completely attainable. I believe her! I also talked with Jenny (and her husband Sam, who is also teriffic), who was a competitive swimmer, so not only did we run MCM together, but she understands the competition, the training, everything. So much fun to rehash the race with her too. She sent me the following message after, that got me all filled up, "You are amazing, AWESOME, PHENOMENAL, OUTSTANDING and INSPIRATIONAL!!!"
I am very moved by all of the support - I know that I do better when I talk beforehand with those who are important to me, and I was able to do that. Excited is the only word I have right now: of what just happened, what it means, and what it signals for the big one in Boston in just over 3 weeks. Hope and joy, and the love of family and friends...feeling very blessed today indeed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pamela's Pancakes Fuel/Feel Good

When I got the Celiac Diagnosis, I was bummed to "lose" pancakes. Little did I know that gluten-free pancakes existed. But then again, I did not know about Pamela's Products.
Their slogan is "enjoy more" and I can do just that with their products. First of all, I am incredibly grateful that they have sent me some products to try. 2 items of note:
Classic Vanilla Cake Mix. I made this when I was on vacation in Florida.
It was delicious and often served as a pastry for breakfast (I even had some before my 21 miler). Very easy to make, and this will be definitely my cake go-to from now on.
Pancake Mix: This is now an absolute staple to me. I have pancakes on the weekend, after my long runs (tempos and long runs). And now, that is tradition I can still partake in! These pancakes are great. They look and taste like a regular pancake mix, and they feel fairly light (maybe that's the absence of gluten!). They are excellent recovery food after a hard workout, and in the final moments of a workout, that is what I am thinking about.
Last night's track workout was awesome!
2.5 mile warm up, then 1 x 1600 (7:00), 2 x 1200 (5:08, 5:02), 2 x 400 (1:36, 1:34), 5 x 300 (1:09, 1:10, 1:09, 1:10, 1:09), 2.5 mile cool down. All intervals were at sub 7 pace, which makes me hopeful that 7:22 pace on Saturday will feel great! I felt like I was just flying, but at the same time, not dying! It was short, compared to a series of mile repeats, but it definitely got the job done.
Then this morning I did 5500 meters of rowing and weights, then class. Then, 60 minutes on the elliptical. This was my last double day before the half, so I really wanted to make today count. And I did 7.5 miles done!
And at this point, I was able to go home and work/grade from there. Naturally, I was super hungry. So I decided, why not have pancakes for lunch? So, I reloaded on Pamela's Pancakes, which were excellent. I felt full and satisfied: both with my workout and my lunch.
Things are being tweaked, but I am definitely finding my nutrition groove now and making a list of go-to's. Feeling grateful to add Pamela's Products (particularly the pancakes, which provide the protein pertinent to a persnickety professor...say that 5 times) to the list!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hungry and Ready to JUMP

I am currently peaking for Boston. Next week will be my biggest week of training, but this week also includes sharpening and preparation for the National Half Marathon this weekend.
I am so hungry! And I know all of the Boston people are too - my friend Bettina wrote about she'll eat anything in sight that isn't nailed down. I agree. It's either the long runs or two a day cross training that makes me want to eat ALL the time. So, I had to resign myself when I went grocery shopping on Sunday that it is better to just get a lot, stock up, and have the good food fuel me for all of my workouts.
I had a super strong long run on Sunday. I had just watched the NYC Half Marathon (congrats to Galen Rupp and Kara Goucher on 3rd place!), and was so stoked about how well they did, particularly since Rupp made his half marathon debut. I had also heard about Shalane Flannagan's bronze medal at World Cross, and was so proud of how well all of the Americans ran on Sunday (US Women earned a bronze at World Cross). All of this made me want to go out and succeed too.
Thanks to Jenny, I brought along Sharkies (they're like GU chomps) - gluten free fuel! These really helped - I had a couple after 1 hour, and then a couple at 90 minutes and 2 hours. They were just helped give me mini bursts of energy. I generally don't bonk during a 16 miler, but sometimes during the final miles, my energy starts to flag and I just want the run to end. This was not the case on Sunday. I felt so strong! I finished with some hills, and I just felt like I could climb and push forever. This was a great feeling, considering I had a 12 mile run with 8 miles of tempoing on Saturday. I ended up averaging 8:12 pace for 16.25 miles! On an easy day! This is when I know cross training and strength work pays off - I felt strong. I didn't die, I wanted to dig deep.
Yesterday was double cross training: 30 minutes of rowing (5500 meters), 45 minutes of elliptical (6 miles), and weights. And they all felt good. I am trying to focus on arm work, because I think I can use my arms to pump me through in the final stretch of the race. We'll see - at the very least, they'll be a bit more sculpted than before.
So yes, I am hungry because I am training a lot.
But I am also hungry for Boston. I was so stoked about Sunday's run, and watching the NYC Half made me excited to race on Saturday. I am starting to reread Kathrine Switzer's Marathon Woman and I am absolutely savoring her sections that discuss her training for her 8 Boston Marathons. I love reading about peoples' training - it only gets me excited about my own. On Sunday, Jenny and I had a long conversation about training and her own training when she was competing at Nationals for swimming. I just love to hear about the preparation, the anticipation, and all of the other exciting components of racing. My dad and I talked last night about training too. Both of my parents are increasingly becoming hard core with training. My mom did her first 5 mile race a few weekends ago, and my dad is doing his first triathlon in the spring. It has become so FUN to talk about the gym and workouts with them - they are in the best shape of their lives right now - it is very impressive.
This is going to be a good week - I love race week. I have a track workout later that I am excited about, and it'll give me a chance to work on turnover and imagine gunning it on Saturday.
All of the excitement just makes me want to JUMP. Thank you Pointer Sisters for serving as some of my pump-up music this week!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Training Updates + Shoes Made to Run Boston

It was time to dive into a hard week of training:
Monday: 30 minutes rowing, 1 hour elliptical, weights & core work
Tuesday: My most interesting track workout ever:
2.5 mile warm up
2400 meters (6 laps): sectioned off to 3:45, 3:30, 3:35
600 meter recovery
2400 meters (6 laps); divided into: 3:30:3:45, 3:30 (which turned into 3:18!!)
400 meter recovery
2 x 800 meters: 3:32, 3:29 (which turned into 3:27!)
2.5 mile cooldown
9.75 miles
This was such an interesting workout because the intervals were long (1.5 miles), and you had to change your pace throughout the workout. Definitely a tough one, but very useful too.
Wednesday: 30 minutes rowing, 30 minutes elliptical, weights & core work
Thursday: Easy 6 miles
Friday: 30 minutes rowing (5200 meters rowing), weights & core work, 1 hour elliptical
Saturday: 2 mile warm-up: 8 mile tempo starting at 8:05 and getting faster and faster; 2.25 mile cooldown.
12.25 miles
Sunday: will run 16 miles
Total: 44 miles

Today's tempo was one of the shining moments of the weeks. I ended up averaging 7:22 pace even with hills - that is just about my goal half marathon pace for the National Half next week! I was pretty excited, and I know that that pace will feel easier/more exciting next week. I just got new shoes (same model - Asics 1160), but new colors: Boston colors! Aren't they beautiful?
This was after my run. I was pretty excited - I used to really stink at tempos, but in the past 2 months, I have gotten a lot better at them. I think they are harder than track workouts, but are so helpful. It was hard to push in the final miles, but I know that digging in and picking it up was the right way to go.
These shoes were just made to run well in Boston.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sing a Song of Boston

Sing a song of Boston
Heard through the streets of Hopkinton
Run to the rhythm of Revere's Ride
Wave your flag for Patriot's Day
Chant the sweet tunes on Copley Square
Feel the growing excitement in the air.

My heart skips a hasty beat
Every time the word "Boston" is uttered
Visions of sneakers and water cups dance through my head
I hear in the distance the warriors of Wellseley
Forming the "Wall of Love" and screaming for the runners.

When I smell spring air
My mind travels to the holy commonwealth
When shades of blue and yellow flash
I am in Beantown.

Thinking of Boylston gives me a shiver
Knowing that it is the final .2 makes my legs quiver
I dream of Boston every night
Singing the song of Boston just feels right.

One month to go until the Big Dance!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Spring in My Step/Spring Training in Florida

Just like the baseball teams, I headed to Florida for spring break/spring training!
Kathleen's wedding was amazing enough, as was the time in Rochester with my parents, but then last Monday I jetted down to Palm Beach for the rest of spring break. Jenny (we ran MCM together in October and will do that again) lives in Jupiter with her family, and I also spent Spring Break 2010 (it's nice that medievalists get the time off too) there. We don't get to see each other that often, so I jumped the opportunity to fly down! It was my hope that it would give a chance to relax, which would be good for training, get in some good runs, and enjoy time with important people.
Tuesday: 9.5 miles with 8 x 3 minute hard efforts
Wednesday: Easy 7
Thursday: Off
Friday: 21 miles...and then in the afternoon Jenny was around for a run, so we did 4 miles, bringing the grand total of the day to 25 miles!
Saturday: Easy 5 at Sunset
Sunday: Off
Total mileage: 46.5 - highest weekly mileage of 2011!
I didn't do any cross training while I was there, which I had planned with Sarah. And that was okay, it gave me a chance to rest up.
I even got to see my grandparents, aunt and baby cousins, who were in Vero Beach and came up to Jupiter for the day! So, with the exception of my brother (who turned 21 on Monday - Happy Birthday Ryan), I got to see all of my top people within about a week's span. How amazing is that? Here some pictures of where we did our runs, and hanging out in Jupiter/on the beach.
I think one of the important ways to train is to mentally relax and find a happy place, whether it is physical or mental. I tend to get so wound up in graduate school that I forget how much joy I get from family. During the week, all of the tension in my shoulders simply vanished. No need for a massage, just time with family, both those who I share my name and those who share in the same joys, did the trick. I got to play with my baby cousins, and my little guy Henry. I rocked it out to Cee-Lo's "Forget You" and other fun songs. I saw the sun, I saw the Jupiter Lighthouse, I saw those who matter the most.
It all put the spring in my step that I was looking for.

Friday, March 11, 2011

2 stellar long runs this week

My training/traveling schedule this week has been interesting and exciting. Last weekend, I was in upstate NY for Kathleen's wedding. And then this week, I have been in Florida visiting friends! I'll write more about the trip in another blog, and focus on training in this one. I spoke with Sarah about my travel plans, and we decided to forego cross training this week. A couple of actual rest days won't kill me and will give me a chance to get ready as I prepare to peak.
Sunday I was scheduled to run 19 miles. As we traveled from Ithaca to Rochester, we got hit with a lot of snow, and it just wasn't safe to run outside. So, my dad and I headed to the Y and I braced myself for a long run on the treadmill. I was well-equipped: GU, iPod, Gatorade, and a treadmill with a tv (crazy, right?). The longest treadmill run I had ever done before that was 13 miles, so this was going to be a big leap. I was more afraid of the mental challenge of staying relaxed than the distance. I wish I could say the miles just clicked off, but that was not the case. Normally outside, I can nod off and have a few miles just "happen." Not on the treadmill. After the first hour, I switched to a treadmill on the other side of the gym. My dad came over to check in on me. We chatted for a minute, and then he went to do another workout. Then after hour 2, I switched back. Okay, less than 40 minutes to go, I told myself. One of the trainers who works with my dad also stopped by. These little visits provided at least a little "break" from focusing on the blinking numbers. I first started watching episodes of Sex and the City, and then slipped into a Cheers marathon (it always makes me laugh that they call them that). As the miles racked up, my ability to follow the plot faded. My dad finished his workout, then sat near the lockers and was talking on the phone with my mom. 2 miles to go at that point, and I am sure my face was showing signs of fatigue - I was just sort of gazing at my dad at that point. Then 1, and then finally, done!
19 miles at 8:18 pace. Oh my! Was pretty pleased with that, seeing as it was such a mental challenge to stay focused. But it was done! And then my dad took me home, and I was able to have a delicious dinner with my parents before I left for Florida the next morning.
My trip to Florida has been absolutely wonderful. Right now, I am curled up on 6 year old Henry's bed while he is playing. Absolute heaven. Incidedently, what did the Raptor say when the volcano errupted? Have a lavaly day! Henry loves dinosaurs and has a dinosaur riddle book.
This morning, I did a 21 mile run. Now, I am not really a fan of training runs that go beyond 20 miles. I think they can be more fatiguing than helpful. I haven't done one since I was training for MCM 2009. But I am also not one to question Sarah, so okay, let's roll with it. I have been running with Jenny (of MCM fame) long enough that I know this area pretty well. I also set it up so that I could drop off clothes at the house. Thanks to a rainstorm yesterday, the temperature this morning was cool for Florida standards (50s), but felt great to me! And so I was off! It was such a peaceful run - no traffic to deal with, and just miles and miles of landscaped houses, palm trees, and sun. I decided to time my run but not measure splits - just go out and see what happens. In the end with a run that long, it's more about getting it done. The first hour went by fast, and I took a GU, and ditched the arm warmers. At 2 hours, the arm warmers and shirt went in Jenny's mailbox. I think the middle hour can be the hardest, so felt relieved to be done with that. Okay, last time out. While I was ditching clothes and taking in some gatorade, I didn't feel too hot - hot enough, but not fatigued from the heat either. Then I had about 3 miles to go. I started to try to dig in - I decided it was going to be uncomfortable at that point, it wouldn't last that much longer. Then I had about a mile to go. I was very saddened to hear of the tragic death of elite marathoner/triathlete Sally Meyerhoff, who was killed while cycling this week. She was only 27, and had a great career already, and many more good years to go. One of the amazing things was that she decided that marathon training wasn't completely working, so she announced at the end of last year that she was going to try triathlons for a while. She even won the RNR Arizona Marathon in January in 2:39, even amidst triathlon training. Sally had a clear passion and gusto for what she was doing, as indicated by her final blog post, "I cannot express how HAPPY I am with where I am in my life right now though, and how grateful I feel for being able to do what I do. I just wouldn't trade it for anything and any time I am feeling not very motivated, I think about how miserable I feel when I am not training or doing something else I don't LOVE. I totally and completely love this life I'm living and the most fabulous thing is that I know it's only going to get 20 times better by the end of the year. Woo hoo baby!"
You can't top that passion. So, I found myself thinking of her with a mile to go, and just took off. Surely I could find another layer and run harder. And I did. And finally, Jenny's mailbox was in sight.
21 miles: 3:02:35. 8:41 pace
Woo hoo baby! I have never been able to do a training run of 20 miles at that pace, let alone 21. It made me think back to a hard 20 miler I did last year when I was getting ready for Boston. I ran it at 8:42 pace and was hurting for the last 5 miles. It was the hardest 20 miler I have ever done. A year later, I added an extra mile, knocked a second off of the pace, and felt better in the final miles. Thinking back to that previous run increased my confidence in today's run.
In the past 6 days, I have run 56 miles, including 2 stellar long runs. I can believe in Boston now...and the clock is ticking. 38 days to go!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Running's most rebellious women - thank you

In honor of International Women's Day, TIME did a profile of history's most rebelious women, like Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Joan of Arc (yay for including a medieval woman). The sport of women's running only exists because some women chose to say "Yes I can" when everyone else thought it was unhealthy, unfeminine, unnatural for women to run. So those rebellious women, thank you. Just to name a few:
Roberta Gibb: The first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966. She stepped out behind a forsythia bush, wearing her brother's running shoes, and finished the marathon.
Kathrine Switzer:
The first official female finisher of the Boston Marathon in 1967. She dodged Jock Semple, who tried to throw her out of the race. Not only did she finish, but she became an integral component to champion for women's participation in the marathon. She went from running 4:20 in her Boston debut to 2:51.
She helped advocate for there to be a women's marathon in the Olympics, and her dedication to the women's running movement has
been tremendous. I have had the opportunity to meet her twice. She is very gracious and very kind, and her efforts ultimately helped bring me to this sport.
Joan Benoit Samuelson:
I don't know if she would want to be called rebellious. But her successes in Boston and Chicago, and ultimately winning the gold in the first women's marathon in the Olympics in 1984 brought women's running to the center stage. She showed that women could compete at an elite level, and succeed doing so. And now, she has shown the enormous capacity and potential master runners have - she has run a 2:47 at age 53. That is a time that is not achievable for most of us, but she has done it on several occasions. For over 3 decades now, she has been tremendous in her performances.
Paula Radcliffe, also tremendous, said "I can't imagine my life without running." I truly believe that now - my life has been greatly enhanced by this sport. It is only because of efforts by these great women, and others, that women can run when they want:young, pregnant, masters, anyone. We get to live the dream that once used to be a distant possibility.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Family matters the most

Sometimes, I need to remind myself to not get too worked up. I can be fairly intense in terms of school, training, work, etc. And I like to plan and to have things be certain. But that can’t always be the case. First of all, I just need to loosen up sometimes. But more importantly, I need to remind myself that as important as school and plans about future employment are important, family and friends are absolutely essential and in the end, they are the ones who enrich my life.
My best friend got married on Saturday to a wonderful guy. I was fortunate enough to be in the wedding, and was so honored that Kathleen wanted me to be a part of her most special day. Both the bride and groom have large families (Kathleen has 5 older sisters, and Sandeep has a large extended family), but more than just the number, both place an important emphasis on family. So, for the first part of the weekend – the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, these were family gatherings. I was one of only 5 non-related people there on Friday, and that meant a lot to me, because the way both families treated me, I truly felt like part of the family. I have
known Kathleen for over 10 years now, and when we first met in high school, I felt like she was the big sister I never had. And because there was a 3-year age gap between us, it was more like two sisters than two friends, and it has been like that since then. And her family has always welcomed me into their home, so I felt quite comfortable spending time with them on Friday.

Now, I have known her fiancĂ© for 3 years, and I think he is terrific. I was so excited when they got engaged over the summer. He cares about her so much, and I have seen how happy she has been since they got together. I had been looking forward to this weekend for so long, but at the same time, I didn’t know exactly how the weekend would play out. I got to meet all of Sandeep’s family and friends, and they were so kind and gracious. They made it so easy for me to blend in and fit in – it felt very natural on Friday. Which meant that by the wedding day on Saturday, the atmosphere in central NY (they got married at Cornell) was warm and inviting.

The wedding was perfect. And I am not just talking about the logistics (everything did go smoothly), but the whole day was wonderful. It was fun getting ready in the morning and taking it all in. Kathleen and Sandeep did see each other before the ceremony; they did some pictures around Cornell. When they did the reveal of the bride, it was so beautiful. They both are beautiful people to begin with (Kathleen looked absolutely stunning), but the joy on their faces made them all the more beautiful.

The pure joy on each of their faces was so moving: you really knew these were two people in love. I am actually getting choked up just thinking about it.

And that was why everyone was so excited – the ceremony was a true testament to the love they have for each other. They just kept smiling at each other, particularly when particular words were said. And the entire church was so happy for them – truly a room full of ecstatic people.

And then the reception was just a blast. There was so much dancing and laughing.

My parents were at the wedding too, which meant I got to see them (and even dance with them) this weekend too.

The band was awesome: they played oldies like “Shout” and “We are family” were played, as well as more current music. Everyone just wanted to stay on the floor the whole time – there was no need for cajoling to go out and dance. We closed down the reception on a very high note. There was also a brunch on Sunday morning, which gave everyone a chance to wish one another goodbye. Not only did Kathleen’s family all treat me like family, but Sandeep’s family too, who I had met less than 48 hours before. They gave me big hugs, and even an invitation to stay at their house the net time I am in town. It was the final moment that made this weekend not one of time with friends, but of family.

I got to stand up on the altar on Saturday and watch my best friend, the big sister who has always looked out for me, marry the man of her dreams. And to watch the pure joy that radiated throughout the church and weekend was a reminder that family is the certainty that I need and cherish the most in my life.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Udi's Fuels my Runs (a Gluten Free review)

Now that I am living a gluten free lifestyle, I am on a quest for new foods - not that just taste good, but can help me as a runner. So, I have contacted a few companies that make gluten free products, and they have sent me some products to review! The past few days have been brought to you (well, me), by:
Check out their website at A lot of their products are also at Safeway, Wegmans, and your local grocery store.
Today's breakfast: Part 1 (pre-Run): Kix cereal and coffee
Part 2: Post run: Glass of milk, small GF brownie and Udi's bagel

Lunch: 2 yoplait light yogurts (Boston Cream Pie and French Vanilla)

1 Udi's sandwich with Hillshire roast beef
Dinner: chicken and rice

Both Udi bagels and their bread have been excellent! I think one of the first things to keep in mind is appearance. You want to believe that the product actually resembles its gluten counterpart. The bagels and sandwich bread could easily be mistaken for the "regular kind." Yesterday was the first time I had the bagel, and I was pleasantly surprsied. Sometimes I find bagels to have a difficult texture that makes it hard to enjoy (and eat neatly). This was easier to enjoy, which I did with some coffee. I didn't feel too full, and after a workout, I felt that the bagel helped give me the energy I needed to continue on with my day!
And the sandwich bread has been exceptional. While the bagel's appearance was a little different from the original version, the sandwich bread looked identical to wheat bread. Even had the same texture -- the only differnce was the lack of gluten, which you could not taste. I have switched over to Hillshire Roast Beef (no gluten in this particular processed meat), and the two together have been excellent!
I have found the sandwich to be a good strong lunch that either helps me get ready for an afternoon workout, or to keep me going after a morning run.
Now, Udi's has also sent me some GF pizza crusts, which I have yet to try. Stay tuned for a review on them.
Overall, Udi's gets my seal of approval. I think they will play an integral role in my diet now, especially since bagels and sandwich bread can be regular staples to my marathon training diet. Udi's also carries other products besides baked goods and bread. Congratulations, and thank you, Udi's. After the professor finished going through the grading rubric...
You get an A!

And how exactly has Udi's helped fuel me up?
Monday: 2000 yard swim, 1 hour elliptical
Tuesday: track workout. 2.5 mile w/u, 4 x 1 mile, starting at 7:25 pace and aiming to knock 5-7 seconds off. Ended up running 7:25, 7:18, 7:11, and 7:06. Then 2 laps, and then 2 x800 (aiming for 3:30, 3:27). Ended up feeling strong enough to run 3:29, 3:26. 2.5 mile cooldown. Total: 11.75 miles - Very successful track workout! I think this is turning to my favorite (running) day of the week.
Wednesday: Rowed 5k in 30:40 in the AM, 3 mile (easy) run in the PM. It was 62 and sunny - I just couldn't resist an easy 3. It was like nature implored me to - I know some of you know the feeling.
Thursday: 10 mile run with 7 at 8:00 pace
Friday: Double XT
Saturday: OFF - Kathleen's wedding! My best friend is getting married this weekend, which means I am leaving for Rochester TONIGHT. So incredibly excited - it is going to be a great day.
Sunday: 19 miles - we'll save that after the wedding brunch.
And then Monday morning I fly to Florida! This has been a good training week, and I look forward to doing all of next week's runs in shorts!