Grete’s Great Gallop 1/2 Marathon!

This week has been a little crazy so I apologize for the lack of posts! I’ve been in exhaustion city since running the half on Sunday but I’m starting to feel human again. Here’s a little recap for ya!

I wrote last week about how I wasn’t really feeling motivated to run, and I honestly woke up Sunday morning feeling the same way. I drank my water and coffee, ate my 1/2 banana and PB, put my Polar heart rate monitor on and headed for the subway. The race started on the east side of the 72nd St. transverse in Central Park so it was relatively easy to get to. As per usual, I was in the porta potty line 1 minute before the race began but since I’m not fast I always have about 10 minutes to spare way in the back of the corrals. That’s a perk of being slow, yes?

When I signed up for this race back in August, I was dreaming of a nice chilly start to the race being that it was in October and all. Well, 2 minutes of being outside Sunday morning and you were drenched in sweat from the thick humidity and mist. I was glad I had hydrated so well the day before and morning of and I am particularly happy with how I hydrated through the whole race. I carried a Nathan’s hand held water bottle about 3/4 or a little less full and sipped it every 5-10 minutes until I ran out of it at mile 9.

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This size fits my iPhone 5 (with no case on it), my credit card and ID, and a little baggy of Swedish Fish.

I felt pretty great mentally and physically for much more of the race than I expected. The one mantra I told myself when I would start to get anxious at how much time I had left was to “stay within the mile you are in”. I have read that many times and it helps so much! I would just focus on being in mile 4 or mile 10 and get through that mile. I kept my music off until the 6th mile for a little mental break in the miles, too. Dedicating the harder miles to someone is really helpful too. I thought about my grandma for all of mile 8 when one of her favorite songs came on my playlist- Unforgettable by Nat King Cole. It brought tears to my eyes and an instant sense of motivation!

This course was 2 full loops of Central Park and let me just tell you… it’s Wednesday and the soreness in my quads is still making it very painful to walk down any stairs! Hills on hills on hills. I fueled with Swedish fish at mile 4 and mile 8 and didn’t feel like I needed any extra energy. Swedish fish are amazing and a cheap source of sugar for a long distance run!

I stopped to stretch out my calves and left IT band 3 times and while I wish I could get away with not doing that, I just don’t want to risk an injury. I wait until the tightness is pretty bad to stop so I don’t feel like such a wuss but it definitely feels like a necessity to do.

Finally mile 12 came and as it usually goes, it was the worst mile of the whole race. I almost stopped to walk about 300 times but instead I ran slower than I’ve ever run before. It honestly barely felt like I was moving my feet but soon enough I saw Brenda and John near the final .10 of the race. It gave me the boost of adrenaline I needed, and I sprinted my way through the finish and somehow managed a smile!

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I pretty much want this picture enlarged and framed in my room. So proud that my 2nd half marathon is complete! I actually finished 2 seconds slower than my first one in May but it really doesn’t matter to me! Finishing is all I’m concerned with 🙂

Finishing time was 2:29:17. Pace of 11:24 per mile. Rockin’ the 11’s like it’s my job, right Erika?! 😉

I had to go into work right after for a few hours, and had 0 appetite until I got out of work. I forced down a plain bagel with a little butter, a coconut water, and a pumpkin muffie from Panera brought to me by a co-worker! My heart rate monitor showed that I burned over 1800 calories during the race so this wasn’t nearly enough to refuel but I made up for it later! Mussels, fries, and my first BURGER in 348347329 years. NOT a good idea but I also knew that going into it…

Sorry for the dark lighting!
Sorry for the dark lighting!

Delicious, $5 mussels from Brindle Room.

I had a craving for a burger so bad I could have died. I’m more or less allergic to red meat (I don’t know what else to call it when every time I eat it it gives me a 2 day long stomach ache?) so I haven’t eaten it in a long time. I’ll usually have 1 or 2 burgers a year and it has to be EXTREMELY worth it. I knew the portion was really small and John doesn’t toss around lightly what he considers the best burger in NYC so I went for it.

burger w/ blue cheese & caramelized onions
burger w/ blue cheese & caramelized onions

Seriously worth every bit of pain that followed. YOLO?

I then proceeded to collapse in bed only to have to wake up at 4:30 AM to travel 4 hours to get my hair done. Let’s leave that for tomorrows post 🙂

I’ve rested Monday, yesterday and today out of pure exhaustion so I’ll have a chance to run twice before Sunday’s half marathon! Am I crazy or am I crazy?!?

Have you ever ran a half marathon? Thoughts on the distance?

Slow + How I Carb-Load.

While I’ve been very aware that I have a half marathon this weekend and next, it didn’t really hit me until last night. I’m nervous but also have taken the approach to running that works for me… very laid back. I’d say I care about my pace somewhat and it would be great to run 9 minute miles “easy”, but I know I’m slow and ACTUALLY slow. Nothing annoys me more than reading blogs about runners who say their 8:30 minute miles are sooo slow. You KNOW that’s not slow. It may be slow for you and that’s totally fine because we are all different, but stop considering that slow. I can’t even sprint an 8 minute mile. Let’s keep it real. You have natural speed talent, OWN it. Be proud! I think it’s safe to say 11 minute miles are pretty damn slow but I’m pretty damn proud that I can run at all  🙂

My point to that is that I know I’m not going to win any race and while I think it’s great to compete against yourself, you never know how you’re going to feel on race day. I give myself too much anxiety thinking about all the outcomes of a race, and I think that’s one component of why it’s so exciting. But I tend to get too down on myself thinking that my paces are embarrassing… and then I remind myself that just 4 years ago, I was carrying 110 extra pounds and couldn’t even WALK a mile without dying. It’s not that I don’t go out there and run my heart out, but keeping a 10 minute mile pace for 13.1 miles, right now, would have me dry heaving by the 3rd mile. Maybe one day I’ll have some speed back, but it just isn’t natural for me right now. And I am okay with that, and that’s great since I’m the only person who HAS to be okay with that 🙂

I’m starting with this stuff because this week I felt so unmotivated to run at all. My 10 mile race last weekend was great, and then I stressed myself out about being so sore for the following days. I finally ran Wednesday and it hurt. Everything hurt. I took Thursday off, then when I got to the gym yesterday to run I was over it before it even began. I ran 1 mile on the treadmill, then did some upper body work because I didn’t have it in me to run 1 more foot. I thought about why I was so over it all day, and I realized that I’m making races too much about the outcome. I run because I love it and I have to allow races to just be a day of running that I had to pay for (WTF) and that happens to be with thousands of other people while getting water handed to me for free. Pretty sweet deal. So I have to stop worrying about my pace and enjoy the ride! The fact that I have the ability to run and the ability to run these amazing races is enough to make me happy.

Moving on to the good stuff. If you are new to running longer distances or races, I will share with you what seems to work the best for me when it comes to “carb loading.” If you are also new to reading my blog, first of all… thank you 🙂 Second of all, I have a little history with binge eating. It was a period of about 4 months of bad binge eating… I would eat normal all day, then come home and eat a ton and wake up in the middle of the night to eat. It was in between my lowest, unhealthy weight when I needed to gain some back and I lost control. I had restricted for so long that suddenly eating more became MUCH more, and I put on 20 pounds in those 4 months. I am thankful every day that I have overcome it but it did take over a year to really rid myself of it completely. How this relates to carb loading is that I HATE feeling overly full now, so when I got into distance running I thought it would be a little tricky to add extra calories and carbs the day before the race without that feeling. The trick is to start carb loading the 3-4 days before the race by adding in extra calories and carbs without overdoing it. Trust me, you do NOT want to wake up the day of the race (or a long training run) with a food hangover. If my race is Sunday, I start to add a bit more to my day starting Thursday.

Oats in a jar with some lovely flowers and reading material.
Oats in a jar with some lovely flowers and reading material.

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Thursday’s breakfast was oats in a jar with a few scoops of apple butter. I eat oats every morning, but on this day I added in another banana (well, ate it on the side) and these scoops of apple butter.

Yesterday’s lunch was amazing. I had to go to the Upper East Side to get my race stuff for Sunday, and since Panera Bread is up here and I am never up there I decided to grab it for lunch.

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I ALWAYS get the greek salad with grilled chicken (which costs more to add, of course) and once I got back to my desk I was beyond pissed to see that no grilled chicken had been added. SO PISSED. Luckily the pumpkin pie bagel I got to carb up with didn’t disappoint.

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I just had it toasted with nothing on it and it was perfection!

Last night John and I went to the great new restaurant in our neighborhood, Heights Tavern. It’s so great to have a restaurant in our neighborhood that’s really good and not entirely spanish food!

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I had grilled chicken, avocado & goat cheese on ciabatta with sweet potato fries. Nothing is oily and greasy there which I absolutely love!

Today’s breakfast was extra carby of course, since it’s the day before the race.

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Just so happened to have another almost empty jar of Justin’s deliciousness, so I added in my heated up banana chia oats and added 1/4 cup of dark chocolate macaroon granola AND a mini dark chocolate mounds bar. Chocolate coconut heaven! I found that granola at TJ Maxx and it’s amazing.

As for lunch today, I will have a bagel and some Popchips with guacamole and dinner later is my pre-race ritual of cheese-less Domino’s pizza! I’m aiming for about 2500 calories today so even with the pizza I still need a snack of about 500 calories! Hard job fueling for a race, huh? 😉

One other thing… if I had ran more miles this week I would be eating a bit more than I am since I would need the extra fuel from burning more calories. I have this worked out for my own body and its’ needs, keeping in mind that I still want to lose a few pounds so there is no need for me to go out of control with calories! It’s a constant learning process and since it involves food… it’s pretty fun.

How do you fuel for races or long runs?

Bronx 10-Miler

As I’m writing this, my body is so extremely sore and it makes me oh so proud 🙂

Yesterday I ran the Bronx 10 Mile race and it was one of my favorite races I’ve done so far!

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It was warmer than I had anticipated but it was a beautiful Sunday morning. John tagged along with me ’cause he is the best and the race started close enough to our apartment that it was just 2 easy trains away. I had a little bit of coffee and my usual 1/2 banana with 1 tsp PB. On our way there I ran into the woman who I owe my love of races to! We met 2 years ago in a running group and she helped me run my first race ever in November 2011, a 4 mile race. After that she hired me at Chanel and got me into long distance running. She runs multiple marathons a year and tons of other races. We don’t work together anymore but she is still a huge inspiration to me!

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Like I said, it was a beautiful morning.

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I’ve run 10 miles many times but I’ve never raced 10 miles, pushing my body to maintain a pace that is faster than I normally run for that many miles while taking no bathroom breaks. I had to pee SO bad from about 3 miles on, and the line for the porta-potties at each stop were too long so I decided to just power through. In all honesty, I didn’t care if I just peed my pants… but for some reason I couldn’t and eventually the feeling kinda goes away. Yay for that 🙂

When I would approach a water station, I would run up to it really fast, grab the cup and then power walk for a few seconds while I drank it. This turned out to be an amazing idea that I will do for my half marathons this and next weekend. I stopped 3 times to quickly stretch out my calves and IT band/knee because it would get really tight and “locked” feeling, if that makes sense. Each stop was just a few seconds and I didn’t care how it was affecting my pace. I’d much rather stay injury free than run through the pain that the tightening causes!

The miles went by pretty fast and the course was gorgeous. There were quite a few hills despite the website saying that the course was flat… not sure who determines what “flat” is but this was not flat! It was challenging but not insane. But my legs are so sore today that I know I put in some good work!

Before I knew it, we were near the finish line and I gave it my all! I nearly barfed at the finish line.

So red. So sick to my stomach.
So red. So sick to my stomach.

I finished in 1 hour and 47 minutes, which is a 10:42 average pace. I was aiming for 11 minute miles so I’m super happy!

I took a bite of a bagel that they give you after the race but I was too sick to eat it. Apparently everyone else was too.

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After some foam rolling and a shower, John took me to brunch at my favorite place, the Brindle Room. We have gone 3 times now and I crave it every day! I get the smoked pork hash which is sauteed potatoes, bell peppers, onions and pieces of smoked pork with 2 poached eggs on top. With a side of their grilled sourdough bread with olive oil, it is the dreamiest meal ever.

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That awful feeling you get after a hard race where you can’t eat as much as you normally do. I couldn’t finish this and I sincerely hate that feeling.

We had to make a stop to celebrate National Coffee Day.

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I had a sugar-free iced soy dirty chai because I’m complicated. Turns out I should have just had water because I was pretty dehydrated from 2 hours of running in direct sunlight. Cue the migraine that ensued for the rest of the day…

I was craving salt so we stopped to get my favorite french fries with mustard sauce.

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Barely made a dent in them. At this point I wanted to go home and go right to bed but I stopped to get froyo that made me SO sick. It wasn’t the froyo itself, it was that I needed rest and shouldn’t have walked around for 4 hours after a 10 mile race. But, I don’t have every Sunday off so I wanted to enjoy it. Lesson learned: if you don’t want to be sick in bed all night, go home and rest after a hard race!

So since I didn’t refuel all the calories I burned in the race (which was over 1,200 according to my heart rate monitor!) I am STARVING today. Treating myself to a bagel for lunch, ya’ll. It’s the little things.

Have you ever pushed yourself so hard in a race that you were sick? Is it sick that I love that feeling?

Autism Speaks 4 Miler.

Yesterday I completed race 2 of 9 for my 9+1 NYRR requirements for the marathon next year. I ran in the Autism Speaks 4 mile race in Central Park. My plan was to run 5 miles before the race to make it a 9 mile long run because I haven’t been running more than 5 miles in a month and I have 2 half marathons next month. Ummm yeah, need to get on that. But I was up really late doing homework (on a Friday night?! so rude) and overslept so I only had time to do about 1.2 miles before and the same after because I had to, of course, work after the race.

I did my usual pre-race rituals which include a cheese-less, jalapeno & onion pizza from Domino’s the night before.

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You can see how small the pieces are so yes, I eat the entire thing. And am not even close to full afterwards. It works out perfectly but yikes, it doesn’t photograph very well. Sorry 🙂

I was SO tired when I had to wake up Saturday morning, but I drank some coffee and had 1/2 of a really small banana with 1 tsp peanut butter. I never change these rituals, regardless of the length of the race!

It was a beautiful day for a race, only complaint being that the women’s race didn’t start til 9:00 AM and the sun was pretty hot at that point. At the start I met this adorable woman Christine who was so sweet and I felt like I had known her for years! Love people like that 🙂

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At the start, we realized people were cheering and snapping pictures of Jimmy Fallon!

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He ran in the women’s race and you can watch a video of him speaking here. Pretty cool! I zoomed in like the creeper that I am…

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I ran quite a bit for me this week and Ripped in 30 killed me as usual on Wednesday so my quads and hamstrings were really sore. I had no real desire to ‘race’ but I started to feel competitive a few minutes into the race when we hit the 1st hill and I saw people slowing down and walking. This always makes me want to scream “TRAIN ON HILLS!” because it gives you such an advantage. I’m obviously no pro-runner, but I know better than to go out fast to conserve energy for the hills and for the end of the race. I had a good playlist blaring and felt REALLY good in terms of my legs. My stomach however, not so much. I just tried to ignore it and also ignore that I was really thirsty. In a short race I won’t stop at the water stations, but I do usually have a bottle of water with me. I had already drank most of it before we started so I just pushed on. The west side of the race has about 3 hills that are loooooong. Once the downhills come, my knee starts to feel off and so I had to slow down the last 3/4 of the last mile, and I really couldn’t sprint to the finish because it was making my foot feel so tight. Anyone have any ideas what that’s about? Seems to only happen when I’m running fast and doesn’t kick in til about 2.5 miles in.

Anyways, I knew my 4 mile PR from 2 years ago was 37:50 and I wasn’t going to beat that but I wanted to come in under 40 minutes. My official time was 39:23 with a 9:51 average pace. Super happy about that! It felt HARD the whole time, but taking into account the hills (and my stomach cramping) I’m really cool with the time. With my warm-up and cool-down miles I totaled 6.46 miles for the day.

Right after I crossed the finish line, I saw Beth! No picture but she was so, so sweet and off to finish the rest of her 20 mile run. I shutter at the thought of me doing that a year from now!

I worked til 6 then went to dinner with John before we went to see a comedy show. We ate at a bar in Chelsea called Smithfield NYC which is a sports bar with a REALLY great menu. I was so surprised by their healthy choices and ended up having the best salad.

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HUGE bowl of lettuce, red onion, dates, kalamata olives, goat cheese, pine nuts, grilled chicken and parm cheese all chopped up. This didn’t even need dressing because the goat cheese, dates and red onion flavored the entire thing! If you’re near Penn Station, this is pretty close and a really delicious place to eat.

After dinner, we headed to the Metropolitan Room to see one of my old friends in a comedy show! I don’t have any pictures but I am SO PROUD of her and she is hysterical. Go to her Facebook page and show her some love!

Once we got home, I was so exhausted that my whole body hurt. I simply can’t function on 5 hours or less of sleep a night for multiple nights in a row and NOT get sick. So I slept in instead of running 9 miles this morning, and I’m fine with it! I’ll make up for it next weekend and make an effort to get much more sleep this week!

Did you run any races this weekend? If not, what were your workouts?

What’s the most delicious thing you ate this weekend?

On Money… And Races.

I know I wrote about money and all its’ troubles last year, and I think it’s so cool to look back on where I was financially last year compared to this year and see where I’ve grown and where I still need to make cuts. When I wrote that post in May 2012, I was on the road to being in a better financial position. I got myself into a lot of credit card debt in my early 20’s (um, since when am I old enough to be referring to a time in my life as EARLY 20’s?!?!!) and last year I started to make myself a budget and start cutting things out wherever I could. That means not buying coffee every day and trying to bring my lunch to work almost every day. Less dinners out. Little to no shopping. I put every cent towards my debt and by earlier this year I had all of my credit card debt paid off. Not only that, but I also started a savings account for myself in which I put no less than $50 per check into. Some weeks in the beginning I could only afford to throw $10 in, but at this point it’s just become part of my budget! I am nowhere near financial freedom, as currently it’s the night before payday and I have $1.36 to my name, but I’m more free than I was.

You may think at first that $3 here and there doesn’t add up, but if you have debt of any amount it REALLY really does. Say you just limit yourself to buying coffee out 3 times per week. Those other 4 days if you save the $3 you would have spent on coffee, you’ll have $12 at the end of 1 week. Times that by 4 and you have almost $50 to put towards a bill. I know these are things you’ve heard and read in magazines a billion times, but take it from someone who knows that it really does work! Other things I did that take a bit more will power are really asking myself if I NEED something before I buy it. I love to shop as much as the next gal (hello, I work for Chanel AND live in NYC) but when you don’t have a ton of extra income after paying bills and rent, you have to shop smart. Until I have a lot of extra money, I only buy pieces that I really need and have really learned how to make a few pieces work as multiple outfits. Oh, and I also wear gym clothes 80% of the time these days and that saves a lot 😉 For me, not spending money on dinners out and food in general is harder for me than not shopping. It’s still a work in progress for me, but I have a few races this upcoming fall/winter that I really want to run in and that means I’m going to be eating oatmeal for breakfast AND lunch for a few days out of the week. It’s all about balance! Note to race directors (other than NYCruns which has amazing prices): please remember a lot of your runners are poor. Like me.

I have the fight in my head often about running races. They cost money, and I could always just run that distance on ANY given day for free. But if you’ve ran a race, you know. You know why we pay money to do it. And life IS too short to be worrying too much about a few $40 races. Have to live a little!

So, what races do I have my eye on for the rest of the year? These are all tentative and I haven’t signed up for any of them at the moment. The half marathon at the end of this month will be determined after I see how my long run goes this weekend. A 9 miler should let me know if 13 in a few weeks would murder me or not 😉

*August 31st: Rockaway Beach 1/2 Marathon

*September 22nd: Run 10 Feed 10 10K

*October 13th: Staten Island 1/2 Marathon

*October 27th: 5 mile Marathon Kick-off

*December 8th: NYCRuns 1/2 Marathon in Central Park

*December 15th: Hot Chocolate 10K

Wouldn’t it be so fun to run all of them?! I doubt that will happen, but we’ll see! Any of my NYC readers want to do any of these with me? I promise a good time! I run pretty slow and we can eat delicious foods after.

Another running thought… I am highly considering joining a charity group next year to qualify for the NYC Marathon. Like, starting it in January so that I can meet the fundraising goal and training for like 6+ months. There is no other marathon in the world I’d want to run, but NYC is a bucket list type of race. I HAVE to do it once. I think 2014 is the year!

Do you have any money saving tips that have worked?

Any upcoming races?