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  • APPLY TO JOIN #TEAMNUUN IN 2018!

    APPLY TO JOIN #TEAMNUUN IN 2018!

    Hello friends and followers! It's that time of year again! Nuun Ambassador applications are now open! Woohoo!

    What is the Nuun Ambassador Program? It's your chance to become a part of the Nuuniverse. Fill out the application and you have a chance to become an Ambassador or a part of Team Nuun (Nuun's Competitive Athlete Program!). 2017 was my 2nd year as a part of Team Nuun and it's such a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow fitness freaks from around the country. What are you waiting for?!

    All levels of athletes in the US and Canada have until November 19 to apply to join the world’s best ambassador program! Click on this link to apply: http://bit.ly/nuunambassador 

    Check out the fun Nuun Stats below:

  • NYC Marathon 2017 Recap!

    via GIPHY

    I haven't done a race recap in ages! Maybe because I haven't run a race in ages! Or maybe it's because I haven't felt inspired and touched so profoundly in a while. Holding onto that energy, carrying it forward and sharing it after the race ends is motivation enough to write a post.

    What can I say about the NYC Marathon that hasn't been said already? Taking to the streets of the greatest city in the world is a privilege, an honor. It's not something that everyone wants to do, or that everyone can do. People choose to run a marathon for various reasons. I've only ever run 2 marathon races, and they were both NYC. I'm not sure I would want to take on this task in another city.

    I'll keep the recap short on the technical details, but I was not "properly" trained for this race. My longest run up until race day was 10 miles. Every runner is different, which means one specific approach to training is not "one size fits all". I have had many running injuries over the past 5 years, most stemming from overuse or "too much too soon". Since I started teaching indoor cycling 2 years ago, for me less is more. My body can't handle 6 runs per week. It can barely handle 4. In reality, I barely have time to squeeze in the 3 runs per week I usually get.

    I had a some minor injuries all year, with a stress reaction forming in late summer. I stayed off my legs for the month of August (not too hard to NOT run in the fucking NYC heat) and cautiously came back to running in September. To be honest, I was scared to get injured again and I was a bit over the whole running thing.

    Working as a fitness instructor can be exhausting. Training on top of teaching is just daunting. So I avoided it as much as possible. Also I got some new shoes, the Asics Gel Kiyanos, and even though they feel great, I was so scared to put long mileage in them. Its so scary changing shoes! Come October, cautious, exhausted and totally over it was where I was at. 

    Towards the middle of October I decided to do the marathon as a fun run. I really didn't have a choice, but this wasn't just because I was undertrained. I didn't want to have the pressure of racing. No watch. No pace. No splits. Just running for the pure fun and fucking joy of it. And that's what I did.

    I got to race day feeling excited. Not confident, but happy to be injury free. I didn't know if I could run the race any faster than my previous attempt - 4:15:15. 26 miles is gruelling for anyone, but I was hoping that since I was stronger than I was 4 years ago, that I could survive 26 miles no matter how tough it got.

    I ended up shaving 30 minutes off my previous time, crossing the finish line with an official time of 3:46:07. This time is just 1 minute off the time I had hoped to get the year before, when I was training to run the marathon in 2016.

    Needless to say, when I finished the race and saw that my time was most likely insanely good, I wept. Letting go and giving in to just one thing on Sunday - which was to be overjoyed the entire race - led me to a fast, respectable time. It kept me from crunching numbers and being stressed about, well, anything. I was able to run happy and take it all in, not something I'm sure I could have done if I was in "race mode" that day.

    There is nothing quite like the start of the NYC Marathon. Just getting to the start is an adventure that takes hours. It also allows you a peek behind the curtain of what a logistical shit show this one day is! We arrive by train, bus, ferry. We are scanned, sniffed and searched numerous times. Due to an overcrowded ferry, I made it to bag check and my corral with 5 minutes to spare.

    **Here is a PRO-TIP for anyone running NYC (not sure if this applies to other marathons)**

    The starting corrals & bridge are a TREASURE TROVE of supplies. Since NYRR allows you to bring supplies into your corral, anyone who doesn't check a bag leaves their pre-race goodies behind. This includes things you may have forgotten during your hasty packing OR things you may have checked in your bag by mistake - including, but not limited to, Body Glide, Vaseline, Water, Gu Packs, Bananas, Salt Tabs, Warm hats & Clothes (to shed as you get warmed up), etc. You gather in your corral, but then you are ushered onto the bridge. This is the time to find treasures!

    This year I was in the Green Corral, which runs on the bottom of the Verrazano and then veers off from the rest of the race for the first 3ish miles. Its amazing how quickly the first few miles fly by. Once you hit 4th Ave and start your journey through Brooklyn, the crowds get bigger and more vocal.

    The city uplifts you every step along the way. In fact, the few times where there the crowd is absent provides such a contrast that in comparison those silences are almost chilling.

    I was lucky enough to have friends scattered throughout the race. Even before I ran past my first friends at Mile 8, I was getting shout outs from random strangers. Running up 4th Ave in Park Slope I realized I was misty eyed and not because it was raining, but I was already moved by the energy of the crowds.

    Lafayette Ave brought my first few friends, a much needed mini-water bottle (thank you Em & Kev!) and some of the rowdiest crowds in the race. Like 2013, parts of Lafayette Ave taper in and become bottlenecked because the crowd is so dense. After you turn onto Bedford Ave, you hit the first patch of silence through South Williamsburg's Hasidic neighborhood which is a nice moment to reflect, check in on your breath & body. After you pass into "hipster" Williamsburg, the crowds, music & cheering return. 

    By the time I made it to my family at Mile 12 in Greenpoint, I was still feeling 100% (and pretty sure I was making good time). After some photos and hugs and a reload on the Gu and Water, I continued down my neighborhood stretch, ecstatic and ready to conquer Queens.

    The silence of the Pulaski Bridge makes the roar of the crowd in Queens even more exciting! My team was waiting around mile 14 and after a few high fives I kept straight on ready to take on the Queensboro Bridge. I took my first walk break of the race at the foot of the bridge, allowing myself to walk it out for a minute or so, to check in with my legs. Not exhausted yet, not even close, but starting to notice my legs were running a marathon.

    The Queensboro is where people start to feel the first signs of fading. It was quiet, maybe too quiet. I started yelling and hooting and hollering in an attempt to uplift my fellow runners. Once the roar of First Ave started to roll in, those damn tears came back. Hearing people cheer and yell your name is awesome. But hearing a fucking crowd losing their shit is another level. Just when you need it most, the city brings you back up and steers you up to the Bronx.

    First Ave is wide and usually the west side of the street is more populated. Shout outs to all the run crews reppin 1st Ave and the dudes who were passing out shots of Beer (it hit the spot!). I started feeling some aches and weird knee pain coming into the Bronx. But the Willis Ave bridge was where I fell apart my first race in 2013. I was determined to not stop running until I was over that bridge. 

    The bridge into the Bronx is just before Mile 20. This is when the wall creeps up and negative thoughts about being tired, giving up, and "fuck this" start creeping into your mental dialogue. I wasn't gonna let this happen to me or anyone around me. "WE GOT THIS" I yelled. "WE ARE ALMOST IN THE BRONX" I yelled. "We're almost OUT of it too" I got in response. "DON'T LOSE IT IN THE BRONX" I said. And then someone ran up beside me and said "Are you gonna lead us there?" and I said "FUCK YEAH". This man had to give up last time he ran NY right on this very bridge, just a few feet ahead. We ran together, we crossed the bridge, we made it!

    The Bronx is the most energetic borough of all the marathon. Maybe its because they only have about 2 miles to cheer for you, or because they know you will need the biggest lift at this moment, but the Bronx has got your back. I ran the entire time, until I hit the bridge back in. I let myself walk for a spell. The nice people on the bridge gave me a banana which helped my cramping calf. High fives got me back on the road and back into Manhattan to finish what I had started.

    Harlem was a blast full of run crews and some really amazing signs. The pain was starting to sink in once I made it to 5th Ave and Central Park. I was slowing down a lot, but still smiling. I was in pain, but not stopping. I saw some amazing ladies from my team right before the turn in and it brought me back up!

    I hit the park with pep in my step which unfortunately didn't last. I was getting slower and slower, but not stopping. Stopping wasn't an option. I knew if I stopped to walk one more time I would have a really hard time getting these legs going. I staid the course til bottom of the park, missed the sign that we had 1 mile to go I was so focused on shutting out the pain, that when we were exiting the park I was confused. I didn't really have the steam to kick it at the end, but I realized in that moment it was ok. I took a hard look at the crowd, making eye contact with as many of them as possible. I was trying to think of what emotion I was feeling the most, besides "overwhelmed" and it was "PURE FUCKING JOY".

    When the finish line came into site, I managed a tiny sprint. I crossed the line with a heavy heart, but heavy with joy and love and elation and encouragement and courage and determination and happiness and pride and love, so much love. 

    Thank you to all my friends, family, NY Custom, Gotham City Runners, all the Run Crews (Mile High Run Club, Harlem Run in particular) & all the random strangers who supported me before-during-after the race, with encouraging words and signs and hugs. You carried me every step of the way. Extra huge shout-out and love to the NYPD & FDNY, NYRR and all the volunteers who made the race the best day I've had in a long time. 

  • PROUD TO BE PART OF TEAM NUUN AGAIN FOR 2017!

    PROUD TO BE PART OF TEAM NUUN AGAIN FOR 2017!

    For the 2nd year in a row I will be representing Nuun Hydration on their competitive athletic team. So honored & stoked to see what 2017 brings!

    Nuun recently visited MNSTR CYCLE & helped us Hydrate our riders during our FEMNSTR Event on January 21st. Thank you Steve & Roni!

  • Screw You, Runner's Blues

    If you are a seasoned runner, chances are you have heard of or experienced the Runner’s Blues. It’s the post-partem depression that many runners experience after completing a major race goal. It is also that feeling when an unexpected setback stops you short of that goal, derailing your running for an extended period of time, blindsiding you like a slap in the face. 

    The latter is what I am experiencing now, less than one month from the NYC Marathon, as I am facing a possible stress fracture in my right foot. I am currently sitting in a coffee shop, with radioactive materials coursing through my veins, as I wait for the second part of my 3-phase nuclear bone scan to determine if the pain is indeed a fracture or possibly overuse of my posterior tibial tendon. Either scenario will most likely knock me out of the marathon on race day (certainly from racing it), with either 6 weeks of rest for the fracture or 2-6 months possible recovery with the overuse injury. Both outcomes seem grim, shitty and downright fucked. I’d love to tell you that being a #gothrunner means I eat this depression shit up, but that’s not the case. It totally sucks. 

    Above: Nuclear Bone Scan Hot Lab. I wasn't lying when I said I was radioactive! 

    The short explanation of my injury is that during my long run on Sept. 24th, I cut it short at 15 miles because I couldn’t keep going. The longer you run, the more you learn to listen to your body. You know when a new pain is something that needs attention or can just be massaged out later. I had experienced some similar pains during recent workouts, but chalked it up to newer shoes and just general training pains. So when I was literally hobbling back to my camp that day in tears, I knew something was really wrong. Over the next three days I could barely bend my foot fully enough to walk without limping.

    Running helps keep me sane because it gives me both a mental release and alone time (when not running with my teammates) - two things that are very hard to come by in a city like New York. Over the past two weeks, I’ve run the full gamut of emotions: anger, depression, regret, fear, self-hatred, self-doubt, self-pity, jealousy, embarrassment, rinse & repeat. Its very simple to gravitate towards negative thoughts when something you love to do is no longer possible. Right now I am searching for a way to stay positive, to keep myself lifted, even though it feels very hopeless. I am trying to cope with the sudden loss of what feels quite literally like my freedom (to move, to escape, etc) and that is affecting me very deeply.

    The first day I was so angry, mostly with myself: at my body for failing me, for not being strong enough, for being foolish enough to do this to myself. What if I had stopped at 13 miles? Or 10? Would I be ok? Was I over or under training? Had I overlooked nutrition? Was I missing vital nutrients in my diet? And then I was angry at everything else. Why were the Adirondacks so hilly? Surely if I had been running on flat terrain this wouldn’t happen, right? Stupid, beautiful nature. What if I miss this race I can't defer? 1 year of qualifying races down the drain plus an almost $300 entry fee? FML! 

    Besides anger, I was also feeling embarrassed. I spent the rest of my long weekend in the ADX feeling useless, like I was slowing everyone I was with down. I had planned to run a Ragnar Trail Relay the following weekend, which I had to bow out of, which left me feeling embarrassed AND guilty. Telling people you are one of those crazy runner people when you accomplish something feels so much better than when you explain that BECAUSE you are one of those crazy runner people you now are unable to move. “I woke up and ran 19 miles before breakfast” vs. “I woke up, tried to run 19 miles, now I can’t walk, so can you carry me around please?”. See what I mean?

    I’ve spent 2 weeks wallowing in self-pity, coming up for air just long enough to browse through my Instagram feed and get simultaneously happy for and jealous of my teammates racing or running together. I spent hours analyzing my training from every angle, regretful for not noticing that I needed more strength training, yoga, and rest days sooner. I’ve been scared that this injury will not only make commuting in NYC a living hell, but also keep me from being able to perform my job as a cycling instructor. And yes, I have searched the injuries I am possibly facing which led me down a Google K-hole and filled my head with even more negative bullshit.

    The other thing I hate to admit is that even though I encourage students in my classes to believe they are already good enough or strong enough and to have a positive, kick-ass outlook, I’ve been having a really hard time taking my own advice. It’s easier to say things then put things into action. We all know this. So how the hell do I get out of this rut? Below is my thought process to get out of the abyss, as I try to implement a positive outlook during this shitty situation. Queue the Morrissey.

    First, let me take a step back and take a hard, honest look at my return to running. I hadn’t properly trained for a race in over a year before I began training for the NYC marathon this summer. Before I joined GCR in June, running had been demoted to an almost leisure activity for me; Running was time to destress and get some alone time for a few miles. I ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May and didn’t train at all beforehand. The fact that I was able to eek out a few seconds PR without training is what convinced me it was time to step up my running game. I knew I had peaked and I decided I wanted a coach, I wanted a team and I wanted to get back to running goals. Yay goals! With the marathon in the fall, it seemed like perfect timing. I joined a team, ran a couple solid races earning new PRs and felt pretty good about my improvements. 

    Next up, my training schedule, which is obviously very heavy on running, but is lacking much else. Since I teach cycling I have a lot of rides built in, but these are not a stand-in for strength training or yoga. While teaching cycling may help strengthen my legs and keep my overall fitness level from dropping, its not providing some essential things I need as a runner - mainly increased strength for different muscle groups and improved overall flexibility. If I am totally honest, yoga and strength training have been a “once in a while” kind of thing this summer. I went boxing a few times. I went to yoga a few times. But it was mostly running and even though I love running, my body doesn't always agree. Plot thickens.

    Unfortunately, this summer also proved to be quite challenging for my personal life. In short, my partner and I have been dealing with some scary shit and it has been a rollercoaster of emotion for the past few months. It would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that our situation may have brought some extra stress into my life, both mentally and physically, as we tried to keep afloat during a very tumultuous summer. If you are wondering if mental stress can make you more injury prone, thanks to another Google K-Hole, the answer is yes. I found there are numerous studies linking psychological stress to sport injuries. And not just "performance" or "race day" jitters, but real life every day stress. Fuck.

    So it appears that my current training plan needs tweaking and my life has been hectic. Unfortunately, I can't do anything about this now. So while it explains why this type of setback might happen, I don't feel any better about it. Ok Erika, deep breathe. Maybe I need a wider lens to look even further back to gain new perspective on my current situation? Worth a try. The Smiths have a generous catalog.

    Not to get too sidetracked, but one reason I decided to delve into fitness a few years ago was because I got mugged. I was jumped by a group of teenagers in broad daylight in a subway turnstile. One of my attackers kicked my face in which earned me a trip to the hospital for 4 of the most grim hours of my life. Afterwards I was pretty shaken up and it took a while before I wasn’t scared of walking around alone in my neighborhood or of every pack of teenagers that boarded the train. The attack also ignited my underlying Napoleon syndrome, or short (wo)man syndrome, which is something I’ve carried around as I have been one of the scrawny/short kids for my whole life. I felt violated and shitty, but I also felt weak. At that point in time I was naive enough to think my tough looking exterior might be enough to keep away would-be muggers. Once I recovered from the attack, I resolved to be stronger and never let it happen again. 

    Compared to then, am I stronger? Hell yes. I have worked my ass off and I can proudly say that I am both mentally and physically stronger. I could even honestly say I am stronger now than I was 1 year ago. And that is nothing to scoff at. If I take a look back at my running with a wide lens, I can map improvements I have made and see how much better I have gotten at achieving race goals in the past few years. Even with this setback, I have already earned 4 new PRs in 2016 (1 mile, 5K, 10K and Half Marathon). Holy shit! 

    Above: After rocking out a 6:07 at the 2016 NYRR 5th Ave Mile - photo by Coach Josh Maio.

    If its all about perspective, not running this race wouldn't be the worst thing that has ever happened in my life. Maybe it's the #gothrunner in me, but I can think of much harder times that I have experienced, much shittier "feels" if you will. This is just another speedbump on the road of my life as a runner (there have been many before and there will be many after). Not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

    As I am finishing this entry, for the first time in a while I no longer feel angry or embarrassed. If my strength was needed elsewhere for more important reasons than personal fitness goals this summer, I would be more than happy to give it again. Even though I may not be strong enough to compete in a month, I am a stronger person than when I started this training season.

    I have read on numerous blogs that one way to getting over Runner’s Blues is to set your sights on a new goal. Pick out a race (or anything really) in the future that you can feel excitement about. Its not always possible to replace that race day feeling, but not running means I have some extra free time for non-running activities. Setting new goals can help you refocus your energies, so I am looking forward to finding something new to sink my teeth into this fall/winter!

    I also have to remember that I am not a trained athlete. This pursuit of running is something I do for fun (yes FUN!) in my free time, but it is not my profession. There will be other races. There will be a return to running for me. And I will come back stronger, faster and hungrier than ever. (definitely hungrier).

  • WHICH WITCH IS FIT?

    WHICH WITCH IS FIT?

    Every strong Woman is a Witch. I'm not talking about physical strength, but that inner power that gives you confidence to be & to love yourself.

    What does the word "fit" mean? To be suitable, to be in good health, to be good enough. As Morpheus once said, "What if I told you": You're already good enough? Would you believe it? 

    Being fit means something different to everyone. Health and wellness goals are different for each of us, but where does that drive come from? What is motivating you to get on the bike (or go running, do yoga, etc) in the first place?

    What if it came from a place where you believed, truly believed, that you're already good enough? And that anything further you accomplish is icing on your cake?

    Now I'm not saying any goals, especially fitness goals, are BS. I have MANY fitness goals. A few of mine include to run a sub 1:40 half marathon, to hold a hand stand, to do a single frickin' pull-up, to run a BQ, etc! Goals keep us motivated, driven & excited when we accomplish something new. We are a goal-driven society, but if your goals are coming from a dark place, how is that helping you?

    I don't fit into the "fitness norm" & have had moments where I was setting goals for myself that were based on what that norm is. I was miserable. It took stepping back, really embracing who I am & saying "Fuck it".

    Maybe you can try setting your sights on something from a place where you feel good about where you are starting. Being grateful for & loving yourself, as you are, as you start will in turn make reaching those goals easier & waaaay more fun. This also means not beating yourself up when you encounter a snag or obstacle. Embrace the process, power through. You've got this, witches.

    Shout outs to some of my favorite witches. xx