Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tale as Old as Time

Funds collected to date: $1631.40 (62%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $988.60
Long run: 12 miles (total weekly mileage = 29)
Weeks to Go: 14

On Saturday, the often-mentioned Sam from Denver was visiting town, so I could do my longest training run to-date with her! Despite her late-night arrival from Mountain Time, we were up bright and early for what turned out to be a really fun (and shady!) 12-mile route. Starting in Brooklyn we crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, ran to the West Side of Manhattan, up the West Side Highway to Riverside Park, and ended with a short jaunt on one of Central Park's bridle paths. Splendid.

After destroying an H&H bagel, we decided to relax a while and ultimately take naps.

Sam: "I'm going to need to sleep a few hours as I only got 5 minutes of sleep before your crazy ass woke me up to run in multiple boroughs. I hate you." [Potential hyperbole alert.]
Me: "Well I actually got 8 hours of sleep last night because it's totally normal to go to bed at 9:30pm on a Friday when you're single and 28. So, I'm just going to continue to spend an unreasonable amount of time on my iPhone or maybe read the -- SNORE."

At this point I passed out for almost three hours. Sam -- appropriately -- awakened me when she required frozen yogurt.

After more relaxing, but outside this time, we came back inside to relax. More. And this is when I discovered the glory that is ABC Family.

Have you watched ABC Family lately? Likely not. And to that, I say this. Wrong. WRONG.

The line-up was astounding. The glorious "Hook" followed by one of the classic films of our time, "Parent Trap" (Lohan version).

Oh, Lindsay. What happened to you?

Following Parent Trap, I went out to be social. But not without setting my DVR for the next movie in the schedule: Disney's Oscar-nominated Beauty and the Beast. I would continue to view this film at 3 am over a slice of pepperoni pizza. And again this very evening as I compose this (rather random?) blog post. Because drunken Beauty and the Beast -- while phenomenal in theory -- lost a wee bit of the magic in translation.

How is any of this relevant (you may be asking yourself?) Not. But I felt it worth a mention that not only did I run 12 miles, but then subsequently watched roughly 8 hours of kids' TV programming. My marathon training -- while it promotes a healthy lifestyle, encourages weight-loss, and impresses faithful blog-readers across a nation -- has also caused me to transition to the lifestyle of a television network's audience target of elementary school children and their parents.

....Perhaps minus the inebriated viewing of animated classics in the middle of the night. I don't know. I don't have kids, so I'll have to figure out if that's normal or not at a later time.

Before signing off, let me just note that we gone viral, baby! Sam shared my popular Devil in Lululemon post that has taken the world [read: at minimum a dozen people] by storm with...wait for it....the Devil herself! She in turn posted a link to my blog on the Bar Method website of Denver, CO and the rest is history! I am famous! Someday when I (undoubtedly) get a coffee-table book deal off of this thing, I promise not to let the mass quantities of cash go too much to my head....

In the meantime, let me just say that I appreciate -- once again -- everyone's support and kind words through this thing. It's encouraging to see improvements in my strength and stamina, and I'm feeling really healthy and good so far [she said as she ices her throbbing knee]. Next week I go into uncharted territory by breaking the half marathon distance barrier and going for the big 14!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All the cool kids are doing it

Funds collected to date: $1545.40 (58%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,074.60
Long run: 10 miles (total weekly mileage = 26)
Weeks to Go: 15

And then...NY became an inferno.

The tail end of last week did two very important things for me. The first is that it showed me that if I can run 10 miles on the surface of the sun, then I can run 26 miles in November. Or something like that.

Second, it demonstrated that I am TOTALLY BALLER. Seriously, while I was pounding out mileage at 7:30 am on a Saturday with the heat index already nearly 100, I thought to myself "Good lord! Who ARE you!?"

Now that my running has reached the double-digits for my long-runs, I am in a whole different arena. 10 milers were my longest "long-runs" in preparation for the Half-Marathons I've completed the last couple of years. I've done this type of things before...but from here on out, I'm in new territory. I'm running a 12 next weekend, but there will be cheering crowds or yellow tape or tables full of stale bagels waiting for me at the end.

I'm considering making a series of silver medals for myself to collect at the end of my training runs just to provide some sort of closure or climax to the running experience. Why silver instead of gold? Because I have humility and class.

This new phase of training does bring with it some downsides that while had been expected, I had not fully grasped until now. First, the time factor. If I want to run long distances in the summer, this must happen as early as possible to avoid discomfort, hospitalization, and second-degree burning of my freakishly white skin. My Team For Kids training group meets at 7am on Saturdays...meaning I am up at 5:45ish...meaning I have to go to bed by 10pm. Woo. Party animal. You know you're a cool kid when you're not only alone in your apartment on a Friday, but you're also not even up late enough to catch Letterman before you pass out.

The run itself on Saturdays from here on out will take me 2+ hours if you consider that I'm about a 10 minute mile pace for these long, long runs. Include transportation time, warm-up, and stretching, and now you're really nearer to 3-4 hours.

I made the dangerous misstep this weekend of not resting afterwards. Big mistake, because out at dinner at 8 pm that night -- as my friend Jackie can attest -- I looked like this:
Lesson learned. I will now enhance my cool factor by scheduling naptime pre-school style in subsequent weeks. I will miss looking like a kick-ass Japanese baby, but it's a risk I'll have to take.

P.S. Thanks to Sam for sending me this affirmatory link on Facebook today. Hooray beer!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lay Off Me, I'm Starving!

I had to share with you a little store about what happened at lunch in the company cafeteria today. My co-workers -- I am sure -- are scarred and will never quite be the same.

To preface, I ran 5 miles last night and then an additional 5 miles this morning. It is 1,000 degrees out and the humidity is akin to running through a swamp. The sweating has been monumental.

In the effort to be healthy and fiscally responsible (i.e. afford beer), I packed a moderately-sized healthy lunch and snack for the day. After eating not one, but two full breakfasts plus a snack before noon today, I finally arrived at lunchtime. My sandwich...and what was intended to be my afternoon snack...didn't stand a chance. I ate -- nay -- destroyed them. Record time.

My poor, innocent friend Kelly was sitting to my left enjoying her Meditteranean salad. I'm not going to lie to you right now: It looked good. Real good. Mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, little bit of couscous in there, some hummus, pita, olives...good stuff all around.

She appropriately finished her meal, but had neglected a stray pita bread in her salad container. I noticed. As my colleague went to close the plastic lid in order to throw away yet another to-go container whilest Dining In (no judgement, Kelly!) I reacted in a mildly...uncomfortable manner. This manner would be me throwing myself across the table and putting my hand in between the top and bottom of the salad container while yelling "NOOOO!"

"Wow. You could have just asked for some pita," remarked Kelly as the rest of the table stood by stunned.

By this point my mouth was full of delicious pita and there was nothing I could do but sit and think about what I had done...

And about how many more hours there are until dinner.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Heart

Funds collected to date: $1455.40 (55%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,164.60
Miles Ran This Week: 27 (longest single run = 8 miles)
Weeks to Go: 16

Big things happening this week in the world of MeriG running.

First, I passed the halfway fundraising mark..and then some! Thank you, thank you, thank you to my generous friends and family!

Second, I ran 27 miles last week. That means I ran more than a marathon's distance! Granted, it took seven days, but let's ignore this fact for a moment because I feel good! Had some knee pain: iced it. Was really hungry: Ate a lot. Needed a new sports bra: Purchased. Things are being handled right and left like the pro I am!

Third -- and perhaps most importantly -- I finalized the details for my Marathon Fundraising Extravaganza! Save the date for Wednesday, August 17th at the Overlook Bar (midtown east, NY). $20 buys you entry to the party of the century (go with it) and two drinks of your choice. We're talking beer (any beer, not just cheap, light stuff), wine, or premium liquor. Let's get drinkin' people! 40% of the funds will go directly to Team for Kids towards meeting my fundraising goal!
While we're on the subject of beer, I feel I should mention a fascinating side-effect of my entrance into long-distance running. Whilest I am on the trail, out in the world, doing my thing, I am often overwhelming consumed with one thought:

"My god. I could really use a beer."

I can make myself feel better that perhaps this is a side-ways, somewhat convoluted way my body is letting me know it would like carbs. That's the healthy explanation. Agreed...but let's also agree that there are many, many foods which fall under the definition of "carbs." There are none I crave so deeply as a delicious brew.

All this is fine, except that sometimes I forget my surroundings. For instance, I was running with a nice young lady last week during what turned out to be a "Hill Workout." This hill workout was exactly what it sounded like: Poop. And it would have been awful enough, had it not been humid. And it would have been enough still, but then it opened up and started pouring rain on us. And it would have been enough, but we were a mile away from running back to our bags which were now soaking wet back at our meeting spot. Dayenu.

Back to the story. So during this workout we would sprint uphill and then jooooog slowly downhill. During one of these jogs I turned to the girl next to me and said "My god, I could really use a beer right now."

She looked at me like this:

Beer is deydrating and slows you down in the long-term. She doesn't drink at all during her training period (20+ weeks!)

Sad. No beer for her. Moment of silence for her loss.

The good news is that it turns out 99% of the runners I say this to agree wholeheartedly. Beer is good. And carby. And delicious. And if you're running a marathon it counter-acts beer-belly action. Very little downside happening right now, is what I'm saying.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Devil Wears Lululemon Yoga Pants

Funds collected to date: $1044.40 (39%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,575.60
Miles Ran This Week: 23 (longest single run = 6 miles a mile up in the sky)
Weeks to Go: 17

This past weekend I attended the wedding of my friends Russ and Sam. The significance to this running blog is that Sam is the lovely lady I have mentioned in previous posts who has had a large part in both inspiring me to run a Marathon as well as directing me as to the appropriate items I need to spend copious amounts of money on to make the running happen.

Sam and Russ live -- and were wed -- in Denver, CO. As you are likely well-aware, Denver is located a mile up in the sky where the air is brighter, cleaner, happier...and much thinner. Because Sam is awesome (read: slightly crazy and masochistic), she had scheduled a jam-packed weekend full of physical activities and a little thing I like to call a "wedding."

Friday, S and I went on a six-mile treadmill run in the lovely hotel gym. Here is my written impression on what it is like to run in altitude:


It hurt. I was supposed to run 10 miles this weekend, but I am confident that running 6 in Denver was more than enough.

Saturday, S planned for a private group Bar Method class. I was excited, because this was a great time for me to get in my cross-training for the week. During Marathon training (or really anytime, for that matter), it is important to get cross-training into your schedule. This can be accomplished through swimming, eliptical, yoga, weights, etc. The purpose -- from what I understand -- is to continue strengthening your body's muscles while also allowing for your running muscles to not get burnt out from running continuous days. Also, it's good to increase flexibility, decrease boredom, and increase the likelihood that you sound knowledgable during long blog entries.

Ok, so back to Bar Method. This class is a combination of stretching flexibility exercises, ballet dance techniques (hense the 'bar'), conditioning, and little pieces of hell. The class is led by a chipper woman who I will now refer to as "The Devil."

The Devil knows your name. She has somehow learnt it in the 5 minutes between when you approached the counter to fill out the documentation stating that you will not sue the Bar Method if you die and entering the studio. The Devil will call you out -- by name -- when you are not doing exercises perfectly. The Devil knows all.

The Devil will direct you to hold poses that are named things such as "The Pretzel" as if they are no big deal. In fact, they are a very big deal. An example of something the Devil might cavalierly say:

"Once you are in the seated position, simply move your left leg behind your right ear. Gently extend your right arm and pull back on your left leg until it snaps off. Place your left leg in front of you on the floor and somersault over it. Come on, Meredith, I see you over there! Smile while you rip your leg off of your body!"

The Devil will have you hold poses for hours at a time. She will never let up. If you break a pose, she will sweetly smile at you and tell you that you can do better. The Devil believes in you.

The Devil will play Justin Bieber and other heartwarming music to give you the illusion that everything is okay. And sometimes it does feel okay. It feels good even. This is all part of the Devil's ploy. Those muscles which do feel good in the moment will make you regret having legs at all the next day. And arms. And hips. And other muscle groups you may have been unaware existed at all.

But The Devil's greatest trick of all is that you realize after some time of reflection, pain and copious cursing...that if you were to go back again and would be hot. Like, really hot. The Devil would give you Jennifer Aniston's arms, J-Lo's butt and the ab muscles of...someone other hot female celebrity. That's how The Devil sucks you in and has you begging for more.

So, congratulations to my friend Sam on her marriage and her ability to rope me into training in altitude and conditioning my muscles all before throwing on heels and a bridesmaid dress and boogy-ing down all night. I guess it all paid off when I was able to use my athletic prowess to catch (snatch? steal?) the bouquet. The Devil would have been proud.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Well, hello there, Pilgrim!

Funds collected to date: $1044.40 (39%)
Amount needed to reach pledge: $1,575.60
Miles Ran This Week: 21 (longest single run = 8 miles)
Weeks to Go: 18

Greetings and Happy 4th of July from America's Hometown: Plymouth, Massachusetts!

I have been spending the long holiday weekend here with family and friends, but that does not excuse the need for an 8 mile run this past Saturday.
The great news is that you really can't beat the scenery. It's also difficult to beat having your mother hold all your stuff and stand there with a water bottle waiting for you to run by and demand it. I'm wondering if she'll come to NY every weekend for my long runs...hmmmm....

Running in Plymouth vs. New York City has many differences aside from the scenery and the servant mothers. In New York there is a certain etiquette -- a code, if you will -- that dictates how to run amongst millions of others without strife, chaos and infliction of bodily harm. The basic principles for NY Runners to live by are in essence to keep to yourself, keep out of others' ways as much as possible, and try to avoid crazy people.

Fine. So after running on a lovely new path (Nelson's Playground to Cordage Park for those Plymouthians in the audience that are interested) for miles 1-4, I used my "water station" (Mom) and then head off for miles 4-8 through the historic waterfront. It was during this back-half of the run that I encountered the issue I have coined "Societal Re-acclimation Through Pleasantry." SRTP happens when you are jolted back to normalcy when leaving New York for a bit and actually interact -- positively -- with strangers.

Whilest running in Plymouth, people were just so damn pleasant. They said "hello!," "a good morning to ya!," or "great job!" At first, I was taken aback, because in New York when a stranger calls out to you, this is a sign that you should use your marathon training skills to run FASTER and AWAY from the issue. You avoid eye contact and move along. Nothing to see here. Don't instigate the crazy. Here in normal society, it turns out, people are actually just saying hello! It takes a few minutes to adjust to this. Don't be frightened if you should ever encounter it and do please note that it is customary to actually make eye contact and reply back. I know. Weird.

At one point during the run a man just started running with me. We chatted for a while about him running the Boston Marathon and how my progress has been so far. He recommended I get a tattoo to commemorate this when I finish (I think a blog will suffice). Most importantly, though, he did not try to kill me. This is a clear example of "Societal Re-acclimation Through Pleasantry" in that back in the city...a random man with a backpack that runs along side you is a precursor NOT to lovely conversation, but to potential maiming.

After my run, my mom had to return books at the library, so I did my stretching there. It turns out you draw a lot of attention (by Plymouth standards) for stretching in a Library parking lot. In NY, you see people doing the most absurd, ridiculous things everyday and you don't even bat an eyelash. There is a dude who walks around Central Park with a full out boa constrictor around his neck. Another lady who might -- as an example -- just start singing Opera in the middle of a crowded intersection. No big deal. Me stretching in a library parking lot in Plymouth, Mass.? ABSURDITY. In the 5 minutes it took my mom to go inside and return her book and get the woman behind her in line to pay her $0.30 late fee (way to go, Myra!), three different people came up to me, inquired on the activity I was in progress doing, and wished me luck with my upcoming Marathon. Because, in Plymouth, you end up somehow telling random strangers about your goals and dreams.

All in all, a very positive running experience. I just have to make sure now that when I go back to NY I don't let this go to my head. It is NOT appropriate to have an exchange with crazy boa constrictor man in the middle of central park. It is appropriate to put on your headphones, zone out, and run like hell.