Sunday, July 21, 2013

What Each New Day Shall Bring

Ah, the life of a person in the midst of marathon training. Just party, party, party all the time.

Party!! Woo!!! Woo.....woooooo....

Okay fine. No. I am completely sober and go to bed early. After eating a sensible dinner. Damn, you caught me.

Saturday morning my alarm went off at 4:30am. Yup.  4:30 in the morning. 

Why, just why, would anyone in their right mind do that voluntarily? On their own accord? Well, actually, it makes it quite easy when you have this situation on your hands: 

Yup. At 5:19am.

Although the heatwave has finally broken (finally!), Saturday was still on near-dangerous territory. New York Road Runner's races were made into fun runs, and I know that my Team For Kids group actually cancelled their weekly run due to the heat. It was a slow, safe, hydrated run at dawn...or not at all.

With money and a MetroCard in hand in case I needed to bail, and plenty of Gatorade on my belt, I took a taxi to 14th and 1st and met my running buddy Jazmin to start a 12-mile run as the sun started to rise.

A view like that, on the East River of New York City at sunrise, almost makes the crazy wake-up call hour worth it.



The run took us on a lovely route down the East side, around the tip of the island, and then up the West Side Highway to finish things up. Always running along the water did allow for a bit of a nice breeze, but the heat and humidity at dawn had me at my breaking point for basically the entire time. 

The pace was tortoise-esque and the sweat was truly epic. But Jazmin -- as always -- was a lovely running partner and our conversation made the time pass by pretty quickly. I was home, stretched, showered, and back in bed by 8:45am for a little nap so that I could start my day by late morning.

The things we runners do...

...But usually not two days in a row. 

On this Sunday morning the alarm went off at 5:15 am for another early-to-rise day.

Today Betsy and I had an appointment to do the Color Me Rad 5K color run! We signed up several months ago, so I had been looking forward to a fun, unique running experience with her. Even though it was super duper early. Again.

The heat had broken, bagels had been eaten, and the ride to NJ (ugh) was not nearly as bad as anticipated. We were ready to rock n' roll.

The premise is simple. You run (or jog...or walk...or whatever you want to do) and you get colorful. That's it. It's not timed, it's not really for racing. It's completely for fun. And you know what? I need more pure fun in my running life, gosh dangit! 

With our white clothes and souls pure, the starting music began at 8:00am. So, I'm not sure what I was expecting exactly...but the course definitely underwhelmed a bit.

Yup. It was a parking lot.

We watched the route weave in and out of traffic cones, and, it really made 5K seem quite long! Wow! we were jog / speed-walking (okay, fine, we were sauntering, ok? Sauntering.) But I caught myself at many points thinking to myself, I really run this far? The parking lot was BIG!


As you're walking, you know, around the parking lot, there are stations where volunteers hose you with color or throw basically food-colored cornstarch on you. It's fun if you keep an open mind and a disposable wardrobe.

All the color!!!!!!

The first station was pink. And my face was at arm level with the volunteer Pink-Thrower.

The result:

Hello gorgeous!

It was in my nose, my ears, my's still on me right now more than 14 hours later. And there was literally no reason for it. But you know what? It was really freaking fun.

All-in-all, a really great slash random morning with B. And we got a bit of exercise in there too!

We're sexy and we know it.

Yet we remain unimpressed.

After running for the bus back to NY (ironally the only actual running we did all morning), we arrived safe and sound back at my least favorite place in the entire expanse of the Universe: The Port Authority.

There, freshly clothed in my race souvenir shirt, my Color Me Rad 5K shirt was put to its final resting place. Farewell, good soldier.

I scrubbed, and scrubbed, and scrubbed...and scrubbed. Along with a full layer of skin, I think I got most of the color off. Then brunch with some lovely ladies followed by a lazy afternoon in the park where I did a lot of this:

Two early mornings make for a sleepy exhausted MeriG, but all-in-all it was a great weekend. Looking forward to seeing what my pre-dawn wake-up calls have in store for me next week... 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Heat Index = O.M.G.

Archie and I went home the week of July 4th to see friends and family and enjoy a relaxing week away from the city.

Although I had to work the first couple of days, the week in general was packed full of fun stuff. One of the first highlights was the annual day-trip on the 3rd of July to Boston with the family to see the Dress Rehearsal of the Boston Pop's 4th of the July concert. My parents have been going for years, and whenever I possibly can for the last decade or so (God, I'm getting old...) I've been joining them.

We get there around 1 pm and get one of the first spots in line.

Around 4 pm they start getting people through security (lots of security this year...) and then you go out onto the lawn and stake a spot.

Now, it's no secret that I am a runner.

So my father has finally figured out a use for my little hobby. He hands me a big blanket, instructs me to push little old ladies and helpless children out of the way, and sends me SPRINTING for a front seat.

This may be what I have been training for all along.

Every year I continue to reach a personal best on the lawn. And this year was no different. Aided by comfortable sandals and a lack of stiff competition, we were about three blankets from the front of the lawn.

The view, without zooming in, was this.


It was a lovely concert and a great day with my family, my sister's fiance's family, and a couple of friends. I love these little traditions and I LOVE WINNING THE GAME OF GETTING TO THE FRONT OF THE LAWN.

The next morning was the 4th of July. The celebration of our country and of freedom and of hot dogs and beer. To celebrate the day, I ran a 5K in the morning along with my friends Lauren and Christie. I had written back in March how excited I would be to run with Christie once she got back from Afghanistan, so it was wonderful doing this race with her and her fiance (congrats again, ladies!!)

We arrived bright and early at the starting line with nearly 600 others. I love that running is becoming so popular in my town!

We wore patriotic head gear.

Although the race started at 8:15, it was already toasty out and the sun was shining like it was high noon on the equator.

The route basically traced the parade route (which began a couple of hours after the race ended, so a few nice spectators came out early to cheer us on.) It took us through the main part of town and normally would be quite pleasant, although a bit hilly.

That day? I'm not gonna lie to you. The race was brutal. Absolutely brutal. But I managed to try to take a good race pic, because I am a liar and a fraud:

I look like I'm floating! Thumbs up!

Yay Christie and Lauren!

My best time at a 5K was last November and I was about 40 seconds off that time in this race. Honestly? I'm just proud I didn't spontaneously burst into flame. It was so. Incredibly. Hot. I believe they said the heat index was near 100 with humidity. At 9am. What?!

The sweating was off the charts. Simply astounding. When you reach a point where you realize that you weren't sure the human body was actually equipped to lose that much liquid is when you start getting concerned. There was one water stop where they gave me about 1.5 ounces of warm water.

I was thankful for the nice volunteers who were out on a hot day. But I was also like:

So, lesson learned: Running 5Ks in the summer can suck. 3.1 miles, 3.1 schmiles. Once it's that hot all bets are off. Might as well have been an Ultra-marathon for how I felt at the finish line.

In general I find this distance difficult because I'm not very fast, but I am very competitive and unnecessarily crazy. I don't have another 5K on the horizon for a while, instead focusing on building up my long runs (since Marathon training again is underway!) This one'll do me for a while, so I'm all good!

Fun race overall though ... in theory ... if I didn't think I was slowly boiling from the inside out and about to just simply die.

Yaaay....sweaty....Plymouth Rock....need...Gatorade....ahhhh.....

My other fun run while I was home was a long easy run around Plymouth with my cousin Anna! Anna has been living in Uganda for the last few years (yep, you heard right), so it was amazing having her visit and to go for a long [and still incredibly hot] morning run.

During our run, she was so excited to find out that we were passing Plymouth Rock. THE PLYMOUTH ROCK! Here she is very excited:

All in all, a great running week at home. Now I'm back in New York, and officially already up to double-digit long runs [again] as I embark on training for my 4th marathon. Hope to actually run a 2nd one this time. Allegedly.

And, like I always say in the summer...stay cool and embrace the treadmill. There ain't no shame for staying inside and watching an hour of Food Network or trashy TV to pass the time. Just saying.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Four Topics to Discuss

Can you believe it's July!? 

My sincere apologies for the little hiatus I have gone on the past few weeks. Between work being busy and social life being full ( popular), my blog-writing time has had to be cut short.

But now I am home in Plymouth for a week and I am ready to type away!

Where to begin? I've decided my "official" Marathon training will begin next Monday after I return to New York from my mini-vacation at home. So, July 8th. Mark it in your calendars as the date It All Began. [Again.] 

But frankly it's not like much will change for me. 

     Three days a week running (Mon, Wed and Saturday long run)
     Two days a week strength training (Tues and Thur)
     One day a week yoga (Fri or Sun)
     And one day a week rest (Fri or Sun)

I should note that this "ideal" week happens about once every 5-6 months. But it's always the goal and it's what I have been striving for since Miami and will be what will I continue to do into November. The difference really becomes the long runs on the weekends as they slowly, but steadily, creepy into crazy town territory. So that's that.

So then what's new with MeriG? Well, I have a few topics to cover. In no particular order:

1) Exhale Core Fusion
I've started going to Core Fusion classes at Exhale Spa using a Rue La La groupon-type thing that I bought a while back. I had gone to a couple of classes in the past, but have now been about 5 times in 4 weeks. And I actually see results.

This is a ballet-barre type class (a la Bar Method or Figure 4) and Exhale has -- in my opinion -- a great class schedule at their locations. I go to the Upper East Side location, and they have a great locker room so it's not a problem to go right to work or out after the classes.

I've taken Core Fusion with multiple different teachers and have no complaints yet. While each teacher may have a slightly different style and do different exercises, the flow of the class remains the same as does their amazing positive and motivating attitude.

Let me preface by saying it's hard. And a little girly (not really recommending this for the dudes). But if you want to strengthen and tone your muscles as opposed to building them big and manly? This is the place for you.

Exercises focus on isolating movements. You'll do things such as many reps with light weights for arms, plank movements for abs, lots of squats and leg lifts at the barre for butt and thighs, and some excellent core work at the end that will have even the most in-shape person struggling. 

It's okay if you can't do every movement or if you have to stop. The teachers are great about that. I personally have an extreme lack of flexibility as well as core weakness as a whole, so I often and really really struggling. The teachers quite frequently have to come and re-position me because I'm a disaster. But they are respectful and encouraging and I do honestly find myself improving as I take more. So that's the idea I suppose, and it's why I will continue to go back.

Warning: it's pricey, so consider waiting for a GiltCity offer or Rue La La (they come up every few months or so).

2) Divergent!!!

I'm so pumped for this movie, currently slated March 2014. It's like the Hunger Games except so so so so so so much better. Divergent is part I in a trilogy of books. The first two (Divergent and Insurgent) are already out and the third is coming out in October.

I may or may not have already purchased the advanced order copy for my Kindle.

And by that I mean, of course I purchased. Because it's so dang awesome.

All you need to know:
1) Also Distopian future
2) Also female lead character, but she makes Katniss seem like a pansy
3) Have I ever steered you wrong???

3) Sleep No More
I went to see this experiential theater on Saturday night with some friends and all I have so say is.....Oh. My. God. It was crazy. I literally can not stop thinking about it, talking about it or reading about it.

I hadn't read too much before I went in and had heard minimal things from friends. And I think what I did know was the perfect amount. I really think my experience was so amazing because I was so in the dark and blissfully ignorant.

It's based off of Macbeth but also has Hitchcock stuff in there. You can't carry anything with you. You will interact with characters and you will wear a mask (think that episode of Gossip Girl)

There will be nudity. 

You should experience it alone and separate from your friends. And it's not as bad as that sounds. In fact, I think you will get more out of the show for sure. And this is coming from someone who refuses to watch scary movies.

And the braver you are and more open-minded, the better the experience. I had some....interesting and unusual and amazing interactions...that I would be happy to tell you about separately if you would like. And these happened because I was honestly just interested and -- absolutely -- was willing to take some risks. I just don't want to ruin things for any newbies.

Anyways, if you've already seen the show, please reach out so we can dissect every moment. If you haven't, definitely consider going. It's pricey, but truly worth every penny. One of the most unique and unreal and awe-inspiring and disturbing and amazing theater experiences I have ever had. Let me know when you want to go, because a second time going may not be such a bad idea....

And if you'll excuse me I'm going to go obsess over this show some more. Good day.

4) My cat is the greatest. 
Here is a series of photos of Archie helping me stretch after my 8-mile long run last weekend:
Sniffing and licking the sweat. Stop judging me, CAT!
And one...

And two...
And three...

And I'm spent!