Monday, February 16, 2015

Cuz You're Hot, Then You're Cold....

I hope everyone had a lovely Valentines Day / Galentines Day / Saturday this weekend. I know I had a delightful time with activities spanning from running 16 miles to having drunk brunch to singing showtunes at a piano bar to eating Wave Lays and crying to Steel Magnolias and Beaches in one afternoon. It's been a bold couple of days and I've loved basically every minute of it.

And about those 16 miles. Yep, I ran 'em. This spring marathon "situation" has kind of hit me full force. Despite the fact that I've trained for many a marathon before, 16-miles in sub-20 degrees never quite gives me the warm and fuzzies, so to speak.

But when I commit to a marathon, I commit real good and so 16 miles it was. I did a favorite route I figured out a couple of years back in which I run from my Upper East Side apartment down 1st Ave, cut over to the river, run down and around lower Manhattan and up the West Side Highway and into Riverside Park. I exit the West Side through the Boat Basin, cut through the park, and end up at my doorstop. Exactly 16. Boom.

Left Shark dances for me!
I have to admit that although it was cold yesterday and a bit windier than expected, I'm doing my absolute best to just appreciate....the fact that I'm not running in Boston right now. Or attempting to at least. Oy vey! Boston! Yikes!

So many of my DFMC team-mates are in the Boston area and seem to be smiling through this situation (at least on the Facebooks). I'm in awe of that positivity and I try to glean some strength from it even when the wind is biting my face or the treadmill line is long.

Fundraising is also going great! I'm at $4,461 of my $10,000 goal with 62 days to go! Oh, you meant to donate but forgot, you say? Awesome! Here's the link! 

As I ran my 16...cold...solo...Valentine's Day miles, I just kept thinking back to one thing:

And then after I listened to Lea Salonga KILL IT with the best rendition of "On My Own" ever from the dream cast [oh, never heard the 10th Anniversary dream cast? I suggest you go to the YouTubes and rectify this for the next two hours....] I then reminisced back to another time. And that time was three weeks ago.

That time I was back in Miami crashing Jen's family vacation. Jen loves to run but she also loooooves the yoga. Loves it. But she doesn't do the stretchy flow yoga, core fusion and power yogas I've become fond of at Exhale. Jen does hot yoga.

My feelings on hot yoga prior to Miami could be best described as this:

Because if you've learned nothing else about me from reading my blog over the years (I can only assume you are an obsessive-compulsive blog follower? yes?) then you know about my copious sweating. And you love that about me. It's adorable and endearing.

So when I found myself in Miami agreeing to buy a two-pack of hot yoga classes for the days after our races, I was skeptical at best...but also willing to give it a shot.

The studio we went to in Miami was small, but lovely when we arrived for our first class. I was super nervous and was fully expecting to have to walk out halfway through the class. It was about 90 degrees when we walked in and I was already like:

But then a miracle happened and no one else showed up other than Jen and I. What was great about this is that I could stop worrying about my sweating upsetting the other customers and just focus on my breathing and my practice. Also, when you're in Miami taking a private yoga class for under $20 with one of your best's pretty damn tough to complain.

Jen and I were able to explain to the teacher that we had just ran races and were sore, and he definitely took it "easy" on us and made a very approachable, stretch-heavy class that left me feeling invigorated and much better than when I walked in.

It was absolutely a very similar flow class to ones I had taken...but just not. I glanced over at the thermometer at one point and it was over 100 degrees. I was, like, super impressed by myself for handling that level of heat and not fully combusting. And I was also thinking, wow, I am basically a yoga master. But then Jen explained that classes can actually get a lot hotter than that, and that this was a good "introduction." Oh.

We went back again the next day and it was slightly hotter and had more people in the class. The instructor was different from the day before, but I liked her as well. Neither instructor was overaly "spiritual," focusing much more on the physical form than the mental -- which I appreciate much more personally (although I respect so much those who are able to truly focus during classes and find spirituality! I'm just not one of them...)

Hot yoga is challenging. Every move from "regular" yoga is just that much more difficult and requires that much more energy when you're hot. Plus, this teacher added in a lot of moves I'm familiar with from power and core fusion yoga, including chataranga push-ups, lots of chair pose work, and even some ab work at the end. I like doing all of that stuff, but never had done so in the fiery inferno of Hell's fury.

Halfway through I was dripping and actually had to take my shirt off exposing my midriff. And I never do that. Never. Ever. I've never been that girl.

And please keep in mind we were in Miami. People looked goooood (as compared to my white tummy that hasn't seen daylight or sit-ups in months...I glowed like a full moon!) But I was like, you know what? I'm hot. And not in a Mila Kunis way. Bur rather in a "I am burning alive" type way. My shirt had become basically a useless wet shred of cloth at this point. And I wanted to focus on class and not the grossness.

Bringin' it back to the blog title. Get it? See? SEE?!
And so, full moon midriff all abouts, I vinyassa-ed and I downward dogged and I warrior one and two-ed and I did all of these things while in a sauna.

For sure I was able to go deeper into stretches, and I do think that the heat kind of necessitates you taking yoga breathing seriously and focusing on that breathing. You know. To keep you alive. Because you are going to burst aflame if you don't.

I am glad I had a full cold bottle of water with me, and I needed to eat a protein smoothie immediately after. The only parallel feeling I've had after a workout recently was Barry's Bootcamp where you just depleted and fully worked out after the session. This is absolutely a draw for many who want a "good" workout and nor just a normal yoga flow, and I get that.

Would I run to go to hot yoga every day? Absolutely not. And I'd 100% want to make sure I was comfortable with the studio before trying again here in NYC. And I'd be very careful wearing the bestest wicking clothes ever. But I'm open to it, I suppose. I was able to touch my toes during hot yoga, which I normally can't do. And I assume the calorie burn was exquisite (although that's frankly not my main goal in yoga).

I'm glad I tried it, and I'm really glad that my first experiences were overall positive ones.

Do you do hot yoga? What do you think about it? 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Very Miami PR: Race Recap

A couple of weekends back I went to Miami with my friend Jen to root her on as she conquered the Miami Marathon. I did the Miami Half Marathon as part of my Boston training...but was also secretly trying to PR!

As faithful followers of MeriG will well-remember, Miami is where I #actually ran my first marathon. Rooted on by co-#1 fan Betsy, I conquered that race and was able to complete something that was an 18 month journey in the making.

Officially a marathoner!

I had always wanted to come back and do the half since -- quite frankly -- the first 13 miles of this race are far more exciting than the back half. The full has far fewer participants, and the course (which I'll describe in a moment) definitely peaks in the beginning leaving you a bit-lackluster when you need the motivation most.

What was great about going back to Miami this time was that I got to have the experience with Jen. I've written about "Roomie" Jen before. We were Freshman year roommates at Brandeis many moons ago and have been close friends ever since. Jen introduced me to health and fitness in many ways, and living with her was something that I will cherish forever. Today she is a doctor with a hubby and three kids, and our lives pretty much couldn't be more different. But our history and our mutual love of running keeps us connected. It's pretty beautiful, actually.

Jen's parents live in Miami, so I tagged onto their family vacation for this little race.

After arriving Friday night, Saturday was spent in race prep mode. Jen and I did a little shake-out run in the morning to get the muscles moving and then went to a yoga class at a random studio in her parent's neighborhood. I don't want to talk crap about the class....but actually I do. It was pretty bad. The teacher just obviously was not properly trained, and rather than a nice flow class (as advertised) he instead tried to have us hold awkward, random, and difficult poses without really leading up to them in any way. Not only was it not relaxing, it actually felt kind of downright dangerous. So Jen and I kind of stretched on our own to not risk injury and that was that. Afterwards, we headed to the expo to get our bibs.

Me and the Roomie. She's tall.

I love how you can personalize your bibs for this race!
After dinner with her family, we were off to bed as early as we could for our 3:30 am wake-up call. Oh, did I forget to mention that the race starts at 6:15 am? Yup. Miami gets hot, it turns out. So you want to start early. On this particularly day, however, we totally lucked out. The weather for the run was low 50s, sunny, and zero humidity. Pretty rare and pretty freaking amazing.

Although I tried to be cool about it, I had been craving a Miami PR. I've been doing a lot of strength and speed training, and I was ready to roll. However, once never knows what the race gods throw at you. So seeing that weather forecast made me nervous. Because with the combination of the stellar weather and the fact that Miami is a very flat course...I now knew that I had all the tools to make me capable of PR. If my legs (and tummy) would hold out...

We arrived at the start about 20 minutes before the gun went off. It was pretty cool. And by that I mean it was cold out but I was pretending to be warm because I am a NEW ENGLANDER AND I AM IN MIAMI. But for reals it was cold.

And then, we were off! I wished Jen well and then we parted ways so she could be Speedy Gonzalez for 26.2 and I could be...Speedy MeriG for 13.1.

Even though you have to wake up at an ungodly hour, there are benefits. The key benefit being sunrise over the long bridge to Miami Beach. I tried to snap some moving pics, but these truly don't do justice to the beauty of these miles.

Miles 3 through 10 are basically around Miami Beach. Very cool. And then you run back over bridges to Miami to finish near the starting line. The full marathon loops down south for several miles before coming back along the coast and back and forth over some causeways before finishing in the same spot.

I felt great for the first 10 miles and was totally on pace not only for a PR...but for a big PR. I was fighting against a 1:55:56 and I was pacing -- according to the math racing through my head -- to something like a 1:53 or 1:54. Nutty.

At mile 11 I felt a twinge in my knee. Ow.

And then my knee kind of seized up. Oyyyy.

But by this point I knew that even if I ran "just" 9ish minute miles I could still PR. I stopped for a few seconds and stretched, and then I said to myself, "girl. Do this. Do this now." And I was off.

My gait looked something like this:

And I wasn't sure I was going to make it without walking the last mile. But I focused on my breath, on my mantra (an uninspiring "You will be so pissed if you don't do this." Yep. That was my mantra), and on putting one foot in front of the other.

And then I saw the finish. And I looked at my watch. And I saw the finish. And I looked at my watch. And by golly...I was going to PR. I ran under the Finish Banner like this:

And my time was 1:54:40 -- a solid PR and with a busted knee! I was so, so happy and proud of myself for this accomplishment.

I recovered in the finish area and posted on the social medias and called my parents to brag (because  -- let's be real -- they would have thought I was pretty amazing if I had just stayed home and eaten a bagel). And then I was able to see Jen come in at an amazing 3:50 for her marathon. Here she is lookin' like, "hey! no big deal! 'bout to finish me a marathon!"

Before I leave you, I have a closing thought: Reader, please keep in mind that my first half marathon in Brooklyn in 2008 was a 2:22 finish. That's slightly under an 11-minute mile.

Over the course of seven years I have trained and tried and educated myself and really worked at this. And it's that effort that has brought me to 1:54:40, which is an 8:45 minute per mile average pace.

If that's not a gratifying stat? I don't know what is. 

Teaser for my next post: New things I'm trying. Hot yoga in Miami...and FlyWheel in NY. More to come!