Get Your New York On

I assisted in the activation of Runner’s World‘s participation in the New York City Marathon Expo and race for the past two years. I experienced the devastating natural disaster that was Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I watched the terrible disappointment and deep sadness that overcame participants, supporters, the entire community of New York City, and those who came from all over the world. Then, I experienced the revival of the 2013 New York City Marathon where runners came back even more passionate and fired up than in previous years.

This year, I left my job at Runner’s World and I will not be there as a Runner’s World representative. Instead, I will be there running as an individual – representing myself. There are a vast amount of reasons why this race means so much to me; reasons that specifically have to do with the fact that this is NEW YORK CITY. This race takes place in the city that shaped my post-college experiences and has made me the person I am now. New York City has beaten me down, discouraged me, brought me joy, and uplifted me over the course of the past three years. This year, in particular, has been overwhelming to say the least, so I couldn’t be more excited to run this race for those reasons.

I haven’t trained as long or hard as I have in prior races, but I will use every ounce of pain, sadness, and discouragement that has struck me this year.

I know that there are endless reasons for why people run marathons or even run at all. In the end, the finish line is what matters. Getting through something difficult, whether it be a marathon, a sickness, a loss, or any type of hardship is never easy. Sometimes, you want to just give up. Just trust me when I say that making it through is and will be the most rewarding feeling in the world. In the end, this is why we endure any pain at all – getting through it and coming out stronger than before.

Tomorrow, I’ll be ready to give everything I have to finish this race. Although I’m not as prepared as I’d like to be, I know that I can push through. Though it may seem cliche, life is like a marathon. You’re as prepared as you can be, but a lot can happen during the miles in between. You just have to get through it.

Hold Onto What You Love

This will be the first time that I’m writing about running in quite some time, so pardon me if I’m a bit rusty.

Somewhere along the journey of my path to “finding myself”, I lost my connection to running. I’ve had a disconnect from this part of my life ever since I got promoted to a new job within my company back in November of 2013.

I used to work directly with Runner’s World Magazine, where I had hands on experience working with the people who really made the magazine come to life. In my first year and a half of working at Runner’s World, I was fully immersed in all things running. I ran my first half marathon, my second half marathon, and eventually my first full marathon all within the very first year of working at my company. It was surreal. It was a dream come true.

However, somewhere along the way, my priorities shifted. After I got promoted, running became more of a sideline task. It became an “if I have time” item on my to-do list. Ever since that happened, I’ve felt more lost than I’ve ever been in my whole life.

Throughout my life, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing out a list of goals that I want to accomplish in the beginning of every new year. One of my goals for 2014 was to run another half marathon and full marathon. So far, I’ve gone through all of 2014 without running a single race, not even a 5K.

I signed up for the San Francisco Marathon back in January/February. By doing that, I planted the idea in my head that I was going to complete my goal of running a marathon this year.

Later in March, my friend and I decided to spontaneously book a trip to Australia (which was actually another goal on my 2014 list – to travel to a foreign country)

As the weeks went by and the San Francisco Marathon was getting closer and closer, I ended up backing out of running it. I had to sacrifice the race to save money for my trip to Australia. I had booked my flight to be exactly one week after the day of the marathon – A wonderful idea that was on my part…not.

Not running the San Francisco Marathon was devastating. I was heartbroken. I was completely disappointed with myself because I’ve never set my sights for a goal that I couldn’t eventually accomplish.

After a series of discouraging events prior to my trip to Australia, I was feeling defeated. I’ve always been a very lucky person. Things have always somehow worked out for me without ever having to put in too much effort.

This year did not follow that pattern.

But, in a bizarre turn of events, my year began looking up ever since I returned from my trip, reassuring me that things really do eventually work out…with time.

Therefore, I’m proud to announce that I will be running the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon on November 2nd, giving me hope that although I was down, I am not out.

I’ve began training again for the first time in over a year and I have never felt more alive. There’s something about running that makes me feel balanced. There’s something about it that makes me feel like I have meaning in my life. I may be wrong, but I think that’s called passion.

So my advice to you is this: If you have found something or someone that makes you feel completely alive, makes you feel completely lost if you don’t have it, makes you wake up in the morning feeling like you can conquer the world, then PLEASE by all means, hold onto it.

It’s very rare to find something or someone that you truly care about and life is just too short to roam the earth feeling lost.

Happy Anniversary, Big Sur Marathon

The 2014 Big Sur Marathon took place in Monterey, California today. Waves of nostalgia have been flowing in and out of my brain for the past few weeks. As I’ve watched the seasons change from the bitter Winter to the slow immersion of Spring, I’ve been trying to think of the things I’ve accomplished so far in 2014. My immediate response: “Nothing”

We already have 4 months of 2014 under our belt, and I can’t help but feel like I’ve been on cruise control for the past few months. This past Fall, my life had undergone some drastic changes. I was in a very uncomfortable place between settling into a new apartment as well as a new job. Now, I’m on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I’m craving for some kind of chaos. Some kind of challenge.

With the 2013 Big Sur Marathon being my first marathon last year, I can’t help but look back and think about the training that I did last year in comparison to my training this year. My next marathon is the San Francisco Marathon coming up in July and I’ve been starting to worry about how calm I’ve been towards it. I feel less anxiety, less excitement, less seriousness, less motivation. I don’t know what happened between last year and this year, but my fire has been going out in terms of running; not even just running. I’ve also felt my steam running out in terms or writing as well.

Maybe all of the drastic changes that were happening to me in the Fall were actually a good thing. Maybe it’s exactly what I needed to keep me on my toes.

When we feel like we’re losing our fire, our motivation, our drive, how do we get it back?

I know I shouldn’t be complaining because this is the calmest I’ve been in quite some time. But as they say, there’s a calm before the storm.

I guess I’m just waiting for the next storm to come in my life…

No More Long Runs

First off, HAPPY MARATHON MONDAY! Today is the Boston Marathon and I’m sad to say that I’m not there to witness it, but fortunately, I’m able to stream Live Coverage

So, I ran my last long run of my Half Marathon/Marathon training this past Saturday. That’s it. No more long run Saturdays. Where did the time go?

At this point, I realize that there’s not much else I can do except think positive thoughts and cross my fingers in hopes that I don’t pass out at mile 20 (since I never even reached that distance in my training)

At least, my last one was successful. My legs felt strong and I felt fast. I’m not too sure if that’s a good thing or not, but at least my body isn’t in pain. A nice 8 miles kept my spirits high.

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It just all seems so surreal. Maybe I’m in denial that these races are actually happening, but I feel no sense of excitement or nervousness. I’m not anxious. I’m not ecstatic. I’m not over-filled with joy. I thought at this point, I would at least have sweaty palms. But instead, I’m simply acknowledging the fact that my training has come to an end and I just have to hope for the best.

The one thing that I can attest to is the lack of sleep I’ve been getting, which could be the one sure sign that I actually have emotions.

Every day last week, I slept no earlier than 2:30AM. I remain blissfully unaware as to what’s actually bothering me, especially since I can’t single out one lingering thought that’s even slightly related to my races. I’ve just been laying in bed, tossing and turning, my eyes refusing to shut. Every few minutes, I sit up and look around my pitch black room, then return to my original position.

I purchased a new book for the first time in a very long time. To be honest, I don’t read often and I’m not one to finish books all the way. I always reach the home stretch, just before you find out the good stuff, but then I just stop. Hopefully I finish this one. I figure it will take my mind off of whatever is hiding in my subconscious.

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(If you can’t read upside down, it’s “Invisible Monsters” by Chuck Palahniuk. This was probably not the most uplifting choice of books, but I read the first chapter and was intrigued)

Anyways, I’ll be taking it easy this week. I’ll get in some light running, but mostly relaxing, reading, and foam rolling.

It sounds like it’s going to be a good week.

Going out without going all out

I did it.

I survived my first week of April without consuming a drop of alcohol.

To preface this entry to those who are new to reading my blog, I am NOT an alcoholic. I repeat, I am NOT an alcoholic.

To get some of you up to speed, I recently hit my point of absolute misery when it came to drinking with friends on the weekends. Going out until 3AM in New York City while you are in training mode for a Half-Marathon and Marathon do not mesh well at all. I learned this the hard way, therefore recently vowed to give up drinking any type of alcohol for the entire month of April in lieu of my Spring races

I must say, it’s actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. However, here are the down sides:

  • Going out to a club and/or bar in New York City while you are sober and everyone else around you is intoxicated is pretty weird. You notice how stupid everyone actually looks as opposed to everything being funny. It’s definitely not as funny when you’re sober…
  • Regardless of whether you drink or not, certain places still require a cover charge to get in. So even though you’re not buying drinks, you still have to pay to go to a place that is dimly lit with random spurts of blinding strobe lights and ear deafening music blasting , all while watching people act like morons
  • If you’re tired and not having fun, it’s better to just go home instead of being out and forcing yourself to stay awake when you don’t need to be

Regardless, I felt really good about myself at the fact that I didn’t succumb to peer pressure.

On a more positive note, here are the up sides to not drinking

  • You really do spend less money when you don’t have to buy alcohol
  • You wake up in the morning remembering EVERYTHING
  • You save yourself empty calories and extra pounds
  • You’re not extremely susceptible to getting sick

There are definitely more up sides than that, but I chose to shed light on the obvious ones.

I had a great weekend despite my lack of alcohol consumption which ultimately proves that you don’t need to drink to have a good time.

I was able to get a (slightly) long run on Saturday afternoon in long-awaited, beautiful Spring-ish weather. I only was able to get in 10 miles in 1 hour and 27 minutes, but it still felt great.

I went back home to New Jersey for the second weekend in a row. I got to hang out with friends from home and spend time with family for my Mom’s birthday, which is always a good time in my book.

Moral of the story: Drinking is not all it’s cracked up to be. If anything, it’s less.

Back on my feet

Surely, it was only a matter of time before I started running again. And yesterday was when that time came. All day yesterday, I had a battle going on inside my mind about when I should finally get my legs moving again. It was the fear holding me back. My lungs felt strong again. My cough was dying down. I could breathe through my nose. But the fear of sickness rushing back terrified me. I couldn’t stand another day of stagnancy though. The more I started at my calendar, the more it taunted me, showing the few days that I had left to train.

Once I got back to my apartment after work, I sat for a few minutes, contemplated the consequences of running too soon, changed into my gym clothes, and sprinted out the door. Just knowing that I was going to run again made my heart flutter. I repeated to myself, “Take it easy, take it easy, take it easy” I didn’t want to push myself too hard after just recovering from being sick.

I got in an easy 3 miles in 29 minutes yesterday. I didn’t care about the time. It just felt good to get back in the game again.

Today, I ran again. It was not in my original plans. I was going to take today as a cross-training day where I would just go to Zumba to get some form of cardio in. My eagerness overcame me. Just knowing that I was well enough to exercise again made me excited to get out the door and move.

I got in another 3 miles today in 28 minutes. It felt amazing. I felt invincible. Suddenly, the misery and pain that I had experienced from being sick completely left my mind. My mindset had completely shifted back to training mode.

As I continue my countdown to my Spring races, I realize that I am now officially 17 days away from the Rutgers Half Marathon and 24 days away from Big Sur Marathon.

I don’t know how time went by so fast, but I’m starting to get the butterflies finally. These races are coming and they’re coming soon.

A Week Without Running

“I constantly remind myself that resting takes confidence. Anyone can train like a mad man but to embrace rest and to allow all the hard training to come out takes mental strength” – Ryan Hall

I received this quote in my e-mail today from the Runner’s World Quote of the Day e-newsletter that I am subscribed to. Similar to the way some people apply daily horoscopes to the actual events occurring in their lives, I apply these quotes to specific difficulties or conflicts that I am facing.

Right now, I am currently struggling with the urge to run. I haven’t ran a single mile since last Wednesday, March 27th and I’m starting to go a little stir crazy.

I’ve been sick for these past few days and I’ve been trying to allow my body to heal itself before I get my legs moving again. It’s frustrating though, as I’m getting closer and closer to my two big back-to-back races at the end of this month. The real price that I’m paying is a mental toll more so than physical.

Without running, the balance that I need in my life has been thrown off and it’s affecting my entire mental state. Like a drug, my body is negatively responding to this withdrawal from running.

I haven’t felt fulfilled lately and the thoughts that are racing in my head have been trapped up there for a week now.

It’s interesting to see the affects that this has on me because in retrospect, a majority of people have their vice. Whether it be eating, or exercise, or video games, or alcohol, everyone needs an outlet. It appears in some form, and for me, it’s running

Big Sur Countdown

Since I acknowledged the one month mark for my upcoming Half Marathon at Rutgers, it’s only fair that I bring attention to the one month mark for the Big Sur International Marathon. Today begins my 1-month countdown to Big Sur. The more I stare at my calendar, the more I can’t believe how fast time has gone since I began “officially training”

To add to my post yesterday about the importance of rest, I’m now beginning to worry if I got too much rest during my training. I’m sick, yet again, and can’t afford losing any more training days as I’m getting closer to my races.

Yesterday, I attended a great event at the Super Runners Shop located on 3rd Avenue, Uptown, between 71st and 72nd street. The shoe company Hoka One One teamed up with my awesome team at Runner’s World and together, we hosted a Fun Run to test their line of shoes. When I woke up yesterday morning, I knew that I was in no shape to run outside, let alone run at all. My throat is sore, I can’t smell, and I’ve had the chills on and off all day.

I disobeyed my own rule of thumb in regards to taking rest when you’re not feeling well, but I really wanted to join in on the fun. I took the shorter route of only logging 3 miles yesterday, and even then, I still felt awful.

I look forward to this weekend though, which starts today for me as I will be on “vacation” from Friday through Monday. Originally, I was anticipating getting in a longer distance run of around 16-17 miles for my Saturday long run, but now, I’m going to actually take my own advice and rest. I’m going back to good ol’ New Jersey to visit my family for Easter Weekend and hopefully, I’m fully recovered when I return to the city.

Time is tickin’! 30 DAYS!!!

The Importance of Rest and Vitamin C

I never fully understood how significant it was to take a breather every once in a while. I was always a fan of pushing through pain whenever I felt tired or weak. My thoughts towards the whole, “Can’t stop, Won’t stop” mentality were that it would pay off it in the long run because it would make me a stronger athlete; a stronger person.

My findings?

Absolutely false.

Rest is 100% detrimental towards your mental and physical health. In fact, not resting is actually counterproductive and can only harm you more in the long run. Pushing through pain does, in fact, make you stronger, but not in all cases. Sometimes, it just leaves you with injury, re-occurring sickness, and just more pain in general. I began realizing the importance of rest and Vitamin C once I moved into New York City.

Growing up, I had a fairly strong immune system. I would rebel against my Mother’s advice to not go outside with wet hair, to always wear a hood when it’s windy, bundle up when it’s cold, etc. Back then, I would never have to deal with the consequences. Unfortunately, as you get older, it takes a lot more effort to keep your body in tip-top shape. The rebellious acts that I would perform as a child don’t quite work in my favor now that I live in a germ-invested city where only about 1 out of 10 people wash their hands after using the restroom and no one around you covers their mouth when they cough. This makes people, who live in a large city such as New York, very susceptible to catching the common cold- And the rapidness in which you can get sick is astonishing.

This past winter, up until today, I have been sick approximately 6 or 7 times since December 1st, when I first moved to New York. My body hasn’t adjusted well to the drastic changes in temperature along with a combination of a lack of proper nutrients, surrounding germs that make their homes in the city subways, training for a marathon, and an improper sleep schedule. In addition, my inner child would overcome me and I would rebel against layering up during my long runs in Central Park when high winds were blowing in my direction.

Ultimately, my poor judgement and overall lack of common sense led me to getting sick about every 2 or 3 weeks. It’s just awful.

Like an open wound, your body needs to heal itself. It takes a lot of time and patience, but jumping back on the horse before you are ready puts you at great risk of falling right off again.

My advice to myself and any one who is reading this:

When you are in pain, feeling weak, or feeling sick, just TAKE A DAY OFF

Allow your body to heal itself, and you will feel ten times better during your workout and throughout the entire day.

Shedding Dead Weight

This morning for breakfast, I had a large, soothing cup of green tea, whole wheat toast with Nutella, and a bowl of plain oatmeal with an added teaspoon of honey. This all came with a small side of cynicism.

I had one of those weekends where you make poor decisions because you’re just in the mood to have fun. Unfortunately for me, I am always left with a handful of regret when looking back in hindsight bias.

What I am referring to is alcohol and lack of sleep. This combination of things really take a toll on your body, especially when you are training for a marathon (and half-marathon)

In reference to my “Saying Goodbye to Alcohol” post, I always end up feeling a strong sense of guilt immediately after drinking (I really hope everyone on WordPress, or anyone publicly reading this, doesn’t think I’m a raging alcoholic- I’m absolutely not) I think subconsciously, I’m trying to get my last few drinks and weekends of fun out of the way before April 1st hits. (I wasn’t kidding when I said that I’m swearing off alcohol starting April 1st)

On Friday night, I went out for what was supposed to be a “chill night”. I’d really call it “an embarrassment towards my lack of tolerance for vodka shots, beer, and mixed alcoholic beverages. To highlight certain events of the night: I had my face planted to a table from the hours of 12AM through 3AM, I found a shot glass stuffed in my purse, I proposed to my friend from college, and ended the night eating meatball sandwiches at 4AM. This may sound awesome, but it most certainly was not any sort of awesome when I woke up the following morning. It must have slipped my mind that I always do my long runs on Saturday mornings.

Alas, I did do a semi-long run. It was definitely no where near the amount of mileage that I was anticipating to run this weekend. An hour and a half and less then 10 miles later, the nausea started to kick in which is quite shocking for how fast I ran.

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I had some slight relief of guilt knowing that I was motivated enough to even peel myself out of bed.

After my long run on Saturday afternoon, I met with a friend for burgers/frolicking around Union Square for several hours. By 9:30PM, I felt my body slowly breaking down and switching into off-mode. Once I arrived back to my apartment Uptown, I was ready to call it a night until I received a text from a high school friend telling me that he was in the city. Immediately, I felt obligated to meet up with him- It’s always such a rare occasion when my friends come to visit the city.

I restarted myself from sleep mode and forced myself to meet at him and our other friends at a bar on the West Side. I arrived to the bar around 12AM. After 45 minutes of waiting for them to get there, I was in an awful mood. I had a long headache-of-a-night prior, a long day with a semi-long run and hours of walking around Union Square, and somehow had what was left of my energy to make an effort to meet up with them. Once they arrived, all I wanted to do was throw my anger in their face, and that’s exactly what I did. I gulped down my last sip of the beer that I didn’t even want, released my anger, got in a cab and left.

When I woke up this morning and thought about the money that I wasted on two cab rides and a beer that I didn’t want, all of my rage came back burning inside the pit of my stomach. Naturally, I went to the gym to relieve my stress.

You would think that going to the gym would just make all of your rage magically disappear, but instead, I just got progressively angrier as I was frantically hurling myself back and forth on the elliptical. Ironically, I ended up having one of the best workouts in a very long time. Afterwards, my rage finally left me and I experienced a sense of euphoria.

What I meant when I titled this post, “Shedding Dead Weight”, was that I am going to stop trying to please all of my friends and accommodate for everyone by going out drinking. I should have picked an earlier date for my “no drinking” policy. Alas, the epiphany that I experienced was that I realized that I need to get serious about my life, my routine, my marathon training, my money, and my real friends.

So I end this post with this lovely e-card:

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The time for play is over. I need to hit my 20-mile long run soon.