Finally March. Finally. Winter Recap.

We are close to Spring guys, really, I don’t see or feel it but many of my friends are posting countdowns on facebook every day, so it must be a thing.

Yesterday, March 1st, snowed quite a bit in NYC. This was me:

images

The shock still getting snow in March, went back fast to the three month long winter disaffection:

45960123

Well. We’re close to the end of this CRAP. Apparently. Who knows. They say there’s more snow tomorrow. It might just never stop snowing anymore. I have no idea.

What I DO know is that, somehow, I did FANTASTIC in the worst winter we (I) had. Last year,  I sat it out and just whined through it. This time around, I attached. It’s cold: I am running. It’s colder: I am running more. It’s ridiculously cold: I am doing speedwork you @_#$($#%)$*(@) winter!!!!!

Like this day last week, CHECK this out:

2015-02-24 07.26.30

It was 3 degrees, feels like of MINUS FREAKING FIVE (-16 and -20 in celsius) and we did 8x400s and strides. That sounds insane right? Well, yes, it was. But that’s when HAVE to go out (then you can cry the rest of the day). I have to say, I didn’t feel particularly awful. Anything under 25 feels horrendous for me, whether is 20, or 10 or -10, it all just sucks. WHATEVER.

But: IT GOT DONE. I am quite proud of my last three months. Here’s a recap of 2015, so far.

January

Was a great month. I was mostly trying to decide if I could run through the Winter. Every day, every cold day, I was testing the water and seeing how many more days I would keep running. Last year I gave up quite early and I was determined to push through. I did. I did 103 miles, I did a few interval sessions and a few long runs (does 9 or 12 miles count?). Even though I am not the resolution type, little by little I discovered weekly goals that worked for me:

  • at least 25 miles a week,
  • at least one speed session per week and
  • at least one session of plyometrics a week.

So far, so good. I am so happy that I was able to push through this (ROUGH) winter. Total Miles: 103.

February

February was the turnaround of the last (almost) two years of lulling around. I did 110 miles. I did speedwork every week, and I did my drills every week. I did 800s and 400s as well as a few hard tempos. I did race a 4 Miler that was a hot mess:  I didn’t dress properly and was overheating and I really had no intention to push. A complete real hot mess. But oh well. There’s no 100% perfect month, right? The best thing: I gave up on my guaranteed entry to the NYC Marathon and committed to a Half PR, there I said it, in 2015. It’ll happen in the fall, but the training has started and NYC Half and Brooklyn will be first. It needs to get done. 1:37:35, you’re going down. Total Miles: 110.

March

With one day in… I can say it started like a lion! A good 5K followed by 5.5 miles after quite comfortably. Here’s to not stopping for anything this year.

#WashHeights5K done!

22:42 (still far from my PR, which I have been saying it for way too long!) but a good race overall! Loved the pace dropping 20 secs per mile and now wishing it was a 10K. The hills on the cords are rough but it is such a scenic view. Mostly if you never go up there! Great weather for a 5K even though I was a little cool in the corral for 10 minutes, but it turned out fantastic. After the race, I managed to run some ok 5.5 miles home given that the NYC half is in 2 weeks and I haven’t run more than 8 miles more than once (12 miles in January) since the marathon in November. I still got home faster than Juan even though I stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts and two chats with Ned and Daphne!

Happy March! #runforlife

20 Tickets to Running Movie “MCFARLAND, USA”, the winners!

mcfarland

And the winners to get tickets to the new film MCFARLAND, USA (trailer here) are….

giveway mcfarland use movie review (1) giveway mcfarland use movie review (2) giveway mcfarland use movie review (3) giveway mcfarland use movie review (4) giveway mcfarland use movie review (5) giveway mcfarland use movie review (6) giveway mcfarland use movie review (7) giveway mcfarland use movie review (8) giveway mcfarland use movie review (9) giveway mcfarland use movie review (10)

The screening is on Wednesday, February 18th at the Regal E-Walk (42nd st and 8th Ave) at 7 pm. Make sure you are free that day, and email me your full name by Friday, Feb 11. CONGRATS!

Movie premieres on February 20th, and here is the movie’s website

Winter Gear that made a difference

As you know, because I’ve complained a million times, my body doesn’t do well in the cold weather. Last winter I barely run because of it so this past November, fearing the winter months ahead, I got ready by buying all the winter gear I could afford.

I am going to admit, I didn’t really believe in the hype. I figured I’d layer a bunch of regular cold gear and it’d be the same. Well, I’ve been proven wrong. So, far, I put a decent amount of miles over the winter; here’s some of the runs I did:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Can you tell I am so proud I went out in that weather????

Anyway, it got done.

giphy

I have to say some of the pieces made a huge difference. I’d go back and buy them all over again if I lost them! Maybe this is the team YOU get them (end of winter sales anyone!!?!?!?)

The Sugoi subzero tights are amazing. I am used to wear two/three layers when it goes sub 30: tights, leg-warmers and pants over that. If it’s around 30, 20 or up to 15, I can usually do ok just with the sugois. I have a few other fleeced/winter tights. These are the best. They’re a bit hard to get into, the material is stiff (so no wind chill gets in), almost feels like a wetsuit, but I’ve done speedwork in them and it was ok to run in.

That (purple) infrared Under Armour infrared shirt is amazing!!!!! it’s SO hot, I wear ALL the time. It’s cute enough to wear to work and long enough to add an extra layer to my butt over the tights when I run. A NECESSITY. I have to say, Juan had a few of those and I used to make fun of him, who needs thaaaat? I was wrong. That shirt makes a huge difference. The hat didn’t. I barely use it. It’s not big enough to cover my ears properly so when I use it add a fleece headband under it :-(

2014-11-23 17.50.13

The merino stuff doesn’t work for me. For running at least. The Icebreaker shirt is warm and all, and I wear it on the weekends, but not to running anymore. I just doesn’t move sweat out and it becomes drenched so fast. As soon as I stop for a second I am FROZEN. I don’t run in it anymore. ;-(

So, no dreadmill for me yet this winter, and I’ve kept a great mileage through November, December and January. I am so proud of myself. If you know me, you know I hate this. Having taken the screenshots of the weather with those runs reminds me I did it once (and I survived it!) and I can do it again.

#WINNING

happy weekend friends!!!!

my favorite apps

 

My phone is in my hand ALL THE TIME. It’s my secretary. Most of the times it’s in airplane or, my favorite: DO NOT DISTURB mode, but I do use it like a paid assistant. You know, life has gotten more complicated these days, I barely have the attention span to remember anything so I either dictate it into the calendar or take a picture of it. Training, plus having more than 1 job, coaching, sending reports, having a social life, plus just living in NYC, I need an assistant. My phone!

Below the apps I can’t live without, no shocking apps. I’ll be waiting for your favorites too, please share with us which ones you love and can’t live without!

favorite apps iphone reviews (6)

Hootsuite, Feedly, Any.do

Any.do is my to-do list. I have about 10 “to-do” lists apps. This one is the simplest and bestest. And it has a desktop version. I can’t even think of life without it.

Feedly!! All my blogs, news, feeds are in there! Not just all my running news, and friends’ blogs, but also running stores facebook and twitter feeds, everything you’d want to know and never miss out on. You can turn pretty much anything into an RSS feed.

Hootsuite is my favorite hub. Not only you can post there to fbook, twitter and whatever, you can schedule posts, create all sorts of lists and streams. It’s not great for everything but it has most of the stuff you need.

favorite apps iphone reviews (7)

CamMe! You will be able to take self-facing pictures without having to press a button. Your hand up will tell the camera when to shoot. Amazing.

PhotoGrid is the best way to make a collage, trust me, it’s the best one. I tried them all.

Pandora is one of the few apps I use when running. I don’t take my phone running much but when I do, there’s Pandora music!

favorite apps iphone reviews (8)

As I said, I don’t run with my phone much, but the Road Id app is great for when you have to meet up with someone, like when it’s raining and my husband is meeting me off the bus from work to bring me an umbrella. It tells whoever you want exactly where you are. Or so I know when he’s coming back from the super and I am meeting him after some other errand. Yes, we live right on top of each other!

Charity Miles will donate money for each mile you run/walk to your favorite charity, so, just do it.

favorite apps iphone reviews (9)

Runner’s Pace Calculator. A wheel to calculate paces, in miles or kms, the easiest thing.

favorite apps iphone reviews (1)

Ubersense and SloPro, I use these two sometimes when I coach and my real slow-speed camera is out of battery or somewhere else. I’ve used Ubersense more times as I like the feature where you can wheel frame by frame but both are great. It’s a great tool to use, even with your own running form, once in a while.

favorite apps iphone reviews (2)

Sleep Time is the ONLY app I’ve ever paid for! I love looking at my stats, how many hours I slept in deep rem and how long my cycles are. I only get to use it when Juan travels but it’s great information to have so you know when to set up your alarm for!

favorite apps iphone reviews (5)

When I am out of town or sleeping at a weird hour, this. Fire and Train just put me out!

favorite apps iphone reviews (4)And these… for stress relief or whatever you want to call it. On Candy Mania I am over level 500, which I am quite proud of, and Quiz Up, is CRAZY, gets my heart rate up and I feel like I am bidding on ebay on something at the last second, but I love it!

2015-02-03 11.25.25

Oh, and SnapPen! the app I made all the circles with in these images! I use this app so much! As I don’t type and take pictures, it’s easy to forward pictures marked up. Or when you take measurements of stuff (I need new curtains!) you just take a picture and draw the measurements in the picture. So useful!

Two things:

1- if you’re still typing, figure out how to dictate to the phone. Saves SO much time!!!

2- use the typing shortcuts (Settings/General/Keyboard/Shortcuts) I use it for sooo many things. For example, my email address (I just type the first 3 letters!), my name, my address, long hashtags, you name it. If you typed it more than twice, you should have created a shortcut, do it!

so, which apps can’t you live without??? tell me!!!!!

 

NYRR Gridiron 4 Miler

First race of the year done!! Far from a PR and a whole minute slower than the 4 miler I did in December (Race to Deliver) but perfectly run in my opinion. Mile one is the slowest (opening and Cat Hill), mile 2 is fast (the only flat mile), mile 3 is always a slow painful mess, and mile 4, the fastest, you bring it home, hills and all.
I wasn’t planning on racing and I didn’t have much options. My stomach was bothering me since I woke up. Just by mile 3 I started feelig ok. Oh well. I was also overdressed. It was 24 degrees so I was cold before and after and super hot during. I should have worn less clothes, but… Oh well!! Juan alao raced and seems like he PRed!!
Happy Sunday!!! I heard there’s some sort of “football” game happening today, enjoy!!!

New York City Half Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Logistics!

You know the “don’t wear anything new on race day” and all the basics… now, let’s do NYC Half Marathon as right as we can. I have done this race  5 times so far (from 2:06 in its first year, to 1:37 last year) and I keep running into people who haven’t and have lots of questions (let me know if you have any question not covered below!). And in case you want to see photos and read my race reports, go here for all of them, or here for the 2014 NYC Half  or 2013 NYC Half.

PRE RACE LOGISTICS

Make a marathon list of what you’ll need a week or two before and sort it all by stages, here is an Marathon Packing List to start with. Get everything in the list ready as soon as possible.

Plan your nutrition way ahead. You can buy gels at the expo if necessary, but get bagels/oatmeal and whatever you need the day before as there will not be a lot of delis open at 4, 5, or 6 am.

If you need any last minute thing, you can buy most stuff at the expo/bib pickup (don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your reg form -download it from your NYRR profile- and photo identification) or here is an organized list with all the running stores by area.

Gear… the weather can be anything from 40s to 20s so so prepare (aka, train in) a few options and decide the day before. Be smart, and make sure you can peel off layers comfortably. If you don’t want to carry your phone, at least carry a $20 bill, a metrocard, and an ID with you, just in case.

Prep some cheap or throwaway clothes to the start. Find a mylar blanket from your last marathon (and don’t throw away the one you’ll get at the finish here!). You will need them until the last minute in the corral (I wear one as pants with tape and one as a cape). I wear my throwaway cardigan or a sweater (cut in the front for easy peeling, kept it in place with a safety pin!) during the first mile too! Go to the dollar store and get knee-high socks, cut the foot and you’ll have throwaway arm warmers! I keep half of it on until I warm up, it can be windy and cold at the start!

Best tool to have at any race: your name on your shirt, do not even question this. If you don’t want your name, write something funny you’ll want people to scream to you all over the course. This is a big race and there will be a lot of spectators along the course and having them scream your name will make your race 100 times better. If you don’t want to ruin your gear, cut the letters our of duct tape (like I do!) and voila, they’ll peel right off!

Headphones or not? If you are used to racing with headphones, bring them. I like to leave them on, and turn them on only when necessary. The Central Park part will be CROWDED, seriously crowded, so it’s smart to keep the music off, or very low so you can hear people around you. Once you are in the West Side Highway, and it gets a little monotonous, go for it. You’ll have a lot of people cheering and you don’t want to miss it, but if you do have the music on later on, still make sure you can still hear what is happening around you!!!!

Place your spectators in spots where you’ll need encouragement (quite probably on the long stretch along the West Side Highway).  If they are not the adventurous kind, they could see you anywhere in the park, always on your right, and then head over to the finish. Otherwise, there is an insane amount of combination of spots they can see you at. Study the map with them and calculate how much time they’ll have to get from one spot to the other based on your speed. For example, the 1st spotting would usually be in Central Park, east side, around 85 st, on your left (they need to be on the inside part of the park), that would be your mile 1. After they see you, the walk across the park (it won’t be more than a 10 minute walk) around the Great Lawn to West 86th, where they can see you again at mile 4.5! They have to be on the runner’s right (the outside of the park). Elite runners will be there in 20 minutes, and you can tell them how long it’d take you to do 4.5 miles! So, they have to hurry and cross over the quarter mile in less than 20 minutes or they’ll be trapped  inside the park. Once they see you go, wave, exit the park and the B and C trains are right there at 86 and CPW. They could also do this in the 102 transverse (instead of 86) and the trains are at 103 when they exit the park but the time to cross over is a lot less, but totally doable if they zippityzip. C trains go downtown, so they can head over to 14th st, though there is a walk from 8th ave to 11th avenue, so if the C train shows up fast, I’d say yes, otherwise, just keep going to Chambers and head over to the West Side Highway. A cab would make this all a LOT easier too! Once they see you in Chambers, the can head over to meet you at the Finish (find a corner ahead of time, it’ll be CROWDED!) or at some brunch spot! Call ahead to see if they are open at 9 or 10 am so they can wait there and be warm! // It’s important to know exactly on what side of the street they’ll be so YOU can spot them (they won’t be able to spot you!). Send them with something big: a flag, a sign, balloons, huge funny hat, etc. Tell them to get comfy shoes, really warm clothes and bring food. It will be an early and long day for them too!  //  If you need an extra push, ask for help!! FORCE all your friends to come watch you. Ask them “where are you going to be?”. Then tell them a time you’ll go through there, give or take 10 minutes, and decide if they’ll be runner’s Left or Right. Then make a little-tiny list you can carry in your pocket (Example: 102nd st, John, left / 86st st, Mike, right, etc.) in order or appearance, put clear tape all over it so it won’t get sweaty and basically go from John, to Mike, to etc… Let them pull you along the course and that’ll break the course in parts, instead of think “AH, I gotta go all the way to the end of the island, ugh” you’ll think: “I am just going to 102nd st, to see John, then we’ll see!

Oh, and have them download the 2015 NYC Half mobile app (will probably be ready to download a week or two before the race) where they can track you and a few more runners at a time.

Get yourself a pace bracelet, and adjust it looking at the course profile: your first half should definitely be slower (look at the course strategy section below).

If you need a short run before the race, go to Central Park. You’ll see many of your race-buddies and get to enjoy the best place in the world as a runner.

Find a mantra, or two, you might really need them. I write them in my hand where I am sure I will see it.

RACE LOGISTICS

The will be many starts! Last year there were waves starting from 7:10 to 8:10 and in early march you will get a registration card with your bib/wave number and start time.

Getting to the start/Baggage Check. The easiest way to get there is always a cab or running there of course, but if you have to take the train, take anything to 57th or 59th streets or any of the trains that leave you close to Central Park South/59th st. You will have to enter the park through Sixth or Fifth Avenue. Before entering, check your (nyrr provided plastic) bag outside of the park (on 59th Street, between Fifth and Seventh Avenues). Give yourself ample time (as this is weekend schedule) and check  MTA for weekend alerts, or try hopstop: make sure your train is running! Also, if you are not sure, I am 100% confident that if you just head over to the closest train stop, you’ll see someone you could follow to the Start ;-) // Kiss your loved ones buh-bye, they won’t be allowed anywhere close to the Start!

The race WILL be crowded, so PLEASE, if you need to stop for a walk or move over for water, please please please signal with your arms, and look around behind you before you make any moves, DO NOT just stop or go sideways. Be considerate of your fellow runners who could trip! The good side of this is that you’ll always have someone to run with, pace of, or follow when you’re tired. Pick them up when you feel strong, encourage them when they need it, and keep your eyes peeled for anyone who might need help!!

There will be Water/Gatorade around every mile or so, so if you miss one, don’t stress. Don’t go for the first table as everyone will do that. There’s many tables: go to the last one. You’ll find the portapottties where the water is, so keep an eye out and don’t dart sideways! There will be Gels at mile 7.5, on 42nd street between 9th and 10th avenues.

RACE STRATEGY

Here is the course map: NYRR New York City Half Marathon course map

This is an easy race to figure out. Basically, you have two parts: the undulating the Central Park (first half) and the straight and flat run to the finish (the second half). Break the race in parts, device a plan, and stick to it no matter what. Plan for negative splits: keep it strong and conservative throughout the park and ram it home once you hit the West Side Highway. I am an average runner and have negative split in this race every time. Basically: you have to believe in yourself and wait for the time of your life. This is how I like to break this race down:

Part 1 – Mile 1: HOLD YOUR FREAKING HORSES!!!!

There are 2.5 hills in this race: Cat Hill as soon as you start, Harlem Hill at 3.5, and going up the Battery Park Underpass at the end. Cat Hill and the Tunnel are short and tiny but annoying because of their locations right at the start and right at the end…! People get excited at the start, and take off like maniacs; if this is going to work, we have to hold it in, climb the hill carefully and let everyone (and their grandmother) pass. Say: Yes, go ahead and go. I’ll catch you later when your quads are screaming, buh-bye.

Part 2 – Mile 2 to 6: EASY, LIGHT, SMOOTH

The park is a string of undulating hills, but after Cat Hill you have the longest flat stretch, almost a half mile (heaven…!) so, use that to get on a rhythm, find your legs and a pacer. It’ll be crowded so I doubt you’ll be able to utilize the tangents but at least avoid tripping, did I mention it’s gonna be CROWDED?

Your goal for the first half of the race is to exit the park in one piece, feeling strong to let it all go in the second part of the race. Exercise all your patience here and keep yourself in good checks to not let yourself go. If you are running hard-comfortable, you are doing it right.

Part 3 – Mile 7 to 10: IT’S ON!

This is where I like to stretch out my legs: the race starts here. From now on it’s flat and steady. When you exit the park you’ll have a lot of space, cheering and excitement to carry you on, and as soon as you turn right on 42nd, you’ll be rolling down. Hit the gas.

Note: Something about Times Square can make you or your gps go crazy. Ooops.

this is my elevation course profile from 2014, which had the same exact course they’ll have in 2015:

nyc half course elevation

Part 4 –  Mile 11 to 13.1: YOLO

ALL. HELL. BREAKS. LOOSE.

That is all. Go Crazy. Bring it in. Drop the Hammer.

… then… 

Walk, get your medal, take pictures, get your stuff, find your friends/family, go get brunch (there are many good places downtown), enjoy, stretch, ice bath, rest, eat more, sleeeeeep! Tell everyone about your race, plan your next race, have a congratulatory donut. Or at least that’s what I am planning to do, even if this might be my slowest half!!

Questions?? Anything to add? Anything you want to go over?

NYRR New York City Half Marathon course map

The official New York City Half Marathon website.

Photos race reports, go here for all of them, or here for the 2014 NYC Half  or 2013 NYC Half.

—-Comment happily: you won’t be asked to create an account!