Category Archives: races

New Balance Factory Experience

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to run a Reach the Beach Relay on behalf of New Balance.  I was part of their blogger team a few years ago and you can read about that experience here, here, here, here and here.  While I was super excited to run the race again, I was just as excited to visit the New Balance Factory again.  Maybe I’m a nerd, but I just love how inspirational it is to visit where baby new balance sneakers are born.  The factory is also super inspirational, there are motivational quotes everywhere, walls of innovation, and you can tell every single employee is proud to work at New Balance–in fact, they will tell you so themselves.  New Balance is hands down my favorite athletic outfitter and they have a level of integrity that is unparalleled in the industry.

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Snoopies in sneakers. I die.

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We got to see how the New Balance 990 is made. It’s so shocking to see just how much work goes into making 1 sneaker.

To make one sneaker it takes:

  • 35 people
  • 2.5-3 hours
  • 50+ individual steps

Every step is 100% guided by a person.  A person makes sure that the holes to lace your shoes are punched in the exact right place.  It’s truly incredible.  As a side note, New Balance makes 100% more of their shoes in the USA than any other major shoe brand.

Here are just a few of the steps that goes into make the NB990…

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After the factory tour we got to see some of the new things coming out of the innovation lab! New Balance is using 3D printing to test out products in amazing ways.  By 3D printing the soles of shoes, athletes and consumers can test shoes much faster and New Balance can make adjustments overnight.

Check out some of these 3D printed shoes…

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I took these babies out for a job….just kidding, these were made for an exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Pretty cool.

 

 

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Then we went to the smash lab where machines put shoes through the ringer to test stability, flexibility, durability and much more.

 

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Then Carrie got to see her stride in real time using a complex configurations of cameras and sensors on her shoes.

 

 

 

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Shoes, shoes and more glorious shoes.

 

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And here’s the all star team:

Team picture at NB factory

 

From left to right: Theodora, Caitlin, Carrie, Jess, Gia, Christine, Melissa, Marissa, Alli, Melissa, Lorriane and me.

After the tour, I went to the factory store to pick up gifts for the hubs, plus a few things for myself.  I bought him a pair of his favorite NB sneakers, and he had them on so fast, I didn’t even get to take a picture.  If you live in Boston, I’d definitely recommend taking a trip out to the factory store in Lawrence, MA for some great deals!

Next up, you’ll hear about my 2nd RTB experience.  It was the New Hampshire course, which was very different from the MA course. It was colder, hillier, longer (yes, really), but also much more scenic, IMO! Stay tuned.

UAE 10k and Brooklyn Half Recap!

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For the last 5 years, a fair number of of my spring, summer and fall weekends have included an NYRR race–the last two weekends were true to form.

Last weekend, we ran the UAE 10K.   This race is always fun and festive. When your race has a rich sponsor, you know you are in store for sway–like tech shirts and medals!

It also happened to not start until 9AM, which is always a win!  It was a gorgeous morning for a race.uae

This 6 miler was supposed to be my taper run for the Brooklyn Half, but my training fell off somewhere along the way and it turned into more of a build run to supplement my two longest training runs, which topped off at 8 miles each.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I felt that I had certainly trained enough to successfully complete a 10K without much effort. Or not.   The gun went off and my legs felt like lead. I’m sure most people know what I’m talking about. Sometimes you start a run and have great fresh legs and sometimes  you feel like you are wearing invisible ankle weights.  I plodded along, around mile 3 things got better for a while.  By mile 5, things were bleak–I was feeling a bit nauseous and the lead feeling had returned.  Somehow I rounded the bottom of Central Park South and the end was in sight–sort of. The 800 meters to go, 400 meters to go, 200 meters to go signs seemed just plain mean.   But finally I finished.

Clearly, I made a rookie mistake–no hill training.  The Great Hill seemed somehow greater and the rolling hills on the west side seemed to never end.

I have to be honest, I left the UAE 10K feeling pretty defeated. I wasn’t sure how I would even finish the Brooklyn Half, as it the distance is more than twice as long.

I like to be over prepared in any given situation.  I cook enough for 20 when 10 people are coming over. I make 14 copies for a meeting with 12 people. I triple check work documents before sending them out. I don’t like to leave room for error.  It causes me a lot of anxiety.  But somehow, come half marathon week, I was struggling to complete a 10K.  While I hate to be unprepared, I also hate giving up.  So after much agonizing (which is always helpful), I decided to try and make it through the BK Half, even if I had to walk most of it.

On Wednesday, I went to pick up my race packet at the Half Pre-party.  It was actually a good way to get in a more positive mindset!

Brooklyn Bridge Park is so cute!

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The pre-party was sponsored by New Balance, and they had lots of great promotions going on. There were also other vendors, lots of food trucks, live music and plenty of general merriment to enjoy, which I did. I may not finish the race, but I am going to pre-party with the best of them. Damnit.

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Before I knew it, it was the night before the race. I went out to dinner with friends and then went to bed early, as we had a 5:00AM alarm set.

Race day morning was a flurry of activity, but we were out the door in 20 minutes to catch the subway. While it seemed to go by pretty quickly, it took about an hour to get to Prospect Park.  We went through security and got in the corrals.  Each corral had a ton of port-potties, which was a nice bonus.  I was pretty nervous in the corral, but three things helped cheer me up:

1.) A bunch of girls that were wearing shirts that said, “If found, please drag to the finish.”

2.) When the announcer said, “Brooklyn, are you ready?” and several people yelled no.

3.) When the announcer said, “Are you ready to run?” And a guy said, well, we are here, so I guess we have to.

It was nice to know that I wasn’t the only nervous one there! After what seemed like forever, off we went.  My legs didn’t feel great, but they didn’t feel bad.  The first part of the race is an out and back around a round-a-bout. I saw Frank coming back on my way out.  I knew the out and back was almost 2.5 miles of the course, so I was happy when it seemed to go by fairly quickly.  I saw fast runners zooming out of the park as I entered, and soon after I put on my headphones and just decided to enjoy the nice lushness of Prospect Park.  There was a big meadow with tons of dogs frolicking during off leash hours.  My goal was to at least make it through the park before I decided whether I would need to walk.  Fortunately, Prospect Park is pretty flat, and I was still feeling good when we left at mile 7.   While my favorite part of the race is the park, it’s nice to be on Ocean Parkway, so you can finally stop running in circles start to get where you are going–Coney Island.

Around mile 9, I was starting to feel fatigue in my legs.  I decided to walk for 20-60 seconds at every mile marker to give my muscles a chance to lose some tension.  While there were some moments where I thought I would never make it to mile 12, overall I felt way better than I did at the UAE.  Everything was going much better than expected even though I was probably running 12 minute miles.

As we rounded Surf Ave, I could smell the popcorn and hotdogs.  Soon we were on the boardwalk running the last 200 meters on the sandy planks.

For being a large race, the exit area moved really quickly and I soon found Frank in the finisher’s area.

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We enjoyed Coney Island for a bit before taking the long train ride back home.  We went to a great Yankees game in the afternoon and by the time we got home, I was totally spent.

While my only goal for the half was to finish, I was shocked that I actually finished around my usual half time, 2:14. It certainly wasn’t a PR, but I  guessed I had ran it in closer to 2:35, so I was pretty happy to find out I finished 20 minutes faster than my estimate. I was worried about the 3 hour cut off time for nothing!

I’ll definitely run Brooklyn again. I love that it’s flat!

I hope all the other BK half runners had a great race!

 

A Super Weekend!

Thanks to everyone who entered the Albion Fit Giveaway!

Drum Roll for the Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

5

Timestamp: 2013-02-05 03:14:52 UTC

And the winner is Meri! Huge Congrats!

I like the racer tops….I feel like the vertical lines would be very slimming for us short-torso-ed peeps!

In other exciting news, I had a really great weekend.  I kicked off the evening by meeting up with Ashley and crew for a drink before spending some quality time watching Say Yes to the Dress, Randy Knows Best.  Love Randy and the occasional low key Friday!

On Saturday, we hit the gym and made one of four runs to the supermarket to stock up for our Super Bowl party.  We also went to Chopt, which is our new obsession.  As pricey as Chopt is, I credit it for getting me back to total salad obsession. My leafy green consumption is way way up!

Salad for lunch was in order because we had a special dinner date with friends at Maialino.  While I may obsessed with salad right now, I am also obsessed with Maialino brunch–oh those ricotta pancakes.

It was our first time having dinner at Maialino and it did not disappoint. We had several bottles of amazing wine, plus delicious plates of pasta. I love that the cacio e pepe really goes all the way and doesn’t hold back anything. However, it was two table shares that really made the meal spectacular.  One was the ravioli de uvo, a ravioli with spinach, ricotta and an entire egg yolk. I was very nervous to try it and almost didn’t, but it turned out to be creamy and delicious.  A couple bites was more than enough.  The other amazing dish was actually a very light, refreshing dessert, olive oil affogato.  This fun take on affogato paired a special olio nuovo with vanilla gelato and satsuma, it was out of this world.

Okay, we’ll take a brief break from food to discuss running.  Bright, early and brisk on Sunday morning, we made our way to Central Park for the Gridiron 4 miler.  I’ve done this race several times, but this year might have been the coldest at under 30 degrees. In hindsight, yesterday was much warmer than today.

It was my first race of 2013, but also one of a half a dozen times I’ve run since June. At least I gave myself plenty of time to heal from my injury, no issues there! No I just need to get back in the routine.

I’d say the worst part was waiting in the corrals. My feet were completely numb before we started running and I was cursing myself for always being so early for everything.  Finally we started running and it wasn’t so bad.  Up cat hill and around all my favorite Central Park sites.  It felt weird to feel my quads, but not my feet.  Around mile 1.5 feeling started coming back to my feet and I realized my socks were soaked. I just kept squishing alone.  I was looking forward mile 2 where you have the chance to “vote” for the team you want to win by running on the appropriate side of the road.

After that I was just trying to focus on my stellar playlist (will post soon) and make it through the rolling hills of mile 3.  I had decided not to ditch the sweatshirt pants that I had over my running tights, so those were also soaked and heavy by this point.  But once there was only 1 downhill mile to go, I was feeling good again.  Crossing the finish line felt great, certainly no records broken, but 1 of 9 races done and done!

The rest of the day we spent cooking and cleaning for the Super Bowl. We wound up with a great spread!

The above was just round 1, I didn’t even get pics of the half time eats!! Between the chicken cutlets, brisket, crab cakes, deviled eggs, meatballs, spicy pizza dip, guac, cruditite, spinach dip, lamb and broccoli rabe orechiette and vegetable ziti, we didn’t go hungry.  I made the pizza dip and the crudite platter, which were both pretty simple to put together!

Wow! This post was a long one!  I guess I better get going, but I’ll leave you with the biggest loser challenge update! I am up to:

150 push ups, 150 squats, 150 sit ups and a 2 minute and 30 second plank!

Queens 10K Recap-Walking Edition

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Last year,  the  Queens Half Marathon was on a hot and sunny morning, not unlike this morning. However, as you may know, the Queens Half is no more.  The Queens Half has been around since 1979, but has now been reduced to a 10K.  This makes me a little sad because the Queens Half was my first half ever and I am also a proud former Queens resident, but I guess I should stop complaining and start recapping.  Honestly with temps in the high 80s early in the day, I was actually glad the race was a 10K today.  Not only because it was hot, but because I was walking it.

My little hip flexor pain hasn’t gone away, and after trying to jog to the subway, I admitted that running  was really not much of an option unless I want to push through in pain and potentially cause more damage. But I wasn’t about to waste a $35 registration and qualifier (more on that in a post later this week).  It’s time to see a doctor, I know Ashley, I know. Anyways, walking a race was a first.  In the past 50 or so races I have run, I think I have walked in two, and only for a minute or two at most. While I believe the Galloway Method is an effective technique, mentally, I don’t like to walk during a race. It’s a little different when you plan to walk the whole thing.

As we waited in the corrals, I was hot. I was nervous I would be trampled. I wondered if this would be my first DNF ever.  As soon as the gun went off, so did I. I hobble ran the first half mile or so to let the crowds thin out before I settled into my speed walk.  The first few miles I settled into the walking community happy to have company. If I wasn’t shy and awkward in large groups, I probably could have made friends.  I tried to run a few times, but quickly thought better of it.  Instead I enjoyed the course.  The first major excitement was a path with reeds on both sides. It was like running through a pond.  I am not being sarcastic, I really enjoyed it.  While the first few miles were long and seemed to go on and on as the sun beat down, once I hit 3.1, I was reenergized.  3.1 miles is a leisurely after dinner stroll. NBD.

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Things also got a bit more scenic, we passed the Queens Museum of Art and got sweeping views Citifield.  However, then there was an out and back that seemed to last forever! Thankfully on the way out, a DJ was blasting a killer Call Me Maybe Mix that picked everyone up a bit as we began a long path to the turn around point. Finally we  rounded the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and hit the straightaway that would take us to the sphere.  2012-07-01_09.27.37

I started running with about 3/4 of a mile to go.  I couldn’t take it any more.   Running around the sphere is amazing, it’s pure glory, however, the finish is still about .3 of a mile away! I was happy to finish and receive this sweet medal.

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I found Frank, who’s on track to complete all five races in the 5-borough series and we took obligatory sphere pictures.

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Then I got a juicy bag of mango for the ride home—so good!

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I do love the course, and I hope to RUN it next year!   I wish I had seen my fellow NYC blogger out there!  Abby, Celia and Stephanie, I hope you had a great race!

Running is All Around Me!

I feel like the late spring/early summer running season is in full swing! Running related info is filling my inbox, my mailbox, my twitter feed. I love it!

In case you missed it, NYRR is offering a free workshop for marathoners next week:

GET MARATHON TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS

Join NYRR and Hospital for Special Surgery for a FREE Learning Series on June 19 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. EDT. Experts from Hospital for Special Surgery will be sharing their best tips on training, injury prevention, and nutrition for beginner runners and anyone considering a future marathon.

If you can’t be there in person, you  can Register for the Webinar. You will receive an e-mail prior to the event with the webinar link and login information.

In addition, this lovely surprise arrived in my mailbox yesterday:

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I love books about running. I enjoy reading about running as much as actually running. I can’t wait to dive in and see what Runner’s World recommends in their latest book, The Big Book of Marathon and Half Marathon Training.  Run Less, Run Faster is one of my favorites, so it’s exciting to have a new runread.

Despite all my running excitement, I am actually dealing with a minor (I hope) injury.

I ran the Bolder Boulder and was fine…

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Or so I thought.  I flew home that night, got off the plane and bam, there was a pretty significant pain at the top of my right quad.  I was still hobbling the next day.  Over the past two weeks, I have had this pain on and off and have had to limp a bit, especially after sitting for long periods.  I stopped running,but felt fine for UFX, Refine and the elliptical. It’s mainly walking that is the issue.

However, I was signed up to run the JP Morgan Challenge last night, and so I did!  It was fun to see all the different companies in their shirts.  The 3.5 mile race in Central Park was pretty painful, but the real pain happened after I finished.  This morning I had a serious limp. I am going to stretch, ice, tiger balm, rest and hope for the best. From basic googling, it could be a hip flexor sprain or a quad tear.

If it doesn’t feel better in a week, to the doc I go.  Fingers crossed for recover before the Queens 10K.

Queens 10K

Bolder Boulder 10K Race Recap

Here it is the moment we had been waiting for since we flew out of NYC on Friday evening. It was time to run more boldly than we ever had before. 

Wake Up Call

We woke up at 6AM, I had everything ready to go, so we were out the door by 6:30AM. However, the weather was much warmer than forecast, so I immediately regretted having a jacket on.

The start was a 1.5 miles from our hotel, and even though our hotel front desk said that it was a 10 minute walk, we budgeted 30.

Walking to the start was a lot like taking the subway to a race in NYC, everyone around you is a runner because no one in their right mind would be up so early.  A mile from the start we spotted a porta potty with a short line, as we approached it everyone was leaving.  Apparently it was so gross that even runners highly accustomed to less than pristine johns refused to enter. Fortunately, I noticed that we were at a swim club.  If I know a swim club—and after 6 years guarding at the Clifton Park Town Pools I think I do—there’s always a restroom nearby.  Around the other side of the building there was a restroom that was miraculously open at 6:50AM.  Running water, toilet paper, all the comforts of home!  Now we could get on with things.

The Start Area

We arrived at the start area, which was swarmed with people excited to start the race.  We even met a Chik-fil-a cow—with a bib!

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The race had waves starting every minute beginning at 7AM.  The  start was probably the most organized I had ever experienced.  Each start wave was based on the expected finish time down to the minute.

For example:

Wave                      Run Time                 Launch                        

A              Sub 38:00 Qualified         7:00:00 AM


AA            38:00 – 41:00 Qualified     7:01:00 AM


AB            41:01 – 43:00 Qualified     7:02:00 AM

Frank was wave DB leaving at 7:13AM with an expected finish of 52:11-53:11.

I was wave EG —  60:16 – 61:10 Qualified leaving at 7:24:30 AM.

By the time we got there, Frank’s wave was long since gone, and mine was 3 minutes from launch.  We hurried to get to the corral, which were manned with security.  By making people stick to their assigned times, the 60,000 person race never felt crowded or hectic, it was amazing!IMG_0393

Our start wave felt very intimate.  As we waited for our launch the announcer called out people in our corral and got us psyched up.

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And then it was time!

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The Race

This could almost be a tail of two races, Frank was having the time of his life, taking pictures, high fiving the crowd, being the life of the party. I was ever-so-slightly less energetic.  I am not sure if it was the altitude or residual soreness from Reach the Beach last week,but my body wasn’t feeling fleet of feet. I was definitely working for it.  For the first mile or so, it was pretty tough.  Fortunately, there were so many great fans, bands, and sights to be seen, I was able to keep my mind off the effort required to keep my legs turning over. IMG_0408

Top Ten Reason Boulder Bolder Rocks

1.) Each Kilometer and Mile are Clearly Marked

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I found it very helpful to countdown the kms and looked forward to every sign.

2.) The Mountains

If you don’t know what I am talking about, see the photo above.  Having the mountains all around you is amazing.  What’s more amazing is the course isn’t crazy hilly.  There are four big hills, with the steepest at the very end, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Peachtree.

3.) Bands

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There were at least 10 bands on the course, which was great since I didn’t have an ipod.  My favorite was a band of 12 year olds signing Forget You by Cee-lo Green!

4.) The Locals

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The local fan support was stellar!  People were just hanging out on their lawns cheering us on!  They never left our side!

5.) Dance Teams

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There were all kinds of dancers, belly dancers, hip hop dancers, it was like watching a performance while we ran!

6.) The Costumes

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The costumes in this race were incredible! Bunches of Grapes, Puppets! I even saw a box of crayons, a gorilla chasing a banana, and so many more all out costumes.  I don’t know how people do it, but I am glad they do!

7.) Marshmallows Mile 2.2!

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Lots of food was given out, but the marshmallow throwing was the best.  Frank actually caught one!

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Although the Cotton Candy Corner wasn’t bad either!

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Popsicles won for most practical snack!

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All business with my popsicle.

8A.) Slip N Slide!

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Seriously! How cool (no pun intended) is that? I love this race.

8B.) Speedometer!

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I was actually feeling pretty good at this point so we picked it up for the speedometer!

9.) The Stadium

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Entering Folsom Field was amazing. It felt like such a monumental ending!

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I did my best to pick it up, but I was shot!

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I finished completely spent.  While it wasn’t my fastest 10K at 103:40, it was one of the most scenic.  We really enjoyed the race, even if it was only effortless for one of us.  I was happy to finish at 17,000 out of about 50,000.  My last two 6 mile races have been tough, but I think I can do better. My goal is to break an hour by November.

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10.) The Finish Area

After we finished we headed through the refuel line, which was fully stocked with snack bags, water, oranges, Silk soy and almond milk, beer and mini bagels!

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Even better than the snacks was the being able to sit in the stadium and watch everyone come in!

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After we left the stadium we went to the celebration area where there were all kinds of vendors giving out everything imaginable!  Chik-fil-a sandwiches, mini burritos, popsicles!  This race has awesome sponsors!

So that was it! Another one for the books. The Bolder Boulder was as big and bold as they said, but it was more home grown than I anticipated. It was the love from the local crowds that really made it amazing. They cheered us on, they offered us all kinds of crazy food, the set up slip and slides, they performed, they were awesome. Usually races through neighborhoods are boring, but this race wouldn’t be nearly as fun if it it was just through the city. 

Do I recommend the Bolder Boulder?  Heck Yeah!

Dining in Denver!

My trip to Colorado was as much about eating as it was about running.  It turned out to be a most delicious weekend.  After tea, we enjoyed a little down time before hitting up some local breweries.  Denver has 18 breweries including Coors! Our first stop was The Great Divide, where “great minds drink alike.”

While I am not much of a beer drinker (at all), I loved the atmosphere of the brewery, everyone was having a grand ol’ time, including the bartenders :).

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I noticed they had a great special, 3 samples for $3 and $1 for each additional sample, plus the proceeds went to charity.  Done and done.

We started with the Raspberry Pale Ale, the 18th Anniversary Ale and  one other beer.

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The raspberry was great, not beery at all!

We couldn’t have all our fun in one place, so it was on to Wynkoop.

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Finally it was time for our late dinner reservation at the Kitchen Lo DoIMG_4643

I had found it using the diner’s choice lists on Opentable, and boy was it a great find.  The Denver location just opened this spring, but it was already hopping!  The decor was slightly industrial, but still warm and reminded me of my beloved ABC Kitchen.  IMG_4645 The menu had a huge range of appetizers and entrees, all which looked amazing.  Eventually we decided to share the king crab legs.

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Lean and clean and the perfect way to sneak in some protein before my pasta dinner.

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Homemade tagliatelle, lemon, fava beans, red pepper, goat cheese and chives.  OMG, I have never had a pasta dish explode with flavor the way this one did.  The citrus and herb exploded in my mouth!  It was very creamy from the goat cheese, so it was light and rich at the same time. In fact, I could only eat half my dish.

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Frank got the Wisdom Farm Chicken Char Grilled – harissa, cumin yogurt, cucumber, couscous & almond salad.  This dish also exploded with flavor when it hit the palate.  The cous cous was quite amazing.

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Frank was in a totally out of character mood for dessert, so we ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding.  The most amazing thing about this dessert was how low a temp the ice cream was frozen at.  While the cake was literally piping hot, the ice cream didn’t melt into a puddle ever!  It was pretty ingenious in my book because typically your ice cream comes on the side or is melting before it arrives, but super cold ice cream kept the dish and presentation fully intact.

The next morning we hit the gym, enjoyed a people watching brunch at Marlowe’s on 16th Street and bid Denver goodbye.  I was sort of sad to leave, but as the gorgeous snowcapped mountains emerged on our ride to Boulder, I knew where I was heading was exactly where I wanted to be.

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Not bad for a photo taken through a car window on a cell phone!

Our Boulder hotel was not quite the Brown Palace…it was in fact, the Rodeway Inn/Broker Inn.  All the hotels within walking distance to the start of the race had sold out by the time we booked, so Rodeway it was.

Check out our room:

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Toiletries provided:

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  While it may not have been a turn down service kind of establishment, the service was friendly, it seemed pretty clean and they offered breakfast at 6AM for runners. Plus, POOL VIEW!

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After we dropped off our stuff we headed to the expo.  It was outdoors and the exact location “Pearl St Mall” wasn’t immediately apparent so it took us a while to find it.

This looked like an expo, but was a random fair going on

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Eventually we found the expo area…

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But it took us quite a while to actually find out where to get our bibs.  There were no signs or people directing anything.  Finally we found it hidden behind a registration tent.  While registration had about 100 people waiting and waiting, the bib pick up tent for those preregistered had no line at all!

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Victory!  We were ready to go! While the expo wasn’t the most organized I had ever been to, the Bolder Boulder itself was wonderfully executed, and I’ll tell you more soon! 

I am off to meet Ashley for a Go Recess Cardio and Cocktail workout! Cheers!

Reach The Beach: Road to Glory

Announcement: My blog is scheduled to transfer to my own domain on Monday! Starting Monday you can find me at www.Fitnessnycblog.com!  I can’t wait to see you there!

So we finished our first legs and all was well.  My first leg was far harder than I had expected and in the words of Gretchen, I wasn’t prepared.  However, as we hit the next transition are at twilight, I was feeling better about my next leg. We were waiting for van 2 to finish their first leg by a gorgeous lake.  Vans were everywhere, we were dancing around to call me maybe, twilight was casting it’s pretty black-blue all around us. Life was great. 

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credit: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.com

Ashley came flying in at light speed and off Gretchen went for leg 13! 

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credit: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.com

I started to focus on my second run of the trip.

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Leg 13 looked intimidating and hilly, but the actually elevation change was only around 100 feet up and down.  The night run was scary, so many things to worry about, being alone, being safe, not getting lost, being disoriented. However as the leg approached, I was just excited to get out there!

I started off and almost missed the first turn, but fortunately, I saw someone ahead and I decided to follow them.  After falling into a few potholes and off a few curbs, I started to really focus on the ground in front of me.  Sometimes it was hard to see, but I just kept adjusting my headlamp so I could make out the foot or two ahead.  Rather than my usual crazy hip hop/moshup music, I had on a mix Gena made me of Animal Collective, the Decemberist, chairlift, mates of state and passion pit.  While it was slow, it was soothing and my mind just focused.  My body was on autopilot and I was along for the ride!  I kept a good 9:30ish pace  and kept looking for the van ahead.  It was always there for me, whenever I needed it! Soon it was all over 5.67 miles done. I was so exhilarated, I think that was my favorite leg of all!

We all rocked our night legs and tried to curl up for a few hours sleep. I failed miserably at the sleeping.  And spent my time stalking van 2 on twitter. I was thrilled when we were up again.  While I was nervous about how my body would hold up, I only had 2.7 miles to run, so I couldn’t complain.

Off went Gretchen, then Jess, and I was up once again. I almost didn’t want it to be over.  I almost wanted to put an extra mile or two on my leg to make it fairer for those with long 3rd legs.  However, I could only run my own leg, 27!

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It looks hilly, but it was actually pretty flat. I took off, my legs were stiff, but not too bad. Kind of like I had a hard strength class a few days before.  RTBMA12-8817

credit: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.com

Honestly, it was over before I knew it,  I actually almost missed the end and didn’t pick it up early enough to sprint it out as my watch was a little off.  That said, I was thrilled to be done.

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credit: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.com

I definitely enjoy being a cheerleader and I was happy to be able to focus on my awesome teammates!

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credit: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.com

Soon we were all done and waving goodbye to van 2!  2012-05-19_11.35.26

We took off for coffee and finally hit THE BEACH.  What we had been waiting for, it was GORGEOUS.

But, we had something more important to attend to…

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AND

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I didn’t really know what I was doing with the bowl, I just got everything. Next time I will skip the teriaki and sour cream…in fact, I will be off sour cream for the forseeable future.  But yay for broccoli and mango salsa…it was delicious.

After enjoy the beer tent band for a bit, I had to see the beach.  I reached the beach, and the went to sleep on it!

After what seemed like forever, van 2 arrived!  We all waited excitedly for Ashley and then ran to the finish with her! Running to the end together was priceless, emotional and just plain awesome. 

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credit: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.com

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credit: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.comRTBMA12-1947

credit: Jack atpixelwiremedia.com / rtbrelay.com

While the beach was truly beautifully, we were all ready to shower and sleep, so after van 2 grabbed food, off we went.

I was almost sad to say goodbye to the vans, almost. However, the Hilton Double Tree Cambridge was everything I could want and more!

Once again Jess and I relaxed in a two room suite! She enjoyed a glass of wine and I treated myself to room service.

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I am so happy to accomplish my RTB goal. I did it under the best possible circumstance.  I had a great sponsor, a great team, great weather.  The stars aligned. It was perfect. Thank you New Balance for being the best sponsor ever.2012-05-19_13.24.10

Make it Excellent!

Reach The Beach: What I Learned

I’ve dreamed of running a Reach the Beach for years, literally years! Even after reading several recaps of Ragnar races, I really didn’t know what to expect.  While it was just as fun as I had hoped, a lot of thing suprised me!  Like how much time you have between runs, and how fast it goes.  Like how much comradery it creates, completely exemplified when you wait for your last runner to cross the finish as a team. While I will recap later, here are a few, okay more than a few things, I learned as an RTB Virgin and will take with me for the next time.

Three Things I Didn’t Expect at RTB

The Speed! I consider myself an average runner and I consider most of my teammates FAST runners, however, we finished pretty far down the list, okay 18th from last! I had no idea that most RTBers are such fast runners and pretty experienced. I thought it was all fun and games, and while it is fun and friendly, I wasn’t mentally prepared to be one of the slowest teams.  It was a little disappointing, but mainly because I wasn’t expecting it.  I still had a BLAST.

The Costumes and Team Themes I didn’t realize most teams would decorate their vans!  Seeing all the different vans was awesome, there was some funny things on those vehicles! Plus people use mini lights and blow ups to add to the festivity.  The best part about the team themes was being able to identify vans at the different transition areas. It was almost like you got to know them.  Costumes weren’t too big in this relay, which was fine with me.  But they are fun too. If I do this again, I’ll know to pick a theme that you can do a lot with! You’ll see lots of van pics in my next few posts.

What a Difference Your Van Order Makes: There is actually two things that I didn’t realize about the vans. The first was that you only really hang with your van.  We saw van 2 a few times, but not for more than a few minutes until the finish. I loved my van and we had a great time. It was great getting to know people I hadn’t met before and our personalities and love of van dancing were totally in sync.  I was really happy I was in van one because we got to start right away, ran at relatively normal hours, no 2 or 3 AM runs and finished first, so we could relax at the beach.  While van two also had a blast, they did have it tougher physically.

Top 5 for RTB Planning:

These are things I didn’t think of, not things that are pretty obviously, like bring running shoes and three race outfits.

1.) When picking your legs, look at the elevation, not just the distance and rating level. RTBs leg descriptions are really just the distance and whether it’s easy, moderate or hard.  These terms are very subjective, and turned out to be a little off in many of our opinions.  It was silly, but I didn’t look at elevation until I saw the course map in the car, the elevation change in the course was what really determined the level of difficulty.  My first leg was definitely the hardest because the elevation changed almost 300 feet, even though it was half downhill, the 2.1 miles uphill killed me! Since all my legs were relatively short, I was fine, but had I had a long last leg, the elevation would have made a big difference. As I mentioned about legs 1-6 are at more normal times.

2.) Read the Race Handbook Early. There is a lot of information that will help you prepare in advance and not be scrambling at the end to find blinking lights, headlamps and places to put your earbuds since you can’t put them in your ear.  I actually used a mini binder clip to pin them to my shoulder strap. Even acronyms were useful to know, for example: TA, transition area (for transition between runners) and VTA (vehicle transition area).  I also learned, and was shocked that,  teams could have as few as 4 people! Ultra teams were 4-6 and regular teams were 8-12! Some people ran over 40 miles!Our handbook was 48 pages, so there are bound to be a few things that you might not think of yourself!

3.) Consider a Driver: Our drivers made our trip!  They were so much fun that I couldn’t have imagined our experience without them. But besides being kickass people, they gave us a little break between legs. Driving a 12 passenger van is actually a pretty formidable task and when you are nervous, a little carsick and exhausted, driving is another element to throw on. I think having a driver made me much more comfortable in our safety and allowed us to better support each other as runners. Some people think that driving yourself is part of the experience, but I was fine missing that part–and not just because my lisence is expired.

4.) Pack Warm Clothes. During our downtime and at night, I really didn’t have too many warm options.  Once my two hoodies were wet or sweaty, I was pretty much out of luck for sleeping for the second two nights. It got colder than I expected and a pair of sweatpants would have been clutch!

5.) Buy Lots of Purrell and Baby Wipes: You’ll want these always on hand.  While none of my portapotties ran out of paper, many ran out of sanitizer.

RTB Things to Know: Van Life, Eating, Keeping Body and Soul Together.

Don’t Fear the Dark: I was really worried about the night running.  I was afraid of being alone, disoriented, and lost, but my night run was actually my favorite. What I didn’t realize was that your van doesn’t leave your side for more than a mile. In fact, most teams hopscotch, so they let you run half a mile, pass you (cheer a bit) drive another half mile and stop to see you.  They continue this pattern for the whole night portion so you know you see them at least every 5 minutes!

While there were a couple points were it was so dark that I couldn’t see for a a minute, the headlight and blinking lights were enough to help me see the signs and keep me on course.  The dark helped me focus and my body turned into a machine on a mission to complete the path to the finish.  Night was actually pretty exhilarating.

Don’t Worry About Getting Lost:

The course has arrows all over it, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.  Occasionally, I wasn’t 100% sure exactly where to go for a second, but it was 95% of the course perfectly clear.  Plus, you never go too long without seeing another van, your van or another runner, so you won’t run for miles without realizing your mistake if you do step off course.

Bring More Water than You Think You Need

This isn’t a normal race with water stations every mile.  We went through 24 water bottles in the first six hours.  If I had longer legs, a fuelbelt or camelbak would have been great. There was NO SHADE on our course and it was HOT!  I definitely got a little dehydrated and should have had a water bottle ready for the end of each leg. Water is at least as important as food, and personally, when I am dehydrated, I tend to eat instead or drink. 

Plan Your Food

There was far more eating than running and while I love eating, sometimes my choices weren’t the best. While we had plenty of snacks and a wide variety of options, running in heat, being in a car for 36 hours and not sleeping takes a toll on the tummy.  Most of us felt a little stomach pain at one point or another.  I think I should have actually planned a few options for between meals in the van, so I wasn’t randomly grabbing what I thought would taste good and was more eating for fuel and tummy comfort. You can see my list of food eaten at the end, clearly I was missing veggies for almost 72 hours.  In the moment, I just wanted carbs, but I think I would have felt even more awesome by the end if I had veggie juice, more fruit, whole wheat options and some nuts for protein. Maybe even some prepared veggie grain dishes! If I had been a little more intentionally, my choices might have been better.

Don’t Fear the Running

I say this as someone who had pretty mild legs, 5.98, 5.67 and 2.7, but everyone managed the running just fine. I was really scared about being exhausted the last leg and too sore to run, which is why I picked a super short final leg.  You are sore the last leg, but it’s managable for sure.  Running three times was actually easier than running them all at once because you have SO MUCH rest in between–4-6 hours. It’s not that much more than your normal running routine.

Keep Your **it Together

I am definitely kind of disaster in my regular life, but keeping my stuff organized in the van was virtually impossible. I was always looking for stuff or trying to access things that were under seats I couldn’t reach.  I tried to keep my stuff in one area of the van, but I moved so much that it was futile.  Next time, I will have an extra bag that I can keep things I need all the time in, like my phone, that doesn’t take up too much room so I don’t have to shove it under the seat. My duffel and backpack were so big that it was a pain to dig through them and pull them in and out from under the seat.  Honestly, I don’t know exactly how I would organize better, but I will figure it out before I do it again. I spent more time looking for things and losing things than I did running.

Life In The Van, You Can Sleep Later

I was worried about the no sleep thing, but I had nothing to worry about. I only slept for 15 minutes from the time our van started to the time our van finished.  Adrenaline is so high that you really don’t even feel that tired. It hits once your legs are all over, but by then, it’s okay. I was in good spirits and high energy the whole time, even with no sleep.When you are in the van, you are cheering everyone on, super excited for them, eating, nervous about your run, running, charing your phone, cheering for your van mates,taking pictures,  meeting the other van to hand off, finding food, cleaning out the van, changing for the next leg, dancing to Call Me Maybe (this is actually a leg in itself) and starting the process over again times three. Life in the van is busy,busier than I expected,  the downtime is actually fairly action packed, so you won’t get bored.  All the stimulation kept me from feeling the tired until the race was over.  Then I could sleep.

There are so many more things I could talk about, but I am sure you’ve had enough! It was like nothing I had ever done. There were so many things I was nervous about, but really enjoyed the entire experience! 

What does one eat when they are up for 40 hours straight and running at all hours of the day and night?  Here’s a look at my food intake over the three day period!

RTB Eats: The Fourth Leg

Day before:

Breakfast:
PB and J sandwich

Lunch:
veggie wrap+ half an oatmeal raisin cookie

Dinner
side salad
3 bites mac and cheese
6 nachoes
1/2 veggie burger and fries

Breakfast
a bite of scrambled eggs
small pancake
oj small glass
roasted potatoes–lots

Before First Leg
1/2 cherry fig 16 rabbits bar
a few pb pretzels
white chocolate chip cranberry cookie
handful bunny chow

Early Dinner
hummus and pita
4 mussels
half a chicken parm sandwich with fries

Day 2

Breakfast and snacks before first run
1 munchkin
2 kasha tlc bars honey almond
peach
brown rice cake with pb

Lunch
boloco veggie bowl with lettuce brown rice broccoli cheese guar sour cream mango salsa, regular salsa and hot sauce with a few food should feel good multigrain chips

Afternoon snacks
peach
1/2 naked orange carrot juice
3 swedish fish

Very late dinner
1/2 a large grilled chicken sandwich with fries

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Spring/Summer Races to Put on Your Calendar

My whole running “career” has been based on races. Races give purpose to my running.  I don’t know how often I would run just for fun (or even for exercise) if I didn’t have a date and distance goal attached to that running.  I am not one to really worry about time, finishing is generally my objective ;). 

Race envy…I was pretty bummed when I didn’t get into the NYC Half, but things work out and I am beyond excited that I am running the More Half Marathon on behalf of Athleta and the Reach the Beach Relay with a fantastic team, Off Balance.

However, these are just a few of the many amazing races this spring and summer.  The right race is always motivation for me to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement, and these are a few of the races that excite me this spring.   I can’t run all of them do to schedule conflicts, but I do recommend them for anyone looking for an interesting and exciting running challenge.

Spring Concern Run 5k  April 14th

This run is in Central Park and it’s cool because it’s a 5K!  I’ve never run a 5K in the park!  It’s also benefits impoverished children in Haiti, helping to bring them education.  Running for a cause is always win win.

Lake George Half Marathon April 29th

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As an upstater, I have always wanted to run the Lake George Half!  Lake George is so beautiful and the course hugs the water, so it has to be fairly flat.

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Every year I tend to be away, and this year is no exception, but someday I will finally run it!

Brooklyn Half  May 19th

I will be at RTB, but the Brooklyn Half is a classic!  I ran it a few years ago, and I think every NYCer should do it at least once.  Of the Five Borough Halfs, I think people tend to rank this one #2, right behind the NYC Half (Manhattan).  The course begins with two laps of Prospect Park before you take off down a highway for many miles before finishing with a sprint down the Coney Island Boardwalk.  It’s pretty flat once you get out of the park, so it’s a good half to race for time.   You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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Boulder Boulder (10K)  May 28th

10Ks are actually one of my favorite distances.  They are long enough for a challenge and long enough to consider a workout, but don’t take ages to train for! This Colorado race is one of the largest 10Ks in the country with around 60,000 runners.  Not unlike the race I ran last year, it’s got the spirit of a marathon in a much shorter distance.

NYRR Women’s Mini 10K  June 9th

This is one of the few women’s only races hosted by the NYRR, so it has a little extra girlyness!  It also takes you out of the park and along the Central Park West for a bit before you enter the park, which is a nice change of scenery.  The feminist inside me is annoyed that this was started as the women’s alternative to a full marathon.  But apparently, back in the day, people were actually concerned that if a woman ran a full marathon, her uterus would fall out.  I’m proud to say, I haven’t lost a uterus yet! Anyways, I hope to join the Women’s Mini party again this year!

Peace Tree Road Race (10K) July 4th

While I know this requires logistics aligning, little things like being in Atlanta for the Fourth of July, it’s such an awesome race! It’s another one that I think everyone should run once! I ran it last year and it was SO.MUCH.FUN.  Great crowds, awesome sponsors along the way, bands, djs, a huge post race festival in the park. The course runs straight through the city, so it’s almost like a running tour of ATL! It wasn’t an easy 10K–lots of hills–but the energy all around gave me a huge boost!  Hurry, registration closes on March 22nd!!!

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That’s all I’ve got for now! 

 What races do you recommend or dream of running this year?