Sunday, June 3, 2012

Running New York

I have been in the Empire State for the last two weeks on a research trip. While I love my research, library study is lonely, solo work largely done inside under soul-sucking fluorescent lights, so the best parts of my trip thus far have been sharing amazing long runs and food with old friends. Today, I had a fantastic run in New York City! Jean and Nick took me on a fantastic 13.5 loop of Brooklyn (formerly Breukelen) and the lower end of Manhattan. I was so happy to run down the promenade with the skyline of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty and Governor's Island (formerly Nutten Island, where the first boatload of Walloons set up in 1624, until Peter Minuit began building a fort across the way in 1626), all under a perfectly clear blue sky! We crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and then ran through Battery Park and through the tiny area that was Nieuw Amsterdam--past the Customs House, which is where Fort Amsterdam was, and the plaque for the old Dutch church built in 1633 at Pearl and Broad Streets.

Then we wound our way back up past the Old Slip, through the Bowery (Stuyvesant's old farm) and across  the Manhattan Bridge and through Fort Greene. I had the best tour guides!

Of course, part of the fun of long runs is the food and drink post-run! And Jean and Nick did not disappoint. We had fantastic breakfast tacos at Guero's Taco Bar (Nick knows everybody in his Franklin Ave-Brooklyn 'hood, and you can follow his blog about it here). Post-run calories were also a highlight when I ran a longish solo11.5 miler in Albany last week. After the run, I enjoyed catching up with a college friend (has it really been 10 years??) and sampling tasty beer (mmmm Wee Heavy...) and local Albany craft brews at Ye Olde English Pub and Evans Ale Pumphouse.


Next week, I'll try to run long in Grand Rapids, Michigan, while there for a conference. Hopefully the "Great Lakes" state can compete with great Empire... (I love that the Dutch in part began their empire in what became the Empire State in our new empire 400 years later...)

Claes Jansz Visscher, View of Nieuw Amsterdam, c. 1651. Handcolored intaglio.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Welcome to 2012! PRs and Pride

Welcome to Heartland's Harrier 2012!!

After an ass-kickin' 2011 Twin Cities Marathon, the denouement of late fall slid into the warmest winter on record here in the upper midwest. I  took a long vacation from blogging. As an academic, my writing energy was funneled elsewhere. I'm opening up the racing season of 2012 with a list of personal records and a bit o' philosophy concerning pride.

First, the PRs:
5K: 21:43 7/4/2008 Firecracker race, Williamsburg, IA tied with 2009 Park2Park 5K, Cedar Falls, IA
10K: 47:40 Run For The Schools, 10/15/2006 Iowa City, IA
7 mile: 54:20 Run The Flood, 6/11/2011, Cedar Rapids, IA
10 Mile: 1:19:57 MDRA 10 Mile, 5/29/2011, St. Paul, MN
1/2 Marathon: 1:43:33 Sturgis Falls 6/26/2011, Cedar Falls IA
Marathon:  3:49 Twin Cities, 10/2011, Mpls-St. Paul, MN

Most of these PRs happened for me last year. The training journey continues, and as I grow ever-more comfortable with my body in my 30s, I am racing and running better than ever.

I started keeping a running training log in 2003, when I began graduate school. It was instructive to go back and read how little I ran compared to now--and note the comments I wrote about how stressed out I was! Back then, I also experienced a lot more pain running. In more than a few entries, I comment on knee pain, hip pain, and heel pain throughout the 2003 season and into 2008.

In the past two and half years--since I began training for the 2010 Twin Cities-- I have learned much about my body, strength training, and fueling. It's a wonderful thing to start a training season feeling that 15 miles is kind of hard,  but by the end, feeling that a 24 mile run is the new 15, because 15 is "easy."

I credit a lot of this success to various teachers. I've been running since 1992, but only since 2010 did I really learn how to do specific strength for running, based on the weakness of my body. Butt! Hamstrings! Back! Who knew? I certainly didn't. A friend and Doctor of Physical Therapy (shout out Pura Vida PT!) clued me in to my weaknesses. A few personal training sessions, and supplemental kettlebell and pilates classes at NRG Pilates have made a noticeable--and quantifiable--difference in my running times, and better, how I feel during runs and in races. Even Runner's World is jumping on the kettlebell and pilates bandwagons! RW KettlebellRW Pilates

This past weekend I raced my first 5K of the season (Go The Distance for Crime Victims), with my hubby, who has taken up running in a whole new and serious way! (I am so happy and proud of him!) He ran 21:41--a PR for him--and I ran a respectable 22:20. Saturday he'll race an 8K, and I will race the 1/2 Marathon in Des Moines as part of the Drake Relays events.

Now for the philosophy (briefly). Pride is one of the seven deadlies, and the sin I probably commit most frequently. But as I tell my students, "Own your shit." It's important to be proud of who you are--not to the point of narcissicism--but rather, so that you can hold your ground when necessary, and so that you have the desire, the motivation to push yourself. My numbers, compared to many, are painfully slow. Others may think they're crazy fast. But for me, they're the best they've been--and that's all I'm gauging. That's why I love running and other individual sports--it's about you, the work you've put in, and the comfort of the clock.