Category Archives: running

When you want to run forever

Sometimes the hardest part of a run is getting your sneakers on. You know, just finding the time and the motivation to get out and get it done. Often, that first mile just feels endless as tight muscles loosen and lungs gasp to find their rhythm. I’ve learned to endure these sensations, knowing that it’s going to get better, easier, less painful. And it does if I push through and keep going.

There’s a lesson in that which goes far beyond feet and pavement.

Many runs are less traumatic to the body. They’re just an opportunity to exercise your limbs and your muscles and they provide a certain sense of satisfaction and accomplishment upon completion. I have a lot of those runs recorded in my Runmeter app. I consider them standard.

Once in a while, though, you hit a run when everything is perfect. You’re with one of the few people in the world that you enjoy running with.  The weather is ideal, with a light breeze, warm sun and shade just when you need it. The air smells incredible wafting around your head with the earthy smell of the Hudson softened by the fragrance of the last of the lilacs. The path feels flat and smooth under your feet and all you can do is smile as your legs and lungs unite to set a pace as one you feel you could maintain for countless miles.

I had that kind of run yesterday – all the way to Troy

I’m still smiling.

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Filed under Exercise, favorites, friends, musings, running, Spring, Troy, Uncategorized

Seven Sisters, 2017

When Chrissy and I registered and participated in this race last year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It wasn’t until after I committed to the event that I read online that this particular course is considered to be the most technical trail race in New England. It was probably best that I didn’t know that ahead of time because without a doubt, Seven Sisters is the hardest race I’ve ever run. My body literally hurt for days, including in previously unimaginable places like my forearms. (That was from holding my arms up at an angle to protect myself in case of a fall.) The course for those unfamiliar is absolutely insane. There are rocks to climb, trails covered in hunks of shale to maneuver and, thanks to all the recent rain, an impressive amount of mud to slide through. The morning started with rain, but by race time all that remained was a balmy humidity and quiet enthusiasm.

Pre-race

Unlike last year, I knew what to expect this time around. As I slipped and slid through a quagmire, I did so with a smile on my face. It struck me that this race was like childbirth – afterwards you forget how frigging hard it was and sign up to do it again. If you ever would have told me that I would willingly run 12 miles of muddy trails up and down mountains, much less pay for the opportunity to do it, I would have told you that you were crazy. Seeing that I’ve done this event twice now, I guess we now know who is crazier.

One of the more tame trails.

When you run trails as challenging as these, attention to the task at hand has to be focused. Seriously, you can not look around and check out the scenery because your concentration has to be on your feet. There are uncountable ways to break an ankle or take a finish preventing spill and I was lucky to escape with only a bruise on the top of my foot, an injury that occurred early in the race and was forgotten by the second mile. I managed to stay on my feet the entire race and believe, from the comments I received from my fellow runners, that had there been an award for grace and poise I would have been a contender. I certainly wasn’t in the running for any speed awards, but my goal time in this kind of race is “uninjured,” with a casual goal of beating our time from last year, which we did by 7 minutes.

On the top. Sort of.

Two days later, stairs are painful and I’m very much looking forward to my late afternoon massage. The intensity of the hills is beginning to fade, the mud has been washed from my clothing and I’ve joked that perhaps we need to do the race again next year with a go-pro to document how rugged the course is and what bad asses we are. Maybe we’ll even PR again.

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Filed under Events, Exercise, road trips, running, Spring

Sweat, sauna, suds

I know there’s some kind of Jersey saying about gym, tan and something else, but I’m a New York girl, not a New Jersey one, so my trio of activities is a bit different.

First, I took a run. In all honesty, I wasn’t too excited about getting outside again not knowing what the weather was going to bring after a morning that included heavy, wet snow. I motivated myself with the knowledge that this very day might be the only day in my entire life that I would have this opportunity. I was rewarded for my commitment to living when the sky got blue and it became warmer than it had been in days. I hit it just right.

My plan was to follow the wall around the oldest part of the city. I went in a clockwise direction, which eased me into things by beginning in a downhill direction. Keeping the wall to my right, I circled the oldest parts of this beautiful city, pausing to pet a puppy or take a photo when I found it necessary. The route took me past the hauptbahnhof, through grassy paths and across water. It was a run that will stay with me even though my running app neglected to record it.

After the run, I gave Quinn the secret code word to gain access to the hotel room, grabbed my swimsuit and went to the sauna. God, I love a sauna! That dry heat just does it for me and even though I was decidedly overdressed, I thoroughly enjoyed stretching out and taking a little time to relax. Someday I may get beyond my American puritanical sensibilities and go bare, but I’m just not there.

My final stop was the hotel bar for a beer to bring to our room. The Franziskaner Weissbier provided the perfect buzz and I’m feeling remarkably mellow. Vacation and its magical combination of getting away, yet being in the moment, is really working for me. Life is good and I know how lucky I am to have this life. Next up, yet another S – soccer. Go Bayern Munchen!

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Filed under beauty, Europe, Exercise, favorites, Germany, Observations, running, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

Easter – a new covenant

IMG_1312When I was a child, Easter meant a new dress and shoes, chocolate for breakfast and ham for dinner and maybe an egg hunt. Those were good days, but there was never a better Easter than the one I had this year.

The day started with mass in the magnificent cathedral in Neustadt. This was the second time I’ve been fortunate enough to attend services in the Munster which dominates the skyline of this town of 10,000. Now that I think about it, the last time I went to church may have been here on Easter Sunday, 2013.

I’m not really all that religious, but I do love a good ceremony and that’s exactly what I got yesterday. From the rich tones of the ringing bells calling all to worship, to the full choir and orchestra, it was a service that fed my soul. I think I was even more taken by the familiar rituals because they reflected tradition while incorporating contemporary aesthetic – there were more girls than boys serving mass, including one with hair in a vivid shade of blue, and the priest sported an earring. There was a pragmatism present that somehow in no way diminished the miracle being celebrated and I walked out feeling as if I had just attended an opera. Wonderful.

IMG_1319I’ve been known to claim that I practice religion when I’m outdoors and I followed my organized religious observance with a run that took me on grass covered trails and paths in a mist that made me appreciate that I had subbed contact lenses in for my usual glasses. I reached the highest part of town where a tall metal crucifix honors those lost in WWI and couldn’t resist pausing to take photos and catch my breath. The run down felt like flying and had we not had dinner plans, I could have happily gone farther, maybe even to TitiseeIMG_1438Dinner was an amazing treat – better than any amount of jellybeans ever. My family took over 4 tables in a local Italian place and it was simply the best time. Quinn and I bounced from table to table catching up, sharing history and just laughing with the simple joy of being together. We had three generations – 2 sisters and 3 brothers, 6 cousins and 5 second cousins, all together on the evening of a holiday that signifies rebirth. Spirit refreshed, body exercised and heart filled beats a bunny in a basket anytime.

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Filed under aging, Europe, Events, family, favorites, Germany, holidays, musings, Observations, relationships, running, Spring, travel, vacation

Celebrate Life – even in 5 degrees!

IMG_1140Yesterday was a day I was not looking forward to – the forecast for frigid weather, the loss of an hour, the long bus ride… I had a few moments when I even considered bailing on the half marathon I had committed to running, but I dug deep and found the motivation to get my a** out of bed and over to East Greenbush to meet the bus that had been organized to take a couple of dozen runners to Rock Hill, N. Y. for the Celebrate Life Half Marathon. I’m glad I did.

I don’t know when I started to get blasé about running 13.1 miles, but somehow it happened. When my Lunar B*tch Karen asked if I was interested in running this particular race, I don’t think I even looked at the course or hesitated. Bundle in the fact that the race is a fundraiser to support those struggling with cancer and I was all in.

The weather forecast for the race changed at least three times in the week prior to the run – from rain to cloudy and finally, to plain old cold. Like, really cold. Single digits cold. The morning of the run I dressed in a single layer on the bottom and 3 layers on the top, and boarding the bus with an assortment of additional UnderArmor items in a bag. Can I tell you how different activities are when you have the right clothes? There’s a reason I troll Marshall’s for running gear, people!

The bus ride was great – a pleasant ride through beautiful scenery and well worth the $25. As we drove along in our warm bus it was easy to forget how truly cold it was outside those windows. Once we were parked, though, the bitter temperatures slapped me in the face and reminded me what I’d be facing for the next couple of hours. I picked up my race packet and started layering up eventually going with 2 bottom layers, 4 layers on top finished with a vest, 2 pairs of gloves and a fleece hat that velcroed under my chin that I am so glad I tossed in at the last minute. I was as ready as I was ever going to be!

We started at 10:00 a.m. I didn’t know it at the time, but the temperature was 5 degrees. The wind chill brought it down to -4. My ignorance was bliss. The first mile was brutal – the wind was blowing and my nose was running like mad. My face hurt and I was almost overwhelmed by the thought of another 2+ hours in those conditions, but that first hill warmed me up a bit and my playlist was great. I settled into a comfortable pace and started to enjoy the challenge.

The course was beautiful, circling around a couple of small lakes and reminiscent of my hometown. There were some hills for sure and the lakeside pieces were definitely cold, but the sun was shining and I eventually warmed up enough to unfasten my hat’s chinstrap and remove both layers of gloves for a short time. The body is an amazing thing.

Towards the end of my run, as the hills continued unrelentingly, I started to think of people I care for who have struggled with cancer and I ran for them. When my phone died at 12.89 miles, I kept running without music, but with heart, eventually  finishing in 2:25 with a deep sense of satisfaction and sore feet. Like life, it felt like something to celebrate.

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Filed under cancer, Exercise, friends, road trips, running, sunday, upstate New York, winter

Lola Shine(s) at the Hangar

img_1099I’m not exactly certain how it happened, but February flew right by me. I’m cutting myself some slack since it’s a short month filled with 2 Fabulous Lilly Boy birthdays, a major restaurant holiday and a week of vacation, but still…I wish there were a couple of more days to do even more things.

My last day of vacation, Sunday, was a testament to how crazy I can be. The morning opened with a 10 mile run, which actually went pretty well. There was some downtime midday, defining downtime as loads of laundry and other house chores, and then the Lark + Lily holiday party, which kicked off at 5:00.

Following a fantastic dinner (more about that in another post), I hauled over to the Hangar in Troy for a show that I had impulsively bought tickets for a couple of weeks ago – Lolo. I had heard a couple of the band’s songs on 97.7 WEXT and am a real fan of their sound. I’d never been to this venue before and I really think Lolo might go big, which means the chance of seeing them in an intimate setting may not come around again. So, despite the fact that it already felt like a long day, we went.

Bathroom graffiti

Bathroom graffiti

The venue was really cool – kind of stripped down as you might imagine, but with a good vibe and solid beverage selection. We arrived just as the band went on and I couldn’t be happier that we made the effort to get there. The band was terrific and Lolo’s voice is a powerhouse sometimes reminding me of Joss Stone and at other moments, Adele.

The song that had prompted me to buy tickets, Not Going to Let You Walk Away, was their encore and it sounded great. Her voice is strong and bluesy and I just love it. Since the show I’ve been listening to her album, In Memory of When I Gave a Sh*t, and have become smitten with Shine, the track from which I copied the lyrics below. I think I have a new anthem.

Why you waiting on the world for a favor?
This is your life go ahead and change it
You’re the brightest star in the sky
But no one’s gonna know if you never shine
Why you waiting on someone else?
To give you the things that you want yourself, oh
You’re the brightest star in the sky
So go ahead and shine, yeah, go ahead and shine

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Filed under birthdays, Boys, concerts, Eating, Events, Local, Music, running, Troy

NYC observations

It’s a weird February when the snow drops are in bloom and the daffodils are already 5″ high in Central Park.

Speaking of things that are a weird height, the cool guys were all wearing pants that we would have called “floods (short for floodwaters)” back in the day. Lots of exposed ankles.

In general, it seemed like people just didn’t know how to dress for the weather. I saw folks bundled up like they were visiting Antarctica and others wearing flip flops. Our technique – light layers with gloves, as necessary.

img_1049Thanks to Quinn we scored the best slices of pizza I’ve ever had in NYC in a dive-y spot across the street from the Garden. Crisp, hot, great toppings and excellent cheese. We went every day.

Although I only went once, Macy’s provided me with the ultimate score when I found a gorgeous pair of suede over the knee boots. The original price was far more than I’ve ever spent on footwear before (or any other garment, for that matter), but when Macy’s has a sale they do not mess around. My beautiful new Coach boots set me back $51, approximately 90% less than where they had started. img_1068

The Meatpacking District has changed more than any other neighborhood that I can think of in the last 20 years.  There’s so much good shopping and eating and hanging out to be had there!

I’m really interested to watch the Hudson Rail Yard area develop. Lots of construction going on there these days and I’m hopeful that there will be some new cool places to stay for overnight visits.

Running in NYC is always an adventure. No matter what neighborhood I’m staying in, I can always find my way to either water or Central Park, a fact that reminds me that Manhattan just isn’t really that big.

Since Manhattan is starting to feel small to me, maybe it’s time to start exploring Brooklyn and Queens? Suggestions for exploring those boroughs?

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Filed under Boys, family, Fashion, favorites, NYC, Observations, pizza, running, Uncategorized, winter