Category Archives: running

Syracuse Half Marathon – 11/11/18

While I don’t expect I’ll ever be blasé about running 13.1 miles, I do feel increasingly comfortable with the distance. I won’t say it’s easy, but it a manageable distance that challenges without much post-race discomfort.

Yesterday, I ran my 10th half, an accomplishment I never could have predicted when I did my first in 2016. This particular race was scheduled perfectly for my life, in that it was in Syracuse, where my brother lives, and on his birthday, which made it the ideal weekend destination.

I went into the race feeling ok about my conditioning, but not necessarily as well trained as I was for last month’s Newport Half. I anticipated some hills, which would slow down my pace, but hadn’t imagined the picturesque snow falling from the sky and completing the pretty, nearly winter conditions. It was cool and appropriate for snowy Syracuse.

The route began and finished at the OnCenter. The miles in between were primarily residential neighborhoods with some business/commercial areas thrown into the mix. The crowds were fun and supportive, especially in the early miles. For me, the last couple of miles were less than spectacular in terms of scenery and performance, but I pushed through and crossed the finish line in 2:14:17 – a new PR to best my Newport PR of 2:17:01.

I had kind of given up on ever completing a half in less than 2:15, so I’m thrilled with my time and super proud that I seem to be getting faster, not older.* The yoga class I took on Saturday, before we headed to Syracuse, definitely helped me physically and mentally. During the times when I felt most tired, I worked to release tension or tightening in all of my muscles which were not being put to use to propel me forward. Gripped fists? Let them go. Facial grimace? Smile. Weight of the world on my shoulders? Shrug it off. Thanks, Samara!

My race calendar is, sadly, pretty blank other than next month’s Last Run, but I’m looking at a few new events for 2019. Any favorite 1/2 marathon courses you might recommend?

*Credit for this wise statement goes to a special friend who joined me for the weekend. He’s smart, right?

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Filed under aging, birthdays, Events, family, road trips, running, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Soccer and traces of snow at the start of 7.1

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Squash, avocado, spinach, black beans, tomatoes, salsa on a flour tortilla.

The weekend has been the quintessential October weekend in New York’s Hudson Valley, by my definition. There were chores and errands, sports, a couple of movies, and a home cooked meal or two that featured intensely seasonal food like squash and pumpkin. It felt restorative.

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Falcon pride – plus that new parking on the Washington Ave side?! Yes!

The sports were a balance between being a spectator and a participant, and both were exciting. Saturday night, Albany High’s Varsity Falcons took on Niskayuna in sectional soccer playoffs and it was a nail biter. The game was a slow starter and went to 14:53 of the second overtime period before being decided 3-2 (Nisky). It was a flawless goal and there was no shame on that field for the home team. Those kids pressured and played their hearts out for nearly two hours and I was proud to witness their efforts. Bonus to run into friends with benefits – umbrellas and a butt blanket for the metal stands, that is.

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New friend!

Today was my turn to exert myself as I continue to “train” for one more half marathon (Syracuse) and work towards my goal of 750 miles for the year. It was Squirrelly 6/Hairy Gorilla weekend, but I wasn’t feeling it this year and opted instead for HMRRC’s 7.1 Town of New Scotland road race. The combination of closer to home/later start/cheaper entry fee, and an appealing distance, prompted me to go low key with this beautiful race run.

I last ran this maybe 2 or 3 years ago and it was just like I remembered – a good mix of rolling hills, lightly trafficked and absolutely pastoral. It seems that the foliage is a bit wan this year, but there were some bright spots where the burning bushes were showing off their new red coats and the air was crisp. My hat and gloves came in use for the first few miles before I stuffed them into pockets and yanked my leggings into capris. When the sun was shining, it was heavenly and when the wind blew, most usually in my face while I was climbing a hill, it was pretty hellacious. 

The race starts and finishes on Swift Road, a route I’m familiar with from cycling. The finish comes after a climb followed by a decent descent, and a piece of trail which goes across fields and through woods. Absolutely lovely. Next year this race will be run for the 40th time and I’m going try to remember to incorporate it into my calendar. It’s an ideal outing right in the middle of two half marathons (or maybe pre-Stockadathon?) and I’m so glad I made the effort to get there.

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Rain down on me

0F1F2461-D37D-477C-947E-F8C72B2599EE.jpegRecently I ran in a drenching rain that soaked me. I pushed myself through the downpour knowing that, unlike many other weather-induced, physical circumstances, once I was soaked, I was soaked. Wet is wet.  As long as I kept moving, I wouldn’t get cold and it would be fine.

It didn’t matter that my clothes, head-to-toe, were completely saturated. The fact that my tank top and skort clung to me didn’t bother me. The loop I was taking that night was 5 miles, my go to distance, and I felt strong, not sexy. I was running alone and for myself, not for anyone who might be witnessing my endorphin-fueled elation. 

As I rounded a corner, I was struck by a memory from another rain sodden day a long time ago. I was maybe 14 years old and had walked the two miles from my house to town in a light and misting rain, loving every minute of it. It was a pretty walk, mostly downhill, with lots of trees and a gorge with a stream flowing through it. It was beautiful and, even as a young teenager, I appreciated it.

After getting into town, I stopped at the Seven-11 to pick something up and the manager approached me. He looked me up and down and with a smile that made me uncomfortable, and told me I “looked good wet.” I remember being puzzled. What the heck did that mean? What would make someone say that?

All these years later and I still think of that day and how I felt. My joy in being outside and the internal warmth I had gained from my efforts disappeared as soon as he spoke to me. I felt cold and exposed in a way that was new and embarrassing. Four words from this grown man’s mouth completely changed my experience that day and continue to echo in my head after nearly 40 years. 

On this particular night, decades later, I just ran faster.

 

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Filed under aging, Exercise, girlhood, musings, running

Newport – a 1/2 marathon and a full weekend

I’ve had exceptional Columbus Day weekends over the years – some great, some not so much. This most recent one, I’m happy to report, was pretty fantastic thanks to some good friends and 13.1 miles.

Following an exceptionally fun Friday night out at an event  in Albany, we were on the road before noon on Saturday for the drive to Newport, RI. The road trip was uneventful under an overcast sky, but as we crossed the bridge into Newport the sun welcomed us. We went directly to our beautiful airbandb, got settled in and then hopped on our bikes for a quick ride to the beach to check out what would be our race start early the next morning.

Our ride was less than two miles, yet filled with beautiful homes and aggressive drivers. While the first was pleasing, the latter certainly wasn’t, but it was a good introduction to our general experience with drivers as both cyclists and pedestrians – disappointing. Drivers in Newport were not cyclist friendly at all. For a city that invites exploration, this was really unfortunate.

Following a great dinner at home of Cardona’s takeout brought from Albany, and an early night, we were back at the beach Sunday morning 30 minutes before our 7:30 a.m. start time. We had been warned about large crowds and closed roads, but had no issue getting dropped off in a convenient location – good job, JT. Portapotty lines were long, but we managed a quick bathroom visit prior to lining up at the start, optimistically with the 2:20 wave. My half marathon times range from 2:22 – 2:28, but I was hoping to break 2:20 for my first time.  Goals are good, right?

The race opened with an incline, my favorite start to get my legs stretched, before winding through Newport with its extravagant homes and beautiful scenery. There was water and Gatorade (along with portapotties) every 2 miles or so and I grabbed a drink at every single stop following a bad experience with dehydration after my last long training run. My body felt pretty good the entire race with no problems from my right IT band or glute, and only a mild twinge in my mid-back and my usual foot pain from about 8 miles until the finish. I can’t say I wanted to run any farther than 13.1 miles, but I was feeling strong and even managed to pick up my speed for the last couple of miles with the hope of meeting my goal time.

I crossed the finish line with a somewhat disappointing time of 2:21:27, but was pleased to be able to finish strong. Following the race, I enjoyed biking around town a bit, an afternoon nap and an evening walk along the Cliff Walk and I credit these activities with my surprisingly pain free post-race body. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt as good after a half-marathon before – and that was before I received an email with my official results. My adjusted finish time was 2:17:01, my new PR!

Next up: Syracuse…

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Filed under beauty, birthdays, Events, Exercise, friends, road trips, running, SEEN, sunday, Uncategorized

Celebrate yourself – like a grand dame

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From one grand dame to another…

It’s Wednesday and I’m almost recovered from a fairly epic weekend. I understand that people sometimes have complicated feelings about birthdays, or maybe more specifically aging, but my philosophy is that each one is to be honored and celebrated. You know that Pink Floyd lyric about “shorter of breath and one day closer to death,” right? Well, the way I see it, each birthday that passes is one less that I get to commemorate and I don’t want to waste a single one.

Here’s a recap for you to maybe take inspiration from –

● A hair appointment after work. A little pampering is the perfect way to fill the gap between school and dinner, I think. Maybe you do something similar?

● Dinner at a favorite spot with a favorite person – or two, as the case may be. When our cozy table for two was crashed by a third, it just made the evening more festive. Perfect doesn’t always appear exactly as what we may have planned.

Lark Fest – at least on the early side when I was there, was a fun time. I love when the street is closed to traffic and wandering around checking out booths and eating yummy food is always a win-win.

● Taking a run to work off the eggplant and red wine from the previous night and to prep for the evening of…

● Dancing at June Farms’ 80s Dance Party. What a blast! This has quickly become one of my favorite places to spend time, especially when I’m lucky enough to be with good friends, which has been the case every single time I’ve been there.

● A Sunday morning 5K expanded to a 7+ mile run with the Luna B*tches. It was a beautiful morning to participate in a great local race.

● Some time spent with the New York Times and my youngest son before heading to…

● Saratoga Springs and the Outlaw Festival with two of my oldest friends. I haven’t seen SPAC full like that in a long time and wish I had a chance to connect with all of the folks I knew were there, but it just wasn’t possible.

● My favorite pastry and coffee combo on Monday morning before the drive south.

● An afternoon massage to work out that knot in my right piriformus/IT band.

● Dinner on New Scotland Avenue with my son to take advantage of their Restaurant Week.

● A hot bath & bed.

Was it indulgent? Yes. Did I feel special? Absolutely. Is this something that is possible every single year? No way, but in a month that also includes 2 funerals and a wake, I won’t apologize for how I spent my weekend. Life is short, friends. There’s only so much time to work on becoming a legend to your future grandchildren. You’d better get busy!

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Albany XXX

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Amsterdam

What’s up with that title, right? Is it porn? Extra large? Nope…Roman numerals – thirty, as in thirty years since I first moved to Albany.

In August of 1988 I was 21. I moved here knowing not a single person, other than Mary Panza who I was lucky enough to meet when her roommate tried to seduce me find me an apartment in his role as a real estate agent. The summer of ‘88 was hot, so damn hot. There was a heat wave that was unrelenting. I traveled to England and the Netherlands in July that year and I loved every day of dreary, damp weather we experienced abroad.

That first trip to Europe changed my life. It opened so many doors and windows and made me a traveler in a way I had never imagined. I had met a guy on the ferry on my way back to London and was acutely aware that he was great, but that the timing was not. We did, however, make some lovely memories and everyone should know the excitement of a long distance romance. When a man flys into jfk, hops into a rental car and drives to Albany to spend 2 days with you…well, you feel kind of special. I hope you know that feeling.

Albany charmed me from my very first visit when I found my way to Lark St.and enjoyed a fancy brunch at The Beverwyck. Once I got a handle on the size of the city (it’s always felt small to me, initially a disappointment but ultimately an asset), and began connecting faces and names, history and legend, I settled in with interest and made a life here.

Albany has witnessed my greatest joys. I got married here, right in Washington Park on a picture perfect Sunday afternoon. I own a house and pay taxes in the city and appreciate the privilege of both of those being possible because of the education (and degrees) I received from SUNYA. My children were born here and are students in the city school district and, while the education they receive may not be as immediately impressive as the high test scores and college acceptance rates of the suburbs, I do know my sons have learned a lot about getting along with people who don’t necessarily look or think like they do. Lessons in life count too.

I started running, an activity I never could have imagined I’d love, while a student at UAlbany and have run thousands of miles around this city.  I’ve learned to write and take photos and have been lucky to share some of my passions with an interested audience.  The opportunities here have been limited only by my own level of competence.  It’s been so cool, really.

Albany, though, has also been the setting for some of my saddest days. There are places around this town that are absolutely haunted for me – spots that I do my best to avoid because of the personal ghosts. The news, both domestic and international, that I’ve witnessed while living in Albany, has left an imprint as well. Princess Diana dying, the towers falling, the children murdered in whatever most recent school shooting…I can tell you exactly where I was for each of those breaking stories. I’ve shed a lot of tears in this town. Believe it.

After 30 years, I love Albany more than ever. The happiness I’ve known in this city that receives credit for how easy it is to get to places “to which you really want to go,” has far outweighed the heartaches I’ve experienced. I’m not sure what the future holds, (once I hit my 30 years teaching, who knows?), but these three decades have been the most productive, challenging and exciting times of my life and I wouldn’t have wanted to live them anywhere else.

Thanks, Albany xx

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Sultry

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We’re going with definition 2. Let’s be positive.

You know how tropical places are reputed to have a very ambling sort of pace? People wear clothing that flaps in an island breeze or exposes skin to the sun and there is a glisten to everything your eye finds. It just feels sensual, but in an organic kind of way. Not posey. More passionate.

I like walks when it’s hot – they’re slower and from the hips, not the shoulders as it is in colder temperatures. While I appreciate the sexiness of staccato heels and a fast gait, flats and a sway of the hips are at least equaling appealing, I think. And it feels so much better.

When it’s been 80+ degrees for 42 consecutive days, you’ve just got to learn how to live with it. Maybe it’s air conditioning or a camp on a lake, but there’s probably some method you’ve devised to get through it. For me, it’s become about acceptance and appreciation. Which makes sense since those are really crucial parts of my overall thought process when it comes to emotional things. Having it be consistent with my physical comfort and well-being seems almost crazy sane.

I’ve run when I could, and walked or cycled a bit more than typical, and it’s been great. Some days I shower three times. I’ve heard some describe the weather as “oppressively hot”weather but I’ve decided that my takeaway is that it’s summer. We’re having summer weather and, while it can be destructive and unpredictable, it really is characteristic for July and August. And – next month this hot spell will be a blip in your rear view mirror and you’ll be wearing jeans again. 

It’s obvious the Europeans are more advanced than we are – many of them take  a substantial amount of time off in August. I wish everyone had that same opportunity. It would probably make for a more civilized world, frizzy hair and all.

How are you coping?

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, Exercise, Local, musings, Observations, Random, running, Summer, upstate New York