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.
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.
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.
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!
Sleeping like a baby, post-ski.
After a couple of lackluster seasons of cross country skiing, March has been redemptive and the timing couldn’t have been better. For me, that is. On Sunday, March 10, I ran a half marathon under challenging conditions. The next day I recovered with a 90 minute massage and the day after that we received 20″ of snow. I haven’t run since, choosing instead to step into my skis and explore Capital Hills with Jeter. It’s been phenomenal.
Skiing the golf course is one of my favorite ways to spend a couple of hours and I’m pretty confident that I know that land better than a lot of people. Over the years I’ve explored much of the course and have some favorite trails. I’ve also learned which parts of the course get the most sun at different times of the day and know to expect icy conditions under the evergreens. I think of Capital Hills as my winter backyard and I just love it.
The skiing last week was epic. While the depth of the snow immediately following the storm prevented Jeter and I from going too far, as the week went on, we began to extend our treks. Thanks to the clock change, daylight extended into the evening and Jeter and I enjoyed the outdoors until nearly 7 p.m. The wooded trails have been particularly scenic and I found it completely possible to forget that I was in a city as I glided through the untouched forest solo. Magical.
Jeter loves the snow, but it was so very deep that I was concerned about him overexerting himself on our first couple of outings. As the snow became more packed over the week, we began stretching our loops out covering more ground. There was a new trail that beckoned, a number of comical falls and more than a few moments of absolute exhilaration. The almost spring sun made the snow sparkle and glitter, dazzling me into near blindness.
There wasn’t a single second that I wished I was anywhere else. While I welcome spring, I’m going to miss winter.
Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, Exercise, favorites, Local, Normanskill, skiing, snow, Spring, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing
- Troy has some really nice homes (while running a 5K).
- Apparently when he isn’t playing golf, Donald Trump plays”pussy grabbing.” It’s a sport that only gets discussed in locker rooms, but is played where ever famous men find vulnerable women. Sounds fun, right?
- It is possible to check out events in three different counties in a single day without completely exhausting one’s self.
- The more often I drive to Kinderhook the shorter the ride feels.
- Fall foliage season seemed to take a long time to start this year, but is moving very quickly.
- Samascott Orchard is very welcoming upon arrival but feels kind of militant when you depart.
- I haven’t met a Nine-Pin cider that I don’t like.
- Coming across an abandoned hair weave on the sidewalk when I’m running always makes me uncomfortable.
- The Half Moon Market is a terrific gathering of artisans in a beautiful space that should be used more frequently.
- My goal of running a 1,000 miles this year is within my sights.
Filed under Albany, drinking, Events, Exercise, friends, holidays, Local, News, Random, road trips, running, sunday, Troy, upstate New York
Sunday morning, despite an early and drizzly start, I headed up to Saratoga with one of the other Lunar Bit*hes and ran the second of three half marathons I had registered for as a personal challenge in honor of my upcoming milestone birthday. The
appeal reputation of the Palio was that it was a flat course. At least until they changed the route around this year, that is. Even with the somewhat hillier new course, it couldn’t rival the Seven Sisters or the Chingachgook Challenge for hills, which did make this a relatively flat course that left me feeling accomplished after 13.1 miles rather than nearly dead. Winning!
I can’t complain too much about running this one solo after my friend confessed (on our way north) she just wasn’t feeling the half and had decided to enjoy the 5K rather than hate the half. I think that’s a great decision and imagine myself coming to the same conclusion at some point. We run for ourselves, not for some false glory bs! I run most often on my own and, particularly during a longer race, I think I do best when I can pace myself without feeling pressured to maintain a speed or conversation. I really tuned in to my run this morning and was very content checking out the scenery as I wound my way around Saratoga Springs and the always beautiful state park.
The race was well organized and the volunteers were enthusiastic and plentiful. My sole complaint was the number of bathrooms available at the start – there just weren’t enough. Aside from that, it was an awesomely executed race with plenty of water/Gatorade stations and adequate restrooms along the route. My play list was on point from the very first song (Joe Cocker’s Feelin Alright) and I felt strong and in control the entire distance.
The miles ticked off and I began to increase my pace, committing to not allowing anyone to pass me, and working hard to move ahead of those in front of me. In the last 3 miles I passed 49 runners and my final 2 miles were my fastest of the entire race. The finish line, once it finally came into view after 2 turns, was a welcome sight and I’m satisfied with my 2:22:34 time. It was a really good run. Up next: the Hairy Gorilla!
One of the most exciting parts of owning a restaurant, for me, is conceiving and hosting events. The Ladies First party last fall and our New Year’s Day Open House, were two of my favorite afternoons spent at Lark + Lily in the near year (!) since we opened. Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to add a third such afternoon event to my chain of satisfying and happy hospitality experiences, yoga brunch.
Originally planned for August, but rescheduled for after Labor Day, our introductory yoga brunch had a reasonable attendance on a morning that threatened rain. I definitely went big in terms of food, but I’m pretty certain the menu was well received and enjoyed. It was challenging to know how much to prepare since Albany is such a last-minute town and people don’t necessarily honor commitments made without prepayment. I get that, but next time a deposit might be necessary to better help me have the appropriate amount of food available. Believe me, there was no hardship in taking a dozen bagels home for the Lilly boys and it seemed more than acceptable to stop at the St. James Firehouse on September 11th to drop off an extra dozen donuts.
Because I didn’t want to interfere with the kitchen’s well deserved weekend, I made myself responsible for the prep and kept things fairly simple by creating a spread of bagels, veggie cream cheese (thanks, John!), Cider Belly donuts, hard-boiled eggs, lots of fresh fruit, homemade granola and R&G’s fantastic yogurt and ricotta cheese. I think I’ll keep the format similar, maybe mixing up the carbs a little and keeping the fruit as seasonal as possible. It’s a fun little project for me that I really enjoy.
I didn’t get to take the class, unfortunately, but everyone came back from the park a bit flushed and more than a little livelier than they were before class. There are some great photos taken by Trudy that really capture the bliss of being outdoors on a late summer morning. Be sure to check them out and mark your calendars for our next class led by the wonderful Jammella – October 23rd. Keep an eye on the Lark + Lily Facebook page for more details.
Filed under Albany, Brunch, Eating, Events, Exercise, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Summer, sunday, Uncategorized