Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Runner Problems: Sweat Money

I watched the cashier's eyes as I handed him my soggy $10 bill. To my surprise, they remained averted as he slipped the bill, damp with the by-product of my just completed run, into the till. I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking the danger had passed.
"Is it raining outside?"
Well, crap.
 "No," I said hesitantly, expecting at least one of a number of potential follow up questions.
"Oh. Because your money is wet," he continued.
"Uh huh..."
"Was that…was that sweat?" 
There it was. The jig was up and there was no avoiding it now. If only the Jamba Juice credit card machine hadn't been broken I could have avoided this embarrassment and he could have avoided contact with my grimy currency. Or if only Amortya (who, thankfully, did not witness this debacle) and I didn't love post-run Jamba Juice so much. Or if it wasn't so hot outside. Alas!
"Yes." My reply was tinged with shame and I received ample side-eye.
"That's gross."
"Ok, thank you. Can I have an extra cup?" He disapprovingly granted my request and I slunk away to find a table.
I guess he got over it, though. We saw him again after today's workout and I saw no hint of recognition on his face. Also, the credit card machine was working this time. Runner problems.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Like a Girl

I'm trying this new thing where I blog about non-running and triathlon related things on a separate website (kathrynescoto.com). I'm working out the kinks still and trying to figure out if I wouldn't be better off consolidating the two. For now, though, there's a topic that bridges my blog worlds.

On June 12, I wrote about being told I throw "like a girl" which, throughout my life, is one of the last things I ever wanted to hear because it always had such a derogatory connotation. When I wrote it, I focused on the message that was being conveyed and not the rhetoric used to convey it. Interestingly, a very timely and recent discussion about this phrase was opened up when Always released a commercial exploring it:

In my blog post, I stated that I didn't want to discuss the implications regarding gender and social impact of the phrase. In doing that, though, I guess I was buying into its use and giving it more meaning than it should probably have. So, let's talk about it.

It's a straightforward discussion, really, and I've already broken into the crux of it. Saying someone does something "like a girl" is tantamount to saying that person does it poorly and that is unacceptable. For the future, I will be more conscious of my own use of the phrase (believe me, I've used it) and how it's used by people around me.

No daughter of mine should grow up believing being a girl makes her inherently less able to achieve anything, especially as the result of careless words. It's my (our, really) responsibility to create an environment that reflects that conviction.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Runner's World Cover Contest

For those of you who have ever had aspirations of being a magazine cover model, this might be your chance! I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed today when I stumbled upon this post from Runner's World:

In case you can't see it, RW is doing a cover model casting call. Here's the link, in case you're inclined to apply. Who knows, maybe I'll apply. I don't think I've seen this before in an issue of RW, but it could also very well be that I wasn't paying attention. That happens a lot.

Runner's World has done "Runner's Body" issues in the past, in which they similarly put out a call for applicants to submit. The feel of that issue, I think, is similar to the ESPN Body Issue (which, as a matter of fact, recently came out). But while that issue tends to focus more on the physical look of the runner, I imagine this one will consider applicants' physical appearance in tandem with their goals, accomplishments and journeys as runners. It's an interesting opportunity and one I'd encourage anyone to pursue.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Facing a Fear

It might sound really silly, but I've begun facing one of the biggest, most consistent fears of my running career. I got a Garmin watch 4.5 years ago and have used it only sporadically since then because it has historically given me too much data. I know this sounds counterintuitive to almost everyone. How could there be too much data?

I've found that it's a real concern for me. Where many people are encouraged by knowing their pace and whether or not they're meeting their goal in real time, I am kind of intimidated by it and myself. If I see that I'm running way better than my goal pace, I get nervous that I won't be able to maintain (though I'm excellent at finding a pace that's both doable for the distance and sufficiently fast) it and sometimes I even slow down and fall into the same self sabotage habits that wrecked my Oakley Mini 10k.

So I've been avoiding using the watch on a regular basis. Over the last year, I've used it more regularly than ever before but still not enough. Finally, I decided to import all the data from it onto my computer a few weeks ago. I downloaded the training center, plugged in the unit and had all the data I've recorded on it since December 2009. It was that easy. And even though it wasn't very much data, it was enough to get me hooked. In any setting but running, I love data.

I don't think I've run without it since then. I also haven't downloaded anymore data, but the fact that I have it available to me whenever I want to look is very appealing. The idea of having a more complete picture of my progress is exciting and I'm a little embarrassed I haven't made use of this resource until now.

It still remains to be seen how I'll handle having it during races. I still don't care to know exactly how my race is progressing every step of the way, but I'm sure there's a solution. Maybe taping up the watch face until the end? I don't know, but I'll figure it out.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Speeds MacKenzie

Yay for puns and dated topical references! Since I've been trying to figure out the best approach to qualifying for Boston, one thing I've implemented into my training is speedwork. Now, if you've read a bit of the blog you might remember that I have done speedwork in the past. The type I've probably mentioned most of all is Yasso 800s, a training technique that involves half mile repeats at a pace in minutes that supposedly reflects the overall time you'd run in a marathon. This is worth discussing at length in a later post.

Over the last four or five weeks, Amortya and I have been doing at least one speed session per week. Instead of half mile repeats, we've been doing mile and two mile repeats. Another key difference between these workouts and the half mile repeats I've done in the past is that these have been outside. I've typically done my speed workouts on a treadmill. My logic has always been that I'm much better able to push myself hard on a treadmill than I am outside. Though this is true, the problem I then encounter is not being able to maintain those paces when I run outside for almost any length of time. Chalk it up to differences in terrain or weather, but I have never been able to do quite as well outside as on a treadmill.

That would be fine and good if I ran my races on a treadmill, but I don't. When it comes time to attempt a Boston qualifier, it'll do me little good to believe I can run a certain pace because I've gotten used to it on the treadmill. Instead, I figure I have to start emulating race conditions as well as possible. This is not to say I never run on the treadmill, I've just tried to do it a little more sparingly.

In terms of the paces we've been running during these workouts, Amortya is making much bigger strides than I am and frequently runs mile and two-mile repeats under 6:30 per mile. I've been running a little over 7:30s, which is not quite good enough, particularly considering I've held that pace for an entire 5 mile race before. Oh, well. It's still a work in progress.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

My 2014 9+1 Blueprint

A couple weeks ago, I got into a lengthy email discussion about many, many things. One subject that came up was upcoming race schedules so I decided to check out the NYRR calendar and figure out the rest of my 9 + 1 plan. It's really going to be 12 + 1 because there are some races I like doing even after I've already hit the 9 race threshold. Without further ado, here are the races I have done and will be doing in the rest of 2014 to qualify for the 2015 NYC Marathon:

1. Manhattan Half - This perennial winter hellhole of a race is one I for which I always sign up and run, even though the temperature is reliably below 20 degrees and it consists of two laps of Central Park. I'm honestly not sure why I keep coming back. Habit, maybe? Anyway, I had the flu this year on the day of this race but decided to give it a try anyway. It was a terrible decision. After laboring through one lap of the park and averaging 11-12 minute miles, I decided to call it a day and DNF.

2. New York City Half Marathon - Love the race, love the course, hate the fact that it costs around $120. I could run 2.5 or so of the other borough races for the price of this one and, though I may be a little less cheap than I was when I started this blog, I'm still disgruntled by the price of this half marathon and have only done it this year and in 2012. 

3. Healthy Kidney 10k - I posted about this race a couple of weeks ago. The last time I ran it prior to this year was 2009. Last year, Amortya and I realized the prize purses were significantly different for men and women and so decided not to do it on principle. HOWEVER, this changed beginning in 2014, which is fortunate, because we had a more personal reason to run it this year. Make no mistake, I would have done it one way or the other, but it was comforting that the issue was resolved.

4. Brooklyn Half - I've sung this race's praises for years. This year did not disappoint and you can read all about it in my race report. 

5. Oakley Mini 10k - Last year was the first time I ran this race. I did so because the pace leader on a series of JackRabbit runs Amortya and I did in spring 2013 said it was one of her favorite races of the year. Indeed, it has a spectacular little vibe and is a unique experience because the field is all women. 

6. Queens 10k - As of this writing, I have not yet done the Queens 10k this year but will have by its publishing. This is one of those races I continue to do out of habit, since I've run it nearly every year since I began with NYRR in 2009. I liked it better when it was a half marathon, but considering the temperatures are usually in the 80's I guess it might not be such a bad thing that the distance was shortened. 

VOLUNTEERING - Percy Sutton 5k (8/23) - This will be my +1. I decided to volunteer for this race in particular because it was the earliest I could find that offered the option to volunteer as a bike marshal, which I quite enjoyed last year. I've never run this race, but did sign up for it in 2011 when it was cancelled because of Hurricane Irene.

7. Team Championships (8/2) - Another race that only popped onto my list of regulars in the last year. The reason for this is that I only just started running with the Hudson Dusters in the last year and so had no reason or even qualification to run it prior to that. A distinguishing feature of this race is that women and men compete separately and the fields for both are very fast. I also have a soft spot for this race because I had a breakout performance there last year, averaging 7:34 minutes per mile for the five mile course. 

8. Fifth Avenue Mile (9/13) - Habit race! I've done this every year since 2009. This is an aberration to my normal preference for longer, cheaper runs, especially for the price. It's ONE MILE and I think costs $50 to run? I guess you could call it a guilty pleasure race. In my defense, it's a cool experience to run the mile down Fifth Avenue. It's also really awesome to watch elites (even non-elites but people who are much, much faster than I am) run it. In probably half the years I've run it, it's occurred the same weekend as the Marathon Tuneup (see below). 

9. Marathon Tuneup (9/14) - Yay, 18 miles! Yay, 3 full laps of Central Park! In all seriousness, this is literally the only occasion when I will run 3 full laps of Central Park. "But Katie, what about the 9 laps of Central Park that you run as part of the 60k?" Shh! Tss…shhhh. I will address that shortly. And by the way, the keyword here is "full."

(No Greta's this year because I'm going to a wedding in Dallas) - I thought it worth noting because Greta's is another half marathon I try to run every year even though it is also two laps of Central Park. In its defense, at least the laps are clockwise for a change. NYRR has also typically had smoked salmon as part of the post-race food offerings although I think they stopped that last year. Alas.

10. Bronx 10 Mile (9/28) - The second to last race in the 5 Borough Series. I know, I keep saying it but it's really true. I liked it better when this race was a half marathon. These days, it starts and ends not far from Yankee Stadium. It's mostly an out and back to Lehman College but there's a tiny loop in between. This is also part of the series of races that I always consider to be part of my NYC Marathon training, starting with the Marathon Tuneup and ending with the Staten Island Half (up next). 

11. Staten Island Half (10/12) - The Staten Island Half Marathon typically takes place three weeks prior to the marathon and has a nice vibe for that reason. Many of its participants are running the marathon and in either the last week of their very long runs or the first of their taper period. Either way, everyone is in good spirits and excited that the goal race for which they've been working for months is almost at hand.

12. NYC 60k (11/15) - Formerly the Knickerbocker 60k (until 2012, as far as I know), this is the only ultra marathon I have run. And I've run it 4 times. I like to think of it as my pre-Thanksgiving Day tradition because it is typically the weekend before Thanksgiving. When Thanksgiving actually rolls around and I can quickly dispense with any feelings of guilt by remembering that I ran 37.2 miles the previous weekend. It's a nice feeling. I ran my PR for this race in 2012 probably because I had some pent up energy left after not running the NYC marathon. Last year, I finished about an hour slower but figured it was probably because I'd done an iron distance triathlon, NYC Marathon and a loop around Manhattan in the three previous weekends. 

13. Midnight Run (12/31) - As long as I've lived in New York City, I've never been anywhere except for Central Park when midnight strikes. When I got here five and a half years ago, the cool thing to do on New Year's Eve seemed to be to find a nice open bar, pay $100+ and spend the few hours before and after midnight fighting similar-minded crowds for the bartenders' attention. At least, that's how I understood it to be. I've only ever spent New Year's Eve on the 72nd Street Transverse, freezing my ass off with 5,000 other people who are eager and hopeful for the new year and ready to kick it off properly by running four miles. The electricity in the air is barely describable and made only more spectacular by the fireworks show that happens for a half hour at the start of the run. I get a little emotional thinking about it. Protip: This race is even better with someone to kiss as the gun goes off!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bad Runner Pickup Lines: "Let me guess your PR!" Edition

I'm going to share with you something important I have learned by both being a runner and an avid user of online dating websites. Let me start by saying I get my share of weird online dating experiences. While guys on dating websites can be intelligent, attractive and sweet, they can also be strange. I say this in an effort to garner sympathy before my big reveal. In this story, I am the weird culprit and I am guilty of appalling attempts at flirty chat.

At some point while using online dating sites, I began to think it was a great idea to strike up a conversation with a guy by guessing his half marathon PR. I know, I know. To be fair, if I think he couldn't run faster than 1:50 I don't guess so at least I have some sense of decency about it. Sort of. Okay, fine, it's still terrible. I imagine this is some bizarro world version of a guy trying to guess a girl's weight? Or maybe there are better metaphors.

One way or the other, it has not achieved the desired effect, historically. Every once in awhile I come close enough that he considers it a cool trick but more often than not I likely end up insulting him. They're usually too polite to say more than "1:45? Oh, no. I actually ran a 1:31 last fall."

Oopsie. Guess I'll go ahead and scratch that one off my list of conversation starters.

Katie's List of Conversation Starters

  • Potential cat names
  • Guess half marathon PR
  • Favorite gaming consoles of the 1990's
  • Best mid-run bathroom spots around NYC
  • Favorite Spice Girls song to sing at karaoke
  • Merits of dollar pizza

No worries, plenty more where that came from.