Brings Me Back-NYC Marathon

Hello from New York City!  You may have noticed my absence the past few weeks, or perhaps not.  I know that I have been pretty quiet around here lately.  The reason for silence is because I have been busy working 7 days a week for the past few weeks at the ice rink in Central Park.  I used to work there years ago.  It was how I worked my way through college when I first arrived in New York and where I met my husband, on my first day of work.

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Six years ago, we left New York and moved to Chicago and later to Michigan.  We continue to work here in the spring and fall and last winter I got a text from a co-worker asking if I could work her maternity leave this winter.  Knowing the struggles of becoming a mom and then the next struggle of being a working mom, I gladly obliged to a return to Wollman Rink for a few weeks.

The work isn’t easy.  The hours are rough.  I’m up well before the sun rises each morning and I run home to meet the girls after a few hours on the ice.  I return to the ice later in the day to work some more, before running the 4 miles back to get our children fed and to bed.  We’ve suffered colds, sinus infections, and ear infections.  But we are finally on the mend and despite being exhausted, we are having a  great time in the city.  So please excuse my absence over the next few weeks, I have great plans for a big return after the holidays.

Until then, I want to offer a huge congratulations and thank you to all of the runners of the New York City Marathon.  Anyone who dares to run and anybody who dares to train and finish a marathon is a super hero.  It is an incredible process that requires months, and weeks, and hours of diligence.  There are days of exhaustion and times of injury.  But there is nothing more incredible than crossing that finish line.

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That time Mary was a few weeks old and we went to cheer on the last of the runners on their way through Brooklyn!

I ran for many years leading up to the first time I really had a chance to admire the New York City Marathon.  It is always hectic trying to get in and out of the rink in Central Park, as it is very close to the finish line.  Most years I worked all morning and afternoon and missed much of the race.  When I finally got my own apartment situated in East Harlem, right by the 19 mile mark, I had a sunny afternoon to myself and I went to watch the runners.

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Spectating a marathon will change even the hardest of souls.  You will witness humans at their absolute greatest.  People are drenched in sweat and struggling.  Some are beaming and smiling.  Others are grimacing and crying.  Along the sidelines you will find people of all backgrounds, coming together to cheer on family and friends, and strangers.  It is amazing!

Watching those runners who spent months training for this big event, that year, touched me.  I felt chills listening to a band up the street, and the cowbells ringing.  There were dozens of languages being spoken around me and people were calling out names of strangers whose names were taped across their bibs.

The marathon was a uniting force!

I went home feeling like a changed person.  I commented on what an incredible experience it appeared to be, but that I would never do something so crazy.  Yet, that moment stuck with me, and was the reason I have run several marathons and helped hundreds of others cross their own finish lines.

There is something very special about the New York City Marathon.  A city that can be so busy rushing to and from work and other occasions, finds the time to slow down to cheer for tens of thousands of strangers for one magical day.

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This year was extra magical because I got to take my girls to cheer on the runners near that same place that forever changed me.  Mary made a sign and was quite the hit waving and cheering on the runners.  At one moment she asked me why people were “stopping.”  I tried my best to explain to her how hard those last few miles are for so many of us.  I choked back tears as I held her and watched people passing by and said, “You run when you can and walk if you have to.  We all just keep going.”

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Congrats to everyone who ran New York and Indianapolis this weekend!

Post Race Recovery-Avoid Injury And Sedentary Craziness

Many runners just completed some major races this last weekend.  Others are getting ready to complete their final big races for the year.  What do you do after the race?  When do you come back?  How do you properly recover?  Remember that old rule that said you should take a day off for every mile you ran?  That is now a thing of the past and for many runners that is great news.  Can you imagine taking 26 days off after a marathon? Then again, maybe you can!

While there is quite a bit of science to running, there isn’t a set plan for recovery after an event.  There are several important factors to consider with your recovery:

How Long Was Your Race and Training Cycle:

Did you just complete an 18 week training cycle leading up to your marathon?  Were you running 50-60 miles per week during your plan?  You will likely require more rest than a runner who did a 12 week plan for a 10K.  The longer your training plan and the more miles completed might take a harder toll on your body and mind than a shorter race and mileage.

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How About a 5K to Couch Plan!

How Do You Feel?

This is a two part question.  While you need to consider how your legs and muscles are responding, you also need to assess how you are feeling mentally.  If you are experiencing tiredness and a loss of interest in running, go ahead and give yourself some time to fall back in love.  What is the point of hitting the pavement if it is no longer enjoyable?  This can be a normal feeling as you come off of training and the excitement of your event.  All runners go through this.  We need a break at times from all things we love and running is no different.

Some of the mental symptoms of Overtraining Syndrome are feeling sluggish, emotional, overly tried, sad, and just plain down in the dumps.  We all know that running is 90% mental, so it makes sense that we might need a break in this arena as well.

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Are You Dealing With Any Injuries?:

One of the hardest parts of any training cycle is avoiding injuries.  They are almost inevitable.  Most often, we train through these injuries.  Or perhaps you sustained an injury during the race.  It goes without saying that you need to give your body time to fully heal.  Sure, you can push through an injury to some extent to get through training.  But after the race is over, it would be unwise to continue with this approach.  Now is the time to rest and recover before you return.

There are so many different ways to approach injuries and I recommend you find what is most helpful for you and your needs.  Options range from traditional doctors and physical therapists to massage, acupuncture, yoga, and cupping.  Many facilities offer an array of different recovery techniques.  When you find an approach that you feel most comfortable and confident with, you are more likely to stick to a prescribed plan.

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Take Some Time To Reflect:

How do you feel your training went?  Are there things you would change?  What about the race?  Was it enjoyable?  Did the experience ignite a fire or inspire you to do something else?  Do you feel like this was a negative experience?

All of these questions are important to consider for your future.  Maybe you need a revenge race.  If that is the case you need to consider what went wrong and how you will change things moving forward.  Perhaps something went wrong in training.  The actual race might not have been the right one for you.

If you had a great experience and are ready to repeat or up the ante, you need to think about what went right in your training and how you can repeat that or make it even better.  Will you repeat the race or find another one that is similar?

Is is time to put racing to the side and just run for fun?  That is okay.  Some people love running for the sake of running and don’t need races or events to keep them content.  Think of different ways to help keep things exciting and motivating.

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Races and endurance events can be a great experience.  It can also take a mental and physical toll.  Your first goal should be to take care of you.  Rest and recovery are important.  This doesn’t mean you need to become a couch potato.  Active rest can be a perfect way to get back in the game healthy and happy.  Go for a walk, bike ride, swim, or play with the family.  Keep moving and take care of you!

Did you race this past weekend?  How was your experience?

A Week In NYC

Hello from New York City!  I am wrapping up a week long work trip.  This was one really fun, hard working, and difficult week.  Let me fill you in.

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As you might recall, my trip started off with a pretty special bang when I got to sit next to the seat mate from hell on my flight out here.  Fortunately, that was the worst part and things got much better.

Rock was already out here and it was so great to see him when I arrived on Friday.  There was a warm front about to leave the area and we enjoyed a lovely evening wandering Astoria, Queens where he had been staying.  The hardest part of my trip would be leaving Mary at home with my parents.  I knew she was in great hands, but we love doing things as a family.

However, it was pretty awesome to sit down to a sushi feast for dinner, just Rock and I.  It was our first date night since last winter when we went to see the Nutcracker.  While we missed Mary, it was really nice to spend time together.

I started working immediately over the weekend coaching athletes.  This week was early up and late to arrive back home, filled with lessons and appointments.  It’s just the way a coach likes to travel!

On Sunday I had the chance to run two laps around Central Park after work.  If you’ve never had the chance to run the park, you might be surprised to see that it is actually quite hilly.  The entire loop is almost exactly 6 miles of rolling hills with a few challenging ones on the Upper East Side and at the top near Harlem.  Being the weekend, the park was packed.  Many companies have started renting out bicycles to tourists and the park is now filled with people weaving in and out of the bike lanes.  I witnessed three bike accidents as they occurred.  It was frightening and I decided that I would no longer run Central Park on the weekends or when it is busy.  It just isn’t worth it.

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See those flashing lights behind me?  Ambulances just waiting to come in.

The entire week was filled with skating lessons at the rink in Central Park and lessons with clients off of the ice.  It was busy and most nights we didn’t arrive home until 9:30pm.  I even skipped several runs during the week because there just wasn’t enough time.  If you know anything about me, I rarely skip a run.

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Learning how to string a hockey net.

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My biggest Rainbow Loom project ever!

One thing I didn’t skip out on was eating.  I had a blast stuffing my face over the past few days.  We had the most incredible pizza in Astoria at a place called Artichoke.  I had the meatball parmesan and signature Artichoke slices.  It was essentially artichoke dip and cheese on a thick slab of pizza.  Sinful and awesome all at once!

Let me be the first to say that NYC and Chicago pizzas are so different and yet both so incredibly delicious in their own ways!

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Fall in NYC is one of my favorite times.  The crisp cool air and changing colors are perfect.  Summer tourism has calmed down and the city becomes a bit more relaxed.  The looming holiday season also has everyone in a perfect mood.

My trip has me so excited for all of my runners and friends who are doing the New York City Marathon very soon.  I saw the crew out setting up the bleachers for the finish line across from Tavern on the Green.  So exciting!

There’s a part of me that is sad to leave tomorrow.  But I am so looking forward to snuggles with my little girl soon!

FYI to all NYC Marathoners:  Go downstairs in the Plaza Hotel and check out the Todd English Food Hall.  While you can sit down and have an amazing lunch or dinner here.  There are also so many great little eateries inside to check out.  From a delicious lobster roll or sushi to incredible baked goods and macarons; there is something for every hungry belly here.  This place is amazing!

Have you ever been to NYC?  Do you love fall?