Stop Lights & Running- It’s A Love/Hate Relationship

Last week I did one last final long(ish) run in Florida before we headed back north.  I started out feeling great.  I thought this was going to be the one where I took on the world.  Four miles into my 10 planned miles, I knew it was going to be another  struggle.

I spent the past few weeks really looking forward to my time in warm weather.  However, like clockwork, anytime my husband has to go away for work in the winter, we get hit with illness and a storm.  We got nailed with two of each!  With two sick kids and a driveway full of snow, I opted to shovel while they napped.  Unfortunately, the snow banks got so high that I had to kick the shovel up over the drifts to make any progress.  All of this culminated in a doozy of a tight glute/hamstring.

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Repeat picture.  I will continue to whine about it until it is gone!

My first few runs in Florida were frustratingly slow, not only due to the heat, but also because my right leg literally dragged on the ground with each stride.  My shoe was even worn down on the heel!  By the end of the trip I had stretched and worked the muscles out enough that most of my runs were endurable, but they still tightened up as my miles progressed.

On that last run, I was nearing the end when I saw a stop light up ahead.  In the past, I would normally plead with the light to stay green so I could keep going and maintain my pace.  This one was a little different.  I actually spent a quarter of a mile watching the light change, trying to figure out if I would be lucky enough to get the red light.

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I laughed at my whiney, miserable self.  Look at me here, begging my muscles to pound out a few more miles, pleading my sweaty self to go just a little further.  At the same time, I was hoping fate would force me into a break.

This made me think of marathons where courses run across train tracks.  There have been instances where runners have been forced to stop to allow a train to cross.  We have all heard of the runners who were on par for a PR or a BQ who were forced to stop and were furious with the race and their results.   But I had to question, how many runners secretly thought, “Thank goodness.  I’ve been dying for an excuse to stop!”  Then they can also later say they ran a X:XX marathon, but that would have been much faster had they not been forced to stop for a train crossing.

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This may have been more accurate.

Those stop lights can be a funny thing.  You can use them to your advantage, regardless of whether you want to keep going or you need an excuse to stop.  I have a new appreciation for those annoying red lights.  At least for now.

Red lights- nay or yay?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Favorite Websites

Over the past few months, I’ve discovered a few new places to shop online.  Some you may have heard of, others might be new to you as well.  I thought it would be a fun Friday topic to share some of my favorite shopping sites and hear what yours are too.

Adelaqueen.com  was a site I came across this past winter while looking for a new coat.  I have a friend who has the cutest furry coat that looks to me just like a warm teddy bear.  When I saw Rory Gilmore wearing something similar during my pregnancy bedrest, I took the extra down time to start searching.

I didn’t want real fur.  I have my grandmother’s old furs but when I tried them on in high school, it just felt kind of gross to me to have a dead animal wrapped around me.  Plus, faux fur can be much cheaper.  I searched all over the web and found Adelaqueen to be highly rated, super cute, and perfectly priced.  I loved having this new coat all winter and didn’t worry about wearing it anywhere I felt like because at the price I paid, I won’t be devastated if something happens to it.

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This is the one I opted for.

Thriftbooks.com was my favorite find this Christmas.  I came across a list of great books to teach empathy and kindness to young children.  I did a search and came across this website that sells good quality used books at a great price.  For around $3.79 each book, I ended up buying several dozen to wrap up for the girls.

We love reading books in our house, but they get manhandled by the kids.  It is fun to fill their bookcases and not have to worry if something gets damaged.  I also purchased a few cookbooks and gifts for family and friends.

One of our favorites is “Tough Guys Have Feelings Too.”

Nordstromrack.com isn’t exactly new to me, but it never crossed my mind that I could actually do outlet shopping from the comfort of my own home.

Before we left for Mexico this past winter, I got on this website and scored some awesome summer sandals for less than $20.  As you may have noticed, I love a good bargain!

Albionfit.com  came on my radar from visiting the sixsistersstuff website.  This is a family owned business based out of Utah that makes women’s clothing for swimming, sport, and life.  Their clothes are fashionable and practical and the business focuses on being green.

I love their swimsuits and when a winter sale hit, I grabbed a cute one piece.  I was a little irritated when something happened with my order, but when I reached out to express my dissatisfaction, they promptly rectified the problem and gave me a little something extra.  Excellent customer service is a big one in my book.

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What are your recent favorite sites to shop?  Do you like to find good bargains?

My Favorite NYC Running Spots

Greetings from NYC!  We are here again for our spring sports classes and every time I run in this city, I remember all over again, what a great place this is to run.  I wanted to share a few of my favorite spots.  Please forgive me, as I am going to just focus on the borough of Manhattan.  There are so many great places outside of Manhattan, but seeing as I typically run here, I will let the other experts share their faves beyond this little island.

Favorite Must Try It At Least Once:  If you are going to be in the city, you have to run a loop or sections of Central Park.  It isn’t my absolute favorite place to run, but it has some great appeal.  First, one loop of the park is exactly 6 miles, which is a great distance for me.  Typically, any place I stay at is at least a mile from the park, so that is an awesome 7-8 route.

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The park is super hilly, and that presents some fun and challenging moments.  You also get a great view of both the Upper East and Upper West sides as well as some great sites within the park.  You will find yourself running amongst thousands of other runners, bikes, and horse drawn carriages.

Please do be cautious as parts of the loop are open to traffic.  Cabs can drive a little crazy, and cyclists can be quite dangerous as well.  There are many bike rental areas for tourists and they tend to roam outside of the designated bike path.  I tend to only run this during quieter hours to avoid busy traffic.

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Pictures don’t do bobcat hill justice.

Favorite Long Flat Path:  If you are looking for a picturesque and flat route, take a cab up to the George Washington Bridge and run straight down to Battery Park.  This route is about 10 miles, and you get beautiful views of the Hudson River, numerous fun piers, and skyline views.  If 10 miles is too long for you, pop in along the Upper West Side.  Start with a jog through flower lined Riverside Park and it spits you out right on the pathway.

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Favorite Escape From The City, Within The City:  I love running on Randall’s Island.  I mentioned to my husband the other day that this is where I fell in love with distance running.  A few years ago, I would only see a handful of runners on the island, but now it is busy morning, noon, and night.

The Parks Department has devoted itself to creating an athlete’s paradise on this little island with numerous ball fields, a tennis center, golf center, horse stables, and path’s galore.

A footbridge from the East River brings you over to this perfect place that allows you to be just far enough away that you feel like you left the city.  Plus, there is a FDNY training center and you might just get the chance to run alongside the recruits during their training runs!

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Get Your Tour’s Worth:  If you really want to experience NYC on a long run, I highly recommend starting on the Upper East side along the East River Path.  Take this all the way to the bottom of Manhattan and hop on the Hudson River Path.  Follow it all the way up to Harlem and take a jog along 125th Street.

You will get to see Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey.  This route will take you by the Williamsburg Bridge (a favorite one to run over) and the Brooklyn Bridge.  You will see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island along the way too.  Running this loop will give you a serious workout and also a sneak peek into much of the city.

This might be a bit too much for one run.  Break it up into a few segments during your stay and you will experience the city in a whole different way!

You Can’t Go Wrong Here:  NYC is a great running city.  Even if you are staying in Midtown and just want to get a quick run in, all you need to do is lace up and hit the sidewalks.  Let the stop lights dictate your route and you are bound to see some fun sights along the way.

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Have you ever been to NYC?  Do you have a favorite running route in Manhattan?  Help me out with your favorite routes in the other boroughs!

Running On The Road

I’m not referring to the type of runs you do away from the trails.  I’m talking about taking your running on the road.  I hear from a lot of clients who are concerned about still training with work or travel plans.  I absolutely get their concerns.  But I think most people are missing out on the best part of running; doing it in totally new places.  Sure you love your daily running route, but nothing is more exciting than lacing up and not knowing what is around the next corner.

Whether you are out of town on business or with the family on vacation, there are ways to slip away for a few miles.  Heck, after a rough day of business meetings, an evening run in a new city might be the perfect way to unwind (and justify a glass of wine or two later).  Even when you are with the family at a new destination there is often a way to head out for a 30 minute to hour long run.

Maybe you can run on a beach!

Maybe you can run on a beach!

Perhaps you might not be able to log that long run you had your heart set on, or fit in what your training plan called for, but anything is always better than nothing.  The new terrain can also refresh your mind and body and bring a new sense of love for the sport.  This is super helpful when you are in need of a pick me up or if your running is feeling stale.

There are some great apps available to help make travel running easier.  Mapmyrun offers users a way to log their runs with descriptions and mileage for others to look up in various destinations.  A recent favorite of mine is localeikki.com where users can write down and share favorite running routes.  This site is full of great pictures and information for runners, hikers, and bikers.

One of the best ways I find new routes is to do a little online research before I head out on vacation.  When you arrive don’t be afraid to ask around.  Sometimes the best resources are not at the front desk of your hotel.  My husband and I ended up at a bar one afternoon for a post run burger and beer when we met a bartender who happened to be an avid cyclist.  He gave us some great info on places we had never heard of.

That time I got to run in Aruba wasn't so bad.

That time I got to run in Aruba wasn’t so bad.

When all else fails there is always the gym.  I have lucked out here in two different ways.  Sometimes your hotel gym can really surprise you with top notch equipment.  One of our favorite spots in upstate New York offers passes to a local gym that has become my absolute number one facility.  Besides having the best treadmills (and tons of them) they also have a great summer pool situation.  The best part is, the hotel offers this perk for free.  So don’t be afraid to ask at the front desk.  You never know where you might end up!

I know that whenever I travel I tend to eat a lot more food and things that I normally wouldn’t have.  I feel like I fall out of my normal routine and get in a bit of a funk.  Running on vacation always makes me feel like I am still keeping it all on track.

What are you favorite tips for getting runs in on the road?

Great Places To Run In and Around NYC

As we wrap up our last week here in NYC until next spring I have had the chance to do a few short post marathon runs.  The beautiful fall colors and paths brought back some really great memories of running NYC for the past 12 years and especially training for a marathon.  One of the best things about NYC, as well as it’s biggest drawback, is that despite NYC being one of the largest cities in the world it is geographically pretty small.  That means that after 12 years I have run almost every nook and cranny.  Some days I would weave around city streets and others I would travel parks and bridges.  Below are a few of my favorites that I recommend if you get a chance to run here.

Central Park:

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Central Park is synonymous with NYC.  While it is not one of my most favorite places to run, it really is a must if you come to visit.  The loop around the park is just over 6 miles of some pretty big as well as gently rolling hills.  The actual run is a nice challenge, but you also get to see a panoramic view of the city skyline.  You will see the Sheep’s Meadow, Wollman Rink, Carousel, The Boathouse, Great Lawn, Resevoir, Metropolitan Museum of Art and hundreds of other sights.  Take a stop at 90th street to admire the statue in honor of Fred Lebow, the founder of the New York City Marathon.

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I have also worked in Central Park for the past 12 years and didn’t know until yesterday that there is a memorial set up for famed distance runner Ryan Shay.  I grew up just a few towns away from Ryan and we ran track during the same years.  Despite the fact that I took a break for awhile, I still followed his running through out high school and college.  Shay passed away from a massive heart attack in 2007 during the Olympic Marathon Trials in Central Park.  There was a rock carved by fellow runners near a tree in the park.  I believe I found the spot but the etchings have faded away.  When I went to visit yesterday I found myself overcome with tears as I read his plaque on a park bench.

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The West Side:

It seems that the only picture I have from running on the West Side is with Flat Stanley.  We had an impromptu 20 mile run together that afternoon.

It seems that the only picture I have from running on the West Side is with Flat Stanley. We had an impromptu 20 mile run together that afternoon.

If you are looking for a nice flat and picturesque run, head for the West Side of the city.  We once took a cab up to the George Washington Bridge and followed the stairs down to the Hudson River.  There you will find the Little Red Lighthouse.  You can follow the path for 13 miles all the way down to Battery Park where you will be able to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the new World Trade Center.  Along the way you will pass dozens of cool piers as well as the famed Chelsea Piers and The Intrepid.

The East Side:

That is Roosevelt Island across the river.

That is Roosevelt Island across the river.

Although not as continuous as the West Side path, the East River Promenade has a nice flat section spanning from 60th Street all the way up to 125th Street.  You can follow the East River path all the way down to Battery Park but you will have to weave a little bit as the path does not follow one straight line.  While the East River isn’t quite as picturesque there are still lots of great places to see along the way.

Take the Tramway Car at 59th Street over to Roosevelt Island.  This quiet spot will give you a couple of miles to run looking over at Manhattan from a different view.  Plus the ride in the Tramway Car (same price as a subway ride) gives you a bird’s eye view of the river and city.  And you can relive that pretty scary scene from Spiderman!

Take a run over a bridge.  Now here is where I admit that we once ran all the way along the East River to go run across the Brooklyn Bridge.  It looked different from what I expected and when we got to the other side we realized I had taken us across the Williamsburg Bridge.  Kind of a big difference.  But once we finally found the Brooklyn Bridge we took a detour and waited in line to wolf down a full Grimaldi’s pizza between the two of us.  By the way, I think the Williamsburg Bridge offers a much prettier view but definitely not the same pizza.

Randall’s Island:

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This is one of my favorite places to go.  Cross over the footbridge at East 101st Street and you almost enter a different city.  While you can still see the sights of the city, it is much quieter over there.  There are miles of running paths as well as horse stables, dozens of athletic fields, Icahn Stadium and tennis and golf centers.  It also doesn’t hurt that the FDNY has it’s training center over there and you often see many new recruits out doing training runs.  Excellent motivation for you single (or not so single) ladies or gents.

Upper Saddle River Path:

Get up early on a Saturday or Sunday and take a short drive from the city out to New Jersey.  In less that 30 minutes you will find yourself at the Upper Saddle River Path in Bergen County.  Follow this out for about 6-7 miles along the Saddle River.  Weaving in and out of woods and under bridges, you will feel like you are dozens of  miles away from New York City.  Watch wildlife and fly fisherman as well as happy families biking along the path.  Stop at any of the 100 awesome diners along the way home for a delicious post run brunch.

I would love to hear what your favorite running spots are in the NYC area!