molly. sophie. avni. three twenty-something friends, three cities, three careers, one race: Nike Women’s Marathon, october sixteenth two thousand and eleven.

we met at northwestern university and became kindred spirits in boston. and here’s to the chronicle of our eighteen week training leading us to san francisco (with a reprieve in napa, obvi).

so for everyone trying to keep on - follow us, join us, read us as we try to decipher how to stay healthy, look good while running 26.2, still enjoy the beer gardens and debauchery of summer, and stay strong because sometimes life’s hard and you got to keep on running, and you got to keep calm and carry on.

keep calm and carry on runners

molly. before my run.

before heading out on my 11 miler (a compromise run between the 12 i should have run last week and the 9 i’m supposed to run today), i wanted to get in a good mental state. sometimes this requires pump-up music, other times a banana and pb toast, yet today i opted for some good ol’ nytimes.

all i really needed was the title - why exercise makes us feel good - to remind me about the post-run glow that awaits me, but the article itself is pretty interesting. the basic idea is that exercise reduces stress (duh!) but now scientists are exploring how running not only reduces stress in the moment, but it also makes us more anxiety-resistant.

now i see a new logic behind saving my long runs for the day before the work week begins…

p.s. i wish i was as ripped as this girl.

if you want to run, run a mile. if you want to experience another life, run a marathon. Emil Zatopek

molly. commitment.

meet sammy:

isn’t she just adorable?? sammy is the sweetest little five month old spaniel mix you can imagine, and she is the biggest commitment i have made in my 25 years of life. and unlike other major commitments i have made, this time there is no turning back. (i mean, just look at that face!)

similar to other commitments i find myself making, the origins of dog ownership began in my insatiable desire to try new experiences…thus, the salsa dancing class (let’s face it, i’m just too white to shake my hips convincingly), the sailing lessons (i still haven’t yet passed my test to get on the water), and the acoustic guitar purchase (it now sits warming a lonely corner of my apartment, but i feel artsy). not all ventures end in total, abject failure…i swear…but in my unbridled enthusiasm to throw myself into something new, i oftentimes forget about the steps i must take to go from my unskilled self to that sultry folk-rock artist on the dive bar stage.

unfortunately, the same goes for me and the commitment i make to run a marathon. or let me rephrase that: the commitment i make to train for a marathon. while i typically follow through by completing the big race (running is not as ephemeral an interest as say, learning Mandarin), similar to avni, the final outcome is less than optimal: i am disappointed by my time, or worse yet, injured.

so, you are asking, how does all of this relate to my new pup? (or maybe you’re thinking, dear god, who in their right mind put sweet sammy’s life in the hands of this flake?)

well, in the twelve days since i brought sammy into my world, i have learned more about what real commitment is, and in doing so, discovered the deep satisfaction and joy that can come from really following through. with sammy, there is no option to slack off or be less than my best self - her health and happiness depend on it - and frankly, the love and fun i receive back makes the small sacrifices worth it ten-fold.

i could go on about the other things i’ve learned in the last twelve days (dogs should not eat mushrooms, or grapes, or onions), but the most relevant is that sammy has taught me the value of “the follow-through,” and starting tomorrow, i will doggedly (hehe) apply this to at least one other “commitment-of-the-moment:” training for this marathon.

see you bright and early tomorrow morning, soph. 11 miles awaits!

avni. making it work for me.

I’m trying to make training work for me.  I’m really trying not to do what I always do: run a race without training. Sigh.  It’s not that I intend not to train.  I intend to train.  I just don’t. I have commitment issues, and so by the time I realize I’m committed to the race….it’s the last week of the training program.  The last, and only other marathon I ran (Unspeakable Chicago Marathon 2006), I did the same thing, and decided that I was going to beat the system and run 20 miles the week before the race.  Eff tapering, what does Hal Higdon know anyway, he even pretended not to hear or see me when I followed him around the Expo for ten minutes, yelling his name and waving  #justrude.  Safe to say, I ran the actual marathon with an IT band injury, onerous brace, and cried for most of the last six miles.  I really want to walk away from SF[read: Napa] with a grin on my face, so,

ways I think I can make it work for me / stating the obvious - 

ONE. Sleep.  Seems so simple, eh?  Summer = weddings and visitors.  I love both, but given the chance to engage in dance-offs at weddings and stay up all night eating pizza in bed with visitors (Hi Patricia!) as an excuse not to sleep early and run a long run, I take the former every time, especially with Patricia…unless she’s too busy cleaning the kitchen or cooking vegetables, which we love equally, and is the real reason why we’re such good friends. Just LOOK how happy she is.

TWO. Drink less.  I’m welcoming a two week strict No-Booze policy into my life.  Reasons why there is a 10% chance I’ll succeed – I’m probably working all of this Fourth of July weekend, so will be too busy/tired (at least this weekend.)  I’m also going to a family wedding next weekend, and I have a strict no boozing at family events policy, which was instilled after a few “mishaps” in the past.  Reasons why there is a 90% chance I will fail – um, did I mention I’M WORKING DURING FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND.  That means that while everyone is eating watermelon, linking arms, and celebrating this amazing country, I will be in the courthouse…in the Bronx…working.  That just screams Makers Mark/wine..I mean it’s so tempting when it welcomes me home so eagerly, right? - 

 

But, I’ve been feeling really run down lately due to overstretching myself, personally, professionally, and most importantly socially.  My friend Amy had to give me a pep talk when she visited two weeks ago about how to say NO to people…her number one piece of advice – lie, and tell people you already have plans. She’s a genius and very wise, and that’s why we’re friends. 

THREE. Replace one mid-week run with the elliptical. I promise I won’t start wearing the tight, matchy matchy, inevitably neon, Elliptical Uniform that 99% of sorority girls wear when “working out” on the elliptical.  I feel that I have the right to say this because 1) I’m a sorority girl of years past, and 2) have spent hours pretending reading US Weekly on the elliptical actually burns 600 calories. False.  But, I need to do it.  I ran my 9 mile long run (obviously, again, while watching the Bachelorette), and I felt great, but the next day my knees felt like they could literally snap in half.  I took a day to rest, but when I ran two days later, they Still felt like they could break.  I need some cardio-Lite to replace one of the runs, and since I don’t know how to swim….(did I mention that I was a Senior Leader in high school, and it was my job to teach freshman how to swim/float #irony), so elliptical, I’ll see you Tuesday.

I’ve been in kind of a summer funk lately, where I feel like I’m not relaxing the way I should.  I need to get it together, and I’m hoping these three things/two weeks will do it, and then I can truly just have my summer. Just in time for renting a house with some friends in the Catskill mountains…oh hello hot tub drinking, we meet again.

sophie. training and travel

One of the hardest parts about training for a race is having to make sure …. life… doesn’t get in the way of runs.  I’ve been traveling since June 21 so its been difficult to keep up with the running regime (let alone this blog).

First I went to Colorado with my extended family.  You’d think Colorado would be a great place to run, but I found myself pretty distracted by wine and elk.  We were staying at the top of a winding hill road and my knees couldn’t bear to run down it and my quads couldn’t bear to run up it, so I had to rely on a family member to drive me down to the lake in the valley where I could do a quick 4-5 mile loop. When I wasn’t staring off at the gorgeous Rockies (see below), I was reading the warning signs along the pathway that read “Warning: Elk Calving Area, Aggressive Elk Present” (also see below).

After Colorado I flew to San Francisco to commence apartment hunting.  I went on a few runs, during which I discovered that hills are very, very hard.  My pace slowed to the equivalent of a walk, and the next morning I found myself sore in odd places.  I thought my quads would be sore but it was my hip flexors that were killing me. The next day it rained, and rained, and rained (and I ruined some shoes, see below), so instead of running I did a million lunges and sit ups. I am still sore.

I never did go for the 9 miler than the training schedule told me was on my list for the weekend.  And I’ve been resting for more days than probably necessary (I’ve faced the fact that I will never be that person that jumps out of bed at 5am while everyone is still sleeping to go for a run…) but now I’m in Portland where its a bit easier. I know the city better and my mom belongs to a sweet gym, so I’ll be running rain or shine! And I’ll try to get that 9 miler in on Sunday or Monday!

Every day is a good day when you run.         Kevin Nelson

molly. i am alive!

You know it’s bad when one of your closest friends has to ask - via blog - if you are alive.

I am such a delinquent, yet Avni’s question about the state of my health/being is somewhat apropos.

After weeks of chattering over Gmail about how I was “sooo excited” to start training, I had a less than auspicious first week, which began with a mild concussion. After an errant header during my Sunday morning soccer game, I blacked out momentarily yet decided to keep playing (rec league games are super serious and very important, right?). And then shortly upon arriving home, the rest of the symptoms began to set in: severe headache, blurriness of vision, and nausea.

Yet did I let this prevent me from launching into Day One of marathon training the next morning? Of course not.

If there is one (unfortunate) thing to know about me, it is that I am very, very stubborn (like a mule). Sometimes I like to tell myself that this trait exists at the root of some of my greatest personal successes; other times, I recognize that this trait is most likely my (all-too-prominent) Achilles Heel. So, on Day One I went to the gym and did a hardcore, 60 minute total body conditioning class, in spite of WebMD’s best advice. Then the next day, I ran 5 miles on the treadmill at 8 min/mile pace. And after both, I felt like a wreck - my brain was throbbing inside my skull, my stomach was churning, and my eyes were bloodshot.

And then on Day Three, an intervention happened: I visited my colleague (and fellow marathoner) who was at home recovering from knee surgery. Thankfully, he voiced what I knew and had been ignoring for the last couple days: 1) I was a wreck physically and 2) I was a huge idiot. What worse way to begin training for such a major physical experience than to run while injured?

After retracting my immediate “pot calling the kettle black” statement, I took a second look at him and thought about the weeks he spent doggedly limping through runs, and then ahead to the weeks he would spend on pain meds and in physical therapy, and how even after that, future marathons might still be out of the question. It was then I realized that my stubborn refusal to listen to my own body will be one of my greatest liabilities. If I am to complete this marathon - at least in one piece - I need to take to heart the lesson that runners give great lip-service to yet rarely heed: listen to your body.

So, that is my opening pledge for this round of training: I will listen to my body. Instead of applying my stubborn nature in a destructive way that results in me cheering on Av and Soph from the sidelines, I’ll try to direct it towards stubbornly refusing Domino’s pizza (FYI: the crust has crack on it, I swear) or stubbornly adhering to the (painful) long-run schedule post-Friday summer night cocktails. I’m sure I will fail at times, but I’m hoping that by publicly announcing my intentions, I will incite a stubborn commitment within myself to keeping my promise.

I also promise that future posts will not be quite so long. And now I’ll leave you with a picture of myself at my most stubborn of moments and an important link to Runner’s World’s Seven Most Common Running Injuries.

                               

avni. week one long run recap.

good news: 8.2 miles

bad news: all on the tredmill. urban legends of creepy men and mosquitoes kept me away from Central Park.

good news: i got to watch the bachelorette, the entire time.

bad news: i watched the bachelorette, the entire time.

avni. new york city summer = plethora of anti-running temptations

Speaking of unnecessary shorts tans, late night pizza (or ahem, Doritos), and chasing wine with scotch in tea cups… this weekend marked another loverly reunion with the girls of my high school years, who also happen to be the girls I fell in love with running with.  While we didn’t run at all (obvi), we did eat a lot of cheese, picnic in central park, and reminisce about the days that have passed since we were able to run races with ease and eat Taco Bell and Noodles & Co. with sheer abandon.  To be fair, I had every intention (fine, some intention) of running my 8 mile long run Friday morning before Amy flew in at 9:30am.  But, I mean, does everyone remember Amy? The friend who was convincingly steering me towards a running retirement?  Well, safe to say mere hours after her arrival, the state of our reunion was slightly different than running, see below…

Sigh.  Well, truthfully, Amy has become somewhat of a yoga aficionado, and has motivated me to truly make an effort to incorporate strength training and cross training into this marathon cycle.  I plan on taking her advice and giving yoga another go to help me relax, breathe better, and give my knees a rest, but more importantly, talking with her reminded me that I really want to go into the marathon with the strongest core I can.

How, you ask?  Well, a really good friend of mine from law school introduced me to a masterful plan that made me more toned than I had ever been during my 3L year.  When he first sent it to me, I immediately archived the email and pretended I never got it, because let’s be real, I H8 strength training.  The fear of getting bigger and “muscley” keeps me very, very far away from the free weights section of any gym.  My rationale?  = skinny jeans are not made for the muscely, therefore I don’t.want.it.  BUT, after much coaxing [slash giving me a book about how women should lift just like men], I let my friend ease me into the free weights section, and what resulted was the strongest/toned core I have ever had.  The exercise is a well-kept secret (or at least I think it is based on the looks of curiousity[read: amusement] that I get when I do it at the gym.  It’s based on the Phoenix Suns’ Bosu Ball Core Workout.  See illustrating/sweaty picture of Mr. Steve Nash below.  

Basically, it involves balancing on the Bosu Ball (the half moon one) and doing a series of free weights exercises, such as 1 and 2 legged squats while using arm weights.  Try it, I dare you to H8 it.

So, despite unsuccessfully completing my first week of marathon training, I did get myself to the gym after a series of spontaneous naps, and re-calibrate myself onto a Bosu ball.

As it is Sunday, and as always, my Sunday Blues set it punctually at 6pm, it’s time for the requisite end.of.weekend.joshua.radin.pandora.sing.along. and bed.

PS. i PROMISE I’ll run 8 miles tomorrow…or Tuesday. 

PPS. Molly, are you alive?

sophie. pizza + sunrun

Yesterday I went for my first “long run.” That is in quotes because it was only 8 miles, but it was longer than my usual 5 milers.  My boyfriend’s mom is in town so I wanted to get the longer run out of the way so we would relax all weekend. We also had plans to go to Hungry Mother for dinner, so I wanted to get some mileage done before that. I did the 8 miles in the morning and ate healthy all day long in prep for a fried dinner. Hungry Mother was delicious!  I even managed to start with a big salad and steer away from the unhealthiest options. But several glasses of wine later (and maybe some scotch…) I found myself over at my friends’ apartment eating two (!) slices of Dominos Pizza. Its really not my fault. Its their fault for ordering a thin crust pizza covered in vegetables and feta (who knew Dominos had feta?!). It was delicious and totally unnecessary late night eating.  Thus, I found myself waking up this morning, stomach full, and ready for another run.  Before I could get my run in, my sister called, we chatted, and suddenly it was 11:30 and I was off for a 6 miler (okay, 5.5 mile) run in the heat and the sun.  The moral? I have a sweet facial sunburn. Additionally, I’m cultivating a really aggressive shorts tan. And I might feel a dehydration head ache coming on. The good news is that it was a really really great run. One of those days where you set off and your feet feel light (for once) and your body and brain settle into the rhythm of your feet. My aforementioned Nike Sportband said I was running at some ridiculously fast pace (I really need to calibrate that thing) which made me feel even better, even though I know its lying.  Now I’m off to drink some water and avoid pizza!

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