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    I'm a 20-something, recently married, runner who recently moved to New York City. Questions? Email therunnerwife (at) gmail (dot) com!

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Japan Day 4 Miler

Hello hello! I hope you’re enjoying your week! I’ve kept busy with two double shifts, which have been blessings in disguise. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed that I remarked just before Sunday’s Japan Day 4 Mile race in Central Park that I hoped my ankle would hold up. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, but it seems like one or two of the tendons between my ankle and heel may be strained. I’ve been icing and massaging, which helped a great deal, but I think I really just need some good old-fashioned rest. Rest which, now that the race is over, I’m perfectly happy to take.

The race, itself, was actually really nice. We got good shwag, no rain, and a clear course. I also liked starting up at the 102nd St traverse, instead of down at 68th St, like the last several races have done. I woke up with just enough time to throw my clothes and shoes on and jog over so I was nice and warm when the horn sounded. Of course, the 80* heat and 70% humidity helped too. Since I got there just before the race started, though, the corrals had already been collapsed so I spent the first mile doing more ducking and weaving than I’m used to. Around mile 2, though, it was smooth sailing. I stopped at every water stop, kept my stride short, and felt great when I crossed the finish line in 36:04, a 9:01/mile pace. Definitely not a PR, but a solid race given the heat and my hinky ankle!

Now to relax for a few weeks until the 5-miler at the end of this month. I think I might try to really race it, since I’ve never really pushed my pace for a 5 miler before!

What’s your favorite race distance? Do you like running in the heat?

Handstand Envy

The Huz and I love doing stuff together. Walking Bodhi. Making tasty dinners. Entertaining lovely blog friends. You know, stuff. For years I’ve dreamed that The Huz would adopt my love of running and we’d become one of those cute running couples. We’d “accidentally” coordinate our workout clothes and jog merrily through the park with our trusty canine companion. As we ran, we’d regale one another with stories from our day, imagine new adventures, and wax poetic about the awesomeness of running and how infinitely more awesome it is because we do it together.

Well, so far, I see no “his” and “her” race bibs in our future or cute “That runner you’re checking out? Yea, that’s my husband!” t-shirts. Sure, we’ll get out for a few miles here and there, but we’ve found a much better physical activity to enjoy together. Focus now. I’m talking about yoga, people!

That’s right. The Huz and I love taking yoga classes together. Even though we generally focus on our own practices during each class, I’ve been known to send a sideways glance in the direction of my darling, especially when we head to the wall to practice inversions. Last week, the instructor led us through several handstand preps. We walked our feet up the wall into an “L” shape and I was feeling pretty awesome. Then, we turned around and started kicking up toward the wall. Suddenly, my pride was feeling a little bruised. I wanted to be doing a handstand. Waaaah! Then, I looked over at The Huz and saw how close he was to getting his own handstand. I was so proud of HIM that I wasn’t even thinking of myself anymore!

Even though he teased me about being jealous of his “mad handstand skillz” we were both so proud of each other for committing to the best practice we could have. I might not be able to do a handstand, but I can totally be excited for my handsome husband who can. And maybe I’ll spend a few extra minutes practicing my own soon ;-)

National Running Day

Happy National Running Day!! Are you planning to run today? I knew today was going to be scorcher in NYC so I got my run in early this morning. Somehow, even 7:30 didn’t seem early enough though! I took Bodhi with me and we ran/walked 4 miles along the river. I’d have run the whole thing but my poor black dog was broiling in the morning sun. Ah well, luckily I enjoy running on most days, not just national running days ;-)

If you do plan to run today, and you’re going to brave hot weather, PLEASE be sure to hydrate properly. This doesn’t just mean guzzling a bunch of water before your run, either. Drink water consistently throughout your day and be sure to keep your electrolytes balanced by having some salt with your lunch of a sports drink of some kind. And make sure to take water with you (or plant it along your route) if you’re doing more than a few miles. There’s a reason races have water stops as early as the 2 mile mark – you need the fluids!

photo credit: FitSugar

Other hydration suggestions and resources:

Coconut water
Fresh fruit
Wear a fuel belt or camelback
Hydration article

Also, be sure to wear sunblock and avoid the peak hours of the day (11am-2pm).

Other than that, enjoy National Running Day!!

Book Review – What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I think my book slump has finally ended! I’d heard of my latest literary conquest while browsing an old issue of Runners World and I’m so glad it came up in my book queue when it did. I was gearing up to race the R Baby Mother’s Day 4 mile race and trying to get my running groove back. I know I go through phases with running, but I struggle with all the mind games I start to play when my running shoes have been in the closet for more than a few days.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami, is truly a meditation on running. A dramatic departure from his other books, WITAWITAR is a collection of diary entries, mixed in with recaps of races he wrote for running magazines and interviews. Much of the book is a tribute to Murakami’s love of long distance running, a passion he began cultivating at the respectable age of 33. He describes, with vivid detail, some of his favorite, and most challenging runs. And he highlights the many ways in which running and writing have become inextricably connected in his life. Both require talent, focus and endurance. This is why Murakami has run and written every day. And he has run a marathon almost every year since he began running.

The commitment to the practice of his trade, and to his passion, is remarkable and humbling. When I raced in Central Park on Mother’s Day, I chuckled as I remembered Murakami’s musings on how quiet his mind becomes when he runs. “Essentially I’m not thinking of a thing…all I do is keep running in my own cozy, homemade void.” I tried to absorb every moment of the race, mulled over each signal my body was sending me. I pushed through my fatigue because “It’s precisely because of the pain,” Mr. Murakami writes, “precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive.” And what do you know, I came out the other side with a new 4-mile PR: 33:15. That’s an 8:18/mile average, folks, and boy did I feel alive after that!

I might not be signing up to run from Athens to Marathon in the middle of the summer (Murakami did this) or running a 62-mile ultramarathon anytime soon (he did this too), but I am definitely excited to hit the streets consistently, to build up my own habit and commitment to regular running. And I’m also dying to read more of Murakami’s books! In the meantime, I’m going to read and re-read this interview. Enjoy!

Daily Om

Yoga has always been a challenge for me. Not so much in the physical sense, but more in the mental. Tell me to power through an hour long sweatfest of a run and I’ll jump at the chance and savor every salty minute. But tell me to sit crosslegged in a dimly lit room with quiet chanting and ask me to focus on my breath and quiet my mind? My mind races. As soon as my eyes close, I wonder if everyone else is looking at me. Is this all a joke and they’re all snickering at my sweaty workout clothes? I’m not like these women in their designer yoga apparel and 4 karat diamonds. I show up in running shorts and an old race tee that I have to keep tucking into my waistband.

15 seconds have passed. Now I’m thinking about the itch on my right middle toe. No, pinky toe. No, middle toe. Yup, definitely middle toe. Stupid toe. Who needs it anyway? And why, since I’ve generously allowed it to remain attached to my foot, does it insist on itching? Did I get a mosquito bite during a downward facing dog?

Instructor: Focus on your breath. In. Out. Direct your focus to your heart….

30 seconds. The dog! Do I need to pick up dog food on the way home? What should I have for dinner? It’s too hot to cook. Maybe The Huz can pick up something to throw on a salad. Do I want salad?

45 seconds. Ugh, I’m tired of this. I don’t want to be here. Would it be bad to get up and leave? How sad would that be? I couldn’t even lie and say I had an appointment to rush off too. I mean, who can’t handle 2 minutes of meditation?

Instructor: Now focus your breath on your third eye. Breathe into that space.

1 minute. Ooh, what if we all had three eyes? Would it look in the same direction as the other two? What would it mean to be cross eyed then? I’m a bad yogi. I should try to focus.

Instructor: If it helps, try a mantra. Inhale and say “Let.” Exhale and say “go.”

75 seconds. Let. Go. Let. Go. Let. Go. Hm, this isn’t so bad. Wait, I lost focus. Three breaths. That’s all I can muster? Focus, woman! Let. Go. Let. Go…

Instructor: Okay, now begin to deepen your breath. We’re going to end this meditation..

Wait, we’re done already? Where did the last 45 seconds go?

Instructor: …by chanting “Om” three times.

Om…igod I can’t believe I meditated for 45 seconds. Om…y darlin’ Oh my darlin’. Om….yword. I think I need to keep practicing this whole meditation thing.

Have you ever meditated? Do you use mantras to focus?

Recipe – Spicy Chipotle Guacamole

As I mentioned yesterday, having Diana over for dinner this weekend was a blast. However, it made me realize we’re still only about 85% moved into our apartment. We’ve been here for over a year now, but the corners we cut when we moved are starting to get on my nerves. For example, our bedside tables are still plastic rolling carts from Target, and we are using a large bookshelf as a dresser. We also have a terrible mish mash of lamps and I’m using a magnifying mirror as my bedside lamp. FYI, waking up and seeing yourself magnified 20x as soon as you open your eyes is NOT the best way to start your day. I’ve been shopping around online and trying to find some new apartment pieces and I think we might order some track lighting to install over the dining table and we’re eyeing a few more items from CSN Stores too. I actually have several reasons for wanting to work with CSN to finish our apartment. One of them is that I’m going to be reviewing a couple of products that will be showing up the blog soon. And these products may or may not be helpful next time I make this awesome guacamole!

Several weeks ago I tweeted that I was having a Gena-inspired dinner: a tub of guac with a side of guac. Without even realizing it, the tub I grabbed from Whole Foods on a class break was smoked chipotle guacamole and, I can’t lie, it blew my regular guac out of the water. Not to be outdone by a store-made version, I vowed to recreate it and take it up a notch.

Spicy Chipotle Guacamole (serves 3 hungry guac lovers, or 4-6 normal people)

3 ripe avocados
2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
3/4 large vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 ripe lemon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp Frank’s Red Hot
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

1. Finely chop the onion and add lemon juice. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Finely chop chilies and add to onion and lemon. (The chilies are pretty soft, so “chop” is all relative)

3. Add cayenne, Frank’s and garlic powder, stirring to coat.

4. Slice and score avocados, saving pits, and add to onion. Mash and mix everything together.

5. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with cilantro, if desired. (I’m not a big fan of cilantro, so I used a small handful as garnish only, but you could chop a larger bunch and mix into the guac.)

6. Serve immediately, or bury pits in guacamole, cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator.

Would you like one? Just make sure you follow it up with a slice of Diana’s no-bake, vegan pecan pie!

Book Review – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Hello world! Happy Thursday! I had a fab weekend packed with class, dinner with Diana, and lots of relaxing. In addition to plenty of Dexter (season 2 is in the bank!), I just finished another book and realized I’m way behind on my book reviews. After I read Ellen Foster, I was still feeling a mild case of book blues so I knew another short book was in order. Up next was The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby. I remember The Huz’s cousin, Jessica, reading this several years ago and her remarking on the beautiful language with which this memoir was written. And now I can’t remember why I didn’t pick it up earlier. She was right. The book was impeccably written, a fact made even more impressive given the way the words found their voice.

Bauby, a former French Elle editor, suffered a brain stem stroke and was diagnosed with “locked in” syndrome when he awoke from a coma. The only functioning parts of his body were his brain and his left eye. As he described in his memoir, Bauby communicated the text by blinking his left eyelid to designate words, letter by letter, to an assistant who recited to him a special alphabet.

If the memoir had been full of self pity and rage against the world, I would have understood completely. Bauby’s life had been stolen from him and he was forced to witness it strictly as a spectator. Instead of descending into a pit of inconsolable misery, Bauby seized the beautiful power of his imagination, which “takes flight like a butterfly….You can wander off in space or in time, set out for Tierra del Fuego or for King Midas’s court,” and he tells stories with humor, a dry wit and an unmatched elegance.

As if the stroke and resulting locked in syndrome weren’t bad enough, Bauby died of heart failure just two days after the book was originally published in France. Since its initial printing in 1997, Bauby’s memoir has become an international bestseller and was adapted into a feature film in 2007. I hadn’t seen the movie prior to reading the book, but I’m looking forward to seeing the adaptation and hope it does the author’s story justice.

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