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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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7:35, what?

Now that I’m up and running again (ah, puns, love them. LOVE them.), I’ve been getting more acquainted with interval workouts. And even though, for the most part, it’s crazy hot here in NYC these days, I’ve tried to take a run or two out to the streets. But what’s a girl to do when her training plan demands she run a workout like this??

400m 7:35/mile
600m 7:40/mile
800m 7:45/mile
1200m 7:55/mile
800m 7:45/mile
600m 7:40/mile
400m 7:35/mile

First of all, let me just say I think these paces are absolutely absurd. Since when can I run at a 7:35/mile pace? Well, apparently I can. It’s not pretty, but I can do it!

Second, how am I supposed to gauge distance and pace when I’m outside? Several months ago, the Huz literally had to drag me away from the computer just seconds before I bought myself a Garmin. Um, hello, Katherine. You quit your full-time, cushy desk job back in April, remember? Let’s not go blowing hundreds of dollars on a watch, mmmkay? Truth be told, the money wasn’t the only issue. By all accounts, Garmins really aren’t great in NYC. Apparently the interference of all the skyscrapers and tall apartment buildings scrambles the GPS so it’s really only effective in Central Park, or along the rivers. And even then it can take a while to find signal. I don’t know about you, but when I’m staring at a training run like the one above, the extra 10 seconds I have to stand and wait for my watch to figure out where I am is more than enough time to turn me around and lead straight to the couch.

I could always just ignore the .75 miles to and from Central Park, but I have to say I like getting credit for ALL the running I’m doing. That mile and a half starts to add up after a while, too!

So, a Garmin was out of the question.

Suddenly I found myself on the hunt for a reputable running watch that tracked pace and time without GPS. I didn’t need a heart rate monitor or lots of bells and whistles. I just wanted something that would help me run that nasty interval workout without sneaking in extra seconds or, worse, extra distance! Sometimes I’m amazed by the power of the internet. In no time, I found Tech4o, a company that makes the exact watch I was looking for! And, even better, they agreed to send one to me to put through the training ringer. Hooray!!

Welcome home my beautiful, pink loveliness!

First off, I had to calibrate this watch. Similar to a basic pedometer, the watch needs to have a registered stride length. However, it records both a walking AND a running length, which is great for those of us who sometimes need to take a quick walk break (or have a rest interval between 400m dashes) and don’t want our pace or distance to be completely miscalculated. It also doesn’t require a foot pod or additional gear. I’ll admit, running and walking circles around the Central Park Reservoir ad nauseum didn’t really endear me to the watch, but it was a great excuse to get out and enjoy the scenery for about an hour. I can’t say how thankful I was for the meter and yard markers around the reservoir. Without a good track, the calibration would have been almost impossible!

I took this watch out for several easy runs and then decided to put it to the true test – a road race! The Mothers Day 4 miler seemed like the perfect opportunity so I strapped my iPhone around my arm, my Accelerator watch around my wrist and ticked off the miles marked along the course. Success!!

Official course distance: 4.0 miles
iPhone app recorded distance: 4.15 miles
Tech4o distance: 4.07 miles

I’ll take the .07 mile variation since I definitely wasn’t on the inside of the course for the duration.

Test #2 was the Japan Day 4 miler, a race with very different weather conditions and one that was run about three minutes slower.

Official course distance: 4.0 miles
iPhone app distance: 4.17 miles
Tech4o distance: 4.19 miles

Uh oh! I think this race demonstrated the limitations of a stride-based pacing watch. Because I was running so much slower (thank you 80% humidity), my stride was shorter. The watch still registered the movement as running, but assumed I was striding out to the length I usually ran. Oops! The good news is that I took my pink princess out for a repeat of the course later that week and ran it at my more natural stride and it was right back on track. It even properly tracked the 30-second walk I took to answer my phone while running.

Bolstered by the good results, I decided to take it out this week for an interval run. I’ve never used all the functions on a Garmin so I don’t know if the experience would be similar, but I found intervals to be so convenient with the Accelerator. I used the sequential timers and set the view to show my distance and pace, so I had no trouble knowing when to sprint and when I could collapse and recover and the screen was easy to read and uncluttered so I didn’t have too much information to confuse me. (Hey, it’s easy after 4 miles of hot, sweaty intervals!)

I guess the moral of the story is that nothing is perfect. However, if you run a pretty consistent pace and live in a major city, I would very strongly recommend you look at Tech4o’s products when considering your next watch purchase. I know Garmins are the hotness as far as running gear goes, but my watch is smaller, more feminine, more user-friendly and, most importantly, more accurate for city running! And the cheaper price tag is a nice perk too.

We Make Plans…

So, I ran in my new kicks a few times and decided it was time to start formulating a plan for my goal – a new half marathon PR. When I started plotting out my schedule, I talked to several other runners about training plans, race choices, and so on. As far as which race I would run, I had some pretty tough restrictions:

1. The race must be in October or November this year. I’d prefer to sign up for two, in case the first is a bust.
2. The race must be relatively local.
3. It must be on a Sunday, and allow day-of packet pick-up. I’ll have class on Saturdays so I can’t run races that require Saturday pick-up.
4. It must be a relatively flat course. Let’s face it. Shooting for a PR while climbing Everest is just sick. Give me flat and fast, please!

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that these limitations would be, well, limiting. At this point, I’ve decided to sign up for the Staten Island Half Marathon. It’s not particularly flat, but it does satisfy all my other requirements. Ah me, ah my. I suppose I should see Staten Island one of these days anyway, right? (Side note: I can’t believe how many NYers have never seen Staten Island. Ever. Totally blows my mind.)

Okay, race chosen. Now for a training plan. Lindsay is currently training for a full marathon, just a small stepping stone for her journey to a full Ironman. She said she was using the FIRST marathon training plan, which only requires three runs each week. A PR based on only three days of running/week? Yes please! I promptly took the half marathon plan, chopped out a few weeks to make it fit into the remaining weeks between now and 10.10.10 (love it!) and printed about a hundred copies to keep in every nook and cranny of my apartment, office and purses. No way I can lose motivation that way!

The plan I’ve created follows the FIRST method, which utilizes one interval/speed run, one tempo run, and one long run each week. I also do cross training 2-3 times each week and have one rest day. Oddly, the rest day is the day before my long run, rather than the day after. At first I was concerned about hopping on an elliptical machine right after a long run, but I really love feeling fresh to run long and having a reason to get moving the day after logging the big miles.

Well, now I’ve got the kicks, the date, and the plan. Nothing can go wrong right?

Radio Silence

After I volunteered last Sunday, I recommitted to getting some non-running cardio back into my life. I’d been so pleased with the running I’d done before last weekend, but I finally had to admit that my ankle was still bothering me. I got treated three times at work last week and abstained from the 5M race this Sunday in accordance with my doctor’s wishes and I honestly can’t believe how much better I’m feeling. After the first treatment, we were both feeling pretty confident that my issue was muscle-related, rather than a stress reaction or stress fracture. I had aggressive treatment the next day and again on Friday, when my leg was a little less sensitive to the touch. To keep myself from going completely nuts, I’ve been spending lots of time on the elliptical machines and bikes, but I’ve missed my old friend, running. I’m sure you could tell given the radio silence around these parts.

Well, I finally ran again today (probably why I’m inspired to blog, of course). I’ve spent the day at The Huz’s office in New Jersey and I went to his gym to reunite with the treatmill. Oh how I miss the vast expanses of suburban gyms! Rows and rows of shiny cardio machines and a huge, open free weight area beckoned to me. Not wanting to push myself too far, I opted for a slow and steady 5 miles on the treadmill and had a good stretch after. The good news, I don’t feel like I’ve lost much fitness. The bad news, I’ve definitely added a little extra padding the last few weeks, and I could feel it while I ran. Oof!

I’m not going to exhaust myself over the weight though, because I know it’ll fall off as I get back into race mode. I haven’t discussed my 2010 goals lately, but one has been on my mind: New 1/2 Marathon PR! I’m crafting my training plan now and think I’ll be shooting for two different halves. One in September and one in October. That way I’m not putting all my eggs in one, late-Fall/early-Winter basket.

Here’s hoping I can get back into gear with relative ease. You’ll know if you see me around the blog world 😉

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?

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!

S is for Super Smoothie!

After my double shift yesterday, I needed to sleep in today! Thank goodness for my dear husband, who (somewhat begrudgingly) offered to walk Bodhi this morning. That meant I finally got to wait until I felt fully rested to get out of bed. Oddly enough, I couldn’t sleep that late! I was tossing and turning by 10am and was out the door by 10:30 for a jog with the pup.

The weather is so nice, but it’s pretty warm in the sun, so we ran/walked about 5.25 miles so Bodhi wouldn’t get overheated. And, instead of running around the usual loop, we zigged and zagged through the Ramble, which was a lot of fun!

When we got back home, I wasn’t really hungry, but I’ve picked up the afternoon shift at work so I knew I’d need some serious nutrients to recover from the run, get me to and through work, and home again.

This month’s Runner’s World has a great article called “Easy Upgrades: Get more nutrition out of already healthy foods by adding one ingredient.” I wanted to make another green monster so I pulled the cocoa powder out of the cabinet and added it to the mix. Actually, I added a lot to this one!

Super Smoothie

3 handfuls baby spinach
1/2 container honey Chobani
1 medium banana
1/4 c. oats
1 T. chia seeds
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 scoop vanilla Jay Robb protein powder
1/2 T. smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup water
6 ice cubes

I’ve been sipping this bad boy for over an hour and still have a ways to go. I think I’ll be thoroughly satisfied through my shift tonight!