Monday, October 29, 2012

Refine Method, brought to me by Athleta

Happy Hurrication Day, fellow east coasters!  I hope everyone is battening down the hatches and staying safe.  (Or planning hurricane parties, if you're in New York City)  Marc's relishing the rare opportunity to sleep in, while I slept in...til about 8:45.

Today will be all about making sure we're all set for the storm - my mom just gave us the excellent advice to make sure we have cash on hand, which we didn't even think about, so heed my mom's advice, everyone! - and finally turning our attention back to that little event known as our wedding coming up in less than five months.  What with my race, Marc working hard to prepare for filming a sketch he wrote this weekend, and life in general being busy, we haven't really had time to spare for it.

I also wanted to take advantage of the unexpected free time to write my entry this week.  I'm glad I don't have to wait until Thursday, my typical bloggin' day, to write about the awesome morning I had last Thursday.

I was once again generously invited by Athelta to preview one of their collections - this time it's their upcoming Spring 2013 collection.  (Spring?  Really?  The two-seasons-ahead nature of fashion has always thrown me off.)  The clothes, as always, are beautiful and functional, and they're really expanding into so many other sports than the typical run-and-yoga-wear you see in many athletic clothing lines.  They're developing swim pants for surfing, paddleboarding, and other water sports, triathalon suits designed to go easily from swimming to biking to running, and even clothing for sports like golf.

After taking a tour of the collection, I was ushered into the room where the morning's complimentary fitness class was going to take place - a new class called Refine Method.  I had absolutely zero idea what to expect - all I knew was I was told to wear my running shoes.

The class was fantastic, hard, and sweaty.  It felt like I was doing a Jillian Michaels video but with an actual teacher and with props.  Refine mixes cardio and functional training for a safe and intense workout that leaves you a quivering, sweaty, but very happy puddle on the floor afterward.  The class was taught by Brynn Jinnett, who I later discovered was the founder of the class.  With locations in Union Square, the Upper East Side, and the Upper West, I'm definitely going to be back.  The classes are on the pricier side for me, but they offer great new-student packages.

After the class, I got my incredibly generous free gift - a workout top and capris from Athleta.  I found my gift bag among the rest, and couldn't help but notice the other name tags on some of the bags noted people from Women's Health, the New York Times, and other really respected and legitimate news organizations...and then couldn't help wondering what my name was doing among them!  Regardless, I'll take it with lots of enthusiastic gratitude!   The enclosed outfit could not have been more perfect - the top was the new Skills & Drills Tank and the bottom was the Relay Capri.  The top is that perfect Athleta combination of girly and pretty and incredibly funcional and comfortable.  It might be the first top I can take running without an extra sports bra underneath, which would make my weekly laundry load happy.  The capris were a really exciting treat, as my Relay Capris in black were the pants that saw me through every single long run I took in my half marathon training as well as the race itself.  Happily, the gifted capris were in a beautiful black heather (i.e. grayish) color, which I like even more than my original blacks.

I already recommend Athleta to any woman with any need for any workout clothes, sportswear, comfortable undies, or cute dresses - now I'd love to recommend Refine Method to anyone living in New York City looking to shake up their workout routine with a really intelligent blend of cardio and functional strength training.


Once again, Happy Hurrication, and stay safe everyone!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Finish Line

Well, readers, I did it.  13.1 miles with my sister by my side, starting at the still-dark hour of 7am and ending around 9:30 (I had 2 hrs 25 minutes by my watch, but our official time says 2 hrs and 29).

What shocked me most of all was how doable it was.  Not necessarily easy, of course, but completely within my capacity to do.  It was an amazing feeling coming up on Mile 10 - previously the farthest I've ever run - and realized that I felt great and had enough gas in the tank to increase my pace.  Despite my aching, aching feet (which started talking to me around miles 5 or 6 and didn't let up) and my intermittent hunger pains, I was so excited just to be in the moment.

For the last few miles when our conversation, which had been steady up until that point, started to ease off, I would occasionally find myself wanting it to be over, wanting to be at the finish line so I could stop and eat and drink and celebrate.  Whenever that happened, though, I reminded myself that this was the only first time I was ever going to be running 13.1 miles at this beautiful place, with the weather we were so blessed with, with my sister, during this wonderful, life changing year. I tried to mentally relax, to be where I was, and to enjoy the present.  Hearing the huffs and puffs of the runners around us, passing them or being passed by them, basking in the moments where there were spectators and supporters - and at that point, much faster runners who had already finished the race - and laughing at the one guy at the aid stand who instead of calling out "Water!" called out "Mimosas!"

It sounds incredibly simplistic, but it's something yoga tells us to do constantly - instead of yearning for the past or anxiously awaiting the end of something, be where you are.  It might not be easy - and it might not be as overwhelmingly meaningful to you as this race was to me - but you will get so much more out of each and every experience.

My main life philosophy was, I'm only slightly ashamed to admit, cribbed from a Yogi Tea Teabag (for the record, I feel the quality of the little teabag wisdom phrases has declined over the years...) and it reads "The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment."  As I've written before - that's a lot easier to do when you're staying present for every moment.

A funny little post script to this weekend - I went for my first run since the race early yesterday morning.  I only planned an easy 3 mile run around Astoria Park, just to get my body moving again. Halfway through, I started feeling hip pain - that I hadn't felt at all during or after the race - and walked for most of the last mile.  As my sister said earlier, some mornings you can run 13.1 like it's no problem - some mornings you can barely run 3.  It's humbling!

And without further rambling, some pictures from my fabulous photo (and video!) taking sister - to whom I owe a great debt for having this idea in the first place.

3.1 miles in and feeling fabulous!
At around the 6 mile mark or so...almost halfway!

Heavenly reward for all that running...

We had such a blast at Mt. Atlanticus with Megan's friend Kenny, who also ran the race and was so much fun to play with this weekend.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Final Countdown

This morning marked my very last training run before Sunday's half marathon.  I ran five miles around the neighborhood - to LaGuardia airport and back, then on to Astoria Park with its amazing view of the Manhattan skyline.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the coming race.  I'm unbelievably excited, first and foremost.  I can't wait to get on that plane to Myrtle Beach, to see my sister for the first time since her wedding last month, to actually run the 13.1 miles, and to eat all the glorious food that will fuel us up before and after.  Also she said something about a hot tub and an indoor pool at the hotel, so there's that...

I feel really prepared, which isn't necessarily something I anticipated feeling.  I think part of me really thought the training was going to kill me!  I still can't really believe that I've run as much as I have these last months.

Amidst all the excitement and pride, I'm also feeling both sad and relieved.  I don't have a desire to run a full marathon (sorry, Megan!) and this is the "last first time" I'll train for a half.  The discovery of my ability to just plain do it has been really rewarding and special, and it's an experience I want to savor before life blazes forward like it does.  Training for this race has been one of the best ways to appreciate the gorgeous transition into fall.  Being outside more, being in the most nature-heavy parts of this city, and watching the leaves turn even more beautiful today than they were yesterday has been so wonderful.  The runs where I don't have any music or any podcast have been incredible ways to think through problems, zone out and daydream, visualize the race, and meditate.

Despite my reluctance to let this moment in time go, there is certainly a part of me that will greatly appreciate the space this will open up in my life.  As much as I have loved Sunday morning runs in Central Park - especially when Marc comes with me and joins me for a fabulous post run brunch - it will be nice to have a day during the week where I don't have to wake up to an alarm clock.  I can turn my attention to my best autumn friend - my Crock Pot!  I'll have a little more space for yoga, and a little more space to plan that little wedding that's happening in a little over five months.  I'm also expecting Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Kitchen cookbook in a couple of weeks and I can't wait to get experimenting with new healthy recipes!

I'll also have more space to reread (yep, reread) an absolutely wonderful book that I just devoured:  the sequel to Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project that I was so insanely obsessed with last fall, Happier at Home.  It's very similar to her first book, she just delves more deeply and tackles some different resolutions.  It's fun, fascinating, and as compulsively readable as a novel (or maybe a novel in blog-style).  It completely appeals to me, as a resolution-making, goal-setting, chart-loving, self-improvement and organization freak.

So in two days I'll be off to beautiful Myrtle Beach, SC, and I'm sure the following week's blog will be a recap of the amazing weekend.  Soon, though - back to book reports, non-running ponderings, and oh yeah - yoga!

Happy Thursday, Internets!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Non-Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

This past weekend threw a (delightful) wrench into my usual training schedule - Marc's lovely cousin Dan married his lovely longtime love Amanda and we went up north to join in the festivities.  It was a great time, and I absolutely love Marc's family.  I even got to spend time with his Grandpa and with his brother and sister-in-law who are visiting from London for the occasion.

Normally I go for my long runs on Sundays, with shorter runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Between being sick last weekend and having to skip my scheduled 9 mile run, and this past weekend pushing my Sunday run to very early Monday morning, before my full day of teaching and working, I was a little worried about how that run (10 miles) would turn out.  It was my first long run since doing 8 over two weeks ago, I was running on a barely healed blister on my right instep, and most importantly, I would be running all 10 miles completely by myself.  No Marc, no Megan, no running buddy whatsoever.

"Gulp" was my major reaction when I thought about this run.

Although I was a little worried about how I would do physically, between the loss of training, the blister, and the decadent eating and drinking that always occurs when I'm with the LeVasseurs (and at a wedding no less!), I was much more concerned about how I would survive the alone part.  With no Marc to talk to to make the first 5 or 6 miles fly by, how would I possibly be mentally able to stay in it for the long haul?  Even for the race I'm not going to be alone - Megan and I are going to stick together as long as we can until our paces start to differ.

Despite my reservations, sleepiness, and the chill in the air, I got myself up, cued up my GPS, and went for it.  For part of it I listened to podcasts (the remainder of a Jillian Michaels Show and most of a Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me) but for a good two and a half miles in the middle there I went without anything but my little ol' brain.  I was continually surprised throughout the whole run - or really, once I woke up after mile 2 - at how easy it seemed.  Not that it wasn't challenging, because obviously I was running, but I'd think at any given time at how many I had run so far and how many I had to go and I always knew I could do it.  Given how doubtful I felt, and despite the violent reappearance of my blister at mile 5, it's amazing that once I was out there doing it, it seemed like no big deal.  After the halfway point, my trusty Nike GPS man said "4 miles to go" instead of "6 miles completed," and I immediately thought - "4 miles?  That's nothing!"

After the run, I still have a very long day ahead of me and I was quite worried that I'd burn out and just be completely physically exhausted and mentally fried by the end of the day, but I was truly in such a fantastic mood the whole rest of the day.  I had good food and some time to stretch and put my legs up the wall for 10 minutes or so, and I was good to go.

I'm still a little sore from it, and the short, easy runs since then have felt even harder than the 10 miler.  But I'm 10 days out from the race and very much looking forward to tapering down the mileage.  I'll be running 7 miles on Sunday, and then the following Sunday...the big 13.1.

Luckily I'm taking a yoga class later with my best friend to help heal from this crazy new mileage and to help reset my brain with the reminder that worry is truly futile.  I didn't feel lonely or scared on that run, and I know that I can do this race now with no problem.  It's pretty awesome.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Drive by post, sponsored by Athleta!

Holy moly, what an insane week it's been.  Super long, busy days, the craziest zombie party ever, a massive head cold, the return of my best friend from upstate, and now heading out of town for my fiance's cousin's wedding.  Yet somehow, I'm posting a blog this week.

I could pontificate on being forced to surrender to my cold on Sunday instead of running the 9 miles that were on my training schedule, or how that first run yesterday to cement my conquering of the cold felt, or plenty of other things that happened this week, but I'm going to instead write about my favorite clothing company, Athleta!

I stopped by Athleta on my way to a private yesterday to return a pair of pants - my very favorite pants ever, the Java Capris - for a new pair because I've literally worn a hole in them, and wound up with some other goodies.

I was also generously gifted with some awesome hi-res images of some of their upcoming running gear for winter.  My half marathon will end just before temperatures get really chilly (especially since the race itself is going to be in balmy Myrtle Beach) but my love for running is at an all time high and I want to be able to get out the door no matter how cold or snowy or icy or whatever it may be outside.

Enjoy the pretty pictures, check out athleta.com, and enjoy your weekend!