Plogging crew by the Prospect Park lake.

I went on my first plogging run today! Plogging is an activity that started in Sweden, a combination of jogging and picking up trash. It’s a nice complement to regular runs because a whole lot of squatting, twisting, and stretching is involved. It feels especially good for me right now when I need to just do a lot of easy running. My goal for all runs for at least the next month is to keep my heart rate below 144; during today’s run it averaged 137. Perfect.

My buddy Alex started the Plogging NYC Meetup group a while ago, and they’ve plogged in all five boroughs already. I got involved when he asked me a while ago to help lead today’s run in Prospect Park since I’m familiar with the trails. I love introducing people to the trails and was excited to plog, so that was an easy yes. We did a reconnaissance run a few weeks ago to figure out a 4-mile route, and the actual group run was this morning. The weather was good, the ploggers were enthusiastic . . . and we finished the run at Smorgasburg, a huge open-air food fair. It was fun.

Plogging isn’t going to solve the problem of plastic/trash dumping alone, but it feels good to do and does make a difference on the local level. A lot of people in the park stopped to talk to us, ask us what we were doing, and say thank you. That felt good.

If you’re interested in trying this out, you can get connected via Meetup, Instagram, or Facebook.

It’s 2018!

It’s time for a quick review of 2017 plus some goals for 2018.

2017: I ran 1,106 miles total. That’s almost exactly what I ran last year and NOT very close to my goal of 1,500 miles. Oh well (*shrugs*). Mileage peaked in August as I was preparing for the Portland marathon and again in December as I got seriously into Bear Mountain training.

I ran 21 races in 2017, and I hope to never run that many races in a single year again! It was just too much, but a lot of it was chasing the NYRR 9+1 qualifier to get into the New York City marathon for 2018. My favorite race was the Breakneck Point trail half marathon. I raced my first duathlon and got a big kick out of that. I trained for and ran the Portland marathon, and even though I wasn’t thrilled with how I did I loved having so much of my family involved either as spectators or as first-time marathoners.

2018: I want to run trails, hike, and go rock climbing. I have my eye on five races this year (I’m actually registered for three of them already) and I really want to keep it limited to these: two trail ultras, two road half marathons, and the NYC marathon. I’m really enjoying the current training approach (4-5 runs weekly, 3 weeks on, 1 week off) that I’m following for Bear Mountain so I’d like to keep something similar going as I prepare for all of this year’s races.

I have a handful of wonderful running buddies, including my husband, and I want to keep spending time (and miles) with them. I need to stay focused on nutrition as I’m getting close to completely vegetarian. Sleep and recovery time continue to be hugely important.

I think that’s about it. Happy (belated) 2018, everyone!

Palisades trails

Trail, bare trees, and the Hudson River.

If you take the subway to 175th Street in Washington Heights (northern Manhattan), cross the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey, and take a right, you’re all of a sudden in the woods, running on dirt trails along the Palisades cliffs and spotting deer, hawks, and other runners and hikers. It’s great! I did 9.5 miles out at the Palisades last weekend and it was just lovely.

The trails aren’t quite as technical and the elevation doesn’t change as much as it will in the 50k on Bear Mountain, but it’s still a good workout and a nice change from running park trails. There’s no water available in the winter (and only a single water fountain I’m aware of in summer) so you need to carry whatever you need. There are two main trails – the Long Path along the cliff tops, and the Shore Path down by the edge of the river. I almost always stick to the Long Path, running an out-and-back, but I suppose going back and forth between the two on the handful of connector trails would give some good elevation gain. Maybe next time.

Looking north along the Hudson River.

Bear Mountain 50k: I’m doing this!

For a few years now I’ve had my eye on Rainshadow Running’s Gorge Waterfalls 50k in Oregon as a race that I really want to run as my first 50k. I entered the lottery for the spring 2017 race but didn’t get picked. Now the spring 2018 race has, sadly, been canceled due to the terrible fire this summer. But I’m in a spot right now where I feel like I have the time and energy to train for a 50k. So? Plan B: the North Face Endurance Challenge Series 50k on Bear Mountain, New York, May 5, 2018. I’ve registered and this is my first week of training.

Logistics: This will (duh) be my first race longer than a marathon. 50k = approximately 31 miles, so around 5 miles longer if all goes as planned. The elevation gain will likely be around 4,500 feet across the 31 miles. To put that in context, the Breakneck Point half marathon I ran this spring had about 4,500 feet of elevation gain across 13 miles. I’m not saying Bear Mountain won’t be hard, but the climbing won’t be as fricking insane as it was at Breakneck. Race start time is 7 a.m. and a ten-hour cutoff means I’ll need to finish by 5 p.m. All during daylight; no headlamp needed. I would love to average 12- or 13-minute miles, but even 15-minute miles on average would keep me well under the cutoff.

Training: For a training plan, I’m using the “first 50k” plan from Krissy Moehl’s Running Your First Ultra. The book itself is a little sparse and could’ve used some editorial work, but the plan seems very solid, built on four-week cycles of three weeks of increasing workload then one week of recovery, with weekly totals that aren’t daunting except for two or three weeks near the end. It’s a 24-week plan so it will be the longest I’ve ever trained for a specific event. I’m going to include as much strength work as I can and also focus on quality daily nutrition (vegetarian always, vegan when possible) and getting tons of sleep. I’m lucky that there are trails right here in Prospect Park that I can use for mid-week runs and speed/hillwork. I’m hoping to get out of town most weekends, by train or bus, to run on Bear Mountain itself or around the Cold Spring/Beacon area.

I don’t really want to post a weekly training log but maybe I’ll post one for every four-week cycle. And hopefully I’ll post about some of the trails I get out to run on, outside the city. Plus general ramblings about gear, nutrition, and general preparation. Here I go!

Portland Marathon training: GO!

I haven’t been posting here regularly since last summer/fall when I was training for the Steamtown Marathon. But here I am, 16 weeks out from the Portland Marathon, so I’ll start doing weekly training logs again!

This will be my third marathon. Here are some random thoughts and intentions for this training cycle:

  • I’m using NYRR’s Virtual Trainer program this time.
  • I’ll have much more free time on weekends this go-round, so hopefully less stress about squeezing in long runs.
  • 4 runs per week, plus a goal of 2 rock climbing sessions, 2 bike sessions, and light yoga/strength work.
  • I’ve been meat-free, other than occasional fish, for a year and a half now, and I want to stay focused on eating healthy while training (no, cutting out meat doesn’t automatically make your diet healthy!)
  • Weekday morning runs have been working really well for me (thanks to an awesome running buddy) so I’ll continue with that.
  • In the interest of getting up early (see above), no alcohol on weeknights, unless I’m out with friends.
  • I hope I can knock at least a half hour off my previous marathon time, bringing it down from just under 5 hours to around 4 and a half.

My husband, my dad, and a friend are also all running Portland – first marathon for all of them. This is going to be an awesome adventure!

It’s spring!

…and I haven’t written a blog post yet this year!

February highlight: spelling out “LOVE” on the streets of Brooklyn with my running club for Valentine’s Day.

I’ve been running pretty steadily, though, with some biking and climbing thrown in. Average weekly mileage is around 20 so far this year. 30 would be better. I’ll keep working toward that.

I’ve run a few races so far this year:

Joe Kleinerman 10K in January in Central Park: A cold day, snow coming down at the end of the race, and a PR at 54:49!

Al Gordon 4M in February in Prospect Park: Weirdly muggy and my first 4-mile race. I was super happy with my time of 34:20, averaging 8:35/mile pace.

Frozen Penguin half marathon in March as a training run: Brutal winds on the final four miles; otherwise a good run.

UAE 10K last weekend: Slower than my January 10K, as I was up on the trails the day before, and really I shouldn’t have run a 10K last weekend with Breakneck coming up, but the weather was oh so beautiful and the trees were blooming and all my friends were there.

I’m more or less prepared for the Breakneck Point trail half marathon tomorrow – it’s going to be brutal (with around 3,000 feet elevation gain over 13 miles it will definitely be my slowest half marathon ever) but I’ve been doing enough climbing and trail running that it shouldn’t break me. Last weekend T and I did a recon run on the trails that, as I’ve been telling people, “put the fear of god in me,” but also got me super excited about the race.

And then after Breakneck:

Redding Road Race: Half marathon 3 weeks later. I’m hoping to PR here, and the plan after Breakneck will be one week of recovery, one week of hard training, and one week of taper. It’s a hard course (hills!) but I know it well and it’s where I set my current half marathon PR (2:10:32).

Short races all summer: This summer is going to be a 5K and 5M party.

Hudson Valley ride: 55-mile bike tour in late June – I’ll need to train to be ready for the hills here, too.

NYC Duathlon: Heck yes, I signed up for a duathlon with a friend! Gonna have to figure out how these work. It’s 2.2 miles run, 12 miles bike, 2.2 miles run. The distances are not intimidating but putting them together is going to be interesting.

Portland Marathon: In early October. Training starts June 18, though I’m still trying to figure out what training will consist of.

It should be a good year.

Wrapping up 2016

The NYRR Midnight Run is tonight (New Year’s Eve) but I’m gonna count that as the first run of 2017 … so it’s time for a 2016 wrap-up.

There was a lot of awful stuff going on in the world, but it was a good year for running.

According to Garmin, this year I:

  • ran 1,100 miles (170 of those on trails)
  • biked 670 miles
  • hiked 84 miles
  • spent 51.75 hours at the climbing gym

I had six months of 100+ running miles, peaking at 146 in September. I ran with a lot of great friends and amazing people: Tina, Fanny, Andy, Murray, Frans, Lisa, Chaya, Jane, and many more. I ran in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Boston, New Jersey, Connecticut, upstate NY, and on the hills of Oregon. I hung out on the Red Hook track with Frans and the Armory track with my PPTC teammates. I helped Frans put together a training plan for, first, a 13.1-mile run, and then a “real” timed half marathon, and ran both with him. I learned so much from the PPTC crew, both online and in person.

I ran 14 races with new road PRs for 10k, half marathon, 5k, marathon, and 5-mile distances. I ran my first trail 25k . . . automatic PR there! I can’t pick a favorite race: I always love the Redding Road Race half. The JFK airport 5k was a cool experience. Steamtown was wonderful, even though I didn’t hit my time goal. The Al Goldstein 5k summer race series is like a hot summer evening running party every other week. I love love love the PPTC Turkey Trot. Running the Pelham half with Frans was very satisfying. Fine, they’re all my favorites.

Best running-related books I read this year: Build Your Running Body and Fixing Your Feet (6th ed.).

I had some amazing hiking experiences in New York (Hudson River Valley), Oregon (Pacific Crest Trail), and Washington (Mount Saint Helens). I rode the occasional bike commute in the summer, worked as lead bike for quite a few races, and took part in one epic 50-mile biking adventure near Poughkeepsie with two PPTC friends.

Okay, so what about goals for 2017? I’d like to run around 1,500 miles total – that’s an average of 125 per month and I think it’s doable. I’d been considering a 50k race in the spring, but I think that’s over-ambitious. Maybe fall. I have a few spring half-marathons coming up, with the Breakneck Point trail half being my main focus, and then the Portland Marathon in the fall. Other goals:

  • improve my PRs in most distances
  • run more trails
  • stay healthy and uninjured
  • keep climbing regularly
  • make it to more of the Saturday morning group runs with PPTC
  • hike when I can, bike when I can

That should keep me busy, right?

Long Island Greenbelt 25K race report

LIG 25k map screenshot

North to Cold Spring Harbor then back.

“Challenging but fair”

Distance: 25K = 15.5 (but my watch gave 14.6)

Total time: 3:29:53 (14:21 avg. pace!)

Elev. gain: 2,238 feet

5-mile splits: 1:00:02, 1:24:49, then the last 4.6 miles in 1:05:02

Goal: Finish happy. Yeah, it’s dorky, and this is the first time I’ve ever had this as my goal, but I think it was the right thing to aim for. This was my first trail race in excess of 6 miles and I only registered five days before the race.

Training: I trained well for (and PR’d at!) the Redding Road Race half marathon a week earlier. Running the Greenbelt 25K was a last-minute decision so my week of training was basically two days of rest, one super-easy run/walk, 4 easy miles on trails, and 4 miles of easy road running. The last run was the night before the race – not ideal but it was important to get a run-to-dinner in with my husband, and I was looking at this 25K more as a training/test/try-it-out than a race.

Overview: The website described this as a “challenging but fair” course and I felt like it was.

I met up with the Brooklyn Trail Runners crew at Penn Station for the early train to Hicksville, and the race provided a shuttle from Hicksville to the start/finish (the Greater Long Island Running Club clubhouse). Everything was really well organized, aid stations were well stocked, trail was marked as well as a trail can be, and both races (there was also a 50K) started on time.

My two main concerns going into this were navigation and staying strong over the combination of distance and hills. The course was an out-and-back, and during the “out” leg I stayed with a group of runners and had a chance to take a good look at the markers: white blazes along most of the trail, plus orange tape along straight stretches and green tape at turns. We got more spread out on the “back” leg but by that point I felt confident about where I was going – and actually helped someone else get un-lost! In terms of staying strong for the whole distance … well, I did my best, and I think with more training, especially on hills, I’ll get better. I was happy that I was able to keep a decent jog going for the last few miles after feeling seriously exhausted by the hills in the middle miles. I hiked most hills – definitely the sensible option, in my opinion.

The course actually measured a little under 25K (14.6 miles on my watch, rather than 15.5) but I wasn’t complaining. The first third was net downhill, the middle third was rough with lots of steep elevation change, and the final third was net uphill (it was an out-and-back). The weather was uncomfortably cool before the start and after the finish, but just right for running. The trail was mostly single-track but not overwhelmingly technical, apart from a few areas full of roots, which might be a result of recent rain and erosion.

I finished about 2/3 back in the pack, which didn’t really surprise me. I’d love to improve on that in the future.

LIG 25k elevation

Elevation chart shows the nasty spikes in the middle five miles.

Worked well: I set my watch to just give me 5-mile splits and otherwise didn’t look at it. This worked well because I didn’t want to worry about time, just have a general idea of how I was doing. I think I was smart about staying hydrated (water and Nuun), eating watermelon (yum!) at every aid station, and taking a Clif shot before I felt I needed it. Ultimate Direction’s Ultra Vesta hydration pack is a winner.

Learned for next time: Don’t pin my bib where my hydration pack’s going to bump it and make crinkly sounds! Duh. Don’t forget to use Body Glide to avoid sports-bra/ribcage chafing. Bring warmer clothes for before and after. And I think it’s almost time for new trail shoes.

Up next: More biking and climbing than running for the next week, then hopefully a good combination of speedwork and trail outings through early summer.