Monday, May 30, 2011

Yes, this is still a running blog...

Even though I haven't been running at all. Well, running all over Israel but I'm not sure thy counts. I hate the way not running makes me feel, particularly since there is so much good food to eat in Israel before we have to go back home. But, having the chance to be back in Israel really does make it all worth it. We took the group to Tzfat today and met the artist Avraham Lowenthal. He is very into the mysticism of the Kabalah. It really struck me when he said to think about what a miracle it is that we are here in Israel. I feel really lucky to be back for the fourth time and sharing my love for Israel with the participants. We have about a week left in Israel, though I never want to leave! Hopefully I'll be back to running soon after. In the meantime I'm going to do my best to enjoy every minute!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Israel aboard the Magic Shul Bus!

Well it’s Sunday morning here in Israel, and now that Shabbat is over, it is finally starting to sink in that I’m really back in Israel. Sitting next to my sister on the flight over (thanks to the awesome guy who switched seats with me!) we both commented over and over how unreal it was that we had crossed into Israel airspace, that we landed in Israel, that we were really in Israel.

Starting our trip with Shabbat was an interesting way to welcome the participants to Israel. It was a wonderful way to get to know the group on a more personal level. They are a fantastic group! This group of mostly strangers has very quickly become one bus (and has asked to be called the Magic Shul Bus!). Time spent touring Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan, sitting by the pool and playing soccer and basketball was a great way to break down everyone’s barriers and take a group of strangers and turn them into a group of friends.

After a wonderful Havdallah that many participants said was their favorite part of Shabbat (mine too!) we wished everyone a Shavua Tov and headed to Tiberias for dinner. The rest of the trip won’t be anywhere near as relaxing has Shabbat, but that is what makes Shabbat special. We’re refreshed and ready to hit the ground running for the rest of an amazing trip!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blogging from Israel!

In about exactly 48 hours, I'm off to Israel for fourth time!

I found out today that the Birthright group I'm staffing is going to be keeping a blog during the trip. I can't promise updates here, but if you want to see what we're up to or follow along on the adventure, be sure to check in here:

We'll be posting pictures and talking about the day-to-day life on bus 246! 

Please drop in and comment over there - we'd love to hear from you!
Trip 1: May 2006

Trip 2: December 2008

Trip 3: May 2009

Monday, May 23, 2011

Plantar What?!

So I wound up back at the doctor today, just to make sure the swelling in my foot wasn't a fracture. The good news is, no fracture. The bad news? He thinks I might be starting to get a little bit of plantar faciitis.

Keep you fingers crossed for me that the rest, ice and advil work. 'Cause if they don't, I might go stir crazy.

Any suggestions for me?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Exploring the Serengeti

It's amazing how something can be right under your nose for so long, yet you go through life without discovering it. I've lived in the Syracuse area for my entire life, and I've been running at Green Lakes State Park since I was in middle school. Yet it took until today for me to finally discover what is unofficially called Syracuse's Serengeti.

Not the Serengeti, but one of the parts of Green Lakes I love.
Wow. I alternately thought I was in Africa, running through the real Serengeti, or on one of my favorite hikes in the Jilaboon, in northern Israel. It was incredibly easy to forget I was running through a state park only a few miles from my house.

We took a tour of the 7@7 Livestrong trail run course and it was incredible. I covers the well-loved lake trails, some incredibly challenging hills and tons of gorgeous vistas. I only wish I could have risked looking up from the ground to enjoy. It's going to be a tough race. I still haven't decided if its one I'm going to do or not, but one thing is for sure. I'm definitely going to be making use of those trails more often.

I probably shouldn't have run today, but it's amazing how the thought of running gets in your head and you can't get it out. I didn't do the whole 90 minutes, but I'm already paying for it and it looks like I'll be back in the pool for the rest of this up coming week.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. My sister and I leave for Israel on Thursday! I can't believe it's here already. I guess I better get packing!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trying to be Patient

I haven't run since Sunday. Unless you count the pool running. Which I'm not really sure I do. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Saturday. It's amazing how running gets under your skin, into your head and won't let go.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Call Me Converted

“The moment when something major is accomplished, we are so relieved to finally be done with it that we are already rushing, at least mentally, into THE FUTURE. Wisdom, however, requests a pause. If we cannot give ourselves a pause, the Universe will likely give it to us. In the form of an illness, a massive mercury in retrograde, our car breaking down. And we find ourselves required to stop, to sit down, to reflect.”  ~ Alice Walker
That quote has been up on my Facebook page since I was a sophomore in college. And it pretty much sums up my life about right now. I’ve been going at about 100 miles an hour and as much as I’d like to deny it, my body is putting up a pretty good protest.

I had just sworn off doctors on Friday after my follow up with the spine specialist. My back had been feeling pretty good and I was ready to just deal with the tightness/burning in my shins. Running is what makes me happy and I am done complaining about all the aches and pains that come with it. This is the new, smiley, sunshiny me. I like it a lot. :)

Well, karma (or walking in heels all over Manhattan) came back to bite me in the butt. After the race on Saturday, I noticed my foot was a little achy. Being the genius I am I decided to just ignore it and head out for my long run on Sunday. I got my 90 minutes in, but looking back now I know I never should have done it. The last 30 minutes I could really tell I’d done something to mess my foot up. I woke up Monday morning and it was pretty swollen.

But, like I said, I’d resolved to have a better attitude about the whole thing. So instead of running anyways and complaining to anyone who would listen (did I think that would make people think I was tough? I was wrong!) I got in the pool with Kevin for a pool running tutorial. Um, I’m in love. All the benefits of running, with none of the pain?! Just call me converted. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never permanently trade in my running shoes for a floatation belt and rope, but I love that it gives me all the mental and physical benefits of a great run with none of the bad kind of pain.

Image from Runner's World
It definitely didn’t hurt than I picked up on it right away. Apparently I have a pretty good pool running form. So I’ll be perfecting my pool running technique all week—hopefully I’ll be back on the road in time for Saturday’s long run. But right now my focus is on staying healthy and happy and I think I found my ticket. There’s only one week to go (O-M-G) till I leave for Israel. The last thing I want is for something stupid to ruin this trip.

Meet me in the pool?  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Racing for a Cure

After nearly 6 months and countless hours of planning, not to mention the hundreds of emails sent, the day of the Komen Race for the Cure finally arrived. And that was just getting the team together, not the training. We showed up at the Fairgrounds yesterday 106 strong to represent CNY Gym Centre in support of Candy.
Candy's Crew!
As I've said before, despite the ugly course, random stop signs getting in the way of the runners and the broken up sections of road at the fairgrounds, this has always been my favorite race. It is so much more about the people who come out to support the survivors and those still struggling with this disease and the girl power :) The guys wearing tutus and boas and head to toe pink add to the celebratory atmosphere.

Oh, yea, and then you race. About that....crossed the finish line in 22:04, which just so happened to be good enough for second place in my age group out of 71, and 17th place out of all the women! I was thrilled to beat my goal of coming in under 23 minutes. I wound up PRing by about 2 minutes and 40 seconds. I got across the line just in time to grab a water and turn around to see my co-worker crossing the pink tape as the winner of all the survivors. That was pretty incredible. Go Holly!

All in all, I'd have to say the race was a success. They raised almost $800,000 for breast cancer research and are still going strong. I had a group of my gymnasts run (for most it was their first ever 5k) and it was great to be there at the finish line to cheer them on. I was so proud of them. Check out my level four team: 100% participation!
The amazing CNY level 4s!
The rest of the girls continued the tradition of crossing the finish line on their hands. I hope we didn't upset anyone this year. We tried our best to stay out of the way! Congrats to everyone that ran. It was an awesome day!

The Rest of the Rollercoaster

Ok, so picking up where I left off…
New sneakers in tow I headed to our running group on Thursday night. It was HOT. But those are the days when finishing a tough workout makes you feel like you can achieve anything. We did a 10 minute warm up, followed by strength intervals of 5, 7 and 3 minutes with only a minute of rest in between. Then we finished up with a 10 minute cool down. It was tough, but I felt like for the first time since the hill workouts, I was able to finish a workout without having to lay off early. It felt good.

The got even better from there. I finally got to see one of my best friends who was back in town from Seattle with her baby! It was great to see her and although I may be biased he might be the most adorable kid I’ve seen in a long time.

Friday it was back to spine doc. He’s one of those people that’s very book smart, but he has no people skills. The good news is I can still run. I just have to see him again in 6 months for an x-ray. The bad news is he wants me to follow up with a sports medicine specialist about my shins. I’m torn. On one hand I am so done with doctors. On the other hand, as my dad pointed out, it would be free this year since we’ve met our insurance deductible. As for right now, I’m not doing anything until I get back from Israel. Hopefully the little break will be just what I need and I’ll be able to start training in earnest for the triathlon. If not, well, then I guess I’m going to need to find a sports medicine specialist.

Saturday was the Race for the Cure, and that deserves a post of its own…

Friday, May 13, 2011

About that complete and total lack of updates...

Sorry about that, as if anyone is actually out there waiting with bated breath to see what happens next. Ha.

This week has been a total up and down rollercoaster of emotions and other things. And I’m going to apologize now because it might get long.

I think it started Sunday. Since that’s the day the new week starts on the run log I’m going to go with it.  I had a great run Saturday that put me well over 40 miles for the week, thanks to the Mountain Goat falling on Sunday (I technically did 2 long runs last week, which is why the numbers look so weird for my weekly running totals).

Thanks to Marilyn for the picture!
Anyways, Sunday morning we headed to Utica because my brother had a double header. I planned to run between the games but got antsy and headed out about halfway through the first one. I didn’t even make it one loop around Utica College’s tiny campus (less than 10 minutes). The pain in my shins was the most intense it has been in a long time. I gave up and limped back to the game with my swollen shins.
Yea, this is what happens to my shins when I run....
So with Sunday now counting as my off day, I had to run the rest of the week. Well, that was about to get a lot more complicated. Monday morning I woke up and headed off to the gym. Managed to make it about 20 minutes on the treadmill off and on, with lots of stretching breaks mixed in.
Then it was off to work, the straight from work to the airport, for a flight to NYC (both for business and personal reasons). My heels (dumb mistake #1) and I walked from T5 at JFK to the Airtran, through Jamaica station, and from Penn Station to my friends apartment. A huge, huge thanks to a gymnast’s father who happened to be on my flight for showing me how to navigate the trains and of course to my friend whose apartment I stayed at.

We woke up the next morning and went for a run. I loved running through Manhattan – such a nice change! I managed to keep up with her and only needed to stop and stretch my shins at the halfway point. The one thing that alternatively frustrates me and keeps me going is that there seems to be no rhyme or reason to when/how bad my shins hurt. It could be a week of really painful days, or maybe just one or two. We got in my allotted 45 minutes and then headed off to work.

Now, I’m a working-in-Manhattan newbie, so here’s where I made mistake #2. We walked to the first store we were visiting that day. No biggie, it wasn’t far and at that point my shoes were still pretty comfy. Then it was off to the subway to head uptown for a meeting. Tuesday was a gorgeous day in NYC, so once the meeting was over I chose to walk across for a few more hours of work. Well, I got a little mixed up in Central Park and needless to say the walk took a little longer then planned. ;).
Then it was off to pick up food for dinner and change before I headed back to Penn Station for the ride back to JFK. Luckily this time I had sneakers on. Well, in the interest of abbreviating this as much as possible, the trip home was uneventful, and I fell into bed at about 12:45 am. (Really, really late for me)

Needless to say I was pretty much a brain-dead, exhausted zombie on Wednesday. Still, I stumbled over the Y after work and did 30 minutes on the treadmill. I stopped at 30 so I could make it to Fleet Feet before they closed. Ran into Kevin on the way out and couldn’t even string a coherent sentence together when he asked how I was. Fine should have been sufficient but my brain couldn’t put 2 and 2 together. Oy.

Anyways, off to Fleet Feet I went, hoping they might have an answer about why my feet have been in so much pain since I bought new shoes from them about 2 weeks ago. Well, it turns out that after wearing the same size in the same model shoe for like 3 years, I am now a half size bigger. I’m keeping my fingers crossed (and my toes since there’s room for that now!) that it works. I’ve run in them twice and they do seem better. Yay!

I think this might be enough for now, seeing as how this is getting crazy long and I saw the doctor again today so there's way to much left to talk about. If there's anyone left reading this that hasn't fallen asleep on the keyboard yet, I'll finish the story tomorrow after the Race for the Cure!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cinnamon Chip Banana Bread

I promised recipes. So here’s one of my best. Might as well start off strong, right? I love coming home and seeing I accidentally let the bananas go a day past where I would eat them straight. They’re the one fruit I will never, ever throw out. I’d much rather make a special trip to the store for the cinnamon chips than pass up a chance to make this.

This is one of those recipes that really can’t be messed up. Only have three bananas? It’ll be fine. I usually don’t even bother mashing them. Want to double the vanilla, omit the cinnamon chips, add nuts or use part whole-wheat flour? It’ll come out perfect every time. I’ve dumped the whole recipe into one really large loaf pan and made mini loaves. All you have to do is adjust the cooking time a little bit. But the best part? The way your whole house will smell all warm and cinnamonny (is that even a word? It’s the only way I can describe it). Anyway, it’s sublime. Try it and let me know how it comes out. 

Recipe slightly adapted from Cathy Lowe and the Food Network.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Hershey’s cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and powder, salt. In a large bowl cream together eggs and sugar. Stir in mashed bananas, vanilla, oil and cinnamon. Stir in flour mixture, a third at a time, until just combined. Add chocolate and cinnamon chips and stir to combine. Divide batter into two 9x5 loaf pans. Bake for about 1 hour.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Call it?

This is one of the hardest things I struggle with. When is taking a day off the right thing to do, and when is it detrimental to training? Don't get me wrong - I don't run seven days a week, I give myself a day off every week. But this week, I was planning on taking Friday off.

I got home from work intending to change and head out for a run. But the combination of the cold, rainy day and this persistent cough had me thinking twice. I know in my heart there is nothing wrong with trading one day off for another. But my head won't let me settle with that decision. I worry that if I take today off, I'll spiral into a string of missed days. That because I don't feel up to running today, I might not want to run tomorrow. I walked into my room to change twice before deciding that a run was a pretty bad idea on a night like tonight. I worry that because I chose to stay in instead of settling for the treadmill, I might lose 'it,' whatever 'it' is that has been compelling me to run so consistently over the past 10 weeks.

And it's not even like I took a full day off. Despite a rough night of sleep, I made it to boot camp this morning. Hopefully this is just a lack of sleep catching up to me. I'm going to turn in early tonight and hit the treadmill first thing tomorrow morning.

I think some of the worry I was having about taking today off was being unsure of when I could get my run in tomorrow. But I feel better already having a plan. But what to do when life gets in the way? I know running keeps me sane, but sometimes I feel like I'm walking a fine line between where running keeps me sane and makes me insane. It's silly to run myself sick in the name of not missing a day, 'streaking' on my log sheet to impress a coach. Because in the long run (pun intended) I'd rather take a day off and be able to run for the few weeks than force myself out on another cold wet run and wind up sicker.

PS - Is spring ever coming for real???

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mission Accomplished

Well, sorta. Up until this year, the Boston Marathon would consider you a qualifier if you met the time standard, plus a 59-second ‘gift.’ Basically, if you needed to finish in 3 hours, 40 minutes to qualify, you could still get in if you ran a 3:40:59. Well, they recently changed the standards and got rid of the 59-second window. I’m giving myself the 59-seconds and I’m still counting this race as goal-achieved. I ran a 1:30:50 in this year’s Mountain Goat, which is still 9 minutes better than I did last time. I didn’t get the medal promised to finishers coming in under 90, but that just gives me something to reach for next year.

Part of the problem (and the fun) was getting totally swept up in the excitement of the day. Hearing the talk about the lead pack, who was going out how fast and who was looking strong really got me looking forward to this morning. It almost made me want to watch instead of run, but well, I had signed up so I was in. Not to mention my new sneakers :) It was so great to be out on the course seeing both runners and spectators from boot camp and our running group. Great job Mom, Tracey, Melissa, Julie, Scott, Kevin, Colleen, Natalia, Holly and all the runners from our Thursday night group. I loved seeing Lisa, Karen, Nancy, Mrs. Cawley, Julie, Marilyn (who got some great pics!) and my dad cheering as I ran by or at the finish. I was so out of it I think I would have wandered off into Syracuse if Julie hadn’t gotten my attention at the end (thanks!). Even better was wandering around in a post race stupor, seeing friends, people from work and of course my family. It’s fun to be part of such a great community of runners. Major thanks to a teacher from FM (who I never had) for slowing down to share some humor and helped me keep going a little longer than I otherwise would have. 

I’m trying to tell myself that I should be happy with the results. But I’m struggling with them a little. I made some pretty rookie mistakes since despite the issues I have with my shins/back and the constant cough I’ve been dealing with this week, I let myself get caught up in the excitement of the day. And it had been building since Thursday when I left our tempo workout feeling so strong. I guess I had that pace in my head. Unfortunately it wasn’t one I could keep up for 10 miles. But enough of the shoulda, coulda, woulda. I can’t change it, so I might as well be happy with it. 

Not to mention my feet looked like this before I started: 

But seeing as I haven’t been able to get off the couch all day, I guess I left it all out there. Better to be spent too early than to have too much left over? I guess it’s like Kevin says before each of our workouts. There are three possible outcomes. You’ll go out too hard and have to slow down, you’ll go out too slow and be able to speed up or you’ll get both halves about even. I went out too slow at the half marathon, too fast today, so maybe I’ll get the next one just right? I’m looking forward to the race season, but I don’t want to over do it.