Saturday, May 30, 2009

This is What a Marathoner Looks Like

And it's an eclectic bunch, at least in this New York Times photo essay: Marathon Voices

I especially love the back-of-the-packer who got sponsorship. She raised very valid points - since she's slower and more likely to linger along stops during the NYC Marathon, she will draw more attention to the sponsors' names she has emblazoned on her clothing. Smart move.

Lots of good luck wishes go to Irene, who is running the San Diego Rock 'N' Roll Marathon tomorrow, May 31st. Last year, she had a broken hip, and in the 12 months since she's rehabbed herself back to marathon form. Amazing. And that shows you what the heart of a runner is made of: lots of determination and moxie.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Haven't gotten yet to my workout today, but I am so relieved it's Friday. That means I get to put in a relatively "long" run tomorrow morning - well, 5 miles, since I don't want to suddenly ramp up my mileage again.

I've recently begun to ponder over whether or not to hire a running coach for my half-marathon. The more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards "yes" as the answer. It would be 8 weeks of personal coaching, with supervised running sessions and a nutrition plan. Irene said that she wishes she had started out with a running coach, and my hubby thinks it's a worthwhile investment for myself. Anyone have any comments about the coaching?

Yesterday's run was B-R-U-T-A-L, by the way. I still haven't gotten used to Florida heat, and yesterday morning it was already blazin' in the 80s, with high humidity. I ran over a 12 min/mile pace, and my legs felt like lead. Somehow, I'll have to make the transition and just feel acclimated to running in the hot, hot, heat.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Updates on this 5/27/09

So in my next-to-last previous entry I mentioned I was flirting with the idea of taking a week-long break away from the kettlebells and all strength-related things. That was incredibly short-lived - actually, just a few minutes after posting that I decided to do my kb stuff anyhow. Go figure!

I''m very happy to report that I'm finally making progress on my kettlebell cleans. I did a few today, and didn't bang the front of my forearm like I normally do!! Thank you, Lauren Brooks, for showing me via YouTube how to properly load the kb's and clean 'em!

I also managed to overcome my fear of performing windmills with my 25-lb. kettlebell. I dunno why this kb size in particular freaks me out; in the midst of my slogging through New Rules of Lifting for Women last year, doing one-armed presses with a 25-lb. dumbbell was a piece of cake. I think it's the whole novelty of it, plus the fact that kettlebells really do feel different from a dumbbell. It's hard to explain, but it feels a little more awkward to hold them. Dumbbells, in comparison, seem more "symmetric" in feel.

Last night's bellydance class was terrific. We got to learn new choreography, this time, a folk dance Egyptian women perform to welcome home their fishermen husbands. It's very tongue-in-cheek and humorous, and a little bouncier than the moves we'd been doing for the last month or so.

Over and out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chugging Along

Today's run was cut short (again) due to the unpredictable rain that I've been seeing. I did put in a good 2 miles, though, so I'm not disappointed. Pace was 9:48/mile, but because I didn't warm up - I just launched right into things - it felt a lot faster than that. Whoa!

Anyway, I'm enjoying a nice cup of coffee as my post-run recovery treat now, plus water. I'm not feeling ravenous right now. But I'm sure that will kick in once I get to my bellydance class later tonight, of course.

Monday, May 25, 2009

On the Road Again

Yesterday's & Today's Recap 
Completed 4 miles:  warm-up walk of 5 minutes, jogged for 2  minutes, then launched into running pace for the rest
Time: 40:38
Avg. pace: 10:24

This run felt incredibly great, despite my lethargic state earlier in the day. Once I hit the pavement, it's as if my energy reactivated and propelled me. It wasn't hard to sustain a brisk pace after my warm-up.  Temporary breaks from something can really help you - I couldn't wait to get out and run fast, and it showed here. Wish most of my running sessions could feel like this!!! 

Feeling really lazy right now. I'm actually very tempted to take a break from strength and kettlebell stuff this week, and just run and walk (and do my bellydance class). We'll see - I'm a fickle person and this thought may not stick anyway. 

And since it's Memorial Day, I'll share with you the over-the-top tale of a ghostly Marine named Camouflage.  

Always remember the men and women who've fallen in service to our country, but especially on this day. 

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rainy Saturdays and Bellydance

I wound up taking a day off from all exercise yesterday. I'd originally scheduled a 4-mile running session for the morning, but instead woke up to thunder and a downpour. So those plans were scratched, and I realized that I really oughta go sign up for that gym membership I'd been postponing since arriving in Florida last December! It would be nice to have access to treadmills once again, especially because rainy season 2009 has declared itself here in the Sunshine State in a long, drawn-out manner. 

Later in the afternoon, I went to see my sister-in-law perform in a dance recital that was organized by our bellydance instructor. She was already nervous from pre-performance jitters, but during our 15-minute drive to the community center where the recital was taking place, we saw a road-rage incident unfold at a stop light.  Both of the people involved were women, and the aggressor drove to the front of the other car and blocked it at the light, then got out to yell at the other driver. Somehow, the car that was boxed-in managed to get around to make a right at the light. The aggressor got back in her car, and sped off in hot pursuit of the other vehicle. And obviously, we called 911 about this.  

Lesson of the day: don't get road rage. It ain't worth it. 

Getting back to my original point, the bellydance recital was amazing. The performers ran the gamut in terms of ages (the youngest was a nine-year-old and her cousin) and shapes. My seven months pregnant sister-in-law was the second act in the show, and did wonderfully! I honestly couldn't see her nervousness.  

Her choreography maximed use of the veil. Not only was it a practical move - it made it more low-impact while pumping up the dramatic - but it perfectly brought out the birth and female empowerment symbolism our instructor had so wanted to emphasize. My sister-in-law began the performance almost completely covered, and then, with the thump of a drumbeat, she swiftly threw off the veil and emerged with her hennaed, pregnant belly. It was poignant and wonderful to watch. 

The rest of the show was compelling, and I only wish more people had seen it, too. While bellydance is a sensual and exotic art,  it's also one that can only be performed publicly by women. That gives it the power, and reminds everyone that there are certain mysteries that only women have knowledge of, and of bonds that only women can share. Male choreographers are active in the bellydance world. However, they remain firmly behind-the-scenes, and the women are always center stage. 

After the show, the family all trooped over to the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate.  My sister-in-law was relieved to have that out of the way, and I was simply hungry! And I must say, my needs in life are pretty simple: a good slice of cheesecake with fresh strawberries makes me such a happy camper. 

Over and out. 


Friday, May 22, 2009

Playtime with the Kettlebells

Today was a date with the kettlebells, and I knocked my workout early enough this morning to feel relieved.  I actually wasn't looking forward to it at all - the routine was all high-reps of squats, windmills and farmers walks - but I got it out of the way and felt better knowing that I ended the high-rep phase of this workout program. Hooray for conclusions! 

I'm still working on kettlebell form and it still surprises me how hard moves like the clean and snatch are. They look so deceptively simple, but I still get the tell-tale marks of a KB newbie, i.e., brusing near my wrists. Even the  swing, which I'm usually pretty good at because of my lower-body power, can be a real challenge some days for me to slog through. 

That said, I'm really digging the KB's. I like the fact that they're still a mystery to me, and their versatility. I'm not a big fan of cardio (an odd thing coming from a runner, I know), but doing a cardio routine with the kettlebells is actually... fun! And allow me to make a DVD recommendation, and say that the Kettlebell Goddess workout is a good place to start if you are a femme. 

Above is a pic of my beloved 8 kg kettlebell. I'm slowly working my way up to the 35-lb. RKC KB.

Some Thoughts for Today, 5/22

1.) Am I the only one who doesn't follow American Idol, and could not even care a penny's worth of who is the most recent winner? 

2.) I actually like the rain... Well, sometimes. It's been raining off and on in Florida, and it's been quite nice at times. There's a stillness to things that happens when it pours. 

3.) I've become the slowest reader in the last couple of years. I haven't made it past page 3 of Caleb Carr's Angel of Darkness, and that was about 2 weeks ago already. 

I promise to go back to talking about running and my training for the next entry. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

So... why did I even bother doing this?

Let me introduce myself. I'm 31, originally from New York City, and a novice at running and anything fitness-related. I actually started to get into shape the winter of 2006 - that's when I was depressed enough with my skinny-fat figure to haul myself to the nearest gym, and met with a trainer. Looking back it seems very quaint and silly (my plan was very much grounded in those circuit machines and the elliptical), but it was the first official step I'd taken to carving a real physique, not to mention a healthier outlook. In approximately 5 months, I whittled down my body fat percentage from a whopping 34% to 25%. Nowadays, I estimate I'm somewhere in the 20%-22% range.

So just two and a half years later, I'm still muddling my way through this fitness thing. I'll freely admit don't know much more than when I initially started. There's also a lot of white noise in the physical fitness sphere, so can be frustrating figuring out which protocols to follow, what foods and supplements to take, blah, blah, blah. 

My most recent endeavor has been to start training for a half-marathon. I am entering the Half Marathon of the Palm Beaches in December, and in the meantime plan on participating various 5Ks to get into the race mindset. My ultimate grand ambition is to run a full-on marathon, and a dream I harbor is to be in the New York City ING Marathon. This will be my chronicle of the highs and lows of HM training, and of generally trying to stay in shape.