Posts Tagged ‘Races’

Ugh, running.

May 12, 2011

You may or may not know this, but I really don’t like running.  You wouldn’t know it with two triathlons, two half marathons and a handful of 5ks under my belt, but seriously, I don’t enjoy as much as I think I should.

Part of the problem is that I’m too slow.  I feel like I should be running a faster pace than I usually do and the fact that I can’t, frustrates me.  Sure, I’ve improved since I first started training for races and there are days that I look forward to a run, but most of the time I don’t.  The reason for that is that during the run and especially after, I’m in a lot of pain.

Now I don’t suffer the usual runner’s pain of aching knees, sore hamstrings or even shin splints.  Nope, my problem is my feet.  I’ve had issues with them since I was a pre-teen and while some corrective measures have helped, at the end of the day (or a run), my feet HURT.  And yet I keep running, hoping I’ll one day finish a run and not be in pain.  That day came last week.

All the usual treadmills at the gym were being used, so I hopped on one that I (and everyone else) usually go to as a last resort.  I can’t explain why, except maybe it’s because the control panel doesn’t have bells and whistles like a personal trainer or a fan (which is why I always skipped over them).  There’s also less space to put your stuff one, just two little nets to hold everything.  It’s called the Woodway and it’s with hesitation that I tried it.  I’ll never use the other treadmills again.

Right off the bat, I knew it was different.  When I picked up the speed, there wasn’t that usual pounding sound you hear when running on the regular treadmills.  It also didn’t feel as if I was landing as hard, more like I was running on a dirt path through the woods.  (Maybe that’s genesis of the name?)  I set out to run 3.5 miles that workout and expected the usually pain in my feet around 2.25 miles, but it never came.  In fact I made it through the whole run with only some minimal discomfort by the end of it.

I thought maybe it was a fluke, so I tried the treadmill again today.  Same thing.  So I looked up the company.  Apparently Woodways are designed to minimize shock.  Needless to say, I’m never going back to those old pounding treadmills again!   I do have one request however to the designers over at Woodway…could we maybe get a model with a built-in fan?  Thanks in advance!


Tips for tackling hills

April 5, 2011

Competed in my second half marathon this past weekend.  Covering those 13.1 miles were just as hard as I remembered them being the first time, except this time around I had the added pleasure of tackling 4 monster hills (well, actually 2, but we ran them twice since the course was a loop).  As I chugged up the hills, I noticed many of my fellow runners took the climb as a walking break and I don’t blame them.  Hills are tough, especially if you haven’t trained for them, but you can conquer them, the trick is…you have to not think like a runner. 

It’s instinctive for a runner to lean into a hill while trying to run up one.  We think that by throwing our weight forward we’re somehow helping to propel ourselves forward, but we’re actually making it harder.  When you lean forward, you force your quads to do all the work, not to mention you’re putting a lot of pressure on your knees.  Meanwhile, your other leg muscles (your gluteus maximus and hamstrings) are just along for the ride.  Considering your butt is your body’s biggest muscle, it would make sense to use it, right?  That’s why I suggest you think like a cyclist.

The next time you’re faced with a hill, keep your upper body upright and lean back…using your hamstrings and butt to keep moving.  The sensation is the same as sitting back in the saddle when riding a bike up a hill.  You’ll find if you do this, you’ll get up those hills faster and you’ll be less tired once you reach the top because you’re exerting less effort by using those bigger muscles.

Another technique you can take from cyclists is to power through the downhills.  It’s easy to ease up on your pace when you don’t have to work too hard, but maintaining a steady pace, even speeding it up a bit, while running downhill will help to make up the time spent on walking breaks.

Oh and there’s one more biker trick I want to share.  If you find your knees/hips hurt during a run, it’s probably because you aren’t aligned properly.  To keep everything where it should be (and minimize injury), concentrate on keeping your knees forward as you run.  Imagine you have headlights strapped to your knee caps and focus on illuminating the path right in front of you. 

Just so you know, all these tips helped me turn in a decent time of 2:41:25 on Sunday.  That averages out to about a 12:20 mile.  I may not be fast, but I finished!

Something to warm the heart

February 4, 2011

Yes it’s cold out and I’m sure the last thing on your mind is running outdoors, but if cabin fever is getting the best of you, there’s an upcoming race in NYC that might interest you.

It’s the Brooklyn Valentine 5K which takes place on Sunday February 13th at 10am at Bartel Pritchard Square (that’s right near Prospect Park).  Registration is 20 bucks and instead of the usual race T-shirt, the first 200 people who register get a free slingback backpack.  And if you’re a lady who’s fast on her feet, they’re giving out roses to the first 100 female finishers.

The race is sponsored by Jack Rabbit…you can sign up here.

Just take care not to slip on any ice and be sure to bundle up!

12 days of sporty gift ideas

December 13, 2010

There are only 12 shopping days left ’til Christmas and if you have an athlete on your gift list, fear not.  Between now and the big day I’ll have 12 great ideas for the active person(s) in your life.

Seeing as it’s still early, you can still get away with ordering a gift online and having it delivered in time for December 25th.  With that in mind, why not gift some branded athletic gear for the next big race on that athlete’s schedule?

Whether she’s training for the New York City triathlon, a marathon or an Ironman, the race is bound to have T-shirts, sweatshirts, bike jerseys, hats and other accessories stamped with the race logo. 

My favorites tend to be the ones that have “In Training” stamped on them (like this one).  I’m also a big fan of the NYC Marathon gloves that list the names of the five boroughs on the fingertips.

I’ll also let you in on a little secret.  These clothes are something we’d love to buy for ourselves, but often don’t because we have too many other things to pay for like entry fees, sneakers and extra tire tubes. 

Here are links to some of the biggest online race stores:

New York City ING Marathon

Nautica New York City Triathlon

Ironman Gifts

Still looking for that perfect gift?  Don’t worry…I’ll bring you another idea tomorrow.

Snow, schmo

November 23, 2010

If you think snow would keep a triathlete from competing, you’d be wrong. 

Since 1997, something called winter triathlon has been gaining popularity among those people who want the thrill of the triathlon even though they live in areas where temperatures routinely hover near the freezing mark.

Photo: USA Triathlon

Like your normal triathlons, these November-March races involve biking and running, but thankfully no swimming.  Instead, competitors strap on cross-country skis for the third leg of the race.  The distances are also a little shorter than

your regular races.  This very thorough description comes from the USA Triathlon website:

“In winter triathlon, the running is contested on hard-packed snow courses (usually packed ski trails) with distances ranging from 5-9K. Racers typically wear normal running shoes or cross country spikes.

The mountain bike leg is held on packed ski trails for a distance of 10-15K. Competitors ride standard racing mountain bikes, often equipped with relatively wide tires run at low (about 15-20 psi) pressure. Tires with spikes are legal, though most competitors shun their use because of the additional weight.

The final event of winter triathlon is cross-country skiing. Courses are usually 8-12K in length and are contested on groomed Nordic ski trails. Classic or freestyle (skating) techniques are allowed, though most serious competitors use the freestyle technique as it is faster. Athletes wear Nordic ski suits or tights and long sleeve jerseys, gloves, and hats or head-bands depending on conditions.”

If I’ve piqued your interest, you’ll naturally want to know where you can sign up for one of these awesome races.  Most are held in the Rocky Mountain area, but races in the Northeast can also be found.  There’s two being held in Massachusetts and another in New Hampshire in January. (Info can be found here.)   In New York, the place to be is Belleayre Mountain on March 20th.

So, see, there’s still time to train!

Where to watch the NYC Marathon

November 2, 2010

This weekend the biggest and probably most well-known marathon takes place in New York City.  Tens of thousands of runners will lace-up their sneakers and pound out 26.2 grueling miles through the five boroughs on Sunday, November 7th.  Obviously, it’s too late to run in the race yourself, but it’s not too late to take part in another way…cheering those runners on!

By far the best place to watch and encourage the runners is along First Avenue in Manhattan.  Not only is the location convenient for most people to get to, but the restaurants/bars that line that stretch of the route go all out to make sure everybody has fun.  And here’s something I’ve learned from experience:  if you can, try to get yourself over to the east side of First Avenue.  The crowds tend to be less dense on that side, ensuring no one will be stepping on your toes or screaming right into your ear.  (If you do this, make sure you do it early, crossing the street will be near impossible once the race really starts.)

The NYC Marathon Route -- all 26.2 miles of it

Here are more places where you can root your favorite runner on (see map for complete route):

Brooklyn — the Brooklyn Academy of Music (mile 8)

Queens — Just past the Pulaski Bridge (mile 14 — halfway point!)

Bronx — 138th street (mile 20 — where most runners will hit the wall and need all the support they can get!)

Manhattan — First Ave from 59th – 128th Streets (miles 16-19)

                            Fifth Avenue from 138th – 86th Streets (mile 21-23)

                            Central Park South (mile 25 — best place to watch the elite races come to an end)

Good luck to all those taking part!  You’re all already winners in my book!

The Devil made me do it

October 26, 2010

Halloween is right around the corner and if you’re looking for something different to do check out the Devil’s Chase, held in Salem, Massachusetts on Halloween Day. 

For those of you not familiar with Salem, the infamous Witch Trials of 1692 were held there.  Needless to say, the town is spooky any day of the year, but things really kick into high gear around Halloween time. 

The chase is a hellish 6.66 mile race through the streets of Salem.  Devil costumes are encouraged (natch) and the top 15 costumes get a prize.  There’s also an auction for the 666 race bib number with a portion of the proceeds going towards charity.

This is definitely one of the more unique races around.

Registration is $40 and is open until race day.

Making the NYC Marathon run smoothly

October 20, 2010

The New York City Marathon is just a few weeks away and while it’s too late to actually run the race, there’s still time to help run it.

That’s because the New York Road Runners Club is still taking applications for race day volunteers.

Assignments include staffing the The ING New York City Marathon Health and Fitness Expo at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in the days leading up to the race, giving out water to runners along the 26.2 mile course and even handing out medals at the finish line in Central Park.

If you ‘re interested in making Sunday November 7th run smooth, head here to become a volunteer.

And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired by the millions of runners and decide to enter the race next year.  And don’t worry, you’ll have time to decide.  The lottery for next year’s race isn’t until sometime in April 2011.

Passing the buck

October 12, 2010

Maybe you’re not a runner.  Or maybe you’re just starting out and don’t want to challenge yourself with a big race right out of the gate.  Well friends, relay races are meant for you.

In case you never ran relay races while in the elementary grades, let  me school you…a relay race is simply members of one team taking turns running parts of a circuit or competing certain legs of a race (i.e. the swim or bike or run leg of a triathlon).'re it!

Here’s why relays are perfect for beginner racers.  You get all the experience of a race without the hard training and long distance.  Also, I can tell you from experience that completing a race as part of team is much more fun than slogging through the whole thing on your own.

If you’re looking for a race…check out the upcoming Cape Cod Relay Marathon.  Get together a team of 5 people and you all will only have to run 5.2 miles each.  Of course, if you’re a more experienced runner and want a challenge, as little as 2 people can run the race.  It takes place Sunday October 31st.  Registration is $150 and you can sign up right until the night before.

Does women only mean men aren’t welcome?

September 29, 2010

This is my last week of training before competing in my first half marathon on Sunday.  And this won’t be any ordinary 13.1 miles.  The race is a women’s only event…a growing trend in the running world.

In recent weeks, a lot of ink has been devoted to these types of races.  The Wall Street Journal had an article about how some men are entering women’s only events because they stand a better chance winning.  A few even admit they do it to meet women. 

To avoid legal issues, these races don’t outright ban men from participating, but some, like the one I’m participating in on Sunday, do all they can to keep the men from signing up.  The organizer for the Long Island Diva Half Marathon tells the paper:

                      “We had four men signed up, but two dropped out when they heard about the  firemen,” says Mr. Pozo, the race organizer. “We’re making this race so girly that men won’t want any part of it.”

The firemen.  I should explain.  At the finish line, bare-chested firemen have been recruited to hand out the finishing medals, which are decked out in bling.  There are also tiara and feather boa stations on the course.  Not sure how I feel about draping a feather boa over my sweaty shoulders, but I’ll take the tiara.  And for the record, I’ll be wearing aqua, not pink.

Some blogs have taken issue with these gimmicks.  I don’t have a problem with them.  They’re just perks.  I signed up because I wanted to challenge myself and be surrounded by strong women looking to do the same thing. 

Every race I’ve ever done has been overrun with men. (I don’t have a problem with that either, I mean have you seen what some of these guys look like! Hot!  But I digress.)  In a field of mostly men, the race atmosphere is tense and serious and super competitive.  When competing alongside women, the mood is generally more social and encouraging. 

When the chain slipped off my bike in the middle of my first triathlon, it was a woman who stopped to help me.  When running up a particularly rough hill during my second triathlon, it was the company of two other women who kept me going.

Look, I’m not trying to say women aren’t competitive.  I am.  And I’m going out there this weekend to post the best personal record I can, but I’m no elite athlete and for me the race is about finishing and enjoying myself along the way.  I see nothing wrong with making a race attractive to only women.

As for those men who enter these races specifically to beat girls, I say, grow up.  To those doing it to meet women…  I’ll give you points for creativity, but not my number.