Thursday, October 30, 2014

Checking in With NYC Marathoner Grace Kim

The first Sunday of November is one of my favorite days of the year; it’s the day more than 50,000 people take to the streets after months (and sometimes years) of hard work, dedication, and dreaming, to run 26.2 miles through the most amazing city on earth. My first experience with the NYC Marathon was my first fall living in New York. I could tell it was going to be a big deal but didn’t totally understand until I walked two blocks from my apartment on the Upper East Side to 1st Ave and found the sidewalks crushed with people drinking and cheering for the runners passing by. It’s impossible to look at those runners and not see the emotion and sheer will pushing them forward each step to the finish line in Central Park. Finishing the NYC Marathon in 2009 will always be one of the things I’m most proud of.


Many of my Oiselle teammates will be running on Sunday, including – get ready for this – Gabrielle Amara, Susan Empey, Paulette Ference, Dori Gray, Catherine Haggarty, Jessica Holt, Lisa Janssen, Farron McIntee, Prianka Nandy, and the one and only Kara Goucher! Check out this post on Oiselle’s blog about all the birds racing!


Sunday morning I’ll be tracking my good friend, Grace (bib #: 51842), who is a constant source of inspiration and support for me. You’ve seen her on this blog more than a few times over the years, but did you know that the woman behind Lean Girls Club was chosen by Asics to run the TCS New York City Marathon as part of their Editors Challenge? They made an excellent choice! I was lucky enough to run six miles in Central Park with Grace when we were out in New York and she recently took time to answer some questions for me about running, training for her third NYC Marathon, and advice for first-timers.

Me and Grace

Lisa: How long have you been running? Why do you run? Grace: I've been running for about eight years. I never thought I would "be" a runner, and according to doctors I'm not built for running. But I love it and do it anyway. I love running because it's changed my life and given me new life. I've lost a lot of weight through running, made new friends through running (the run community is like no other), and have even traveled to new places because of running. Running is my ME time - it's the time I get to invest back in myself when the other 23 hours of the day are spent doing things for other people.

Why are you running NYCM this year - for the third time? It's my hometown race. I love that MY city and MY people come out and celebrate runners. It's an amazing race which NYRR and the City do an amazing job of hosting. The energy in the city is explosive and I like being a part of it, whether running or volunteering.

You're running for Asics; can you tell us a bit about this? I am so honored to be a part of the Asics blogger team. Asics, who is a sponsor of the NYCM, invited me and five other runners to run with their blogger team. They've been incredibly supportive by giving me this opportunity to run the race by not only providing amazing gear but also giving us access to Coach Andrew Kastor. This is the closest to the pro-team I will ever get! It's amazing to me that less than 10 years ago I couldn't run a mile, and now I'm running with Asics. I told you running has changed my life!

What are your goals for Sunday? My goal is to run my best race, not cry at any point (I seem to cry at every marathon), and come out injury free. Oh, and to have fun!

Tell us about your training a bit, when did you start? I'd been running 10-13 miles on the weekends this summer and really ramped up my training in August.

What has your weekly training schedule been like? T/R – tempo runs, W/F - speed work, Saturday - fun run, Sunday - long run, M - rest (distance and intensity varies each week).

Grace_LeanGirlsClub

Photo Credit: Lean Girls Club

What was your longest run preparing for this marathon? 22 miles…in the rain.

What has gone well and what have you had to focus on? Recovery each week has gone really well. On the flip side, I've had to focus on being adaptable in harsh conditions. I ran more times in the cold and rain this training period, which wasn't ideal, but because I made myself focus on those runs in particular I feel extremely prepared.

How do you prepare for long runs and how do you recover? I truly believe a good low-key Saturday, sleep, good fuel, and an ice bath + foam rolling really helped me recover quickly. A beer during the ice bath helped too ;)

What type of cross training do you do? Spin, yoga, light weights. I have to admit that I'd like to (need to) do more in the future.

How do you stay motivated? Following other runners on Instagram motivates me. I see how much fun insta-runners are having, how many miles they're running, what they're struggling with, and it makes me want to get out there. Again, the run community is so amazing and so supportive!

Do you have any pre-race rituals that you'll follow Saturday & Sunday morning? Saturday - spaghetti bolognese + lay out my clothes + foam roll. Sunday - foam roll + cinnamon raisin bagel + banana + a quick prayer cuz I need it!

Do you have any mantras to help you through? "Pain is temporary, pride is forever." "Change and reward are on the other side of discomfort." "My heart may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart… - Psalm 73:26"

What advice would you give to someone running the New York City Marathon for the first time? Have fun. Trust the process and the work you've put in. Run strong. Blast Empire State of Mind.

How will you celebrate? I'll be attending the Lululemon Post--Marathon After Party and then I'll have a big glass (or two) of champagne with my Asics Teammates.

 

Grace_LeanGirlsClub_marathoner

Photo Credit: Lean Girls Club

Is there anything else you want to share? There are too many people in this world who will tell you that you can't do something, don't let yourself be one of them. Dream big!

Before she lines up at Fort Wadsworth, you can find Grace with Asics at the Marathon Expo on Thursday at 10am EST, a #TeamAsics Tweetup Saturday at 9am at the NYC Public Library (5th and 42nd St) and the Marathon Lounge at 10am EST.

What characteristics mentioned in the Asics “We Are Marathoners” infographic do you associate with? * What is the best spectator sign you’ve seen along a race course? * Who will you be cheering for on Sunday?

Check out Lean Girls Club, and follow Grace on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Monday, October 27, 2014

NYC is for Runners

You may have noticed a few photos in my Instagram feed from New York City last week. Woody and I were there on vacation. To say it was odd being a visitor in NYC, the city I called home for more than nine years, would be an understatement. As much as it had changed, it had stayed the same. While Woody has been back several times for work, this was my first trip back since we moved to Denver last year.

Central Park South

Cashing in some hard-earned Starwood points, we stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton in Chelsea – 25th St and 7th Ave. – while not the most luxurious of accommodations it is in a fantastic location as we could walk or run just about anywhere we wanted to go – and that’s what was important! Downtown, not a problem. Uptown, easy. West Village, right down the street. Kips Bay, a nice crosstown walk. Of course, we love walking and the miles tick by much quicker when you’re walking along busy Manhattan streets than they do in many parts of Denver, but even for those few times we took the subway we had easy access to every line.

NYC Subway

I’ve always been one of those people who loved to walk in the city. And I look up. Which is a rare thing among New Yorkers, but I am in love with the architecture and always have been. And have you ever wondered what it’s like to live, or work, in those beautiful buildings? I’m not ashamed to admit that I love walking around at night and catching a glimpse into townhomes, apartments or offices, you can’t help but wonder about its story. Not much different than people watching – another favorite hobby in the city.

NYC Architecture

Each morning but one (we were out way too late the night before) started with a run. One of the many great things about the city is the endless running opportunities. Sure, you might be dodging parents with double-wide strollers (why are these allowed in the city?), dogs, or tourists walking 4 across, but you can run for miles without crossing the same intersection more than once and see a lot of the city along the way.

Tribeca

Our first run was down the West Side Highway to the north cove in Battery Park City and back up to our hotel. Number 2 was one loop of Central Park with Grace, who went on to run another 10 miles in the park for her 16 mile long run ahead of the NYC Marathon. Our third was Woody’s least favorite as I insisted on running down 5th Ave, through Washington Square Park, Greenwich Village, SoHo, and Tribeca during rush hour on our way to Battery Park, and up through Battery Park City to have breakfast at our favorite bagel place (Zucker’s in Tribeca if you’re wondering!). And our last morning was another jaunt down the West Side Highway (I had to make it up to Woody), with a turnaround at Chambers Street and back up, finishing at Hu Kitchen for breakfast. If we hadn’t slept in the first morning, and I had my druthers, we would have made another trip back up to Central Park. All in all though, we covered 25 miles in 4 days – a lot of miles for me.

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I also had the opportunity to take a spinning class with Grace. Another favorite thing – the endless array of events to try something new, to explore what you’re passionate about. BFX Chelsea has been open for several months now, and offers a variety of classes including spinning, barre, yoga and pilates, performance training, martial arts, and combinations of those. Our spinning class with Juan was successful in getting my heart pumping and a good sweat going. The bikes didn’t require clip-in shoes, which in advance of the class I thought would be odd, but it actually worked out well and I’m glad the specific shoes weren’t required, since I don’t have a pair! This does make the class more accessible. Interestingly, we learned from Juan that BFX Studio, which is opening two more locations in the coming months – one in FiDi, the other in Boston – is owned by Town Sports International, which also owns the New York Sports Club chain. You won’t find a mention of TSI on the BFX website however.

Workout Night with Grace

There were so many fantastic things about our trip, besides just the running! Reconnecting with amazing friends over drinks, taking a break in Bryant Park, savoring lunch on the Highline, chatting with the doorman at our old building, seeing how downtown has come into its own, looking out over Central Park from the rooftop of the Met, laughing so hard I cried at Upright Citizens Brigade, and enjoying every meal, cup of coffee and piece of chocolate along the way.  

Social Soup Experiment

Central Park

Grand Army Plaza Selfie

NYC Skyline

Until next time, NYC.

Sound Off: How many pairs of running shoes do you own? What’s your favorite brand & model?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Race Report: Louisville Trail 10K

I hope this race report will serve as a cautionary tale for at least a few people, as I’d like some good to come from my poor performance.Louisville Trail Start

This past weekend Woody and I ran the Louisville Trail 10k, about 25 miles from Denver – an easy drive at 6:30 on a Sunday morning. It was our first time running this particular race, and our first time running any race with the word “trail” associated with it. To be clear, this wasn’t a highly technical trail race like many are in Colorado, the trail – part of the vast trail system in the area – was packed gravel and even some paved sections.

We found parking nearby, picked up our bibs, and went for a short warm-up run along the first part of the trail. It was cool, breezy and a bit gloomy. Woody is still relatively new to racing and he was nervous about doing a 10K (our last one was BolderBoulder and while we’ve both run longer distances since, our race efforts have all been 5k’s). As always, I advised him to be conservative at the start – don’t go out too fast; it’s much better to have negative splits than go out too fast. Famous last words.

There were a total of 614 runners across a half marathon, 10K and 5K. So it was a small race compared to what I’m used to, but about the size of the 5k we ran last month. While I thought I could only run big races, I really don’t mind being able to line up at the start with just a few minutes before the start!

Louisville Trail Refuel

Gotta love a race with chocolate milk at the finish!

There was a count down and we were off – 15 minutes behind the half marathoners who went west out of the start; we went east. Much of the trail was pretty narrow, so I had to adjust to the crowd pretty quickly, but like all races the crowd thinned out pretty quickly. I knew I was putting in some good effort from the start but it wasn’t until just before we hit a big, long hill that I realized I had gone out way too fast. Not good. I tried to slow down but my legs weren’t adjusting. Down the big hill, turn around, up the big hill again. Still too fast. I wanted to slow down but I also didn’t want to lose ground on the two people who had been right ahead of me since the start.

Woody is much faster than I am, so when I saw him not far from the turnaround, I knew I was in trouble. The packed gravel turned out to be a bit more formidable than the packed dirt trails I run in the parks around our house – it’s a bit more loose – so thank goodness this wasn’t a more serious trail. The race consisted of essentially two out and backs – the second with a loop – with the start/finish in the middle. Aside from the start the course was void of spectators, but there was great support from volunteers at the water stops and a few crucial trail intersections to keep us on the right track.

Nearing mile 4 the fatigue was starting to set in, the consequence of going out too fast. I finally started to slow down out of necessity. My legs were heavy, my stomach was aching, but I was only running 6.2 miles. I finished 9 a few weeks ago, there was no question about whether or not I could run the distance. I just hadn’t taken my own advice and went out way too fast. Pure stupidity. With a slight, but long and gradual hill ahead, all I could think about were my friends running the Chicago Marathon who had 20 more miles to run than I did, there was no way I would give in.

Louisville Trail Finish

I gave one final kick to get into the finish, was handed my medal (yes, this series gives finishers medals to everyone), chip clipped I went to find Woody, who had finished almost exactly 9 minutes before I did. This was not my finest race, so I’m very thankful that at least the view of the mountains was pretty spectacular.

My chip time was 55:25, an 8:56 pace. While it’s slightly better than my BolderBoulder finish, I’m certain that if I had gone out a little bit slower, I would have had a better finish. Sounds strange, right? Slow down to finish faster, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have had to push myself quite as hard those last few miles if I had just taken it down a little.

With all that aside, it was a great race with a variety of food and drink at the end. We agreed that we’d like to do it next year. And maybe a few of the others in the Endurance Race Series.

Our next, and likely last, race of the year will be the Mile High Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, right in our neighborhood!

Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend! There were a lot of people crossing finish lines around the country!

Louisville Trail bib

Woody and I are handing out treats on Halloween for the first time! What should we give out?