Adventures in Running (Sometimes in Mud)

Lake and Mich run views

Paupakan Lake in PA (top); Grand River in Grand Rapids, MI

Hey, remember that time I said I would blog regularly? Me too, that’s why I’m back to pick up the pace (pun intended). Since my last entry, I’ve done just a few more long runs (7 miles is the farthest so far; 9 miles coming up this weekend), a bunch of short ones and I’ve seen a whole lot of awesome views. I might say that over the past 20+ days, I think seeing sweet new sights has been my favorite part of marathon training thus far. Besides the seriously amazing sunsets that I get to see over the East River from Astoria Park (pics below), I also got to explore Paupakan Lake (where my fam vacationed this summer in the Poconos) and Grand Rapids, MI (where I attended a (really freaking fun!) wedding). (See pics of both above.) There’s nothing better than checking out a new area by foot, especially when some family members or BFFs, who happen live across the country, get to join you for half of it. An added bonus, of course, is that you also burn off some of those boozey calories that come with R&R and celebrating nuptials.

Astoria Park sunset run views

Sunset views of Manhattan from across the East River in Queens

One thing I did miss this past weekend though: Long-run Saturday. But I did do something a little more adventurous… I tackled my fourth Tough Mudder. This time it was in Long Island, while the previous three were on mountains in New England — Gunstock in NH and Mount Snow in VT to be exact.

Every year since 2013, my brother and I have been doing the 10- to 12-mile obstacle course together. It started with a few other gents too. There were six of us the first year and we could not stop talking about it when we finished — pretty sure my sisters got a liiittle annoyed by how much we discussed each difficult obstacle we overcame and how proud we were of ourselves for climbing up and down ski slopes for nearly five hours. (Can you blame us, though? If yes, then try one.) After that epic day, my bro just wanted to keep the tradition alive. That didn’t quite work out with everyone, but I stuck around because I love a good bonding session with my sibling and Mudders are a damn good time (for the most part!). Plus, you really do feel accomplished after crossing the finish line and getting crowned with your very own orange headband, even if it’s your fourth one and they look the same every year. My dad also came back for round two (when he was 67!!!) in 2015. (He’s going to hate me for spilling his age.)

This year, however, they changed the date of my brother and I’s usual VT trek, so I had to miss it. (Jeremy — that’s my bro — still did it and dominated.) Lucky for me, because I’m a health and fitness editor, I got invited to join a team hosted by Merrell, the Tough Mudder brand sponsor. So just this past Friday I made my way out to Long Island for the run on Saturday. (Over the weekend, I learned how it’s key to call it an event… not a race. Because “no Mudder left behind” is one of their mottos and they really do promote teamwork on the course, which honestly, is probably one of the best things about TM.)

2015 Mudder w Jer and Dad

Tough Mudder 2015 at Mount Snow in VT, with my dad and brother

A little recap on the Mudder action… They had a few obstacles that I’ve never done before. They’ve been changing some up every year for the past few years, which makes it even more fun to go back for more. One of my favorite new, team-oriented obstacles was Pyramid Scheme. If you ever watched the Spartan Race show on NBC, you might be familiar with it. You basically have to stack your bodies on top of each other (meaning one person is standing on another’s shoulders) to get to the top of a slippery, ever-so-steep inclined wall. Naturally, we sent the strongest guy up first by way of another team of men, so he could pull everyone up. Then we created a two-humans-across and two-humans-high ladder, and those not involved (myself included) started climbing our way to the top. When I reached the landing ledge, I also helped pull some people up while also trying to hold onto Mike’s legs (the first dude that went up), so he wouldn’t go sliding down and crash the entire pyramid, leaving only the strong to survive at the top (kidding though; there’s a reason we went first). I have to say, it all worked out pretty splendidly, even if I was straddling Teona, one of the Merrell PR reps, for a little while, basically with my boobs shoved in her face. #bonding #heygirlhey

Tough Mudder obstacles

2016 TM! Clockwise: Falling off the monkey bars; swinging from King of Swingers; climbing Pyramid Scheme (and stopping for a pic)

There was also an obstacle, King of Swingers, where you had to jump off a 15-foot(?) platform, grab a T-bar, swing out and hit a bell. I, like most of the team, figured I wouldn’t even be able to jump far enough to reach the bar (spoiler alert: it’s so much easier than it looks… that part), I didn’t even remember to swing out far enough to reach the bell. But then again, I only saw a few other people do that, ’cause that shiz was far and high and hard. That wasn’t my only mishap, though: I also happened to wipe out simply by trail running (like, on my face, then tucking and rolling on my side) and I did slip off the monkey bars when it came time to grab the swinging one (whomp, whomp). I did that last year too — one year I’ll make it.

There were a few classic obstacles we completed, as well: Arctic Enema (jumping into ice-cold water, which made me scream for my life the first year, but this time seemed a smidge warmer, probably because it was 95 degrees outside and they weren’t constantly filling the dumpsters with ice); Cage Crawler (one of my faves, which basically involves doing a backstroke in muddy water, while holding onto a cage fence; it’s for reals really relaxing) and the signature Electroshock Therapy, which you’re allowed to skip as a TM Legionnaire (aka a crazy person who’s done multiple aka me) in lieu of another, more entertaining and less painful obstacle. Alas, I was called over by another Merrell worker, Sue so I couldn’t turn her down, obvi. But I did dash through it pretty quickly with only a few minor shocks to the bod.

Overall, it was such a fun day with a great crew (check ’em out below). I think everyone should gather their up-for-anything pals and sign up for one. Just remember to watch your step while running through the woods and get ready for some shockingly (ba dum cha) good times and great memories!

TM team pics

The 2016 Tough Mudder Merrell Team!

One last note of my training: I did a 4.5-er yesterday and my foot actually went numb, as in I could not feel it. I knew something weird was going to happen because my calf was so darn tight from sitting all day. But have you ever gone for a run and not been able to feel your foot? It’s basically the strangest sensation ever. My right leg felt half the length of the other. (Yeah, I know, that can’t be good for form or injury prevention. Note to self: Use standing desk more.) I didn’t get the change to ask Dr. Google about it yet, but if I find a legit reason for it, I’ll report back with a new lesson learned.

I’ll be returning to the sweaty (like, really sweaty.. the humidity here in NYC is cray) streets on Wednesday and out for a long run on Saturday. This time, I’ll be sure to share more of my adventures in a timely manner.




Long-Run Saturdays are My New Fave Saturdays

IMG_5262 [1443389]Today, marked my first really good training run! The kind where you feel speedy, like the miles come easy and you could run forever–or at least do maybe 10 miles instead of six. I’m not sure if it was that I ate a bowl of cereal an hour before I started, had a cup of coffee about 15 minutes prior to heading out or that I actually did a solid warm up of lunges, squats and leg swings. Perhaps it was the gorgeous trail and green scenery of my PA hometown (see above photo) that pulled me through. It could have also been because I went commando in a pair of shorts that didn’t even have built-in underwear, only to realize later that they were on backwards, which explained the serious wedge I had during my entire trek. (Ok, that probably wasn’t it.) While I’m hoping later in my training I can actually pinpoint what works and what doesn’t, right now I’m just reveling in the fact that I finally had a run where I enjoyed (mostly) every step, so that deserves a #virtualhighfive.

See the past two weeks of runs have been kind of difficult. I’ve been in mindset of just wanting to get my workouts over with. Last Saturday’s 5 miler was definitely better than I thought it’d be, considering the amount of amazingly delicious seafood I had the night before and the drinks I downed with a friend who was in town. My fab roommate joined as we jogged along the water in Astoria park, so that certainly helped the time go by. But still, it wasn’t great and I’ve been waiting for those breezy miles to kick in and to get just a little reassurance that the hard work is paying off and I’m actually getting better on myfeet. Granted, I know it’s only week two here, but it was also run seven so that seems like enough time to build stronger steps. I will admit, I skipped my easy run on Friday morning, because I was just too darn tired to get out of bed. I felt super bad about, so I’m thinking that will light a little fire under my butt if I’m thinking about sleeping in again. And anyway, I had a good run today!

I am also looking forward to my new summer weekend routine: A chill Friday night, making the long run on Saturday my b*atch and then having the rest of the day (and Sunday) to celebrate the victory.

Now I’m in full vacation mode and looking forward to getting back at it on Monday, while I’m away in the Poconos. Have a fun 4th, friends! I hope you enjoy all your little victories too!