Weekly Workouts + Gridiron 4M Race Recap

It’s Monday, and somehow it feels like the weekend never happened. Maybe because mine was packed full of activity, from hosting my second dinner party to running a Sunday morning race in Central Park and of course, watching the Super Bowl last night. I’ll share more about that dinner party later in the week, with today’s post focusing on just my weekly workouts and a Gridiron 4M race recap!

 

Continue reading

January Highlights

We’ve reached the last day of the first month of 2016. I feel like I was just getting ready for the new year and reflecting on 2015, this month flew by so fast. That’s why I want to focus on making the most of the present instead of worrying about the future this year – it goes by in the blink of an eye, and I don’t want to miss a moment! Since this blog serves as a sort of adventure log for me as well as being a place to collecting running and recipe tips, I’ll be recapping each month like I did for several months of last year (April, May, June, and July) and then lost track of doing with all my traveling. I’m settled into the swing of my new routine now, I’ve learned a lot from blogging having reached the one-year mark, and today is all about my January highlights!

 

Continue reading

Staying Safe on a Snowstorm Run

After all the snow brought on by Winter Storm Jonas this weekend, there’s no better time to talk about running in the snow. I shared a few tips about running safely in the snow last January but I thought I’d update those with what I’ve learned since, especially when it comes to running not just in snow, but after a major weather event.

 

Running after Winter Storm Jonas

 

 

Continue reading

Weekly Workouts and a Weekend Blizzard

This week’s workouts were all about getting ready for the Fred Lebow Half Marathon, my second half marathon in as many weeks that I was using to test my endurance as I look forward to formulating a marathon training plan. Except the Fred Lebow was cancelled on Friday because of the impending blizzard, affectionately known up and down the east coast as Winter Storm Jonas. In the end, I was disappointed that I didn’t get to race, but just because the official race was cancelled didn’t mean I couldn’t still get outside and enjoy the winter wonderland that is Central Park in snow. I took the most gorgeous stroll last January during the so-called Snowpocalypse, and was determined to do the same this time around.

 

Sledding in Central Park

 

Continue reading

Snow and Signs of Spring

Marching through the spring snow

Marching through the spring snow

This winter seemed like it would never end, what with the snow and freezing temperatures taking over the Northeast from the holiday season well into March. There was half a foot of fresh powder on what was technically the first day of spring in the tristate area! I’m grateful that where I live wasn’t hit as hard as Boston or Buffalo. And though I may lace up and dash through the snow, waking up for my workouts all winter no matter what, brushing off concerns with the thoughts that others have it worse, I’m still so thrilled when signs of spring appear.

 

 

A river runs through once more

A river runs through once more

Earlier this week, I saw a ship chugging down the East River under a sparkling sun. The river is no longer frozen, with floes of ice so large it would be dangerous for any boat to pass through. While it’s still chilly, the water is moving again and nature is back on its proper course. The sparkling sun attested to that fact! On a related note, I took this photo from the river running path, which is finally free of the thick sheet of ice and resulting slush that made it hazardous for months. This means that November Project PR Day for April won’t require running in an ice bath!

 

 

Fuel for body and mind

Fuel for body and mind

Thursday we had misty rain, with temps in the mid-50s and rising. Today was a little nippy again (snowflakes!) That plus nerves meant I was experiencing some shivers this morning. I ate a small breakfast before heading to Columbia for the 8:30am start. A half-cup of coffee, a Chobani Oats apricot yogurt, a small apple, and a few squares of dark chocolate with black tea leaves (hey, dark chocolate is brain food!)  The new Chobani Oats flavors also contain chia, quinoa, and amaranth. I didn’t realize when I picked it up, and it was the first time I tried chia seeds. I’ll have to give them another go though, because the pre-test stomach butterflies were very unhelpful.

 

Continue reading

On Being Weatherproof

As a ballet dancer, my movement was not confined by the weather unless there was so much snow I couldn’t be driven to class or rehearsal. When I started coxing for my college boat club, I had my first brush with what Weather can do to a workout. Yes, Weather. Not just rain – sleet, snow, or ice. Often in Oxford it would somehow manage to be a combination of all four within a 4-hour period. In my first year of coxing, I suffered through multiple outings huddled in five layers of fleece topped with a rain jacket, gritting my teeth as precipitation pelted me and freezing as I sat still. Even the rowers had it better – at least they were moving. After that, I moved up to assigning the coxswains, and campaigned to schedule each week based solely on the expected conditions. I wasn’t one to dance in the rain, so why should I sit in it?

When I first started running, in the spring of 2013, it had been a long and dreary winter (I had no idea that a polar vortex was coming for us the following winter!) and being outside was one of the biggest perks. I honestly think I was able to get into running so quickly because I was tired of being cooped up indoors and just wanted to be out in the fresh air for longer and longer stretches of time. Even then, though, I skipped runs if it was raining. I still got out there 4 or 5 days every week. That continued for the initial months, until summer came. If I thought winter was cold, summer was HOT. That whole global warming thing is no joke, and it jolted me into rising early, just like I had during my coxing days, to beat the heat by running before I went to my summer internship.

 

Clouds and rain outdoors > in a gym on the dreadmill

Clouds and rain outdoors > in a gym on the dreadmill

One morning it was drizzling, and I decided to get outside anyway. I wouldn’t be wearing heavy clothes that got even heavier when soaked. Worth a shot. So I laced up and headed out. I realized it wasn’t so bad. And when the drizzle stopped and the clouds cleared, I was treated to a lovely rainbow ringing over the sun before I went back inside to shower and start my day. A switch had flipped. I didn’t really ease into running in Weather. When autumn arrived, I just kept wearing the baseball cap I’d worn in summer to keep the sun out – it keeps the rain off equally well. I ran right through my first real rainstorm in September getting ready for my first race.

 

 

If the park is like this in early March, the only option is to ignore the weather

If the park is like this in early March, the only option is to ignore the weather

When winter came? I just kept at it. I’ve always loved  the way snow turns our world into a winter wonderland – and running through it was better than rain! Ice held me up for a run or two until I figured out my tricks of the trade, and went dashing along happily through the frost. This past winter, I’ve only been kept inside once because of Weather (last year was about a week because of that pesky polar vortex!) Now, along the way, I’ve struggled to explain just why it’s worth it to me to get outside and on the run when it’s admittedly pretty awful out and most people would stay in on the couch with Netflix and cocoa. While my best friends are lovingly tolerant of my running-in-Weather habit, they don’t understand it. And casual acquaintances feel free to tell me I’m insane. I usually laugh it off, because the truth is, I get that it’s a little out of the ordinary. But to me, it isn’t crazy, because being outdoors and on the move is what makes me happiest. I’ve never regretted a single run, no matter how tricky or slippery it was.

 

But what was I supposed to call myself, if not a ‘crazy’ runner? I had no idea, until I found November Project. A group of people who get outside and wake up the sun with a workout no matter the weather. And I was finally able to describe myself – as #weatherproof. (NP loves hashtags, which I am still getting used to, because I am a Luddite.) The first morning I showed up was the first Wednesday of February and it was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and there were easily 30+ people there ready to go. Last Wednesday was the first month-iversary of my coming to the workouts, and it also happened to be the 1st birthday of the New York City NP “Tribe” – so despite the snow and rain combining to create some sort of slush soup, 40 people came out to work out and celebrate. By running in circles around Carl Schurz Park through ankle-deep puddles of the slush soup.

It isn’t crazy, after all. It’s just being #weatherproof. (Please note that most of these people are way more badass than I am. I show up once a week or so, loving my slow solo runs on the other days. I’m an amateur athlete compared to most of NP!)

 

What do you think? Do you workout even in wild Weather?

 

Happy Birthday to NP NY!

Happy Birthday to NP NY!

 

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Beat the chill…with ice cream!

Ice cream is my favorite food. Of course, I eat more fruit and veggies and yogurt and eggs than ice cream, but when I picture my happiest times, ice cream was always what I was eating (or what I wanted to top off an otherwise perfect day). Even on my birthday, I’d opt for ice cream over cake or cupcakes – and since I have a summer birthday and was often away at camp as a kid, this worked out well! Lots of people think of ice cream as a summer treat, but I enjoy it year round. While it may seem counter-intuitive, eating a bowl of ice cream can enhance an evening of sitting by a cozy fire with hot cocoa. The trick is to create an ice cream experience that doesn’t rely on the tradition of grabbing a cone of your favorite flavor at an outdoor window, and mix it up instead!

 

Salted caramel ice cream in a crystal cruet

Salted caramel ice cream in a crystal cruet

 

One of my favorite ways to treat myself is to have a decadent flavor of ice cream nicely scooped into a crystal glass, topping it with a complementary seasoning. Here, I took caramel ice cream and added a pinch of sea salt and a dash of molasses, and paired with a mug of spiced apple tea.

 

 

 

Perfect nostalgic treat

Perfect nostalgic treat – vanilla with rainbow sprinkles

Another serving style evokes the nostalgia of childhood. I have four small ice cream dishes, with pastel bowls on the inside of little tubs shaped like the bottom of wafer ice cream cones. I’ll scoop a classic flavor like vanilla or strawberry into one of these, and top with gluten-free rainbow sprinkles. It takes me back to summers down the Cape, where I used to get strawberry ice cream with rainbow sprinkles from a shop called Emack & Bolio’s in Orleans, Massachusetts. They’ve expanded throughout New England and the rest of the US, but to me, the other locations aren’t quite the ‘real thing’!

 

 

My peanut butter cup sundae - I just threw the rainbow sprinkles on top for good measure!

My peanut butter cup sundae – I just threw the rainbow sprinkles on top for good measure!

For an extra special splurge, turn your ice cream and toppings into a swoon-worthy sundae. Start with a basic base flavor, then add sauces and toppings. One of my favorites is a peanut butter cup sundae. I start with peanut butter cup ice cream, then add some extra peanut butter and chocolate chips. If I’m feeling very nostalgic and I happen to have some regular-size peanut butter cups around, I’ll break one in half and stick the pieces on top to make it look like those Friendly’s sundaes with the smiles! (And if you really want to go all out, make a batch of peanut butter cookie bites to crumble on top).

 

 

 

Of course, you can just have ice cream straight from the carton or in a regular dish, but I like to dress it up a little in the winter. It feels like a special treat, a welcome spot of cheer on an otherwise dreary day. (Caveat: I run outside when it is below freezing all the time. I am probably a classified crazy winter weather person, at least for locations outside the Arctic and, you know, Chicago. So feel free to mock my recommendation of eating ice cream this time of year. I’ll keep doing it anyway.) And I’ll mix it up with the seasons. In the autumn, I love pumpkin ice cream. In the spring I go for berry sorbet. Summer will find me with a gluten-free cone full of strawberry or Moose Tracks. So find your flavor and figure out how to make every spoonful special.

 

IMG_0502

Ready to be filled with delicious creations!

 

I’m planning to fix myself a bowl of ice cream for dessert tonight, to basically tell this snowstorm it’s time to get lost!

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Do you eat it all year round or save it for a seasonal treat?

Have you ever tried making snow-cream? It’s delicious (but I would never trust NYC snow…)

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Waking Up for a Winter Workout

Although many people start off January with resolutions to exercise more and focus on healthy habits in the new year, winter doldrums can get in the way. When it’s cold and snowy (or sleeting, or icy, or just plain gray and gloomy) it can be tough to find the motivation to get up and moving.

Pretty but chilly!

Pretty but chilly!

 

I am one of those crazy runners who gets outdoors no matter the weather. Rain or shine, I can be found in the park or on the trail. I think there were 3 days in all of last winter when I went to the gym for a workout – and I still got in 4-5 runs every week! So far this winter, I’ve been able to keep it up, and haven’t been forced onto the dreadmill yet. But it took awhile for me to get into the habit, and even more time to enjoy the time I spend running outside in all kinds of conditions. So I thought I’d share a few tips to jump-start winter workouts!

 

...ready to hit the snowy streets!

…ready to hit the snowy streets!

 

First, make a habit of getting outdoors unless conditions are truly unsafe. Make a promise to yourself to get outside and have all the proper gear for winter weather set and ready to go in the morning. That way, when the alarm clock goes off, you’ll be more likely to get up and at ’em – after all, you’ve already prepared and won’t want to waste the effort!

 

 

 

Second, ensure you have enough time to get in a workout before your day begins, and treat the time you have as, well, a treat! I think of my run as something I ‘get’ to do before doing all the things for school and my internship (and eventually my job) that I ‘have’ to do. It’s a little thing, but the way you perceive it can make all the difference.

 

Breakfast at the ready

Breakfast at the ready

 

Third, have everything ready to go at your house or apartment for when you return – clothes for the day laid out, breakfast supplies ready and easy to assemble, and your bag packed so you can get back out the door quickly. This morning, my run was pretty chilly, but knowing I had a couple of Pumpkin Puffins and a mug of dark and sweet blueberry coffee at home kept me going!

 

 

 

 

Taking trail conditions in stride

Taking trail conditions in stride

Having a few friends to run with is another great option – I try to do my long runs when training for a race with a friend or two, and workout buddies can definitely keep you accountable. Personally, my motivation for running (like my motivation for most other things in life) tends to come from within. I’m not the type of person who likes to follow a set training plan to the letter (probably because I’m not really big on following directions…as evidenced by some of my cooking experiments!) But if you do better when you have a schedule to stick to, by all means use one. And even if you tend to march to your own beat like me, having just one workout every week with others to mix it up and keep you honest can be just what you need to shake out of the winter blues (I’m happy that a friend led me to the November Project for this reason!)

 

 

Last but not least, if you’re goal-oriented, signing up for a race every so often if you’re a runner, or setting specific bars for yourself to reach with other workouts, can be the perfect thing to spur you on. Just as I’m wound down from the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, it’s time to start getting in gear for my second New York City Half Marathon in March (also the second anniversary of my ‘real’ running!) After that, I’ll take a break from racing as law school ends and the bar exam approaches…but yesterday, I signed up to complete my Coast to Coast Challenge with a friend from school at Disneyland in September with the Dumbo Double Dare. It’s a perfect post-bar-exam celebration and dreaming of that magical run in the sun is sure to keep us both going during the shortest and coldest month of the year. So figure out what works for you, and get ready to wake up to a winter workout in wonderland!

 

 

Watching the sun rise over the East River is a lovely perk of a winter's morning workout!

Watching the sun rise over the East River is a lovely perk of a winter’s morning workout!

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

A Snow Day Stroll in Central Park

Well, the Snowpocalypse did not descend on New York City. It was instead a simple storm, with about a foot of snow falling. However, it was cause for a snow day, and who doesn’t love snow days? Sledding, building snowmen, drinking hot cocoa…so many wonderful activities feel more special on a snow day!

Much of Manhattan was pre-emptively closed. The shop windows along every street on the Upper East Side were dark, schools were shuttered, restaurants locked up, and gyms and yoga studios on delayed opening schedules. Even the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, perfect haunts for a stormy day, were not options. But just because all the places with walls and a roof were closed doesn’t mean there was nowhere to go. After all, the great outdoors is always open. So it was off to Central Park for a stroll for me and for thousands of other New Yorkers.

Sledding a few steps away from the Met

Sledding a few steps away from the Met

 

 

Kids and kids at heart sledding on every hill, from the North Woods down to Sheep Meadow. Dogs were walking with their people, rollicking in the winter wonderland. Couples walked arm in arm sipping from steaming thermoses.

 

 

 

 

Strolling and skiing

Strolling and skiing

 

All around, New Yorkers were taking advantage of the weather to exercise. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and tugging friends or kids on sleds. I even saw a few dozen joggers (proving that running in the snow is possible, delightful, better than the dreadmill, and also wins because the gyms were closed.)

 

 

 

 

The snow-capped gazebo lends a little air of the woods to this urban oasis

The snow-capped gazebo lends a little air of the woods to this urban oasis

 

I always love the park in the snow because it’s transformed into a winter wonderland. Even with the crowds out in full force on a citywide snow day, it seems quieter than if the same number were present on a summer afternoon. Nothing beats a snowy stroll in the woods, but a snow day in the park is imbued with its own sort of magic.

 

 

 

 

 

Will's cape looks better with a dusting of snow

Will’s cape looks better with a dusting of snow

 

 

These guys bring a bit of the Old World into the new, transporting me back to Oxford for just a moment, remembering their counterparts surrounding the Sheldonian Theatre and how majestic they looked in winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can be tempting to curl up inside with your mug of cocoa on a snow day. I am all for spending some of the day making warming winter treats (like my Peanut Butter Cup breakfast) and watching the flakes fall outside the window. But in my humble opinion, bundling up afterwards and heading out to explore is the way to go. A blanket of fresh snow transforms the world, and making tracks in sparkling powder feels like an adventure even if you’re in your own backyard.

 

 

Balto proudly watching over all the winter explorers who pass by

Balto proudly watching over all the winter explorers who pass by

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

A Snow Day Stroll in the Park

Well, the Snowpocalypse did not descend on New York City. It was instead a simple storm, with about a foot of snow falling. However, it was cause for a snow day, and who doesn’t love snow days? Sledding, building snowmen, drinking hot cocoa…so many wonderful activities feel more special on a snow day!

Much of Manhattan was pre-emptively closed. The shop windows along every street on the Upper East Side were dark, schools were shuttered, restaurants locked up, and gyms and yoga studios on delayed opening schedules. Even the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History, perfect haunts for a stormy day, were not options. But just because all the places with walls and a roof were closed doesn’t mean there was nowhere to go. After all, the great outdoors is always open. So it was off to Central Park for a stroll for me and for thousands of other New Yorkers.

Sledding a few steps away from the Met

Sledding a few steps away from the Met

 

 

Kids and kids at heart sledding on every hill, from the North Woods down to Sheep Meadow. Dogs were walking with their people, rollicking in the winter wonderland. Couples walked arm in arm sipping from steaming thermoses.

 

 

 

 

Strolling and skiing

Strolling and skiing

 

All around, New Yorkers were taking advantage of the weather to exercise. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and tugging friends or kids on sleds. I even saw a few dozen joggers (proving that running in the snow is possible, delightful, better than the dreadmill, and also wins because the gyms were closed.)

 

 

 

 

The snow-capped gazebo lends a little air of the woods to this urban oasis

The snow-capped gazebo lends a little air of the woods to this urban oasis

 

I always love the park in the snow because it’s transformed into a winter wonderland. Even with the crowds out in full force on a citywide snow day, it seems quieter than if the same number were present on a summer afternoon. Nothing beats a snowy stroll in the woods, but a snow day in the park is imbued with its own sort of magic.

 

 

 

 

 

Will's cape looks better with a dusting of snow

Will’s cape looks better with a dusting of snow

 

 

These guys bring a bit of the Old World into the new, transporting me back to Oxford for just a moment, remembering their counterparts surrounding the Sheldonian Theatre and how majestic they looked in winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can be tempting to curl up inside with your mug of cocoa on a snow day. I am all for spending some of the day making warming winter treats (like my Peanut Butter Cup breakfast) and watching the flakes fall outside the window. But in my humble opinion, bundling up afterwards and heading out to explore is the way to go. A blanket of fresh snow transforms the world, and making tracks in sparkling powder feels like an adventure even if you’re in your own backyard.

 

 

Balto proudly watching over all the winter explorers who pass by

Balto proudly watching over all the winter explorers who pass by

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.