Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August in Review

As I close out another month of traning I'd like to go back and review what went well, what didn't, and what the goals are going into the next month. Since I only started this blog halfway into July, this will be the first complete month of blogging I've done, which has allowed me to go back and carefully look at all of my experiences.

What went well:

First off, let's look at monthly mileage starting from the beginning of this year:

January: 66.62
February: 75.69
March: 109.97 (this is when I went running crazy and stupidly ignored the 10% rule)
April: 103.58 (and this is when my ignorance of that rule took its toll in the form of a knee injury)
May: 96.99 (tapering for my first half marathon + a week of vacation)
June: 124.2
July: 151.95
August: 172.61

Overall I'm extremely pleased with that number. When I wrote my training plan for August I had only scheduled 171.5 miles, so considering that I clocked more than that, I'm not terribly upset at myself for not doing my 18 miler this past Sunday. It clearly was made up for (and then some) by sneaky extra miles during other weeks!

It's so interesting to look back and see what I have done previously. I remember in March I was so excited when I passed the 100 mile mark and even more thrilled when I landed at 109! Now it feels as if 100 miles is not a big deal anymore. As my sister said a week and half ago when we spontaneously (and indifferently) added on and extra mile to our 16 miler, "it's a strange thing when you realize how distance has become cheapened."

In addition to a generous increase in overall mileage, my improvements with speed went very well! Reintroducing speed work firmly into my plan at the end of July really paid off, and I found myself clocking some of my fastest times to date. This makes me a thousand times more confident going into my September races, which I had been feeling hesistant about.

I also really amped up my endurance this month, starting with several consectutive weekdays of doubles. By the end of the week I was exhausted, but since then I've had much better endurance and have responded very well to higher mileage weekdays and successive doubles. This all bodes extremely well for the marathon and future ultras!

What didn't go well:

So what (if anything) went wrong this month? Well, I immediately think of my calf strain that I suffered at the end of last week and how that impacted my weekend. As much as I am enjoying my new found speed, I need to be careful not to overdo it. I should really try to follow my own advice and take it easy.

As far as what else didn't go well, I think I had some trouble adjusting the mileage increases at the beginning of the month. It wasn't necessarily a huge percentile increase than the week before, but I started doing 16+ mile runs, and my Tuesday/Thursday runs increased from 6 to 7 miles. Even just those small adjustments took some getting used to.

Goals for September:

My current training plan for September has me hitting at least 190 miles. While for the past two months I have increased about 25 miles from the month before, in September I will keep my weekly mileage pretty consistant over the whole month. This is mostly due to the races that I will be running and the tapering that at least one will require. It would be great to get to 200 miles, but I'm not going to force it.

I have three races in three consecutive weekends: two 5ks with a half marathon in between. I've mentioned before that I am nervous about the half because I feel pressure to set a PR from my half in May. Every run makes me feel a little bit better though, and with the weather (finally!) cooling down, I know I will improve even more. 

Grad school starts next week! Yikes, that was fast! I'm sure it will take me the entire month of September to get used to going to class four evenings a week in addition to all of the homework that will need to be done outside of those hours. 

Got any goals for September?

I will close out this monthly review with a hilarious comparison that our dog walker pointed out to Mike and I in one of her notes one day this past month:

Sophie the Bichon
Falcor the Dragon from The Neverending Story
I guess I can see the resemblance!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Make Up Run From Hell

On Monday I made up my Sunday long run right after work. I was pretty tired by the time 4 pm rolled around, but I forced my running clothes on, filled my water bottle with nuun, packed some GU Strawberry Chomps and headed out the door.

Despite it being the peak heat of the day, it was still absolutely gorgeous: 75 degrees, low humidity, and a slight breeze. My first mishap happened only a half mile in. I noticed that my handheld was leaking, but I couldn't figure out why, as I kept tightening the cap and it felt like it was screwed on right. Then I noticed that the nuun I had dropped in was shaking up as I was running and it had started foaming and spewing out of the top. It looked like a science project gone wrong! This was the first time I've used nuun. I know it's one tablet for every 16 oz and my bottle was 22 oz so I put a tablet and a half in. But perhaps that is still too much? Has anyone else had this issue with exploding nuun? Maybe I need to let it settle more before I get going?

Frustrated and a little sticky from the explosion, I tossed out the rest of the nuun and held onto the empty bottle until I got to the first water fountain at mile 2.5 to fill up. The next few miles went swimmingly! I was having a great time. I was keeping about a 9:15 pace, which was perfect. Not too fast, but not too slow. And I felt like I could keep it up over all 12 miles if I wanted. Right before mile 6, almost halfway through, I popped open my bag of GU Chomps and ate half. THAT is when the run became "hellish" (see post title).

I've mentioned previously that I have been suffering GI issues with gels and blocks all summer. Two Sundays ago in New York I had a successful experience with them for the first time in a long time. I thought I would be fine today as well.

Needless to say I had a really rough second half. My stomach kept acting up every few minutes and all of the bouncing around from running wasn't helping. So I walked. I kept the clock going because I was still covering distance, but I was really upset to be walking. I had at least 5 or 6 walking breaks for 1-3 minutes each, depending on the severity of my stomach ache.

Finally, I approached a crossroads in my path. In one direction, the direction I was supposed to go, was the 2 miles home. In the other direction, almost a half mile away, was a restroom that I knew would be stocked and available. I made the decision to take the latter path, with the understanding that to go there and come back would be to add almost an extra mile to my distance. Oh well. What's one mile anyway?

It turns out one mile is a lot. At least, it's a lot when you run the half mile out of your way to the restroom only to find that IT WAS CLOSED BECAUSE THE POWER WAS OUT FROM THE HURRICANE! You've got to be eff-ing kidding me. I had no choice but to turn around and head the half mile back plus the 2 miles home. I ended up walking the last two blocks back because I was feeling so ill. Running was not an option. It was the longest two blocks of my life.

Final Stats: 12.9 miles, 2:07:09, 9:51 pace

I'm really upset about this run. Everything was feeling great other than my stomach. And I realized that I am totally capable of comfortably fitting in and completing a 13 mile run on a weekday after a whole day of work. I know that going into my ultra training next winter and spring that I will be making 10+ mile weekday runs a routine, so this was great experiment. I feel totally lost, however, with regards to my future fueling during long runs. Has anyone else had this problem? I'm at the point where I'm not sure if I ever feel comfortable trying them again. Fool me once ten times and I think I've learned my lesson!

After I'd entirely emptied the contents of my stomach post-run (over share?) I went in search for dinner. I had, after all, worked up a 1300 calorie appetite. I went for an avocado/tomato/cucumber/romaine whole wheat wrap and copious amounts of tart froyo for dessert (because froyo is exactly what this mostly lactose intolerant, stomach-sick girl needs right?).

You may choose to believe that this cup is actually filled with more than just chocolate chips and froyo and that there are actually mango, strawberries, and blueberries hiding underneath 
In more positive news, my MapMyRun workout log is going to look like crazy town this week! I had 46 miles scheduled plus my 13 miler make up today, so it will say something like 59 miles, which is totally false, since last week's only says 29, but I'm secretly excited about it anyway. :)


My Ragnar Relay Pennsylvania team is still looking for three members (at least two female)! The event is October 7-8 and our start time is 11:30 am on that Friday. The team is composed of random runners, so don't worry about feeling like the odd (wo)man out. We all found each other on the Raganr site and I don't think anyone previously knew each other except Mike and I. Please email me at ASAP if you would be interested in running!! I promise it will be super fun!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Runner and the Hurricane

Two hours and fifty-six minutes and 18 miles later, just before 9 am, I heroically returned to the front stoop of my apartment building, having just braved torrential rains and 60 mph winds. I triumphantly threw my fist in the air and shouted "Eff you Irene!"

What a story that would be!...If it had actually happened. Let's back up shall we?

I spent most of Friday freaking out about my right calf. It felt like someone took a baseball bat to it and I was starting to accept the fact that I may not be running this weekend at all. After way too much internet research (the amount of research that leads you to inevitably become over-paranoid) I was sure I had actually sprained it, or at least strained it badly. I kept coming across sentences like, "a minimum of 4 weeks and up to 6 months of no running." Yeah, you could say I wasn't exactly in a good mood.

Some of the remedies I read about included compression, which I've already had great experiences with since I usually wear compression socks on long runs. I didn't want to walk around in a full knee sock all weekend, however, so after work I ran over to City Sports to pick up a pair of Zensah Compression Sleeves. I'm basically the biggest hypocrite ever because I always used to say I would never get a pair because I thought they were aesthetically unpleasing. And wouldn't you know that they are officially my new favorite running accessory! Combined with some icing, an anti-inflammatory, some Bengay, and massage, my calves were feeling a ton better! The possibility of running this weekend was beginning to look up.

After City Sports I made a bee-line to Trader Joe's to stock up on some hurricane essentials. Turns out I wasn't the only one who thought that they would beat the crowds by going right after work. In the mass chaos I did manage to grab some goodies:

The loot
Mike and I were absolutely starving by the time we got out of there. We dropped off the food and immediately went in search of dinner. Friday night dinners with Mike are my absolute favorite. It's our time to relax after a busy week, grab a drink, try new restaurants, and get ready for whatever the weekend brings. We haven't had a real Friday dinner in about a month because of trips out of town and other things. We decided to try a new Italian place the just opened recently called Serafina. It was super delicious!

Bruschetta to start
My "pounded to a flat pulp" grilled chicken
And, of course, no meal is ever complete without dessert. I've been trying to take advantage of the ice cream weather while its still around (its September this week already??).

I'm creepy about my ice cream. Deal with it.
Saturday morning we headed to boxing. I was still worried about my calf so I rocked a compression sleeve. Then I decided to match the rest of my outfit to the sleeve by wearing all black. This is also known as ninja style.

Boxing ninja! Look out!
Boxing was awesome as usual. I don't think I've ever been so sweaty in my life! Joey always keeps the back door open to let in some air, but there was no breeze to be had. Why does that always happen right before a hurricane? Though I was hesitant to do the jump squats and jump rope because of my calf, those exercises actually made it feel better not worse. I like to think those exercises were strengthening the muscle rather than tearing it more.

Post-boxing we hit up the farmer's market for breakfast:

Mmm donuts
As the rain started Saturday afternoon we headed to two appointments with wedding photographers. I felt like I sat around all summer and didn't do any wedding planning, but with the dress last weekend and the photographers this weekend I feel like things are starting to move again.

A few hours later Mike and I headed out for a run. I made sure to wear my compression socks and go very slow. After my research I realized that my injury was probably more speed related rather than overuse related. I have been extremely good about not increasing more than 10% mileage every week, a mistake I made (twice) when I trained for my half in the spring. My speed, however, has been blowing up lately, and it would appear that my whole body may not be on board with it yet. So, for now, I will take it slow.

Even though Mike had 5 miles on his plan and I only had 4, I decided to join him for his full distance. I wasn't sure, with all of the hurricane hysteria going on, how many miles I'd be able to log Sunday. I figured it wouldn't be a bad thing to get an extra mile in while I still could. The torrential rain started coming down when were about a half mile in. Unlike two weeks ago, when the downpour was kind of pissing me off, I really enjoyed this run! My New Balance Minimus' will be drying out for at least four days.

Thank you Irene, for washing my clothes for me!
After we returned and hung up our clothes to dry, we headed out again into the madness to our friend's house for game night! After a tense game of Clue we moved on to what I like to call "Asshole Jenga," in which you try to stack your Jenga block in the most asshole fashion as possible. This kind of game does not bode well for me and my shaky hands.

The moment before everything fell over. Thanks a lot assholes.
And so that brings us to Sunday, long run day. I've already admitted that I didn't wake up at 6 am and crush out 18 miles in the middle of a hurricane. Sorry to disappoint you all! What exactly did I do then? Slept in for one (if 7:30 am is sleeping in after going to bed at 1 am). Between the windy weather forecast predicted for Sunday morning, the fact that my gym wimped out Saturday afternoon and preemptively closed for Sunday, and the fact that I was up until midnight playing board games, I decided that a morning run was not going to happen. Instead I took the time to walk the pups with Mike and seek out bagels in a city of closed-because-of-the-hurricane stores (what hurricane I say).

I make compression sleeves look cool even when I'm not running
Other than that I haven't really done much today. I was planning on doing the 11-mile river loop to get in a sort of longish run (on Saturday I made the official decision not to attempt 18 miles all things considered), but I'm feeling a bit too tired and I figure my calf could use another rest day. I'm also pretty sure much of the river loop is flooded anyway. I DO plan on making up my long run tomorrow right after work. Mondays are usually a rest day, but I am going to push out a 12-miler right from work. As disappointed as I am to not be running today I'm looking forward to the run tomorrow! I always enjoy a challenge and busting out 12 miles after a full day of work sounds right up my alley! Talk about a productive Monday!

Friday, August 26, 2011

A "Runnerish" Week

Runnerish (adj): describes a state of being when running feels easy, natural, and satisfying; can be used to describe a so-called "perfect" run; a run when there is a perfect symphony between your head, breathing, and legs; state of being when you can't wait to get out for a run; having a deep-seated desire to run; feeling as though you were born to run.

This word was coined by my friend Julia's husband, Steve, who has been running for many, many years (and still placing at races). I'm sure others have used it as well. Even if you haven't heard it, if you're a runner I'm betting you knew what I was talking about before you even read my definition.

You would think that after a 17-miler on Sunday that I would be entirely spent and welcome my rest day with open arms. Wrong! By Monday night I was raring to go again. I felt like a caged animal ready to break out. It wasn't until after I'd thrown on my running clothes and tried to put on my shoes that I realized it wasn't going to happen. Not out of any lack of volition, but because of what had become a huge, painful blister on the ball of my left foot that I acquired over the weekend. I tried on all five pairs of shoes, but it was a no-go. There's nothing worse than wanting to run and not being able to. As a result, I was pretty grumpy the rest of the night. 

Tuesday morning I work up feeling even more "runnerish" than the night before. I tore out of bed, threw on my clothes, and, to my happy surprise, slipped on a pair of running shoes with much less pain than the night before. It was a perfect run. The sun had just started to rise and it was a delightful 60 degrees out. Since it was a bonus run (as in, not part of my pre-scheduled weekly mileage), I made sure to run easy. I only had time for 3 miles, but I felt like I could have gone forever, even on an empty stomach. Bonus miles really are the best, because they are miles driven purely by the desire to run, not by any obligation to a training plan. You can enjoy running for the simplicity of what it is and not worry about goals or time or speed.

Tuesday night I laced up again to begin the miles on my training plan for this week. Even though I had run that morning I felt excited to get out again. My 7 miles were all the more enjoyable because Mike joined me! It was out first run together in over six weeks. He is in his second week of a 14-week training plan that I wrote for him and its going well so far. We headed across Ben Franklin Bridge and turned around at the end to enjoy the sunset over Philly. It ended up being a backwards kind of tempo run, with a speedy first 2 miles, a slow middle 3, and a speedy final 2. It was really fun to run with him again, especially since I was actually faster than him for once. Better enjoy that while it lasts!

As is typical, Mike is fed up after the twentieth picture I snap
Wednesday morning is usually reserved for speed work, but I was feeling extra sleepy. I decided to swap it for an evening run, with the intention to still make it a speed workout. So my 3 x 1-mile repeats were replaced with a speedy consecutive 3 miles. I was still feeling pretty "runnerish," though once I got going my legs weren't cooperating as much as they had on Tuesday. Regardless, I pushed through and finished with a 7:46 pace. Not bad at all! And since I know you're all dying to see my sweaty face, I made sure to take time afterwards to snap a pic. Yes, that is the same shirt I wore on Sunday and yes, I did wash it between uses. It's pretty much my favorite running shirt at the moment. It's extremely breatheable, and since Mike won't let me run naked, this shirt is the next best thing!

I'm trying to look hard core in this picture, can you tell?
Thursday evening's 7 miler started horrible and ended fantastic! Mike joined me for the first three miles before heading home, making sure he stays "on plan." I was feeling very un-runnerish for the first two miles. Then, at mile three my splits starting picking up. I was in disbelief as they started plummeting: 8:51...8:43...8:32...8:14...8:03...7:56. Final time: 7.13 miles at 8:20 pace. I finished in under 60 minutes! Holy moly!

As happy as I was about my record-breaking training run, however, I started feeling unsettled when my right calf started feeling very sore and painful to the touch post-run. I tried some ice, advil, and rubbed it out before bed, hoping to wake up pain-free. Unfortunately that was not entirely the case. I managed to make it 3.76 of my 4 miles at a horrific 10:04 pace. It's incredible that only 12 hours before I had completed twice the distance in nearly 2 min/mile less time. I have an easy 4 tomorrow before my long run Sunday. I may opt to rest tomorrow instead if it's still feeling sore. We shall see!

Stay tuned for a new post on Sunday evening when you can find out the results of Kristin vs. Irene the Hurricane!

Should be rolling in right as I start my 18-miler Sunday morning. Excellent!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kristin the Minimalist

If there is one thing that my running obsession has been bad for it has been my bank account and my closet space. No matter what activity I fall into, it seems I never fail to find more things to buy in order to support it. That being said, I think it's about time I wrote a post about running shoes. After all, running is all about using your feet and thank goodness we live in an age when there are so many options for what we could wear on them!

If you've ever visited My Things page, you may have noticed that I rotate shoes during my training. This is not something that all runners do, nor is something all runners need to do. The reasons many runners do rotate shoes, however, are:

1. prolonged life of shoes by allowing them to dry out/decompress between uses
2. different types of shoes for different types of runs (ie. speed work vs. trail runs)
3. reduced risk of injury
4. prevents your foot from "molding" to one type of shoe (keeps your feet on it's toes!)
5. allows you to indulge in shopping for more shoes!

Okay I admit, reason number 5 has a lot to do with my multiple pairs of shoes, but all the other reasons are just as valid for me as well!

Now to get to the meat of this post: minimalist shoes!

What is a minimalist shoe you ask? Minimalist shoes are flexible, lightweight shoes that encourage a midfoot strike and keep you close to the ground. They help simulate running barefoot and, at least in my experience, they usually have a heel-to-toe drop of less than 12mm. Heel-to-toe drop is the difference between the height of the heel and the height of the toe. The higher the heel-to-toe drop, the higher up on your heels you will be. 12mm is considered a normal heel-to-toe drop with what is considered a standard amount of cushioning under the heel. The less cushioning, the less height difference between the heel and toe, and hence the more minimalist the shoe.

And what about this midfoot strike I mentioned? A major point of philosophy behind minimalist and barefoot running is that landing on your midfoot rather than your heel not only prevents injury, but is also more natural for us as human beings. After all, none of us emerged from the womb wearing platform shoes and our ancestors certainly didn't chase down dinner across the African landscape in the Nike Pegasus. We are born barefoot. As children we run around in our homes and on our lawns barefoot. When you run barefoot it is natural for you to land on your midfoot rather than your heel. Landing on your heel causes your body parts to stack themselves up unnaturally when you land, which can cause many injuries and put more strain on things like your knees.

Since many of us grew up in shoes with more cushioning however, heel-striking may be normal for many of us. Hence, transitioning to a minimalist shoes can be tricky and sometimes even unsuccessful. I made the transition relatively quickly after I started running, so it was easy for me. For someone who has been running for 5 years in mainstream shoes, however, they might find the change more challenging. I'm not here to tell you that you should aim to transition. All I can tell you is my experience. If it's not right for you, then it's not right for you. End of story.

If you are interested in minimalist and barefoot running I would recommend that your read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Like many thousands of others, I decided to make the switch to minimalism after reading this book. Not only is it well-written and an interesting story on it's own, but it goes into a lot of depth (much more than I could ever!) about the whys and hows of minimalism. In addition I would recommend visiting Runblogger, which is a blog that I came across while looking for advice on what minimalist shoes to buy. This guy really knows his stuff and his reviews are extremely in-depth. It's my go-to blog for running shoe reviews and a big help when I'm trying to make decisions about what to include next in my rotation.

A Closer Look at My Closet

Saucony ProGrid Kinvara:

HT (heel-to-toe drop): 4mm
Weight: 6.7 oz
The Kinvara was my first minimalist shoe. Prior to this I had been running in Brooks Ghost 3 (also a great shoe, though not minimalist), which were my first real running shoes ever. I bought the Kinvaras when I had about 350 miles on the Brooks, so I still had enough mileage left on them to do the transition. I started running 1 mile at a time in the Kinvaras and alternating between the two shoes. What I noticed immediately after my first mile test run in the Kinvaras is that the back of my calves were sore, but not in any place they had been sore before. They felt sensitive at the back of the calf right above the ankle. I didn't even know I could work that muscle! Within two weeks I made a full transition to the Kinvaras and never looked back! I have about 275 miles on them right now, and have been considering running my first marathon in these. I will be due for a new pair by then though, which is when I will make the upgrade to the Kinvara 2 (which comes in a lot of fun colors!).

Brooks Green Silence:

HT: 8mm
Weight: 6.9 oz
After having such a great experience with my Brooks Ghost 3 I was really eager to buy something from that company again, though at that point it had to be minimalist. I chose the Green Silence for a number of reasons. Not only was it getting rave reviews in the running community for being well-built and durable, but it is also an extremely eco-friendly shoe, made from 75% post-consumer recycled materials and a biodegradeable midsole among other things. GREEN Silence indeed! I haven't run in these as much lately, as I've looked to shoes with an even lower HT, though I did complete my first half marathon in them back in May.

His and Hers Green Silence
Saucony Hattori:

HT: 0mm
Weight: 3.8 oz
I admit that a few years back when I first saw the Vibram FiveFingers I thought they looked nutty and that anyone who wore them looked evern nuttier. That said, you can't have a discussion about minimalist running without mentioning them. They are the ultimate barefoot shoe, with a 0mm HT, or zero drop. When I got into minimalism I decided I should see what all the fuss is about. Unfortunately though, my stubborn Morton's toe prevented a proper fit, and I gave up after 20 minutes of trying to force them on my feet. Maybe I will feel inspired one day to try again. As well, there are a number of videos and articles online about stretching the Vibrams out to fit a Morton's toe.

Though feeling defeated I did not give up my quest for a zero drop shoe! Fortunately around the same time I was looking at Vibrams the Saucony Hattori came out. These shoes are sometimes referred to as the One Finger shoe (vs. Vibram FiveFingers...get it?). Like the Vibram it is zero drop and extremely light. It is the lightest running shoe in my closet. I primarily use my Hattori's for speed work as they feel practically weightless, though I've taken them on a few easy runs as well. I only have about 60 miles on them (since speed work is only a few miles a week), but so far they are holding up great. I don't wear socks with them and they easily slip on my foot. They remind me of those water shoes I used to wear as a kid when we went swimming (why did we have to do that again?).

New Balance Minimus Trail:

HT: 4mm
Weight: 5.5 oz
Since I plan to get into trail running and ultras in the near future I wanted to add a trail shoe to my line up. I heard great things about the New Balance Minimus line and decided to give it a go. This shoe can also be worn sockless like the Hattori (though because of a stubborn heel blister I have yet to go barefoot in them). They are just as good on the road as on the trail, so even though almost all of my running right now is road running I can still rotate the Minimus Trail in. This shoe is super flexible and is very roomy in the toes which my wide feet require. I set a PR in these shoes a few weeks ago and I couldn't be happier with them! And yes, that is a Vibram sole (to satisfy my Vibram craving). I look forward to the zero drop Minimus Trail that New Balance is launching next spring.

New Balance 1400:

HT: 8mm
Weight: 5.7 oz
These are the newest addition to my closet. I just took them on their first run last night and they were AMAZING! I felt like I was flying! They feel extremely light weight. It's almost like they're not even there! They are racing flats so they are meant for speed. If all goes well I plan to wear them at least to the two 5ks I am running in September, if not the half. And if nothing else, they look damn good!

A successful first outing for me and my 1400s!
As I add/replace shoes in my line up I will continue to update, though it will probably just be one shoe at a time instead of bombarding you with five all at once!

Happy running, friends!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A New York Weekend

After a horrible 3.5 hour bus ride from Philly to NYC in the midst of road construction and a torrential downpour, I finally arrived at my weekend destination! On the schedule? Saturday: find my wedding dress! Sunday: get in a 16 mile run with my sister in the early AM before heading back home. Let's recap shall we?

I was very stressed out going into the whole wedding dress shopping thing. We had two appointments, one at Kleinfeld's, where my Mom got her dress back in '84, and the other at a place in NJ, 45 minutes outside of the city. I was worried I would find something at the first place, but then feel compelled to go to the second, and end up with too many choices. I am terrible at making decisions when I have too many options. In preparation of the appointments I had not only already printed 8-10 pictures of dresses I liked, but I also have a full written description of what I was looking for and what I was absolutely against!

Going through my dress pictures/notes Saturday morning
We stopped at the Union Square Farmer's Market on the way to our first appointment. My sister Caitlin picked up some fruit. I was holding my appetite. After all, I was about to start squeezing into wedding dresses!

Caitlin at Union Square

Mom and I headed to our first appointment
We started at Kleinfeld's bright and early at 9:30 am. My consultant, Lisa, was absolutely wonderful. If you've ever watched "Say Yes to the Dress" (which was being filmed in the background while we were there), then I can tell you that my experience was exactly like on the show. Lisa brought in things she'd knew I'd love, but she also brought in some things I might not have thought of. She really paid attention to my reactions to each dress and listened to what I was saying. After all was said and done, I ended up choosing a dress that I actually saw on a mannequin that had immediately caught my eye when we walked in. After I put it on, no other dress seemed to measure up to it. I put on the mannequin dress one last time after being torn between it and another. I already felt fantastic and knew it was the one, and then they put the veil on and the waterworks just started coming.  I knew there was no need to go to the second bridal salon that we had an appointment for. My mind was made up. And then Lisa asked (just like on the show), "Kristin, is this your dress?" to which I replied, "Yes, this is my dress!"  People were clapping and my mom, sister, and I were crying. Overall it was a wonderful, wonderful experience. And to add icing to the cake, I got to meet the designer, who was in the salon, and he made me a drawing of the dress and signed it for me! It was exactly the morning I'd dreamed it would be!

Having had the whole day blocked out for wedding dress shopping, and having finished up before 11:30 am, we all of a sudden had a ton of free time! We started with lunch.

My lunch: greens with pear and fresh mozzarella

Caitlin mixed four sides for her lunch, all vegan
Post-lunch froyo with strawberries and sprinkles: a must have
Having refueled our bodies, we decided to spend the rest of the day doing what we do best: shopping! After Bride Kristin had a great morning, Running Kristin had an equally awesome afternoon! The loot:

I will be writing a full post later this week on shoes, which will include more information about these lovelies
Since my sister works at Lululemon, we thought it only appropriate to go support her store and help her monthly commissions:

A Lululemon victory!
After we literally shopped-till-we-dropped, we decided we needed more fuel again, especially since Caitlin and I were prepping for a long run the next morning.

Melt-in-your-mouth vegan spring rolls
Vegan carrot cake for my Mama's birthday this Friday!
I had no problem finishing off a dessert of my own: flourless chocolate torte with ginger ice cream
And with that we finished an awesome, amazing, perfect day! I passed out almost as soon as we returned to my uncle's house in Brooklyn, sincerely wondering if I would have enough energy for our long run the next morning. I had acquired a number of blisters after just walking around all day Saturday, so I was skeptical about my feet holding up through 16 miles. Despite all of my concerns, however, THIS happened:

Yes, that clock does say 6:29, and no it is not PM. That is 6:29 am Sunday morning my friends! That's right, I actually got up and was dressed and ready to go by this time. While some of you may not appreciate the accomplishment of the fact that I was up this early, please understand that I have NEVER gotten up this early for a weekend long run. I've always WANTED to, but it's never actually worked out. 6:29 is a big deal!

Caitlin and I pre-run, with a rising sun behind us!
Our plan was to run 16 miles from Brooklyn, through Prospect Park, across the Brooklyn Bridge, up the Hudson River Greenway, and through Central Park almost one loop. We hoped to finish at 79th street near a restaurant Caitlin picked out for brunch. Though we spent part of our childhood growing up in Manhattan, it was long before I became a runner. Running through a city can show you so many amazing things you may have not seen before. I was excited for this run for that reason and also because I was really looking forward to running with Caitlin again, who was my inspiration to start running in the first place.

Coming out of Prospect Park
At about mile 4 we stopped at a Starbucks to use the restroom and Cailtin busted out a dance. A picture wasn't good enough however...

Headed across the Brooklyn Bridge
Cailtin on the Hudson River Greenway
11 miles down, about to head into Central Park
Before we left for our run Caitlin had mentioned that the restaurant she wanted to go to for brunch didn't open until 11 am, which was far too late for us since I had to head back to Philly and she needed to go to work. With brunch off the schedule there was no need for us to end our run at 79th street, so we decided to do a complete loop of the park and end up at the same place we entered, making our 16 miles become somewhere around 17.

During our 6 mile park loop we encountered the NYC Marathon Long Training Run. It's a 20 mile training run that you actually have to pay for, but you get a bib and official finish time as well as aid station support the whole way. We cheered on the runners as we ran the opposite direction of them the whole way around the park. It was so great to see so many runners out and about. I love my people!

17+ miles DONE! And before 10 am!!!
While we definitely felt cramped and tired after finishing, we certainly didn't feel like a bus hit us (which is how I felt last weekend). I attribute this to several reasons: 1. Running with someone makes the time fly and keeps you mind off of being tired. 2. It was a new course for me, so I wasn't bored with the scenery. 3. I was actually able to take down two servings of GU gel blocks! Number 3 is, I think, the major reason for my success with this run. I haven't been able to fuel up during a long run in awhile because of GI issues and/or fear of GI issues. Having those extra 200 calories in your system really makes a difference though! I didn't feel depleted at all during the whole run. In fact, I'm sure we could have gone another mile if we had wanted!

Final milage: 17.38 miles
Final time: 2:49:12
Average pace: 9:44 min/mile

May I point out that we ran farther than I did last weekend and more than 25 seconds per mile faster! It was a seriously enjoyable run! Actually I think it is the best long run I've ever had! And I also need to mention that the farthest Caitlin ran before this was 14 miles and that was back in March. My sister totally rocks!

After celebration hugs and some post-run stretching we headed to Whole Foods across the street to help fill the 1700 calorie gap we just created.

Smoothies hit the spot
Even better if it's the size of my face
Enjoying bagels on the subway ride back to Brooklyn

Post-much needed shower
Other than one large, painful blister on the ball of foot, I feel great today! My legs feel fine and my feet don't hurt. I feel energized and ready to go tomorrow after a rest day today.
What a great New York weekend!