Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

I didn’t expect to love riding my bike around the city streets. I didn’t expect to feel like a kid again (ever, forget while pedaling through NYC). I didn’t expect to draw parallels between what I loved about running and what I have come to appreciate about biking.

But I do. All of these things, I do.

I am not a fast cyclists. I am not a pretty cyclist. I am not fearless, or graceful. I still use my left foot to give me a push or two when I get going from a complete stop. Pretty much every other cyclist on the road passes me. Every now and then I get to pass a really old guy on a rickety bike, or some dry cleaning delivery guy pedaling a wagon full of button shirts up a hill on First Avenue, but then I just feel like a heel.

After work today I pedaled from my office at Fulton & Broadway to meet my man for dinner at 55th & 6th. I went up the West Side Greenway in my black pencil skirt, wedge sandals, and belted blouse. This is not normally how I dress while on my bike, but I couldn’t very well turn up at a fancy French restaurant in technical fabrics. After two glasses of rose and the best damn profiteroles I’ve ever eaten, I put on my shorts and t-shirt and headed home across my bridge. Yesterday I got my bike tuned up. so she’s silent and smooth again. In the dark, with just my blinky lights, I feel like a submarine slipping through the water, silent and stealthy.

Here is where the biking intersects with the running: the freedom. When I’m on my bike, I feel like I could pedal anywhere. I feel strong, and powerful, and intrepid. I can pedal to Coney Island! I can pedal to the Bronx! I can pedal to the beach! I can change course in the middle of my trip home and go somewhere else! This is how I felt when I was a runner. Sure, normally I ran in a big circle, but I knew that in case of whimsy or emergency, I could run to brunch at Park Slope if I missed my friend, or home from work if the subway was derailed. My body could do it, my spirit could do it. When I’m on my bike, nearly any destination seems possible.

On Sundays, I ride from Queens to Manhattan and spend the day popping around the city running errands, meeting appointments, and exploring. Admittedly, I enjoy the scenery and placid roads when I ride through Vermont, Pennsylvania, or the Jersey Shore, but roaming the city streets on my wheels, with all of my senses in high alert, is just so satisfying. New York City is mine! I live here so ardently that I must personally propel myself from place to place.

Another thing happened tonight on my ride home that made me want to write on this blog again. As I was pedaling over my bridge, I encountered an old feeling. Over the rails to my left, the East River stretched around Roosevelt and Randalls Islands. The water was shiny and variegated, like a bolt of black satin that had been gathered up and left in a heap. The city lights glinted off the tips of the waves. Traffic groaned past me on the north side of the bridge. These details are so familiar in all of their various ways that my heart swells with joy at their mutability. I was filled with a profound sense of well-being. Through sun and fog, dawn and dusk, on foot or on bike, making this crossing under my own power is a reminder of all that is good in my life.

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Lest you misinterpret the aforementioned Pu Pu platter approach to a movement program I’ve cooked up for myself–a little bit of swimming, a little bit of stationary biking, a little bit of PTing–I feel the need to list the reasons why it is NOT my bid to become a triathlete.

  1. I deliberately chose the word “movement” instead of “fitness.” I’m not expecting 45 minutes of biking thrice a week and 30 minutes of swimming twice a week to approximate the glorious endurance I had in January.
  2. There is no way I will ever bike on the city streets or in Central Park. I am not afraid of death, but there’s no reason to stand in front of it and make faces.
  3. Gear. I hate gear, and I even dislike acquiring non-gear items, a.k.a stuff, property, space-takers and dust-collectors. I do not want to own tri gear. Period.
  4. Race fees. Ridik!
  5. Multisport training seems like a logistical nightmare that would cut into time I allot to other things, like making ice cream, drinking wine, sleeping, and drinking wine.
  6. I still can’t run, eliminating a critical part of the triathlon’s athletic, um, triumvirate.

I haven’t told you about my exciting and romantic bike crash! I will tell you, as it will illuminate Why-I-Won’t-Tri (take that pun or leave it, I don’t really care) Reason #2.

I was riding a borrowed Schwinn 3-speed along the meandering Marvin Braude Bike Trail that runs along the Los Angeles beaches. It was the first hour of my vacation. I was set up in a friend’s beachfront apartment, the sun was shining, it was a Saturday afternoon and the beaches were teeming with happy, relaxed people. I was one of them, grinning from ear to ear as I took it all in, feeling free and easy (#twss). I rode all the way to the Manhattan Beach Pier and was nearly back at my friend’s apartment when I broke entirely too hard. The bike stopped and fell to the right, while I kept going.

I landed hard, and ended up with huge bleeding scrapes on my right palm and inner elbow. My right leg and hip, and the inside of my left knee, were pretty banged up and bleeding, too.

Immediately two guys who were playing soccer came dashing over to help me up and make sure I wasn’t badly hurt. Aw. Once they saw I was well enough to walk myself home they sent me on my way.

The chain had been knocked off the gears, so I wheeled the bike into a bike rental joint that was luckily right nearby. They not only fixed the chain but were so alarmed at my gashes they sent me straight over to the lifeguards to get bandaged.

That’s right: LIFEGUARDS.

Did you know* that in Los Angeles the lifeguards are part of the fire department?

That’s right: FIREMEN.

I would have much preferred to have had a one-on-one encounter with a lifeguard/fireman while wearing heels and a maneater dress rather than showing up with bloody palms and knees, but hey, sometimes we take what we can get. In this case, I was mostly grateful that there was someone to give me basic first aid (if not mouth-to-mouth). Mostly. I would have been 100% grateful if he hadn’t been wearing that windbreaker. Abs are nice, she said.

Anywhoo. More than a week later and the wounds on my hand and arm still haven’t healed enough for me to get back into the pool. The bummers are: 1) I had to miss last night’s swim lesson, 2) my cheap one-month pool pass is now an expensive two-week pool pass, and 3) I showed up for a date that Monday with black and blue legs and bandages on my arm.

So kids, what have we learned here today? 1) Everyone wins when there is neither facial nor cranial damage in a bike crash. 2) I will never bike in the city, or even in the country on a fancy bike that goes fast. 3) Lifeguards are always better without their windbreakers on. 4) TK needs to break her habit of objectifying men.

¡Viva la bicicleta estática!

*And if you knew, why didn’t you tell me this amazing fact?

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So what if it’s been six and a half months since I could run? So what if it’s been six and a half months since my favorite dresses and pants fit me properly? So fucking what, indeed.* It’s not like I’m a cripple, or a cow. I’m still mobile and beautiful. (Also smart, funny, helpful–and did I mention humble?)

Honestly, this tale of woe about my plantar fasciits and “inability” to exercise has gotten pretty [insert profanity of your choice here] boring. Whah whah whah? It’s more, “Blah blah blah.” STFU, TK. Get over your shit and do something.

It’s not like you can’t. Not knowing what or how is no reason to ignore the problem. Heck, you didn’t know how to get a divorce or change a destructive pattern of behavior but you figured those things out and are happier for it.

I get it, TK. I remember what you’re like. Nothing happens until you are completely and utterly done with whatever the bullshit is.

So finally you have given up on the stubborn insistence that you have no viable options over your pernicious case of plantar fasciitis. Good! It only took six and a half months, that’s nothing compared with how long you used to put up with asshead boyfriends, two-faced friends, and your numb reliance on all sorts of vices to escape from imperfection.

Since no one’s perfect, you’re off the hook TK. The days of all or nothing are far behind you, which means: a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

We like that lawn a whole lot better, now don’t we.

So: swim a little, PT a little, use the bike at the gym a little. Who cares if you’re not good at anything? At least you’re moving. Have a little less wine, and your little bit of dairy can come in the form of your homemade ice cream.

Now get after it, before I kick your ass.

*If I use “fucking,” do you think the “indeed” is redundant?



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Back then, you believed I could be faster.

You got me. I know, because of how you encouraged me.

You inspired me to write love letters, and post them publicly.

You not only ran with me, you stood next to me.

You pulled me forward.

Running. Running. I never thought you’d be the love of my life.

You are surprising.

But: what now, that I can’t have you?

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National Running Day

On this, National Running Day, I have this to say: I am taking up swimming.

I use my training log solely as a place to track my weight.

My Garmin 405 has sat uncharged on my desk for months. Tonight I’ll finally hide its blank-faced shame in my dresser.

Running shoes are now my fashion faux pas. As in: worn with a skirt, all day long, at the office.

For half a year I’ve told myself I would heal up quickly. I refused to be resentful, complaining, impatient. I cheerfully went to PT; I swung on the elliptical and read manuscripts. I thought, time not spent running can be dedicated to other projects. I tried to see my forced benching as an opportunity to look elsewhere, not as a view from the sidelines.

In reality, I slept in, worked longer hours, and drank more red wine.

I can no loner push aside the pangs of longing I feel when friends tell me about races and training. When men and women ran by me during my two weeks in Italy, it was like a punch in the nose: it stung, and brought tears to my eyes. I was a foreigner, and the single most connecting thing I could have done in Italy was denied me. It was my only remorse while there.

I am done with eating salads and teetotaling and still being 10 pounds too big for most of my clothes.

God fucking dammit I want to fucking run. I want to run far, at a clip, without any pain. I want my heart to pound. I want to feel the wind in my face. I want to get up in the dark and run through dawn. I want to feel my lungs get bigger from use. I want my eyes to sting with sweat and sunblock. I want my pigtails to become whips from tangles and perspiration.

I certainly don’t want to be listed as “non-running captain” of my relay team–yet I am. I certainly don’t want to consider never running again–yet I am. I certainly don’t want to never again feel the buzzy, numb, wrung-out elation of the final mile of a distance race run at maximum–yet it’s been so long, I wonder if I didn’t imagine it.

On today, National Running Day, I tell you this: anyone who says they run to stay in shape is a fucking liar. Either that, or they’re not a runner.

End. Of. Story.

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I would like to write about running. But I haven’t run since mid-January, and have no expectation to run until August. So I have nothing to say to Running except for:

Running, I miss you! I miss you so much. I miss the way, when we’d spend time together. I’d feel so talented, smart, funny and beautiful.I miss the way you used to make me laugh, and how we’d get all sweaty together. I miss how, after a good workout, I’d feel all sassy and omnipotent, hopped up just by being around you. I loved spending time with you–you are so interesting, and you totally “got” me. But mostly, I miss the way you’d make me feel special, and like you loved me more than anyone else.


I think I got my love letters confused.

Actually, no.

Fuck you, Running! You fickle bastard.

Here’s another thing. Turns out, love is infinite. So even though I might be ignoring Running now (well, it’s more like this: I’m not returning Running’s calls or texts because it’s just.too.painful to go there), but I can nevertheless feel Running’s love for me. I know Running loves me, the way Running loves her, and him, and you, and you and yes even you, you lazy slob. Running loves us ALL because love is infinite! Love just creates more love.

Running has room for everyone. Even the runners who are so injured and depressed that then can’t run at all. Even when all we can do is tweet stupid shit and drink lots of wine and work 12-hour days and make ice cream, Running still loves us. Because Running knows that as long as it keeps the love there, we will turn back towards it, one day.

I prefer to turn towards love. Even when injured! Even when blogging under the influence of 750 mililiters of prosecco. Even when shopping for size 8 clothes when I’m usually a 4. (That’s when I really need love.)

Being injured sucks, but it doesn’t mean we are abandoned. Running’s love still stands, waiting and ready.

Also: did I mention I’m going to be living in a castle in Italy in a week’s time?

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Craving, and Waving

My days of gazing longingly at the grass on the other side of the fence are gone. (I can grow my own goddamn grass. That’s a metaphor; I’m actually a shitty gardener.) My old hobby of staring into the abyss named “Things I Do Not Have” has since been replaced with observing the absolutely crazy abundance in my life. (Do I even deserve half these material gifts, half these remarkable people who pull me into their lives? The answer is irrevelant; instead I say please and thank you.)

Sometimes though a craving will come upon me for things that I simply can’t get for myself, and there’s nothing to do but ride it out. For example, the soft safety of laying in the crook of a beloved’s arm, not needing to see his face because instead I can feel his heart beating. Or, running so hard and fast I feel like a piston, my heart, lungs and legs all working together to hurl me with such force I become the motion. Or, waking up with the calm mind and the blank slate of a woman who’s got it all taken care of.

This is where reality gently waves at me, and coos, “Patience.” Today, on my drive from the Poconos, I saw a sign for an amusement park called The Land of Make Believe. Indeed? I drove faster. When I got home, I went for a run. It was pretty brutal. My lungs were burning nearly every step of the 2.5 miles, and I couldn’t wait to stop. I was ungainly. I got through the “run” by imagining various scenarios in which my plantar fasciitis-riddled feet would no longer be a problem.

  • Scenario #1: I am the Wicked Witch of the East, and Dorthy Gale’s house falls on me. I am finally put out of my misery when my feet curl up on themselves and retract beneath the house, once and for all behaving with the appropriate shame of retreat.
  • Scenario #2: In a Terminator-meets-Bionic Woman operation, my feet are lopped off and replaced with feet of liquid metal that not only withstand repetitive impact but are indifferent to hot sand or cold ice. I become known as “The Molten Runner.”
  • Scenario #3: While in Umbria for my vacation this May I visit Assissi and by being in proximity to holy relics my pain and injury are spontaneously removed by a merciful, Catholic and Italian god. Miraculous, and convenient; I begin carbo loading immediately.

Despite these amusing fantasies, I’m waving at The Land of Make Believe as I pass on by. And to my craving, I say: you are legitimate, and I will come wake you up when your day has come.

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Resurrection Run

How many times will we rise again? How many times are we reborn? How many second chances do we ever actually get? 

Basing it arbitrarily on how many Resurrection Run blog posts I’ve written (here from 2010 — 20092008 and 2007, in which I blog about a novel new toy, the iPod nano), to the first and second questions I’d answer, At least four times. Five if you include this one right here.

Since the grammarians AND the mathematicians will both gang up on me if I say that we also get five second chances, I will answer instead: Although we get just one second chance, we do also get a third, fourth and fifth chance.

Today I ran another 2.5 miles around my Sunnyside Loop. I went quite slowly, even though I was accompanied by my neighbor and 2012 Green Mountain Relay teammate MPK. She was wearing a hot pink long sleeved running jersey, a black running skirt, black arglye socks, and her pink and black sneaks. I can’t make this shit up (I also can’t help but being tickled by her self-aware perkiness). I wore the same thing I ran in yesterday, since I barely broke a sweat and even if I did so what. I was gnarly, she was pretty; together we evened out to normal.

Here’s my thought this year about being reborn, and using my sixth chance in life and in running: Every morning is a little resurrection. It’s a resurrection of hope, of self, of the opportunities to be helpful to someone else. Every day we wake up to the potential to transform ourselves by a lot or by a little. Even though we’re not dead yet, we can become a little bit more alive each day by taking small steps, making suble positive changes.

It happened to me. After a year of gently nosing the vessel of my life in the right direction, I woke up one day and was like, Wow! I really like the view from here! A better, happier, more loving part of me had been resurrected, and even though I’d only moved nine blocks east, I saw the world from a completely different prespective.

Do you look for daily chances to resurrect the better part of yourself? Do you slowly move your runner self closer to an athletic ideal? What does your world look like when you look at it with brand-new eyes?

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This morning my fabulous physical therapist Fabian came over with his massage table, acupuncture pins, and some power box that would surely bring a corpse back from the dead if affixed to the proper nodes.

He lives in Woodside, too, and is just recently-trained in the therapy of dry needling. He’s giving a few treatments away to some of his patients in the hopes that we will spread the word. You already know how much I appreciate the work he’s done on my muscles–I joke about the pain and awkward positioning but honestly, the man has The Touch. You also know that I’m somewhat of a connoisseur of acupuncture, having tried out four other needlers already (Acupuncture for Athletes the best of those, by far). So me recommending Fabian’s dry needling is not me helping out a friend, it’s me truly saying: he’s good, and his pins heal.

The main difference (that I can see) between what Fabs does with his dry needling and the acupuncture I’ve received before is that the other therapists left the needles in for up to 20 minutes to stimulate the blood circulation in the area and promote healing. Fabian’s method is to get in to adhesions and knots with the needle, release them, and get the needle out of there. This means that while I miss out on that floaty, dreamy relaxing 20 minutes on the therapy table, I actually get needled a lot more in the same amount of time, so Fabian can hit more trigger points. In 45 minutes, he pinned the muscles all the way up both sides of my spine, released my glutes, my hamstrings (that was painful), my left hip, and my calves.

As he did this, he kept up a steady patter of “Yeah dude,” whenever he felt a muscle relent to his poking. (This seems to be his signature phrase.) Acupuncture can be uncomfortable or startling as muscles are releasing, but it’s not supposed to be painful. Every now and then, though, a needle will pinch. Some of Fabs’ needles pinched, mainly in the hamstrings which I find to be extremely sensitive anyway, but he of course took them out right away and tried again.

For his big finale, he put two pins in each calf, and hooked me up to his electric pulse box thingy. He amped up the charge until my legs were vibrating from the knees down. It was the oddest sensation. Not unbearable at all but all my muscles were twitching, completely out of my control. This carried on for about five or ten minutes, during which Fabs sat on my new turquoise couch and chatted at me.

Then we were done, and my muscles were so supple. The pinched nerve in my heel was quiet. My plantar fasciitis was quiet. It was time for a runt run. That’s right, Fabian left me with the explicit instructions to run today AND tomorrow.

Fabian left with his table and Frankenstein box, and I left with Little G and my house keys. It’s been so long since I ran my Sunnyside Loop (the last time was December 27, 2011), that it’s a rediscovery. I was dusted with white flower petals along upper Skillman, I shivered in the dark shadows cast by the Tucker Robbins building, I recognized the steady pitch of my neighborhood’s hills.

For a moment, when I saw I was running a 10:40 pace, I wanted to cry–I’ve lost so much speed, stamina, strength! But really, that was self-pity  pricked by pride. Running fast is a satisfaction, definitely. But it’s also a vanity. The simple truth is, I’m grateful I can get out there for 2.51 miles, even if it takes me 26 minutes and 43 seconds to get it done.

PS here are The Fabster’s deets! Check him out; give him a try!

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Runt Run

Things have been busy. But here’s the rub: I’m still getting the rub, twice a week, from good ole Fabian my PT. And it’s still painful. He takes his forearm and tenderizes my soleus. He takes his knuckles and rakes the soles of my feet. He takes his elbow and he breaks up the knots in my ass.

Yes. I did just write, “He takes his elbow and he breaks up the knots in my ass.”

Apparently, the top of my glutes are extremely tight and have a lot of adhesions due to asymmetry and evil repetitious movements. Yes, ERMs, that is a clinical term. A lot of these knots have clustered around my soleus. Here is a breakdown of what this means.

  1. Fabs has me lay face down me on this massage table that’s slightly convex, so my butt sticks in the air. Oh yes, so helpful, thank you for calling attention to the part of my body which has been the first to show its age.
  2. He takes his hands and palpates the upper parts of my tush, to see where the knots are. This is the part where I hope he won’t strike up a conversation with me. It’s worse than trying to talk to the dentist when he’s got his prong on your teeth. (That is not a euphemism, but if it were it would be an excellent one.)
  3. When he finds the knots, he takes his elbow and leans with all his weight into the problem areas. I think this is called trigger point release therapy? This brings his torso against the back of my legs, and his face is near the middle of my back. There we are: arranged in this unintentionally intimate position. Um, again.

Once, a male patient walked up to ask about his own therapy while Fabs had his elbow pinned into my butt. The patient says to him, “Comfortable?” I of course hear this and start laughing. Now, whenever Fabs works on the muscles around my sacrum I remember that comment and inevitably get a fit of giggles. Which is awkward; so it becomes an awkward sandwich: My Giggle Awkward on top of his Elbow-in-My-Ass Awkward.

Today, the muscles were really sore, so as he was therapizing my glutes, I may have moaned once or twice. That was probably not the right thing to let escape my lips, though surely it was better than what I was thinking, which was, Fuck me! You know, because of the PAIN.

After he made me moan by rubbing my butt, Fabs stretched out my hamstrings and hip flexors. This is the stretch I illustrated for you previously. Today when he did this, I was extraflexi because he said to me, “Most humans can’t do this!” (Woot! Gold star!) Then, while still postitioned between my legs and facing me, he took my left leg and spread it perpendicular to my body and said, “Oh yeah!”

Remember, I’m lying on my back on a table at hip-level.

I couldn’t make this up.

Well, actually, I could. But if I was making this up it wouldn’t be about physical therapy. And it wouldn’t be posted to this particular blog, a blog about running. I feel I must remind you my blog is about RUNNING, since I has been quite some time since I’ve actually RUN. Which, in nice circularity, reminds me


It was just a little runt of a run. It took me more time to dither around preparing than I actually spent running. I tweeted the whole build-up. I got reacquainted with Little G (I had to charge him up). I spent a good while debating: shorts and long sleeves or capris and short sleeves? (Shorts and long sleeves.) IPod or no iPod? (No iPod.) Most notably, I wore my hair in a bun. No pigtails, not even a ponytail.

I ran for 25 minutes, just under 2.5 miles. Remarkably, I worked up a sweat. My plantar fasciitis did not hurt, but the rest of my body was a bit disturbed. What, it wanted to know, are you doing to me? After about a mile my lungs were a little burny. I wasn’t panting, but my lungs were definitely unused to being asked for such a favor as I was asking. In addition to this, my arms were flapping as if they thought I was trying to fly instead of run, and I was hyperaware of the way my feet were hitting the ground with each stride. My posture was like a cooked noodle, it couldn’t hold itself in one position. I made the tactical error of starting the run on the downhill side of my Sunnyside Loop, so the final stretch towards home was more of a challenge than I remembered. When I got back to my front stoop and clicked off Little G, I wondered when running had gotten so hard.

Nevertheless, it’s the most fun I’ve had since I raced with the body of another woman in Houston. I think I’ll try it again tomorrow.

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