Friday, January 25, 2013

My new rule: I may read the latest Wheel of Time book only while climbing the stairmill faster than 8 floors a minute.

My new rule: I can only read the latest Wheel of Time book while climbing the stairmill faster than 8 floors a minute.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Workout Types(s): Tempo run; core workout; heat training
Miles ran: 7.5
Where: The Gym
Temperature: Room temperature 
What I wore: North Coast 24 Hour shirt from 2011, Adidas leggings, ice breaker socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Kind of faint towards the end.  I think I need to drink more water when I am in the sauna.
What I thought about while running: I should do my taxes.
Food consumed: None.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Workout Type(s): Climbing on the stairmill; heat training
Miles ran: 1.09; 575 floors
Where: The Gym
Temperature: Room temperature
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
Miles ran: 1.09; 575 floors
What I wore: Cotton tshirt, Adidas leggings, ice breaker socks
How I felt: Okay.
What I thought about running: How much I want the Last Battle ('don) to finally happen.  I've been waiting nearly twenty years for this.

Food consumed: Zone energy bar.  They was a sale at Costco and I bought fifty of them.

Friday, January 25, 2013

None, yet.

Training Notes:
This will not be so much of a running post, but a reading post. 

On my very first day at geek camp when I was in middle school, I picked up a free edition of Robert Jordan’s, The Eye of the World, The Wheel of Time series’ first volume.  The free edition had perhaps only the first ten chapters or so (I think the characters reach Shadar Logoth) and was entertaining, but I felt that Robert Jordan was too long winded and so I decided not to buy the full book right away.  At around this point of my life, I was more into Battlefield Earth, Ender’s Game and the Foundation series-type books; I was ambivalent about fantasy as I wanted to read about science, not magic. 

Then a couple of years later, while at the bookstore, I saw the complete version of The Eye of the World, all 782 pages of it.  I was well over my fantasy grudge; my biggest gripe with books was that they ended.  And here was a large-ish book that promised not to end right away!  So I took it home and devoured it.  I may have gone to school and slept and ate, but by the time I was twelve, I had perfected the art of reading in class without being caught, reading while eating and showering, and reading instead of sleeping.  All I remember was just being incredibly caught up in this fantastic, fantastic story about Rand al’Thor and his Two River friends.  The writing was still as long winded as ever, but for whatever reason, I didn’t care so much this time.  I needed to know what was going to happen.  I bought or borrowed all the available books in the series until I caught up with the author and then waited for the next one to come out.  The books were published every two or three years, and on each day of their release, I rushed out to the bookstore and all productivity ceased for the next day or so.

Then Robert Jordan died and I thought that was the end.  Thankfully, Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn series, was chosen by Jordan’s estate to complete The Wheel of Time.  (Incidentally, Brandon Sanderson was also college roommates with Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy fame.)  Although I was initially hesitant about continuing the series with a different author, I decided to give Sanderson a try and found that . . . this new guy was better.  Sanderson produced better content in one book than Jordan did in his last three. 

Anyway, this is a running blog and not a fantasy novel blog, so how does all this tie in to my Grand Slam training?  Well, the very last book in the series, A Memory of Light, was published two weeks ago. 

And I did not order it right away. 

Not that I didn’t want to.  I really, really, really, really did.  When the book was released, I initially told my boyfriend that I was going to be MIA for the next couple of days, just so that I could spend every evening after work, reading and savoring the last volume without any interruptions.

But then reality set in.  I have a life.  I have a job that I enjoy.  And good golly, I have to train.  So I didn’t order the book until last week and when it arrived, I kept it in its box.

Until last night.  I made the decision that I am only allowed to read A Memory of Light when I am on the stairmill, climbing at least 8 stories a minute.  I think this is a solid rule because:

(a) Multitasking is good. 
(b) This will encourage me to climb a lot more.  Although today is supposed to be a cross training day, I really want to climb stairs.
(c) I will read slower.  Reading on a stairmill is a lot tougher than say, reading magazines on an elliptical. 

So after last night’s climb, I am on page 120.  800ish pages to go.  I do hope I manage to stick to this rule.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Anyone else a science fiction or fantasy novel fan?  

My poor niece is as addicted to books as I am.
She recently announced that she was going to be an ultrarunner, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My long run involved a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

@ Laurel Hill: Splendiferous morning for a jump!  Thanks Wams for
taking such a great photo!
Saturday, January 19, 2013

Workout Types(s): Long run and core workout.
Miles ran: 20ish
Where: Laurel Hill, all along the Hudson waterfront, Jersey side.
Temperature: Mid-40s.
What I wore: Northface black jacket, Elita turtleneck, North Coast 24 Hour shirt from 2011, Adidas leggings, random shorts, ice breaker socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: A bit stiff towards the end.
What I thought about while running: How much I love my new sneakers.
Food consumed: Bagel with cream cheese, half a bag of Gu chompers, half a bottle of Gatorade

My new Inov-8 Rock-lites!

Sunday, January 20, 2013
Workout Type(s): Recovery run and Aerial Yoga
Miles ran: 10+
Temperature: High 40s/low 50s
Where: Brooklyn Bridge and downtown Manhattan; SacredSounds Yoga
What I wore: Northface black jacket, Elita turtleneck, Adidas leggings, ice breaker socks, Bondi Band.
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Chill
What I thought about running: How much I love Kelly Clarkson.  She kept me company throughout most of my run.
What I ate: Banana, Seoul Food pork slider, Gatorade

Hello, Brooklyn Bridge!

Monday, January 21, 2013
Workout Type: Ice skating at Wollman Rink
Temperature: 30s
Where: Wollman Rink
Notes: Monday was my rest/cross training day.  I think I was feeling a bit out of sorts by not having a run scheduled; fortunately, Rob suggested we do some ice skating at Wollman Rink in Central Park and that perked me right up.  Both of us hadn’t been ice skating in years, but after a few rotations around the not-so-crowded ice rink, we fell into an easy rhythm.  After skating for more than an hour, we decided to call it quits because it was getting cold and our ice skate rentals weren’t fitting very well.  Note to self: Buy ice skates that fit. 

My ill-fitting ice skate. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Workout Types(s): Long climb for 1.5 hours at 15% grade @ 3.7 – 4.0 mph and core workout; physical and massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractor work.
Miles ran: 5.6
Where: The Gym, in Englewood, NJ; 
Paramus Medical & Sports Rehabilitation Center
What I wore: North Coast 24 Hour shirt from 2011, random shorts, ice breaker socks, Bondi Band
Sneakers: Inov-8 Rock-lites 315
How I felt: Not great, but I enjoyed the workout immensely.
What I thought about while running: Work – I reread some court cases.
Food consumed: Nothing.
Notes: I decided to follow my running friend’s Thomas Wong’s suggestion of doing a 15 percent climb at 3.5 miles per hour.  Woosh, it was hard, but I think I need to include more of these to get ready for the serious inclines at Western States and the rest of its ilk.

Long Run Notes:

This weekend’s long run was half-organized, half-meandering.  My friend Ray organized a group run to Laurel Hill, a large rock outcropping in the Meadowlands in Secaucus, New Jersey.  It is a well-known landmark; if you drive on the New Jersey Turnpike, it is the large graffiti-covered rock right next to the eastern spur by the Lincoln Tunnel exit.  You might know the area as Snake Hill and/or Fraternity Rock.  

Ray and I talked about doing this run for a while, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago that we finally settled on a date.  There was a pretty good turn out – about fifteen of us met at the Journal Square PATH station, ready for a little bit of urban adventure.  I was psyched to see some of my other friends, including Leong, Wams, and Jerry.  After giving us a brief spiel about our route, Ray led the way on his bike and off we went.
Ray gives us instructions.

And we're off!
I ran mostly with Wams and Jerry.  I hadn’t seen Wams since we ran the Honolulu Marathon last month, and so it was good to catch up.  

Wams, running along little-used train tracks.

About three and a half miles of running on roads and on dirt and gravelly paths, we reached the bottom of Laurel Hill.  Since there were a few people still behind us, Ray told us to go ahead and just follow the trail.

Wams and Leong, at the bottom of the Laurel Hill.

And follow the trail we did . . . until we got to this open area and then we didn’t follow the trail, or rather, started following the trail-that-wasn’t-a-trail.  In our defense, it really looked like a trail.  Sure, there were some steep-y bits, but it was all fairly navigable. 

Jerry navigating the steep-y bits as Wams looks on.

Time for some multiple choice:

The best part of the trail-that-was-not-a-trail was:

a) It had rocks.
b) It was steep.
c) It had pretty views.
d) There were dinosaurs.

Correct answer?  D.  Yes, there were dinosaurs, or at least, life-size models of them.  My favorite was the Tyrannosaurus Rex, stalking its prey.  

I certainly do not see this every day.
The TRex is one my power animals, as I identify with its weak arm musculature.  Ever see that shirt with the TRex doing push ups?  That is me.  

This is me every Tuesday and Thursday, when I do my strength training.

We tried to see how close we could get to the dinosaurs, but soon realized that everything was blocked off and that the only open path was leading us off a cliff, which made us realize that we were going in the wrong direction as dying was definitely not in Ray’s general description of the trail.  Then again, Ray also didn’t mention dinosaurs, so that should have been our first clue.

After realizing we made a mistake, we backtracked completely to the bottom of Laurel Hill, thinking we would find people, but no one was in sight.  Fortunately, we saw Ray’s discarded bike, which let us know that he was still somewhere on the hill.  We ran back up the trail, got to the open space where we made the wrong turn and started looking for something trail-like.  Turned out the correct trail was partially blocked by some bramble-y things, but once we pushed the branches aside, the trail was readily apparent. 

After we ran for a few minutes along the real trail, we saw the rest of the group traveling across the ridge towards the top.  

Hooray, we found the others!
We caught up pretty quickly, and soon we were taking in the view, an interesting mix of urban and natural landscape. 

View from the top of Laurel Hill.
After taking a bunch of photos, I reluctantly headed back down with the rest of the group.  

Took this sequence of photos of Wams totally by accident, but I like how they came out!

I'm flying!  Thanks Ray for the picture!

Don't worry, I'm not planning on jumping.  Thanks again Ray for the fun pictures!

Ray led us back via a different route to Journal Square.  On the way back, I made some new friends: Helen, Mike, and Jitendra, to name a few.  

Time to head back home . . . 

After we made it back, Ray wanted to get some beers and while that was tempting, my legs were twitching to run some more.  Leong and Wams were planning to run to Hoboken to grab some lunch, so I tagged along with them.  When we got to the edge of town, we went our separate ways.  By this point, I had covered about 9.5 miles, so I continued to the waterfront and just kept running north along the Hudson River.  After running through Hoboken, Weehawken, Guttenberg, and then hitting the Edgewater border, I turned back.

Cute apartments along the Hudson River.

Random stairwell leading from the waterfront to the top of the cliffs.  

As luck would have it, when I returned to Hoboken and went to the restaurant where everyone was eating, I ran into Wams and Ray, who were just leaving.  Wams and I walked back to the PATH station together – she had to head back into the Manhattan and I had to go back to Journal Square, to pick up my car.

Twenty miles done!  Time to go home.  Thanks Ray for organizing the group run!

I drove straight to The Gym, did some core work and stretching and then hit the sauna for a well-deserved break and to get in some heat training.  Goooood day of running.

Sunday Funday: Recovery Run Notes

I got a late start Sunday morning, but since I only planned on running ten miles or so, I didn’t feel too bad about it.  I took the train to City Hall and as soon as I walked out of the subway station, I saw Seoul Food, a Korean food truck.  I was starving, so I ordered a pork slider.  Baaaaaad idea.  The food truck was parked in a total wind tunnel and IT WAS COLD.  Since I already ordered and paid for my slider, I started to jump up and down and say, “Oooga Booga!” to keep myself warm.  Either the food truck operator felt bad that I was cold or he didn’t want me to scare the customers away, but he asked if I wanted to step inside the truck while I waited for my food to cook.  My mother taught me not to step into random stranger’s trucks, but holy moly, the wind was bad, so I walked right in and basked in the heat.

The wait was totally worth it. 

I think I ate this in less than ten seconds.

The pork slider did such a great job of fueling me, that I was rewarded by being able to bounce back and forth on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Whee!  I even had some spare time to take photos of the locks along the Brooklyn Bridge.  

Story behind the locks on the Brooklyn Bridge:

However, dodging tourists became less and less fun, so I gave up after eight trips (eight or so miles) and ran straight to the 14th street station and then took the subway home.

A few hours later, Rob and I headed over to Sacred Sounds Yoga.  I met Sacred Sounds’ founder, Stephanie Tang at the JFK 50 miler, back in November.  The first time I noticed Stephanie was during the last eight miles of the race.  I was feeling really buoyant and after passing a bunch of runners doing the “death march” to the finish, there was Stephanie, who looked incredibly strong and happy.  We cheered each other on as we did the leap frog thing for several miles, until the very end, when she sped off like the wind.  We talked after the race, and it turned out we have a bunch of mutual running friends and that she runs her own yoga studio.  How cool!  I actually had heard great things about her studio from my friends Kino and Lisa, so I made a mental note to check it out.

Fast forward two months later, Sacred Sounds was certifying aerial yoga instructors and needed volunteers to participate in the certification classes.  So I signed up, cajoled Rob into doing it as well and we spent a very fun hour or so trying out familiar yoga poses, all while being aided with a large fabric hammock.  Our instructor was very experienced in teaching yoga, so I just shut off my mind and breathed and relaxed into the poses.  Good times. 

I was very tempted to swing on my hammock.

The best part of the class was doing the Savasana pose while completely wrapped in the hammock; I nearly fell asleep.  If you have never tried aerial yoga, I would recommend it just so you can experience Savasana in an aerial yoga hammock. 

Ahhhh.  Bliss.
All in all, a great way to end the week.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Needles: It does a body good? I sure hope so.

Acupuncture needles!  They're super tiny.
Thursday, January 17, 2013

Workout Type(s): Recovery running, strength training (core workout); and lots of sweating in the sauna.
Miles ran: 7
Where: The Gym, in Englewood, New Jersey.
Temperature: Room temperature.
What I wore: Honolulu Marathon Finisher tech shirt, Addidas tights, ice breaker socks, Bondi Band headband
Sneakers: Brooks Ghost 5.
How I Felt: My legs were still shot from yesterday's squats/lunge-lovefest, but I after I warmed up for a few minutes, it was NBD.
What I thought about while running: Coming up with Choose Your Own Adventure stories that involve running.
Food consumed: A banana.  And Spam lite.
Notes: I need to read more Wasatch 100 race reports.

Friday, January 18, 2013

No workout yet.

I have a plan for my Grand Slam attempt, I really do.  Most of it involves hitting the trails every weekend, making sure I get my climbs and descents in.  Speaking of which, this weekend I'll be hanging out with my buddy Ray Schwartz, who I met at the Delaware Water Gap Fatt Ass 50K back in 2010.  He did this really nifty run about a year (year and a half?) ago in Jersey City that starts from the Journal Square PATH station and ends at the top of Laurel Hill (also known as Snake Hill) in the Meadowlands.  It's a nice run, about 8 miles or so, and after I saw his pictures, I really, really wanted to do it.  We made plans to run it last summer, but apparently the mosquitoes were really fierce and then Ray got injured, so we decided to give it a rain check.  Anyway, Ray organized a group of us to go check it out tomorrow morning.  If you would like to come, comment below or check out the Facebook invite.  I'll probably do it a couple of times and then head home.

Okay, back to the original subject, my Grand Slam training plan.  So, I have my long runs scheduled, but what do I do during the week?  Well, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday involve tempo runs, steep hill repeats, stair climbs, and strength training, all totally fun stuff but nothing unusual.  And Friday is all about the cross training.

So what shall I do on Monday?  I have decided that on Monday, I will do yoga/meditation in the morning and then spend my evenings at the Paramus Medical and Sports Rehabilitation Center where I will get my body thoroughly poked and prodded by their awesome physical and massage therapists, chiropractors, and acupuncturists.  Even though I have never experienced running injuries, I think it is because I have never really pushed myself to the next level.  I have always been extremely conservative with my training and my races.  

However, now that my training load has increased significantly, my body is more susceptible to injury.  Each week is absolutely precious to me and I do not want to be sidelined by something that I could have prevented, so to be on the absolutely safe side, I am getting myself checked out every week.  And that includes meeting with an acupuncturist.  I know some of you are probably rolling your eyes, but you know what?  I will do anything to make sure that this Grand Slam finish becomes a reality and if there is any possibility that acupuncture actually works for injury prevention, then I am adding it to my Grand Slam training plan.  The article that sold me on trying acupuncture is here.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Anyone else here a fan of acupuncture?  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stairmills: Will they give me legs like a unicorn?

Oh Stairmaster 7000 PT Stepmill, I love you dearly.
Note: The unicorns are imaginary. 
Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Workout Type(s): Stair climb and strength training (core workout).
Miles ran: I have no idea, but I climbed stairs for two hours.  Next time I will keep track of how many floors I climbed.
Where: The Gym, in Englewood, New Jersey.  Yes, I am a member of a gym that is called The Gym.  However, The Gym is so awesome that I even felt compelled to write a yelp review: (  
Temperature: Room temperature. 
What I wore: Delaware Water Gap Fatt (yes, that’s two T’s) Ass 50K long sleeved tech shirt, Addidas tights, random white socks, Bondi Band headband
Sneakers: Brooks Ghost 5.
How I Felt: Good and bad.  Good when I was just climbing stairs one at a time.  Bad when I was skipping stairs.
What I thought about while running: Being inspired by Ted talks and not allowing myself to support myself with the side bars.  Also spent some time composing bad haiku.
Food consumed: A banana and peanut butter smoothie.
Notes: If I could climb stairs all day, I would.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Workout Type(s): Tempo run and strength training (squats and lunges and things that made me really sore today).
Also met with my chiropractor and acupuncturist.
Miles ran: 7.5
Where: The Gym, in Englewood, New Jersey.  
Temperature: Room temperature.  Duh.
What I wore: Google long sleeved tech shirt (Thanks Rob!), random black shorts, random white socks, Bondi Band headband.
Sneakers: Brooks Ghost 5.  They are now super clean, but there is a hole by the toe box.  I wonder if this should bother me more than it does.
How I Felt:  Generally, I felt pretty good, but then the bottom of my right foot started to hurt again towards the end of the workout.
What I thought about while running: Tried to do a more meditative run; I put Aha's "Take on Me" on repeat and concentrated on my breathing and being present.
Food consumed: A banana.
Notes: Although I’m not a huge fan of the dreadmill, I prefer using it for my tempo workouts because it forces me to work that much harder.  As I am trying to make each and every workout count, this is a good thing.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

No workout yet.    

Stairmill without unicorns.
I love the stairmill at my gym.  In fact, I have composed several haiku on how much I love the stairmill:

(Forgive me, I composed these while I was on the stairmill.)

climbing forever
I cannot touch the hand rails
that would be cheating

stairmaster stepmill:
a killer workout while I
read Robert Jordan.

biggest machine in
the gym, will it give me legs
like a unicorn?

Don't worry, they get progressively worse ;).

In case you have never seen a stairmill, it is a stairmaster machine on steroids that actually has stairs and not lever-type things.  While folks can get an excellent workout using a regular stairmaster, it doesn't do much for me because I never seem to take large enough steps to simulate the actual climbing I do when I am on the trails.

Reasons why I love using the stairmill:

(1) The stairmill gives me a darn good workout as long as I don't touch the handrails.  Once I use the handrails, I am not really climbing with my entire weight and then, what's the point?
(2) I move smoothly enough on the stairmill that I can actually read books.  As some of you know, the last book of the Wheel of Time series has come out and because I have been busy with work, training, and life in general, I decided to be super disciplined and didn't order it right away.  Unfortunately, two days ago, I succumbed to temptation and placed an order with Amazon and according to the shipping tracker, it has been delivered to my house.  However, I promised myself that I wouldn't read it unless I was on the stairmill.  Looks like I will be on the stairmill a lot the next week or so.
(3) I never have to wait to use the stairmill.  We have four stairmills at my gym, and it's incredibly rare to have more than two people on them at any time.  

In an ideal world, I would run the trails every day and I wouldn't need to use a stairmill, but I get out of work when it is already dark and too late for a smallish person to be running by herself on the trails.  In a somewhat ideal world, I would have access to a very tall building and I would climb real stairs, but I live in the Jersey suburbs.  The tallest building I have in my climbing arsenal is my house and I only have three floors to work with.  Therefore, my best option is the stairmill.  And I think it's a great alternative.

When I was thinking of training for Grindstone 100 (unfortunately my dancing-in-high heels-induced stress fracture happened and so I opted for an easier race), an ultrarunner friend Mark Leuner gave me some tips on how to prepare for the gnarlier 100s.  Since Grindstone (and all of the really epic 100s) involve climbs that can take hours-long, he suggested that I supplement my normal training with stair climbing, skipping every other stair and going slowly so I am less likely to burn out.  I think he suggested an hour, and that's what I started with, but now I climb for two to three hours and it's made me a lot more confident about dealing with races that involve a lot of vertical.  By the way, Mark has a fantastic blog with great race write ups that you should totally check out.  (    

My current workout plan has me doing these stair climbs every other week, so hopefully as the months go by, I will be able to take on the stairs more quickly.  That being said, I am not going to go overboard with the speed and injure myself.  I have come to terms with knowing that I will never be a fast ultraunner, and that my real strength is being able to endure.  So I am going to massage that endurance muscle as much as possible by doing lots of long climbs on stairs and on the trails.

Thoughts?  Comments?  Any suggestions on climbing workouts or how to capture a unicorn?