I had a very busy month of racing leading up to the Virgin London Marathon. It made for great training, but longer recovery. Here’s what my racing/training calendar looked like:
March 30: Red Hook Criterium 5K, Brooklyn
March 31: 1 hour of rock climbing, Brooklyn Boulders
April 6: Scotland Run 10K, Central Park
April 7: Katonah Run field trip–Leatherman’s Loop 10K course and Fire Tower 6-mile trail run (about 2 hr 45 min of technical trails)
April 13: Spartan Sprint Race, Citi Field 3-miler (lots of CrossFit stuff)
April 14: More Fitness Half Marathon, Central Park
April 21: Virgin London Marathon
April 28: Nike Women’s Half, DC
Needless to say, it was a packed calendar, and I was just focused on not getting injured. Here’s some brief recaps and photos:
Red Hook Crit 5K
This was an awesome nighttime race held in Red Hook, Brooklyn. There were a ton of great runners here, as the top male and female walk away with $1000 prize money. It started at 7pm and was an extremely flat, fast course–4 loops of a 1.25K course by the waterfront. Conditions were perfect, and the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck was parked at the finish. It was great seeing my Dashing Whippets teammates, and it was really fun cheering on the men’s race at 8pm. Thanks to Ben for taking photos, Kenneth for volunteering, and all my wonderful teammates for cheering! I ran my 2nd-best 5K time in 23:34, so I was very happy. Rewarded myself with a buttery Lobster BLT afterward, and stayed to watch the 20K Pro cycling final (the main event). Those cyclists are hardcore!
Photo credit: Ben Ko
The Scotland Run
I always have a lot of fun at this race. A few days prior, I was in a photo shoot in Brooklyn Bridge Park promoting the race with some co-workers, and the Scottish government gave us goodie bag filled with a nice tweed bag, a small bottle of Glenlivet, cookies, a hat, and a red kilt! Awesome! I wore the red kilt to the race and it was a hit. It was really cold, but I warmed up towards the end. Thanks Ellen M from the Whippets for pacing with me! I was still a bit fatigued from my March races, but managed to run 53:54. Wearing a kilt was the best part! I did miss the Stoats Oat bars and Iron-bru that they used to give out…not sure what happened to those…
Katonah Trail Run
The day after the 10K, I went to Katonah (50 miles away from NYC) with the NY Trail and Ultrarunning group. Deanna organized the run, and I was super excited to finally get out of the city and run some trails! We were picked up at the train station by the Leatherman Harriers (thank you!) and driven to the trail head. We ran the famous Leatherman’s Loop 10K course, filled with 2 river crossings and mud pits, and lots of climbs. It was a lot of fun. Running at medium pace, we did it in about 1:15. Afterwards, a smaller group of us did the Fire Tower Trail (6 miles), which was rockier and more difficult, and with a wrong turn/getting lost it took us about 1:45. That was three hours of solid trail running, a great way to spend a Sunday.
Spartan Sprint: Citi Field
This was a tougher 3-mile race than I expected–it was minimal running, 12,000 participants, about 75 burpees, and tons of Crossfit-related workouts. I still had a fun time and I finished the course in 1:05:20. To put it in perspective, the top male finisher was done in 28 minutes, and the top female was probably 10 minutes after that. I had never done a single burpee before that day, so it was tough but having raced so much helped. There was a ton of stair climbing (the Empire State Building Run-Up training helped!), rowing for 4 minutes on machines, jumping rope with a weighted rope, carrying water jugs up and down stairs, cargo nets, scaling a wall horizontally, military-style wall jumps, and stuff with weights. My least favorite thing was the military-style wall jumps because I was close to injuring my ankle when I landed on cement. My favorite things were the stair climbs and agility exercises (scaling a wall sideways and cargo nets). A lot of time was added waiting for certain obstacles, because there were so many people in each heat even though they spaced us out. It was fun, but I’m not sure if I would pay money to do it (normally it’s about $95 but I earned a season pass). Thanks Warren for volunteering, and Shane for coming out to support.
Photo credit: Spartan Race official photographer
More Fitness Half Marathon
My muscles were pretty sore after the Spartan Race the previous day, and I was supposed to be tapering for the London Marathon, but I couldn’t miss one of my favorite races! The More Fitness Half was my first half-marathon ever in 2004, and so it was my 9th anniversary of my first half. I remember meeting the great Grete Waitz and Kathrine Switzer at the expo in 2004, and I still have the photos they autographed for me. For this race, I was running on Team Skechers, and they provided me with a pair of sweet, hot pink GoRun2’s and a tech shirt. The running shoes are really light, and pretty comfortable. I like them better than the first edition of the GoRun’s.
I wanted to treat the race as a hard training run and get psyched for London. It’s a somewhat tough, hilly course, going up Cat Hill and Harlem Hill twice, and ending on an uphill. At the finish line, I saw my cousin Jeannie cheering, and I saw my other cousin Lily finishing her first-ever half marathon! Lily and I went out to brunch with some of her friends at Uva, a nice way to celebrate. Congratulations, Lily! Thanks, Skechers, for the chance to run as part of the team!
London Marathon trip, Part I
I was going to be in London from 4/18-4/22, and I wanted to make the most of the trip because it was my first time there since 2008! I had previously traveled to Oxford and London in spring of 2008, and the weather was gorgeous then. I had the same luck this time around–the weather was perfect all 5 days I was there.
I wanted to make seeing my friends a priority, so I met up with Amanda in Cambridge for a day and had high tea at the Cadogan with Nicholette. I also had to juggle going to the expo and staying rested enough for the marathon, so I had a pretty relaxed itinerary in between.
Friday was my first day of sightseeing, and I was staying in South Kensington. The Victoria and Albert museum is one of my sister’s favorite things in London, so I had to check it out. The museums are all free in London, but this time around there was a special “David Bowie Is” exhibit that was on view from March-August 2013 that was an additional ticket purchase. So I queued up with about 150 other people to wait 40 minutes for my ticket. I’m glad I did, though! In the meantime, I admired the 30-foot glass chandelier in the lobby designed by one of my favorite glass artists, Dale Chihuly. I’m a glass art nerd (I’ve been to the Corning Museum of Glass twice).
I saw the David Bowie exhibit, which featured original artworks by him, video installations, and his outlandish/awesome stage costumes. It was a well-designed exhibit and it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in London. Even the Sennheiser audioguide was cool–it automatically played a clip depending on where you were standing in the gallery, no flipping back and forth between tracks required. I ate a delicious lunch of a duck leg with potatoes and vegetables in the beautiful museum cafe.
Next, I headed to the marathon expo at the Excel Centre. I got there at 2:30pm and there were no lines!
The volunteers were so nice, and all the runners got a black ribbon to wear on marathon day in honor of the Boston Marathon bombing victims. I got my bib number and headed straight to the Adidas store. I allowed myself to splurge a bit on three official marathon pieces: shorts, a zip-up track jacket in the colors of the Union Jack, and a fitted blue running top. As I was heading into the dressing room, my co-worker Gail was coming out of the room! We had planned to meet at 2pm somewhere in the expo but I was afraid of missing my co-workers because I had no working phone. It was a nice little moment of serendipity. I took a quick photo with Daphne and Gail and wished them luck.
Then I got this neat photo op on the podium:
After spending less than an hour at the expo, I headed to King’s Cross station to ride the train to Cambridge to see Amanda and her husband Dave. It was cool to get out of London for a little bit. Once I arrived, Dave and Amanda made me feel at home, cooking a delicious glazed teriyaki salmon with veggies and rice. Then, we went to the Tram Depot to meet some of their friends for the evening. It was great to spend time with them.
The next morning, I woke up with a raspy voice and a strong cough. Oh no!! I had felt the inkling of sickness right before, but tried to ignore it and took vitamin C to help quash it. I think the stress of the week and the lack of sleep from traveling contributed to it. I was worried about how I would feel on race day, but short of a fever I was determined to run. I bought some cold medicine called “Lemsip” (no Tylenol here), took some of that and hoped for the best! I took the train back into London and got into King’s Cross at 10:30am.
Of course, I had to stop by Platform 9 3/4 and get my picture. They now have a Harry Potter shop there! They even have a professional photog and props like a house scarf (I chose Gryffindor) if you wanted to use those. It was a 20-minute queue for the picture.
I took a few with my camera, but ended up buying the higher-resolution picture from the shop. I am a sucker for good photo opportunities. Memories are worth it! I took a similar picture of Platform 9 3/4 about five years earlier, but it was in a different location and the setup was less elaborate. There was no line and it was a half-cart sticking out, no owl cage and no props.
I ate some Japanese food and a spicy chicken Cornish pasty (like an empanada) from The Pasty Shop for lunch.
I bought some chocolates from Hotel Chocolat and just admired the renovated King’s Cross station–it’s beautiful!
The rest of the day, I checked into the Palmer’s Lodge Hostel (a nice place I stayed at in 2008 and have now returned to!), then went to Knightsbridge to meet Nicholette for tea. I shopped at Harrod’s and bought a delicious pistachio strawberry mousse cake (from famous pastry chef William Curley). It was amazing and worth every pence.
I met Nicholette for afternoon tea at the Cadogan, and we had a great time catching up after not seeing each other since college! We enjoyed the Chelsea Flower tea blend, some scones with Devonshire clotted cream, sandwiches (egg salad, cucumber, roast beef and mustard, and salmon), a Chelsea bun, a macaron, lemon tart, and other sweets). It was an awesome way to catch up with an old college roommate. Thanks, Nicholette!
Afterwards, we met up with her friend Paola to shop at Fortnum and Mason for foodie gifts, and to eat dinner. I bought a bunch of tea and cookies at Fortnum and Mason. I saw a cookie that was too pretty to eat:
All that shopping made us hungry, and we finally headed to Piccadilly Circus and then Chinatown to search for food. We decided on Tonkotsu ramen, just so I can say that I sampled some ramen in London. I had the spicy pork broth ramen with house-made noodles. I was all carbed up and ready to go for the race…sick or not!
Stay tuned for Part II…and mind the gap (between entries).