Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Running Fails but Snow Prevails...

I spent the week preparing, cutting down my mileage, and basically tapering for a little 4 mile race in Central Park. I set a goal for myself, and I knew if I could maintain that pace for three miles I'd be successful even if I found myself walking at the end. And for my final last minute prep I even ate a GU at the start line! Mile 1 passed me by, miss! Mile 2 miss! Mile 3 serious miss! And finally Mile 4 I had my act together, or rather it was a straight downhill mile.

I walked away from this race worried that not only had I disappointed myself, but also my running Coach. I was afraid that my failure was just a total let-down. But the reality of it all is we never fail if we get out there and try. My newbie runner friend had just tweeted me the other day that she had a running fail, and I told her not to worry, and here I was worrying. I couldn't take my own advice. Now after mulling it over and realizing we all have bad days, I realized its the good ones and sometimes the great ones we live for.

The night before the race, I enjoyed the NYC Opera with friends, a wonderful treat I normally would never get to enjoy! And tonight, a snowstorm in NYC lead me to a wonderful run around the park with a new running buddy. This is what its all about, enjoying life and running. Keeping your old friends in your new running life and making new ones along the way!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

As blind as it gets...

As usual, I was fast asleep at 3am on Saturday night, planning on waking up at a decent hour to run on Sunday morning when I was awoken by a text message, as I'm a super light sleeper: "Boy X his number is .... call him, I think he'd be good for you!"

I woke up in the morning and had totally forgotten about this middle of the night text message (or I probably just thought I was dreaming). A few days later it popped into my head and I checked my phone - my friend really had sent me this message. So I called her to find out what was going on. She had been out on a Saturday night at a club in NYC when she met a gentleman that she thought could be perfect for me, so of course being the amazing friend that she is, she went over and told him all about me and got his phone number.

I texted him later that week, "Hi my friend met you last weekend and thought we should meet, if you're interested, I'm Antonia." Before I knew it, we had a date set up for last night. Yes, I do take some days off from running! (But I do think this hobby makes it really hard to find someone compatible, do you find that?) And to be quite honest, in a way this is a similar mental game to that of running... being fearless and meeting someone I had no information about, and taking a chance. Racing and running in my eyes is the same. Every time you go out there, you don't know want to expect. You could have a great day and blow your run out of the park or sometimes it just doesn't happen, but you always have to try.

With that in mind, I ran home from work, quickly changed into a little black dress, let down my hair and out the door I went to meet him. It couldn't have been a more pleasant blind date. He was absolutely charming, ordered me a glass of wine before I got there, and in true gentleman form, he walked me home. We spent an hour and a half getting to know each other and hopefully not scaring him off that I'm a marathon runner and a domestic goddess, or rather just one who loves to bake!

Today brings me back to the running and a great way to think about life and what I really want. Those cold brisk runs in the park where it's just you and your sneakers. Hoping he calls for round two!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Half Marathons...

It's half-marathon season! Okay, well not quite, but many of us in the NYC area just finished the Manhattan Half-Marathon in Central Park or are already training for the NYC Half-Marathon that runs through Times Square. With that said, after ten Half-Marathons, I'm finally beginning to understand what it's all about. There are many things I've learned along the way and clearly many more that I still need to learn but here's what I've learned from each of my halfs to date:

1st: Brooklyn Half 2:25 The most important night of sleep is actually two nights before! Not the night before. Who knew? I surely didn't. The race was on a Saturday, and that Thursday night, I got a call from my friend, Pete. "Hey I got tickets to this great open bar event at Marquee. It's been rented out for the night..." My answer was, undoubtedly: "I"m absolutely in!" Not a big drinker in general, I managed to get myself completely sloshed. Probably the worst/greatest night ever. Friday was spent recovering with a huge jug of Gatorade. Saturday I felt the pain from mile 1 to mile 13.1 but I finished and officially became a half-marathoner!

2nd Norwegian Festival: How fast can you hop back into a half-marathon? I had taken off about six months due to a stress fracture and then decided to jump right back in it. I was aiming to run a full marathon with only two and a half months of training (didn't quite happen). After four weeks of training, I stepped out there and ran this half, and to my surprise, despite having to stop and walk part of that 12th mile, I finished almost ten minutes faster than my first.

3 Staten Island: It was one weekend after the Norwegian Festival and I was on a roll! I went out there and yet again set another PR. I ran this race without stopping and finally broke 2:10! Lesson learned that if you can push yourself, you can succeed.

4 Manhattan: I was trained! I was ready to go and I was not planning on racing this event. It was absolutely freezing out. I ran the first six miles at a comfortable pace and then just took off, once again a new PR! Little did I know that this PR was going to be the one that took me years to break.

5 Bronx: Two weeks after the Manhattan half, I decided I was so close to the two-hour half that I had to do it, I had to run two hours. I prepped myself, I tapered, I was ready. I just wasn't quite ready to be a two-hour marathoner! I went out too fast for the first time, and pulled a muscle. Off to the side of the course, I saw everyone passing by me. I finally got back in there after stretching and jogged it to the finish. It was awful, and of course still cold.

6 Jersey: Still determined to run in two hours, I brought myself out to Jersey to run a flat "easy" half. I had a friend who agreed that he'd try to pace lesson: do not run with someone you have not run with before at a race! He pushed me too hard and I ended up finding myself once again walking through parts of the race. Needless to say, I did not meet that two-hour mark.

7 NYC Half: And I'm still trying! Two-hours, here I come I kept saying to myself. I went out in the blistering heat to a course, about which everyone insisted, "You can't PR in August." They were right. You can't PR in tremendous heat if you're not one to like the heat. I was right on track for my first loop of central park, however by the time the race hit the West Side Highway at mile 10 - I felt the blistering sun, there was no shade, it must have been 80° and I fell apart. I kept running but at much much slower pace and once again missed that two-hour point!

8 NYC Half: I ran it for a friend. I learned my lesson the prior year about trying to PR in the heat. I wasn't ready to break two hours and was ready to help someone run their first half marathon. I ran from the start to the finish with her, running ahead to get her water, supporting her, and telling her how great she was doing till we finally reached that triumphant finish. I realized then, for the first time, how far I had come. This was the slowest race I ever ran (and hopefully always will be) but one of the most impacting.

9 Queens: I was getting ready for the NYC marathon but was really on cruise control. I had started thinking that I wanted to run for speed but wasn't ready to actually start at that point. I was aiming for an easy run, and long and behold, I felt it, I was having a great day. I just went for it, and finally, there in Queens, I broke two hours!

10 Staten Island: About three weeks later I beat my Queens time by two minutes!

And finally last week's half marathon: Manhattan Half. I trained, I put everything into it. I took coaching, I took speed classes, and then I got a cold! I ran it sick, despite the sniffles, I was determined. Three months of serious training rewarded me with an almost twelve-minute PR!

To 2010 and all the new half-marathons it will hold. You get what you put in, and I have finally realized that!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


For anyone who may have begun to wonder if Ant dropped off the face of the blogosphere, - of course not! I will resume my normal two posts a week starting now. So where have I been? Not only was I M.I.A. but I was in M.I.A. - aka Miami! The ladies and I packed our bags and departed for a long weekend in South Beach. And you bet my bag included sneaks, shorts, and a tank top.

Talk about going from the 20° frigid cold of to all the sudden running by my lonesome in 75°! Sidenote: None of my girls could be convinced to wake up early and run before sunning by the pool. It was phenomenal. I headed out of the hotel, down the bay side of South Beach until I reached the southernmost point, to turn around and run up the beach. While the sand slowed me down, I was able to enjoy the beauty of this run even more when I finally turned around and returned to my hotel. I ran this route not only once but the following morning too as everyone else continued to sleep and brunch. Though I must admit, running in Miami along the beach is quite a different experience than running in Central Park where you’re just commonplace. Running in South Beach in spandex shorts is like trolling down the street past a construction site in a blow-away dress.

I'd say that was the easy part of my workout. The hard part? Standing in 4-inch heels each night till the wee hours of the morning! Now that’s a workout. As I danced the night away, my calves felt toned and in the morning while sitting at the pool drinking a cocktail in my lounge chair while reading, Born to Run, the man next to me turned and asked, “Hey, are you a runner?”
“Yes, I am, already done for today though,” I replied.
He looked incredulous. “Yeah? I'm a 'super'-runner too but I can't imagine running on vacation, kinda ruins it don't you think?”
“Absolutely not, I took a vacation from running in the cold to running in the heat!” I responded.
That was the end of our conversation. And all I could think to myself was, "a super-runner" who doesn't enjoy it enough to run on vaca?

What are your vacations about? How do you unwind? Is it strange that my most active activity is the most peaceful and restorative in my life? I’m now suffering the consequences of sleep deprivation and have found myself with a cold.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Race Faces...

It's like going in to class to take an exam: some people show up in their sweats and haven't showered for days because they've been cramming, and others show up perfectly primped. I'm not generally that perfectly primped girl, I'm completely happy in my yoga pants on the weekend but I make that extra effort for Saturday night. I also make that extra effort for race day. Yes, although I barely wear make-up on a daily basis and don't even own cover-up, I show up to that start line with perfectly done eye-shadow and mascara and know that at that finish line no matter how I perform at least I will feel good. Some may think its totally silly, but it's one of those small strange habits that we runners have to keep the sport interesting. Do you have any race day habits?

Today the "race faces" that really made me happy were those of my two good friends who ran their first NYC race and first race ever! Five miles of central park in 20 degree weather which "felt like" 7 degrees according to made them not only winter warriors but obsessed runners. I couldn't be prouder of both of them and we'll celebrate at dinner tonight; most definitely with some bubbly in store!

As for my own race day face in YSL mascara, it lead me to my 5 mile PR! Spring marathon, get ready because I'm coming for you...

Friday, January 8, 2010


“So you’re one of those obsessed runners, aren’t you?” was one of the first things my date remarked to me as he picked me up for our date. Yes, he barely knew me, but since I had gone for my long run earlier that morning in a light snow flurry, he already pegged me as “obsessed.” And where was this blue-eyed boy taking me on our first date? Obviously to brunch.

Ironically, running isn’t my biggest obsession... food is. There is nothing that makes me happier than out-of-this-world brunch (banana nut flapjacks or huevos rancheros - mmm) or dessert (anything goes). And beyond just being obsessed with eating all these amazing foods (thank god, I run), I love baking. My love of baking is probably the reason I manage to maintain so many friends when I stay in on a Friday night to run early in the AM on Saturday. They know that during the week, they'll see me for dinner and dessert. What's your obsession?

The question remains though, now that I’m taking my running more seriously and am trying to achieve a time goal, how can I limit my sweets? Or do I even try to? Cutting out sweets would be taking away an integral part of my identity! Yesterday was all about a post-holiday bake-off at my company in which I made pecan squares. I thought they were phenomenal but will whole-heartily admit that the winner of the "best taste" title for Oreo truffles definitely deserved it.

And although this isn’t a recipe for running success, it is one for happiness:

Ant's Pecan Squares

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
3 eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole pecans, toasted & tossed with 1 tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, grease.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt. Cut in 2/3 cup of butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared pan, and press in firmly.
3. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven.
4. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, corn syrup, 1 cup total brown & white sugars, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the pecans. Spread the filling evenly over the crust as soon as it comes out of the oven.
5. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until set. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into bars.
*Note- After these cooled on a rack for about 3 hours, I put them in the freezer for 30 minutes. This made the cutting process super easy.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My First Race...

I saw the neon yellow Nike lunar glides and the bright purple shorts ahead of me for the first 2 miles. It slowly moved further and further away from me until it was no longer in sight and I couldn't keep pace. I crossed the 4-mile finish line in record-breaking time (for me). A brunch party followed the race to reward ourselves for waking up and racing 4 miles in 20-degree weather. There he was at the brunch, the amazing 8th grader that took me like the wind.

So most people ran their first races back when they were in middle school, maybe high school, and at the very least, maybe college? I ran my first race almost 3 years ago, on February 24th, 2007 at the young age of 25. It was a similar 4-mile race but in Central Park. Almost 3 years later and I've managed to cut off almost 3 minutes per mile! But it wasn't always that simple. I owe my first race and my first run ever to a fantastic coworker! She barely knew me and asked if I wanted to run a marathon with, absolutely not! Low and behold, she ran that 4-mile race with me, carried my extra layer of clothing when I got too hot, and encouraged me through each mile as I thought I wanted to quit. She too was nervous I couldn't finish it; she was pushing me to a 10 min mile which at that point was really just out of my range. I didn't make that 10 min mile, but I won anyway - I crossed the finish line. I knew then that I could do it. I could run, I would have the support of the running community, and I if I was determined, I could do anything.