The winter I became a skier

If you ask New England residents how the feel about the winter of 2008-2009, I’m sure most of them would reply with “it’s been the longest winter in recent memory” or “I just want it to be over.” I personally despise winter, it’s a time when everyone must bundle up in 10 layers just to walk to work, suffer from dry skin from constant temperature changes, minimal day light exposure and last but not least, trudging through snow and ice. Plus, it’s difficult to get out there and run when it is 10 degrees with snow and ice. I guess I’m just not THAT dedicated. The long and short of it is, it really sucks. So as the snow keeps on falling, I found myself at a cross roads. Do I become Debbie Downer and complain about the winter every time it snows and I can’t go out to the bar because of a storm? Or, do I take up a hobby to finally embrace the cold weather? I chose the latter.

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My first ski trip in twelve years, my boyfriend, our two friends and I all went to Waterville Valley for the day. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty terrified! As for my boyfriend, it was his second time skiing and he had never taken a single lesson. The day at Waterville was tough, we both struggled gaining our balance and turning properly. That’s nothing that a quick beer break couldn’t cure! We were able to finish the day with smiles on our faces. We were both proud that we struggled through the challenges and developed comfort and refined skills out on the slopes!

img_0460Our second ski weekend we went up to Sunday River in Bethel, Maine over Presidents Day Weekend. We were excited to try out a larger mountain that had a wide variety of easier trails, instead of just a few short runs. Sadly, the wind was so fierce that most of the lifts were closed, so we decided to explore the Bethel, Maine area and relax. When we finally got to the mountain, we had to deal with trails thickly settled with families whizzing past us, and an abundance of ice. We felt like we were back to square one! We struggled through a few long runs, and then got into our groove. Sadly, we had to leave the mountain at 1pm so we could get back to Boston for plans we had that evening. Overall, it was a great trip, but we longed for better weather!

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Our latest trip was to Killington Mountain, in Killington, Vermont. We went up for the day, and skied from 10am to 3:30pm-it was an absolute blast! The conditions were extremely icy, with golfball sized ice balls sprinkled all over the trails. Despite the fact that we had to ski on ice, it was a beautiful day and it was wonderful to challenge ourselves on some more difficult terrain and conditions. During the last run of the day I looked back to my boyfriend and said “Foxy, we’re REAL skiers now!”

Skiing will never compare to running or swimming, but it feels great to just get outside and see the sun during these long winter months! It makes me look towards winter snow storms and think “Wow, I wish I were skiing!” Instead of, “great, now I have to trudge to work in this stuff”

45 degrees and Sunny, is it really February?!

On Monday February 2nd, a day most Americans try to fly under the radar after a night of over indulgence and revelry over Super Bowl 43, Kate and I decided-let’s get out there and run!

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We took to the streets of Boston in our traditional mid work day running route, this time with significantly less clothing than usual and larger smiles on our faces. It was 45, sunny and the mounds of snow that have been accumulating over the past few weeks was melting. It was amazing. We both struggled through the run, but opted to extend our route to 4.5 miles rather than cut it off for a 3-miler. I was sore from skiing for the first time in 12 years and Kate was hurting from a difficult spin class, it seemed our previous exercise endeavors were working against us. It wasn’t pretty, we ran pretty slow and jumped over about 55 puddles, but it felt AWESOME.

As we ran along, I drifted off and thought to myself “Wow I can’t wait to get back into a routine of running in this weather…” SIKE.  I then had to REMIND myself that it was indeed February and yes, we sadly were due for at least another 5-10 snow storms. Bummer. If anything, this day served as a great reminder to how great those surprise sunny/warm days are in the winter and how amazing running in the city of Boston is throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Mid Lunch Charlestown Navy Yard Loop

Race Schedule: Road races, triathlons, and Marathons

I thought it might be cool to keep a running list of running events that Kate and I were considering participating in. Please leave any and all comments that you might have about each race!

February 21: Hyannis Half Marathon. Kate will be doing the honors on this one! Wish her best of luck during this cold and blustery race!

April 5th: Marathon Sports City Run 5 Miler, Cambridge, MA- why not? No web site currently

May 25th The Boston Run to Remember, Boston, MA. I’ve heard this is a great race, very flat and scenic-two things I love in road races!

June and July Hyannis I Sprint Triathlon,Craigville Beach-Because I’ve been talking about this one for years! Falmouth Sprint Triathlon

August 9th CINGA Falmouth Road Race, Falmouth, MA-Last year I swore I would never run this again because the hills and the intense heat. Yup, I’m crazy!

October 25: Marine Corps Marathon, Arlington, VA. Any thoughts or suggestions on this one?

Ultra Marathon Man

… running, to me, remained the purist form of athletic expression.  It was the simplest, least encumbered sport there was, and the definitive measurement of raw stamina-Dean Karnazes
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If you are looking for motivation to starting to training for a road race, triathlon, bike race, whatever-all you have to do is google the name Dean Karnazes. I first found out about Dean in December of 2006, I was in good old Wooster, Ohio visiting my alma mater for a swim team reunion centered around the school’s annual swimming invitational. Anyone that is familiar with the sport of swimming knows that with the action packed races, there is an excessive amount of downtime. So in-between sessions we had a lot of time to catch up and talk about our big and important young professional lives. As we were all chatting, I noticed my friend Courtney was glued to a book, which seemed a little odd. So I nudged her and said, “what’s so great about that book that you can’t talk with us?” She showed me the cover and said, “This guy is absolutely crazy! He was just a regular middle class American guy and then one day he decided to start running ultra marathons.” Being an excessively competitive person, I was intrigued. As she told me more about Dean, the more I couldn’t wait until the moment she finished the book so I, myself, could read about this super-human man. Luckily, Courtney finished shortly after she delivered me the brief overview and I was able to dive into the wonders of this “all night runner” in no time.

In his book Dean retells his adventures in the Western States Endurance 100, The Badwater Ultra marathon, the first ever south pole marathon, and many other crazy adventures. As he retells each experience in sometimes too much detail, he constantly reiterates the power of the human mind to overcome even the toughest obstacles. Whether it be running through 120 degree temperatures in death valley or getting off the couch for a simple work out, Dean is able to relate his experiences to the common man without sounding like preacher. I personally (the workout-aholic) found Dean’s book addicting and I never wanted it to end, so for the adrenaline junky, this book will reignite a fire within you. Non-athletes, this book will reaffirm the fact that runners are indeed a strange and unique breed. Decide for yourselves!

I recommend you check it out for yourself: 

Next review up: 50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!

Returning to the pool

Blodgett Pool-Harvard UniversityOn Saturday January 10th I officially returned to the pool. Swimmykimy is BACK!

I finally took the bull by the horns and tried out Cambridge Masters Swimming, and much like I expected, it was amazing. The facility the club primarily trains in is Blodgett Pool, the aquatic complex at Harvard University. The pool is spacious, but a bit old and worn around the edges, but I absolutely love it. My swim team growing up also used this facility, so I have nothing but fond memories for the complex. When I say fond memories, I actually felt goosebumps walking onto the pool deck! They covered my body as I took in all of the sights of the pool, and as the wonderful aroma of chlorine filled my nostrils; feelings only a true swimmer could identify as a “normal reaction”.

I walked straight up to the coach and introduced myself, and he enthusiastically explained warm up and the lane break down. His energy and love of the water was infectious, and I instantly knew this would be a great experience. As I jumped into the pool to start warm up (400 easy/loosen up, 4 x 100’s easy, 4 x 50’s build on :50) I felt like I was 12 again. Except this time in a much older, rustier body. Yet, my love affair for the water will never go away. The team finished up warm ups and dove straight into a full practice. In some sets, I cut through the water with ease and in others, I struggled through what seemed like the longest swim known to man (particularly with pulling, never my forte.) Near the end of the practice, my endurance had taken a major blow, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! I knew it, I was hooked.

Nothing compares to the rush of returning to the sport you fell in love with as a kid. Everyone has a different reaction, but the special place that sport holds can not be replaced by anything else, no matter how hard we may try amidst our adult lives. I am so fortunate that I can return to the water, as rusty as I am, and hold my own while maintaining a goofy smile on my face. Don’t worry, I will still run through the winter to maintain my running endurance base, primarily to help train for triathlons and other road races this spring. This change in my exercise plan is coming at the perfect time to help me wet my pallet for a different exercise endeavor, while allowing me to still enjoy my newest athletic love, running.

 

Information on Cambridge Master’s Swim Club can be found at 

Today’s Lesson: Running in the cold isn’t so bad, afterall.

I work in strange ways. Why? Because, when January 1st 2009 hit, my membership to the Boston Sports Club network was officially canceled. Yup. Me, the work out-aholic, quit the gym. My reasons are three fold. One, I really didn’t like the gym I was going to. I don’t know about you, but no one likes to feel like a caged rat. Secondly, I am finally getting my act together and joining the Cambridge Masters Swim Club, something I have talked about doing since the very moment I moved a box to my first Boston apartment in 2006. Lastly, I want to concentrate on getting back into yoga and of course keeping up with running, when the weather permits. 

The problem is, I haven’t taken any action on obtaining a membership to the swim team or my yoga studio due to my extreme lack of funds after the holiday season-whoops. A few days pass by and like clock work, cue cabin fever. One day at work, my antsy-ness reached an all time high and I knew I just had to go for a run, even if it killed me in the process. Of course the day I decide this, it is below freezing and an ice storm is looming in the not so distant future. A perfect example of the weather not permitting, but we were hell bent on running. Kate, the loyal running partner that she is, obliged and accepted my invitation. 

January 6th 2009

As we suited up in our work place locker room my mind was running a mile a minute, “what the heck am I doing?” Alas, I put on a happy face and took a photo to capture the sheer excitement, hope and fear we were exuding. Well, maybe the fear was just from me. 

The moment we stepped outside a cold burst of wind hit my face, “Crap. It’s COLD.” I couldn’t turn back now! As we got going, another thought crossed my mind, “you know what, I needed this to remind myself that I am alive.” I know, it sounds cliche, but it’s true. It felt amazing to stretch my legs, get the blood flowing and nod to other hardcore runners. The rest of the run consisted of an excessive amount of chatting and joking in-between labored breaths as well as the occasional tip toe through an icy path to prevent ourselves from falling victim to every New Englander’s nemesis, black ice. 

This run might not be particularly exciting or ground breaking for the common runner, but for me, it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. One with my gloves, ear warmers and ultra thick spandex. That night I learned, running outside in the cold didn’t suck. It was actually pretty fun! And sometimes, during difficult times, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered to help you remember how to live.

The Fuel Belt

Fuel BeltThe Fuel belt may strike you as a dorky and excessive running accessory. Yet, I am hard pressed to find any runner that has had an enjoyable eight plus mile run without one. Staying hydrated is one of the most important aspects of a successful run, and this wonderful piece of training gear can help ease your mind and keep your mind at the task at hand: A 16 mile training run 6 weeks before your first big marathon.

At first I was a bit skeptical to invest in a $45 piece of running equipment that I would only use a maximum of 24-28 times. So I put off the purchase before a big 12 mile training run, terrible decision. I ended up cramping so badly from miles 9 to 12 that I had to walk, something I absolutely despise! So naturally, I went out and purchased my first Helium 4 Bottle Water Belt the following Monday. Ever since then, it’s been love.

Fuel Belts can be found at most running stores, as well as online at http://www.fuelbelt.com

Reflecting on 2008 and looking forward to a bright 2009

Kicking Ass and taking names!When the ball dropped at midnight at 12am on December 31st, I kissed my boyfriend, hugged my friends, and toasted champagne with all of my friends. From the untrained eye, it was a prototypical New Years that was happening in every American city. Yet, after the ball dropped, I reflected on the past year. I thought about the good, the bad, and of course, the ugly. I couldn’t stop and think, ” WOw, I did some cool things!” In March 2008, I went to visit my friend in England and took a European vacation for 2 weeks, something I had never done before. This summer, I sent a best friend off to Panama for a 2 year Peace Corps assignment, saw Jimmy Buffet for the very first time, and ran a marathon in November and somehow survived the current economic meltdown with maintaining employment; Pretty cool stuff!

None of that compares to 2009, a year that Kate and I both know are destined for great memories and life changing experiences. First of all, my first new years resolution is to bring lunch to work 4 days a week and allow myself to buy 1 day a week. I used to life by this rule the first year that I lived in Boston, and I want to get back into these great habits. No more blaming the lack of grocery stores in the North End! 2009 is not a time for excuses.

My other resolution was to blog more on this site. I want to retell my experiences in exercise and competition and then in turn, pass on experience and tips to help people meet their own fitness goals. I have always been a team oriented person, so this blog is another avenue for me to help bring people together to reach a common athletic goal.

Along those same lines, I would love to run another marathon and push my body to the limit. The 2008 ING NYC Marathon was an amazing first marathon experience. I learned so much about the sport of running marathons and had a LOT of fun. The race ignited a fire, and now I can’t wait to run my next marathon as a seasoned vet. My eyes are on Chicago or Twin Cities, but who knows!

Here’s to a happy, healthy and memorable 2009! (Full of blogging, of course ;))