Two Weeks Away from Running: An Abundance of Thanks

When I made my fall racing season training plan back in July, I always envisioned taking two weeks off from running after the NYRR NYC 60k. I stuck with this plan . . . for the most part (I jogged through two NP_NYC workouts). Tomorrow marks my first training run for winter races, and I am excited to get back into it.

For my ability to return to running, I’m thankful for good health and humor.

TCS NYC Marathon

I’m sure everybody wants to see more of this in 2016! (picture from mile 18 of the NYC Marathon)

A two-week break from running, however, did not keep me totally inactive. I rode my bike (once), went to the gym for core exercises, and joined Chris Mosier’s “Early New Year’s Resolution Deck-a-Day” workouts. Essentially, Chris posts five exercises every day, each one associated with a suit or the jokers in a deck of cards. You take the deck and flip over the top card, do the associated exercise for the number of reps on the card (Ace-10, Jacks = 11, Queens = 12, Kings = 13, Jokers are a pre-determined number), and continue until you’ve finished the deck.

Simple enough, right? Well, today is day five of the 35-day deck-a-day series, and while I’ve completed every day, some days have definitely hurt. Each day focuses on a specific muscle group. So far we’ve done quads, core, upper body, and glutes. Upper body was the hardest day for me. Even though I do pushups regularly, my upper body has always been my weakest muscle group. Glad that I have another 30 decks to work on it.

For deck-a-day, I’m thankful for NP_NYC for introducing me to so many cool people, including Chris and all the other folks checking in on the Facebook page every day.

Deck-a-Day Workout

Sometimes you get a hard run in the deck.

I also did Thanksgiving at my Aunt’s and Uncle’s house in Ridgefield, Connecticut, with my mom, dad, sister, girlfriend (Melissa), aunt, uncle, five cousins, one cousin’s wife, another cousin’s husband and two kids, and my grandma. While demonstrating some workout move, my cousin Kristen’s younger child, Brenner (a/k/a Baby Bren Bren), ran up to me with a giant smile and hugged me, refusing to let go. We stayed like this (see below) for well over a minute, turning what appears to be a pushup into a somewhat epic plank. So cute!

Jim Baby Bren Bren

I’m very happy!

Baby Bren Bren

Baby Bren Bren is even happier!

Earlier that morning I went hiking with my mom, dad, sister, and Melissa through Mountain Lakes Camp in Lewisboro, New York. Not only is it home to Westchester County’s highest point (a whopping 976 feet), it has some great hiking trails. The trail we hiked, a 3.4 mile loop, contained up-and-down single-track dirt paths recently cleared by the local Boy Scout troop, a 1.5 mile incline on a gravel road, and some downhill on pavement. We also hiked two side trails, one which took us to Westchester’s apex, and one which took us to a gorgeous vista. With 50 degree weather and no wind, we hiked about five miles and earned our turkey dinner.

Mountain Lakes Camp Vista

The vista

Family Mountain Lakes Camp

The family (minus the mom who is obscured by the dad)

Jim Melissa Mountain Lakes Camp

Melissa and some guy wearing a 60k shirt

For this hike, I’m thankful for my mom, dad, sister, and Melissa, all of whom made the day perfect.

After thanksgiving, Melissa and I drove up to Vermont to visit her parents at their summer/winter home in Wardsboro. We hit the trails for two different hikes, both of which were amazing.

We first hiked around Grout Pond in Green Mountain National Forest. The loop around the Pond was just over three miles, but getting to and from the loop added another three. The trail was uneven, covered in leaves, wet, and sometimes difficult to traverse. In other words, I loved every second of it. We hit the three-quarter point of the hike as the sun began to set, which inspired these magical shots. We also discovered a number of camping spots to which we could canoe. It’s not too early to make summer plans, right?

Grout Pond Trail

Grout Pond trail

Grout Pond Shot

Grout Pond late in the day

Jim Melissa Grout Pond

Melissa and some guy walking softly and carrying an excellent hiking stick

Finally, we hit the trail in Jamaica State Park, the same trail I ran shortly before the NYC Marathon. We hiked through a slightly cold 37 degrees, but the weather didn’t hinder the beauty. The trail follows a winding river that roars as it curves. It provided a natural soundtrack as we hiked along. At one point we went off trail, and Melissa and her dad absorbed the energy of the river while I attempted to cross. I’m not sure if any of us were successful, but we looked good trying.

For these hikes, I am grateful for Melissa and her family, who have welcomed me in with open arms.

Today I’m back to work, and tomorrow will be my first official winter racing season training run. Cold or not, I’m going for it!

Happy running, everyone!

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9/18/15: 5:28 a.m, November Project at Pumphouse Park; 9/19/15: Day Off With Tasty Snacks, Friends, and Jam Sessions

Hello! Quick training update.

Pumphouse Park

Quick view of the circle of death at Pumphouse Park.

Yesterday, November Project NYC met at Pumphouse Park, a small enclosure near the Freedom Tower with a circular path lined by trees and benches. I rode my bike down (six miles both ways) and enjoyed the early morning darkness of the west side bike path). Once I saw that circular path, I knew that we’d be running around it forever. And I was right! The workout included: run one and a half loops around the circle, and exit the circle to do ten burpies; re-enter and run a quarter circle, exit, and do ten squats; re-enter and run to the beginning, do ten dips using a bench, and repeat. The workout was so high intensity that it lasted 25 minutes instead of 35. I did something like 60 burpies, 60 squats and 60 dips, which left my shoulders and back sore today. Great workout! #weekendearned.

Jim November Project Angry

Jim is angry after doing so many burpies!

I followed up my bike ride and workout with a six-mile walk around the Central Park loop (I took the day off work). Walking through the Park during a sunny day versus running it at 5:30 a.m. in the dark makes a huge difference, and I reconnected with the beauty of the trees and the views of the City. I have tons of gratitude that I am able to live in such a great City and have easy access to this amazing park.

Central Park Loop

Central Park loop at the northeast corner of the reservoir.

Upper West Side from Central Park

Love the West Side.

I also had dinner and watched “Ten Things I Hate About You” with my friends Patrick and Scott, mostly because Scott had never seen the movie (seriously!?), and in part because why wouldn’t we watch classic ’90’s teen romantic comedies on a Friday night?

Today was a rest day. I needed to rest my legs, especially after two intense NP_NYC workouts this week. Also, my right quad and hip were a little more sore than my left (which wasn’t sore at all), which is a sign that I need to keep stretching my right hip and IT band and listen to my body. Even though my injury has mostly healed, the doctor and physical therapist both said that I would have extra soreness for many months, and to rest when needed. So, I took the opportunity to spend this beautiful Saturday in the sun and on my feet, but not running.

Smorgasburg

The view from Smorgasburg in Williamsburg.

I went to Smorgasburg with Eric, one of my best law school friends. We got ramen burgers and sat by the Williamsburg “beach,” which is really just a sliver of sand and a rocky strip of the Hudson River. On our way to explore the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, we saw a group jamming on bass, keyboard, and drums, and a guitar was sitting unused. I pointed toward the guitar, and the bass player gave an approving shrug-nod, so it was off to the sweet jammy races. I switched to bass later, and we played an impromptu version of “Uptown Funk” with an eight-year-old kid who just killed it. Numerous people recorded this, and I will search the Internet to find this kid (wow, that’s not creepy out of context at all). We also became the backing band for the Lennon folks’ raffle, and jammed on various chord progressions and Beatles’ songs. I used to play in bands, so this was such a treat! I miss playing live so much, so any chance to strap on a stringed instrument and let ‘er rip makes for a good day.

Jim playing bass

See? I was cool once.

Eric and I toured the Lennon bus, which is a state-of-the-art mobile recording studio run by the non-profit John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. The group drives around the country providing music and production lessons to kids. We got to watch a music video made by some kids in LA that featured a song about mustaches fighting for new territory against unicorns. It made Phish songs (ex. from Phish’s “Stash”: “Pulling the pavement from under my nails / I brush past a garden, dependent on whales”) make infinitely more sense than they previously did, especially when a magical event occurred that made all the mustaches and unicorns do gangnam style.

John Lennon Educational Tour Bus

The Lennon Bus is basically a musician’s playground.

We ended the day with some tasty milkshakes and stroll across the Williamsburg Bridge. Even on my off days, I can’t help taking long strolls.

Anyway, I’ll be back at it tomorrow with a 16-17 mile run along the West Side greenway. Good luck to everyone doing the NYRR marathon tuneup!

Happy running, everyone!