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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Weekend in Vermont! Road Running, Trail Running, Pumpkin Ice Cream, and a Severe Lack of Moose Sightings

I traveled this past weekend with my girlfriend, Melissa, and her parents to their home in Wardsboro, VT, about as far south in Vermont as one can live. We had temperatures in the 50s, likely the last warm days before the snow falls and people trade in their running shoes for cross country skies. We rolled through hills covered in gorgeous maples with leaves turning orange, red, brown, and the occasional tree maintaining its green coverage, and ambled through country roads shaded by tree branches and lined by horses and cows. More importantly, we slept without the subway’s rumble under our apartment. Really beautiful, even if the sun stayed behind the clouds for most of the weekend.

Isabella the dog

Meet Isabella, the cutest dog in all of Vermont!

When I arrived on Saturday, I ran a quick 5.5 miles on Wardsboro’s main road, a quiet stretch lined by cabins on one side and a river on the other. My out route was entirely uphill, and my in route entirely downhill. Even though the occasional car rushed past, I enjoyed the solitude of the run, and the fact that I ran fast on my in trip downhill without pushing too hard. The house, however, was up a steep hill, which slowed me down a bit but reminded me of the many bridges to come during the NYC Marathon.

We then attended the Gilfeather Turnip Festival, at which there were neither turnips nor turnip soup (we arrived too late). We did, however, get to sample some Vermont maple syrup candies, learn about goat cheese (unpasteurized goat cheese is a big thing in Vermont), and visit the bustling Wardsboro government office.

Wardsboro, VT

A might government center.

Later that day we rode to a pumpkin farm, where we ate cider doughnuts and lots of pumpkin ice cream.

Pumpkin farm

Can you tell which one is not a scarecrow? I sure can’t ;).

Cider doughnut

I ate three more of these after my 9-mile trail run, nailing the marathon training nutrition plan.

We hit the trails on Sunday, and I did a 9-mile trail run in Jamaica, VT, while Melissa and her parents hiked . The trail was only about 3 miles long, so I ran out, back to the start, out again, and then ran a short distance back to my crew. The trail was mostly flat with a few steep uphills and, like the road, was bordered on one side by a river. I tried to keep the run easy, but made it up and down the trail in about 19 minutes each time. I felt great at the end, though, and as the marathon approaches, I’m happy to get in some hard runs close to marathon pace if only to train my mind about how that pace feels.

Jamaica, VT trail run

Looking super dorky on the trail.

Jamaica, VT trail

View from the end of the trail.

After my run, we hiked to the end of the trail and up a dam. Atop the dam, we surveyed the land, enjoyed a snack, and took some pictures. The views were incredible, and I cannot wait to return in the winter and cross-country ski down the trails.

Jamaica, VT trail

Halfway up the dam trail and feeling good.

Jamaica, VT dam

View from the top of the dam.

Aside from some pushups and core exercises, those runs comprised my workouts in Vermont. We spent the rest of our time attempting to go to flea markets (which were all closed due to the overcast and slightly rainy weather), eating homemade turnip soup, and watching horror movies, including “Plan 9 From Outer Space” and “An American Werewolf in London.” I left Vermont feeling exhausted but relaxed and ready to conquer another week, although disappointed that we did not see any moose.

Jamaica, VT trail

And of course, what trail hike would be complete without a trail ride?

Vermont moose

Seriously, behold the majesty of this stuffed moose! See how much larger it is than the deer in the background? Amazing.

NYC Marathon in FIVE DAYS! My schedule for the next few days looks like this:

  • Wednesday, October 28: November Project NYC 5:28 a.m. workout on Wards Island, and 7 p.m. shakeout run in Central Park
  • Thursday, October 29: 3-4 mile run in Central Park, with some stretching and core work at the gym. Also, Happy Birthday, Katie!
  • Friday, October 30: Potential NP_NYC 6:28 workout at Bethesda Fountain in Central Park
  • Saturday, October 31: 2 mile run followed by epic Halloween party on Long Island, followed by all the sleep
  • Sunday, November 1: NYC Marathon, all the cheesecake, all the parties, all the sleep.

So close!

Happy running, everyone!