Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Blog is Now Located at amandarunsny.com

Amanda Runs New York has finally shed the blogspot training wheels and moved on to greener pastures.  Head on over the amandarunsny.com for the latest.



Monday, September 26, 2011

Silence on Music Mondays

Seeing as how I'm the type of person who has regular blog feature about music, you'd think that I couldn't even take two steps without plugging into my music.

And for a long time, that's exactly how things worked.  The iPod's not charged?  Well, I guess I'll do my run after work and a good charging session?  The speakers aren't working right?  Let's take a detour by Duane Reade to grab a replacement set.  The battery died mid-run.  Time to count every step all the way back home.

For years and years, running and music went together likes peas in a pod for me.  Until one day it didn't.  That day I was running with my Garmin and obsessively monitoring my splits.  Near the end of every mile, I would stare at my watch so intently to catch the split that in hindsight I'm really surprised I didn't trip or run someone over.  And then the little 'pod died, and it was just me and Garmin for over five quiet miles.

Or, more like five fast miles.

That run ended up being one of my fastest of the summer.  I guess it turns out that the reason I love running to music, is also the reason I shouldn't always run to music: it's a distraction.

This past week, I ran once without an iPod and a second time, I voluntarily shut it down mid run and ran to the beat of my heart and breath.  But that doesn't mean that I don't still like a good song.  There is nothing like a new song to get the blood flowing, but this week all my headphone free runs left my music collection lacking.

This week I'm listening to:

All Night Long (feat. Missy Elliot & Timberland) by Demi Lovato

Lay 'Em Down by the Outsiders

We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris) by Rihanna

Bulletproof (Dave Aude Cherry Radio remix) by La Roux

Question Existing by Rihanna

What are you listening to this week?


Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I'm Running New York...in 2012

Oh yeah, don't you just want to join them?  Source

When I started my blog last year, I was all about running a marathon.  One marathon in particular - the New York Marathon.  But by the time I decided that I wanted to run a marathon, I was way past the lottery deadline, which obviously meant that unless my name was Kara Groucher or Heidi Klum, no one was letting me enter the race.
My name isn't Paula Radcliffe either.  Source

Well, actually, that's not entirely true.  I could have entered the race through a charity spot, but I would have had to front two-thousand dollars because they had fund-raising deadlines, and the $2K mark was about a minute after I decided I wanted to run the marathon.  Resigned, I decided that even though I couldn't run New York, I would run something else, and picked a Team in Training Race, the San Francisco Half Marathon.

But then it turned out that I'm lousy about asking people for money.  I just couldn't do it.  Not because I don't believe in the Team in Training's cause at all.  I do.  I respect their cause.  How can you not respect a charity's cause though, unless it's like "Save the keg at the frat party" or "Eliminate all taxes to stimulate the economy"?

Maybe I should have put up a billboard in Times Square?

It felt strange to champion a cause that didn't feel personal to me.  I mean everyone wants a cure for cancer, but  for me, things like heart disease, poverty, women's rights, and education about nutrition tug more at my heart strings that TNT's mission.  The truth is, I felt like my fundraising mission, should have been renamed, "Help Amanda Run a Marathon."

So I switched to a marathon that didn't have any barriers to entry, aside from a little entrance fee.  Talk about commitment problems?

I love, love, love running next to the water.

For the remainder of the summer, I trained hard for the Philadelphia Marathon instead, all the while working on qualifying for New York with their 9+1 program.  That summer and fall, I really fell in love with the marathon training.   I also fell in love with my city as I got to see her in a way I had never thought possible.

The Intrepid Air & Museum, never been in it but all those planes look cool.

A quiet, cool, fall morning.

When the marathon finally arrived, I was welcomed to Philly by friends and accompanied by an awesome cheerleading squad.  Without the support of my friends and family, I'm not sure I would have even finished my marathon.  The race was hard, and though I had trained for it, and expected it, there was something missing from it all.  Looking back, I can see, while I wanted to run a marathon, more than that I wanted to run one very specific marathon and that one's not in Philadelphia.

My Cheer Squad - the BEST part of the Philly Marathon!

After the marathon, I muddled around finishing up my qualifications for the 9+1 program, half-heartedly running, eating lots of cheeseburgers and drinking all the wine that my training program didn't allow.  I had qualified for the New York Marathon and was eligible to run it in 2011, and though I signed up for it, I couldn't muster up an ounce of enthusiasm.

Beers after a spring race, cause that's how I recover.

I ran a few races that spring, enjoying the shorter distances and the freedom those distances allowed in my social life.  The specter of NY hung over my head through the winter, spring and into the summer.  I had signed up so as to not lose my qualification, but though I no longer babbled about my running like I had the previous summer, I couldn't admit defeat.

I went to Barcelona instead of training for NYC.

Cause that's what it felt like.  After all the blog jibber-jabber about running New York, I felt like I had to run it in 2011.  What can I say?  I've always had a problem with doing what I should be doing as opposed to what I want to do.

Finally, about three weeks ago, when the longest run I had run in several months was seven miles, I had to concede that my training was not going to be sufficient to allow me to run the marathon.

I was watching baseball with my "buds" instead of running.  Ooops!

And so I deferred.

Yep, I threw all those self-imposed restrictions out the door.

As soon as I was free of the pressure to run the marathon, I got back on the computer and started blogging like a mad-woman again.  I started reading lots of running blogs once again, searching out new blogs about running which I had previously avoided post Philly because they made me feel like a loser for not wanting to run a marathon.  I bought a new pair of shoes which I hadn't done since March.  I made a plan to run the Detroit  half-marathon and did my first long run on the West Side Highway of the summer.  I downloaded new music just for a run.

Once upon a time boats used to actually use these piers.

Then I logged another long run, and another one, and another one.  And suddenly I remembered, how much I loved training for the marathon and how much I wanted to run New York.

Just like that, I was back on the marathon train.

Running is such a conflicted beast.  On one hand, there is the satisfaction of achieving a new distance or new PR, but on the other hand there are the physical limits of the body.  And yet, the body wants to run even when it's limping, aching, and depleted.  And the mind, oh the mind, it wants to continue to feel the high that can come only from sheer exhaustion at the end of another great run.

Looking back, I can see that a huge reason the Philly marathon was such a struggle for me was that I had over-trained for it by not taking a break from running for over a year.  By the time, I got to the race, my gas tank had a gigantic hole in it.

yeah, i just needed a break.

After my first marathon, my lack of enthusiasm and energy, which masqueraded as severe disappointment, was my own body's way of telling me to take it easy.  I needed time to heal.

Almost a year later, the scars are almost gone.  My hips no longer constantly ache, and my body, though carrying around a few more pounds, doesn't feel like its been beaten up anymore.

But it's my heart that feels the most changed because when as I write this story and see all those running pictures, it starts beating a little faster, and a smile that I can't stop comes to my face.  And just like, the fire is back.  2012 here I come.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Some Questions for Bloggers

After over a year of working with Blogger I've finally decided to make the transition to Wordpress.  Blogger has done well by me but it's cookie cutter themes and limited customization have finally gotten to me.  It's still a great platform for a beginning blogger and I'd recommend it to any newbie who asks.  

My new site will be amandarunsny.com and it's up but it's totally not ready yet.  You can go ahead and take a  peek if you want, but don't be surprised when it....underwhelms you.  I'm sorry.  I'm having some problems. 

I read a lot of blogs; I'd say that on a daily basis I read between twenty and thirty regular blogs.  My blog roll does not reflect what I read daily anymore.  But you know you are one of my favorites, if I comment on your posts every few days.  After my favorites, I click around and read other random blogs, sometimes book marking one that I really like.  

I need some help from all of you bloggers out there!  How can I get help with Wordpress?  Is there a book I can read?  Do you just google things?  Or does the Wordpress help section actually, ummmm, help?

Also, how do you get custom headers?  What I mean by custom headers are something like what you would see on loveveggiesandyoga.com, pure2raw.com, or cleaneatingchelsey.com?  These look like they are designed by a graphic designer...as opposed to simply uploading a photo and using standard text?  Or something like ohsheglows.com with a photo but custom text?  

Any and all advice, you fancy, super-smart, really awesome bloggers could give me would be really appreciated.  Because I have no idea what I'm doing, clearly.  

(Although, I did figure out how to get a snazzy new email address, so if you don't want to comment or have too much to say, you can email me at amanda@amandarunsny.com!)  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Music Mondays and The Music I Didn't Run to this Week

Oh man, last week was not a good week.  I can't give you an specific reason except to say that I just felt grumpy and angry and irritated all week long.

The good thing about a bad week is that it always ends.  And this one did....on a great note with an awesome almost ten mile run.

And though, I'd like to tell you that the reason that ten mile run was so awesome was because my music was just so awesomely motivating, I'd be lying.

Because the 'pod died mid-run.  Tear.

Now, it's not officially done because it worked today, but it's reaching the end of it's life.  It's cranky and temperamental, and it works perfectly fine until I start working out.  I guess it's had enough of my sweating.

But that doesn't mean that I didn't go out to run fully equipped with motivating music.  I actually even rearranged my playlist and cleared out some songs that I didn't care to run to anymore.

This week, I'm loving:

Mr. Saxobeat by Tribute Mega Stars

Marry the Night by DJ Wallace Mays (a Lady Gage remix)

Good Life (Remix) [feat. B.O.B.] by One Republic

This is not new to my playlist but for some reason I really felt like listening to Eminem.  Yeah, I guess that's what happens when you are from Detroit or the suburbs of it.  I don't live on 8 mile!

Superman by Eminem and Dina Rae

Punching in a Dream by the Naked and Famous

Happy Running!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let's Get Juicy

I used to start every day with a cool glass of orange juice.

You know the kind that you buy in the grocery store in the carton from the refrigerated section?

The stuff that is made from oranges picked up to a year ago, treated with heat to remove all traces of bacteria, and then finally enriched with essential oils, vitamins and sugar. Natural, fresh squeezed orange juice it is not.

I quit the juice in high school.

Not because I cared about how organic or processed my food was. Rather, my utmost concern was my waistline, and fitting into a size five.

Ohhh, I would never wish a teenage girlhood upon anyone.

Somewhere in the fitness magazines and diet books I read, I got the (correct) idea that orange juice was empty calories and ditched it. For years after, I stayed away from juice like the plague – unless it was mixed into an adult beverage.

Until recently…

Now, I drink juice all the time. Oh yeah, I’ve become a juice head. Watch out New Jersey! (Ok, not that kind of juice).

My drink of choice is fresh pressed vegetable juice.

Unfortunately, in NYC you need to be a millionaire to drink a steady diet of fresh pressed juice. Those babies cost on average eight dollars a pop! That’s $3,000 annually for one measly juice a day. You could get a supersized meal at McDonald’s for that price and still have change left over for a pack of gum.

But when I looked into buying a juicer, I realized that I didn’t have any extra storage space for something in my kitchen, and I didn’t have an extra ten minutes every morning to clean out my juicer. Plus, I wasn’t too keen on shelling out a couple hundred bucks.

It turns out that to enjoy fresh juice, I don’t need to be a high-roller nor buy another fancy kitchen appliance. I can make juice in my blender.

How to make your own juice without a juicer:

High Speed Blender
Fine Strainer and/or cheesecloth
Large contrainer to fit under strainer

Start with fruit and veggies washed, and chopped to about the size of an apricot for really hard items (beets, carrots) and larger for softer items.

(1) Start out by putting the softest watery vegetables and fruits in the blender. I usually start with: lime or lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumbers, and watermelon are all pretty watery

The blender turned those cukes into mush.

(2) Then add leafy vegetables. I usually fold big leaves – like kale, lettuce, and collard greens and drop them into the blender until they are liquefied.

Celery...not just for Bloody Mary's.

Red kale going into the celery-cucumber mixture.

(3) If at anytime, the blender gets stuck, add a little water.

Some chopped up beets and a little - oops - I mean - lot of ginger.

(4) Add the hardest stuff last.

The raw beets were peeled and chopped first.  

(5) I also add last any extras like – salt, hemp seeds, a knob of ginger, or a little jalapeƱo.

Add some lime. Citrus is almost a staple in any juice I make.

(6) Once everything is blended, it should look like a thick shake when you tilt the blender around, but there should be no chunks. Usually, I blend on the liquefy setting for about 1 minute, but you may need to adjust for your blender.

The beets really give this juice an awesome color.

(7) Nestle the strainer inside your large container. Be sure that bottom of the strainer is about 2-3 inches from the bottom and that the side of the strainer don’t hang above the large container.

My strainer....I bought this at Ikea for under $5.00.  

Strainer + pan = True love.

(8) Slowly pour the contents of the blender into the strainer. You might want to use a spoon in the strainer and stir while pouring. If you are using a cheesecloth, lay the cheesecloth inside the strainer, allowing generous amounts to hang over the edges so you can tie up the pulp in a bag.

Be careful not to spill beets all over. They stain!

(9) Once blender contents are poured into the strainer, you can let it drain for a minute or two, but then pull out the spoon and stir the contents gently. Scraping the sides of the container as you stir.

The leftover pulp after giving it some swirls with the spoon.

(10) If using the cheesecloth, gently gather the edges of the cloth to make a bag, remove the strainer, and with clean hands squeeze the pulp. It helps to squeeze small sections as the cloth is fragile and will rip or certain holes will enlarge if you put too much pressure on the bag.

(11) Once you’ve extracted enough juice, poor the juice from the large container into a glass and enjoy. You will know have extracted enough when if using just the strainer, the pulp is lumpy, and if using the cheesecloth, when the pulp begins to start coming out of the cheesecloth.

A multi-vitamin in a glass. It tastes good too.  

(12) The remaining pulp will be juicy still and it’s a bit wasteful. Sometimes I stir in a few spoonfuls of the pulp into the juice to add some fiber. Sometimes, I freeze it and reuse it another recipe – such as to bulk up veggie burgers, but sadly most times, I throw it away. If you have a garden you can use this as fertilizer and you can certainly start a compost pile with the remains.

Although not the best method to make juice, this certainly yields a cheap cup of juice and a rich cup of vitamins.

Enjoy your juice!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Truth About New Yorkers

Confession:  I've been rude to a few tourists in my New York life time.  

I don't want to perpetuate any stereotypes about angry New Yorkers here, but one time I lived in Hell's Kitchen and worked in Midtown East, and between work and home, lay Times Square.

Every morning about 7:30 a.m. I would walk through the quiet, and almost empty Times Square sipping my coffee and jamming to my iPod.  It was my morning ritual.  

But every evening, I would return along the same route and find myself trying to wiggle my way through swarms of tourists.  In a twenty-four hour period, hundreds of thousands of pedestrians will walk through Times Square and a significant chunk of them are people who live or work in the city.  Most of them are not there to visit the M&M store or snag a cameo on TRL either.  Most of them are just passing through on their way to somewhere else.  

You can think of Times Square as the Magic Kingdom of NYC.  The place where we keep our biggest and brightest stars.  Or you can think of it as our flashiest intersection.  The place where nine roads practically collide into each other.

It is here, in Times Square, where I have regrettably said a few rude things, and way to many loud, "Excuse me's!" as I wiggle my way to the front of the crowd waiting to cross the intersection.  And I feel a little guilty about it, until I go home to Michigan, and another driver honks his horn on the expressway as I merge just a tad under the speed limit because I haven't driven on a freeway in six months or someone waves a choice gesture at me because I stopped too quickly since I haven't looked at a traffic light since last Christmas.  

I'm not rude to tourists.  And neither are most New Yorkers.  If you want to know where the Musuem/Building/Street/Park is, I will gladly point you in the right direction and give you alternate public transportation options.  I can even recommend a nice restaurant or the nearest Starbucks in certain neighborhoods.  But when someone stands in the middle of the sidewalk, mouth agape, oogling a billboard, I'm not about to pause and wait for the crowd to clear.  

Instead, in my most assertive but kind voice, though after a day of work kind sounds more like stressed out, I ask the crowd to move.  In my standard black outfit, the ooglers immediately recognize me as a citizen of the city, and jump to conclusions about my 'tude.  

So folks, when you visit New York City, and someone asks you to move over, consider what you are doing?  Are you texting in the middle of the sidewalk in front of Rockefeller Center?  Are you staring at a billboard at a crowded street crossing?  Are you consulting your map in front of the turnstiles to the subway?  

Then, ask yourself how you'd feel if I parked my car on your freeway ramp, or decided to send text messages in your driveway when you're running ten minutes late?