Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy Meal?

When I ventured out to New Jersey for "the wedding", I did something that I don't usually do when I'm in the city. I ate at McDonalds. Like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the scent and taste of a meal from Micky D's transports me back to my childhood, when happy meals were a special treat.

Now that I'm grown up and eating on my own tab, I rarely go for the $5 meal anymore. It's quite possible that I may never venture through the golden arches again after spotting this art project.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


To be honest, I'm not much of a cook. It's not that I don't like cooking or that I can't make a decent meal; it's simply that there is not enough time in the day to dice and sautee, stir-fry and roast. Most days, by the time I get home from work, I am one hungry girl with absolutely no desire to wait for more food.

There is just no sense in pretending that I'm a gourmet cook, when I'm already spending so much of my energy being a blogger, runner, accountant, friend, sister, and daughter. So instead I will share my homemade meals made from frozen vegetables, canned food, prepared sauces, and fresh produce. All which take me less than 15 minutes to make, cost relatively little and are healthy. One more thing too, it's almost all vegetarian and most of it is vegan.

What's wrong with meat and dairy? Nothing, if you can afford the organic, hormone free, antibiotic free stuff. But if you can't, I think it's better to abstain as much as possible. There are plenty of sources of protien out there, and it doesn't have to come from tofu either.

So without further ado, here's today's lunch:

Lemon-pepper green beans:

2 cups frozen Haricot green beans
1 tsp Extra virgin olive oil or butter
1 tbs lemon-pepper
Salt, if your lemon pepper doesn't have any added (Mine is from Trader Joe's and it has salt in it)

Steam the beans for 3 minutes, or rinse with hot water for a few minutes. Add lemon pepper, oil or butter and salt to the drained beans. To serve, simply heat up in the microwave for a minute.

I enjoyed this with a quinoa salad that I bought from Dishes.


Songs on Repeat the Week of August 23

A cold front has settled into New York and left me reaching for the hoodies and the flannel August! Is fall already upon us? I really hope not.

Here's what's playing on my iPod this week.

Breaking Dishes by Rihanna

D.A.N.C.E. (Alan Braxxe Remix) by Justice

Stereo Love by Edward Maya & Vika Jigulina

Alejandro (Kleerup Remix) by Lady Gaga

The Fire by John Legend & The Roots

Sweetest Girl (Wyclef Jean Club Remix) by Karmatronic

Now I'm off for an 8-miler in the cold rain. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Weekend Run

My long run this weekend turned out to be only 14.89 miles due to a route miscalculation, but I'm not worried about it. I'll catch those 1.11 miles soon enough. But man, it's getting hard to plan routes on this teeny, tiny island. But for now, here's my long run route by New York City neighborhood.

Begin in Central Park, running across the park and over to the West Side Park Drive.

Next, around Columbus Circle and then through my old neighborhood, Hell's Kitchen. My favorite place to eat in Hell's Kitchen is the Peruvian empanada heaven called Empanada Mama's.

Then over to the West Side Highway, which takes me down by Chelsea Piers, the edges of the Meatpacking District and West Village and then into the Financial District.

Next, I cut across the island on Warren Street, which ends up taking me through the edges of Tribeca. Tribeca means TRIangle BElow CAnal Street and is home to lots of celebrities who live in the city, including some of my favorites like Kelly Ripa.

Finally, after about a 10 minute run I made it to the Brooklyn Bridge, which I ran over and then promptly turned around and ran right back into the city on the Manhattan Bridge.

The Manhattan Bridge lands smack in the middle of China Town - the real China Town where the tourists don't go.

My route ended on the Summer Streets, which took me through SoHo, Union Square, Murray Hill, Midtown and back to the Upper East Side. I love the part where I run around Grand Central.

And that concludes my Summer Streets running for the year. Now it's on to find trails and more Green Streets throughout the city. I might even (GASP!) have to head out to New Jersey one day. But let's not think about that just yet.

Photo Sources:
1. Chelsea Pier's Aerial view, Chelsea Pier's website,
2. China Town,,
3. Grand Central, my own photo

Monday, August 23, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The forecast for the week calls for rain through Wednesday. My training schedule calls for runs everyday except Friday. Adding all of this together, equals running in the rain.

I don't have to do my runs in the rain. There is a gym next door with a dry treadmill waiting for me. But they (they? all the marathon training advise out there) say it's good to run through any type of weather because you never know how race day will turn out.

I will though, change my planned route, which was originally going to be around the reservoir. That path is dirt and during rain, it's one continuous puddle.

The nice thing about running in Central Park is that it's still in the city, so a route change is really easy to pull off at the last minute. All I need to know is that twenty city blocks are approximately one mile and that running across the park is about half a mile. Then I can run plan accordingly.

Some other tips that make running in Central Park E-A-S-Y:

1. All lamposts in the park are labeled with 4 digit number and letter. You can use these posts to tell where you are in the city/park. First two (or three if you are above 100th street) indicate the cross street, and a W or E indicate if you are on the west or east side of the park.

2. There are multiple bathrooms in the park. On the south-west corner of the Great Lawn lies the bathrooms for the Delacorte Theater. There is one by Columbus Circle, off the Bridle Path (dirt path), and another at the playground located in the middle of the park around 61st-63rd Streets. Here's a link to all the bathroooms, but the bottom line is this: most playgrounds and buildings in the park have bathrooms which everyone can use for free. (Except the ice rinks and the zoo.)

3. There is an exit/entrance to the park at every major cross-street. What, you might wonder, is a major cross-street? Any street that a subway would stop at. So on the west side the 1/9 stop at 80th Street, and you will find an entrance there. On the east side, the 4/5/6 stop at 86th and there is an entrance at 85th Street.

4. There are water fountains all over the park. A few of the ones I use frequently include: Engineers Gate at 90th St. & 5th Avenue, 108th St. & West Drive in the middle of the west side Harlem Hill, 94th St. & West Drive at the Entrance to the Reservoir, 72nd St. right inside the park entrance near 5th Ave., and 65th and West Drive at the Southwest corner of Sheep's Meadow across from Tavern on the Green. Again, you will always find water fountains in playgrounds, and of course, you can just bring money and buy water ($2-3 a bottle) from the hot-dog vendors as well.

5. If you don't live by the Park, you can stash your stuff at NYRR's by becoming a member for $40. They are located at 89th St. between 5th and Madison. If you belong to a gym, chances are your club has a location right next to the park, for example: NYSC - 59th & Park and 62nd & Broadway, Equinox - Columbus Circle and 63rd & Lex, and NY Health & Racquet - 57th & Park.

So now that you know some of the "secrets" of the park, do you think you'll make it out there before winter settles into the City? I hope so.

Map courtesy of New York Journey,

Friday, August 20, 2010

Look Good Working Out

I don't know about you, but sometimes the only thing that makes me excited to run is the chance to try out some new gear. If it's gotten this desperate for you, go buy yourself a new pair of shoes or shorts and start running. And I found some coupons on NYRR (New York Road Runner's) website.

Coupons for PowerBars and Run at Footlocker!

20% off on runninig gear from Footlocker and Powerbar goods.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sweet Sixteen

The age when little girls become women, the moment when college basketball players’ dreams come true, and the number of miles I must run on Saturday. Sixteen just doesn’t seem so sweet anymore.

It’s only Thursday and I’m already a little anxious for my long run this weekend. I’ve finally reached the phase of training where every long run is a new personal record, and this is scary as hell.

Each new mile comes with equal amounts of satisfaction and struggle. About 75% of the way through a long run, exhaustion and a tenderness in my joints set in. It’s at this point where the intrigue of a new route or the energy of a new song really matter. So far though, this pain and fatigue have been bearable and typical. I’m really starting to enjoy it in a weird, twisted sort of way.

What I am really afraid of is that I’m going to hit the wall soon. Don’t ask me to describe the wall. I’ve never hit it, and a google search returned a bunch of articles which defined it as “indescribable.” Thanks google! That really helps me out.

Biologically speaking, the wall refers to the moment when the muscles run out of glycogen. Glycogen is “calories” stored in your muscles for energy. It’s not fat (sigh, I wish I could run out of fat on my race), but rather energy created from the food consumed within the past few days. There is also a neurological component whereby the brain tells the body to stop sending energy to the muscles to conserve calories to run vital organs. The inexplicable effects include hallucination, numbness, fainting, loss of control over limbs, and delirium, to name a few. All of which lead to the worst symptom of all: quitting.

The wall is rumored to be around mile twenty because the body can typically store about 2000 calories in glycogen and common wisdom assumes that the average runner burns about 100 calories a mile (give or take 20 depending on how fast and big the runner).

Which leaves me where I am today...nervous about Saturday, obsessing over every calorie of food I consume and minute of sleep I catch. I’m compulsively drinking water, generously salting my food, and avoiding walking far in high heels.

But the pain and fatigue doesn’t scare me. What scares me is the when and where of it all. Will I hit the wall and faint in front of a raging cyclist with no time to stop? Or will I become disoriented and get lost in a neighborhood I don’t know very well? Maybe I’ll crash when I’m out of gels and with no store in sight, and maybe my feet will go numb as I’m running across a bridge. But I’m letting my imagination get the best of me. These are worst case scenarios.

I probably won’t hit the wall this weekend or the next few either, but I want to take the time to prepare myself for the moment and perhaps even avoid it completely. By far, the two biggest factors identified in conquering the wall are energy consumption and mental strength. So to fortify my mind, I’m taking up yoga. For my energy consumption, I’m going to add some more whole grains and carbohydrates to my diet. I am also going to try to run faster on my long runs. For a while now, “just finish” has been my motto.

Then finally, I’m going to accept the fact that I’m going to crash into The Wall. It’s not a road block but a rite of passage. It will be the moment when I go from runner to marathoner. After all I didn’t get into this marathoning business to play it safe.

1. Runner's World, "Avoid Hitting the Wall" by Paul Scott,,7120,s6-238-267--11428-1-1X2X3-4,00.html
2. Marathon & Beyond, "Hitting "The Wall"" by Sara Latta,
3. Running Planet, "The Marathon Wall – What it is and How to Beat It" by Rick Morris,

Keeping Myself Accountable

The nice thing about training for a marathon is that I burn about 3000 extra calories a week. To put that in perspective, that's roughly 20 scoops of vanilla ice cream, your own pie of New York cheese pizza, or 15 bottles of Pepsi.

I don't use the excessive calorie burning as an excuse to forget everything I've ever learned about eating healthy, but I definitely indulge and don't stress over it. Recently, I have discovered that most runners have a weight where they run their fastest times. This weight is somewhere around a BMI of 18 for men and 19/20 for women, and depends on each individual.

My current BMI is nowhere near that number. It's somewhere in the mid-20's (I don't have to tell you people everything, ok!), but I have no doubt that taking it down will increase my speed. Just last week, I bought a new pair of tennis shoes which were mere ounces lighter than my old shoes and I immediately noticed a difference. So what would fifteen pounds lighter feel like? Probably, really fast.

How in the world am I going to shed a few more pounds? I can’t exercise more – that’s for sure. (I can definitely work-out better but that’s another post for another day.) What I can do, is eat less. What I can’t do, is trust myself to eat less. In order to really consume fewer calories, I need to keep myself accountable and monitor my intake.

Here are some of the ways that I have tracked my daily calorie intake over the years. Everything is free too unless otherwise noted.

Pros: It’s easy to use and to record accurate consumption because it allows you to choose from many different types of measurements – ounces, cups, teaspoons, if relevant, slices, and for certain items like produce there are options such as medium banana 7 inches long or large banana 9 inches long. Also, it has cool reporting tools like a pie chart showing the breakdown of calories by fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Cons: The food options are plentiful but they are missing a lot of name brands and prepared dishes. I found Special K but couldn’t find: Luna Bars, Cliff Bars, wasabi peas, and pad thai. I had to create a lot of custom foods to make this site work. Also, it doesn’t allow you to record meals by meal time which can get a little disorganized.

Bottom line: If you cook for yourself a lot, then this might work for you if you have the time and patience to enter in the nutrition information from the foods you are eating or to hand select all the ingredients of your meal. But that’s a whole lot of if’s, so buyer beware.

Livestrong’s The Daily Plate

Pros: Every imaginable food option, brand and combination. I have yet to not be able to find something. I even went through a list of Indian recipes and was able to pull up every single one of them! The site also has lots of graphs and tracking tools to help you figure out how many calories you should eat in a day and how many calories your workouts burn.

Cons: It’s a bit slow and it doesn’t search for food items if you put a space after the last word in the search box. I also had a hard time navigating the site and figuring out how to do things. It wasn’t intuitive as the other two tools, but again, once you figure it out, does that really matter?

Bottom line: This is great for everyone, especially if you eat out a lot or eat a lot of prepared meals. If you won’t take the time to fill it out daily, then the slower than normal search function will not let you easily catch up if you are a day or few meals behind.

Calorie Counter by Fat Secret (the Blackberry application)

Pros: This site also boasts a huge database of foods – prepared and brand names, and on my Verizon Blackberry it works pretty quickly. I figured out how to use the app almost immediately and haven’t encountered any major problems. Plus, it has been so easy and fast to use that I can quickly enter in data.

Cons: If you eat a lot of ethnic foods, then this might not work. There are options but they are limited and so may grossly over or understate the nutritional content. That said, all major food chains, brands, and restaurants are on the app. (The Daily Plate has a Blackberry app you might want to check out but given their technology glitches on the website, don’t blame me if the app disappoints. It will also cost you $2.99 a month.) The design is utilitarian and offers no extra reporting and analysis tools. For example, I have to manually compute my percentages from fat and protein.

Bottom line: Good for anyone on the go and my personal weapon of choice. So far, it’s been pretty good to me. Also, it's available for iPhones and Droids as well.

I’ve only been tracking my food and diet for two days this week and already I figured out that the serving of Mexican Caesar dressing that I had was a whopping 620 calories and 67.8 grams of fat, bringing my lunch up to a staggering 1244 calories. I was able to keep daily calories under 2000, but imagine all the other food I could have enjoyed had I just gotten vinaigrette. My calories from protein are in the 15% range both days, which is about 10% lower than my goal. I'm already trying to incorporate more protein in my meals.

A few more weeks of this calorie counting business and I hope to be able to safely trim down my waistline and dial up my speed. It’s always worked for me in the past and it allows me to indulge without going over total daily calories. Whether your goal is to lose weight or speed up, keeping track of calories is the most important step in achieving a smaller number on the scale.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Wedding Recovery

Little girls dream about their wedding day from the very first moment they laid eyes on poufy white dresses and red roses. Not in India! Indian girls dream about their wedding week.

Several parties, prayer cermonies, and two sarees later, my friends' Priti and Pak are finally married and away on their honeymoon. But I had so much fun celebrating with them, that I forgot to eat healthy, sleep, and run for almost a week.

Now I'm back in the city, eating healthy and running, and guess how I feel? Awesome? Not quite. But if I only ran when I felt super, I'd never run. And if I never ran, then I'd never feel great. It's a vicious cycle. So I'm going to bed early, eating my veggies and keeping up with my runs.

A post on how to be your own nutritionist and The Wall coming soon!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

No Time For Cooking

Do you feel like cooking? Nah, me neither. So then what to do about that little monster in your stomach that is grumbling, "Feed me."

Feed him already! When I am too exhausted from work or just have an empty fridge, I like to order in. While there is no debate that cooking for yourself is the best way to eat healthy because you control the ingredients, sometimes that just isn't an option.

So when heating up soup is just too tiring (yes, that actually happens to me), I like to order in. Whenever I eat out, I always figure I’m going to be consuming a few more calories than usual but I also have learned that I can limit the extent of my indulgence and still feel fully indulged. Here’s what I order at a variety of restaurants.

Thai: Go for the wok or stir fry options and forgo the rice. I think Thai places prepare some of the best tofu dishes around, so if are feeling adventurous get tofu in your stir-fry one day. Otherwise, go for chicken or shrimp. Start with steamed dumplings.

Hot and sour soup makes a great first course with a meal of steamed vegetables, the protein of choice, and garlic or brown sauce. You won’t feel like you are eating healthy at all. Again, skip the rice, or eat just a few spoonfuls.

Japanese: Sashimi, sashimi, sashimi! If you don’t like sashimi, have any rolls that doesn’t have tempura or crunchy in the name, plus avoid the spicy stuff. Most places make the spicy sauce with mayo. For an appetizer or starter, miso soup AND a green salad are super healthy and very delicious.

Italian: Oh, how those Italians love their cheeses and olive oil. Here my suggestion is to go for a meat, and not a pasta dish. Avoid, breaded and battered meats, and try out the vegetarian options. Eggplant parmesan will leave you satisfied – it will typically be low in calories but high in fat. A nice trade-off if you are craving Italian. Don’t forget a delicious appetizer of fresh tomato, mozzarella, and olive oil in the summer. Any other time of year, those tomatoes just won’t do the recipe justice.

Mexican: Vegetarian fajitas sans the sour cream but plus the guacamole. For an appetizer, chips and salsa are great as long as you don’t have too many chips. Load the salsa up on those chips and fill up!

Indian: Try chole, a chick-pea curry, Aloo Gobi a delicious cauliflower curry, and anything vegetarian and cream free. Indian food is ooh so yummy but the food available in restaurants is saturated with cream, so here I suggest sticking to vegetarian and dairy free options, and eating the rice sparingly. Finish off your meal with rice pudding or a mango lassi.

American/Diner: Go for the veggie burger if you need to spoil yourself. These are so delicious, full of fiber and protein, and way less in calories than the carnivorous options available. Surprisingly, a BLT is a pretty healthy as long as the mayo is kept in check. A Rueben is a good option as long as you ask for Thousand Island dressing on the side. Try the broth-based soups or a garden salad to start. If you like breakfast anytime of the day, try an egg-white omelet, but hold the cheese please.

Middle-Eastern/Lebanese: I love a good falafel but those little balls of yumminess are fried, so if you must have falafel, go for the platter and forget the pita. Take full advantage of the appetizers and have some hummus (without pita please), any eggplant salad, or one of their delicious vegetable appetizers. Just watch out for tahini…while delicious, it is like an oil, and so it’s best if you can control the amount of it in your food and ask for it on the side.

Greek: Start with dolmas or any one of their salads – just ask for the dressing on the side. Even if you pour the whole dressing on your salad, it’s probably less than they’d add otherwise. Or try the yogurt and dill salad, tzatziki. For a meal, there are so many options just go for the protein based meals and look for words like grilled and sautéed. I personally would mix a few of the side salads together and call that a meal.

The basic point is this: when eating out, avoid carbohydrate based dishes - like pasta or fried rice. They just add so many calories on top of the oil and butter the restaurant industry uses to make its food yummy. Then look out for words that indicate a ton of butter or dairy products are included. Avoid: cream, cheese, battered, breaded, fried and look out for words like roasted, steamed, grilled, poached, and sautéed. Stick with poultry and seafood dishes, and don’t be afraid to inquire about the makings of a dish. Or google the recipe, if you are ordering in, and see what the most common ingredients are in a few dishes.

Most importantly though, if you are eating out, enjoy it and don't stress out about how you've messed up your diet. Instead, what I do is either run a little bit more or eat a little bit less the next day.

Music on Repeat the Week of August 9

Brought to you courtesy of the Jersey Shore. No fist pumping required.

Today (feat. Tienus) by Skiggy Rapz & Tienus

Ghetto (Beat by Rockstar) by Theory Hazit

Little by Little by Chicharones

Song for Gypsy Rose Lee by The Coast

Lake Michigan by Rogue Wave

Breakable by Ingrid Michaelson

Weddings and Running

In a few hours, I’m going to yet another wedding. This event is going to take four days, and though I will only be a few miles from my apartment in Manhattan, I will be worlds away. I’m taking part in a traditional Indian wedding for my friends Priti and Deepak, and the celebrations start on Wednesday and carry on until late on Saturday or more accurately, the wee hours of Sunday morning.

The traditional ceremony starts with the mehndi party where all the ladies get a lovely henna tattoo. Thursday brings a garba event, where a traditional dance performed with sticks reminiscing painted drum-sticks takes place. Friday begins with a religious ceremony, and a tradition where turmeric powder is rubbed on the bride to evoke the “bridal glow” - although, I’m pretty sure no bride needs extra help in that department. But still, cross your t’s and dot your i’s anyway. Then the ceremony commences on Saturday with a "parade" by the groom's side to meet the bride’s family. Finally, there is another ceremony, filled with both fun and serious rituals followed by lots of food and dancing at a reception to finish off the night. It’s sure to be a magical and unforgettable experience.

While I’m excited to wear my first saree, get mehndi done, dance garba and eat Indian food for five straight days, there is still the matter of this marathon training, which must go on through the ceremony. Now if this was just a normal wedding of a day and a half, I could just rearrange my training schedule, but there is nothing average about this wedding!

So what’s a future twenty-six point two miler to do? Well, just make do with what I’ve got. So this means that I will try to squeeze in a run or two, but nothing quite like the long run that is on my training calendar. But I’m not worried, because now that I’m running Philly, I have extra time in my schedule and can afford a few off weekends.

And let’s face it, though I really enjoy running and I often say something to the effect of “I need to run” or “need to workout”, the truth is that if my life was reduced to just running, eating, and sleeping, life would be no fun at all. So this weekend, though I’ll have some running gear shoved in the back of a suitcase, I might not make it out for a run. And if I don’t, I’ll know that’s because I’m having so much fun celebrating my friends’ marriage that for once, I just don’t need to run.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Summer Streets 15 Miler

Best part about this route was the last 4 miles where I witnessed the infamous dumpster pools, a Crunch dance class, a Whole Foods picnic, and a drum line, just to name a few things. This definitely helped me get through those last miles.

Marathon Time Prediction

Just how fast do you think you could run a marathon? Would you really take twelve hours or are you in such good shape that you can do it in 3 hours, Check out this nifty tool if only you took the time to train?

Well, check out this nifty tool to see how you would do, or if you are actually running a marathon, use this to help you set paces and realistic goals.a>

Being Taken for Granted No More

For all the time I spend in Central Park, I spend very little of it appreciating the trees. Sure in the spring or fall when the trees have magical, fleeting bursts of color, I privately marvel at them but never stop.

Almost a year ago, one gray, just rained August morning, I found myself at a tree crime scene in the park. A huge storm, what the news called gale force winds (but in the midwest I think are known as tornados), ravaged the trees at the top of resevoir. It looked like the aftermath of a Middle Earth war where all the talking tree people lost.

For the first time, the runners in the park had to stop for the trees as branches and hundred year old tree trunks littered trails and paths leaving small half foot spaces to climb through in some areas. The destruction saddened me because I like the idea that those same trees which gave shade to myself had once shadowed the likes of great New Yorkers: Jackie Onassis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Audrey Hepburn, and so forth. But if trees could talk, we’d hope they weren’t gossips.

To commemorate that arboreal carnage and the rich history of the Central Park Trees, New York Magazine has posted a slide show of these stoic giants. If you have a moment, stop and appreciate those beautiful trees and the interesting history which they have been both a part of and silent observer.

It's so hard to make decisions

For a million and one reasons, I have decided to run the Philadelphia Marathon instead. In case, you are starting to doubt my commitment to the race, consider how scary and intimidating this race is. I’m sure and unsure of my ability to run it at the same time. Trying to find the right race which will balance the right course with the right race atmosphere and the least amount of travel stress is a fine art and Philly proved to be the race that offered the best options.

Now that I’ve finally set my eye on a date and race, there is one more thing. My race will be the day after my Dad’s 50th birthday, and so I will run the race for him. Of course, I’ll also send him a present too!

Race Details:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Philadelphia, PA

Link to Course


A few weeks ago, I quit my job. I started my last day with a 4 mile run. It was a cool morning but I had foolishly eaten Tasty D-lite for dinner. Around mile two and a half, I wanted to call it quits. My stomach was growling with hunger and my feet were burning. I wanted to stop so badly and yet I couldn’t. I knew the pains I felt were momentary and more importantly, that those were the pains of running and if I wanted to be a runner who ran 26.2 miles, than I needed to learn to ignore the pain and just….keep….running.

As I went through my last-day-run feeling sluggish and sore, I couldn’t help but wonder why I had yielded to the frustration and exhaustion that I felt at work, but could not give in to them on this run.

I know pain is a biological necessity. It’s something we need to grow (growing pains, anyone?) and it’s also our own internal traffic light – Slow down! Stop! Go! Sometimes pain comes because you are improving, growing, learning, and sometimes pain comes because you are fading….

At work, the nuances of this point are much more complicated because of financial obligations, but in running, I have developed a simple system.

Take a walk around the block. Whenever joint and muscle pain start to worry me, I stop and walk. I figure if the pain then goes away than it is of the growing type. This has been especially useful when I’m trying to push myself by running further or faster than usual. I’m always concerned during those work-outs that I will blow out a knee or worse, but I also know that faster and stronger are right through the pain, if I only I can bear it. The walking test helps me sort out the gravity of the pain. Usually, I find that it disappears the minute I stop, which tells me that I should start right back up again.

Take a coffee break. We are in the middle of the summer and the air is hot and thick. Sometimes, I’ve broken out in a sweat before I’ve even started running. With the heat and humidity raging, it’s hard to tell when I’m just battling the elements or actually suffering, so I pay attention to how quickly I recover when I stop for water, nourishment, walking or stretching. On a good day, a water break should be refreshing and literally provide a pick-me-up. Muscle soreness and fatigue won’t disappear completely, but, especially after Gatorade or energy gels, I can jump back into the run feeling just a little bit lighter despite the weather.

Take a vacation. I also pay attention to how I quickly I return to normal after what feels like a grueling run. Now I’m not saying that I should feel like I’m ready to throw on a pair of heels and dance around for a few hours nor am I suggesting that I should be bed-ridden either. The level of perceived effort during the run should roughly match my energy levels and discomfort afterwards. I also know that I should always feel a little beaten up after the long runs. If I don’t feel anything at all the next day, then I’m not working hard enough.

Play some music. When I’m doing my long runs, I should be able to sing along to my iPod or chat with my TNT teammates. Of course, this is not a test that works for every type of workout. Interval training, weight lifting, pace runs are require different effort levels – but they also have different goals: speed and strength, not building endurance. As an added benefit, if you can sing or talk while running, then you are most likely in your aerobic threshold, which means your energy source is your fat, not sugar.

I hate quitting. I tend to think that it is a sign of weakness, but the truth is that sometimes we feel pain because we are in danger and not on the verge of achieving a new personal best. Learning to listen to my body and understand what it’s trying to tell me is a bit of an art. The aches and pains that plague me are always changing as I get stronger and reach for bigger goals, and so the line between good and bad is always moving around on me. Using these few little tests on me eliminates a lot of the excuses that I can conjure up in the middle of a run.

That pain on Friday morning was the type that will carry me to the finish line. I didn’t need to stop running. The burning in my feet can be cured by a new pair of shoes and the rest….well, they were cured when I finally ate breakfast. And as for the job situation? It turns out that sometimes you’ve got to quit to move forward as well.

Songs on Repeat Since 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve written, but not because I’ve forgotten about writing this blog. I love writing it! A lot has been going on these past few weeks: I started a new job and went home for my lovely cousin’s wedding. But now I’m back in New York and back in the groove of things.

Speaking of grooving, I’ve lost my beloved iPod. I left it at home in Michigan or maybe it’s just lost in my luggage somewhere. Thankfully, all my music is on my computer so my music isn’t lost at least. In fact, I still have the old ‘pod, so for my run this morning, I pulled it out and listened to my Queens Half Marathon playlist.

It’s great to listen to an old playlist and remember how I found that song or particular moment when it literally pushed me another mile. Here are some highlights from the list and my stories behind them.

Millionaire (feat. Andre 3000) by Kelis – Heard this song many a morning, getting ready at the gym. It’s a great beat to run to and to rev up for another day of making money.

Shove it (feat. Spank Rock) by Santigold – I fell in love with Santigold last summer thanks to Gossip Girl. There I’ve admitted it. I love Gossip Girl. But hey, don’t judge, because even Jay-Z love’s this beat as he ripped off the chorus for one of his songs.

Hot Revolver by Lil Wayne – I was so used to hearing Lil Wayne rap, that this rock song really knocked me off my feet. I like the way it starts slow and amps up. It’s a nice little boost.

Chords by Kleerup – I’m not much of a fan of music without words, but this song is almost meditative. It has a nice beat which I always seem to run in step to.

Empire State of Mind (feat. Alicia Keyes) by Jay-Z – This song came out right before my race and I downloaded it before it was all over everywhere. There is nothing quite like a song about NY to help me run NY.

Pjanoo (Club Mix) by Eric Prydz – When I first downloaded this song, I mistakenly pronounced it “PA-JAN-O”. Oh dear, it’s really piano. Oh well, it still rocks.

Little Bit by Lykke Li – I have a theory that the songs I like to run with work because the beat must tap into some sort of internal rhythm which puts my breathing and running in perfect harmony. This song is an example of a song where the beat just gets me going, despite the mellow tone.

La La La by LMFAO – LMFAO featured often on my runs last year and this one was good enough to make the all-star team: the half playlist.

Listening to that old list was like reconnecting with an old friend. Most times in my day to day runs, I’m just focused on the moment, struggling through the heat or fatigue of that second. But it reminded me of how much fun I had running that half marathon, and how much more fun I’m going to have running a marathon – or perhaps, how much fun I’ll have celebrating it!

Burrito with Chipotle “Mayo”

Don’t be afraid of the uncooked burrito! Do you like bean dips? Do you like those really tasty multi-layered taco dips that one of your uncles always brings to family parties? So then you’re already eating the makings of a cold burrito, just rearranged differently. Turning on a stove is torturous on certain days, but sometimes you need a real meal. This burrito filled me up, made me feel like I was having a treat, and took all of 20 minutes to “cook.”

I adapted this from a sandwich recipe. The original one calls for adding all the ingredients to pita bread, but I’m not a huge fan of pita and I already had whole wheat tortillas in the house. I also changed the “chipotle mayo” so that it’s lower in fat too. I skipped the cheese because the “mayo” added enough flavor for me, but feel free to add or subtract the cheese to your taste (and your diet - it will add an extra 100 or so calories and about 6-8 grams of fat). It’s a nice touch, but it definitely won’t make or break it. Fresh corn would also make a nice addition if you have some on hand.


½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I found this “chipotle salsa” at the grocery store which was just the peppers chopped up in the sauce instead of the whole peppers. If you can find this, try it out.)

1 16-ounce can black beans, rinsed

3/4 cup chopped red onion

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon mild chili powder (I used cayenne pepper instead. If you like heat, feel free to make this substitution.)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons lime juice (about half a lime)

Salt, to taste

4 whole wheat tortillas (read the labels and look for the ones with the most protein and fiber…they’re not always the expensive ones)

1/2 small head romaine lettuce, shredded or chopped

1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped

1 vine-ripened tomato, cored and sliced

Stir together yogurt and adobe sauce or salsa in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine black beans, onion, cilantro, garlic, chili powder, cumin and lime juice in a large bowl, and season with salt to taste. Slightly mash the beans while stirring, until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture just holds together.

Spread the bean mixture inside each tortilla. Top with the chipotle mayonnaise, shredded lettuce, chopped avocados and tomatoes. Serve within 30 minutes.

See how easy that is? I swear getting dressed can take more effort than this meal.

West Side 10.4 Mile Run

Click here to check out my 10.4 mile rounte on the West Side.

Songs on Repeat Week of July 5

I could really get used to this not working thing. This morning I woke up, made myself a nice cup of coffee and then did some lower body strength training exercises while watching Regis & Kelly. Today’s show featured Steve Carrell and a very fabulous pair of shoes on Kelly’s feet. I’m pretty sure her shoes are not in my budget (well maybe if I give up food for a month?), but I wanted to find out about them anyway. So after I made myself a yummy uncooked chipotle burrito (recipe to be shared later), I logged onto the Regis & Kelly website in search of her shoes.

Sadly they post her wardrobe on a day lag, so I will have to wait until tomorrow to find out what she was wearing, but I did stumble upon something even more amazing and much more budget friendly: a playlist. My first scan of the list immediately got me excited. There were no artists on the list who are still in high school, plus lots of remixes, and Nelly Furtado, Madonna, and Beyonce, oh my!

Here’s her Funky Fun Workout Playlist for you to check out. I’m downloading a bunch of these songs for my runs this week and I’ve embedded the music video for the Beyonce song because it’s my favorite. Did you know that diva is the female version of a hustler? Thanks Kelly!

Kelly’s Funky Fun Workout Playlist
Sinnerman - Nina Simone (Felix Da Housecat remix)
Morning After Dark - Timbaland (featuring Nelly Furtado)
Diva - Beyonce (Karmatronic Club remix)
The One - Mary J. Blige (featuring Drake)
Naturally - Selina Gomez
Imma Be - Black Eyed Peas
Jump - Flo Rida (featuring Nelly Furtado)
Jump - Madonna (Extended remix)
Celebration - Madonna (Oakenfold remix)
Brokeback Mountain Theme - Gustavo Santaolalla & Gabriel & Dresden (The Wings remix)

Central Park Jogger

When I mention that I run in Central Park at 6am, more often than not the reaction is something along the lines of ‘is it safe?’ My response is laughter. All spring, summer and fall – up to the marathon – the park is a party in the early dawn hours. There are tons of people running and biking around the loops in Central Park and more often than not at least one of those people provides my inspiration and motivation.

To start off there are the baby stroller joggers. Sometimes the weight of my iPod feels like a burden, but the baby stroller joggers are pushing fifty pounds of extra weight, not a few measly ounces. In addition to working out much harder, they actually have to be parents when they aren’t running. Where do they find the energy for all of it? Whenever a stroller jogger passes me, I make a mental note to work harder right there, because one day I hope to be strong enough to push my kids up those hills too.

Then there are the old people. There is one guy in the park who I think had a stroke because he runs holding his limp right arm by the wrist with his left hand. I see him all the time – all seasons and a few times a week. Each time I see him, I immediately start to wonder about him. Why is he running? When did he start running? Who is he?

I like to think that he’s been running since he was a young boy and that once upon a time, he was fast. Four minute mile fast. And then I start to wonder about how old he was when he ran his last four minute mile, and I can’t help but pick up my pace right then. Marathoning is a mature sport because mental strength is the difference between the winners and losers. As I get older I get tougher, but at some point my body won’t be able to keep up with my brain, and seeing him trudging along reminds me that I’m wasting time complaining.

I can’t forget about the hot bodies racing around the park. This city is full of beautiful people, and some of the best bodies are the sweaty, dirty ones running around the Reservoir. I’m talking eight-packs, calf muscles split in two, and thighs with no (no!) jiggle. These aren’t your body builder types either. These are small, lean, sexy bodies that I think most people try to emulate. When I’m running and I see one of these perfect forms, I get insanely jealous because I want to bounce quarters off my abs! So I suck in my stomach and pick up my knees.

Finally, there are the cycling teams. Like a swarm of bees, ten to twenty cyclers in matching uniforms race around The Loop. They are hardcore. When they get on a hill, their leaders start screaming to go faster and in unison they all rise up and power over the peak. What gets to me about them is the way that they move as one with long, powerful strides. There is a grace and fluidity about them that is magical and it immediately stirs up a deep urge to run for something or for someone – which is how I ended up running with Team in Training.

The park is full of so many characters – overweight, disabled, young, old, pregnant, poor, rich, professional, amateur, cancer survivor, veteran, mom, dad, police officer, and everyone in between – with the same goal: to place one foot in front of the other repeatedly. The collective act of so many people from all parts of life coming together to engage in such a simple task IS the most inspiring thing. It reminds me that running is not a sport where you have to be born with the right body for it, or where you need tons of fancy equipment and expensive trainers to reach the elite levels. You don’t even need two legs to do it! You can pick up hand cycling or a prosthetic. It’s the sport where sheer will and determination are the only equipment you need. In fact, these days even shoes are optional.

Coco Loco

My friend Kristin and I had the bright idea to lay in the park yesterday reading magazines, but it was so unbearably hot that after an hour of lying still in the shade and sipping water, we had to head for air conditioning. Later on that evening, I heard that it reached 103 degrees in Central Park, which is some sort of record apparently.

While my lazy days reading in the park might be thwarted by the heat, marathon training must go on. I cannot relegate myself to getting all runs done on the treadmill either, so I must brave this heat. Here are hot weather training tips from my coaches so that work-outs leave us healthy and happy.

Drink up. The general rule of thumb is 4 to 6 ounces (think 4-6 big sips) of fluid every 20 minutes during runs. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), I include a sports drink (like Gatorade) or an energy gel to replace lost electrolytes. I personally prefer PowerBar Gels in tangerine or strawberry banana or chocolate with cold water. I’m sure you won’t forget to drink afterwards, but make sure to drink one to two bottles worth of water. The hotter it is the more I drink.

Dress lightly. I know it will be challenging for my New York friends to find something that isn’t black, but light-colored clothing reflects the sunlight instead of absorbing it like a dark color. I traded in my black spandex pants for light running shorts about a month ago and I feel so much cooler on my runs.

Wear fake clothing. Yes, this means I’m giving you a bona fide excuse to go and stock up on the coolest athletic gear around. No more t-shirts and old sweats. Synthetic fabrics (like CoolMax and Dri-Fit) wick moisture away from the skin and dry quickly, but cotton just absorbs the sweat and stays wet, making me feel heavy and potentially causing chafing. One of the best discoveries I made is running socks. They protect my feet from blisters. The only piece of clothing that I regularly run in which isn’t technical gear are ”wife-beaters.”

Use sunscreen. Wear sunscreen before every run. I use the spray sunblocks on my body and a separate one for my face. I like the Nuetrogena Sport Face SPF 70+ and anything labeled sweatproof that comes in a spray for my body. Otherwise, that sunblock will melt right off. I make sure to cover my entire upper body (because straps move and shirts fly up) and behind my ears.

Protect your eyes. Wear a hat or sunglasses, because squinting gives me a headache. Plus the eyes, just like the skin, can be damaged by excessive sun exposure. I run with $5 sunglasses I bought off the street.

Know the signs of dehydration and heat-sickness. If you feel faint, dizzy, disoriented, have stopped sweating, or your skin is cool and clammy, slow down or stop running. If symptoms continue, sit or lie down in the shade and seek help.

As long as I stay safe, I know that running through the heat and humidity is worthwhile, because when fall finally turns the corner and the cool air starts blowing, I will fly around the park. And there’s nothing quite like that feeling.


“That’s right. I’m out of here. Do not chase me down or text me or try to talk me into going out to lunch. I don’t have time to figure out if I have time for a run. I’m just going. The world will not fall apart in my absence. I might miss somebody’s birthday cake or a discussion of last night’s season finale. Even if I do, who cares. I’m coming back with a state of mind three coffees, two flirtatious e-mails and a week of vacation can’t buy. “ - Nike

Arugula, grilled vegetables and chickpeas salad

I live on salads. I eat a salad almost every day for lunch, and a few times for dinner. Properly made, I think that the salad can be satisfying, nourishing and of course, healthy. My favorite salad recipe follows:


Arugula lettuce, (half a bag, or about 3 cups)

Chickpeas, rinsed

Grilled red peppers

Grilled, caramelized onions

Artichoke hearts, ½ cup (canned ones are fine)

Either: either quarter cup of walnuts or half an avocado

Fresh croutons

Dressing: olive oil, just a dash, balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper to taste. (Most viniagrette receipes favor a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. I prefer a 1:2:1 of oil, vinegar, and water. If the balsamic dressing is mild and sweet enough, then this works out well and is much lighter.)

Directions: Mix all ingredients together, and then add dressing right before eating.

The addition of grilled vegetables really makes a salad filling and savory. If you make this salad to take to work, I recommend keeping the grilled veggies and salad dressing in separate containers. Then when it’s time to eat, mix everything together.

I make variations on this salad all the time. Other version include: lose the artichokes, croutons, nuts/avocado, and add sesame seeds, chives, broccoli (lightly steamed) and a sesame ginger salad dressing. Or, substitute black beans for chickpeas, go with avocado, lose the artichokes, croutons and onions, and add corn, jalapenos, tomatoes, and a few crunched up tortilla chips with a citrus-vinaigrette.

The most important part of a good salad is undoubtedly texture: there must be crunch, something creamy (though not necessarily cream based), and something hearty and protein based. A salad of fresh vegetables is certainly healthy but often unfulfilling because it lacks the diversity in texture. So when constructing your own salad, try to keep that in mind.

By the way, healthy substitutes I found that add texture include: grilled vegetables, avocado, tofu (love smoked tofu), beans, corn, beets,– they added a sweetness and heft to any salad, and fresh fruit – grapes are my current favorite. Also, something I’ve discovered while living in NY is the addition of slightly blanched/steamed vegetables in a salad: broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower are pleasantly delicious additions.

The point is salad-eating isn’t supposed to be a painful experience, nor does it have to be full of cheese, creamy dressings and crispy, fried meat to taste good either. If you consider diversity in texture for your salad toppings, I think you will find a salad to be filling and healthy.

As the summer continues, I will share more of my favorite salads.

Songs on Repeat week of June 28

Summer songs because it’s summer, obviously.

Dog Days are Over by Florence + the Machine

Summer of Love (Ian Carey Remix) by Sunloverz

Hold Yuh by Gyptian

Coconut Juice (Feat. Travis McCoy) by Tyga

Ice Cream by Muscles

Who needs Gatorade when Tiffany’s jewelry is waiting at the finish line?

Ok, so unless I come up with $2000 in the next 15 minutes, I have to set my heart on another marathon.

Thankfully, I’ve already been working on my 9+1 for the ING NY Marathon for 2011 and I will be running NY no matter what next year.

So what’s the winning race to take the place of NY? It’s the Nike Women’s Marathon….in San Francisco! I checked some reviews of the course and it’s a HARD one with lots of hills, but there are firemen in tuxedos giving out Tiffany’s necklaces at the end. What can I say? I’m a sucker for nice jewelry and hot guys, so steep hills and waterfront winds be damned!

My real fundraising page is this one, but the money raised through NY isn’t yet transferred over. I’m working on that ASAP. Please help me out by donating. Whatever you can spare is more than enough!

Just incase you are wondering (and don’t know your world famous bridges), that’s my friend Liz and I at the Seaport in New York. In the background, you can see the Brooklyn Bridge. As I’ve never been to SF, I can’t really provide a pic of the Golden Gate Bridge, but one day I’ll post one.

Prince Harry Comes to New York

On Sunday, as part of my ten races I plan to run this year, I ran a five-miler in Central Park: the Achilles Hope & Possibility. The race was in a word…AWFUL.

The air was heavy and hot, and I was completely unprepared for the race. It’s true; I’ve been slacking. During the race, I felt like I was melting, and I probably did lose a few pounds on the course in sweat. At the water stations, I drank half my glass of water and dumped the rest on my forehead and down my back.

Yet for all my complaining, there was a group of Orthodox Jewish girls running the race in knee length skirts over leggings, long sleeved t-shirts, and a scarf over their hair. There were also all of the Achilles team members there too - some missing a limb, others wheel-chair bound, and some on the hand-cycles. Seeing these two groups of people reminded me that a little bit of sweat isn’t going to kill me, and I certainly shouldn’t use it as an excuse to slow down.

Prince Harry also came to the race and ran it. Then afterwards, he headed over to Governors Island to play in a polo match. I got a glimpse of him and he is so cute with his red cheeks and matching hair. Some other well-known people ran too - including Governor Patterson, Cindy McCain and daughter, and the Central Park Jogger. So I guess the appearance of cute British princes balanced out my sorry performance. Nonetheless, I’m amping up my training anyway, so I don’t embarass myself in front of any more famous people. (because they care about how I do, okay?)

A recipe and music to come later.

Cool Soup, Hot Flavor

Last summer, I was introduced to the world of cold soups. If you’ve never had cold soup before, it sounds nasty. I discovered chilled soups on accident one day when the soup I ordered from Hale & Hearty arrived cold. By far, my favorite in this genre is gazpacho and I particularly love this variation of the recipe below.

This soup is filling, low in calories, and delicious. I used to pair this with either a garden salad, grilled vegetables with olive oil & vinegar, or a small pasta or bean salad for a great summer lunch.

I recently made gazpacho with a can of diced tomatoes, no salt added, so feel free to cheat. Also, you can skip the blending part and just mix everything together and then let it sit in the fridge for a few hours for a chunkier soup.

Watermelon Gazpacho

3 medium garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil leaves, or mint leaves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds or power
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 1/2 cups coarsely chopped watermelon (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 small Kirby cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 2/3 cups)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped red onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry or balsamic vinegar
Finely mince garlic, basil, cayenne, cumin, and salt to form a rough, sandy paste.

Place tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, onion, and garlic paste in a large bowl and toss to mix. Let stand for about 15 minutes.

Working in 4 batches, place 1/4 of the vegetable mixture in a blender (or use a hand blender) and process until smooth, adding 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 2 tablespoons water to each batch. Transfer puréed soup to a large nonreactive bowl and repeat the blending process with remaining vegetable mixture. Whisk in vinegar and adjust seasoning to taste.

Optional: Garnish with some cubed watermelon and tomatoes, a little mixture of equal parts salt and cayenne, a thin slice of cucumber and basil oil.

If you’re not up for the sweet-savory thing, here’s a link to some great traditional takes on gazpacho.


Waking up, working out

Early morning workouts have been a part of my life since high school when I used to have 6am practice for the swim team. But even after thirteen years of waking up before the sun, I still struggle to get out of bed.

My alarm is set for 5am everyday and I typically need about 20 minutes to get out of bed. More often then I’d like, 20 becomes 40, 50, 60… When I finally do get out of bed, I need about 20 minutes before I start my run.

There are plenty of reasons to exercise in the AM. Morning exercisers tend to work out more consistently both in the short and long term. In addition, there are significant calorie burning benefits if you work-out on a light breakfast or cup of coffee. On an empty or almost empty stomach, your muscles have to get energy from your fat.

Over the past year, as I have trained for my half-marathons, I’ve had to run up to 7 miles on a weekday morning. There is no room for hitting the snooze button on these days. Moreover, once I get out and running, there is not enough time for an off-day where I can trudge through the run at 11 min per mile pace. I have to do it on-time and on-pace.

To make morning work-outs a meaningful part of my training regime, here’s what I’ve found works:

Sleep with the blinds open. In the summer, the natural light helps me wake up.

Don’t let your room get too cold. I know it’s nice to snuggle under layers of blankets, but if the air is chilly when I wake up, it’s that much harder to climb out from under the covers and into my running gear.

Change up the alarm sound frequently. I use my cell phone as an alarm and change the alarm ringer frequently. This way I don’t get used to the sound and sleep through it.

Have everything ready to go for a run. This means charge my ipod, have clean clothes ready, a route and distance planned, and if I’m getting ready at the gym I’ve packed my bag the prior night. In fact, some advice I don’t follow but probably should: plan my outfits ahead of time so I don’t waste precious time getting ready for work.

Drink some water, and for me, I have a few sips of coffee with soy milk. Everyone is dehydrated when waking and caffeine will provide a nice kick.
Go to bed at a reasonable time the prior night, and at a regular time. I try to stick to bedtime between 10 and 11. This doesn’t always happen but when I wake up at 5am, 1am just doesn’t work as a bedtime.

Tips for when workouts are 5+ miles

Get some calories in you first thing: I eat an energy gel which usually carries me through about an hour and twenty minutes in the morning. However, this is not recommended by the experts, so don’t do this if you aren’t sure you can handle it. I am used to running on an empty stomach, so I really only need the energy to power through anything more than 5 miles. You can go for oatmeal, an energy bar, even a piece of fruit to get you through your run.

Eat dinner. Make sure dinner has some carbs and protein. Since it’s not a long run, I don’t think much thought is necessary, but I would say it’s probably not the best night to have just a salad, 5 beers, or a large ice cream instead of a meal.

Have a new song or two ready to go on your play list. Nothing energizes me more than a new favorite song.

Do you have any other tips that you find helpful? Is so, please share them with me, because even though I found some things that work, it’s still hard to wake up.

Of course, after a morning run, I’ve never once regretted it.

NYRR Women's Mini 10K

NYRR Women's Mini 10K Photo's

Songs on Repeat the week of June 21

Rock That Body - Black Eyed Peas

Waka Waka (Esto es Africa) - Shakira

Fire Burning (Dave Aude Radio) - Sean Kingston

Love King - The Dream

O.N.E. - Yeasayer

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Summer Streets

In case it’s not blatantly evident, I have a small, schoolgirl-type crush on Central Park. I love running there. After all, I choose my un-air-conditioned, six-floor walk-up apartment simply because of it’s proximity to the park. Even so, I still need a change of scenery once in a while.

That’s why I’m so happy that NYC Summer Streets are here again. For the next three Saturdays one street in Manhattan is shut-down to cars spanning a 6.9 mile stretch of avenues ending at the Brooklyn Bridge. I’m going to take advantage of this to squeeze in a 15 mile run – my furthest run ever.

If you are not in the mood to pound the pavement, I still recommend checking out the event because there will be free rollerblade and bike rentals, dumpster pools (yep, exactly what it sounds like), dance classes, yoga classes, double dutch, and free water stations along the route. You can even go shopping along the way - picking up everything from designer duds in Soho to organic vegetables in Union Square.

If dumpster pools are not enticing enough, the summer streets will offer a tour of NY neighborhoods and sights. It starts on the Upper East Side and snakes through Midtown East, Murray Hill, Union Square, Soho, China Town and the Financial District. It’s the perfect excuse to play tourist in the city. I did it last year, and the best part was that the route goes around Grand Central in that elevated round-a-bout. Runner-up was the Brooklyn Bridge's stunning views, but the downside is that it’s pretty much one mile long hill.

So if you aren't fleeing the city for cooler, greener seaside destinations, come check out Summer Streets with me. Or at least stop by for a dip in the dumpster.