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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Benefits of Group Running by Liz Robbins

I cut and pasted this from the online NY Times Blog via Jen "The Jinx". Click link above for actual article.


Long distance running may be the ultimate individual pursuit, offering a time for peace, solitude and communion with one’s body. But for many runners, distance running is the epitome of community, a true testament to the uplifting spirit of the sport.


Gill Schumaker, 68, who started the suburban Chicago running group Team NorthShore, says he used to be one of those people who savored running alone and didn’t want to be dragged on an unfamiliar pace. But when he moved from Cincinnati to Chicago, he formed a running group to help make running the area’s flat trails more interesting.

“And now, it’s like I can’t run without a group -– just the camaraderie, and experiencing what’s going on with them,” Mr. Schumaker said. “I learned how to run fast by being with a group. What it was, is that I wanted to be with those people.”

He vividly recalls a morning run a few years ago when members of the group, including an ex-officer of the United States Air Force, the Israeli Air Force and the Russian army, broke into song, each extemporizing a verse about the joys of running. Chanting in perfect cadence (”I don’t know, but I’ve been told…”), they charged to the end of the run.

Rob Udewitz, a clinical and sports psychologist in Manhattan, said many runners change their pace when they run in a group. “There is a phenomenon of running with people where you run faster and easier,” he said.

Call it motivation. Competition. Or accountability.

“It’s easy to roll over and go back to bed if it’s just you,” said Gail Kislevitz, an author of running books and coach of Team for Kids, the New York Road Runners Foundation team that raises money for youth fitness. “You know if you have a group waiting for you on the corner, you don’t want to be the one not to show up.”

Sometimes just joining the group can be the hardest part. “There’s a lot of intimidation for beginning runners early on to go into a group,” Mr. Udewitz said. “They think it’s like gym class and they’ll be the slowest, or be last. But that quickly dissolves.”

When Ms. Kislevitz decided to run her first marathon, a friend elected to help her get through the unknown of the long run. She was hesitant, not wanting to sacrifice her private time where she wrote many of her articles in her head. But then she and her friend started the run.

“We fell into the same pace, and before I knew it, the ten miles were over,” she said. “We were talking about our kids and our marriages and I thought, ‘This is amazing, how could I ever run a long run alone again?’”

She added: “You don’t really notice the pain. If you start whining, someone is going to tell you to shut up.”

The benefits of training with a team extend beyond encouragement to peer analysis, too. “If you do more intense workouts, like interval workouts, that kind of work is so much easier with a group,” Mr. Udewitz said.

Often, the group is formed because of a common purpose like a charity. Sometimes the post-workout socialization is the raison d’etre. (Powered by Dim Sum is my favorite named team in the New York area).

Of course, every runner trains the way their mind, body and schedule works best. The two-time New York City champion Jelena Prokopcuka trains only with her husband, Aleks, in the Latvian beach town of Jurmala. Many Kenyan runners, whether training in Boulder, Colo., or in the Rift Valley of Africa, work as a team in practices.

Time and geography may limit people’s ability to join teams. One woman, Patricia Plasencia, told me how she trained for the 2006 New York City Marathon by herself at 4:30 in the morning in Del Rio, Tex., before she went to work as a physical therapist’s assistant. Every day she would sprint past a pack of wild dogs near the Laughlin Air Force Base until they got used to her scent. Having joined Team for Kids, she used online coaching to prepare for her first marathon. The following year, Ms. Plasencia was the first name chosen in the lottery.

For runners who train in New York’s Central Park, the pack mentality can tend to tip to extremes. On some summer Tuesday evenings in the thick of marathon training, those who do not belong can get swept up in the chaos. Runners from teams, classes and clubs all seem to be rushing in opposite directions on the bridle path and park drives.

So much for the loneliness of the long-distance runner.

How do you say "run" in croatian?

Greetings from Split! Took a run earlier this evening (with alex!) and saw parts of Split that most tourists don't even know about! (read:construction sites) this picture was taken right before our post-run dip in the Adriatic. Note the mud crusted on my running shoes. Let's just say this little guy saw some things that most iphone's can't imagine! 
Say hi to the rest of the campers for me! 

Shelter Island Race

Who knew that Shelter Island was such a great place to travel 2-3 hours, including a ferry ride, to go and do a 10K race?

I went out to "The Hamptons" (I feel pretentious and nauseated just saying that) last weekend for an early season getaway. Anthony and I thought we'd throw in a local race since we'd be there during the 30th Anniversary Shelter Island 10K by chance. I always try to run local races when traveling (I don't want to digress, but remember the San Diego trail race mishap?), so I signed us up. What the heck?

It turned out to be the perfect foil for the rainy weather we were experiencing. We'd already done everything Hamptonsy we could do on Friday, including Lobster rolls, of course, so we drove on over to Shelter Island early afternoon Saturday to check it out. It turns out that there's not much going on on Shelter Island. That seems to be the point over there. Totally nothing. Nothing but immense greenness and beautiful bays, beaches, boats...

We drove around the island several times just getting "lost"; it's a small island, so there's only so lost one can get. After a "cuppa tea" stop in a quaint sandwich shop, having wasted as much time as was possible, we went to the race start. Rain and wind prevailed, but so did we. We joined in on the group pre-race stretch on the wet grass. Then we did some huddling under whatever tents were still standing(I threw that in for dramatic effect...they were all standing).

Finally the lineup, the start horn, and we were off! I cannot say (because I would be lying) that we started off with a bang, but we had a nice 10K Jog. There was no reason to be a hero. Plus, the views were so magnificent that I kind of wanted the run to last. The rain let off for the rest of the run.

Besides the gorgeous views of stately mansions and sailboats moored in coves, being a 5:30pm run, every Islander was out with friends and cocktails to cheer us on. There is nothing I enjoy more than a cocktail at 5:30pm. Barring that, I'll take a run at 5:30pm with a view of other people drinking cocktails.

The course was pretty easy. I had heard about hills, but all I noticed was a gentle slope up or down. The race finished, medals for everyone, and the rain began again. Anthony and I headed back to feisty (in comparison) Amagansett for our own later cocktail hour and celebratory meal.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday Waverly Report. As Haiku

Seven runners left at ten
Drizzle held off rain, no sun
Then lattes all 'round.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Team Joe Potluck Picnic/NY Philharmonic July 17th!

As I have gotten to know many new people through Team Joe (best thing I EVER did for myself socially was to start a team), I noticed a theme - one among many in always-interesting runners: Runners like to cook, eat, talk about cooking and eating, visualize eating to get through a tough race...hell, sometimes I will run 10 miles just so I can get down with some guilt-free dim sum afterward (By the way, that's happening in 2 Sundays..)!

I cannot yet vouch for the cooking skills of our team members, but based on conversation, Jeremy bakes homemade bread and just took a Raw Food class(stay near a bathroom), Caitlyn makes mean vegetarian food, Deb makes Indian food, and I do okay in the kitchen as well, although I have retired my pasta cranker and tend towards the Medium Speed Food Movement.

The point is this: It is time to test out our skills! We will celebrate the New York Philharmonic's first Central Park Concert with a wide array of Runner Cuisine! July 17th. Concert starts at 8pm, but I will be getting there around 4:30 to stake out a sweet spot. Not too far, but not so close as to be shushed all night.

Bring a dish. Bring some wine. Just bring it! I'll be making a list as you tell me what you'll be bring. Store-bought is fine too...

I am bringing a bottle of Cab Franc, some quinoa-tabbouleh salad, and my famous bruschetta.

What are you bringing?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Get NYC Marathon Spot

Sanctuary for Families, one of EILEEN FISHER’S community partners, has 40 guaranteed entry numbers for the 2009 ING NYC marathon. If you lost out on last week’s lottery, but would still like to run while raising money to support Sanctuary’s work with victims of domestic violence, please scroll down for more information.

-Kerry Devaney works for Eileen Fisher and is a dedicated Team Joe member.

If you are a Marathon "hopeful" but did not get in to the 2009 ING NYC Marathon via the lottery program, or if you have been fantasizing about the race but did not submit an entry application, this email could have you running across the Verrazano Bridge on November 1st!

Sanctuary for Families, as a Participating Charity in the 2009 ING NYC Marathon, has been allocated 40 guaranteed entry numbers for runners who pledge to raise at least $2,500 for Sanctuary to support its work with victims of domestic violence. So, if you were hoping for an entry in the 2009 marathon but were shut out, here is another chance. Please contact Sanctuary immediately (see below) as slots are filling up quickly.

Monday, June 8, 2009

NYRRC Mini 10K for Women

That's Diana, Kristine, Kryssie and Ani! They are all Team joe or Friends of Team Joe and they are all wicked great runners! 

Ani: 46 minutes

Hello Hills!

While Gabbs was out in the Land of Cleve, I skipped the morning Joe on Saturday and attacked a few 'real' hills in the Palisades with a runningmate. I can recommend the Henry Hudson Drive under and north of the GW Bridge on the Joysey side if you're looking for a good quad burn. Took it easy pacewise, but was a good 10 mile out-and-back, hilly workout.

Last weekend, the Keyspan carpark on Coney Island was jam packed with runners. Today, it was jam packed with cyclists for the 5th annual Tour de Brooklyn. A great event in concept, but way too slow a paced spin on the day. Got me out early doors on a Sunday though (with the benefit of a ride over an almost empty Brooklyn Bridge at 7 AM) and having pedalled south to the start, I ended up with a 60-mile day. Somehow, fellow Joe Runner Kurt spotted me to say hello through the mad crush at Prospect Park:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hello Cleveland!!!!

I am visiting home for the biggest, baddest giant flea market west of the Mississippi in Burton, Ohio. I grew up in Cleveland and love to visit. It takes me only about 3 days to soak up the Midwestern charm and start shaking from NYC withdrawal, but luckily I've only been here 20 hours, so I am still so happy to be here.

Whenever I get to Cleveland(really Pepper Pike, a country-like suburb), I start yawning immediately. Not because it's boring, but because it's so relaxing.

Yesterday I went for a run in the Metroparks. Thousands of miles of gorgeous woodsy trails abound.

Right now I am off to Burton where the Amish live. I brought a big reusable bag to fill(hopefully) with "Dust Collectors".

More later!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sad About David Carradine

That's him...on the left. Found today hanging in his Bankok hotel room. I am so sad about this. He starred in one of my very favorite movies EVER! Kill Bill Vol.1 & 2. He will be missed.

There was just research done that showed that rich, famous, beautiful people are LESS happy then poor, invisible, ugly people...or something like that. [click on Title for article]. Is that what happened to David, Kurt, Marilyn?

I know who ARE happy...We runners are! Running literally changes one's brain chemistry, washing the brain in endorphins. It's like eating chocolate for an hour straight! Who needs to be rich, sexy or followed by paparazzi...even if we could outrun them?

RIP David.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Phantom Knee Pain/Take 2

So, this is the second half of my knee pain story.

As I had written, after getting off from work at Waverly Joe, I had excruciating pain (Excruciatus Curse?) in my right knee. I was very worried, started thinking the worst about tendons, ligaments, etc..I sat for a while at my desk, wincing at every move. I limped my way up to our Grand Central store, feeling brave, and worked there for a little while. Then a miraculous thing happened. As I walked out of the store to go home, I realized that the pain was completely gone. 

What the [insert expletive]? As I thought back, it occurred to me what had happened. Rickie, our awesome but short manager, had recently bought an actual Aerobics step to stand on at the espresso machine, which she barely could reach. I was using the step for about an hour while working there. I musty have been putting weight on a weird spot on my knee, which got enflamed. Close call.

Is there a moral to the story? Maybe don't do anything new or different than usual, or if it ain't broke, don't fix it? Or Gabby is a super great pain detective?

Brooklyn Half/Coney Island

What a great race day it was Saturday! The weather was perfect! We had a great Team Joe turnout. 

Unfortunately, the day did not start out quite as planned. If I was looking for foreshadowing, (like if I was a REAL writer) I'd have said that there were signs for bad things to my race in San Diego that ended with a bad ankle sprain. However, omens aside, all turned out well in the end.

Firstly, worried about sleeping through my alarm, I slept nary at all. When I got to Waverly Joe to make myself a cup of coffee at 6:30 a.m., I had taken the wrong key. This meant I had to suck up my coffee snobism and go to Murray's Bagels for coffee. This is a publicly read blog, so I will say nothing bad about Murray's coffee. I had a delicious whole wheat bagel with tofu veg cheese.

Kurt, Betsy and I hailed a cab and got to the meetup point early, around 7:20. My running partner for the race was Ashley Bauman, who works at Joe. She I found, but nobody else. I decided not to worry about it, but to be like the Buddha and go for the non-attachment approach. 

Free from worry, but a little confused, Ashley and I ran together the whole way.

2 loops in Prospect Park, hilly, but not more so than Central Park, and then out onto Ocean Parkway around Mile 7. As I told Ashley, as I count down miles, I like to tell myself that I am just now starting a run. So, at mile 7, I said to us, We are starting a 6 mile run. Easy Breezy! Tricks like that really work for me. OR, visualizing being done, taking off my shoes, eating lunch, whatever works for you.

Ocean Parkway was pretty long and boring. Something happened that I'd never seen before: The water stations ran out of ready-to-drink water and Gatorade! That sucked! It slowed everyone down, because we had to find a stack of cups and fill them ourselves. What happened NYRRC? They are usually so organized. 

The prize to the whole event was(besides the really cool t-shirt) running to the finish on the boardwalk. That was really something. 

After the race, as I had visualized, I put on some flip flops. Looks like Jen "Jenks" and Judge Christopher, pictured above, found their way to the Cyclone. 

As I hobbled to the subway station to visit my 93 year old Grandmother who lives nearby, I saw that Nathan's hot dog stand was packed with happy runners, eagerly lined up for dogs, fries and lemonade.