Goodbye, New York City!

Running with my Achilles buddy Jim. He made running feel important.
Crossing the finish line of the 2007 NYC Half Marathon with my Achilles buddy Jim. My heart (and hair!) has grown a lot since then.

My gluteus medius injury is almost healed and I should be out there in Central Park getting my road legs back. But I’ve been avoiding it. Not because it’s cold, or because I’m scared it will hurt, but because I’m afraid I’ll cry. I’m not running because I know when I head to Central Park for a run, it will be my last.

Michael K. Farrell and I decided it’s time for a life shake up, so we’re moving across the country to San Jose, CA. It’s exciting! I’ll have a new city to explore and there will be new roads (and trails!) for my sneakers to fall in love with. I’m eager for the adventure, but moving is bittersweet.

I’ve spent more than a decade here in the Big Apple. This is where I became a “real” runner. I completed my first half marathon here with my visually-impaired buddy Jim. Guiding him around Central Park, through the streets of Times Square, and down the West Side Highway in the New York City Half Marathon gave my running meaning, and a sense of purpose. (The New York chapter of Achilles International has been my family ever since.)

I did my first 26.2 here, too. There’s nothing like running through Brooklyn, Queens, up the streets of 1st Avenue to the Bronx, and then back into Manhattan to Central Park—it’s magical.

Kim NYC Marathon Finish
All smiles at the finish of the 2009 ING New York City Marathon.

Yes, I’ll come back to visit—and I might even do a familiar 6-miler, but it won’t be the same. The city will feel different, foreign, and I will suddenly be one of those wide-eyed tourists that all New Yorkers love to hate. It makes me a little sad. But with sadness, there always comes a glimmer of hope.

Farewell, New York. I’m off to make a brand new start of it somewhere else.

The Diagnosis: Strained Gluteus Medius (a.k.a. A Pain In The Butt)

8 miles at warp speed on the Alter G—engage!

The fix: Cancelling my marathon plans and diving head first into rehab. (Cue: Amy Whinehouse, “They tried to make me go to rehab.”)

I mentioned last week that my marathon training wasn’t going well. I’d been plagued with pain, and I was debating whether to push through and run the marathon anyway. To help me make the best possible choice for my body and future running, I made an appointment with physical therapist extraordinaire Michael Conlon at Finish Line PT. I picked him for three reasons: 1. He and Michael K. Farrell are buddies. 2. He takes my insurance. 3. He has the most adorable golden retriever, Miles, who sometimes hangs out in the office. (I’m a sucker for a cute pup!)

After a thorough evaluation that involved me standing on one leg and leaning awkwardly in several precarious directions, doing moves reminiscent of a hula dancer, and getting a torturous psoas massage, Michael diagnosed the problem: left gluteus medius strain. (I would like to formally apologize to my hip. I’ve been complaining about the poor thing for weeks, when it was a broke-down butt muscle causing the problem the entire time.)

I didn’t decide to cancel my marathon plans right away. Nope, instead I attempted to run a half marathon four days after being diagnosed. I dropped out when the pain set in at mile three—my first, and hopefully last, DNF…did not finish. I cried the whole walk home and I didn’t even feel better when a plate of banana and Nutella crepes showed up in front of me.

My legs are in outer space and my head is in Shasta County, California—I’m watching game wardens bust poachers on NatGeo’s Wild Justice.

I’ll be spending time with Michael at Finish Line PT for the next 4 to 6 weeks. I’m pretty bummed about not running the NYC marathon in November, but the gadgets in this high-tech treatment center should keep me distracted. And I still get to run—at 75 percent body weight on an Alter G treadmill! It’s not Central Park, but at least I don’t have to completely cut running out of my life.

Have you ever run on an Alter G treadmill? What’s your “pain in the butt” running story?

Sometimes I’m Crabby in the Morning

 

I’m not sure why it looks like I’m having fun here. This was a tough workout!

Remember when I mentioned my bird-like arms? (How could you forget? I talk about how weak they are all the time.) In a recent effort to give them a little more girth, I hit up Stacy’s Bootcamp in Central Park. But while getting a dose of much needed upper body work, I discovered that I have no control over my hips.

Imagine, crab-crawling your way across a gorgeously bricked section of Central Park. The sun is shining. Birds are chirping. Sounds nice, right? Now, add to that scene one seriously buff, totally tough woman who won’t stop yelling, “Get your hips up, Kim!” And suddenly you’re no longer an extra in a Disney film.

I don’t know why, but my hips just don’t want to tilt up towards the sky when I’m back on all fours. They have no problem heading in that direction when I’m in a downward dog, and I’ve never had trouble convincing them to shake on the dance floor. You might guess that they simply don’t care for shellfish, but they went their own way during the bear crawls, too. I heard Stacy shout, “Get your hips down, Kim!” several times. (Geez, lady, make up your mind.)

Luckily, there were lots of other moves that morning that didn’t cause Stacy to comment on my hips. Namely, walking lunges, sprints up a set of stairs, walking lunges, jumping jacks, walking lunges, mountains climbers… Did I mention the walking lunges? All in all, it was a phenomenal workout and a lovely way to spend my cross-training day.

Have you ever been to a boot camp? Are you more motivated when there’s a trainer standing over you?

You Heard It Here First: I’ve Got Weak Arms!

Big thanks to Carly Abel of TLCommunications for snapping this photo!

Earlier this month I spent a morning at Peak Performance pushing sleds, tossing medicine balls, and hanging from TRX straps. And I learned something really interesting about my body: I have weak arms.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since most (ahem, all) of my fitness endeavors focus on my lower half—running, the once-a-week spin session.  Even the SurfSET class I tossed into the mix for fun a week ago was predominately squats and lunges (on a wiggly surf board, so my abs were engaged, too—but, still).

I like running. And I want to be a better runner. Should I even bother beefing up my bird-like biceps and triceps? The not-so-shocking answer is: “Yes!” says Dan Trink—he’s the hunky personal trainer, strength coach, and nutritional consultant for Peak Performance pictured here. “It’s fantastic for you to be passionate about your sport,” he’s quick to add, “but logging all those miles can lead to muscle imbalances and injury.”

I finished off my last two runs with push-ups and tricep dips on a park bench. Not bad, but I can do better. Dan wants me to supplement my running routine with an upper body weight-training program that will ultimately make me faster when I sprint towards a finish line. “It will help create a better running posture and give you forward propulsion,” he says.

Adding arm moves into my already hectic work-run-date schedule is going to be tough. But it will be worth it come race day. (Which, by the way, is May 6 for The North Face Endurance Challenge Half Marathon at Bear Mountain. Can I get a whoop-whoop?)

What’s your weakest body part? And what are you doing to whip it into shape?

Off And Running!

I recently left a full-time staff writer job, and now I work from home. Which is great because I can finally finish a couple of big projects that I started (what feels like) forever ago. And I can pick up more freelance writing gigs. (Assigning editors, feel free to contact me!)

But what’s not so great is that setting my own schedule means I’m free to do whatever I want, and I’m not always motivated to sit down and work during business hours. To give my day more structure, I’ve started to rethink the purpose of my morning runs. I used to run whenever I could find the time—usually in the a.m., but sometimes squeezed into a lunch hour or after work. Now, a daily workout anchors my 9 to 5 existence.

I get up, pull on some shorts, and head to the park for a loop. Once I’ve pounded out a few miles, I’m ready to focus on the other tasks I have planned. On days that I don’t workout first thing, I move aimlessly from one ultra-important activity (scrubbing the tub) to the next (watching yet another awkward date on The Millionaire Matchmaker). So in an effort to prevent myself from cheating or skipping runs, I signed up for Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon on 1 October in Central Park. Here’s to a focused fall!

Does running give your day structure, too? Do you run before or after work?

I’m Blazing Some Trails

It’s a little tough to find trails here in NYC. But if you look hard enough, nestled in between skyscrapers and through streets, you’ll find them. A good place to start your trek: Central Park.

I’ve been hitting up the bridal path lately—it’s basically three sections of conjoined paths that wind around the park. (It’s flatter, wider, and a lot less rocky than the single track in this photo.) If you’re lucky, you’ll see a horse, but mostly you’ll find runners like me who want to get off the pavement for a bit.  I’m having such a great time playing in the dirt, checking out flowering trees, listening for birds, that I signed up for a 10K trail race in June. It’s part of The North Face Endurance Challenge race series, which kicks off this weekend in Bear Mountain, NY.

I’m so excited about training for it! I’ve been mapping out new routes in the park (to prevent boredom from going the same way all the time) and researching trails outside of the city, accessible by public transportation (hooray for small carbon footprints!). I’m also looking into trail shoes. Because a girl’s gotta have the perfect footwear for every occasion, right?

Do you ever run off road? Got any advice on trail shoes?

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.

Not Running Is Harder Than Running

I’ve taken the past three days off from running, since I just put my body through 26.2 miles of mega hills, and it’s driving me nuts. This morning I took a walk to Central Park and longingly watched others jog past me. In a moment of weakness I decided to run—just to the next lamppost, which turned into the one beyond that, which turned into half a mile. And now my knee feels funny. Oops.

Recovering from a marathon can be tricky. Experts say it takes about four weeks to fully bounce back—but you don’t want to completely stop exercising during that period and you also don’t want to put too much pressure on strained joints and muscles. So I’m filling the next two weeks with walking, spinning, and light running on trails and grass. And then I’ll ease back into running on pavement.

In the meantime, I’m going to stay as connected to the running community as possible.

Will you be in NYC tomorrow? Meet me at the Jack Rabbit New York City Running Show at the Metropolitan Pavilion (123 West 18th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues). A $10 ticket gets you into the event, plus $15 off any purchase you make. I’ll be at the Achilles table on the 2nd floor from 3pm to 6pm. Come learn about the Hope & Possibility 5-miler and upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Originally posted in Running With It on Shape.com.