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Archive for November, 2010

Funny Stuff My Dog Does

*Please note- This will probably be a series because, well, I’m completely and utterly obsessed with my dog.

Whenever I take a shower and don’t shut the bathroom door completely, Perri likes to sneak in and steal whatever clothing is lying on the bathroom floor.  It’s hilarious.

You want proof? Just for fun, I busted out my camera to catch the little devil in action…

Round One resulted in shorts, my scarf and a sock but she wasn’t done there.  Oh no, there were plenty of other things on that floor, waiting to be stolen.

Round Two resulted in my sports bra and an innocent “Who, me?” face.

And finally, in the act- Arms up, clothing theif, I caught ya red-handed…

And don’t let those innocent eyes fool you, my dog is smart as hell and knows exactly what she’s doing, that rascal.

This is just a warning in case you ever come over to my house and wonder why my (or yours, if you happen to take a shower)clothing  is scattered all over my living room floor 🙂

Cheerio, mates, I’ll be back to running stuff tomorrow!

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I know, the title sounds like an oxymoron (*snicker, that word is so silly) but yesterday, Pete, Perri and I roused ourselves at an ungodly hour of the morning (especially for a Sunday!) and trekked out to Central Park, where I ran a 4-mile race on a gorgeous (albeit chilly) fall morning.

I organized my school’s participation in the races, as well, and it was so fun to see so many of my students out there running.  As a PE teacher, I firmly believe in the power of physical activity for children and am dismayed at the increasingly sedentary childhoods being shoved on our kids…

Whoops, sorry, got caught up on my soapbox…*steps off.  Anyways, the point being that it was personally awesome to witness everyone’s face glowing with both exertion and excitement.  Plus, one of my second grade girls won her division.  What’s up, PE teacher extraordinaire? (Yeah, I know she’s 8, I never said I wasn’t a competitive one!)

It was also totally gratifying when another second grader told me today that she “can’t wait for the spring race, because that was the best thing ever.” And the cherry on the top? Two of my Kindergarteners brought in their participant ribbons for show-and-tell.

As a teacher, these are moments where you realize that you are somehow making a difference in these children’s lives…*tear!

Well, huh, look at this, what started off as a recap of my race turned into a philosophical moment about my chosen profession.  Didn’t see that one coming but I’ll take it (and hopefully I didn’t bore you silly.)

I ran the 4-mile race in 27:36 (averaging just under 7:00 min/mile,) which I was happy with since I didn’t train for this race and expected to run it much slower (maybe 9:30 min/mile?) but I couldn’t find any of the other parents before the race, so I was on my own.

I can’t say enough about how fun road races are.  I highly, highly, highly recommend that you sign up for one.  Not only will it motivate you to actually get out and run but it will also be a great experience that will leave you wanting more (I don’t mean to sound cliche but in this case, it’s totally true!)

So have any of you guys run a road race, like a 5k or 10k? What did you think? Anyone doing a Turkey Trot?

 

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Dude, Where’s My Car?

Literally.

I went to move my car on Monday (NYC has alternate-side parking rules, meaning I have to move my car 4 times a week.  Major pain-in-the-arse) only to find the car gone.

At first, I thought I had made a mistake in where I parked it, so I snaked up and down the 6-block stretch where I always park. Twice.  While hitting the “unlock” button on my key chain, waiting to see my red brake lights flash.

No dice.  I finally went home to search online to see if it had been towed.  Not towed either.  I was actually starting to think my 10-year-old Honda had been jacked.

The police officer’s response upon hearing the made and model when I finally called to report it stolen?

“(Suppressed snicker) Your car’s not stolen.”

I kind of had to agree with him…

“True, but it’s the only reason I can think of as to why my car is not where I parked it.”

It took a while but finally the police figured it out.  My car was relocated two blocks away because of…A TV shoot. Thanks, Law and Order, for making me feel like I was taking crazy pills.

Apparently, the city allows production companies to move vehicles parked on the street without telling the owners of said vehicles.  Unreal, right? Sometimes living in New York City  is like genuinely fighting for survival.

Yeeesh.

 

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…with the sound of me panting while running up them? Hmmm, not quite as an attractive mental picture as Julie Andrews spinning around in Switzerland but you get the point.

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Or do you? Well, folks, my point is that hills are important to run up and down, especially if you’re training for a race or making an effort to become a better runner.

I was born running hills.  Erm, that sounds silly but you know what I mean.  I grew up in the foothills of the Berkshire mountain range and where I live, we count the miles by the hills.  As in, going up and down a hill is usually about one mile.

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You wanna run up and down dees hills? Yeah, that’s what I thought! On a side note, photos  like these make me desperately want to escape the urban decay landscape of New York City and head for the…Well, you know.

Anyways, my track and field attempts in high school were punctuated by running up and down hills.  When I went to college in Central New York, it was the same deal; hills, hills and more hills.

So now I live in New York City, where hills are few and far between.  My favorite running route is on Riverside Park, since it’s mere steps from my door.  But the route is completely flat, with almost no incline to speak of (that’s what happens when you run down by the river. At least I’m not livin’  in a van down by the river, right?)

So yesterday I put my money where my mouth is and hit the hills in Central Park.  I had a session with a client and we did the simplest workout ever.  I picked out a hill on the north side of the park and we ran up and down it without stopping for 25:00.  Sounds easy, right? It wasn’t bad but believe me when I tell you my quads were feeling it afterwards.

So, moral of the story? Throw a hill or two into your usual run.  If you can, pick one or two days a week where you focus on hills.  As much as they suck to run, getting up and down them makes you a stronger, faster, better runner.

How do you feel about hills? Do you avoid ’em like the plague or tackle them with gusto?

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Ab-tacular!

Running and ab work have always gone hand in hand for me.  I think it’s a leftover habit from my college running days, where every single workout was followed by at least 10 minutes of abs.  It makes sense since you run from your core, so a strong set of abdominal and back muscles are key.

I used to always do some kind of ab work after running, even if it was just a measly set of 25 crunches but lately, I’ve been slacking.  I guess I’ve just been so pressed for time these last few months that even the extra five minutes needed to bust ’em out has felt like too much.  Bad news bears.

It’s not only about vanity here. As I mentioned above, the stronger the abs, the better your running form and capacity.  OK, fine, it is mostly about vanity but I like to spout running wisdom about the importance of a strong core in order to seem like a more serious runner and less like someone who is concerned with her six-pack*.

So it’s time to suck it up and force myself to get flat on my back (oh, the innuendo is killing me!) Here’s a few of my tried and true faves:

Note: After spending over an hour searching for suitable images to fit my descriptions, I finally gave up, bit the bullet and had Pete take pictures of me doing them.  I am in no way a fitness model and look downright heinous in most of these but at least you get a visual of the exercise…

1. Bicycle- Lie flat on the floor with your hands behind your head, elbows out.  Your feet are raised up, with one knee bent and the other leg extended straight out.  Now simply pretend you’re riding a bicycle with your legs while twisting your elbow forward towards the opposite knee.  I usually do about 50 total of these (25 on each side.)

Do these slooooooowly…

2. Havin’ a Baby- The name is funny but the move is a good one.  Lie flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground.  Hands are clasped (I usually put one on top of the other) and you will crunch forwards to one side, then back down.  Then crunch to the middle and go back down and finally crunch to the other side and go back down. I usually do about 60 total of these (20 on either side and 20 in the middle.)

Crunch to the side

Crunch to the middle.  Now repeat on the other side!

3. Leg Ups- Lie flat on your back with your hands under your tush, feet straight out.  Bend your knees and then extend your knees and booty up into the air, then come back down into the position you started at (don’t let your feet hit the ground!)  I usually do about 15-20 of these.

Legs are extended and raised off the ground slightly

I didn’t take a picture of myself bending my knees and lifting upwards but here’s the end of the exercise.  Now bend your legs and lower them back down, then extend them straight out.

Alright, I’m committing to doing these three exercises after at least four times in the coming week in the hopes of jump starting my ab habit.  I’ll report back and let you all know how it went.

Also, if you have any questions concerning any of these ab drills, please comment or contact me directly (mdropkinfrank@gmail.com) and I’ll be happy to help you out!

 

 

*For the record, I do not have a six-pack stomach. I wish I did, but I dont…

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No, I didn’t run in it, although several folks at work asked me if I did today (apparently my reputation precedes me!) I ran it in 2008 and while it was totally, totally awesome, I’ve got a lot more marathons on my list to get through before I start repeating myself.

Just for fun and nostalgia though, here’s a photos of me from the 2008 NYC Marathon:

HahahHA! Fooled you! (or didn’t I…) That’s actually Paula Radcliffe cruisin’ on by.  My thoughtful (then) boyfriend (now husband) took this shot in an effort to motivate me to um, catch up,  I suppose.  I should also mention that Paula managed to make us mere mortals feel even less worthy by winning the marathon after giving birth less than six months ago.  What a bad-ass!

Anyways, where was I? Oh right, a photo of moi from the race:

Ahhhh, good times, good times…Yeah right, that was at Mile 19 and all I wanted to do was stop.  RUNNING! But I put on a good show for the camera.

Also, I love that Pete is wearing his Miami Dolphin’s jersey.  Sure, his girlfriend’s running the marathon and he’s out there supporting her and all but let’s not get priorities out of wack (it was a Sunday, afterall…He may have even missed the game to watch me race, therefore bringing a new level of sacrifice to the relationship.)

Um, well, anyways, the point of my ramblings is that I went to go watch the 2010 NYC Marathon yesterday.  It was a perfect, late-fall day and we (by we I mean, my dog and I.  Pete was watching the Dolphin’s game.  I ain’t lyin’ about his dedication!) walked to Central Park and stood a mere 200 yards from the finish line.

Perri hates looking at the camera. Dumb dog.

The excitement and emotions were running high.  If you’ve never had a chance to watch a marathon, you really should (I know, it sounds boring, watching people just like, run and all, but it’s really fun!) and the finish line is the best part.

I’m a crier, so of course I shed a few tears watching the emotional victories of those who were about to be able to cross “running a marathon” off their bucket list or those who held the hand of their sister or husband while they finished the grueling event.

Oh geez, I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.  I’m such a softie.

Look at all those people, all 45,344 of ’em. Crazy, right? And yet, within that surging mass, each runner that passed me by was an individual fighting for the right to be able to say (all nonchalantly, obvi) “Oh yeah, the New York City Marathon? I ran that.” Pretty awesome, I think.

I loved seeing runners from all over the country and the world.  I saw runners with signs on their shirts, runners running for a cause, runners walking, runners crying, runners cheering and most importantly, runners believing.

Because there are moments in a marathon where it’s genuinely hard to believe that you’ll ever finish.  It would be so easy to stop, pull out, say “This is too hard, I’m done with this.” But no, we believe.  The crowd believes and the runners believe that somehow, in someway, you will cross that sweet, sweet finish line and raise your hands in moral victory, overcome with the realization that you just ran a marathon!

Oh, it’s a glorious moment, indeed.  Probably why I keep torturing myself by continuing to run these damn races.  Finishing a marathon is a momentous occasion and the memories push me through all the tough training times.

To all you New York City marathoners out there, huge congratulations are in order.  YOU DID IT!

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Yesterday I tried a new cross-training machine for the first time at my humble, little New York Sports Club gym.  It’s called The Cardio Wave and it looks like this:

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In case you were confused, that is not me using it in that picture.  I have way better hair (but he’s got way better legs.  Call it even.)

It’s kinda like the StairMaster, only instead of a vertical leg movement, it’s a side-to-side movement, mimicking ice skating or roller blading (or what I imagine these activities to feel like, since I have not engaged in either since my early elementary school years.)

Supposedly, it strengthens both your knees and your glutes, while accomplishing “the best ratio between calorie expenditure and muscle toning,” according to TechnoGym.

The verdict? I liked it! Definitely going to add it to my cross-training repertoire, although I think the maximum time I could spend on the machine would be 20-30 minutes.  I felt like it worked that hard-to-tone inner thigh region (those rotten inner thighs just never comply with my wishes to not resemble a sausage) while getting my heart rate up and sweat glands pumping.

It requires a somewhat strange and counter-intuitive motion from your legs but I liked the feeling and I had to concentrate to do it correctly, which somehow makes the time go faster for me.

In short, I’ll be working the Cardio Wave into my normal cross-training routine.  I frequently like to do a workout that has me doing short (10-15 minutes,) high-intensity workouts on two or three different machines (e.g. elliptical, stairmaster and stationary bike,) so this will be a welcome addition or replacement for one of those three.

So glad I discovered this machine, my experience was a “Greaaaat success (said in the Borat voice)!!”

Has anyone else tried this cardio machine? I feel like it’s totally underrated!

 

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