Sunday, July 31, 2011

Who Wore What: The Queens Half Style Report

When you're running a race as treacherous as the Queens Half Marathon, comfort and functionality are always the top priorities when picking out your outfit. Thirteen miles under the blazing summer sun is an extremely intense work-out and runners always tend to dress for the worst weather scenario possible. But this doesn't necessarily mean you have to sacrifice style for sufficiency. Besides, when you're running a race with thousands of other competitors, you sometimes want to stand out from the pack. Below, you'll see how five ladies and one man do just that and showcase their personalities through their running wardrobe, despite the incandescent conditions at yesterday's Queens Half Marathon.

Up first is Kuni I. Kuni caught my eye with her teal and white Nike high tops. I thought to myself, "those are really cute shoes to change into after a race." And then I noticed the D-tag still attached to her right foot. Yes, folks, Kuni ran 13.1 miles in high tops! How crazy/amazing (cramazing?) is that? Kuni just moved here from Japan and didn't speak much English, so I couldn't get much info out of her about her outfit, but isn't she just adorable flashing us the obligatory Asian-pose-peace-sign???

If you're a fan of The Office, then you'll understand why I was pulled to these two like a magnet. Both Sondra T. and Justin V.'s shirts read: "Michael Scott's Dunder Mifflin Rabies Awareness Fun Run for the Cure." This episode from Season 4 of The Office is probably one of my all time faves. I mean, I'm a runner and it's about running, so duh, of course I like this episode. This was also Justin's first race ever. I feel like when someone tackles a distance like a half marathon as their inaugural race, there's no need for hazing, they're already part of the club!

The best dressed for injury prevention definitely goes to Mizz Bailey with hot pink kinesiology tape wrapped around her left calf. This adhesive accent offsets her neon orange Nike Lunar's quite nicely and the Nike training shorts she sporting are super short and sexy, but also mega comfortable when running. And I should know because I own a pair, too! Throw in a day-glo headband and a hammy pose and, voila!, that's how you become one of the dressed ladies at the Queens Half Marathon.

Almost too cute for words, the array of oranges in Mia F.'s outfit reminded me of a summer sunset and the royal blue sandals simply brought that imagery full circle. But if you think these sandals look just as comfy as I did, forget about trying to find them! These faux-Birkenstock style sandals are made of foam and came straight from the Philippines where Mia purchased them for the equivalent of $2 USD. This was Mia's eighth half marathon, so she definitely knows her gear by now and chose Zinsah for her compression calf sleeves.

Does red, white and blue ever go out of style? No! Lauren G. was reppin' her home state of Texas yesterday and threw up her longhorns for the camera to show her down south pride!

Queens Half Marathon and My New Personal Record!

A lone runner warms up for the Queens Half Marathon.

My alarm went off at 4:30 am and I awoke convinced that whoever created the blaring pitch for this thing was some sociopath that found a way to manifest madness, anger and anxiety all into one sound because hearing these repetitive bursts first thing in the morning surely causes nothing but that. I want to hunt him down, whoever he is. That sick bastard. The blinking red lights from this clock that is only plugged in on the extremest of occasions flooded my bedroom with waves of crimson as if some novice police officer had left his siren lights on while parking his car in front of my window to indulge in his ritual coming-of-dawn doughnut. I shut my eyes and drew in one last bedside breath, long, slow and deep. This rude awakening could only mean one thing. That it's race day.

And on this particular day, it was the Queens Half Marathon.

As most of my friends were crawling into cabs to leave the bar behind and to begin their descent back to sobriety, heading to their homes where their beds will accompany them on their comedown, I had already walked my dog and was warming the skillet on the stove to prepare my pre-race carb feast of choice, blueberry pancakes. A banana and a Coke would be added to the menu shortly.

On these mornings, no matter how early you wake up, you always feel rushed and left with the perpetual feeling that you're forgetting something. Before I knew it, I had a text in my inbox from Erin saying that she was in a car on her way to scoop me up. Although we both run for North Brooklyn Runners, she and I had never met, but since we live just mere blocks from one another, we decided to split a ride to the race instead of spending two hours on mass transit getting to Queens for the 7 am start time. (Please insert the obligatory I-Hate-The-MTA rant here!)

We arrived at Flushing Meadows Park with 20 minutes to spare, technically. We spent a good portion of that buffer time actually walking through the park and trying to find the baggage drop-off, so we really didn't have much time to stretch (and definitely didn't have any time to relax!) before the music died down and we heard the announcement for everyone to make their way to their respective corrals. So off to the heards everyone headed!

As soon as we crossed the starting line, our first task was to round the Unisphere. If you've never seen it in person, you can catch of a glimpse of it in "Men in Black," as well as Notorious B.I.G.'s "Mo Money, Mo Problems." And, of course, there's this little thing you might have heard of called the World's Fair of 1964 for which it was actually constructed. While pictures and video hint at the size of this stainless steel globe, nothing but a firsthand encounter could ever truly do the magnitude of this hollow macrocosm justice. HUGE + WOW + *AWESTRUCK* + WHOA + *BREATHTAKING* = the Unisphere. Seriously.

Since running is a catharsis for most of us, a way for us to release the weight of the world from our shoulders if only for just a few minutes, I found the beginning of this course incredibly appropriate. As we commenced our 13.1 mile journey, we left the world behind us, both figuratively and literally. For the next two, three or even four hours, there was just us. Just us runners moving as one unified being towards the same goal. Only the present moment mattered and only we knew what the other was going through at that moment right there, right then. Everything else, for now, was in the past.

The course for the Queens Half Marathon this year was much different than the year previous, when the path lead runners out of Flushing Meadows and onto the actual streets of Queens. This year, New York Road Runners configured a route that confined us within the perimeter of the park and after studying the revised map, I thought we were going to be in for a total clusterfuck of a race. Despite the twists, turns and loops, the new course seemed to go over well and I only heard of one snafu where one of the frontrunners from my team was misdirected by one of the course marshals.

The official conditions for the day said that it was 79 degrees with 60% humidity, although it definitely felt much, much hotter under the rising morning sun. With short, but heavy rains the day previous, Running Lam predicted on Twitter that the Meadow Lake path would be flooded. And, indeed, it was. There were several massive puddles that spanned the entire width of the trail, causing us to trample the grass as we circumnavigated these unexpected obstacles.

I started off faster than usual and was able to maintain my pace quite easily. Until Mile 7. Just after the major turnaround point, I felt my glutes getting stiff and I was definitely finding myself a little mentally fatigued. I ate a gel and felt much more energized almost immediately. That was able to get me through the next four miles.

At Mile 8, I saw Lady Gaga! And I'm so serious! Apparently, her boyfriend was running the race and she was there to cheer him on. None of the other runners seemed to notice her, so at first I thought it was maybe just some weird impersonator. I mean, we were out in Queens, you know? But, I yelled her name and it was totally her! I die!

until I saw the marker for Mile 11 and wanted to just stop right there. Plenty of people were walking along the side, so I knew I wasn't the only one feeling like I'd been conquered. But I had been able to keep a quick pace for myself thus far and had roadkilled about eight people from my team, and I refused to let all of that hard work go to waste. The burn in my butt grew stronger and traveled around to the front of my legs and I could feel my quads getting tighter with every step. This was my first time actually running in an NBR singlet and if it weren't for the crowd-- and especially my teammates-- calling out "NBR" to me, I'm really not sure that I could have made it to the end.

Then at Mile 13, we once again looped the Unisphere, signifying our return to reality, picking up the weight of the world once again. Until the next race, try to keep the load light, my friends.

My official time was 1:55:04, which is only 1:03 off of my standing record for a half marathon, but is about 4:30 down from my LAST half marathon, the Brooklyn Half . Maybe there's hope for me after all!

Since we were in Queens, a group of us North Brooklyners decided to grab some eats at an authentic dim sum place. Good times all around!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Scavenger Hunt Pics!

So people are STILL uploading photos from the North Brooklyn Runners scavenger hunt from a few weeks ago and far be it from me to keep them from you!

I feel like I need to give another shout-out to my poor partner Kurt! He and I had never met before this day and I'm sure he thought I was completely insane. But now he texts me almost daily to see how my Coke addiction is doing, so I guess he's one of the few men that I haven't scared off completely.

And just so this doesn't seem completely gratuitous, I've also added some pics of the other scavenger hunt teams!

What Could Kanye's OTHER, Other Benz Be?

Ok, so I listened to Kanye and Jay-Z's "Otis" like a gorillion, treemillion times since it was released and after being completely swagged on for a straight three minutes each time, I'm really starting to believe that I might just have to tuck my whole summer in. But then I come back snap back to reality and remember that it's just a song!

A few months ago, Kanye turned heads yet again when he pulled up to an amFAR charity gala in a Mercedes McLaren SLR Stirling Moss. You know, the one that costs $1.7 million. NBD, right? So, in "Otis," when he spouts off at the mouth that "they ain't see cause I pulled up in my other Benz. Last week I was in my OTHER, other Benz," I got to wondering...

Just what could Kanye's "OTHER, other Benz" potentially be? It would pretty hard to top a Mercedes McLaren right? WRONG! Here are just five of the possibilities of what Kanye could be stashing in his garage:

This 937 540 K Spezial Roadster 1, a supercharged 8-cylinder Mercedes-Benz, is scheduled to go up for auction next month through RM Auctions down in Florida. Rob Myers, the Head Auctioneer in Charge, expects this beauty to bring in between $10-12 million, but could even fetch up to $15 million.

In 2009, Mercedes Benz announced its F-CELL Roadster. The press release states that "the F-CELL Roadster is controlled with drive-by-wire technology, and a joystick takes the place of a conventional steering wheel. The vehicle is powered by the emission-free fuel cell system located at the rear." Since I've never actually seen these on the road, I can imagine that any prototypes available would go for a pretty penny.

The Pagani Zonda Cirque Roadster can go from 0-60 in about 3.4 seconds. How can one car have all that power? Because it's powered by a Mercedes Benz AMG engine. With only five of these produced, you can expect a few commas in the price tag. At $2 million, this is just strip club for someone like Kanye.

Or maybe Yeezy will surprise all of us and go for this Mercedes Benz Concept A-Class car? Making its debut at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, this is Mercedes' answer to the smart car. A 210-horsepower BlueEfficiency 4-cylinder engine theoretically powers the concept, but other propulsion systems are still being considered, including electric and hybrid variants — and even an AMG version. Wait? Kanye in smart car? Yeah, I'm bugging.

While not the flashy-- or most expensive-- car on this list, if 'Ye chose to whip around in a Mercedes Benz M-Class ML63 AMG, he could do so totally tax free. If this doesn't make sense to you, don't stress it because it doesn't to us either. According to a temporary tax cut deal, you can write off the full cost of purchasing a new luxury SUV—provided it’s used 100% for business and its gross vehicle weight is more than 6,000 pounds. If Obama's picking up the tax for this, then the $93,000 price tag doesn't seem so bad. I wonder if the tip can be negotiated, too?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Amy Winehouse's Connections to Hip-Hop

i've been spending a lot of time listening to Amy Winehouse since the news of her death last week. it's undeniably true that Amy heralded a varying hue of influences, but hip-hop was always at the center. and the more you listen, as i have these past few days, the more you hear it. from the producers she worked with to the artists that clamored to be featured on her remixes, Amy was always an outspoken advocate of hip-hop. but unlike Lupe Fiasco, hip-hop just couldn't save her. below, i've put together a brief cheat sheet of 10 of the late songstress' connections to rap music. i hope you enjoy them as much as she did. (and as much as i do.)

  1. on "Me and Mr. Jones," Amy Winehouse calls out her man on making her miss the "Slick Rick gig." what dick that guy is.

  2. Amy shares the title of the second-most Grammys won by a female artist in a single ceremony with Lauryn Hill. (ok, and a handful of others.)

  3. on her debut album, "Frank," Amy Winehouse covered James Moody's "Moody's Mood for Love," which had been previously sampled a few years earlier by Prince Paul on his album "A Prince Among Thieves."

  4. Amy samples Nas' "Made You Look" on the third single from "Frank." (it's actually a sample of the Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache," but i won't tell if you won't.) in this video, a thick, foxy Amy saunters through a hotel and with the bedroom eyes she keeps making love to the camera with, it's hard to believe that she's ever had her heart broken.

  5. Salaam Remi. while he's probably most known for his work with Nas (hence the shared sampling mentioned above), if you've been paying attention to anything Amy Winehouse-related over the last few years other than her addictions and demons, then you probably already know he's responsible for good deal of production on both of Amy's albums. but i bet you didn't know that he's also behind the classic "Here Comes the Hotstepper" by Ini Kamoze. this was everyone's favorite hit from the 90's, right? RIGHT?!? < /sarcasm >

  6. Marc Ronson. producing since the early 1990's and having worked with almost every notable rapper from Ol' Dirty Bastard to Wale, most of the world didn't know about Marc until 2006 when he gained international notoriety by working with Amy Winehouse, Christina Aguilera and Lily Allen-- the three women who seemed to dominate the topic of all musical conversation that year.

    (this is one of my favorite songs by Amy, but sadly, she doesn't make an appearance in this video. this was also the lead song to Michael Kors Fall 2008 fashion show and the way her words boomed through tents under the bright lights and through the big names in the front row was beyond magical.)
  7. when i first heard "Back to Black," i thought for sure there was no way to make this album more complete... and then Jay-Z jumped on the remix for Rehab and i realized that even perfection could do better. (Pharoahe Monch also did a remix of "Rehab," but really, after Jay blesses a song with a verse, is there even really any point?)

  8. as if a Jay-Z cameo wasn't enough, Ghostface Killah stunts all over the remix for "You Know I'm No Good," proclaiming: "you love how i bring the pain, got the rug burns stingin' and you sayin' my name." rug burns? did it just get a little hot in here or is it just me?

    (you can hear the full version of the remix on this Wu-Tang Clan member's "More Fish" album.)
  9. in July of 2010, Amy partied the night away with Nas while he was in London for Damian Marley's birthday bash.

  10. The 27 Club. while most people think of names like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin when recalling musicians at the young age of 27, there are names from the hip-hop community that tend to get overlooked. Freaky Tah from the Lost Boyz and Stretch from the Live Squad both had their lives taken at too young an age.

RIP Amy Winehouse. you're gone too soon.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Official Take on Otis by Jay-Z and Kanye West

it's been a few days now since Jay-Z and Kanye singlehandedly sent blog servers all around the world into near meltdown with the release of Otis, the first single from their upcoming album of swaggerjacker-inducing duets, Watch the Throne. and, as always, the world wide web was immediately divided down the line into two groups: fan boys and haters. you were either on one side or the other, there is never any fence straddling in hip-hop. upon first listen, i was far from blown away, if not completely disappointed.

a few weeks ago, when the WTT listening party convened and information about the album began circulating through cyberspace, every tidbit had me on the edge of my seat, but probably most so was a song that the hip-hop media elite were simply referring to as "Otis," which was said to feature a chopped up sample by the late, great Otis Redding. i, personally, have 171 songs by Otis Redding uploaded to my iTunes, so needless to say, i'm a huge fan. (thanks, mom!)

so when the "listen to Otis here" links began flooding my Twitter timeline earlier this week, i rushed to plug in my headphones and began clicking away, only to find myself stunned a few minutes later. that's it? this is what we've been waiting for? i felt that for artists of this caliber, it was just so lacking. it was all swag brag and no soul. it was just so... typical.

with Kanye having just released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, one of the most artistically acclaimed hip-hop albums ever, and Jay-Z being, undisputedly, the most accomplished rapper ever, the expectation, anticipation and anxiety over what would be the first taste from Watch the Throne was extremely big. but as cliched as the saying is: the bigger they come, the harder they fall.

but then i found myself trying to reconcile why i thought this was a good song, but just wasn't good enough. it has everything that i like about music rolled into one song, so why am i still unsatisfied?

while science utilizes the metric system throughout the world for effective comparisons, no such universal measurement exists to analyze more abstract entities, such as music. with music, it's difficult to just take one song as that-- just one song. all of these external and somewhat irrelevant factors come into play: personality, past accomplishments/ failures and, in today's world, even personal life. and is this fair? is it just to compare Lil B with one scale and Kanye West with another? or, seeing as those two examples are pretty much the antithesis of one another, how about judging Jay-Z and Nas based on two separate sets of criteria? when assessing a song, should we make ourselves take those few musical moments at face value, stripping away all the extraneous bullshit we've clogged our brains with? i'm not sure that's even possible.

but no one ever said life was fair and we all know that safe sells. so until some genius devises an algorithm for qualifying musical greatness, i guess each musician will be judged with a unique and individualized system and we will still be disappointed when we receive a radio hit from an artist who we know withholds a much greater power.

but in all fairness, the more i listen to this song, the more it grows on me. i could see myself throwing on a tight dress and sky high heels and shaking around to this song. but it's this repetition that's used as a tool to desensitize and placate the masses. just ask the Nazis. so... i guess i'll see y'all on the dance floor!

and, let's be honest, does Otis really sound much different than Gold Digger, released six years ago?

oh yeah, it also reminds me of this song for some reason:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm Addicted to Coke

yes, it's true, i'm addicted to Coke. i need before i run, after i run, anytime i'm biking. basically, i crave this stuff constantly. and i CANNOT STOP!

i had an hour to kill while waiting to go running and... well... THIS is what happens when i get bored. it's my first YouTube video and, yes, i know that the audio doesn't match up with the video, but i have no idea how to fix it!

anyway, please enjoy me making an ass out of myself in nothing but a sports bra while on a caffeine high!

Hood to Coast: The Movie

the past few days have been filled with all sorts of running extracurricular activities! after Sunday's scavenger hunt, a few of us North Brooklyn Runners decided to organize a field trip to IndieScreen Cinema in the outer reaches of Williamsburg to see a documentary that's been all abuzz in the running world these past few months, Hood to Coast.

Hood to Coast is actually an annual 200 mile relay race through Oregon, from Mt. Hood to the Pacific Coast, making it the world's largest relay race. teams of 12 are assembled and each team member runs three legs of the race, with each leg clocking in somewhere around six miles, with varying difficulties. it takes most teams a grueling, sleepless, full 24 hours to complete the course. and after seeing this film for myself, i know that every runner walked out of theater with another race added to their running wishlist.

Hood to Coast (the movie) follows around four teams as they prepare for the race, as well as their journey down the mountain to the ocean. the chosen documentees include teams Thunder & Laikaning; Dead Jocks in a Box; Heart and Soul; and Team R. Bowe. while each team had compelling stories (the lead personality from Heart and Soul is a 67 year old women with 70 marathons underneath her who passed out and almost died on the Hood to Coast course the previous year and Team R. Bowe is a dedication from his family to Ryan Bowe, who first ran Hood to Coast at the young age of 12, but unexpectedly died of heart complications at the age of 30), Thunder & Laikaning and Dead Jocks in a Box probably stole the show.

Thunder & Laikaning highlights a handful of graphics/animation nerds, most of which have never ran in their life and have no intention of training prior to the race. a lot of talk about beer drinking and faces of confusion and fear provide an organic element of entertainment because, hey, most of us probably looked exactly like this when we first started out.

Dead Jocks in a Box is a congregation of older gents who have passed their running prime, but still have the competitive spirit in them (and can still zip by most teams in the younger age groups!). but i use the term "gents" extremely loosely. it's really the arrogance and chauvinism oozing from every pore of these men that makes you laugh and cringe at the same time. when passing a female runner in their van, the men gawk and then speed passed her, only to stop a few meters ahead, jump out and give her a "power arch" as she runs by. at the end of the race, one of team members hands out fliers for "Free Dead Jocks Massages" to all of the women runners. i can only imagine what the divorce rate is among this team-- i'm guessing somewhere around 90 percent. EASY.

i would eventually love to get a team together and hit up the left coast for this. it seems like such an amazing experience and while the concrete jungle will always be my home, there's nothing like being in the middle of a real forest.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Power of Being a Girl at a Rap Show

while women comprise the majority of the US population, we all know of certain sects within our culture that this statistic doesn't carry over to. hip-hop is one such corner of our cultural census where, despite the insane number of ladies who love rap music, girls will forever and always be the minority. at least, it feels that way.

but this isn't necessarily always a bad thing. you just have to know how to make it work in your favor. luckily, Shannon and i are good at working anything.

it's a well-known fact amongst my inner circle that once upon a time, i used to be a HUGE fan of the Wu-Tang Clan. i still am today, but the height of my love affair with the men from Shaolin was at its most fervent when i was a teenager. the rare times when Method Man's "All I Need" would come over the top 40 radio station of my small Florida town, wafting out through the subwoofers of David Piercy's Cavalier parked in the "varsity only" section of the school parking lot. disappointedly pondering why there was no "Irish Cream" adlib to Raekwon the Chef's summer-essential song "Ice Cream." staying up until 1 am on school nights, smoking Newports in my bedroom with Ghostface's "Ironman" on repeat, chin on my hand with a longing gaze in my eyes, lost in thought about what living in New York must actually be like. as the white smoke from each drag of the cigarette filled my lungs, my mind was filled with the possibilities of a new and better life up north. even my "Wisdm" moniker was created in 1998 as a shout-out to the song "Wisdom Body" off of "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" (more nostalgically referred to as The Purple Tape). yes, you can definitely say that Wu-Tang got a lot of play in my pre-adulthood days.

since 2011 seems to be the year that i'm living out all of my teenage dreams, when i heard that Raekwon was playing a free show at Prospect Park as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn! series, it's like a vortex opened in the sky and whisked me away to 1995. i've seen members of the Wu as opening acts before, but never as a headliner and never Raekwon, who in my opinion, had the best debut solo album from the Clan. all i could think was: I. FINALLY. GET. TO. SEE. RAEKWON.

but add the word "free" to the phrase "rap show" and you know that automatically the crowd is going to be about 80% dudes and 20% chicks. you have to prepare for the gawking and the occasional inappropriate comment. you also have to prepare to be quick-witted and sharp tongued for anyone that steps outta line, which is pretty much standard for me, as well as for Shannon, which is why i knew she'd be the perfect concert partner to accompany me.

last saturday, Shannon arrived at my house in the middle of the hottest hour of the day, sweat beading on her brow and an overnight hanging heavily over her shoulder, black sunglasses masking any discomfort she was surely feeling in the sweltering July climate. i could already tell that no matter what happened, the night was going to belong to us.

we drank a beer as i cautiously applied my black liquid liner, the signature accent to these green eyes of mine and always the grand finale of preparations to make myself presentable. after an endless string of text messages to various friends about other going-ons throughout Brooklyn and extensively debating our plan of attack for the night, we decided that our best bet was to just head straight to Prospect Park since the MTA was once again the nemesis to all things fun and holy, turning the easy four mile distance into an hour and half journey. i stocked my bag with jello shots, much-needed nourishment for the seemingly never-ending string of trains we'd have to take to our destination.

we arrived at the park 30 minutes before show time, confident we'd be inside the Bandshell in time for the party to really get started. we should have known better. the inviting, meandering trails and lush green canopy overhead gave no warning as to what we were about to witness. a line of more people than we could count snaked around the entire Bandshell, ending at some far off distance further than our eyes could see. Brooklyn, we have a problem.

i have absolutely no qualms about waiting in queue to get into places. i'm definitely not special by any means and carry no symbol of status whatsoever. i'm simply just a girl that loves rap music. however, there was no fucking way in hell i was going to wait in this line. we would have missed the majority of the show and been quarantined to some unknown back corner of the fenced-off patch of park that makes up the Bandshell grounds.

i explained to Shannon that we needed to befriend one of these groups of boys in the front of the line and use our feminine wiles to charm them into letting us join their hoard, to which Shannon replied, "no way, you're going to start a fight." "start a fight with who,?" i questioned. "look around, there's NOTHING but boys in this line." boys, who were undoubtedly, just dying to see any semblance of womanhood come swimming through this sea of testosterone.

before Shannon even had time to think it over, i was already off. i had spotted my mark, a young lad that seemed to be the ringleader of a large group of other guys much, much younger than us. as i approached, he could already tell what my motives were. after suavely explaining that i had jello shots to trade for a space in line, he was more than willing to let us become one of his pack. just minutes later, we were through the gates and the nice gentleman and his crew were nowhere to be found, allowing my secret stash of libations to remain with their original owners.

being the minority was definitely on our side that night. not only did we get in with the greatest of ease, but the men definitely had our best interest at heart in the bathroom line, allowing us to go ahead of them when needed, and we were even able to venture to the front of the stage at one point without being pushed, poked or prodded. the chivalry at this show was one for the books, making this one of the best shows i've been to in a very long time. all of these good deeds have been duly noted. and who said that nice guys finish last?

and you're fucking right i wore Wallabees to a Wu show! *walking my dog*

Monday, July 18, 2011

NBR Scavenger Hunt Recap

training for anything can sometimes get a little boring, even when you're training for something that you love. combine that with the ever-rising heat index and the inevitable temperature tantrums that it brings on, and well, it's a potential recipe for disaster that can leave you exhausted and wanting to do nothing more than seek solace in the modern marvel that is air conditioning. (which is exactly what i'm doing at the present!)

so, to steal a few lines from the prolific Fresh Prince, here's a little something to break the monotony of all the hardcore [running] that has gotten to be a little bit outta control: to shake things up and get us back in focus for the racing season ahead, North Brooklyn Runners (the most awesome running team ever!) organized a scavenger hunt that had us trekking through Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick yesterday afternoon. we were able to explore our neighborhoods while still getting in our mileage for the day, and since NBR is known not only for its speed, but its drinking prowess as well, we are able to even down a shot or two along the way!

some teams donned costumes and others came out in their regular running gear. regardless, we were all in it to win and the waves of friendly competition silently hummed through the air. if you were "smart" like me and my partner, Kurt, then you would have clocked about a 10K (6-ish miles) run, although i did overhear someone say that their watch gave them a reading of about 11 miles. i have NO idea what kind of route that team took, but god bless 'em! after spending three hours pounding the pavement under the midday sun, we were all a little worse for the wear at the end, but a few pints at Lady Jay's had us recharged in no time and the 40 us that participated were eager to swap war stories.

anyway, since we all know that photos are way more fun to look at then text, i'll let the pics below do the rest of the talking!

mission 1: find the building that was mentioned in an New York Times article speculated to end up as a luxury highrise. (the Domino building)

mission 2: find the old brewery in Bushwick that was landmarked last year.
(the Ulmer Brewery.)

mission 3: something about Pat Benetar and Scream Work.
(Papacito's in Greenpoint.)

mission 4: Tina Fey mentioned this donut shop on 30 Rock.
(Peter Pan Donuts.)

mission 5: take a pic with a couple making out.

mission 6: take a pic with someone reading a classic novel.

mission 7: go to the only mini golf course and figure out what rule #6 means. (Bushwick Country Club.)

mission 8: take a pic of the street sign bearing the name of
Matt + Kim's second album.

despite the liberties that Kurt and i took with the rules, we still did not win! :(

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Does Running in the Heat Have Benefits?

at the end of every team run, we gather around the southwest corner of the McCarren Park track for our cool down and core. as we transitioned from one position into a plank, i unfolded my legs out from underneath me and extended my body to its full length of a lanky five feet, seven inches, while lying on the ground. pressing myself up onto the palms of my hands, i spread my fingers wide, boring a hole into each fingertip with my eyes and trying to telepathically distribute my weight to the top of each little appendage evenly in an attempt to take some of the strain off of my wrists. when i could feel my hips trying to give way and dip down, i envisioned my body being so flat a ramp that you could skateboard up me, propelling yourself onto the track beyond and landing with a nice, clean finish. all i would be able to hear is the satisfied rumble of the wheels as they trailed off into the distance.

as this jumble of visions ran through my head, i opened my eyes as a drop of sweat made a quiet splash against the rust-colored rubber beneath me. and then another. and another. the sweat traveled down my forehead, along the outside of the bridge of my nose, rounded the bowl of my eye to the puff of my cheek, where it finally made its departure. it outlined my lips and followed the curves of my chin until gravity had its way with it. or sometimes, as if tracing the post of a cross along my face, it made a straight, quick journey from my forehead down to the tip of my nose, the angle of which gave these particular drops a velocity not seen in the others. regardless, they all met the same fate and began to form a pool just inches below my face. as i watched each one fall, i thought to myself, "this is what it's all about."

you see, i've always loved running in the heat. it radiates through my muscles, turning them into these soft, gummy bands that feel like they can wrap around the entire world and that simply supporting my bones is light work. the warm air expands in my lungs and i feel like a balloon that can fly far, far away with the greatest of ease, as if that's what i was solely created to do. the sweat cascades over my skin and with that wet shimmer, i feel like i've been washed anew by the golden beams of the sun itself. it makes me feel like little girl in a big, beautiful universe that i have absolutely no control over. but here i am, challenging everything that it's throwing at me and even taunting it for more.

when the temperature rises, possibilities of life swell within me. they burst out of me. they spread out and blanket everything around me. the world is all one shade of possibility, all things are equally attainable and achievable. yes, this is the time when anything is possible.

apparently, not all of my fellow runners feel this way. this summer, in particular, seems to be hard for everyone to acclimate to the heat. and, i'm not gonna lie, it's been a little tough on me, too, despite my joy at seeing the mercury on the thermometer creep to 80 and beyond. so, i got to wondering. are there any real benefits to running in the heat or am i just a loon out here all by her lonesome?

let's start at the root of it all. why, exactly, does running seem to become such a burden during the hotter months? i came across this great post by Dr. William Henderson, which i highly recommend reading in its entirety. he basically says that as things heat up, your body rushes more of its blood to the skin in an effort to cool you off, thereby, delivering less blood to the muscles-in-action that are in need of it. it's actually the plasma in your blood that is used for cooling, but since your body can't separate the plasma from your overall blood composition, it all goes along for the ride to the skin.

the best way to assist your body in cooling is to increase its plasma volume, which probably sounds a lot more trickier than it is. your plasma volume naturally increases over time as it adapts to the heat. IE: if you are consistently training throughout the summer, your runs at the end of the season should feel easier than they were at the beginning. (DUH!)

in addition to an expansion of plasma volume, after some training in hot conditions, your heart rate, resting core temp and sodium sweat concentration should all decrease as well. but to keep reaping the rewards of all your hard training, you have to keep at it-- heat acclimation can decay rapidly!

so, see, i'm not just some marathoner-in-training masochist! i know it sucks now, but just stick with it and soon enough, you'll be heralding heat training right along with me. and, if not, blame Dr. William Henderson, not me!!!

or you could just always strap an ice pack to your neck! sexy!