BambiRunsBey42K: Two Weeks to 21

This is the 8th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

Two weeks away from the big day and I feel like such a fraud. Even though I’ve gone down to the half and my training intensity has gone down due to a mix of tapering and late nights at the office, it’s been a long road to November 13th and, at 13 days away, I’m feeling spent.

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PC: Marc Tanas

When with the group, we feed off of each other’s energy. But once you go home and you’re solo again, it wanes. Because of this, I began my Google expedition to find fuel. Fuel to keep my head in the game, fuel to save on my mental hard drive for those negative thoughts post 16K, and fuel to make my legs endure another 2 weeks of training.

On the Mental Hard Drive
It began with Ed Whitlock, an 85-year old who ran his latest marathon in under 4 hours. Runner’s World says, “he just runs slowly, for three to four hours a day, around a cemetery a little more than 100 meters from his front door.” That could not be more fitting. He’s giving death a giant middle finger. I’m 28. No excuses.

Another file saved: Grete Waitz, nine-time winner of the NYC Marathon I’ve mentioned before, once said, “Hurry slowly. Move ahead, but be patient.” It will take time to get better and the endurance you build is not only the physical kind. You need to endure the process.

And then there’s this:


I’ve begun to fall off the wagon when we’re so close. Like the tortoise though, you can’t lose focus. Look for motivation elsewhere, find a boomtastic powersong, plan your post-finish line celebratory meal. Mine is fatteh from Le Professeur in Mar Elias.

Sundays Have Changed
Sundays in Lebanon are commonly associated with grandparents, meat on grills, and/or arak in the mountains. I can’t remember the last Sunday I’ve had that equaled that. Sundays during training seasons mean waking up before 4am, having your eyes water excessively while running at 7am (because they’re like why the f*ck are we doing this now?), being worn out before 11am, and staying hungry until 10pm when you pass out.

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PC: Marc Tanas

I missed yesterday’s morning run simply because I fell back asleep on the couch at 6am. This is just another lesson that training teaches you: set multiple alarms, drink the coffee earlier, and do not sit down on anything squishy for longer than 15 minutes. That last one may be misinterpreted. I meant the sofa, freaks.

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Sunday Mood.

Just for Kicks

A doctor told one of my teammates that the body isn’t built for the marathon, effectively saying, “you’re not supposed to be doing this.” And yet, here we are. I confess that I do not like running. It may seem blasphemous to say that as a NRC runner but, as a sport, it is grueling. It beats you up and knocks you down. However, every time you fight back, you’re taking control and proving that you call the shots. You’re telling your brain that you’re not going to fail, that you know your pain, that you do belong here even when your joints are shrieking. 

Accepting Your Strength
The 21 is still a formidable distance but, considering where I am physically, it is a enough. As a friend of mine said, “mish hayen bas mish mot” (it’s not easy but it’s not death). I don’t mean to make my future-marathoners feel discouraged but I’m recognizing my body’s capability right now. But that’s me. If you’ve seen my fellow beasts train, you’d know that they’ll be eating the 42 for breakfast in two Sundays. And I’ll be having fatteh.

BambiRunsBey42K: One Month Left


This is the 7th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

The temperature has begun to drop as we make our way through October. One second we’re three months away from Marathon Day and the next, it’s Thanksgiving and all we’re worried about is how to expertly wear elastic waistbanded pants to hide the holiday weight gain.

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Breaks in Training
With each injury, flight, or skipped run, a runner can feel themselves take steps backward. Some would see these interruptions as needed breaks but, in the training world, they are breaks in momentum. In a matter of a few weeks, my athlete habits had begun to evaporate. I was forgetting to drink all my liters of water, slacking off on meal prep, and missing cross-training days at the gym.

After talking with my NRCers, it is a common peeve that we all have. As soon as we start to improve, something gets in the way and once you’re back, you feel like you’re starting from the bottom again…

But now we here: 4 weeks (3 Sundays) away.

I have to admit, I can’t wait to get my life back but I don’t want all this investment to start to go downhill when we’re so close to the peak. On Tuesday’s 8K, Coach Mark said, “Open your stride, stop being afraid of your injury,” and in trusting him, I was able to get back to and maintain my (slow) average pace. The trick now is to keep doing that.

Sunday Tapering 
Prior to Marathon Day, runners need to start cutting back on the kilos when running weekly long distance runs so their bodies can stay ready but avoid fatigue. Yesterday was my first Sunday back with the group post-NYC and I finished 16K but not with a desired pace. I’ve got less than 30 days to get it down just enough to make it across the finish line in under 3 hours comfortably. I don’t have a goal time in mind, I just want to get it done so I can have a benchmark for the future.

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Trying out NTC
I had to skip a Friday run to go to an extra Spanish class and I also won’t be attending Monday runs for a while for the same reason. I DID go to a NTC session though. Read more about that here.


Just for Kicks
During +5K runs, you have a lot of time to think. My mind wanders to blogpost content, to-do lists, and the occasional why am I doing this again?! During one evening run, I realized runners have 3 important PBs when it comes to training season: Personal Best, Peanut Butter, and Practice Buddy.

Personal best refers to when you reach a new record pace, distance, or time. The more often you run, the less often this happens. You’re not going to beat your PB on every run but it’s the only parameter you should use when evaluating your progress. Peanut butter is the snack of choice when needing a quick dose of food that’ll keep you functioning during a long afternoon. Some runners have a spoonful before a long run. My NRC crew would qualify as my practice buddies: the people who will train along side you so you’re not climbing a mountain alone. Can’t wait to see them all charge down the red carpet soon!

 

NTC: The Other Free Nike Club

After a year of El-Tanein Diet, 10 months of running with Nike+ Run Club (NRC), and a couple weeks of failing to cross-train during marathon training season, I finally made it to my first session of Nike+ Training Club (NTC). I recently signed up for an intro Spanish class at Cervantes that coincides with both NTC sessions but, thanks to Ashura/Spanish Independence Day, I was able to join the girls this past Wednesday night. I say “girls” because the NTC sessions are exclusively dedicated to women only in effort to encourage ladies to get their gains on. Relax boys, classes will become dual gender in 2017.

The sessions, which are built around the NTC app, are intensive 1-hour cocktails of easy-to-follow workouts using body weight or basic gym equipment. Diala El Khazen, the trainer and chef who throws together a new menu for every session you attend, is an encouraging coach who uses the you-can-do-it approach rather than the aggressive tactic that other coaches go for. Much like Mark Jibran, her NRC counterpart, Diala also pushes you to complete the workout without making you want to push her off the roof of the gym where the session takes place. That’s not to say that the workout is easy; however, the session is so diversified in activity with workouts taken straight from the NTC app that before you know it, you’re on your back doing cool-down stretches on the artificial grass.

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Strength training on non-running day: check.

It’s short and sweet in comparison to the tough runs we’ve been doing pre-marathon but they’re a necessary evil as a supplement to whatever else you’re doing at the gym or on the track. The only downside was knowing I wouldn’t be able to attend anymore because of Español. Lo siento, Nike.

BUT I could use the NTC app on my own, right? First, suggested workouts are based on your average weekly workout frequency. With a wifi connection, the app and the workouts are free to download and you can select ones with or without equipment in case you don’t have gym access. If going to the gym isn’t an option, I recommend using a mat or even doing the workouts at Horsh Beirut so you have a soft surface and space.

I gave it a shot today at home. I decided to go for a workout plan that will give me a structured schedule aimed at getting lean and building muscle in a 6-week period. The app sends you notifications the night before, walks you through the workout, and will adapt the plan according to your effort level/schedule/goals. Every following workout will be according to how you performed in the previous one. I’m hoping this 15-workout LEAN FIT plan will help rid as much excess fat as possible before Marathon Day. The lighter and stronger I am, the easier the 21K will be. All I have to do now is stay away from the tortilla chips.


The NTC app aims to be your personal trainer without the ~$350/month biceps packaged in a XS Lycra t-shirt. Does it work? Too early to tell but what I do know is I had some direction this morning and that’s already an improvement over my usual method: pick 5 machines that work the upper body and do 4 reps of 12. Not exactly well-studied. It’s true that you may need a human trainer to check your form and yell at you when you’re slacking off but that’s what the free NTC sessions can do: be your guide so you can continue on your own when you can’t make it to UEnergy.

Both NRC and NTC sessions grant attendees 20 points in your loyalty account.
1000 points translates to $100 store credit.

NTC
Mondays at 7:27pm at UEnergy Bliss Street
Wednesdays at 7:58pm at UEnergy Downtown
Book ahead, spots are limited. Free of charge.

NRC
Mon/Tues/Thurs at 6:34pm at Nike Beirut Souks

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3 Meals in NYC – 2016 Edition

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Back in 2014, I spent a quick 5 minutes in NYC and wrote about my 3 main food stops – one of which has since closed permanently. After spending a week in 2015 and another in 2016, here’s an updated list of 3 meals to enjoy if you ever visit the home of 8.4 million.

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Hillstone for Campfire Ribs
My friend took me here in 2015, it was the first meal I had upon revisiting in 2016, and I will be back for sure. There is a fear that a restaurant will not be as good as you remember it, leaving you heartbroken because you romanticized a memory of saucy ribs, shoestring fries, and coleslaw. Not at Hillstone. They were better the second time around and I still couldn’t finish them. Mom helped.

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Photo Credit: @blacktapnyc

Black Tap for Burgers & Shakes
Pearl from legymonline tagged me in a gram of their crazy “milkshakes.” One afternoon, mom & I were wandering around Soho and ended up near Black Tap so we mozied over to the spot for a volcano of fat. Fifteen minute wait. She had a burger while I had a spicy margarita with onion rings. We split the top of a milkshake. It’s all we could get down considering they’re a mountain range of deliciousness. Bonus points for the 90s R&B playlists.

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Gotham West Market
Located in Hell’s Kitchen, GWM has a couple of offerings all housed in a food hall. From Indie Fresh to Choza Taqueria, the variety is there along with a chill vibe that’s perfect for hanging out with friends. It’s what you wish your high school cafeteria was like. It also has a bike shop inside. No, I did not see Wilson Fisk anywhere.


Honorable Mentions:
OBVIOUSLY, a pastrami sandwich on rye from Katz on the LES. The line you see above is not tourist hype, it is worth the wait, the $19.95, and Meg Ryan’s reaction was because of this sandwich. Also, Smorgasburg in Brooklyn, Untitled at the Whitney in the Meatpacking District at the end of the High Line, and pre-packaged food at the Food Emporium for when you need takeout so you can go back to your hotel room and binge watch Luke Cage.

BambiRunsBey42K: Balloons and Central Park

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This is the 6th installment from the BambiRunsBey42K biweekly series covering the marathon training journey with NRC Beirut.

Balloon Run and the 36K Peak
The week before taking off to the Big Apple was a bad one. I only made it to one run (the balloon run) and then went off the grid for the days following. Between preparing for my trip and falling into a pit of solitude due to burnout, I just wanted to get the week over with and get on the plane.

While my team was running the 36K max distance before marathon day, I was sitting at Cafematik pissed off for paying $20 for two coffees and a bite of banana bread. They were done by the time I got to Heathrow. Check out their triumphant faces:

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Running Central Park
I ran two 6Ks in Central Park during my week away, and although that is not on par with my training schedule, I’m still glad I bothered at all. Running while being abroad, even if for business, can make your mind switch into lazy mode with excuses like, “you don’t need to run because you’re walking a lot so it’s not like you’re doing NOTHING.”  Mbala.


On my last morning in NY, I was sharing the Central Park track with the NY Road Runners who were participating in the annual Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Fred’s Team Presents Grete’s Great Gallop. Let me break down that name for you:

Fred: Fred Lebow was the former NYRR president and co-founder of the New York City Marathon, he died of brain cancer in 1994.
Fred’s Team: An organization who raises funds for cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering, where Fred Lebow received treatment. Fred’s Team runners have raised +$65 million for this cause.
Grete’s Great Gallop: a half-marathon race in honor of Grete Waitz, friend of Fred and 9-time winner of the NYC Marathon who also lost her life to cancer in 2011.

I didn’t bother to look into races in the city that were taking place during my stay. However, given that I needed to be back at the hotel before check-out, joining was not meant to be. I also didn’t run with NRC NYC for fear that their paces would be too quick for my slow self. Adding these two runs to next year’s growing runs-to-do list.

Nike x Kith
I was heading to Crate & Barrel to get my Scandal wine glasses when I came across this Nike concept store. Designed by Snarkitecture, the store has multiple nods to Nike history with casted Nike shoe boxes, AF1 outsole encrusted seats, and memorabilia encased in glass. Before you enter the rest of Kith, there’s Kith Treats, a snack bar with Nike themed cereal or ice cream served in shoe boxes, and a customization station where you can get Nike x Kith products customized. If you don’t get a chance to go to NYC’s 5-story NikeTown, head here. 


Just for Kicks
The easiest way for you to see a shoe’s true colors is to test them out in a pedestrian city. I got a pair of Nike Air Huarache Ultras (pronounced waa-rah-cheez) and I was clocking a minimum of 20K steps/day in them while wandering around the 5 boroughs. The verdict? I could live in these things. They are the new AirMax. They’re also travel-friendly because they’re like slip-ons because of the elastic body – perfect for security checks and long flights. I got mine from the men’s section at Nike DT purely for the color combo. NikeTown had BEAUTIFUL ones but I need to stop feeding this addiction.

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From nike.com


Reading this month’s edition of Wired US will give you the behind-the-scenes scoop on how the HyperAdapt power-lacing sneakers came to life. The inventor, appropriately named Tinker, gives a tour of the Nike grounds including the Innovation Kitchen.

Read more about Tinker and the Nike Labs here.

Back in BEY
I’m back (that’s why this post is a day late) and there’s six weeks left until we all run the marathon, or half in my case. Fellow NRCer Anthony shared this link for those of us who feel the half gets looked down up0n because it’s HALF a marathon. Sure, it’s not 42K but it’s still over 68,000 feet in distance. In Manhattan, that’s like running past 51.6 Starbucks branches. Sip on that, haters. Six Sundays until we break the wall, Jon Snow!