The not-running part of being a runner is getting in my way.

Before I went to Ecuador, I was the race-training fairy princess. I followed Hal Higdon’s plan to the note. I did speed work. I saw improvement. It felt terrific.

I knew the early fall was full of travel for me, but with magical dreams, I figured I wouldn’t need to slack on running while abroad. But a few things happened, which could all be summed up with the word “reality” or ” “very real excuses.”  In Ecuador, I got a stomach virus and was also knocked out by Quito’s high altitude. Canyoning banged up my ankle which flared up an old sprain.  That meant no running for about 10 days.

canyoning in banos

potentially injuring myself

When we got back to NY, I was still pretty shakey from the stomach illness (and pretty malnourished from my simple BRAT diet). But when I felt up to it, I set out to run 3 miles in the holy land called Central Park. I am going to be squishy and emotional but stick with me: I teared up on that run. I was so happy after a 12 day hiatus to be back in the game that my eyes welled up. I felt lucky to be in Central Park. To be running and sweating and moving.

I attempted a 10 mile run  later that week but I was only able to do 8.7 miles and they didn’t feel great. They felt hard. But I was still happy to be running. I am one of those people now.

Dressed to run but went for a swim

Dressed to run but went for a swim

Then, I left for a 10 day work(ish) trip to Israel, Austria and Slovakia. I only got in two short runs. They weren’t easy and my ankle does not feel back to normal. I am never sure how much ankle pain is OK to run with and what amount will make it worse.

The Hamptons Half is on less than a week. I am not sure if I should run it. I am thinking I should try and just stop if it feels bad. And also, try not to race (which is a major bummer).

Anyone have any advice? What can I do this week to rehab my ankle or get back in the game?

Apologies for my blogging absence to those who might have noticed ( hi mom, hi Jon Silverman), I was in Ecuador.

Personally, I wouldn’t use the phrase “I am afraid of heights.”  It’s not the height that causes me fear. My office is on the 21st floor, and I’m not scared. I am afraid of falling, more acutely falling and getting hurt. I would, in general, prefer not to get hurt; would prefer all my faculties intact. I may not be an athletic person but I am an active person and having an injury would really slow my roll. That seems reasonable to me. Doesn’t it seem reasonable to you?

Well, I found myself in the adventure capital of Ecuador: Banos. Located where the Andes open up to the Amazon, Banos is lush and green and hilly.

Banos, Ecuador

Banos, Ecuador

Banos is sackful of adrenaline junkie style activities at developing world prices (and, I feared, safety protocol). Since I famously can’t ride a bike, downhill mountain biking was out. (For those interested you get driven in van to the top of a volcano and you single track bike your way down. Oy gevalt). They also offer bungee jumping, rafting, hiking and ziplining at few tiny travel spots unavoidable on a walk through the town.

Matt and I had our eyes set on canyoning. My friend had done it a few years ago in Banos and loved it. In my own special Nicole way, I agreed to canyoning without ever processing what canyoning IS. So let me tell you: You hike up the side of a steep mountain. To get back down you rappel down fast pumping waterfalls. As in: you jump or climb backwards down a slippery mountainside with water avalanche-ing into your legs, vision, soul, all other parts.

We arrived at MTS Adventure (totally recommend!) and they fit us in wetsuits, harnesses, waterproof jackets, shoes, and helmets.

Wearing a wetsuit make you feel like a superhero

Wearing a wetsuit make you feel like a superhero

Then Alberto, the canyoning trainer, demonstrated how to move down the waterfall and how to clip in and out of the rocks. The demonstration was on flat ground, so if you can imagine, Alberto explaining en Spanglish “Just squat and walk” then you too have received the lesson. That was the guidance we received.  I saw a  ~25ft climbing wall behind Alberto and said, could I try this on that, instead? He said sure, and somehow I summoned the courage to climb the ladder.  I got to the top and Alberto said “just fall off it” I had a clear response ready: NO.

So Matt went first, and rappelled down the climbing wall. Then, since he remained alive, I went. Something came over me. My fear evaporated. I just GOT IT. It was like I stopped being Nicole and was dusted with Spidey-sense. I rocked my way down the wall.

We were ready for the big time! We hopped in the car and drove to the waterfalls. We hiked up a mountain wearing our helmets and harnesses. Then came time to “fall back” down the face of the waterfall. And so we did. And it was awesome. I can’t explain why I wasn’t scared, or why I loved it when climbing the wall scared me. Growth?  I loved canyoning.

canyoning in banos 14985742679_41635fc260_o 14985751428_b4826a7abe_o 15172330905_58474c484d_o

If you’re looking for a really terrible 7.5 mile running route through Manhattan, may I recommend the below at 5pm on a weekday:

Rush hour run

Rush hour run

I could not find the East River running path. Is it real? On Sutton Place there are a ton of little turn offs that seem like they open on to a east side path, but alas lead to tiny parks on the the water. I ran up many sets of steps in hopes of finding a clear route north, but nada.

Advice for next time, anyone?

(Apologies to all the pedestrians I ran over. I respect your swagger.)

Imagine if you will, the ballet barre. Dotted from left to right with svelte, legging-clad babes. They delicately pulsate in their well-practiced plié , their polished fingers daintily grazing the bar. Then your gaze is obstructed by mesh shorts and very hairy legs. Their sweaty palms gripping the wooden bar like a one-man game of tug-a-war. I am here to tell the story of two dudes in a ballet barre class. 

Blame it on the rain. It was too wet to play tennis so Jon and Matt agreed to try Physique57 in Bridgehampton (Katy, Sarah and I were going anyway). It took a little coercion on our end. I think the guys were nervous. What if they couldn’t hang?  Have you ever had a guy in your Physique or other barre class before?

For those who don’t know what Physique57 or barre classes are, barre is a pilates/ballet/weight combo.  It’s a hit with the fro-yo crowd. And in case you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, I’ll spell it out: the class is 200% women.  Rate Your Burn describes the crew really accurately in their post “Which Barre-bie Are You?”.

I didn’t realize it til we got to the studio, but bringing males into P57, while allowed (and lauded by the front desk ladies) felt a little bit like spoiling the secret. I could hear the man in the Wizard of Oz yelling “Don’t look behind the curtain!” But, nevertheless two men got a to find out “how the sausage is made” but this time black Lululemon Wunder Unders serve as the casing.

Because of Physique’s awesome new student package, Jon and Matt were able to take two classes for the price of one. We took the first class in Bridgehampton with Neil and the second at the Upper West Side location with Emily.

Katy, Jon and Matt (left to right) at Physique57

Katy, Jon and Matt (left to right) at Physique57 w73

We arrived at the studio and took trips to our gender-specific locker rooms and then we met up in the classroom. Jon and Matt each immediately boasted about what free products they used in the 30 seconds it took them to lock up their belongings. Jon found the time to use two Q Tips and Matt put on some free deodorant. (I should’ve told them about the complimentary apples).

Both teachers enjoyed having Matt and Jon in the class. They got a lot of extra attention (and from Emily a lot of extra adjustments which they appreciated). Sometimes they needed special instruction. The message “Hey ladies! Stand on your toes like you’re wearing kitten heels!” Didn’t resonate with them. Emily turned to Matt and Jon and said, “Hmm pretend your heels are on an Altoid box!”

Now some thoughts directly from the only people to ever wear Tough Mudder sweatbands to a barre class:

Jon on the studio:

“Great. But not so important to me. I don’t care about the windows.” (Editor’s note: the W73rd studio we were in overlooks Broadway through floor to ceiling windows. It’s really lovely.)

Jon on amenities:

“Was really nice to have our own private locker room, but that’s more a factor of us being the only men there for the class… possibly for the entire day (and maybe more). I could have eaten off the floor.”

Matt on the amenities:

“It was lovely. But it’s not worth $36 for me to take a shower.”

squeeze

squeeze

What Jon liked about the workout:

” The quad and hip work. The ball is very effective. The band is nice. The pilates mat seems a bit superfluous as the floor is carpeted. I like the weight warm up a lot.”

What Matt likes about the class:

“The leg workout was the best. I was sore the next day. Depending on what weight you used, the arm exercise could be tough.”

(Editor’s note: It was funny to watch them squat and pulse and squeeze. They were awkward (80%)and also surprisingly graceful (20%.))

Both:

“We preferred having a female teacher.” (Editor’s note:  Yea. Emily is a smokeshow.)

As for their thoughts on their P57 classmates? Matt explained, “I have to admit, it’s nice to be work out with a bunch of hotties.”

Feeling strong after P57

Feeling strong after P57

Jon ended by saying, “It was a great workout. I will never go back.” Matt said if it were free, he’d take another class.

Both expressed disbelief in the price women are willing to pay for 50 mins of working out. Jon felt like he could a lot of the exercises alone (ie: clam shells). It’s worth noting Jon has super-human discipline.

So men, I know what you’re wondering: Is Physique57 THE untapped place to pick up babes with smoking triceps and a lifted booty?

borrowed from Rate Your Burn

borrowed from Rate Your Burn

Neither Jon nor Matt are on the market but Matt did comment on the amount of “talent” in the room and how unexpected it is for a guy to be in there. That alone would be a good conversation starter.

As for me and Katy, we got free classes for introducing Jon and Matt to P57. So everybody wins. More clam shells for everyone!

my favorite

Half marathon training is going swimmingly. I’m actually feeling myself get faster and more “conditioned.” I didn’t play sports competitively as a kid, so this feeling of athletic growth is new for me and very exciting. Is this what all of your childhoods were like? Tell me more!

Did you just ride your bikes after school to track meets and then pedal home with the weight of your medals hanging from your necks? I figured you did. Belated Mazel Tov! I imagine it looked something like this:

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