CROSSING MY T’S

A marathon training run can be a very long time to hang out with yourself. When your training buddy is recovering from surgery and the length of your run outlasts the length of the Hamilton soundtrack, sometimes finding other ways to distance yourself from your thoughts turns into a matter of extreme importance. And so, somewhere around mile six of my Saturday-morning 19-miler, I found myself playing a little game:

How many people will I pass in the next three hours that I’ve raced with in the past? (Or at least, how many are wearing shirts indicating that that’s the case?)

Over the course of nineteen miles from south Brooklyn over the Brooklyn Bridge, up the West Side Highway, into Central Park and around the reservoir, and back down to Bryant Park, I saw ten different race shirts that I also have in my drawer of workout clothes. At first, I saw a handful of people wearing the black shirt from the 2015 Brooklyn Half, which I saw a few more times throughout my trek. But I also saw two Brooklyn Half shirts from other years, two from NYC Halfs, a 2014 NYC Marathon shirt, a Staten Island Half shirt, an Oakley Mini-10K tank, a UAE Healthy Kidney tech tee, and my favorite—a Vermont City Marathon shirt.

It’s not a secret to my running friends that I can get a little emotional on a long run, so it shouldn’t be surprising that there is almost nothing I love more than seeing another runner sporting a shirt from a race I did out of state. Part of what I love about running, and marathoning in particular, is that while it’s an individual challenge and often a solitary activity, there’s a feeling of camaraderie among runners. In a group of people each having their own experience and all going through the same difficult, weird, rewarding race, it’s hard not to feel some connection to those around you. Vermont City 2016 was a particularly strange experience, given that due to extreme heat, the race was called off midway through. When I saw a woman in Central Park in her Vermont City tee, I was totally tempted to stop her right there to ask her all about her experience.

In the past, I’ve reminisced about the Philly Marathon with a woman I found myself twinning with on the corner of Sixth Avenue somewhere in midtown. I’ve tossed a “Nice shirt!” at a woman matching me in an NYC half tee at mile four of Cincinnati’s Flying Pig Marathon. And I’ve pointed with joy at the t-shirt from that Flying Pig race as I looped Central Park with my best running pal. It’s just a moment, and it’s so simple, but it can be so cool to see that indicator of shared experience and feel a quick connection to that stranger, especially in a city full of so many strangers. It’s a bit like seeing someone wearing your college logo, but even a little more specific.

Which race shirt did I see most? Let’s just say if I wasn’t already planning on next year’s Fifth Avenue Mile, I sure am now. Gotta join the club!

Kelly McGauley lives in Brooklyn, works in Manhattan, and often runs back and forth between the two.

KNOCKED OFF MY FEET

127-2Four weeks ago, the unthinkable happened. Four weeks ago I voluntarily took a leave of absence from running.

Well, voluntary and not.

In a desperate last-ditch attempt to cure the nagging case of plantar fasciitis that has plagued me for a year and a half, two marathons, and countless hours of physical therapy, I decided to have an ultrasound-guided Tenex procedure. Basically, the doctor inserted a small needle into my foot and broke up the damaged tissue with ultrasonic waves. The theory is that removing the damaged tissue and re-injuring the tendon allows it to heal correctly. The upside is that it’s pretty effective and the whole thing only takes about fifteen minutes. The downside is that it puts you out of commission, running-wise for four to six weeks.

So while I was more than happy to go under the knife, ahem, ultrasonic X-Acto blade to rid myself of my chronic heel pain, I did not want to give up a single run. But I did. I gave up twenty runs, my place in the NYC Marathon, and untold miles of early-morning gossip with my best running bud. And here’s what I learned…

Endorphins are real. And I need them. A wise woman once said, “exercising gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy.  Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands. They just don’t!” Well, I haven’t murdered anyone yet, but I’ve been consistently bummed out for weeks. A few days in to my sentence I found myself falling down an Instagram rabbit hole, jealously ogling #marathontraining photos, silently cursing all those able to #runhappy. Reader, it was ugly.

Marathon training completely warps your sense of what constitutes a “walkable” distance. My doctor instructed me to “take it easy” my first few weeks post-Tenex. “Sure,” I thought. “No problem!” But what is easy anyway? It turns out, my natural instinct is to walk twice as much as is necessary when going to any location and avoid complicated subway transfers at all costs. What used to be a ten-minute walk to the West 4th station turned into a daily twenty-minute Odyssey, further hindered by the plastic walking boot slowly boring a hole into my left calf. Even now that I’m out of the boot but still “taking it easy,” it’s a daily struggle to force myself to descend into the bowels of the city instead of doing what sees so natural—walking an extra five minutes to the R train “right over there.”

Stretching is a privilege. Like many runners, I am TERRIBLE about stretching. Sure, after a long run, I’ll drop my heels off a staircase, or spend a few minutes of QT with The Stick. But after my usual 3-4 miles around the neighborhood? Nah. I hit the showers and then it’s on to breakfast. Well, never again! All I’ve wanted to do these last few weeks is relax into a deep, long, calf stretch followed by several bends to release my tight hamstrings. I’ll never take my foam roller for granted again. I may even go back to yoga class. (LOL)

My friends are pretty darn great. I knew this already, of course, but even my non-running friends have been so patient as I’ve howled on about all my extra couch time. I was convinced by week two that I’d become a madwoman in my attic of a third floor walk up, likely to burn the place to the ground any time my roommate left me alone to adventure out into the wide world. (Instead I re-read Jane Eyre!) But Skype visits and real visits and even special ice cream deliveries kept me entertained and relatively cheerful.

That said, literally everyone I know is thrilled to bits that I’ve been cleared to resume running (1 mile/day!) next week. Because while my friends are great, they are also human. And had they been forced to put up with me for one more week, we’d likely be friends no longer.

Ellen Cormier lives, works, runs, walks, and has lately been limping a bit in New York City.

HOW DO YOU DO IT?

After running consistently for the past ten years, I am faced with a permanent schedule that absolutely erodes my running time due to my very first full-time job.

When do people run? I find myself asking this all the time, and want to find out how you do it. I know it’s not impossible, but I’m struggling. And I’m not entirely sure if it’s an excuse I’m feeding myself or a legitimate time issue.

I commute from Jersey, so like many other commuters, my total day including travels is a minimum of twelve hours. I get on the train at 7:03 a.m. and get off at 7:02 p.m., if I leave on time. And when I get home I am usually starving for dinner. So for the first few weeks I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and ran, and it was great during those early summer months, until August hit. It started being pitch black out this early, and also felt like stepping into a sauna. The humidity was absolutely disgusting, not to mention I could not even see my feet or the cracks in the sidewalks, so I was fearing my death from heat stroke, exhaustion, or a fall every time I put on my sneakers. Maybe I am exaggerating, but it was HOT and DARK. I don’t remember conditions ever being this brutal.

As it seemed darker and darker each morning, I started running in the evenings. But now, by the time I start at 7:15 p.m., it gets dark within the first half hour, and it will only get darker earlier! It’s strange not being in school anymore, back when I was able to run in the middle of the day between classes or in the morning (7 a.m., not crazy 5 a.m.). Relying solely on my weekend runs for training, I hope that I will be okay for my October race, a half marathon in Trenton, NJ. I’ve fallen behind on my training schedule, but I’ve been doing kickboxing classes at night. It’s not running but it’s indoors and brightly lit, and keeps me going. In fact, I sort of agreed to run a half this weekend with friends. I am definitely not ready, but let’s see what happens.

So tell me. How do you do it? Where do you find the time? Please e-mail me your routine, your tips, your experiences, and I’ll share them in a follow-up article!

Justine Sha is a publicity assistant at St. Martin’s Press and a recent M.A. graduate from Seton Hall University.

TIME TO UP YOUR FRENCH TOAST GAME!

Lost bread!
Lost bread!

I’ve been a latecomer to many things in life—the iPhone, fantasy football, Fleetwood Mac—but most of all morning exercise. The idea of getting in a run before work was not something I even considered until last year, when I returned from a trip to Europe to find that I had the magical ability to wake up naturally well before it was time to get to the office. Having proven I could get out of bed and run, I can still squeeze in morning runs a few times a month, and nothing motivates that run more than the vision of a big breakfast when I get back to my apartment.

I’ve always considered running as license to a highly functional and rewarding relationship with carbs, year-round but even more so as the weather turns cold. Below are some tips to up your game for the breakfast staple French toast or pain perdu (“lost bread”) as my mom would call it when she would dress it up for a weeknight dinner. (Growing up in Indiana, it’s easy to hear this as an ambiguous slight to Purdue University.) French toast is a blank canvas that you can dress up in a lot of different ways, and many of the ideas below go for pancakes and waffles, too!

1. More Breads, More Fun

Have more than one kind of bread on hand? Use more than one to enjoy different textures. Personally, I enjoy more elastic breads like baguettes that maintain their chew even after soaking in the milk and egg mixture. If I have an old baguette that’s dried out, I’ll cut it into chunks and put it in the freezer until I’m ready to use it. When it’s time, let the bread come to room temperature and give it an extra minute or two to soak. Contrast that with a bread that will soften more when soaked like challah, brioche, or regular white sandwich bread. To make a true pain perdu, use bread that’s begun to dry out, so it will soak up more milk and eggs!

2. Fruit Instead of Syrup

A fresh alternative to maple syrup is to toss some cut fruit with sugar and let it macerate in the fridge. The sugar will help draw out juice from the fruit and create a very light syrup. Strawberries are the perfect candidate for this treatment. Toss a cup of sliced strawberries and half a mango cut into chunks with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let that macerate in the fridge for 30 minutes and then spoon it over your toast.

3. Add crunch!

The soft texture of French toast begs for a little crunch. Sprinkle the finished plate with toasted walnuts or pecans, toasted coconut, corn flakes, or demerara sugar.

Brutalism
Brutalism

4. Shape Up

Get some visual interest going by buying a whole loaf of bread and cutting it in different shapes. One big cube is satisfying to take down with a knife and fork, as are large wedges. Take this as an opportunity to explore your favorite style of architecture.

5. Get Cheesy

If you haven’t thought of French toast as a vehicle for cheese, prepare to have your mind blown. You can find plenty of recipes that involve cream cheese, but there’s a whole wide world of possibilities out there. I daresay any soft or semisoft cheese will work. Ricotta? Sure. Chevre? Why not? Brie? Yaaas! If you’ve never tried it, Brillat-Savarin is excellent with French toast—because Brillat-Savarin is excellent with everything.

Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism

6. Go Crazy

You want to put some chocolate chips on that French toast? Maybe some hot fudge? Whipped cream? How about just build an ice cream sundae on your breakfast plate—along with some bacon? Nobody’s looking! Fall racing season is upon us! You need the energy! Now enjoy that with a cup of coffee and a nice episode of Law and Order. Make it SVU. You deserve it.

Postmodernism
Postmodernism

French Toast: Basic Recipe

3 eggs

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6-8 slices of white bread/Italian bread/challah/brioche or ½ a baguette—or a mix

¼ cup butter

Confectioner’s sugar, for garnish

Maple syrup/fruit/nuts, etc., to serve

Beat the eggs until the yolks and whites are evenly combined and stir in the milk, salt, and vanilla. Soak the bread in the milk and eggs mixture until it has absorbed enough of the mixture to be spongy but isn’t falling apart. The softer the bread you’re using, like challah and brioche, the less soaking it needs. Sometimes a two-second dunk will do. Harder bread such as a baguette may need a few minutes. Remove the soaked bread to a plate or tray. Heat a sauté pan—preferably nonstick—over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add a tablespoon of butter and swirl it around the pan, so the pan is coated. The butter will bubble up initially, and then the bubbles will subside. Add the bread after the bubbles have subsided, adding as many slices as will fit comfortably. Cook each side until it is lightly brown. Remove to a plate and serve with a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar and accompaniments. Serves 1-2.

Dan DeBonis is a Senior Acquisitions Editor for Psychology at Worth Publishers, and he will pay top dollar for amazing tomatoes.

INTERVIEW: SAMANTHA GASH

sam gash

Meet author Samantha Gash from Australia, who next week begins an amazing 3800-km charity run that you can be a part of. She took time out from her last-minute preparations this week to answer a few quick questions.

Sam, you’re about to undertake an incredible adventure: running across India. How many days is this going to take and how far are you going? I jet off to India in two sleep’s time and I am neck-deep in running shoes, electrolyte powder, maps of India, and spreadsheets of my daily running itinerary and community engagements. The Run India project goes for 77 days, taking me from the west of India to the east.

And you’re not just doing it for the fun of it. What can you tell us about your mission? I think if it were just for my love of running I would only get through a week. My objective through Run India is to shed light on the barriers to quality education for children across India. My run will take me through the desert, urban centers, the foothills of the Himalayas, the tea estates of Darjeeling, and the wet mountains in the east. Each of these pockets of India are influenced by varying culture, language, terrain, climate, and density of population. Therefore the challenges that a child faces when being able to access a quality education will differ based on where you live. We are using a digital platform to share the stories from the eighteen World Vision programs I am visiting across the country. We will endeavour to raise funds to support six education-focused programs across the country as well.

Your adventure begins August 22nd. Is there still time for folks to get involved? Definitely!! This is the first time people that people are able to join me and embark on their own journey to make their footsteps count. As an individual, or as a team (of up to 10), you can sign up to the Run India 12-week challenge. Through walking or running, you track your distance, and do a virtual run of India alongside me. Committing to a 12-week fitness challenge is massive for anyone and this is an opportunity for you to see #howfaryouwillgo.

You will be able to connect to the content we create from the field and you also have the choice to fundraise for the six education programs.

Details are here.

You can also directly donate here.

We will have regular content coming out through all of our platforms throughout the Run India project.   facebook   insta   twitter 

You are currently writing a YA book that will be publishing in 2017 by Macmillan’s Roaring Brook Press. What’s your quick pitch for the project? It has been a challenge to reflect and write on what has been, when my last twelve months have been incredibly intense in the lead up to Run India. I am grateful that my editor Emily Feinberg and Roaring Brook have been so supportive of my writing journey.

As a youngster I stood out: in appearance, family background, aspirations, and personality. I floated between desperately wanting to fit in with my peers and being adamant about doing things my own way. I was many things, but what I wasn’t was an athlete.  My book follows my journey in seeking out the things that made sense, which was often through pushing well beyond my comfort zone in a wide range of areas. From a confused teenager, Performing Arts/Law student at university, disgruntled graduate corporate lawyer, business development manager in a financial advisory firm to a communications specialist. I never would have imagined that it would be a career as an endurance athlete, racing through extreme and hostile environments on Earth that would take me to my most vulnerable and authentic self. Which has set the backdrop to push myself for a reason well beyond myself.

For those of us who find getting out the door and running across town almost as big a challenge as running across a country, do you have any words of encouragement? Jump on the trails, run with friends, get a workout outfit that makes you feel great, and set a goal. All four are perfect motivation to get off the couch and get your body moving!