Archive for February, 2010

A new series: articles from other women who love to play.
The first one is from Gina de la Chesnaye from Brooklyn, NY.
(You can contribute, too. Just give me a shout in comments)

I like to play hard. I always have. And today, in Brooklyn, I was reminded of what exactly taught me to play hard and most of all, endure. It was simple really. It was the rain. The rain that came fast and pin pricking down upon me as I dropped my kids off and it was the rain that swept away the snow leaving to my astonishment multitudes of dog shit piles unearthed for us to step over. (Wtf?!  I have a dog and I don’t do that but that’s another story).

It was this cold, cold rain that so many of us have trained in. We slugged and sloshed and did mile after mile of Indian drills and wind sprints and throws that left our legs rubbery and our hands numb. I am talking about Ultimate Frisbee. And Ultimate, I realized in the Northeast, is very much akin to basic training. It is cold. Wet. Muddy. And occasionally played in Nor’easters. (You can’t reschedule Regionals!)

We suffered. But, we suffered because we wanted to. We wanted to win.

So, today, after dropping the kids off in the rain I did an hour and a half of yoga. And then I hopped the subway to 38th Street to do two and half hours of kickboxing. All of this with a torn hamstring. It’s been a month out and I have babied it but it is still tweaked. But, I went and played because if I don’t I’m a miserable wretch of a person and I played hard. Round after round of drills. Kicks. Punches. Knees. Footwork. Sparring. Oh, I love sparring. That’s when all of the conditioning and the skills kick in and if you are not mentally present you will feel it in your jaw, your nose, your quad that your friend has so thankfully kicked because you were not smart enough or quick enough to move out of the way. Or your lip which will be bloodied because you simply did not have your hands up.

And, it all comes down to the rain. Push yourself. Muddy yourself. Play hard. And today, I knew I wasn’t going to win anything. I wasn’t trying to win anything. I was trying not to get my ass-kicked. But, when my trainer came up to me and said, “You are one tough mother.” I knew that I had won something – Respect. Just for playing hard…

And then I iced my hamstring. Which is still tweaked but just fine.


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new fun

I love to start new things. Right now I’m looking for some strength training so my bony knees don’t hurt after adding more to my weekly mileage. This morning I asked my good friend Alita (pe teacher, top age-group finisher in 5ks to half-marathons) about any plyometric routines she could recommend. Her response: crossfit.com

Just took a look at the workouts—it looks pretty hard-core but I think I’ll just incorporate a few elements into my training here and there. The videos are pretty funny to watch–especially the “bad” way to do things.

{post script–whats an entry without an image?!}

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I just finished reading a very inspirational article about Kara Goucher, one of the top marathoners in the world. She has struggled with her mental self for as long as she can remember. Long story short, after working with a sports psychologist (that’s on my win-the-lottery list, along with a weekly sports massage & house cleaning), they came up with a word she would “employ” in the middle of a race. The word will help her (read: you) find that place in her head that helps her body. It engages that mental toughness — to do those 10 more sit-ups or run when you didn’t know you could, or for me, it is to find my “game” which has been lost for a while!*

My word for the moment came when watching The Wizard of Oz. Don’t laugh. Okay, you can laugh. It is courage. It gets my brain out-of-the-way and lets my body do what it knows best, to  trust myself enough to let my physical self take over.

Since this is a new word, I’ll let you know how it works out.

By the way, I’m still training for the Seven Sisters trail run. It’s the second week and I’m still on target. Since I have chosen the “beginner” schedule from Nikeplus, it’s not too difficult. Also, I want to wish Tanya the best of luck in her half marathon this Sunday!

*ps: if you find my game, please return it immediately!

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join me?

I have started many posts only to place them on the shelf, half-written. But on the other hand, I have a physical goal! I feel so much more motivated when I have a carrot dangling out in front of my cart. That carrot is The Seven Sister’s Trail Race on May 2.

There, I said it. Now I have many watching me which is yet a bigger carrot called pride. The Seven Sisters is a set of mountain peaks on the Mt. Holyoke mountain range– a 12 miler up and down 3700 ft. To say it’s hilly is bit of an understatement. It’s more of a climb/scramble with a little bit of jogging in between. Fortunately I have run half of it before so I do know what I’m getting myself into.

I started my training this week and Tanya is keeping me in check. One run in midst of a snow blizzard and the other two on the dreadmill. I even busted out a few squats and lunges with weights.

I am officially inviting everyone to join me in training–in person or virtually. To me, the seven sisters is do-able since I’m just gonna try to finish, not race it. If you don’t want to do that, wouldn’t it be fun to pick an event to do on May 2 to train for? Could be as simple as planning to run farther than you ever had, play in a tournament, climb a mountain, or just ride your bike to a place you have never thought possible.


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fads or no fads

vibram 5 fingers

I believe we all succumb to fads. Or, is it that the fads just happen to roll around to our way of thinking? Take barefoot running—a major topic these days. Personally I’m scared to try anything of the sort. Having had plantar fasciitis so bad that at times I used to crawl out of bed, I would never want to stray from what is working: a pair of very stable shoes with custom orthotics.

Yet, I have this friend (Tanya, you are so outed) who recently purchased the Vibram 5 fingers (why “fingers” and not “toes”, I have no idea). She’s been running in them all winter long and LOVES them (Her words: “They kick le a$$”). This is the story of the fad catching up with the personality: she’s always been a barefoot lady so transitioning to running barefoot is a no-brainer. I vowed never to be seen with her while they were on her feet—they are really bringing the term tech-geek to a new level. But I softened to the idea and they aren’t so bad, especially because on our country roads no one else is outside to see me with her and I am too busy trying to catch my breath to ever really take notice. (I did notice, however, her running—backwards!—up one very steep hill, waiting for me to catch up.)

On a more serious note, she loves them and they really do allow her to cruise up the hills effortlessly. I’m worried that if she keeps running in them in the spring and summer, I’ll be seeing her backside forever!

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Today is the day to celebrate us. You, me, and any other woman out there.

I explained to my sister yesterday that my new blog was about all women who play. “Hey. that’s me!” It’s not just about women who are professional athletes or at the top of their game; this blog is about the everyday hero, the woman who steps out her door to excercise her body, soul, and mind in the way she sees fit. See, my sister is a rock star, figuratively speaking. From the age of 12 to 25, she wasn’t very active. Then she was bold enough to pick up soccer again. Then running. A dozen or so years later, she has run a 50k (that’s A LOT of miles!), a marathon, and now she’s training for another 50k. She’s not fast—but that’s not the point. She does it and loves it. She is my hero. She’s my sister.

If you want to find out more about National Girls and Women in Sports Day, there is no better place than the Women’s Sports Foundation. Founder Billie Jean King says it best: http://mail.live.com/default.aspx?n=2141667741&wa=wsignin1.0

And thanks to Tina for alerting me to this local event even though it already happened:

Smith Athletics is celebrating National Girls & Women in Sports Day on Sunday, January 31, 12:30-4 p.m. with sport clinics for girls in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. This event is free and all girls will participate in 5 sport station clinics, will receive a T-shirt, certificate and snacks. Registration forms are available on our Athletic website under Recreation. Forms can be faxed to 585-2712 or call 585-2705 for further information. Come and celebrate your special day.

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The mind is sometimes my favorite piece of equipment but at times it is too frenetic, whereas the dear old shoe never misleads me.

Adidas Supernova Control running shoes: you are my favorite shoe. Slightly askew, you sit by the door, yearning to be put on again—to be taken out on a little stroll. But you aren’t the only shoe I have loved, there are the oft neglected foot protectors each with their special skill set.

The turf shoe, made for soccer on fake grass. Actual dependency: you help my weary soles and aching knees age somewhat gracefully on the Ultimate field.  (I wish you’d also help me with my hops and speed.)

Basketball hightops: I’m sorry you are deep in the closet, not seeing the light of day since I was pregnant with Joaquin (although you helped me make a mean pick back then, with my belly and bottom sticking out a few extra inches). You really should be given to someone who would value you.

Indoor soccer shoes: oh, you good lookin’ shoes. My excuse was indoor soccer, yet so stylish that you come out when I feel like dressing in my sporty-casual wear (like every other day).

Cleats: ouch, you hurt. I don’t know why you’re still around. Note to self: must add to next box ’o clothes to donate.

Running shoes cum garden shoes: you used to guide me on my trail runs until my orthotics guy retired your $89 brand new self.

Hiking shoes: ah, you’re pretty good on the disc golf course, too bad you’re already breaking apart (kinda like my game).

Mt. Bike shoes: you’ve been half-chewed up since my 12 year old dog was a puppy. (Did I mention that I have a hard time getting rid of shoes?)

The pile: you, in the corner: it’s too embarrassing to list all of you I no longer remember to use.

That’s my list. What’s your favorite piece of equipment?

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