The Run Before The Storm

I really thought today’s run was going to suck.

That’s a good attitude to have, right?

Coach Cane had me running 14 miles: the first 10 slower than my marathon goal pace (semi-success!) and the final four faster than my MGP (full success!).

Fun fact: I ended up running 16 miles (my bad) and kind of loved every single one of them!

Except the one where I barfed up Vanilla Bean Gu. More on that later.

I think I can try to break today’s run down into “The Good” and “The Bad.” If I made a category for “The Ugly” it would be the vomit.

You don’t have to tell me I’m sexy/classy/ladylike. I already know it. Thank you though.

GOOD: Doing a “Power Yoga Hour” class yesterday afternoon. The last time I did yoga during marathon training was roughly 19 months ago. (Rough estimate.) The class was at 1:15 pm, which meant I finally got to actually take advantage of my office’s Summer Friday policy (work 9 am until 1 pm and then peace out).

The first half of the class was vigorous and flowy, and the second half was stretchy. My flexibility sucks. It’s semi-hilarious that I was a dancer for 18 years. I can barely touch my toes now. Thank you, running. Everything about the class felt good and I adored the hot little lady instructor. Total girl crush.

I also did side crow pose — on both sides — for the first time! I think the yogic way to say side crow is Baklava Baryshnikov, but I could be wrong. I think that’s what the instructor said though. Still, yoga success. And for my Twitter friends, that would be #yogasuccess. Hash tagging is fun.

ALSO GOOD: Doing not much else yesterday. After yoga I ran a few errands to stock up on goodies before Hurricane Irene Whore hits. Then I came to my apartment, sat on my bed and read for about an hour. It was relaxing and wonderful.

NOT SO GOOD: The amount of food I ate last night. I went to Due on the Upper East Side which was wonderful. I recommend it for sure. Also, I pronounce it like Doo, but that smart little manfriend of mine swears it’s Doo-ay. Psh.

The food was great, but did I need three pieces of bread, a plate of scallops and a fancy little lamb ragu homemade pasta amazingness concoction…followed by 16 Handles? Probably not. Needless to say my stomach took a while to chill out this morning.

AWFUL: My first breakfast. Remember yesterday when I was like, “Hey friends, let’s talk about running fuel” and almost every single one of you said you eat peanut butter and banana for your pre-run breakfast?

This was no bueno. That's Spanish for "this crap was gross."

Yeah, I tried it. Even though I know I don’t like banana, or I at least know I’m very afraid of its odd texture and sketchy consistency.

This will never happen again, because I don't like bananas.

But still, knowing so many people swear by this made me think there had to be something magical about it.

Confession: I didn’t toast the bread. On race morning, I will not have a toaster. And that’s what I’m preparing for.

So plain bread + peanut butter + banana…

Here goes!

I was so positive about it!

I look happy, right?

But yeah…no.

I didn’t like it. Sorry. I guess that’s good though: more bananas in the world for the rest of you. So honestly, you’re welcome.

SO GREAT: My second breakfast.

Look at that! It's like eating a cookie for breakfast!

That’s more like it. Chocolatey, sugary “granola bars” that don’t, in fact, seem to contain any actual granola. They are made by Entenmann’s, so you know they’re good.

And I ate two. For extra fuel.

NOT GREAT: My new Lululemon tank. It’s a Cool Racerback, which is my favorite style, but the material, which would be perfect for the gym or lounging around, was way too heavy once it got sweat-soaked.

This is me, taking a self-portrait. Pretty typical.

I like the color, though.

GOOD: My stomach. I thought I was in rough shape this morning. The past few days my stomach has been feeling unsettled and, honestly, kind of awful. Naturally I’m convinced that being a month away from the marathon means I’m due for a Crohn’s attack.

But once I started running, I felt fine. Good, even! No bathroom stops needed.

BAD: The humidity. So there’s this hurricane coming straight for NYC, which apparently means we’ll be teased with 1,000% humidity beforehand.

Nice, right? Totally clear. So beautiful.

I was sweaty within the first mile. Good thing I adore sweat.

GREAT: My new sneakers.

See how nice? I'll attempt to keep them that way.

It gives me a little rush knowing the shoes I’m in now are the ones I’ll cross the start and finish lines in during the Hamptons Marathon.

ALSO GREAT: All the people watching! Central Park was packed with runners and riders getting a workout in before the storm comes.

I saw Kelly right away, found Dori at a water fountain and wrapped up my run with Shannon. In between I saw just about everyone else.

And I met Lauren!


I creepy-smiled at her while I was paused drinking at Engineer’s Gate. I noticed we were wearing the same shirt and I got excited. And then I was like, “I wish we could take a picture together” and then what do you know, this boyfriend that I have appeared out of the blue, happy (forced?) to take a snapshot for us. Good man.

BAD, REALLY REALLY BAD: Vanilla Bean Gu. OK, those of you who said it would taste like vanilla frosting, we should talk. I really need to know what the F kind of frosting you’re eating. Because you’re eating the wrong kind if it tastes like gel.

A big part of my Vanilla Bean struggle was mental. First, I couldn’t get the dang thing open. I’ve never successfully opened anything with my teeth, so I guess I need to practice that little skill.

Then, when I got the package of nastiness semi-open, I saw the Gu and it completely freaked me out. I thought it would look like frosting. Maybe I’m naive. But it was kind of clear and it looked like hair gel. I did not want to eat hair gel.

I tried a tiny bit and BAM, barf in Central Park.


It was just a little vomit, but the warmness (I need to try the refrigeration trick several of you mentioned) was sick and the consistency was blech and I did not like it. So I spit up like an angry baby.

No more Vanilla Bean for me.

KIND OF GOOD: I found better success with the Mint Chocolate Gu. I liked the taste and I liked that it looked like chocolate, not hair product.

I definitely had to mentally psych myself up to force it down, and I certainly wouldn’t say it was a delicacy or something I’d order again if it was on a menu, but it worked OK. I’ll probably try it again.

GREAT: How I felt! As vile as those gels were, they clearly worked, because I was able to cruise through 10 miles at a slower pace and then bang out the final four at a stronger pace.

I'll take it.

DUMB: I didn’t plan my route. This is always fine because I know I’ll just keep wrapping through Central Park. But today I finished running down by Columbus Circle — which is on the complete opposite end of the park from where I needed to end. That meant I either had to walk two miles home or add two miles to my run, which wasn’t Coach Cane-approved.

Well walking would take too long and fast running just wasn’t an option. So I slow ran. Really slow ran.

GOOD: It rained a little. The slight drizzle felt great and was a very welcome break from the stickiness in the air.

VERY GOOD: I have plenty of wine and supplies for taco night. Irene may be forcing the city to panic and shut down, but I’m planning to camp out at a certain someone’s apartment until Monday.

Monday? Yes. Because my office is closed on Monday. They’re anticipating lots of stormy badness.

Fine by me. I’ll take a long weekend.

BAD: I don’t have renter’s insurance on my apartment (please don’t tell my dad). So if this thing does get bad, well, that may not bode well for the sad un-sturdy windows in my pretty new home.

REALLY AWESOME: I don’t plan on wearing real clothes the entire weekend. Sweatpants, pajamas, bathrobe? All acceptable for a Hurricane Staycation.

EVEN MORE EXCELLENT: I am running a marathon in less than a month and I think I’m almost ready. Seriously. It’s almost game on time. I’m pumped.

TELL ME: Any hurricane must-haves? I don’t mean candles and batteries. I mean must-see movies, varieties of boxed wine or board games. I didn’t think this storm was actually going to happen, but Al Roker is desperate to make me think differently. Damn him.

Have a great, safe weekend, everyone!



0 Responses

  1. I had the same reaction with the Vanilla Bean Gu. It went down and came straight back up again. I have started using the sports beans (from the Jelly bean factory I think) and I find them great. I used to be able to down gels with no issues at all but not any more. The beans work wonders and I find that I only need 2 or 3 at a time.

  2. Okay, vanilla gu sounds VILE! I will never try it, hair gel? Ew. And PB&Banana is so good! Too bad you don’t like banans though, that’s kind of a big one not to like with that little combo! Glad you had a great run! I am thankful to be all moved into my new digs (yesterday) and all unpacked AND decorated (today!) and ready to veg and drink wine the rest o the storm 🙂

  3. Vanilla gu is terrible. I was forced to eat it at a recent race because I only brought one gu (chocolate, my favorite) and I was hot and tired and needed a second. They were only handing out strawberry and vanilla. I hate fruit flavored ones – so vanilla it was. I had the same reaction and agree it looks like hair gel. Stick to chocolate. I also like espresso (plus it has caffeine!)

    As for breakfasts, I am one of the few runners that i know that can’t eat PB & Banana on toast before running – it’s too heavy in my stomach. I have to eat just bread with jam and some fruit (I like bananas so can eat banana as a side) but you should try apples or other fruit. Just be careful of eating too much fiber…could send you to the bathroom real quick! Try some plain toast with jam and a side of fruit before your next run and see if it works! Or if the PB was OK for you just make it a PB&J. In the end, as long as you’re eating a few hundred calories an hour or two before the race, that’s all that matters.

  4. I’m not a big fan of bananas and their consistency either so I eat them when they are still a little green. It makes them firmer and not so banana-y. I also try cinnamon on top to help with the taste, cinnamon is also really good for regulating blood sugars.

  5. I danced for 18 years too, and yet my flexibility is not the greatest either! I feel embarrassed when I take yoga, because I just look ridiculous! My muscles are so tight from all the other kinds of exercise that I do. Ironically enough, yoga is what I should be doing to stretch out those tight muscles…

  6. As far as pre-run breakfasts, I usually eat nothing at all unless I have at least 3 hours between eating and race/run. If I do have 3 hours, I’ll eat a small bowl of oatmeal. Your body has enough glycogen stores that you really do not need to be putting food into your stomach before running. Also, on the gel thing…I carry a 10 oz hand-held bottle that I dilute my gels in water. That way I don’t have to worry about ripping them open (not an easy task esp after running 20 miles!) Plus they are not as sweet and thick. I normally take one gel every 45 min so for a marathon the mixture is more concentrated and I supplement with water on the course (or water fountains if it’s a training run. I like Hammer gels, too b/c they are not as sweet as other brands I have tried.

  7. I’ve never dared try GU as it always seemed synthetic and gross to me. I highly recommend the CLIF shots though. They’re not gels. It’s a thicker consistency and a little textured. More like cake batter or something. A more natural consistency and all natural ingredients. I’ve only ever tried the chocolate, mocha, espresso and cherry chocolate flavors all tasted good to me.

  8. ok, wait a minute. you don’t like bananas, had taco night tonight, AND you eat as much froyo as i do? why aren’t we friends yet?? (is that creepy? if it is, i’m embracing it.)

    a friend at work suggested i try snickers as my pre-run fuel (something about the perfect ratio for endurance sports or something…) so i had one today before my 12 miler. let’s just say i won’t be trying that again anytime soon…i’m going back to oatmeal and peanut butter!

    stay dry tonight!

  9. True story: at a Gu station during our first half-marathon, my friend took a vanilla bean by accident. When she saw what packet was in her hand, she turned right around and ran a couple tenths of a mile against the crowd to swap it for another flavor.

    My belief is that mint chocolate Gu is amazing and the rest tastes like boogers. I have a feeling I’ve left this comment on your blog before, but if there’s one thing I’m an expert on, it’s avoiding nasty food textures.

    Before runs, I eat pumpkin bread. Yeah, weird. Tried it once out of desperation and it was the first time I ever ran more than 5 miles without stomach issues. Now I bake two loaves at a time and freeze them. It has chocolate!

  10. haha, your banana experience made me smile. at least you gave it a shot! they’re not my favorite fruit, but i’ve come to enjoy them as a pre-race ritual. sometimes GU makes me nauseous/gives me heartburn, blech. lately my go-to on the run fuel has been twizzlers! so good 🙂

  11. You are one funny lady! Your blog cracks me up every day.
    Every time someone in our house has to go #2 we say ‘due’.. get it? Italian for the word 2. Hehehe!
    Good luck with the hurricane. Be safe 🙂

  12. I laughed at your analysis of gu. I totally agree. I had gu once while I was training for a half marathon and it made me so nauseous that I decided it wasn’t worth the extra energy, so I’ve never tried one again. Maybe that’ll change when I run a marathon, but for now I’ll stick with gatorade.
    I’m glad you’re feeling so positive about your marathon in a month! I admire you so much for your confidence, and how you seem to go at every workout, from speed to long runs, with such a great attitude. Good luck weathering the hurricane!

  13. I’ve been forced to evacuate my apartment because I live in Zone A! In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying several (too many) screwdrivers and mimosas to adequately welcome Irene with open arms.

    I hate Gu gels. Seriously. You should try shot bloks. They’re so, so much better.

  14. hahah sorry about the frosting comparison on twitter earlier! Major lolz at the “what the f kinda frosting are you eating” hahah. Definitely don’t try the chocolate raspberry one. Waaay too rich.

    that weather was crazy humid out today! Didn’t really notice it until i looked down at my shirt. Drenched!

  15. I’m pretty sure that the yogi way of saying crow pose is not the combination of a delicious dessert and a famous dancer…but then again, that could just be me ;). Also, I think I read somewhere that the perfect hurricane survival kit includes oatmeal chocolate chip cookies freshly made to be eaten with peanut butter cup ice cream. Or maybe I am just hoping that’s the case.

    On a serious note, if the Gu doesn’t go down well for you (TWSS), I’d recommend trying the Sport Beans. I think they’re MUCH easier to eat than the Chomps and some of the flavors taste really good (I prefer watermelon, mixed berry, and fruit punch). I also like them because you can have a couple at a time, whereas with the Gu you basically have to eat it in one straight shot unless you want a hot mess on your hands.

    Good luck with Irene…I think DC is about to get the “worst” of what we’re expected to get from the storm…nothing compared to what I think you’ll all have to deal with!

  16. Congrats on your long run (minus the vanilla bean mishap!) and that shirt is wicked cute… but it was a completely different color once you started to sweat in it. It looks heavy for sure! My hurricane essentials = sweats, red wine, pretzel m&ms (for cookies.. or not) and my boyfriend. And my pretty new laptop that I’m obsessed with. And my new Hunger Games book, the third one in the series.

    Good luck with windows! Hope they stay in place!!

    xo Marie
    Chocolate & Wine

  17. Nice running, my friend! And once again, I wish I had stopped and ran with you – would have made the run so much more fun 🙂 I’m glad you and the boyfriend are hunkering down. If 16 Handles is open on Monday, shall we have a date?

    I’m currently watching a Rachel Zoe marathon on Bravo, which is my idea of perfect hurricane television.

    Haha, and I do think it’s dooo-ay!

  18. Netflix on demand is all I have planned for tonight- Friday Night Lights. I’d say drinking, too, but I already got drunk today on spiked pink lemonade. At a 1 year old’s birthday party. I’m trying to figure out where that puts me on the trashy-spectrum.

    Stay safe!

  19. I have the same exact pair of sneakers and I LOVE them. Since I have been running in them my shin and ankle pain has decreased significantly. I’m obsessed with them. Be safe with the storm approaching!!

  20. No way could I stomach anything vanilla flavored, especially if it looked like hair gel. I don’t blame you for the barfage!! LOL. ALSO – I can’t believe you don’t like pb and banana on toast, it is the BEST combo ever. So sad. I like your backup breakfast option though – I used to eat the entemann’s rasberry strudel as a kid, seeing that package brought me back just a little bit. hehe. 😉
    Happy hurricane weekend, friend! I’m all stocked up (on wine, obvs), and ready to go!

  21. 3 cheers for Taco night and wine….my hubby and I are doing the same thing. I had the same experience when running in Boston this AM. EVERYONE was out, fuel belts and all very early. I have to be honest…after a long run, sometimes the best night is one without a bra, a cute boy to cuddle with, wine and a movie. Enjoy, you deserve it!

  22. Tape your windows! I hope you’re safe this weekend! They’re even talking about Irene here in France for most of the news bulletin!

  23. I was completely soaked from sweat after about .2 miles. Sexy, I know.
    And I am totally with you, wine is the top of my list for hurricane essentials. In fact, we have a whole case in my apartment. True story.
    Also! Hi! first comment 🙂

  24. Samesies!!

    Loved running into you today too! I creepily gushed about reading your blog, so we’re even. I’ll stop and say hello if I see you again in the park.

    Good luck with the storm tonight!

  25. As far as the gel goes, I think you also picked up a packet of the Clif Shot chocolate, right? That stuff DOES remind me of frosting. Consistency and flavor alike! Gu is a little too thin and, yes, hair gel-ish for my liking.

    Enjoy your hurricane hiding out!

  26. I seriously laughed out loud and then had to explain to my dad why I was laughing- while reading the section of this post dedicated to Vanilla Bean Gu! I had the EXACT same problem while experimenting different fueling options. I tried the Raspberry Clif Gel and threw it up immediately. It was the most horrendous thing I had ever forced myself to eat. Now I stick to the lime, which sounds gross, but actually is pretty good! I just always make sure that I have water to wash it down with– I am NOT a fan of the after gu taste.

  27. People magazine, steady stream of E! and Bravo TV, enough chocolate for a small African village, and a partridge in a pear tree — in case this storm keeps us under until Christmas, I need to be ready for the 1st day (of Christmas).

    Try Jet Blackberry or Tri-Berry. Seriously, gu takes a few times to get used to. When I was training for my 1st marathon, it was winter, so they did kind of freeze and that helped. Def keep practicing with what you want to use. My friend used Shot Bloks all through her marathon and worked just fine. Maybe some Shot Bloks and salt packets would do the trick.

    You could try gatorade, but I personally CANNOT drink gatorade when running – it makes me sick, throw-up, upsets my stomach — every vile thing that can happen does.

  28. Can I please say that I’m JEALOUS of your run this morning? I (jokingly) had my “1st Annual Hurricane Irene 1/2 Marathon” today, and the weather said rain, so I slept in. Now I’m either banished to the treadmill or waiting until Monday. This stinks! GREAT RUN! Again check out Hammer Nutrition, they have pills you can take instead of gu’s, and they also have fizz that you can put into water etc. Hurricane must haves: a ridiculous brunch breakfast burrito (Will be pictured on my blog today), Miller Lite and Sam Seasonal, picked up fresh pastries from the bakery, dvr’d a bunch of movies overnight, and a sleepy puppy ready to snuggle!!! Good luck!

  29. Can I just say I adore you and that not be creepy cause I’m not sure if I’ve even commented before? You have to write the most entertaining posts of all time, mainly because I hear myself saying all of these things…you speak in my dry humor sarcastic manner. I love. And I tots agree about the vanilla gu….gu is weird, it’s slightly gross, it DOES NOT taste like any kind of frosting I eat…but sadly it does something. I only did 6 miles today and it took me a solid 45 minutes to stop sweating…even with a cold shower. Gross much?

    1. Oh and good luck with the apartment. I might leave my car under a tree in hops insurance will get me a new one. My drinking game of choice? Every time I hear “irene” pass out before it even begins.

  30. I laughed when you wanted to know what the f type of frosting they are eating. So fun seeing you, I love running into you while running. I am so mad I didn’t think of it for tonight!!!

  31. The humidity was horrible this morning, I was soaked after 6 miles :/ I loved the light rain too ! I think the Gu chomps are better after all, the gels just don’t seem to work for me.

    Hurricane must have : you favorite alcohol/drink, healthy snacks and board games/books!

  32. haha I had a similar yoga thought this week – I went to a yoga class this week for the first time in years and I kept thinking to myself “at what point did I go from a ballet dancer to the clumsy girl in yoga class?”

    Hurricane must haves – red wine, scotch, fruit and cereal — check!

  33. I am on the same page as you with fueling. I can barely eat anything before a run without having stomach issues; I completely don’t understand people who eat bagels, pb, bananas, coffee, etc…the most I can handle is some water and a date or some clif blocks.

    Same with fuel while running; I can have a gel and some fluids, but not too much. Coincidentally, I also tried vanilla bean gu on my long run this morning. I didn’t hate it as much as you did, but wasn’t wild about it. Definitely NOT like frosting, haha! More like sweet gunk. I have been hapy enough with tri berry Gu, lemon clif gel, and raspberry clif gel. Really, just do what your stomach can handle and ignore what everyone else does, if it’s not working for you.

  34. That is great that you have a place to bunker down!! We are going to attempt staying in city in our basement apt (praying for no flooding) but we are stacked up on wine, oatmeal bars, peanut butter, bread, and LOTS of coffee (we also have those water things and everything else like matches, candles and flashlight) and a place to go to if it floods!

  35. It always makes me so happy when I see you out running because you always have a HUGE smile on your face! Glad the good in your run outweighed the bad. And you’ll find fuel you like eventually… it takes a lot of trial and error. Try the Jelly Belly Sport Beans!

  36. Irene. Shanks making we worried. One I just got a new car and I am afraid a tree is going to fall on it. Two .. There is a mandatory evacuation of half my town bc of the 8 ft surges expected in the sound

  37. Pre-run fuel…have you ever tried oatmeal? I bring Quaker Instant Oatmeal packs EVERYWHERE I go…I’m not even kidding. In hotels, I make them with hot water from the coffee pot. Perfect for race morning.

    I haven’t tried the vanilla bean but I do like mint chocolate…and the the lemon lime is pretty good too…it tastes like concentrated gatorade.

  38. I live in Virginia Beach and we are currently getting slammed by Irene at the moment and the only thing I really recommend are some good books and some wine from Trader Joe’s. I picked up 5 bottles just in case.

    Stay safe and dry!! I hope NYC doesnt get hit as hard as we are.

    Vanilla bean Gu? Nasty. So nasty. Try Chocolate Outrage if you can! It just tastes like regular (melted) chocolate. And the consistency isn’t weird.

    1. I second the chocolate outrage Gu!!!! Soooooo much better than all of the others. I think it is a bit more sugary, but I would rather have a sweeter Gu than a vomit-in-a-pouch Gu!!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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