Boston and the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon

As I’ve mentioned before, June 6th I flew up to Boston for the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half and Festival. We stayed at the Best Western by Boston college, and I didn’t get to the hotel until about 10 at night, ended up chatting with some other racers for a while, then going to a Whole Foods for some Dinner (a scone and a nectarine) and that was my night.

I slept in until 7 on Saturday and after breakfast, Danielle and I headed to the Half expo. I have to admit I was a little bit underwhelmed. We didn’t get “swag” bags, just virtual ones that…eh. And the expo was small. There were some neat stands, like the gait analysis, but for Runner’s World, we were expecting much more excitement for all the hype that went behind this race and the fact that it’s RW. We also got there pretty early, so that might have probably played a role in it.

Anyway, instead of sticking around for all the speakers and other events that were offered, some of which seemed really cool, we dropped our stuff off at the hotel and went to explore Boston. If I was a Boston native or had been there before, I probably would have participated more in the race festivities, but my blog is called WanderlustRunning for a reason! We didn’t have any plans for the whole day aside from eat and pick-up our bibs/t-shirts, so it really was just a lot of exploring.

We started by going to Boylston Street to see the Boston Marathon finish line! It’s so strange to see it not on TV or in photos during the race, but just there on a street with cars passing over it like NBD. But to me it is a big deal. Just being there and seeing it makes me want to qualify even more.

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We also went inside the Boston Public Library. The architecture and history of it just amazes me.

Gave Danielle a history lesson on the Old North Church. Feelin’ smart.

One if by land, two if by sea...

One if by land, two if by sea…

Copley Square

Copley Square

Walked through some parks and headed to Quincy Market for lunch and sat out on the steps to eat. I’d show you the honey Dijon chicken sandwich I ate, but, well, I ate it.

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Dr. Seuss inspired?

Dr. Seuss inspired?

Quaint little New England

Quaint little New England

After lunch, we headed up to see the Bunker Hill Monument. I minored in American History in college, so the historical part of Boston was what I really was geeked out about seeing.

Bunker Hill Monument

Bunker Hill Monument

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Then we followed a bit of the Freedom Trail to take a windy route to the USS Constitution! The only part of this ship that is documented as original is the keel, but a lot of it is still from the 19th century, so the history is there. The sailors onboard gave us small tours on each level of the deck, talking about some of the battles of the ship, the operations while onboard, the meals, and how it got its name “Old Ironsides.”

Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides

Canons

Canons

Hammocks for sleeping 4-hour shifts

Hammocks for sleeping 4-hour shifts

Plus, there were military men in uniform so obviously Danielle and I got a little excited.

We took the ferry T back to our hotel area and got a nice view of the city from the water.

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Then we met up with a former vendor/friend of Danielle’s at McGreevy’s. It is a sports bar/Irish pub so it was right up my alley! There was baseball stuff everywhere and we got to watch the horse derby then the NHL finals while we ate. I did something that I never do the night before a race: I had a drink! It was Tullamore Dew infused with apples and cinnamon, mixed with lemon and iced tea. Holy cow, I think it was the best drink I’ve ever had. I can’t even tell you. It tasted like Bert’s Bees honey lip balm smells, but in an incredibly awesome way. That’s the best I can describe it. Oh, and I got a turkey BLT sandwich with sweet potato fries. Yum!

We more or less called it a night after that. Went back to the hotel and just chilled until bedtime.

So I walked 12 miles up, down and around Boston the day before a half marathon. I got to see a new city and wrap myself up in history, inspiration, motivation, Irish tunes, and sports. And that’s what our getaway half races are about. Just having a fun weekend, committing all the pre-race no-no’s, and throwing a 13.1 in there somewhere.

National Running Day vs Nutella Brownies

In case you missed all the Facebook and Instagram hype, yesterday was National Running Day. Everyone was putting in their miles and posting them on various social media sites. Did you run? Did you post?

I didn’t. I had planned to run after work, so I didn’t bring clothes with me in the morning. Well. My stomach was wonky all day, all right, okay, but I was still going to get out there. Except that it started raining around 4 and didn’t quit. And my office/gym is on the other side of the city from where I live. So I just embraced the rest day and made some dinner instead.

1st course

1st course

Dinner and the new edition of RW!

Dinner and the new edition of RW!

Then I decided that if I’m not going to run, hell I might as well make brownies! But not just any brownies, no. Brownies with Nutella frosting! O.M.G.

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To my credit, I did do some ab work before letting myself indulge in a brownie and some coffee. So that counts, right?

I ran an easy 3.37 miles today. I tried to keep it slow and do negative splits and I really thought I was taking my time, but I started with an 8:35, then tried to slow down for an 8:41, then a stomach stop-off, then a 9:05. I have no idea how I’m going to handle my stomach Sunday. Arghh…

But the run felt nice so that made me feel good! :)

As seen on my run

As seen on my run

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Tomorrow after I work, I’m flying up to Boston to meet Danielle for the Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon Weekend! I’m equal parts nervous and excited. Part of me just doesn’t give a hoot about my time (to an extent) because I know I didn’t put enough work into training this time around, so I just want to enjoy the weekend and race. On the other hand, I don’t want to be a slow poke.

But what I’m really nervous about is my stomach. Because, you know, I’ve been stopping every mile lately and that’s just not a good thing. And I don’t even know how to fix it. That’s the thing with colitis; sometimes there is nothing you can do except tough it out. And. It. Sucks. UGH.

Well that’s my ranting for the day. Your turn!

Is anybody else running the Heartbreak Hill Half this weekend? Anyone doing the hat trick? Overachievers. :P

Run, Bike…Yoga?

Well hey there! How’s it going in your neck of the woods?

I was flying solo for dinner tonight, so I did it right.

Salad and wine and blogging

Salad and wine and blogging

Yesterday I did a short and fast (for me) 3 miles, blazing through some crazy humidity. I was aiming for 4-5 miles, but my stomach crapped out on me right at the 3 mile mark, so I walked home and that was that. What The Heck?! I thought I was improving and it’s starting to feel like I’m just regressing now! Last Thursday, the same thing happened. I ran 5 miles, but was so SO uncomfortable and had to stop 3 times. I’m so frustrated by this.

On a positive note, I kept an 8:19 pace yesterday even with hills and humidity so that made me feel good. #upside

But seriously.

But seriously.

Is it just me, or is anyone else sometimes incredibly grateful when are crossing a busy street, but have to stop and wait for some cars to pass? Sometimes I hate it because I’m going and in a groove, but yesterday it was a nice little pause for a couple cars. :P

Since I have a race this weekend, I’m not lifting this week and I’m already going a bit stir crazy. I feel lazy! And squishy. I usually lift 3x a week and play volleyball one. I’m in an intramural company league that started the week of my Knoxville race. Convenient! We are somehow in the playoffs, so this will be the last week of it. Which is sad, but means that my Thursday lunch hour is now free so I can take the lunchtime yoga class that I’ve wanted to try since I started working here. Hurray!

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When Dave and I went home Memorial Day weekend, he hooked up a bike rack to his car and we brought our bikes back to Pittsburgh with us. I haven’t ridden consistently since I was…oh about 11, but now that we have a flat bike trail nearby I’m stoked to pick it up again. It definitely won’t replace my running, but will be another great cross training activity. Maybe one day I’ll do a duathalon….

Hopefully we’ll get to start next week, once my race is over and things settle down a bit.

Ready to ride!

Ready to ride!

Speaking of which, what are some must-see places in Boston? And by must-see I mean interesting, easy to get to, and inexpensive free?

Welcome to Summer Weather Running!

This weekend showcased some gorgeous weather out here in the Burgh! But along with that, came some…adjustments…in my running. I had a 10- to 12-miler scheduled for Saturday and was debating running around the neighborhood (hillier) or on the trail (flatter, though not flat). I ended up going with the trail because of its convenient porta john stops.

I woke up around 8:45 and was on the trail by 10:20, which for me to be ready that quickly is unheard of. I usually take 2+ hours of waking up, getting up, and eating before I make my way outside. It was a pretty nice run, not too many complaints. Plenty of porta john stops because my mind was messing with me, but whatever. I went a mile passed the furthest I’ve gone on the trail before, which meant exploring! I got to run down a steep hill and up some very, very shallow steps. I also got to run along a train track for a mile or so before stopping and turning around.

Sunny skies, country music, and the faint smell of the beach...running bliss

Sunny skies, country music, and the faint smell of the beach…running bliss

Stop and enjoy the turnaround point

Stop and enjoy the turnaround point

It wasn’t a bad run and I actually quite enjoyed it, but it was hot and I was tired and sluggish. To the point of walking a little and actually just all out stopping and sitting on a bench at one point. I’m not sure what my deal was. I didn’t start out too fast. I think the heat, quitting a medication on Friday (it was making my stomach totally haywire), and Friday’s eats (not exactly healthy) were making me sluggish. I was also battling the usual stomach-ness, where if I stretch my body too much or run at a certain pace, my intestines get all cranky and I need to walk, pause, or find a porta john asap. Which feels a little like cheating to me, but there’s nothing I can do about it except push through and just run the best that I can.

I dont care what that says, it was hotter than that!

I dont care what that says, it was hotter than that!

Anyway, like I said, I actually enjoyed the run. I was glad I did 12 miles because I went into it only anticipating 10. I’m running the Heartbreak Hill Half in Boston next week with my friend Danielle. I had big goals for this race, but honestly, I got cocky after running Knoxville and undertrained like woah. One (dreadful, stomach-sick, walk-filled) 8-miler, two 10-milers and Saturday’s 12-miler were my longest runs and most of the others hovered in the 3-4 range (with a fun fantastic 6-miler thrown in one mid-week). Still I’m hoping that the hills I run will help me out for Boston. My shorter runs haven’t even been that fast, I’m now realizing. I’m pretty much screwed for this race. Oops. Live and learn, I guess!

So, Danielle, if you’re reading this, be ready for my turtle pace on Sunday!

The weekend as a whole was just amazing. After running, Dave and I explored the Tanger Outlets and I found some great deals, though perhaps too many. (I’m looking at you, J.Crew!) For dinner, we bought the Blue Moon summer case and grilled up steak, potatoes and veggies and ate al fresco, hanging out on our patio until 10, then going inside and watching American Hustle. It turned out to be pretty great! Sunday, we went to mass and had brunch before Dave packed and had to leave for a business trip. Which is fun for a while, but then gets lonely. I countered the loneliness with Chinese takeout for dinner and a lot of cleaning while watching reruns of Castle.

How was your weekend? Did you log any good miles, fast or slow, hot or cool?

Feeding Frenzy

I know I’ve been MIA for a while, but there was some personal stuff I had to get sorted out. And still do. But I paid for this website, so I really should keep at it and who knows, maybe there is someone out there in the vast realm of the internet that actually reads and enjoys this blog. We may never know. But if you do, show me some love!

We’ve been having a lot of storms the past few days out here in Pittsburgh. Tuesday night, Dave and I just sat in the dark and watched it from our living room. We’ve got a spectacular view.

photo 1 copy 8.16.05 AM photo 2Because of the storms, I couldn’t run Wednesday night, which meant that it was Adventures in Baking night. We’re starting to have an overload of CSA basket goodies that are reaching the end of their shelf lives, so I wanted to use them. This included rhubarb, apples, watermelon radishes, dill, and kale.

Don't judge me by the apron I wear.

Don’t judge me by the apron I wear.

First, I had to drive around from Target to Trader Joe’s to Shop N Save to get a few ingredients that we didn’t have on hand. Canning jars. Whole garlic. Fresh ginger. (I finally gave up on finding a vanilla bean and used vanilla extract instead.) I am so excited that I have canning jars. They’re adorable and remind me of being little when my mom used to can fruit and we would use old jam jars as drinking glasses. Before it was cool!

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It started out with a kale chip fail. Or well, not a fail, but they definitely got a “needs improvement.” I’ve never really worked with or eaten kale before and the directions said to toss (or rather “massage”) them with olive oil and salt. (I added paprika, too.) The problem was that I added olive oil and salt in the amount you would to make steak fries, not thinking about how much lighter the kale is so there wasn’t as much in the bowl as I thought. The result? Very VERY salty chips. They weren’t all too salty, but after a while, we just gave up on them. Especially since Dave is not a big salt lover. I just have to keep that in mind for next time, because other than that they were pretty good! Very crispy!

Luckily my other recipes turned out better (I think). I started with making rhubarb mini muffins. We have 4 mini muffin pans, but no regular size ones so all the cupcakes, tarts, and muffins I make are mini. Which is fun and cute so I’m not in a hurry to get a big one. That’s what the wedding registry is for! ;)

This recipe was from allrecipes.com, called Aunt Norma’s Rhubarb Muffins. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/aunt-normas-rhubarb-muffins/
They use veggie oil instead of butter, but not to get too healthy, they have a butter, sugar and cinnamon streusel on top. When I went to measure out the vanilla extract, it came out fast and furious, so I’m not actually sure how much ended up in the recipe. But definitely more than was called for! I was unsure of how they would be (especially with the vanilla faux pas), but these muffins are delicious! Way to go, Aunt Norma!

photo 3 copy 8.16.05 AMWhile the muffins were baking, I made a brine of white distilled vinegar, water and salt for pickles! The recipe for Carrot and Watermelon Radish Pickles is on The Bojon Gourmet http://www.bojongourmet.com/2013/04/carrot-and-watermelon-radish-pickle.html, but it leaves room for experimenting and personalizing. For my pickles, I used a watermelon radish, baby carrots, fresh dill, green onion bulbs, and garlic cloves. It says to let it sit at room temperature for 10 days, then refrigerate so the verdict is still out on how they taste. But they look cute, right?

photo 3 copy photo 4Finally, my last experiment of the night was Caramel Apple Jam. Yeah, that’s right. CARAMEL. APPLE. I’ve never made jam before, either (night of firsts for me!), but it was surprisingly easy, which I always appreciate. The recipe can be found on Bon Appetit, or just click here: http://www.bonappetit.com/columns/preserved/article/apple-jam-better-than-apple-sauce This is where I had to substitute vanilla extract for a vanilla bean, but it still tastes delicious. Boiling sugar, by the way, is way fun. In 5th grade, my friend Catie and I made “candy glass” as a science experiment and it’s basically the same idea, so I got to relive my childhood a little bit again. Plus, you get to swirl around a big pot of sugar and watch it bubble. Yes, I have a 5-year-old mentality.

It says you can add fresh ginger to it, so I tried grating some and ended up grating my thumb. Fail.

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This also turned out delicious, or at least what I tasted from leftovers in the hot pot. I’m pretty excited to try it with crackers and goat cheese. I’m not sure why, but that combination sounds appealing to me.

photo 5 photo 4 8.16.05 AMSo that is my non-running, non-traveling post. Tonight we’re grilling steak with scallions and radishes from our basket and making a rhubarb compote for later. I’ll let you know how those turn out, too!

On another note, how is everyone doing with their 50 Day Challenge? Did anyone actually try it or am I on my own here? I’ll admit, I haven’t been flawless with it. I still am averaging 4 runs a week. Instead of working on those diet books, my little sister talked me into reading The Fault in Our Stars. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t wow me like it seems to be wow-ing everyone else. So those 2 books are next up!

I’m doing pretty well with the snacking thing, so that’s good. I still eat all the freaking time, but I pick one thing that’s healthy and control the portion. With a side of chocolate, obviously. J

Iiiiit’s Island Time!

It seems to be a growing trend lately for couples to not take their honeymoon right after they get married. I understand that this is for a multitude of reasons: busy season at work, money, weather, etc., but I really wanted ours to be right after our wedding. Otherwise, it’s just a vacation. At least in my relatively traditional, stubborn mind. Dave and I talked about it and he agreed, so we are leaving for our honeymoon the Monday after we’re married (at the butt crack of dawn). That way, the day after our wedding, we don’t have to rush around saying goodbye to out-of-town guests and trying to get down to Philly to catch a flight.

We also agreed that we didn’t want to go anywhere hectic. Last June, we went to France for 10 days and we packed SO MUCH into those days. It was a ton of fun and we had an amazing time, but we feel that after all the commotion that goes into planning and having a wedding, that a nice relaxing honeymoon would be nice.

I'd love to go back...

I’d love to go back…

And we wanted to go somewhere tropical. I wanted it be to be somewhere neither of us had been before, too, so it could be a special new place for us and not one person showing the other places they remembered and going down memory lane (that’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but again…honeymoon). So, after doing some research, chasing a few places that I’ve been really wanting to go, and Dave riding along and being open to basically all my ideas (because he’s awesome like that), we decided where our little week in paradise will be.

We’re going to Turks & Caicos!!

photo credit: life.com

photo credit: life.com

So I admit, my interest in these islands was first sparked several years ago when I got an Essie nail polish named Turquoise & Caicos. It was a witty name and I’m a sucker for that kind of thing!

via the Essie website

via the Essie website it’s actually prettier

We already have flights, our hotel, and one excursion booked, and we are PSYCHED. A lot of travel sites said that if you are looking for a place with a big night life and parties, this is not it. Which is perfect for us. We are not night club type people. We want a nice beach and an easy time. Turks & Caicos seems to fit that bill. Here are some other fun things about our honeymoon destination.

Fun Facts About Turks & Caicos

Turks & Caicos is a string a 40 islands, of which only 8 are actually inhabited. The most popular ones are Providenciales or Provo, where we will be, and Grand Turk, the historic Capital Island that I hope to visit during our stay.

map_of_turks-and-caicos

Turks & Caicos is not actually a part of the Caribbean. Although it certainly has a Caribbean vibe, Turks & Caicos is located north of the Caribbean, north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and east of Cuba.

tccarib

It is part of the British Virgin Islands and the main language is English. Which means no language barrier. The currency is the US dollar and the voltage/wattage situation is the same as in America. Makes life easy for us!

The temperature when we’ll be there is an average of 80° to 84°, with the ocean temps at 74° to 78°. Beautiful! But we are also going in the rainiest month (which supposedly isn’t that rainy) and the tail end of hurricane season…so there’s that.

Once a month, after the full moon, tiny bioluminescent organisms like to get busy. There are tours/cruises where you can watch these glow worms and it’s supposed to be awesome, because the water lights up from their mating ritual! Dave and I are going to be there for this and we already booked our little cruise, complete with rum punch, through Viator.com. Because there’s nothing like starting off your honeymoon by getting shnockered and watching glow worms get lucky. That should set the mood for the rest of our trip. But seriously, I am really excited for this.

There is a local bottlenose dolphin named JoJo who likes to hang around in the shallow waters and willingly interacts with humans. I want to meet this guy!! He’s officially government protected and has been around since 1980. How fun!

080112151750--jojo

Our hotel also offers complimentary bikes for use during our stay and shuttle service to the liquor store. God bless them!The water is crazy clear and therefore snorkeling and scuba diving are hugely popular here. Neither of us scuba dive, by we definitely want to go snorkeling and our hotel offers equipment for it.

There’s obviously a lot more to these islands than I’ve listed here, but these are some of the highlights that helped us decide. The liquor shuttle was just a bonus I noticed afterward, I swear.

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Most of this information I got from the official Turks & Caicos website. So if you want to find out more about the islands, check it out here: http://turksandcaicos.s1045.sureserver.com/.

If you want to learn more about glow worm sex, I learned about it on this site: http://www.meridianclub.com/blog/amorous-dance-turks-caicos-islands/.

 

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Has anyone else seen this glow worm ritual?

 

Shirts, Shots, and a Super Flat Trail (Hallelujah!)

The Pittsburgh Marathon was this weekend and through my work I got to volunteer at the expo on Saturday afternoon. I also signed Dave up to volunteer with me, since he wanted thought it sounded fun. We got there early to walk around the expo a bit and tried some tasty and not-so-tasty samples. We were on the schedule to work for the guest speaker series, but when we got to our station, the next shift hadn’t shown up for the t-shirt exchange, which was ridiculously busy, so Dave hopped over to do that. Since there was really nothing going on at my spot and another volunteer was there as well, I went over to help him.

The shirts must have run small this year because everyone was coming up trying to get a bigger size. So we had piles (literally) of women’s small shirts and only a handful of other sizes. Which made it a little hectic, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Plus, since we were right next to the speaker series, I still got to hear the speakers talk and rubbed elbows (sort of) with Bud Coates, the author of Running On Air. He explained his breathing techniques to me and let me check out his book while we were sitting there.

By the end of the day, all we had to offer were women’s smalls and one men’s XXL.

Can we interest you in a womens Small?

Can we interest you in a womens Small?

Or a Mens XXL?

Or a Mens XXL?

Our shift lasted from 1:30 until the expo closed at 6, then we met up with some of Dave’s friends at a new bar called Emporio: A Meatball Joint. Dave and I got there first, so we put our name in for a table and sat down at the bar just in time to see the Kentucky Derby race and watch California Chrome win. It was crazy how excited all the people in the bar got! Since it was Derby Day, naturally I had to have some bourbon. And because I love bourbon.

Makers Mark double. Pure goodness.

Makers Mark double. Pure goodness.

The rest of the guys showed up and we got our table. The idea behind this place is meatballs, obviously. They have meatball grinders, mix n match meatball sliders, meatball paninis, meatballs just by themselves. So what you do is pick what kind of meatball you want, choose your sauce, then your sandwich. I got chicken meatballs with spinach pesto sauce on a Panini. So. Freaking. Good. While all the boys had beer, I had another double Maker’s Mark, getting much more…feel good…then I intended to, since I was scheduled for a 10-miler on Sunday. Oops. Luckily, I’ve been pretty much immune to hangovers up to this point in my life.

I’ve been meaning to try the Montour Trail for a while, since running around a neighborhood cut through by busy streets can get boring (except when playing chicken with rush hour traffic). So yesterday afternoon I drove down to the closest trail entrance with no idea what to expect from my run or the trail. But I was feeling pretty annoyed with myself and my speed lately and as compared to some friends, so I really needed to just run.

It took a few miles for me to calm down (I should mention that this was following an argument with Dave that may or may not have been was definitely PMS’s fault). But once I did, the run was awesome. First of all, I couldn’t believe the porta johns had flushable toilets. I shit you not. (See what I did there?)

The worlds most advanced porta johns

The worlds most advanced porta johns

Second, it was SO FLAT. I didn’t know flat was something western PA knew how to do. As I was running my 5 miles out, I was thinking how the run back was going to be harder since it would all be uphill, but I swear I ran downhill both ways. Of course there were exceptions, but mostly, it was flat.

There was also this really cool tunnel I ran through.

Seems legit.

Seems legit.

I hadn’t really given myself a set pace to run, other than faster than my recent turtley speed. But I also hadn’t gone on a run of any distance since my marathon (my longest was 6 miles last week), so I kept telling myself that it might get bad. Because, you know, why not set yourself up for disappointment? #fail

I started out just under a 9-minute mile and at mile 5 I decided that if I kept it under a 9-minute mile the whole way I’d get ice cream or a frappacino when I was done, because I was really craving some. At that point I was averaging an 8:41 pace, but was at the turn around point thinking the uphill was all ahead of me.

Mile 5 turnaround

Mile 5 turnaround

I finished the run in glorious fashion, 10.1 miles at an 8:39 pace and feeling awesome, though my ass and hammies started getting a bit sore about 8 miles in. My fastest mile was mile 10 at 8:19. I walked a ¼ mile cool down and went back to my car and drove home. I talked myself out of a treat because I truly am broke…but my unexpected decently fast pace was reward enough!

Okay, okay I didn't REALLY run 26 miles...

Okay, okay I didn’t REALLY run 26 miles…

BAM.

BAM.

I definitely will be revisiting the Montour Trail! It’s 46 miles of trail, with porta johns, a flat course and relative good looks. It’s not as pretty as Gring’s Mill, but it’s well-kept and the trail is wider, so I’ll take it as my western PA alternative.

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So apparently Maker’s Mark is my new night before long run fuel? But seriously, I don’t think I’ll ever do that again. That run just goes to prove MIND OVER MATTER. There’s no reason I should have run that well yesterday, except that I was damn determined to, especially once I’d started realizing what my pace was. I need to know, for myself, that I wasn’t toooo embarrassingly slow, so I put my mind to it and BA-BAM, the perfect storm.

photo 4 (7) photo 3 (9)

Side note: last week it was really windy out, so I didn’t want to wear my usual ball cap, but it was also really sunny. I’d bought a cheap (under $20) pair of Nine West sunglasses from Boscov’s the weekend before that fit pretty snug, so I thought what the hell, I’ll give them a try. I always thought I’d hate sunglasses while running, but these are amazing. They don’t move, they’re really dark, and I basically don’t even notice them. I love it!

Do you have a favorite trail to run?

How did you celebrate Derby Day? With some good ole bourbon or do you have another favorite?

 

50 Day Refresh Challenge

I’ve got good news for everyone! Summer is Only 50 Days Away!!

Admit it, you are jealous of my Microsoft Paint skills.

Admit it, you are jealous of my Microsoft Paint skills.

I’m celebrating by painting my nails bright and wearing some spring-colored shoes today.

Essie Peach Daiquiri - my fave polish!

Essie Peach Daiquiri – my fave polish!

Lovely J Crew flats

Lovely J Crew flats

But let’s focus. How many of you made a new year’s resolution (or multiple) this year, but kind of bombed on sticking with them? If you did, don’t feel bad- I don’t even remember my resolutions. I’m pretty sure they were “run 1000 miles a week and stop eating junk food.” So we’ll say that I totally bombed mine, too. SimplyResolution I am the type of person, like so many, who dreams big and sets resolutions probably unrealistic and vague, then just kind of cheats and lets them slide. Then I get frustrated and grumpy because I feel like I failed. That’s my Friday Confession. So here’s the plan…

50 Day Lifestyle Refresh!

I work better with goals. I run more structured with a race looming over my head; I work and write more consistently and efficiently with a deadline set. So I am giving myself 50 days to refresh my lifestyle of sorts. Which will bring me right up to the beginning of summer. Coincidence! Convenience! Possible over-confidence!

If your resolution train derailed or you simply want to set a new goal, I encourage you to try this out with me! Here are the rules:

1. Pick an area of your life that you really want to refresh. 

Don’t go overboard with this. You’re not going to lose 100 pounds in 50 days. You are not going to become an ultramarathoner or a Bostom Qualifier if you haven’t been a regularly running. Keep this goal challenging, but realistic.

2. Acknowledge that you have a set deadline. 

Unlike New Year’s, you can’t push off starting because you think you have allll this time. You have 50 days. But, I think that 50 days is A LOT easier to work with than 365. It’s a manageable hunk. It’s long enough to accomplish something, but short enough to see the end of it right now, so you stay motivated. Maybe you won’t accomplish as big of a goal in that time as you would in a year, but look at it as a step toward your bigger goal. Instead of losing 100 pounds work on losing 10. Instead of a BQ, create a weekly mileage goal or a goal to lower your average pace. Be honest with yourself now, so you’re not stressing about it later.

3. Create a plan. 

This doesn’t have to be an inked and notarized day-by-day schedule. Or maybe it does. Write a day-by-day plan, you just pencil down what you want. Do what you’ve found works best for you. If you are aiming to refresh more than one area of your life, try starting them at different times. Maybe work on eating healthier for a week or two, while maintaining your same exercise routine. After those two weeks, continue your new eating patterns, but start adding weekly mileage. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed right from the get-go.

4. Treat Yourself.

When you set this goal, promise yourself a reward at the end. Maybe it’s something small, like a new nail polish, or something bigger, like a new running outfit or fancy sunglasses (Oakleys come to mind). You don’t have to do this, but it will give you extra motivation for those days where you really just don’t want to lace up your sneakers and figure, “well, really, what’s it matter anyway?”

came up with a list of things I wanted to refresh in my life, but it was about 20 items long. I realize that is just not plausible. So I looked it over again, deciding what do I want to do MOST and what do I need to do first for the other things to work out. Here’s my final list.

1. Get up to running 5 times a week. I’m usually a 4-day-a-week run, but I’d really like to try to add another day. Especially since I’ve fallen back to lower mileage since my marathon.

2. Eat a healthier after work/pre-dinner snack. I always raid the kitchen when I get home from work or after my run and that’s just no good. So I want to dial it down and eat a healthier snack.

3. Control that late night snacking. Yeah, I eat a lot. And there is a lot of chocolate and cookies in the house because of Easter. I want to work on only one dessert, or if I’m still really hungry, a better late night snack…apple and almond butter, anyone?

4. Improve my posture. Because it seriously sucks.

5. Read The Specific Carbohydrate Diet and The Paleo Diet for Athletes. I bought both of these books in the hopes to figure out a way of calming my colitis, since both diets have a lot of success stories from other sufferers. Unfortunately, I’ve barely cracked the spines. This is the perfect chance to read them!

Now maybe that seems like too much or maybe you think they’re too easy. But for me, they are five things I really want to work on and for where I stand right now, are absolutely doable. It’s going to take determination and conscious effort, but it’s nothing impossible, which is the point here.

My reward? I just splurged on Groupon and got 2 weeks of unlimited classes at a Pure Barre studio that I’ve been itching to try. But I can’t use it unless I finish my challenge!

Are you going to try the 50-Day Refresh Challenge? What are you going to try to refresh about your life? Let me know and let me know how it goes, so I can give you a shout-out on here!

Has anyone seen the Justin Timberlake May meme? Can you explain it to me?

I Met Ryan Hall and Placed in my Last Race

So if you read my last post, you know that on Sunday I ran a 5K with my mom and sister, but wasn’t really happy with my performance. If you didn’t read it, go do that now then come back. I’ll wait.

Read it? Wasn’t it intriguing? Anyway. Last night I was looking at the race results online to see how we did and to my complete surprise, I won FIRST PLACE in my age division! We didn’t stay for awards Sunday because we figured we didn’t need to, so I was totally shocked. I emailed the race people this morning and asked if I could still get my medal and they said absolutely. So yea!! My first 1st place finish!

But I know the real reason you clicked on this post. Because Ryan Hall is in the title and he’s way cool!

Since the Pittsburgh Marathon is this weekend, our company had a mini expo today and reps from asics, Nathan, nuun, P-Tex, and Yurbuds came in with information and giveaways, which is completely awesome. We were also supposed to be able to try the asics treadmill challenge where you can see if you can run as fast as Ryan Hall, but that got rained out. Boo.

An email was also sent around yesterday saying that Ryan would be here and that we could sign up to attend the Q&A session with him so OF COURSE I jumped on that opportunity. He was with asics beforehand and signed a poster for me, which is hanging up in my cube now. The friend I went with is running the half this weekend (her first!!) and she asked him to write, “good luck!” on her poster. But I was a little star struck, so mine is simpler.

How’s that for motivation during the afternoon slouch??

How’s that for motivation during the afternoon slouch??

I asked him if he had any advice for us on how to get faster and he recommended doing running workouts, especially fartleks. He confessed that he can get bored on long runs and that fartleks make it more fun. I feel like I learned a deep dark secret of the elite marathoner- even they get bored on long runs! It made me feel normal. :)

During the Q&A, he was laid back and friendly. An asics rep started by asking him some questions for our benefit, so we could learn more about his background and training. He was very candid with his answers, which made him much more relatable. There were only about a dozen people in the Q&A, so after he talked a bit we all had the chance to ask him some questions. I don’t have the word-for-word transcript, but I compiled some of the highlights and advice he offered to the group.

Taking a picture on the sly.

Taking a picture on the sly.

On How He Got Started

Ryan used to hate running, which shocked me. Then one day, on the way to basketball practice, he decided that he wanted to see if he could run around a lake. He went out on another day with his dad and, wearing basketball sneakers, made his way around the lake. It was 15 miles! He didn’t run it straight through and it’s something that he would not recommend to anyone to start like that, but that’s how he got started.

On Fueling Before the Race

While he usually eats a lot of salads and vegetables, two days before a race he removes them from his diet. He is very particular about what he eats the night before a race and actually brings his on hot pot, pasta and olive oil with him to cook. And Muscle Milk!

One thing he recommended to eat was sourdough bread because it is light, but still filling and easy to digest. Yummm sourdough!

During the Race

He actually didn’t talk much about fueling during the race, other than to fuel early. And to make sure to drink water!

After the Race

The 30 minutes after the race is when it’s most important to refuel and it’s best to have sugar! What are Ryan Hall’s favorite? Gummy bears and candy corn! He doesn’t eat sugar often, but after a race is when he enjoys some sweets.

Focusing During the Race

The first half of the race, he relaxes and enjoys the race. He takes this time to check his body, make sure it’s relaxed, shoulders aren’t tense, his body is feeling good.

The second half of the race is where he really dials in and focuses on his race. When I asked him what he focuses on in the second half, he focuses on the mile that he’s in. He doesn’t focus on the miles to come or whether he ran the last mile faster than he wanted. When things get tough, he reminds himself that he’s been there in training before, that he’s felt this tired before, and that he’s pushed through it before and can do it again.

Training

Some tips he offered on training: he, like most runners, is hard on himself, so if he writes down a training planning he will stick to it. As a result, he doesn’t keep a strict running plan, and has been running by feel. By the same token, he takes the idea of rest days seriously. If he runs hard one day, the next he will only run an hour…of course, for his cheetah like speed, I figure this to be at least 10 miles, but I guess that’s light for him!

I also asked how you learn to pace yourself. For instance, if he is doing 1 mile repeats at 4:45 pace, how does he know the pace he’s running? His biggest thing was to run by feel and effort. He likened this to the race where he won the American record for the half marathon. He had paces written down for how he was feeling on a good day, an okay day, but when he went out his first mile faster than those paces, he didn’t slow down. He felt good so he went with it and that earned him a record time.

But he also said that is he goes out too fast during a training run, then he’s going to keep that pace the entire run even if it’s hurting. Then next time he’ll know not to go out that fast! Haha But it’s a valid point.

Some Racing Tips

His last long hard run is 10 day before a race. I feel like that’s a little close, but he runs more than me so he knows what’s up. He also said that everybody is different. For instance, the asics rep that was with him ran Boston last weekend in 3:17(!). Her longest training run? 12 miles. That’s crazy! But his point is that everyone trains differently and a lot of it is mind over matter.

He uses Vaseline on his feet on race day to prevent blisters

Make sure to stay warm at the starting line! For marathons, he usually jogs 15 minutes before the start to warm up.

Even if you get warm once you start, don’t toss you extra layers aside. He tucks his gloves into the back of his shorts because he pointed out that you can turn a corner and if gets windy you might wish you had those gloves that you less on the ground so many miles back!

For marathons, he wears sneakers half a size bigger than normal because your feet swell over the course of the race and this helps prevent blisters, too.

On His Other Sports

Being a runner, he said, he doesn’t really have time or energy to play other sports…other than some pick-up basketball. But what he does love doing is fishing, and more recently tried his hand at hunting. He didn’t see any elk the day he went, but said being in the woods like that was still cool. As for fishing, he loves to bass fish and was doing so on a stand up board the day after he ran Boston. He hooked a bass, too, but sadly it got a way. He said he banged his hands on his board and yelled because he was bummed it got away and other people must have thought he was crazy.

This is my kind of guy!

And Finally…On His Favorite Race

One of the attendees asked what his favorite race was and he responded by saying, “I always feel like a politician when I answer this because there’s no way to please everyone.” But he decided on Boston being his favorite race. Having just run it last week, it was still pretty fresh and he admitted to being bummed that he didn’t race as well as he would have liked and that he didn’t win. But he came through it healthy and was glad that Meb, an American, won. He said it was something that America really needed to happen and he was proud to be an American running this race. With one million spectators lining the course this year, crossing that finish line and seeing people standing where the bombs went off last year, unafraid, he really felt apart of something special. He said if you ever get the chance and qualify for Boston, that you should definitely run it.

Challenge accepted.

I Beat Beethoven…but not in Hooker Heels

Happy Monday! I don’t know about you guys, but my weekend was fantastic! Friday after work, I made a solo 5-hour drive back to my parents’ house for the weekend. The plan had been to go see my old high school boy’s rugby match on Saturday, but they changed it to Sunday afternoon so I didn’t get to go. I was one of the original coaches for them and this is the first year that I can’t coach because I’m too far away. And it’s crazy, because the boys who were freshmen when we started the team are seniors now! Time flies.

It turned out to be better though, because my weekend was still busy. I met up with Danielle for coffee early Saturday morning at a place called Cafe Bold. We talked about running- of course!- and wedding stuff, work, and our fun restrictive diets- colitis for me and she recently discovered she can’t eat gluten. It was great catching up with her, but she pointed out to me later that we forgot to discuss something very important- Boston! We’re going up in June for the Heartbreak Hill Half (I think I mentioned this before), but we totally didn’t talk about details of it. Oops!

Anyway, Saturday afternoon Ronne and I went on a mini shopping spree. There’s a new DSW in town so DUH we had to go. I got a suuuper adorable pair of heels. I almost never wear heels, but these were yellow and cute and gosh darn it, I will find an excuse to wear them. Maybe even get classy for work!

These however were not so cute, but I had to get my picture in them. They have the texture of dog hair or something. I felt like I needed to bathe after trying them on! (Side note: they actually made my calves sore after only a few minutes of posing in them)

imageWe also went to my old employer for some shopping. And had fun in the sunglasses and accessories department.

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My mom, Ronnie and I were running the local Beat Beethoven 5K on Sunday. The race started at 10am Sunday (FINALLY a race that started at a decent hour!) and I was well trained, in good shape, feeling fine. The Tuesday before I had rocked one of my best runs ever; a 5K a 7:56 pace! This included a 7:30 mile and dipping into sub-7 pace for some brief moments. It was my third year running this race (it’s only been around 3 years), but they change the course every time. The goal is to finish before the RSYO (Reading Symphony Youth Orchestra) finishes their Beethoven pieces, which are at 31 minutes for the 5K and 62 minutes for the 10K. Hence, Beat Beethoven.

Anyway, I started off great with an 7:35 first mile. I knew this was probably too fast for me to sustain throughout the course and mile 2 was flat, mile 3 uphill. So I slowed my pace a bit halfway through mile 2, but then around mile 3 my stomach started cramping. Kind of. It wasn’t a side stitch, but my diaphragm wasn’t having it and the urge to puke was great. So I had to walk a bit and ran again. Then, no, I had to walk two more times. WTF! I didn’t walk that far at all, but I was still SO ANGRY that I walked. In a 5K! Some guy passed me and asked me if I was all right; I told him yes. After the race he came up to me and asked how I felt. I explained what happened and he said “oh you shoulda just puked! I vowed never to walk in a 5K.” And I said, “yeah me too! And I just ran a marathon less than a month ago!” I felt I had to justify myself as a runner. Haha But really, so frustrating.

But I finished the race at 26 minutes on the dot, so it wasn’t all bad. My mom, who’s been training inside on a treadmill came in just under 31 minutes (so she beat Beethoven!) and Ronnie, who hasn’t been training at all aside from gym class came in at 34:44, which didn’t beat Beethoven, but I believe that’s a PR for her! The weather for the race was beautiful, although windy and I got sweet pictures of them finishing.

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We all agreed that it wasn’t any of our best races, but brushed it off…mostly. Danielle had to convince me that shit happens and not to get upset over it. I really am too hard on myself sometimes.

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After we showered because no one wants unshowered runners around, we went to a bridal fair at the Reading Public Museum, which was weird. Weird because it was all about me and I didn’t know what to do. It was pretty small and Dave and I have most of our stuff done, so I tried food and cake (LOTS of food and cake) and learned about wedding-day stationary. I had no idea about that stuff. And flowers. I still need to figure out flowers and cake and stationary.

So it was fun, but I wasn’t overly hungry and didn’t finish all the food. I did, however, get my picture taken with the giant ants outside the museum. I mean, why wouldn’t I?

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Then I had to drive 5 hours back to Pittsburgh. My inner rock star definitely came out this weekend with 10 hours alone in the car. Sara Bareilles and Jennifer Nettles better watch out, that’s all I have to say.

How about you? Have you ever had a race that didn’t turn out like you wanted? Do you have any insider wedding secrets I should know?