Monday, October 29, 2012

Beware of the Frankenstorm

Halloween is my favorite holiday.  I love decorating my apartment and seeing all the "haunted" houses in the neighborhood.  The fact that pumpkin beer comes around this time of year doesn't hurt either!  This weekend I went to the Flying Dog Brewery with my nice friend for their annual Halloween Bash.  It was so much fun dressing up and getting to try some of their seasonal brews.  Plus any opportunity to  let loose a little on the dance floor is a good time in my opinion.

Things have been a little weird now that I'm not training for anything.  October has been a really low mileage month, but it's been nice being able to do other workouts and not feel like I should be running. Today Mad Dog and I have been stuck indoors thanks to the Frankenstorm, so I just did my arm workout and a few ab exercises.  Most of the day has been spent catching up on Parks and Rec and eating.  Gotta clean out the fridge in case we lose power ;-)

This is how we've spent most of our time today.

I've also spent a little too much time on Twitter while avoiding the storm and have been setting my sights on a few different upcoming races.  I'm already signed up for Rock n' Roll DC 2013, and my tentative plan is to start training for the race right around Thanksgiving.  The Nike Women's Half Marathon is coming to DC in April, and I'm going to try to get a spot in the race.  It's a raffle system, so there's no guarantee, but how cool would it be to get a Tiffany's necklace when you cross the finish line?  As much as I've loved races geared towards everyone, I've been looking a lot at races designed for women these days.  I think it's awesome that so many races are catering to women and motivating us to get fit.  Running is a great community builder, and it's awesome how people of all shapes, sizes, and walks of life can participate and have a great time.

Registration for the ZOOMA Annapolis race just opened, and as soon as my next credit card statement rolls around you better believe I'm registering for it.  ZOOMA picks out destinations that are perfect for girls' weekends, and I've already recruited a few friends to run with me.  My only concern is that it's a June race, and we all know how well my body handles the warmer races ;-)

So until Thanksgiving, I'll be keeping on with this whole "workout with no real plan" thing and enjoying time with this guy:

I hope everyone stays safe during the storm!  (and that your house has plenty of Halloween candy to tide you over!)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Will Run for Food

I feel like my weekends have been perfect lately.  Every weekend since the end of September I have had something to look forward to and it's looking like 2012 is going to go out in a great way.  By the way, can you believe it's almost November!?  What is happening to our year?!

This weekend my nice friend and I went on a food tour in downtown, historic Frederick.  Once again, I remembered why I'm not a food blogger.  How do they wait long enough to take a picture before they dig in?  I got pictures of a few things, but the highlights were pizza and beer from a local brewery, a pastrami sandwich from an adorable shop, a seafood appetizer trio from a fun restaurant, olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings, and CHOCOLATE.  I was a little disappointed because we went to a wine bar, and instead of wine they gave us a beet salad.  Eh.  Overall, Taste Frederick was an amazing experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone traveling in the area!  Sarah, our tour guide, was so knowledgeable about the restaurants and city.  It was fun learning about the unique places Frederick has to offer from a local!

One of my favorite parts of the tour had nothing to do with food.  We walked by the Community Bridge and it was incredible.  The bridge incorporated designs from all over the world of things that depicted community.  There were also optical illusions.  From across the river there looked like there were actual statues and even a duck!  Once you crossed to the other side you realized they were just part of the painting.  The pictures don't do it justice.

Probably shouldn't try to go through that door.  IT'S NOT REAL.
Not really stone.  It's concrete.  SURPRISE! :-)

Things on the running front have been ok lately.  Sunday I ran 3.5 miles on the treadmill in about 31:30 minutes.  I tried to push it (gotta get used to running hard for about 30 minutes for my upcoming 5k!) and ended up being pretty happy with my effort.  Today I took it easier and while I played with the incline a little, overall it was a much easier run than yesterday's.  I made pumpkin spice puppy chow, and after the sugar overload I got from eating some this run was much needed!  The run ended up being about 3.3 miles in 30 minutes.  It's nice only HAVING to do 30 minute runs for the time being.  It makes me want to try harder with running faster.

Have a happy week! :-)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Only Wednesday?

This week has been dragging, even though I've gotten quite a bit done (dishes, laundry, vacuuming, woo!).  Yesterday I got a notice that my library book was ready to be picked up, so Maddux and I headed over to the library on the way to the park.  Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers has a monthly book club, which is how I heard about the book Gone Girl.  I LOVED that book so I decided to go ahead and read this month's, too.  Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher sounds a little depressing, but I was intrigued after reading the description.  I'll let ya know how it goes ;-)

Pretty park, I love you.

Once we got to the park, Maddux and I had an amazing walk.  It was such a gorgeous evening and he looked so happy.

I don't know how my body cast that huge shadow.  Perhaps I should lay off the ice cream.

We saw a deer, which didn't bother him at all the first time we passed it, but when we came back he seemed really interested.  He was so funny and gave it a look like "what the heck is this thing!?"  We still have to take our walks pretty easy, but we're going to the vet tomorrow for a vaccine so hopefully she will say we can pick them up even more.  I'm even thinking about signing him up for another class in the near future...

Proof of said deer.  It tried to cross the road at one point and I tried to think of a joke to go with it.  I was unsuccessful.  Why did the deer cross the road?  I have NO IDEA.
As much as I love fall, I HATE that it is dark when I wake up and dark so early in the evening.  I think it's going to be a real struggle getting out the door for my workouts, especially when I have to start dressing in layers to go out!  I promised myself this morning that I would run though, so I headed out the door and spent some more quality time with the 'mill.  I ended up doing some different intervals to mix it up a little.  After warming up for a mile I bumped the incline up to 1.5 for 30 seconds, 2 for 1 minute, and back down to 1.5 for 30 seconds.  After a minute back at my normal incline (1.0) I picked up the pace from 6.5 to 7.0.  I took one more minute at my normal pace and incline and then started over.  I ended up finishing my 4 mile run in 36:14.

Here's hoping Thursday goes by quickly so we can finally get to the weekend!  Happy Wednesday!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Perfect Fall Weekend

I didn't go on my run this weekend, BUT I loved the weekend so much it doesn't even matter.  On Saturday I woke up and my legs were so tight that I opted for 40 minutes on the elliptical with my usual intervals.  After, my nice friend and I took Maddux out to my new favorite park for a nice, relaxed walk.  It was so beautiful out and it was nice to see Mad Dog so happy.

Maddux loves Halloween just as much as I do :-)

After our walk we kicked off our "Pumpkin Day" (I named it that.  You'll see why.)  First we got supplies to carve a pumpkin.  Who knew how hard pumpkin carving could be.  Major props to my mom for always making it look so easy.

Boo!  I mostly did the one on the left. Notice the detail.
I think it turned out looking pretty good, despite the fact that we couldn't even get the tape to stick to the pumpkin.  After, we roasted up the seeds (they are addicting, but a pain in the butt to peel) and drank pumpkin beer.  A few weeks ago we made our own fall 6 pack at a local beer store so that we could try a bunch of different breweries' pumpkin and Oktoberfest beers.  I gotta say that Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale is still my favorite so far :-)

I attempted making pumpkin pasta to continue with our pumpkin theme, but it ended up being a little bland.  I think from now on I will use my pumpkin to make baked goods instead.  Can't go wrong there!

Sunday was a pretty lazy day, which is fine seeing it's a day of rest and all.  I was pretty tired (must have been from all that pumpkin fun on Saturday) so I decided to take it easy and try out a workout I adapted (because her's was too hard) from Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers.  Turns out, this workout was not so easy.

See those parts where it says 1 minute at 8.5 and 9?  Yeah, that didn't happen.  8 kicked my butt so much that I figured I'd leave it there.  Also, the 7.0 incline?  Not an easy way to catch your breath.  I definitely worked up a sweat with this one!  Good grief.

This week I'm hoping to get a few miles in.  It's nice not having to run, but now that the obligation is gone I find myself really wanting to get out there!  The fact that I'm only 28 miles away from my next Nike+ level is pretty good motivation, too!  My goal is to get it before November :-)

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Post Race Life

Now that there's no race to train for, I'm kind of at a loss of what to do.  Part of me is excited because I've had a couple of workouts I've wanted to try out, but kept pushing off to the side.  My thing is that if I want to get better at running, I need to be running.  Cross training is awesome, but running is where it's at for this girl ;-)

This week has been pretty laid back as far as workouts go.  Maddux and I have had some nice walks (he is LOVING this cooler weather) and on Wednesday I did a brief leg circuit, which was basically 1 minute leg lifts on each side, 1 minute bridges with this purple ball that made it SO much harder, and 1 minute of squats.  I repeated each exercise three times and my thighs definitely felt it!  

Today somebody has been very cranky.  I'll give you a hint:

Poor zebra.  He's in line for surgery the next time we visit my mom.

I don't know what's going on with this boy.  Maybe he just wanted to get a little crazy for the weekend.  My wild Friday night has consisted of quality treadmill time.  I ran ~3.35 miles in 30 minutes.  Not too shabby for the first run post race.  Although I'm not officially training for anything, I do have a 5k coming up in November and I'm hoping to snag a respectable time.  It's a few days before my birthday and I invited a few girlfriends to run with me!  Hopefully a few of them will be able to come out :-)  Overall, I just want to enjoy running until I have to start busting my butt for the Rock n' Roll in March, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than running a great local race with some good friends.  

I'm planning on running some tomorrow.  I have a number in my head, but going with the whole enjoying your run thing, I'm going to attempt to not focus too much on it.  I got the link to my race pictures today and it reminded me of why I run.  You know how I said I was smiling like a fool in my Crawlin' Crab Half Recap?  Those pictures are proof that I wasn't lying!  I don't think I've ever looked so happy in a race picture.  I remember my first half marathon photos kind of scared me because I looked like I was in such intense pain.  Yay running!

On a completely random note, but I mean I couldn't really leave it out, GO NATS!  

I WISH this was taken at a play off game.  

I'm hoping we can pull off another win tonight!  If the Pirates can't be on the road to the World Series, I'll definitely take the Nationals!  

Happy weekend!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon Race Recap

One of the cool things about my past two races is that they both were the first ones ever!  It's like being part of history when you're at the inaugural races ;-)

Saturday morning Maddux, my nice friend, and I headed down to Hampton, VA, for the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon weekend.  I was beyond excited for this race because it's by J&A Racing, which has put on probably my favorites races I've ever done (Wicked 10k, Virginia is for Lovers, and the Shamrock Half Marathon--my first and best half!).  All the races have been extremely well organized and lots of fun.  I was also excited because we were right around my old college city so I got to see some of my old haunts.

Our first stop was to Plaza, my all time favorite Mexican restaurant.  I was so happy to see two of my favorite servers there and it was great to catch up with them for a few minutes.  (They still know me after a few years of being away...can you tell I went there maybe too much?  One of the servers even knows my mom and offered to be my at school mom when she found out my parents were moving to Pennsylvania!).  

So many memories...good times with good friends :-)

Since we had Maddux, we got our food to go and had a nice picnic out on the Noland Trail, which is where I put in the majority of my college miles, and is one of my favorite places in the world.  Maddux was so happy exploring new territory.

Once we got to Hampton, we checked into our hotel and went straight over to the expo.  It was small, so I didn't spend much time there, but the volunteers were all extremely friendly.  The best part?  I got to see my best friend!  She decided to run her very first half marathon!  Yay Ashley!

This is us looking pretty along with my amazing college roommate.  We didn't take a sweaty picture because it was raining and we are responsible adults who take care of our phones now :-)

I woke up on race day with all kinds of nerves.  I foam rolled, ate a Power Bar, and drank some G2 and water and finally headed out the door to meet up with Ashley and her friend before the race.  The sky was gray, but the temperatures were nice and cool which was encouraging.  After chatting for a little while, we headed to our corrals and awaited the start.  The race announcer was dressed as a crab which made me smile.  As we started off, my legs felt surprisingly fresh and I was feeling pretty optimistic about the race, even though I tried to convince myself not to set my expectations too high and to just enjoy the race.  When the first mile marker came into view I looked down and saw that I was at 9:15.  My first thought was "OH MY GOSH I HAVE TO SLOW DOWN!!!!!!!!!"  A 9:15 pace is fine for a few miles, but I knew that definitely wasn't happening for an entire race.

The first 5 miles flew by.  I smiled knowing that at mile 4 I felt like I hadn't been running more than a few minutes.  The course was mostly flat.  A lot of the miles weren't too exciting and just along streets where you would pass a McDonald's or something, but some of the miles were along the James River and absolutely gorgeous.  I laughed because I had assigned a mile to a bunch of my friends and family so that I would be held accountable (who wants a crappy mile?) and my brother left a message on my Facebook saying he would be honored if I walked his mile, mile 8.  His mile ended up being my favorite!  It was all along the river, there was a guitarist playing, and super friendly spectators sipping their morning coffee and cheering us along from their front yards.  I'm not sure why, but they didn't want to trade their coffee for a run.  Yes, I really asked.  I did get a couple of high fives though.  Seriously, what's better than a sweaty high five from a stranger?  Another cool part was running through Downtown Hampton past the Air and Space Museum.  Too bad it wasn't open yet or I may have stopped in.  

There were tons of water stops, a few radio stations out on the course, A CANDY STOP!!, and a band to keep us motivated.  I was smiling like a fool for the majority of the race.  Then mile ten hit.  Mile ten kind of sucked.  It was into the wind and I felt like I was on it forever and it was COLD.  Luckily, as soon as we turned a corner, we were back to a slight breeze at your back.  Things were going well again, but as soon as I hit the mile 12 mark the skies opened up and it started pouring rain.  My shoes got so heavy and my socks felt so gross!  At that point I just kind of laughed and was thankful I only had a mile left in that nonsense to go.  I tried to pick it up a little and started picking out targets I wanted to pass (got 'em all).  I would like to say my final kick was strong, but I honestly don't remember.  I was a little emotional because I was so happy to be done in a time that I felt good about so I was half laughing and half on the verge of crying (who am I?!).  I can't wait to see that finishers pic....

My final time was 2:08:42, only 2 minutes (and some seconds, who knows) slower than my PR and 10 minutes faster than that blasted RnR race.  I think I'm still riding the runner's high this morning :-)  Now I'm thinking that 2:05 time is within reach again and am ready to find my next race so I can kick some butt!

The rain finally slowed down and I easily found my nice friend and Maddux after the race to get a sweaty hug and my crab chowder bread bowl.  Then we headed to the finish line to watch Ashley finish her race.  If only I had a cowbell.   

When Ashley finished it was raining pretty hard again, and my tank top was just not cutting it in the 50 degree weather, so we said our goodbyes and after a hot shower, we packed the car and headed home.  A big thank you goes out to my nice friend for standing in the rain to support me and for hanging with the pup so that he could be a part of my race weekend!

Today I am very sore.  Maddux and I have been cuddling on the couch and the only productive thing I have done is type up this post and make delicious pumpkin pancakes.  Fall really feels like it's here now!

So gourmet.  I should switch to food blogging.  Or maybe I should just leave it to Pursuit of Sweetness.

Thanks again to J&A racing for putting on another fabulous race and for giving me a lot of crab jokes to read along the course to share with my nice friend on our drive home.  I'm sure his laughs were real and not just pity laughs.  Now he thinks I'm hilarious and probably is more inclined to keep me around for a while ;-)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tower of Terror 10 Miler: A Post of Many Pictures

Fall weather has been good to me.  Running has been going well.  In preparation of the Tower of Terror 10 Miler I had one last "long" run.  I ran a little over 8 amazing miles OUTSIDE.  I felt great and had high hopes for the race.

September has gone by incredibly fast.  I feel like I was just trying to convince my friend to run the race with me the other day, and yet race day was here!

My amazing friend Laura and I hopped on a plane for Disney Thursday night and had fun adventures planned for the weekend.  The race wasn't until late Saturday night, so we had plenty of time to explore the parks before we ran.  Friday was dedicated to the Magic Kingdom.  I hadn't been there since I was 8, but it was every bit as spectacular as I remembered.  I absolutely loved every minute of it.  After, we went to Epcot and were happy to find a food and wine festival waiting for us.  We enjoyed delicious margaritas and empanadas after seeing dolphins at the Finding Nemo ride!  I couldn't have asked for a better day. I could go on and on about our Disney adventures, so be glad this is only a brief overview ;-)

Saturday we decided to spend the morning at Animal Kingdom.  I had never been and I LOVED it.  It was so much fun seeing all the animals and spending the day in a park so different from what I had expected.  The park was shady and definitely had a safari feel to it.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to spend as much time as we would have hoped since we had to get to the race expo to pick up our packets.

I really enjoy race expos.  I love looking at all the different products they have to offer.  I ended up buying one of the travel massagers since I didn't have room in my bag for my foam roller.  I think it's my new favorite running accessory.  It feels much better on my IT band than the foam roller :-)

After relaxing with some of Laura's family for a wonderful dinner, we headed back to the hotel to rest up before the race.  Our race didn't start until 10PM and we were a little worried that we wouldn't have the energy to run 10 miles!  

We shouldn't have worried, because once we got to the race I felt completely energized.  Although we had to wait in our corral for a while, the time passed by quickly and the start was incredible.  As we took off the music from the twilight zone played and fireworks went off.  Throughout the course there was spooky villain music and fun props.  One of my favorites was the hyenas from the Lion King!  There was also a dirt trail that had Pirates of the Caribbean music and pirate themed decorations and we got to run through the Wide World of Sports on different tracks and see ourselves on the big screens.  The race was crowded (people off all abilities and speeds were participating) so we spent most of the time weaving in and out of the masses, but we stuck together and kept a nice easy pace.  My main goal was to enjoy the race and prove to myself that I could run that far!  We ended up finishing the race in 1 hour and 57 minutes with a strong finish.  

So happy to finish!
One of the best parts?  I felt AMAZING the whole time!  Yes, my legs were tired, but I had 0 stomach issues.  I took 3 Clif Shot Bloks along the course and the remaining 3 right after I was done.  I probably should have been more careful because the race was pretty humid and I sweated quite a bit.  Luckily it all worked out and I have high hopes for my upcoming half marathon.

Overall I had a wonderful impression of Disney races and Laura and I tentatively made plans to run in the Disney Princess Half Marathon in a couple of years.  They had plenty of water stops, lots of volunteers and crowd support, and at the end they gave us this box.

We were excited when they told us it was a snack pack!  Inside they had provided us with cheese and crackers, a Clif Bar, chocolate, trail mix, and gummies.  They also gave us Powerade and bottles of water at the finish line along with our awesome medal.  By the time we got back to the hotel it was almost 2 AM.  It is a miracle that this grandma stayed up so late ;-) 

Needless to say, we weren't thrilled to leave Disney.  Laura wasn't pleased when I made her take a picture right before heading to the airport, but we couldn't leave without one last goodbye to Mickey!

See you soon, Mick!
I am lucky to have such a great friend that's willing to travel with me to run!  Thanks again, Laura!  I can't wait to become princesses soon!