Friday, August 29, 2014

5 Things about J&A Racing

Happy Friday!  I'm linking up with Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney today.  Make sure to check out all the amazing blogs!  They are doing a "Fall Preview" theme, but since I'm way behind in my life, I'm straying away and am going to talk about one of the big loves of my life: J&A Racing.  J&A holds my heart for many reasons which we'll get into in a minute, and I'm so happy that I get to be a part of their team as an ambassador for the 2014-2015 season.  There are many amazing things about J&A, but I'll try to keep it brief.

1. J&A Racing made me exciting about running.  I don't remember how I found about J&A to begin with, but I do know that because of J&A I realized that I was faster than I realized and could run further than I ever thought I could.  My senior year of college I ran the Wicked 10k with my little brother and had a blast.  We then decided that we may as well run the Virginia is for Lovers 14k to prepare for the Shamrock Half Marathon.  Each run felt amazing and was fun in its own unique way. VIFL had a cupcake curve.  Enough said.  Back then, there were only three races.  They've since expanded and have SIX!  Check them out here!

Wicked good times.

2. My first and best half marathons have been with J&A.  The Shamrock was my first half and I beat the time I thought I would by about 25 minutes. I remember crossing the finish line and being so proud and so excited, and also thinking I never wanted to run that far again!  (It was my burning quads talkin'.)  I guess somewhere along the lines that changed!  You can read my race recaps here, here, and here.

Shamrock Half is a PR kind of race.

3. The food is SO good.  This may seem like a silly reason to run, but I've gotta say that the awesome soup in bread bowls makes every single mile completely worth it.

4. The courses are fun!  They put jokes up on the course (which yes, are cheesy, but are also highly entertaining).  They have DJs, radio stations, and bands set up on the courses.  One of my favorites was at the Inaugural Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon.  They had a guitar player by the James River and although it wasn't traditional race course music, I really liked it!  The volunteers are incredible as well and cheer you on (your name is on your bib if you register early enough!) and hand you oreos and candy.

My friends are hooked on J&A, too :-)

5. They keep things exciting.  J&A makes changes to their races, but makes sure to keep the same feel and quality with each change.  I am so excited for the Crawlin' Crab Half this year because they are having a craft beer fest after the race.  They added a new race this year (the Harbor Lights Half Marathon and 5k) that just happens to be on my birthday weekend.  Must have heard how much I loved them.  The Surfin' Santa changed from a 10 miler to a 5 miler, and is going to be amazing because it's going to be in the evening so we can run through the lights on the boardwalk.  I cannot wait!

Have you ever done a J&A race?  Which one?  If not, which race would you want to do? 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Turn that Frown Upside Down

It's incredible how something as simple as a run can affect my mood in such a major way.  Today I was frustrated.  It's been hard getting back into a normal life routine and the traffic that comes with said routine.  Plus, saying goodbye to sweet summer is never easy.  It just kind of seemed like nothing was going exactly how I wanted it today (I'll spare you the details, just know I was in a bit of a mood) and when I got to the gym my treadmill unexpectedly cut off after about a minute of running.  The guy on the 'mill next to me was so nice and adjusted the cord (apparently the way the cord was lying made it shake out when the treadmill started moving?  I don't know...) and offered to switch machines with me so I could get my run in without having to worry.  Between his kindness and pushing myself harder than I have in a long time I felt a million times better when I left.  Yay sweat!

In other news, my sweet foster pup found a home on Sunday!  Jess went to the perfect family and will have a mom, dad, brother, and pet cat.  I couldn't have asked for a better place for her!  Seeing how excited they were to adopt her made me excited, too, and I didn't even get emotional as I said goodbye to her!  Maybe I'm getting better at this foster thing?

Look at that smile!  She knew she was going to find a family :-)

I also found a group to run with!  While I still want to give the running club another shot (summer months are hard to judge since everybody is traveling and off their typical routines), I'm excited that I have another option.  This one starts a little later in the morning (win) and the guys I ran with said that the group usually runs at a 9:00-10:00 minute pace.  Plus, you can earn store credit with the miles that you log.  That's pretty sweet.

I put my selfie in black and white so that I would look less sweaty and red faced.
In my defense, it rained the first few miles, so there was no hope for a decent pic.

I know I have a lot to be thankful for and have so many things to make me smile, but sometimes all you need is a good run to help you gain perspective back in your life.

What turns your bad mood around?  In addition to running, seeing my pup's happy face is a surefire way to make me smile.  The Candy Bar Pie Ben & Jerry's in my freezer hasn't hurt either...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Friday 5: A Happy Week

Happy Friday!  Today's the Friday Five link up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia!  I've been crazy busy lately, but life is good.  My parents came to visit from Alabama last weekend and we had a great time.  Here are five things I loved about their visit:

1. Watching the Pirates.  Yeah, they didn't win (ugh), but it was fun hanging out with my parents and cheering them on.

2. Touring ball parks.  On Sunday my parents and I toured the Nationals' field.  I really enjoyed learning about the park and the best part?  The Pirates had some of their gear in the dugout so we got to get all excited about seeing our favorite players helmets.  It's the little things.

Go Cutch!

3.  Walking around DC.  The monuments never fail to amaze me.  I loved getting to show my parents around my town.

4. Visiting breweries.  Over the summer I went to a couple of beer festivals and discovered Jailbreak Brewing.  It's a new brewery so if you're ever in town make sure to give them some love!  I really enjoyed their jalapeno beers as well as some bourbon aged stouts, which surprised me because I usually shy away from those styles. The tour was informative and you got a sampler and a pint glass with your ticket.  A win in my book!

5.  Playing with my new foster!  Last Thursday I got sweet foster puppy Jessie.  We think she's a basset/beagle mix and she just radiates joy.  She and my dad bonded very quickly and I think it was hard on both of them to say goodbye!  If you are looking for a playful, snuggly, happy pup make sure to visit Lucky Dog's website to learn more about Jessie.  Even though I'm going to miss her like crazy, I can't wait for her to find her perfect home!  She is going to bring constant smiles to a lucky family every day.

What's been putting a smile on your face lately?  Do you have any "must sees" when your family comes to visit?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Week 9 Recap and Alabama Fun

I'm not sure where the time has gone, but week 9 of my training plan is officially check off!  This week was a little different than I expected, but if you can't be a little flexible then what good is a plan anyway?

But first, some highlights from Alabama!  Colorado got its own recap and it didn't seem right to not give you at least a few fun things from the other part of my vacation!

The Air and Space Museum: My dad's birthday is at the beginning of August and since we had 4 of the 5 family members home we decided to go to Huntsville, Alabama to visit this museum.  The museum is really interactive and has lots of information on the space monkeys!  It was a great way to spend the afternoon! 

Straight to Ale Brewing: A two hour road trip wouldn't have been complete without stopping for some local beer!  Straight to Ale has a lot of space themed brews (perfect after an afternoon at the museum!) and we made sure to toast Ms. Baker, the space monkey, with a round of Monkeynaut.

I drew a picture and pinned it to the bulletin board.  I wonder if it's still there...

Noccalula Falls: I briefly mentioned this in an earlier post, but my family and I had a great hike at the falls.   You can't bring dogs, which is a bummer, but we got to hike all the way behind the falls this time which was neat.  When my mom and I went back in April it had rained a lot and we would have had to forge a small river to get behind them.  

Legend is that Noccalula flung herself off the falls
because she didn't want to marry some dude.
Men, the root of all our probs.

This is from the first time I went to the falls.  Mom and I tried
really hard to get a selfie with the falls.  This was our best one.

The rest of the time was spent just hanging out, doing a little shopping, watching Pirates baseball on my parents' "party deck", and doing lots of neighborhood walks with my sister, mom, and our pups.  It was a perfect relaxing week.

On to the recap!

Wednesday: 5 miles on the 'mill.  It was just one of those cloudy, hot days and I didn't mind spending the time listening to Wait! Wait! Overall it felt good, but there's not much to say about it other than that.

Friday: 6x800 at the park.  Good grief guys.  This was ridiculously hard.  I decided to go to one of my favorite parks because there is a lake almost a mile around.  I thought that it might be a little easier than my usual trail loop because it's a little less crowded.  I didn't take into account the hills.  Not so bad for a normal run, but killer when you're trying to run fast.  Even though I was pretty sure my lungs were going to explode and my legs were going to fall off my paces were much faster than I anticipated.  I don't see high 7s on my watch (like ever) so having two 800 workouts with this pace was super exciting for me!

Saturday: 7 miles at a new trail!  This was an exciting run for me because it was my trial run with the running club!  I had mentioned that I decided to join a club what seems like forever ago, and finally had a free weekend to attend a run.  The group was so welcoming, but none of our paces seemed to quite match up so I ran by myself for most of this run which was kind of a bummer.  The group leader said that usually there is another girl who would be good for me to run with who was out of town this week, so I'm looking forward to going back and trying again.  At least it was a good way to get my butt out of bed!  I also liked knowing that someone had my back on a trail that was unfamiliar to me.  I can't wait to go back soon and explore with Mad Dog!

Miles for the Week: 15

I have no idea where I'm at with overall plan miles right now, but eventually I'll figure that out again!  

How is your training plan going?  Do you do intervals? I didn't in the past, but I'm loving them now!  Such a good way to mix it up so I don't get burnt out on long runs!  Plus, it's kind of fun to run fast! 

**Today I'm linking up with MCM Mama Runs, Run the Great Wide Somewhere, and My No-Guilt Life for Tuesdays on the Run!  Make sure to check out the adventures of these awesome runners!  Today their theme is mantras, so if you're needing a little extra motivation they are your go-to girls!**

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday 5: Colorado Adventures

Happy Friday!  I'm excited to be back linking up with Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney today!  They are doing a fun theme of race memories today, but I'm going to keep on with my recap of my adventures.  It already seems so long ago!

1. New Belgium Brewery Tour:  My aunts know that I love good beer and scheduled a tour as soon as they heard I was coming.  We had a great time and I think it would be an awesome place to work.  Not only is it in beautiful Fort Collins, CO, but you get a free bike after a year of working there and then a month sabbatical after ten years of working.  Not too shabby.  They have such a fun atmosphere and even have a "director of fun" who made sure they are equipped with ping pong tables and even a rock wall.  At the end of the tour you could choose to go down a slide.  My aunts and I were more than happy to join in the fun!

2. Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey: As much as I would like to be, I am not a whiskey girl.  I will say that even if you're like me and make faces when you sip whiskey, the tour is definitely worth the time!  It was really interesting learning about the process (I never really thought about it before!).  Fun Fact: Bourbon is 51% corn or more.  Whiskey is 50% and under.  Just in case you were like me and had no idea.

3. Claremont Inn: Last drinking one I promise!  The Claremont Inn is a gorgeous inn and winery.  My aunt (who is also my "fairy" godmother) planned out a special day for us since we rarely get to spend time together.  She pulled out all the stops on this one.  It was so fun sipping wine and enjoying the appetizer plate while chatting with one of the amazing owners.  At the end my aunt surprised me by buying me several of my favorite bottles with a customized label.  It was so sweet and thoughtful and we had a great day together.

4. Hiking St. Mary's Glacier: Oh man guys.  I could write a whole post just on this.  It was SO hard.  A couple of months ago I was talking to my uncle who asked me to hike to the top of the glacier.  He said it was a good workout, but that I was definitely capable.  Later when we talked he said "If I would have told you how hard it was then you probably wouldn't have come."  The views were absolutely breathtaking (or maybe that was just me sucking wind after hiking my butt up a mountain), but I've gotta say that I am more than happy with the little trail walks Maddux and I do!

It rained at the beginning of our hike and we had to hide under a tarp.
Yes, someone had a tarp.  I should have known it would be a hardcore hike.
I also should have ran home at this point.

I didn't think we were serious about going all the way to the top.

Buuuut then we did.  And then we kept going.

5. Spending Time with Family: As much fun as all our adventures were, I really loved just being with my family.  It was great sitting on the porch drinking coffee with my aunts and cousins or lying in bed with my grandma recapping the day and just talking about anything and everything.  I finally got to meet my cousin's adorable kids and was actually there for his oldest's birthday party.  I can't wait to schedule my next trip!

Have you ever been to Colorado?  Where do your grandparents and aunts live? 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Training Away From Home

After a little over two weeks away, it feels good to be home!  I got to spend about a week in Colorado and another in Alabama and had an amazing time.  I had tons of adventures that I'll share with you guys later, otherwise this post would be way longer than any one of you wants to read in one sitting.  I will tell you that there was a lot of eating, drinking, and being merry.  You can probably imagine how well my runs went after that.

You also probably won't be surprised to hear that not all of my runs were completed.  While I wasn't a complete sloth, I had a hard time getting out the door in a timely manner for my runs.  When I was in Colorado I was constantly on the go and when I did have a little down time I just wanted to spend time with my family.  The last time I was in Colorado was 5 years ago, and my family was definitely the priority.  I've written about this several times before and I have no shame in saying it's ok to take an unplanned rest day to enjoy time with loved ones you don't see often. 

Once I was back in Alabama I was way lazier than intended and only managed to get out the door before it was scorching hot a few times.  Oh well.  Back home means back to my normal routine right? After that lengthy preface, here's the recap:

1. 4x800: CHECK!  My mom walked Maddux and her dog Maz around a lake in their community while I cranked this one out.  The lake is about .65 around, and it was perfect for my workout.  I ran the fastest I've ever run in my life (I think, there's really no way to tell for sure) and I was really pumped about it.

2. 45 minute runs: Whomp, whomp.  Only one of four got done.  Oh well.  I ran a mile before our adventures one day which was at least something.

3. 8 mile long run: I have the best dad in the world (it's his birthday today!!) and he took me to a trail so I could get my run in without making a billion loops around the neighborhood.  It was a terrible mix of running, walking, and crawling, but it got done.  Surprisingly enough it was actually a better pace than I expected.  I didn't have high hopes for this run considering my lazy ways, but it was really nice to get it done.

4. Cross Training: This isn't an official part of the plan, but always a smart thing to do.  I used my parents fitness equipment and alternated 10 minutes on a cardio machine (elliptical or bike) with some strength moves (squats, lunges, arm stuff, ab stuff).  I was SO sore afterwards.   I really shouldn't neglect my thighs so much.  My family took lots of walks and I went on a couple of hikes (more on the one in Colorado later!).

My plan is to do an extra 45 minute run this week to help make up for some of the lack of running in my life the past couple weeks.  All in all, I'm ok with how it went while I was away.  It's hard to predict how workouts will be over vacation!

How do you do when you're on vacation?  Do you stick to the plan or are you ok with switching things up a little?