Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Weekly Review

It was a busy week for me last week and I'm a day late with my weekly review.  But better late than never :)  Yesterday was a travel day for us and we got back in to town in the evening.  Here are the details of last week.

Monday - 30 minutes on the elliptical plus body pump

Tuesday - Unplanned rest day (since I had doubled up the day before)

Wednesday - 4 miles tempo

Thursday - Planned rest day and flying to Dallas after work.  It was pretty late when we got to my brother's house and we went straight to sleep.

Friday - 4 Easy miles in the morning near my brother's house.

I loved this house decorated like a Christmas present :)

Saturday - 2.5 easy miles.  We had thought about participating in the Dallas Marathon 10k and 5k this morning but it ended up being cold, windy and rainy.  So we decided against it and I just took my brother's new puppy for a short run in the morning.  She was a handful but it was fun going for a run with her :)  She was definitely happy to be out of the rain when we got back to the house though.

Sunday - 5 easy miles on the Katy Trail.  This trail is a couple miles from my brother's house and we all went there to get some morning exercise.  There was also a bar conveniently located right off the trail, with fire pits and heat lamps, and that's where I found the rest of the group once I was done with my run :)

And then Monday we flew back home.  We had a great time in Dallas mostly just hanging out, playing with the dogs, and indulging in lots of good veggie food!  I'll probably share more on that later this week.  Hopefully you all had a great week too :)

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Race 13.1 Baltimore - race review

Saturday, December 1st was the Race 13.1 Half Marathon in Baltimore.  They also had a 5k and 10k option.  This is the race's third year, I did the race their first year (2016) but I had to miss it last year.  I'm glad I was able to do it again this year because I really enjoyed it.  It's a pretty course and relatively flat.  It's well organized and the logistics are pretty easy because it's on the smaller side.  I think there were less than 1100 people in the half and maybe another couple hundred in the 10k and 5k, so around 1500 total or so.

Packet pick up had multiple options.  Two days before the race, they had packet pick up at a running store in a Baltimore suburb.  They also had packet pick up at a hotel near downtown Baltimore the day before the race.  Lastly, they had packet pick up the morning of the race.  I had gotten a hotel room the evening before the race in Baltimore so I stopped on the way in to pick up my packet.  I made it 15 minutes before packet pick up closed.  It was well organized and super quick, I'm pretty sure I was in and out of there in 5 minutes.  I was also able to pick up a packet for a friend.

Our hotel was a couple miles from the start line and right on the race course.  Of course, that meant that the road would be closed and the hotel warned us that we wouldn't be able to get out of the garage between 6am and 11am on race day.  So we left the hotel bright and early at 5:50 am on race day.  The half marathon started at 7am.  There was plenty of parking right by the start line so we were able to stay warm in the car until closer to the race start.  We paid $10 for parking but there seemed to be street parking options as well. We liked having a spot in the lot though and not having to worry about finding parking and how far away it would be.


We left the car only 15 minutes ahead of the start time.  I love that you can do that with smaller races like this!  We had a beautiful sun rise while we were waiting for the race to start and then it started pretty much right on time at 7:00.  The 5k and 10k started at 7:15 I think.  There were no corrals or anything, but there were pacers holding signs and people were asked to line up where they felt would be the appropriate time.  There was a DJ at the start who was full of energy and there was even an accordion player playing Chariots of Fire.  That was a fun little touch.

We lined up near the back.  This wasn't a goal race and I was specifically using it to work on not going out too fast during a race.  The plan was 8 miles at an easy pace, picking it us for the next 4 miles, and then picking it up even more for the last mile.

As you can see, this is a pretty curvy race.  There are a lot of little twists and turns in the course.  For the most part, the turns were well marked and the volunteers were well placed to show you what direction to go.  This was especially important for the back of the pack because there were definitely times that I felt like there was no one else around us.  The course had changed a bit from the first year and there was this weird extra loop that the half marathoners did around mile 3.  We looped back toward the finish line (which always sucks) and basically ran on the same section we would run on again at the end of the race.  You can see that on the map where mile 3 is between miles 12 and 13.

I didn't mind this change since it meant that the turn around point was at an earlier location and we got to skip the only big hill that was on the course in 2016.  I'm all for keeping the elevation flat.  But that section was confusing.  They had signs and volunteers, but I almost missed the turn anyway.  I'm pretty sure I saw people cut the course there, and I don't think it was on purpose.  I'm sure they were disappointed at the finish when there watch would have read more than a mile short.


The first 3 miles or so were city streets.  Then the extra loop was by the water, which was nice.  Then we were back on city streets around mile 4 and ran through the neighborhoods of Canton and Fells Point.  There was no crowd support but they were still charming neighborhoods.  We ran by the water from miles 5.5 to 7 and then a slightly more industrial neighborhood.  The turn around was around mile 8.5, right after the Under Armour headquarters.  We were back by the water around mile 9.5, back through Fells Point, and then finishing up running the path by the water where we had run earlier.  The roads we ran on were all closed but the promenade area by the water was of course still open so on the way back, since it was later in the morning, there were more tourists, people walking their dogs, out for their own runs, etc.

I'm happy to say I was able to stick to my plan and get negative splits!  I took it was until mile 8, picked up the pace, and was still able to pick it up even more for the last mile.  And I felt great at the end of the race, as opposed to the last half marathon where I felt horrible at the end.  That one was super hilly, but I think I had also gone out too fast and that affected the whole race.

They had plenty of music going on at the after party, and a nice spread of food from Panera.  We didn't stay long after we finished since we had a breakfast reservation nearby and figured we'd just get food there.

My pros and cons are pretty much the same as last time.

Pros:  Easy logistics with the small field, scenic course by the water for a lot of the race, relatively flat.  It was well organized, with plenty of water stops and volunteers.

Cons:  This race doesn't have some of the excitement and fan fare that big races have.  Also, much of it is on the promenade which isn't closed so lots of non-race foot traffic, especially on the way back.  And if you're in the back of the pack, there are times when there aren't that many other race participants around.  The course does have a lot of twists and turns.  And the parts by the water are brick.  It was well maintained but my friend felt that the varied surface hurt her feet a bit.

Post race selfie

 But overall, I'm a big fan of this race.  I would definitely consider doing it again and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a Baltimore race as long as you don't mind that it doesn't have a lot of fan fare.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Race 13.1 Baltimore Training - Week 5

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  It was race week for me and the week went pretty well overall.  Here are the details.

Monday - Planned rest day plus 30 minutes on the treadmill desk at work

Tuesday - Strength training at home (squats, crunches, glute bridges, clam shells, planks, push ups, calf raises, lunges, bicep curls and tricep curls) 2 sets

Wednesday - 60 minutes on the elliptical

Thursday - speed work on the treadmill, .5 warm up and 3.5 tempo

Friday - 5.4 miles easy pace before work

Saturday - Race 13.1 Baltimore half marathon.  I really enjoyed this race!  It helps that it was a flat course and I wasn't doing it for time so went at an easy pace for the first half of the race :) A full review will be up later this week.

Sunday - 3 mile recovery run in the afternoon.  It was warm enough for a t-shirt but still a little wet out from the rain.

I have some more travel this week so that complicates the plan a little but it should still work out fine. Here's the plan.

Monday - Elliptical plus body pump
Tuesday - Speed work (4 miles tempo)
Wednesday - 4 miles easy
Thursday - Rest day and travel to Dallas
Friday - 4 miles easy
Saturday - 6 miles
Sunday - Strength training

I'm linking up with with HoHoRuns and Taking the Long Way Home for the Weekly Wrap.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Lentil Tortilla Soup

It's the week after Thanksgiving and I'm still thinking about all the delicious food I ate last week.  I have no regrets, but I'm certainly looking forward to healthier (but still delicious) food this week.  And given the chilly weather we've been having, soup is on my mind again.  We made this lentil tortilla soup last week, and it ticks all the boxes... easy, quick, healthy, and delicious!

In addition to being easy, I loved how versatile the recipe is.  There are instructions for it in a pressure cooker, in a slow cooker, or on the stove top.  We did it in an instant pot using the pressure cooker setting and it worked perfectly.  And depending on the toppings you choose, it can be vegan and gluten free too.  Here's what we did

6 Servings


  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper diced
  • 2.5 cups vegetable broth 
  • 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1 TBSP tomato paste
  • 15 oz can black beans 
  • 15 oz can pinto beans 
  • 1 cup corn (fresh, canned, or frozen)
  • 3/4 cup dried red lentils
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional Toppings (1/2 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy), crushed tortilla chips, sliced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, etc.) 

 So easy for the instant pot!  Chop up the veggies, add everything to the pot except the optional toppings, high pressure for 15 minutes and natural release (we got impatient and manually released after 15 minutes of natural release).  That's it!  Serve it up and everyone can add whatever toppings they want.  We had some leftover milk we needed to use up so we added that to the soup to make it a bit creamier.  I had tortilla chips and avocado on mine, Mike had cheese on his.

It was so good!  The lentils kind of melted into the soup and thickened it up so this felt really hearty and a great dinner on a cold evening.

I'm linking up with Deborah and Sarah for Meatless Monday.

 Jalapeno Quinoa Lentil Slaw

Monday, November 26, 2018

Race 13.1 Baltimore Training - Week 4

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  We had a wonderful week, with mostly smooth travel and a lot of fun time with family.  The work outs were mostly as planned, though there was an extra rest day.  But I'm not going to stress about that on Thanksgiving week, especially since it was a cut back week too.  Here are the details.

Monday - Unplanned rest day.  I was supposed to go to body pump but just ended up being tired after work.

Tuesday - 3 miles at an easy pace before work

Wednesday - 3 miles at an easy pace in the afternoon

Thursday - Rest day and flying to Atlanta.

Friday - Strength training with body weight exercises (squats, crunches, glute bridges, clam shells, planks, push ups, and lunges x2 sets)

Plus craft time with my niece :)

Saturday - 4.5 miles in my brother-in-law's neighborhood, .5 mile warm up, 3.5 miles tempo, .5 mile cool down.

Sunday - 6 miles back home in my neighborhood.  It was a beautiful Fall morning and perfect for running.

We also went to the Kennedy Center in the afternoon for a concert where the National Symphony Orchestra was playing music from various Disney movies.  We really enjoyed it!

This week is race week! Here's the plan.

Monday - Rest day
Tuesday - Speed work (.5 mile warm up, 3 miles half marathon pace, .5 mile cool down)
Wednesday - Body Pump
Thursday - 3.5 miles easy pace
Friday - 5.5 miles easy pace plus packet pick up in the evening
Saturday - Race 13.1 Baltimore
Sunday - 2 mile recovery run

I'm linking up with with HoHoRuns and Taking the Long Way Home for the Weekly Wrap.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018


I have so many things to be thankful for, and Thanksgiving week seems like the perfect week to reflect on it!  I realized that I haven't really done a Thanksgiving post since 2014, the first year I blogged.  That one covered the big things like family, friends, and kitties :)  Of course, those continue to be the big things I'm thankful for.  But here are a couple more things that I'm especially thankful for at the moment.

1.  Travel - I've been able to travel and run in some new places this year.  The travel has been both for fun and for work, and I'm so thankful that I've had the chance to gather these memories.

View from a run in Napa Valley

2.  A new family member - my brother got married this year!

3.  Running and being outside - Having tendinitis and being unable to run in the Spring weather was a real downer.  It made me really appreciate being able to run again and enjoy the time outside.  I even enjoyed the hot weather over the Summer and I'm going to do my best to appreciate the cold runs in the Winter :)

Sunrise from yesterday's run

4.  Trying new things - I've been more politically active this year and I really enjoyed it.  It gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of cool people and get involved with some interesting projects.  I'm taking a bit of a break for the end of the year but look forward to continuing this next year.

 So those are some things that really stick out for me as I look back over the year.  I hope that you all have plenty to be thankful for as well and that everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Race 13.1 Baltimore Training - Week 3

I hope everyone had a great week!  My week went pretty well.  I was able to get in all my runs and 1 strength training session.  I was also pretty good about recovery this week with 3 sessions foam rolling and an epsom salt bath.  I had hoped to get in a yoga session but that didn't happen.  Here are the details.

Monday - Planned rest day

Tuesday - Strength training.  I had planned to run on the track but for some reason it wasn't open :(  I waited there for a while to see if someone showed up but I eventually gave up and went home.  I tried a new strength training video on You Tube and really liked it!  I was definitely feeling it the next day but not so much that it interfered with running.

Wednesday - 3 miles on the treadmill

Thursday - 50 minutes on the elliptical.  We had snow during the morning but it changed to rain by the afternoon so I was able to get to the gym and use the elliptical.

Friday - 4 mile run - saw deer in the neighborhood toward the end of the run.

Saturday - 5 mile run

Sunday - 10 mile run with 5 miles at an easy pace, 3 miles at marathon pace, 1 mile at half marathon pace, and then a cool down.  I felt pretty good during this run!  My tempo miles were all on target except the last mile was way too fast.  I was aiming for 13:30 and ended up with 12:17.  But that mile was also mostly downhill.

So that was last week.  I also played around with my shoes a bit.  I laced them differently for the Wednesday and Friday runs.  That helped a little but they were still too tight in the toes.  So I went to the running store and it turns out my feet have changed a bit and I have higher arches than I used to.  They were pretty flat before.  So I tried out some new shoes and ended up with Brooks Adrenalines.  I tried them on my Saturday run and work them for my long run on Sunday. 

This week is a little complicated with Thanksgiving travel. Here's the plan.

Monday - Body pump
Tuesday - Speed work (1 mile warm up, 3.5 miles tempo)
Wednesday - 3 easy miles
Thursday - Rest day and fly to Atlanta
Friday - 4 miles
Saturday - 3 miles + yoga and fly back home in the afternoon
Sunday - 6 miles

I'm linking up with with HoHoRuns and Taking the Long Way Home for the Weekly Wrap.


Friday, November 16, 2018

AfterShokz Trekz Air

I hope you all had a great week!  We had a bit of snowy weather here but thankfully I was able to work from home and stay warm.  I thought I'd take this opportunity to get back on track with blogging and talk about the Aftershokz Trekz Air headphones that I've been wanting to review for a while.  I figure this is also a good time to link up with Fairytales and Fitness for their Friday link up.


I had been using wireless earbuds from Amazon but they were pretty cheap.  And I had bought the same ear buds like three different times because they eventually stopped working at some point.  The most recent pair I had stopped charging so I decided to stop buying cheap earbuds and try to invest in something that will hopefully last longer.

I had been reading great reviews of Aftershokz so I decided to give them a try.  And I love them!  The unique thing about Aftershokz is the headphones don't actually go in your ears.  They use bone conduction so that you can still hear things going on around you.  Which is great for running. 

Sweaty post run photo - you can see that my ears are completely uncovered

 Here are some things I've noticed so far.

1.  Comfortable and light weight!

2.  Can definitely hear better and I can hear everything going on around me while running.

3.  They're a little weird if the volume is too high though because you can feel them vibrate.

4.  Another downside is that sometimes, you do want to tune out the world.  For example, at the gym or on an airplane.  They come with ear plugs to help with that, but I prefer just using some old wired ear buds I have for those types of situations.

5.  I'm still trying to figure out battery life.  So far, so good.  I even forgot to turn them off after my last two hour run and they had plenty of battery when I finally notices several hours later.  So it seems like the battery life is pretty long lasting.  The website specifies 6 hours of battery life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Potato Almond Soup

Brr... it's definitely beginning to feel like Winter here.  It's cold and tomorrow's our first chance for some snow (just a little bit) so I've definitely been looking toward soups for dinner.  There's something so hearty and comforting about a hot bowl of soup when you've come in from the cold.  And this Potato Almond Soup from the Washington Post has the added benefit of being super easy.  Plus, it's pretty healthy, vegan and gluten free!

Photo from the Washington Post

4 Servings

2 medium russet potatoes
4 large cloves garlic
1 medium onion
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup skinless almonds
2 cups water, or more as needed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more leaves for garnish
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees

2. Peel the potatoes, garlic and onion.  Chop all veggies into bite-size chunks and place in a bowl. Drizzle with the oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, until tender.

3. While the veggies roast, combine the almonds and water in a small pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, but do not let them boil over; cook for 2 minutes.  

4. Toss the roasted vegetable mixture into a blender with the almonds and their water, the vinegar, leaves from the thyme sprigs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Puree until very smooth. It looked to thick to us so we added more water at this point, as well as some olive oil and more vinegar. So it's important to taste and add anything more you want at this point.  We also added some smoked paprika and garlic powder.

Not quite as pretty as the version from the Post but it was delicious!

And that's it!  Scoop out in bowls, drizzle with some olive oil on top, and some hot sauce if you want.  We felt like the hot sauce added an extra zing that really worked with this soup.  It tasted even better as leftovers the next day.  We served it with just some steamed green beans but it would be perfect with a simple salad too.  

I'm linking up with Deborah and Sarah for Meatless Monday.

 Jalapeno Quinoa Lentil Slaw

Monday, November 12, 2018

Race 13.1 Baltimore Training - Week 2

I hope everyone had a great week!  Mine was a bit of a mixed bag.  I'm happy with the work outs I got in but ended up missing a couple runs due to weird foot drama and just plain scheduling.  Here are the details.

Monday - Rest Day - I was also working as an election worker again so I had to go to my assigned polling place to help set it up so everything was ready to open on time Tuesday morning.

Tuesday - 2.8 miles easy - cut a little short because I got caught in the rain.  Then I went to my shift at the polls.  I had the closing shift which meant I stayed until the end and drove everything to the Board of Elections at the end of the night.  I was very impressed with how organized everything was and how smoothly our particular polling location ran.

Wednesday - Strength training at home.  I started out doing a body pump video but my stomach was not feeling well with the quick movements.  I stopped the video and just did some basic strength training on my own, squats, glute bridges, calf raises, clam shells, planks.

Thursday - 3.6 miles on the treadmill.  This was a 1 mile warm up, 2.5 miles tempo and then a minimal cool down.  My shoes have been weird lately (they're only a couple months old!) and I ended up with a cut on the back of my right foot from the rubbing.

Friday - Yoga With Adrienne - I kept meaning to go out for a run during the day but things just kept coming up and I didn't manage to get out there before the sun set.  So I ended up doing a yoga session in the evening.

Saturday - 5 miles on the treadmill.

This is when things kind of got weird with my right foot.  It's the same foot I had tendinitis in earlier in the year and I'm a bit paranoid about it.  Because of the rubbing with my shoes, I had gotten new shoes.  But for some reason, the new shoes were fine on my left foot but tight on my right foot.  I don't know if I just need to relace the shoe or maybe it was a little swollen from Thursday's treadmill run where my ankle had gotten cut up.  The result is that it was even more swollen when I woke up Sunday :(

Sunday - Unplanned rest day.  Since my foot was visibly swollen Sunday morning, I ended up deciding not to run.  The swelling had gone by the afternoon and I toyed with the idea of going out for an afternoon run, but I decided against it.  I did go buy some new running socks because I realized the socks I've been using are pretty old and that may have been contributing to the rubbing on the back of my ankle too.

But the weekend wasn't all bad.  We did go out with to celebrate a couple friend's birthdays Saturday evening.  It started out with a 50th birthday dinner celebration and then to another friend's house to watch Mad Max.

So that was last week.  Hopefully this week is better. Here's the plan for this week.

Monday - Rest day
Tuesday - Speed work (1 mile warm up, 3.5 miles tempo)
Wednesday - Body Pump
Thursday - 3 miles
Friday - 4 miles
Saturday - 5.5 miles + yoga
Sunday - 10 miles

I'm linking up with with HoHoRuns and Taking the Long Way Home for the Weekly Wrap.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Race 13.1 Baltimore Training - Week 1

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I had a bit of time to rest over the weekend which was really nice.  And I got in all my scheduled work outs :)  Here are the details of the week.

Monday - Planned rest day

Tuesday - Body Pump (last minute notice that the track was closed so switched Tuesday and Wednesday)

Wednesday - 2.5 miles easy

Thursday - 50 minutes on the elliptical

Friday - Speed work (.5 mile warm up, 3 miles tempo pace, cool down) plus Yoga With Adrienne's Yoga for Runners

Plus we also went out in the evening to the Kennedy Center.  Regina Spektor was performing with the National Symphony Orchestra and it was amazing!

Saturday - 5 easy miles

Sunday - 8 miles with a friend.  The weather was cooler and this was a near perfect run.  We both felt like we felt really good the whole time.

So that was last week.  This week is back to training. Here's the plan for this week.

Monday - Rest day
Tuesday - Speed work
Wednesday - 3 miles
Thursday - Body Pump
Friday - 3 miles
Saturday - 5 miles + yoga
Sunday - 9 miles

I'm linking up with with HoHoRuns and Taking the Long Way Home for the Weekly Wrap.