Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Five - things from the internet

It's Friday and that means it's time for the Friday Five link up with Courtney, Mar and Cynthia.  I love this link up and reading all the posts.  This week I'm sharing five things I've seen recently from around the internet.

1.  Exercising because I love my body - I love this article called "How to Exercise out of Self-Love and Not Due to Fat Shaming." I started out exercising and running because I wanted to lose weight but it has now become such a positive thing in my life.  In so many ways it has put me back in touch with my body when I previously felt disconnected.  And it has helped me love my body, the ways in which it is strong, and the things that it can do. It is definitely something I now due from self-love and I want to make sure that it stays that way.

2.  Inspiration from the back of the pack - April from Run the Great Wide Somewhere shared a link to this wonderful post from a front of the pack runner about how he is inspired by people in the back of the pack.  It was a beautiful piece and I think it really made a lot of people feel better about their place in the running community.  I am a new runner and solidly in the back of the pack.  I will probably always be there.  But I'm ok with that.  Running is not something that comes easy to me and just finishing gives me a sense of accomplishment. I am glad that we're not looked down on by all the speedy runners ahead of us.

3.  New podcast from Zooma - I received an email earlier this week indicating that Zooma was starting a new series of podcasts so I thought I'd give the first one a try.  I really enjoyed it so if anyone is looking for a new podcast, this is a good one to try.

4. Zelle from Runner's World - One of the interviews on the Zooma podcast was with Elizabeth Comeau from Runner's World.  She is the editor of a new website from Runner's World, called Zelle,  which is aimed toward women runners.  There are a lot of cool articles on there already but I loved their piece about their opinion on photoshop.  They have indicated that they won't photoshop photos of their models.  I mean, they will still edit the photo for cropping, etc. but they won't touch up the women themselves.  The article ends with "we want your true reflection." I love this!

5.  Happy Halloween from surly peacock kitty! I spent some time this week trying to get my cats into a Halloween costume.  Sadly, it was a bit of an adventure.  I did finally get Perry into the costume but he wouldn't sit still for long enough for a good photo.  Here is what I managed to get.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Spectating at the Marine Corps Marathon

This past weekend was the Marine Corps Marathon in DC and Mike and I decided that we would go cheer on the runners, especially as we knew a couple people running.  We had a great time and I wanted to share our experience and some things we learned since this was my first experience spectating at a large race.

First, study the course map and any spectator information available from the race so that you can find a good spot, or spots.  The Marine Corps Marathon had a lot of information on their website for spectators and it was definitely appreciated.  The website identified multiple good spots for spectating and we picked one on the national mall between mile 17 and mile 18.  There were a lot of fun spectating here and it was cool chatting with people.  We also happened to be right next to a group of people giving out free beer and they were a fun group :) It was funny to see runners run past, realize that there was free beer, and turn back to get some!

Fellow Spectators

Also, go early.  We knew that none of the people we were watching for were going to be front runners but it was still really interesting to see the front of the pack speed by.  We were walking up as the wheel chair leaders zoomed by and we were in place with the camera out by the time the front runner ran by. Here are some photos of the lead runners

And here was the first woman we saw go by

Take a fun sign and a noisemaker of some sort.  We had a sign and it seemed to really perk up some of the runners :) A couple of them flashed the 2 Legit sign at us as they ran back.  Some of them yelled out and one even stopped and asked that we take her photo with the sign with her phone. We did not take anything to make noise with other than our voices or hands but a cow bell would have been much appreciated by the end!

Another great way to interact with runners is to call out their names.  A lot of the runners had their name or some sort of identifying mark on their shirts.  By mile 17 some of them were too far lost in a fog to hear us but the ones that heard us really seemed to appreciate it.  No one seemed to care that we didn't actually know them.  And some of them had fun costumes that we yelled out for too.

Also, really look at the people and the faces that go by you.  You could tell that everyone had their own story and their own struggles that they were overcoming on this day.  And the people running with flags or pushing people in wheelchairs were especially inspiring.

Lastly, if you're looking for someone specific, sign up for runner tracking.  It was really crowded toward the middle and end of the pack and it was hard to pick out a specific person.  In fact, we missed seeing one of our friends in spite of having runner tracking and in spite of knowing what she was wearing!

You can see how crowded it was and how many runners there were at this point

And if you're into photography, take your camera and a fast lens! The race was a great opportunity to practice taking photos.  I have a bunch but here a couple more that I really like.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Baked eggplant parmesan

It's time for the Tasty Tuesday link up with Lean Lena and today I'm sharing an eggplant parmesan recipe which has made it's way into fairly regular rotation at our house.  It started with a weight watcher's recipe that's a little modified.  I love eggplant parmesan but it doesn't always fit into my weekly meal plan calorie wise.  So I love that this is a healthier option.

Makes 4 servings
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with the cooking oil.
Slice the eggplant into round slices, approximately 1/2 inch thick.
Combine the oats, garlic, oregano and salt in a shallow dish.  Pour the milk into a bowl.
Dip the eggplant slices into the milk and then press into the oats to coat both sides and then place on the baking sheet.

Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and put the baking sheet into the oven to cook for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven after 30 minutes and top each eggplant slice with a spoon of the marinara.  
Top with the mozzarella and put back in the oven 10-15 minutes or the cheese is browned and bubbly.

The cheesy eggplant slices can be served over pasta but we prefer to do it as eggplant parmesan subs.  We served it with a side of broccoli and it made for a healthy but filling dinner.  

Does it taste like a decadent eggplant parmesan you would get at a restaurant? No.  But is it a delicious alternative? Yes!  It's really tasty in it's own right and it's not that difficult to make. We love this for dinner, especially as the weather gets cooler.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Weekly review

This wasn't a stellar workout week in terms of volume but the work outs I did have went well.  For some reason I've felt really tired and wiped out this week. But I did get in two runs.

Monday - rest
Tuesday - rest
Wednesday - rest
Thursday - yay, finally managed to work out!  I ran on the treadmill at the gym after work. This went ok but I was exhausted afterward :(

Friday - rest
Saturday - 13.1 mile run!  I ended up doing the last 3/4 of a mile as a cool down walk because my calves really tightened up.  But other than that last bit, I was really happy with how this run went.  And I was back on the Capitol Crescent Trail. I started toward the middle of the trail, ran north for about 3 miles and then back, stopped to refill water and grab my sunglasses from the car, and then went south for 3 miles to Georgetown and back. Then I did just a bit extra to get to 13.1.  

It was a little tough at the end but I kept myself going by promising myself goodies from Panera afterward if I finished.

Sunday - lots of walking when we went down to spectate at the Marine Corps Marathon and icing and foam rolling when we got home.

I've got to do better about fitting in yoga and strength training this week.  My first half marathon is in three weeks and I've got to keep up with my core and hip exercises.  I hope you all had a good weekend!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday Five - reasons I race/run

It's another Friday and of course that means it's time for the Friday Five link up with Courtney, Mar and Cynthia.  These ladies do such a wonderful job of organizing this link up and I really love participating every week.  It's a great way to find new bloggers and see what's on the mind of bloggers you currently follow.

This week's theme is 5 reason to race/run.  I've already talked about 5 reasons why running works for me here so today I'm going to talk about racing. I've got a ton of reasons that I like to sign up for races but here are 5 of them.

1.  To stay motivated - This doesn't apply to everyone but I am so much more motivated to get out there and get my training runs done when I have a race that I'm working toward.  I'd like to say that the love of running alone would get me out there but there are definitely days when that just isn't enough.

Photo from my first 5k years ago, but I didn't sign up for another race afterward and stopped running

2. Fun, social activity - I love that I have friends that got into running about the same time I did and that we run a similar pace. We don't live close enough to run together on training runs but races are a great excuse to get together and have some catch up time before and after the race itself.

Being silly with friends at an 80's run

3. To show myself I'm capable of more than I thought - It's hard to push yourself in training runs sometimes but races give me a way to do that.  And they give me a reason to run far.  I'm still a pretty new runner but at this time last year I would never have thought that I could run 13.1 miles. I couldn't have even imagined why I would want to.

4. To engage with a community and give to a good cause - this does not apply to all races and it is important to research any races that are claiming they give charitable donations.  But I've done several races this year where the charity was close to the community and the participation was all the more meaningful because of the chance to donate.  Ben's Run was a great example of this. Here is the blurb from their website.  "This race honors Ben’s amazing spirit, and the many other children who battle life-threatening illnesses every day.  Run or walk this race for Ben, and for the other heroic children out there.  Do it because they can’t." How can you not want to be a part of the effort after that?

I was proud to be part of this race's efforts and the $65,000 dollars they raised this year

5. Fun medals and shirts - I've got quite the collection of race shirts going from just this one year of racing! And I've also gotten a nice collection of medals started :) It's such a little thing but I always look forward to what the shirt or medal will look like and to wearing the shirt for the first time. It's nice to have a tangible reminder of participation in a specific race.

So that's my contribution to the Friday Five this week.  I'd love to hear your reasons for racing!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Shoes and Medals

I hope everyone's week is going well!  The rain has really put a damper on things for me.  The grey and the damp has made me feel really lackluster and like I have no energy :( I haven't worked out at all this week yet.  But that is changing today!

I also got some new running shoes a week or so ago and am planning to use them on today's run.  They're bright and cheery and it makes me happy to look at them.  They're another pair of Saucony Guides.

Here they are with the old ones.  The ones with the green laces are the new ones and I'm planning on wearing the old ones for my long runs until after Richmond and the new ones for my short runs.  I'll switch that up at some point in December or so. I do have a question about shoe rotation though.  Do you guys rotate between different models of shoe?  I had heard it was good to rotate shoes but I don't know if it does anything to rotate between 2 sets of Saucony Guides or whether I should branch out into another model of shoe entirely.  I'm a little scared to do that since these have worked so well. 

Another thing I got a couple weeks ago is the medals from the Nerd Herd virtual race trilogy.  Have I mentioned how much I loved these races? You can see my post about the first one I did.  I love the nerdy themes (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Hunger Games this year), I love the transparency of their finances and the donations to the charity (Stupid Cancer, which provides support to cancer survivors who are young adults),  and I love the awesome bling!  There's a medal for each virtual race plus an extra for finishing all three.

The medals are really good quality and well designed.  The Star Wars one even glows in the dark.  You can get this awesome display plaque to hold the medals too.  The virtual races also helped motivate me on some training runs.

Here's to better weather on the weekend! Good luck to everyone running the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend.  Mike and I will be cheering you on from around mile 18. And let me know if you have any insight into the whole shoe rotation thing :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tasty Tuesdays - French Toast

Yay, we have a kitchen again and it is definitely a relief to eat some home cooked food again after all that eating out!  I am linking this post up with Lean Lena and several other bloggers for Tasty Tuesday. It's a great resource for recipes and other food ideas.

Before I get into the recipe, here are some before and after photos of our kitchen.

Good-bye to old 60's cabinets, peeling wallpaper, floral tiles and temperamental appliances

We also opened up part of a wall between the kitchen and living room

We put in a lot of thought into the first thing to cook in our new kitchen and we decided upon french toast.  Yum! I started out with this recipe from Simply Recipes and altered it a bit.

4 eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp cinnamon
Maple syrup
Zest of one orange
8 thick slices of 2 day old bread 

I used pre-sliced raisin bread from the grocery store.  It was thinly cut so I used more slices.  It was also fresh but that didn't make a difference at all.

I started out by combining the eggs, milk and cinnamon.  I also put in the zest of one orange and a tablespoon of maple syrup.

I put all the bread in a casserole dish.  I had to layer it since it didn't all fit in one layer.  I put in one layer of bread, put half of the egg mixture over top of it, put the second layer of bread on top, and then poured over the rest of the egg mixture. I spread the mixture around to make sure all the bread was well covered and let it sit for about 15 minutes so the bread could soak it up.

Next, I heated the griddle and buttered it. Once hot to medium high, I placed a batch of the bread on and cooked it for a couple minutes on one side until that side was golden brown.  Then I flipped it and cooked the other side for the same amount of time (roughly 5 minutes on each side).  All of the bread cooked in about three batches.

And since we were celebrating, we served it with some vanilla whipped cream as well as real maple syrup.

It was delicious and a fitting way to celebrate in our new kitchen.  It made enough that we had left overs for when I returned from my long run on Sunday :) 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Weekly Review

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was fairly relaxing, and we have our kitchen back.  So a good portion of the weekend was spent putting things back in the kitchen, getting groceries to replenish, and cooking.  It felt great to cook again and eat at home instead of eating out all the time. My workouts were pretty good this week.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - I knew it was supposed to rain Wednesday and Thursday so I went ahead and did my run the neighborhood and skipped the track workout on Wednesday.  It was getting dark so it was a short run.

Wednesday - DDP Yoga plus an extra abs video

Thursday - rest day

Friday - elliptical machine at home 

Saturday - rest day

Sunday - I was supposed to do 12 miles today and I did it but it was tough.  I met with the training group but I didn't want to keep them too long so I only did 10 miles with them.  It was tough on the return part of the run because the wind had picked up and was blowing in my face and it was cold this morning. I had to break out the long sleeved running shirt. There was also an uphill at mile 8 that really killed me.  Then I drove home and finished up the last 2 miles at home.  In retrospect, this was a silly idea.  By the time I got home, my muscles had all tightened up and I had cooled down.  Plus, I had some chafing under my arm, I guess because I had sweat in the shirt and then cooled down? Anyway, the important thing is I got it done! 13 is up on tap next week.

The good news about today's run is that it was a beautiful fall day in spite of the cold.  We were running on Beach Drive and it was beautiful.  There were a lot of people out biking, running, walking with dogs, and I even saw one woman out doing Tai Chi.

The plan for this week is to rest on Monday, yoga on Tuesday, running Wednesday, yoga on Thursday, running on Friday, rest on Saturday and 13 mile long run on Sunday!  Mike and I know a couple people running the Marine Corps Marathon so we're planning to go down and cheer from the Mall. (Oops, got my Saturday and Sunday confused.  Running on Saturday and spectating on Sunday.)  And here's a fun photo of Perry to end on.  He's been very cute and spending a lot of time on my lap earlier this week.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday Five - songs on my running playlist

This has seemed like such a long week!  I guess that's what happens after a couple short weeks when you're on vacation.  I am happy to see Friday and the Friday Five link up with Mar, Courtney and Cynthia.  This week's theme is Five Favorite Fitness Tunes.

My favorite running songs change up all the time.  But here are 5 that I'm loving right now :)

1.  Brave, by Sara Bareilles - It's a bit of a slower song but it does have a beat to keep me going as well as a message that I find really inspirational and helpful in pushing through on hard runs.

2.  Hooked on a Feeling, by Blue Swede - I got this one off the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack.  I loved the movie and I loved how the soundtrack was integrated into it.  This is a fun little song that gives me a bit of a giggle when it plays.

3.  Am I Wrong, by Nico and Vince - This is another song that feels really inspirational to me.  I love the lyrics about finding your own way, trying to find something real, doubting yourself but coming to the realization that you've found the right path for you.  Or maybe I'm reading too much into the song:)

4.  Bad Girls - by M.I.A. - This one has a great beat and always makes me feel like moving when it comes on.  Plus, don't most of us have times when we want to feel a little bit like a bad girl (or boy)?

5.  I'm the One that's Cool, by The Guild - This one speaks to nerdy, high school me that was never into sports or athletics.  I'm still nerdy but I'm much more comfortable in my skin now :) It's still fun to listen to this one while running and think back to how that's something that 18 year old me could never have imagined doing for fun.

I'm always looking for suggestions to add to my play list!  I'd love to hear about your favorites.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tower of Terror 10 miler - Part 2

Ok, this is my last Tower of Terror 10 Miler post :) But I figured a couple medium length posts was probably better than one giant post.  So let's get right into it.

1.  Course - The course wasn't my favorite part of this race.  The gathering place for the start is in the parking lot of Hollywood Studios.  You then run on the highway from there to the Animal Kingdom.  There is a ramp onto the highway that is banked so that you're running on an uneven surface and one leg is significantly higher than the other.  This was pretty uncomfortable but I had been warned about it in advance.  The good part of being on the highway is that people had room to spread out.  So while it was crowded and you had to do some weaving, you could run at your own pace for the most part.

Once you get to the Animal Kingdom, you turn around and go right back down the highway. You do not enter the park sadly. You go back down the highway to the ESPN Wide World of Sports. We entered the sports complex somewhere after mile 5.  There is a trail section here that I had been warned about in advance of the race but I didn't find it to be too bad.  It felt like a dirt trail and it wasn't too long.  It was dimly lit in places but never so dark that I felt like I couldn't see or like I needed a flashlight. The only downside is that it was a narrow trail and there was a lot of congestion in this section.  I tried to run it when I could but finally gave up and just walked along with everyone else around me.

Then we were in the stadium but for some reason this part is a bit of a blur to me.  I know we ran around a track and then we ran around in the baseball stadium and then we ran out of the sports complex and back on to the highway.  There was another banked ramp going down and I have to say that I walked most of it because I just didn't feel comfortable running on such an uneven surface with one foot so much higher than the other.

We entered into Hollywood Studios somewhere after mile 8 and ran around various back stage and on stage areas of the park until we finished at mile 10 in view of the Tower of Terror.  Overall, the course was mostly flat except for the highway ramp sections.  And the problem there wasn't the elevation change but the way the ramps were banked.

There was also a long walk from the corral to the starting line and a long walk after the finish line.  You could not stop during this line, you were herded on and on and on.  You received your medal, some water, a banana, a box of food (really yummy) but had to keep walking.  At that point, it felt like we were walking forever in a slowly shuffling mass until we got to a point where people went left for the bag check or park exit and right for the after party.  In hindsight, the long walk was probably good for my muscles as I was barely sore the next day but it was pretty miserable in the moment.

2. Entertainment - I was listening to a podcast earlier this week which said they thought the entertainment was lacking on the course.  I was shocked because I thought it was amazing how much entertainment they had managed to squeeze onto the 10 miles!  I guess it truly depends on your perspective.  And this was the first Disney race I had done so I didn't have much to compare it to.

There were a ton of characters, all villains to go along with the theme, on the course.  I remember the hag from Snow White, Jafar, the Queen of Hearts, Dr. Facilier, the Hyenas from the Lion King, Stitch, the Big Bad Wolf and Lotso.  I'm sure there are some I'm missing.  There were also characters from the Boo to You Halloween parade such as the grave diggers and the ballroom dancers.  And Hades was on an overpass as we ran back to Hollywood Studios taunting runners as they passed by.  He was hilarious. The lines were really long for most of them so the only one I actually got a photo with was Lotso.  But I did stop by the side of the road to take photos of some of the others.

There was also creepy atmospheric stuff.  For example, there was a giant spider on an overpass into Animal Kingdom and spiderwebs projected onto the wall.

There were animal noises as we ran into the Animal Kingdom area.  There was a giant inflatable eye ball and spooky music in a lake that we ran by twice while on the highway. The trail area had smoke and giant bugs in the trees. The baseball field at the ESPN area had lasers and empty baseball uniforms on the field as if the lasers had taken out the players.  You could also see yourself on the giant screen as you ran by and that was cool.

Hollywood studios was fun because you were actually in the park.  There was lots of crowd support in this area from volunteers and spectators.  There was a tunnel you ran through with smoke and music.  There was also an area where you were running through a portion of the backlot tour and could see the costuming area.  So as you can tell, I thought the entertainment was great for a 10 mile race! Even the mile markers were fun and themed with villains.

I will put in a reminder to make sure you know how your camera/phone works in the dark if you want to take photos.  As you can see, I didn't do so well with mine.  It took me some time to figure out how to get the flash to go on.

3.  After Party - as I mentioned, I didn't stay at the party after finishing the race.  But Mike was there for a couple hours so he's going to take over here to talk about the party :)

Mike here! (Hi!)

I got to the after party right around when it started at 10. The main attraction was the DJ set up at the giant Wizard hat. There were about 6 attractions open (Toy Story Midway Mania, Star Tours, Muppet Vison 3D, the Tower of Terror, the Rockin' Roller Coaster, and some Jack Sparrow based show). Additionally there were meet and greets for a number of the Disney villains (I remember The Evil Queen (from Snow White), The Queen of Hearts, Malificent, Gaston, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett). There were also a couple of shops and food places open. A lot of the park was cut off by the running route, so it was a bit of walk getting around.

It was really quiet when I got there. I was able to walk on to Toy Story and Star Tours and I could sit anywhere I wanted for Muppets. I stayed away from the Tower of Terror/Rockin Roller Coaster area as that was where the finish line was. As the evening progressed things got filled up with runners but it was never too crowded.

As a race observer, it was a little difficult because progress was texted to me at 5k and 10k. After I got the 10k notification, I made my way to a quiet area near where the runners were entering the park. I liked this better than observing at the DJ because I was able to yell a specific cheer to Chaitali as she passed by (which she appreciated). The downside was that with the convoluted way around the studio I got the text that she had finished just as I got there, so I missed her finishing. There were also issues with sorting out where the runners were coming out. There was a family waiting area and a changing area, but the runners were apparently released no where near either of those places. Chaitali wasn't in the best f shape when she finished so she called me to come get her. 

Overall it was an interesting little party, but a little confusing from the race watching aspect.

So that's it for our experience of this race.  Overall, we both had a good time.  Afterward, I decided that I probably wouldn't do this race again just because I wanted to experience other Run Disney races.  I was definitely impressed enough that I would choose to do another race at Disney World and we're thinking of going down next November for the Wine & Dine Half Marathon.  But it seems like they won't be having this race next year anyway, perhaps because of the rumors that there will be some major changes at Hollywood Studios.