Monday, August 31, 2015

Wine and Dine Half Marathon Training - week 8

This week was kind of eh for training.  The last couple weeks had gone really well though so I was probably due for some hiccups in the road, especially given our travel over the weekend.  Hopefully next week will be back on track :)

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - unscheduled rest day since I had a headache that sent me home from work early.

Wednesday - some time running at the track.  It was really crowded again but we're moving to a different track this week and hopefully that will help.  I did a 1600 and four 400's. It was hot but I felt happy with my times.

Thursday - Running a 5k on the treadmill at the gym. 

Friday - Body Pump class.  I up'ed the weights and definitely felt it in my chest and back the following day.

And since we had some time to kill at the airport, I did some extra walking while we were there.

Saturday - We had traveled to Ohio to visit with family.  So this was a planned rest day with lots of time spent hanging out with family and friends.

Sunday - I had planned to do an 8 mile run in the morning at a park near my parent's house.  Sadly, we woke up to some storms.  So we went to the gym instead and I did a run on the treadmill.  It was only 3.5 miles because we had limited time before we were expected back at the house.  I'll shift some things around on my training plan to compensate and it should be fine.

So that was my week.  While I didn't quite get in all the mileage I was supposed to, at least I got three runs, which was the plan for the week.  And I'm still really enjoying body pump class.  I hope you guys all had a good week!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Five - workouts I've tried this year

It's Friday and that means it's time to link up with Mar, Cynthia and Courtney for the Friday Five!  The theme for the week is 5 things I've done this Summer.  I'm going to expand the topic a bit to talk about 5 different workouts I've tried this year.

 One of my goals for the year was to diversify my workouts and try some different things.  My specific goal was to try 3 new types of workouts, which I've already done.  But I'm going to try to keep going because I've really enjoyed the different workouts I've been trying!

1.  Running - not new of course but this is still my primary workout objective.  I ran my 2nd half marathon in March with the Rock and Roll DC half.  Since then, I've run two 10k's two 8k's, and several 5k's.  And in July, I started training for my third half marathon.  This is the first time I've trained for a half without a group.  I've been continuing to enjoy running and hope that continues to be the case.

2.  Aerial Yoga - I tried aerial yoga earlier this year with a coupon for 5 classes.  I really enjoyed it, it was so much fun that it almost didn't feel like a workout!  And it was extra fun because Mike and I did that one together. The one thing I didn't like about it was how early the classes filled up and therefore we had to book a class weeks in advance.

3. Pure Barre - Yikes, I just realized I never did a review of my Pure Barre classes.  Long story short, I enjoyed some teachers more than others but really felt like the classes were a great workout.  I could tell they were really working the places I wanted to concentrate on, hips, glutes and core.  But I didn't keep up with it after the discounted classes because of the price.  Just given the location and how often (or not) I would be able to go, it just wasn't going to work for me.

4.  Body Pump - So my next move was to join a gym.  I love the variety of classes this allows me to access.  The class I've really been enjoying so far is Body Pump.  I love being able to do the weight lifting in a class environment with direction.  And the upbeat music and fun instructors definitely help.  I feel like I'm learning a lot about weight lifting, which is something I have very little knowledge about otherwise.

5.  Bang Power Fitness - I tried this class out a month ago and absolutely loved it!  It was a high energy dance fitness class with constant movement.  I really felt like it was all the best parts about clubbing without the hassle.  I was having so much fun that again, it almost didn't feel like a work out.  And I just learned that I have a friend that takes these classes at one of the locations for the gym I belong to.  It's a bit further but so worth it.  I see a field trip out to her neck of the woods in the future so I can take another one of these classes, this time with a friend.

And I've been continuing yoga as well, and enjoying exploring new yoga teachers at the gym.  Anyone else try new workouts recently that you've enjoyed?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

MCRRC Eastern County 8k

I ran the Montgomery County Road Runner's Eastern County 8k this weekend.  It was a really small race but I wanted to go ahead and review it anyway since I had a hard time finding any information on this race before hand.

The race is one of MCRRC's low key races so there is no sign up in advance.  If you are a member, you just show up with your bib and shoe tag and you're ready to go.  If you aren't a member, there was a registration table set up under a tent where you could pay the $10 fee and get a bib and shoe tag for the race.  The registration looked like it went smoothly and there was never much of a line.

The parking also seemed to be ok.  I got there about 45 minutes early (I had lost my bib and shoe tag) and was able to park fairly close.  There were alot of parking lots and my friend who cam later was able to park in one of the further lots.  She said the only downside was that it was unclear of where to go for parking, but once she parked it wasn't a far walk at all.  All the logistics seemed really smooth and I'm sure that is helped by the fact that there were less than 200 participants.

The race was at a local park in Silver Spring and it was beautiful.  There was a lake in the middle that we past a couple times.  We ran on the street for the beginning of the race, and then on paved paths for the middle and end of the race, and there was a portion on side walks.  It never felt that crowded because of the small field.  But there were moments on the paths that were a bit tight because they were out and backs so people were going both ways.

The course was a little weird.  As mentioned, there were lots of out and back sections.  And at approximately mile 3.5, you ran right past the finish line.  I always hate that and it always seems confusing.  Plus, the runners that had already finished were milling about right on the race course so it made it a bit tough to get through.  I realize you're already done but the rest of us are still running!

The other thing I didn't like about the course is that there was a lot of uphill action toward the end of the race.  It felt really tough at the end, both because of the uphills and because the sun had come out.  The shaded portions were all early in the race.  So I did have the opposite of negative splits.  I knew that I would have a harder time at the end of the race so I tried to push it a bit in the early portion.

Mile 1 was my warm up before the race started.  Mile 2 through Mile 6 was the actual race and mile 7 was my cool down after the race.  So you can see my slow down as the race went on.  But given the elevation and the sun, I'm ok with that.

My official time according to the race website is 1:02:14 or a 12:32 pace.  This was an 8k PR for me!  I haven't done a lot of 8ks and the last one was in much hotter weather so I'm happy to have a better 8k time.

Photo from MCRRC photographer...yay for free photos!

After we finished our cool down, we went back toward the finish line and there was still food!  I was prepared for everyone to have packed up since we were toward the back of the pack and since we had chosen to run a bit extra after the race.  It was awesome that people were still there.  In addition to the usual oranges and bananas, there was watermelon.  The watermelon was amazing in the heat! There were also some bagels, donuts, juice, coffee, water, etc.  But to be honest, I didn't look at anything other than the watermelon.


So pros for the race ... small field made logistics easy, the location was beautiful, there were great volunteers, the cost was low, and the post race food was great.  Cons... the elevation increases at the end of the race, there were weird out and backs, and having to run past the finish line when you have more than a mile to go.

As an aside, Disney just announced a Star Wars Half Marathon in Orlando in April 2016.  The Orlando race will be themed after "the Dark Side." I am so tempted but I'm planning to stay strong!  I would love to do this race one year but I don't think next April is it.  If any of you are interested, I think registration will open up September 22nd and I'm sure it will go fast.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wine and Dine Half Marathon training - week 7

I hope everyone had a great week!  Mine was really busy at work, hence the lack of much posting last week.  But I still had a good workout week as well and fit in some fun :) Without further ado, here's my summary.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - body pump class plus 15 minutes on the elliptical since it was only a 45 minute class and I had allotted an hour for the gym.

Wednesday - Track work.  I did one 1600, one 800 and two 400's. It was hot at the beginning since we got there early, but I'm glad we did since the track was very crowded this week.  Oh, and I said we because this was the first day of Mike's 5k training program so he was there too.

Thursday - My knee was feeling tight again so I went to a yoga class at the gym and postponed my run until Friday.

Friday - running on the treadmill

Saturday - 7 mile run. 1 mile warm up, Eastern County 8k, and 1 mile cool down. This was a beautiful location but I didn't love the course.  I'll talk about it more later this week. The rest of the day was running errands and attending a baby shower for some wonderful friends.

Sunday - 1.9 mile walk while Mike was running with his running group.  We then drove down to one of the bay beaches and had a lovely, relaxing day floating in the bay and exploring around the boardwalk.

I came across a random soccer game on my walk so watched that for a bit of entertainment

The beach was peaceful and quiet in the morning but got pretty crowded in the afternoon

So that was our week.  I hope you all had a great week too!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wine and Dine Half Marathon training - week 6

Oops, I forgot to post my weekly review yesterday.  Better late than never :) I had a decent work out week and here are the details.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - last run with my previous running group, we celebrated with a run through the neighborhood instead of running on the track.  And we ended the run in front of Ben & Jerry's, so there was some additional celebration there :)

Wednesday - strength training at the gym.  I started with a 20 minute warm up on the elliptical and then went into the weight training routine the trainer gave me at the gym orientation session.

Thursday - unplanned rest day.  My knee had been hurting and I was debating whether or not to do my treadmill run.  I decided to go ahead and do it and went to the gym after work.  I changed into my gym clothes and then realized that I had forgotten my shoes at home.  I decided that this was a sign from the universe that I should rest my knee so that's what I did.

Friday - Body pump class at the gym.  This is the first time I had taken a weights class and I really enjoyed it.  The teacher was high energy and entertaining and the class was challenging without being overwhelming.

Saturday - Met some friends for a run on the C&O Canal tow path.  It was a beautiful morning, temperatures in the 60s though still humid, and a pretty trail.  I really enjoyed this run.  It was a cut back week in my training plan so only 4 miles, so I decided to try to hit negative splits again and did it!

Sunday - Another rest day since my knee was still hurting.

So I got in 2 good runs and 2 good strength training days,  and I'm pretty happy with that.  I'm hoping the knee is better this week.  The plan for this week is strength training today, running on the track Wednesday, running on the treadmill Thursday, strength training Friday, a MCRRC 8k +3 extra miles Saturday morning and hopefully a day trip to a local beach on Sunday.

I hope everyone else had a great week last week too :)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday 5 - Running Tips for new runners

It's Friday and that means it's time to link up with Courtney, Mar and Cynthia as well as a bunch of other awesome bloggers for the Friday 5!  This week's theme is running tips.

I'm not a running coach or any way involved in the medical field, so I'm not providing tips related to running form, mechanics, or any physical issues.  Instead, I'm going to talk about things I've learned along my journey that have made it easier for me.  Hopefully, they might make things easier for you too if you're starting to run.

1. Research - The good thing about living in the internet age is that there is so much information out there.  It is definitely worth reading that information to obtain pointers on things like form, training plans, how to progress your running, the right shoes, etc.  But the downside of the internet is that there is a lot of information out there and not all of it is accurate.  Or it may be technically accurate but it may not fit you.  Remember to look at things with a critical eye to see if the advice works for you and if it's from a reputable source.  I love the beginner pages on Runner's World as a good starting point.

2. There will be ups and downs and that's ok.  I really thought that once you were a "real runner," running would level out and it would be enjoyable all the time.  But just like most things in life, there will be ups and downs.  There's nothing wrong with that and that may indicate it's a good time to shake things up by running with friends, joining a new group, adding new music to your play list, doing more cross training instead of running, or even just getting new shoes to make your run exciting. And if running is something you enjoy, just have faith that the enjoyment will eventually come back.  Here is a great blog post from runladylike about dealing with the down points. 

The Lawyer's Have Heart 10k was a low for me this year but I'm back on an up now

3.  Food and rest - When I first got into running, I was so excited about it and didn't really think about a healthy lifestyle in a holistic way.  But it's important to realize that getting into running might necessitate other lifestyle changes.  You'll begin to think about food as fuel and you need to fuel your body with high quality food.  You also need to make sure you get enough rest.  Your body isn't going to be able to perform well without those things.

4.  No comparisons - This one is hard to do but remember that your race is your own and your journey is your own.  It can be discouraging if you keep comparing yourself to other people.  But just remember that you're doing something good for yourself and that should include being kind to yourself in your thoughts too.  This will make running more enjoyable and more sustainable for the long haul.

5.  Remember your motivation - This is something that really helps me through the down periods in my running. I started running to work on leading a healthier lifestyle.  So my main goal is to just make sure I'm being more active.  And every time I step out the door to go on a run, it furthers that goal.  It doesn't matter if I'm slow, if I walk more than planned, if I struggle with the heat, I just have to remember that it all still helps me be healthier and happier!  Your motivations are your own and everyone has different motivations that keep them going. Just keep yours in mind.

Seeing the beautiful areas around here are part of my motivation too, and I can do that no matter how slow I am!

So those are my 5 tips to help out with running and keeping it sustainable for the long term.  If you have any tips to help out with this, I'd love to hear them.  And I hope you all have a great weekend as well!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer vegetable skillet lasagna

This is another recipe I tried from Oh My Veggies. This website has recently become one of my go to's when I'm seeking cooking inspiration.

You don't usually think of a lasagna as a summer dish, but her summer vegetable skillet lasagna was a perfect summer dinner.  And it's all cooked on the stove top, so no needing to turn on the oven to heat up the kitchen as an added bonus.

You can see the original recipe at the above link but I made some small changes that I list below.  It made 4 servings so we had enough for left overs and it was even better the next day.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I just used garlic powder)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped               
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 1 to 2 ears of corn) (I used frozen corn)
  • 3 1/2 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half (about 1 cup) (I cut mine smaller, more like thirds)
  • I had half a bag of left over spinach so I added that in as well
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (I didn't have this so used dried oregano instead)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces uncooked regular lasagna noodles, broken into thirds
  • 1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (plus extra water as needed, I used an extra 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese                   
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Chiffonade fresh basil, for garnish
First I heated the oil over medium heat and added the onions to sautee for around 1-2 minutes. I added in the red pepper flakes at this point too since I like them to flavor the oil. 


Next I added in the zucchini, corn, green beans, dried herbs, garlic powder, and salt to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the vegetables started to soften.


Once the veggies had cooked a bit I added in the spinach. It seems to take up a lot of the pan but of course, it wilts down to almost nothing.


Once the spinach cooked down a bit, I added the noodles on top. I also poured in the can of tomatoes and the broth.  I also added an extra 1/2 cup of water because it seemed to need more liquid.

Next, turn up the heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and simmer, stirring frequently, until the pasta is tender. The recipe said 20-25 minutes but it only took around 15 for me.  It might depend on the type of noodles you use.  Once the pasta is at the consistency you want, turn the heat down to low.

I spooned the ricotta over the top of the pasta and tried to spread it out a bit so there was even coverage for the most part.  Then I spread on the mozzarella cheese. Re-cover the pot and let cook some more, until the cheese is melted. Turn off the heat and let it rest uncovered for 10 minutes.  Toss on the basil before eating.

This was a delicious and relatively easy one pot meal.  It was both hearty and filled with Summer veggies at the same time. Mike and I both loved it!

I'm  linking up with Lean Lena for Tasty Tuesday and will be linking up with Deborah and Tina for Meatless Mondays.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Wine and Dine Half Marathon training - week 5

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I had a wonderful week in general but also a really good week of training.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - It started raining as soon as I left work.  I was supposed to do my track run today but due to the rain, I switched up my workouts and did strength training instead.

Wednesday - I was going to do my track run today but the track was being used by the school.  So instead, I ran in a neighborhood near the school.  I was kind of running randomly without a route planned out but it ended up being a fun exploratory run.  I ended up on some dead ends where the sidewalk just stopped but I also discovered some cool historical points of interest.

Thursday- I ran on the treadmill at the gym and did a 1600, a 1200, an 800 and a 400.

Friday- I went back to the gym for a morning yoga class.  I really enjoy this class since it's a 75 minute class.  That allows a lot of time at the end for stretching and practicing various more challenging poses.  I actually managed to get into crow for a couple milliseconds.

Saturday - I had a wonderful time meeting a bunch of DC area bloggers in person at a brunch organized by Courtney, Mar and Cynthia.  It was so nice to be able to meet people in person instead of just through the screen.

After that bit of indulgence, I met a friend at the gym.  I did a 25 minute warm up on the elliptical and then about 30 minutes of strength training.

Sunday - I met some friends in the morning for a run on the same trail we were on a couple weeks ago.  It was nice that it was still kind of new but I was more familiar with it this time around and knew what to expect. I did 3 miles with my friends and then finished up with another 3.5 miles on my own.  I ran stairs twice and forced my self to do a bunch of hills at various access points to the trail.

After the run, I went home and my husband prepared a lovely brunch for us that we were able to enjoy outside with our new patio furniture.

So that was my week!  My trailing plans for this week should be similar.  Today is a rest day, tomorrow is a track run, Wednesday will be strength training, Thursday will be a treadmill run, Friday will be a yoga class, Saturday will be my long run and Sunday will be strength training.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday 5 - reasons I joined a gym

I hope everyone's had a great week!  This week went by super quick and I'm looking forward to the weekend.  I'm especially looking forward to the blogger brunch being organized by the DC Trifecta tomorrow :) And speaking of Courtney, Mar and Cynthia, it's time to link up with them again for the Friday 5!

Today's theme is "a day in the life" but I've already done one of those and let's just face it, my days aren't that interesting!  Instead, I'm going to talk about the reasons I recently joined a gym.  We had a gym at work but it's closed for several months and being refurbished. So I decided it was a perfect time to look into other options.

1. Locations - You would think that the gym at the office would be super convenient.  And it was in a lot of ways.  But the problem was that it was at work.  And therefore work would interfere.  So there were multiple times that I missed lunchtime yoga because of meetings.  And I wasn't going to back to the office in the evenings or on weekends.  So in reality, there were limited times I used the work gym.  I joined a gym that has a ton of locations so there is one between work and home, one between home and my friend's house, one by the metro, etc.  And locations outside the area so I can use them when I'm traveling too if I want.

2. Variety - Initially I thought that I might want to join a studio like where I went for aerial yoga or pure barre . I enjoyed both of those.  But that's a lot of money to do just one thing.  The thing I like about the gym is the variety of work out options it provides me.  I like that it has yoga, pilates, dance classes, weight lifting classes, etc.  And of course it has weights and cardio machines I can do on my own as well.  The one I joined even has outdoor zumba and outdoor boot camp in the summer. I'm sure the yoga classes aren't as good as the ones at a dedicated yoga studio but they're still good and right now I value the variety more.

Aerial yoga was awesome, but I still prefer the variety of classes at the gym

3. Companionship - Mike joined the gym with me so I look forward to being able to go to the gym together.  I feel like companionship and having made plans to go together will keep me on track more.  Plus, I have a couple friends who are members of the same gym.  I already have a work out date with one of them for tomorrow. No one was joining me at the work gym!

4. Cost - Cost is always a big consideration when looking at gym memberships.  I wasn't sure it was something I wanted to invest in.  But I was paying $12 per pay period for the gym at work.  And this one was $16 every 2 weeks.  So it wasn't that much more for many more locations and better variety, plus the option for my husband to join at the same price.  So I'll be cancelling the payment for the work gym and paying this one instead.

5. Climate control - Lastly, I love climate control!  I know you can run outside and I do try to do most of my runs outside but I really appreciate the option of the treadmill when the weather gets extreme.  I wouldn't have joined for that alone but combine that with the number of locations and variety of classes, and it's a nice little perk :)

I'm ending this post with a kitty photo, because they always make my day a little brighter :)

Perry modeling with work out cat on my shirt :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rain on race day

We had rain and thunderstorms last night, leading me to switch up my workouts so I could stay inside.  That reminded me, I'd been meaning to do a post on things I've learned about what to do if it rains on race day and you can't just move it indoors.  Here's my take on some of the tips out there about racing in the rain. 

1. Trash bags - This is the big tip I keep seeing out there about racing in the rain.  Have a trash bag with you so you have something disposable that will help you stay a bit dry.  What I didn't realize is that it shouldn't be a normal kitchen size trash bag.  That is what I used at the Rock and Roll DC Half and it was not too effective. The bag was too small and it felt like it actually made things worse because the rain would pool on various places in the bag and then run down my back all at the same time.  Not comfortable.  To be honest, I would just buy a cheap poncho next time.  That way, I could run in it for some time if I wanted and still discard it when desired.

Me and my ill fitting trash bag

2. Hats - The other big tip I picked up about running in the rain is to have a brimmed hat.  This is a great tip and it really helps.  But don't do what I initially did, which is choose the hat based on cuteness and wear it at the race for the first time.  I never tested the hat properly and it was really ill fitting.  I either had to pull it down so low I couldn't see or it would fly off and I'd have to run back down the course to go catch it before it flew away. This certainly made the Piece of Cake 5k last year less than fun. So make sure your hat fits well and is functional before race day.

3.  Check the weather again - I learned this lesson at the Pike's Peek 10k this year.  The forecast had been calling for a cold rain all weekend.  I even checked the weather before I went to sleep the night before.  But didn't check again in the morning.  If I had, I would have seen that the weather had miraculously cleared up.  It was warm with no rain.  However, I was still in my long sleeved rain jacket and pants.  This made for a miserable race.

There's me in the purple long sleeves.

4. Practice runs in all weather -I'm of mixed opinions on this one.  I definitely wimped out of rainy runs during my training for the Rock and Roll DC Half.  I would probably have felt stronger and better prepared on race day if I hadn't moved my runs indoors during the first sign of rain.  But part of me feels like then I would have been miserable on multiple runs and not just on race day!  Nonetheless, if you want to be prepared for whatever race day has to throw at you, do not shy away from training runs in bad weather.  I'm still working on this one, and like I said, I switched out my running days this week to avoid yesterday's storms.

5.  Good socks and body glide - I have nothing to add to this one, but it's so important that I felt the need to mention it again.  I had no blisters and minimal chafing after my rainy races and I credit that to the good socks and liberal use of body glide.  You will thank yourself after the race for remembering this one!

6.  Have fun!  This one may be hard in the face of the rain, but you can't control the weather.  You've probably already paid for the race, so you might as well have a good attitude about it!  I kind of enjoyed the first part of the Rock and Roll Half, and felt like a kid running around in the rain.  I wasn't able to sustain the good attitude the whole way but it definitely made the race easier that I enjoyed myself until mile 6 or 7.  And just think about how bad ass you'll feel when it's over!  That may be what carried my through the second half of that race.

So those are my takes on common tips for handling rain on race day.  I'm crossing my fingers I don't have to use them again but I'm sure I will.  Any tips you have to add to the list would definitely be welcome :)