Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday 5 - motivational running songs

It's Friday.  This is another week that's flown by and it seems like next week is going to be just as busy.  But before we get to that, it's time for the Friday Five link up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia.

One of the things I'm planning to work on this weekend is my play list for the Wine and Dine Half so music is on my mind.  Some songs are on my running playlist because of a beat that keeps me moving but some are on there because they have a message that helps me keep going. So here's a list of 5 songs on my running playlist that I find motivational.

1.  Best Day of my Life by American Authors - I love this one because it's so upbeat, but it also makes me feel like this really could be the best day and the possibilities are limitless.  "I'm never gonna look back; Whoa, I'm never gonna give it up; No, just don't wake me now. This is gonna be the best day of my life."

2.  Harder Better Faster Stronger by Daft Punk - this is an obvious one but the lyrics really do remind me to keep working and not get complacent in the middle of a long run.  "Work it, make it, do it, makes us Harder, better, faster, stronger."

3. Run This Town by Jay-Z and Rihanna - A little on the nose but I like this one as a reminder that I run my runs and I'm in charge of how they go. "Walkin' tall against the rain; Victory's within the mile; Almost there, don't give up now; Only thing that's on my mind Is who's gonna run this town tonight."

4. We Are the Champions by Queen - Another classic, and it's a classic for a reason. I don't know how this one can't be motivational.  And while I'm not going to be winning any races, I know that I'll consider myself a champion for doing my best and not giving up.  "We are the champions - my friends; And we'll keep on fighting Till the end...No time for losers 'Cause we are the champions of the World."

5. I'm the one that's cool by the Guild - This song is a bit tongue in cheek but it speaks to me as I've been a nerd my whole life and that can definitely fuel me to keep going and not give up at times.  "I appreciate you for being cruel; I'm burning bright thanks to your rejection fuel."

Another couple songs I've talked about before that I still find motivational are Brave by Sara Bareilles,  Am I wrong by Nico & Vince, and Let It Go from Frozen.

And in honor of Halloween, here is Perry in his superhero persona. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Marine Corps Marathon 10k

Last year, Mike and I went down to the Mall to cheer on runners in the Marine Corps Marathon.  And then I learned that they had a 10k that morning as well.  So this year, I decided to run the 10k as a way to participate in the excitement of the weekend in a smaller way.

So the weekend started Saturday morning with the Expo.  The expo is at the Conference Center which is easy to get to via metro.  But in addition, the MCM site offered Parking Panda as an option.  Since metro isn't always so reliable on weekends, I checked out Parking Panda and was able to find a spot half a mile away for $6.  It was super easy to use and that's much cheaper than it would have been for 2 of us to take metro.

We got to the expo around 15 minutes after it opened.  There were separate pick up areas for the 10k and the marathon and the lines were minimal.  The 10k lines were split up by bib number and there was only one person in my line, so score!  We picked up our bibs and then walked down to another section where we were able to pick up our clear plastic bag and shirts.  The shirt lines were split by size and you could decide what size you wanted after looking at the shirts, which was nice.  They seemed to run a bit big.

Though the lines weren't bad in that section, it was really crowded in the official merchandise area.  So we hurried through there and out into the general vendor area.  It was crowded but manageable.  So we wandered through, bought some items (race dots, a bondi band, and a jacket/shrug thing).  We also waited in the KT Tape line since my friend wanted to get her ankle taped.

Race morning I woke up at 4:45 and we left the house around 5:15.  Definitely an earlier morning than I'm used to!  But we didn't want to risk getting stuck in long lines later so we erred on the early side.  We drove down to the city and were able to easily find parking since we got there at 6:10am (race start was at 7:55).  It wasn't raining when we left the car so I decided not to take my hat.  I would regret that decision!

We walked through security and bag search easily as there wasn't much of a line that early.  We checked our bags but thankfully kept our ponchos.  Because about 5 minutes after we checked our bags, it began to rain! There were already port-a-potty lines by 6:30 but they moved really quickly. Around 7, we moved into the start area and lined up in the 1:15-1:20 section as that is where we would be based on our last PR.

So we hung out and chatted for about an hour, listened to the music and the announcer.  It seemed surprisingly low key, maybe because of the rain?  And then all of a sudden, it was time to go! The race starts out with a bit of a loop on the mall past the museums and government buildings.  This is a beautiful, scenic area and I think comprises about the first mile of the course. But it seemed crowded in this whole section.

Then we turned left and headed on to the 14th street bridge.  There are some inclines and declines here but it wasn't too bad since it was the beginning of the race for us.  I'm sure it was a much different proposition for the marathoners. Though the bridge definitely seemed much longer on foot than when driving! The bridge was nice since it seemed to allow people to spread out a bit more.  There was also a really upbeat band on this section that was great.

Next, we took an off ramp into Crystal City a little after the mile 3 marker. This was a fun area and there were a couple spectators cheering already which was nice.  There seemed to be a lot of energy here but it got crowded again.  I also was feeling good this whole time, and passed the mile 3 marker about 20 seconds more than my 5k PR, so that seemed like a good place to be in.

A sea of people in Crystal City

After Crystal City, we were on the highway and headed toward the Pentagon.   I think this was somewhere around mile 4.  We passed the Pentagon and kept on running along the Highway.  This stretch was nice because it opened up again and it wasn't too hilly at all.  And there was a band near the start of the highway. But this was the point where it started to get tough.  I kept telling myself it wasn't meant to be easy and to just keep pushing through.

Once we hit mile 5, there was more music with DJ's and also lots of Marines lining the sides of the road giving high 5's.  That was awesome!  I went for all the high 5's I could get :) I also knew at this point that I was definitely going to get a PR so that was good for the morale as well.  I got a bit of a pick me up but I also wanted to make sure to reserve some for the end since I knew there was a big uphill at the end.

And finally, I saw the mile 6 marker.  And right after that, I saw that the course turned left and there was a giant uphill.  This hill was no joke and it was a little disheartening at first to see that.  But I just put my head down, concentrated on form, and managed to run up the hill.  I passed a lot of people here as a lot of people were walking.  It had gotten really congested again in this section as well. But all the hill training I've been working on this Summer paid off and I crossed the finish line feeling strong. I loved all the excitement in the last .2 mile.

But the crowds made the finish area really congested again.  There were points where we were just at a stand still in the finish area trying to figure out what was going on.  But as we got closer, we realized the hold up was because of the handing out of the medals.  It was slow because a Marine personally shook your hand, put the medal around your neck, and then posed for a photo if you wanted.  So while this slowed things down, it was also one of the cool parts of the race .

Waiting in the crowd to get our medals

After that, people were directed up toward the Iwo Jima Memorial if they wanted an official photo.  We just took a selfie and headed on down the finisher chute.

I love the way they did the post-race food.  It was so organized!  They handed you a clear plastic bag first, which made it so much easier to carry things.  Then full bottles of gatorade and water.  There was a box of food so that was also nice and compact.  There was a banana as well.  I ate the banana since that was easy to do while walking and threw everything else in the bag.  They also gave us actual hooded jackets to wear instead of the mylar blankets, and that was much appreciated.  The rain had stopped at this point but we were still wet and cold.

After that we went to bag check.  Everything was really well marked so we just followed the signs.  There was no line at all for bag check so that process was super quick. We stretched, ate some of our boxed food, and then continued on to walk about a mile to brunch.

So the only real downside of this race was the number of people as the 10k was sold out.  I think that was around 10,000 people.  That made the logistics complicated (having to go early) and the course congested.  There were pace signs to help you line up in the right place but it quickly became clear that many people didn't pay attention to them.  We were passing a ton of people and a ton of people were passing us at the beginning.  I'm not sure why so many faster people lined up in the back.  Maybe it was crowded enough that they couldn't get to the right area if they arrived late?  But it made the race feel congested for the first 2 miles or so and then again while we were in Crystal City and again at the finish. But it's an awesome race, and a great way to participate in the energy of MCM weekend if you don't want to do the full marathon, so I can see why there were so many people.

So how did I do?  Well, this was a 10k PR for me and I was super excited about that!  My official time was 1:14:40.  My previous PR was from the 2014 Lawyer's Have Heart 10k and that was a time of 1:18:50. So an improvement of 4 minutes and 10 seconds.

My friend and I both felt that we would definitely do this one again!

Cons - logistics and congestion, rain (though that's not in anyone's control)
Pros - Course, excitement, energy, marines, motivation

Monday, October 26, 2015

Wine and Dine Half Marathon Training - week 16

It's taper time :) And this week went much better with the working out. I feel like I'm finally getting back into my routine after the vacation and work travel.  It's been a beautiful week weather wise but a bit tough on my sinuses so I've been doing mostly indoor work outs.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - body pump plus about 20 minutes on the elliptical split between before and after the class.

Wednesday - rest day with a walk in the evening since I was sore from going back to body pump after an absence.

Thursday - treadmill time at the gym.

Friday - yoga (random choice from you tube, it was only ok) plus a walk around the neighborhood.

Saturday - around 35 minutes on the elliptical plus walking around the expo for the MCM 10k packet pick up

Sunday - MCM 10k!  The race went great in spite of the rain and I'll be doing a full recap later this week.  But I had about a 4 minute PR so I was pleased with how this went.  Plus brunch at Tupelo Honey Cafe later. We really enjoyed the food here. I had an fried egg sandwich that had a jalapeno aioli that was amazing.  It really made the sandwich.  And a Bloody Mary that was the best I've had in a while. I love that the garnish was a pickled okra.

So that was my week.  I hope you all had a great week as well!  The plan for this week is body pump on Tuesday, running on Wednesday and Thursday, body pump on Friday, and a 6 miles or so run on  Saturday. Sunday I'm flying out for another work trip.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday 5 - MCM 10k Plans

I'm especially excited that it's Friday this week because it's Marine Corps Marathon weekend in town.  There's a great energy around town and it's also the first time I'm going to be participating in a small way since I'm running the 10k.  And of course, Friday also means it's time for the Friday 5 link up with Mar, Cynthia and Courtney.  Today, I'm going to talk about my plans for MCM weekend.

1.  The weekend starts with the expo Saturday morning for me. The friend I'm running the race with is going to join me at my place in the morning and we're going to take the metro in together to the convention center.  The plan is to take our time checking things out, taking photos and having fun.

2.  Saturday night, my friend is coming back over to spend the night.  Yay, slumber party!  Except for the fact that we have to wake up super early.  So chances are that we'll chat a bit but then just go to bed early so we're ready to head out at 5am.

3.  I went ahead and used parking panda to get a spot not too far from the race start Sunday morning.  I didn't want to mess with metro race morning and since there are 2 of us, the price for the spot is about the same as metro would cost for 2 people. I love Parking Panda!

4.  The 10k. So I'm not sure of my plans for the race itself. My long run last week where I felt like I was struggling with the uphills was close to a 10k PR anyway.  I really want to try for a 10k PR and I feel like I should be able to do it since my last 10k PR was from June 2014 and I've gotten faster since then.  But every time I've tried for a 10k PR this year, I've flamed out.  I still haven't figured out the 10k pacing correctly.  The other variable is I'm not sure how hilly the route is. I know there's an uphill at the end for the final .2 and there's an incline at the memorial bridge, which is around mile 2.  So I think I'm just going to try to race by feel and keep it a more comfortable pace for the beginning.  If things are going well and I'm on pace for a PR toward the end, I'll push it some more.

One of my earlier 10ks from this year that did not go well.

5. Post-race brunch! We've made reservations a mile or so away from the finish line so that we can walk over after the race.  The reservation is at Tupelo Honey Cafe and the menu looks delicious!  I am excited to try it.  And as an added bonus, the metro stop by the restaurant will be a stop earlier than the MCM finish line stop so hopefully it won't be too crowded when we get on the train and we can actually get seats as we take the train back to the car.

So those are my plans for the weekend!  I hope you guys have a great weekend too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Run Disney, take my money

Yesterday, Run Disney released photos of some of the merchandise that they'll be selling for the Wine and Dine race weekend.  And yeah... I think I'm going to be in trouble at the expo.  I had initially told my husband that I was just going to do packet pick up, get a medal for my running Mickey vinylmation, maybe pick up a headband, and that's it.

But they have released the photos and I am so weak!  I love the grey and muted purple color combination they have in the below items. I really want the hooded pull over as well as the tank top.  And the matching headband.  And the water bottle and stemless wine glass they showed in other photos.

No way would it be smart for us to spend all that money when the racecation itself costs a lot of money.  Thankfully I have my husband to keep me in check :) Unless he also gets bitten by the Run Disney bug!
In other news, I finally made it back to body pump yesterday.  She was concentrating on arms, which I don't think I've worked on for about a month. So I've got the noodle arms going today but I'm feeling good about getting back to the gym.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Wine and Dine Half Marathon training - week 15

I'm still having a hard time getting back into my normal workout routine after the 2 weeks of traveling.  Last week was also complicated by some sinus difficulties.  So sadly, I don't have a lot to report.

Monday - planned rest day

Tuesday - meant to go to body pump but had a sinus headache almost all day

Wednesday - still had a hard time breathing but decided to at least go for a walk so I had time on my feet. It was a little over 30 minutes and 1.85 miles.

Thursday - I packed my bag to go to the gym after work, got there and into the locker room, and realized I had forgotten my shoes.  I also had some plans later in the evening so didn't have time to go home and retrieve them. So another walk this evening since I could do that in my work shoes.  But on the plus side, it was a beautiful walk around Dupont Circle and it reminded me how lucky I am to live in the DC area. It was a beautiful evening with lots of people out and about.  I didn't even track this one, just enjoyed being out around town.  But it was around 30 minutes.

Friday - Another rest day

Saturday - Finally, I got a run in!  This was an 11 mile long run.  I really struggled for parts of it but I think that's because I had forgotten that the Capital Crescent Trail is a long gradual decline going south and a long gradual incline going north.  So I felt great on the south bound portions but horrible on the north bound portions, which you can pretty much tell from my splits as they are all over the place.  Also, my garmin was a bit off the first mile according to the mile markers so I think it was more like 11.3 or 11.4 miles total. I ended with around a half mile cool down walk and there was an outdoor art exhibit going on in Bethesda so that made for a nice walk.

The weirdness in the elevation map at the beginning is the portion where my Garmin seemed to be off

I was not happy to see this during the run!  Thankfully just the sign and not the owl

Happy to be done, and the final average pace is what I was shooting for.

Sunday - Yoga in the morning and then a trip to the Renaissance Festival with friends for a lot of walking in the afternoon. 

So hopefully this week will go better.  And this weekend is the Marine Corps Marathon.  Last year I was a spectator and cheered people on.  This year I'm doing the 10k with a friend and really looking forward to it.  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday 5 - things I'm looking forward to at WDW

Yay for Fridays!  And of course, that means it's time for the Friday Five link up with Cynthia, Mar and Courtney.  I haven't been able to participate in several weeks so I'm happy to be linking up with all these amazing bloggers again.

Now that I'm done with our last vacation, I'm already looking forward to our next one!  I'm not sure how this happened but we ended up with 2 Fall vacations in our plans this year.  And the weather has already started to get cool here, so I know that I'm going to be happy for some Florida warmth in November when we're at Disney World for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. Here are some other things I'm looking forward to for that racecation.

1.  Running a 5k with my parents and Mike - That's right, we're all going to do the 5k and I'm excited about that.  Mike's been doing the beginning 5k training group with MCRRC in order to prepare.  My parents are going to walk the 5k.  I think the plan is for Mike and I to run from character to character and then my parents to join us in line when they get there.

2.  Trader Sam's - This bar hadn't opened the last time we were at Disney World.  We did go to Trader Sam's in Disney Land and really enjoyed it so we're looking forward to trying out the Florida version.  Though we're going to wait until after race day for this one so we can fully enjoy it.

Random Disney Land photo from a couple years ago

3.  Lazing around in the water - We're staying at a resort with multiple pools and a lazy river.  Plus we're planning time at one of the water parks the day after the race.  I'm really looking forward to taking advantage of the pools, lazy rivers, hot tubs and water slide.  Fingers crossed that the weather agrees with our plans.

4. Wine and Dine after party - one of the big pluses of this race is that it's a night time race that ends at Epcot and the park is open until the wee hours of the morning for people to experience some of the Food and Wine Festival offerings.  And of course throw in some rides and characters and you've got the makings of a great party.

Food and Wine Festival offerings from last year

5. Half marathon number 3!  And of course, I'm looking forward to the race itself.  This will be my third half marathon and second Disney race (the first was the Tower of Terror 10 miler last year). It will be the first time I'm doing a half the same day as a 5k so that should be interesting as well.

Showing off my medal after my first Disney race

Hope everyone is having a great Friday out there!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Shape Diva Dash 5k review

This race took place on September 12th and I've waited so long to write this review that I feel like I've forgotten a lot of it!  That should teach me not to wait a month before reviewing a race.  But I feel like I had a hard time finding a lot of information about it ahead of time so I'm still going to go ahead and write about my impressions.

First of all, this is an obstacle race 5k that is focused on women.  I didn't see a single male running the race.  I've never done an obstacle race before or a woman focused race so it was an interesting, and overall good, experience.  Really, the main downside is that it was raining that morning but that's not in anyone's control.

The race was at a farm in suburban Maryland.  I felt like the directions and signage were good.  We had no problems getting there and no problems parking.  That went really smoothly.  There was also no need for pre-race package pick up.  In fact, I really liked that one of the things they did was that all you picked up before the race was your bib and a buff, which you got instead of a shirt.  I loved the idea of a buff instead of a shirt as it was something different and most of the people I heard talking about it seemed to like it as well. And since this was all you got before the race, no need to go back to the car to put away a bag or anything.
Us wearing our new buffs

The other nice thing they did was separate people into different waves with different start times.  The waves were just based on sign up, not on speed.  We knew our start time was 9:45 and I think this helped reduce pre-race crowding and lines.  The waves were also spread out, so much so that there were people still starting by the time we finished.  This also helped with the congestion on the course.  Each wave seemed pretty small and that helped, especially as there were some portions of the course at the beginning that were really small. There was one location at the beginning that was so narrow you had no choice but to kind of shuffle along single file.  But thankfully that area was small and we could spread out soon after the start.

 Pre race photo ops without a lot of lines

I really enjoyed the atmosphere of this race and I think part of that was because it was a low key, women focused race.  There seemed to be lots of groups of friends doing the race together.  I don't think I saw anyone doing it by themselves.  And there was a really supportive, collaborative environment both at the beginning and during the course. There were a lot of tutus, boas, superhero costumes, and just people having lots of fun together.

Pre-race group warm up dancing

As I mentioned earlier, the race was at a farm.  So this was not a road race.  There was varying terrain from grass, to gravel, to just mud by the end of the race since the rain was really coming down at that point. And the obstacles included things like giant, inflatable columns that you had to run through, something that looked like monkey bars that you crawled over on top of, a pit of giant inflatable balls that you crawled over on top of, little trampolines that you ran across, a stream that you had to run through (the water was a little over knee high on me), etc. None of them were too bad but the only reason I ran this race is that it was very clear that you could just skip obstacles if you wanted to.

I skipped two of them because I don't think they were meant for people my height (I'm only 4'11).  The first was kind of a strap suspended above the ground that you had to walk on (think like a tight rope) while holding onto some bars over your head.  The problem is that by the time we got there, probably due to the rain, the straps had kind of loosened and were hanging a bit low, so that I couldn't reach the hand bars.  My friend is a couple inches taller than I am and had a hard time with that one at the end too.  The other one I skipped was a set of bars you climbed.  I wouldn't have had a problem with the climbing section, but then at the top, there was a fireman pole you had to slide down.  The pole was located far enough from the bars that I was worried I wouldn't be able to reach it with my short legs!  So at both of those, I waited for my friend to finish and then we continued on our way.

They billed it as having a great finish line party but not so much.  The finish was definitely on the empty side, but I think that was probably because of the rain and maybe it would have been better otherwise?  As soon as you crossed, you did get a swag bag and also a photo.  I like that the race included free photos, always a nice little bonus. And the bag had a little mini luna bar in it, which was a good thing but there was no other food.  Well, there were a couple food truck where you could purchase food but no other freely available food.  I'm used to all 5ks at least having bagels and bananas but maybe I'm spoiled and that's not normal?

So overall, I really enjoyed this race and would think about doing it again, especially since I was able to sign up with a discount. 

Pros - atmosphere, fun obstacles but option to skip them, pretty location, well handled logistics
Cons - rain, mud, lack of post-race food

Monday, October 12, 2015

Wine and Dine Half Marathon training - week 14

Another week without much online time.  I had just come back from vacation and then had to travel to Boston for a work conference.  My boss had me scheduled for a ton of meetings while I was there so I didn't get to even read the blogs I follow while I was there, much less post any posts of my own.

Even worse, I did horrible at working out while I was in Boston. At least I got in a lot of walking while I was there.  But here is what I did get in this week.

Thursday evening was a reception at Fenway Park, which was about a mile from my hotel.  So I walked there and back instead of taking a shuttle. It was a nice walk in Boston and a fun reception.  I even got to see the World Series trophies.

Friday, I had some time between the end of the conference and having to leave for my flight.  I had met another girl who was also a runner so we decided to walk around and see more of the city, including going by the Boston Marathon finish line.

Unfortunately, my flight was late getting back to DC and it was past 1:30am by the time I got home.  I was exhausted on Saturday, so no working out but I did get in 2 naps!  And then Mike and I went out to see a circus sideshow type of variety show in the evening.

Finally, Sunday I got a run in.  I met up with a friend for a 10 mile run.  We went to the entrance to Rock Creek Trail that's close to my house and did 5 miles north on the trail, dropped of our coats in the car since it was getting warm, refilled our water bottles, and then did 5 miles south on the trail.  The second half was super hilly and therefore a bit slower, but I'm happy with the way the run went for the most part.

So that was my week.  I think things should be getting back to routine this week and I should be able to be more regular with working out and with blogging!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Wine and Dine Half Marathon training - Week 13

I'm back!  We had a wonderful 10 days of vacation and now I'm back to real life.  We got back home late on Sunday evening and yesterday was just exhausting at work, but I'm here with a training update, so better late than never :)

Friday and Saturday we were at Universal Studios in Orlando.  We had a great time and while there was no dedicated work out time, there was a lot of walking.  Like more than 20,000 steps each day.  We had an amazing time while there and if you are a Harry Potter fan, you've got to try to visit.  It's amazing how well they've captured the books and the movies.

Sunday was our first day on the cruise ship.  Again, no dedicated work out time but we did manage to walk more than 10,000 steps every day.  For the most part, we tried to always take the stairs and avoid the elevator.

Monday was a full day at sea and Mike and I woke up early to go run on the treadmills.  But the boat was rocking.  A lot.  I started on the treadmill and was a little worried that I would accidentally fall of so I moved over to the elliptical after 10 minutes.  But it was a combined 40 minutes between the elliptical and the treadmill, with a beautiful view of the ocean.  And then I took a 30 minute stretching class, which felt amazing.  We also had some swimming time in the pool on the ship.

Tuesday was spent at the cruise ship's private beach area on Haiti.  It was a beautiful island paradise and since Mike and I woke up early to get to the beach as soon as possible, it really felt like we had the whole beach to ourselves for a good hour in the morning. So we had some swimming time in the Ocean and more in the pool back on the ship later.

Wednesday was another day where we got up early to work out.  I ran on the ship's track that morning since the water's were calmer and had an amazing view of the sun rising.  Of course, the Garmin data is completely off as the ship was moving while I was running. But I'd estimate it was around 2.5 miles or so.  And then the stretching class again.

Thursday and Friday were active rest days with lots of walking.

Saturday was another day at sea and I had planned to do a longer run with half on the track and half on the treadmill.  However, the seas were rough and the wind was so high I could barely walk from one end of the track to the other.  So I ended up doing 6 miles on the treadmill, split up into 2 sessions with a break to refill my water bottle in between.  Thankfully they were showing Kung Fu Panda 2 so I was entertained :)  We also tried rock climbing on the ship's rock wall later that day.

Sunday was sadly time to get off the ship.  Since our flight was in the evening, we went back to Universal for some more theme park fun and lots of walking.

I hope that all of you had a great couple weeks as well!  I was completely unplugged while we were on the ship so it was an interesting experience.  I kind of enjoyed the feeling of being completely immersed in where we were at the time but I am glad to be able to check back in online too :)