Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday Five - 2016 Goals

Well, it's the last Friday of the year!  That makes it a perfect time to link up with Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0 to talk about my 2016 goals and how I did with them.

Friday Five Linkup 2.0

So how did I do?  Only ok.  But I think part of that is just not choosing the right goals for the year.  I tried to choose 5 fitness goals and that resulted in having some goals that I just didn't care enough about.  I will definitely keep that in mind when I choose my 2017 goals.

1.  3 half marathons - Yes, 3 half marathons accomplished in 2016!  It started with RnR DC, then RnR Vegas and last was Race 13.1 Baltimore.

RnR Vegas
2. Run a 5k without a walk break - I got close on this one but ended up deciding I didn't care about it that much.  I got to the 2 mile mark running with no walk breaks.  But I learned that I actually end up with slower average times without the walk breaks.  So I've decided that the run/walk method works for me and will stick with it.  Another issue was just that I haven't really done a lot of 5ks the second half of the year.  I had my PR 5k in May and then there was one super hot 5k in the Summer.
Semper Fi 5k
3. Tracking all runs, including treadmill runs - Ugh... I did horribly on this one after March or so.  This was another goal that it appears I just didn't care about that much.
4. New fitness activities - I didn't get this one done either :(  And sadly, this was one I do care about.  But the new classes just never seemed to take priority.  I got really comfortable with my mix of running, budy pump and yoga, and just stuck with that.  I do want to try to get more variety in my workouts next year.

5. Cooking - This was a 2 part goal in that I wanted to try a new recipe every month and put it on the blog.  I've actually been pretty good about trying new recipes and cooking more at home, I just haven't been blogging about them.  I'm still satisfied with this one because my main purpose was to cook mroe at home and that was accomplished! 
Watermelon salsa I made for a party earlier in the year
So that's the result on my goals for 2016.  It wasn't so successful but I feel like the main goals that I cared about the most were accomplished.  And it was definitely a lesson learned about goal setting that I'll keep in mind for 2017!

Did you have any goals for 2016 and if so, how did it go?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Year of Running - 2016

I hope everyone had a great holiday season!  I'm back from vacation in Costa Rica and we had a great time but I am exhausted.  I figure this would be a good time to link up with Courtney and talk about my year in running.

I've had a great year of running.  As always, there were highs and lows but I think the highs won out.  And I had PRs in the 5k, 10k, 10 mile and half marathon distances. 

  • Best race experience: I had a lot of races this year.  There were 3 half marathons, 1 10 miler, 3 10ks, 1 5 miler, 1 8k, and 5 5ks for a total of 14 races.  It's hard to pick the best race experience out of those.  I think I'm going to with the Race 13.1 Baltimore Half Marathon in December.  It was really close between that and RnR DC.

  • Best run:I had a lot of great runs with friends this year but I think the best run is going to go to a solo run I did as my last long run before RnR Vegas.  It was one of those runs where everything just seemed to click and I felt great.  This was in spite of taking a spill during the run.

  • Best new piece of running gear: I haven't gotten a lot of new running gear this year.  It's mostly been tried and true things from previous years that I've continued to use during my runs.  I did receive a hydration pack at the beginning of the year and that was really useful to use on long runs during Winter when the water fountains had been turned off.  I'll probably need to pull it out again soon. 
  • Best running advice you’ve received this year: To remember my purpose.  There have been times when I let running become too much about PRs and times and it becomes not fun anymore.  I have to remind myself that I'm doing this for fun and to try to create a sustainable, healthy habit.
  • Most inspirational runner: Not limited to runners but I was inspired by so many of the athletes during the Olympics this year.
  • Favorite picture from a run or race this year: That would be a photo from RnR DC as I crossed the finish line with a friend who was doing her first half marathon.
  • Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat: Let's go with RnR DC since I signed up for the 2017 race the day after the 2016 race!
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be? Fun!  This was the first year that I convinced a couple friends to do half marathons with me so we did a lot of races and training runs together and that was a nice addition.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Weekly Review

I'm combining 2 weeks since I forgot to post last week.  And let's be honest, I haven't had much activity to report on since the half marathon 2 weeks ago.  I've been catching up on other things in my life and enjoying a bit of a break from training.  So all I've done in these 2 weeks is 2 strength training sessions, 2 sessions on the elliptical, and a Bang cardio dance class with friends.

Part of the reason I haven't been running is that I don't want to deal with the cold weather.  I don't want to acclimate to the cold yet.    

Not ready for this yet!

That's because we're leaving for Costa Rica tomorrow!  It's going to be in the 70s while we're down there and I'm going to be back to running in the heat.  So I'm saving acclimating to cold runs for when I get back from vacation.

Our last trip abroad also included hot springs and volcanoes, but we'll sub in beaches for glaciers this time!

I feel like it will be a relatively active vacation.  We have plans for a lot of hiking.  Also, the hotel we're staying at by the beach does have a running trail and I'm looking forward to running on it at least twice.  I'm also hoping we can find a beach side yoga class :)

Poolside yoga in Vegas may have been the last time I did outdoors yoga on vacation

I hope everyone has a great week!  I'm not sure I'll be able to post from Costa Rica but hopefully I'll be able to share a couple photos on Instagram along the way.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Five - random December

Yay, it's Friday!  This has been a busy couple weeks at work but it's the weekend and almost time for me to leave on my vacation too :)  First though, it's time for the Friday Five 2.0 with Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness!

Friday Five Linkup 2.0

I'm going to take this Friday 5 to talk about five random things I'm enjoying in December :)

1. Holiday Decorations, especially at work.  They always do a great job of the decorations.  And I'm amazed because they're always up like magic the day after Thanksgiving and down by the time we come back from New Year's Day.  This morning, we were even greeted with hot chocolate and a violinist playing holiday music.


2.  The cats have been extra affectionate recently.  I'm sure they're just seeking warmth but I'm taking advantage of it :)


3.  I'm so excited to see Rogue One tonight! I even have a special shirt ready to wear when we go to the theater.


4.  I love all the end of the year count downs and collages :)  Here was my best of collage from Instagram.


5.  Oh yeah, did I mention vacation?!?  We're leaving Monday evening and I won't be back at work until the following Tuesday.  I'm really looking forward to the time away.  Photos of this one when I get back.

So those are things I'm enjoying about December right now!  Definitely not enjoying the cold but I try not to think about that part.  I hope everyone else's December is going well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Race 13.1 Baltimore Review

Wow, I haven't had a post for over a week!  Things have been crazy at work and with the holiday prep.  But I did want to go ahead and get in my race review for the Race 13.1 Baltimore half marathon. 

This was an inaugural race on Saturday, December 3rd.  I'm wary of running inaugural races but it was the right time period that I was looking into for my 2016 goal half marathon.  And it was supposed to be a relatively flat and scenic course.  I looked up Race 13.1 and the half marathon they'd done in other locations had good reviews.  So I went ahead and signed up for this one.  I'm glad I did!  It was a great race.

But to start back at the beginning... the pre-race communication was ok.  I was beginning to get nervous because it didn't come until pretty close to the race, but once they sent out the information, it was clear and comprehensive.

Packet pick up had multiple options.  The day before the race, they had packet pick up at a running store in a Baltimore suburb.  They also had packet pick up at the race location the evening before the race.  Lastly, they had packet pick up the morning of the race.  The running store was on our way to Baltimore so we stopped there to pick up packets and then continued on to our hotel in Baltimore.  Packet pick up went smoothly and quickly, though the traffic into our hotel down by the inner harbor in Baltimore was heavy.  I'm glad we had gone early.  I'm also glad we got a hotel room in Baltimore and didn't have to worry too much about getting to the race the next morning.

Distracting ourselves from the pre-race cold with selfies

Race day was an early morning.  The race started at 7am and we wanted to shoot to get there at 6:30am.  So we set a 5am alarm and then went downstairs and called a Lyft at 6am.  We were in the car by 6:15 and pulling up to the park where the race started right around 6:30.  The hotel was only 2.5 miles away from the start but it was cold that morning!  We decided to save our energy and not walk to the start line.  According to the race communication, there was plentiful parking at the park but it would cost $15 and the Lyft was only $8.

This is a good time to talk about the race size.  It was limited to 1500 participants in the half, 750 in the 5k and 750 in the 10k.  So this was a MUCH smaller race than any other half marathons I've done.  My others have been Rock n Roll or Disney.  Even the 10 milers I've done have been much bigger than this race.  So that was definitely a new experience for us.  Given the small size, we probably didn't even need to be there as early as 6:30am.

The race pretty much started right on time.  The 10k and the half started together with the 5k starting 10 minutes later.  The Star Spangled Banner was played and then the race started without much fanfare.  My Garmin hadn't even found the satellite by the time we started.  I had forgotten we wouldn't have much time at the start, unlike the bigger races I've done.


There were many sections of the race course that were beautiful.  It started off in a small park by the inner harbor.  We had a small out and back (miles 1-2) on city streets at the beginning.  I'm not sure why, but I was really having some mental doubts this morning.  So I just kept concentrating on 2 miles at a time.  I knew that the course went right by our hotel and that Mike would be there cheering around mile 4... so I just concentrated on getting to mile 4.  And the section between mile 2 and 4 was on the promenade by the water, which was nice.  It made it a bit crowded in some sections where the front runners were already on their way back, but it wasn't too bad in the back of the pack where I was.  I assume it may have made for some crowded points for mid packers.

After seeing Mike around mile 4, I just concentrated on going 2 more miles.  I kept telling myself 2 more miles, take a chew, and re-evaluate how you feel at that point.  That strategy worked well since I felt fine at each point and told myself I could push for another 2 miles.  Miles 4-5 continued along the promenade and they were beautiful, along the water.  The sun had come out so I wasn't feeling so cold at this point either.

Miles 5 to 9 weren't quite as scenic.  We were back on city streets and a bit more industrial area.  We did run by the Under Armour headquarters which was pretty cool.  We crossed over train tracks at one point and I think that was the only substantial hill in the course.  We got to the top and I was happy to have the downhill.  Except that the turnaround was right after the downhill.  Which meant that we had to turn around and go right back up the hill!  There was also more shade in this area so I got a bit cold again.


A bit after mile 9 we were back on the promenade by the water.  It was more crowded at this point with people out walking their dogs, tourists by the aquarium, people out for their daily runs, families, etc.  There was also no fence by the water so I was a little paranoid about not falling in!  Around mile 12, I started to struggle a bit.  The wind had picked up and it felt like it was blowing right in my face. You can definitely see that in my splits.  But I kept trudging along and tried to push as much as possible in the last mile.  It definitely felt a bit sparse at times given the small field.  There were times at the end when I couldn't see anyone else in the race in front of me and I was worried about getting lost.  Thankfully, there were signs and volunteers letting me know which way to go every time I began to get concerned.  We finished back at the park where we started and there were a lot of runners still around cheering, which was nice.


My watch indicates that the course was a bit short but I think that's just because it didn't have the satellite in the beginning.  I checked with my friend and she had 13.2 on her final data.  And I don't see anywhere I could have cut the course or anything like that.  My official new time 2:50:48.  This was more than a 6 minute improvement over my previous PR from the 2015 RnR DC half!

My friend got this photo of me as I crossed the finish line

They had plenty of music going on at the after party, and a nice spread of food from Panera.  This wasn't just bagels.  It included quite the variety of pastries, as well as the usual granola bars, oranges and bananas.  Sadly, it was pretty cold and windy at this point so we didn't linger too long.  We called another Lyft and headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up for brunch.

Race medal and view of Baltimore from our hotel room

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

Cons:  We didn't have many cons at all.  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.

We all felt that we would want to do this one again!  Hopefully they will have a 2nd year for this race in 2017.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Race 13.1 Baltimore training weeks 13 and 14

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  Mine went pretty well but I realized that I missed last weeks review of my training.  So here are 2 weeks together.

Sadly, there isn't much to report.  The week of Thanksgiving ended up being difficult and I repeatedly ran into snafus trying to go to the gym while we were out of town visiting family.  So that week ended up being just 3 sessions of at home work outs and no running (Runner's World Yoga essentials, Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown 1, and Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown 2).


This past week was the last week before my goal race and I only got a bit done this week as well.  Wednesday was Runner's World Yoga essentials again.

Thursday was 35 minutes at the gym.  Sadly, I was having stomach cramps and that 35 minutes was a struggle.


Saturday was the Race 13.1 Baltimore half marathon.  I had a great time and ended up with a PR!  I hope to have my recap up Wednesday.


I didn't end up leaving the house at all on Sunday.  We had a Gilmore Girls marathon so spent most of the day watching that.  But I did manage to also fit in some recovery yoga which was much needed as my quads were really sore yesterday.  So that makes 2 times running and 2 yoga sessions for the week.

So that's where I am!  My races for the year are done and no other big races until the Rock and Roll DC Half in March. I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

 Weekly Wrap 51 Taste the Rainbow

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday 5 - things I'd buy again

It's Friday!  The week has gone by really fast and tomorrow's race day.  As always, I'm a bit nervous and a bit excited.  Fingers crossed that things go well.  But first, it's time for the Friday Five with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy.  Today's theme is 5 things we would buy again.

 Friday Five Linkup 2.0

I've been really happy with most of the stuff I've bought but here are a 5 that stand out.

1.  Garmin 220 - I love this watch!  I got it as a birthday gift from my parents about 6 months after I started running.  I had been using Runkeeper up until then but it was pretty inaccurate as my runs got above 3 miles.  The watch has been trusty and reliable and is still holding up well more than 2 years later.


2.  Flip Belt - I love my flip belt and in fact, have bout it again since I thought I had lost mine at one point.  It is comfortable and holds pretty much everything I need while running.  It fits my Iphone 6 with no problems and nothing has ever fallen out.

3.  Saucony Guides - shoes are obviously very personal but these work really well for me.  And I have bought them multiple times since I keep replacing my old pair with a new pair of Guides.


4. Rain jacket - I love this jacket.  It's great for wind and rain, and it's convertible into a vest.  I took off the sleeves mid run one day and the sleeves tied easily around my waist and didn't fall off or loosen at all.  I really wish I had had this jacket during the RnR DC half in 2015 when it rained the whole time.

5.  Under Armour Marbella sunglasses - these have also lasted more than 2 years.  They fit so well and I never have to push them up while running.  They also fit on the top of my head while running and don't slip so they're great for those days when you may need sunglasses for part of the run.  And somehow they manage to still feel comfortable and never tight.  I was worried because they're expensive and I have a problem with losing sunglasses, but I've kept a tight hold on these because I love them so much.  I would be sad if I lost these. and would definitely look to buy them again.

So those are my five things I'd buy again, and have in some cases :)  Any favorites you have that you'd buy over and over?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

RnR Vegas Half Marathon

Ok.  I'm finally ready to put up my review of the Vegas Half Marathon!  I was in Vegas with 2 friends and the three of us were planning on doing the half.  We also had a couple friends doing the 10k and my parents were planning to spectate and cheer.  So it was a complicated bit of logistics but here's how it all worked out.

Thankfully, we stayed at a hotel on the strip that had a shuttle to the start line.  That helped a lot.  The race also had runners split into 3 color waves and you had a different start time depending on your wave.  This was nice so we know that since we were in the last wave, we didn't have to get there that early.  We still left our rooms to get to the shuttle around 3:15.

Photo with the New York New York Hotel in the background

The shuttle dropped us off around the Mandalay Bay around 4pm.  Turns out, the Mandalay Bay is near the start line but not near the start party where the corrals are.  So it was a long walk over to the party.  We did at least get to catch a bit of the headliner concert from Snoop Dog.

Occupying ourselves during the wait by taking photos

Once we got there, we found a curb in the shade to sit at.  It was still pretty hot at this point in the afternoon and we didn't want to tire ourselves out.  We chatted a bit and of course, took more photos.  I also made a visit to the portapotties.  There were a ton of them and there were lines but they moved pretty quickly.

Waiting in the crowded corrals while the sun sets

Finally, they announced that the corrals were open for the Yellow (i.e. last) wave.  It was packed!  And we basically trudges forward in this massive crowd toward the start line.  I'm not sure how long it took but it seemed to take forever and be a pretty long walk.  I looked down at my fit bit at one point and saw that I already had more than 14,000 steps before the race even started.  One of the downsides of an evening race.


Finally, we were off!  I think we crossed the start line approximately 45 minutes to an hour after the official race start.  You can see the map of the race course from my Garmin above.  The first couple miles were an out and back starting out going south, away from the lights on the Strip.  But the race had set up plenty of lights and there was also a DJ set up in this section so lots of music.  Once we turned and came back, you could see the lights of the Strip in the distance.  And we passed the Welcome to Las Vegas sign where lots of people were stopping to take photos.  I attempted it but failed to get a good photo.  Eventually I figured I was wasting too much time and just continued on my way.

That bright blur in the back is the Welcome to Las Vegas sign

The next section, approximately mile 2 to 6, were on the Strip and this was the best part of the race.  There was a lot of crowd support, so many lights, and so loud!  This was a lot of fun.  It was very cool running past the Bellagio as the Fountain Show was playing.  There were also some fun music in this section and a Cher impersonator that I thought was really good.  My parents were planning to spectate around mile 3, between the Bellagio and the Cosmopolitan.  I couldn't see them so I did stop there for a bit too.  I tried to call my dad and got a hold of him but I was already past the spot they were at so he told me to keep going and they would see me later.

Next comes the not as fun part of the race.  Miles 6 to 9 were not as scenic and didn't have as much crowd support.  I had another stop in this section because I had forgotten to use body glide before the race and I was feeling it a bit on the underside of my arms.  So I stopped at a medical tent for some vaseline.  There was a spot around mile 8 or 9 where the race had set up a little dance party to liven up this section and that was cool.  I liked the music and lights and volunteers dancing, but they also decided to have a smoke machine which was not a good decision for people running!


Next, we came upon the lights of Freemont Street which was really cool!  I enjoyed seeing that then there was a turn and we could see the lights of the Strip again.  This meant the end was in sight!  I kept pushing on.  It seemed like a lot of people were having a hard time and sort of trudging along by this time.  It's hard to motivate when it seems like everyone around you is walking and you can see by the splits that I had a really hard time at mile 11.  I pulled it together a bit for mile 12 but then lost it again at mile 13.  It was also really crowded at this point because the marathon joined back up and a portion of the road was roped off for them.


Finally, the start line was in sight and I picked it up as much as I could to end strong.  I crossed the finish line and found one of my friends that finished before me.  We stretched and waited for our third friend.  We chatted as we walked down the LONG finisher's chute and got a medal, a bag with food, water and gatorade.  We all had a hard time with the race, due to the crowds and probably also the drier air.  My official finish time ended up being around 3:04 with the stops I had.

Watching the Bellagio fountains again from the finisher's chute

We had deliberately picked our hotel by proximity to the finish line.  We knew the finisher's chute let out by the Bellagio and our hotel had an indoor connection to the Bellagio.  So we went inside there as soon as we got out of the finisher chute and then we trudged back to our hotel to clean up before heading to a late dinner.

So what's the summary?  We're all glad we did it but also glad it wasn't a goal race.   And for me, I think it's a one and done.  It was a lot of fun but I don't feel any need to do it again.


Cons:  Crowds (at other big races I've felt like the crowds ease up for me in the back of the pack after a couple miles but that never seemed to happen here), evening race with lots of walking before the race, drier air than I'm used to

Pros:  Scenic, lots of spectators, seemed like a lot of music this year, lots of hydration stops and medical tents, relatively flat (the end is a gradual uphill), the logistics seemed really tightly run.  I also liked that a lot of the area got into the race with lots of signs around, discounts through the race, free shuttles from the hotels to the start, etc.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

RnR Vegas Expo and 5k

I'm going to go ahead and start my Vegas recap with the expo and the 5k.  We got up bright and early on Saturday (easy because of the time change).  This also meant we had an easy breakfast with no wait.  We went to Mon Ami Gabi, even though they have a location close to us, because they are so good with gluten free food and the friend I was with has a wheat allergy.  It was delicious!

Next we, met up with my parents at the Bellagio and took a bit of time to check out the conservatory there.  They change it up seasonally and it's always fun to check out the little details.


My parent's had a rental car which definitely made things easier.  We all piled into the car and drove to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the race expo.  It was a quick drive, 15 minutes or so, and we were able to find parking relatively easily since we got there around 10:30 am.  We walked into the expo and thankfully, the crowds weren't too bad at that point.  We were able to get a couple fun photo ops and then went straight toward package pick up.

Fooling around in front of the video of the course

There was a bit of a line but none of us had to wait for more than 2 or 3 people in front of us as the lines were split up pretty well by bib number.  After getting our bibs, we did have to wait in a separate line for our shirts but that line moved quickly too.

More Expo photo fun

And then we were off into the expo.  It was huge!  We wandered around a bit, sampled some stuff, my mom found a type of protein bar she really liked and ended up getting a whole case of it!  I found a headband that matched the outfit that I was wearing for the half and then we found a booth with a huge sale on shoes and clothing.  My mom and I both bought some winter work-out gear there.

I don't think we even got through half of the expo it was so big.  But after 90 minutes we were all tired and hungry so we headed out and to the Wynn where we had a delicious brunch at Tableau.  We had heard that all the restaurants at the Wynn were great with special diets and we were not disappointed.  They handled our table of 2 vegetarians, 1 vegan, and 1 gluten free diet with no problem at all.


After that, we went back to our hotel to nap and rest up before the 5k.  The race started at 5 (I think) so we decided to meet up at 3 at the Bellagio.  Once we met my dad there, we called for a Lyft.  We used Lyft throughout the weekend and it really was a great way to get around.  I'm glad we went with that option instead of the monorail as I heard it was pretty crowded.

Matching Elvis shirts for me and my dad!

Anyway, we took the Lyft to the SLS Hotel and walked across the street to where the 5k started.  The start area was right off the strip but the majority of the course was on a road parallel to the strip and it was aptly named Industrial Road.  It felt industrial and it had a great view of things like pawn shops, sex stores, etc.  But we could see the lights of the Las Vegas Strip hotels in the distance :)  And the race did an amazing job with the music, there was music almost the whole 5k.  I was pretty impressed.

View of Circus Circus on the Strip while waiting in the Corrals

We were accompanying my dad so we walked most of it.  My dad's goal was to make it in under 55 minutes, and we did with an official finish time of 54:07.  The course was pretty crowded, especially in the back where we were, but it wasn't too bad.  I think it would have been hard if you were trying to run the whole thing or had a time goal but we were going about the same speed as everyone around us and were situated well in the correct corral.  The only other downside of the race due to the crowds was how long we had to wait for our corral to even start.  I think it was around an hour that we were waiting and slowly shuffling up toward the start line.  That's a lot of time on your feet when you have a half marathon the next day.

Time for selfies since we were waiting so long to start

We finished and got out water and fruit cup.  The fruit cup seems like a weird choice since you need a spoon to eat it but it was actually really refreshing.  We also indulged in our free beer while listening to the band playing at the finish line festival :)  We also admired our medals.  They were huge and heavy!  They definitely did not skimp on the 5k medals.

My dad and friend crossing under the Guitar guy

After we finished our beer, we headed back to the SLS hotel and called another Lyft once we got there.  I have to say, we had a lot of great Lyft drivers all weekend and had a really interesting conversation with this guy.  The traffic was pretty bad trying to get back to the hotel so it was a good thing he was a good conversationalist :)

Showing off the medal while listening to the post-race band

We eventually got back to the hotel and cleaned up to head out to dinner.  My mom had read about good vegan options at Lemongrass, which was located at the Aria hotel.  And this was another one that did not disappoint at all.  There were lots of vegan or gluten-free options and we were all really happy here.  Plus we had left-overs for later in the week :)


So that's the end of this long day and long post.  I'm hoping to recap the half marathon next week.