Monday, January 25, 2016

Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon training - week 7

Well, I'm still working at home and haven't seen any plows in my neighborhood yet.  Still snowed in and the weather did affect my workouts last week.  But it's fine.  I'm just going to have to be flexible and shift around my runs a bit this week but it will be fine.  But here is what did happen last week.

Monday - Rest day

Tuesday - Rest day.  This was supposed to be a track day but the group canceled it's track run due to wold temperatures and wind alerts.  So we took this evening to get gas and groceries instead in preparation for the upcoming blizzard.  I'm glad we did as things weren't too crowded at this point but got crazy later in the week.

Wednesday - I thought about going to the gym for the treadmill but I was reading reports about horrible traffic due to the dusting of snow we were getting.  It took some people 2 hours to go 10 miles.  So I just went hard on the elliptical at home.

Thursday -  My one and only run of the week was on the treadmill at the gym.  But I will say I felt much stronger than I usually do on the treadmill.  I'm usually increasing walk breaks by the end but this time I was decreasing walk breaks and increasing speed at the end.  It was a different style of machine than I usually use so I might try for this one in the future.

Friday - This is the day the snow started.  I worked from home and a friend came over so we had fun doing a cardio dance workout together.  And it really got the heart rate up.  I love when workouts are a lot of fun as well.

Saturday and Sunday - Well, my workouts were limited to shoveling these 2 days.  About 30 minutes on Saturday and around 45 minutes on Sunday.  And a bit more shoveling left for today.  But I didn't do any other workouts since I was sore from the shoveling.  I still feel it a bit in my shoulders, back and thighs (I tried to remember to lift with my legs).

So that's it for my week.  This week, the plan is for some yoga today to ease my muscles, running Tuesday (track is already cancelled since schools are closed but I'm hoping to get to the gym), Wednesday is a rest day since I'm supposed to fly to Toronto for work, Thursday running at the hotel gym in the morning, Friday rest day,  Saturday body pump and Sunday long run.

I hope everyone else's week went well and that you stayed warm if you're having Winter weather! Also, I'm linking up with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday 5 - things I'm doing during the snow storm

Well, it looks like we're going to have a bunch of snow dropped on us today and tomorrow.  The good news is that both Mike and I are able to stay home and do some teleworking.  And also that it's time for the Friday Five link up with Cynthia, Courtney, and Mar. That means there will be plenty of reading material because there are a ton of great bloggers participating in the link up!

So what will I be doing with my time during this blizzard?  Here are 5 things we have planned.

1. Baking - it always a great cold weather activity.  And Mike even looked up some healthy baking options so we're not "stuck" eating a bunch of treats on our own.  I believe the first project is going to be Irish scones.

2. Crafting - I've gotten away from knitting and crocheting just because I haven't seemed to have the time recently.  Well this is the perfect opportunity to get back to it.  I've still got a bunch of yarn and unfinished projects.

3.  Cleaning - it doesn't sound exciting but I feel like this is a great time to get to some of those tasks that are far down on the list and never get done.  Cleaning out the pantry is hug on our list for this weekend.

4.  Photos - another task I need to get to is editing vacation photos and making photo books.  I also want to make my dad a photo book with photos from our Jingle Jungle 5k and Disney trip.  Bonus, at least looking at all those warm weather photos will be a nice break from the snow outside the window!

Caribbean cruise sounds so good right about now

5.  Work out videos - I'm not planning to go for a run in the snow but I'm planning on checking out some new work out videos on you tube.  And of course, there's always shoveling.  That's quite a workout too!

And of course, there are the classics of movies, books, and video games.  Mike vetoed The Day After Tomorrow, but I have a book about Everest and an indie movie about a trip to Iceland on tap.  They seem appropriate for the snowy weather.

How do you guys deal with a period of enforced staying in the house?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Impromptu quinoa salad

I've mentioned before that things have been busy and I haven't had as much time to really cook lately.  I'm hoping that will change a bit now that the holidays are over and it's 2016.  But in spite of the not trying out new recipes, we've still been trying to eat healthy.  It just involves throwing things together and taking some short cuts.  So I thought I'd share one of our recent quick dinners.

We've been doing a lot of these grain bowls and I love them.  They're versatile, you can generally use whatever you happen to have around the kitchen, they tend to be good for left overs, and if you cook the grains in advance over the weekend you don't even have to turn on the stove when making the weekday dinner!  

Like I said, this isn't really a recipe as it doesn't have amounts and the specific ingredients don't even matter so much.  It's more of a method. And my method is combining some sort of grain, fresh vegetables, a protein source (beans, lentils or tofu are my vegetarian go to's), a sauce or dressing, and then finishing it off with optional flavor elements such as cheese, nuts, herbs, etc.  So here's how last week's quinoa salad worked out.


1 cup of raw quinoa.
Veggie broth (I prefer low sodium)
Broccoli (I used the already cut florets that I can steam in the bag to make things quicker)
1 can of chick peas (drained and rinsed)
Cherry tomatoes (this was the only thing I chopped, I cut them in half for ease of eating)
1 package of feta
Dressing (mustard, cider vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper)

We had the quinoa already cooked and ready to go so we didn't even turn on the stove.  But if you don't have cooked grains ready, the quinoa cooks quickly and you can put it on the stove to cook while you prep the rest of the ingredients.  We just cooked the quinoa according to the package instructions, using vegetable broth instead of water for some added flavor.

I chose vegetables that are easy and don't require much cooking or chopping.  So bagged broccoli that we steamed in the microwave and cherry tomatoes, which I chopped in half so that didn't take too long.  Another favorite time saver I like to use is shredded slaw (our grocery store has various varieties such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.).  Such an easy way to get extra veggies into your weeknight dinners. Just make sure you choose a bag that is all veggies and doesn't have extra ingredients.

And then the last component is the dressing.  You can use store bought dressing but it's so easy to make your own that it's what I usually do.  I take a small tupperware container with a tight lid and make the dressing in there.  I put in mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper and any other seasonings I'm using.  I mix those things up with a fork and then add in the oil.  I generally like to use equal amounts of oil and vinegar though you can adjust that to your own tastes (the joys of making your own dressing).  And then I put the lid on tightly and just shake until the dressing is incorporated.  Voila!

So for the quinoa salad, I threw the quinoa and veggies in a mixing bowl along with a can of chick peas, a package of feta, and then the dressing on top.  Mix it up and it's all ready to eat.  This made 4-6 servings so we also had leftovers for later in the week.

Not exciting or new, but easy, quick and nutritious for a weekday dinner.  I'd love to hear about some of your easy go-to meals as well!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon training - week 6

I had another week where I got all my planned workouts in!  The week went well and I'm pretty happy with the training so far.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - running with the 5k training group at the track.  It ended up snowing right as I finished up my last lap.

Wednesday - body pump express and the elliptical

Thursday - the treadmills at the gym we're all taken so I ended up on the elliptical

Friday - body pump

Saturday - random worst DVD that Mike had received.  The exercises themselves were good but the production value was really low.

Sunday - 7 mile run with friends

We also went into the city and had brunch with a friend.  But the thing that prompted the trip was the pony pop up that the Source theater sponsored in order to promote their upcoming showing of Equus. There was a horse and a pony.  We enjoyed petting them and feeding them.  Though the horse did keep trying to get into my purse.  I guess he thought there were treats in there?

So that was my week.  I hope you all had a good week too!  Also, I'm linking up with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday 5 - things I love about DC

Happy Friday!  As opposed to last week, this week has flown by for me.  I can't believe it's already Friday.  I guess I'm getting used to a 5 day work week again after all the holidays.  Of course, this is just in time for another 4 day week next week.  But I'm not complaining :)  I'm definitely looking to having Monday off.

But for now, it's time for the Friday Five link up with Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney.  This week's general theme is favorites.  So I thought I'd talk about 5 of my favorite things of living in the DC area since I was driving downtown yesterday evening and thinking about how lucky I am to live here.

1.  Easily accessible nature - I love how green the city is and that Rock Creek Park is right there in the middle of the city.  As you move out in the suburbs, there continue to be state and national parks and many suburban green areas.  As you continue moving out you have places like Great Falls nearby and the mountains  and beaches within a couple hours drive. 

From a run last Summer by Great Falls

2.  Cosmopolitan offerings - But at the same time, we are still a major world city.  There are some great (and free) museums, lots of performing arts centers and it seems like there are always interesting things to do and check out.  More things to do than time unfortunately but I try to take advantage of it when I can.

3.  Quirkiness - We're not Portland or anything but I we do have a lot of young people in the city and a bit of a revolving population.  That can be a good thing or bad thing.  But I think it does help the city maintain some quirkiness and I enjoy keeping an eye out for unusual things happening around the area.  For example, there will be a "pony pop-up" in the city this weekend where there will randomly be a couple ponies on the street corner for passerby's to feed.  Why?  Why not may be the better question!

4. Restaurants - So many great places to eat in the area!  It ranges from little ethnic places in strip malls to fancy restaurants headed by celebrity chefs.  I love all the great ethnic food available, from Ethiopian to Korean and we even came across a Georgian restaurant in the suburbs a couple weeks ago.  I still have to give that one a try. The Washington Post did a series recently on the best food cities in the country and DC is right up there.

One of the coolest veggie options I've had at a restaurant

5. Great for runners - And of course, it's a great city for runners.  There are lots of different places to run from the mall surrounded by iconic monuments to trails surrounded by nature.  And the races, so many races!  There are small, local 5ks and big races like Rock and Roll DC or the Marine Corps Marathon.  When I hear about people coming from out of town to run these races, it reminds me of just how lucky I am to live in this area.

A downtown run by the monuments with a friend

So those are 5 of my favorite things about living in the DC area.  It's got it's downsides, just like everywhere else, but I consider myself fortunate to be here.

I'd love to hear what you love about the area you live in!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 Races

Well, January is well underway and the cold winter weather has finally shown up.  We even had some snow start falling while I was on the track yesterday!

So I figure that means it's a good time to dream about some warmer parts of the year and also begin thinking about the races I plan to do later this year.  Doing 16 races in 2016 is not one of my goals this year but I still have a bunch of races I'm interested in.  And I'll probably do the nerd herd virtual race trilogy again as I enjoy their nerdy themes and cool medals

I'm also hoping to add in at least 2 races where I volunteer.

January - MCRRC New Year's Day 5k (review) and the MCRRC County Road 5 miler (Review)

February - (No races as I want to concentrate on training for my half but the County Road 5 miler is the last day of January, so that can count toward February)

March - Pacer's St. Patrick's Day 10k (deferral from last year's icy race - Review), RnR DC Half Marathon (Review) and the MCRRC Piece of Cake 5k

April - Oldfields Half Marathon (Since I'll be doing the RnR half with a friend, I wanted a half soon afterward that I could do for time) and Ben's Run 5k (Review)

May - Semper Fi 5k (since it's been my PR race the last 2 years! Review)

June - Lawyer's Have Heart 10k (Review) and Fit Foodie 5k (if it comes back to DC)

July -Riley's Rumble 8k (Review)

August -MCRRC Eastern County 8k Frederick Women's 5k (Review)

September - Muddy Mamas Mud Run PRR Perfect 10k (Review)

October -Army 10 Miler (Review)

November - Rock and Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon  (Review)

December -MCRRC Jingle Bell Jog 8k Race 13.1 Baltimore Half (Review)

So those are my races for now!  I'm sure it will fill in some more as the year goes along.  And I love that the MCRRC races I have on there are all free for members :) My 2015 race list has been updated with links to my reviews for each of the races.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon training - week 5

I hope everyone had a great weekend!  I certainly did with lots of time with friends but also managing to get in all my planned work outs for the week.  I feel like it's been a while since I managed to make that happen so I was pretty happy about that.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - I decided to join the MCRRC 5k training program just so I'd have some extra incentive to get out there to the track.  This was the first meeting of the group and I feel like I pushed myself which felt good.  I forgot to turn my watch back on for the last 4 laps we did so approximately a mile more than listed below.

Wednesday - Body pump express and 15 minutes on the elliptical.

Thursday - 3 miles at the gym

Friday - Body pump.  This was a full hour of body pump with my favorite instructor and I loved it!

Saturday - Rest day plus some recovery yoga.  This ended up being a busy day because we had a bunch of friends over to watch movies as well.  It was a great chance to hang out in a low key way.

Sunday - Met up with friends for 6 miles.  The morning started out with rain but by the time I got to my friend's house, the rain had stopped.  It was overcast and in the 50's which was nice.  But there was a really strong wind at points which made things difficult.  It was also super hilly.  After we finished, I got a fitbit alert that indicated it was the equivalent of climbing 75 flights of stairs!

So that was my week.  I hope you all had a good week as well.  The plan for this week is pretty much the same as last week. Also, I'm linking up with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Friday 5 - 2016 goals

I hope everyone has had a good week!  It's been crawling by for me but it's finally Friday.  Before we get to the weekend, it's time for the Friday 5 link up with Mar, Cynthia and Courtney.  Since it's January and I've already talked about how I did with my 2015 goals, I'm going to go ahead and talk about my fitness goals for 2016.

1. 3 half marathons - I ran my first half marathon in 2014, trained for 2 in 2015, so it's time to keep moving up the ladder with 3 in 2016.  I'll talk about which races I've picked out later this month but I'm excited about my races for this year.

Half marathon number 2 of 2015, that ended up being more like a quarter marathon

2. 5k without walking - I do pretty much all my runs using run/walk intervals.  I want to keep them for longer runs and races but I think I want to work on getting to the point where I can run a 5k without walking.  So I'm going to work on that this year as well and hope it leads to another 5k PR.

My 2015 5k PR for May
 3. Tracking all runs, including treadmill runs - I've been bad about this so far but I'd like to have the more accurate data so this is one of the things I want to remember to work on this year.

4. New fitness activities - I tried a lot of different types of classes and fitness activities in 2015 and I want to continue that in 2016 with trying at least 2 new things.  I've been intimidated by cycling classes so I want one of the new things to be a cycling class.  We'll see what the other one ends up being.

Stand up paddle boarding was one of the new things I tried in 2015

 5. Cooking - Cooking has definitely fallen by the wayside recently.  It hasn't all been take out but I've been concentrating on easy regulars to pull together at home.  And that's fine because that's what we've needed to do to avoid take out.  But I want to get back to experimenting a bit more in the kitchen so my goal for 2016 is at least 1 new recipe per month and posting it on the blog.

So there you have it, my goals for 2016! I'm looking forward to a great year and hope that it turns out to be a wonderful year for all of you as well.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

MCRRC New Year's Day 5k

This is the third year in a row I've done the Montgomery County Road Runner's Club New Year's Day 5k.  I feel like it's a wonderful way to start out the new year, and let's be honest, a good incentive to not party too hard on New Year's Eve!  I reviewed the 2015 race and the 2014 race if you're interested in those.

The big difference this year is that the location of the race moved. It was previously at Seneca Creek State Park, which is a beautiful location. This year, it started at Manna Food Center, a local food bank.  This was great because we could have registration and the food inside to stay warm a bit.  We could also drop of canned food donations, which was nice.  There was also plenty of parking in the vicinity and it was easy to get in and out.

But the big downside was the course. It was nowhere near as scenic as the park where the race had been held in the previous years.  The roads were closed but it was mostly just running in kind of an industrial area.  Also, it had one really big hill (a bridge over the highway) that was unpleasant.  The park was also hilly but it was more rolling hills and not one giant hill.

In addition, in order to get to 5k we had to do the course twice.  I felt like this wasn't communicated clearly and it led to some course congestion.  Around the time I was at mile 1.5, the leaders were coming back through.  Those of us slower runners didn't really know that the course was a double loop so were of course taking up the whole width of the course.  I heard people yelling "runners back" but didn't really understand at first.  I mean, of course there were runners behind us, it's a race.  But then someone zoomed by and I realized they meant there were really fast runners back.  A couple more people zoomed by and I realized that these were the leaders and that meant we would have to be doing the whole course again.  This was particularly disheartening as I had just finished with the giant hill and knew this meant I would have to do the hill again.  

Once we realized what was going on, we all tried to move over to one side so it would be easier for the faster people to go by.  It had to have been really frustrating for them to have to essentially pass all the slower runners and try to weave through us.

Other than the course, my race experience was ok.  I felt like I was appropriately dressed for the weather and didn't have breathing problems again.  I tried to make sure to start a bit slow so I could ease my breathing into the cold air and I feel like that helped.  I struggled a bit with the hill and this was no where close to a PR, but I was able to push at the end.

So the pros were the indoor gathering area, the food donation, the plentiful parking and easy access. Of course, the fact that it was free for members and had free photos is a pro for all of the MCRRC low key races.

The cons were the lack of scenery, the big hill (twice) and having to run the course twice leading to more congestion.  I hope they move it back to the park next year and that this was a temporary change.  If it's in this same area next year, I might be tempted to look into one of the other New Year's Day races in the area.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon training - week 4

I hope everyone had a wonderful start to the new year! It was a fun but exhausting week for me but I feel positive about the workouts I got in.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - rest day

Wednesday - Body pump express plus 10 minutes on the elliptical

Thursday - Running in my neighborhood with a friend.  This run did not go so well because I had a hard time breathing in the cold air.  We actually had to stop by the house so I could use my inhaler.  But things were much better after that and we did a couple hill repeats for good measure.

Friday - MCRRC New Year's Day 5k. This is the 3rd year I've done the race and it is such a great way to start out the year.  It was in a different location this year which I wasn't a fan of but I'll do a full recap later this week. Plus my parents came into town to visit for the weekend.

Saturday - 40 minute yoga for strength training from Yoga With Adriene's you tube channel.

Sunday - rest day. I was hoping to go for a run but things got off to a late start with my parents and then I just ended up exhausted by the time they left to go home.  But I'm happy with the work outs I had earlier in the week and I feel like I really needed the extra rest this week!

Here's looking forward to the first full week of 2016!  My plan is to hit the track on Tuesday, body pump on Wednesday, run on the treadmill Thursday, body pump on Friday, and meet up with friends for a 6 mile run on Sunday.

I'm linking up with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.