Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday Five - fun things in 2017

It's Friday!  It's been another long week at work and I'm definitely happy to see the weekend.  Friday also means that it's time for the Friday Five 2.0 link up with Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness!  I'm going to talk about 5 things that I'm really looking forward to in 2017.

  Friday Five Linkup 2.0

1.  Cherry Blossom 10 Miler - No, I'm not running it this weekend.  But I am volunteering!  I'm looking forward to volunteering at this race since it's so iconic.  Plus, that means I get in for running it next year without having to go through the lottery.  I'm volunteering at the finish line but I'm not sure exactly what I'm doing yet.

2.  Turning 40 - This is the year I turn 40.  People have asked if I'm anxious about it but I really haven't felt anything like that.  My life is in a really good place right now and I'm hoping that will just keep going.  After all, 40 is just a number.  The actual weekend of my birthday is right around a work conference unfortunately but I think we'll still have time for a fancy dinner to celebrate.  And training for my first marathon will be my big celebration for this milestone birthday :)

3.  Philadelphia - We don't have capacity for a big Spring trip this year but we still wanted a little get away.  So we're going to be spending the 4th of July weekend exploring the City of Brotherly Love.  If anyone has any good tips on things to do, or see, or eat in Philadelphia, I'd love to hear it!  We'll probably add on some time at Hershey Park too.

Last year's Spring trip was to Iceland

4.  Half Marathon with my brother - I've talked my brother into doing his first half marathon in the Fall.  He lives in Columbus so we won't actually be training together but I look forward to some virtual training together.  And some other childhood friends of ours are joining us as well so it will be like a big reunion with 13.1 miles of running thrown in.

Me and my brother dressed up for a wedding

5.  Hawaii! And this is the reason we can't take a big Spring trip.  We're planning a big blowout trip in the Fall.  We're going to go to Disney Land so I can run the Avengers Half Marathon (and get my Coast to Coast as well as the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge medals) and then on to Maui for a week.  I'm really excited and looking forward to lots of relaxing beach time.

So those are five things I'm looking forward to in 2017.  It's going to be an exciting year and I hope that you guys all have a great year in front of you too :)  I'd love to hear what you're looking forward to.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Back to running!

I've been on a bit of blogging hiatus ever since I wrote about my experience at Rock and Roll DC.  I've also been on a running break.  I had decided to give my knee a bit of a rest before running again.  So I gave it a 2 week rest and had a couple runs this weekend that went well!

While on the running break, I just did a lot of yoga and rolling with the new stick I had bought at the expo.  I think those things definitely helped.  I noticed that my quad and IT band on the right side (the side where my knee locked up during the race) were a lot tighter than the left side.  The yoga and rolling started out painful but it was much better by the end of the two weeks so I think it definitely helped.

I also went up to New Jersey last weekend to visit family and it was nice to spend time with them as well as unplug while I was up there.  I didn't mean to unplug when the weekend started but I forgot the Ipad and my niece and nephew are teenagers now and I didn't want to set a bad example by being the aunt that was always on the phone!  They're teenagers so already heading that way anyway.

This nephew has a while before becoming a teenager at least :)

But here are the details on my return to running :)

Saturday - short test run that went well.  I had some twinges on the hills but nothing too bad.


Sunday - Long run on the C&O Canal Tow Path with friends.  We went up to the Monocacy Aqueduct area which is beautiful and less crowded since it's further from the city.  It was also nice since it's not paved, flatter, and a softer surface.  We saw lots of deer and even a heron (I think... it was a tall, graceful bird with long legs).  We also had some great conversation while running.  We definitely feel like we've all slowed down over the Winter as compared to last year so I definitely need to add speed work back in.


So that was it.  But I think things are better with the knee and I can get back to my regular routine.  And this 10 miles on Sunday means I should be ready for the Georgetown 10 miler (also on the C&O tow path) in a couple weeks!

We had a coupon for half off on Blue Apron so we're giving that a try this week.  Our first meal was yesterday, a freekeh and roasted chickpea salad with harissa glazed carrots and lemon labneh.


Hope everyone has had a great couple weeks!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon review

Well, as some of you may have seen on Instagram, I had my first DNF this past weekend.  I only got to around mile 9 of the RnR DC Half Marathon before dropping out.

But starting back at the expo... I had plans to go to the expo with a friend but we were running late so didn't get there until around 6:15pm and the expo closed at 7.  When we got there, the line to just enter the building was huge.  It went down the side of the building, out onto the sidewalk and around the corner.  But it moved fairly fast, even though it didn't feel like it due to the cold and wind.  We finally got in and there was very little wait to pick up our bibs and shirts.  We were also picking up bibs for some friends and we managed to get all four quickly.  We also managed to change corrals for a friend with no problem.  The expo was really well organized.  We looked around a bit and I bought a stick since those seem to work better for me than the foam roller.  But we pretty much rushed out of there since the expo was closing and we had a dinner reservation.


We met up with Ana and another friend at Rosa Mexicano.  It was a delicious meal with great company!  I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet up with Ana in person.  It's so funny how you can begin to feel like you know someone without even meeting in real life.

Stole this photo from Ana's instagram

Next, race morning!  The race started an hour later this year so it wasn't until 8:30.  We were back in corral 21 so we figured we would start around 9:15 or so.  And we were staying in a hotel close enough to walk to the start line.  But we still managed to run late and as we saw the street where the corrals were lined up, we saw the very last corral walking by!  So we had to run a bit to head up and find our corral.

Oh yeah, no photos because it was bitterly cold and windy.  I did not want to try to fool around with my phone to take photos.  It had died in the past from cold weather so I had tucked it in a sip lock bag for some extra insulation and then in a zippered pocket of my running jacket.

The cold was pretty much the main story of the race this year.  I think it was in the 20s at the start and felt like it was in the teens.  But I also never felt like I could really settle into the race.  In the sun, I would begin to feel too warm.  But then the wind would pick up again and I would feel cold all over again.  The race went ok, slow but I knew that was going to be the case, until the big hill at mile 6 or so.


My knee began to hurt, but I figured once I got past the hill it would get back to normal.  But instead, it just kept feeling gradually worse.  The knee kept getting stiffer and stiffer.  I played the mind trick where I keep telling myself to just go another mile and then re-evaluate how I feel.  That will usually get me through a race.  But this time, around mile 9, my knee seemed to stiffen up completely and I couldn't bend it much at all.  I tried to tell myself that I could just limp to the finish (the race has a very generous time limit).  I was pretty sure that I wasn't actually injured at that point but I worried that limping an extra 4 miles might end up causing more damage.  So I ended up deciding to drop out of the race at that point.


The good thing about a race in a city that I'm so familiar with is that I didn't have to wait around for the SAG bus or anything.  I walked a couple blocks off the course and used my phone to call for a Lyft back to the hotel.  I took some ibuprofen, changed into warm clothes and began icing my knee.


My friends finished the race and made it back to the hotel an hour or so later.  We got cleaned up and headed out to brunch.  I was still hobbling but it seemed a bit better.  Sadly, sitting at brunch made it stiff again and it was worse again when we tried to walk back to the hotel afterward.  So more ibuprofen and icing ensued to try to get the inflammation back down.


Later in the afternoon I also used the stick the massage out the quad and IT band.  It was definitely much worse on that side with the bad knee so I guess maybe that's what caused it?  I'm not sure but maybe it was a fluke thing because of the cold?  It continued resting it the rest of the day and it was ok.  We went to a movie that evening (Lion, and it was really good) but the same thing happened after sitting in the theater and my leg stiffened up to the point it was hard to bend it.

But thankfully, it seemed better Sunday.  There was still some popping when I bent that knee but much less pain.  And it seems back to normal today.

So this was a disappointing race for me given that it was my first DNF.  But at the end of the day, I think it was the right decision.  I'm not sure why that happened with my knee but I'm glad it doesn't really seem injured and that I didn't risk more damage by trying to hobble the last 4 miles to the finish line.  In spite of my disappointment, I still think this is a great race and would definitely recommend it!  It's on pre-sale for $50 until March 17th for anyone who wants to give it a try next year.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Five - Rock and Roll DC Half Marathon

It's finally Friday and that means it's almost race day!  It also means it's time for the Friday Five, 2.0. Many thanks to Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness for this linkup!  So here are 5 things on my mind about the RnR DC Half Marathon tomorrow.

  Friday Five Linkup 2.0

1.  Weather - I think number one on everyone's mind is the weather!  It looks like it's going to be in the 20s and feel like it's in the teens at the start.  It will be up to the low 30s by the time we end.

2. Repeat race - This will be my third time doing this race.  Clearly I enjoy it :)  The weather was cold and rainy in 2015, and perfect running weather in 2016.  The first time I did this race, it was my second half marathon and ended up being a PR in spite of the rain.

Cold and rainy race in 2015

3.  Scenic course - One of the reasons I've done this race so many times is that I love the course.  It even makes up for the giant hill around mile 6.  I love that the first part of the race is around the monument and museums downtown and then it moves into the neighborhoods of the city.  Last year there was great crowd support in the neighborhood areas.  Fingers crossed that there are people out braving the cold this year as well.

4. Expo - I'm not going to get to the expo until later this evening.  It closes at 7 and I'll be getting there around 5:30 or 6.  That's the latest I've ever gotten to an expo so I hope it's not too crowded with people heading in after work.  But hey, maybe there will be some things on sale!

Expo fun at last year's expo

5. Food and friends - I'm looking forward to hanging out with friends!  We got a hotel room downtown again so we can walk to the race start in the morning.  That means we'll be sharing dinner out after the expo.  And I'm looking forward to meeting some blogger friends in person too :)  And we've also planned out a yummy post-race brunch too.  I'm sure we'll all be looking forward to it after so much time out in the cold.  Plus, a friend from California is in town so I'll be able to get some good catch up time with her Saturday evening.

So that's it for my weekend.  I hope everyone else has a good weekend too and for those of you running RnR DC tomorrow, have fun and stay warm!

Monday, March 6, 2017

RnR DC Half Marathon training week 9

I hope everyone had a good weekend!  It was a cold one here.  Here's the summary on my workout last week.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - rest day because I got a flat tire on the way home from work.  It looks like there was a nail in the tire and the air must have been slowly leaking out of the tire all day.  I made it to the spot where I usually pick up Mike and he tried to change the tire but we couldn't get the bolts off.  We had to cal AAA and they sent someone to change the tire for us.  We were definitely thankful for the help!

Wednesday - strength training - FitBit introduced a new app called FitStar so I tried a new strength training workout from it.  I really enjoyed it and it was good variety.

I couldn't get it all in the photo... also included reverse crunches and butt kicks

Thursday - 40 minutes at the gym


Friday - rest day.  We met up with a friend to watch Hidden Figures in the evening.  It was a great movie and I'm really glad I got the chance to see it in the theater.

Saturday - strength training - another FitStar workout.  I chose the same workout as last time but they gave me different exercises this time so yay for variety!

Also included shadow boxing at the end

Sunday - Since it's the week before our half, we just did a 5 mile run.  It was the first sub-freezing run we've had this year but it wasn't too bad.  The wind was definitely less than Friday or Saturday so that was helpful.


So that was it for the week! I'm linking up with HoHoRuns and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap.

 Weekly Wrap 51 Taste the Rainbow

Friday, March 3, 2017

Friday Five - New York tips

It's Friday!  I hope everyone has had a great week and dome fun weekend plans ahead.  In the meantime, it's time for the Friday Five, 2.0. Many thanks to Running on Happy & Fairytales and Fitness for this linkup!  I haven't really had a chance to recap my trip to New York so I thought I'd take the opportunity to do that and share 5 things about visiting NYC.

 Friday Five Linkup 2.0

1.  Broadway for broke people - New York is expensive and we all want to save money while we're there!  Plus, seeing a Broadway show is an iconic New York thing to do.  That why I love Broadway for Broke People.  It has a lot of great tips on seeing shows without having to spend a ton of money.  I had no idea how many shows had lotteries or that you could just show up a little before some shows and ask if there are cheap "rush" tickets if the show wasn't sold out.

We had to pay full price for these tickets since the show's always sold out

2. Tourist traps - don't turn down tourist-y stuff just because it's tourist-y.  These things are popular for a reason.  We went to Rockefeller Center while we were in New York and the view was breathtaking.  It was cool to see the history of the building as well.  And the museums in New York are world class and definitely worth a visit.

View of Central Park from Rockefeller Center

3.  Information from locals - But definitely check in with anyone you know from New York to get good tips.  Or even ask someone at the hotel if you don't know anyone from the area.  It's great to get tips on what things are worth it and what aren't.  Especially when it comes to restaurants.  There are a lot of overpriced places with mediocre food.  I checked with an ex-boss before we went up and he recommended Becco, which was amazing.  It was also only $20 for unlimited pasta a couple blocks from Times Square.

Oh yeah, the $20 unlimited pasta included a salad course too

4. Central Park - I can't talk about New York without talking about running in Central Park, after all, this is mainly a running blog!  It was a beautiful run.  There were always plenty of people around but we went early so it didn't feel too crowded until toward the end of our run.  So go on the early side.  There are also plenty of routes and various options for mileage.  We did the main loop which is around 6 miles.  And even if you aren't a runner, it is definitely still worth going to Central Park to walk around.  It's a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city. If the weather was nice, it would be great to take a picnic.


5.  Groupon - I started with saving money and I'll end with saving money :)  I love Groupon and this tip works for visiting most cities in the US.  Definitely check out Groupon before you go.  There are options for saving money on tours, cruises on the river, tourist sites like the Statue of Liberty, and restaurants.

So those are my 5 tips for planning a trip to New York!  I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Beet, Apple, and Cheddar Pizza

Hello!  I'm trying to be back on track and post more during the week, so I thought this would be the perfect time to share a bit about the Valentines Day dinner Mike and I had last month.  I have to be honest, we don't usually celebrate Valentine's Day.  But I wanted Mike to make me brownies, so I figured I better find something to contribute to the meal too!

And Valentine's Day was on a weekday, so I knew it would have to be something that was quick and easy but still seemed special.  I searched for vegetarian Valentines Day recipe ideas on Pinterest but they were all a bit more labor intensive than I wanted.  There were a couple things that looked good, including a beet and cheddar tart as well as a caramelized onion and beet naan pizza.  But making a tart crust or caramelizing onions was going to be too much work for a weeknight, and I hadn't had time to do it in advance over the weekend either.  So I made my lazy girl modifications and kind of combined the two.

Modification number 1 - I took the tart toppings and made them into a pizza instead.

Modification number 2 - As already noted in the second recipe, I just bought pre-made naan from the grocery store for the pizza crust.

Modification number 3 - I bought the pre-cooked beets from the grocery store instead of roasting them myself.

Modification number 4 - I wanted to have a salad on the side so I just bought one of those salad kits from the grocery store, complete with all toppings and even the dressing.


So this is all I had to do on Valentine's Day after we got home from work.

Pre-heat the oven to 425.  While the oven was pre-heating, I brushed the naan with some olive oil.  I thinly sliced the pre-cooked beet and the apple.  One beet and one apple was enough for both pizzas.  I layered them on the naan, sprinkled a bit of salt on top, and then shredded some really good cheddar to sprinkle on top of the pizzas.  I put them in the over for 7-10 minutes, just long enough for the cheese to melt and get bubbly.  While the pizzas were cooking, I assembled the salad.  And voila, done!

Mike was kind of doubtful about beet on pizza but he ended up loving it too.  It tasted delicious,  the earthiness of the beets and the sweetness of the apple combined really well with the sharpness of the cheese.  I think this is definitely going to be a go-to option for when I'm looking for a quick and easy meal that still feels special.

I'd love to hear about any tips you have for speeding up weeknight dinners!