Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Boston, the Non-Marathon Edition

Because I can’t get enough of security lines and entertaining my fear of heights, I went to Boston this past weekends. My friend Jen got all married, and Christina went and bought a house with her manfriend, so I decided to see how grownups live.

My flight wasn’t until almost 5 PM, and I’d heard you can show up at the airport an hour before your departure time and be fine, so I left work a little after 1 and went to the gym to get my 3 mile run in. I don’t remember too much about it, so it must not have been too terrible for the treadmill.  I didn’t have time to shower, but I did have a variety of wipes with me, so hopefully Jen wouldn’t think I was too much of a dirtball.

I flew out of Atlantic City, also known as the Dirtiest Airport Ever. The people, the parking lot, the bathrooms, the security area – all of it. Appropriately, the only airline to fly out of there is Spirit. I knew Spirit was notorious for nickel and diming, but what I didn’t realize is that their planes are old as dirt and they don’t believe in maintaining them. 

 So glad I used a million wipes and wore a dress on the plane. EEK.

Convinced I was going to die, I said my goodbyes to Jen and then somehow landed on time in Boston – right in the middle of rush hour on a Friday. Jen must really love me. We went to Bella Luna for dinner, where I ate a big dinner since I was going to run 10 miles the next day. After all, I had learned my lesson from Austin! I even kept my drink choice limited to one Sam Adams Summer Ale. I was so proud.

We watched the Olympic opening ceremonies, and figured out a game plan for Saturday. Since the weather was going to be refreshingly cool, I decided to ditch the early morning run in favor of an afternoon run. How often do you get to do that in the summer?! We were going to sleep in, go to the Sam Adams Brewery tour which was a two minute walk from their condo, and then I’d run through Arnold Arboretum. Perfect!

So… they give out free beer on the Sam Adams tour. 21 oz. of it. 21 oz of beer on an empty stomach before noon. GAH.

Too buzzed to run, I instead ate a turkey sandwich and willed the sandwich to absorb the booze. Of course it did, pretty much in time for us to head Faneuil Hall about three hours later. Foiled again. We arrived downtown just in time for it to pour. We were soaked and cranky, and went to dinner in the North End early. After dinner my tolerance of the rain lasted just long enough to go get cannolis at Mike’s Pastry. It was good, but didn’t compare to Varallo Bros. 

We came home, watched some of the Olympics, and then went to bed around 11. I had to be up early in the morning. I needed to get done my cross training in time to meet Christina. Despite the rain, we had to go to the beach for a family party. So Jen drove me to Stoneham’s LA Fitness, where I did my 25 minutes of biking, and 25 minutes of elliptical work. Training complete for the day! The day was really low key. We hung out with her family, went to go check out the new house, and then had the dinner of champions before tackling my take two of 10 miles: Red Robin.

As terribly as I ate there, it got me through the 10 miles I needed to do on the treadmill. You know what I learned while spending two hours running nowhere? CNN would rather show the same tweets over and over about NBC’s coverage of the Olympics, than actually show coverage on the Olympics. GAHHH. I didn't even have sound to the TV. I was listening to house music while reading repeat tweets. However, I did finish the run in 1:59:30, which is almost 5 minutes fast than I finished the Broad Street Run. Christina met me at the gym armed with ice water, and then made me a fabulous omelet while I showered. From there we discussed her life as a grown up, got our toes  done, and then she took me to the airport.

Trust me, they looked a lot worse before.

I’d like to think my training went better than it did in Austin. My terrible choices didn’t completely derail me, and while I’m sore today, I don’t think I’ll have any problems getting my 3 mile run done tonight. Of course, now that I said that out loud, it will probably be miserable. At least my feet will look good doing it!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Training in Texas

I knew that sticking to a training schedule while on vacation would be hard. I think I underestimated exactly how hard it would be.

Last Friday afternoon I started the trek to Austin to visit my friend Melinda and her boyfriend. They moved out to Austin about a year and a half ago for her job, and have fallen in love with the city. I’ve heard great things about the city before they moved, and thanks to a generous birthday gift from Dan, I was able to afford a long weekend. Friday was a rest day so I was so far on track with my training plan. ;-)

Saturday was supposed to be my long run day (9 miles) but I had hurt my back earlier in the week, and running made it worse. I decided to flip my cross training day with my running day, to give my back a chance to heal. Instead we went kayaking on Town Lake:

My back felt great after the kayaking, and it felt good to be active. We went out for some great Mexican food that night, and then saw one of Melinda’s friend’s play at the Continental Gallery. Austin is known for its music scene, so it was nice to get out there and see someone Melinda actually knew. We stayed for her whole set, about an hour and a half, and then left since Chris was going to come with me to tackle the 9 miles.
 Mmmmm guac!

We left for the Town Lake Trail a little later than I would have liked, and a little earlier than he would have liked. Compromise! The first mile we went out fast (for me) – finished in 10:52. I told Chris there was  no way I’d be able to sustain that, so he could just go ahead. Around mile 2, the Mexican food from the night before struck. Luckily, there are bathrooms along the trail, and I prayed that it was a one and done incident. I was not so lucky. I had to stop again around mile 4, this time in a hotel. 20 minutes later I tried to start back up on the run, and my stomach wasn’t having it. I didn’t want to hold Chris up, so I decided to walk the two miles back to the car and wait for him there. I resolved that this would count for my Tuesday 3 mile run, and would try again then.
Around the 3 mile mark on Town Lake Trail.

Luckily my disruption didn’t ruin my day. We toured UT’s campus, went to Driftwood Winery, and then to Saltlick for dinner. I’m surprised I didn’t die and go to heaven, that’s how fantastic it was.

Monday we had a lazy day. We went to the Whole Foods Headquarters for lunch, and then tried to go to Barton Springs but it was closed due to flooding. We hung out by the pool instead and grilled for dinner. Monday is also supposed to be a rest day. I’m really good at following that part of the plan, aren’t i?

Tuesday I dropped Chris at work and drove back to Town Lake Trail to conquer the 9 miles again. It was hot. There was  no shade. I had to pee. The first mile was a success (11:09) partially because I was frantically running to find a bathroom. The rest of the run was a disaster. I have chafing everywhere – the entire outline of my sports bra, some sports on my legs, under my arms, even a spot on my hand from the water bottle. I wasn’t wearing running socks (only packed one pair – dumb!) and I got blisters so badly that my mile 4 rest stop was at an Embassy Suites to buy Band-Aids from the hotel gift shop.
Congress Street Bridge around the 4.5 mile mark, after getting my Band-Aids.

I refilled my 20 oz water bottle four times over the 9 miles, and was so thirsty still after. It took well over 2 hours and I walked most of it. Even walking was tough, but I got the 9 done. You win Austin, you win.

Yesterday I was exhausted from lack of sleep and still sore from Austin’s victory. Tonight I’ll be doing the 5 miles I was supposed to do last night, and tomorrow morning I’ll do the 3 miles I am supposed to do today. Tomorrow evening I am going on another mini vacation to visit friends in Boston. Hopefully the cooler Boston weather will lead to more successful runs.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Domestic Goddess?

Anyone that knows me knows I am domestically challenged. I’m not very neat, I hate cleaning and I certainly don’t cook. The fairy godmother of cooking must have smacked me in the head yesterday though, because I spent my Sunday barefoot (not pregnant!) in the kitchen.

For lunch Dan and I decided to make pizza. We had a box of Wildtree’s So Quick And Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough Mix, some fresh pesto saved in the freezer, and some veggies that were on their last legs. Dan sliced up some zucchini and yellow squash, and added some green beans to the grill basket. I made the (not so easy) pizza crusts, thawed the pesto, and found a jar of Wildtree’s Sweet Onion Spread in the cabinet. We made two pizzas, one with vegan cheese and one with garlic and chive goat cheese (shown below). 

I decided to actually make one of the 5,000 recipes I’ve pinned on Pinterest. Eggs were on sale at Acme, as were English muffins, so the stars aligned and I decided to ditch the Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwich habit and make my own. My result wasn’t nearly as pretty, but I had one this morning and they weren’t any worse than what I’d been paying $3 a day for at DD! The end cost result for me was $1.16 a sandwich, and that was with plenty of shredded cheese to spare.

Since I already had the oven going, and I had a pound of ground turkey in the fridge, I decided to go ahead and make some mini meatloaves. I modified my friend’s recipe using some more Wildtree products*. You can see the recipe here.

I pulled these bad boys out of the oven and went to the gym. I had an hour of cross training scheduled, so to keep it interesting I did 20 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes on the rowing machine, and 20 minutes on the elliptical. I can certainly tell that I’m getting stronger from training. Normally 60 minutes would kick my butt. Instead, this weekend I had a PR for a 5 mile run on Saturday, and yesterday left the gym sweating but not exhausted. Progress!

In fact, I got home from the gym, showered, and then immediately started working on dinner: taco salad. I cooked two ears of corn in the microwave while I sliced up some red pepper and onion. Sautéed them with mushrooms in Wildtree jalapeno grapeseed oil. Set them in a bowl, and then sautéed some Boca crumbles and the corn with some Chipotle Lime Rub and a little more jalapeno grapeseed oil. Served on top of lettuce with Wholly Salsa, crushed tortilla chips, and a little shredded cheese and sour cream for me. it was delicious! It sure didn’t look pretty though, so no pictures of this one.

I have some chicken breasts in the fridge right now. What are your favorite recipes for them? Something that freezes well preferred.

*I swear I don’t sell Wildtree products but I really feel like Wildtree should be sending me some stuff for all this promotion!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


“All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you, something great will come of it.” – Benjamin Mee

The first time around it was more like a few hours at the bar. It was a hazy evening Saturday in August:
Me: I want to run around Disney World in a tutu surrounded by Disney princesses!
Maria: Me too!
Francesca: You're both insane.

That night I went home and registered for the Disney Princess Half Marathon. The next morning I wondered what I had done.

I had only completed my first 5K a few months before. It was the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K on Mother’s Day. I had tried to complete the Couch to 5K program a few times before the race, but never made it through the end of week five. I did that 5K in just under 40 minutes, and almost cried crossing the finish line. At this point, I could barely run a mile straight, but I was hooked. I was going to conquer the 5K.

By the time that August evening rolled around, I completed two more 5Ks. I certainly wasn’t a rock star but my times did improve. However, a half marathon seemed far, far away from the future. If it wasn’t for some inspiring running friends and liquid courage, it probably still wouldn’t have happened. Thank goodness Disney charges a hefty registration fee, because it was official: I was not backing out.

To ensure I trained properly (AKA didn’t go “it’s all the way in February!” every time I didn’t feel like running), I lined up a few run races along the way.

Rest in Peace 5K Run:

Run the Bridge 10K:


Hot Chocolate 15K (this race was such a disorganized mess that all I have is proof of our pre-race dinner of champions):
 Photo credit: Patty Guidetti

Finally, at the end of February, was the Disney Princess Half Marathon:

All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you, something great will come of it.

Registration for the Marine Corps Marathon opened a mere ten days after the Disney Princess Half Marathon. As I stared at my Disney Princess medal, I somehow convinced myself, and my boyfriend, that we needed to do this marathon. We need to do this for all the people that can’t.

Justin passed away two weeks later.

Justin’s courage remains inspirational, months after his passing. Not a run goes by where I don’t think of him, pray that he has found peace, and hope that he can grant peace to our family somehow. I think of the other children highlighted on Alex’s Lemonade Stand’s website, and pray that one day they all can run a marathon (if they want). I have been blessed with a healthy body, and because of Justin, I have learned to treasure it, instead of hating it for all its flaws.

It only took me a few minutes to register for the Marine Corps Marathon, but running in Justin's memory is more than something great. It's a privilege and an honor.

If you would like to help out children battling cancers like Justin’s, please go here to donate to my Alex’s Lemonade Stand page.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Running in the Heat

My biggest concern about training for this marathon was the heat. I love summer, until it hits about 90° F, in which case I’d rather ball up in the air conditioning and watch reruns of Storage Wars. However, marathon training doesn’t care that we’ve had two heat waves since I started June 25. You can’t postpone your run because it’s gross out. You just need to do it somehow.

I typically run at about an 11:30/mi pace. Not fast by any means, but I get by. Not in this heat though. In this heat I’ve been averaging a 12:49 pace. Frustrated, I turned to the internet for answers. According to Runner’s World magazine, every five-degree rise in temperature above 60° F can slow your pace up to 20 to 30 seconds per mile. Okay, that makes me feel a little bit better. Now what’s the best way to not suffer from heat exhaustion while out there? Here are some of the best tips I’ve found:

  • This is the most important thing I’ve found across the board: stay hydrated. You need to drink enough to balance out sweat loss. Sweat keeps you cool in the summer heat, and is vital. Drink that water! The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines suggest drinking anywhere from about 14 to 27 ounces per hour, with the higher end of the range applying to “faster, heavier individuals competing in warm environments and the lower rates for the slower, lighter persons competing in cooler environments.” Easiest way to tell if you’re hydrated enough? Go pee. If it’s darker than the color of straw, get back inside and keep drinking.
  • Put down the coffee – it’ll just dehydrate you more. Sad but true. While I don’t think I can quit coffee entirely, I’m going to try to keep consumption at a minimum.
  • Get that salt intake up. Sodium not only makes you thirsty (so you drink more), it helps your body retain fluid.
  • Get acclimated. Don’t avoid running in the heat necessarily, especially when coming up on heat wave season. However, keep the exposure limited to your shorter runs. Always do your long runs in the coolest weather possible. The internet tells me that after two weeks of training in the heat, I'll experience less discomfort and adapt. I’m wary, but it looks like I’ll find out one way or another.
  • Plan  your route to double past your house. Leave a water bottle or sports drink in the mailbox.
  • Start off slower than normal. If you’re feeling good after you’re halfway done, then you can work on speeding things up. Even if you don't push the pace, running in hot weather forces the body into overdrive.
  • Stay out of the city! Meteorologist Cecily Tynan of ABC's affiliate station WPVI-TV in Philadelphia says, “It's hotter in cities than in surrounding areas because asphalt and concrete retain heat. If you must run in a city, look for shade, and try to go in the early morning or late evening.”
  • Wear light colored, moisture wicking clothing. It’s not just a scam by Nike to make overpriced sportswear. Bonus points for gear that has SPF protection. I’d say wear sunscreen, but in this heat, I’m pretty sure it’d melt off in the first five minutes.
  • Do interval training. Alternate running and walking to avoid overheating. This has been crucial for me so far.

These tips don’t just relate for running – this goes for any type of activity outside, whether you’re playing tennis or sitting on the beach. Mother Nature can be a mean, mean woman, and it’s better to play it safe.  Stay cool out there!

Monday, July 2, 2012

One and Done

I can’t believe it. 15 miles, a few crazy storms, and one heat wave later – the first week of marathon training is done!

It was a rough week, but it felt good to get my head back in the game. I had a rough half marathon Memorial Day weekend that resulted in some minor injuries and a lot of crankiness, so I decided to “take off” from running until marathon training began. I knew this week would be difficult after my vacation, and it was. I’m a slow runner as it is, so a few weeks off made my times even slower. I usually knock out 3 miles in 35 minutes or less, but this week my  times were much closer to 40 than I would have liked.

I had 6 miles to do on Saturday morning, and with the heat wave my main goal was not passing out from heat exhaustion. After slowly trudging the first two miles, and wanting to die during the third, I knew something had to change. For the last three miles I sprinted a quarter mile, then walked a quarter mile. I promised myself that for every uphill I came across, if I was supposed to be running, I could walk if I absolutely had to (only once!). In exchange, I had to run down every hill I came across, even if I was supposed to be walking. I figured I was going so slow at that point, I might as well use gravity to my advantage, even if it felt like I was cheating! You can see my stats for that run at the bottom of the blog. It wasn’t pretty, but I got it done! The pacing requirement for MCM is a 14 min mile, so I consoled myself with the knowledge that I’m on pace for finishing a marathon in triple digit weather.

After weeks of research and discussion, my dad bought my the Garmin Forerunner 610 as a birthday present. I only took it out once so far, but I love it! Even in the heat, the watch challenged me to compete against myself and run harder. I also loved the freedom it gave me in deciding my course. Normally I plan out a run in advance, which was fine in the city, but much more difficult in the burbs. Saturday I ran through various developments, the park, etc. without another thought. I’ve tried a few of the GPS apps for my phone, but I don’t use an armband which meant checking my phone was a hassle. Sometimes I would accidentally pause the app without realizing it, leaving me to try to guess mileage and time.

I’m excited to really start taking the 610 out there and learning all of the cool features. Huge thanks to my dad the great birthday present, and supporting me in this journey!

If you would like to donate to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, please click the Team Lemon banner above. 100% of your donation goes toward finding a cure for childhood cancers. Any amount helps!