-ism’s

We all have “-ism’s”, as I like to call them. Those things about you that make you, you! I consider myself to be a quirky person. I’m not talking about the Zoey Deschanel kind of quirky, but more in the literal sense of the word: my personality has a lot of quirks in the form of weird habits, thoughts, and views on things. I like to call them Caitisms.

I try to let my personality shine through in most of my posts, but sometimes when talking about food, running, and whatnot, it can be difficult to show that. So, I figured what better way for you guys to get to know a bit more about me than to just list out random Caitisms.

25 Things You [Probably] Don’t Know About Me

1) I’ve woken up every single day this week with “Rack City” in my head. It’s a weird song to have stuck in your head first thing in the morning, but at the same time it kind of gets me amped up.

2) I generally hate talking on the phone. I find it to be SUPER awkward, just because you can’t see the person and their facial cues. I enjoy text messages though, which seems sort of backwards even to me.

3) I have a really, really good memory of faces, places, and events. If I meet you once, I will likely remember your name. I can also remember specifics of mostly any conversation I’ve had.

4) Crafting makes me happy. Sometimes I go a little overboard when someone approaches me about a possible craft project. For instance, I made this cool t-shirt for this weekend, so excited!

5) I’m a romantic, but I’m also a realist.

6) It makes me uncomfortable when someone I don’t know sits next to me in a movie theater, regardless of whether or not it’s crowded.

7) I hated high school with ever fiber of my being. It was the worst 4 years of my life and I’m so happy to be past that stage. Yet somehow, I managed to walk away with friends who I still see today!

8) I just discovered that I like oatmeal! As long as it has a big scoop of peanut butter in it.

9) I have lived in 4 different states: Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, and Maryland.

10) I genuinely like being a “real adult”, having a regular schedule, and regular working hours. I like my job and the company I work with, which I think is a big factor.

11) At the same time, I miss college. I ❤ JMU!

12) I am not typically attracted to men with super dark features (tall, dark, and handsome?). I think they look too similar to me!

13) Sometimes, I forget that I bought a particular clothing item and then find it in my closet months (or years!) later. It’s like shopping at home! That happened with the pants I’m wearing today:

14) I drink a TON of water. Probably 8-10 big cups (the picture below) a day. Still, I’m always dehydrated…

15) 3 years ago I thought running a half marathon was my greatest accomplishment in life. Now, I’ve run 2 full marathons and I’m relatively certain that even those aren’t my biggest accomplishments.

16) <— This is my lucky number!

17) I really like the band Fun. but I won’t tell anyone because I’m worried that’ll make me look like a hipster.

(Source)

18) My favorite forms of humor are sarcasm and puns.

19) My co-workers call me Caitness and I like it because it sounds like Katniss (from the Hunger Games) and I secretly wish I was her!

(Source)

20) I talk about my family too much. I’ve always wondered if that’s annoying? I can’t help it, they’re the coolest people I know.

21) My 21st birthday was on Thanksgiving. I spent it in Vegas!

22) I don’t feel heat in my mouth.  Seriously, I don’t feel it. I will drink an entire scalding hot coffee before you can take your first sip.

23) If I could, I’d eat FroYo everyday. I exclusively go for the chocolate flavors.

24) I’ve seen John Mayer 5 times in concert and I’m dying to go to another show. He’s so talented and my favorite live musician!

25) I have a double jointed thumb. See:

What are some of your -isms?

Another Productive Weekend

I know I’ve been sort of slacking on my blog posts lately. I had two in mind for last week, but neither really came to fruition. Oops! I’ve been focusing on my dieting and exercising though, and am getting ready for the Monument Ave 10k which I am running next weekend!

Regardless of my excuses, this past weekend was busy and FUN! I got more accomplished than I thought I would.

I hung out with my family, which is always a crazy time. My brother was in town from school, so we all headed up to my parent’s house.

That’s what you get for stealing my phone and taking unattractive pictures, brother.

Of course, since the family all got together, that meant that we ate…delicious food. And a lot of it! This weekend I had my very first Brazilian Steakhouse experience and it was OMGood. I think I ate about 5 lbs of just pure meat. My favorites were the bacon wrapped filet mignon, the lamb t-bone, the pork ribs, and the parmigiana crusted pork. Holy moly. I will write a full post about it soon!

So like I said, we don’t just go to Fogo de Chao any old day of the year. We were celebrating multiple occasions: my dad’s (belated) birthday, my parent’s wedding anniversary, and my sister being pregnant. So much in life to celebrate!!

With all that food being consumed, I decided I need to run more. To up my motivation factor, I went out and bought new running shoes.

Really though, my old shoes were over 2 years old, have trained and run 2 marathons with me, and were literally falling apart at the seams. I can’t wait to try these guys out today for the first time. I’m hoping to break them in well enough to run in them next weekend! I usually don’t go for Nike, but I couldn’t find any Adidas that were under $125 at the mall, so I sucked it up. I hope they don’t give me blisters…but it’ll be worth it since they’re bright orange!

Staying in the mindset of getting in shape, I also went out and bought a new bathing suit this weekend from Target. I’m officially ready for summer!

After shopping, I came home and helped my dad bottle his homebrew beer, while simultaneously getting a physics lesson on the specific gravity and density of beer. Must be an engineer thing.

Oh, and then I went and chopped off 10 inches of my hair. WHAAAAAT! I love it. It’s so much lighter and easier to manage.

Tonight I’m going to see THE HUNGER GAMES!! Ahhhh! And I am super pumped about it. I’ve read all the books and have heard great things about the movie. I have high expectations in general, so I hope it doesn’t let me down. Either way, I will still love the boy with the bread.

Hello there, Peeta!
(source) 

Has anyone seen The Hunger Games yet? How is it? No spoilers!

Race Recap: Shamrock Half

Guess who got a PR on Sunday? If you guessed ME, then you got it!!

This past weekend, I ran my favorite race in the entire world: The Shamrock Half Marathon.

The weekend started out like it normally does, with me driving.

This race took place in Virginia Beach, which is about 4 hours from where I live in DC. Thankfully, my brother lives in the area, so I was able to hangout and stay with him. He also ran the race with me!

Once I made it to VB, we headed over to the race expo to pick up our bib numbers and t-shirt swag.

My brother commented on how many of the vendors/apparel were geared towards woman. It wasn’t until he pointed it out that I took notice, but most of the merchandise for sale was definitely for women. I wonder why that is: do women dominate the sport or are we just more likely to buy things?

Speaking of buying things, I bought this obnoxiously bright shirt at the expo to run in:

I really didn’t have any rationale in buying it other than I had a “huge urge to buy something extremely bright”. I sort of love it!

The expo took place at the Virginia Beach Convention Center which is just a few blocks away from the beach. Afterwards, we naturally headed that way. Unfortunately, it was chilly and looked like a storm was about to roll in. That didn’t stop me from heading down and sticking my toes in the ocean!

Yucky cold.

We headed back to my brother’s apartment for a Gatorade Party (that’s what we called it anyway) which included 2 liter bottles of Gatorade (we only drank half) and a pasta dinner.

He loves Gatorade!

Really, the only thing I don’t like about the Shamrock Half is how early the race is. This race has a 7am start time which just kills me every year because I am SO not a morning person. This is the 3rd year in a row I’ve done this race and every year I have been late for the start. Two years ago we made it just in time to hop in with the last corral and I had to weave in and out of walkers, which was annoying. Last year we made it into the corral during the national anthem, which left us no time to warm up. So this year, we were dead-set on making it on time. Luckily, my brother’s girlfriend, Jackie was nice enough to wake up at 5:15(!!) and drive us to the start line. This was the first year I made it with time to spare. Constantly improving!

Typically, I have some intense jitters on race morning. I’m not sure why, but this year for this race, I didn’t have any at all. I just jumped into my corral and when the gun sounded and we all took off, I just ran. It was the first time I think I’ve zoned out like that during a race.

I felt really, really strong during miles 1-6. I got to start out in the first corral and had to constantly remind myself not to worry about people passing me. When I saw the 1:45 pacing group pass, I decided to try to keep up with them for a bit even though I knew there was no way I could keep that pace the whole race (my half marathon PR was 1:57). I surprised myself when I was able to keep them in sight for just about 3 miles. I must have been really cruising!

When I passed the Mile 5 marker, I noticed the time read: 41:00 and I thought to myself, “If I can keep up this pace, I can PR easily!” Now I didn’t really share this with my blog readers, but I was secretly (and seriously) gunning for a half marathon PR in this race. I haven’t PR-ed…ever, since my first race was my fastest.

I really hit a strong stride through miles 6-9. My legs felt amazing and I was passing people who had passed me a few miles back in the shuffle. It felt awesome!

But then mile 10 happened. I could feel a huge blister form on my right big toe. I also realized that I had forgotten to apply anti-chafing gel in the morning, and I could feel it on my legs and on one specific spot on my left hip. Rookie mistake! I kept pushing through, right until mile 11. That’s when my arms felt tingly and then started to feel numb. I decided that I had run fast enough in the beginning that I could slow my pace down a bit. Miles 10-12 were extremely difficult and there were times where I thought about slowing down and just walking the rest.

That’s when I saw the clock at Mile 12. It read: 1:42:00. If I just ran that last 1.1 miles in less than 15 minutes, I had a PR! Easier said than done, of course. My legs hurt, my blister had popped right through my sock, and my arms felt like they were going to go numb and fall off my body.

When I rounded the corner onto the boardwalk and saw the ocean, I knew the end was near. I just kept pushing through and crossed the finish line with the clock reading 1:55:18! I had my PR!!

HORRAY!!

After the race, I found my brother (who also PRed in 1:25:44 — SAY WHAT!!!) and Jackie and we all headed into the beer tent for the after party.

Honestly, the after party is probably the reason that this race is my favorite! First of all, when you finish, they give you a finisher’s hat, a sweatshirt, and lots of food. There is a huge after party in a tent with awesome live entertainment. And since the race is sponsored by Yuengling, they bring in hundreds of kegs and all participants can get up to 4 beers…which, trust me, is all you need after running 13 miles!

I even had some energy left over to do the Cupid Shuffle!

It’s so nice being able to go out and chill on the beach with your beer in hand and live music playing.

Post-race meal courtesy of Red Robin (yuuuum!)

Yes, we ate everything on that table.

What a fun weekend! I can’t wait to do this race again next year, and maybe even PR again!

Alternatives to Running

If you’re anything like me, when you hear the word “exercise” the first thing you do is think about running. And the second thing you do is groan. Running is definitely my most common form of exercise, but let’s be real here, it isn’t always fun.

Now that the weather is heating up, the sun is shining, and spring has sprung I’m all about finding alternative ways to exercise. There are so many outdoor activities that will get your heart rate up and provide a solid cardio workout without your body even realizing that it’s working!

I thought I’d share some of my favorite non-running exercise ideas in case anyone needs some extra motivation to get moving:

Hiking

I went hiking for the first time in a loooooong time the other weekend and my legs were killing me for DAYS! I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, so I was surprised at how tired my legs felt after the 6 hour hike and at how sore they were for the next three days. I could barely even walk! That’s when I realized how great of a workout hiking is: I climbed, crawled, and sometimes even jumped off rocks; my body didn’t even realize it was working that hard…I was just trying not to fall!

Sports

(Source)

Duh, organized sports are a good workout. That’s a no-brainer right? But they can be somewhat of a time commitment that many adults are not willing to make. You don’t have to join a team to get a good workout though. You can easily work up a sweat by just kicking around with some of your buddies. If you are all particularly as bad as I am, you will get plenty of running in as you’re chasing missed shots that soared 100 feet past the goal!

Swimming

(Source)

I am so, so excited for the pool at my apartment building to open. Okay, okay, mostly I just like to lounge around outside and tan, but occasionally, I’ll do a few laps in the pool. Did you know that swimming is actually a great aerobic activity? And for the most part, you don’t even feel that fatigued because the pool is wiping all that sweat right off your forehead. Awesome!

Dancing

(Source)

Have you ever come back from a night out on the town with your feet aching and your legs burning from dancing so much? I definitely have. Now, I’m not the most coordinated dancer in the world, but I’ve been told that after 2-3 drinks I turn into Chris Brown…or maybe that’s just in my head. Either way, I love to dance and it’s actually a great cardio workout too. Double win!

Golf

(Source)

When I polled my male friends about what they thought a good non-running exercise was, golf was a popular answer. I can’t really speak to this since I’ve never been golfing in my life…unless we’re counting frisbee golf, which I’m told we aren’t. I have been told that you can walk 10+ miles (maybe an exaggeration), while carry a 30lb bag, and stopping every five minutes to swing a club. I’d imagine that’s hard work. I’m sure most of those calories burnt are offset by the exponential amount of beers that are also consumed. But hey, who’s really counting?

What are your favorite non-running exercises?

The Cajun Experience

Remember when I started this blog in hopes that it would help me try new foods? Well, I’ve been slacking on that.

However, I’ve had a serious craving to try cajun food lately. I had never eaten it before, but a few weeks ago I went to visit friends in Roanoke, Virginia and they took us out to dinner at The Quarter. I now wish that I had blogged about that experience because the food was incredible! I tried fried alligator (it tastes like chicken, I swear it actually does), had my first BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich (a little late to the game, as always), and even tried the creole shrimp dip which was so, so good.

That’s when my friend, Meredith, mentioned a Groupon for The Cajun Experience in downtown DC. I jumped at the chance to tag along.

The restaurant was pretty small from the outside. I actually walked right past it the first time since it blends in with the surrounding businesses and apartment buildings in the Dupont area. It was on the bottom floor of a duplex which totally threw me off. Once I finally made it (I was running a little bit late, oops!), Meredith had already ordered the Hush Puppies to share.

They were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside (just as hush puppies should be) and had a slight taste of cajun seasoning. What I was not expecting were the surprise jalapeños inside which provided a special little kick but weren’t overpowering. I would have eaten like ten of these if I could have.

Meredith and I were total dorks and ended up ordering the exact same thing. We both got the Shrimp and Grits. While we waited for our food to come out, we enjoyed good conversation and caught up. I noticed the restaurant was much, much smaller than I expected. The place only had a few other tables besides ours, most of which were full. I doubt it could have held over 100 people maximum. No wonder they suggest that you call ahead for reservations!

Here’s a picture from their website, since mine all sucked. (Source)

My meal was pretty fantastic too. Exactly what I was craving! The grits were bacon, cheddar and jalapeño and were pretty much the reason that I ordered this meal in the first place. I’m a sucker for anything with bacon. I’d never had grits before and was a little bit surprised by the texture. I’m not sure if this is something that I will incorporate into my everyday eats, but they I enjoyed them in this dish. Of course, the star of the show was the shrimp creole. I ate this up SO fast.

So what did I learn from this experience?

Well, two things: 1) that I love cajun food. Like…a lot. Did you know that New Orleans is the #1 food town in America. There’s so many authentic cajun dishes that I want to try, and so many places to try them! New Orleans trip anyone?

And 2) I really need to work on my dim-lighting food photography.

Any tips on how to take pictures in dimly-lit areas such as restaurants?

Aunt Cait and the Body Challenge

Indeed, you read the title of this post correctly. Remember how in my last post I said I had exciting family news? Well, I have been silently wanting to implode and tell everyone ever since I found out, but it was not my news to share so I had to wait until the right time. That time is now.

I’M GOING TO BE AN AUNT!!

My sister, Erin, and her husband, Robert, are expecting their first child! Her due date is late August/early September sometime. My family is super, super excited! It’ll be the first child for the next generation in our immediate family. It will be my mom’s first grand-baby and she is just bursting at the seams with joy. This also means that the poor kid will have to endure me as an Aunt. I’ve already warned my sister that I plan to be a “cool Aunt” and aptly corrupt their future son or daughter. Just kidding……kind of.

Congratulations to Erin and Robert!!

Whoo, now that I’ve finally shared that news, onto my next bit of news. Today, I joined my company’s Weight-Loss Body Challenge. It’s been difficult to maintain motivation to diet and exercise. And my motivation has certainly been waining lately. That’s when I found out that Discovery was doing a weight-loss challenge with a cash prize at the end. Sign me up, por favor!!

The cash prize pot for the first place winner is up to: $640! Second place is even getting over $100. I don’t really have any disillusion that I’m going to win this competition, but it would be pretty cool if I could get close and shed a few more pounds in the process. It aligns with my current weight loss goals, and there’s nothing like a little cash-money to help renew my motivation. It’s all about the Benjamins, baby!

I’ve already decided that if I win, I’m booking a vacation. To somewhere AWESOME!

I’m also thinking about signing up for the Marine Corps Marathon. It’s in October, it’s in my backyard, and I’m sort of itching for another long race to run. Thoughts?

March is for…RACES!

Legs, meet sun. Sun, meet legs. It has been far too long since you two have been acquainted, as is judged by my pasty-whiteness (beach trip, anyone?).

Welcome back spring, please never leave again. It had been far too long since I woke up to the sound of birds chirping out my open window, but this morning delivered just that. By this afternoon it was a perfect 65 degrees and sunny as could be and I was able to bust out the shorts for the first time since winter. It almost made my afternoon run pleasurable. Yeah, almost.

March is starting out on quite the right foot if you ask me. I’m hoping that this trend continues because I have races galore planned for this month! Okay, well just two actually, but that’s still quite a few for a single month. Let’s do a quick overview.

The Shamrock Half – March 17

Okay people, get pumped, because this is my favorite race of ALL TIME! Yes, that is quite a bold statement, but I mean it. This race has it all: it’s flat, on the beach, there’s beer (lots of it) and live music at the end, and they give you a ton of swag (finishers t-shirt AND hat? Yes, please!). What more could you possibly ask for? This year will mark the 3rd year in a row that I’ve run the Shamrock Half. I will be running with my little bro, who I’m sure will most likely beat me by well over an hour.

Last year I ran this race in 2:02:and-some-change with very minimal training. So, I’m hoping to run right around the same time [or beat it] this year. Although between you and me, my half marathon PR (which I set in 2008 during the VA Beach Rock ‘N Roll Half) is 1:58:17, so I’m honestly gunning for that, but not optimistic. I’m excited for this race though, regardless of the time I get, since it’s my first back since the marathon!

Monument Ave 10k – March 31

I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I did a 10k. Actually, that’s a lie. It can tell you. It was exactly 3 years ago in 2009, the last time I ran this race! I got suckered into running it with a friend of mine who then bailed at the very last minute (you know who you are)!

Yay for new running friends!

Just two weeks after I run the Shamrock Half, I will be heading to Richmond to run this year’s Monument Ave 10k. I’ve been itching to do some “shorter” distance races lately. I like the concept of training for a marathon, but in practice, it’s extremely time consuming and intense. Just as long as I have a race to train for (it doesn’t have to be a marathon), I’m completely content with running 4-5 miles a day. That’s why, when my friend Meredith informed me that she was running, I jumped at the chance to tag along!

Last time I ran this race I was dealing with some personal stuff and became a running FIEND, so I freak-of-nature PR’ed with a time of 0:50:18. I’ve done plenty of 6 mile training runs since and most of them haven’t even come close to beating that time. So, for this year’s race, I’m setting a more realistic goal of trying to keep my time under 1 hour.

What I remember about this 10k is that it was a pleasant 6 miles through the heart of downtown Richmond. A lot of college students (read: hipsters) come out of their apartments, drink, and cheer on runners. It’s a fun atmosphere and relatively close to home, both are wins in my opinion! Plus, I can’t wait to reunite with these two lovely ladies:

Aside from running my favorite races, my March calendar is beginning to fill up. Here’s are some fun things I already have on the docket:

  • St. Patrick’s Day, obviously!
  • My first Brazilian Steakhouse Experience
  • Joining a Body Challenge for work (what’s up, weight-loss goals?)
  • My first haircut in over a year. Ahhh! Haircuts give me anxiety.
  • And some exciting family news that I can’t wait to share when the time is right!!

Are any of you running races this month? What are your other fun plans for March?