Happy 1 Year!

…to my blog!

Yesterday, September 23rd, was the one year anniversary of the very first blog post on Cait Strides. I had the idea to start this blog as a way to keep me accountable for marathon training and [as a picky eater] trying new foods. It has turned into so much more than that and has truly been a pleasure to write nearly everyday. It’s been a pretty crazy year with so many up’s and down’s. Of course, it’s impossible for me to share every aspect of my life on this blog, but I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and share a few highlights from the past year:

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The First Post – chronicling a bit about my life and how I became such a picky eater/my desire for change (Sept 2011)

Life of a runner – explaining my love-to-hate relationship with running (Sept 2011)

Hawaii Trip!! – when I went to visit a good friend who is living in Hawaii (Oct 2011)

Graduating from the kiddie menu – my first Chipotle experience (Oct 2011)

Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse – Run For Your Lives post race report (Oct 2011)

Experimenting in the kitchen – first time making pizza dough (Nov 2011)

On Life, and Death – serious contemplation on life and what it means to fully live (Nov 2011)

Ran Philadelphia – marathon #2 in the books! (Nov 2011)

Truly becoming a Maryland-er – making the most delicious crab pizza (Dec 2011)

Discovering my inner hipster – I’m even too cool for this post (Dec 2011)

New Years Eve in NYC – easily one of the craziest nights of my life and one I won’t forget any time soon (Dec 2011/Jan 2012)

Weight – announcing my struggles with weight and committing to lose weight (Jan 2012) – for the record, I’m 15 lbs lighter! WOO!

It’s not always rainbows and butterflies – sometimes life is hard (Feb 2012)

Things I love – a different kind of Valentine’s Day (Feb 2012)

Shamrockin’ the races – Post race Shamrock Half and PR report (March 2012)

Monument Ave 10k – another race recap (March 2012)

Kristina’s visit! – my BFF from Washington came to visit for a weekend in DC, we had a blast (April 2012)

It’s a BOY!! – my sister and bro-in-law find out they’re having a boy! (April 2012)

Livin’ the Sweet Life – hanging out at the Sweet Life Festival (April 2012)

Memorial Day Weekend – Instagramming my entire life away (May 2012)

USA vs. Brazil Soccer game/vacation #1 to Myrtle Beach – kicking off summer the right way (June 2012)

Lindsey’s Bachelorette Party – girls just want to have fun (June 2012)

Erin’s baby shower – spending the weekend with my family celebrating my sister (July 2012)

4th of July – a low key 4th of July celebration at my parent’s house (July 2012)

Myrtle Beach Vacation #2 – Post 1, Post 2, Post 3 my family is crazy and I love them (July 2012)

Debating chicken and teal pants – in the same post, impressive! (August 2012)

Mumford & Sons and Kyle is born! – best weekend of summer, easily (August 2012)

Rockin’ and Rollin’ in VA Beach – Rock ‘n Roll VA Beach sweeeeaty post-race recap (Sept 2012)

Remembering 9/11 – never forget (Sept 2012)

Thank you so much to everyone who has continued to read and support Cait Strides. I have appreciated each and every one of your messages, comments, and feedback! Writing this blog has truly been a pleasure; I hope you enjoy reading my ridiculous quips as much as I enjoy writing them.

I’m looking forward to blogging another crazy year of my life: more races, running, cooking, new foods, and general fun with my favorite people. Get ready.

Thank you!

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Rainy Days on the Beltway

Funny story but people in the DC area can’t drive in the rain. Really, every time the wet stuff comes falling from the sky people around here get driving amnesia and completely forget what they’re doing. It’s the strangest thing.

It was torrential downpouring yesterday after work (just in time for rush hour) so, of course, traffic was crawling. This is how I feel about that:

I know I complain about traffic a lot on this here blog, but that’s because I waste so much of my time in it. Did you know that DC has the second worst traffic in the USA? Second only to LA. No joke! I truly have to plan my life around when traffic will be the worst: forget about going anywhere Friday between 3:30pm and 6pm. Just forget it!

Here are some crazy facts about traffic:

  • The individual cost of congestion exceeded $900 per driver in 1997, resulting in more than $72 billion in lost wages and wasted fuel. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation)
  • Drivers in one-third of U.S. cities spend more than 40 hours a year (an entire work week) in traffic that is not moving. (Source: Center for Transportation Excellence)
  • Congestion results in 5.7 billion person-hours of delay annually in the United States. (Source: U.S. Dept. of Transportation)
  • If one in 10 Americans regularly used mass transit, U.S. reliance on foreign oil could decline by more than 40 percent, or nearly the amount of oil imported from Saudi Arabia each year. (Source: Center for Transportation Excellence)
  • A regular rush-hour driver wastes an average of 99 gallons of gasoline a year due to traffic. The average cost of the time lost in rush hour traffic is $1,160 per person. (Source: Center for Transportation Excellence)

Dang.

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At least I have my Kelly Clarkson CD in there to pass the time when I’m not yelling at other drivers. I’m a really awesome singer, for the record.

What ways do you pass the time in a traffic jam?

Why Runners are Misunderstood

We runners are a breed of our own. We enjoy crazy things like taking an ice bath after an 18-mile long run. It’s great to be surrounded by a community who understands those tendencies; however, 90% of my friends are non-runners. If I had a nickel for every time someone gave me a strange look while I was talking about running habits, I’d be at LEAST a thousand-aire by now!

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Here are some helpful tips for our non-marathon-running friends to better understand us:

When I talk about the various races I’ve done in the past, I’m not bragging.

Runners love to talk about races. LOVE IT! Put a couple of runners in the same room, and we could go on for hours and hours because it’s something we can connect with on all levels. So many of us have run the same ones, so it’s fun to talk about things like “can you believe how crowded the course was, I was weaving in and out the whole time!”, “I can’t believe they charged $60 for entry and didn’t even give a medal!”, and “Really, who decided it was a good idea to have the bag check 6 blocks away from the starting line?!” I’m telling you, I could talk about races for hours, but I’m not trying to brag. I don’t even pretend to be a seriously hardcore speedy racer, because I’m not.

The same holds true when I mention I’m training for a marathon.

No, really. I’m not bragging. I’m actually giving you an excuse for why I am always tired and limping. But, bragging, I am not.

I might tell you that I need to go to bed at 9pm on a Saturday night.

And it’s totally true, I do. Especially during the hot summer months, when I need to get up super early to run way too many miles before it reaches 105 degrees. Knowing that I’m not a morning person (and that I need at least 8 hours of sleep), an early bedtime is my only hope for actually getting out of bed. It’s not an excuse to get out of hanging out! Seriously, you try getting up at 6am to run 18 miles after staying up past midnight and drinking. Yeah, get back to me on that.

I plan my life around my training schedule.

I don’t plan my training schedule around my life. It sucks, but sometimes I can’t do certain things or go certain places because I know I have to fit in those miles. Don’t take it personally, I’d much rather be hanging out with you!

I can’t go out for tapas the night before a race, sorry!

Gonna need something more substantial, like pasta.

I’m going to talk your ear off about all things training and racing, NOT sorry!

Running is my hobby. It takes a lot of time, sacrifice, and dedication. So I’m going to talk about it, I want to talk about it, and I want you to want to hear about it. I love it all from the blisters turned callous to the runny-nose snot rockets. It’s part of my favorite sport, so don’t be surprised if I go on for 15 minutes about my mid-race emergency porta-potty break. Don’t worry, you can get me back by talking my ear off for a few hours about sewing or video games, if you’re into that kind of stuff.

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In which ways is your favorite hobby misunderstood?

Remembering 9/11

Eleven years ago today a tragedy occurred. The unimaginable happened when the Twin Towers collapsed that morning, changing the New York skyline forever. For our nation, this marked the end of our naïveté thinking we were invincible. For me, it marked the end of any childhood innocence I had inside of me.

Everyone remembers where they were the morning of September 11th, 2001. I still vividly recall details like they happened yesterday. My family was living on the west coast in a suburb outside of Seattle at the time, I was a freshman in high school. Every morning, my mom rode her exercise bike while watching the morning news. My typical routine was to wake up, come downstairs, eat breakfast, then go and chat with my mom for a few minutes. This particular morning, my mom called me into the room as soon as I came downstairs slightly after 6am.

All she did was point to the TV. All I could do was stare. I remembering seeing the images of a plane inside the world trade center with smoke billowing out the gaping hole it left. I was so confused.

As we sat watching, suddenly we saw the second plane crash. My mom and I audibly gasped, our only words repeating “oh my god!” I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing. I remember thinking, WHY is this happening? Who would want to do this to so many innocent people? I had so many questions.

It was hard to pull myself away from the TV that morning. I didn’t want to go to school, and I was terrified that another attack was going to happen. The bus was eerily quiet except for a few choice kids whom I assumed hadn’t heard the news yet. As word spread like wildfire around the school, it’s all anyone could talk about. Half of my classes had lessons for about 15 minutes until we could no longer focus and had to see what was going on in New York.

I remember coming home that night and watching coverage until the wee hours of the morning. I felt so many emotions: sad, confused, worried, angry, scared.

In the days that followed, our nation pulled together for the victims of 9/11. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so patriotic in my life. Every house in our neighborhood hung their American flag, people made signs in support as more and more stories began to be told nationwide. It didn’t matter if you were black, white, Asian, Republican, Democrat, WHATEVER- the point was, we were all American. It’s hard to believe that was all so long ago. I will never, ever forget. America will never forget.

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Where were you on September 11th, 2001?

5 Things Friday

1) I totally fainted at the doctor’s office yesterday. I went in for a routine check up when, suddenly, they decided to draw blood. I ran early in the morning and didn’t eat much before the appointment, mistakes #1 and #2. I’d never had my blood drawn before, so I was surprised when they did it this time. Needless to say, I was dismissed by the nurse and headed into the lobby when I started to feel super dizzy. It was almost like I was riiiiiidiculously drunk and couldn’t get my bearings. I walked over to the water fountain to fill up a cup and sat down next to some dude on an ottoman. The next thing I knew I woke up in a sweat, not able to feel my arms or legs, with four doctors huddled around me.

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I’m not sure how long I was out for, but I was totally confused when I woke up. Apparently, I turned ghostly white and passed out onto the lap of the dude next to me. Embarrasssssssing. It took me a minute to figure out what had happened, and a nurse was already on her way with some apple juice to get my blood sugar levels up. I immediately felt better after that, but they made me stick around for another 30 minutes and checked my vitals twice before letting me go. I had never fainted before, and let me tell you, I wouldn’t want to do it again…holy crap.

2) Wednesday night was the official start of FOOTBALL SEASON. Which, in my opinion, is the second best season of the year only slightly nudged out by that whole holiday season thing. It pretty much means that every Saturday and Sunday I will be attending or glued to my couch watching games all day. This year, I’ve joined not one, but TWO fantasy football leagues. I’m hoping to avenge my abysmal 2-11 record from last year.

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I swear, I’m not a boy. I just like sports.

3) I don’t drink coffee all that often, and when I do I usually get a caffeine rush that gets my heart beating faster than the time I went skydiving. But I saw Wednesday’s Livingsocial deal for Starbucks and I couldn’t pass it up. Apparently pumpkin spice lattes are back for fall along with…salted caramel mochas? To my dear co-workers, I’m sorry in advance for I cannot be controlled with caffeine in my system.

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4) I’ve realized recently that I’m so apathetic when it comes to politics. Like, I will inform myself enough to make an intelligent, educated voting decision come November, but all this extra bullshit? Not interested. My politically charged friends get so riled up about [it seems like] everything and I sort of wish that I could block anything on facebook that has to deal with politics from now until election day. Maybe it’s just me, but I seriously don’t care about your opinion on everything from birth control to which flavor of gum is best.

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Why can’t we all just get along?

5) It was a short week and I loved it. On Tuesday I tweeted something about it being Monday. I promptly deleted it 3 hours later when I realized it was not actually Monday. Now, it feels like Thursday, but is actually Friday. Does it get better than that? I guess it does since I’m going back to my alma matar tomorrow for a football game. Bring on the weekend!!

Have you ever fainted? Do you like football? Do you care about politics?

Race Recap: Rock ‘n Roll VA Beach

Looks like race season, feels like race season, it must be race season!

Hope you all enjoyed a nice, long weekend if you were fortunate enough to have the day off work! Labor Day always sort of depresses me because it marks the near-end of summer. No more pool? No more tan? Boo. BUT, it marks the beginning of football, pumpkin beer, and cooler temps which I certainly agree with. It also means the beginning of race season, which typically runs from September to January. I kicked off this season with the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n Roll half marathon on Sunday.

I headed down to the beach on Saturday afternoon. I was trying to avoid the insane crowds that this expo is known for, so I showed up about an hour before it closed. GENIUS. Worked like a charm. I didn’t have to wait in any lines and even capitalized on some sweet freebees that vendors were basically throwing at me. All was fine and dandy until my race buddy Brook (who was supposed to meet me at the expo) called  to tell me that they closed down one of the tunnels into VA beach and she was stuck. I ended up walking around the expo by myself (a new experience), and exploring nearly every booth to pass the time.

Why is everyone so obsessed with zombies these days? I blame the Walking Dead.

After a stressful hour in traffic, Brook made it to the expo with four whole minutes to spare. Phew! Most of the  vendors were already packing up their booths, when they say the expo closes at 5pm, they mean it.

The rest of the weekend went much, much smoother. We spent the night at my brother’s place who (conveniently) lives in Norfolk. He took us in for the night and fed us a full feast of chicken and pasta. Meanwhile, Brook and I chugged about 8 gallons of Gatorade and enjoyed some fitness wisdom via P.F. Changs fortune cookie:

Thanks P.F. Changs, so reassuring…

The next morning, we woke up bright and EARLY and headed back to the beach for the race. In previous years, I’ve had issues getting to the starting line on time. This year, by some miracle, we were at the starting line with 30 minutes to spare. It was perfect, we were able to grab some water and make a last minute porta-potty break. So clutch!

I started in Corral 3 and Brook was in 15, so we said goodbye at the start line. Corral 3 was crowded, but I knew I was in good company since these people were pacing at 1:45. I knew that was out of my wheelhouse, but I’d much prefer to be with runners going faster than to be weaving in and out of people. Check out how crowded this race gets:

Brook snapped this photo at the starting line.

I think I’ve figured out the reason I only run this race every other year. It’s HUMID AS HELL. Apparently I run the race, sweat all the water out of my body, vow to never EVER run it ever again, then promptly forget that pledge every two years. What a vicious cycle.

This year was the worst in terms of heat. It was 80 degrees by 7am and already about 1000% humidity. I started sweating before the race even started and didn’t stop until 2 hours post-race. I sweat through 2 shirts and 2 pairs of pants. Impressive, no? Who knew the human body could even hold so much water!

Not a dry spot on my body

Typically, I can make it to at least mile 4 without stopping for water. Not this time. I grabbed something at every. single. station. Sometimes I would chug a Gatorade, chase it with water, and then grab another one to pour over my head. It was that hot. People were so drenched with sweat that I could feel them dripping on me as I tried to pass by. One lady’s clothes were a little too baggy and so weighed down with sweat that she kept losing her pants every time she’d pick up speed. Hilarious, but unfortunate.

That being said, I think I would have absolutely crushed this race had it not been so freaking hot.

Marathon training is really starting to show improvements in my running. I was well under two hours and my body felt great. Besides sweating a ton, I didn’t feel fatigued at all and probably could have run all day! That’s weird, I know. I wasn’t even sore after, wtf (in a good way). I was pretty stoked with my time and how well my body performed considering the conditions. It makes me very hopeful for a good result come October!

Post-race, I had time to spare while I waited for Brook to finish up, so I soaked my feet in the ocean and hung around the finisher’s party.

Bling blingin’

Once Brook finished up, we hung out for a bit and indulged in one of these:

The plan was to come back for the post-race concert with Train. But the show didn’t start until 9pm and a shower, nap, and food sounded far more appealing so we bailed.

Overall, I’d give the race this rating:

Meh.

Too hot, but nothing you can do about that. The local bands are fun, and the atmosphere is super laid back and cool. It’s well organized, but too big. My one qualm about the race course? The finish. You enter the boardwalk able to SEE the finish line, but you don’t actually reach it for another mile or so. It’s like you’re running, running, running but it’s not getting any closer. Agonizing!

Will I run it again? Probably in two years.

Did you run any races this weekend? How did it go?