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!

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?

The Post-Marathon Slump

What is the post-marathon slump, do you ask? My fellow runners can most likely relate to me on this. The post-marathon slump is a period after any race (it doesn’t necessarily need to be a marathon) where you take a physical and mental break from all things running. It’s like, “Hey, I just ran 26.2 miles, so I probably don’t really need to run again for another month or so, right?”

Wrong.

Yet this thinking prevails. At least it does for me. Ever since my marathon I’ve been struggling with finding motivation to run. I don’t have anything to strive for, so what’s the point? Since my big race, I’ve only run once and it was painful. It’s crazy how quickly I get out of shape! The 4 miles I did on Saturday morning hurt worse than the 26.2 I did last month. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point. There is a huge difference between my fitness level now and when I completed my marathon 3 weeks ago. All of my hard work is going down the drain. It’s kind of sad.

You want to know the worst part? It’s that despite everything, I have zero motivation to get out there and change. I know that I should. I read so many other blogs written by such motivated runners and I know that I should lead by example. But I’d much rather go to BDubs with my friends or catch up on episodes of How I Met Your Mother (best show EVER, for the record).

(source)

For me, exercise is an absolute necessity. It really isn’t an option. Thanks to my luck (or lack thereof) in the genetic lottery, I failed to inherit any kind of metabolism. It’s not that I think weight loss/gain has everything to do with metabolism, but how can you explain the fact that my male roommate (who doesn’t exercise) can eat the same exact thing that I do and stays super skinny while I blow up like a balloon? It’s just not fair. If I stop exercising completely, I gain weight pretty quickly. I may or may not do a longer, more detailed post about my (and my family’s) battle with weight and genetics, but I have yet to summon up the courage. This blog is supposed to be me exposed, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to be that honest with you (and myself) yet. Soon. Maybe.

I digress. What I really need are motivators for getting back into running. How do I kick-start this exercise routine again? Now that it’s dark and dreary out by 5pm, how do I muster up the energy after a long day’s work to go for a run?

I’ve already decided to sign up for another race. I’m going to run the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. But I’m worried that a half still won’t be motivation enough for me to brave the cold, and I’m not ready to run another full just yet. It’s a Catch 22 at its finest.

Have you ever experienced the post-marathon (or any race) slump? Any tips for overcoming it?

Philly in Photos

I promise, I will do a full race report eventually. BUT I just got back from Philadelphia, I just ran 26.2 miles, I’m tired, my feet hurt AND it’s my birthday. So for now, I’m going to take the easy way out and just post some pictures (I know they’re much more enjoyable than my ramblings anyway). What you should know though is that I survived and finished my second marathon in 4:52! BOOYAH!

Packet pickup

This is what I ran.

Pre-race cookie prep

Can’t take a trip to Philly without visiting the Liberty Bell!

Race morning (I think this face was supposed to be our attitudes towards running a marathon. Seems accurate.)

Our view

I wish I were a Kenyan!

13 miles in and loving life

My speed demon brother at mile 25 (he finished in 3:19…I think he’s secretly a robot)

An hour an a half later I made it to mile 25!

Marathon bling!

Our supporters!

The back of our t-shirts dedicated to Pappy

The marathon finishers!

Okay, so like I said, I will do a full race/weekend report sometime once things slow down a little bit (can you believe the marathon, my birthday AND Thanksgiving are all falling in the same week? GAH!) for me. It was a heck of a journey.

Post Race Report: ZOMBIES!

I’m happy to report that I survived a zombie apocalypse this weekend. But only just barely!

On Saturday morning, Sarah and I ran the FIRST EVER Run for Your Lives zombie apocalypse themed 5k in the small town of Darlington, MD. A few months ago, I couldn’t stop talking about how much I wanted to try out an obstacle course race; because honestly, who doesn’t want to get a little muddy sometimes? Right around that time, Sarah found out about the Run for Your Lives race which not only had obstacles, but ZOMBIES too. Of course, this was right up my ally, so it only took me about 0.2 seconds to register.

This race was super unique and unlike any I’ve run in the past. Essentially, they gave us all a flag football belt with 3 flags. These flags signify your “life”. The zombies (yes, there were real people/runners dressed as zombies) were going for your life flags. If you lost all 3 to the zombies, then you finish the race as one of the undead. If you cross the finish line with one or more of your flags still in tact, then you finish alive and can brag to all of your friends that you are now fully prepared in the event of a full-fledged zombie attack…not that I would ever do that or anything!

As with any newbie race, this one had its growing pains. Picture this scenario: try to cram about 10,000 people, in one afternoon, into a town built for 3,000. I’m sure that you can imagine how this is going to play out. The website told us to show up 1-1.5 hours before our heat time. We did exactly that, what we didn’t anticipate was the 45 minutes of traffic trying to get into the parking lot, and the 45 minute wait for the shuttle to the start line. We totally missed our 9am start time, but luckily, everyone else did too. After about an hour of panic, we were able to run in the 10am wave.

The race itself was so much fun! Even though I knew I was running, it didn’t feel like it. I was way too distracted making friends and strategizing with my fellow runners about ways to avoid/defeat the zombies. Turns out that running from something really brings out the survival instincts in me. I banded together with groups of strangers and charged at swarms of zombies so there was less of a chance that they could get me.

There were 12 obstacles along the course: including a swim in a lake (brrrrr!), climbing haystacks, and scaling up nets. Although, I’d have to say I think the biggest obstacle we encountered was the MUD! It was thick. I’d imagine that trying to run in that mud would be comparable to running in a big vat of pudding. It was just impossible to get any grip or stability. Plus, it took about 45 minutes in the shower to finally wash it all off!

It was so worth it. There are already talks about doing this race again next year. Hopefully with a bigger group of people, and hopefully with less traffic. Great atmosphere, fun course, z0mbies and free beer. Does life get any better?