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:

(source)

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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Monument Ave 10k

This past weekend, I hit the road once again. This time to Richmond for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k.

I had plans to run this race with two of good friends: Meredith and Brook. Meredith’s parents live in Richmond (she lives up here in DC), and Brook lives in North Carolina. So we were all coming from different places and meeting in Richmond. Despite leaving work early, I hit an obscene amount of traffic. After about 3 hours of sitting on I-95 South, I looked like this:

Brook texted me and said that she was just leaving and was hitting no traffic.

Brook is a jerk.

Anyway, once I finally got to Richmond 4.5 hours later (seriously, longest it’s ever taken me to get there!) I went out in search of Italian (gotta carb load!) food with a few Richmond natives: Jim and Joe. The first place we tried was super crowded (I think due to a ton of runners with the same idea), so we headed across the street to the Village Cafe. The pasta was decent, huge portions, and exactly what I was craving. But my favorite part about this meal was that water was served in half pitchers:

As someone who chugs water like a camel, I appreciated this. Plus, I was trying to hydrate for my race!

A few weeks ago, Meredith approached me about possibly running this race in support of her friend Bess who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 26. Bess is a fellow JMU grad and an aspiring runner, so naturally, I was all for it. Last week, Meredith and I made t-shirts for the 3 of us runner girls, which turned out awesome (I think so anyway) and worked out really well for race day.

Front

Back

I had been monitoring the weather all week, which was calling for rain. Of course, mother nature delivered. It was a gloomy, wet morning. Meredith’s parents were nice enough to drive us to the start line on race morning, so we wouldn’t have to worry about parking. It was so clutch to not have to battle for parking with the 40,000 (!!!) other participants!

Seriously, this race is huge. All of Richmond must run it, because I have never seen so many people in one place at one time. There were about 35 corrals starting with elite runners and ending with walkers. I started in an early(ish) corral, pacing with folks who were planned to finish in about 56 minutes. My one qualm about the start line was that the bag check was located 6 blocks away. We actually had ask someone at the information booth where it was because we didn’t see any signs pointing us in the right direction. Once we checked our bags, Brook and I headed to our corral and Meredith headed to hers (she was running a few behind us with her cousin).

The race itself is a nice, flat, 3 miles down Monument Avenue. The beginning is pretty crammed. I had to weave in and out of other runners, and definitely found myself running on the sidewalk at times. I hate when I have to do that! But once we hit mile 1, the crowd thinned out. The cobblestone streets are slightly uneven and I had to watch my step a few times as to not trip. But I spent most of the race keeping an eye out for my friend Sarah, who was visiting friends in Richmond and said she’d come out to cheer us on. I spotted her just past mile 5 and it was the boost I needed to finish strong!

I felt great, and my legs felt strong. But I definitely did not PR. There were way too many people to dodge! Here are the official results:

52:15? Not too shabby for a rainy day!

Meredith and Brook did great too! Meredith finished in under an hour, and Brook was only a few minutes behind that. I’m so proud of them!

One of my favorite aspects of this race is that people have fun with it. There were a lot people dressed in costume like these guys, for example:

Post race, I had a margarita (necessary) and a quesadilla (and that’s not even close to everything I ate this day hahaha).

And then I did about 4 hours of this:

Note to self: get a hammock…and a dog.

Have you ever PR’ed at a crowded race? How do you deal with all the people?

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!

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?