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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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?