Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adios!


Mi madre and I are heading to Spain for my Spring Break (one of the major perks of working in public education)!   We will be gone 10 days and are visiting Madrid, Seville, Granada and Barcelona.


 I promise we will walk a lot, eat a lot of tappas, take too many pictures, buy one-of-a-kind goods, practice our Spanglish Spanish skills, visit some beaches, and hopefully come back a little poorer but much more world traveled and appreciative of the beauty of life!


 I will post pictures and a recap of our adventures when I return:)


Enjoy the end of March and beginning of April stateside!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 24th

I wouldn't believe it or remember it if I didn't post it, but this is what it is doing outside right now in Richmond, Virginia:

 
 

On March 24th...This weather is crazy, but I can hope for a snow day even though we are almost at spring break, right? I am fighting a cold, so I would enjoy any day off to sleep and rest before my big trip at the end of this week!

Oh, and to further point out what an odd eater I am (especially when not feeling well), today I ate lunch for breakfast (peanut butter banana sandwich), breakfast for lunch (waffles and oatmeal), popcorn in the middle of the day (because why not while packing?), and COLD spinach tortellini straight from the packet for dinner (it was pre-cooked but supposed to be cooked again before you eat it...oh well). Seems my body is craving carbs today?! Hey, at least I ran and did a lot of cleaning...and napped, so I am thinking I am ending the day in the "winning" column.

Do your snow day dance for tomorrow for me, and hopefully, see ya soon, Spring!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Couple of Things

A couple of things that made me happy this week...

Tina Fey and Katie Couric talking about UVA (thanks for the heads up, Michelle!)


Watching "The O.C." on dvd before bed each night

Seth Cohen is my jam.

March Madness beginning...Go Rams!



Going to Trader Joe's after work today 



Looking up the weather for Spain and realizing it will be much warmer than in VA 
(where it now snows in late March)


Finishing a good book



....and that it was only 4 days:)! Happy weekend!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Shamrock Half Marathon

It's very accomplishing to realize that in March I have already tackled my New Year's Resolution, because I completed my first ever half marathon in Virginia Beach this weekend (like you didn't know, right?)!

This weekend began on Friday night with me picking up my friend, Jessica, at the Newport News Airport since she was flying in from a week in Florida. We then drove to Sandbridge (the Virginia Outer Banks about 20 minutes south of Virginia Beach) to stay her her parent's semi-oceanfront beach house. We got in around 9 PM, got outselves settled and then went to bed around 11 PM.

View from the porch Saturday afternoon
On Saturday we slept in, which for me is 8:30 AM, had breakfast (bagel with peanut butter and a banana), stopped by Starbucks (obvi) and went to the race expo at the Virginia Beach Convention Center (right near the boardwalk for those of you familiar with the area) so we could pick up our numbers and visit all the fun stands/take cheesy pictures with various St. Patties Day themes. We were there until noon, and I got a lot of free samples, registered for many free drawings (which I will now get lots of span emails from...darn!), looked at other races, and shopped around for cool running gear that geeky running people love. It was fun! Afterwards, we hit up Target for food to make for dinner and went to Panera for lunch. My favorite part of the day was when we walked out to the beach in our coats and jeans and laid on the sand and fell asleep. It was the only sunny day of the weekend, so we definitely had to get our beach time in despite the cold temps! I was so happy laying on the beach in the sunshine, even though I knew I could not get tan. It was perfect and so relaxing. We read and chatted all afternoon until more of the crew came in late Saturday for our carb-loading dinner and early bed!

Ready to go!
Sunday came at 5 AM with an early breakfast (bagel, pb & banana!) and leaving the beach house at 5:45 to give ourselves enough time for parking near the boardwalk and bathroom breaks. We parked and hung out in a hotel lobby (The Cavalier) right near the starting line. It was chilly (40 degrees) but not awful, so I felt good about the temps (I prefer running in the cold), and the rain stayed away, so we were happy! We checked our bags and got in our starting corrals!

Jessica & I
All the girls ready to start!
The music at the starting line was great at pumping the runners up. I waited with my friend who I was planning to run with, while the rest of our group was further back, and we started off as the sun was coming up despite a 10 minute delay due to a "course obstruction!"

Waiting with our corral to start!
The race goes up Pacific Avenue, which is not the street directly on the beach, but the next over, and there were nice houses to look at and people cheering us on. We turned right before mile 3 to run up a tree-lined road that was nice because it shielded us from the wind and was very peaceful. I went off faster than my friend, so I was on my own by this time. I was really feeling good along this stretch and was keeping a mile pace faster than what I had planed for- around 9:30/mile. I had to go to the bathroom at mile 5 but the port-a-potty lines were too long, so I decided to hold it until the next stop, but by that time I didn't really have to go anymore, so I soldiered on (I actually had to go the entire race, but holding it long enough made me feel like I didn't). We turned into Fort Story Base at mile 6, which was in the open and right along the beach, so we got a LOT of wind but could see the ocean to the side, and it was nice that it was overcast or else this would have been an area where people would have gotten overheated from direct sun. I was still feeling good mentally and physically along this stretch, but a slight pain was beginning in the hip flexor/groin area of my right thigh (this had developed towards the end of my training on long runs). I was ok until mile 9 when the pain became pretty significant. This is when running gets very frustrating- you feel great cardiovascularly (not breathing very hard, in a good rhythm) but you're in pain, whether blisters (which were fine due to proper taping) or muscle injuries. Luckily, mile 9 was when we were running out of the base and were along beach house streets with a lot of fans, so I figured I could push myself 4 more miles. It was at the point where stopping to walk would hurt just as much as running, so I altered my stride and kept up my pace. I had a Carb BOOM Gel to keep my energy up for the last few miles, and that kept my spirits up. We were on numbered streets so you could count the streets down, and it was nice knowing where you were and how far you had to go. People started giving out beer, and I decided I would not stop because I had come so far, so I tried to enjoy it with a slight cringe here and there:). Once we got to mile 12 I was pumped because that is the longest I ever ran in training, so I had officially run my longest run ever! This also is when you are getting really close to the end, so it is exciting. We turned to the boardwalk right before mile 13 and ran down to the statue where the finish line was. I sped up on the boardwalk to end strong, and I finished the race in 2:05:28, beating my goal time of 2:10 (which means I kept a 9:35/mile pace the whole time)!

The statue we waited 13.1 miles to see

Woohoo!
The SECOND I stopped, my leg pain grew exponentially, so I hobbled through the crowds where we got drinks, food, medals, and finisher hats/blankets. It was COLD on the beach and very windy, so I quickly grew uncomfortable. I knew I was ahead of my group, so I got my dry bag with my phone and a change of shirt and sweatshirt, and walked over to a tent on the beach that had food, beer and music. By this point I couldn't walk very fast, was in pain and was freezing, so I went to a hotel lobby to chill. While waiting, I chatted with a lot of people (runners are a friendly bunch!) and even got to go back out to the finish line to see the marathon winner, and he wasn't a Kenyan- he is from Connecticut!

He's from Connecticut! Look at that stride!
Number 3 marathon finisher.


Watching the marathoners around mile 13 from the lobby
I eventually met up with my group who had finished behind me, and we spent the day chilling at the beach house, eating (a lot), chatting and taking it easy. We went out to dinner later that night, but most of us passed out by 10 PM after a long day. I woke up on Monday very sore, but well rested!

All smiles a few hours after the race with my medal:)
:)
Half marathon group at dinner- we clean up decent!
My overall take from the race: I am very pleased with my time and think that without muscle pain I could do even better. However, the one thing I do not like about the half marathon distance is that it is more running than is needed for physical fitness because to keep yourself going at optimal pace, you need to consume extra energy (aka calories) during and before your run. I don't like having to time eating/drinking on a long run; I just like to run as a fun way to exercise. I really focused on my water and food intake for this race, and maybe I focused too much, because my stomach was a little off on race morning from the additional food, sugar and electrolytes that it wasn't used to. I will adjust my training and food plans for my next half (probably the Richmond Half in November), with a shorter training period to ward of injury and less additional foods.

I am excited for my next few races- The Monument Avenue 10k on April 14th and Carytown 10k on May 5th, because 6.2 miles is a great distance, and hopefully I can PR after this half training. I won't do many long runs between now and then because of my European travels, but I will try to get in a fast 6 miler this weekend and when I get back from Spain.

Thanks for all your support and encouragement through my training journey! Get excited that I won't have to blog about it much anymore:)!

Friday, March 15, 2013

What Running Has Taught Me

The time has come! My first half marathon is THIS WEEKEND (T- minus 2 days) in Virginia Beach! I leave today after work for a nice, long weekend:) I am excited and nervous about the race, but mostly I am proud of my running accomplishments thus far. Over the course of training for this race, and since beginning to run consistently about four years ago, I have learned a lot. From not being able to do 1 mile without stopping to running 13.1 miles in a single race, a lot has changed for me.  Here are some of my takeaways from my running journey:

1.  I may regret many things over the course of a day, but I never regret a run. Even a crappy run when I am tried and want to be doing anything else is better than no run at all.

2. Never underestimate your support system. Ever since I was a kid, I had this “I can do it myself” attitude, and while I have always had a big group of friends, I never realized how friends would lead/shape me down this running path. In college my roommates kept telling me I could do it. In grad school when I began running I used them as my motivation. Then more of my friends began running, and I even reconnected with an old classmate who made running her passion to fight cancer. It's true that any goal that’s bigger than you will require help and motivation. The best runs I ever had were with a friend, and when not running with someone, friends were my ultimate motivation. Their encouragement (and sometimes partnership during a long run) made a ten-mile run feel like a walk in the park. Running sometimes became a social hour! It's true that friends are there to help you, because as Maya Angelou wrote, “Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone.”

3. Food is fuel, not a means to live. What I put into my body affects what I get out of my body. I can no longer eat like crap and feel good the next day, because I don't sleep well and feel sluggish when I eat poorly. My workout and mood suffers. I would rather just eat what I know is good for me than indulge and pay for it later at this point in my life. So if that means drinking less alcohol and eating "cleaner," then so be it. My fitness and health is my top priority and makes me better in all other areas of my life. I am ok being "lame" and saying no to certain things when I am out with friends. They could care less how I eat- the same way I could care less how they eat. We are adults and make our own choices! That being said, I also do not believe in being hungry, so I still eat when my body tells me it needs food (and I drink A LOT of water- 96 ounces a day typically) and a cheat day is always enjoyed!

4. My body is capable of so much more than what it looks like. It is not about a number on the scale or comparing my thighs to someone else's. I am in the best shape of my life, and while I will never be stick thin, I am healthy and strong with all my imperfections. I am built the way I am built...genes do compromise 80% of appearance...and all the time I try to change that is wasted time I could be focusing on something else. Even though my athletic body is not perfect, it is STRONG and HEALTHY.

*For those interested, I only lost 1-2 pounds during my 12 weeks of training, but I also measured the circumference around my thighs, hips, waist and arms every month to see muscle changes. I dropped 2 inches in my waist and gained 1 inch in each thigh! *

5. Getting up when it's dark to workout can be fun! No, waking up during the 5 AM hour isn't ideal, but you just gotta give yourself time to get used to it:) Sometimes running on a dark street (with lights!) is the most peaceful start to a day- no cars, little noise and endless possibilities. Just make sure you get to bed early enough and you'll have enough energy to enjoy that sunrise:). And time changes just suck.

6. When I run, I think and self-talk all the time. It’s true when they say endurance sport is all about mind over body. Call it what you will, but for me, running symbolizes the race in life that is set out for us. There will always be the excuses, obstacles and falls that we encounter in the race, but what matters is you never, ever give up. Just finish the race – it will be worthwhile.

7. You are a runner even if you never run a race. Dealing with pain in my tendons, AWFUL blisters that sidelined me for a week (yes, blisters), and other health nuisances, including knee pain, I quickly realized that running to stay in shape and running to train for races are two different things. It is not normal to run for more than an hour. It is not good for your body and takes so much out of you. I am not saying I will never do another half marathon, but I do not know how I will train. I want to stay enjoying running and that means taking care of myself! We'll see how I actually do in the race, but through this training I have realized I became a runner the second I laced up my sneakers and took my first jog. This half marathon does not make me and it won't break me. Running comes in all distances and times, so just enjoy it.


What have you learned from running?! Or any exercise/health endeavor?


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thoughts on a Tuesday

This has been a long week (and it's only Tuesday!), and here are some things that have been on my mind.

I am always very optimistic on Monday mornings. New week, fresh start! This motivation and positive outlook deteriorates as the week (and day) goes on, but for that one morning, I enjoy how good life seems.

I am also most productive from about 6 am until lunch (hence why I have started consistent morning workouts). It seems that after lunch I get tired and groggy (this is the point in the day when I need coffee!) and crave a nap around 3-4 PM. Even on weekends, I now like getting up early to get things done before obligations kick in! This does affect my ability to stay up late, but who am I kidding, I never stayed up late even when I could sleep in an extra 40 minutes before work:).

I would love a personal stylist. Just someone to take me shopping one time, pick out all the stuff that would look good on me and essentially get me to wear something other than jeans on weekends and dress pants during the week (and dresses in the spring/summer). My cousin Cara does this as her job, and I need to hire her for myself! I fully believe that how good you look has more to do with how you dress than how much you weigh.

You know that huge rush you get after you finish a really amazing long run or really tough workout? You’re all energized and proud of yourself and you’re just like, “Yup, I’ve just nailed this day. Boom.” That’s how I feel after my laundry is done, folded and put away.

I have never been so busy that I have forgotten to eat. Those people who are like, “OMG, was so busy today, totally forgot to have lunch!” Yeah, I don’t relate to those people. In my entire life, I have never missed a meal.

I love eating frozen waffles. It's weird, I know, but oh so good!

Speaking of food, I also am obsessed with Trader Joe's Puffed Wheat Cereal. It is so good and is low in sugar AND calories. It also is only made with two ingredients, so I know Michael Pollon would approve, too.


Moving on from all my food thoughts (apparently that's where my mind is these days) I really hope the most recent Bachelor Sean and his new fiance, Catherine, work out. I need to believe in this show to justify wasting so much time watching it twice a year! 

I am becoming a mean coach. Since I push myself when I work out, I expect my team to do the same when we have practice. So much for being a nice, lenient coach! Earlier this week, the girls didn't bring what we told them to bring to practice, so we punished them by making them run a lot. Robyn the counselor when coaching? Nope! I would have hated myself as a teenager. We have our first game on Thursday, though, so we'll see if it pays off!

I AM SO READY FOR A VACATION! Spain in 15 days!

I also hate daylight savings. Maybe this is why it has felt like a slow week?

Here's to hoping the week speeds up, I can go to bed before 10PM tonight (darn you Revenge and The Bachelor for keeping me up too late), and that the rain stays away until after I cross the finish line on Sunday!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Spring? Weekend

I hope you enjoyed your spring forward this morning more than I did! I HATE time changes, especially this one because now it will be dark in the mornings until after I get to work. I do not like working out and getting dressed when it is still dark outside:(

This is the first weekend, though, that I feel like spring is coming! There is change in the air. It may be that it got into the 60's (!) this weekend, and even though I know it is still going to be cold for the next few weeks, the birds are chirping, the sky looks clearer and I can just feel it coming. And it's going to be amazing.

After work on Friday I had an appointment (more on that later), but then I went to happy hour with an old coworker and her friend, and we enjoyed Bellini's (our nod to warm weather thinking), food and dessert. It was the perfect way to end the work week! I capped off my fabulous evening by catching up on some TV shows I missed this week ("Glee" and "The Rachel Zoe Project") and was in bed by 11! Love it!

Yesterday I did my last long run (8 miles) in the morning and then my friend Nicole came over (I hadn't seen her since July and she is now 5 months pregnant!), and we took a nice 1 mile walk to lunch down the street. It was great catching up and seeing her! The funny thing about friends getting married is you see them so much before the wedding for all the festivities, but afterwards your lives get back to normal and you don't have as many reasons to see each other, especially when you don't live in the same town. Life also gets in the way, so even your best intentions to catch up and visit get sidelined. So, of course, as of 1 hour into our lunch yesterday, Nicole and I already made plans for me to visit her in May before the baby comes for a last "girls weekend" at the beach! It was a lovely lunch, and I wish I had a pic because she is sporting a cute baby bump! She is my first close friend to be having a baby, so this is a big event for both of us:)!

I finished off my afternoon hanging out at my condo (napping, finishing a book and watching "Gilmore Girls" on SOAPnet- one of my fav Saturday afternoon activities), and after dinner I got to take my bi-monthly/sometimes weekly trip to Barnes & Nobles for magazine reading. LOVE IT. I seriously think I need to meet my future husband at a book store because they are my happy place. Afterwards I saw "Playing for Keeps" back at home, set all my clocks ahead for today, and went to bed who knows when since I had already set my clocks but the time change hadn't officially happened yet (see a pattern in how much I love sleeping?).

Today (whattimeisitreally?!) I got up early due to my alarm (I start day 1 of daylight savings on the "new" time or else it will catch up with me tomorrow), and washed my bed sheets, made dinner for two nights this week that are now in Tupperware in my fridge (lots of carbs this week!), boiled eggs for my lunches, vacuumed and ran the dishwasher all before 10:15 when my friend and I went for a walk. I love productive mornings!

Now I can chill for the rest of the day being lazy until the long workweek begins. BUT I do have a big weekend to look forward to! Side note: I admit I am becoming slight obsessed with running, but I also love blogging and have found GREAT running blogs if you are interested in checking out some new ones on the right of this page! They can make a slow workday go by a little faster.

Spring, I am ready!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Snow Day

In what will undoubtedly be the last snow day of the 2012-2013 school year, I felt the need to document what I do when I unexpectedly get the day off due to rain/sleet/ice/snow. It has definitely changed since when I was a kid!

5:40- Wake up and go to my complex's gym (school's not canceled yet!)


6:30- School gets called while I'm on the elliptical watching the news! Yay!


7:00- Shower

7:15- Fiber One Cereal for breakfast- a luxury as I usually drink a Slimfast at work!


7:30- Plop down on the couch for morning TV viewing and internet surfing


8:30- Nap...it's a tough life b/c I still got up early

9:30- Continue with more TV (mostly news and talk shows) and hair blow-drying. 
*I WOULD have a good hair day when I am not going any where*

11:30- Venture outside to clean off my car and walk with a neighbor to a local pharmacy down the street. COLD and WINDY.

12:00- Lunch of whole wheat peanut butter toast, pretzels, an apple and carrots. 
Healthy fats, grains, carbs, fruits and veggies. #Yum


1:15- Car service shop to get two new tires. Yup, even more money going into my car this winter...lame!! I read a lot of my book while there.

3:30- Once home, I have to clean up water pooling on my passenger side floor with a vaccum and towels. I am hoping this was just from the mechanic working on the car and not a new leak:(

3:45- Laundry due to dirty towels and more TV ("Giuliana and Bill" marathon!)

5:30- Bake a frittata for dinner with broccoli, cheese and egg whites


Mine actually looked like the pic below but SO GOOD and HEALTHY (and a little UVA shout out)!



6:30- Make lunch/dinner for tomorrow (soccer scrimmage after work so I won't be home until 8ish) and lay out clothes

7:00- Watch "This Is 40"

10:00- Bed

Pretty exciting day, huh? I love the ability to nap, catch up on errands/chores and just chill out for a day! It is especially better for me now that I live in the city and the roads are always clear so I can get out and about:) Hopefully, though, my car issues do not continue as I have almost put in $1,000 in the past 3 months!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hungry Girl

What no one ever tells you when you are beginning an intense training regime (at least no one ever told me) is how HUNGRY you will be ALL THE TIME. I swear, I can never be satiated, especially in and around my days of long runs. This past weekend I had two gatherings with friends Friday and Saturday night that involved tables full of finger foods, like puppy chow (it is a drug), wheat thins and dips (I don't buy wheat thins because I can't keep a box longer than 3 days), shrimp, and breads (hellloooo carbs!). Well, shut the front door, because even if I eat before I go to these events, do not even get me started on what it is like to be in a room with open, easy accessibility to food with my metabolism right now. The good thing about my condo and living alone is that I do not keep a lot of snack foods, because once I pop open a bag of something, it is like I am a scavenging lion from Scar's ruling in The Lion King (yup, movie was on the other night so I had to make a reference). Due to this fact, I typically only buy granola bars, cereal, cheese sticks and waffles (which I do eat frozen...weird habit), so I can't really go to town on any of those items besides the cereal which I feel ok about since at least it is fortified with vitamins and minerals. (Things I tell myself to make myself feel better).

Anyways, the bottom line is, I am a bottomless pit! I finally understand why people cannot lose much weight while training for intense races. Granted, I could make smarter food choices sometimes, since I do have a huge sweet tooth, but I generally, six days of the week, really eat healthy, and I always plan out my meals. The key for me is to make sure I am eating every 2-3 hours so I never get so hungry that I become hANgry, grumpy or lose control. I also have started tracking my training and eating on SparkPeople which allows me to keep track on how much I am eating (so I eat more or less depending on what I have eaten throughout the day) and my mileage and exercise type/time totals. I also keep track of my weight and inches so I know how what I am eating and how my training affects my size. It's been fun to see changes and understand how my energy level, mood and runs are affected by what I am eating. I definitely notice the mind-body-spirit connections. It's pretty incredible. The next time I train, I may try more of an intuitive eating approach so I am more in touch with what my body is telling me it needs, rather than what I think I need, to see if there are any changes when I do that.

What are some of your big food cravings when you are in training mood?! I find that peanut butter ALWAYS tastes good, and I want dinner at about 4 PM!