Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When to say "when"

Last week, a reader (hey, David!) commented asking me if I wanted race in the Sloppy Cuckoo 1/2 Marathon this past weekend in Philly. Two half marathons in a week? Sounded like such a fun challenge, especially since it encouraged to come in costume! There was no way to sign-up online, but I contacted the RD and found out I could register the day of. Fab!

As the week went by, I was getting more excited, but little voices in my head kept popping up with things like, "You're not ready for trails. What if you injure yourself? This isn't your key race and if you get injured before the Philadelphia Marathon, you'll be so SO upset." I just decided to ignore those thoughts until Saturday, the day before the race. John, the loving BF that he is, brought up some good points about the race and why I might not want to do it. I went out for a 5 mile run and the entire time, I created a list of pros and cons for doing the race. Here's what I came up with:

-Trail experience for my possible trail marathon in the fall after Philly
-Fun experience
-Another excuse to run in costume!
Lady GaGa costume from last year's Marine Corps Marathon
-Would spend more money participating than I should be spending
-Would need to go to bed really early Saturday, after the music festival I was at with John, my cousin, and friends
-Possibly jeopardize my ability to PR the Philadelphia Marathon due to injury
-Spending another weekend racing, away from friends and the bf

One main thing that I thought about is how much running takes up in my life. I run with Back on My Feet, in general, twice a week before work (doesn't interfere with seeing other people). I then usually run 2-3 times a week on my own, including my long runs. Sundays are usually shot (at least most of it) due to my long runs. Usually one night in the weekend, I have to go to bed early and/or not partake in fun activities in order to be ready for my long runs. I realized that registering for this race was going to be taking up more time away from my family and friends than I needed.

Do I regret it? In the end, 95% of me doesn't. I was able to stay out late with John, my cousin, Jessica (who was visiting from MD), and another friend Matt by going out late after the music festival. I was able to sleep in, watch Sunday Morning (guilty pleasure!), get in a 13.4 mile long run, run by the Puerto Rican Day parade in Philly, have a strawberry tapioca drink from Chinatown (first ever!), watch football games with friends out at bars, grocery shop, make vegetable stew, AND roast a chicken. Hello, did you see that list? That's a lot for one day, which wouldn't have happened if I ran the race. I do wish I could have done the race if it was on a different weekend, but in the end, I was able to balance out everything else in my life, have a blast, and still stay on track for marathon training. Win-win-win!!! Almost as much of a win the below gif is:

Source: Little Pancakes
You are welcome.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rock n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Race Report

It's been a few days now since my race, so it's time to write a race report. I am pleased to say my race went exceptionally better than I had planned!

Saturday, the day before the race, I ran a bunch of errands and just took it easy. I picked up my bib from the expo, grocery shopped, and even painted my nails in a speedy pattern.

Lightening bolts to make me go, go go!
I carbed it up with a pasta for dinner with roasted shrimp and tomato sauce. Delish! I also did something I never do; I actually got everything ready for my race the night before! I usually try to get some stuff ready, but I got everything ready and even pinned on my number to my shirt. I knew I was going to be getting up early, so I didn't want to worry about missing a thing.

Sunday, I woke up, threw on my clothes, made breakfast, which was two slices of homemade french bread slathered with almond butter and banana, then headed out the door. I stopped by 7-11 to grab a water bottle then headed to the Art Museum where the races started. I met up with some Back on My Feet buddies who were running and before I knew it, it was time to get into the corral.

I found my corral and waited for it to start. Right before my corral started the race, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" came on. Yes, it's super cheesy, but I adore it, so I got excited. There was a sign, though, that this race would be a good one (at least in my superstitious runner's brain). The Philadelphia Phillies, a team who I have become a big fan of, have started every home game this seasons with Kanye West's "All of the Lights." I already loved the song, but after going to a few home games this season, it always makes me think of the Phils. My iPod shuffle has literally 15+ hours of music and of all of the songs it chose to play first during my race, it chose "All of the Lights" by Kanye West. To most people, that's a funny coincidence, but for me, starting that race, it pumped me up like none other and was a sign of things to come.

The race has the first 5 miles through Center City Philadelphia, then the next ~8.1 miles around Kelly Drive and West River Drive. I ran this course last year and run most of the course in my normal running, so the race went by really quickly because I was familiar with the course. My original plan was to do the first 5 miles at 8:15 min/miles and pick it up to 8 minute miles for the last 8 miles or so, with the goal to go sub-1:50. I found myself going closer to 8 minute miles at the start, but it didn't seem that difficult. I worried about pushing myself early, but I thought that if I want to beat my time last year and PR, I need to push myself.

Before I knew it, the first 5 miles were done and we were of to start the Kelly Drive/West River Drive loop. I started to realize that maybe if I coud keep it up and actually finish faster than I started, I could possibly get close to 1:45. That time was one I kept in the back of my head and dared not say or hope for since it seemed so impossible to do. The fact that I could do it made me excited, determined, and nervous.
Never said I'd look good running. I look awful, but when you push yourself, you look like this!
Around mile 6, I ate some Sports Beans and felt really excited to be getting close to the halfway point. The race was really pretty uneventful, which sometimes can be good! By the time we crossed over Falls Bridge, I knew I had to start putting some speed in my stride if I wanted to hit 1:45. For each mile marker, I'd do the math and see if I could finish the race doing 8 minutes miles and finish in 1:45. I was going to be cutting it too close, so I pushed my miles and was averaging sub-8 minutes miles to the finish.

In the last mile, I was really tired, but determined that I would hit my new goal time no matter what. I found a girl who I had been running near me for a few miles and was annoying me (she looked like a seriously talented and strong runner and that annoyed me haha), so I made sure to catch her, pass her, and keep her behind me for good. As we turned the bend to the finish, I couldn't sprint like I wanted to (never a good race finisher), but I did what I wanted: I PRed and didn't throw up on anyone (felt like I was going to, though!)!!!!

Do I look like death?! I felt like it. 
Not only did I finish sub 1:50, but I finished sub-1:45, finishing with an official time of 1:44:35. That is a time no one in the world can take away from me and heck, I earned it. I was worried going into the race about feeling confident in my abilities (I never feel confident, so it was weird to me) and that it would come to bite me in the butt. It didn't. I worked hard for this race and pushed myself 5 times a week running. It sounds annoying maybe, but I'm really proud of myself. I'm a lazy person at times (currently sitting in a messy beyond belief apartment due to laziness), but when it comes to running, I somehow have the ability to push myself and work hard towards goals. I was able to shave 8 whole minutes from last year's previous PR, which seems insane to me.

Sweaty and wanting to sleep, but soooo happy!
Up next for me is the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20th, possibly another race after that, and then I'll be done racing for 2011. That does bum me out quite a bit, but I've already got a lot of my 2012 races planned out, which is exciting!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Baking and Racing

This week has been crazy and work was a bit crazy, especially Friday. Things that cheered me up this week, though? Drinks with friends on Wednesday, my pastry class, and a concert last night. Speaking of my pastry classes, they've been going really well! This week, we made a sweet pastry dough and a vanilla pastry cream to make a fruit tart. I have made a tart before, but really enjoyed the techniques I learned. I have to admit, I think my tart turned out realllly pretty.

Yup, I made that! I had a lot of fun putting the fruit on and being creative with the colors. I wish I could have decorated a few more because I have so many ideas for pretty patterns of fruit.

To change gears, I'm running the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half Marathon in less than 16 hours! With my race tomorrow, I took this week nice and easy with running. It's been the lowest mileage week for me in a while and it's been equally nice and weird. I've gotten used to a higher-mileage week (and all I can eat during it), so cutting back has been relaxing, but a bit nerve-wracking. I'm hoping I PR (personal record) and go sub-1:50.

Race report will be coming after I hopppppefully PR! Here's to hoping!

Monday, September 12, 2011

French Bread and Running Playlist (download!)

My first class at the Restaurant School went really well! We made French Bread and it was so delicious. As suspected, I knew a majority of what the teacher taught, but did learn some more scientific/chemistry-related things and a few pointers. I didn't take any pictures of the two loaves I baked there, but I have some more dough in my freezer and will make sure to take a picture of them once those get baked off!

My bread didn't look this pretty. I wish!
While I was in Anna's Blogging Basics for Girls class, she mentioned using MediaFire to create playlists for her site. Immediately, I thought, "Oh, I don't do playlists. No need to pay attention." It then hit me! Music is an integral part of me being able to survive my runs. It can pump me up, put me in the zone, help me focus on my goals, and pass the time. I am very excited to say I am going to be creating workout playlists and posting them on this here blog.

To kick off this workout playlist feature, I am going to take this past weekend's concert as inspiration. I attended the VirginMobile FreeFest with the boyfriend, brother, cousin, mother (who was doing PR for the event...yeah, she's pretty cool), and some friends. The inaugural playlist will feature artists who were playing the festival.
  1. Your Touch - The Black Keys (116 beats per minute [bpm]/13:24 min mile)
  2. Alone with You - Deadmau5 (128 bpm/12:12 min mile)
  3. Dance (A$$) - Big Sean (160 bpm/9 min mile)
  4. Walking on a Dream - Empire of the Sun (127 bpm/12:18 min mile)
  5. F*ck You - Cee Lo (127 bpm/12:18 min mile)
  6. Wolf Like Me - TV on the Radio (127 bpm/12:18 min mile)
  7. Punkrocker - Teddybears (141 bpm/10:48 min mile)
  8. Lights and Music - Cut Copy (126 bpm/12:24 min mile)
  9. I Can Talk - Two Door Cinema Club (163 bpm/8:42 min mile)
  10. Your Eyes - Bombay Bicycle Club (146 bpm/10:24 min mile)
  11. Paris (Ooh La La) - Grace Potter and the Nocturnals (182 bpm/6:48 min mile)

Playlist length: 46 minutes

I used jog.fm to approximate beats per minute and min/mile times in case you were curious. 

Let me know what you think of this playlist! It's a bit slower than most of the music I workout to, but I'm excited to do a run to it tomorrow. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Student for Life

I am quite the nerd and most people who know me would agree. I adore watching Jeopardy and love playing Quizzo because my brain is chock-full of random trivia. I constantly love to learn new things and in order to keep my learning going, I decided to sign up for two classes this week. I atended  one of the classes last night and I am even more excited for tonight's class!

While I haven't been blogging as much as I would like to, I still enjoy it and wanted to learn more about it. I got lucky when I accidentally Stumbled Upon Skillshare's website. It is a really cool concept where local  people create classes for other local folks to learn from. They have fun classes from couponing, social media for businesses, beer 101, etc. When I saw the "Blogging Basics for Girls," hosted by Anna at Shmitten Kitten, I knew I had to sign up. It didn't hurt that my friend Liz wanted to do it, either! I may not want to become a professional blogger, but I sure learned a ton that will help make this fun hobby even better.

I'm hoping to post more frequently, too. I don't try to foce myself to write when I don't feel like it, but I enjoy writing and will continue to push myself to be a better writer. I miss writing and I think this blog is a great way to express myself. If anyone has anything they'd particularly like to see on this site, let me know! I'm all ears!

So if that was my first class of the week, what is my second? As many people know, I love food and making it. I've always wanted to go to culinary school and while I'm not quitting my job to become a student again, I am going to be taking classes at the Restaurant School. I've registered for the beginner pastry arts classes and although I believe my skills are above the "beginner" level, I know there are techniques I can pick up from the class. I am beyond excited to start the 6-week course tonight and cannot wait to hone my baking skills! I feel one of my true passions is in food and I am so happy to be working on being better at it. I'll make sure to post a re-cap of the first class!