Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Review

Where did this year go?! I really can't believe tomorrow will be 2013! I am excited to look back at what I was able to do this past year and can't wait for the excitement of next year!

To recap:

January - Stuck in a rut, I slowly built up for my February marathon
February - I raced the Surf City USA Marathon, appreciated my lack of diversity, visited Hawaii, and witnessed my best friend get married
March - Did a bunch of bootcamp workouts and registered for my first 100 miler! 
April - Tough mental times as I was burnt out and questioned being a real runner
May - Raced a 12 hour race and made Cashew Butter Cups
June - Raced and finished my first 100 miler!!!, ran the Color Me Rad 5k with friends the BF, and enjoyed new veggies with my CSA
July - Had fun at the Firefly Music Festival and went to my best friend's wedding celebration
August - Celebrated 5 years with my guy and his 25th birthday
September - Raced and PRed a half marathon
October - PRed the Marine Corps Marathon dressed as Minnie Mouse and opened up about my running playlist
November - PRed the Philadelphia Marathon dressed as a pirate!
December - Registered for my next 100 miler and incorporated yoga and Pilates into my routine

Miles run in 2012: 1,809

I also started a new job, baked a ton, attended a slew of concerts, laughed a lot with friends and family, and did my best to remember how lucky I am.

What are my goals for 2013?

  • Run 2000 miles in 2013
  • Participate in 13 races in the year
  • Be better about saving money in order to do fun things, like travel!
  • Incorporate non-running forms of exercise into my routine regularly
  • Have fun and enjoy the really cool life I get to live
Anyone have any big plans for the next year? I hope everyone has a happy and healthy new year! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays!

I'm enjoying my quick break at home, but just want to wish everyone a Happy Holidays! I've gotten to workout a bunch, including a beautiful 22 miler and my first BodyPump class ever. I also have enjoyed laying around on the couch, partaking in some vino, eating yummy holiday foods, and watching fun movies.

Hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

What I've Been Up To

Well hello there! With lots of new things happening, I haven't updated like I should have. That always happens, but I really would like to focus on posting more often. I enjoy looking back at what I've done and I enjoy having an outlet to write. So what's new with me?

  • I started a new job! I realized that I wanted to work in social media, so I'm working for an agency in Philly working on their social media team. It wasn't an easy decision, but I had to take the chance. I also live within walking distance of the office, which has been amazing! I've gotten in much longer morning runs when I don't have to take the train to the suburbs to work. 
  • I am switching which 100 miler I am going to run next spring. With my new job, I am going to avoid traveling due to costs, so I dropped the Umstead 100 miler. I'm sad as it was going to be a tough challenge for me, but I'm signed up now for the C&O Canal 100 miler instead! It's in MD, so I can stay with my mom and drive to the race, as opposed to flying, getting a hotel, and renting a car. I have another running friend doing this race, too, so I am getting really excited about it!
  • With the 100 miler is now only about 19 weeks away, I have set up a training schedule for myself. As I have more time in the morning, I will be able to get in longer runs mid-week. I also am going to try to do back-to-back long runs on the weekends. I did it a bit training for my first ultras, but chickened out for the last few. I know it won't be easy, or fun, honestly, but I think it will help me with my 100!
  • I'm working on bringing in other forms of fitness to my routine. I have a 10 punch card for a yoga studio in Center City that I need to use, so I've been going to yoga once a week. I can't say that I love it during the actual class, but I feel so relaxed and great after, I know I need to keep going. I also went to my first pilates class in, no exaggeration, probably 4 years. It was painful, but the hour flew and I adored it. I can't wait to go back!
I hope everyone else has been well! And just for a laugh, here's a (not so great) picture of my friend Matt and I before the Philadelphia Marathon. 

Matty Ice is THE MAN for dressing up in this and spectating the race.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Philadelphia Marathon 2012 Race Report - P-Argggggggh!

This race ended up turning out better than I could have imagined and I'm excited to share the story. :D

Three weeks prior, I raced the Marine Corps Marathon and was able to swing a 16 second PR. My training for these marathons was more focused on endurance, especially coming off a spring/summer focused on ultras. I did do some faster mid-distance runs during the week and worked on doing my long runs faster, but I really didn't incorporate speed work into my training. This worried me a bit, but after I was able to PR a hillier course than Philly in the MCM, I thought that running Philly in a 3:45 time was feasible.

A few days before the race, I was IMing with my best friend, Caitlin. She's not a runner, but has followed my running and has always been a great supporter. While we conversed, she told me she felt I would run a 3:42. I thought that time was absurd to predict, as it would mean a 6 minute PR, but that time kept hanging in the back of my head the rest of the week.

On race morning, I got up with my mom, who came in town to spectate. I let John sleep in so he could meet my mom and some of our Back on My Feet (BoMF) friends at a cheer zone near the apartment. My mom and I met up with my BoMF buds at the charity spot for them, which was super fun as I got to see so many great friends and wish them all well before their races.

Once it was closer to race time, I hopped into my corral and stood near the 3:45 pace guy. I figured I would stick with him for as long as I could, then if I could speed up towards the end, I'd try to. When I turned around before the race started, I saw an old roommate who I hadn't even known became a runner! He was attempting his first marathon and we ended up doing a lot of the race together.

The gun went off and the first bunch of miles were a blur. As we made our way east and then eventually back west, I found myself a bit ahead of the pacer, but I was feeling good. I passed my mom, John, and some BoMF friends at mile 5, then we continued west through Center City through lots of fun crowds.

Once we turned around and headed uphill through my alma matter, Drexel University, I noticed the pacer was definitely speeding up. I still stuck with the pacer as we hit more hills near the Please Touch Museum and on West River Drive, but I was worried that if I lost him, I'd get really upset and lose pace.
Pre-race photo
We came in the half at 1:51:51, a few seconds faster than our goal pace. I still felt like the pace was a bit uncomfortably fast, but I just was hoping I could hold on and not fall apart. I spent a lot of the time out on Kelly Drive looking for my faster friends finishing up the race. I saw a handful of them, including my friend David, who killed it with a sub-3. Running on such a familiar course was fun, but can get boring, so having the faster runners as entertainment was great.

We made our way through Manayunk and soon, it was just a 10k left. I felt good, but still felt like the pace was fast. At mile 22, though, the pacer let us know that we were about 1.5 minutes faster than our goal pace, which would have us finishing at 3:43:30. Immediately, I realized if I pushed it a bit, a 3:42, my BFF's predicted guess, would be attainable! Instantly, I started pulling away away from the pacer and just pushed as hard as I could.

I saw some great friends that helped cheer me up at mile 24 and I kept pushing and pushing. I started to feel really sick to my stomach, but I did my best to ignore it as much as I could because I so badly wanted to run a 3:42. With about .1 miles left, I saw John and my mom in the crowd, which helped me finish even faster. My final time? 3:42:34. My best friend is a GENIUS and should buy a lotto ticket.
Almost done!
I wish I knew what made this race go so well and why I was able to cut 6 minutes from my previous PR, but it felt like it just sort of happened with no explanation. This has been a big running year for me as I attempted and finished my first 100 miler, so I wonder if the serious endurance training I did this spring/summer helped.

Other than the PR, running for BoMF, and seeing so many great friends during the race, my costume truly made the race. I ran as a pirate, parrot included, and I must have said, "Arggggg" to 100+ strangers. It made so many spectators so happy, which in turn made me even happier. I may not make everyone happy that I race marathons in costume, but it has become a tradition that has brought me a lot of joy and put smiles on lots of strangers' faces. Overall, truly memorable day for me!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon 2012 Race Report

Somehow, my first marathon of the fall has come and gone and I feel like it happened so quickly!! I had an absolute blast at this year's MCM and it was a weekend I'll remember for a long time. And yes, my race report is a novel, per usual.

A few years back, prior to my first MCM in 2010, I started posting on the Runner's World (RW) MCM forum. I quickly became friendly with everyone on the board and daily, we post about our training, our lives, questions about running, and everything in between. It's become a daily habit for me to go on, write about what's going on with me, then interact and learn more about my other running friends. I went to the forum encounter (FE) two years ago, and last year, I couldn't miss going even though I wasn't participating in the race. I even had two friends from the board pace me in my 100!

Blurry cell phone picture, but here's some of the RW crew!
We're a close bunch, so I was really excited that another FE was happening this year. Like last year, it was hosted by Brian and a good group came out to snack, drink (water or alcohol, depending on how courageous you were), meet in person for the first (or second, third, etc.) time, and get excited about the race. I loved going so I could see them, especially since we had people coming from Colorado, England, and Germany! Love these guys!!

Race morning, I got into my Minnie Mouse costume (costumed marathons streak grew to 5!), I took the Metro with my mom, which took a long time, but got us right up to the Pentagon where the start would take place pretty easily. I met up with the Runner's World folks for a pre-race photo, used the bathroom, then got into my coral for the race. I felt really excited and only a tiny bit nervous, but in a way, there's something sort of magical about that moment; you don't know how the next handful of hours are going go, which is equally nerve-wracking and fun.
Another FE picture (stolen from Jen)
The gun went off and since my coral was not too far back, I only had to wait 5 minutes to cross the start line. The first 8 or so miles have the most of the hills in the course, so I told myself to try to keep up for an 3:45 finish pace, but not to get too upset if that didn't happen. I hadn't seen the 3:45 pace group at the start, but figured I was in the right place for it. The start of the race is broken up into to sides of a highway that meet up in Rosslyn, VA after about .5 miles and before the two groups merged, I noticed the 4:00 pace group was close to me on the other side. Doh, that's not good! I told myself not to panic, it was early, and I just needed to be steady in my pacing.
Some of the RW crew at the start of the race.

About 2 miles in, one of the Runner's World people who I had yet to meet in person, Jonah, recognized me (Minnie Mouse costume helped!). I was so glad he did and we stuck together throughout most of the race. We were able to stick together with our pacing and getting to know him better in person was a fun way to keep myself entertained throughout the race.

The hills weren't as bad as I remembered (I kept telling myself they were doable and I think the mind games I played helped) and soon enough, we were breezing through miles 6, 7, 8 and 9. Running through Georgetown was a total blast! We got to Haine's Point, which is a peninsula. Going out on it, where we hit the halfway point of the race, was pretty and easy. Once we turned around, though, the strong beginning winds of Hurricane Sandy were right in our faces and it was hard to power through.
Had to make sure my ears were on juuuuuust right. 

After battling the winds for a bit, we headed towards the monuments and the amount of spectators increased dramatically. I really enjoyed how enthusiastic the spectators were, especially about my costume. I knew my mom would be around mile 18 and a RW friend would be at mile 19, so I kept pushing and counting down until I saw them. I spotted my mom and around then is when Jonah started to slow and we parted ways. I was sad to lose him as a running partner, but I knew we had different goals in mind for the race and it sadly would happen at some point.

After seeing my friend at mile 19, I made my way to the bridge. When people talk about the MCM, they talk about "beating the bridge." I remember last time I ran it, my severe dehydration set in there and I struggled quite a bit. This time, I kept a positive attitude and told myself that no stinkin' bridge was going to stop me from attempting to PR. The bridge wasn't too bad, but it was long and boring. I had waited to use my iPod until I really needed to as I learned race morning that it had very little battery left. About halfway to the bridge, I put my music on and it helped a lot.
Pre-race photo showing off the costume
Soon enough, we were back in VA for the last 6 or so miles, which unlike the rest of the race, seemed to drag on. I knew that we were so close to the finish, but had to do a few out and back sections to tack on enough miles to reach the 26.2. Around mile 23, my watch died (I knew this would happen as I learned it was low on battery right before starting the race), so I just had to push myself and hope my pace was good enough for a PR.

With about a mile left, my iPod died, but we were so close, the amount of spectators were growing and I was getting really excited to be done. The final hill to the finish is totally demoralizing and draining, but I pushed up as hard as I could (without throwing up, which I felt I was on the brink of) and soon enough, I finished! I waited in line to get my medal from a Marine, which was truly humbling as they salute you and shake your hand.

I met up with my mom and asked for my cellphone immediately. I knew I signed up for alerts to post to my Facebook, so I quickly searched and saw my finish time being 3:48:34. I knew I PRed Philly last year with a 3:48, but I couldn't remember the seconds! I barely focused on moving as I had to search on the Philly Marathon site to see if it was a PR and sure enough, I PRed by 16 seconds!! I may or may not have started dancing and saying some choice words in my happiness.
Happy to be done!
I had to rush back, shower, and head to Philly before the storm, so the race doesn't quite feel like it's hit me. I wished I could have run a 3:45 like I aimed for originally, but with a PR, a great attitude throughout the whole race, and a fun costume, I can't really ask for anything better. I do think this will bode well for Philly as it's a flatter course, so here's to hoping!!

And of random note, here are some of the funny signs I saw this year (I saw more, but only can remember these):

  • Race is over. No more Saturday runs = Friday night sex
  • Paul Ryan is already finished (this was at Mile 2, adding to the hilarity)
  • May the Course be with you
  • Rock this course like a hurricane
  • If this race was easy, it'd be called your mom 
  • Worst Parade Ever (an oldie, but a goody) 
  • No Pain, No Beer
  • Run Faster, Zombies Hurricanes are coming

Monday, October 1, 2012

Running Songs on my Playlist

There are some runners who like to run and just enjoy the sounds of where they run. While I do appreciate that, I am a lover of music in my non-running life, so why would I run sans music?!

A running playlist is something that I put a lot of time into; honestly, I could and do spend hours on it. I save a list of songs on my phone and when a big race comes up, I update my running playlist. I also update it depending on my race (I need ~4 hours for each marathon, 12 hours for my 12 hour race [duh], etc.).

While running recently, I tried to step back and think about the songs individually, which got me to think how odd so many of the songs on my playlist are. Some are also on there for sentimental reasons. Figured I'd share with you guys!

  1. "Tainted Love" by Soft Cell - I don't know how this song became "our song" for my best friend, Caitlin, and myself, but it is. I love when it pops up because it reminds me of her (she lives in Boston, so I don't get to see her enough). It's not the most upbeat song, but it's a good memory for me.
  2. "Monster Mash" by Bobby Pickett - Nearly 2 years ago, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon on Halloween. To get me excited to run on that fun holiday, I ran in costume and added some fun holiday-specific songs to my playlist. This song has stayed on my running playlist since and it reminds me of the awesome people I've met through the race. It's also a fun throwback jam!
  3. "Magic Toenail" by Brak - Sometime as a kid, I purchased a Space Ghost CD and I wore that thing out. The music was so hilarious and this was one of the songs I loved the most. It's short, super odd, and so weird, I giggle nearly every time I listen to it. It's hard to think about how much pain you are in when you are hearing a cartoon character singing about his magic toenail. 
  4. "The Time Warp" from "Rocky Horror Picture Show" - I love the music from this cult classic and this song is so much fun. Yes, there are times that I catch myself not running and dancing instead, but it's really worth it because this song rules. 
  5. "Now That We Found Love" by Heavy D - So this isn't that odd of a running song as it's upbeat, but I honestly don't even like this song that much (90s music is not my favorite). I have it on my playlist since I love the end scene from "Hitch" where they dance to it. I always see Kevin James dancing like a fool in my head when I hear it, so it made it on the playlist.
  6. "My Racing Thoughts" by Jack's Mannequin - I met John at a Jack's show, so I had to put on a song that makes me think of him. Cheesy, I know. It's also just a great song. 
  7. "Cover Girl" by Ru Paul - I am a huge fan of Ru Paul and watch all of his shows on Logo. This song is upbeat and I just always run with a little more confidence when I hear this song. It does say "walk" over and over again, but I just think of it as instructions to run down the street like it's a catwalk. 
  8. "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones - This is just such a GREAT song. I have always loved Tom Jones, but this style of music reminds me of what my parents played when I was younger. It also reminds me of Carlton's dancing on"The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air." Priceless!
Okay, now I feel like you've looked into my soul ha. Most of my playlist is indie rock and dance music, but now if you see me running, you'll also know I've got some odd stuff on there. 

What do you guys listen to when working out? Are you listening to odd songs like me?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What I have been up to

Yes, I am alive. Sorry that I haven't blogged, but life has gotten in the way. I've written posts in my head, but with running, work being crazy busy, football coming back, and much more, I just haven't put fingertips to keys. So what have I been up to since I last blogged?

  • I ran a half marathon! I participated in the Rock 'N' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, like I have the last 2 years. I don't feel like it was that special of a race, so I didn't write a race report. It would have gone, "I ran, then kept running, almost puked, but didn't, and then I finished with a slight PR." Yes, I PRed the race with a time of 1:43:32, but it wasn't that eventful of a race, hence no RR. 
Yeah, I don't take the best post-race photos
  • I signed up for my next 100 miler. *gulp* My favorite ultra runner, Jesse, and I have been talking about doing a 100 together. I saw that sign-ups for the Umstead 100 miler in Raleigh, NC were coming up and it is supposed to be a not so terribly tough race (for a 100 miler, that is). I will struggle since there are hills and this will be cake for Jesse, so knowing him, he'll probably win the whole dang thing. It's not until April 6th-7th of next year, but I am really excited since a handful of other ultra friends will be there, too.
  • I have been steadily training for the Marine Corps and Philadelphia marathons. Marine Corps is about 4.5 weeks away and Philly is about 7.5. Not going to lie, I am really ready to taper. I will only have done a 12 week training program prior to MCM, but I am ready to take a slight break. Trouble with that is I really need to train for previously mentioned 100 miler this winter, but I'm hoping maybe I can take it easy for a week or two after Philly, then focus on training.
  • I finished up RunToTheFinish's EatClean30 challenge. I stuck to it pretty well, although I did keep up the occasional drinking and some froyo. Whoops! I loved it and while I haven't kept it up like I was during the challenge, but I have been more thoughtful with my snacking and my eating. 
  • I have been soooo happy that football is back! My beloved Washington Redskins have looked a lot better than in previous years, but sadly are still 1-2. My friends and I go to the same bar every week and it's so fun. Fans of nearly every team are there, so it's awesome to root on my own team with other fans of the Skins. 
So that sums it up! I'm hoping to post more regularly, especially with marathon training wrapping up and races coming up! Hope you all have been well! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Indulgent Celebratory Week

Hello hello hello! How was everyone's weekend? Mine was special and awesome, but highly indulgent. Let's start with the good, though, mk?

Last week's marathon training went well! I got in a nice HIIT workout on Tuesday, 8 on Wednesday, 7.88 on Thursday, 6 on Friday, and 15 on Saturday. I felt great throughout all of the miles and although I was short of my mileage goal by 2 miles, I am okay with it.
The second time we ever hung out. Can't believe this is 5+ years ago!
Also, that's totally a temporary tattoo lol. 
Why was I short by 2 miles? Well, this weekend was special because we celebrated two things: John turning 25 and our 5 year anniversary. What did this mean? This meant lots of celebrating and indulging. We had friends over Saturday night to celebrate the birthday boy. We ended up doing a Pub Golf game, which required a few too many drinks, which then led to late night pizza and a wicked hangover the Sunday AM. Then, per John's request, his birthday dinner was BBQ ribs, mac & cheese, baked beans, asparagus, and a Lemon Meringue Pie. Um, there's one thing on that list that's healthy and we had the least of that item.
Us at a PSP formal a few years back 
What does that mean for the EatClean30 challenge? Well, it just means I didn't have a 100% success rate, but that wasn't expected. I felt mentally and physically gross for having eaten that way, which I guess is a good sign that eating that way doesn't feel good. I did a good job yesterday of eating pretty cleanly and just have to remember that eating better makes me feel better and fuels my running better. Lesson learned!
My Pub Golf team...not all of us survived
Hope everyone had a great weekend! Anyone do anything fun or special? 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eat Clean Update and Marathon Training

I'm alive, I promise. The last week or so at work has been really busy and stressful, so I haven't really felt like coming home to get back in front of a computer again (okay, I lie; I come home and surf Pinterest all night, but that requires no brain activity where writing a blog post does).

In my last post, I talked about how I was doing RunToTheFinish's "Eat Clean 30" Challenge. In essence, through the challenge, I'm trying to eat less processed foods, choose healthier options for snacking, and create healthy eating habits that will last longer than the challenge. How have I done? I would say surprisingly well, actually. While I have had a few alcoholic drinks during the challenge (usually a no-no in clean eating) and I have had a few things that may not be considered clean, I've kept to the challenge about 90-95% of the time. The biggest change is instead of eating the 100 calorie packs or candies at work, I'm choosing nuts, fruit, or mini-meals for snacks. I've actually found that my meals, which I aim to have full of fiber, fat, and protein, are keeping me fuller for longer, therefore I'm not snacking as much. I also am doing a better job of listening to my body to see if I'm actually hungry or just bored. Loving this challenge so far!
Homemade salad for lunches during the challenge 
I also am in the midst of marathon training. I will definitely be doing the Philadelphia Marathon, which is just 14 weeks away, and am registered for the Marine Corps Marathon (also have a wedding that weekend, so John and I have to figure out what we're doing). Last week was a great week for training. My Tuesday mornings have turned into short, quick, bodyweight workouts (pushups, squats, planks, etc.) and I run Wednesdays-Sundays. I got in a lot of good and speedy runs this past week, including a 13.1 mile long run with the first 7.25 at sub-goal marathon pace. I know I'm not as fast as I was this time last year, but I also didn't run 100 miler last year. I'm at peace with my pace, but know that I can do a lot of improving in the next couple of months. Overall, I'm just really excited for marathon training and my races this fall!

And just because it's awesome, here's a picture of a tomato we got last week in our CSA share. It's a monster!
Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New running partner, marathon training, and eating clean

How is it Wednesday already?! This week has flown by, but I'm not really complaining.

The past week or so has really gotten back into my normal swing of things in terms of exercise! I went to all of the Back on My Feet (BoMF) runs that I normally go to and actually have a new person to run with: John! For the nearly 5 years that we've dated, he has always said that running has been something he wouldn't want to do because "it's boring." I never pushed him on it because I love running and sometimes struggle to push myself to run, so it wouldn't make sense to push it with him.
One of the only times we've run together in the past
A few weeks ago, he said he might want to come with me to my runs with BoMF because he felt he needed a routine to actually exercise. I was so giddy and excited, but again, didn't get my hopes up too much since I knew he could easily change his mind. For the past two weeks, though, he's come to the runs and actually gotten me to come to days I normally skip. I feel like I might be jinxing it putting it up on here, but I've really loved running with him, especially since he's gotten to know my BoMF friends. I hope this can keep up because so far, I've been loving running with him!

I also have started to consider my fall marathon training plan. I am running the Marine Corps Marathon and Philadelphia Marathon, so I need to start training soon! I know I'm not as fast as I normally am around this time of year due to my 100 miler, but I think I can improve my pace soon. I am going to be using the Pfitzinger 12 week/55 miles per week plan. I'm worried about the speed work, but I am eager to race and more importantly, figure out what costumes to run them in!

From RTTF's blog
In terms of eating for this month, I'm participating in RunToTheFinish's 30 Day Eat Clean Challenge. What will that mean for me? I'll do my best to:
  • Avoid processed foods/sugary treats - Better stated CHOOSE whole foods
  • Consume healthy fats - avocados, fish, nuts, oils
  • Drink water, water, water
  • Choose organic or humanely raised animal products as much as possible
  • Slow down and savor - Food is to be enjoyed!
I am really excited for this! I think I eat too many processed foods and tons of white starches that I don't need. I also rush through my meals a lot because I'm starving for my meals a lot of the time. What I like the most about it is that this isn't a crash or fad diet; it's how I feel I should be eating all of the time. I feel following the challenge will give me more strength to say 'no' to unhealthy snacks. I'll keep you all updated with how it goes throughout the month!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Firefly Music Festival + Playlist

Hello lovely blog readers. Did you all have a great weekend? I surely did! I spent this weekend with John, my brother, my mom, my cousin, and her friend at the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE. We are a music family (mom works in the music industry to boot), so this festival became our family's summer vacation. What a "vacation" it was, although I usually am not so wiped after a normal vacation. Pardon the slight departure from usual food and fitness talk, but there will be a fun playlist at the end that would be great for working out to; consider it payment for listening to me talk about my weekend.
John and me on Day 1
John and I headed to Dover Friday afternoon to take in the first day of musicians. Of the musicians that we saw that day, we most loved Blind Pilot, Matt Costa, OK GO, and John Legend. Sadly, when Jack White came on to headline Friday night, they messed up the sound, so we left early to save energy for the next few days.
The Flaming Lips put on a really fun show!
Saturday was the day I think I enjoyed the most. First of all, my lovely friend Maddie (who I visited and raced with in February) came down with friends. I hadn't seen her since visiting her in LA, so it was so great to see her and see some fun music with her. The favorites for Saturday were Ra Ra Riot, Cults, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, Young the Giant, Lupe Fiasco, and The Killers. Lupe Fiasco puts on such an amazing show because he is a rapper/R&B singer with the attitude and swagger of a rock star. It was great.
Backstage for Allen Stone's set
Sunday, tired, but ready for more music, we saw some more great music. Favorites included Reptar, Cold War Kids, Fitz and the Tantrums, family-friend Allen Stone (his first festival! So cool to have witnessed that), Death Cab for Cutie, The Flaming Lips, Girl Talk, and the Black Keys. We were exhausted by the end and with the 1.5 hour drive back to Philly, we left the Black Keys early (really didn't want to...they sounded so great!).
Not great picture of Ben Gibbard from Death Cab. *swoon*
Overall, this was a really fun weekend and I totally got my fill of great music. The best act of the weekend had to be The Killers; they had the whole crowd going crazy and sounded fantastic. I'm a really lucky gal to have been able to seen so many talented musicians!
I am wearing insane glasses and John is squinting. Too funny not to share. 
Now to that playlist I promised. I compiled a list of fun and upbeat songs that could be just for fun to listen to, but also works as a workout playlist. I saw all of the bands this weekend on the list except for Yeasayer (seen them already, so I can vouch for the fun live show they put on). Here's the list of songs on the playlist:
  1. My Body - Young the Giant 
  2. Spaceman - The Killers 
  3. Out of My Head - Lupe Fiasco feat. Trey Songz
  4. Howlin' For You - The Black Keys
  5. I'm Shakin' - Jack White 
  6. Sleep - Allen Stone 
  7. Stuck in my Id - Reptar 
  8. Green Light - John Legend feat. Andre 3000 
  9. Play Your Part (pt 1.) - Girl Talk
  10. Boy - Ra Ra Riot 
  11. MoneyGrabber - Fitz and the Tantrums 
  12. A Million Ways - OK GO 
  13. Ambling Alp - Yeasayer
  14. We Used to Vacation - Cold War Kids
  15. Abducted - Cults
You can listen to the playlist here through Spotify. Let me know what you think of it! I've been listening to it the past couple of hours while I've been putting it together and I have been digging it. 

Have a great week, folks! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Well Hello Again

Right, I have a blog. I know I have been ignoring you, lovely blog, but I've been quite busy since my 100 miler.

A week after my 100, I had surgery to fix my severely deviated septum. No, that's not code for a nose job, but I did learn that one can fix a deviated septum sans nose job; don't let those celebrities fool you. I'm still currently recovering as my breathing isn't back to normal yet, but I haven't had as many headaches as I used to (reason for surgery). And no, I didn't take pictures of what I looked like directly post-surgery because my nose was super swollen and I looked like a Troll doll. 

A week after the surgery, I went up to Rhode Island with John for a wedding celebration for my best friend, Caitlin, and her husband, Barry. They were wed in Boston in February, but his family held a fun get together at their summer home. I had a lot of fun (although did not enjoy the 7 hours driving there and lucky that John did 95% of it!). I was worried I wouldn't be able to go due to my surgery, but I just kept taking my pain meds and I was able to attend.
John and me
Me with the lovely bride <3
Last weekend, I helped out some friends and ran a leg of their relay in 20in24. The last two years, I've run the 24 hour race, but with my 100 only 3 weeks before it, I knew it wouldn't be in the cards for me this year. It was nice to run the loop on a friend's team and I also loved being a volunteer. I wrangled John into volunteering with me (actually, it was his idea and I made sure we stuck to it!) and we had a fun time helping it. I know how much goes into such a huge event and it felt nice to give back a bit, especially since it is the biggest race for Back on My Feet.
This weekend, we are headed to Dover, DE for the Firefly Music Festival. I am really excited to see so many amazing bands and to be hanging out with friends, John, and family. Hope everyone else has had a great couple of weeks!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Great New York 100 Miler RR

I honestly don't even know where to begin with this race report. I'm still kind of in awe of this weekend and how it went. Although I was the one doing the running, the whole time, it felt so surreal that I still have to pinch myself that it happened. Warning: this race report is essentially a novel. Don't say you weren't warned.

Long story short: I attempted and ran 100.3 miles this past weekend. Even typing that out felt weird, but it actually happened and I am so happy to share my story about the journey to finishing it. 

John and I bused up to NYC Friday midday and met up with my mom/sherpa, who was already in the city. On the bus ride up, I realized that I left my Nathan hydration pack at home, which was NOT going to be good. After grabbing a quick lunch and calling a bunch of running and sporting stores, we headed to Eastern Mountain Sports and found a hydration pack that would be sufficient for race day. So lucky my race was in NYC and not some small town so I could find a hydration pack. I would have been in a serious jam had I not gotten one.
David, myself, John and Bobby at Spumoni Gardens
We then headed to Spumoni Gardens near Coney Island for dinner with two of my pacers, Bobby and David. The pizza and pasta were unbelievable and it was really fun to catch up with those guys before the race. We discussed the plan for the race and mostly did a lot of laughing. Before you know it, we were heading back, I packed everything I needed for the race in the right bags, and went to bed around 10:30 pm.

At 3:50 am, my alarm went off. I stumbled out of bed, groggy and insanely nervous. John, my mom, and I grabbed our stuff and headed to Times Square. It was fairly empty at that time of day, filled only with drunks heading home and the other runners. I checked in, finished my breakfast, mingled a bit with some runners, and nervously awaited the start.
Photo Credt; Trishul Lorne W. Cherns
At around 5:15 am, after a few pictures of all of the racers, we were off! For the first few miles, I ended up with two women, Carol and Becky, and a guy, Marco. We ran through Central Park (really pretty when empty in the AM) and we slowly made our way north up the island. I ended up running a good portion of these miles with Marco, who was great to get to know.

We hit an aid station at mile 9.4 and soon enough, we entered the Brox and made our way to Van Cortlandt Park. I don't run trails much anymore living in Philly, but one of my favorite parts of the course was our trail section in this park. We did a good amount of walking up the hills, but the forests and trails were so beautiful and felt so invigorating to run through. Reminder: run on trails more!!
At mile 25
Eventually, we made it to the next aid station, at mile 20, where John and my mom were. I ate a strawberry glazed donut, gave them both hugs and kisses, and moved to the next section, which was an out and back. The temperature was starting to rise and I was doing my best to stay in the shade when possible and walk up bigger hills when we got to them. We made it back to the same aid station, this time at mile 25. I snagged some Pringles from my lovely crew and again, gave them kisses and hugs before heading off with Marco along the course.

The sun became a lot hotter, but Marco and I kept plugging along. We ran into another runner, Marc, and stuck with him as we made it to the aid station at mile 31 and then crossed the RFK bridge into Queens. We were walking more than I planned on it, but there were more hills than I had anticipated (not bad hills, just not ones that would have been smart to have run up).

I was starting to feel really warm and just was eager to see my mom and John. The next aid station, was along some water, which felt really nice. The aid station, though, ended up being 1+ mile past where the map said it was. I was starting to freak out and just wanted to see my mom and John. When I finally did, it felt great. I ate a bit more food, then kept going. At this point, I wasn't running with anyone else, which got a bit lonely.
Early on in the race. Photo Credit: Donna Saljuga-Tabios
Around mile 45, I really was feeling weak and tired. I caught up with Marco (we kept playing leap frog, passing each other back and forth) and he stressed how important it was for me to eat. I stopped, snacked on some roasted nuts that I had in my bag, and slowly trudged along. I started to realize that I may not be able to make my 24 hour goal for the race, but I just cared about making it to the finish in one piece (and under the time limit!).

I came in at mile 50 at around 11 hours and 56 minutes (making the originally set cut off of 50 miles in 12 hours...mental win for me!). Phil, the RD, warned us that some of the aid stations may not have volunteers as some weren't able to make it, which is what happened at mile 51. I kept running and running, just hoping to see some volunteer so I wouldn't feel so lonely. After I got to mile 54, I realized I must have missed the unmanned aid station. I just kept telling myself to push and push to mile 58, where my mom, John, and my pacer, Steph, would be.

I had to get to the 58 mile aid station by 14 hours and I got there with about 10 minutes so spare. I was BEYOND happy to see my crew, sit down, and eat some food. I hadn't been eating enough throughout the day and I have never tasted a more delicious sandwich than the turkey sandwich my mother made for me. I cleaned up my legs, got dirt and rocks out of my shoes, and headed out on the course with Steph.
Made the 58 mile cut-off in time! So ready for food!
Steph, a friend I've met through City Running Tours, was my pacer from miles 58-71. We ran through some not so pretty places in Queens to begin with, but she kept me going and helped distract me. She even played a memory game with me when I requested so I'd stop thinking about how much more running had to happen. We made a pit-stop in Starbucks for a smoothie (life saver!) and made our way to Far Rockway to meet my next pacer.

At mile 71, we met up with my mom, John, and David, who was my next pacer. I sat, snacked a bit, called another runner friend, who gave me great words of encouragement, then we headed out. Around this point, my stomach started to feel really sick. I was really excited because my Nana grew up in Far Rockaway and my mom spent a lot of her childhood here, but my stomach kept slowing me down and bumming me out. David was so great in being patient with me and he kept me going. We made it through the mile 75 mile aid station and slowly (we were going slowly and it felt EVEN SLOWER) made our way to Coney Island.
Blurry picture, but happy at mile 71 talking with runner friend
At mile 81, we met up with our friend Bobby, who was also waiting with John and my mom. My stomach felt awful and any attempt to use the bathroom to alleviate it didn't help. I was getting a bit more upset, but didn't let it affect my mood. Bobby, David, and I ran along the Coney Island boardwalk and when it ended, David headed back to Manhattan. At this point, my 24 hour time goal wasn't feasible, but after hearing how many people dropped form the race already, I was just determined to be an official finisher!

I really enjoyed my time with Bobby. He and I had fun talking about running, training, religion, our families, and New York. I was eagerly awaiting the sunrise and when it finally came, I was so happy. We made our way to the 90.7 mile aid station and I was so excited we were at the home stretch. If only I knew how tough the next 10 miles would be.

As we left the aid station, I started to do the math and wondered if I would make the time cut-off of 28 hours. I all of a sudden thought of getting to the end after 28 hours and not officially finishing and I started to cry. What if I spent so much time and had other people work so hard to help me for nothing?! Bobby did his best to cheer me up, but I was so upset. I was also so darn sore and in pain, I just felt so down. Where we were running in Brooklyn at this point wasn't really nice looking either.
At the mile 81 aid station
Bobby, holder of the map, wouldn't let me know what mile we were on. He knew we had to run 76 blocks on this not so pretty street, so instead of letting me know that, he kept saying that the 95 mile aid station (where John and my mom were) was "a bit ahead." I was so down and so upset, I just wanted to be done, but more importantly, I wanted to see John and my mom more than anything. I kept asking Bobby to talk to distract me, which he did a great job of doing.

What felt like forever later, I slowly recognized John and my mom in the distance. I immediately broke down in tears. I had wanted to hug and kiss them both so badly that when I saw them, I was so overwhelmed with emotion. I had a McDonald's hash brown (tasted so good!), and Bobby and I headed to Brooklyn Bridge for the last 5 miles.
I think I had the biggest smile on my face for the last 5 miles because I knew how close I truly was! We ran over the Brooklyn Bridge and I got to see so many beautiful views of NYC. We headed through Chinatown and soon enough, we were 1.5 miles away! Bobby told me we had to end up at 44th and Broadway. Once we turned on to Broadway, I started picking up my legs and counting down the blocks until I was done! Bobby told me by the end, I was running 8 minute/mile pace, which was the fastest I ran during the whole thing!

As I was sprinting in to the finish, I just was so overwhelmed. I saw my mom, John, Phil (the RD), and a competitor who had finished about 5 minutes before me. I immediately broke down in tears, just in awe of what I had accomplished. I waited for the last two official finishers to get to the finish and after thanking Bobby, Steph (who came back to see me finish), and Phil (the RD), we headed home to shower, eat, and eventually train back to Philly.
Finish with my amazing crew. Photo credit: Phil McCarthy 
In the end, I finished 12 out of the 14 finishers (31 people started). Even now, it's hard to think that I am actually a 100 mile finisher. It took a lot of hard work on my part, but I couldn't have done it without my mom, John, my amazing pacers, and the great friends I met along the course. I kept telling myself, "If it was easy, everyone would do it and it wouldn't be as rewarding." That phrase pushed me to the finish and really rang true once I was done. I will hold this weekend in my memory forever and cannot wait to see what ultras I run next.

Edit: Totally forgot to put my finish time, like a dope! I finished in 26 hours, 59 minutes, and 43 seconds!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Color Me Rad 5k and 100 Miler Prep

I had a pretty fun weekend! It started out with having friends over Friday for a pizza party! I made some pizza dough and sauce from scratch (pretty easy, actually!) and then prepped a bunch of fun toppings for everyone to pick from. I had spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, garlic, pepperoni, bacon, tomatoes, and yellow squash. I only snapped a picture of the pizza my guy friends made (covered in plenty of meat and not many veggies), but mine was a yummy pizza with lots of veggies.
Sunday, John and I got up early (for us on a Sunday!) to pick up some friends and head to the Color Me Rad 5k in near the Please Touch Museum. I was really excited for the race and wanted to see what kind of pace I could maintain for a 5k since I'm not really in speed-running shape. We were in the first wave and I made sure to have us start off in the front so I could run ahead of the people who would be walking or casually running.
Post-race with some college girlfriends
The race was fun and I ran the beginning of it with John! When we got to the color stations, since I was one of the first people to them, the volunteers were a bit timid and didn't know what to do. I definitely didn't end up with as much color as I thought I'd have on me by the end. Also, when I got to the finish, I looked down at my watch and saw it was at 18:20. I knew immediately the course was majorly short and after mapping it out at home, the course was only 2.6 miles! I ended up averaging 7:03 min/mile pace, which I'm shocked I was able to maintain. Wish it had been a full 5k so I could have seen if a PR was possible for me.
Before and after with the BF
Now the nerves are starting to begin; my 100 miler is now just 5 short days away! I've actually been trying to not think about it for as long as possible so I wouldn't get myself nervous, but now it's time to plan things out and get excited. I've got three awesome friends to pace me during the latter part of the race and I've got my travel and lodging situation all figured out.

The thing that is getting me nervous is that I'm attempting to run 100 miles. Just typing that out was scary! When I first heard about ultras and running 100 mile races, I knew I'd want to attempt it at some point, but didn't realize I'd try it so soon. The thing about a race of that distance is that it is truly so much larger and bigger than you. Whenever I meet anyone who has finished or even attempted a 100 miler, they automatically have a ton of respect from me. It's such a large feat to attempt and to have the courage and nerve to even attempt it is something I didn't think I'd ever have; I still don't feel confident that I 100% do. I am confident that I'm going to put one foot in front of the other for as long as is safe until I cross the finish line and join the league of 100 mile finishers. Hopefully my next post will be a successful race report!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

CSAs and Mexican Cabbage Rolls

When it comes to food, I'm passionate about it all around. One thing I'm particularly passionate about is local (preferably organic) farming. I'd prefer that my produce comes from smaller, local farmers so that I know exactly the process that went into growing the produce and so that I can financially support the little guy.

Last spring, summer, and fall, John and I were members of Greensgrow Farm and loved it. We had a half share of their CSA, which meant we went every other week to pick up veggies, fruit, eggs, and cheese (non-dairy options were available, too). This year, I decided to go with something different. As much as we enjoyed Greensgrow, driving to the Kensington section of Philly every other Saturday wasn't ideal and it took up more time than we would have liked.
Spring onion, green cabbage, dear tongue lettuce
We currently have a half veggie share with Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. We pick up our produce every week only a few blocks from our apartment (less produce each week, which works out perfectly for how I cook!) and all of the produce is organic. In this week's share, I got a lot of great produce that I cannot wait to cook with.
Fava beans and beets
One thing I love about having a CSA share is that I get produce I forget that I love or even more fun, produce I've never cooked with. Sometimes it's intimidating to get something like fava beans because I have only eaten then once or twice in my life and have never cooked with them ever, but in the end, I'm so happy to get to learn how to cook a new vegetable.
Yellow squash and collards
The cabbage is what stumped me the most the week and I knew I had to cook with it tonight so I could at least use half of the giant head. I searched all over for recipes and finally found one that looked fairly easy to make. It also wasn't the standard cabbage rolls recipe as it had a Mexican twist. It was really yummy and I'm excited about all of the leftovers.
Delicious Mexican Cabbage Rolls
I cannot wait for the rest of our weeks so I can cook with some more new-to-me vegetables. Anyone else belong to a farm or have a CSA share? I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Philly Beer Week and Running Galore!

I can't believe the weekend is already over! I felt like it blew by! With Philly Beer Week beginning here this past Friday, the weekend flew by even faster.

Friday, John, myself, and a group of friends went to a restaurant and bar near us called Farmer's Cabinet to try some Mikkeller beers. I'm so used to drinking cheap beer that when I do drink nice, fancy beer, it really is a treat. We of course came back to our apartment and drank High Life, but for the small time that we drank good beer, it was great.

The two of us all gross after our morning run
Saturday morning, I was able to convince John to come run with me! That has only happened a few times in the 5 years that we have dated, but I really enjoyed the 3.1 mile run we had together. We stopped a few times to check out some sites we never do, like the Korean War Memorial in Old City, which was really cool.

After our run, we headed to meet friends at Prohibition Taproom for yet another Philly Beer Week event. This one involved Flying Dog beer (yay for a Maryland beer!) and dogs up for adoption by PAWS. About halfway through our time there, the Hammer of Glory appeared. The HOG is used by Philly's Mayor Nutter to smash open the first keg to start Philly Beer Week and it somehow was at the bar when we were! John and I enjoyed being able to hold it. I felt powerful!

Sunday, I woke up, had breakfast while I watched CBS Sunday Morning (I am 80 years old) and then headed out for my last super long run before I start tapering for my 100 miler. I ran nice and slow and unlike last Monday's heat wave run, the weather cooperated and I felt great! I got in 26.2 miles and while I was beyond happy to be done at the end, I know I could have kept going had I been racing. I ended my run at Jar Bar, a newly-opened raw and vegan place near my apartment. I wanted a cool drink after my run and knew something healthy would also hit the spot. I had their Coconut Dream smoothie with some protein powder thrown in for good measure. It tasted like a vanilla-coconut milkshake!

Overall, I had a great weekend, filled with a lot of beer and a lot of running. Luckily, the two go quite well together. Hope everyone else had a great weekend!