Saturday, April 30, 2011


Did you like how I just slipped in that little tidbit about running a half marathon last night? My friends and family liked it too. I've actually been pretty excited to run this half but I guess with the 50K coming up and buying a bike and learning to ride and all that, the half sort of didn't get mentioned and no one knew I was running it. Also I ran it completely by myself so get ready for plenty of pictures of just me.

So I originally signed up planning to specifically train for this half, and because it was completely flat and I really wanted to beat my previous PR (1:50:56). When I signed up for the 50K, I decided I was ok with just running it for fun, because I knew my focus would be on distance, not speed.

My average pace for the Frederick Half Marathon, where I got that time, was 8:27. I decided my goal pace would be 8:20,  but I really didn't think there was any chance of that and would have been happy with anything under 2 hours.

You know you are off to a great start when you are running late because of this:

Somehow my camelbak got soaked in the fridge? And considering the temp at the starting line was in the 40s, I wasn't exactly feeling strapping a soaking wet backpack to me.

Once that little malfunction was taken care of, I headed to the race. It was capped at 200 runners, and put on by my school, Towson University! 

I started out around an 8:30-8:45 pace. I was feeling pretty good and felt like I could pick up the pace in the second half. The race was on the NCR trail, a paved trail through the woods. You ran out 6.55 miles, turned around, and ran back. It sounds like that would be lame but for some reason I love the NCR and wasn't bored at all.

At the turn around point I figured it was make or break time - either pick it up and try for a PR, or just accept that it wasn't happening that day. I was feeling good and decided to go for it. Around mile 8 I remembered that handy little function called "average pace" on my Garmin and realized I could use it to figure out if I was on pace or not. Ya, I'm dumb. My average pace was 8:32 so I only needed to knock off 6 seconds to beat my time from Frederick. I figured I was so close so I had to do it, and 6 seconds was nothing.

Um, it was not nothing. The last 4 miles were GRUELING, they felt like an all out sprint. It was just a constant battle between me and my Garmin to get the pace down.

After I took my second Gu at mile 9 I figured I would feel the pick me up. I was pushing so hard and could barely get the pace below 8:30, and the average pace still hadn't dropped below 8:32. I ran up behind a guy doing about an 8 minute pace, and told myself I had to stay with him. I felt like I was sprinting and there was no way I could keep it up for 4+ miles, but it was such a good chance I had to try. He had a Frederick Half shirt around his waist so I used that at my motivation.

Around mile 11 he slowed down and I realized now I had to do it by myself. With only 2 miles to go, I HAD to keep it up but I was so exhausted. I focused on every runner I saw and ran up to them, hoping they could pace me, but ended up passing them all (it was only like 4 or 5 people). 

With about half a mile to go my pace finally hit 8:26 and I wish I could say I got a huge boost and it suddenly felt easy, but it was more like "ok I'm on track 4 more minutes until this torture can end!". 

I saw the clock at 1:50:44 when I crossed and was so relieved. My Garmin said 1:50:33, and official results are not up yet. A PR is a PR, even only by 20 seconds! I ran my ass off for those 20 seconds!

This race was a serious testament to the power of the taper. I specifically trained for Frederick, and my only goal was below 2 hours. I pushed myself in the race but NOTHING like that, the pace felt comfortably hard pretty much the whole time. 

Let's review:
Frederick: Hilly course, so hot they almost canceled the marathon (I'm talking in the 70s at 4am when I woke up, and close to 90 when I finished), ran 1:50:56 feeling pretty good the whole time.
Leadstrong (aka today): Completely flat course, temperature in the 50s with almost no wind, aka absolutely perfect conditions, felt like I was going to die and like the last 5 miles were an all out sprint. 
Yup, I'm the creepy girl who asks strangers to take pictures of her with her medal in front of the bathrooms.

I blame the high mileage (for me) training for the 50K. Roserunner is trying out the taper for the first time this weekend, I am curious how it works out for her. She's an awesome runner and you should go wish her luck in her marathon tomorrow!

Other random things I did differently: drank coffee before the race, had 2 Gus (as opposed to zero in Frederick). I think both helped. 

Took my fourth ice bath, and I am still amazed so I am still taking pictures of each one. Get used to it.

This is what an ice bath really looks like when I am not posing for a picture.

Why do you think this picture is vertical on the blog but horizontal on the computer?

Other random thought: When I posted my comment about the Volturi, I had a secret panic attack that all my readers were super high brow cultured people who would either have no idea what I was talking about or completely lose all respect for me. Thanks for not letting me down.
How freakin cute is the race shirt?

 Nope, still hadn't showered when I took that pic. An ice bath and wiping the sweat off your face with your hands in the car on the way home is the same thing. Plus blogging is clearly way more important.
I am totally celebrating my ass off tonight - it's girls night out!

UPDATE - Official results were posted and my time was 1:50:34, and I was 4th out of 52 in my age group! 33 out of 150 total! Woo hoo!

Friday, April 29, 2011

What makes running in Baltimore even scarier?

You guys can all go thank Kara for that title. I hate thinking of them, as we all know, so I love suggestions.

I would have done this post earlier but I've been really  busy with the royal wedding. Setting the DVR, going to bed early, getting up early, and trying to explain to your husband why you care 492 times really takes up a lot of time. You're welcome, Will and Kate.
I was in heaven this morning, I loved Kate's dress, I loved Pippa's dress (but why was it white?) and thought the whole thing was fantastic. Although I'm not sure about the whole "every wedding is a royal wedding thing"....mine was pretty awesome, but I don't exactly remember it being internationally televised, or a canopy outside the hotel so that no one could get an advance look of my priceless specially made designer dress, or having Elton John there, etc, etc...anyone else catch that quote?

So anyway, yesterday morning I did my first virtual race. Monica from Run, Eat, Repeat, was giving away free entries to She Runs LA, and I got one. You basically run 6.2 miles in a certain time frame and they mail you your tank top.
It's freakin adorable and I'm pretty upset that mine hasn't arrived yet.

I headed out in beautiful, calm, 60 degree dry weather. About three quarters of a mile in, I saw that teeny tiny flash that makes you wonder, was that lightening? Or maybe I just blinked? Then the sky completely lit up, at which point it was pretty clear it WAS lightening, followed about a split second later by a huge thunderclap. My very next step was a turn back towards home, and I figured I could finish the run on a treadmill at the YMCA. I got about three more steps before the skies completely let loose and I was running in a full on thunderstorm. I've run in snow, ice, below freezing temps, rain, heat, etc, but a thunderstorm is the one type of weather I really try to avoid. Then probably a minute or so after that, it was down to a slight drizzle, and the thunder and lightening were done. So the rest of the run was totally uneventful. Until I got home and saw a tornado warning flashing across the TV screen. So I guess I'm lucky I wasn't sucked up like Dorothy.

 My hand is showing 6.2....obvi
I still need to watch the kiss on the DVR (can you believe today wasn't a national holiday?? there is so much more wedding coverage I could have spent the day watching. I thought England was our ally, we could be a bit more supportive). Plus there's that little half marathon I'm running in the morning to prepare for.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

DOs and DON'Ts

Here's some random lessons I've learned since my last post:

1. DON'T go to yoga directly before going to the track for speedwork. It makes you way too sleepy.
2. DON'T do said speedwork in 80+ degree weather when you haven't trained in anything above 60 since last summer.
3. DON'T bother waking up an hour early to do grad work that is due today because the questions won't be posted yet and you'll still have to do it when you get home at 8pm tonight.
4. DO spend that hour writing a dos and don'ts list on your blog - much more productive.
5. DO wet your face before putting your googles on, it lets them keep the water out without creating huge red lines that last until noon and then you don't feel like your eyeballs are getting sucked out of your face for the whole swim.
6. DO pretend that the huge warm spot you suddenly swim through is just a blast of heat from the heater or something.
7. DO dump out your coffee and make a new pot if it doesn't taste right - life's too short to drink watery coffee.
8. DO tell your husband that your meeting with your professor today makes you as scared as if you were meeting with the Volturi and think you are being really funny.
9. DON'T get really upset when he doesn't know who you mean and wish you could just live in a dorm with your girlfriends forever so you'll always have someone around to get twilight references and tell you if your outfit looks good for real.

Feel free to add any Dos and Don'ts that you've picked up recently.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tomatoes need ice baths, too

It's back to work today and it's honestly easier to get up when the sun is out and the birds are chirping. I even said "good morning" to Eric instead of just sobbing uncontrollably.

I actually made an "Easter" dinner when our friends Andrea and Ed came over on Sunday. My lunches and snacks at work tend to cause my coworkers a lot of ....curiosity, so I was pretty nervous about having friends over for dinner, or basically anyone who is not family or a long time BFF. Andrea was following the rules for passover (essentially no bread) and I don't eat meat, so it was a bit of a challenge. I saw Smoky Mexican Lasagna on Kari's blog and immediately started drooling based on the name, so I made this recipe, using corn tortillas instead of noodles. I was a little nervous about peeling tomatoes since I've never done it. Apparently it involves boiling them and then putting them in an ice bath, but since I'm now a pro at ice baths, I figured I could guide the tomatoes along.

 I'm a huge cheese snob. I refuse to buy the shredded cheese in the bag, and rarely even buy the low fat kind.
 Clearly I forgot to take a picture before we dug in.

It came out delicious and Andrea conquered the challenge of making a flourless dessert by combining peanut butter, melted chocolate, sugar, and egg and baking it. It was basically a zip lock bag full of deliciousness. We also got to use our Easter straws from our basket from my mom.
Yesterday I attempted to go to Body Pump but found out they had changed the schedule and it was now Body Sculpt. I'd been wanting to try that class for awhile, so game on. 
OH MY GOD I thought I was going to die ten minutes into the class. You do 4 minutes on each body part, there's no breaks like body pump, and the instructor decides on which moves you do (not like body pump where they have to follow a script to music). IT WAS ROUGH but in a good way. I'm surprised I can move my arms today.

I went back to the Baltimore Area Triathlon Club bike ride. I think the instructor realized we were a little more "beginning" than she had previously thought. She brought three other expert cyclists and we had a little class on gear shifting, then practiced on a 4.5 mile ride around parking lots with NO traffic. 
 Can you spot me?

In my class, the "zebra" group is the low reading group. Let's just say I was in the zebra group for biking. BUT there were some new people and I wasn't the slowest anymore! The instructor even told me to try to catch up to the other group at the end and I did it! I'm sure I'm the only biker that passes people going uphill and loses the group on the downhills (loses as in, I'm too slow to keep up). Eric had his eyes dialated and claimed he couldn't go because "light hurt his eyes" and he "couldn't see", so I was on my own. I guess it's a good thing since the triathlon is all women so unless he's going to sneak in dressed in drag I better learn to ride without him. I am proud to say I reached my goal of not crying during the bike ride.

When I got home we did our 15 minute workout which I'll refer to as "Operation Pull Up". That's two days in a row, a personal record! My arms were shot after Body Sculpt but I did my best.

Do you get nervous cooking for others or having people over? Do you have a "go to" dish?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I hate thinking of titles so Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!
Last night I returned to the scene of the crime where spring break began. 
Eric and I had tickets to go see my friend Eileen in The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Turns out the theater was less than a mile from Tabor Ethiopian, where I ate my face off last week, so this was the perfect opportunity to eat my face off there again with Eric (we have been obsessed with finding a good Ethiopian place in B-more). 
If the name of the play doesn't tell you enough, the play was hysterical and Eileen and her husband were amazing in it. We loved the music too.
Here's how I found my hot date when I woke up at 7:30 to go for my run. 
He doesn't read the blog so I can post tons of embarrassing pictures of him and he'll never even know it, unless someone tells him, which they probably will, but chances are he still won't read it.

This morning I met Mike at Loch Raven Reservoir for a ten mile run. The one time I didn't bring my camera the sun was shining and the views were absolutely gorgeous. We met there specifically for the hills. In ten miles, we climbed 2433 feet. It was intense, but last time I ran there I was in denial that I had bronchitis, so this run actually felt way easier with the use of my lungs. We kept a good pace considering the hills and I am now obsessed with taking pictures of my Garmin.

When I got home I had coffee and breakfast on the patio, in shorts and a tank top, while reading The Kitchen House (which BTW I could never finish in a day, I am way too slow of a reader), and was basically in heaven.

One cool thing about biking is you don't have to worry about your stomach and obsess over the right foods to eat like running. I took my last bite of oatmeal and last sip of coffee and wheeled my new BFF out. I think my bike needs a name.

Eric and I did 5.68 miles around our neighborhood (climbing 492 feet, trust me it felt like a lot), although maybe I should mention I refuse to talk on the bike because 100% of my energy goes in to staying upright, and I should definitely mention that I kicked his a$$ on the uphills. 
He's not coming off too well in this post so maybe I should also mention I do consider him to be the world's best husband, partly just for putting up with me.
Last Monday we did a 15 minute upper body workout that we swore we'd do every night. Well we completely failed at that over spring break but we swore now that we are back to our regular routines we will start. 

5 sets of 30 jumping jacks, 15 pushups, 10 sit ups (not crunches) as fast as you can. This time I did 68/75 pushups on my toes.

Then 4 sets of holding myself on the bar for me and actual push ups for Eric. I did the first two sets with my wrists facing me and the second two with them faced away, apparently it works different muscles. I held the first two for 20 seconds, and the second two for 12 and 11. Someday I WILL do a pull up!

It hurts less if you take ridiculous pictures. If you want a 15 minute workout that will leave you sore for at least 3 days, DO THIS.

 No joke - this is what I looked like when I came down after 20 seconds. Longest 20 seconds of your life.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My husband is the world's deepest sleeper

I'm back! It's been a busy few days/lots of typing for my project few days which = I don't feel like staring at the screen and typing more on the blog. But then I miss it. It's a complicated relationship.

  1. Visiting Gram in PA! Eric and I drove up while my mom and Vince drove down and we all hung out with Gram on Wednesday and Thursday. She's basically taken over the hospital and has everyone at her beck and call. She's one of those people that always knows what to say in every situation to get people laughing, diffuse tension, and ultimately make everyone around her feel comfortable and cheerful, and it's pretty much impossible not to like her. Obviously my mom inherited that trait 100%, and then the gene pool let me down, passing me the serious anxiety trait instead, which is now unleashing itself full force on the bike.
  2. Going to a clinic for Irongirl Triathlon given by all sorts of pro (in my mind) triathlete women with tons of good tips to get ready. They gave away awesome prizes, most worth over $100, but I didn't win. They also had made to order crepes, but they only had meat fillings. Good times though.
  3. Eric fell asleep on top of the covers in the hotel in PA. This shows me and my mom literally using all our strength to attempt to pull them out from under him, while he peacefully sleeps. After Vince took that picture he joined us and was able to yank the blankets out. Eric remembered none of this the following morning.
  4. Baking bread – I am obsessed with my breadmaker. This is whole wheat that's almost gone already and I made cinnamon raisin last night.
  5. Speaking of food, I made a mole burger from KathEats last night. Mole is a Mexican hot sauce with cocoa powder in it, and I've always wanted to try it. This wasn't exactly the same thing but it was really good, a very unusual flavor. I recommend trying it if you are into weird foods that most other people think are gross.
  6. Made cinnamon almond/pecan/walnut butter (just now, actually).
  7. Called in the professionals (Vince) and learned to take a picture of my Garmin!
    Ya.... don't look at the time....LOTS of walk breaks!
  8. Seeing Water for Elephants –
    loved the book,
    loved the movie. 
  9. My mom got me an awesome Easter basket with my new favorite - a chocolate covered peep! 
    If you are in the .19% of the population who like peeps and in the sane part of the population that is obsessed with chocolate, you will love it. She got Eric one too, but that was gone within 24 hours. I like to feel superior because I supplement my Easter candy with ice cream so it lasts longer. 
That about brings us up to speed. Did Jillian Michael's No More Trouble Zones (with the usual crying, cursing, and screaming in pain) with 30 minutes elliptical Wednesday, went for a 7 mile tempo run along a river in PA on Thursday, and Friday was a rest day.

I just did a 17 mile run with Mike and Lily, to train for my upcoming 50k race. We were super lucky it didn't rain, considering it poured on the way to and from the run.

I didn't know it at the time, but I risked my life changing clothes in a McDonalds before driving home from the run. The girl in the black is a student at my husband's school. Middle school.
I have a hilly ten miler planned tomorrow so I took my third ice bath when I got home. Eric couldn't believe how fast I got in, and said my reaction was now too boring and was not longer interested in videotaping every ice bath (I didn't really know that was the plan, but....). I think I am actually getting used to them. 
(I'm wearing a bathing suit, family).

Ice bath followed by stretching, foam rolling, shower, and compression socks. The whole 9 yards.

We have a hot date planned for tonight!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Triple Tangent Tuesday (and then some)

I am dying to post because I want to show off my new layout. I did speedwork that I cut a bit short because my foot hurt and we didn't go biking because it was pouring and someone spent all morning working on a blog header instead of grad work. Not naming names though.

The bike scared me so much I forgot to post about Boston yesterday and apparently that is unheard of in the blog world. I did actually sort of follow it. We were supposed to go and cheer on my friend who is running it, but that didn't work out :(. 
 My super fast friend Rachel. One time we ran together when I was doing a tempo run and she was doing an easy run. I could barely keep up.

She did awesome though, and then I dreamt we were hanging out and she was wearing her jacket and I was totally jealous. Then I dreamt I could run a 4:30 mile (the winner's average pace), I mean half mile, I mean quarter, I mean just kidding, even in my dreams I couldn't do a half mile at that pace.

I wanted to participate in Janae's triple tangent tuesday because I'm in love with her, but I seriously can never think of tangents, which is really weird because I am so weird, I should have plenty of weirdo things to share. So I decided to find three random pictures and post about them.

And by three I meant as many as I want.

 One time Nicole had a 90s party. Best idea ever. These outfits are from Goodwill, but Casi and I actually were friends in the 90s and actually dressed much like that. She was smart enough to save her Smashing Pumpkins shirt for just such an event. I am making sure my kids save their outfits from every decade for future theme parties.
 Sometimes I like to wear giant purple leopard cowboy hats in bed. Honestly I don't remember ever taking this picture but it seemed to fit this post pretty well. Behind me is Nicole's school picture. Every year that we have been teaching we mail each other our school pictures in unmarked envelopes and post each others somewhere in our houses. Yep, best tradition ever.

Danielle asked about the birthday relay races my family participated in. 

Last year was the First Annual Roberts/Lindsey/Miller Birthday Bonanza.

My mom, brother, and sister all have August birthdays. Then Eric married in with his August birthday and all his fellow Augusters were all excited.  2010 was huge because in a matter of 3 days, Darcy would turn 21 and Eric would turn 30. All this excitement led to the creation of birthday bonanza.

Eric and I headed to Rochester on the Wednesday before Darcy's friday birthday. It all started with The French Toast Off.

This was actually unrelated and stemmed from my mom and I both happening to try new french toast recipes recently. Everyone tried half a serving of each and voted, Survivor style. It was very dramatic.
 The big winner:
Lesson learned: no matter how good a "lightened up" recipe is, it will never beat a full fat recipe in a cook off, and you are never going to beat your mom in a cook off anyway, but you should still try because it means you get to eat tons of delicious french toast.
The next day was Darcy's birthday and it was time for the birthday games to begin.

#1: Cupcake decorating contest

 Let's just note the hat she was wearing around the house at like noon.
The winner: Eric!
 #2 Water Balloon Toss

 #3 Who can carry the lit cupcake the furthest?
The winner: Vince!

And that's how we celebrate in my family, at least from 2010 on. 

What crazy tradition do you have with your friends or family?