Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Half-Full Triathlon: Done!

I finished! Barely, but I made it! A lot of things all kind of come together to make for an *interesting* day, but I'm glad I made it! Also, my husband came home early, and was there to help me out, which was amazing!

The Expo

The race expo was Saturday afternoon in Centennial Park in Ellicott City, MD. It was set up by the finish area for the race, and transition was very close by. I had a class softball tournament that day, but I left early to get to the expo around 3pm. The day was hot, much hotter than is normal for October, which boded well for race day.

After dropping off my bike in transition, I walked around the area a bit and scoped out the swim. The buoys were already out, but it was hard to get an idea of the whole swim from the start area.

There were some kids from the college teams doing workouts on the course, which would be a good idea. But I'm pretty lazy. I was sick most of last week with a terrible cold, so my taper had been very dramatic and included lots of soup and sleep.

That night I laid everything out one last time, packed my transition bag, and then went to a Brazilian steakhouse with Kevin and some friends for dinner. Nothing like a lot of medium-rare meat to get ready for a race! I tried to sleep early, but got to bed at almost 11, and woke up at 1:30 to call my husband and remind him that we needed to leave by 5:30. He stumbled in around 3, so I bet he was feeling great when the alarm went off two hours later :D

Race Day

Race Day came bright and early, as usual. Downtown Baltimore to the park was only about a 30 minute drive, and absolutely no traffic at 5:30 am! I left my husband to sleep in the car (he ended up driving back to get brunch with friends while I kept racing), and set up my transition area quickly before grabbing my wetsuit and heading to the swim start.

The first few waves were college teams, who were competing for their own championship. Immediately after them were several waves of Olympic racers. The Half distance waves were last. No idea why. The swim itself was gorgeous. The water was 74 degrees on race day, and the lake was perfect. No currents, an easy two-by-two time trial start, big yellow buoys, and just a little sun. I took it easy, since my chest was still pretty congested form being sick, and was quickly passed by the wave behind me. When I got out of the water, the first runner from the college swim wave was already starting the run. Good lord. \

I changed quickly, pulled on my bike shoes, and started the long, long bike. I did not know this part of Maryland has so many hills. I was planning on a 16 mph pace, which was slow enough, but I had a very hard time adjusting to my bike, and getting up to a comfortable level of speed. I ended up finishing in just under 4 hours, well over my goal time, but at least I finished! I was literally the last biker on the course, and had a police escort for the last 15 miles or so. The driver kept telling me, just one more hill! About the fifth time he said that, though, I think I gave him a pretty dirty look. It was still not the last hill.

Apparently I did not lube up my feet enough for that ride (or wear enough sunblock) because I could already feel the hot spots on my feet as I pulled on my running shoes. I stopped at a portajohn in transition, then started my first loop around the 2-loop run course. There were a few good hills on the course, but it was pretty easy compared to the bike. By mile 5, though, the blisters on both my feet were just getting bigger, every step felt like I was carrying a lot of extra weight, and I was walking pretty much the rest of the way. The run loop went by the finish line, where I saw everyone else celebrating, but I still had another 6 miles to go. Yay! As I passed the water stations (last runner, you know) I picked up some race team members, who finished the last 3 or 4 miles with me, all the way to the finish line. I think without them, I probably would've gone into full self-destruction mode. I am so thankful they walked me through those last few miles! As we got closer to the finish, they rooted me on, and I managed to jog the last couple hundred yards all the way to the finish chute, where I saw Kevin with a bag from Cheesecake Factory!! I finished in almost nine hours (!!!), my eyebrows were literally caked with salt, I had huge blisters on pretty much every part of my feet, and I am so glad I did it!

Kevin helped me home, picked up ice for a bracing ice bath, then he had to leave to drive back to Georgia. He's the best. I ordered pizza, took some advil, and sat up on the couch until it was socially acceptable for me to go to bed. I crashed. Hard.

The Day After

The next morning, I woke up, and I felt fine. Like my marathon last year, I thought my legs were tricking me. As I got out of bed, I could feel all the little twinges, but overall, ok. My shoulders were so tight, sunburned, and sore, I thought there was something wrong. I took another advil, drained the blisters on my feet, and pulled on some yoga pants and flip flops to go to class. For the rest of the day, I was drowning myself with water and gatorade, trying to rehydrate, and ate the rest of my pizza and breadsticks from the night before.

I still can't believe I did it.

BTW, the long sleeve 1/4 zip top we got was awesome, and the medal was gorgeous! It included a bottle cap opener function! So practical!

I'm pretty sure that after all this, I told Kevin to never let me sign up for another these. But, of course, two days later, I'm already forgetting how miserable that bike was, and thinking about next year. Eh? 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Two weeks to go

Two weeks to go until the Half-Full triathlon!

This is the point where I think that maybe I didn't do quite enough training, maybe my long workouts weren't long enough. At this point, though, I'm ready to just get it over with!

My last few weeks have been focusing on speed rather than endurance, so they've all been 20 miles or shorter on the bike, and around 7-9 miles of running. All of the workouts this week felt great, the pace feels great, and I definitely feel fit.

My biggest worry is probably going to be the weather. It's been around 70 over the past week, which is a lot cooler than I'm used to. I heard that last year was cold the day of the race. I don't even know if I have proper layers for a cold race!

I also cleaned up my bike and made sure it's all ship shape. Here's hoping for another great race with no problems!

This week will be another week of shorter workouts, and then an easy taper next week. After that, it's a month of no guilt, yoga, and not eating whatever I want!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Rock N' Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

So, life as a law student has been pretty busy, and this is a little delayed. I can't believe it's already September 11!

As I said earlier, RnR VA Beach was one of the most terrible races I've done, for many reasons.

First, the expo. It was at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in downtown VA Beach, which would also be the starting line. Traffic getting into the area was terrible, and parking at the convention center was a hot mess. Virginians simply do not know how to drive. I definitely finished out the weekend with some serious road rage.

The expo itself was just fine. I picked up my packet, around 3:30 on Saturday, and there were lines at almost every table. I then went through and got my shirt (they made me get a women's, not a unisex shirt), and picked up a swag bag and clear plastic bag for bag check. I also made sure to pick up a race guide, since they weren't in the swag bags in San Diego. After perusing the booths, my friend and I checked into our hotel and got some dinner.

Early the next morning we were up and drove a short bit to parking. There was off-site parking about 20 minutes away from the start line, and it's a good there we planned on getting there early. There was traffic. It was terrible. There was a line over a mile long just to get into the parking area, where only a few people were guiding cars. TERRIBLE!!!

The line for the shuttle buses was short, and went quickly, so I did get to the start line about 15 minutes before the start. I handed off my bag instead of checking it, and my friend headed to the boardwalk to wait for the finish.

For some reason, they started the 5k runners in the first wave. So by the time my wave (I started with 6) got out, we were dodging between people with strollers and walkers in giant tutus. Despite that, I was on the move! I was feeling really strong from all the extra training I've been doing, and was really hoping for around a 1:50 at this race. I hit mile 2 in less than 16 minutes, and decided to slow down a bit. When I did, I immediately felt the sun come out, my face felt like it was on fire, and I regretted it a little.

After this, it was all downhill. As the sun came out, it crept up to 95 degrees, with an unearthly amount of humidity. By mile 5, I could feel my calves cramping, and everything I had was soaked and dripping. Every water station was packed with people trying to get water. I started seeing a lot more people stopping and sitting down or passing out on the side of the course, and many of the volunteers didn't know how to deal with it all. There should have been ice sheets at every water station, and volunteers more spread out so runners weren't stuck a mile in between stations with someone who had passed out.

I slowed down considerably, and ended up finishing in 2:40, handily the WORST time I have ever had recorded (minus the Disney Princess Half with Kevin). I am eternally grateful to all the kind people who sprayed us down in the last few miles, and the one group that was passing out popsicles!! Truly a lifesaver on the course!

The finishing area was a complete madhouse. There were a few fans blowing cool air, and runners were crowded around, dripping sweat. There was no cold water or gatorade, since they were passing it out faster than it could chill, and apparently they hadn't thought to chill enough in advance. As usual they passed out more stuff than I could handle, and ended up with a banana and granola bar down my shorts while hoarding two bottles of gatorade and two cartons of amazing chocolate milk. I finally emerged at the other end, and met my friend in the family reunion are, right on the beach. I tried to sit down for a second before realizing I was dripping, and I almost passed out bending over to take my shoes off. More chairs or more space would be appreciated in the reunion area!! We struggled back to the shuttles and hurried back to the hotel for a COLD shower and lots of ice.

At least I didn't have as bad a race as this guy. May he rest in peace.

Kudos to my friend Holly for her cute little pictures, and making me stand up tall for that after pic! I literally wanted to pass out.

The medal was a cute little starfish!! And the Brooks shirts are awesome, as usual. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Back from the Beach: Rock N' Roll Virginia Beach 1/2 Marathon

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend! I escaped the craziness of the Baltimore Grand Prix, and headed south for the weekend, with some time in Richmond, Colonial Williamsburg, and Virginia Beach for the RnR 1/2 Marathon.

To start, I hate Virginia drivers. So much. Maybe those cops need to stop pulling people over for stupid reasons, and teach them how to MERGE without backing up traffic for a mile. So frustrating.

Second, this weekend I learned to throw the plan out the window and be happy with finishing. That seems to be a pretty big theme for this year.

I'll write a full race review later, so let's suffice it to say I was going in planning on a new PR. I've been feeling great during training, added lots of extra strength, and was really feeling a 1:50 or so. WRONG! I finished in 2:40, threw up, and almost passed out at the finish line.

Also, one might think that, with so many events around the country, the Rock N' Roll people would have this race thing down to a science by now.....but they don't. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First week of law school, aka "tapering"

So, how was the first week of law school, you ask? It was great. Not so great for my enthusiastic training goals, but great for my future as a lawyer.

Since I'm still trying to settle into a rhythm, I have not yet decided what is better: getting up early to work out before classes (my first class isn't until 9:50 everyday), or working out after school, around 3 or 4, when I just want to relax my mind anyway. I've been going back and forth over the last few days, so hopefully I will come to a verdict soon.

In other news, I have the Rock N' Roll Virginia Beach this weekend! I plan on escaping the mess that will be Baltimore this weekend and relaxing in Southern Virginia. I did some lower body work yesterday, and my sore hammies this morning reminded me to take it easy for the rest of the week. I plan on doing some yoga (to get out this new crick in my neck) and lots of swimming. After this last race, it's all speedwork until I taper again! Hooray! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Week in review: More distance, Crossfit, and Volunteering for IronGirl Columbia

This week actually seemed to go by pretty quickly. I continued with my distance-based training, and included two long bike rides and a group run. School starts tomorrow though, and I'm definitely ready for a real schedule again! Here's what my week looked like:

M: 30 minute row/full body circuit
T: 20 mile ride
W: upper body circuit/4.5 mile group run
R: 16 mile ride
F: 4 x 1 mile intervals and full body circuit
S: Crossfit WOD

On Saturday, I did a Crossfit WOD with the Team RWB chapter here in Baltimore, over at Crossfit Harbor East. The WOD was for groups of 3, and included 25 minutes AMRAP of 400m run, then the 3 partners splitting 16 wall balls, 14 dips, and 12 burpees. My team did 6 complete rounds, plus some more, as well as 10 tire flips. My legs were/are screaming!

Today, Sunday, I was planning on doing my last long run of 10 miles before tapering to get ready for RnR Virginia Beach in two weeks. I just spent six hours volunteering at Iron Girl Columbia, though, and I'm pretty pooped.

Since I wasn't able to sign up for Iron Girl Columbia in time (due to, you know, not knowing where I was going to live until a month out from moving), I decided to go ahead and volunteer. I always appreciate the awesome volunteers on courses I do, and now I really appreciate them!

I showed up this morning about 6am, 45 minutes before the first wave. For the first hour I was on transition zone duty, checking wristbands and trying to answer questions. Once the race started, I was stationed at Bike Out/Bike In, and spent literally 4 hours yelling at some awesome athletes about which way to go next. Also, yelling at other athletes to get off the course after they finish! Seriously, I know it's the most convenient way in and out of transition, but just because you're done doesn't mean the 2800 other athletes out here are done too. Get off the course.

If you haven't yet, I would highly recommend volunteering for a local race when you are in training or just can't race. It's incredibly inspiring to see everyone out there racing for their own reasons, and your support is much appreciated! I'm definitely going to be volunteering for more races this year, pretty much every that I don't have time to sign up for! 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pre-outing snacking

I admit, I am a huge snacker. Since I tend not to eat large amounts at meals, I snack a lot in between. Sometimes this is ok, such as when I haven't been to the grocery store in a while and all that is available to snack on is carrots. When I'm all by myself, though, I tend to keep ice cream around, or sometimes even Cheetos, which make much better snacks. Of course, all this snacking doesn't make me hungrier at meals.

I have been trying to cut down on this by eating "mini meals" between my "real reals." That is, basically, treat snacks like a meal, and plan for them. If I plan on eating an apple and peanut butter at 3, just like I planned on having salad for lunch, I am less likely to go for the Cheetos.

Since I did actually write down my meal plan today, and mostly followed it, I decided that going out for trivia night tonight isn't going to ruin a good day! I'm sure I'll probably snack on some yummy bar food, but rather than eat dinner there, or eat dinner at home and be anti-socially refusing food, I made a mini-meal before leaving home. It's basically just a half version of what I was planning on eating: a quarter of an avocado, black beans, and about 2 oz. of grilled chicken breast.

Now I am decently not hungry at all, plenty of protein to keep me full so I can skip the wings, and nutritious enough. I'm so responsible....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Packing for Europe

Packing for Europe coincided with not only a race weekend, Rev3 in Williamsburg, but also moving out of my house in Georgia. As a result, I tried to pack as little as possible, while knowing that what I packed would probably have to last three weeks or more before I could re-pack. As if that wasn't hard enough, I also had to keep my one backpack to to under 30 pounds.

Here's what I packed, minus my hot pink UnderArmour sweater:

- 1 x long sleeve black shirt (ok, it was the Rev3 finisher shirt, I loved it)
- 1 x white t shirt
- 3 x tank tops, one white, two in different shades of coral
- 1 x pair of jeans
- 1 x maxi dress
- 1 x running skirt
- 1 x navy blue sweater

I actually took the color scheme from the skirt, since it has pretty much all my favorite colors in it. Any of the shirts could go with it, as well as with the jeans. The blue sweater I layered with the tank tops, and also had a navy blue scarf that I could layer when it was that chilly. The maxi dress I wore on the train, in Rome, and hanging out in the terminal waiting to come home.

My favorite piece was actually the running skirt. This one is the Happy Girl skirt from Skirt Sports, and had shorts underneath it. I wore this in Rome with a tank top and flip flops. The pockets on the undershorts were great! I was able to tuck my metro pass and money in the pockets for easy access, for extra security, and it was also super comfy. The jeans would have been too hot for Rome during June, and the full coverage from the shorts was just the right amount of comfort.

In addition, I packed 14 pairs of underwear (old pairs that were on my throw away list; I just happened to throw them away in Europe), 2 sports bras, 2 regular bras in nude, 2 pairs of socks, and one bikini.

My hygiene kit was also minimal. I brought a large travel towel in a mesh bag, and 1 oz toiletries I stole from the hotels we stayed at along the way. Pretty much everything was travel sized so it would be easier to carry, and if I had to throw it out, no big loss!

I definitely felt that this was a perfect amount of clothes for two weeks, even without laundry facilities. Minimalist packing made it easy to pick out an outfit in the morning, and it was easy to carry! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Week in review

Due to the fact that I don't actually have anything to do while I wait for school to start, my training has been going quite well :D

Before classes actually start, I am focusing on getting my training volume up to where it should be to prepare for the Half-Full Tri in October, then through September focus on speedwork and shorter, higher-quality workouts once classes start. So, my week looked like this:

M: 1 hr of yoga, 1200y swim
T: 90 min bike, 1 mi run cool down, upper body circuit
W: off
R: 1200y swim, full body circuit
F: 60 min bike, lower body circuit
S: 5 mile run, core

So, plenty of time logged at my new gym! Since I do have so much time, I am getting better at making myself do some strength training, even after a long bike ride. I still feel that core is a weakness, however, so I should get on that more.

In addition to all that, due to the closest grocery store being Whole Foods, I've also been trying to eat clean(er)! Smoothie before working out, protein shake after, pb&j for lunch with salad, and hummus for a snack. Now if I can just find a compromise for dinner that includes ice cream and pasta.....

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Just a few hours in Venice....

On the morning of Day 7 in Europe, we took a train from Rome to Venice. We knew that our time in Venice would be short, very short, since we wanted to get back home to the USA b Friday. Going Space-A, I didn't want to risk my chances of not having a flight available, since the 4th of July was coming up.

So, we arrived in Venice early in the day, and made plans to leave. Our options were train, heading back to Ramstein, Germany, or heading out into the Italian countryside and trying to get a flight out from Vicenza Air Force Base to Ramstein.

If you only have a few hours in Venice, take the Vaporetto! There is a fast line that zips down the Grand Canal so you kind of see everything without actually stopping. Of course I wish I had more time, since #2 on my list of things to do in Venice someday is have a Bellini at Harry's Bar. Maybe next time....

Other than the vaporetto, I did manage to grab some food, my last meal in Italy, and bought a little charm of murano glass for my charm bracelet. I admired the view from a view bridges, then headed back to the train station.

I then took a train, and a bus, out into the middle of nowhere, and used my very limited Italian to leanr I was about 5k from the American air base. Thankfully a kindly bus driver took pity on my poor ticketless self and dropped me off. Granted, he dropped me off at the Italian gate, and I had to walk around to the American gate, but once inside, a kindly contractor who spoke English picked me up and drove me to the terminal. Huzzah! I managed to squeeze onto a mail plane heading back to Germany that night, and was quite excited. Literally, squeezed on. It was a 5-seat plane, and our luggage limit was 30 pounds total per person.

I got into Ramstein, Germany, late that night, and decided to just stick it out in the terminal until they kicked me out at midnight.

The next morning, and the next after that, my friend and I waited in the air terminal for an open seat home. A few things I decided during this time: I will never travel long distances with children unless absolutely necessary. Sleep isn't really all that necessary. Air Force hotels are WAY nicer than Army hotels. Think 4 star plus for $50 a night! Also, the little German pastry shop in the PX is AMAZING!!

Late on the fourth of July, we finally got on a flight heading back to Dover, DE. This was a cargo plane, and the crew took pity on all of us waiting for flights and reduced their load as much as possible to fit a full 60+ passengers.  If you aren't familiar with cargo planes, they are very loud, very minimal, rather cold, and, in this case, full of children. I took a double dose of nyquil before boarding, passed out shortly after take off, and woke up just as we landed in Dover at about 1am. Best flight ever.

So, how to get from Dover, DE, to Baltimore at 1 am on the day after the fourth of July? Call the only open transportation company, which offers....a stretch limousine. Splitting it with 3 other people made the 90 minute drive very reasonable. Not to mention AWESOME!

We then drove from Baltimore to Augusta, switching out and making record time. Trip over! Back to my empty home. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Two Days in Rome

At the end of Day 4, we took an overnight train to Rome, and arrived in the morning on Day 5. All roads lead to Rome! For some reason, I was much more excited about Rome than Paris; when I first started thinking about traveling to Europe this summer, my plan included ten days in Italy, and *maybe* a side trip to France.

After dropping our bags at our cozy hostel not too far from the train station, my friend and I set off on our Roman Holiday (of course we watched the movie before leaving!). Since it was Saturday afternoon, and we weren't sure what all would be open on Sunday, we got some one-day metro passes at the train station and headed straight to Vatican City.

Day 5 

1pm: Vatican City. After a quick gelato stop, we got in line for St. Peter's Basilica. The line was very long, but mostly covered, so the heat wasn't too much. It moved pretty fast, since it was just to go through a security checkpoint, not to pick up tickets or anything else. Before entering the Basilica, there was another checkpoint with guards reminding everyone to cover their shoulders and knees. I was wearing a full length dress and brought a scarf to cover my shoulders, so all was good. Smart vendors were selling giant scarves for about 15 euros right by the checkpoint though.

Inside of St. Peter's is beyond description. It is huge, it is gorgeous, it is so full of works of the masters, I don't even know where to begin. The first stop for pretty much everyone is the Pieta, of course. After that, we walked around each of the side chapels, admiring every inch of gorgeousness. One thing I'd been waiting for was to rub the feet of St. Peter near the front. When we got there though, we realized it was June 29, the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul! The statue was roped off and dressed in full papal robe, the only day of the year it is adorned so. How serendipitous for us. We also stopped in the gift shop near the museo to get post cards, which you can mail from the Vatican City post office! I sent one to my little cousin, written in Latin of course.

3pm: lunch outside Vatican City. I just couldn't wait to get some tagliatelle.

4pm: Metro to the Fontana di Trevi. Of course I threw in a coin! So did Oreo.

5pm: Another gelato break. then we got hopelessly lost after finding the Pantheon, ended up at Piazza Navona, and then looked for the Coliseum to find our way back to a metro station. We grabbed some groceries in the train station as we headed back to our hostel to wipe our feet off and get ready for another day in Rome.

Day 6

9am: Up and at 'em! Sort of...waited a bit for my friend to snooze until I finally ripped her blankets off. We're in Rome! And it just happened to be the last Sunday of the month; the one day the Vatican Museums are open not only on a Sunday, but for FREE! But only from 9-1. After some cappuccino and pastry for breakfast, we hopped back on the metro and raced to Vatican City to find a line literally around the country. We stood in line for a little over an hour, which really isn't too bad, before getting in around 12. That left only 2 hours to explore thousands of years of art....including the Sistine Chapel. Up for the challenge! Again, there were guards outside the Sistine Chapel reminding ladies to cover up, so bring a scarf!

2pm: After exploring the Musei Vaticani, it was time for some Ancient Rome. After some pizza for lunch, we headed towards the Coliseum. A ticket at the Coliseum covers both the Coliseum and the Palatino, so if the line is long there, head over to the Palatino first.
The Coliseum is a lot of walking, very sunny, and kind of confusing. Yes, it is round, but some parts are closed off only for private tours. I defnitely took my time exploring all the levels, trying to imagine what it looked like full of people. Part of why it looks so decrepit (besides being 2000 years old) is because tourists used to take bits of it home, as a souvenir or as a relic of martyred Christians. That's illegal now, but I kind of wanted to take a piece of rock home with me anyway.

4pm: Palatino and Roman Forum. Just down the road is the back entrance to the Palatino, an area of excavations of ancient Roman homes. Mostly ruins now, it still gives you an idea of the kind of grandness that surrounded the ancient Romans.
At the other end is the Ancient Roman Forum, with the pillars and the ruins of the home of the vestal virgins, and the curiae, and pretty much everything awesome that you have ever read about. Walking the paths of the Romans is just so amazing. As you can imagine, I was kind of geeking out at this point.

5pm: After all that history, we explored some more of the other forums, outside this protected area. I can't believe Mussolini thought it was ok to try to cover them up....but anyways, after a bit of a walk, we found the Bocca della Verita....just after they closed. Too bad, we will never know if I'm a liar...or if my friend is as gullible as Audrey Hepburn.

7pm: We wandered back towards the Palazzo Venezia and had some dinner at a cafe there while watching everyone else on the streets. Yes, gelato was involved.

After such a long day, it was nice to get back to the hostel and just relax a little bit, after washing off our feet. This was the first time during the trip I wore sandals all day, and got some pretty awesome tan lines.

Getting around

The Roman metro system isn't that great; there are literally two lines, one across, one down, and they meet at the train station in the northeast part of metro Rome. A day pass is 6 euros. I didn't try any of the buses.

Our original plan was to buy a Roma Pass for 30 euros, which includes a 3 day metro pass and admission to two sites listed on their website, and discount tickets elsewhere. Since we ended up paying only for the Coliseum, 12 euros, it was just as well that we didn't buy that. But if you want to see a lot more sites, go for it.

Rome is even worse for pickpockets than Paris is. Keep everything zipped up tight, and don't keep everything in one pouch! I had money in pretty much every pocket on me, and my passport, ID, and debit card were in separate pockets as well. Also, pack sunblock, it's very hot and sunny in Rome, and a scarf, for all those historic sites. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

New shoes!

So, I recently realized that, due to my shopping spree last Fall, I haven't bought new shoes since December. I've been wearing my hot pink Asics since then, when I bought two pairs. Usually I buy at least three pairs of running shoes a year, so it's definitely time for new shoes!

I just bought a new pair of the Asics GT-2000. Aren't they gorgeous?!

I'll be breaking these in over the next few weeks, and probably wearing them for all my fall races. I love the bright color of the laces, but I think my pink elastic laces will do the job just as well.

Hopefully Asics does another round of pink ribbon shoes in October, so I can can stock up on more hot pink shoes ;) 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The In-Between Days: Paris to Rome

On Day 4 of our adventure, my friend and I woke up, checked out of our hostel, and headed to the train station. Our initial plan was to get tickets to the south of France, spend the evening admiring the water there, and then take a train from Nice to Milan to Rome the next day.

When we got to the train station, though, we found out all the trains from Paris to Marseilles or Nice were pretty much full until 6 that night. After weighing our options, we decided to spend another day in Paris, then take an overnight Thello train directly to Rome.

That meant another day in Paris!

We took the metro out towards Hotel de Ville, and wandered around for a little bit. We saw Village St-Paul, which used to be a convent but is now a bunch of little shops. Then we wandered over to Place des Vosges and saw Victor Hugo's house, now a museum.

We also stopped at Mariage Freres, the oldest tea shop in all of Paris. I picked out one delectable-smelling tea to send to Kevin, but they were all out! After some more shopping and a late-afternoon lunch of cheese and wine, we headed back towards the train station to pick up our bags and get on the train to Rome!

Since it was an overnight train, we got a bunk in a compartment. At first, we were in our own compartment, but then got moved to a different one with two other ladies, both from Hawaii! My friend and I both got top bunks, which I didn't mind too much since I was able to spread out all my junk on the luggage racks. I stayed up probably until about midnight reading, so I heard the announcement when we went through Switzerland. I am totally counting this as a country, even though I didn't get off the train! After some sleep, we woke up, and were in Italy! 

Best Travel Buddy: Moleskine City Notebook

While doing all my research for traveling to Europe, I knew that there was no way I wanted to carry around a huge guidebook with me. For one, they're heavy, and you really only reference a few pages at a time. For another, what screams tourist more than carrying around an English guidebook?

Thankfully, while browsing my local Barnes & Noble shortly before leaving, I found a solution with the Moleskine City Notebooks. Now, I love Moleskine anyway, and keep the small weekly planner and a blank notebook with me pretty much 24/7. My current favorites are the Star Wars editions, obviously, though I did just find a houndstooth print that's pretty cute......Anyway, I already had one with all my little notes about Paris, so when I found the Paris city notebook ON SALE at Barnes & Noble, I snatched it right up.

This notebook is the standard small size, 3.5" x 5.5", with a black leather hard cover and elastic band. On the inside are lots of maps, with a street index for each small map, as well as a metro map which folds out. VERY HELPFUL!

After the maps, there are several blank pages, as well as tabbed pages you can use for whatever you want. Some tabs have images on them, for restaurants, hotels, shops, and such, but there are also several blank tabs, and included tab stickers, so you can label and arrange them yourself. I included tabs for itinerary, museums, budget, and words, where I wrote down useful phrases I just can't remember (two years of college French, and I still don't know left from right...).

Clearly, I didn't really follow my notebook itinerary all that well.....

I liked being able to write down the map page number in my notes, for easy reference to wherever it was we were going. Also included were several pages of tracing paper, so I made a map overlay for the metro map highlighting our hostel stop and any stops near where we wanted to go.

And, like all Moleskine notebooks, there's a pocket in the back. I was so paranoid about pickpockets that I actually kept my debit card, some cash, and ID in this back pocket, rather than carry a wallet. Since I mostly walked around with this in my hand anyway, referencing my notes, making new notes, or looking discretely at a map, I knew no one was going to take that thing from me.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a Rome notebook before I left :( Even when I got to Rome, and saw the Moleskine store in the middle of the Termini train station, they were all sold out of Rome city notebooks! Which is a shame, since they also had a Rome Moleskine stamp right there in the store! Since I've been back, though, I've been snatching them up off ebay for pretty much every city I want to visit, both here and abroad (note: that's all of them). Washington DC for $2.50? You bet I got that one! I'm actually really glad I got this one, since I live so close to DC now. I already wrote down exhibits I want to see this fall, marked my most common metro stops, and put my smart trip card in the back pocket where I will NEVER lose it again!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Two Days in Paris!

Since I knew I would only have a short time wherever I went, I did a lot of research for every city I went to, and decided on what would be most important to see. Here is what I came up with for Paris.

We took an express train from Germany to Paris, and then spent much of our first day trying to find a hostel. Since we hadn't had time to book one before leaving Baltimore, pretty  much everything was full up. We ended up at a Hostelling International property a little far from the city center, but it was definitely cheap! We then took the rest of the day to charge all of our devices, do some research, grab some dinner, and go to bed early for a big day in Paris!

For our itinerary, we did use that first day to do some prep work. We got about ten metro tickets as soon as we arrived, so that we wouldn't be stuck anywhere. We also got the Paris Museum Pass, which was 39 euros for two days. It included a map and list for all the museums it covers.

Day 1
The Louvre, Jardin de Tuileries, Champs-Elysees, and Arc de Triomphe

9am: The Louvre opens. If you already have the Museum Pass, you don't have to wait in line! There is NO WAY you can see the entire Louvre in a day, or a week, so I decided to just stick with my favorites: Venus de Milo, Nike of Samothrace, Mona Lisa, and Ancient Art. I also explored the exhibits on the most bottom floor about the history of the Louvre. You might think it's just another museum, but no! The building itself has been a palace, dungeon, fort, you name it. That's why the Louvre is so cool.

1pm: Lunchtime. We ate at the Louvre; there are lots of options in the building itself, ranging from a really nice cafe to just snacks you can eat in the cafeteria area.

2pm: We took a detour to the Louboutin store on Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, then sauntered through the Jardin de Tuileries in front of the Louvre. These gardens are perfectly manicured and just as beautiful as the pictures. At the end is the Jea de Paume, now a photography museum, and Musee de L'orangerie, which houses Monet's Waterlilies. These are both included in the Museum Pass, so stop by!

3:30pm: Detour to Place Vendome and Cafe Angelina! Even in Paris, I enjoy some afternoon tea.

5pm: Stroll down to the Arc de Triomphe. We took most of this along the Seine, rather than straight down the Champs-Elysees, then cut over a few blocks before Place de Charles de Gaulle. You can absolutely climb to the top of the Arc (194 steps), and it is included with the Museum Pass, so why not? The view from the top is actually pretty grand.

7pm: Dinner. After some serious shopping along the Champs-Elysees, we grabbed some dinner at a little brasserie a few blocks off the Place de Franklin Roosevelt, and then headed back to our hostel.

Day 2
Versailles and Eiffel Tower

8am: Take the train to Versailles! Any south bank train station has the RER trains that go to the Versailles station, and it's just a short jaunt from there. We rented bikes from a place right outside the train station, and took those! Note: get your tickets before you head back! At the end of the day, there is a HUGE line of people trying to get tickets to return.

9am: The Palace opens around here, but it varies. The line is LONG to get in, but it moves fast. Once inside the area, we went through pretty much everything you can see inside. The Hall of  Mirrors, the state apartments, Mesdames' apartments, everything. After going through all of this, we biked out to the town to pick up some lunch. We then headed down to see the various other buildings. There's the Grande Trionon, the Petite Trionon, and the Queen's Hamlet, which also had cute little bunnies!

5pm: Train back to Paris. As I mentioned before the lines for tickets here are crazy! Buy in advance!
6pm: Eiffel Tower. Oddly, my in laws were also traveling through Europe this summer, and we met up beneath the Eiffel Tower! They decided to climb all the steps up to the second tier, since the line was shorter for that, but my friend and I opted to just wait at the bottom. Maybe if it were dark, it would be worth it.
8pm: Dinner. There are a ton of cafes and such around the Eiffel Tower, so of course we picked one and ate there. Delicious, as is to be expected.

There you have it, two perfect days in Paris. I hit everything that I really wanted to see, took time to enjoy it, and loved every second.

San Diego Comic-Con International 2013!!!

In between Europe and moving to Baltimore, I went to Southern California for a week. Kevin of course got tickets for San Diego Comic Con, as we do every year, and I didn't want to disappoint him by not going, even though the thought of going by myself seemed rather boring. But who can pass up a week in SoCal with my best friend (and in-laws...) and the chance to stand in line for hours on end for the most epic week in every nerd's year?

So, I went. After some time in HB with my bestie, including a day at Glen Ivy Hot Springs (think a grown up water park...but no lazy river), I headed down to SD to stay with family. 

Leave it to me to make SDCC boring. The first thing I added to my schedule every day was Comic Book Law School, a series of panels on intellectual property law and how it applies to current creators. There was no line to get in, obviously. I went on Thursday and Friday, and then skipped out on Saturday's to stand in line elsewhere.

Next on my list of things to do was hit up the Her Universe booth every day! They were doing special t-shirts every day, so of course I got them. First day I just got the Padme shirt, which I've been waiting for. Friday was the most awesome Jaina shirt, and Saturday was Mara Jade. Definitely totally awesome. I love these shirts; they fit awesomelly (is that a word?) and I love the designs. Three of my favorite characters!  In the past, Her Universe has had limited edition charms, but none this year :( Boooo. The only one I don't have was the Naboo charm, which is the one I really, really wanted!! 

There wasn't really a line at this booth, but some of the booths with SDCC exclusives can get CRAZY!! I had a list of stuff that Kevin and some other friends wanted, but wasn't able to get much. Partly because I didn't like to stand in lines, and partly because they were sold out before I even got there!
The line systems are SDCC vary greatly. Most booths have only a small area they can hold a line, so you kind of have to wander around in the area until they announce that the line is actually open for whatever it is you want. Sometimes lines just appear out of nowhere, when a booth starts a giveaway for example. And some lines you need a wristband just to get into the line. It's crazy. So many lines!!!

Then of course, there are the lines for panels. Hall H and Ballroom 20 are the two most popular areas, so that's where the CRAZY lines are. People literally sleep overnight in these lines. But the panels they get into are the stuff SDCC dreams are made of.

I chose my line-standing time wisely. I did stand in line to get a voucher for a t-shirt. That line was actually about an hour and a half, BUT it was during what I had scheduled as down time anyway, AND I was in line right next to a wallplug, so I was able to charge my phone at the same time. Plus I had a new book in my bag. I also stood in line for about two hours to get into the How I Met Your Mother panel, which would have been AWESOME, but alas, I was still 20 people back when they closed the room. 

I did get into some good panels, though. Other than the Comic Book Law School ones, I did get to see Warehouse 13 for their last panel. I also went to some panels on women and body image (totally random) and marketing to "fangirls," moderated by the woman who owns Her Universe. 

Just wandering around the area and seeing everyone in their crazy costumes is pretty fun, though. Lots of time and creativity on display there.

The last day, I checked my final thing off my SDCC list: getting my picture taken with Zachary Levi!!! This has been on my list every year, but I always miss the Nerd HQ tweets that send out when he's doing pics. I totally lucked out this year, though, and just happened to be walking by Nerd HQ just when they announced a photo session. Score!
Yes, that is my new Jaina shirt I was wearing. And yes, this picture is now framed on my desk. I'm a grown up now, please, I'm not going to just pin it on a board somewhere!

So, there's my view of SDCC. It's fun, it's crazy, it's super crowded, and of course I'm glad I went. 

Flying Space-A

Since I am on active duty in the Army, and I was taking a lot of leave in between moving out of my house in Georgia and moving in to my new apartment in Baltimore, I decided to try out this Space Available program the Armed Forces have.

Quite basically, the Army (and AF, Navy, etc) move around a lot of people, going to and from Europe and the Middle East and Asia. They also move around a lot of equipment. For these missions, they have a mix of contracted commercial flights and cargo planes. Whenever these flights have empty seats on them, other service members who are not on official travel orders are allowed to request these seats for personal travel, basically for free (or a small tax).

Summer, of course, is a high season for military travel. People are moving to new assignments overseas before school starts again, and families are trying to travel during summer block leave times. There are fewer available seats for personal travel, and more people competing for them.

But, in order to save the $1000+ on a plane ticket, my friend D. and I decided to try our chances. Right after the Williamsburg Rev3 race, we headed to Baltimore, where one of the main Space-A terminals is at BWI airport. Flight schedules are posted about 72 hours out, so we knew that Saturday night a flight with 100 seats had left, clearing out a lot of the people waiting for flights. Lucky us! We got to the airport Monday morning around 11, and signed in, then settled in to wait.

After two smaller flights left out in the afternoon, we were both holding out for one last flight, leaving at 10:30 Monday night for Ramstein, Germany. The initial roll call for the flight was at 7pm, and we were still far down the list. They did announce that more seats would likely open up before the flight left! We looked around, and saw that a lot of families with kids had already  left for the night, which bumped us up on the list. We grabbed some Starbucks, and decided to wait. At about 10, they did the secondary roll call, and we both made it on the flight! Huzzah!

Oreo waiting in BWI
The flight was a contracted commercial flight, and was filled with a mix of soldiers going on to Afghanistan or Turkey, families PCSing to Germany or Italy, and about 80 of us on personal travel. I got stuck in row on a middle seat of the middle row. Not ideal, but it was an overnight flight. We got two meals, dinner and breakfast, and two movies. Thankfully, though, I slept through most of the flight. We touched down in Germany bright and early, breezed through customs with our single bags, and went to grab some coffee and euros before heading to the train station.

Next stop, Paris!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Europe: By the Numbers

Twelve Days.
Five Countries.
Three Trains.
One Bicycle.
One Mail Plane.
One Commercial Plane.
One Cargo Plane.
One Stretch Limo.
Five Museums.
Four UNESCO Heritage Sites.
Two Hostels.
Countless Macaroons.
Three Gelatos.
One Backpack.

So, that's my trip to Europe by the numbers. Sounds fun, doesn't it. I'll try to break it down a little bit more for you, what I packed, what I saw, and how I got there. First, though, let me introduce Oreo the Panda!

My little sister sent me Oreo when I was in Iraq, which started The Adventures of Oreo the Panda. His latest adventures were these, throughout Europe. Of the entire trip, I have literally two pictures of myself. Most of my pictures are of Oreo. It just seems better than getting an up-the-nose selfie in the middle of Paris.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Adding in some strength training...

So, since I just joined a gym, I decided to take advantage of all the awesome trainers there to get some help adding some strength training to my running-biking-swimming-running training ideas. Since, you know, I'm in the Army, I know I'm not weak, but I don't really feel that heavy weight is a strength for me, no pun intended.

So, I asked one of the trainers to come up with some workouts that aren't too much but that I could add twice a week or so with my current training plan. I met with her this morning to go over the workouts, and she kicked my butt.

I know, in my mind, that doing things like plyometric exercises and planks are good, and help with form and endurance when running. Actually making myself do them is another matter. Which is why, when this new trainer told me to do lunges and pop up on one leg, and go back down, 15 times, I wanted to die. The squatting laterals and planks, I can do. The walking lunges with weights, ok, I've done that before. But seriously. Jump up from a lunge? I hate those.

So anyway,I have a whole new plan, a trainer who works at my gym who asks me how I'm doing, and some seriously burning legs. At least there's a Cheesecake Factory just a few blocks from my apartment.....

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Settling in....Baltimore

So I'm finally starting to settle in here in Baltimore. All my stuff is in my apartment, and I finally got to go on my first run here! I'm living in Inner Harbor area, and decided to go for a fun run to Fort McHenry, about 7 miles total. The route is pretty easy, I didn't get lost once, and there were sidewalks to whole way. There were even a few businesses that had water coolers out on the sidewalk....so thoughtful! I carried my Fuelbelt Sprint handheld bottle, and filled it up a few times on the way. It was about 80 degrees out, but somewhat overcast, so it didn't feel too hot (especially knowing that it would about 98 in Georgia right now). I'm pretty excited to be here, and will definitely include this route a lot more in the future.

This week I also joined the MAC, a gym just a few blocks from my apartment. They have 3 pools, yoga and pilates studios, and a ton of classes. I'm definitely ready to jump into a new program now that I'm away from the Army's Physical Readiness Training program.

I'm definitely taking advantage of my free time now to up my mileage since I just registered for the Half-Full Triathlon in Columbia, MD, in October!! Not quite a 70.3 (the swim is only .9 rather than 1.2 miles) but I'm going to count it for my mid-distance tri this year. I'm pretty excited!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

In transit....

Wow. So I haven't been on here in a few weeks. What a crazy whirlwind life has been. Where have I been?

Well, immediately after Rev3 Williamsburg, I spent two weeks in Europe. Then I spent a few more days in Georgia cleaning out my house. I drove to Richmond then on to Baltimore, signed the lease for my amazing new apartment, flew to California, attended San Diego Comic Con, flew straight back to Baltimore, attempted to move into my amazing new apartment, was accepted to the University of Maryland School of Law, and am now trying to unpack the boxes taking up every inch of my amazing new apartment. I still am not entirely sure what time zone I'm in.

What an adventure. Needless to say. my training has kind of fallen to the side for right now. My next big race will be Rock n' Roll Virginia Beach during Labor Day weekend, and I don't know what will follow that. I am volunteering for the Marine Corps Marathon, running the Army Ten Miler, highly tempted to run an event in the Baltimore Running Festival, and visiting NYC to cheer on a friend who will be running the NYC marathon. Right now my plans for a half-ironman have fallen to the side, but once I unpack my poor bike, I'm sure my feelings will change.

Meanwhile, I am typing madly away at posts about all these adventures, which will be up soon, whenever I can find some internet!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Rev3 Williamsburg: photos!

I'm back! I haven't written for the past two weeks because I've been in Europe! So many adventures. Right now, though, I'm back, and in the process of moving to Baltimore. While I take a breather, here are some pics from Rev3 Williamsburg:

 This is me coming out of the swim......do I look absolutely relieved that it was over? It ended up being something like a 48 minute swim....ridiculous.

 Almost the last one out of bike transition! You can see all the swim to bike bags all over; everything we took off in T1 had t be put in a bag, and they were moved back to the finish line for pickup. Because of traffic, though, the bags weren't delivered until almost 2pm.

Running into the finishing chute! This torturous course had us run PAST the finish line, down a hill, back up the hill, and THEN into the finish line. I felt really bad for the Halfers who had to do that TWICE!

At the end, I just wanted to stop. But what do they do? They have a gaggle of volunteers in your face throwing things at you. They give you a medal, an ice towel that kept falling off, a water AND a gatorade, a finisher's t shirt...and then you're supposed to get in line for food. Where was I supposed to put all that crap?! Also, the shirt they gave me at the finish line was a medium, not small, so it's kind of big. Not a big enough deal to request a small. Also, it was long sleeved....weird for a summer race. Thankfully I had a friend waiting for me (hence this awesome picture) to take all my stuff so I could drink something and get some food.

And, the piece de resistance:
I'd seen the Rev3 medals before, and thought they were obnoxiously large. I was right. They are obnoxious. But gorgeous. Not as heavy as the obnoxious Disney ones, but still, huge.

So, there you have it. Overall, it was really well set up and organized, and a great experience. I look forward to maybe doing it again next year, but this time, more prepared for the awful swim.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Rev3 Williamsburg Olympic triathlon: race recap

I'm currently in the USO lounge at BWI waiting for a space-a flight, for a whole other adventure, but I'll try to get in a quick recap of my race yesterday. I completed the Olympic distance at Rev3 in Williamsburg, VA.

My friend D and I drove up to Williamsburg on Saturday morning, and got in around 3:30. We headed straight to the expo, and picked up my packet. It included my bib, bike stickers, stickers for the dry clothes bag and swim to bike bag, race number tattoos, swim cap, wrist band, timing chip and strap, and a blue Rev3 visor. We attended the race brief, with all the usual rules and course information, found my spot in the bike to run transition area, then headed down to the swim to bike area to check in my bike.

The drive to the first transition area was crowded and took about 15 minutes. I dropped my bike in my numbered spot, then walked down to the beach to look at the water. It really didnt look that bad.

After a team dinner with Team RWB, D and I crashed by 9pm at the super sketchy Super 8motel. The only good thing about this was how close it was to the start/finish area. We woke up at 4:30 and headed over by 5. Of course we got lost on the way and ended up walking an ended up going an extra half mile, in the rain, but got there in plenty of time to set up for transition 2. And then stand in line for 20 minutes for the buses to T1. By tghe time we got to the front of the line, they started front loading everyone who was doing tghe half, since their swim start was abiut 20 minutes away. We finally got down there though, checked my wet bike, set up T1, and headed to the beach to pull on my wetsuit.

My swim wave started right on time, and I was so busy walking around watching the first few waves and petting dogs that I almost missed the announcement for my wave. No time cor nerves! If I had known how the swim would go, I would have been considerably more scared.

The swim start was pretty good. It was so shallow we were able to walk almost 200 meters if you wanted to. After that, though, it got rough. It was raining at the beginning of the day, and the currents were sporadic. The first couple hundred meters were mostly me trying to get a rhythm, but after the first turn, I felt like I was swimming in one of those endless pools. No matter what I did, crawl, backstroke, breast stroke, the next buoy never got closer. To make matters worse, my calf cramped up something terrible, leaving me to crawl with my foot flexed trying to stretch it out without going backwards. At one point I did catch a current for maybe 75 meters, and took advantage to backstroke and calm down. The lifeguards were pretty far between, and I usually try not to grab on to them, but this time I had to just to stretch out. I got to the final turn, and just focused on the finish. I walked the last 100 meters or so, and I just knew the hard part was over. I wasn't dead last, there was someone in my wave right behind me, and obviously I didn't meet my goal of a 30 minute swim, but oh well.

The rest did seem pretty easy. The bike was rolling with great momentum. What goes down must go up seemed to be a theme. I took two gels, and, Except for a short moment, felt great.

The run course was also pretty great. There was one big hill, and very narrow, But not bad at all. My stomach did a good imitation of the water earlier, though, and I had to stop a few times to keep from throwing up. I finally finished though, And it felt great!

This post will definitely be updated later, with pictures, But for now, I have to run!

Monday, June 17, 2013

New shorts and packing

So, once again, I'm packing up everything I own and getting ready to move. This time, essentials are going with me to Baltimore, while everything else stays in storage in Georgia until my husband gets back from Afghanistan sometime next year. All the extra stress and work has definitely affected my training, but I have been more flexible with my schedule. Last week looked like this :

Monday: run with company. Pushed it a little since it was short
Tuesday: swim 1000m/core
Wednesday: bike ride 35 minutes
Friday: 3 mile post run

I added the nifty little dailymile widget so you can see more detail, when I remember to add them.

Friday was actually a little rough, and I think my electrolytes were off. Even though the run was short and an easy pace (after an hour of standing around), my abs started cramping up pretty fiercely by mile 2. I made sure to drink some powerade during the day but didn't feel much better. Unfortunately this happens when I drink too much water and not enough flavor or salt in my diet. When the weather gets hot and humid or I adjust my training load, I know I need to balance my electrolytes, but usually forget. Maybe this summer will be smoother.

In other news, I ordered a new pair of shorts! The new redemption shorts from Skirt Sports come in their oasis print, and were on sale!
I have been wearing them everyday since they arrived, and love them. The cut is great, the print goes with just about every tank top I own, and the material is nice enough to be comfy without looking too sporty. They have a drawstring at the waist, a pocket on the butt, and a mesh liner. I definitely plan on getting a lot of wear out of these this summer!

I also got the gym girl skirt in this print. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Weather: Never assume!

Typically, I like to be very prepared for race day. I read previous race reviews, check the course and elevation, plan for nutrition and hydration, pack my race day bag, load up my ipod, lay out my gear......and check the weather. Since I do travel for big races, I try to pack light, and that means I'm usually not prepared for the local weather.

Never assume!

When I made my costume for the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I bought an Underarmour coldgear top, and wondered if my skirt would be warm enough. The skirt also happened to be a tennis skirt rather than a running skirt, so the pockets were sideways! When I got to Florida, it was actually about 80 degrees the afternoon before, and very humid the morning of the race. By the end of the race, I was dying in my coldgear top, and my camera had dropped out of my pocket several times.

 Lesson learned: If you're going to Florida, even in February, have a hot and cold option.

Opposite situation in San Diego. Even though I was planning on perfect weather in San Diego, and brought a tank top and t shirt options, with a running skirt, race day was cloudy and a little chilly. I didn't bring a jacket in my checked bag, so after the race, I was freezing! Even wearing the technical t shirt, I wasn't overly warm during the race. Perfect running weather, but cold after!

Lesson learned: Bring a jacket, even if it you expect perfect weather.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Planning ahead for 2014

Even though it's only June, I've already started working on my race schedule for next year! Planning and looking forward to exciting races is a big part of my life, so the earlier I start planning, the most I can get out of my race calendar. In addition, registration for some races opens up soon, and the cheapest prices are the earliest prices!

Since my plan for this past year went through September, I've kind of stuck with my fiscal year/Hannah year concept of time. I'm still debating which triathlon I will be doing this year, due to the change of plans with law school, moving to Baltimore, husband deploying, and such. My goal for 2014 is to stay local (in the DC/Baltimore area), rather than travel so much. I'm sure there will be a few notable exceptions, though.

My first event for HY 2014 will be the Army Ten Miler on October 20, 2013. I will also be volunteering for the Marine Corps Marathon expo on October 26, 2013. After that, I'll keep my late fall/winter calendar pretty open and focus on school. For 2014, I plan on registering for the Glass Slipper Challenge, the 10k and Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. That will be a travel race, of course, but I think it's worth it! In March 2014 is the Rock n Roll USA in Washington, DC; this might be a full marathon for me. Also in the spring will be the Iron Girl Columbia Half Marathon and the Nike DC Women's Half Marathon.

I'm still doing some research, and looking up fun races in my new home, so hopefully this will flesh out as time goes on. No matter what, though, I will hopefully be taking full advantage of my new region! (and perhaps investing in some real winter clothes)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy National Running Day!

It's National Running Day!

I suppose today is a time to celebrate why we run. For me, I run because I can. Because I feel so lucky that I am capable of running. I hope i never take it for granted, and never get too lazy.

And, to celebrate, I registered for the Rock 'N' Roll USA Marathon next March! It might be a little ambitious to plan on running a marathon in March during my first year of law school, and will probably require a lot of new wardrobe additions to adapt to running in Baltimore and not Georgia, but I'm up for the challenge! It's only about 3 weeks after the Disney Princess Half, so that will be a tight month. Plus, it was $20 off!

Meanwhile, I got my official orders to report to the University of Baltimore in August! Time to start packing up and getting everything ready to go, finding a new apartment, a new gym, and some new workout buddies. Think I can commit to the Baltimore Running Festival in October?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

San Diego Rock 'N' Roll: Race Recap

Race morning came so early! We woke up around 4:30, and were headed downtown by 5. For some reason, Kevin's mom offered to drop us off, even after we showed her the map with all the road closures. After a little confusion, we ended up right where we wanted to be. Since Kevin was doing Leg 2 of the relay, he took one of our bags and headed to the relay shuttles that were headed to the mile 6 area to wait.

Relay runners were allowed in any corral they wanted, so Katherine and I found corral 9, then dropped my bag off at gear check. Officially, the drawstring swag bag was supposed to be the checked bag, and a zip tie was provided so you could attach race number gear check tag to the bag. People were bringing all kinds of duffel bags and plastic bags and such, though, so I guess it wasn't really enforced. Gear check was organized by last name rather than bib number, which was odd.

The full marathon started at 6:15, then we stood around for a bit waiting for the half start, which ended up being 6:50. Katherine didn't seem to be too excited, so I tried to pump her up while we waited for the corrals ahead of us to go. They released the corrals maybe two minutes apart, so our start was right after 7. I took off up the first (rather shallow) hill, and realized Katherine was already employing her run-walk strategy. Oops. I tried to look for her, but ended up waiting for her at the first water station. After that, I just stayed with her all the way to mile 6. After she switched out with Kevin, we went off at a little under a 10 minute pace. After reaching the 10k point at 1:19, Kevin and I finished right around 2:30.

The course was really nice, being in San Diego and all, but not as scenic as I would've liked. Obviously the full marathon course covered more of San Diego, and the half was mostly through residential area, with some areas like North Park thrown in. There really weren't any major hills, except for one uphill and a downhill after the 10 mile mark. The weather was actually pretty great for a race; it averaged about 66 and was pretty overcast, but didn't rain. I was pretty cold after finishing, but of course it all cleared up by lunchtime and warmed up quite a bit.

Course support was really great. There were bands every couple miles, groups in costumes all along cheering everyone on, and great water stations. They had water and lemon-lime gatorade, which was pretty strong, but fine if you mixed them together. There was also a GU station around mile 8 or so, with lots of flavors available. Groups were manning the water stations, and the most memorable for me was the Big 10 Club of San Diego at mile 10 (I think?). They had a HUGE Michigan tent put up and had a ton of people passing out water and gatorade. I had to run almost the entire station before I found someone in an Ohio State t-shirt; I wasn't going to risk taking water from some Michigan fan. I didn't see a mile marker until mile 4; I think they were on the right side of the road while I was running on the left, six lanes over, but after that I looked for them and the clock.

The finish line this year was right next to Petco park downtown. San Diego is one of those odd towns that doesn't really feel like down town, so, even though I saw the 13 mile marker, I didn't feel like the park was close enough! It was though, and Kevin and I sprinted down the final stretch and across the crowded finish line.

At the end of the race, runners go into the "secure zone" for all their goodies, then go out to the family reunion area. The secure zone was crowded with people handing out medals (full marathon, half, and relay medals were all a little different), giving out water, cold towels, gatorade, Jamba Juice, powerbars, bananas, oranges, and everything else. On top of that, there were several medical tents with a ton of volunteers handing out ice and vaseline. After loading up with a towel, water, powerbars in my pocket, and a banana stuck down my skirt, Kevin stopped to take a quick finishers picture. These are always so flattering.

Kevin went in search of some biofreeze at the main medical tent while I headed to the H to find Katherine. She showed up eventually, and after Kevin came back, we headed over to pick up my checked bag. There was no line at my truck, so I grabbed it, chugged some water, and we explored the booths set up around the area. The merchandise tent was set up, with all the normal finisher's swag, and a huge line of people turning in their medals for engraving. There was also a booth from the Women's Running series, with a refresh station! They had face wipes, hair spray, spray deodorant, a ton of body sprays, lip balm, sunblock, and vanity mirrors.

I definitely took several of those sunblock samples. Since I usually pack face wipes in my checked bag, this booth was a great idea! We also got reusable grocery bags from the Von's booth, an ice mold and coupons form the Bacardi booth, and then headed over to the after party at Petco Park. 

Inside the park a bunch of vendors were open selling more food, people were milling around trying to stay out of the wind that was very strong through parts of the park, and a lot of people were taking seats to watch the awards, followed by the headliner concert with the Psychedelic Furs. No, I have no idea who the Psychedelic Furs are. Seeing all the elite winners was pretty cool, though; they had some crusher times! The big screen also showed live shots of the finish line area. 

Overall, this race was a lot of fun! It's definitely fun to do with a group, and if you want to do it just for time, the weather is perfect and the course is awesome! I didn't register for next year's but hopefully I can come back and do this again! 

Rock 'n' Roll San Diego: Expo

Finally! Saturday afternoon, Kevin, Katherine, and I headed downtown for the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego race expo at the San Diego Convention Center. We cruised around for a little bit looking for parking, rather than just pay the $10 at the convention center, and ended up walking maybe three or four blocks. The SDCC is absolutely HUGE (though it doesn't seem that big when filled with people at Comic Con), and this expo took up two of the halls.

Walking in, the first section that was enclosed was runner check in. Waivers with your bib number were sent out prior to, and I printed ours off and brought them with us. Check in was broken down by bib number, with about 1,000 numbers per table, and 30+ tables. You just had to turn in your waiver with photo ID, and they gave you your bib with timing chip attached, an envelope with pins and a zip tie in it, and, for the relay runners, their "baton," or drum stick. It went fast, and we met back up to head in.

The next area was t-shirt pickup and swag bags. The shirts were Brooks technical running shirts in either women's cut or unisex. You could only pick up the size listed on your registration, but exchanges would be available on race day if you wanted. Before heading into the main expo area, volunteers were handing out the swag bags. I should have checked the contents of the bag, but since it was a drawstring bag, I just threw it on and headed in. Oddly enough, our bags did not include the Event Guide, so I didn't pick one up during the expo. Again, should have checked!

 The first stop in the expo was, of course, the Rock n Roll Gear Shop. Kevin of course wanted a shot glass, so we got one of those. They also had little magnets that looked like the finishers medals, which was pretty cool.

My favourite bit of swag, though, was the charm! After leaving the RnR/Brooks/Moving Comfort store area, there was a little display case with all the new Rock N Roll Jewelry! There were two charm options, a race bib or tour stop, but the tour stop charms for San Diego were already sold out. I of course am a sucker for charms, and got the San Diego race bib. Now I can't wait to run RnR Virginia Beach!!!

Other highlights of the expo: Meb was signing autographs at the Powerbar booth! They were also handing out free samples of the powerbar babyfood, er, performance energy blends. I guess they're good on the go? Jamba Juice also had a huge booth, with samples! They also were giving out pace tattoos, which are great! I picked up several for both full and half marathon training. Having a little Jamba Juice logo on my arm will definitely help keep me on pace. They also had a spinning wheel, and I won a Jamba Juice water bottle! And they had 13.1 and 26.2 stickers! I stopped at the Divas series booth to see if they had discount codes, but they were only discounting if you registered the day of. Boo. I did sign up for a discount code from Run Disney, so hopefully they'll have a good deal for the Glass Slipper Challenge, since registration opens NEXT WEEK! I got some more sweatybands, since the one I know I packed somehow got lost between Atlanta and San Diego.

I wish I could have stayed at the expo longer, just browsing, but alas, I was stingy and didn't have enough quarters for the parking meter downtown. We had some errands to run and a birthday party to get to, though, so we were off!

With a 6:45am start time, I was hoping to be in bed by midnight, but after the birthday party turning into birthday drinks at Polite Provisions, followed by frantic deciding what we should wear and who should check a bag and did you put the right timing tag on your shoe and are we decorating the relay baton, all three of us ended up going to bed closer to 2:30, with our alarms set for 4:30. Great.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Race news: 1 June 2013

So, what's the latest news that I find interesting? Here's a quick roundup:
Apparently, Westin is hiring a RunWestin Concierge just for runners staying at the Westin for Rock n Roll events! If I didn't have a real job, I'd probably apply for this.

I have stayed in probably 3 Westins in the past couple of months, and I always make a point of stopping by the concierge desk to pick up a running map, whether I actually run or not. They're generally very accommodating about race schedules; when I stayed at the Westin Alexandria for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, they gave me a later checkout, recommended when I should leave for the metro, and had the shuttle to the metro station out front at 4:30am. Thumbs up!
National Running Day is June 5th. In grand tradition, any good celebration includes RACE DISCOUNTS! Here's my watch list so far; if I find any more, I will definitely post them!

US Road Sports & Entertainment 

  • Disney Princess Half Marathon registration opens June 11! Get an email reminder on their site. This one is expensive, so any discount helps. Also, traveling takes some planning! 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Words on packing for a race

Packing for an "away" race is always a bit tricky. For me, I always like to pack light, so adding an extra collection of running gear to what would otherwise be a small duffel bag is a necessary evil. I have, however, managed to make trips so short that I only pack running gear, such as my trip to DC for the Army Ten Miler.

The key to any packing process, though, is laying everything out, making sure it is there, and then packing it all at the same time. For trips, I typically start laying my packing list out a day or two before I actually need to leave. This lets me visualize everything I need, and see what I'm missing. Once things are all together, then you can pack them up; if you start putting things in a bag in bits and pieces, you might forget what you packed, leading to unnecessary doubles, or not pack something, thinking it's already in the bag.

For a race, the gear that I need to bring just for the race includes:
- running shoes
- underwear (sports bra and non-cotton underwears, as needed)
- running skirt/shorts
- running top
- socks x 2
- sunglasses
- hair band and/or visor
- race belt
- weather permitting: arm warmers, gloves, sweatshirt for before/after
- flip flops for post-race bag
- ipod and earphones
- gels x 2
- Clif bar for breakfast
- water bottle
- sunblock/bodyglide

For the most part, I can pack all of the clothing into a packing cube by itself, and all the odds and ends (ipod, gels, sunglasses) into a drawstring bag that I can use either for a checked bag, or hand off to my husband to bring to the finish line. In my bag I usually also throw my phone and wallet, so I have my ID and some cash ready at the end. Photo ID and, usually, a signed waiver is required for packet pickup; this I usually pack in whatever I am carrying to the race expo.

I'm headed to the expo for RnR San Diego tomorrow morning! My friend isn't coming down until tonight, so we'll have to go do packet pickup when she gets in.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ready for an #EpicSummerRun!

Everyone is getting ready for Rock n' Roll San Diego this weekend! The signs are up about road closures all over town, downtown is starting to get busy, and I am so excited!

The last week has absolutely flown by! Last week I visited my best friend in Huntington Beach, and got in a 6 mile run along the beach. If every run included this view in the middle, I would definitely be running a lot more:

While in HB, I also got in a visit to the Portola Coffee Lab in the OC Mart Mix at SOCO Collection. My friend described it as specialty coffee; what she meant was it is pretty much literally a lab. I loved how open the service area was, so you can see the roaster and all the gentlemen brewing every cup of coffee as it is ordered. I got a simply cappuccino, since I was worried about being late for my train back to San Diego, but watching them was just fascinating. This is their Kyoto drip coffee is apparently the most popular, and they were out when I was there :( Here is the contraption they use, though, which was absolutely mesmerizing to watch:
I never said I was a good photographer. 
For Memorial Day, Kevin and I spent some time down at the beach in La Jolla. Here's a beautiful San Diego sunset!

We also scouted out the new Stone Brewing Bistro in Liberty Station, ostensibly to try their Hops for Heroes IPA, which included Louisville Sluggers in the process. Beer that includes baseball bats, and raises money for veterans' charities? Another round! They were unfortunately out of the two items on the menu I wanted (mussels and pretzel grilled cheese) so I unfortunately ended up with the lobster roll. What a disappointment:

As you can see, I have been preparing well for this race! It is such a problem, to be here with beautiful weather and perfect streets with sidewalks, and yet I'm in full vacation mode, too lazy to want to do anything. Hopefully the beautiful scenery will be enough to push me through a sub-2:00 half!