Friday, February 26, 2010

A Fishy Cooking Challenge recipe

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday, I was home sick sleeping and eating nothing more than a few Saltines. We had an office potluck on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate winter birthdays and I must have eaten something that didn't sit well because I had to home early on Wednesday or risk tossing my cookies in the office.

The BF was super sweet though and came over armed with Saltines, chicken noodle soup and flowers to cheer me up.

I started to get my appetite back late last night while I was watching the women's figure skating finals. My heart ached for Joannie Rochette from Canada whose mom had died from a sudden heart attack on Sunday. Talk about courage, how about that girl still being able to perform well enough to land herself on the medal stand.

For this week's cooking challenge, I was excited to try a new recipe I stumbled across in one of my old cookbooks, which looked to be very similar to my favorite dish at Bonefish: Salmon with mango salsa.

My recipe was a little different, it was tilapia with fruit salsa, but I figured it'd be equally as delicious.

To make the salsa I needed:

1 kiwi
1 peach
1 can of black beans
1 red pepper
Lime juice
A splash of tabassco sauce.

I chopped the fruits and veggies and tossed them in a bowl with the other ingredients. Super quick and easy.

Then I popped the tilapia in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes. The recipe called for the fish to be grilled, but there's snow on the ground and I lack a George Foreman.

When the fish was done I piled the salsa on top of the fish.

I was actually a little bit let down when I tasted it. I'm not sure what it was, but I just wasn't totally digging the flavor in the salsa. I think it was too much black bean, not enough kiwi and peach. Oh well, not every recipe I try is going to be a cooking success.

Happy Friday, all! Wishing you a speedy day so the weekend is here!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My first Whole Foods experience

Thank you so much for all of your comments on leg stretches and exercises. I put several of them to use last night. It was like having my own personal PT session right on my living room floor.

I did my foam rolling before and after the stretches. Crossing my fingers and hoping it all helps.


In other news, I took my first ever trip to Whole Foods this weekend and was rather disappointed with my experience.

First off, the store was packed. And it's not a big store, so it was really tough to maneuver down the small aisles.

Second, I was really disappointed in the selection. The Greek yogurt options stank. No Chobani, a really limited Fage selection (no fat free and only like two 2%) and the Oikos was nearly double what I spend on Greek yogurt at my regular grocery store.

In the end, I left the store with only about half of what I needed for the week. Part of it was sticker shock on my part and part of it was frustration at not being able to find what I needed.

From now on I'll just stick to the Giant with the occasional trip to Trader Joe's to mix things up.

I have heard, however, that Whole Foods has an amazing selection of food at their soup/salad/other delicious stuff bars. I didn't try that this weekend and I'm not ruling out trying that in the future. I've read too many good reviews on other blogs to pass that up.

Have you ever shopped at Whole Foods? What was your experience?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pink shoes go on first run

Last night when I got home from work I had absolutely no motivation to head to the gym to get my first training run in. It was cold, dark and rainy.

But skipping my first run isn't exactly the way I wanted to start training.

So I sucked it up and headed to the gym to take my new shoes on their maiden voyage.

Unfortunately for them it wasn't smooth sailing. My hip was being all kinds of wonky. My left leg felt like it was kind of rotating in a circle in my hip socket instead of just sliding back and forth. Weiiird.

I treated it to some nice foam roller when I got home. Holy ouchies.

I'll be doing some strength stuff tonight to help with any potential muscle imbalances.

If you know any awesome quad/glute/hamstring stretches, leave them in the comments please!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hot pink shoes and a foam roller

I spent a lot of time this weekend getting everything in place to start training for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.

The most important thing on my list was getting sized for new running shoes. For the past four years, I've been running in Mizuno Wave Inspires and I've had no problems with them. They felt comfortable on my feet, supported and cushioned well and just pretty much rocked.

But the other day on the treadmill, I started wondering if maybe my shoes were tied to my hip problems. I mean after four years it is possible for a running gait to change and I was wondering if maybe I needed a new kind of shoe.

So I headed to my neighborhood running store for the full gait analysis. I walked and jogged up and down the length of the store, while one of the specialists watched me.

Final conclusion:
My stride was still the same.

He brought out three pairs of shoes for me to try on: the update Mizuno Wave Inspires, Brooks Adrenalines and a Saucony shoe.

I tried them all on, ran around in them, but in the end still went back with the Mizuno. It was by far still the most comfortable on my foot.

As an added bonus, the new color is a hot pink. I kind of like it.

Since I had a gift certificate from a race, I decided to splurge on an extra purchase: a foam roller!

So now that I'm armed with new shoes and a torture device for my IT bands I'm ready to hit the ground running (wow sorry for the bad pun) with this training plan.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Traveling to Haiti and a 10K

As I mentioned in my cruise recap, I promised a post addressing our stop in Haiti in light of earthquake last month.

Royal Caribbean owns a peninsula in Haiti. It's a smallish portion of land that they pay money to the Haitian government to operate. The "island" employs several Haitians and there is also a marketplace where local artisans can bring their works to sell to the tourists.

Cruise ships stopping in the port bring in a lot of money to the country.

After the earthquake, there were a lot of questions about whether cruise ships would continue to dock there. The port is about 100 miles away from the earthquake site and suffered no damage. Royal Caribbean decided it would continue to dock there and eventually released an official statements with their reasons for doing so.

Many people disagreed with the decision saying it was ethically wrong to bring a bunch of vacationers to an island that was clearly going through a lot of suffering.

Other people took the position that the vacationers were bringing in a lot of money to a country that needed it badly to help rebuild.

That's pretty much where I fell in the whole discussion.

But I wanted to take a minute to illustrate some of the things Royal Caribbean is doing to help with the relief efforts.

1. They are bringing tourists to the island to spend money.

2. There is a donations area on the ship where passengers can pledge however much they want to the relief efforts.

3. When in port, tons and tons of relief supplies are being unloaded off the ship. I saw palettes of water being unloaded and tons of other boxes that I assume contained food and other supplies.

4. On my cruise the night before we docked in Haiti there was an auction of three cruise experiences: meeting the captain and blowing the ships horn, touring the galley and the engine room. Each was sold for several hundred dollars. I believe one was closer to $1,500. All the money went directly to the Haiti relief fund.

In running news, I busted out a 10K on the dreadmill last night. It was not the most enjoyable run ever. My hip nagged off and on. Great for the first 10 minutes, nagging for the next 20. Great for the next 15 minute. Nagging for the last 15.

I also noticed a little bit of shin splint action going on so this weekend I might finally go get myself some new shoes. Maybe they will help with the problem.

I'm also not sure how my runs on the ship were so pain free and now that I'm home the pain seems to be coming back.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Berry good oatmeal and training time

For the cooking challenge this week, I was craving something fruity, warm and filling -- a mix of the fruity tropical goodness I ate when I was on vacation in combination with something warm and comforting to make me less sad about the snow.

I settled on a delicious bowl of oatmeal topped with berry goodness.

I promise there is actually oatmeal under there.

Topped with raspberry Chobani, blackberries and something new I stumbled across in the grocery store.

Yogi granola crisps in strawberry. Mmmm these things were yummy and would probably make a great yogurt topper or bowl of cereal on their own.

Speaking of fruit and all reminds me that I have a big race coming up in April, the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.

Because of everything going on with my hip the last few weeks, I haven't been actually training for the race. I've been running when I can and trying to keep up my endurance with cross training.

After my three successful runs on the cruise, I'm hoping I can start officially training next week. That will leave me approximately seven weeks to get in shape for the race. I'm confident that's enough time to get ready.

I'm working on my training plan now, and tentatively I will be running three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays with a couple days of cross training as time allows. A more fleshed out plan to come.

I'm looking forward to shaking off these winter blahs and getting back at it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Six tips for staying healthy on vacation

You know how it is on vacation, you're away from home and your routine. You usually prepare few of your own meals and just want to kick back and relax.

There's nothing wrong with kicking back and relaxing. We all deserve to do that every once in a while. But you can do that and still be healthy.

So I thought I'd share a few of the tips that I used on vacation to stay healthy.

1. Enjoy dessert! Yes that's right. I had dessert every night on the cruise. If you restrict yourself you will be miserable and not enjoy vacation at all. So don't deprive yourself of a treat if you want it.

2. But what the size! You don't need five cookies or a huge slice of cake. Keep dessert portions small and savor them.

3. Fill up on fruits. In warm tropical locales, there's lots of delicious fruit that isn't always in season at home. It's sweet and delicious and juicy. Plus really good for you.

4. Exercise when you can. That doesn't have to mean going to a gym. I walked a ton on vacation and took the stairs everywhere I could. I supplemented that with the gym, but walking around a lot is great exercise.

5. Protein in the morning. My normal routine is cereal in the morning, but on vacation there were delicious veggie omelets every day and I found they kept me so full.

6. Try new foods. By trying new foods you can get all kinds of different vitamins and minerals that might be missing from your normal diet. Plus it's fun to expand your food horizons. I tried falafel for the first time.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Caribbean cruise recap

Recap video:

Full of pictures and video I shot on the trip. Good if you just want a quick overview of the trip. The rest of the post is full of more pictures.

At the time of my scheduled post from last Friday, I was chilling at some random Best Western in Orlando. As far as hotels go, it was nothing special, but it had a free airport shuttle and free breakfast and Hotwire had hooked us up with a pretty sweet price at the last minute.

I was happy to be out of D.C. and the "Snowpocalypse."

Our couple days in Orlando were pretty uneventful. We didn't have a car, we had no plans since we hadn't expected to be there until Saturday afternoon and tickets to Disney/SeaWorld/Universal were way more than we wanted to pay for some random entertainment.

We did hit the Florida Mall to pick up some sunscreen and check out M&M World.

Saturday night we were in a gorgeous Sheraton Suites, the hotel we had originally booked. The BF and I spent some time Saturday walking around outside, enjoying the nice weather.

But Sunday was when the fun really started.

It was still chilly at Cape Canaveral until we headed south to some warmer temps.

Our first day spent at sea we relaxed. Lounged by the pool, ate some good food and had our first formal night.

I think the BF looked rather handsome all dressed up.

Day Two was our first port of call: Labadee Haiti, Royal Caribbean's private island. There's been a lot of criticism of Royal Caribbean for continuing to stop in Haiti after the earthquake. But that's another story for another post.

Labadee was our beach day so more time for relaxation.

Day Three we went to Jamaica where we toured a gorgeous botanical garden.

And climbed a waterfall. Not too many pictures from the waterfall climbing because I didn't have a waterproof camera. From all the reading I'd done, it didn't seem like the water would be all that deep, but there were times when it came up to my waist. Sadly, the deeper than expected water killed the BF's iPhone.

Day Four was the day I was most looking forward to: Grand Cayman Island. GC is supposedly a gorgeous island and very wealthy compared to the two other places we'd been so far. I was looking forward to swimming with stingrays at Stingray City and touring a turtle farm.

Unfortunately, the weather was bad. Winds at something like 28 mph and very choppy waves. The tender boats weren't able to make it out to our ship and sailed off.

I was so upset, but tried not to let it ruin the day. Instead the BF and I tackled the rock climbing wall.

Let me tell you, that was a workout. My arms were aching when I had finished.

The next day the weather was much better for our day in Cozumel.

We had a final day at sea where the weather was overcast and chilly, but it was a nice relaxing day before we headed home on Sunday.

And I came home to this:

Back to reality and winter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Back to Reality

First off, I want to say a big "Thank You" to all of the guest bloggers from last week. They covered some great topics so if you missed something, I definitely encourage you to go back and check them out.

Also I want to say "Welcome" to anyone who found my blog through one of my guest posters! I really enjoyed reading through all of your comments. And just as soon as I'm done playing catch up I'll make sure to drop by your blogs and say "Hi!"

Vacation was wonderful and after all the stress from two weeks ago about how we were going to get to Florida and avoid the snow, it was much needed.

I promise to give a better recap later after I've sorted through the 400+ pictures I took, but here are some quick highlights.

I managed to get in three treadmill runs without any hip pain!

Running on a treadmill on a moving boat that is rocking back and forth in the water is not easy.

I ate tons and tons of yummy food and somehow managed to not gain a single pound. Post on tips and tricks for not gaining weight on vacation coming later this week.

I climbed the rock wall.

I didn't sunburn! Major thanks to the SPF 50 for that one.

I promise more wonderful details later, but right now my car is buried under about four feet of snow and I have no food in my house. Off to shovel and grocery shop. What a wonderful welcome home present for me!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dealing with injury during training

Today is our last stop at an island. We are in Cozumel, Mexico, for the day before setting sail for Florida. If I'm lucky, I haven't burnt to a crisp yet.

Please welcome the last, but certainly not least, guest blogger of the week and my fellow Terp runner Susan from Nurse on the Run!

As many of you might know, I'm suffering from a bit of a hip injury now, and Susan dealt with an injury in the fall while training for the Philadelphia Marathon. I'm hoping to steal some of her tips for healing up while still training and racing strong.

Greetings, Run Girl Run, readers! This is Susan from Nurse on the Run, and I am honored that Jess asked me to do a guest post for her while she’s on vacation. Jess asked me to write about the injury that occurred during my most recent round of marathon training for the Philadelphia Marathon this past year and how I recovered strong from it to still run a great race! So, without further ado…

A Little Background

For those of you unfamiliar with my entire running history, I’ve been running since I was 12 (yikes!), and given that I’m now 25…that’s a long time! Throughout the years I’ve managed to escape injury…whether I have stretching (which I don’t do that often) or just pure luck to thank is beyond me, but I consider myself blessed for not sustaining any form of serious, long-term injury over the years. With three marathons under my belt (including my first BQ!), I was ready to go for broke at the Philadelphia Marathon and push the limits. Since I had already qualified for Boston for 2010, the pressure was off and if I bonked…well, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. So that’s where the story begins, I suppose.

The Injury

It started off just like any other fine September morning…I had completed an awesome 20 miler the week before in preparation for the Philadelphia Marathon and was heading out for a short six mile run. My right knee hadn’t felt perfect all week, but after a mile it usually loosened up and I’d be on my way. Well, this day was different…the pain outside my knee was much greater than before and I shuffled my way through 2.5 miles before walking all the way home because the pain was too great to bear. I figured a couple days off and some stretching would do me some good, so rest I did. After multiple attempts to run ended up in me shuffling a block and then walking home, I realized that something was actually wrong with my leg. I needed to take some time off to let whatever was going on calm down.

Well, after taking an entire week off of running and still having pain…I realized something might be up with my leg. More rest was needed, and although I would love to say that I remained calm, I did go through a period of “No! I have a marathon to run! It was going to be awesome! Now what do I do??” After a minor freak out, I took a look at my options and decided to take some time off of running and ride the bike instead. I couldn’t lose too much fitness, I thought! When the pain still didn’t go away, I ended up making an appointment with a sports medicine doctor and was diagnosed with iliotibial band syndrome, which is a classic running injury. The treatment? Stretching, icing, and…no running! Excellent.

The last thing the doctor asked me at my appointment was, “So, are you still going to run the marathon?” My answer? “I sure hope so.”

If you want the long story short…I got injured in September, took an entire MONTH off of running, and ran the Philadelphia Marathon at the end of November only 1:30 off of my PR…qualified for Boston again!

So how did I do it? Well, the key to surviving an injury mid-training is two-fold…it includes keeping up your training both physically AND mentally! Let’s break it down:


Just because you can’t run doesn’t mean you can’t do other forms of exercise! Although I took a month off of running, I turned to riding a bike instead. It was good workout for my legs and I rode fast enough to get my heart pumping. I think the general rule is that three miles on a bike equals one mile running, but don’t quote me on that! My longest bike ride was 30 miles, which was enough to feel like a long effort. The key was that I was still working my legs and getting my heart rate up on a regular basis. Although I could have easily thrown in the towel, I knew that I would be able to resume running at some point and it was important to me to still run the marathon. Plenty of people train for marathons with less running than others. Ever heard of the FIRST program, where you run only three days per week? Not saying that the best way to tackle a marathon is by solely biking, but I knew that my legs would remember how to run as long as I got my IT band back into shape in time. This was important when I was finally able to run again. Although all I wanted to do was run run run, I knew it was important to take it slow, so I worked a few shorter runs in with my biking. Don’t overdo it! Continue to stretch, ice, apply heat, or whatever has helped you recover or what your doctor recommended. My training plan had to be modified upon my return to running, as it would have been silly to jump back in full force. Building up to a long run that I knew I would still allow me to be confident in finishing the distance (13 miles!) was wise and safe.

Key Points

* Stay active and keep your cardiovascular fitness in tip top shape.
* You WILL recover and your legs will remember how to cover the distance!
* Stopping running for any period of time is NOT the end of the world.
* Start slow when you come back, making sure to listen to your body.


Anyone who has ever run a marathon knows that the mental race is at least half the battle, and fighting through an injury is much the same. Running is key to my sanity, and NOT being able to run was very difficult, especially since I wanted to take my marathon to the next level. The key to working through my injury was to keep my cool and remind myself that healing myself now will allow me to run for years to come. One month is nothing in the grand scheme of things! Although it is very easy to fixate by saying, “I can’t run TODAY,” it is important to think, “If I allow my body to rest, I will be able to complete my race in a few months.” Or even if you get sidelined from your planned event, you can always schedule another one. To help ease your mind, channel your thoughts and energy into your cross training. Learn the ins and outs of biking, try a new yoga class, or work it on the elliptical! Instead of dwelling on the fact that you can’t run, think about everything else you can do instead! Who knows, those cross training activities may even make you a better runner.

Key Points

* Keep your head up! You’ll get back in those running shoes soon enough.
* Focus on your new activity instead of dwelling on not running.
* Taking time off now will benefit you in the long run.

Putting It All Together

Keeping yourself strong mentally and physically is so important to bringing yourself back from injury. If you don’t stay mentally strong, you may think, “Well, I can’t run, so what’s the point?” If you don’t stay physically strong, you may not bounce back from your injury as quickly as you would like once you can run again. Take care of yourself, and listen to your body. “No pain, no gain” doesn’t always apply! Give your body the rest it needs while focusing your efforts on other types of activities, and you will get back to running. Maybe not as soon as you would like, but you don’t want to injure yourself in a way that you’re sidelined for even longer.

I was able to fight through my injury and come back to run an amazing marathon! I hope those of you who are currently battling injury get some hope from this post that you will get back out on the roads, and I hope that most of you never have to use my advice!

Thanks to Jess for letting me do a guest post on her wonderful blog! Go Terps!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making "Iron" Fit

Today we're in Grand Cayman Island. I'm going swimming with stingrays!

Please welcome today's guest blogger, Wes, from A Code Geek's Tail. Wes is an IronMan and has completed several races of all different lengths in his career. He's also completed all the required training, while working a full time job and making time for his family. If as curious as I am to see how he does it, read below.

A special thanks to Jess for inviting me to guest post on her blog...

Training for any long distance event can seem to be a daunting task. All, and I mean ALL endurance athletes deal every day with balance. They must constantly give and take in order to meet their needs, the significant other's needs, and the needs of their children.
This is my story. Your mileage may vary...

In 2008, I signed up for a May half-ironman and a November full Ironman. I worked a full time job. Dee Dee was running our restaurant. I had a grown daughter, a son in high school, and another son in grade school. Both of my boys played on traveling soccer teams. Finding time to train for these events would be a challenge to say the least.

In my professional life, I had several opportunities of which I took full advantage:

* I worked from home two days a week
* My office was about a mile from the Chattahoochee River Trail and
Columns Drive, a very popular 5 mile cycling loop.
* Another 4 mile out and back trail was right out the front door of
the office building.
* The pool was on the way to the office.
* I live right by a lake.

The first step for me was carving out my "me" time. I made sacrifices to get my training in. I would get up at 6:00 AM on Saturdays and Sundays to get in my long rides and long runs. I would get up 5 AM in the morning to get in that key workout. Since I was going through extra "pains" to minimize the impact of my training on my family, I guarded my training time jealously. I expected my loved ones to give just as much as they got. I was also very consistent in my training. I don't think I missed more than one or two workouts over that entire 9 month period. Not only did consistency help me in my training, but it also set my family's expectations as to what exactly my weeks were going to be like.

The second thing I did was take advantage of my training opportunities. In Georgia, except for tournaments, they don't allow soccer games to start before 1 PM on Sunday. All of my long rides and long runs on Sunday occurred early in the morning. Often, I was home before my sons were even out of bed. I also did a lot of my training runs at the soccer fields during practice. My week day bike rides were either done at lunch, or I would hurry home from work and get that hour ride in before dinner, even though I was the one making dinner.

Eventually, the scales are tipped, and the training becomes more about "me" and less about "them". Ironman training, for most people, maxes out at 15-20 hours a week, and for the average age grouper, that just doesn't leave a lot of time for other things. In looking back, my weekday workouts really didn't increase all that much, but my weekends were maxed out with 6-7 hour rides and hours of swimming and running. I had to work extra hard during this time to make sure my training didn't turn me into a grumpy old man. I kept something extra in the tank for my kids and family.

Crossing the finish line of your first Ironman is the cherry on top of a life changing event. I hope it was special for my family as well, cause I will never ever forget the sacrifices that they made. They helped me achieve my dream. That is not something to ever take lightly, and I do not forget.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Training High

I'm in Jamaica today where we will be hiking a waterfall! Hiking is awesome cross training, which is an important part of any training plan.

And that leads me to today's guest blogger (Sorry for the uber-lame segue): Amber from Girl with the Red Hair! Amber recently registered for her very first marathon! Welcome Amber!

Hi there! It’s Amber from Girl with the Red Hair guest blogging for Jess
today while she’s on vacation!

I’ve been a runner for just over a year now, in 2009 I ran three
half-marathons and a handful of other small races and in October of 2010 I
will be running my first full marathon in Portland, Oregon. I’m really
excited about it.

Currently, I’m training for a half-marathon at the end of March that I’m
hoping to run in under two hours. My PR so far is 2:01:40.

You know the runner’s high that everyone talks about? Ya, I love that, it
keeps me running and it keeps me going. But I think more so than anything,
the “training high” is what truly pushes me to run more, run harder, run

Clearly, I LOVE to train for races as I only started running just over a
year ago and I’ve already completed six races. I just love having a
training plan taped to my fridge, I love the feeling of crossing a workout
off when it’s done. I love getting faster and stronger every week and
increasing my mileage. I love all of that more than just the “runner’s
high” and honestly, if I didn’t train for races I’d probably never have
become a runner.

See, I tried to run in the past. And I hated it. Of course I was doing it
all wrong. Bad shoes, bad form, not taking enough walking breaks when I
was just a beginner; all the normal rookie mistakes.

But when I signed up – actually gave them my credit card number and paid
the $80 signed up – for the Vancouver half-marathon last spring, I knew I
was in it for the long haul so I better learn to run, and like it.

So I did. It took about two months before I really, truly fell in love
with running, but now I can’t imagine my life without it – or training for
I can’t wait to TRAIN for the marathon.

Ya, running the marathon will be fun too. But I’m looking forward to the
early mornings, multiple double-digit runs and the overall dedication and
time commitment it takes. I’m looking forward to sore muscles and ice
baths. I’m looking forward to turning down invitations to events because,
you know, I’m training for a marathon.

But, most of all, I’m looking forward to crossing each and every training
run off of my colour-coded schedule that will be taped to my fridge.

That’s just my type-A personality shining through, I suppose.

So what about you, do you run because you love to run or do you run
because you love to train?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Half vs Full Marathon

Today's itinerary has us docking in Labadee, Haiti, on Royal Caribbean's private island. While we're there, the ship will be delivering relief supplies for the earthquake rebuilding efforts. I'll discuss in more detail my feelings on docking in Haiti when I return.

Until then, please welcome my bloggy twin in name: Jess from 21 Days who will be talking about deciding between a half and full marathon!

On January 5, 2007, I found myself at mile 26 of the Disney Marathon wanting to die. That’s not hyperbole. Seriously, my one desire on that day, in that moment, was to allow myself to keel over into the Epcot grass and allow myself to succumb to the pain and misery that the marathon was inflicting upon me and die.

A year later, on January 27, 2008, I found myself at mile 13 of the Miami Half Marathon, and as I rounded the last corner before the race’s final stretch, I felt invigorated, strong, and bursting with pride.

I crossed the finish line of both of those races, but the differences in how I felt when I crossed the finish line of those two races, pretty much sums up my two very different feelings about the half and the full marathon.

In 2006, when I registered for the Disney Marathon, I did so partially because I felt that, as a runner, my ultimate running goal should include conquering the marathon. I knew I was supposed to want to run a marathon. I was supposed to yearn for it, I was supposed to aspire toward it, and I was supposed to hunger for it. The truth was, though, that I really didn’t feel that passionately about it. I just felt that to be a “real” runner, I should feel all those things for it. So, I registered for the wrong reasons, trained inappropriately and inadequately, and ultimately, I missed my time goal by a huge margin and was in incredible pain at the end. So, I finished, yes. But it wasn’t a good race.

Did I learn my lesson after that? Of course not!

I turned around and registered for Chicago in 2007. That time around, I was determined to have my revenge on the marathon. I would train like a superhero and I would meet every expectation that I had failed to achieve at Disney. So, the 2nd time around, I trained with a group. I did all my long runs, all my speed work, all my hills. But none of that was all that much help that fated day when the marathon got cancelled in the middle of the race due to the extreme heat, and I found myself in a medical tent being treated for heat exhaustion instead of crossing the finish line in my glorious revenge.

Then, I learned my lesson.

I realized, after Chicago, that I didn’t really like any aspect of the marathon: I just felt like I was supposed to like it. And, that, certainly, wasn’t a good enough reason to train for one again. So, I decided instead to step back and think about what distances I did like – 5K was too short for someone like me who’s not speedy, 10K seemed alright but I wanted a greater sense of challenge when training and a greater sense of accomplishment when crossing the finish line. So, I naturally arrived at the half marathon.

Since crossing the finish line at Miami 2 years ago, I’ve run 5 other half marathons, and in the next few months, I plan to add 3 more to that. In the half marathon, I’ve found the perfect balance of a challenging distance combined with a manageable training schedule. I can run 20-25 miles a week and be in good condition for the half marathon; my long runs don’t take me any longer than 2 hours; and on race day, I look forward to the distance instead of dreading and fearing it.

Will I ever go back to the full marathon? Probably. But, I need to wait until I can come up with the right reasons to do so. For now, I’m happy with the half. It works well for me and the kind of runner that I am. Thus, discovering the kind of race I prefer, and being comfortable with that, probably makes me a “real” runner in more ways than what I thought I was doing when I forced myself to believe I wanted to be a marathoner.

Monday, February 08, 2010

10 Ways to Stay Motivated in the Winter

Hey everyone. Today I'm spending a day at see, lounging by the pool, sipping fruity drinks and maybe climbing the rock wall. While I'm without Internet access, I'd like you to please welcome Stacy for today's guest post!

Hello followers and friends of Jess! This is Stacy (aka Teacherwoman) from Dare-to-Tri.

Not everyone lives in the frozen-over-prairie of NoDak like me for at least 4 months out of the year, but this time of year many of us have become familiar with colder temperatures, wet conditions, shorter days, etc. It is very well possible that many of us struggle with getting out of bed in the morning for a 3 mile run, or a ½ mile of sprints in the pool followed by 30 minutes on the bike in the evening – after dark. But, whether you’re a runner, triathlete, duathlete, or just love working out, I think it is safe to say we all need some sort of motivation here and there, especially in the winter.

Here are 10 things that I do to keep myself motivated, in no particular order.

1. Workout with a friend – I have a couple friends that I have done some training with and it is so much easier to get to a class or the gym when it’s planned with someone else!

2. Dial a friend – When you aren’t able to work out with a friend, call a friend and let them know your plans for the week or for the next day. Keep each other accountable! I have a friend that I have done a lot of training and working out with in the past, but now we have different schedules due to grad school and other commitments, so we don’t get to do everything together anymore. Now we try to call each other… it helps us be more accountable!

3. Change things up a bit – This is the time of year where most of us are not training for anything in particular so change things up a bit. If you are feeling in a funk with your running, do something different. For example, run a mile, bike 15 minutes, run a mile, bike 15 minutes, run another mile. Or, warm-up on the treadmill, then play a game with your music – run hard one song, and easy the next, and so forth. There’s a multitude of things you can do to change it up – you just need to be creative and think outside the box!

4. Try something new – Take a weight lifting, yoga or pilates class if you haven’t yet! It’s a great way to meet new people also! In addition, there are websites where you can find good strengthening, stretching, sculpting, and core workouts. The Yoga Today website has a free yoga video each week – all you have to do is sign-in, but it’s free! Otherwise, you can pay $3.99 to download a class of your choice, to keep! Most yoga sessions on the website are close to an hour long. Another great site is Exercise TV and has more variety in the type of videos they offer. Check them out if your interested!

5. Write it down – every week I try to write down what I would like to accomplish that week, even when I am not training, and try to stick to it the best I can. I will sometimes post it on my fridge, bathroom mirror, or at my desk at work as a frequent reminder.

6. Leave yourself sticky notes – Every once and a while I will leave myself sticky notes. Sometimes quotes I see on other blogs. Usually something that I know will help me get going, especially early in the morning.

7. Blog about it – Tell the blog world you’re struggling with motivation! When I do this, I get a handful of ideas as to how to deal with this… and am so thankful! Sometimes we just need a virtual-swift-kick-in-the-rear!

8. Make small goals – Sometimes I make challenges for myself for the week or month. For example, a goal of mine this week was to get to the pool at least once, bike once, and run 3 times. A goal of mine for the month was to participate in the Legs Do It Challenge put on my Mary. It’s definitely a nice change from my normal routine. Look around the “blogworld” – there are these fun challenges everywhere! Or, come up with one of your own and get other bloggers to join in on the fun!

9. Find a race – Even though you might not be training for something just yet, finding a race or two for later this spring or into the summer might just give you enough boost to get you going with something right now!

10. REST – Sometimes you just need to take a day off (or 2) and get back into your groove! But, I wouldn’t advise more than 2 because then it’s hard to get back to the grind!

Well, my friends, or should I say friends of Jess - there you have it! I hope you can find some of these helpful!

Signing off,


(aka Teacherwoman)

Friday, February 05, 2010

And She's Off

I've schedule this to post sometime on Friday morning and hopefully by the time you are reading this I've made it to Florida.

Our wonderful Caribbean cruise leaves on Sunday, so we'll have a few days to relax in Orlando now because of the snow up in D.C. D.C. people I'm wishing you lots of luck dealing with that.

While I'm gone, I won't have much access to the Internet. Maybe a little bit on Friday and Saturday, but after Sunday I will be completely cut off. No Twitter, no Facebook, no blogging.

But don't worry, next week I have an awesome line up of guest bloggers for you and I think you will really love them.

I promise to come back with lots of wonderful pictures and stories about warm weather and delicious food.

Until then...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Week Five Cooking Challenge: A Healthy Wrap for a Stressful Day

My very perfect three-part plan from yesterday went crashing and burning later in the afternoon when the forecast changed from snow tapering off Saturday mid-morning to blizzard-like conditions on Saturday.

In a panic the BF and I made some last minute switches and thanks to very understanding supervisors at work and the wonderful people at US Airways, we are booked on a flight tonight from D.C. to Orlando.

When I called US Air to ask them if we could switch from our Saturday flight to tonight's flight that still had open seats, the lady I spoke with made the switch and waived the $300 transfer fee. I could have kissed her.

My supervisor said something very sage when I asked her if I could take Friday off at the last minute to make what I thought we be an expensive flight switch.

"You can always make more money. You can't make more time."

True life.

I realized last night at midnight when my stomach was growling that I had forgotten to eat dinner because I was in such a tizzy packing and getting everything ready to go.

Luckily I had some very healthy ingredients for a delicious and filling wrap.

Start with a whole wheat wrap.

Slather with roasted red pepper hummus (my favorite kind)

Layer one: A generous handful of spinach.

Layer two: Lots of bean sprouts.

Layer three: Roasted red peppers.

Layer four: Artichoke hearts.

The wrap was a bit messy to eat because it was overflowing with so much deliciousness, but it was so worth it.

So now that I leave for Florida tonight, I'm trying to find some cheap and entertaining things for the BF and I to do on Friday and Saturday. Disney, Universal and Sea World are all pretty much out unless someone has some serious connections and can get me cheap tickets.

If you know of anything fun and not ridiculously expensive, please let me know!

Edit: To answer all of you who asked if I did the redesign myself. It was a half and half effort. I have to credit Amanda at RunToFinish for suggesting some places to look for template inspiration. I downloaded a basic one for the general size and portion stuff because I didn't want to hand code that all myself. Then I tweaked the HTML and CSS to get it to look and feel the way I wanted it too.