Friday, April 30, 2010

Bottomless pit

My training run last night went OK. It started out rough, but after stopping and stretching out my calves, which were seriously knotted, things felt better. I did a lot of stretching afterward and I plan to do the same until the race.

When I got home from my run last night my stomach was growling like crazy. In fact it had been growling on my entire run. (Maybe because I didn't use granola in my afternoon yogurt?)

Lately I've been a bottomless pit!

For dinner, I was in the mood for some salsa chicken. It's something I used to make in college all the time because it was so quick and easy.

Basically you throw some chicken tenders in a skillet and cook it for two minutes on each side.

Then you dump in a jar of salsa and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

Seriously, could anything be easier?

I obviously needed more on my plate than some chicken. So I decided to make green beans! Yum!

While the chicken was cooking, I popped these green beans in the microwave.

About four minutes later they were finish.

I scooped a generous helping of the chicken and the green beans on to my plate and dug in.

For dessert, I had a few strawberries.

About two hours later my stomach was growling again. So I treated myself to some Trader Joe's chocolate peanut butter pretzels. Those babies hit the spot.

I'm super excited to hit up the race expo tomorrow. I love testing out all the samples from vendors!

Good luck to everyone else that's racing this weekend!! I'll be thinking about you all!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Frederick Half Marathon goals

It's almost race weekend again and I'm going to be getting my last training run in tonight. After that, it's time to trust the training and my legs to carry me through my first half marathon of the season.

Training Review:
My 11 miler two weeks ago went awesome. I averaged slightly under 10-minute miles and felt great until the very end when my piriformis started tightening up. The last two weeks I've only run a handful of times. The first time after the 11 miler was painful. So I rested some more.

My run Tuesday was pain free and would have been great if not for the feeling like I'm about to puke thing. I'm hoping tonight's run will give me a little confidence boost, but I'm fairly certain I can have an awesome race this weekend.

Weather Forecast for Sunday:

Temps in the high 80's
Starting line temp: 67 degrees

I'm actually grateful that the race is starting at 6:30 a.m. We've been having really moderate weather here lately, but this weekend looks to be a scorcher, which could do some damage on my race times. According to the "trusty" weather reports, it looks like it shouldn't be much warmer than 70 by the time I finish. Fingers crossed that doesn't change too much. I'm also hoping there's some shade on the course. 13 miles in the sun could be rough.

1. Have fun and enjoy a new race.
2. Break my current PR of 2:14:17.
3. Finish in 2:10.

I plan to carry water and extra Gus with me because I've learned during hotter races, you can't always rely on the aid stations to have everything you need. Plus I don't want to get stuck in huge back up at aid stations. Knowing I have my own stuff gives me the option to pass them if I need to. As much as I hate carrying a water bottle while I'm running, it's the smart thing to do.

As far as race outfit, I've got a super cute new one to debut. I've worn it on some training runs and know it works well. I'll be rocking my new booty shorts (which I'm in love with) and a super cute Under Armour tank.

One more run to go and I'm all set to race!

Bring it on!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reaching the puke threshold

As runners we are all familiar with the concept of the "puke threshold." Those times when you push yourself hardest, to the point of puking.

Reaching the puke threshold is kind of a pride thing.

What's not a pride thing is reaching the puke threshold because your lunch from four hours prior is not sitting well.

Story of my run last night.

I'm going along at a nice easy pace, clocking my first mile in 9:48, enjoying the weather not worrying about speed.

Then the stomach gurgles start.

Every time my left foot hits the ground, stomach acid churns angrily, trying to work its way up my esophagus.

Maybe it's the hill, I'm thinking.

Why does this only happen when my left foot lands?

Oh gosh the downhill is making it worse.

Hey, look there's a garbage can maybe I should stop.

No, no I just need to walk for a bit til my stomach settles.

So walk I did. But my stomach wasn't really settling.

Refusing to be deterred I started a slow easy jog. And then started walking again.

After that I took every short cut I know to get back home. I didn't puke, but I am cursing that portobello mushroom sandwich I ate at my work conference yesterday. Seriously, I thought picking the vegetarian option would be better for me. I'm betting it was the oil (there was quite a bit) or the balsamic style dressing. Major conference lunch fail.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Maryland Day!

Except for the rain and lack of running, this weekend was pretty awesome. I had hopes that I would be able to get my 8 miler in on Saturday morning, but my piriformis was still super sore, so I bagged it for another day of rest and foam roller/Stick action.

If the weather clears up today, I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to get something in after work.

Now back to the weekend.

Saturday was Maryland Day, a giant festival of awesomeness at UMD that highlights all of the cool things each of the different departments has going on. So for example the agriculture kids give out free ice cream made at the dairy on campus, and the science kids demonstrate all kinds of experiments. It's all day long, it's full of free food and it's a great place to reunite with old friends and get to meet new ones.

I got the chance to catch up with Susan near the free ice cream. It was so much fun to finally meet her in person! Yay for Terp running friends!

Look at Susan rocking her sweet Boston jacket. It's how I spotted her!

The BF and I had plans to meet up with some of my friends at the Young Alumni BBQ, but we had some time to kill, so we checked out some of the other cool stuff.

Look it's Testudo!

Then we went to find my name engraved on the fountain on the mall (aka our giant quad).

Do you see it?

Nerd alert: I was in one of the super exclusive honors societies on campus and as a reward for being academically awesome, all the members get their names engraved on the sides of the fountain.

First time seeing my name!

After that we spent the rest of the day catching up with my friends at various alumni receptions. I got to chat with some of my favorite journalism school deans and explore the beautiful new journalism building.

All in all it was a wonderful, if not exhausting, day.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tacos and Questions

Happy Friday!

I'm in an especially good mood because this morning on the Metro a lady who I have never met before told me she really liked my haircut. Apparently she sees me every morning and noticed the difference. I thought that was such a nice thing for her to say, especially because people on the Metro tend to keep to themselves.

So I've got a little extra pep in my step today.

Recipe Time

I was so in the mood for tacos this week so I decided to do a fun twist on the traditional taco.

I browned some ground turkey (which I always use in place of ground beef) and then seasoned it with a packet a taco seasoning.

Meanwhile, the BF chopped up some red pepper.

When the ground turkey was almost finished, I dumped the red pepper into the pan to warm it up and mix it in with the seasoning.

I took some whole grain tortilla chips to make the base layer and then scooped some of the meat and peppers on the top.

Then I drizzled some taco sauce on the top and sprinkled on a little bit of Mexican blend cheese.

This totally satisfied my craving for tacos!


Time to answer the last of your questions!

What are your go to running shoes?

Mizuno Wave Inspires. I think I'm on the fifth or sixth version of this shoe. It's what I've been wearing since I started running four years ago. The last time I bought shoes I tried on several other brands and styles, but nothing felt quite as right as these.

I would like to know what the coding is that you used for getting the left sidebar of text on your said anything.

I did indeed say anything. Shoot me an email ( and I'd be happy to email you the code or if you want you can check out and they have some great hacks that will help you add a third column to any Blogger template. I should note though, you should be comfortable with CSS and HTML coding before you attempt to mess with your template or else you could seriously messing up your blog.

What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

What do you mean? An African or a European swallow? (Wouldn't have known this was from Monty Python if the BF hadn't told me. Plus it was the question his mom and stepdad asked. Thanks guys.)

When you see overweight or unhealthy people on the street, do you judge them for not being more in shape?

First, it's really hard to tell who is "unhealthy" just by looking at them. Skinny people can be just as unhealthy as overweight people. So it's kind of hard to determine who is healthy based on size. I do sometimes wonder why I see lines at McDonalds' drive-throughs several cars deep, and I wonder if people really don't know that food is killing them. I certainly don't make value judgments based on people's health choices. I might think they need some basic dietary education/reminders, but I certainly don't think it makes them a bad person. I also know plent of awesome unhealthy people who have no intention of changing their habits. I don't think less of them for it.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

That's a goooood question. Let's see in five years I'll be 28. Yikes, that's crazy to think about. Hopefully I'll still running strong and healthy and loving every minute of it. Unless some crazy job opportunity takes me somewhere else, I imagine I'll probably still be in the DC/Md area. Maybe married, maybe not. Hopefully I'll have an awesome job in social media/interactive marketing developing strategy and marketing plans for organizations that work with causes I support.

Current "kicks you in the butt" song to run to? Any other must-haves for the playlist?

Lady Gaga. I know that's not a song, but almost any of her songs will do. Except Papparazzi I really hated that one. I love jamming to Bad Romance though. Some other favorites that are kicking around on my iPod:
Good Girls Go Bad - Cobra Starship
Enter Sandman - Metallica
Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus (don't judge)
How Far Do You Wanna Go - Gloriana
Runaway - Love and Theft
Toes - Zac Brown Band
Big Green Tractor - Jason Aldean
Tik Tok - Ke$ha
I Gotta Feeling - Black Eyed Peas

I also love running to the Wicked soundtrack as well as both Glee soundtracks. I listen to a really strange mix of music.

Well that's a wrap with all the questions. I hope I answered them well enough!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Questions and Answers

Happy Thursday! Just one more day until the weekend and I can't wait!

Running has been sort of nonexistent for me this week. I tweaked my right piriformis muscle last week during my 11 miler and it's still rather tender. I've been stretching and foam rolling the area to work out some of the tightness with the hopes that I might be able to get a run in this evening. We shall see.

And now on to the fun part of this post!

Questions and Answers! I'll tackle the first half of the questions today and leave the second half for tomorrow.

I always think of you as "my" Pennsylvania Jess, possessive, not obsessive :-) If you could live and run anywhere else in the U.S. of A., where would it be?

The beach. I love running at the beach. Not so much in the sand, but on the boardwalk and along the main drag in the ocean block. It's the perfect place to do nice long out and backs. Plus there's nothing better than setting out for a run just as the sun is starting to come up out of the ocean. It's gorgeous. My favorite beach to run is Rehoboth Beach in Delaware, but I think it would be really fun to run along the Cali beaches. In the end though, I'd be happy at just about any beach.

What's your favorite form of exercise and why? Did you ever hate exercise?

Running is hands down my favorite form of exercise. I can do it anywhere and it doesn't require me to pay for a super-expensive gym membership. I never really hated exercise, but when I was younger I was painfully shy and refused to play team sports. My mom practically begged me to sign up for softball when I was in grade school, but I refused. By middle school, I had come out of my shell a little bit and loved playing sports. I do remember hating swim team though when I was younger. I signed up because my friends were on the team but man swimming bored me to tears even then. Plus I was slow.

What do you think is the best perk of being a blogger?

I'd have to say it's the community and the support I've found from other runners. I started the blog as a training journal during my marathon training and just found this wonderful group of people who became my sounding board when I had questions and offered words of encouragement when I struggled.

Running, working 40+ hours a week, managing a social life... what does a typical schedule (training, sleeping, eating) look like? How do you manage to get enough good fuel at the right time?

This varies largely day-to-day. I'm a morning person and love starting my day with running, but with my current job and commute, running in the morning isn't really an option, so I've really had to adjust things. A typical day looks something like this.

6 a.m. Alarm, groan hit snooze.
6:15 a.m. Alarm, groan dragged self out of bed
7 a.m.: In office
Between 7:30 and 8:30: Eat cereal at my desk (I'm a big fan of Kashi Cinnamon Harvest)
Noon: Lunch time (usually a sandwich, cottage cheese, and fruit or veggie)
Between 3 and 4 p.m: Greek yogurt with granola
4:30 p.m. Leave office
5:30 p.m. Get home
6 p.m.: Run (I run on average two to three times per week during the work week)
7 p.m. Shower
8 p.m. Dinner
9:30 p.m. In bed reading
10 p.m. Pass out

As far as fueling through out the day, I usually eat what works out to three meals and a snack. It's not a perfect science and some days are definitely different. And there are plenty of days when I find myself visiting the candy jar in the office. For the most part though, I just try to eat when I'm hungry. If I've done a longer run the day before, I know I'll be more hungry the next day, so I pack a bigger lunch.

As for my social life, that's usually reserved for the weekends. You wouldn't know it from that schedule above but I watch several TV shows. I catch up on them online on one of my rest days. Seriously, Hulu rocks.

What do you recommend as best "power food" before a 10K race & how long before the run should I eat it?

My favorite pre-race food is a PBnJ or some version of this. For a half marathon, I'll eat an entire sandwich before the race, but for something like a 10K, I've found a piece of toast with peanut butter about an hour before the race is all I need. Plus I drink tons of water before the start of the race. That plus nerves necessitates that I use the porta-potties at least three times before the gun goes off.

Any strange running rituals of sorts?

Yup. The night before a race, I create my "running man." I find a space on the floor and lay out everything I plan to wear the next day in the shape of a person. So I'll start with my shoes and socks at the bottom. Right above that goes the shorts. At the waistband of the shorts, I lay my fuel belt. Then my top and sports bra. On top of my shirt goes my race number and at the sides I place my watch, pace band and iPod.

Plus I have to use the porta-potties three times before a race start. Not sure why, but I did it for my first marathon and didn't have to stop once on the course. So I've done it ever since.

I swear I'm only slightly neurotic.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of my answers to your questions!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

And the winner is

I had every intention last night of writing up a great post answering all the questions that you asked me as part of my blogiversary contest.

But then my Ikea bed broke.

Yup, the leg snapped off and the whole thing collapsed.

Site of the collapse

Maybe I should have known that this was coming. The headboard had cracked at the juncture where it meets the legs months ago from my leaning against it when I read at night. Really what can I expect from furniture that comes in a box?

So needless to say, writing up that great post was put on hold to clean up the bed debris.

I promise I'll get to the questions tomorrow, but I'm still going to announce the winner today.

Drum roll please....

The winner is.....

Jamie from Running and Some Sauce on Top!

Congrats Jamie. Please shoot me an email ( so I can get you your shirt!

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Happy Hump Day!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Healthy Indulgences

Sometimes it's OK to come home from a long Monday at work and eat an ice cream sundae for dinner.

Indulging every so often is healthy.

And while ice cream for dinner definitely wasn't the most nutritious option I could have selected, it made me feel better.

Sure, there were plenty of "healthier" ways I could have de-stressed last night. I could have gone for a run, I could have curled up with a good book or made something healthy for dinner. But ice cream was just calling my name and I think every once in a while it's OK to indulge a craving for something unhealthy.

Overall, I think it's perceived as a bit taboo by society at large to use food for comfort or to de-stress.

But what's more healthy? Constantly depriving yourself and being miserable all the time or letting yourself enjoy life's less nutritious, but very delicious treats?

If you're making nutritious choices about food most of the time, there's absolutely nothing wrong with indulging. In fact, I think it's healthy to indulge. Or else we'd all be a bunch of big cranky jerks all the time.

How do you indulge?

P.S. Today's the last day to enter my blogiversary giveaway! Winner will be announced tomorrow!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Motivation Monday

My biggest challenge when it comes to running is finding the motivation to get out the door. Once I'm outside, the actual running part is easy.

Take this weekend's 11-miler. I set my alarm for 7 a.m., but was way too tired to get up when it went rang. So I shut it off and caught an extra hour of sleep.

I knew I needed to get my run in with a half marathon in just two weeks, so when I woke up an hour later, I took a long hard look at my wall of motivation.

The giant bulletin board was a Christmas present from the BF. He hung it on the wall directly across from my bed and then decorated it with all my race bibs, medals and finisher's certificates. Every morning when I wake up, it's the first thing I see.

There's something about seeing all my race memories on display that gives me that extra kick in the pants I need to get my butt moving.

In the end my 11 miler kicked booty. I average 9:54 per mile and tackled some huge hills. It was a great run, I just wish I would have brought some water with me.

What motivates you?

Good luck to everyone who is running Boston today! Sending vibes for strong legs your way!

Don't forget you only have two more days to enter my blogiversary contest! I'll announce the winner on Wednesday!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Balsamic Pasta and Veggies

Have you entered my blogiversary giveaway?

Zucchini, summer squash and peppers are pretty much my go-to veggies all summer long. They're so delicious and easy to use in a variety of things, so don't be surprised if you see these veggies popping up in tons of my summer meals.

This week was no exception.

I knew I wanted to do something with pasta, but not just with plain marinara sauce.

So I got a little creative.

I had the BF chop the veggies while I put on some water to make the pasta.

Into the water went the noodles.

And into the frying pan went the veggies. I added a can of artichoke hearts to the mix for some variety. Plus artichoke hearts are delicious and pick up flavor really easily.

I sauteed the veggies in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkled them with garlic powder and Italian seasoning.

Once the pasta was finished, I drained it, the BF plated it and then we added some veggies to the top.

I sprinkled the food on the plate with a little bit more balsamic and seasoning and then topped with Parmesan cheese.

Quick and simple and delicious!

What's your favorite way to make pasta?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Belated Blogiversary Giveaway

Blogiversary fail.

For some reason this month, I had convinced myself that April 15 was my blogiversary. It's not.

April 10th was my blogiversary.

April 15th is just Tax Day.

I feel like a bad mom who forgot her kid's birthday. But to make up for it I'm throwing a sweet party around these parts today.

So Happy Four Year Blogiversary to me and Happy Giveaway Day to you!

Last month when I went to Fitbloggin' I had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful people from Thriv. Thriv made the awesome Fitbloggin' shirts that all the conference attendees received.

Because they are made with bamboo, the shirts are super soft and I wear mine constantly. The shirts are also supposed to have impressive wicking and anti-odor abilities. Since I don't wear my shirt to workout, I can't attest to that, but it's hands down the most comfortable shirt I own.

To help me celebrate my (belated) four year blogiversary, Thriv has offered to send one of their awesome shirts to one of you.

Here's how to enter. Leave a separate comment for each:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me how long you've been following my blog. Some of you have been around since the beginning, others of you are brand new!

2. For an extra entry, tweet about this giveaway saying something like: "I'm celebrating @run_girl_run's four year blogiversary and entered to win a Thriv shirt:"

3. For another extra entry, ask me a question in my Four Year Blogiversay Ask Anything form. There's more details about this in yesterday's post in case you missed it.

4. For yet another extra entry, post about this contest on your blog.

Thriv's shirts are cut differently for men and women so if you win, you have to be willing to give me your shirt size and address so Thriv can send you the shirt.

Apologies to all my international readers, but Thriv currently can't ship out of the United States, so this giveaway is only open to U.S. residents.

The contest will close Tuesday, April 20 at 5 p.m. Eastern time and I'll announce the winner Wednesday.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fake Boobs and Ask Me Anything

Have you all seen this monstrosity? Heidi unveiled to the world her new bikini body sometime this week. At best, I think she looks just a weeee bit out of porportion.

At worst, she has been cited saying she can no longer run because her new fake boobs make it too painful. She also can't give hugs because it hurts too much!

Seriously, when did we as a society become so obsessed with looks that we began sacrificing bodily functionality to achieve the "perfect" body. Being unable to give hugs? That's nuts!

And, where the heck did that idea of perfect come from? Because it is messed up.

To make sure I wasn't the only one thinking that, I took an informal poll of some of my guy friends. Some of their responses:

"Barbie boobs, they in no way, shape, or form look real."

"Unless you are making a living off those things you look stupid."

"If you have boobs that big you are an attention whore."

[Update] Just got one of the boys who thinks her boobs are awesome. In all fairness I suppose I should include his thoughts too.

"If she was fat, it would be gross, but since her body is already great, they in turn are great as well."

While I don't agree with that sentiment, it's his opinion and I asked them to be brutally honest.

[Update] Just got this response in, and I liked it a lot so I'm sharing the whole thing:

"As a guy, bigger boobs are awesome :). But i think its kinda ridiculous for a girl to get boobs like that and not even be able to run anymore. I think people that have plastic surgery like that have some issues. I'm sure someone out there in this crazy world is going to like the way you look. "beauty is only skin deep" But obviously she has some issues."

Thanks for your honesty guys and for playing along!

I know I would much rather have a strong, capable body than look "perfect." But hey, maybe that's just me.

Stepping off my soapbox and on to another topic entirely, since tomorrow's this bloggy's blogiversary, I have some fun and games for around here. First off, tomorrow I'll be hosting a super sweet giveaway. So make sure you come back to check it out.

And secondly, I've been holding off on doing the "Ask Me Anything" craze that swept blogland a few months ago for this very occasion. It's a chance for you to get to know me better. To ask me a question go here. It's completely anonymous, so feel free to ask me anything you like, running, personal, general life views, etc.

I'll accept questions until Friday and then answer them sometime next week. Don't be shy. I promise to answer all the questions, unless they are vastly inappropriate.

Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Recovery Running

Sometimes after races I don't know if it's best to let me legs rest for an entire day or go out for an easy recovery run. Usually I go with rest and go for that recovery run two days out, but last night the weather was so gorgeous that I wanted to be outside enjoying it. Plus after a crazy busy day at work, I needed to decompress.

So in the evening I set off for a nice easy recovery run. I kept the pace slow and relaxed and in the beginning took plenty of walk breaks.

My legs felt pretty heavy, but it wasn't anything too awful and even the hills didn't seem all that bad.

Originally, I had planned to do about three miles, but I wasn't ready to go home yet, so I opted for four.

But then I was feeling so good, I took the turn to that would make it four and a half.

By that point my legs felt great and I wasn't taking any more walk breaks.

Since the weather was so wonderful and there was absolutely no humidity (a rare occurrence around these parts), I figured what the heck, I'd round out my run with another half mile for a nice five mile recovery run.

Average pace: 10 minutes per miles.

It was glorious. I came home and stretched for a good long time and did some foam rolling.

My legs were still a little tired, but I think the run definitely helped work out some of the kinks.

Do you go on recovery runs the day after a race or do you wait longer?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Report

It's always good in a race when you see the finish line sooner than you expect to.

Especially if you still have a decent amount of energy in the tank.

Especially if you can bust out a sprint and pass about 20 people (at least one in your age group) on the way to finish line.

That's what happened this weekend at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.

The alarm going off at 5 a.m. wasn't fun and walking to the Metro station eating a PBJ was an adventure. (Jelly is really goopy and drippy).

The race itself though was really fun.

We had to wait a looong time in the starting corrals for the waves to go off and the waves were huge.

In the still empty corral.

I think there were 15,000 runners and only five or six waves.

Corral not even half full

The entire course was really packed with people and the first two miles were awful, it was impossible to get around slower people because there was no where to go.

I ended up following several people who jumped up on the curbs and started running there for a bit.

My first mile split reflected the slowness: 10:15.

I knew I had a lot of ground to make up if I wanted to get anywhere close to my reach goal of averaging 9:40 per mile.

But at the same time, I tried not to stress about it and tried to enjoy the race. It was after all a gorgeous day for a race.

Around mile four I was getting closer to my goal splits. I was only a couple seconds off, so I was hoping I'd be able to make up some time.

But then I hit a water station and lost some more time. The water stations were a mess. There were times I actually had to stop running and then stop walking and just wait in line to try to get through the runners five deep at the tables.

As a fun surprise around mile 4.5ish I saw a friend of mine who was there cheering on another friend. The crowd was kind of thin at that point so I yelled his name and he cheered me on a bit. It was a totally fun and random pick-me-up during the race.

Mile five was the first time I came in at one of the splits on my pace band.

My legs were feeling good and there was a lot of crowd support going through miles five and six.

At this point though the sun was bright and I was regretting wearing long sleeves. But I just kept on trucking. The course was extremely flat, there was one tiny incline at the end that I wouldn't even a call a hill, which I think helped keep my legs really strong.

Miles 7 through 9.5 were uneventful. All the cherry blossom were gone from Hains Point because of the warm weather we had so that stretch was definitely dull.

But coming off Hains Point and into the last half mile there were tons of people in the crowd. I couldn't spot the BF because there were so many people but he said he saw me near the last turn right before I kicked into my sprint.

I remember looking at my watch during that turn and thinking I had at least two minutes of running left. Then I looked up and could see the finish line. I knew it wasn't going to take me two minutes to get there.

So I kicked hard.

And I finished in 1:35:48. Almost a whole minute faster than the 1:36:40 I had on my pace band.

Hordes of people at the finish.

I felt awesome afterward, yes my legs were tired, but I probably could have kept running. I had so much fun.

Hot and sweaty, but happy.

Hands down it was the easiest course I have ever run. I didn't think it was possible to find a course so flat and fast. I have a feeling the only way I'll break my 10 mile PR is to do this course again next year. No other course could be this easy.

The race was fun, the course was flat and I set a PR all by 10 a.m.

Is there really a better way to start a morning?

Friday, April 09, 2010

BBQ Chicken and Roast Veggies

There's nothing that says summer more than some BBQ chicken and roasted veggies fresh off the grill. Sure it helps to be eating them on a back porch after playing in the pool, but we can't have it all.

Heck, I don't even have a grill, so I had to replicate said summer delight with a stove.

The meal came out delicious, but I missed those char marks from the grill.

I started by marinating the chicken in some BBQ sauce.

I set the chicken aside to focus on the veggies.

And I put the BF to work chopping up zucchini, yellow squash and a red pepper.

After spreading them out on a cookie sheet, we went to town with the seasonings.

We used my mesquite blend again. Some of you asked about it last time and it's just a McCormick's blend called Mesquite Grill (or something very close to that.) I really love it.

We also sprinkled the veggies with some pepper and onion powder. And then into the oven they went to roast for about 15 minutes at 400.

While the veggies were roasting, I cooked the chicken tenders on the stove.

Then the veggies came out of the oven.

All together now.

Mmm grapes. They're one of my favorite summer fruits!

What's your favorite summer dish?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Goals

Good morning!

We are still getting way above average temps in these parts (high 80's, low 90's), which is certainly making my running interesting.

Yesterday was the first time in ages that I went out for an early morning run before work. Since my commute is so long, I usually have to run after work most days, but on the days I work from home I can attempt to beat the heat.

I didn't get out there super early so the sun was already blazing and I found myself doing a lot of walking, especially on the uphills. It was a slow, hot 4.5 miles, but I didn't totally hate it.

It was also my last training run before the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler this weekend.

So now it's time for some race goals.

First and foremost, have fun! This has been my primary race goal since I started running. I want to cross the finish line smiling and ready to race again.

As far as time goals, I have a few things in mind. The weather on race day looks to be pretty decent for running. About 49 degrees at the start and creeping up to the mid-50's by the time I expect to finish. If that forecast doesn't change, those are absolutely ideal running conditions.

My first time goal is to finish in 1:40:00. That would mean I'd have to average 10 minute miles.

My reach goal is to finish with an average of 9:40 minute miles. After my nine mile run two weeks ago, when I was able to hold that pace and feel strong the whole time, I'm making it an official goal. It's a reach and it would require lots of things to fall into place perfectly, but you never know.

I'm making myself pace bands for both times, using this nifty tool on the Runner's World website because I can't for the life of me do math while running. I've tried. It's not pretty.

I'm super excited to race this weekend. The weather looks to be gorgeous, the Cherry Blossoms will provide some awesome scenery and I'm itching to dive into race season.

For laughs, here's an old school picture of me at the Cherry Blossom Festival my sophomore year of college. I look about five years old.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

My MCM decision

I did not register for MCM today.

After stressing out about the decision all last night and this morning, I decided enough was enough. I just needed to choose.

And I chose not to run MCM.

There were a lot of factors that went into this decision, but the biggest one was what many of you pointed out yesterday.

My heart just wasn't in it.

Registering for any race should be exciting and fun, full of anticipation and maybe a little bit of nervousness. It shouldn't feel like a burden or chore.

Today, I wasn't ready to commit to 26.2. Maybe in a month that will change. Maybe this summer I'll want to run a marathon and if that's the case, there are several other options: Philly, Baltimore, Richmond. All of them would work and would be just as awesome an accomplishment as MCM.

But for now, I'm perfectly content running and training for middle distances. I love the half marathon, I'm thrilled to tackle my first 10 Miler this weekend. For now those distances pose enough of a challenge that I'm still pushing myself, but having fun.

I know I can handle training for these races and balance my time with friends and family.

Today wasn't the day for me to sacrifice that or stress out about how to balance it all. I only get a little bit more time to be a care-free "kid" who can spend her summer weekends sitting by the pool til all hours of the night with friends.

For now, my races are going to have to fit in with my life. I'm not going to try to fit my life in around my races.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Marathon Meltdown

It's rare you get two posts from me in one day, but I'm in a pickle and need some running advice.

Remember last week when I was super gung ho about deciding which marathon to run this fall? You all gave me some awesome advice and I was 99% sure I was going to register for the Marine Corp Marathon and decide about Baltimore later, maybe even doing both to achieve Maniac status.

But now I'm having a freak out.

Do I realllllly want to run a marathon this fall?

Do I reallllly want to sacrifice my summer weekends to fit in super long runs (17, 18, 19, 20 milers).

Or would I rather spend my summer training for half marathons? My favorite distance. Manageable long runs that don't require the death of my social life. Nothing longer than two hours. The ability to still be able to walk after finishing a training run.

Or do I want to push myself to tackle 26.2 again? No doubt 26.2 is an awesome challenge.

But so is 13.1. It's not as much of a challenge as it used to be to do the distance, but now I can focus on improving times and having fun.

Running for me has always been about having fun. I'm not fast so I'm not running to win anything. I'm running for the experience. For the joy of accomplishing something challenging, and yea, maybe a little bit for the sweet race bling.

My college roomie gave me some good advice. She said:

Above all you always tell me running should be fun so if it fills you with dread that is bad. However if you think this is just a momentary setback and tomorrow you will feel differently then that is ok!

Right now, I don't know if I'm dreading the thought that MCM registration is tomorrow or if this is just a blip. Either way, I have to decide what to do. I don't want running to feel like a burden this summer. I want it to be fun like always, but at the same time, I'm grappling with all kinds of "do I want to challenge myself to do this and push myself for this goal" issues.

Issues that I need to sort out by tomorrow at noon. Help!

Hot weather running

I think DC forgot that we're supposed to have spring in between summer and winter. It was in the high 70's/low 80's when I left for my run tonight.

By the time I got home I was a sweaty beast.

I forgot how hard running in the heat is at first when my body doesn't have time to acclimate to the warmth.

I still managed to crank out 4.48 miles in 43:38 averaging 9:40, but it wasn't easy and there was lots of walking involved.

I also had a new friend along for my run last night.

Check it out!

It's my Road ID.

It came in the mail over the weekend when I was home in PA and I'm so happy to have it. I won it in a giveaway a while back and finally got around to deciding which style I wanted and who to list as emergency contacts.

I used to carry my license with me on long runs when I wore my fuel belt, but on shorter runs I wouldn't carry any ID, which is not a good idea. Now that my Road ID is attached to my sneaker, I don't have to worry about it anymore. I'll have ID with me on short and long runs.

Do you carry ID with you on runs? How do you do it?

Monday, April 05, 2010

My Weekend in PA

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

We had beautiful weather here in PA and my mom and I took full advantage of it all weekend.

On Friday, we hit the outdoor outlets where I was able to score some great bargains: a cute shirt from Ann Taylor, a dress for my friend's wedding and a bunch of new sports bras.

I needed some replacement things after I did a major purge of my current wardrobe.

These bags are full of clothes that either don't fit or haven't been worn in more than a year. I'm donating all of them. I suddenly have room in my closet again.

I was seriously disappointed in the finds in the Under Armour outlet. The bargains weren't great and I couldn't find booty shorts in my size. I didn't end up buying a single thing there. Crazy right?

I did manage to score some booty shorts at Sports Authority on Saturday.

I took them for a test drive during my six mile run. They worked wonderfully.

What didn't work wonderfully was having a big bowl of ice cream for lunch and eating nothing else before heading out for a run three hours later. Major nutrition fail! Needless to say my six miles was a struggle. PA is hilllly. And my stomach was miserable for the rest of the night.

My stomach cramps went away over night so I was able to enjoy Easter "linner" (Late lunch/early dinner) with my family yesterday.

It took us about five tries to get a good pictures because I kept squinting into the sun, but we finally managed.

Hope you all had wonderful weekends too!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Easy Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

For the past several weeks, I have been eying the eggplant at the grocery store, almost as if I was daring myself to buy one and try to make something with it. I've never cooked with eggplant in my life, but I love ordering it in all kinds of dishes at restaurants.

This week I finally picked one, put it in my cart and quickly walked away before I could change my mind.

With the help of my friend Google, I found a super easy recipe for eggplant parmesan that I modified slightly.

Start by chopping the eggplant into circles.

Then sprinkle with salt

And place in a colander for an hour. This will allow the bitter eggplant juices to run out and make your end result tastier.

After an hour, rinse the salt off and pat the eggplant dry.

Instead of using breadcrumbs, I dipped the eggplant into a mix of olive oil, garlic powder and onion powder.

Then place in a baking dish in the oven (350 degrees) for five minutes on each side.

Once your eggplant is tender, cover in pasta sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.

Pop back in the oven for 30 minutes.

For my first go at eggplant parm, this came out rather tasty. Even the BF liked it, and he doesn't do vegetables.

The BF also said the beer he had with dinner was pretty good. It was this IPA.

Experimenting with a new vegetable was fun and I'm sure I'll be looking for other eggplant dishes to try.

What's your favorite eggplant dish?