Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday Three: Philly Edition

Arlene and I at the conference
My coworker Arlene and I exhibiting at a conference

1. The conference in Philly wrapped up yesterday afternoon and I have to say it was a pretty smashing success. We talked to a ton of people, gave away all our awesome swag and in general had a really fun time. I barely have a voice today though because we had to talk really loudly in the expo hall to be heard over the guy a few booths over who had a mic. I've downed cough drops all day yesterday in hopes of making myself sound slightly less like a man, but it's not really working.

Fun times with teachers
Fun times with awesome teachers

2. My plans to run every day while I was in Philly completely fell apart because I spent every evening after the conference hanging out with my uncle and his coworkers. We were having such a good time, I always ended up getting back to my hotel much later than I expected, and after a day of standing around at an exhibitor's booth, I just had no energy in the mornings to go for a run. I'm happy I ran once, but I was bummed I couldn't fit in a couple more runs.


Family
Family Christmas card picture from last year

3. Today is my one and only day in D.C. this week. I'm back in the office to catch up on massive amounts of work before heading back to PA tonight to spend the Fourth of July with my family. If I had been smart, I would have taken the train from Philly up to my parents' place and worked from there today instead of taking the train back to D.C. and then driving back up to Philly tonight. Massive planning fail. I'm not looking forward to sitting in holiday traffic tonight, but I'll deal. My roommate made me an awesome new playlist that I can rock out to in the car.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Skipped Run

I had the best intentions of waking up for a nice long run this morning out on Kelly Drive past the boat houses.

Boathouses on Kelly Drive
Boathouses on Kelly Drive

But it just didn't happen.

Turns out working out an expo all day will really take it out of you. My feet were sore this morning and my throat is killing me after talking for eight hours straight about how awesome my office's websites are.

Plus I ended up meeting up with my uncle and some of his coworkers for dinner after the conference wrapped up and ended up getting to bed much later than I expected.

East Stroudsburg teachers at dinner
Teachers at dinner

I'm going to count standing all day long and walking all over Philly as my workout for the day and hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to fit in that nice long run.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Scenes from a Philly Run

Another day. Another work trip. Another run.

This week work sent me to Philly to exhibit at another conference. One of the biggest benefits of work travel is getting to run in new places. Not that Philly is all that new to me, I've run many, many races here and Philly is practically home, but it's still nice to mix it up and run somewhere other than DC.

I headed out this morning for a short run before the conference kicked off.

I ran past some of my favorite Philly sites:

City hall
City hall

Love park
Love park

The Art Museum
The Art Museum and the famous Rocky steps.

Rocky
Rocky himself

Boathouse row
Boathouse row

I packed Garmin for this trip, but after waiting 10 minutes in front of my hotel for it to find satellites, I gave up and just used it as a watch. I ran exactly 40 minutes and according to MapMyRun, I ran a little more than four miles.

It was a solid run, and a perfect way to kick off my trip in Philly.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday 5K

First off, I wanted to say thank you to everyone for the kind comments on yesterday's post. Seriously you guys are the best.

This morning I decided it had been far too long since I started a day with a morning run so I dragged myself out of bed at 6. This is why I love the days I work from home because I got to sleep in until 6 instead of waking up at 4:30 to run.

It was a little bit sunnier than I expected and plenty hot and humid, but I knocked out a nice 5K in about 29 minutes. I almost managed to hold negative splits, but a hill in mile three slowed me down.

Mile 1: 9:34
Mile 2: 9:11
Mile 3: 9:19
.11: 57 seconds

Still, there's no better way to start the day than with a run! Now I'm off to take care of a million and one work things. I'm out of the office for the bulk of next week at a conference in Philly, so I have lots and lots of stuff to get done.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dealing With Life's Curveballs

Warning: This post is a little ramble-y and a little more personal than I usually get here. Just thought you should have fair warning.

Last night was the first time in more than a month that I felt like everything would be OK.

I know I've mentioned a few times that this past month has been stressful to the max. I have a lot going on and so many things I'm trying to juggle and my stress levels have been at an all time high. There have been many nights where I have come home from work and collapsed into my bed in a combination of tears and exhaustion. Not because of work, I just don't do crying in the office.

But when I got home from a hot and sweaty three miler last night, I had this strange moment of mental clarity, where I just realized everything was going to be OK -- that I would be OK.

I've tried to write this blog post about five times in an attempt to accurately describe the sense of calm, accomplishment and maybe even hope that I felt after my run last night.

But nothing I write seems to be make sense.

The run itself was nothing special. Just a short three miler in the 97 degree weather that left me drenched in sweat and trying to catch my breath as I paced around my dining room afterward.

As I was cooling down and chugging my Gatorade recovery smoothie (which was pretty delicious by the way), everything just sort of came together for me.

I stopped worrying about all the little and big things that have been weighing on me lately. I finally got to a point where I knew it would all be OK because everything tends to work itself out in the end. I finally felt like myself again, like a strong capable person who kicks ass at life, rather than someone just putting on a happy face to get through the day.

I stood in my dining room for a long time last night soaking in that feeling while I stretched.

The mental clarity that comes from a gut-checking summer run reminded me that I can handle whatever life throws at me with grace and poise.

Sometimes I think running really can fix anything.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Gold Cup Edition

On Sunday I had the opportunity to catch the U.S. Men's National soccer team play in the quarter finals of the Gold Cup at RFK Stadium in D.C. with some friends.

I'm happy to say we beat Jamaica 2-0 and advanced to the semi-finals tonight where we have a rematch against Panama.

The game and the tailgate where an insane experience. So I'm going to leave you with some photos and video from the tailgate and the game.

El Salvador parade 1
El Salvador fans parade through the parking lot at RFK, banging drums and chanting "USA"

El Salvador parade 2
More of the parade

If you want to hear just how loud the parade was, check out this video Chris took. (He shared it on Facebook and not YouTube, so I can't embed it here, but hopefully this link works!)

Players lined up for the National Anthems
Players lined up for the National Anthems

Me, Chris, Matt and Mike in our pretty sweet seats
Me, Chris, Matt and Mike in our pretty sweet seats.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fueling with Gatorade: G Series Fit Review

I broke a cardinal racing rule over the weekend during the Baltimore 10 Miler. I tried a totally new fueling routine on race day.

Not that long ago Gatorade sent me their new G Series Fit line to test and I had been saving it for race morning.

The new line comes with three parts: Pre-workout "bites", a sports drink to use during workouts and a recovery smoothie for when you finish.

Gatorade G Series Fit line
G Series Fit line

I've been drinking Gatorade since I was a little kid playing basketball, softball, soccer and the handful of other team sports I grew up playing, so I was really excited to try the new G Series Fit line.

The new line is aimed the every day person who works out and needs fuel and hydration, but doesn't need quite the amount of replenishment that an endurance or professional athlete needs.

As a result, the G Series Fit line is lower in calories than regular Gatorade.

Before:
Before
(All screenshots from Gatorade's website)

Since I was staying in a hotel the night before the race, I didn't have access to my usual PBJ, so I munched on some of the pre-workout bites instead. I wasn't sure what to expect of the pistachio cranberry flavor. It seemed like an odd combination to me, but actually tasted pretty good. Plus the bites were small enough to throw in my car and eat on the ride to the start line.

During:
During

During races I almost always carry regular Gatorade in my water bottle. I usually stick to the basic flavors: lemon-line and orange, so I was a little leery of the fruitier acai berry flavor. I also wasn't sure if a lower-calorie sports drink would cut it during a 10 mile race.

It turns out the fruity flavor of the G Fit line wasn't all that bad, though I do still prefer the original Gatorade flavors. And I never felt like I ran out of energy during the race. I followed my usual plan of taking water and regular Gatorade at water stops and supplementing with my supply in between. It worked well for me. I certainly never bonked or hit the wall.

After:
After

The smoothie you're supposed to drink after you workout, but by the time I finished the race, met up with my friends and my mom and got back to the hotel, I was ravenously hungry and knew I needed some solid food. I plan to use the smoothie after one of my upcoming long runs and I'll let you know what I think of it then. The smoothie is actually the part of the line I'm most excited to test out because I always struggle with good post-run fuel options. I have a hard time finding something that sits well in my upset stomach and usually end up waiting hours to eat something after a work out.

Have you tried Gatorade's new line? What do you think of it?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Baltimore 10 Mile Recap

I've noticed a trend in my racing. The races that I worry about my time the least are the ones where I tend to have the most fun. It was true in the Baltimore half marathon in the fall and it was definitely true in the 10 Miler this weekend.

Me and mom before the start
Me and my mom before the start of the race.

Going into the race I knew I didn't have a solid enough training base to expect anything great. My main goal was truly just to finish and not have to walk too much and have fun with friends.

Girls before the race
Girls before the race

It was hot and humid in the morning before the race started and I was nervous that I wouldn't be ready to run 10 miles in those conditions.

After my normal pre-race routine, we lined up in our corrals. My mom was seeded toward the back, so we wished each other luck and I headed into corral 2 with my coworker Emily and her friend, Aila.

girls in corral
Me, Emily and Aila in the corral

We waited for a little bit and then we were off. The three of us split up pretty quickly and I focused on running my own race.

The course is an out and back and starts on a pretty nice 1.5 mile downhill run, which of course means the last 1.5 miles are a brutal uphill climb.

I was trying to hold a steady pace and not go out too fast on the early downhills. I knew I had a lot of running ahead of me.

The early parts of the course take you through Druid Hill park before you head out onto the city streets to Lake Montebello. After running all the way around the lake, you head back to the park.

I love out and back portions of a race because the slower runners get to see the lead people flying by. Not long after I passed the third mile marker, I saw the male leader. And a minute or two later I saw my wicked fast friend from college, Dan. I think he was maybe fifth or sixth at that point.

I was feeling really good for the first 4 miles of the race, even though there were some pretty big hills and the sun was really hot. Fatigue began to set in between mile 6 and 7, but I was still going strong.

I was actually really surprised that I hadn't hit the wall yet. After spending a month running no more than four miles one or twice a week, I was expecting this race to be completely miserable.

The last two miles were a lot of uphill, which at the end of a 10 mile race on a hot summer day was about enough to wipe me out. I walked a decent portion of some of the uphills at the end, but when I cruised through the finish line, I had a huge smile on my face and felt great.

Start and finish
Start and finish line.

Sure, my time was nothing to brag about. I finished in 1:41:59, a little bit slower than a 10 minute mile average, but for a race I was running just for fun with almost no training, I was pretty thrilled.

Volunteers handing out water
Volunteers handing out water at the finish

I'm mildly sore today and have an insane blister on my right pinky toe that's making it hard for me to walk like a normal person. It popped yesterday morning. It's gross but don't worry this time I didn't take a picture.

And just for the record, everyone else I ran with also had pretty great races. My coworker finished under 1:30, her friend finished right around 1:45 and my mom finished in just over 2 hours, after having not trained either.

Mom and me post-race
Me and my mom after the race.

I would do this race again in a heart beat if it was at a different time of the year. I loved the course. The race was extremely well organized. I just can't take the summer heat. This race may have a place on my calendar next year, I'm just not sure yet.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Baltimore 10 Miler is a Go

I have been debating for the better part of a month whether I actually wanted to run the Baltimore 10 Miler this Saturday.

Sure I had paid the registration fee back in March, when registration first opened, but after the Frederick Half Marathon, I just felt burnt out on running and training.

Frederick half finish

My initial plan was to take a much more laid back approach to running and do a couple short runs during the week with a long run on the weekends. I figured I'd still be in decent enough shape to run a solid race.

Well life has a funny way to taking our best laid plans and throwing them out the window. After a rather trying month, my running fell completely to the side while I focused my energy on work and some personal things. I've been lucky to get in maybe one run a week, never longer than three or four miles.

Disney

But after two really solid runs in Disney World last week, I decided to give the Baltimore 10 Miler a shot. Sure it's not going to be pretty, but I think I can at least finish.

Plus my desire to run and train is slowly starting to come back. I've started looking at fall races and now the thought of getting back to regular running seems much more appealing than it did a few weeks ago.

I'm hoping the Baltimore 10 Miler will be a nice reminder of just how much I love running and racing and will be the spark I need to get back to regular running.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Disney World Edition

I'm still playing catch up at work and in life from my trip to Orlando last week, but I thought I'd share some fun pictures from our dinner at Chef Mickey's. For those not familiar, Chef Mickey's is a restaurant where some of the most popular Disney characters walk around and take pictures and sign kids autographs while you eat dinner.

It'd be a shame to go all the way to Disney World and not get your picture taken with the characters!

Chef Mickey's
Chef Mickey's


Donald is really short. They've got to have a little kid in that costume.

Goofy
Goofy on the other hand is quite tall.

Mickey Mouse
Mickey's a sweetheart

Minnie Mouse
Minnie is super sassy.

Pluto
Pluto just might be my favorite.

Orlando was a great trip. My coworker and I got a lot accomplished, but I'm glad we were able to squeeze in a little bit of fun at night with a chance to meet the characters.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blogging Makes the World Small

That's one of the biggest things I learned when I was in Orlando this week for work.

Sure I may have been hundreds of miles from home, but I knew I still had friends in Orlando and I was lucky enough to meet up with several of them Friday for a delicious dinner at Seasons 52.

Katy, my Fitbloggin' partner in crime, organized a mini-blogger meet-up dinner for while I was in town and I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle, Ben and Kelly and Anthony.

The best part about meeting bloggers in person is that you just sort of pick up the conversation where the blogs leave off. It was easy to talk to Kelly about her wedding planning and pick Ben's brain for weight lifting tips. It's like you kind of already know what's going on in each others' lives.

I'm fairly confident I could travel just about anywhere in the country and find at least one blog friend to meet for dinner or lunch. I love how small blogging makes the world.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Running in Disney

Good morning from Disney World!

Disney

My coworker and I arrived safe and sound in Orlando yesterday, and after a free upgrade to first class, we were pretty blissed out by the time we arrived to our hotel.

Seriously, I wish I could fly first class all the time.

Anyway, after a busy day of setting up for our conference exhibit, I was more than ready to get in a nice run around the resort this morning before the conference kicked off.

Hotel running shot
Ready to go!

I woke up bright and early and explored the lake path around my resort.

Lake near the hotel
Lake at the center of our resort

It wasn't a very long path so I ended up running three loops, which took me about 30 minutes or so. I have no idea how fast or slow I was going because I didn't pack Garmin. I already have about five million electronics packed for this trip and not nearly enough working outlets in my hotel room to charge them all, so I figured Garmin could stay at home for once.

more lake
Sorry for the blur I was running!

Part of the hotel
Part of the hotel

My run was pretty solid. It was the first run in ages where I didn't feel completely drained of energy or being attacked by massive side stitches.

And I even managed to survive the Orlando humidity.

Sweaty mess
Yes I am a sweaty mess

I'll chalk that one up as a win.

Sweaty running clothes hanging up to dry
Sweaty running clothes hanging to dry

I'm off for a busy day of exhibiting. This conference kind of reminds me of a huge race expo, except it's all education-related exhibitors instead of fitness ones. It's my first time as an exhibitor so wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Airport Blogging

Hey friends!

I'm blogging bright and early from Reagan National Airport in DC! I still have two hours until my flight because I got to the airport freakishly early.

Empty gate
Please note just how empty all the seats around me are

Flying makes me nervous. Having to take at the metro to the airport and wait in potentially really long security lines makes me stress about missing my flight, so I tend to overcompensate in the insanely early direction.

For what it's worth, major props to the TSA folks at DCA. They kept the security lines moving and I'm pretty sure I made it through security in about five minutes. And I didn't get body scanned! DCA security FTW!

So yes, I'm now through security chilling at my gate two hours before my flight is scheduled to leave for Orlando. The plane isn't even here yet.

It's OK though, being here two hours early means I have plenty of time to blog, catch up on email, empty out my Google Reader, and eat my super awesome breakfast:

Hardboiled egg
Hard boiled eggs rock! (And they are allowed through security)

OK this breakfast isn't really that awesome. I'll probably go explore the terminal at some point to find something a bit more substantial.

Until then I'll just be hanging out here, waiting for my coworker to arrive. My guess is that she'll get here at a much more normal time.

See you in Orlando!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Healthy Living Summit

It's my last day in the office before heading to Orlando for a work conference so I have tons and tons of loose ends I need to tie up, so just a quick post today.

Last night I was able to score a ticket to the Healthy Living Summit in Philly in August!

HLS banner

Wheee I'm so very excited. It will be my first time attending HLS, but I've heard wonderful things, and if it's anything close to Fitbloggin' I know it will be a blast.

Really any excuse to get a bunch of bloggers together in one place is bound to be a good time and Philly gets bonus points because it's close to D.C. and practically like going home for me!

Anyone else going to HLS this summer? I can't wait to meet everyone!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Side Stitches and Sunburn

Lesson learned on this weekend's run:

If your chest if horribly sunburned do not put on a sports bra. Do not go running. Seriously do not pass go, do not collect $200.

You will spend the entire run trying to forget the horrible chafing pain and when you get back and see the damage done to your poor sunburned skin, you will spend all weekend digging through your closet to find non-V-neck shirts so that no one else has to see the chafe marks.

Or maybe that's just me.

Side Stitches:


Besides the sunburn, I had another issue on this weekend's run: horrible side stitches starting around the first mile. I wasn't running all that fast since it was warm out, but I kept getting these stabbing pains in my right side.

Side stitches have actually been a kind of common occurrence on my runs lately and I'm not exactly sure why. I mean I know I've severely cut back on my mileage so I'm obviously not in super shape like when I was training for a race, but we're talking little three mile runs here, something I should be able to do in my sleep.

I shouldn't feel like I'm sucking wind after just a mile. I've tried evening out my breathing, intentionally taking deeper, slower breaths, but once a side stitch starts the only thing I've found that will fix it is either stopping and stretching out my side or slowing down to a walk.

Usually the first side stitch doesn't hit until at least a mile in, but after the first one they become much more regular.

Do you guys have any tips for making a side stitch go away and stay away? I hate having to stop and walk every couple of minutes because my side is killing me.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Fitbloggin' Webinar

A big thank you to everyone who came to the webinar Katy and I did of our Fitbloggin' presentation on Wednesday night.

I know some people weren't able to make it though because of various other commitments, so as promised, here is the videocast of the webinar.



I think for our first webinar we did a pretty solid job.

If you want to catch some of the other Fitbloggin' presentations in webinar form, I know Katy is working to get a bunch set up in the coming weeks. In fact, there will be another webinar today on breaking into health and fitness blogging at 2 p.m. Eastern for anyone who is interested.

Defintely check Katy's blog if you're interested on the schedule for upcoming webinars.

And on that note, I hope you all have an awesome weekend!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Health Benefits of Working From Home

We're on Day 2 of absolutely no power at the office, which means another day of telework.

Not that I'm complaining. My home office (aka my bed) and my home work wardrobe (track shorts and a t-shirt) are much more comfortable than my desk and normal business attire.

But besides comfort, having the flexibility to work from home a few days each week makes a huge impact on the state of my health.

On days I work from home:

  • I get at least an extra hour of sleep that would normally be spent doing my morning routine and commuting to work.
  • I can be flexible with my workouts. I can do them first thing in the morning, or whenever I need a break from the computer. No one's going to be offended if I go for a run and come back to answer some email before hopping in the shower.
  • I can put together healthier meals. It can be really hard to transport a healthy breakfast or lunch to the office every day, but when I work from home I have much more freedom when it comes to food. Like this morning, I had the time to whip up some scrambled eggs and toast. On a normal work day, I'm either schlepping cereal or a yogurt into the office for breakfast.
  • I don't have the stress of a commute. Everyone knows traffic in the D.C.-area is hellacious during rush hour and sitting in traffic or getting stuck on the Metro is just plain stressful.

I know I'm really lucky that the place I work offers telework as an option, and I'm actually kind of surprised more places don't do the same. We live in a digital world where we communicate through email, text message and tweets more than we do in face-to-face interactions. I'm not saying that's a good or bad thing, I'm just saying that's reality, and I would think more companies would take advantage of that to give their employees a little more flexibility and freedom.

I know not every job can do this, but for your average office worker, who sits at a computer for 8 hours a day, does it really matter if they're sitting at that computer at home or in an office somewhere?

Teleworking, even just a day or two a week, cuts down on stress and in general makes people happier and healthier. I think the last time I took a sick day was nearly two years ago (knock on wood).

I'd argue that healthy, happy employees are more productive, have a more positive outlook and will be more likely to stick with a company that treats them well than look for a job elsewhere.

Does your company offer the ability to telework? If not, have you ever thought about asking your boss if you could try teleworking once a week for a month to see how it goes? Their answer might surprise you.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Goodbye May, Hello June

Fun Fact: There hasn't been power in my office building since 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon. We are all teleworking today, but can't get on the network drives. Pepco doesn't know when the power will be restore.

How is it June 1 already?

Looking back May was a pretty solid month:

I ran a fun half marathon with my friends.

At the finish line
Tracy, me, Ashleigh and Zach

I took a break from 4:30 a.m. wake up calls and switched to evening running.

I spent a lot of time with family.

First at my cousin's wedding
Outside the church

and then at my cousin's birthday party.
Abby's birthday

I had a blast a Fitbloggin' presenting with Katy and making new friends
Jenny and I after the 5K
Me and Jenny at the end of the Fitbloggin' 5K


I saw the New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys Concert with friends

Girls at the NKOTBSB concert

and had an all around awesome Memorial Day weekend.

I have a feeling June is going to fly by just as quickly. I will be traveling for work a lot this month (to Orlando from the 8-12 and Philly from the 26-29...if you're in those areas and want to grab dinner one night let me know!).

I'm also scheduled to run the Baltimore 10 Miler with my mom in a few weeks, but neither of us has been training for it. We both got distracted with life, so that race is still up in the air and may end up being a DNS for both of us.

As for my running plans, my goal this month is to get in what I can. With my weekends already booked with work travel and my weekday evenings being quickly consumed too, I'll be happy to fit in a few runs when I can. I'm definitely not going to be stressing about running this month.

Next thing you know it will be July!