Friday, September 30, 2011

Dressing For A Cold Race

When I checked the hourly forecast for Sunday's half marathon, my jaw almost hit the ground when I saw the temperature at the start line would be 37 degrees.

race-day-weather

Wow! What happened to fall?

Don't get me wrong, running in cooler weather is obviously ideal, I was just expecting maybe low 50's at the start instead of a few degrees away from freezing.

So now I have no idea what to wear the race.

My original plan was my booty shorts and a tank -- my go-to outfit for summer and fall races.

5K finish

But that plan won't work anymore.

I don't remember how to dress for colder races since I haven't had to do it for months. It's obviously not cold enough to break out my running tights and Under Armour cold gear, but it's too cold for tank tops.

I'm thinking maybe my best best is to wear the outfit I wore in the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. If I remember correctly, it was pretty chilly at the start that day and then warmed up nicely.

Emily, Emily, and Jess

I wore my Under Armour compression capris, a tank top and a long sleeve tech top.

Half way through the race I took off the long sleeves and tied the shirt around my waist. Not sure if I'll need to do that this time or not, but at least it's an option. Plus, the extra layer will help keep me warmer at the start line.

I'm also planning to bring a pair of throw-away gloves and my ear warmer.

I'm not sure if the outfit will be perfect, but given the cold snap we're getting, I think it will work, although I'm very open to suggestions if you have them!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training: Week 3

This week of training started out great, but unfortunately ended on a crappy note with a really bad long run last Friday. I know not every run is going to be perfect, but Friday's run was definitely one of the worst I've had in a while. More on that later.

Training So Far:
Week One
Week Two

Week Three:

Monday: 8 x 2 minute repeats

Another solid day of speed work. I think with a short warm up and cool down, this was somewhere around 3 miles total.

Tuesday: 3 miles easy

Wednesday: 40 minute tempo run

Garmin tempo run

I took a lot of the advice you all gave me and applied it to my tempo run last week. I worked on starting out slower, and focused on picking up my speed during the middle portion of the workout. It still wasn't perfect, but it was a better run overall.

Thursday: 3 miles easy

Friday: 50 minute long run

This was the long run from hell. It was originally supposed to be 90 minutes, but I could tell as soon as I started this run would be a struggle. My legs just felt so tired and heavy as soon as I started. I figured after a mile in they would loosen up, but it never happened. They actually just kept getting tighter and tighter. My calves were so knotted that around mile 2.5 I finally stopped to stretch, and decided it was time to cut this run short before I hurt myself. And then I got a stone or something in my shoe that repeatedly stabbed me in the toe until I finally stopped, took off my sock, and shook it out. Really everything that could have gone wrong, did. I made the long, slow plod back home and had to walk a lot. It was an absolutely miserable run from beginning to end.

Saturday: Rest and Tailgate Football

Tailgate football

Sunday: Football

Touch football

My training plan calls for an optional three mile run on Sundays to accompany my football games, but as sore as my legs were after Friday's run from hell, I decided to skip them this week and just focus on the football.

Total mileage: 18.5.

Goals for Week 4:
  • Give myself some more rest
  • Have fun in the half marathon

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Last-Minute Half Marathon Registration

Last Friday I made a a snap decision to register for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon that's coming up this weekend.

wwbridgehm_logo

My friend Zach, who you might remember from the Frederick Half Marathon, had accidentally claimed one of the free entries from Active.com and was trying to find someone who would be interested in a free entry on such short notice.

Frederick Half finish

Turns out it's kind of hard to give away something free, when it requires the other person be able to run 13 miles.

I'm not one to turn down a free race entry, especially when there is a sweet medal involved, but I was concerned I might not be able to finish the race and then get to my football game in time.

IMG_0138

After going all crazy Type-A trying to figure out logistics, mapping directions from the finish line to the football field, estimating how long it would take me to run and then drive to the game, I realized that if I could finish the race by 10 a.m., I could run to my car and floor it to football and make it before game time.

I'm not trained well enough to race this course, so I plan to use it as a long run. Even taking it nice and easy, I should still cross the finish line in less than 2.5 hours.

Ideally I'm hoping I'll finish between 2:15 and 2:20, have enough time to grab some food, maybe get someone to take a finish line picture of me and my medal before heading to the game.

By the time I get to my game, I'll be plenty warmed up and ready to go. Either that, or my knees will be covered in ice packs and I'll be useless on the football field. I'm hoping for the former!

Call my crazy, but I can't think of a better way to spend my Sunday morning: Running a half marathon, playing touch football and then going home to spend the rest of the day camped out on the sofa watching the NFL.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Unplanned Rest Day

This morning when my alarm went off at 4:30, I turned it off and went back to sleep.

My legs have been really unhappy with me lately, and it seemed smarter to give them a nice rest day, rather than force an easy run and make things worse.

I'm tackling a much more ambitious training plan than normal this cycle, with higher mileage and some more intense speed sessions, and I know it's going to take my legs a while to adjust to the heavier load.

Pushing myself when I'm already sore and tired is just a recipe for injury.

Training for endurance events is all about listening to your body. Sure you have a plan as general guidance, but if your sore, tired or just can't fit in a run, there's nothing wrong with skipping it.

I know for a fact that today I made the right decision to skip my three easy miles. The rest for my legs and the extra two hours of sleep was more beneficial than any run could have been today.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Touch Football

My touch football league kicked off this weekend!

DSC_0261

Our season opener was Sunday near DuPont Circle in D.C., and I convinced Megan to join the team so we had enough girls.

DSC_0244
Carrie, me and Megan

Our league has two important girl-specific rules:

1. There have to be three girls on the field at all times.

2. In order to get a first down, a girl has to get positive yards on at least one play in a four-down series.

So having enough girls is pretty important so that you don't forfeit.

football

Our game on Sunday started out well. We played a pretty solid first half, but struggled in the second half.

It didn't help that we were playing one of the better teams in the league.

other team
I mean they had this dude. I think his bicep is bigger than my thigh...

It also didn't help that I didn't catch a single pass. I mean I'm no football super star, but I've always been able to pull my weight and make a few short catches to make sure we meet all the "girl requirements."

Catch
Proof that I can actually catch the ball....too bad this was in warm ups.

It was definitely disappointing to lose the first game of the season, but I'm glad we played one of the better teams first. It gives me lots of confidence that we're going to kick butt the rest of the season.

The guys on our team are pretty solid players

Diving catch
Diving catch

In the air

and the girls are pretty athletic too

QB rush
Me and Carrie rushing the QB

so I'm sure we'll rebound next week.

And even if we lose all season (wow, I really hope that doesn't happen), football is going to be some great cross-training. I woke up this morning with the sorest hamstrings I've had in a while. I'm clearly not used to the stop and start running that you do in football. I'll have to give the legs a foam roller session when I get home from work today.

Huge thanks to my friends Sarah and Emily for taking all the pictures in this post! You guys are the best!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Healthy Tailgate Food: Granola Bars

Every year without fail, Maryland football ends up with a couple of games that start at noon. Those days our tailgates start at 6 a.m.

6 am tailgate
Yes we tailgate before the sun comes up.

Getting to campus that early is rough, but our breakfast tailgates are always a hit. It's impressive the number of breakfast foods that you can cook on a grill.

To fit last week's breakfast theme, I whipped up a batch of delicious granola bars, loosely based on this recipe.

Ingredients:

Ingredients

3/4 c rolled oats
1/2 c rice cereal
1/4 c pumpkin seeds
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c chocolate chips
1/2 c honey
1/3 c creamy peanut butter
Splash of vanilla

Directions:

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Mix and set aside.

2. Combine the honey, peanut butter and vanilla and warm in the microwave for about 30 seconds. This will make it easier to spread.

3. Pour the warm ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until everything is well coated.

4. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.

5. Spread the mixture into a 13 x 9 pan and refrigerate.

6. Once the bars are set, cut them into individual serving sizes and enjoy.

bars in pan

These bars ended up turning out great. I wasn't sure how the peanut butter and honey mixture would work, but everyone loved the peanut butter flavor and the honey added just a touch of sweetness. These were the perfect early morning treat.

My family is coming into town for this weekend's tailgate so I'm taking the week off from cooking since they are bringing down delicious Philly pretzels. We play Temple on Saturday and so of course our tailgate is Philly themed. We'll be grilling up lots of cheesesteaks. I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training: Week Two

Before I dive into last week's training recap, I just wanted to thank you all for your awesome comments on yesterday's blog post. They were hands down some of the most interesting and insightful comments I've ever received. I loved the thought you put into all of them and I was so happy that we could have a pretty good debate while keeping it civil. You guys are the best.

This week I decided to change how I count the weeks on my training plan. Instead of measuring my week from Sunday to Saturday, my training weeks will start on Mondays and run through the following Sunday. It just makes it easier for me to track what I'm doing. Plus motivation to dive into a new week of training is always higher on Monday morning than it is on Sunday.

So with that note, here's how I did with training during week two:

Monday: 7 Hill repeats

I almost always do hill runs on the treadmill because it lets me control the incline and distance of the hill. I kept the speed around a 9:30 minute mile and jacked the incline up to 7 or 8 percent. This was a pretty killer workout. Forget to look at the treadmill to get a final distance covered though.

Tuesday: 3 miles easy

Safety first

It's incredible dark at 4:30 a.m. so I always rock my sweet reflective vest so cars can see me.

Wednesday: 30 minute tempo run

I always struggle with getting the speed just right on tempo runs. I tend to do these workouts outside and I either start off too fast and burnout in the end or don't start fast enough and then don't push hard enough. Last week I started out way too fast and was sucking wind and walking some of the hills at the end. I need to get better at controlling my speed during tempo runs. I also had a bit of knee pain at the end of this run, but nothing a little Arctic Ease couldn't fix.

Arctic Ease

Thursday: 3 miles easy

Friday: 90 minute long run

Long run done

This run went incredibly well. I woke up really early, ate an energy bar, and then did some work until the sun started to come up. Once it was light, I headed outside and got to enjoy the first truly cold morning of the year. It was in the low 40's when I started and boy was I freezing in my shorts and t-shirt. It warmed up nicely though and I was able to complete 9.8 miles in 91 minutes. That's slightly further than I went during last week's long run, so I'm happy to see that my speed increased a little bit. I also finished this workout on an incredible runner's high and spent my cool down time dancing around my dining room to Party Rock Anthem while checking my email. (Don't judge!)

Saturday: Rest (and tailgate!)

Tailgate crew

Sunday: 3 miles easy

My motivation was seriously lacking on Sunday, and I didn't leave for my run until almost 3 p.m. One of the perks of the cooler weather is that I can wait until later in the day to do my runs without suffering through brutal heat and humidity -- makes fitting my runs in so much easier.

Total Mileage: Probably around 25ish since I didn't really count the hills

Another awesome week of training in the books. I'm happy that I fit in all my runs even on the days motivation wasn't as high as it normally is. I did OK on the sleep front, but I'm still staying up too late and waking up kind of tired. I need to be more diligent about getting to bed earlier.

Goals for week 3:

  • Get more sleep
  • Figure out the ideal pacing for my tempo run
  • Get my insane morning hunger under control

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Weighty Question

Last night my good friend and I were having an interesting conversation about the way society reacts to people based on their weight.

We ended the conversation with a sort of open ended question that we didn't have a good answer to, so I thought I'd pose it here and see what your thoughts were.

Question:

Why is it that as a society, we have no problem commenting to slender girls about what and how much they eat or worrying that they have an eating disordering and are slowly killing themselves by not eating, BUT we wouldn't dare think to tell an overweight person that they are killing themselves by eating too much food and are putting themselves at risk for diabetes, heart disease, etc.?

I don't get the weird double standard.

I mean both people who don't eat enough and people who eat too much are putting their health at risk. Why is it that we worry more about the people who don't eat enough?

Is it because as a society we've become so used to seeing people eat too much and are overweight that we're desensitized to it?

Is it because it's extremely taboo to tell someone maybe they should cut back on the Big Macs and the cookies?

I don't have a good answer, but I'm really curious to hear what you think.

And a final question, would you tell an overweight friend not to eat so much because it's bad for their health?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Football Injury

It happens almost every weekend that someone gets hurt in the pick up football games we play at our tailgates. This week I was one of the victims. I got decked by a kid on my team and landed right on the concrete on my elbow.

football injury

Lots of blood and my elbow is all sorts of bruised and swollen. I'm actually surprised by how much it still hurts this morning, especially when I bang it on stuff. (I should probably stop being such a clutz)

I'm just glad my friend keeps a first aid kit in the car. I finished out the game with my elbow still bleeding, but she cleaned it up nicely when we were finished.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Long Runs: Time vs. Distance

One of the big things that is different about my training plan this year compared to any of my previous training plans is that my long runs are a set amount of time, rather than a set number of miles.

Most training plans I've used have started with 8 miles, 9 miles and then 10 miles followed by a cutback week, with a shorter distance run or race.

On this plan my long runs looks like this:

Week 1: 90 minutes
Week 2: 90 minutes
Week 3: 5K Race
Week 4: 90 minutes (3/1)*
Week 5: 90 minutes
Week 6: 10K Race
Week 7: 1:45 run (3/1)
Week 8: 1:45 run
Week 9: 15K Race
Week 10: 2:00 run (3/1)
Week 11: 2:00 run
Week 12: Half marathon

*The 3/1 runs are supposed to start easy and then finish fast to get my legs used to working hard even when their fatigued.

Running by time instead of by distance has been interesting so far. It's definitely a different frame of mind knowing that no matter how fast or slow I run, I will be out there for a certain amount of time.

So far I've only done one long run and I'm not sure if I like running by time or by distance better.

Have you ever used a training plan where your long runs were based on time rather than miles? Did you love or hate it? And did it leave you feeling prepared for your race?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Time Management, Finding Motivation and Fitting it all In

When I tell people I wake up at 4:30 a.m. so I can run before work, one of two things happens. The person asking the question either stares at me like I belong in an insane asylum or looks at me in awe and wants to know where I find the motivation to do that.

Just recently a friend of mine from college (Hi Olivia!) asked if I could write a post sharing some of my tips for finding the time and motivation to work out when it seems like our lives are so busy.

I'm no expert, but here's what I've found works for me.

Have a plan
I'm so ridiculously type A that having a plan is a huge must for me. When I'm building a plan, whether it's a training plan for a race or just hashing out weekly workout goals, I sit down with my massive calendar of everything I have going on and take it all into account. So in the fall I look at what weekends I'm tied up with soccer and football tailgates and then I plan my workouts accordingly. If you plan some big workout on a day when you already have a ton of other time commitments, you're setting yourself up for failure.

Be flexible
Sometimes stuff happens, like last week when it rained all week. The weather threw off my plan, but I was able to shift around some workouts and only ended up completely skipping one run. There will be other times when life gets hectic and you might have to skip several workouts. It's not the end of the world and if you're flexible you may be able to find other times you can squeeze in a short workout, even if it wasn't what you had originally planned.

Take advantage of the mornings
Yes waking up at 4:30 a.m. is hard and sometimes it really, really sucks. But working out in the mornings is the only way I know to ensure that I actually get my runs in. After work, I'm either too tired or too busy doing fun social things. The way I look at it is if I get my workout done first thing, the whole rest of the day is mine to do with whatever I want, whether that's meet friends for happy hour drinks after work or go home put on sweats, sit on my butt and watch TV. Not stressing about when I'm going to fit my workout in or what fun social activity I'm missing, makes the early mornings worth it to me.

Hit snooze once
This is my fall back trick for making sure I actually get out of bed when my alarm goes off. I give myself permission to hit the snooze button once. Sometimes I fall back to sleep during those five minutes, but more often than not I use them to picture my run and think about how awesome I will feel once I finish. When the alarm goes off again, I just force myself out of bed.

Set a goal
Finding motivation isn't always easy, but I find I'm most motivated when I'm working toward a goal. That's a huge part of the reason I train for so many races. So when you're motivation is lacking just think about your goal and sometimes that's enough to give you the kick in the pants you need.

Remember you'll never regret a workout
I don't think I've ever once gotten back from a run and thought, "Man what a waste of time, I wish I had just watched TV instead." I always feel a million times better after I workout. Blame the endorphins or the runner's high, but working out just plain makes me feel good.

Despite all my tips and tricks, there are times when I just plain don't want to run. Or I really, truly need the extra sleep because I'm tired. So I skip a workout. It's not the end of the world.

This summer, for example, I was seriously burnt out on running and I needed some time off. So I went from running five days each week to running maybe two or three times a week with no real goals or times that I was shooting for. There were other weeks I ran once, or not at all. It was a necessary break and taking a step back doesn't mean you lack motivation or the drive to workout, sometimes it's just a sign from your body that you need to rest.

Interestingly enough, I came off my summer of relaxed running and was able to race some of my fastest 5Ks and I'm now attacking my Philly half training plan with vigor.

The most important thing to remember is that you have to do what works for you. Some days it will take extra mental effort to get out there, but at the end of the day, if it something that's important to you, you'll make it a priority and make sure it gets done.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

White House Executive Chef Video

Remember last month when I got to interview Cris Comerford, the White House Executive Chef?

Well I promised to share the video with you once it was live and now it is!


(If you're in an RSS reader you may need to click through for the video to work)

Kids.gov is one of the websites I work on, and as part of our career spotlight series, we do short interviews with people throughout the government who have cool jobs. Think people like the Executive Chef of the White House, the people who design U.S. currency and animal keepers at the National Zoo.

It's definitely one of the more fun parts of my job. I love getting a behind the scenes look at how people do their jobs and how things really happen.

In fact yesterday, we took a trip to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and got to see how money is designed, engraved and printed.

320K
Holding $320K. That much money is heavy!

Fun Fact: Did you know the designs on most of our dollar bills are drawn by hand by a team of artists?

The videos are mostly for educational purposes for teachers to use in classrooms during their lessons on careers and to expose kids to the wide variety of jobs out there, but they are a lot of fun to watch too. One of my favorites that we've done to date is our interview with the animal keeper at the National Zoo. (If you're interested you can check out that video on our YouTube channel.)

Our video career spotlights are a fairly new endeavor, so if you have feedback or thoughts on what we could be doing better, please feel free to share in the comments.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training: Week One

Despite the nasty, rainy weather D.C. had all last week, I tried not to let my training plan be a complete wash (har har, bad pun intended). In the end I only missed one run, although unfortunately it was a tempo run. Kind of a bummer, but not the end of the world. There's still plenty of training left to go.

Here's what my week looked like:

Sunday: 3 miles easy

Just a nice, easy recovery run after my speedy 5K on Saturday to loosen my legs up for a great week of training.

Monday: 7 x 400

My first taste of interval running in a long time. I did these on the treadmill because there's not a track near me and it's easiest to control my speed on the treadmill. I actually sort of love interval workouts in a training plan because they are a quick and dirty hardcore workout.

Tuesday: 3 miles easy

In the pouring rain.

Soaking wet after the rain
Drowned rat look, check.

Wednesday: OFF due to rain. Was supposed to be a tempo run.

Thursday: 3 miles pace

The run that killed my iPod. It wasn't raining when I left the house, but two minutes in it started torrential down pouring. My iPod died minutes later. I need to put it in some rice or something. I've heard that can bring them back to life. I think the rain made me run faster though.

Friday: OFF. Moved my long run to Saturday because of the rain.

Saturday: 90 minute long run + 9/11 Memorial 5K

My long run was excellent. I took it nice and easy and just enjoyed being out for the longest run I've done in months. It was a pretty nice day for a run, although it was a bit humid, which killed me toward the end. I managed to complete about 9.6 miles in 90 minutes.

9/11 Memorial 5K

The 9/11 5K was a complete last minute addition. Ryan called me at 11 a.m. telling me he had an extra bib and I decided to use the 5K in place of my easy 3 miles that I had scheduled for Sunday. My legs actually felt a million times less sore after the 5K than they did before it. Reason # 546 I'm really glad I did that race.

Total mileage: About 25 (not sure exactly how much recovery distance I did between intervals on Monday)

This was definitely a solid first week of training for me and I'm really happy with the fact that I only missed one run despite the rain. I was also really encouraged to see that I managed to keep a pretty steady pace throughout the duration of my long run. That's something I tend to struggle with, but I felt really strong the whole time I was doing that run.

I was also really happy with my ability to be flexible this week. The rain definitely could have put a much bigger damper on my training, but I thought I did a decent job of going with the flow and fitting in my runs as best as I could and shuffling things around when I had to. If I can keep that up through the rest of training, I think I'll be ready to go for this race.


Goals for Week 2:

  • Fit in all my runs
  • Make sure my long run happens on Friday 
  • Get enough sleep to sustain 4:30 a.m. wake up calls 

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 Memorial 5K Race

Like most people, I can remember exactly where I was 10 years ago when the 9/11 attacks happened. I remember sitting in my sophomore year homeroom, when the vice principal came running in and told our teacher to turn on the TV. The first tower had already been hit and we watched as as the second plane crashed into the second tower.

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since the attacks.

Until I moved to D.C., I always felt closer to the attacks in New York. I had friends whose parents worked in the towers. I had stood on the roof of the towers and felt on top of the world. And I had been to NYC countless times and seen the skyline with those two soaring buildings.

060911-F-9471G-005
(Source)

To me, the Pentagon sort of felt like it was a world away.

That feeling has changed a lot since I've lived down here.

Now D.C. is home, and the Pentagon is only a few miles away.

I know everyone has their own way of reflecting on what happened that day, of honoring the victims and thanking first responders for the sacrifices they make to keep us all safe.

Personally, I couldn't think of a better way to do that than by running a 9/11 memorial race.

9/11 Memorial 5K

My friend Ryan was able to get me a last-minute entry into the sold-out 5K that starts in Arlington and loops around the Pentagon. Ryan's mom was running with some friends from the PG County police department and at the last minute a few people who were supposed to run got called in to work, so there were extra bibs.

9/11 Memorial 5K

It was a night race, kicking off at 6 p.m. and it had to be one of the most patriotic races I've ever attended.

There were members of the military every where.

9/11 Memorial 5K
I snagged a pic with these fine Navy gents

People ran with flags and in a variety of red, white and blue outfits and the DJ was cranking some patriotic tunes.

9/11 Memorial 5K

I had no intention of racing this race. It was a run for fun with friends in memory of those who lost their lives 10 years ago. (Plus I had already done a nearly 10 mile long run that morning and my legs were toast.)

I ran the race with Ryan, since running with friends is more fun than running alone.

The course started on a downhill and we started took off at a good clip. My legs were feeling surprisingly loose, but I knew we were going way too fast.

9/11 Memorial 5K

When we hit the mile two marker Ryan looked and me and and said, "Only mile 2?!"

9/11 Memorial 5K
The Pentagon

As we continued to loop around the Pentagon, we passed a band playing Taps and Ryan thought maybe he was dying. Our pace had definitely dropped off. I was trying to get us to pick up it just a little bit towards the end so we could break 30 minutes. But it was hot and really humid and Ryan's stomach was bothering him.

We eventually made the final turn away from the Pentagon, ran under a giant American flag and crossed the finish line in 30:41.

Service members were handing out medals after the race.

9/11 Memorial 5K

I've never gotten a medal for a 5K before, but this is hands down one of my favorite medals ever.

9/11 Memorial 5K

After we finished we met up with Ryan's mom and several of the other people who ran the race. I stuffed my face with two pieces of pizza and Ryan downed some beers. Best post-race spread ever!

9/11 Memorial 5K

Running this race was a really small act, but it was my way to say thanks to first responders and service men and women everywhere for the work they do and to remember and honor the victims and the families who lost loved ones in the attacks.

*Major thanks to Ryan for letting me use his iPhone to take all the pictures in this post since my camera battery died!*

Friday, September 09, 2011

Healthy Tailgate Food: Old Bay Couscous Salad

I know I've talked before about how much I absolutely love tailgate season. Nothing is better than hanging out with friends in a parking lot, grilling up food and playing tailgates games.

cornhole boards

But tailgating for hours on end every weekend also means I eat some really not-good-for-you food. Your typical tailgate staples include chips and dip, burgers and hot dogs, cookies, brownies, etc.

Since I spend so much time at tailgates and I try to be mindful of what I'm eating, especially when I'm training, I've decided that at each tailgate this season, I'm going to bring a healthy, vegetarian dish to the party that fits in with the tailgate theme.

Last week's theme was seafood because we were playing Miami and because crabcakes and football is what Maryland does. So of course the star ingredient in my recipe was Old Bay.

Old Bay

For last week's dish, I created a recipe for an Old Bay Couscous Salad.

Ingredients:

2 c couscous
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 red onion
4 celery stalks chopped thin
1 can chickpeas
Old Bay
1 individual container of fat free plain Greek yogurt
1 c Italian dressing

Directions:

1. Prepare couscous according to the packages instructions. Add a generous shake of Old Bay to mix.

2. Chop all your veggies and in a large bowl toss them with the couscous.

3. In a separate container, mix the Greek yogurt and Italian dressing. Add about 4 teaspoons of Old Bay (depending on how strong you like the flavor). Mix well and then toss with the salad.

4. Chill for several hours before serving and feel free to add more Old Bay before eating.

Old Bay Couscous Salad

This was a hit with everyone at the tailgate, even my skeptical friends who didn't think healthy food of any sort belongs at a tailgate.

I'm hoping I can keep surprising my friends this season with yummy and healthy tailgate food. Maybe by the end of the season I'll have convinced a bunch of skeptics that healthy food can still be good tailgate food.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Rained Out Run

The weather forecast in D.C. this week has been dismal. Rain all day, every day with lots of flash flood warnings.

weather forecast

What a great week for my half marathon training to start!

Despite the nasty weather, I was determined to not let it completely derail my first week of training, so when the storms let up a bit on Tuesday I headed out for a quick three miler. I was hoping the rain would hold off until I got home, but I wasn't so lucky.

About a mile in to the run the skies opened up and another round of torrential downpours blew through. By the time I got home, I looked like a drowned rat.

Soaking wet after the rain

At least I was smart and wore my back up running shoes, since they were completely soaked by the time I got home.

Wet clothes on the floor

Yesterday the weather was even worse, with wicked thunderstorms rolling through. I decided not to tempt fate and skipped my tempo run in favor of not getting struck by lightening.

Things have only mildly improved today, which doesn't leave me hopeful for the runs I have scheduled today and tomorrow. I didn't realize I had suddenly moved to Seattle. What gives D.C. weather? I need these storm cells to pass quickly so I focus on my training and get in the runs I need to.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Kentlands 5K Race Recap and a New PR

This weekend I ran a total spur of the moment 5K.

After my super speedy run last week, I wanted to make my new 5K PR official in an actual race.

Picking out which 5K to do was easy.  A whole bunch of my family was already registered for the Kentlands 5K and I made a last minute decision to join the party.

Family pre-race
Aunt Marybeth, my cousin Kenny, his fiance Nikki, my cousin Laura, me

I don't think I've ever been so nervous before a 5K in my life. I hit the porta-potties three times before the race started. I normally only pee that much before long races because those actually still scare me a little.

But I wanted a new PR and I wanted it bad. I guess the pressure was on.

About 10 minutes before the start of the race, my aunt, cousins and I all split up and headed to our individual corrals. Yep, this was a 5K with a wave start, something I've never experienced before, but it definitely helped with the crowds on the course.

I was nervous heading into the corral for 8-9 minute miles. I never start in a group that runs that fast and I really didn't feel like I belonged there among the "fast people."

I stretched a little bit, hopped up and down to get the blood flowing and fired off a quick "Please let me set a new PR" prayer.

The race started on a downhill and I did my best to keep my speed in check during the first mile. I was trying to find that happy pace where I was pushing hard, but not going out too fast and burning out at mile 2.5.

kentlands laura, kenny
Laura and Kenny near mile one (source)

The course climbed from mile 1.5 to 2.5. I kept looking at Garmin to see where my pace was and it was definitely falling off a little bit. I latched on to a guy who was running near my speed and decided to stick with him the rest of the course.

He'd cruise past me on uphills, running them much more efficiently than I did, but I'd fly by him on the downhills.

As we hit the last downhill into the finish, he took off.

I didn't have much more gas left in the tank at that point, but I pushed as hard as I could and crossed the finish line in 26:21, an average pace of 8:29.

Jess finish
(Source)

My previous PR was 27:36, so I shaved more than a minute off that time.

I hustled back to the finish line so I could watch everyone else finish and of course I missed every single person. Good thing the race people took lots of finish line pictures!

Laura had the most intense sprint to the finish ever and she finished only a few seconds off her time from our race earlier this summer!

kentlands laura
(Source)

Nikki and Kenny finished about a minute apart, and Kenny ran the whole thing in his Vibrams.

kentlands nikki 5
kentlands kenny 2
(Source)

And my Aunt Marybeth finished her first ever race in just about 40 minutes!

kentlands mb 2
(Source)

All around it was a solid day of racing for the Milcetich family.

I'm so, so excited that my family had fun racing. I'm hoping this means I'll be able to get them to run lots of other races with me!