Friday, June 29, 2012

Congressional Baseball

Yesterday you might have thought the big showdown between the Democrats and Republicans came over the ruling in the Obamacare case.

But really I think our elected officials were saving it for the field.

Just a little congressional baseball action

Each year the Democrats and Republicans get together for a night of charity baseball.

Congressional baseball game

I headed over to the Nationals stadium with some friends to catch the action.

We had seats right behind home plate and the night was eventful to say the least.

We literally brushed shoulders with Ron Paul, who threw out the first pitch,

Ron Paul throwing out the first pitch last night

saw Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner working the crowd

Boehner working the crowd

and watched the Democrats absolutely embarrass the Republicans in an 18-5 drubbing.

Oh and the best part of the night might have been watching Rep. Cedric Richmond, one of the guys on my softball team, nearly hit one out of the park during his at bat.

My softball teammate Cedric Richmond at bat in the congressional baseball game
Cedric at bat

His sweet baseball skills will probably come in handy during the rest of softball season.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

ValSlides Mid-Way Review + Progress Numbers

I've officially hit the half way mark of the ValSlides program, the new strength training routine I started, and I wanted to share how things are going so far. (Numbers are at the bottom if you want to cheat and skip ahead.)

Up bright and early to get my sweat on. Also apparently my gym flooded last night. Lovely.
Getting ready to tackle one of Val's workouts
Also, the gym totally flooded after a storm this week.

The program has six workouts each week. Three days are cardio sessions, meant to be short and higher in intensity (though my 17 mile run on Monday hardly falls in either of those categories) and three days are Val's strength routines.

Equipment for my ValSlides workout
Some of the equipment I use

Val's strength programs are intense. I talked about my first workout using the program and how I was literally dripping in sweat and laying on the gym floor exhausted after I finished, and that hasn't changed with the other workouts.

They literally kick my butt. Val loves lunges and holy goodness my butt is getting a workout on this program.

But so are my arms, shoulders, chest, back and abs.

Val's program also comes with a food plan, which I'm sort of kind of following. I really, really suck at "diets" or any program that tells you to eat certain foods and not eat others. I love food, and if you tell me I can't eat something, it's pretty much the only thing I want to eat.

That said, I would say I'm following Val's plan about 90 percent of the time.

Mmm spinach and strawberry salad for lunch
I've been eating lots of yummy spinach salads lately, really just for the feta

Her plans calls for lots of fresh produce (easy in the summer!) and lean protein while completely eliminating bread, flour, alcohol and all processed food for three weeks.

I've certainly reduced the amount of the prohibited foods, but I haven't gone completely cold turkey on any of them.

So to track progress Val has you record measurements at the start, mid-way point and end of the program.

I'm not doing this specifically to lose weight, and since I'm not following the diet super closely, my results probably won't be as awesome as someone who was.

But hey, I've got my friend's huge pool party coming up in a few weeks and if I'm going to be running around in swimsuit all day long, I'm not complaining if one of the added benefits of this program is that I slim down a smidge.

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Two weeks til more raft time with this girl!

Half way through here's where things stand. I'm not sharing real numbers because I don't really feel like putting that out on the Interwebz. If you're dying to know, shoot me an email and I'm happy to share.


Weight: - 3.5 lbs
Bust: - 1/2 inch
Waist: -1/4 inch
Hips: no change
Right Thigh: - 1/2 inch
Left Thigh: - 1/2 inch
Right Bicep: + 1/4 inch (whooo getting gunz!)
Left Bicep: + 1/4 inch

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

17 Miles to Clear My Head

We all handle stress in different ways. Some people head to the bar. Some people head to the golf course. I head out on nice long runs.

I got some stressful news yesterday morning (not bad, just stressful) and literally the only thing I could think to do to clear my head was to run until I couldn't think about it anymore because my legs were tired.

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Never has this been more true than yesterday

Turns out yesterday, that took 17.22 miles of running all around DC.

When I left my house, I had no idea how long I planned to run. I threw my ID, credit card, metro card and some cash into my iFitness belt, grabbed Garmin and my water bottle, popped in my music and just started running.

run from
This is exactly how I felt yesterday

In the beginning, all I could focus on was trying to solve the problem. I kicked around a million different scenarios and possible outcomes as I ran down Beach Drive enjoying the shade of Rock Creek Park.

I stopped to stretch about two miles in since my legs were sore from lifting on Saturday morning, and I was still turning the problem over in my head.

As more miles passed, I stopped trying to solve the problem. My brain was too busy sending "keep moving" messages to my legs to come to any real solutions. And that's pretty much exactly what I was going for.

Somewhere near the National Zoo (maybe about 6 miles in?) I just relaxed, completely stopped thinking and just ran. It was one of those zen moments of running, where everything just clicks.

Yea this is happening on my run right now. Go away stupid deer
Oh heyyy deer

As I made a turn on the trail, I came face to face with a deer. She eyed me for a long while trying to make sense of me and what I was doing disturbing her lunch hour. I eventually skirted by her and kept going.

By the time I got to mile 9.5, my water bottle had run dry and I was out of Gu. I knew I wasn't far from the Georgetown Running Company, so I pulled a quick detour down the C&O Trail and popped into Georgetown to refuel.

Impromptu running tour of DC

Taking a quick break in some air conditioning was apparently just what I needed to revitalize myself. I had been thinking about calling it quits after 10 miles, but I felt so good after my break that I kept going.

C and O trail. About ten miles in to this run
C&O Canal

I picked up the Rock Creek Trail again and kept running down to Hains Point. By this point I was hot and started to get a little tired, so I was being a bit more liberal with my walk breaks.

I wasn't in this run for time at all so I didn't care that some of my splits were clocking in at close to 11 minute miles.

I paused on Hains Point to take in some of the views of the monuments. It's views like this that remind me I completely and totally love where I live.

Monument from hains point. Almost 13 miles in.
Washington Monument

Jefferson from same spot on Haines point.
Jefferson Memorial

George mason memorial
George Mason Memorial - One of my favorites

At around mile 14, the wheels started to fall off and I was ready to be done. I had officially gotten to the point where my legs hurt more than my head and the original problem I had been trying to solve was a pretty distant memory.

Unfortunately, once you're on Hains Point, there's no real way to get off except to keep going. I walked a lot in those last three miles. My legs were tired. The sun had finally come out and Hains Point seemed to drag on forever.

But eventually I made it back to downtown and hopped a Metro back home.

Never been so happy to get on the metro. Totally fell apart in mile 14
Metro I've never been so happy to see you!

My legs feel totally fine today, probably because of that awful ice bath I took, and my head feels a little bit clearer than it did yesterday. The problem is still nagging in the back of my mind, but it's not nearly as persistent as it was yesterday.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Welcome to the Swamp

It's right around this time of year, when the heat and humidity really start to set in, that everyone in DC starts talking about how the city was built on a swamp.


Come here in the summer and you'll feel the gross humidity, the sweat dripping down the back of your neck, your clothes clingy uncomfortably to your body, and you'll know what I mean.

However, it turns out DC wasn't actually built on a swamp. My meteorologist friend informed me the other day that DC was actually built on a tidal basin.

But really, swamp, tidal basin, it's all the same to me. It's humid, it's gross and it makes running kind of miserable.

Even if you go really early in the morning.

Despite all that, I was proud of myself for getting up early this week to squeeze in some runs. I kept things short, three miles on Monday and Wednesday, four this morning, and didn't try to push the speed.

I was actually surprised how well I handled the heat. Sure I was sweating buckets, but it wasn't as bad as I remember summer running to be.

Collapsed in the grass after a 4 miler with the real feel temp at 93. I look so pretty after a run!
Collapsed on the grass after this morning's run

Check back with me in a few weeks though, and there's a good chance I will have very different feelings about summer running. Feelings full of hate and dreams of crisp fall running weather.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

ValSlides Workout One

Holy crap those ValSlides workouts are no joke. I did my first full-length workout using Val's program after work yesterday and it kicked my butt.

Getting ready to do my ValSlides workout! @valeriewaters #fitfluential
Getting ready to start the workout

I was literally dripping sweat all over the gym by the time I finished.

Val's program is set up so that you do three days of cardio broken up by three days of strength and toning work with her programs. Each of her programs is named after a fun beachy area, and yesterday I did the Miami workout.

miami workout

This workout was set up in four parts:

Movement Prep

This was a quick warm up just to get everything loose and ready to go.

Sweat

The sweat session included lots of high intensity bursts of cardio mixed with dynamic strength moves. Think moves like lateral jumps followed by Russian twists. It's set up as a circuit that you repeat three times. By that last set, I was dying. My heart was pounding and sweat was pouring down in buckets.

Totally spent after my workout. @valeriewaters kicked my butt.
This was taken after I spent a few minutes laying on the gym floor catching my breath

Sculpt

The sculpt session was a bit shorter than the sweat session and included targeted strength moves focused on specific muscle groups. Yesterday's workout focused mainly on the chest and back, and boy can I feel it this morning.

Polish

This is the very last section of the workout and focused on abs and glutes. Again it was a shorter section than the sweat section and included four moves that I used to use in my group fitness classes when I was an instructor. If I never have to do a donkey kick again, I will be a happy girl. Those things are killer.

I can definitely feel some soreness this morning, but it's that hurts-so-good soreness after you know you got a great workout. I'm really excited to try the rest of the workouts in Val's plan. I hope they are all as awesome as this one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Onward and Upward

Thank you for all your kind and thoughtful comments on my post about bagging the Philadelphia Triathlon.

After thinking about it some more, I officially decided to not do the race, and like a few of you said, I feel so relieved having made the decision.

There will be plenty of other races in the future so from here it's onward and upward.

---

In other workout news, I'm now experimenting with a new strength program from Valerie Waters, one of my fellow FitFluential Ambassadors.

Valerie invented the ValSlides, flat disc-like things you place under your hands and feet while doing certain strength moves, like lunges, planks, etc.

valslides
ValSlides

She generously sent me the ValSlides and her workout program, the I Want My Bikini Body Express, to try out, and after a quick workout with the ValSlides on Sunday, my legs are still burning today.

The program is three weeks long and blends three days of strength with three days of cardio. I'm excited to have a more dedicated strength program. I tend to fall off the strength training wagon without a good plan in place.

I also love that Val's program is short. My exercise ADD kicks into overdrive in the summer, but a three week strength program seems manageable before I get distracted by something else.

I'll do another review of the program when I've wrapped it up, but for now I'm enjoying it and the newfound soreness in my legs!

Friday, June 15, 2012

This Post is Hard to Write

It's not all sunshine and rainbows in Jess land all the time.

Over the last several weeks, I have been having a crazy internal debate about whether or not I am going to do the Philly Tri.

The fact of the matter is I do not want to do this race. At all. And honestly, I never really did.

I signed up for Philly as a replacement when the DC Tri was canceled back in March. And from the moment I hit the "Submit" button and handed the race organizers something near $200, I felt an overwhelming sense of dread.

I dreaded training for the race, doing the race, and most importantly traveling to the race.

I immediately regretted signing up for the race and wasting money on something my heart clearly wasn't in.

But I kept pushing on with my training, hoping I'd catch a bit of a spark or somewhere find an ounce of excitement about this race.

It never happened.

Instead I began to dread the race more and more. I got through the Annapolis Tri and had a fun time, but I remember telling Tracy and Zach as soon as I crossed the finish line that I wasn't doing Philly. I called my mom and told her the same thing.

But then Zach kind of guilted me back into it. Telling me a whole bunch of mumbo-jumbo about following through with goals and not being a quitter and all.

(Edit: Zach is definitely against my dropping out of this race, but I think saying he guilted me back into it was a bit harsh. I felt guilty because I know he'd be bummed and disappointed if I didn't do it, and he did try to motivate me with a little bit of talk about setting goals and going after them. But in hindsight, it really just sounds like Zach was an ass, which he wasn't.)

And now we're a week out from the race. I still don't want to do Philly, but now I feel guilty about feeling that way.

Would dropping out make me a big fat quitter? Would I be branded with a giant Q? Would you guys judge me and think less of me for not following through?

Would it make me less of an athlete? Would it detract from all the other goals I've set out to accomplish? Would it set a horrible precedent?

I'm not injured, so Zach says I have no legitimate reason for not doing the race.

Yes, I could probably finish. I have a strong fitness base, so I could push through the swim, bike and run. But it certainly wouldn't be my best performance, and while there's always pride in crossing a finish line, no matter slow you go, I think this race would have a little asterisk next to it in my mind, knowing I didn't put in the work I could have to do my best.

Hell if this was a local race, I'm sure I'd do it, struggle through it and take the crappy time.

But I am seriously questioning if I should travel up to Philly, waste a weekend when my brother will be in DC visiting friends, to do a race I'm not truly prepared for and that my heart isn't in.

I haven't made a final decision either way. I think I'd be happier dropping out, but I feel a soul-crushing guilt about even considering that.

This has been weighing heavily on me for a while. I hate disappointing people more than anything in the world. This post is hard to write and I could certainly use some advice or words of wisdom.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's baaaaacckkk

The awful DC humidity is here for the season. Summer rolled in pretty mild this year, with the heat and humidity being fairly manageable.

But we all knew it was only a matter of time before the DC swamp conditions came out to play.

Two totally pain free miles in my brand new @MizunoRunning Wave Inspires! #proof #fitfluential

They were out in full force yesterday.

I met up with my friend Evan after work for a quick run. When we started, it was overcast so we didn't heave to deal with the sun baking us, but the humidity was killer.

As we ran, the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds and the temperatures were definitely rising.

We did an out and back along the water so we were at least able to take advantage of a small breeze, but by the time we finished, I was completely drenched in sweat from head to toe.

My running times definitely took a hit as I struggled through four miles. But I was telling Evan last night, when the weather gets like this, I'm happy to be out there getting the miles in and I try to not stress too much about the times because I know come fall, I'll be running faster again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Signs I'm a Total Biking Newb

This post could also be titled, that time I failed at inflating my bike tires.

So after my crash with the car last weekend, my left handle bar got a little bit bent.

photo2 photo 

It's actually kind of hard to tell in these pictures, but you get the idea that it wasn't anything too serious. The bent handle bar is on the left.

Coach Zach came over last week to take a look and fix the problem. It only took him a few minutes to get the handle bars fixed, but then he noticed that a few other things weren't aligned properly.

I'm 99% sure those things weren't a result of the crash. I had been complaining about my left arm feeling like it always bore my entire body weight every time I rode since I've had the bike.

When Zach took a closer look he realized that my handle bars had been put on crooked. So when my tire pointed straight, my handle bars pointed slightly to the side. And when they were straight my tire cocked to the left.

Zach looked at me in disbelief and wondered how I had never noticed it. Uhhh...because I had no clue that could even be a problem. How was I supposed to know my bike hadn't been assembled properly?

But what really took the cake on the whole night was when I was asking Zach how my tires could be so low when I had just pumped them up the other day.

I guess it turns out you need to actually open the nozzle thing before you can put air in the tires.

I had literally been locking the pump on and just pumping air out into the room because I didn't realize there was a little part that you needed to unscrew first to put air in the tire.

It's OK to laugh at me. I'm pretty sure Zach nearly fell over he was laughing so hard. But seriously, I had no clue I was doing anything wrong.

Further proof that I am still a total newb at this whole biking thing.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Lawyers Have Heart 10K Recap

Saturday's Lawyers Have Heart 10K was a fun, but very hot race.

What I think I liked most about it was that it was held in a different part of town than where most races happen. It was an out and back course that started down near the Georgetown Waterfront, took you up on the Whitehurst Freeway before dropping you onto the very nicely shaded Canal Road.

lhh course map

Of all the many races I have done in DC, this was my very first time racing in that part of town, and I really enjoyed it.

For such a hot day, the shade on Canal Road was extremely welcome.

It's fair to say that I hate racing in the heat. I never perform well and in general it's just miserable the whole time. But I thought the race organizers did a nice job to help runners deal with the heat.

They had two traditional aid stations with water and one of them was also handing out sponges soaked in ice water. Squeezing ice cold water down your head and back provided a little bit of nice relief from the heat.

I finished in 56:54, about 40 seconds off my PR, but given the heat, it was a time I was happy with.

You might remember this was also my friend Lauren's very first race ever and I was so excited she was running.

Me and Lauren before the lawyers have heart 10k
Me and Lauren before the race

Since the course was an out and back, I got to see her a little bit after the turn around point and she was still looking pretty solid though she definitely told me she hated me a lot right at the moment. I don't blame her, I hated myself a little bit at the point for picking a race on such a warm day. Whoops!

By the time she got to the finish line she was smiling and running strong. Wish I would have gotten a picture of her finishing!

After the race we collected our medals (yes, medals at a 10K), and grabbed some snow cones to cool down.

Me andy post-race snow cone
Seriously, best post-race treat ever!

And then I spent the rest of the day at my friend's pool, which I think is the most appropriate way to celebrate completing a hot race!

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Friday, June 08, 2012

Friends' First Race

Tomorrow three of my friends will be running their very first race ever, the Lawyers Have Heart 10K in DC.

A while back, I told you that Lauren and Hadass asked me to put together a training plan for them, and 10 weeks later, we're one day out from the race.

The training is done, and despite some nerves, I think everyone is going to do a great job tomorrow.

The race is a pretty low key charity race that draws a big crowd of runners and walkers. Apparently there are also medals for all the finishers and a big post-race party, which I think makes it a pretty ideal first race.

It's been nearly three years since I've run a 10K -- kind of hard to believe -- so I'm curious what I can do time wise at that distance.

last 10K
My last 10K - 34 degrees and raining

I would love to set a new PR, but it's supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow and I tend to run pretty slowly when it's hot outside.

Either way, I'm excited to race with friends tomorrow and cheer them on as they cross the finish line!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Why Do All Deadlines Happen at the Same Time?

Do you ever go through times in your life where everything gets crazy all at once -- work, personal life, training, etc?

That's been me these last two weeks.

After a fairly mellow May, June has just completed exploded in my face.

Better shot of the view from the #gsa headquarters roof
View from my the roof of one of my offices:
Just a friendly reminder that no matter how crazy things get, 
I live and work in an awesome place

I'm working on several huge work projects and somehow they all have massive deadlines this week or early next week. I've been working late every night this week, which is so not my norm.

I think I can count on one hand the number of times I've had to work late since I started this job three and a half years ago. I kind of kick-ass at time management, but this week, even my time-management ninja skills are overwhelmed.

And of course, all my big personal projects (like a blog refresh, yay!) are in their final stages and really starting to heat up this week.

So I work like crazy at my paying job, then I come home and work like crazy on personal stuff, and then I collapse into bed an exhausted mess.

Cuddling up with my awesome #technogel pillow
Like this, but less staged

My training is hanging on by a thread. I've fit in two workouts so far this week, and I have plans to run with a friend tonight, so I'm still making time as best as I can.

And combining workouts with friends is helping keep my social life from completely falling by the wayside. Every workout this week has actually been with a friend. Three cheers for social exercise!

Opposites attract at the work gym with @ejcan! #proof #fitfluential
Emily and I lifted at the gym this morning before work

I know we all go through periods of time like this. I just wish my deadlines could be a little nicer and space themselves out better. That's not asking so much, right?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

My Very First Jewish Wedding

Over the weekend, I was in upstate New York for my friend Sam's wedding.

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Sarah, Jon, me and Emily before the wedding

Sam and I met back when we were freshmen in college living on the same dorm room floor, and we've pretty much been friends ever since.

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Throwback to freshmen year with Sam and Emily

Sam's wedding was the first Jewish wedding I've ever been to, and I have to say I was so impressed with how personalized the whole wedding ceremony was. Sam's sister-in-law is a rabbi and performed the ceremony and she wove in some really sweet and touching stories about Sam and her now-husband Steve.

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Sam walking down the aisle

After seeing a million Catholic weddings that are all pretty much the same (you only get so much wiggle room with what you can do in a Catholic ceremony), it was really refreshing to see such a personalized and unique ceremony.

After the ceremony, it was time to party. We all got to enjoy a cocktail hour while everything was set up for dinner. I don't think I've ever been to a wedding where there was so much food. We definitely ate well.

And then we danced. Lots of dancing.

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Sam and Steve got picked up on chairs.

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We danced some more and we closed the night out with some Journey, a throw back to one of our favorite bar songs from college.

All in all it was a fantastic time, and a great chance for all my college friends to get together to celebrate!

Monday, June 04, 2012

That Time I Got Hit By a Car While Biking

Just a friendly public service announcement: When you are biking, wear a helmet.

Over the weekend I got hit by a car while I was riding. I am fine, please don't panic! But it was definitely a terrifying experience.

The car came from behind me, and I guess the driver thought I was taking the road that veered off to the right, instead of going straight because he definitely turned right into me.

I must have seen him coming out of the corner of my eye because I was somehow able to stop enough that I didn't get hit by the front of his car but rather got hit by the passenger side.

I awkwardly used the car to break my fall, which prevented me from crashing into the street. I whacked my head and jaw pretty good on the car, but I had my helmet on so there was no serious damage to me.

I was extremely lucky to walk away with nothing more than frazzled nerves and some bent handlebars, which coach thinks are fixable. Thinking about how much worse it could have been freaks me out, so I try to avoid that train of thought completely.

So this is just a friendly reminder, you never know what could happen when you are out riding, and even if you take every precaution in the world, sometimes bad stuff still happens. So wear a helmet when you ride.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Five Workouts I'm Considering

It's right at this point in my training cycles when I start to get antsy to try something new on the fitness front.

Training for my Olympic distance tri is still happening. With about three weeks until race day, I'm getting in most of my workouts and for the most part sticking to the plan.

But I'm also starting to look ahead and wonder what I'll do be doing fitness-wise between the end of tri training and the start of marathon training.

Here's just a few things I'm considering.

1. CrossFit - Though this completely and totally terrifies me, I think it would be a really fun challenge and would force me to push myself in new ways.

2. Bootcamp classes - I guess this would be similar to CrossFit, but it would take advantage of the chance to be outside and play around like a kid again while getting my butt kicked.

3. Working out with friends more - My workout schedule will obviously relax a lot when I'm not training, so I'd love to take advantage of the down time to fit in my workouts with friends.

4. Interval training - HIIT (high intensity interval training) is all the rage these days, but I've never really jumped on the bandwagon. The hot summer days seem like a good time to embrace shorter, more intense workouts.

5. Long bike rides - Even though tri training will be over, I've started to enjoy biking and I'd like to take some time on the weekends to get out on some long rides with friends where I'm not super concerned about pace, distance or even time.

What do you do to stay active when you're not in the middle of an intense training plan? I'm open to suggestions for other things to experiment with this summer.