Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Softball Friendly

Thank goodness last night's softball game was just a friendly tune up for the playoffs because we definitely did not have one of our best performances.

Our fielding was spotty and we just couldn't get our bats going.

Holly at bat
Holly at bat

It didn't help that my pitching was a little bit on the shaky side too. In our regular season games, we don't have umpires, so there's no called balls or strikes. Last night I found out in the playoffs there are umpires, and you start with a 1-1 count for each batter.

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Pitching

That stressed me out a bit during last night's game, and it made me tense, which made it take way longer than normal for me to find my zone.

I guess it's good that I found out now though instead of during the playoffs.

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Aside from the shoddy pitching, I did make two pretty stellar plays in the field. One batter drilled the ball right back at me (unintentionally, she apologized later) and I managed to nab it to get the out.

Another batter hit a slower bouncing ball up the middle and I was able to charge it and make the throw out at first.

I like to think those two plays make up for my lackluster pitching.

The game ended with us losing 10-7, which is a really low-scoring game for our league. I guess neither team was totally on their A-game last night.

Jon at bat

It's hard to believe playoffs are just around the corner and that the season will be wrapping up soon. Seriously, where has this summer gone?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rehoboth Beach Five Miler

Well summer vacation is officially over and I'm super sad to see it go.

I miss this!
Miss this already!

Seriously, I could live at the beach.

I spent a week in Rehoboth Beach with my family doing not much other than soaking up the sun with my nose stuck in a book.

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Family minus the little brother who didn't have the vacation time to use

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Family dinner at the oyster bar with my uncle Joe and Todd

I read three great books and finally caught up on all my issues of Runner's World (I was like three months behind.)

And of course I treated myself to lots of delicious Kohr's Brothers custard.

Happiness in a dish
Happiness in a dish!

It was so nice to get away and just relax. I was in bed pretty early every night and awake on the early side too. With nothing to stress me out, I actually woke up refreshed every morning.

But it wasn't all relaxation all the time.

The first day we were there, the Seashore Striders were holding the last race in their summer series. It was a five miler that ran right past our beach house.

How could I say no?

I jogged over to the start line, paid my $25 entry fee and got a really nice technical shirt.

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The race started a little while later and the course took us through some of the very nicely shaded roads in a few of the beach communities.

I noticed it was a pretty small race and thought maybe I'd have a chance to win an age group award, so when the race started I took off like a bat out of hell.

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How, after years of running, have I not learned that starting out that fast is always a bad idea? Seriously, I am an idiot.

My first mile clocked in around 8:25.

And every mile from there got progressively slower. I positive split the crap out of this race and did not in fact win an age group award.

By the end of the race the sun was really starting to beat down on me and I was enjoying lots of nice walk breaks on the sunny stretches of road.

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Except right here, where my family was taking my picture. 
Definitely told them before I left to take pictures because I'd need them for the blog.

I did still manage to finish the five miles in 46:47, which was good enough for 126 overall and 8th in my age group. Not too shabby for a random beach race I decided to run at the last minute.

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I also got a nice medal for finishing and some delicious watermelon at the finish line. Not bad for a race with a $25 day-of registration fee.

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The race was a really fun way to kick off my vacation and I was happy my mom happened to stumble on it when she was looking for things to do.

Sadly though vacation is over now. And I have to say goodbye to the sun and the sand and the waves until next summer.

Rehoboth beach

I guess that means it's time to get back to my regular routine and dive into Marine Corps Marathon training full force!

Friendly reminder from @ejcan that MCM training in the heat will kick our butts.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Fitness Bucket List

The reason I first started running all those years ago was because "running a marathon" was one of the things on my bucket list.

I'd been reading my mom's Runner's World magazines for a while at that point and saw all these stories about how anyone could run a marathon, and thought what the heck, why not?

I plunked down the money for the entry fee, spent six months training and eventually crossed the finish line of the Baltimore Marathon.

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Me and my college roomies at the finish

Running my first marathon was what really launched me into the fitness world, and since then I've been building an even bigger bucket list of races and other fitness challenges I'd like to try.

The list is ever-growing and constantly changing, but I thought I'd share some of the races on it at the moment.

1. The Marine Corps Marathon - Ever since I've lived in DC this has been one of the races high up on my bucket list. It's a historic race, through one of the best cities in the world, where a Marine places a medal on your neck at the finish line. What's not to love, and this year I will finally be able to cross it off.

2. The Shamrock Marathon/Half in Virginia Beach - Virginia Beach is a great town for running since it's so flat. I've done the Rock N Roll race there over Labor Day weekend, but I think the Shamrock race would be awesome to run because it's in March when the weather is better.

3. The Disney Marathon (or the Princess Half) - I've heard so many great things about races in Disney World. I would obviously run either of these races for fun and stop for pictures with all the characters on the course.

4. The New York Marathon - Again it's another one of those famous races that I would love to do one day.

5. The Nike Women's Marathon/Half - The original race is out in San Francisco, but rumor has it Nike is going to be bringing a half to DC this spring. I'm down for any race where you get a Tiffany necklace as your finisher's medal.

There are tons more races on my bucket list, but I won't bore you with the whole thing.

But tell me, what races are on your bucket list?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I Learned from My First Tri Season

Even though my first triathlon season ended with a DNS at the Philadelphia Triathlon, I still I learned a lot from experimenting with multisport training and racing my first sprint tri in Annapolis.

I did it!!

The most important thing I learned is that I will always love running more than anything else. I am a runner at heart. I'd prefer a road race over a triathlon any day of the week, but there was something a little bit fun and definitely challenging in training for a multisport event.

And all the cross-training just might make me a better runner.

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This winter and spring, I felt like I was in some of the best shape of my life because I was mixing things up with my training so much. I know with running there are plenty of times I get lazy about cross-training and just opt to run instead, which leads to muscle imbalance and a very one dimensional kind of fitness.

But with tri training, I was pushing myself on the bike and in the pool and using muscles that I don't normally use in my run training.

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Not only was it a great way to mix things up mentally to prevent burnout, but it was awesome physically. All of a sudden, I had these new shoulder and back muscles springing up from swimming and I could feel new muscles in my legs forming that would help prevent running injuries.

And all the cross-training I was doing, was paying off hugely for me in my running. This spring, I set some huge new PRs.

I finally broke two hours in the half marathon, a goal I have been chasing for years.

Finally broke two hours in a half!
Wore that medal all day

And then a few weeks later, I shaved an entire minute off my 5K PR.

Running just felt easier.

No matter how much running I would do, I don't think I would have seen such great successes in my racing this spring without all the cross-training I was doing.

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Of course, now that tri season is over for me, I've totally fallen off the cross-training band wagon. I haven't ridden my bike in at least a month and I haven't been in the pool in just about that long.

But with training ramping up soon for MCM, I'm making it a goal to work cross-training back into my plan. I saw first hand just how much cross-training improves my running, and I want to kick butt at MCM this year.

So while I don't see myself ever turning into a full-fledged triathlete, I may still sign up for sprint tris here and there to keep myself motivated to cross train. If I learned nothing else from my first triathlon season, it's that mixing things up drastically improves my running.

And that's reason enough for me to stick with it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Using Races as Long Runs

I'm happy to say that my fall race calendar is starting to shape up very nicely.

The Marine Corps Marathon is my A race for the fall, and I've built the rest of my race schedule to support that.

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Right now I have a two other half marathons on the calendar that I plan to use as long runs.

A 20-miler seems so much more fun if 13.1 of those miles are run on a supported course with other people and only 6.9 miles are run alone either before or after the race.

The first half marathon I'm running this fall is the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in early October. This is a local race that I ran last year when I was completely untrained and I had a total blast and set a huge PR.

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After last year's race with Zach and Emily

I'm not planning to PR on the course this year, but since it was such a fun race, I knew I wanted to run it again.

The race falls on the same weekend that I have to do a 16-miler, so my plan is to run a three-mile warm up before the race and then run the race before heading to my flag football game.

The second half marathon on my schedule for this fall is the Baltimore Half, two weeks before MCM.

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Start of the Baltimore half

That weekend I'm scheduled to run 20-22 miles. The Baltimore half doesn't start until 9:45, so my plan is to get up early, run 7-9 miles and then start the race. By the time I cross the finish line that afternoon, I'll have at least 20 miles in the books.

Baltimore is a notoriously hilly city, so I'm not worried about pushing too hard or too fast in the race. My plan is to take it nice and easy, enjoy the aid stations and use the cheering crowds to push through the last few miles of my long run.

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After the Bmore half in 2010

I'm looking forward to breaking up some of my long runs with races. I'm definitely not planning to race for all of my long runs, but I think having some races planned helps break up the monotony of a training cycle.

Plus, mentally, running a half + six miles seems so much easier than running one beast of a 20-miler.

For me, marathon training is all about the mental games. The runs are long and hard, but breaking them up with races makes it seem more manageable.

Do you ever break up your long training runs by throwing in some races and tacking on the extra miles?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Bringing Back Intervals

With the summer heat and humidity, I've been happy to just be getting out and getting some runs done, even if they've mostly been slow, short and kind of miserable.

But last night I was in the mood to run fast and push myself a little bit.

So I headed to the fitness center to tackle some intervals on the treadmill.

I started with a five-minute warm up and then cranked the speed to 8 mph for a minute before dropping back to 6.3 mph for a two-minute recovery. I repeated the intervals a bunch of times until I'd reached 30 minutes.

Forgot how much fun interval training can be.
Intervals done!

It felt so good to run fast again.

It's like my legs were remembering what it was like to run in the spring and fall when the weather is more agreeable.

I'm not sure how I'm going to survive the rest of this summer if the heat and humidity stay this miserable. It's killing all my motivation to get out and actually train for the Marine Corps Marathon.

I always forget the downside of training for a fall marathon is that you have to do a large chunk of your training during the most miserable part of the summer.

I've got one more week of base building while I'm at the beach and then it will be go time for MCM training. I'm hoping Mother Nature decides to be a little bit nicer with the weather in August than she has been in July.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Three Things Thursday -- Softball, Colds and Vacation

1. My softball team won our fifth straight division title this week.

Softball division champs
Division champs!

Unfortunately we won by forfeit since the other team didn't have enough players. But since a ton of people from our team showed up, we lent the other team a few of our players and just played for fun.

Edit: Coach corrected me. The game wasn't a forfeit. Apparently the other team technically had enough people to "play," but since we knew it was an unfair match up we lent them one of our best players anyway to make it slightly less of a bloodbath. He was responsible for at least five of their runs. My team ended up winning 27-11 even though we weren't taking the game all that seriously.

We were goofing around in the field, half our guys were batting left handed and I did not have an awesome night of pitching when they brought me in to close.

Jason at bat

But with the division title already in the bag, it didn't matter too much and we were just out there having a good time. We've got two more games this season and then playoffs, which I'll most likely miss because I'll be out of town. I can't believe our season is over so soon.

Of all the rec league sports I play, softball is definitely my favorite and I'm always a little sad to see the season wrap up because I know it will be a long time until we all see each other again.

2. I'm getting a summer cold.

I woke up this morning and my throat was scratchy and my nose was stuffy. Not cool, body, so not cool.

I mean I know I ran myself into the ground a little bit over the weekend, but I was doing so great getting back on track.

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Party people on the dance floor

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How many more pictures from the wedding can I sneak onto the blog? 
Thanks to my Aunt Chris for this one

I've gotten plenty of sleep the last two nights, I got in my run yesterday and I've been drinking lots of water.

The timing of this cold could not be worse. I'm set to leave for vacation this weekend and I'd rather not spend the first few days at the beach being sick.

I've already popped some Zicam. Hopefully between that and lots of water and rest I'll be able to nip this in the bud before it blows up into anything worse and ruins my vacation.

3. I literally cannot wait to be at the beach.

It's been ages since I took a full week off work to go somewhere fun. I think the last time I took time off that wasn't around a holiday was when I went on my cruise back in the winter of 2010.

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On the ship docked in Jamaica

Sure I've taken a long weekend here or there, but there's nothing quite like taking a full week away from work (and away from my Blackberry) and just getting a chance to relax, stick my toes in the sand and read some trashy beach novels.

I also can't wait to run at the beach. There's something about waking up nice and early, running along the boardwalk, past all the cute beach houses, listening to the waves break on the sand that just makes me happy.

Only a few more days!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reset

Do you ever feel after a couple days of terrible sleep, minimal exercise and questionable eating that you just want to push a giant reset button to wipe the slate clean and start over?

That's definitely what I needed today.

After a crazy weekend full of family fun, weddings and concerts, I was in desperate need of a full night's sleep, some healthy food and a workout.

Family at Kenny and Nikki's wedding
Family before Kenny and Nikki's wedding. Thanks to my Uncle Bill for the picture!

Don't get me wrong, this past weekend was amazing and I wouldn't change much. But I definitely needed to hit reset.

So last night I crawled into bed around 7 p.m., watched the Bachelorette Men Tell All on Hulu and had the lights out by 9 p.m.

When my alarm went off at 6 this morning, I woke up feeling energized and well-rested for the first time in ages.

Even the stifling humidity didn't bother me as much as normal on my run. My three miles were a bit slow, but I was so happy to be up and running.

This morning's run. #proof #fitfluential

And thankfully after a weekend of delicious food indulgences, like crab dip and bacon-wrapped scallops, my body is craving lots of fruits and vegetables today.

It feels good to get back into my normal routine.

Do you ever feel the need to hit "reset" after a weekend of fun?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Kind Of Party

That was definitely the theme of my weekend.

The good times started on Saturday at my cousin Kenny's wedding. It was the first time most of the family had been back together in about a year, and Kenny and his new wife Nikki threw one heck of a party.

The ceremony was held at St. Paul's church in Ellicott City, MD.

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And then we took the party to the Turf Valley Country Club, where we ate, drank and danced the night away.

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Between the party and the after party and waking up super early in the hotel room, I got not nearly enough sleep, before family brunch on Sunday morning.

After saying good-bye to my family and making plans for us to all reunite again at the Baltimore Running Festival in October, I headed over to my friend's place to hang out before the Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan concert that night.

And by hang out, I mean I napped on the couch for most of the afternoon before we grabbed lunch at like 3 p.m.

Then it was off to the concert.

I have been looking forward to this show since we bought tickets. I love both Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan's music and I couldn't wait to see them perform together.

Luke Bryan!!!!

Luke Bryan was amazing. He knew how to get the crowd going and he was so much fun to watch. It doesn't hurt that he is probably one of the most good-looking country singers around.

Jason Aldean's music was great, but he wasn't the most fun to watch as a live performer. He kind of just went from mic to mic, sang his songs and that was it. Not much crowd interaction, pretty much no dancing. Oh and his encore was just bad. He ended with a new song and then he covered Kid Rock's "Cowboy."

Anyway, my friend Emily wrote the concert review for the Washington Post, so if you want more details about how the concert was from someone who actually knows what to look for in a concert, check out her review.

But all in all, the weekend was one big party from beginning to end, and I'm very, very glad I decided to take Monday off work so that I could catch up on sleep and all the other things I put off during the weekend so I could have fun.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jennifer Weiner at Sixth & I

After last week's insane heat wave, it's been nice having some cooler temperatures on my runs this week.

Yesterday morning, when I saw the temperature was in the low 70's, I hopped out of bed pretty quickly to take advantage of the nicer weather.

I only did three miles but I tried to push the pace a little bit, since lately I feel like I've been running so, so slowly.

Amazing how much the weather affects my times. Fastest run in weeks. I miss 50 degree weather.

I hate how much the heat and humidity affects my times. Most of my splits these days have been hanging around the 10-minute to 10:30-min per mile pace because I'm taking so many walk breaks so I don't overheat.

I haven't seen a sub-nine split in far, far too long. It's frustrating to see my times get so much slower as the weather gets hotter. I know it happens to just about every runner, and I know my faster times will return when the weather gets cooler, but it's still not fun.

In more fun news, last night I met up with Emily to see Jennifer Weiner speak at Sixth & I.

Jennifer Weiner speaking last night.
Jennifer Weiner speaking

Jennifer Weiner is the author of some of my favorite chick lit books, and she just recently released a new book loosely based on her experiences producing a TV show in Hollywood.

Her talk was hilarious. She told great stories about her family growing up, about her mom coming out of the closest when she was in her 50s, about how ridiculous her experiences in Hollywood were and she shared her predictions on who would win the Bachelorette.

(Side note: Now that Sean got kicked off, I think I'm team Jef with one "f" all the way.)

Weiner was frank and honest and had the large crowd of women cracking up the whole time.

Lots of women at sixth&i waiting for jennifer weiner to speak.

There was a book signing afterward, but Emily and I didn't stick around for that because Emily forgot her book and I was starving. Instead we grabbed dinner at Chop't, my favorite salad place in the city, where I proceeded to pretty much inhale my salad and ended up with a stomachache.

Good job self!

I have a packed weekend coming up that I'm so looking forward to. My cousin gets married tomorrow and then I'm going to the Jason Aldean/Luke Bryan concert on Sunday. Cannot.Wait!

Happy Friday y'all!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

MCM Base Building

For a lot of people, training for the Marine Corps Marathon starts this week.

And in some ways, MCM training starts for me this week too. We're 16 weeks out from the race, which is the number of weeks most marathon training plans prescribe.

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But since I burn out really easily on plans that long, I'm not starting official training until the beginning of August.

In the meantime, I'll be doing what I call MCM Base Building.

For the next three weeks, I will be following a very loosely structured running plan to get my mileage where it needs to be for the official start of training.

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

I'll be running three to four times each week, with no set time, distance or speed. Knowing me and my schedule for the next few weeks, I'd guess the runs during the week will average between three and five miles with weekend runs going anywhere from six to eight miles.

You might wonder what the difference between my base building phase and the start of any traditional training plan is, and the answer is, on paper, there isn't much of a difference.

It's all mental for me. For the next three weeks I'll be building a solid base, while still keeping my schedule flexible and my runs fun.

Then come August, I'll be ready to officially start training.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Pool Party and Running in the Rain

When I woke up to do my run this morning I was greeted by a gloomy, cloud-filled sky and a steady rain.

For about 2.5 seconds I debated skipping the run. But then I realized it was 74 degrees outside, a solid 30 degrees cooler than it's been the last several days, and I decided I couldn't pass up a chance to run in cooler temps, even if it meant running in the rain.

I knocked out 3.75 miles, a nice healthy start to the week, which I needed after this weekend of complete unhealthiness.

On Saturday, my good friends Matt, Ryan and Chris held their massive annual pool party and with temps pushing 106 and the heat index well over 110,  I couldn't really think of a better place to be than poolside.

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The pool was packed.

The band was playing.

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What your pool parties don't have live bands?

For some reason, mustaches were worn.

Mustaches all around!

And the food and drinks were not in short supply.

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Some of the guys grilling

I may have had a few too many servings of the pasta salad and definitely indulged in some of the delicious sangria that Tracy made.



She found the recipe on Pinterest and if you're a sangria fan, I highly, highly recommend it. It was delicious and fruity -- the perfect drink for a hot summer day.

As always, the party was a blast and I collapsed into bed Saturday night completely and totally exhausted from spending the day baking in the sun.

While it definitely wasn't a healthy day, it was a totally awesome one.