Thursday, April 28, 2011


Apologies, for my lack of posts this week, folks -- especially my recent fails to post my scheduled “Tuesday Inspiration” and “TGI Carb Night” posts. I even cooked something new and delicious before my long run and totally intended to share it with you. But, then I was distracted by a glass of wine and Moulin Rouge...sorry.

Things have been going very well in the running department. Come to think of it, other aspects of my life seem to be coming together as well.  I’m starting to feel less like an extremely confused twenty-something and more like a slightly confused twenty-something!

But, anyway, running! Gorgeous weather has made the last few runs very enjoyable.  I feel lighter and faster on my runs. I feel stronger, thanks to Jillian and weight training tips that I picked up from a post over on Stuff Jewish Girls Like. (I can do multiple sets of push-ups without feeling like my arms are going to give out. Did I mention that I can also do them correctly? Progress!)

Other updates:

Speed Work
I did two speed workouts last week. You heard about last Tuesday’s workout, but since I couldn’t tell if rain was on the way on Saturday, I hit the treadmill for another tempo workout. This week, I managed to get myself out of bed early enough to run intervals before heading to the office on Tuesday (the reward of getting myself out of bed early was guilt-free beer consumption while watching my first baseball game at Nationals Park with a group of fantastic people). Running at an 8:30 pace is starting to feel more and more comfortable. I’m starting to feel really good about setting a goal time of 53 minutes (10 minutes faster than my current 10K PR) for May’s 10K.

Long Run – 7.1 miles on Sunday
Sunday’s weather made for a much more gorgeous run. I didn’t map out the route before and got to do a bit of exploring. I ran up to the National Presbyterian Church, which I haven’t done in months, and through Georgetown along R and Q Streets. Fact: When I am independently wealthy, I’m buying a home in that neighborhood. I spent that leg of the run paying more attention to picking out my dream house than my breathing/pace/making sure I didn’t face plant.

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K
There is a post that I’m struggling to finish about my decision to run this race. Whenever I try to discuss the reason I’m running, I lose all emotional composure and have to step away from the computer. Until I'm able to get it together, I'll keep this brief: I’m running the Race for the Cure 5K in June. If you feel so inspired to donate to my fundraising efforts, use the link below to visit my fundraising page.  (IRL Friends -- expect an e-mail from me soon.)

I'm participating in the 2011 Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure.
2011 TeamRaiser widgets

That fall race schedule of mine
The drawing for non-guaranteed entrants to the NYC marathon was held yesterday, and I am sad to report that I did not make the cut.  On the bright side, I saved $196 (plus travel to and from NYC and a hotel stay)!  The Marine Corps marathon apparently sold out in 28 hours (seriously!?), so that's out too. It's all good, though, because there are plenty of other awesome races to run this fall.  Barring catastrophe (or not being able to register for these), I've selected the following races:
-September 4, 2011: Rock and Roll Half Marathon - Virginia Beach
-October 9, 2011: Army Ten-Miler - Washington, DC (General registration opens on May 15th)
-October 15, 2011: ING Hartford Half Marathon - Hartford, CT
-November 20, 2011: Philadelphia Marathon (Registering tonight!)

It sounds like a lot, I know.  However, aside from the two October races, I think that there is enough recovery time between events.  And, I can pretend that I'm Rocky Balboa while I'm running through the streets of Philadelphia.  "Everyone needs a montage!"

I'll resume regular updates and posts next week, including my epic training plan for these races!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Break Time?

If my body could talk, I would imagine that it screamed this the weeks following my races:

“Haven’t you had enough? Why do you keep doing this to me? Stop it, please!”

Then, it remembered that I love running so much that I will only take a break if I get sick. Take Monday, for example:

“Aha! Take that! Body casts cold." 

It's not very effective.

I had my best run of the week on Tuesday: a tempo workout with 3-minute repeats at 8:30 – until that started to feel easy and I increased the speed to an 8:00 pace. Zoooooooom!

“Holy hell, what is your problem!? Stop this. What? You’re going to run again? And, try to do it quickly? Nope, I don’t think so!”

Wednesday’s Ladies Night Run did not go nearly as well as Tuesday's workout. The five miles started out great, and I was able to keep up with some of the faster women. After running the first two miles at an average 8:30 pace, I fell behind and finished the last three with an average pace of 10 minute-miles. Each step was painful, and my head was definitely not in the game. I allowed myself a chocolate and strawberry shake and spent the rest of the night tending to my wounded ego (and sore muscles).

But, I wasn't about to go out like that.

After work this evening, I laced up my shoes, turned up the K-Pop, fell in love with beautiful homes of Kalorama, and had a great run.

Of course, this week has made me think that it might be time for a small break from running -- just to make sure that I don't burn out. DC's expecting rain this weekend, so it might be a good time to hang inside and focus on strength work and low-impact cardio. I may just see how I feel this weekend, finish out the week as planned, and take a rest next week.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday Inspiration: Make It Count

Last week, I spent a lot of time trying to work out some thoughts that I've been having about my outlook on life.  (I'm still working them out...)  There were a few not-so-subtle reminders that life is precarious and every moment that I have is, frankly, a gift. My life has been blessed in so many ways, and I need to do a better job of making the most of what I've been given.

There were two items that I read last week that seemed to hammer the point:

"We take so much for granted.  Every so-called struggle most of us encounter pales in comparison to what Carlos is facing.  We make so many assumptions that our lifestyle choices somehow imply invincibility, and yet just like Carlos going from Ironman to the operating room, everything can change at any time." 

"Next time you’re feeling the apathy or tedium of the human grind, or you’re just in between “arrivals”, see if you can take a moment to really comprehend what incredible engine is behind all the motion — good, bad or just uninteresting — in the human world. Or better yet, imagine how cold that same scene would be without it. Even the dullest moment is a damn miracle."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dinner Tonight -- Curry Chicken and Mango Wraps

I seem to be having one of those weeks where I struggle to motivate myself. Yeah, I's only Tuesday.

I felt sluggish this morning (it didn’t help that it was overcast and rainy), and the only thing that seemed to get me out of the door was putting on the brightest dress in my closet and listening to dance music on my walk to work.

I ran speed intervals tonight to break up my usual workout routine. Adjusting the speed every one to two minutes helped with being stuck inside on the treadmill.

Intervals x 3
2 minutes at 4.0 MPH
2 minutes at 5.8
1 minute at 6.6
1 minute at 7.0
2 minutes at 6.6
2 minutes at 5.8

After my workout and a quick shower, I started dinner.  This recipe comes to you courtesy of the time I had chicken, scallions, and a mango in my fridge and decided to throw them in a frying pan.

Curry Chicken and Mango Wraps

You’ll Need:                                                                                    
1 mango, peeled and cubed
2 scallions, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon sugar
1 lb chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized portions
Chicken broth (start with ¼ cup and add as needed)
1-tablespoon curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Season chicken with salt and pepper and cook on stovetop until brown. Add scallions; cook until fragrant. Next, add mangoes, curry power, and chicken broth. Simmer, stirring occasionally until mangoes are tender.

Add sugar, stir, and remove from heat. Spoon mango-chicken mixture onto tortilla and top with raisins.

Wrap and serve.

Tuesday Inspiration: Unstoppable

Today, I bring to you another video of someone doing awesome and inspring fitness activities.

Thirty days. Thirty cities. Thirty sports.  Learn more at The Unstoppable Tour.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dinner Tonight -- Black Bean Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

I’m starting to look forward to outdoor grilling now that warmer weather has arrived.  (I’m also looking forward to flip-flops and summer dresses, but that’s a topic for another day.)  I tried my hand at black bean burgers last week; they were so delicious that I made them again for tonight’s dinner and paired them with sweet potato fries.

Something tells me that these will be even tastier with that oh-so-delicious smokey flavor from the grill…

1 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained   
1/3 cup chopped red onion
¼ cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chunky salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Tabasco
2 slices whole wheat bread

Using a fork, mash beans in a medium bowl. Mix in onion, breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons salsa, cumin and Tabasco. Season with salt and pepper. Shape bean mixture into two 3- to 4-inch-diameter patties. 

Grill burgers until heated through, about 3 minutes per side. Serve patty with lightly toasted bread.

Sweet Potato Fries

1 large sweet potato
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel and cut potato into long, thin strips.  Lightly coat with vegetable oil and sprinkle with brown sugar, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes, turning once.


Get Right for the Summer Workout Tape

This weekend, I tried my hand at being an irresponsible 20-something. For the first time in a many weeks, “I can’t; I have to run in the morning.” did not enter the conversation.  Of course, this meant that my runs this weekend suffered. On Saturday, I cut what should have been an easy three-mile run short because I was a quarter-mile away from vomiting all over the treadmill; today, four miles at a 9:00 pace was harder than it should have been.

But, you know what? This weekend was a lot of fun! And, even though I'm going to hit the training circuit again to prepare for my next race, I'm looking forward to many more nights of crazy adventures.

Five weeks stand between the Capitol Hill Classic 10K and me. It’s a distance that I can handle, but my goal is to beat my previous 10K time of 63:49 (Avg. Pace: 10:17). I’d like to run this race at a solid 8:30 pace. Training this time will be a little more flexible – I’m not even going to make a spreadsheet this time! And, I hope that my plan to become leaner will help me reach my goal pace.

I was inspired by JG of Stuff Jewish Girls Like to invite Jillian Michaels into my home for 30 days of strength training, cardio, and ab work. (JG has invited her readers to join her in the 30 Day Shred to tone and become stronger in time for spring. Check out the Level 1 Discussion Forum.)

My plan is to add the workouts two to three times per week (Mondays, Fridays, and on days where I have easy three-mile runs planned). I don’t expect dramatic weight loss –
sorry, Jillian, but 1200 calorie diets aren’t my style – but I do hope to see myself trim down.

And, of course, I’ll continue with my speed workouts and weekend long runs to make sure I hit my goal pace during the 10K.

So, here we go!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Adorable Item of the Day

For about a year and a half – just about around the time I stopped watching Angel reruns on TNT before work because I realized that I had the dialogue for multiple seasons memorized – I’ve started my mornings with Morning Joe. I love its coverage and analysis of current events, and I especially love watching Mika Brzezinski go head-to-head with her co-host and the other commentators. She’s put the guys in their place more than once on the show. I may have developed a little bit of a girl crush on her.

Girl crush: feelings of admiration and adoration which a girl has for another girl, without wanting to shag said girl; a nonsexual attraction, usually based on veneration at some level – Urban Dictionary

But, then I read an interview she did for Runner’s World last year:

RW: Is it true that your first date with your husband was a run?

MB: Yes, we went around the reservoir in West Hartford, Connecticut. There was a little mountain near it, and I made him run all the way to the top. I kicked his butt. At one point, he rolled his eyes like he was going to die. Something about that look was adorable, and I loved that he made me laugh even while we were working hard.

Awesome, right!? (And, super adorable!) Girl crush: confirmed.

By the way, my potential suitors should take note -- invest in a good pair of running shoes.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Destination: Marathon

Yesterday’s run with the Ladies Night group was one of the most challenging runs I’ve done in a long time. The short story is that I was completely owned by the mile that was almost entirely uphill. I felt great at the 8:30 pace I somehow managed to keep during the first mile, then gradually slowed to a 10:45 mile (yikes!) when I hit the massive hill through the National Zoo.

Clearly, it's time to show that hill who's boss. Soon.

Anyway, I’m still working out my training plan for the next couple of months and waiting on edge to find out if I made the cut for the New York City Marathon. I won't know for another month, and I feel oddly anxious about it. It's silly, I know.

To keep myself occupied, I'll just think about other races that I could do instead.

Stef – who introduced me to the Ladies Night group - sent a Reuters list of the Top 10 Marathons across the Globe, which immediately filled my head with wonderful thoughts of traveling to awesome locations to run marathons. Of course, this requires having some major cash. But, you can't stop me from dreaming (italicized text is from the article):

Athens Classic Marathon: November 13, 2011 runners will follow in the footsteps of Pheidippides as they track the route of the first Marathon. We capitalize the name because it was from this small coastal town that one man struggled the original 26 miles to Athens -- across arid, rocky ground. When he got there he proclaimed civilization was safe, that the Greek army had defeated the Persians. He then keeled over and died. The route is not for the faint-hearted.

BMW Berlin Marathon: Berlin is a biggie, attracting top talent from around the planet to this reunified German capital September 25. The run starts and finishes next to the Brandenberg Gate. The course is comparatively benign, and eminently historic -- passing by places such as the Reichstag and Berliner Dom. Like Chicago, the flat German topography spawns some spectacular times. Weather permitting 2011 should be no different. Given the one-time division of Germany Berlin's marathon takes on special significance.

Dublin Marathon: October 31 runners gather for a decidedly different foray, one billed as the friendliest in the world. The Dublin Marathon is largely flat. It starts at Fitzwilliam Street Upper, and finishes up in Merrion Square North -- both close to the center of the city. Along the way contestants are cheered on as perhaps nowhere else. Spectators feel their pain -- and are more than happy to help them kill it with a Guinness or two when the race is over.

Check out the full list!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

2011 Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Race Round-Up

Two long races in a row takes a lot out of a gal, but it does feel great to know that I ran consistently both weekends. Plus, I get to rest and reward myself with things like red velvet brownies, which I'm baking as I type this post, new running shoes, and a much needed massage.

Saturday's packet pick-up was certainly one of the most time consuming that I've experienced, and I was shocked to see a line that wrapped around the National Building Museum when I hopped of the metro at Judiciary Square. It wasn't a huge deal, though.  As it turns out, waiting in line was the perfect time to catch up on my reading and take photos -- until the rain, hail, and wind arrived.

The line continued into the museum and up the stairs to the room where bibs were held. Luckily, I'm easily distracted by gorgeous architecture.

Once I had my bib and t-shirt, I walked around the Fitness Expo for a bit and picked up a few new pieces for my spring/summer running wardrobe.

On race day, I was out of bed at 6 AM for stretching and my usual fuel routine: bagel with peanut butter, green tea, and Jelly Belly Sport Beans.  Unlike last weekend's epic transportation FAIL, getting to this race was not a problem.  In fact, I had plenty of time to jog to the start from Metro Center, stretch, and crawl through a fence to enter my starting corral.  Maybe even too much time...

I was assigned to the Green Corral, which was the second-to-last group to start the race.  (I really need to pay more attention to the times that I submit/estimate when I run corralled races.)  I tried to place myself as close to the front of the wave as possible so that I would have no trouble getting enough running room. It seemed to work, and I started out strong and caught up to runners in two of the corrals ahead of my wave.

Once I caught up to the faster pace groups, though, finding enough room was a little bit of a challenge. (I took a look at my splits from my Garmin when I got home and could see exactly where I decided that pushing to a 6:00 pace was the only way to get around the throng of runners.  Not the brightest idea in terms of keeping a steady pace, but whatever -- sprinting is a lot of fun!)  By the second half of the race, especially around East Potomac Park, finding space wasn't a problem and I cruised along: checking out the blossoms and thinking about the picturesque scenery.

Around the ninth mile mark, an older man cheered "Happiness is running."  And, at that point in the race, I had to agree.

Here's the breakdown --

Gun Time: 1:48:24
Net Time: 1:36:39 (about two minutes faster than last weekend's 10-mile time)
Average Pace: 9:39
Best Mile: 8:49 (Mile 10)

I'm giving myself a few days to rest before I hit the pavement again.  I have a few special goals for April, May, and June while I figure out my fall race schedule and training plan.

By the way: in the event that the New York City Marathon organizers tell me I'm not cool enough to run this year, I am seriously considering running the 2011 Malibu Marathon.  MALIBU! The course runs along the Pacific Coast Highway! Anyone want to join?

Stay tuned for details!