Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DC: Social & Food

After the race on Saturday, I went back to my cousins and rested before meeting up with Becky to head to Clarendon, VA for a little blogger meet-up at Northside Social, a coffee-wine bar.
Tons of bloggers showed up.  It was quite bumpin'. I hung out with Becky, Theo, Tasmin, Bekah, Ali, Ashley and Emily the most.  It's so fun meeting bloggers!  Especially ones you feel like you already know since you read their blogs all the time.  Emily is hysterical and such a good time, but you probably already knew that if you read her blog.  Ashley is so much fun (and really tall).  She is as warm and friendly in person as she is on her blog.  Dont you agree y'all?  Haha, love the Southern sayings! And Ali is a superstar!  She only wanted to break 2 hours and ended up running 1:44.  I'm so impressed!
Tasmin, Theodora (LosingWeightInTheCity) and Becky
Beck On the Run, Run Track Mind (Bekah) and Me!
Emily (Daily Garnish), Ashley (Healthy Happier), Ali (Ali On the Run), Theodora, Emily (Sweat Once a Day),
Me and Becky!
After the social, Ashley, Theo, Tasmin, Becky and me grabbed some bar food grub.  It hit the spot.  I continued drinking with drink #3 (had a couple glasses of champagne at the wine bar).  So that means, I was definitely feeling it.  My high school friends say if I smell alcohol I'm drunk. After dinner, we headed over to meet my husband and friends at Iron Horse in Chinatown and Becky and I stayed out until 12:30am.  Pretty impressive if you ask me!  Especially since I woke up at 4:30ish and Becky ran 26.2!

I slept like a rock Saturday night and was in desperate need of BACON Sunday morning. 

Sunday was really all about food.  We had a lot of people to see so we spent the morning with my friend Ori over brunch, the afternoon with my friend Doug for lunch and the evening with my cousins for a homemade meal.

My friend Ori picked me up and we headed to EatonvilleClassic southern-style food, located north of 14th and U Streets. I immediately ordered the Sweet Tea and it was delicious : )
We also shared some lovely biscuits and jam.  There was four of us so we got two orders (because otherwise someone would be left out- we couldn't have that!)
For my order, I got the Hash and Eggs and of course added the creole hollandaise.  There were three eggs and I barely got through one.  This was a RICH dish.  I think I missed the part in the description where it said it was fried.  The eggs were perfectly poached and the bacon hash hit the spot.  I just wish it wasn't fried.  I don't think the dish needed that element. But other than that, it was delish!
Eatonville was a fun Southern vibe in an up-and-coming area of DC.  I enjoyed trying some new foods that I don't normally go for!  And of course it was a blast hanging out with Ori!

After brunch, we met up with my friend Doug for lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill near the White House.
I ordered the Clam Chowder (with more bacon) and the mushroom flatbread.  Finished the soup, could barely eat the pizza.  Too much food in a short period of time! The restaurant was really fun and the company was even better.
After lunch, we headed out to do some touristy stuff.  You know, like check out the White House, the Washington Monument and those pretty Cherry Blossoms.
And then we went back to my cousins to hang out with this adorable baby.
I also watched Michele as she cooked Paella.  I was going to help, but I blogged my recap instead : )
Michele diced the veggies and the meat and prepped the paella.  Then it was time to put in the oven.
The end result was amazingly delicious.  And I think a Paella pan is on my MUST GET list. (and that chef jacket- are you listening mom?)
The paella was pretty simple to make and I cannot wait to make it again.  Here's the recipe:
Quick Chicken and Chorizo Paella
Ingredients:1 tablespoon vegetable oil
14 ounces chorizo, cut into 1/2 inch slices on the diagonal
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pimenton or paprika
2 cups short- or medium-grain rice (we used arborio)
1 pinch saffron threads
2 bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 pounds roast chicken (meat from 3-pound chicken skinned, deboned, and torn into chunks)
1/2 cup frozen peas

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in a large casserole or paella pan over high heat. Add chorizo and cook until browned and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes.Add rice (medium or short grain rice), pimenton, saffron, and bay leaves. Stir to combine and coat the rice, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add roast chicken, frozen peas and stir to combine.
Transfer skillet to oven. Cook uncovered until rice is tender and no liquid remains, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Fluff with a fork and serve immediately.
Monday morning, we woke up at 4:30am to catch our 6am flight.  One good thing about early flights... beautiful sunrises : )
It was a full weekend and I'm so glad I was able to hang out with old and new friends!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Race Recap: National Half Marathon

I ran the National Half Marathon yesterday and I'm happy to say I met my goal of breaking 1:54 (my PR of two years) but came just short of breaking my 1:50 goal.  But I'm not that upset.  I'm actually pretty pysched- especially since the course was long (or I suck at running tangents) and at 13.1 on my watch I was at 1:49.  I know that's not official and I know I will have to run another race to break it, but for now I'll take my 4 minute PR. Corey also pointed out that I had run a 20 miler only 6 days prior...

Now, I haven't really been training at 8:20s pace, but I gained a ton of confidence after my 10 Miler I ran with Corey.  It was after this race that I thought a sub 1:50 was realistic.  It's funny because when I run long or run on the treadmill, I don't think about pace much and I tried to do the same yesterday.  I probably looked down at my Garmin a total of 8X and most of that was in the final miles.  I really tried not to be deterred by numbers on my watch and really run fast and by feel. This method has worked for me lately! Truthfully most of the fast runners I know in my life (my brother, Leah) don't rely on Garmin's to tell them their pace, so I tried to do the same. 
So lets talk about the race, shall we?

My cousin Michele and I woke up extra early 4:40am on Saturday morning but we got out of the house a little later than we wanted.  With the traffic getting to the start, we barely had time to use the port-a-potties before jumping in the corrals. 
 I had planned to run this race with either Bekah or Liz but Bekah was stuck on the metro and Liz and I never connected. At the start, I figured it was now or never.  I jumped into the second corral (it was the first opening I saw), threw my headphones in my ears and was off about two minutes after the gun went off.  I jammed out to music and checked out the gorgeous views of the Capital and the Washington Monument in the first couple miles.  And I watched the sun come up.  The race had some rolling hills but also some awesome downhills.

**Random tangent- a few days ago, I bought a hat at the Bill Rodgers running store in Fanueil Hall.  The guy asked me if I was running Boston.  I told him I was and we talked about the hills.  I told him I had heard that the downhills (in those later miles) were almost as hard as the uphills on your legs.  He said, "Nah, downhills are the only free-ride you get."  I loved that line and I've been using it to my advantage ever since he said it. :) **

Around mile 6, I got a text (I carried a phone) from my friend Leah that she was at Mile 7 and ready to jump in with me. I knew she was planning to jump in with me, but I wasn't sure if it was going to be possible.  I've talked about Leah before on the blog, but Leah and I ran track together in college and both ran the 800 meters.  After college, she went on to qualify for Boston at Chicago in 85 degree weather and then run a 3:11 Boston Marathon.  To say she is an amazing runner is an understatement.  We haven't run together in almost 7 years so it was awesome to catch up.  Leah met me after the only REAL BIG hill on the course.  It was a hard incline, but I'm pretty used to hills.  And plus, what comes up, always comes down!
My first 7 miles:
Mile 1: 8:45
Mile 2: 8:25
Mile 3: 8:11
Mile 4: 8:15
Mile 5: 8:37
Mile 6: 8:35
Mile 7: 8:50
After Mile 7, I definitely started to check my watch a bit more to make sure I was on pace. I honestly thought I had built myself enough of a cushion to break 1:50 but in the final .50 mile I realized I hadn't.  I definitely struggled around mile 11 and then by the time I hit mile 12, I knew it was now or never.  I dug deep but it was a little too late.  However, my last mile was 7:43!!!
Mile 8: 8:22
Mile 9: 8:21
Mile 10: 8:11
Mile 11: 8:09
Mile 12: 8:30
Mile 13: 7:43
.25: 7:20 pace
Garmin Time: 13.25 miles/1:50:43/Average Pace 8:21 min/mile
Official Time: 13.1/1:50:43/Average Pace 8:27 min/mile
 I'm not going to lie, I was a little dissappointed.  I really thought I would have a 49 in my final time.  I kept repeating during the run that I was going to hit my goal time, especially since I never have in the past. (High school goals- break 60 in the 400, came close but never did.  College- to break 2:25 in the 800- never happened). But enough of the pity party- I still PR'd!

My husband Dave got some awesome pictures of me at the end of the race.  Big shout out to my hubby who woke up at 5am and dropped us off at the race when traffic was insane.  I don't think we would have made the start without him! He also waited around with me for my marathon friends to finish!

Another huge shout out to Leah who ran with me from mile 7 on.  As you know, I love running with others and having her to chat with was awesome!  It totally brought me back to college : )
 I also saw Liz at the finish line.  I think we ran around the same time.  Liz, I wish we found each other at the start!  You will have to come up to Boston so we can run races together!
After the race, Dave and I went back to the car so I could change into dry clothes. Then we met up with my cousin Michele (who PR'd by 5 minutes and just missed breaking 2 hours) and hung out with her cute baby.
 I had high hopes of getting out to mile 24 to run Becky home but I didn't know the area at all and it just didn't work out.  But we did stick around to support our friends! While waiting, we saw some interesting characters...
This man on the left jump roaped the entire half marathon and the man on the right ran barefoot.  Crazy!
Pretty soon after that, we saw Lauren!  I wasn't expecting her at all (I should have been, but I wasn't keeping my eye on the clock)... but man she looked fast.  I also barely recognized her because she was in capris and not her signature shorts!  She finished in 3:18 and looked awesome!
After that, we kept an eye out for Becky.  Having no idea when she crossed the starting line, it made it pretty difficult to know when she would finish.  And although Becky didn't meet her goal time, she did PR and ran a marathon from start to finish by herself.  Honestly, Becky, you are my hero and I'm so incredibly proud of you. And your time is amazing and a PR!!  I cannot wait to run a marathon together : )
At the finish line, us three got together for a photo opp.  I'm so soo happy I met both Lauren and Becky and even happier they convinced me to run this race.  I had so much fun this weekend and these girls were a big reason for that.  I'm so proud of both of you!
I have lots to recap with the rest of the weekend, but this is long enough.  In the end I am okay with my time and I know I have more to give... but for now I'm concentrating on the marathon.  I have three more weeks and then it's game time.  I've lived on the Boston Marathon course my entire life.  I can only remember missing one marathon in my 28 years.  It's really an amazing day.  I've run all parts of the course, but I've never run the whole thing or the actual race.  So I can't wait!

Have you ever come ooo so close to your goal time? How did you deal with it?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Runner's High and Bagel Thins!

So I'm still on a Runner's High.  I'm sure some of you can relate.  I didn't expect to run 20 miles on Saturday and I certainly didn't expect it to go so well.  It makes me feel like maybe I can start focusing on a goal time for 4/18.  Maybe.  But I'm not quite there yet.

Sunday we woke up early to head to South Boston for the 5K.  I can't say enough about this race.  Aside from how hilly the course was, it was really well-organized and a ton of fun!
I was supposed to run but I decided it wasn't smart to race the day after a 20 miler.  So I spectated and gave my number to Kimmy. 
And run she did- she almost matched my PR. She ran 23:50/7:41 pace.  And the course was insanely hilly! My brother and Dave also ran so well.  My brother was the 5th finisher to cross the line and his time was one of his fastest since college at 17:49/5:45 pace.  To say he was excited was an understatement.

And a little later, Dave came through....
I somehow missed Kim!  After the race, we hung out for awhile until we got the results.
And Mikey got 3rd in his age-group.  
Don't worry, I kept the medal : )
After the race we had a fun day drinking and eating.  I was asleep by 4pm and woke up around 7:30pm and frantically made it to the grocery store before it closed. It was a busy and fun weekend.  And next weekend will be the same.  Cannot wait for DC and the National Half! My plan is to take it easy this week.  Physical Therapy today, Eliptical tomorrow and PT and a 4 mile run Wednesday.  Wednesday will be the only day I run before Saturday.  Then Saturday the goal is come as close as possible to breaking 1:50.  That's the goal.

Also last week, Laurie over at Marina Maher Communications sent me some Bagel Thins and a few other products to try out. Included in the package was Dr. Scholls Ultra Overnight Foot Cream and Ahava Muscle Soothing Bath Salts.  Both of those products are fabulous for me.  I suffer BADLY from runners feet.  They are scary, yet I will not paint my toes to cover them because I think deep down I am proud.  I hope this foot cream helps me out a bit!  And as most of you know, I love my baths.  No, not ice baths.  I did that in college track and I never want to do it again.  I'm talking relaxing hot baths where you can read a book and relax.  And if there is salts that soothe my muscles at the same time, I'm all for it! So thanks Laurie for sending it my way!
 And now on to the bagel thins.  I know some of you aren't a fan, but if you are a bagel lover like me, than you would love these.  Here is a fun fact about me.  Before I made my Baked Banana Oatmeal bars for the week, I used to eat a bagel with cream cheese everyday.  And it totally weighed me down. I love bagels but they are really heavy.  So I gave them up...for awhile.  I'm a "everything in moderation" type of gal so I never give anything up permanently.  Bagel Thins are absolutely perfect for me. 110 calories and I still get my bagel fix with half the calories and carbs.
 So if you are a bagel lover like me but also try to eat healthy, give these a shot!  They are so worth it!
Oh PS- Today is the first day of spring and its snowing here in Boston.  Gotta love New England!
What's your most memorable Runner's High?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Twenty Miles ... & Chocolate!

My alarm went off at 4:45am this morning.  Thats earlier than I woke up all week.  By 6:30am, I was at my running partner Nancy's ready to run.  Nance had told me about her neighbor who she's been running with a lot.  Kristen is super fast and I was up for the challenge.  Nancy and Kristen are planning on running Providence and they wanted to do 20 today.  I wanted to do 18 but deep down if I did the whole 20 I wasn't going to be disappointed.  At 6:30, us three ran four miles and watched the sun come up.  While running around the neighborhood, we realized it was hot.  Like almost 50 degrees hot.  When we got back to Nancys, our other friend Leslie was waiting for us.  (Leslie isn't training for anything so she didn't want to do as much). We all quickly stripped down to t's, grabbed our water bottles and off we went.  I can tell you right now I'm shocked how great I felt.  We probably stopped for about 4 minutes at Nancy's around mile 4 and then didn't stop again until Mile 15 where we refilled water at Dunkin' Donuts.  We ended up with about 6 minutes total of stoppage time.  But 8 of these 20 miles were under the 9 minute pace. I can't be more pleased!  I did try to quit on the girls at the end, but they wouldn't let me.  Even slowing down to make me stay with them.  This is the confidence boast I needed.  I can do this on April 18th, and I will!!  Here's the key- run with people who are faster than you and you will get faster too! (Beck- can't wait for you to join us!)
20 Miles/3:04:37/9:14 pace!!!!
Mile 1: 9:02
Mile 2: 9:05
Mile 3: 9:10
Mile 4: 8:52
(~4 min break, not timed)
Mile 5: 8:54
Mile 6: 8:50
Mile 7: 8:58
Mile 8: 8:47
Mile 9: 8:36
Mile 10: 8:39
Mile 11: 9:03
Mile 12: 9:04
Mile 13: 8:58
13.10 Miles 1:56!!!!!!! 
(not including the break we took at Mile 4 to strip/grab water, prob 4 min)
Mile 14: 10:06 (HUGEEE HILLLL)
Mile 15: 9:23
Mile 16: 9:05
Mile 17: 10:07
Mile 18: 10:06
Mile 19: 10:10
Mile 20: 9:40

When I got home I had very limited time before heading into Boston for Gretchens baby shower at the Langham Hotel. Have you heard of the Chocolate bar at Cafe Flueri inside the Langham?  Well it was pretty amazing!  I'll let the pictures do the talking...
 And below are my plates.  I got several goodies and a vanilla crepe with berries and bananas!! Yum!
 Gretchen is only 7 weeks away from her due date and in these pictures you can barely tell she is pregnant!
If you haven't checked out Cafe Fleuri in Boston, you should.  A buffet of the most delicious desserts you could ever imagine= heaven.  And I'm not even a sweets girl!!!

I've had quite a Saturday and its not over yet.  (I also shopped at the Loft with bff Courtney and made Seafood Lasagna). Now off to hang out with my girlfriends.  Let's hope I don't fall asleep on them.  Happy Saturday!