May 18, 2017

April Recap

Sometimes you write a blog post and forget to post it. Oops. 


April was a pretty great month. See, in February, I got summoned for grand jury duty in DC. Grand jury in DC is a five-week, five-day per week commitment. In short, it's a full-time job. Except, I already have a full-time job, one that keeps me very, very busy. I dreaded my jury summons and what my life would look like being at jury duty Monday through Friday from 9-5 in a windowless room without access to a cell phone or a computer (yes, seriously) and then working every evening. 

On my first day of jury duty, I reported to the courthouse and, after several hours of processing, learned that they had selected one too many jurors. With Katniss Everdeen speed, I volunteered as tribute and was released from grand jury summons to petit jury service, which I finished that day. For the next five weeks, I woke up every single morning grateful that I didn't have to go to jury duty. Sometimes, it's the little things. 

With my life back, I dove right into a pretty relaxing month. Here's a look at how it went in numbers:

Miles Run: 

Minutes of Yoga: 90...if you count an hour-long barre class I went to as yoga. Ouch. 

Books Read: 2 (I'm pretty behind on my Goodreads challenge)

Trips Taken: 1 13 hour trip to Detroit (to be recapped soon!)

New Recipes Made: Ouch...I was really lazy in the kitchen in April and The Pilot did most of the cooking for me. 

Blog Posts Written: 3

30 Before 30 Items Completed: 0 but I'm one ballpark closer to seeing them all!

Highlights: 

Lowlights: 

  • Feeling burnt out from running and training. I took a lot of time off last month and, while I think it's what I needed, I felt pretty lazy.
Since it's already the middle of May, I'll skip "the month ahead" and let you read all about May in a few weeks.

What's new with you? How have your last few weeks shaped up?

May 8, 2017

Race Recap: The GW Parkway Classic 10-Miler

Earlier this year I realized that, despite living in DC for over 4 years, I've run an abysmal number of races in the DC area. Until this weekend, I had only ever run 3 local races since living here.
Part of it had to do with the nagging injury I had for the first few years I lived here but I'm not too sure what has kept me from racing locally since.


When one of my friends gave me the opportunity to run the GW Parkway Classic 10-milera few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance. Her company is a sponsor for the race and I was excited to run a race I had heard great things about but had never really considered.

Race morning rolled around earlier than I would have liked at 5:15 am and I quickly got ready and had some oatmeal. My friend, Abby picked me up and we made our way to Old Town Alexandria to pick up the VIP bus that had been arranged from Pacers (a local running store).

The GW Parkway Classic starts at George Washington's Mount Vernon and ends in Old Town Alexandria. Since it is a 10 mile race that runs the length of the Parkway, getting to the race is almost impossible without the shuttles that Pacers provides to the start from various locations in the area.
Since we had VIP Access, we started our morning at Pacers who had an array of snacks, water, and coffee for the runners before we boarded the bus. My stomach was a little unsettled so I grabbed some pretzels which definitely helped. The bus we rode to the start had a bathroom on board, which was amazing, and when we got to the start, we were able to sit on the nice, warm bus until the race started, which I appreciated since it was a lot colder than I expected.

Abby and I hopped off the bus at 7:45 to stretch, warm up, and line up at the start. At 8 am, we were off. The first mile is down hill, and flew by.

It was a chilly morning but I was really starting to need some water by the 2nd mile. The first water stop came at Mile 3 and, rather than rush through the station doing a half drink/half run, I took my time through it. Because we were running on the Parkway, we were running on a concrete surface, which was a lot harder on my knees than I'm used to for most road races I've run which are on asphalt. Three miles in and my knees were already achy.

This course is fast though and before I knew it, we were at Mile 5. This isn't a wildly popular spectator course but I appreciated the handful of people out cheering on the course. I was running with Abby so I didn't mind that it was quiet in most places. The course was also beautiful with full, bright green trees and the river along the entire course.

Around the 6th or 7th mile, both of my knees were aching. I knew I would hit that point but I was hoping it would be later in the race. By Mile 8, I had to stop to walk and stretch things out. I know people who have no problem running on different surfaces but concrete has always bugged my knees.
As we made our way into Old Town, the surface switched to asphalt, which gave a little more cushion but at that point, my knees were shot. I took another walking break at Mile 9. There was a "dreaded hill" at Mile 9 that I had been warned about but it was nothing. It looked a lot worse than it actually was so we walked just to the base of the hill and then ran up and toward the finish.

The last stretch of the race was full of spectators, which gave us an awesome push toward the finish. My knees were killing me but we pushed the pace and crossed.

My official time was 1:40:58 (only 1 second off from my watch time!). It was my slowest 10-miler by almost 20 minutes but it was exactly what I needed that day. I hadn't been feeling myself all week and was worried about lining up. I made it through the race with no problems (aside from my knees) and had a lot of fun running. The VIP access definitely helped!

This was only my 3rd 10-miler and I forgot how much I loved the distance but it was a bit of a wake up call and this week, I decided to drop down to the Ottawa Half instead of the Full. I think I rushed into Disney training after Philly and I'm starting to get a little burnt out. I'm leaning toward dropping down, running a fun Half, and then settling into training for Richmond in November, but we'll see.

Right now, I'm just happy to have raced another day and to have added another local race (and a new favorite!) to my resume.

What's your favorite race distance?
Do you have any races coming up?

April 28, 2017

What I Read (in March) and April!

I mentioned on Monday that I've been in a bit of a reading rut this month, so I guess it's a good thing that I never managed to post my March book recap (even though I had the post written).


I'm not too sure where this rut came from. I started two books last month that I just couldn't get into. I listened to the audiobook of this month's book club pick but I really don't know what I want to read next. Suggestions are welcome!

Here's a look at what I've been reading:

Educating Alice by Alice Steinbach - I normally don't enjoy travel writing but this book was brilliant. Alice Steinbach was a journalist for the Baltimore Sun who spent time traveling the world, learning things...taking a literature course about Jane Austen in the village where she grew up, taking a cooking class at the Ritz in Paris, learning to fold origami in Kyoto...Every chapter brought her story to life and I felt like I was learning these things with her myself. I loved this book and was sad to learn after I finished, that Alice passed away in 2012 but I'm glad I discovered this book and that her stories have been immortalized through these pages.

13 Rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro - I finished this book wondering what on earth I had just read. This book made no sense. The author, who grew up at the address the book is named for, wrote this story based on a collection of letters and mementos found in a box in the apartment of an older woman who died alone. Without any family, her belongings were supposedly left to the other tenants of the building. When I learned this, I found the book to be incredibly invasive and presumptuous. It was overly sexual - even going to far to suggest that the main character's father may have made a sexual attempt at her in his grief following her brother's death. The author used real names and addresses in this novel which really bothered me given that the entire story was made up and shed the characters in poor light. Aside from all of that, it was poorly written, had weak character development, characters that did nothing to drive the story, and a ridiculous element of time travel that made no sense. I kept reading for the simple fact that I rarely start a book without finishing it but this was an absolutely terrible book.

The Girls by Emma Cline - This was our book club pick last month and I didn't like it at all.  The book starts in the present day and finds Evie Boyd looking back on her past when she was part of a cult who, as she reveals in bits and pieces, killed people. Only, she never actually joined the cult, she spent a few nights on this ranch and got absorbed in their sex- and drug-fulled tendencies, still going home to her mom's whenever she wanted and, when the plot's climax is finally delivered two chapters from the end (after you've wondered what in the world she's getting at), you find that she wasn't even present for the event that the book really centers around and leads up to. In the end, this book is about a rich girl whose parents didn't spend as much time paying attention to her as they should have, who spends a summer dabbling in some risky behaviors with people who seem less like a cult than a bunch of girls living on a ranch, obsessing over a guy trying to get a record deal. I understand that the "event" was probably pretty traumatic to Evie in the aftermath but this book fell flat for me, particularly as the entire book led up to an event that the main character wasn't even part of.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain -  This is the second book I've read by Paula McLain and I'm surprised by her portrayal of the characters she writes. I've read both The Paris Wife and now this, both of which fall into the historical fiction genre featuring real women, yet she makes them so unlikeable, I find it hard to understand why she would even write about these women in the first place. I don't find the lead character, Beryl Markham, as insufferable as Hadley Richardson in The Paris Wife but in both books, McLain portrays these women in such a negative light. Rather than portraying Beryl Markham  as a pioneer and a trailblazer, she was made out to be a victim of bad decisions and you're led more to learn about her indiscretions -sleeping around with friends' lovers, having torrid affairs with seemingly every man at arm's length and then suffering from the social snub of British colonial high society. Beryl Markham was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, the first female horse trainer (and a champion one at that), yet these were relatively insignificant components of the book. Instead of highlighting her accomplishments and the difficult path she carved, this book focuses on her personal life, and mostly her sex life, in a way that doesn't truly depict the path that Beryl Markham paved for women.

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman - I've shared my love for Fred Backman before. While I didn't love this book as much as "My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry" and "A Man Called Ove," it was still a beautiful spin-off of "My Grandmother..." that brought me to love a character I found insufferable in that book. "Britt-Marie Was Here" picks up shortly after "My Grandmother" ends and finds Britt-Marie learning to be on her own for the first time in a very long time. As with all of Backman's books, this one left me with a smile on my face and a reminder to appreciate the little things in life. 

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - I hadn't heard of this book before we selected it for this month's book club. When I learned that it was a thriller, I wasn't too excited about reading it. I haven't been a fan of some of the "hot" thrillers of the past few years but this was a strong exception. There were so many twists in this book, and each time one came, I thought I had figured things out, only to be floored yet again. The book is narrated by three different characters, and the audiobook had two different voices, which I liked. The book was a little bit longer than I would have liked so overall, I gave it 3 stars, but I definitely recommend it as a good beach read heading into summer!

Have you read any of these? What did you think?
What have you been reading lately?


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