January 30, 2012

A Spontaneous Weekend

I love spontaneous weekend adventures. While my spontaneous weekends usually take me  to 35,000 feet, this weekend, I hung out in the city and had a nice, impromptu weekend here in New York.

On Friday, The Pilot came to see me after work. We found ourselves in Midtown looking to grab drinks but when that fell through, he suggested going to Brooklyn to go have my favorite pizza in New York!

While some might argue that Patsy's is the best pizza in New York...my vote is for Grimaldi's hands down. (There's a fun rivalry between the two places too!) I don't know if it's the coal oven pizza (with sweet red peppers and onions!), the unbelievable cannolis or the absolutely stunning views of Manhattan from the restaurant's exterior, but this place makes the trip to Brooklyn well worth it!

After pizza, we headed back to my neighborhood and went to a bar for some drinks. The night ended with us on my couch watching Season 1 of How I Met Your Mother. It was time for me to stop watching reruns of that show and start from the beginning so that I could figure out what the heck was going on!

I had glorious plans of sleeping in on Saturday morning after having worked all of last weekend and up bright and early every day last week but 8:30 rolled around and I was wide awake. After a quick breakfast, I decided to head to Central Park to get my 10 miles in before The Pilot woke up. 

When I got back to my apartment, I told The Pilot to find us a nice place for breakfast in the West Village. I love it over there. So off we went to the Bus Stop Cafe...small and cozy with great service and fantastic cappuccinos? Just what I needed after a long run!

On the way back home, we stopped at Magnolia for cupcakes and right after we left Magnolia, we saw Sarah Jessica Parker walking out of her apartment! I'm actually not an SJP fan at all but I thought it was super cool that we saw her after leaving Magnolia. 

Sunday, I had an all-day research symposium at my former/still-go-in-sometimes internship. It was really great and I got to meet some really well-known and respected scholars in my field. After the symposium, I had rehearsal for The Vagina Monologues and then headed to the library where I came home with about 40 pounds worth of books for my thesis research. Yay! *Note the sarcasm.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Fun, spontaneous, sweaty, productive...all the makings of a good weekend in my opinion!

Hope everyone had a good weekend!
Have you ever spotted a celebrity where you live?
Do you have a favorite pizza place in your hometown?
Have a great week everyone!

January 17, 2012

Madrid Marathon Training Week 3

I never had any intention of running a spring marathon. The idea of running through a cold New York winter was just not something I was interested in. My plan was to focus on strength and cross-training, and maybe a late spring half before gearing up to train for the New York City Marathon.

Somehow, a certain Redhead and I got wrapped up in the excitement of the Marine Corps Marathon and registered for Madrid together. Shortly after Ally and I walked away from the Rock n Roll Marathon Series booth at the Marine Corps Marathon Expo, I realized...of course she wanted to sign up for a spring marathon. She lives in Dallas...where the temperatures for the week ahead look like this:

While I live in New York, where the temperatures for the week ahead look like this:

Yea. Let's talk about Saturday when I'll be doing my 12 mile run during this "light, wintry mix" while Ally is gallavanting through the sunshine.

Running in the cold takes a lot. It takes will power and determination and 25 minutes to get dressed so that I can put on spandex, 2 pairs of socks, a pair of leg warmers, a thermal shirt, a long sleeve shirt, a jacket, gloves, a head band and a hat. It takes me suffocating on the subway and then freezing my sweat off for that brutal first 1/2 mile. But then, the realization sinks in that I must really want this if I'm out here running 9 miles through Central Park on a day when the wind chill factor is 11 and snow flurries are falling on my nose. And it's that realization that is going to get me to that sub-4 goal I've been coveting since my marathon career began.

At least I have a cute new Lululemon top to wear from The Pilot.
Too bad I have to throw 17 more layers on top of it before I leave my apartment. 
I'm still running 4 miles per week and right now? I don't think I'm going to change that. I like spending my off days cross-training and strength training and building up my strength. I feel so much stronger in these last 3 weeks than I ever have felt in a training cycle and I can directly attribute it to the non-running workouts I've been doing and my dilligence in planning my meals and eating right while still allowing myself to treats like a few beers with friends, an ice cream sandwich or nutella hot chocolate after a run.

I'm still in the early stages of training meaning I'm focusing on 2 easy runs per week with one hill workout and one long run. Next week is meant to be a recovery week before dropping down to 1 easy run per week and adding in some goal pace runs. This is perfect for helping me see where I'm at in order to build a strategy for my next race, the Cowtown Half-Marathon in February. But until then, here's what I'm looking at this week:

Madrid Marathon Training: Week 3
Total Mileage Last Week: 23
Missed Workouts: 0
Trouble Spots: None!
Planned Mileage This Week:

Monday: 5 mile hill run
Tuesday: 3 miles easy + Lower Body Strength
Wednesday: Yoga
Thursday: 5 miles easy + Upper Body Strength
Friday: Cross-train + Lower Body Strength
Saturday: 12 mile run
Sunday: Rest Day

Goals for this Week: Keep it up!
Current Annoyances: The weather.
Things to Keep in Mind: Consistency is key to marathon success. Progression runs aren't meant for hill workouts. Try to focus on maintaing pace instead of pushing the pace until I start incorporating speed work into my training.

There it is, Madrid Week 3. So far, I'm feeling really good about this race. 13 weeks go to!
13 weeks till I'm back in Spain! Ahh!!!

January 12, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. Weekend Wednesdays - This semester, I've decided that Wednesdays will be days off from running and I can use the day to cross-train or take a complete rest day if I start to feel the need for it once I get into heavier speed work. I've also decided to take Wednesdays off from work. I'm fortunate to have the privilege of being able to do that so from here on out, I have dubbed Wednesdays as Weekend Wednesdays. Yesterday was the inaugural Weekend Wednesday. The Pilot had come in on Tuesday night so Wednesday morning, we slept in, ate breakfast and headed to the Museum of Natural History (his first time). We saw some two of their exhibits: Beyond Planet Earth and The Butterfly Conservatory. Both were really fascinating. The Pilot knows a ridiculous amount about space travel and some people gave us free tickets to the butterfly exhibit which was amazing! I'm excited to spend my Wednesdays this semester sleeping in, working on my thesis and exploring the city! It's going to be fun!

Butterflies at their feeding station

2. Erin Condren Planner - On Christmas morning, I woke up to a letter from 'Santa' in my stocking that said, "Pick your planner at Erin Condren." My mom had spent more time than she would have liked scouring the EC website trying to find the right planner for me before giving up and letting me do it myself and I'm happy to say my planner came in last week and so far I really like it. The only downside is that it's a lot bigger than I thought. A lot. There's a video on the EC website that shows how great it is and shows someone carrying it to the gym and to the beach and in all reality, it just isn't that portable. I really like it and the way it functions, but when it comes time to picking a planner in 2013, I may have to reconsider if they don't start offering some smaller sizes. For now though, it'll have to do and I love being able to schedule things in the Morning, Day and Night columns of the week. I also love that there's a To-Do List section so I don't have to carry around a separate To-Do List notebook like I do every day.

The quote I chose for the cover is "Passion is allowing yourself to get lost in something."
It's from Eat, Pray, Love.
Goals and To Do Lists on the side bar, Morning, Day and Night sections each day
3. Cross-Training - It's Week 2 of marathon training and so far, I've been a cross-training machine. Well, not really but I have been doing a lot of it. After trying (and not liking) spinning last week, this week I tried a Pilates class at the Athleta store on the Upper East Side with Emily. It was a great class although a bit too beginner for me. Tomorrow, I'm going to try out Fly Barre with Meggie and I'm hoping to go to a yoga class on Sunday as a post-run recovery though that might be difficult to squeeze in. Either way, I really like exploring different methods of cross-training and I feel like with the added strength training I've been doing, I'm definitely getting stronger! I'm hoping that all of this added exercise will increase my fitness and make for a fantastic finish in Madrid. We'll see!

This is Athleta's UES store. I quite like it. 
So tell me: If you had one day a week off every week, what would you do with yourself? Do you have an Erin Condren planner? How do you feel about the size? Love it? Or would you prefer something smaller (or bigger!)? Do you cross-train? Whether you're a runner or not, I want to know what you do to keep yourself in shape! And if you live in New York, let me know what classes I should try out!

Hope your week is going swimmingly!

January 10, 2012

Madrid Marathon Training Week 2

Before you go scrolling through my blog looking for Week 1, there isn't one. I wasn't sure if I wanted to write these posts but now I feel like I do because my weekly training posts keep my accountable.

I wasn't smart coming into this training plan. I basically ran Marine Corps, did very little running, ran Philly, did very little running, ran Hot Chocolate, did very little running and wham bam, thank you ma'am I'm training for a marathon again.

So I've got to take it easy. The most important thing about this training plan is that I have to run smart, happy and healthy and recover even smarter, happier and healthier so that I can ease into training for the NYC Marathon. This is my first time running more than 1 marathon in a year and while some people can run 3,4,5+ marathons per year like it's nothing, I'm not one of those people.

8 years ago, I had knee surgery and my knee, while it's taken well to running, is always troublesome for me. Every time it rains, my knee start throbbing, I have a hard time getting out of bed and I can't run. For some ridiculously weird reason, this happens when I'm on my period too. (TMI? Sorry.)

So, I need to be smart about training for this race which meant that when last Friday, my training plan called for 4 miles nice and easy, I bailed because my knee was bothering me and I opted for a non-impact elliptical workout instead rounding out what should have been a 25 mile week with 21 miles.

I'm totally ok with this.

My plan for this training cycle is to run 4 days per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) and if I'm feeling good and up for a run on Friday or a recovery run on Sunday, I'll do it but I'm basing my mileage off of 4 runs per week which is what I did for my first marathon.

For the first 8 weeks, I'll focus on hills: uphills, downhills, repeats, etc. By week 4, I'll start adding in some marathon goal pace runs. I'll close out the first 8 weeks in Texas by running the Cowtown Half-Marathon. For the remainder of my training, I'll swap out hill workouts for speed work but continuing to run the North Side of Central Park where all the hills are since the Madrid course seems to have a bit of a down hill though the official course hasn't been posted.

So that's the plan. I'm also trying to be really good about strength and cross-training during the week and so far, so good. This week's training is very similar to last week's except I'm running 5 miles as my week day runs instead of 4. Here's what it looks like.

Madrid Marathon Training: Week 2
Total Mileage Last Week: 21
Missed Workouts: 1
Trouble Spots: Easing back into it
Planned Mileage This Week: 25

Monday: 4 miles easy + Lower Body Strength
Tuesday: 5 mile hill run + 60 minute Pilates class
Wednesday: Rest Day
Thursday: 5 miles easy + Upper Body Strength
Friday: Cross-Train + Lower Body Strength, optional 5 mile run
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: Rest Day

Goals for this Week: Keep it up. Try to get into the pool.
Current Annoyances: Heavy legs and a tight hip flexor
Things to Keep in Mind: It's only Week 2.

So there you have it. Madrid, Week 2. I woke up at 7:00 this morning and rode to Central Park to run that 5 mile hill run. I never do that. This training cycle is going to have a lot of firsts and I'm excited for it.

Dear Madrid, See you in 14 weeks. Love, Christy.

January 9, 2012

Perfect Start to the New Year

This weekend was pretty perfect.

It was just the right dose of running, sweating, reading, bull riding, craft store shopping and church going.

Let's rewind.

Friday after work, I was feeling kind of off so I decided to skip my run and opt for some sweating on the elliptical followed by an upper body strength session in the weight room. It was surprisingly easy to phone in a run during my first week of marathon training but I think I need to scale my runs back to 4 runs per week if I'm going to strength and cross train as much as I did this past week and plan to for the rest of my training. I trained for my first marathon on 4 runs per week and I know I can do the same this time around...and hey, if a week rolls around and I feel like running more, I will but for now, I'm scaling back and starting slow.

Saturday, I woke up bright and early slept way later than I expected to and after eating a protein and carb packed breakfast while watching episodes of Boy Meets World, I headed out the door shortly before noon to make the trek to Central Park for my first long run of Madrid training.

Goal: 9 miles @ 9:41/pace (just under 1 minute slower than marathon goal pace).
Actual: 9 miles @ 9:51/pace

I'll take it. I felt like crap the first 4 miles of the run. I was lightheaded and hot and the run just felt hard. I hadn't run in Central Park in over 2 months (yea, that's how much I hate taking the 20-minute subway ride there and back). Somewhere around mile 4.5, I started feeling better and I picked up the pace a little bit. Instead of doing a full loop around the park, I just did 4.5 miles out and back...which was tough since I think the back was tougher hill-wise then the out.

So I finished, and I'm proud of myself for doing so. I haven't lost it...despite this being my longest run since the Hot Chocolate 15k. This week's plan is basically a repeat of the past week's. Another 9 miles which will hopefully feel easier than yesterday's before moving on to some higher mileage.

When I got home, I basically passed out after lunch and then spent the rest of the day in bed reading "Anna Karenina" until I forced myself out of bed to get ready for the PBR Invitational at Madison Square Garden.

Now, PBR stands for two things in life: Pabst Blue Ribbon and Professional Bull Riding. And while I'm pretty sure that my former self could very well have been invited to compete in an invitational of the former, this was a straight up bull riding tournament.

I've been helping out with some stuff at my former internship this week and during our lunch break, some of the guys at work mentioned that they all wanted to go. What they didn't realize was that I'd been itching to go for awhile but didn't have anyone to go with because well, the vast majority of New York City isn't interested in professional bull riding. Shocking, I know.

So I pulled my Justin's out of the closet (fresh from a trip to Nashville), and made my way to The Garden.

I've been to my fair share of rodeos but never to a strict bull riding event so this was awesome...and Madison Square Garden? Was sold out. 

Somehow after all those beers that excitement, I was in bed by a normal hour. I slept in again on Sunday and after breakfast, made my way to the craft store to pick up some things for a DIY project I'm starting this week. I spent the rest of the day cleaning my apartment, watching movies, catching up on blogs and going to church. 

So that was my weekend. How did your weekend shape up? I think my New Year's Goal of leaving my apartment goal is definitely a success so far! How are your New Year's Resolutions coming along? Are you sticking with them? Or are they already out the window?

Have a great week!

January 5, 2012

Three Things Thursday

1. Marathon Training - Oh man it feels good to write that on the blog! That's right! This week marks Week 1 of training for the Madrid Marathon! I could not be more excited to be traveling back to Spain to run a marathon! Carbo loading with wine, tapas, paella and my Texan sister from another mister? Count.Me.In. As of now, I've decided to stick with running 5x a week so this week calls for 3 easy runs of 4 miles, 1 hill workout and a long run of 9 miles. I'm trying to be serious about strength and cross training this week so I've done a Jillian Michaels' DVD, a  spin class (see below) and an upper body strength training session. Not too shabby! I'm undecided as to whether I'm going to go back to my routine of 'Training Tuesday' posts. They were really beneficial for me to process how my training was going and to get advice from the other marathoners out there (especially Celia) but I haven't decided yet. We'll see. Either way, I will keep you posted about how my training for Madrid is going because I can't freaking wait to tackle Marathon #3 and my big sub-4 goal in SPAIN!

2. Spinning - Last night, Emily and I took a trip over to Soul Cycle to try out a spin class. I had never taken any kind of indoor cycling class before and decided to go to "the best" for my first experience with spinning. Soul Cycle has gotten some serious hype from magazines, celebrities, TV shows, etc. so I thought it would be a great place to take my first class. My overall take - I didn't really like it. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing...and the fact that the lights were off almost the whole class, meant I couldn't look at other people to try and figure it out...and the music was awful. I'm talking late 90s/early 00's rap mixed in with the latest house music. I wasn't feeling it...at all...and you know what? I didn't feel like it was that great of a workout. I just sweated a lot and I'm sore in a region that I really would prefer to not be sore in from sitting on the bike. During the weights portion (yes, you do reps with light weights and crazy things like sit-ups and push-ups on the bike), I just kept sliding off my seat and I felt like every time I stood up in the bike, I was going to fly out of my clip-in shoes because my knees would buckle in some really awkward way. Long story short - spinning is not for me. I would consider trying it again if I had a more newbie-friendly instructor and better music but at $32 per class? I won't be back to Soul Cycle?

3. The Book and Movie Lists - If you've taken a close look at my blog lately, you'll notice that I changed my goal from reading 100 books and watching 100 movies before my 25th to 50 of each. Why? Well, for starters, my birthday is in 6 weeks so I know that's just not going to happen and even though I've kind of given myself the extension of doing all of some of these things at 25, I've nixed the Book and Movie lists because well, I haven't liked the majority of the movies I've watched...with the exception of The Prestige...that movie was phenomenal...and the reason I haven't actually sat down to watch a lot of them is because they just don't seem like interesting movies to me. The same goes for The Book List. I've loved some of the books I've read on this list...Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Gone with the Wind? But others? Have just been terrible and I really love to read so I want to go back to reading books that I want to  read. I'll definitely continue reading some of those books beyond the 50 but I'm not aiming to read all of them anymore.

That's all I've got for you today. Tell me: How has your week been? Have you ever been to a spin class? Did you like it? Have you tried Soul Cycle? Do you like reading? What are you reading these days?

I'm working late tonight and then I'm going to go home and cuddle up with my current read: Anna Karenina...which is on the list but which I love. 

Have a great weekend y'all!

January 2, 2012

The Promise of a New Tomorrow

Yesterday, I wrote about how much I love the New Year and making goals and lists and the promise of a new tomorrow. I listed a lot of abstract things I want to do this year to make 2012 awesome. In 2008, I had just come back to the US from having the best time of my life being abroad in Geneva and London and traveling all over Eastern and Western Europe in the mean time. My 2008 New Year's Resolution was simple: make 2008 better than 2007...and boy, oh boy it was.

2009 was an alright year. 2010 wasn't bad. 2011 was pretty good. 2012 is going to be even better. Aside from the abstract, random things I want to do like continue to eat as much Nutella as I can stomach and to continue taking spontaneous, out-of-the-blue trips like those to Houston and Minneapolis, I have a few concrete things I'd like to try to do over the course of 2012.

1. Try a spin class. I need to find out what the hype is all about...and maybe spinning will get me to finally attempt a triathlon. We'll see.
2. Do more yoga. I did a fair amount of yoga last year, but all of the moaning at Yoga to the People creeps me out and I don't really have the money to throw around on expensive yoga classes, but I am a pro at finding free yoga classes in the city, so I'm going to attempt to incorporate more yoga into running regiment. I would like to be able to be more flexible...and be able to touch my toes.
3. Leave my apartment more. This may come as a shock to some of you, but I can essentially go an entire week without ever leaving my apartment and still do everything I need to do. I work in my building, I work out in my building, I study in my building, I eat in my building...you get the picture. Since I'm not taking any classes this semester, my plan is to get out more...and not just to hop on a plane somewhere or go to the grocery store (which is also absurdly close)...but to actually go out and do things and stop being a hermit.
4. Finish my college scrapbook. This is on my 25 Before 25 list and well, I haven't done a heck of a lot with it. I finished my first year and am up to about half way through the first semester of my sophomore year and senior year...but I need to just buckle up and do it...and then start putting the last 3 years of my life into photo albums.
5. Get The Pilot to run a race with me. This is simple. I think I've convinced him to run a half with me...but he wants to choose which one. Fair...although I think that caveat is what's keeping us from actually registering. It doesn't have to be a half, but I'd like us to run a race together. I think it would be fun...even though sometimes when we go running, he kind of hates me a little bit.
6. See the rest of the ballparks. I'm at 15 1/2 (Minneapolis counts as the 1/2). I'd like to try and see the rest of them. I don't think this will be tremendously difficult since I'm not planning to spend my summer traveling around the world this year. We'll see.
7. Go to an NFL game. Preferably the Jets.
8. Visit my BFF in Kentucky/Cincinnati. She just moved out there and I haven't seen her in almost a year and a half because for the last 4 years or so, she's been living 4 1/2 hours from the nearest airport. Now, she lives miles from the nearest airport. There also happens to be a baseball team in Cincinnati so this will be happening. Most likely in spring time.
9.  Do something big to celebrate my birthday. I don't make a big deal out of my birthday...ever. When I was 15, I stopped celebrating it all together until I turned 21 when my friends decided that I had to do something big. I think 25 years is a big deal and I'm proud of having done so much in my short 25 years on earth, so I'd like to do something big to celebrate...I have no ideas for this whatsoever, so feel free to throw some my way.
10. Read more books that I want to read, not that have to read. I recently amended The Book List from reading the top 100 books to 50 of the top 100. Why? Well, aside from the fact that it's impossible for me to read 50 more books before February, there has only been a handful of those books that I've enjoyed and as a result, I've skipped out reading books that I genuinely want to. I miss going to the bookstore and just perusing the shelves for my next read.
11. Read the newspaper more. I'm a big slacker on this and I love reading the paper so I need to start reading it more.
12. Move out of New York. This is the big one. It's no secret that I don't like New York. Actually, I kind of hate it. There really aren't a lot of things about this city that I like and I just don't want to live here anymore. A lot of this is going to be contingent on where/when/if I get a job come May so we'll see what happens there but if I only accomplish one of my goals this year, I want it to be this one.

I got really excited about the fact that I wrote this out and have 12 goals for 2012...and then I realized I have one more...so we'll say this one is "one for good measure."

13. Run a sub-4 hour marathon. I have two chances. Madrid and New York City. I ran a 4:03 at Marine Corps. I can totally do this. 

So that's that. My goals for 2012. There are 365 days left in the year (it's a Leap Year!) and I've got big plans ahead. It's the promise of a new tomorrow and I can't wait for it.

What are your plans for 2012?

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year

Last night I went to bed at 10:30pm. I rang in the New Year in my bed.

Not my finest moment, that's for sure.

A 28 hour trip to Chicago will do that to you. But it was a fantastic 28 hour trip to Chicago.

This morning, I stayed in bed reading. I had brunch with my mom and then I went to church. I made a quick trip to Target and didn't buy anything...that's got to be some kind of record, right? I spent the afternoon watching movies and reading blogs and did a workout DVD...no running for me today. Marathon training starts tomorrow.

I love the New Year. I love the anticipation of looking forward to 12 months of achieving goals, making plans and using every single day as an opportunity to learn something new.

This year, I will turn 25. I will finish my Master's degree. I will start my career. I will run a sub-4 hour marathon. I will run 2 marathons. I will I will take chances and give everything I've got to everything I do.

I will keep traveling. I will try new things. I will eat at least one piece of fruit a day. I will continue to eat as much Nutella as I do now. I will make new friends and meet new people. I will have fun.

Whether you're making resolutions or not, whether you're looking forward to the New Year or not, I hope you take it as an opportunity to do something exciting. Take that trip you've always wanted to go on. Call someone you've lost touch with. Take chances. Don't have regrets. It's those chances that make your life the adventure you were meant to live...and it's those chances that make for the best blog posts. 

Happy New Year!
 I hope 2012 is everything you want it to be and more!
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