July 27, 2012

Thoughts from Thursday

Yesterday, was somewhat adventurous.

I started the morning bright and early with a 2 mile run that got cut short due to impending doom...aka dark, ominous clouds and light rain drops. I kept debating whether to cut my run short and when I finally made the decision and ran home, I had barley made it to my top step when the sky broke open into a burst of thunder, lightning and subsequent down pour.

I came inside and hung around for a bit doing some core work before attempting the second half of my run...4 miles with 2 at marathon goal pace, which I pretty much nailed.

After getting some laundry going, doing some work stuff and a call with the office in DC I'm presenting at next week, The Pilot and I headed out to Long Island to visit my undergrad uni because I wanted to buy a frame for my diploma.

It was the first time I'd been back since I graduated and I had fun showing The Pilot around the south side of campus where all of our classes were held. He had been there twice before but had only seen my house, the bars my friends and I frequented and the football lacrosse stadium where I graduated.

To get to Hofstra, we had to take a trip over this:

That would be the Verrazano Bridge...aka the Starting Line of the NYC Marathon.
I got chills going over this bridge. I've driven over it a hundred times and never thought twice about it...until I realized that instead of cars in front of and around me, there will be 45,000 other runners toeing the line to take off for their 1st, 5th, or 90th marathons. For the record, bridges absolutely terrify me. I blame the oh so traumatizing Disney movie, Susie Q (starring Pink Power Ranger, Amy Jo Johnson) for that.

I seem to be the only person in the world who has seen this movie.
Does anyone else remember it?
When we finished up at Hofstra, we stopped for dinner to beat the traffic before making our way back towards the city. As was the theme for the day, as we approached Manhattan, the sky started getting darker and darker.

By the time we exited the Lincoln Tunnel, we could barely see through the windshield, the storm was so nuts. It didn't bother me though since I wasn't driving and was busy snapping pictures out the window. 

Crazy right?
So that's Thursday. I'm supposed to be leaving for Milwaukee tonight but the flights getting out there aren't looking good at all! The Pilot has been with his airline for a year and I've never had too much trouble getting anywhere on stand by but today isn't looking so hot. Wish me luck!
What are your weekend plans? (Besides watching the Olympics...duh)

July 24, 2012

New York City Marathon Training: Week 2

This morning, I started chatting with a guy at the track about speed work, race plans, etc. He's aiming to BQ in Philly and when I told him my plan to go sub-4 in November, he said, "You can totally do it." New York was his first marathon and his longest run had been 16 miles. He wanted to be realistic and set a goal to go sub-4. He ran a 3:30.

It's obvious that this guy is in shape and based on the fact that he's at the track each week with a bunch of teenagers, I'm guessing he's a track coach. I don't think I'm going to go out and run a 3:30 but he's the first person (with the exception of Gia) who has run New York before and has actually told me that I can totally go sub-4.

So thanks Mr. Track Coach Man.

After our brief chat, I proceeded to have one of the best workouts I've had in awhile and came home on such a runners' high that I didn't think I'd ever come down from it. Until I looked at my Garmin splits and realized that instead of running my 800s in the minute/second equivalent of my marathon goal time, I ran them at marathon pace. So instead of 5 800s at 3:50, this is what my 800s looked like.

*Garmin Connect wasn't working today and after sitting around waiting for 4 hours for my splits to load, I'm just typing them manually*

3:54, 4:17, 4:21, 4:20, 4:30 - Yea, and I actually tried to run SLOWER to hit my MGP.

Crash and Burn.

I was so frustrated. Then I took a cold shower and got over it. I'm not going to stress myself out over every bad run or every workout I miss this training cycle. It just creates bad energy that spills over into your next run and creates a domino effect leading to a string of bad runs and I'm just not going to let that happen this training cycle.

So let's recap:

Total Mileage Last Week: 18
Missed Workouts: 1, Food Poisoning derailed my long run
Trouble Spots: None
Planned Mileage This Week: 30-35

I'm obviously bummed about missing my planned long run of 10 miles but I'm not too concerned. It would have been my 3rd 10-miler in 3 weeks so the base I've built up allows room for a missed long run early on. I just need to make sure I'm on track this week, especially after royally screwing up this morning's workout.

Last week, I mentioned a few things I'm doing differently this training cycle compared with my last few. One other thing I'm doing, is giving my planned mileage a range, rather than a set number. It's a lot easier to aim for 30-35 miles/week rather than 32 so I think that's going to work in my favor.

So, there we have it! Week 1 is in the books and Week 2 is under way! I've got a 5k race this weekend which I'm super excited about...I PRd my last 5k by 6 seconds but came just 3 seconds shy of breaking 25:00 so that's the plan for this weekend! Wish me luck!

Are you training for anything? How's your training shaping up?

July 23, 2012

Love/Don't Love

1. I'm wildly excited about the Olympics to start this weekend. Not only are the Summer Olympics my absolute favorite sporting event, but they are taking place in my 2nd home. It's been 5 years since I packed my bags and bid adieu to my Kensington apartment and I miss it every single day. Love.

What I would give to be sitting at my favorite pub with an ice cold Pimm's lemonade with this view right now.
2. This summer sucks. The next 6 weeks seriously need to shape up because this has by far been the worst summer I've ever had. I've barely left my house all summer except to make 3 trips to DC that didn't amount to anything. Don't Love.
3. On the bright side, I'm traveling this weekend. Milwaukee, here I come! Love.

4. I missed my long run this weekend because I was sick with food poisoning. Don't Love.
5. Despite missing a key workout this weekend, I'm excited to kick off Week 2 of NYC training. Love.

6. Mom and I went shopping on Friday and I tried on 2 gorgeous dresses that I fell in love with...neither of which fit right. I hate that. Don't Love.
7. Even though those dresses didn't fit, Mom and I still had a fun weekend shopping together, checking out the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, and having some killer Cuban food. Love.

That's what's going on this Monday!
My heart goes out to all of the victims and families of the Aurora, CO shooting this weekend.
I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and has a great week!

July 10, 2012

Ballpark #18 - Kauffman Stadium

Last night, while watching the Home Run Derby, ESPN did a tour of Kauffman Stadium. It was so cool to be watching the tour...and the Derby less than 24 hours after having been at Kauffman Stadium myself!

As I mentioned yesterday, I was ecstatic when The Pilot was assigned a long overnight in Kansas City during MLB All-Star weekend. Sure, we wouldn't be able to stay in town for the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, but it was super exciting to be part there for all of the festivities over the weekend. I didn't have $300+ to spend on tickets to the Derby and the ASG anyway.

We were still able to check out the stadium by going to the MLB Futures Game - an All-Star Game that pits the top Minor League prospects from each team against one another on teams representing the US and the World.

Kauffman Stadium is about 20 minutes outside the city. We picked a great weekend to go because there were free shuttles running to and from the stadium every 15 minutes. I have no idea how we would have gotten there if it hadn't been All-Star Weekend.

From the outside, Kauffman Stadium is nothing to write home about. Built in 1973, it's one of the oldest stadiums in Major League baseball, but a recent major renovation that was completed in 2009 revealed a pretty nice stadium.

We weren't sure if we'd be able to make it to the game given that we had to flight out that night but we were able to by Standing Room Only seats for pretty cheap once we got there. Our legs were both dead from the race and being on our feet all day though so we made our way to the Upper Deck where we found seats rather than standing through the game.

I don't know the stats on this but Kauffman Stadium has got to have one of the biggest scoreboards in baseball. It's certainly the biggest I've ever seen!

The stadium was pretty expansive...I learned from yesterday's ESPN tour that the average length of the fences is longer than the average in the MLB by some 12 feet...making it an interesting place for the Home Run Derby!

We did our standard, walk around, checked out the Hall of Fame and visited the Team Store...which I was disappointed to see sold All-Star Game gear and only All-Star Game gear despite the fact that about 200 tents and makeshift kiosks had been set up throughout the park to sell All-Star Game gear. Luckily, I found someone who broke the rules and decided against hiding all of the Royals' gear who I was able to buy my souvenir pin from.

3,154 baseballs make up this tribute to Royals' Hall of Famer George Brett, representing his 3,154 career hits
Neither of us were too hungry when we got to the stadium, so unfortunately, we didn't dig into the plentiful food offerings Kauffman had to offer...and it was tough to get a feel for the stadium since it wasn't  typical Royals game but there was a great turn out and it was a lot of fun to watch some of the League's top prospects duke it out. We saw some pretty amazing plays.

We opted to sit way up top instead of stand in our SRO spots that were much closer. #deadlegs

We had to leave after the 4th inning to make our flight which was a bummer but just as we left, the US team...which was being destroyed by the World, started to make a huge comeback that resulted in them crushing the World 17-5.

The Pilot and me at the entrance to the stadium.
We wore our Mets gear to support Mets' prospects Zach Wheeler and Wilmer Flores...I would otherwise never wear Mets gear to a stadium when the Mets aren't playing. It's against my principles. 

So there you have it...Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. 
18 down, 12 to go!

July 9, 2012

36 Hours in Kansas City

I love traveling with The Pilot. When he gets long layovers in places I've never been, I'm always eager to hop on a flight and join him. Kansas City was no exception. 

The Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game is in Kansas City this week. With the game scheduled for tomorrow and the Home Run Derby tonight, the weekend festivities kicked off on Thursday starting with MLB FanFest, a Charity 5k race and a number of other baseball-themed events throughout the weekend.

The Pilot wouldn't be arriving in KC until much later that night but since he was flying in from Houston and me from Newark, I got in in the early afternoon so that I could wander around and sightsee for a bit.

When I landed, I felt like I landed in the middle of nowhere. Oh my goodness. The airport was desolate.  There were no cars/buses/taxis/any mode of transportation outside and I ended up finding some people from my flight who worked for MLB to share a cab downtown with. 

When we got downtown and the first thing I saw was this:

That's when I got excited...it was impossible to turn a corner without finding MLB signs plastered everywhere. Kansas City was hosting the All-Star Game...and they were definitely excited for it. 

As soon as I got downtown, I made my way to the Power & Light District to pick up our race packets.

Our packets came with t-shirts and socks. The t-shirts were awesome, they said "I Run for the National League. We Will Win." Even though the shirts were cotton, I knew I was going to wear mine for the race which was fun because everyone was wearing their race shirts so the whole field was decked out in American versus National League.

Yes, we even got medals post-race. 
After Packet Pick-Up, I grabbed some lunch in the Power & Light District and then made my way to our hotel to lay down for a bit and shower. It was 105 degrees and I was definitely struggling in the heat. After my cat nap, I made my way to The Plaza to walk around and do some shopping.

You can't really see it, but they dyed all the water in the fountains blue for All-Star Weekend!
After walking around the shops for a few hours, I made my way to a bar/restaurant called The Foundry. First things first, I delved into their beer menu. They had a lychee beer on tap which was amazing! I had some beers and food and made my way back to the hotel. 

The Pilot arrived just after midnight, and after what felt like a short nap, our alarms were going off to signal the start of Race Morning. 

The MLB All-Star Charity 5k and Fun Run: I didn't think any race could be as bad as the Hot Chocolate 15k I ran back in December but oh  man, this race came in a close second. The race was a 5k through Kansas City's Power & Light District. It started about 15 minutes late with the temperatures climbing what felt like every minute. There were 8,000 runners and no announcement was given to runners/walkers to keep to one side of the road or the other. I know that in most races, these rules aren't abided by, but I do feel like they provide some organization to the race. 

We spent most of the race weaving in and out of people over the duration of a hot, somewhat hilly course. The Pilot seemed to be having fun and he quickly made a game of stomping all over the cups strewn all over the ground from the aid stations. I purposely didn't bring my Garmin and was just enjoying the fact that we were racing together. Just before Mile 3, we spotted the Finish Line and started sprinting toward it. We hit Mile 3 and bam. Stop. Traffic jam. 

The Finish Line was so backed up that once we hit Mile 3, we had to slowly shuffle our way to and across the Finish Line because there were so many people. We watched the clock tick by for about 3 minutes before we finally crossed. It was so disappointing. 

Next year, the All-Star Game will be at CitiField, home of our team, the New York Mets. I'll be avoiding that race like the plague, thank you. Dear Major League Baseball, Stick to baseball. Road racing is not your thing. 

The Pilot was pretty happy to get a medal but he was just as bummed as I was about not being able to finish the race the way we wanted to. 

Results: 31:17 (10:06/mile) 

Post-race we headed to MLB FanFest (Disney World for baseball fans) and then made our way to Kauffman Stadium for the Futures Game before boarding our flight home.

Despite the details of the race, I finally got to run a race with The Pilot and we had a ton of fun being in Kansas City for All-Star Weekend...maybe one day, I'll be able to justify spending $200 on a baseball game and will actually be able to go to the All-Star Game...

How was your weekend? Have you ever been to Kansas City? Have you ever run a race like that?  Ever been to an MLB All-Star Game?

July 3, 2012

2012 Goals Check-In

I'm the furthest thing from the type of person that wishes time would speed up. Lately, I keep coming across blog posts that offer some kind of thought as to "omg how is it July already???"

How isn't it July? I felt like the month of June just dragged on. I thought July was never going to come. I'm perfectly content with the pace that this year is going...not too slow, not too fast...just right.

Since it is July though, I thought I'd check in with my 2012 goals and see how I'm doing.

1. Try a spin class. Check! I hated it. I don't think I ever want to take a spin class again. Soul Cycle was NOT my thing. I might try a class again...if I don't have to pay $32 for it but I really just don't think it's my kind of workout. I felt like the only thing I got out of it was a sweat...as in, I'm sweating because it's hot and there's other people sweating - not because I'm getting a good work out.

2. Do more yoga. Fail. What's yoga? I started off the year doing pretty well with this by going to the free Yoga to the People studio around the corner from my apartment...but then I had one too many bad experiences there that were enough to derail me from going back. First, I went to three classes that had you start doing crazy intense ab workouts (100s, bicycle crunches on speed, etc.) after savasna...umm...doesn't that defeat the purpose of yoga? Second, the last class I went to was SO crowded, our mats were literally 1/4 inch apart. I didn't do a single pose without poking someone in the eye or getting smacked in the ass. One of my marathon training goals is to go to yoga at least once a week, so hopefully I'll be better about this in the 2nd half of the year. No promises though.

via YTTP is way too crowded for my taste.
3. Leave my apartment more. Check. I've been a rock star at this. I credit blog friends and 16 Handles. While it was super easy to phone in an outdoor run and jump on the treadmill downstairs, I made it a point to do at least 2 runs a week outside and I was much more social. I also went to Spain. So there's that.

4. Finish my college scrapbook. Fail. Hahahahahaha. I don't think I've touched it since last summer.

5. Get The Pilot to run a race with me. Almost check. Ooh ooh ooh! WE'RE RUNNING THE MLB ALL STAR GAME 5K IN KANSAS CITY THIS WEEKEND. TOGETHER! Sorry I went all caps on you. I'm really excited about this. I've been asking politely annoying the heck out of him all year about running a race with me and he finally agreed. Actually, I've been begging him to run a half with me but this weekend I'm going to prove to him that racing is OMG SO FUN and he's going to love it so much that he's going to walk away and say, OK babe let's sign up for that Half in Montreal that we talked about. Right babe? Right???

6. See the rest of the ball parks. Working on it! 17 down...Kansas City this weekend will make 18. That will put me at 12 to go. I need friends in LA, San Diego, Denver, St. Louis, Miami and Phoenix to offer to host me in their cities for baseball games. Any takers? I want so badly to make this happen! I'm so close!

7. Go to an NFL game. It isn't football season yet.

8. Visit my BFF in Kentucky/Cincinnati. Check! Just got back on Friday!

9. Do something big to celebrate my birthday. Fail. I did nothing. I was sick on my birthday. I performed in The Vagina Monologues, had a cocktail and went home and went to sleep. Lame.

10. Read more books that I want to read. Check! Currently reading Bart Yasso's "Born to Run." I've loved the books I've read this year and am looking forward to a summer of reading many more books!

11. Read the newspaper more. Umm...

12. Move out of New York. I'm working on it. (Touchy subject)

13. Run a sub-4 marathon. The New York City Marathon will be my 3rd attempt at a sub-4 marathon. I have to chop 3 minutes off my time to do it. If I don't go sub-4 in New York, I'll be devastated.

So that's that. I'm not doing too badly! One thing I didn't put on this list is to run 1,000 miles. I came so close last year (983) and then got so burnt out from running and racing that I just needed to take a break. I'm well over 500 for the year already, so as long as I stay healthy, this will be an easy goal to make a reality!

My goals haven't changed much and I'm still hoping to stick with all of them. How are your 2012 goals shaping up? Have you added/changed any of the goals that you made for the year?

July 1, 2012

Ballpark #17: Great American Ballpark

I've heard great things about Great American Ballpark, home of the Cincinnati Reds, so when my best friend from high school moved out to the Greater Cincinnati area earlier this year, I was looking forward to taking a week to go visit her and go check out the Reds' ballpark

I had flown into Cincinnati on Sunday and we decided to head to the game on Tuesday. The Pilot had a couple of days off, so he flew in and joined us for the game.

We couldn't have picked a better day to see the Reds play. Bronson Arroyo had a perfect game running into the 8th inning and then a no-hitter shortly thereafter before the Brewers scored 3 runs and tied the game. The Reds still came back to score another run and win the game which was fun.

I had heard great things about Great American Ballpark so I was excited to check it out. We got to the stadium shortly after the game started and made our way to our seats. 

Outside the stadium

Reds Country is definitely an accurate description. When I walked off the plane, the Jetway was plastered in Reds wallpaper. When I left, there was a TSA video at the airport demonstrating proper TSA security procedure featuring Reds mascots. This city takes baseball seriously. I like that in a ball team.

We had great seats. I paid $20 each for us to sit on behind the 3rd base line. A baseball team that charges reasonable prices for seats? I can definitely do that. The stadium seemed so small though! After coming home and looking at it, I realized that it actually holds a few hundred more people than CitiField does...but CitiField (home of the Mets) just seems massive in comparison. 

One plus, the stadium was packed. When I went to San Francisco and Philadelphia earlier this season, their stadiums were packed but they've both won the Fall Classic in the last few years...Cincinnati won their division in 2010 but it was their first win since 1990 so I was pretty surprised!

A few innings into the game, The Pilot and I got up to take our usual walk around the stadium. There wasn't as much to see as there are in most other parks, but I liked that you could walk around the whole park and that the stadium was right on the river. We popped into the Team Store so that he could get a hat and I could get a pin. They had a giant replica World Series statue inside the Team Store which was awesome.

The Reds also have a Hall of Fame, but you had to pay to get into it. What??? I've never been to a ballpark that charges you to get into their Hall of Fame...even the Yankees, who probably have the most robust Hall of Fame of any Major League team and could get away with charging for their Hall of Fame don't charge...and since they charge $3 more for beer than any other stadium, that's actually quite surprising. So that wasn't cool.

When we left the Team Store, we were making our way back to our seats when we ran into Rosie Red, one of the Reds' mascots. Well, let me tell you something. We asked that little b*tch for a picture and she was all up on The Pilot.

Back off Rosie, he's mine. 
So we made our way back to the edges of our seats and watched anxiously as Bronson Arroyo threw a perfect game until the 8th and lost the no-hitter shortly after before Adolis Chapman (The Cuban Missile) closed the game giving the Reds a 4-3 win over Milwaukee.

I'm a big fan of teams that shoot fireworks after each home run and a win.
So there you have it, my trip to Cincinnati. I had a great time at the game and what a great game to see! The stadium wasn't one of my favorites, and I don't think I'd put it in my Top 10 but it was nice and a perfect night for a game.

17 down, 13 to go! 
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