September 24, 2012

Musings on a Monday

According to my Google Reader, there was an awards show on last night. If you watched it, I hope you liked it.

I was in my pajamas at 7:30 and whimpering like a baby every time I had to move my legs.

See, I ran 20 miles yesterday. It wasn't all. For the first time ever, my legs actually felt like they were on autopilot for the vast majority of this run. I wasn't thinking about running, I was just running. It's a pretty great feeling actually. Post-run, I met up with a friend in Madison Square Park for some Shake Shack and wafels.

This weekend was was low key. Friday, The Pilot and I went and saw "Trouble with the Curve" (highly recommend) and then went out for cheesecake. I'd been jonesing for cheesecake for at least a week and was devastated to find out that The Cheesecake Factory doesn't carry pumpkin cheesecake until mid-October.

Don't worry, I got over it once I dove into my White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cheesecake.

Saturday, I spent the day doing some massive cleaning. I started the day by cleaning, took a break to go to yoga then cleaned some more. Oh and the local library was having a book sale so I dropped by with the intention of maybe picking up a book or two if they had anything good. This is what I walked out with.

17 books...for $5. One of my goals for the New Year was to read more books that I want to, not that I feel I have to (since the Book List on my 25 Before 25 included a bunch of books I ended up hating) so expect an absurd amount of book reviews on my blog over the next few months since I will be doing some serious reading (and cooking since yes, that is Julia Child's cookbook right up top).

You would think I would've delved right into my massive pile of books this weekend but instead, I'm reading  Chrissie Wellington's "A Life Without Limits" for Jess's book club which I'm going to in a few weeks. So far, I like it!

So yes, book buying, cheesecake eating and massive cleaning have all been part of my weekend. That and sweating. With a 10 mile (kickass) marathon goal pace workout Thursday, an ashtanga yoga class on Saturday, 20 mile run on Sunday and a Bar Method class this morning, I've definitely been getting my sweat on...and loving every second of it!

So that's what I've been up to! How was everyone's weekends? Anyone read any good books lately? How do you feel about book reviews on blogs? Love em or hate em?

Happy Monday!

September 17, 2012

Philly Rock & Roll Half-Marathon Recap

Best. Race. Ever.

If you remember from my post on Friday, I had 2 goals for this race: 1) Run without my Garmin 2) Have fun.

Check and Check!

Saturday night, Gia sent me a race strategy which was huge since I had absolutely no idea how I wanted to run this race other than well, just to run.

I think my lack of any kind of strategy is what lead to me not doing nearly as well as I'd hoped to at the Cowtown Half back in February and struggling through the last few miles.

Gia's plan was perfect and lead me to execute a race strategy to near perfection crossing the finish line feeling strong, confident and happy.

Before getting into the nitty gritty of the race, I'll say that I didn't PR. I know it was because of a fear starting around Mile 6 of going out too strong and dying around Mile 10. This is one thing that I really need to learn to work on...and I think that if I had had my Garmin, I might have had a bit better of an idea of whether I could have picked up the pace or not but I'm so happy I ran without my watch and am considering doing the same for my next Half...we'll see.

The Race started at 8am and I got to the Start around 7:45 and made my way to the corrals with Andrea, our friend Kelly and The Pilot. My stomach wasn't feeling too hot which worried me because, if you've been a follower of this blog for any amount of time, you know that I don't have the best luck with my stomach at races.

Andrea and I at the Start
My plan for the first 5k was to just run steady. Gia suggested I not try to pass anyone and just try to run in a straight line. I did just that, which surprisingly felt good...I feel like I normally waste so much energy trying to weave through people in the first few miles that it was refreshing to just run and not worry about trying to fight through a crowd. I do think that this was easier said than is normally done since the crowd was thin from the start.

I saw The Pilot just before Mile 1 at which point my stomach started to ease up. I started getting worried about how I would feel over the course of the race since I missed the mile marker for Miles 2 and 3 and felt like I was running an endless mile before I saw the 5k marker and started to pick up the pace.

Mile 3 Split - 28:57 (9:39 pace)

I didn't know my pace at the time but I'm slightly disappointed in my first 3 miles as this pace is much slower than I'm capable of but learning to figure out the feel of a pace without relying so heavily on a watch is just something I'm going to have to learn.

My plan for the middle 10k of the race was to just pick it up mile by go hard but not all out. As I said earlier, I was worried about going a little bit too hard which probably kept me from PRing but I was feeling strong and I liked the feeling of picking up the pace at each mile...I found myself looking forward to each mile marker so I could push myself just a little bit more.

10k Split - 57:19 (9:14 pace)

By the time I hit Mile 9, I started picking people off...I felt great and I took my 2nd gel of the day to give me that extra kick to the Finish. At this point, my quads were starting to feel a little uncomfortable but I wasn't in pain and I knew I could manage the discomfort to the finish. The stretch from Miles 4-9 were absolutely desolate. It was eerily quiet for a race. There were absolutely no spectators and only bands, which was disappointing. I could have used the pick me up a few times since I didn't bring music of my own, but I feel like this only made me concentrate more on picking up the pace each mile.

Mile 9 was the turn around as we went up over a bridge and then ran back down the other side of the Schuylkill down to the Finish.

Mile 10 Split - 1:31:14 (9:07 pace)

My plan for the last 5k was to go out full throttle, leaving nothing behind. Honestly, I still think I had a little bit left in the tank because again, I was worried about going all out and then having to crawl across the Finish but I definitely pushed myself and made a goal of picking people off.

Last 5k Split - 26:44 (8:37 pace)

I remember from the Philly Marathon/Half-Marathon (which follows the same route to the Finish) that the Finish Line comes out of don't hear it before you see it like most other races I've was nice to be prepared for that and not feel like I was nowhere near the Finish. Once I hit Mile 12, I pushed hard. I almost never go out at an all out spring until I see the final Mile Marker but this time, I knew I wanted to sprint that last Mile as hard as I could and that's just what I did.

Finish - 1:57:58

It took 3 races but I finally got a picture with Rocky after one of them!
Looking back on the whole experience, I definitely think I'll run without a watch again. I see two sides to this: If I had run with my watch, I easily could have PRd based on how great I the same time, I wonder if I would've held myself back knowing that the target Half pace I wanted to hit was one that I haven't trained for. I think that I'd really like to train for the Half distance come spring time and try to PR without my watch. So yes, I will definitely race technology-free again. Having a race strategy mapped out for me was also an enormous help and I really don't think I would have done as well as I did without it.

It took 8 Half-Marys but The Pilot finally made it down to one!
The best part of the whole weekend though was when Holly, whose blog I've been reading and following for almost 2 years now, took a page out of my book and Oops-ed her way to Jersey this weekend and then decided to pop on down to Philly and met me at the Finish Line! She's even more awesome in person than she is on her blog (and that's saying a lot!) and it meant the world that she came down for all of 10 minutes to say hello!

Blog friends <3
So that's that...I ran 'naked' and I had fun doing it. I missed having my Garmin for the first few miles but then I really enjoyed just running by feel. I think it was a great learning experience and I will absolutely try it again!

It was a great weekend for racing based on what my Twitter feed tells me so Congrats to everyone who ran the North Face Endurance Challenge, the BAA Half-Marathon, the Philly Rock & Roll Half or any other race!

Have a fantastic start to the week everyone!

September 14, 2012

Let's Talk Philly

Philadelphia is magic.

For a city whose sports teams I absolutely loathe, it amazes me how much I love running in the city of Philadelphia.

I ran my first marathon there. The day I ran my first half, I came home and decided to sign up for a marathon. I was living in Boston and moving to New York in a few weeks and thought, well hey, the NYC Marathon will be easy! I'll run that.

Hahahahaha I was so naive then.

When I realized that New York and Marine Corps wouldn't be options for me, I settled on Philly.

The night before the race, my iPod Touch automatically updated my Nike+ and the next morning, I couldn't get the thing to start. I swore I wouldn't panic about ANYTHING on Race Day and I didn't. That was the first and last race I ever ran 'naked.'

Officially a Marathon-er
I loved the Philly Marathon. I loved the course, the crowd support, the feeling of running my first marathon...everything about it was absolute magic. I loved it so much that I opted to run the Half the following year...3 weeks after Marine Corps. Between MCM and Philly, I ran a total of 10 miles...over the course of 3 runs and I went into the race thinking, if I have to drop out at Mile 3 because of knee pain, that's what I'll do, because ever since Marine Corps, my knee had been killing me.

That's where I set my current Half-Marathon PR.

The race was just as awesome as the marathon had been the year before.

When Rock & Roll announced that they were giving away fancy "World Rocker" medals to anyone who ran an international race and a US race this year, and then offered a discount on National Running Day off registration, I knew I'd have to run Philly. Even though it isn't the same race, it's practically the same course.

So, tomorrow afternoon, I'm headed down to the city that has been so magical for me to toe the line at my 8th Half-Marathon (and only my 2nd this year!) and I. AM. PUMPED. I haven't raced in ages and I'm itching to toe the line again.

My only goals for this race are to run without my Garmin and to have fun. We'll see how it goes!

This will be my 3rd time running in Philly and you know what they say...3rd time's a charm!

Do you have a favorite city to race in? Have you ever raced 'naked'? 

Have a GREAT weekend everyone!
Good luck to everyone racing!

September 7, 2012

New York City Marathon Training: Week 8

Guess what? I didnt run a single mile while I was in Europe.

Why? I needed to not run. Before The Pilot and I took off for London, I was sick with a nasty upper respiratory infection that kept me in bed for 3 days. I still managed to eke out 30 miles that week...25 of them that weekend, even though I wasn't feeling 100% yet. I ran Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday with no rest in between and when I attempted to hit the track on Tuesday for some speedwork before my flight out, I slugged through 1 lap around the track at close to a 12:00 pace before calling it quits.

I needed a break. I intended to run later in the week in Europe, but I decided that the amount of walking I was doing was sufficient cross training and that the way my training was going, I could afford to take a week off.

And you know what? It worked. I've felt great on all of my runs this week...better than I had been feeling even before I got sick. It was stupid of me try and keep my training going full throttle while being sick and taking a week off was just what my body needed to fully recover.

This week, I've done 2 easy runs and 1 technique run. Im heading out again this evening for some double day miles and I'll run long on Sunday. I jumped right back into my training and after the rest, my legs feel fresh, my mind is clear and I feel strong, and ready to tackle the next 8 weeks of marathon training.

Marathon training is a tough beast to tackle. The longest training cycle I've ever done was 14 weeks...this time around, I built a strong base and then started a 16 week cycle and maybe it was just a little too much.

Next weekend, I'm running the Philly Rock & Roll Half-Marathon. I haven't even thought about setting goals for it but I do know that I'm a lot more prepared to race my 2nd half of the year than I would have been without taking some time off.

This might seem unorthodox and I know that for a lot of people, the idea of taking a week off during marathon training is mortifying, but for me, I think it worked...and I'm excited for the next 8 weeks which will involve harder, longer speed work, hills, long runs of 18+ miles each weekend and another half just a few weeks out from Race Day.

How do you feel about taking a week off from training?
Have you ever done it?
Happy Running!

September 5, 2012

...and then we went to Paris

While we were in London, The Pilot and I talked about leaving London for the weekend and going somewhere else. At first, we wanted to head to Dublin to try and score tickets to the Notre Dame v. Navy game but getting to Dublin was going to cost a small fortune so we started looking at other options. Oxford? Brussels? Eventually, The Pilot said, "You know, I've always wanted to go to Paris. And I said, "Well, you did promise to take me to Paris for graduation." So, off to Paris we went.

Ah Paris. I went to Paris for the first time 5 years ago when I was living in London. I had a great time but it was such a whirlwind trip trying to get out and do and see everything. I didn't really remember much of Paris so I was excited to go back.

We got to Paris on Saturday morning and the first thing we did was head out for macaroons. I had read a New York Times review no less than 2 days before praising Gerard Mulot, a patisserie in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres so we made our way there.

Ordering macaroons!
Next, we went for a long walk along the Seine and made our way to the Louvre. It was an absolutely glorious day so we didn't go inside but we sat outside and ate the giant macaroons we had bought from Gerard Mulot.

About to dive into the best macaroon I've ever tasted. 
Look at the size of them!
Umm yes, perfection. 
From the Louve, we made our way back across the Seine to visit Notre Dame and spent some time inside the Cathedral.

Next, it was time to visit La dame de fer, aka Le Tour Eiffel. I love the Eiffel Tower. There is just something so excitingly romantic and beautiful about it. I don't think any other city in the world can claim a structure so massive and so beautiful that was built for no other reason than for those that look on it to marvel in its beauty.

From the Eiffel Tower, we decided to stop for a light snack outside at a cafe...crepes with nutella and banana, of course. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Paris, people watching, being romantic, and speaking French before heading back to the Saint-Germain-des-Pres for an unbelievable 3 course dinner with some fantastic French wine. 

The next morning, we woke up somewhat early and headed outside Paris to visit the Chateau Versailles. I hadn't been to Versailles on my first trip to Paris and my mom always says, "You haven't been to Paris, unless you've been to Versailles" and oh my God, she was right. Versailles was absolutely unbelievable. The history...the opulence...the decor...the sheer grandioseness of it all was absolutely astounding.

I'm pretty sure this gate is worth more than the combined cost of the education of my entire collegiate student body.
Absolutely magnificent
Inside the Hall of Mirrors
Because we went on a weekend during the High Season, we were able to visit the gardens for the Musical Fountains Show, during which they play a fantastic soundtrack of music written specifically for King Louis XIV. The Gardens were absolutely incredible. We had so much fun wandering through them and imagining what it was like during the 18th century with the Royal Courts wandering around the Gardens! 

This might be my new favorite picture of us. 
Part of Marie Antoinette's estates.
Versailles was incredible but oh my goodness, did it wear us out. The Chateau and the Grounds are enormous and we spent a lot of time on our feet. After the Chateau closed, we made our way back to Paris where we indulged in an unbelievable and perfect French dinner followed by 3 desserts...and we only shared one of them. 

Last up for the night, was another trip to the Eiffel Tower. I insisted that we see it at night because it is even more remarkable at night then during the day, so off we went.

Shortly after we got there, the Eiffel Tower was lit up...which I had no idea that they did...and we danced and sang and kissed while staring at the Eiffel Tower and it was absolute perfection. The next morning, we left Paris bright and early, our wallets a little bit lighter, our stomachs a lot fuller and just a little bit more crazy about each other than before we had left.

It was the perfect weekend. 

September 4, 2012

Oops...I went to London

Not London, Connecticut. Not London, Ontario. London, England...which explains my absence from blogging over the last week.

It had been 3 years since my last trip to London which was about 6 months after I had returned stateside after living in London for half a year.

Being back in London was absolutely incredible. I felt like I had never left. It was like I never missed a beat, just picked right up where I left off. What can I say? London is and always will feel like home.

This time around though, it was The Pilot who brought me to London on a whim and we had an incredible time.

The best part about being in London? The Paralympics kicked off just as we got there and the Paralympic Games are just as big as the Olympics so Olympic Fever was still full on!

We got there on Wednesday morning, checked into our hotel and headed out so that I could show The Pilot around my London. We stopped by my old flat, my favorite pub and my old office in Victoria (which had been knocked down) and stopped by Buckingham Palace so that I could check out the marathon finish line.

There it is!
Then we made our way to Westminster to see Big Ben before taking a ride on the London Eye...which I had never done before.

The London Eye at sunset...not a bad date night.
We had an unbelievable dinner on The Strand before heading over to Trafalgar Square, my favorite place in London...where a huge crowd was gathered to watch the Opening Ceremonies for the Paralympic Games.

Crowds gathered in front of the National Gallery to watch the Opening Ceremonies
Team Great Britain entering the arena to close the Ceremonies. 
The next day, we got up early and made our way to East London to try and check out the Olympic Park...which, unfortunately, we couldn't get anywhere near because of security. We had thought we'd be able to get into the Olympic Park without tickets to at least go to the Olympic Mega Store but apparently you can't get within half a mile of the Park without event tickets. Booooooooo.

The Olympic Stadium
Since we were in East London, we made our way to Liverpool Street to take a trip around Spitalfields Market before grabbing a pint at the notorious Ten Bells Pub and making our way to the Tower Bridge.

Sadly, the Paralympic Rings were up.
We had heard that there was an Olympic Store at St. Pancras Station, so we went there to check out the merch. Since St. Pancras is attached to King's Cross, The Pilot and I paid a visit to Platform 9 3/4 which I was sad to have found had moved from the actual Platform 9 3/4 to another concourse.

That night, we decided to visit the West End and see "We Will Rock You," a musical set to the music of Queen, which I had seen on my first trip to London in 2003. Post-show, we went for dinner in Chinatown before going for a long walk back to our hotel.

Friday morning, we went shopping on Oxford Street (boy, did we shop...I should write another post just on all of the fantastic things I bought in London) and then had lunch in St. Christopher's Place. We had sparkling lemonade and I had banoffee pie. Ohhhhh banoffee pie, how I love banoffee pie.

Doesn't that just look delectable?
After lunch, we headed to Hyde Park. We tried to rent bikes via cycle hire but apparently American credit cards don't work anywhere in Europe we resorted to a long walk through Hyde Park, site of the Olympic Triathlon and Marathon Swim and home to a much bigger Olympic Megastore than what we had found at St. Pancras.

We spent the better part of the afternoon walking around Hyde Park before heading for dinner and drinks on Kensington High Street and calling it a night.

I love London. It's home. It was absolutely fantastic to be there with The Pilot and show him my old stomping grounds...and to be there during the Paralympics was unbelievable. I was really sad to learn upon coming home that there has been absolutely no coverage of the Paralympic Games here in the states since it seemed to be everywhere in London.

We had an absolutely wonderful time and while I think we both could have stayed in London forever, we decided to take a weekend trip to mainland Europe...which you can read all about tomorrow!

Stay tuned!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...