January 30, 2013

January: Plan Your Race Year

On January 1, I got an email from Runners' World with the subject line: Guide to a Fitter, Faster You. I read through it and found some great resources and decided to commit to the month-by-month plan in order to make myself a better, faster runner.

I've been documenting my progress in my Believe I Am Journal and really like the plan. I think it's a great resource and I'm looking forward to seeing how my running progresses over the course of the year not only with the plan, but also by journaling about it in much more detail than I would give on DailyMile or here on Planes, Trains and Running Shoes.

The task for January was to plan my race year.

If you read my 2013 Goals post, you know that I have 3 big running goals this year:
  1. Run a sub-4 marathon.
  2. PR the half.
  3. Run a sub-24 minute 5k.
On Tuesday, I talked about my grand plan of attack to run a sub-4 marathon. I'll be trying my luck with that at the Potomac River Run Marathon, right here in the DC Metro area on May 5. (Anyone who wants to join me in celebrating with Coronas and margaritas post-race is more than welcome!)

In October, I'll be seeking redemption on the 14th Street Bridge and running the Marine Corps Marathon. (Because I signed up for the Marine Corps 17.75k, I'll have guaranteed entry into the race). My goal for MCM is not only to seek redemption on the 14th Street Bridge and run a course-PR. 

So what's in between?

Well, remember when Ally and I went to Madrid last year? We decided that we had so much fun running in another country that we're going to do it again and again and again. In June, we'll be boarding a flight to Norway to run the Rock 'n' Roll Oslo Half-Marathon. I don't know much about the course yet and whether I'll make it a PR attempt but there are a few great races going on in the DC area the first weekend in June so either way, I'll be making my Half PR attempt in June.


And for that 5k? Well, I'm even closer to 25 minutes in the 5k than I am to 4 hours in the marathon. My current PR is 25:09. In April, I'll be tackling the Crystal Run 5k Fridays series. There's a 5k every Friday night in April. Unfortunately, I can't make the last one but I think that racing weekly 5ks the month before the marathon will be a great way to get in some speed work on some shorter distance runs and to shoot for that 10 second PR. 

I have a few other races that I'll be doing for fun and to get some training runs in. They include: 
  • DC Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (pacing Miss Ally)
  • Marine Corps 17.75k
  • Cherry Blossom 10-Mile
  • Cleveland Half-Marathon
  • Diva's Half-Marathon in DC's Wine Country
  • Secret Surprise Race in August that I'm not telling anybody about until like June
I'm sure some other races will pop up along the way, but that's the plan! I think that making an effort to plan out my race year well in advance will help me really tailor my training to the specific goals I have in mind. 

I'm excited for a big year of running and racing! The Runners' World plan for February is to Commit to Cooking, so expect a ton of recipes on the blog over the course of the next month!

Do you plan out your race year in advance? What's on your schedule this year? Are we running any of the same races?

January 29, 2013

Sub-4 Plan of Attack

Marathon #1: 4:08
Marathon #2: 4:03
Marathon #3: 4:27
Marathon #4: 4:24
Marathon #5: 4:01:05

My 3rd marathon was one that I wasn't planning on running until I got to Mile 22. My 4th marathon, I totally bonked.

I have run 5 marathons. 3 of them with the goal of going sub-4. It kills me that I still haven't seen a 3 as the first number on the clock. Yet, every time, I've somehow crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face.

I don't know how many more times I can do that. Yes, every marathon is an accomplishment, but frankly, this shit is getting old.

I started my running career in 2010. In the span of those short 3 years, I've poured over countless spreadsheets checking off workouts, analyzing every workout before, during and after...and for weeks to come. "I didn't missed my target pace on the 2nd mile of my tempo workout last week...what does that mean for Race Day."

This time around, there's no spreadsheet. I'm taking things back to the basics. For starters, I'm running a very small marathon. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love big races and Marine Corps is my favorite marathon, but I think that running a small race will be good for me.

No distractions. Just me and the road. The fact that the course is an out and back means, I'll have plenty of support along the way but the fact that it's capped at 350 runners means I'll have plenty of time to think about race strategy without being distracted by yet another, "Worst Parade Ever" sign.

Right now, I'm glued to the treadmill until it starts getting light earlier and staying light later, but you better believe I'm using the treadmill to it's absolute full advantage and running intervals, hills and sprints. I think I'm getting better workouts on the treadmills than I do on my normal "easy" runs outside.

I think that by not having a training plan, and just focusing on 2-3 key workouts per week (hill repeats, tempo runs, interval training, track work), running longer every week and basing my weekly mileage off of what I did the week before, I'll be in great shape to run a successful training cycle without overanalyzing anything and without risk of overtraining.

I'm still following a 16 week training cycle and this is Week 3, but I'm not following a strict plan. I'm just running.

I'm training smart. I'm actually strength training. I'm actually doing yoga. I'm actually going to stick to these regiments. I'm eating better. I'm getting more sleep. I'm taking vitamins and I'm feeling great. After all, marathon training is about so much more than running. 

Fast friends. Positive friends. I'm living in DC now and planning to fully take advantage of the fact that everyone I know here runs faster than I do. There are a plethora of running groups and it's just a matter of sucking it up and joining them to get more of those weekday workouts outside, rather than inside. I just need to find one that's right for me. Emily is just one of those friends that is both fast AND positive and is not only encouraging me about my goal daily, but helping me figure out my plan of attack.

I hated running in New York. Absolutely despised it. I hated taking the subway to Central Park. I hated running through the city to the East River Path or the West Side Highway. I dreaded almost every single run because it wasn't convenient. There was no such thing as just running. It was always an ordeal to get there. Even when I did get to Central Park, I always had to make the trek back home - cold, sweaty and sore on the subway.

This time around, I can just run. I step out my front door it's a straight shot to one of the most gorgeous running trails I've ever run. I look forward to my weekend runs every week and I can't wait until I can start running that trail every morning. It's going to make a huge difference that I'm not dreading every run.
The single most important take away of this post - my big plan of attack - is that I really don't have a plan. I'm just.going.to.run. I know with every fiber of my being that this is possible. I don't need to do much to finally make this happen, I just need to trust that it will. 

January 28, 2013

Love/Don't Love

1. This weekend was totally chill, which is exactly what I needed. Love.
2. I had a delayed opening at work this morning because it was raining. O find this to be absolutely ridiculous but I love it. Love.
3. I have taken entirely to many rest days this month. The name of the game this training cycle is active recovery. It's time to put that into play for February. Don't love.
4. I finally caved and started watching Downtown Abbey this weekend. I watched all of Season 1 and am a few episodes into Season 2. Love.
5. I have been receiving some really rude comments via Twitter lately from self-proclaimed running "experts" who started following me  and have been telling me that I'm going about training all wrong and that I shouldn't run on the treadmill so much. I didn't ask for your opinion, thanks. Don't Love.
6. I tackled my first Pinterest DIY project this weekend. I kind of love it. Love.

My mail. His mail. I'll let you guess who gets the most mail.
7. I spent last night with Emily at a fundraiser for Girls on the Run DC ans got to hang out with another super awesome blogger girl who I can't wait to tackle some DC trails with. Love.
8. I also got to meet another one of my favorite bloggers thia weekend and we had an awesome coffee date! Can't wait to hang out with her more! Love.
9. I discovered World Market this weekend and spent almost 2 hours there. Oh my gosh I'm in love. New favorite store right there! Love.

One of my new purchases...with Downton on the TV, of course.
10. I know this song is like 2 years old but I can't get enough of it. I listened to it 3 times on repeat on the treadmill this morning. Love.

So I had a pretty great weekend. It was super low key but I hung out with some awesome people and it was just what I needed! The late start to my Monday was definitely an added bonus!

How was your weekend?

January 24, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. Snow - Holy snowfall Batman! I walked out my apartment this morning and yelled, "Oh sh*t! It's snowing!" I was not expecting that. I blame my boyfriend who likes to sleep with all the curtains closed so that I can't see out my window in the morning.

2. Wake Up Early, Work Out Early - Remember when I said that my goal for this week was to work out early? Hahahahahaha. That hasn't happened. This morning, I actually woke up really early but stayed in bed because I had the sniffles. I will wake up early and run tomorrow. One does not simply become an early morning runner...I think that my new goal should be to wake up early one day every week and get in my work out. Then, one day can turn into 2 days, 2 into 3, and so and and so forth. Wish me luck tomorrow guys. I'm determined!

3. Living in DC - I think that I've made this a category on every bulleted, numbered list I've posted on my blog since I moved here. I still love it. I'm really loving our apartment and we had friends over for the first time this week. We still need some things (nightstands, a side table, a kitchen table...) but we're getting there and every day, I love it a little bit more.

It has been absolutely frigid just about everywhere in the country this week! What are you doing to stay warm? Are you running outside or staying in doors? Are you an early bird or a night owl when it comes to working out?

Happy Thursday!

January 21, 2013

Love/Don't Love

1. It's Inauguration Day in DC! I am participating by watching on TV in sweat pants while working from home. This weekend, The Pilot and I went out and about exploring all of the Inauguration set up without actually dealing with the crowds. It was fantastic. Love.

Holy sun in my face Batman!
2. I had a pretty awesome week of running last week. The Mount Vernon Trail is probably my new favorite place on Earth.  Welcome back to my life Marathon Training. Love.

3. I finally busted out my KitchenAid mixer this weekend and made homemade cupcakes. Vanilla with a Chocolate Ganache frosting. Yum. Love.

4. This weekend, I saw a commercial for a lawnmower racing competition. I am officially living in the south again and it is fantastic. Love.

5. The apartment is finally starting to come along really nicely! Love.

Don't mind the sleeping puppy on my couch.
6. There is nothing about today that I don't love. Love.

Happy Inauguration Day!

January 18, 2013

Today I Am...

{Inspired by Jess's post}

....looking forward to brunch with Andrea and Leah tomorrow morning.

...envisioning a successful week of early morning workouts next week and kicking off marathon training.

...craving a really well-executed race.

...reading "Five Quarters of an Orange" by Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat). It's moving slowly but I think I like it.

...writing this post!

...thankful for my boyfriend. He's pretty great.

What about you?
Happy Weekend!

January 17, 2013

Thursday Rambles

On Running:
- This is the first time in almost 3 years that I've had a 9-5 8:30-5:30 job. In that time, I've started running. I started training for my first Half during my last full-time day job but I wasn't racking up serious miles.
- I have NO idea how all you 9-5ers train for marathons. I've been coming home from work every night and running on the treadmill because it's too dark when I leave in the morning and too dark when I get home at night to run outside...and I will not run when it's dark out.
-I know it's just a matter of time before I get into a routine. The sun is coming out 1 minute earlier every day, so that's helpful. In the mean time, I wrote this reminder in my planner for next week so that I can really start to nail my workouts.

Even if it means hitting the treadmill until the sun starts coming out earlier.

On Racing:
- I decided on a Spring Marathon. After my post last week, wherein I decided that I would not be running a spring marathon because I didn't like any of them, Jessica left me a comment with a list of DC running/racing resources that lead me to sign up for this:

The Potomac River Run Marathon
It's flat. It's fast. It's the self-proclaimed 'easiest marathon in America' and the start line is 20 minutes from my apartment. Done. (Side note: I haven't actually signed up yet, but I will.)

On the New York City Marathon: 
-Are you sick of me talking about this race yet? It's only been 2 years. I had originally planned to opt for the guaranteed entry into the 2014 race (I have no interest in running it this year) but after thinking long and hard about it, I decided to take the refund. Here's why:

  • I've already spent nearly $1000 on getting into this race. Sure, it would be nice to have the guaranteed entry and not go through the lottery process again, but that just ups the total amount of money I've already spent to not run this race.
  • The price of the 2012 marathon would be guaranteed through 2015 if I had gone with that option, and while I'm sure the marathon will cost well over $300 by the time 2015 rolls around, I can't justify paying over $200 TWICE to only run the marathon ONCE.
  • I never fully had my heart into New York and am not in a rush to run it again soon. While 9+1 is no longer available to me (which, I wouldn't do even if it was), I'll take my chances with the lottery if/when I decide to run it.
-The only reason I still want to run New York is because I have this crazy goal of running all of the majors. If I hadn't set that goal for myself 2 years ago, I would just bail on New York all together.
-If the price of New York ever goes above $300 (which I'm sure it will), I'll bail completely. That's my cap.

On Living in DC:
- I love it. Every single minute of it. I am so unbelievably happy here...happier than I ever, ever was in New York. I love the people. They actually hold doors for you and say 'good morning' when they pass you on the street. I love the Metro. It may not be perfect but at least I *always* know when the next train is coming.
-I love that I'm here with The Pilot. I love that so many of my friends are here. I love it. I love it. I love it. 

Happy Thursday!

January 15, 2013

A Happy List

Just a little list of things that make me happy.
Inspired by Tammy.

1. Country Music. This song in particular right now.

2. The promise that every single day is a new tomorrow.
3. Living in DC.

4. Things that help you organize: planners, cork boards, etc.
5. This guy...

6. Summer.
7. Cilantro.
8. Running.
9. Running Friends.

10. Sand between my toes.
11. Freshly baked cookies.
12. Justin's Nut Butter 
13. New haircuts.

Have a great day =)

January 14, 2013

On Getting Settled

I wish I could say that this weekend was all about getting out and exploring DC, but the reality is that there were still boxes to unpack, pictures to get hung and furniture to be put together.

I loved being in Texas last weekend, but it meant that we never really got that first weekend in our apartment to put everything together.

The place is finally starting to come together and I'm loving my new apartment just a little bit more every single day. Peyton is starting to adjust nicely and I'm starting to get into a little bit of a routine at work.

On Friday, I left work a little bit early and stopped to pick up some Baked & Wired cupcakes for The Pilot and me. I got home, put on a pair of sweat pants, uncorked a bottle of wine and proceeded to do nothing for the rest of the night. It was glorious.

I haven't worked a 9-5 in almost 3 years and I was exhausted from my first week of work!

Speaking of work, I love my office. It makes me incredibly happy. It's in an old, historic building with exposed brick. It's a communal work space and I love the environment.

On Saturday, The Pilot and I had to get Peyton out of the apartment for a few hours while our bathtub was being reglazed so we took her to the pet store and then made our way to Old Town, Alexandria and walked up and down King Street with her.

Crossing over Peyton Street with Peyton!
I got way more excited about than I should have.
We stopped at a bakery for lunch (Bittersweet) and they gave her 'pupcakes' which we didn't think she liked, until I realized that she wanted them hand fed to her. Spoiled.

After trips to Ikea and Trader Joe's, we were too exhausted to go see the movie we had planned to go see so I tried my hand at some cilantro-lime rice (needs work) and called it a night.

Sunday brought on a foggy 9 mile run. It was my longest run since the Richmond Marathon in November (yikes!) and I felt fantastic, I even ran at a pace 30 seconds faster than I usually do my long runs and didn't struggle at all. I came home and proceeded to be lazy for the rest of the day, half assing my way through unpacking and hanging things on the wall (I got the wine rack up so at least I had my priorities straight) and watching the Golden Globes while contemplating this dilemma:

If forced to choose between Eddie Redmayne and Jeremy Jordan, what in heaven's name would I do?

Don't even get me started with Hugh Jackman...or Leonadro DiCaprio.

So that was my weekend. Here's to a productive week of finally getting completely settled in my apartment so that I can start exploring all of the fantastic things DC has to offer...starting with the Inauguration.

Now who wants to loan me $2200 so that I can purchase a ticket to the Inaugural Ball?

Happy Monday!

January 11, 2013

My New Roommate

This is Peyton (and no, she is NOT named after Peyton Manning).

She's a 3-year-old golden retriever mix. She loves belly rubs and chasing squirrels and she's my new roommate. 

The Pilot brought her home last night. She's his puppy although now, that we're cohabiting, I'm allowed to say she's our puppy. 

She got home late last night and The Pilot and I headed out to the car to grab some stuff he had brought with him. She made the saddest little puppy face I had ever seen when we left her, that it absolutely broke my heart. She doesn't know where she is and she's confused about being in a new place, but I'm hoping she'll start to get more comfortable as the weekend goes by before The Pilot leaves for his next trip and I take over puppy duties.

Last night, when we closed our bedroom doors (they're french doors with windows, so she could see into the room) she started barking like crazy. She did not like being in the living room by herself. So, we've already broken the first rule of no puppy in the bedroom. She slept in her little bed in the corner though and when I left for work this morning, The Pilot had one arm hanging off the bed, with his hand on her back. So I'll allow it, if not only to help her settle in a little bit better, but because that image was just so stinkin' cute. 

Welcome to DC, Peyton. 

Dog owners: What do I need to know? I've had pets before, of course, but they were always those pets that my mom ended up shouldering responsibility for! 

DC Dog owners: Any must-love-dogs places I should have on my radar?

January 9, 2013

On Running and Racing in 2013

By the time 2012 had rolled around, I already had my race schedule booked through November. After burn out from completing 9+1 in 2011, I made a resolution to race less in 2012 and was pretty successful at doing that. I only ran 10 races and I ran each of them because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to.

Fast forward to 2013 and my race calendar is looking, well...bleak.

I had my sights set on running the Eugene Marathon but when I was offered my new job, I was told that I'd have to be traveling that weekend. I spent the next few weeks looking for a replacement marathon and after not finding one, decided against training for a spring marathon.

Wait! What?

It turns out, there really aren't that many great spring marathons. It seems all of the good ones are in the Fall. None of the races I came across are local and I really don't want to travel to run a race in a city that I've never had much interest in visiting, never mind racing in.

I really don't think I would do very well in a marathon that I have no interest in running. Flying Pig sounds great, but I wasn't a big fan of Cincinnati and I don't really think I could get motivated to crush my sub-4 goal in a race that I'm really not that interested in running. Does that make sense?

There are some great summer marathons (Seattle, San Francisco) that I might consider, but I'm still on the fence.

I will be running the DC Rock & Roll Marathon again with Ally in March and I'll be pacing her to a PR so when I say I won't be training for a race, I mean, I won't be gunning for a sub-4 marathon this spring.

I'd like to spend this spring training for a big PR in the Half, but again, I'm finding a serious lack of races. I'm currently training for Cowtown but I had my lowest monthly mileage of the year in December and moving, getting sick, starting a new job and traveling this weekend have gotten in the way of me really being to kick off training so I'm not sure how ready I'll be for the big PR I'm aiming for come February.

Beyond that? I haven't seen any half-marathons that I could train for in March/April.

So what's a girl to do? I've already linked into all of the local DC groups and have found some great local short-distance races that I plan on running but my long-distance prospects are looking grim.

Here's what's on my schedule so far for this year:

Cowtown Half-Marathon - February
DC Rock & Roll Marathon - March
Marine Corps 17.75k - March
Cherry Blossom 10 Mile - April
Cleveland Half-Marathon - May (???)

I'm definitely planning on running Marine Corps again. I absolutely loved that race and the course runs right past my new apartment. There are some fall half-marathons that I'll probably do as part of my training but as far as the spring is concerned, I'm at a total loss!

Have you ever found yourself itching to race but with limited options? What did you do? What are some of your favorite spring marathons?

January 7, 2013

A Trip to Texas and The New Job

This weekend was fantastic. The Pilot and I were up bright and early Friday morning to catch a flight to Dallas for the weekend for my baby sister's Sweet 16.

It. Was. Awesome.

There was a mechanical bull.

There was dancing.

That would be my dad. With my 87-year-old grandmother...who can still salsa better than any 20-something I know.
And there was so much laughing that by the end of the night, my whole face was sore from smiling so much.

Me and my sisters
It was the perfect way to end the holiday break before heading back to my first 9-5 in 2 years today.

Oh and this happened.

As far as the new job goes, my first day went great. I have a lot to learn but I'm fortunate that the person I'm replacing has left me a lot of information and resources that should make learning the ropes a piece of cake. I absolutely love my colleagues so far and think that this job is going to be fantastic! My office is in a fantastic location in DC and I can't wait to explore the area!

It was a great weekend and I'm so happy to have started my job today!

January 3, 2013

Here's to 2013!

Happy New Year!

I've spent the first 48 hours of 2013 bedridden with a violent stomach bug that has made me feel, at many points, like I was on my death bed.

There was no glorious run along the Mount Vernon Trail to kick off the New Year. I didn't hang up my art work in my apartment or finish unpacking. I didn't post my 2013 goals on my blog.

I stayed in bed and The Pilot took care of me as best as he could.

Definitely not how I anticipated starting the New Year, but hey, it happens.

Today, I'm finally starting to feel much, much better. Unbelievably dehydrated, but much better.

So there's my fabulous start to the New Year.

At least, I was able to ring in the New Year in proper DC fashion. My stomach bug didn't hit until approximately 1am which left me ample time to party all over the District.

With all of that being said, it's time to talk goals. I don't make resolutions, I make a list of goals I want to accomplish. You can check out how I did with my 2012 goals here. So here's what I have planned for this year:

1. Run a Sub-4 Marathon: I have got to get this monkey off my back. I ran a 4:01:05 at Richmond it was my 3rd attempt at a sub-4 marathon. I still haven't decided on a spring marathon (or if I even will run one yet) but I have a fall race in mind and would like at least two shots at making this happen.

2. PR the Half-Marathon Distance: I have a lofty time goal on here that I'm not planning on disclosing just yet. Right now, I'm training for the Cowtown Half, which is the first Half I've trained for since New York City in 2012. If I don't end up running a spring marathon, I'm going to use the spring to just really amp up my Half performance and then segway into Fall Marathon training. Current PR - 1:54:14.

3. Run a Sub-25 minute 5k: There's a Friday night 5k series in Crystal City during the month of April and I plan on running each of them and finally getting my 5k time below 25 minutes. Current PR - 25:09.

4. Complete a 30 Day Yoga Challenge: Whether it's at home or in a studio, I want to do it. I saw my running improve dramatically with regular yoga this past year and I want to keep that up. I'd love to do it in-studio but I know that can be tough, especially with my travel goals for the year (see below), but this is one goal that I don't want to neglect.

5. Fly at least once per month: The only month I didn't fly in 2012 was January! Considering I wasn't trying to fly that much, I'll call that a success! So far, the only months this year which I don't have travel plans are July and September-December. I'm sure that's bound to change though given my propensity for spontaneous travel!

This view alone is enough of an impetus to get me in the air.
6. Explore AS MUCH of DC as possible: I love DC. I think that has been evidenced by the amount of times I've been there since I've started this blog. Now that I'm finally living here, I want to see and do as much as I possibly can while I'm here! I have no plans of leaving any time soon (shocker!) but I still want to see it all and The Pilot is right there with me. From the super touristy things like the museums and the Cherry Blossoms to the super fun things like cooking classes and Friday night 5k series, I want to do it all. I was like that when I lived in London and Boston, to an extent. New York? Not so much.

7. Study for the Foreign Service Test: The Foreign Service Test is a challenging one and takes quite a bit of time to study for. Passing the test lands you on a Register which doesn't guarantee you a post in the Foreign Service, but leaves your name out there for posts that do open up. One is typically placed on the Register for 18 months during which time you may or may not be called up. I'd like to take the test some time towards the end of the year/beginning of next year.

8. Save 1/3 of my Salary: This is the big, lofty ambitious goal on my list. I know it won't be easy but it's a big goal and I'd like to work towards it. If I don't make it to 1/3 but am able to put away some 20% of my salary, I'll consider this a success. I'm not saving for anything in particular, but I'd like to start setting a good chunk of money aside so that one day, if I decide to buy a house, I can. If I decide to take a wild 3 week trip to Fiji, I can. What this will require is bringing lunch to work every day (except maybe once or twice per month), having date nights because we want to go out, not because there isn't any food in the house, and just being a bit more frugal. I'm excited to see how this one goes.

9. Finish my College Scrapbook: This was a big, giant fail in 2012 as well as on my 25 Before 25 list. This May, I'll have been out of college for 4 years. I need to finish my scrapbook before that time rolls around so I can start doing things with all of my other photos.

10. Continue on my Ballpark Journey: I'm at 18 with 12 more to go. With a new job, I might not be able to see them all this year, but if I can get to 3 more, I'll be happy!

So there you have it, my 2013 goals! Some are big, lofty and ambitious, others are fun. That's just how I roll.  I'm so unbelievably excited for this year, it's not even funny. New city. New job. New goals. What's not to love?

Bring it on 2013. I'm ready for you.
What are some of your goals for the year?
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