August 31, 2015

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 10

Six weeks to go!

I had a lackluster training week last week. I got my period and ever since I went off the pill, I have a really hard time training through it.

I did have a killer long run though. My training plan called for 20 miles but I only planned to do 18 because I thought 18, 20, 20 and 22 over the next few weeks seemed like a little much...but I felt good and missed out on some miles and I had a great run.

With six weeks to Race Day, I've got a lot of things I need to focus on. My knee started bothering me at Mile 19 yesterday and while it seemed to just be twinging, I really need to focus on cross- and strength - training like I've been saying I would from Day 1 and actually do it.

I realized at Mile 9 yesterday that I desperately needed new shoes. I've actually known that for awhile now but I didn't know what shoes I wanted since I didn't know if I wanted to keep running in what I have now. When I hit Mile 10 and realized my shoes had hit their last mile and I still had 10 miles to go, I knew I needed to go buy new shoes so I headed to Pacers yesterday afternoon for a new pair. This late in the game, I thought it made the most sense to just get the same shoes I had been running in...just a fresher pair, and that's exactly what I did.

Out with the old (L), in with the new (R)
I'm really happy with the way my long run went this weekend...I may not have had the best training week, but finally having a good long run...especially at this distance...finally made me feel like I can actually run this thing. I haven't felt like this until now. My training isn't finished, but I've put in enough miles to know that I can and will run Chicago.

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 10
Total Mileage Last Week: 35
Missed Workouts: I turned the 9 mile track workout I had into a 7 mile run commute to work...during which I fell...and the 4 miles I did Saturday should have been a 10 mile MGP workout on Friday but I left work Friday with horrible cramps and running just wasn't in the cards.
Planned Mileage this Week: 45
Goals for the Week: Yoga. Lifting. Cross-training in any form.

How was your week in training?
Do you struggle to cross-train or are you better at it than I am? ;)

August 24, 2015

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 9

Last week was about so much more than my long run but here I am, Monday night, still sore from my long run that was two days ago.

I had a great week last week. I nailed all of my runs except for one (an easy 3 miler which I'm OK missing) but my long run did me in in more ways than just exhaustion.

When I headed out for my run this weekend, I was looking forward to it for the first time. I convinced myself not to dread this run...and I felt good! One of my friends agreed to join me for a few miles and met up with me around Mile 3 and ran me through Mile 8...making the first 10 miles fly by. Around 12, I ran out of water and didn't find another water fountain until Mile 14. My quads were still sore from Thursday's run and started hurting by Mile 6 and by Mile 14, every run felt like a step down stairs the day after a marathon. I ran Mile 16 in 15:15...ouch. 

The last time I headed out for 18 miles, I made it 12 miles into my run before my knee gave out, taking me out of the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. This was the first time I've run that distance since March of 2012...when I was training for Madrid.

This training cycle has been different than any cycle I've ever been through. It's so much harder than it has ever been before. I'm getting the miles in, but I haven't been able to just take off and run more than 9 miles without stopping...I guess at least I've made it that far, but I'd like to get a long run in without stopping. I keep blaming the heat, and yes, it has been hot, but my overarching feeling this training cycle just hasn't been great.

I miss the days when running 15 miles felt challenging while still allowing me to get into a rhythm and feel good. I came into this training cycle saying "I get to run" but mostly, it hasn't felt like that. I'm not ready to give up, I'm just waiting desperately to have that good long run.

9 weeks down, 7 to go. 
These next 2 weeks are meant to be the hardest of training.
If I can get through these, I can run 26.2 miles.
Then again...I've already done that a few times. 
I just have to keep that in mind. 

August 17, 2015

Camping in Harper's Ferry

One of the things on my summer list was to get in some quality beach time but with the nearest beach 2.5 hours from DC -  something I still can't wrap my head around - that hasn't really been possible...especially when hotels and B&Bs all require a 2 night minimum.

This weekend, I desperately needed to get away but I also wanted to stay home. I didn't feel like dealing with airports or long car rides, I just wanted a quick getaway so on Friday afternoon, The Pilot and I packed our overnight bags, a cooler full of snacks, made a quick stop to Target to but a tent and made our way to Harper's Ferry, West Virginia to go camping.

Harper's Ferry is about an hour and 15 minutes from DC and sits on the Potomac bordering Maryland and Virginia. Our camp site was actually in Maryland. We got there late afternoon Friday, pitched our tent and then made our way into Harper's Ferry for dinner. (Note: I recognize that "real" camping doesn't involve going out to dinner but we bought a tent at Target on the way out...we weren't exactly looking for the most authentic outdoorsy experience.)

Our little home for the night.
Harper's Ferry is an adorable little town with a lot of history...most importantly as a key city on the Union/Confederate border during the Civil War. Walking through the town made me feel like we had stepped back in time. With very few people milling around and buildings that have been there since the 19th century, it seemed like the town hadn't changed at all in over 200 years.

Unfortunately, a fire devastated parts of the town just a few weeks ago and the damage is substantial. From what I've read, no one was injured but in a town of just over 200 people, the businesses lost are detrimental to the city. (If you're interested, a Go Fund Me site has been set up to aid with the rebuilding efforts). 

Damage from the fire
The Pilot and I ate dinner, stopped for ice cream and walked around before heading back to our campsite, had a few beers and some snacks and then tucked ourselves into our tent and called it a night.

I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed after a few hours' fitful sleep and The Pilot and I got up, headed to a diner for breakfast and then made our way to the Harper's Ferry Adventure Center to go tubing. This was exactly what I needed...when the beach is too far away, tubing is the next best thing. The river trail was a little bit slow for my taste, but I loved being out on the water.

After our tubing adventure, we headed back to our campsite for some snacks before packing up and heading out. We had already decided that we would visit one of the Virginia wineries on our way home, so we stopped at 8 Chains North for a tasting that was paired with chocolate and cupcakes. 
The vineyard was absolutely gorgeous but the wine wasn't anything special.  

Wine, Chocolate and Wine Infused Cupcakes!
By this point, it was already 4:00 and we were looking for something a little bit more substantial to eat, so we made our way into Ashburn to the Lost Rhino Brewing Company for a late lunch/early dinner. When we got there, the last tour of the day was heading out, so we decided to join in. For $8, you get a tour of the brewery and 4 beers to sample. The tour was awesome and the beers were great...and just like that, we were on our way back to DC...a perfect getaway behind us.

The Details
We stayed at the Brunswick Family Campground for $11.43 per person. I wouldn't recommend this camp site. It's located behind a train station and trains were running all night, blowing their whistles, making it difficult to sleep and really detracting from the whole being outside camping thing.

We tubed at the Harper's Ferry Adventure Center for $30 per person. The river was pretty slow that day but I like the fact that HFAC allows you to make multiple trips down the river, so the fee is more of a day pass than a one way trip down the river.

We bought a 4 person tent (that would only comfortable fit 4 people if two of them were under 4 feet tall) for $40 at Target.

This weekend was exactly what I needed...a perfect getaway, quality time with The Pilot, good wine, great beer and exploring new places!

Have you ever gone camping?
For those of you who are local, have you been to Harper's Ferry? 

August 12, 2015

Lisbon, Day 2

After our food tour, we spent the day exploring more of Lisbon. We made a stop back at our hotel which was near the Marques de Pombal, a circle at the top of the Avenida da Liberdade with stunning views of the city and one of the biggest flags I've ever seen billowing over the city.

Next, we made our way to the Baixa/Chiado neighborhood for some shopping and venturing around. First up, the Livraria Bertrand...the oldest bookstore in the world. It was built in 1732 and I was so excited to buy something there...except that they didn't have any books in English! So disappointing...especially after walking right past it and walking almost a mile in the opposite direction...and then having to walk the mile back...up hill.

The tour guide from our food tour had recommended a great shop for Portuguese souvenirs, A Vida Portugesa...everything there is made in Portugal (not China) and is made of excellent quality. We picked up a few things from there and then continued on our way, getting pleasantly lost around the neighborhood.

As we were strolling along, climbing yet another hill, we stumbled on the Jardim de S. Pedro de Alcantara at sunset...offering the most spectacular views of Lisbon.

When I say stumbled, I mean it in the literal sense. I had looked up so many things to see and do in Lisbon and this wasn't on any of those lists, but it was incredible. There were couples out for an evening stroll, groups of friends hanging out, everyone just enjoying the views. We spent a long time there just staring, admiring the views and falling in love with Lisbon even more.

The Jardim is at the top of a very steep hill, but the best part? We didn't have to walk down that hill to make our way back to the hotel. This adorable little tram car has one ferry passengers up and down that hill for less than 2 euro. 

Ending our evening on that high note, we stopped at the Hotel Fenix for a night cap before heading back to our hotel for bed. 

I'm still dreaming of that sunset view and meandering the streets of Chiado, but you'll just have to read more about that next time!

August 11, 2015

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 7

Last week, I was in bad shape. I had had two weeks of miserable training and I wasn't enjoying running...not in the least. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I was starting to wonder if it was all worth it.

After last week's brutal long run of 15 miles, I didn't know when I was going to run again. I knew I had to take Monday off and when I woke up on Tuesday, I didn't think I was going to run. It was , supposed to rain in the evening and I had woken up too late to run in the morning. I threw a gym bag together and thought I would just see how the day went. Mid way through, a coworker I've been running with asked me if I was up for some miles after work and I said, "Sure."

We headed out for 5 easy miles. I didn't have my watch, it wasn't hot and it felt so good. Wednesday, when I got home from work, I had a splitting headache and skipped my run. I didn't think this was a good sign. I had plans after work on Thursday and didn't think I would get up to run the 6 miles I had on deck...but I did. I ran around the Mall...I was asleep through half my run, but I did it.

On Friday, I came home from work and was exhausted. The last thing I wanted to do was go for a run. I tried to convince The Pilot to come with me but he was just as tired as I was. He isn't training for a marathon so I let him stay behind. It took awhile to ease into it, but I ended up running 6 instead of 7. I just felt really good. If I didn't have to run long this weekend, I probably would have kept going for at least another 2 or 3.

That's how the rest of the week went. It felt like a reset. I was dreading every single run...especially my long run, but they were all great. I enjoyed myself...I loved running again. It was great to get back to feeling the way I should feel when I'm running. 

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 7
Total Mileage Last Week: 37
Missed Workouts: I had 39 miles for the week planned but I didn't want to do more than 35 since I only did 31 last week.. I had a hill workout and a MGP run planned but I skipped both and just focused on the miles. I needed that last week.
Planned Mileage this Week: 32 (Step back week!)
Goals for this Week: I've made the goal of actually cross training just about every week and since I haven't made good on that, this week I made plans with friends to cross-train to make sure I get it done. I did yoga last night and have plans for barre and spin this week.

7 weeks down, 9 to go. 
This week offered the reset I needed. 
I'm hoping that with this week being a step back week, I'll get an extra dose of much-needed rest.

How's your training going?
Have you ever had a week like this? Where everything just started feeling right again?

August 6, 2015


Feeling... refreshed. It was nice and cool this morning (dare I say chilly?) and the 6 miles I hit on the Mall were just what I needed to reset my training and start to feel like I'm in a good place. I have a lot that I need to work on but I'm not in bad shape right now.

Reading... "The Golem and the Jinni" by Helene Wecker. 100 pages in and I'm sold. I love this book.

Watching... "Once Upon a Time" I watched all of Season 1 in less than a week. It is simultaneously terrible and brilliant but I love it. 

Drinking... coffee. I was falling asleep through the first 4 miles of my run this morning. Coffee is necessary.

Thinking about... gun control. With election season gearing up, it's a huge subject of debate. Yes, the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to bear arms...why do those arms need to be military caliber assault weapons that are more often used for bad than good?

Working on... organizing my life for fall...both at work and at home.

Loving... The Pilot. He's been home for 2 days in the last 2 weeks and they weren't even consecutive. He was supposed to be home on Saturday and didn't get home until 2am Wednesday morning. It was a long stretch without him.

Grateful for... cooler weather. It isn't supposed to be terrible this weekend...I'm hoping that means I'll have a good long run...please?

Excited about... nothing in particular right now. I'm pretty content :) 

What's going on in your world?

August 4, 2015

A Taste of Lisbon

So, Mom and I booked a food tour in Lisbon...because what better way to see a city than to eat your way through it?

We booked our tour with Taste of Lisboa through the Campo de Ourique neighborhood...a city-within-a-city-type neighborhood similar to the way Georgetown is structured. Our tour guide, Filipa, grew up in the neighborhood and it was fun hearing her tell us about how the neighborhood is structured and has developed over the last several years.

Our first stop was to Bolo de Chocolate, subtitled O Melho do Mundo Bolo de Chocolate (the best chocolate cake in the world). Now, I'm not a chocolate cake fan. I love chocolate in just about any form...except cake, so I was skeptical about this cake but my was the best chocolate ANYTHING I had ever had in my life.

I LOVED those plates!

Next up, we took a trip to the neighborhood's namesake, the Campo de Ourique Market. We spent quite a bit of time there exploring the market, sampling meats, seafood and tons of other dishes.

Fishy scenes from the market + sausage made on that gorgeous crock (BL).
Yup, I ate the sausage. I think I'm only a vegetarian in the US.
Next up, we took a trip to Moules (Mussels) and Beer, which has another locations called Moules and Gin. I had tried mussels a few times before but never liked them, so I wasn't really looking forward to this next stop, but I was up for a beer, so on we went!

The craft beer scene in Lisbon is really starting to take off and the beers we had at Moules and Beer were were the mussels. Oh my goodness, they were so good! I had never had mussels that I actually liked before...but these? I could not stop eating them! They paired so well with the beer, I couldn't stop eating...I did not want this tour stop to end! Our next stop though, was to finally taste some of those famous Portuguese wines!

The Oficina do Vinho is an amazing little shop that scours the best wines in Portugal and brings them back to the shop where they serve them in giant steel casks that can be tapped so that customers can buy wines in any amount (from bottles to litres) and discover the different wine regions of Portugal.

Our next stop was the Casa Fernando Pessoa. Fernando Pessoa was a famous poet who wrote many of his poetry from this house, which is also a restaurant.

Bottom Left: Portugal's famous vinho verde (green wine)
Bottom Right: Fried cod cakes (YUM!)
Our last stop was to the Hotel da Estrela, a small boutique hotel where we stoppefor some convent sweets. So-called because nuns used to make these sweets using the only ingredients they had - eggs and sugar. Pasteis de nata (which you'll soon see a lot of) are a form of these as are many of the desserts in Portgual. I didn't particularly like this one, but I did love everything else on our food tour!

I would highly recommend Taste of Lisboa to anyone visiting Portugal! It was such a fun way to learn about the culinary history and sample some phenomenal food that I probably wouldn't have had on my own! I probably would have avoided almost everything we ate on the food tour (sausage, cod, mussels...) on my own, but since it was part of the tour, I felt like I had to try everything and I'm so glad I did because I loved all of it and have a new appreciation for some of the foods I previously thought I didn't like!

Have you ever gone on a food tour?
You can read about the one The Pilot and I did in Paris here
I can tell you, I'll definitely be adding thees to all of my international travels from now on!
Maybe I should change my name to Planes, Trains, Running Shoes..and Food Tours!

August 3, 2015

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 6

Another rough week of training in the books. What did I learn this week? That slacking off on nutrition and proper fueling can absolutely destroy you.

Until this past Saturday, I had never taken a walking break during a training run. During races, yes...but training runs, no. This weekend though, I had no choice. I just couldn't keep going. My legs started cramping up as early as Mile hips were were hurting at Mile 9 and it was just a struggle through the end. 

Yesterday morning, I woke up with soreness that usually comes after a race. Yes, it was hot during my run, but not any hotter than it was the week before...or the week before that...but when I started thinking about everything that goes into a long run, I pinned it down to my nutrition and fueling. I haven't been planning my meals and fixating on my protein or carb intake. I haven't been snacking smartly or focusing on a good pre-long run meal. 

All of that changes this week. I spent yesterday doing some major weekend warrior cooking and am hoping that that, combined with increasing my iron and B vitamins will turn things around.

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 6
Total Mileage Last Week: 31
Missed Workouts: I had an extra 5 miles on my training plan, but I said last week that I would be ok with only 32 miles this week. I was just shy of that, but I'm ok with it. 

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 7 hot, hilly miles with a coworker 
Wednesday: 4 hot, humid miles with The Pilot after work
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 5 nice and easy after work
Saturday: See above...15 super tough miles
Sunday: Rest...unless you count the 2 mile bike ride I went on during which my legs felt like they were being put through a medieval torture device.

Planned Mileage this Week: 39...I probably won't hit that...that's a pretty steep jump from 31 and I don't want to risk another injury.

Goals for the Week: Cross train...seriously. Take my vitamins, eat everything I made yesterday.

There you have it, 6 weeks down, 10 to go. How's your training going? What are some of your favorite things to eat during a raining cycle?
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