March 26, 2017

Sunday Sweats 13

I like to do my long runs on Saturday. It gives me the flexibility of having another day in the weekend in case something comes up. It also gives me the chance to start my training week on Monday. I've always struggled when my long runs have fallen to Sunday. I need to take Monday off and then I feel like there's a lot of pressure to get that workout in on Tuesday. If it doesn't happen, my whole week is thrown.

That's how this week went and it didn't turn out great. 

Monday: Planned Rest

Tuesday: Skipped
Tuesday was an unusually busy day at work and, when I left the office at 6 pm, I realized I hadn't eaten anything all day. At 7:00, when I was still stuck in traffic on the bus ride home, I knew I wasn't going to run. By the time I ate and wrapped up a few more things for work, it was 9:30. 

Wednesday: 4 miles 
(9:08 pace)
Wednesday was another crazy day but I booked some gym time on Classpass at a gym near my airport and settled in for 4 miles. My legs were pretty antsy from not having run in two days and I felt great. The miles flew by and felt easy, despite being below my goal pace, and I walked out of the gym feeling great about this run.

Thursday: 6 miles (9:19 pace)
I did not feel like running on Thursday. I had a stomach ache and was a little sore from the day before. Knowing I needed to run, I set out with the aim to do 4 miles and save my 6-miler for the next day, but about 2 miles in, I felt pretty good and kept going. It was a nice, solid run, and I was really happy with my pace. I also had a Nancy Pelosi sighting at the Capitol!

Friday: 4 miles (9:08 pace); Yoga (60 minutes)
Friday's run called for 4 miles with 2 at marathon goal pace. My target pace for a sub-4 marathon is 9:09 but over the last few weeks, I've been running close to that for my average runs. I decided just to see what I could do and ended up with my 2 target miles at 8:49 and 8:51. I was thrilled with this. I ran to a yoga studio downtown and then took a vinyasa class set to the soundtrack of Hamilton (which sounds awesome but didn't quite work.

 4 miles (10:07 pace)
I went to bed Friday night with plans to either run 4 or 14 on Saturday morning, depending on how I was feeling. When I woke up, my entire lower body hurt. I was so sore. I wasn't even sure about getting these 4 in but I decided to head out for a shakeout run and see how I felt. The first two miles were tough but then I settled in comfortably and it felt good to shake things out. For the rest of the day, though, I had a really bad tightness in my glute that foam rolling and stretching weren't helping. 

Sunday: Skipped
This morning, I really dragged my feet to head out for my run. My glute was still sore from the day before. I woke up, made breakfast, stretched, foam rolled, got dressed and headed out. Despite the weather saying it was 60, it felt much colder. I came back inside, changed, and headed out again. I just wasn't feeling it.  I desperately needed a rest day after running every day since Wednesday and when I started my watch and headed down the block, I knew this wasn't going to happen. I tried to psyche myself into the run and about 2 minutes in, I gave up and headed home.

I'm trying not to be hard on myself this week. One of my good friends gave me a sharp lesson on Wednesday when I complained about skipping my workout on Tuesday. "Be kind to yourself," she said. I know I need to be kind to myself but that means running when I know that it'll keep me from being stressed, eating three meals a day. I ate horribly this week because I was too lazy to go to the grocery store and so I didn't run Tuesday morning because I didn't have food in my house which lead to the ripple effect of me skipping today's long run. At the end of the day though, I needed the rest today and I don't feel guilty about that but I do need to take better care of myself.

I think I'll be able to get my planned 14-mile run in tomorrow but if I'm still sore, I won't. I'll just take it easy and pay attention to how I'm feeling. 

Total Miles Run: 18
Total Minutes of Yoga: 60

How did your week go?
How do you practice kindness to yourself?

March 20, 2017

Coffee Date: March Edition

Good Morning! Happy Monday! Let's have some coffee and dish about our weekends, shall we?

If we were having coffee, I would be drinking a home brewed cup of Philz Tesora which I splurged on over the weekend following a desperate necessity for coffee. I normally buy my coffee at World Market (their French Roast is delicious) but this was a coffee emergency and I went for the closest thing I could!

I would be much more interested in hearing about your weekend because mine wasn't at all that interesting. I spent the weekend on the couch, only leaving the couch to run but I did run a lot! 22 miles between Friday and Sunday actually and today, I rest!

If we were having coffee, I wold tell you that I'm super excited to be on the Junior League committee organizing a 5k this spring! Since September, I've been volunteering with an awesome organization called Bright Beginnings, a child development center for homeless children in DC. Bright Beginnings supports infants through Kindergarten and is a really incredible place that not only supports kids educationally but also helps their families in order to transition them out of homelessness.

If you're in the DC area, I would love if you signed up! Registration is only $25 and the proceeds go to an amazing cause! And, if you aren't in DC, you should sign up anyway and support Bright Beginnings. If you do sign up, you can indicate that you learned about it from me (Christy or type in Planes, Trains, and Running Shoes).

Speaking of races, I'm really torn between wanting to run a 10-miler or a half in April, at the halfway mark of my training. There don't seem to be many local races that would give me that option and I don't really want to have to travel for a race given all of the expenses that that would entail. I always like to run a half during a marathon training cycle and haven't done that for my last two marathons which has led me to be a little bit edgier and nervous on race morning than I would like. I am running a 10k in May, a distance I've always struggled with (and have avoided for the last five years) which might help with my nerves!

This week will be pretty busy. I have a work event, a Junior League meeting, and book club so I'm going to have some early mornings to get all of my training in but if I could do it balancing two long haul flights the last two weeks, I think I'll manage!

In the words of an old proverb (or Instagram post I saw somewhere), may your Monday be short and your coffee be strong!

What are you drinking this morning?
Do you have fun plans this week?

March 19, 2017

Sunday Sweats 12

When I travel, one of my favorite things to do is head out for a 3-5 mile run to explore the area I'm staying in and get a feel for what the city is like. I find that running through a city is one of the absolute best ways to see a city in action. 

So, why did I do all of my runs in Dubai on the treadmill? Well, there are a few reasons, none of which have to do with the weather.
  1. Dubai doesn't have a lot of sidewalks and most of the roads are highway roads. Dubai has some pretty insane drivers and I think that running on the streets of Dubai would be wildly unsafe.
  2. Dubai is a very conservative country in terms of dress. Most of the women where abayas and hijabs or, long pants or dresses. Even the men wear pants and collared shirts. It's pretty rare to see people in shorts, except in the resort areas. While I've never covered my head in Dubai (except when visiting a mosque), I find that dressing in anything but long dresses or pants and cardigans just draws extra attention. With temperatures in the high 80s, I didn't want to head out in search of places to run in shorts and a tank top. While Dubai is considered very safe, I didn't want to put myself in a situation that would draw extra attention to myself.
  3. I did some research and found a handful of parks that I could have gone to but I would have either had to get on the metro/in a taxi in shorts and a tank or bring clothes to the park to change into with no place to store my stuff. There is a running trail on the generally touristy marina that I've seen a people running on but again, transportation to that area would have been a challenge. 
So, I stuck to the treadmill. Overall, I'm pretty happy with how my training went this week, particularly since I was recovering from a serious case of jet lag once I got home. This week was hard. There's no sugar coating it. This was one of my toughest training weeks I've had in seven years of marathon training. Why? I didn't skip a run. I set out for every run I had on my calendar, with the idea that I would stop or cut it short if I needed to, but aside from being tired, my legs felt fine, and I pushed on. Here's a look at how the week went.

Currently Training For:
Ottawa Marathon, May 28

Monday: Rest
I had an easy 3 miles on my schedule for Monday but that factored in a planned day rest day the day before. I was pretty sore when I woke up Monday morning after late night runs both Saturday and Sunday, and spending all day Sunday roaming around Dubai so I opted to allow for myself to rest. I had either run or practiced yoga every day the week before so I was ok with allowing myself a true rest day if you can call spending the entire day roaming around Dubai a "true" rest day.

Tuesday: 3 miles (9:35 pace)
The Pilot and I were up somewhat early Tuesday morning to head to the Burj Khalifah and then spent the day wandering around Dubai. Determined to get this run in, I squeezed it at the hotel gym before a late dinner. Whether it's because I was hungry or tired from walking all day, I was ready for this run to be over the minute it started.

Wednesday: Skipped
I was up at 2 am to catch my flight to Doha, and then on to DC. While I expected the flight home to be longer than the flight to Dubai (it always is going west), this flight felt endless and some pretty serious turbulence on the landing (that caused almost every single person around me to get sick) left me feeling really nauseous by the time I got home. I knew it was a long shot to think I would get in a workout on Wednesday and I was right. 

Thursday: 5 miles (9:52 pace)
My pace on this run was a lot slower than I've been running but that was to be expected. On top of being tired, there was a lot of snow on the ground in DC and I was concerned that some of the wet patches of pavement might be black ice. My schedule called for 5 miles of hill work but I headed out with 4 easy miles in mind. I struggled through the first two miles because I was exhausted but started feeling better after 2 and ended up running the full 5 I had planned.

Friday: 5 miles (9:29 pace)
This was almost a progression run. My splits were: 9:58, 9:28, 9:24, 9:26 (damn!), and 9:13. After not falling asleep until 5:30 am and then working all day, I was exhausted by the time I headed out for this run and was falling asleep the whole time. I may or may not have dozed off at a traffic light. This was a tough one.

Saturday: 5 miles (9:48 pace)

This run was tough. Mentally and physically, it was a hard run. I was (and still am) absolutely exhausted from my long flight and desperately wanted a day off. I slept in and lounged on the couch reading and binge watching TV until well after noon when I set out. My knee had been bothering me all morning and I made it to the end of the block before I realized the run was a bad idea. After icing my knee for awhile, I set back out for 5 miles. It wasn't easy and I just felt exhausted but if there's a silver lining, it's that I kept my pace below 10 minutes, something I've struggled since being injured a few years ago.

Sunday: 12 miles (9:32 pace)
This run was one of those that I wasn't sure I would actually finish when I set out. This week has been exhausting and I desperately wanted to take the day off but skipping my long run just really wasn't an option. I had this weird anxiety for the first 6 miles about leaving my neighborhood (which really isn't that big) and, after realizing that I didn't want to run the same 3-mile loop four times in a row, after already having run it twice, I got over it and headed for the National Mall. Overall, my pacing was pretty inconsistent and I felt fine for the first 9 miles. I was tired through the last 3 and my knee was achy for the last 2 but I got it done with a great pace and finished the week strong.

Total Miles Run: 30
Total Minutes of Yoga/Cross-Training: 0
Total Miles Traveled: 7,063

Week 2 of Ottawa Marathon Training is done! I'm really proud of how committed I was to my training even while training and recovering from jet lag. As I mentioned last week, I've always struggled with balancing training and travel and I hope I'm on a path forward of being able to strike that balance. My goals for this week are to get back into the gym, hit up a spin or a barre class, and definitely practice more yoga. After squeezing 27 miles into 4 days, I need to be careful and give my body the rest it needs, taking my runs nice and easy. The good thing is, after this week I'll step back and might treat myself to a massage if I manage to get everything done this week!

How do you balance working out and traveling?
Are you training for anything right now?

March 17, 2017

Currently...{Jet lag Edition}

Good Morning! Happy St. Patrick's Day! It's currently 2:43 am and I am wide awake with jet lag! I got back from Dubai yesterday and, while I did just fine with jet lag while I was there (thanks to a very thorough schedule of jetlag training, which is actually a thing), I'm not doing so great now that I'm home, as evidenced by the fact that I'm awake right now.

I can't believe this is the first 'Currently...' post I'm sharing this year but I'm excited as I've always loved writing these posts! So, here goes:

Currently... wide awake and dreaming of my morning coffee which I'm holding off on consuming until it's an appropriate morning time for coffee.

Feeling... my incurable case of wanderlust setting in. Less than 24 hours after landing in the U.S., I'm already daydreaming about where I'll head next!

Reading... "Circling the Sun" by Paula McLain. My book club in DC is reading this book by the same author who wrote "The Paris Wife," which I didn't love. I'm finding "Circling the Sun" to be much more enjoyable.

Thinking about... how much I really loved Dubai this time around.

Watching... "Jane the Virgin." I started watching this show about a year ago and then never finished the first season. Last week, I got hooked on it again and haven't been able to stop watching since! I'm only on Season 2 but I forgot how much I enjoy this show. Growing up in a family that watched telenovelas, I appreciate the over-the-top, sensational drama, mixed with a very real, slightly stereotypical, yet inoffensive portrayal of a family of Latin American women.

Working on... Planes, Trains, and Running Shoes. One of my goals for this year was to get back to blogging regularly. I really love writing about my travels and chronicling the trials and tribulations of training and I haven't been able to make much time for that but, thanks to an insanely long flight this week, I've planned out most of my posts for the next two months and I'm pretty excited to carve out time for reading and writing posts again.

Planning... a lot of blog posts and my summer vacations!

Annoyed... that it's winter in DC. I'm not surprised by this, nor should I be, but considering I left DC with temperatures in the 70s, I wasn't thrilled to come home to snow on the ground and a 10-day forecast of winter temperatures.

Needing... to figure out what's wrong with my computer. I've been dealing with Tech Support for almost 3 weeks because I keep getting the blue screen of death. Luckily, I'm not losing anything but since I use my personal computer for life and for work, I really need it to be reliable and, considering it's only one year old, I'm a little worried.

Wanting... to get my home office in shape. It's functional as an office right now but I haven't hung anything on the walls and still have a lot of clutter in the room. I'm hoping to take some time for that this weekend.

Loving... being back home with my sweet pup.

Now, it's your turn:

What are your essentials for a home office?
How do you recover from jet lag?
Where's the next place you're traveling to?

March 15, 2017

One More Day in Sydney, Australia

When The Pilot and I left Melbourne, we planned to arrive in Sydney late in the evening. We booked an Air B&B near the airport with thoughts of crashing there and making our way back to DC the next morning. Unfortunately, when you're flying standby, things don't always work out the way you planned and, after making our way to the airport and not getting on our flight, we found ourselves with an extra day to play in Sydney.

That morning happened to be the Sydney Marathon which I would have loved to have spectated but by the time we got back to our place from the airport, the race was already over. My friend Claire had run the 10k as her first race ever and we made plans for brunch so that we could recap her race.

Before we met up with her, we made our way to The Grounds at Alexandria, a spot that our Air B&B hosts had recommended, which turned out to be an amazing recommendation! On the one hand, I want to call this place Sydney's best-kept secret but given how crowded it was, I think the secret has gotten least among locals!

This hidden gem that's closer to the airport than the CBD is a coffee roastery, a farm to table restaurant, a functioning farm, an artisan marketplace, a petting zoo, a bakery, and so many things rolled into one and it's absolutely adorable!

It started raining pretty heavily while we were there but we spent a few hours roaming around, exploring, drinking coffee, and having some sweets.

When we met up with Claire, we went to a great little place for "smashed avo" and she discovered that we had been in Australia for over a week and almost left without trying vegemite. She was mortified and changed that pretty quickly. I didn't mind it but The Pilot thought it was awful. We spent the rest of the afternoon roaming in and out for bookstores and stopping for coffee before calling it a day when the weather turned to a downpour.

We had all had early mornings and The Pilot and I had another one coming up. We grabbed a light dinner and headed back to our Air B&B for some tea and a movie with our hosts before getting up early again and catching a flight home (this time on first class!).

So, there you have it. I've finally finished recapping our trip to Australia, which was absolutely incredible. I fell in love with Sydney and Melbourne and would go back again in a heartbeat. I mentioned before that there were some things we didn't get to that I would have really loved to do but I think in our time there, we were able to do a bit more than skim the surface. We really made the most of our trip and I've had several Aussies tell us that they're impressed with how much we were able to cram into such a short time. 

I've said this before and I'll say it again...if you're thinking about going to Australia but aren't planning to because people have told you not to bother unless you have 3-4 weeks, don't listen to them and pack your bags. We crammed a lot more into one vacation than I think a lot of people might have. If we were to do it again, I would probably skip Cairns but we also had some downtime and overall, I felt like the trip was way more relaxing than it might seem on paper. If you get one thing from this series of long overdue posts, it's that I hope you take my advice and go to Australia. I've out this trip off for almost 10 years because had been told that an Australia trip wasn't worth it with essential than 3 weeks but you know what? If I do find myself back in Australia, I think I'd go from the same period of time we went this time. As an American, it's unheard of to be able to get that much time off in one setting and I wouldn't trade our trip for the world

Happy Travels!

March 13, 2017

3 Days in Melbourne, Australia

After 6 months, I'm finally getting around to wrapping up my posts about our Australia trip! You can read some of my other posts here. Enjoy!

After cutting our trip to Cairns short and getting on the first flight we could, we left sunny 90-degree Cairns where it still felt like summer and made our way south to Melbourne, arriving in the dead of winter. When our plane landed and we walked out of the airport, there was freezing rain. 

It amazed me just how different the weather was in each of the cities we visited in Australia. In Sydney, it felt like the first nice weekend of spring. In Cairns, it was still summer, and in Melbourne, definitely still winter. It's a lot like traveling from DC to Miami to Portland, Maine during the last week of March - major changes of season!

Before we left for Australia, I reached out to Kristen to get the low down on what we should see and do in Melbourne and she warned me to prepare for "four seasons in one day." I had no idea what that meant, but we were about to learn!

As we did in Sydney, we booked another Air BnB outside the CBD (Central Business District) but still in the middle of everything. We stayed in Collingwood with an English couple who had moved to Australia about six months before. Collingwood was adorable and I immediately fell in love with the neighborhood! There were so many adorable restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and shops! I could have spent the entire time just in our neighborhood!

We landed pretty late and, by the time we got to our Air BnB, it was close to midnight. We had been up since 6 and had spent the day snorkeling on the Great Barrer Reef so we were exhausted!

We woke up well rested and ready to explore our first day in Melbourne! There was an adorable coffee shop called Gontran Cherrier near where we were staying and we stopped in for delicious pastries and coffee. Melbourne is famous for their coffee and the coffee certainly didn't disappoint, although, I was really thrown off every time someone asked me if I took my coffee black or white, which just means with milk.

We knew that the free walking tour we did in Sydney was also offered in Melbourne so we made took a leisurely walk to the CBD to start the tour. The minute we got there, I realized I had forgotten my camera! Luckily, we had The Pilot's tablet but I was so bummed to be taking pictures with that thing instead of my DSLR!

The tour was awesome and so much better than the one we went on in Sydney! Unfortunately, about half way through the tour, we got caught in a torrential downpour. Oh, my goodness, I have never seen rain like this...and I was wearing Toms! Some people left the tour but we stuck it out. When the tour was over, we made our way back to Collingwood (after stopping at a store to buy some dry clothes!) to take hot showers, drink some tea, and try to dry out our shoes!

We were still pretty tired from the day before and the rain didn't help things so we hung around Collingwood for most of the evening, wandering around, exploring the neighborhood before making our way into the CBD for dinner at an awesome Greek restaurant called Stalactite. They actually had stalactites hanging from the ceiling! The food was great and it was a nice homage to our honeymoon in Greece during our 2-year anniversary trip!

Our first day in Melbourne was cold, wet, and miserable, but we fell in love with the city. It was so unbelievably charming, and unlike any city I've ever been to. It had the charm of London and the edginess of New York, with the hospitality of the south. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming and I couldn't wait to explore more of the city!

The next morning, we stopped off for "brekkie" at a place near our Air BnB called Eat a Scroll. We had "cruffins" (croissant muffins) and chai and headed off to explore. The sun was out and it was a lot warmer than the day before. We took the tram to Parliament and wandered around the CBD in and out of bookstores and shops. We got to revisit Hoey Lane and some of the famously graffitied laneways that we rushed through during our rainy tour the day before.

We took a trip to the Queen Victoria Market and bought some souvenirs. My favorite were spices from this cute little spice shop called Gewurzhaus.

From there, we took the tram to St. Kilda, had some lunch, and went in search of the penguins. The views of Melbourne from St. Kilda were unbelievable and I was so happy that we got a warm-ish day compared with the day before!

From St. Kilda, We made our way back to the CBD and paid a visit to the (free) Australian Centre for the Moving Image, which was pretty cool!

We had learned that the Australian Football League playoffs were going on while we were there and The Pilot really wanted to catch a game. The Western Bulldogs, one of Melbourne's teams were playing that night at The Melbourne Cricket Ground, or "The G" for short. The 100,000+ person stadium wasn't completely sold out for the night and The Pilot and I were able to buy tickets for $50 each.

We went back to our apartment to get ready for the game and our hosts were watching the news. They were talking about the match and we learned that the Bulldogs hadn't won the Australian premiership in 62 years, so naturally, we decided to cheer them on! Oh my gosh, I didn't think it was possible to have so much fun watching something that is completely incomprehensible. We had no idea what was going on and the rules were so complicated but the Bulldogs won and it was awesome! They actually went on to win the premiership, ending their 62-year drought! I guess you can call us fans now!

We were flying out late the next day, so we had one more day to explore. The Pilot had to take care of some stuff for work so I headed off for a 4-mile run through Fitzroy Gardens, and around the Olympic Park. It was an absolutely beautiful day!

When I finished my run, The Pilot and I walked down to the CBD and had lunch at a brewery called The Crafty Squire, which I highly recommend. Aside from great beer and good people watching, this was just a cool spot to be in!

We did a flight tasting and then walked down the south Bank along the Yarra. The sun had finally come out and it was a gorgeous day to be out in Melbourne.

We took the tram up to Ligon Street, Melbourne's Little Italy, and stood in line at the highly recommended Pidapipo for some gelato drenched in Nutella from a fountain (OMG). We took a long walk back through Carlton and Fitzroy and then packed up and headed to the airport.

I loved Melbourne. It was so wildly different from what I expected! I definitely didn't feel like we had enough time there. If it hadn't rained our entire first day, I might not have felt that way, but I would have loved to have an extra day in Melbourne. The Pilot and I had plans to fly back to Sydney and then back home the next day. Things didn't quite work out that way as you'll soon learn but I really loved Melbourne and would love to go back in the summertime!

Have you been to Melbourne?
Planning a trip, or know someone who is? Share the love!

March 12, 2017

Sunday Sweats 10

Hello from Dubai! It's been several weeks since I've written one of these posts but I haven't really had many workouts to share lately but this week kicked off my first week of training for the Ottawa Marathon so it's time to resurrect these posts!

Now, Dubai. I arrived late last night for another mini vacation with The Pilot. After we barely skimmed the surface the last time we were here, I was itching to come back and, when The Pilot found himself with some time off work during a relatively quiet time for me at the office, we made plans.

Now I have a confession to make. Despite the name of my blog, I've always had a hard time balancing training and traveling. The most noted examples are our recent vacations to Australia, Paris, Hawaii, Portugal, and even Dubai, where I ran once or twice, if at all. The Pilot doesn't love running, and while he's always up for sneaking in some miles on a trip, I always feel bad about the idea of ditching him for a few hours to get in a long, double-digit training run and then being toast for the rest of the day.

After an unusually difficult February and a late start to marathon training that turned my 16-week plan into 12, I knew that kicking off training the week I would be taking off on a 13 hour international flight would be rough but this time around, I'm determined to get my training in while still having fun with The Pilot. Here's a look at how my training went this week. We'll see how well I manage things next week when I'm back in DC!

Currently Training For:
Ottawa Marathon, May 28

Monday: 4 miles (9:06 pace)
Day 1 of Ottawa Marathon training! I had 4 easy miles planned but kept my pace just below the 9:09 I need for a sub-4 marathon and it did feel easy! I had run only once the week before following Disney and was grateful that I skipped the long run I planned for the day before, opting to start a 12-week training plan on Monday rather than try to make up for miles and turn the training plan into something longer for the sake of adding in one more long run. I felt great and was thrilled with my pace.

Tuesday: 5-mile progression run (9:17 pace)
I had 5 miles of hills planned for today and, when a trip by the VP to the Capitol (my favorite place to do hill workouts) left me unable to access the country's most notorious hill, I switched gears and ran a progression run instead (9:51, 9:23, 9:19, 9:18, 8:32). Given that the Ottawa Marathon is completely flat, I was ok with this but I've always felt that hill training on a flat course makes me feel stronger on Race Day.

Wednesday: Yoga (75 minutes)
After already running more miles in one week (9) than I had in months (ouch!), I was ready for a rest day. I opted fo75-minutenute yoga class at a studio nearby for active rest, which, as a result of being the first person in class, the instructor dedicated to hip openers, hamstring stretches, and basically everything I needed to ease back into my first double digit training week in months.

Thursday: 10 miles (9:21 pace)
I was up bright and early for a surprisingly warm 10 miles along the Mall. I was a little sore from the previous night's yoga class and was struggling in the first two miles. Ever since I caught the flu last month, I've had a hard time breathing comfortably while I run, my chest still feeling tight in the early miles. By the time I settled into my third mile, I was feeling better and was thrilled to finish the run at a relatively speedy pace. With an evening flight out on Friday that wouldn't get me to Dubai until late Saturday, I knew I would run for that long once I got here and was nervous what a 10-mile run would do to me if I did it the day I flew out so I was glad to have gotten the miles in early.

Friday: Yoga (30 minutes)
I had thought I might be up for a 4 mile recovery run but I was pretty sore from my long run and the week to date. I had already run 19 miles for the week by this point, a significant number compared to the 26 I ran in the entire month of February. I opted for a 30-minute yoga practice at home before heading for the airport.

Saturday: 5 miles (9:13 pace) 
I had originally planned to run the Rock 'n' Roll DC Half but when our plans to head to Dubai came through, that went out the window. Luckily I hadn't signed up yet! While I was bummed to miss my favorite DC race, I'm not bummed I missed the temperature drop and winter deciding to reappear back in DC. My flight landed in Dubai at 9pm and I was surprisingly awake and energized after such a long flight. By the time I cleared customs and checked into my hotel, it was 11pm. I was wide awake and knew I needed to try to adjust to the time zone, so I headed to the hotel gym for 5 miles on the treadmill before a light dinner and finally heading to bed shortly before 2am. 

Sunday: 4 miles (9:08 pace)
My plans to adjust to time zone didn't go quite as planned and I was up at 5:30 this morning. I tried falling back asleep but at 6:30, turned on the lights, read in bed for awhile, and headed to breakfast. I thought about getting my run in but realized I had only run a few hours before and decided against it. The Pilot and I went out and spent the day with some friends of his and, by the time we got back to our hotel around 7, I was exhausted but so determined to get my run in. We ate dinner and I begrudgingly dragged myself to the hotel gym for a slow and steady 4. I say slow and steady because I'm almost positive the treadmill I was on (different from yesterday's) was faulty and I barely broke a sweat. I know I was on the treadmill for around 40 minutes but this pace may not be entirely accurate. 

Total Miles Run: 28
Total Minutes of Yoga: 105
Total Miles Traveled: 7,063

So there you have it. Week 1 of Ottawa Marathon training is in the books! I'm glad I planned ahead this week and was able to fit in all of my workouts. This next week will be a little bit more challenging but at least I can plan my long run for when we're back home in DC. I'm proud of my effort this week. Not only did I get all of my runs in but I used my off days for active rest AND worked in some dynamic stretching before each run, something that I have to be diligent about to keep myself injury free while racking up miles with a minimal base but I'm excited for what this training plan will bring and I'm ready for the challenge!

How do you balance working out with travel?
Have you been to Dubai? What are some of your favorite things to do here?
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March 6, 2017

Race Recap: The Disney Princess Half-Marathon

Last weekend, I headed to Orlando, FL with my good friend, Abby, to run the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. It was meant to be a belated birthday trip but after being sick and dealing with everything with my dad, it was more of a much-needed getaway.

The Pilot and I flew into Orlando on a mid-morning flight Friday, checked into our hotel, headed to the Expo, had lunch, and then went to Disney Springs for dinner at my favorite Cuban restaurant, Bongos.

We spent Saturday at Universal visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (more on this later!) before Abby flew in. We had a round of drinks, enjoyed dinner at our hotel, and were in bed by 9 pm for a 2 am wake-up call.

The race started at 5:30 and we had been told that if you weren't on a bus from your Disney resort by 4 am, you would miss the start of the race. I was worried that the buses would get crowded and we would miss one, so we left our room at 3:20 and were on a bus by 3:25.

We were at Epcot 10 minutes later, explored the staging area a bit where they had a stage set up and live music and then, after learning that the Start Line was half a mile away, started making our way over. I had no idea how many runners to expect but I was shocked to see how few people there were when we got to the corrals which were lettered A-P. I was supposed to be in Corral D but Abby was assigned Corral K so we lined up together (after trying unsuccessfully to line up in my corral).

When we got to the race, the temperature was pretty mild but while we were waiting in our corrals, the temperature dropped and it got pretty windy. I tried to keep my muscles warm by doing some stretches and exercises and, when 5:25 am rolled around, I was really annoyed to learn that the race would be starting late because so many people still hadn't arrived. We had been at the start for 2 hours and I didn't think that it was fair to delay the start of the race because there were still (literally) thousands of people making their way from the staging area. The gun finally went off around 5:40 but our corral didn't start moving until shortly before 6. We finally crossed the start at 6:15 and were on our way.

The first mile came up pretty quickly. Captain Jack Sparrow was at that mile and I was surprised to see a long line of runners waiting to take their picture with him. Abby and I kept on running. The first few miles were relatively uneventful.  It took about two miles to warm up after standing in the cold for so long but the miles went by quickly. Early on, the course was mostly walkers and it was tough to weave in and out of so many people.

Around Mile 5, we entered the parking lot for the Magic Kingdom. The anticipation for running into the Magic Kingdom was building and we picked up the pace. When we ran into the park, I was so excited and when we turned onto Main Street and saw the Magic Kingdom, it took my breath away. The sun hadn't been up for long and the castle was bathed in that perfect morning glow that made for a stunning view to run through.

I loved running through the Magic Kingdom and felt like I was flying! Perfect for my Peter Pan costume! Somewhere around Frontier Land, we spotted Woody (The Pilot's favorite Disney character) and I stopped to snag a picture (without waiting in line!).

We left the Magic Kingdom and ran along Disney's golf course for quite awhile, which was beautiful. We had, for the most part, escaped the crowd by this point and were surrounded by more runners than walkers and really started to pick up the pace. Abby and I were both feeling pretty good and I was happy with how good I felt, given my minimal training. I had forgotten my watch in DC and was grateful to not have a watch to stare at the whole race. With all of the weaving and crowds, I think I would have gone crazy if I had my watch on!

Peter Pan and his shadow!
Once we hit  Mile 9, we started running back the way we had come from the start except that there were some hills thrown in as we ran across overpasses and made our way back to Epcot. I hadn't paid much attention to the Course Map since I knew I wouldn't have any idea what it meant, but I was confused when we hit Mile 11 and still felt miles away from Epcot but we entered the park through a back road leading to the parking lot. Mile 11 was almost entirely through the parking lot, leading into the park and we really picked up the pace since we could see the Epcot globe!

We entered the park, made a long loop near the entrance to the park and then sprinted through to the finish line! We finished in 2:19:33. I was hoping to run somewhere close to 2:15 but I'm pretty happy with this time given how crowded it was (and the fact that I had to take two bathroom breaks after drinking so much water while waiting endlessly for the race to start).

Thoughts on my first RunDisney race: It was ridiculously fun running through Disney and even better to have a friend along the way! The spectator support was pretty minimal (but I wasn't surprised by that given the early start time) and I think the race would have been pretty boring without someone running alongside me.

Originally, I was going to dress up as Princess Jasmine originally but when Abby decided she was going to be Tinker Bell, I decided on Peter Pan, my all time favorite story character. I somewhat regretted my decision when we lined up, being one of the few runners not dressed as a princess, but when we actually started running, I think Abby and I got called out and cheered for more because we weren't dressed as princesses than those that were. As a spectator, it doesn't make sense to yell out, "Go Jasmine!" when there are 17 Jasmines in your line of sight! So if you do run one of these races, try to think outside the box when planning out your costume!

Overall, I had a great time running this race but there were some things that I wasn't a fan of, that I thought detracted from the experience.

First, I wasn't thrilled that the race started late because people weren't there on time, particularly when so many of us had been sitting outside in the dark for close to two hours because we followed the race instructions.

Second, I couldn't believe how crowded the race was, especially given how narrow the course is! It seemed like a problem that could have been mitigated by closing more of the roads to traffic (the race is run on private Disney property, after all), running more of the race in the parks, or allowing more time to pass between corrals. I don't have a problem with how many walkers there were on the course but there were several groups of walkers walking four or five people across, blocking the entire path forward. Most of the races I've run that have had a large number of walkers have started with an announcement that walkers should stay to one side of the course to make it easy to navigate for everyone and, usually, people follow that but without being told to do that, this course definitely seemed more walker-friendly than runner-friendly.

Lastly, I rarely buy race photos but there's a pretty awesome picture of me right in front of the castle that, somehow, doesn't have any other runners in it. I tried to buy the photo and found out that the only way to do so would be to buy all of my race photos for $169. Umm, no thanks!

Would I run a RunDisney race again? I wouldn't not run one again but I don't need to run one again immediately. I think that I may have had a slightly different experience if I had actually started in my corral. You had to submit proof of time for a race back in November and Abby missed the deadline, which put us further back. I didn't mind but if there were that many walkers in Corral K, I can't even imagine what it must have looked like in Corral P!

Disney isn't new to organizing races but there are a few things they need to work on, like spacing out their corrals better, extending the Expo hours (it closes at 3 the day before the race!), and communicating with runners better. We were lucky to have caught an announcement that the Staging Area for the race was a half mile from the Start Line but if that announcement wasn't made on repeat, I imagine that's why so many runners were late to the start.

So, there you go, my 15th Half-Marathon to celebrate my 30th birthday! It was a super fun weekend and I'm so glad I did it! Today kicks off training for my next marathon - the Ottawa Marathon - so you can expect my weekly workout recaps to make a comeback this weekend!

Have you run a Disney race before?
Would you?
If you did run one, who would you dress up as?
As always, happy running!

March 1, 2017

February Recap

February. My goodness, this month has been endless. For the shortest month of the year, it seems painful how slowly this month has dragged by.

February has been such a strange month. I was gone for nearly half the month, and when I was home, I was sick. I mentioned in my January recap that I've never felt quite as unsettled in this apartment as I have in other moves, and that's still the case. While The Pilot and I did manage to finally hang some pictures in the bedroom and living room, I still have nearly a dozen boxes I haven't unpacked. I still haven't unpacked most of my clothes (yes, I'm serious), and I really feel like I'm drowning. I've been working from home more than usual in an attempt to play catch up on my life and that hasn't helped at all. At least I've finally cleared up space to used my home office as such, rather than as just a storage unit.

So, February. I was in unexpectedly in Texas for the first half of the month when my dad got sick. He's doing much better now and I'm grateful for that. I came back to DC four days before my 30th birthday with the flu. My birthday was completely uneventful because I was still sick. I didn't actually start feeling better until about two days before I left for Florida for the Disney Princess Half this weekend and, while I was worried about being undertrained and having minimal lung capacity from being sick, I managed to have a good race. (Recap coming soon!)

Of course, after being up 22 hours straight because of a ridiculously early start time, I now, again, feel like I'm getting sick. February, go away, you're drunk.

Here's a look at how my month went in numbers:

Miles Run: 26.1
Considering I was supposed to start training for a marathon this month, I'm really upset at this number. I'm still determined to try for a sub-4 marathon in Ottawa in May but I'm nervous that with this kind of mileage under my belt, I'm setting myself up to get hurt if I ramp up training in March.

Minutes of Yoga: 67
I did over 800  last month. 

Books Read: 3
You can check out what I've been reading this month here. That book doesn't include the book I finished last night, 13 Rue Therese, which isn't worth reading, in my opinion.

Trips Taken: 2
Home to Texas and Orlando for the Disney Princess Half and a visit to Harry Potter World.

New Recipes Made: 5
Considering I was gone for nearly half the month, I'll take this. One of my goals for the New Year was to cook at least one recipe out of every single one of my cookbooks. The idea being 1) to cook more at home, and 2) to actually make use of my slightly problematic obsession with cookbooks. While I don't think I've fully unpacked all of my cookbooks, so I don't know how many I actually have, I have cooked abundantly out of four of my cookbooks and dabbled in one or two others. I did realize that I have no interest in cooking out of one of my cookbooks, so I'm holding on to that for one more month to see if anything jumps out at me before giving it away. I could write a whole post on what cooking so much has taught me, so I think I will. Stay tuned!

Blog Posts Written: 2
I'm still mad that I haven't posted the last of my recaps about our Australia trip. I've written one of them and just need to finish putting my pictures into the post. I'd still like to post more and actually stick to a blogging schedule (which I've made through the next two weeks). I also really want to make it a point to schedule blogging time, not just for writing, editing, and posting, but for reading blogs as well.

30 Before 30 Items Completed: 0

Highlights: Spring- and summer-like temperatures in DC for most of the month, visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with The Pilot, and running the Disney Princess Half-Marathon with my friend Abby.

Lowlights: It's hard not to be hard on myself this month. I know I was dealing with family stuff and I was sick but seriously, where did this month went? I was a ball of stress the entire time I was in Texas and I ran once. I didn't practice yoga at all - two things that really could have helped with that. I know there wasn't much I could have done when I was sick but I really could have tried to focus a little bit harder on taking care of myself, which might have kept me from getting sick in the first place.

March is typically a pretty long month but The Pilot and I are taking our first international trip of 2017 which I'm really excited for! You'll just have to guess where we're headed!

The Month Ahead:
I really need to finish unpacking and get our apartment in a good place. I also need to start building in a strength and yoga plan so that as I do ramp up Ottawa training without a strong base, I do it while minimizing my risk of injury.

How did your month shape up? Have you ever had a month where you felt like everything was escaping you? How did you balance things out?

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