Monday, April 29, 2013

Race Review: Nike Women's Half Marathon DC

Setting: National Mall and Tidal Basin Washington, DC

Cost/Registration:  Registration is done by a lottery system.  The cost was $160 (by far the most I have ever paid for a race!) and $120 if you can prove that you are a current college student with valid ID at packet pick up.  Stay updated on registration for 2014 by liking the facebook page.

My cousin and I outside the expo tent
Expo: Or should I say "Expo-tique".  Nike REALLY knows how to cater to the ladies.  Seriously, this expo was fantastic.  I could have spent HOURS here.  After picking up our packets in the most stream lined and high tech packet pick up I had ever seen, we headed into the expo tent.  (Note: No shirts are given out at packet pickup...they reserve them for finish line...more on that later).  The expo and packet pick up was held directly on the Georgetown waterfront.  What a location it was to showcase our city!  Gorgeous!  They placed the Expo-tique tent directly over the area where the fountains are....views of the water, boats and the perfect weather combined to make it a fabulous location. The expo began on a Thursday and continued through Friday and Saturday.  We went Friday night after picking up my cousin Charline at Union Station.  She was coming to run her very first half marathon.  GO CHAR!

Entering into the tent, we could hear music from DJs spinning, it was dimly lit by chandeliers and we almost didn't know where to begin!  I had heard that Nuun was going to be doing commemorative DC bottles just as they had done for Boston, so we headed to the tasting station first.  Even though I had tasted all the flavors at the Rock and Roll DC expo, I figured it couldn't help to do it again.  I was actually able to ask the Nuun reps for tips on how to get selected for the Hood To Coast Relay as well ;-)  They asked for my blog name and said they'd check me out!  I told them that I would definitely be applying again next year. 

Then we moved on and had a make over done by Bare Minerals make up artists.  They had a machine there that once you tweeted about your experience a free gift came cousin got a tube of mascara!  I couldn't remember my twitter passcode at the moment so I had to pass.  Then we went over to the Paul Mitchell hair station and put our names in for the next appointment.  We had about 30 minutes before it would be our turn so we decided to get a free gait analysis.  I was told I had a neutral gait (which I knew) and was recommended the Pegasus or the Flyknit.  I had already been eyeing the Flyknit for a while...the only hindrance has been the $160 price tag.  The Pegasus felt a little bulky to me.  When viewing the image of my foot hitting the sensor pad, I could tell that my gait was altered due to pain in my right quad.  We then went over for our hair appointment and I was able to have my hair flat ironed and was given two free samples of the new Paul Mitchell dry shampoo.  I love dry shampoo!

The expo also had a giant wall and asked everyone to sign it with why they run.  That was neat to see all the signatures and reasons.  Though it was Friday night and the wall was completely full.  I am not sure they would be space for anyone coming on Saturday to sign!

The expo closed at 8pm and at 7:45pm, it basically erupted into a giant dance party as they played "Harlem Shake" on repeat.  The DJs grabbed people and pulled them out to dance and people took turns in the circle showing off their moves.  My Nike Fit Analyst even got out there with the worm!  So so fun!  It was too late at that point to head up to the Georgetown Nike Store to search for our names on the Name Wall, so we decided we would be back tomorrow to do so.  We took one final photo out along the water with the giant glowing words, WE RUN.  It was pretty neat because you could see it from the water and when you drive along the shore heading into Georgetown.

We came back on Saturday to see the Name Wall (names of every participant) and also just wanted to check on the waterfront one more time. I saw the line was MUCH longer for packet pick up.  Readers: If you went on Saturday, was the line manageable?   I found my name on the name wall!  What a cool concept! 

THE RACE:  Got up at 4:45am the next morning in order to have a healthy breakfast of oatmeal with coconut and chia seeds and some coffee.  We got all our stuff in order and headed out to catch the 5:45 metro into downtown.  It was a bit early for my daughter but she was a good sport, albeit very cuddly on the ride down. The metro was full of runners and spectators.  I love that.  Of course who else is crazy enough to ride the Metro that early on a Sunday morning?

We arrived at Metro Center and rushed out to find bathrooms as soon as possible.  Both Charline and I had to go.  We look around everywhere and couldn't find them in sight of the start corrals.  We asked a runner walking by and she told us they were down another street lining an entire block and gave us a insider's tip by telling us to head all the way to the end.  So Charline and I took off running and considered it our warm up and ran all the way past the lines for the porta potties to the very end of the block, where there were NO LINES!  Seriously, unheard of 30 mins before gun time.  I could not be more excited.  I guess most runners didn't want to add the extra block worth of walking/running before race time.  It was totally worth it.  We then jogged back, gave each other hugs and went to our corresponding corrals.  I was placed in the 6:45-7:30 pace corral.  I feel that must of been a mistake on Nike's part because there was no way that I registered saying I would be running a sub 1:38!  My goal time was a 1:45 (which would have been one corral back).  With being sick (diagnosed with strep throat Tuesday afternoon) and my quad muscle strain I knew I would not be running anywhere near the pace listed on my bracelet or my goal time of an 8:00 pace.  I was thinking of starting in a further back corral, maybe the 9:00 to be safe, but then I saw how crowded those corrals were and decided to take my chances and start with my assigned corral.  I am glad I did because there was so much space.  The girls I was standing with at the start were all commenting on the fact we've never had so much room in a starting corral of a race before.  It was really nice!

Nike began the race with introducing some notable women who would be running with us.  Record holders and Olympians...the stories and intros were very inspirational.  Nike asked for a shout out for all of those who were running their first half marathon and I gave a holler for my cousin Charline!  We then had a moment of silence reflecting on the tragedy in Boston and the National Anthem.  And then before I knew it, we were off and running.   I had a lot of pent up energy I suppose because I took off running and completed my first mile at a 7:11 pace!  After the second mile, my health started to get the better of me....the pain in my leg really took center stage and I could feel tightness in my chest that was making it hard to breathe from my strep throat.  When I saw my husband at mile 3.5 to hand off my shirt, I shouted to him that "this is the hardest half marathon I've ever run!".
My little one up early cheering for mom!  Mile 3.5

I was full of inner dialogue for the rest of the run.  I was thinking to myself how we can be so disappointed when our bodies don't perform the way that we want them to.  But, we are only human, we aren't machines and things like sickness and injury do happen.   The best we can do is just to take it in stride.  I just told myself to do the best I could with what I had available that day.  After mile 4 was when I began to take walk breaks.  The pain in my quad was running up to my hip and causing a lot of pain and tightness.  When I saw the medical tent at mile 5 or so, I hopped out and asked them for some Ben-Gay.  I spread it all over my thigh and hip of my right leg.  So happy to have a full stocked medical tent there!  (Unlike the medical tent at Gasparilla which didn't have band-aids!)   I forged on, but the pain was still there.  I took a walk break about every mile and stopped at each water station knowing that with being sick that week that hydration was VERY important.  Normally in a half, I only stop for water once, because each second counts.  I took my HumaGel at mile 5 to power me through the rest of the race.

One downside was I didn't see a single photographer during the course so I am not sure if there will be race photos or not.  It could be that I was just in pain and therefore too focused to look around.  Usually when I see a camera, I ham it up - smiles, waves, thumbs up....I didn't have that in me this time. 

As we neared the end of the race, I really wasn't feeling so hot.  I stopped at another Medical Tent to apply more Ben Gay.  I was wishing I had brought some Tylenol along with me as well, but had forgotten to ask about that at the tent.  My only motivation to keep going was it meant the sooner I would be done and could stop.  I never have that mentality....I usually enjoy it all the way through!  We went through a pretty long tunnel in which there was a drum band playing and it was giving me a terrible headache.  The dark and coolness of the tunnel felt nice though.  I got to see my husband again in front of the US Capitol building at Mile 11.5 and took out my ear buds to say to him, "Can you tell I am having a rough time?". 
I was visably hobbling along at that point.  I took a short walk break again after seeing him, and mentally prepared myself and told myself that I would run the very last mile without stopping.  I almost couldn't do it.  I was about half a mile from the finish and was about to slow down to a walk at two different points, but made myself power through.  I didn't have energy to hand out high fives or even smile.  Most races, I have enough pick me up that I sprint other finishers to the end, but I did not have that this time at all.  I looked up and saw the clock as I was crossing the finish line and it said 1:58!  I was shocked!  With the amount of stops I made, the walking breaks, the visits to the medical tent - I could not believe I still pulled out a sub 2:00 finish.  Of course it wasn't my 1:45 goal, but it was not bad at all.  I was actually really really proud.

I made my way over to collect my finisher's prize - my blue Tiffany's box!  I don't know if it was ever more deserved.  A reader had given me a tip prior to running and told me to make sure I got a picture with my fireman, so I made sure to do so!  I was about to try and take a self shot, when another runner offered to do it for me. So thankful!   After the necklace pick up, we then headed through the shoot to pick up our t-shirts, which were of course Tiffany Blue.  They have a great fit and I love it!  It is a really nice shirt because it has no advertisements on the back, only what you see here.

I called my husband and found him and then we both tried to track Charline's progress towards the finish line using our "Find Your Friends" app.  Once we saw that she had finished, we tried to text her our location.  That was a little bit difficult because the area was so crowded and full of people all trying to do the same thing!  A lot of texts weren't going through.  We finally were able to find each other after I sent Jim off as a one man search party :-)
Reunited and Celebratory!  Congrats on your first Half Char!
Grade: A+ Overall, I felt this was an AMAZING race.  One of the best, if not the best, I have ever been a part of!  Nike really knows how to put on a race.  Even though, I hadn't run my goal time and wasn't as nearly as prepared as I had wanted to be (I've only run three times in the past 5.5 weeks!), I still persevered and finished.  I loved everything about this race.  This expo was amazing, the weather was fantastic, the course and scenery couldn't be beat, the finisher's prize, the finishers' t-shirt and everything else leading up to the race.

Nike did a great job of keeping in touch with participants and psyching them up leading up to race day.  They put out a training plan, had motivations posted on their facebook page, they had artist Ellie Goulding (who I love!) as a spokesperson who trained along with us virtually and ran the race (bib #8 and she's fast!), they encouraged participants to post on twitter about their training with hashtags #werundc and #letsturnitup - which made me feel like I was part of something bigger.

One thing was I wish they had some protein at the end such as chocolate milk or bags of Almonds.  They had Luna protein bars but they are too sugary for me.  Nike- I hope you are listening out there ;-) (AND just like that - within minutes of posting this review to Run Nike Womens Series page, they responded!  OMG!  Seriously, amazing!)

It was just AWESOME.  Thanks, Nike.  I am hoping I am lucky enough to get in via lottery again next year!  Laces Crossed! And until then, I will be wearing my necklace as much as possible as a  reminder that we can all overcome the challenges set before us!

Front of necklace
Back of necklace

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon: A Day of Celebration Turns into a Day of Tragedy

 As I sit here, I have a hard time processing how something that began so happy, can leave me aching and empty.

We planned out our day very methodically, I do have an engineer for a husband after all!  We planned out exact times and locations to catch our runners, then drive to the next location to catch them again.  Jim has a lot of successful experience with catching me at multiple locations during my races, so we planned to do the same here.  Our two year old daughter was supposed to spend the day with grandma while we went to the race, but that morning demanded to go with us.  We knew we may not be able to execute our plan as we had once hoped....but we would try.  

Our first stop was about mile 5.5.  We were able to park at a school (no school today) and walk over the railroad bridge to be alongside the course.  We staked out a spot and within minutes caught my friend Anna's boyfriend, Jason, cruise by us at a 6:45 pace.  I screamed his name and he saw us.  We then caught Anna fly by at a 7:15 pace.  I couldn't believe we had caught them with all the runners running that day!

People were loving my sign!  I got lots of smiles and lots of laughs.  I even had someone stop, hand Jim her phone and have Jim take her photo with me!  I asked her for her name....shout out Sally Bowles! 
For those who are not familiar, the Unicorn is the symbol of the Boston Marathon.  "Chosen by the founding members of the Boston Athletic Association in 1887 -- ten years prior to the inaugural Boston Marathon -- the Unicorn is believed to have been chosen as the organization's symbol due to its place in mythology. In Chinese and other mythologies, the Unicorn represents an ideal: something to pursue, but which can never be caught. In pursuit of the Unicorn, however, athletic competitors can approach excellence (but never fully achieve it). It is this pursuit to push oneself to his or her own limit and to the best of one's ability which is at the core of athletics. And for this reason, as the marathon matured, that the B.A.A. also decided that the Unicorn would be the appropriate symbol for the marathon" - per Boston Athletic Association

I was so happy to be able to return the favor to runners.  When I am running, I love to get a good chuckle out of the signs spectators hold.  I love being told that "I am looking good" and "Congrats".  It helps me through and I hope I was able to provide that to some today. Spectators Rock!  I just loved the spirit and enthusiasm of the race though.  Most races, even big races, you get pockets of fans cheering.  Well, at Boston even out in the 'burbs it was packed solid of cheering fans and blaring music, so a runner would get a full 26 miles of solid crowd support.  Boston is a truly special and historic race.  Competitor Magazine did a great article here on what makes it so special. 

While handing out high fives, I was just reminded of how wonderful the running community is.  We support each other....all paces, genders, races, ages.... we are one and it is amazing

We got in the car and moved ahead to mile 13.5 and there we were able to catch Anna again, who was on the other side of the road but sprinted over full tilt and full of smiles to give us a very powerful high five!   Shortly afterwards, a runner from our neighborhood in DC (Christine Stephan) flew by and called out my name!  We had caught another runner we knew...amazing! We had already missed Jason, but we plugged in Rebecca Conroy's bib number and decided to wait to catch her as she went by.  As a brand new mom, she was running in honor of her mother and mother-in-law loosing their battles with cancer.  She had deferred last year because she found out she was pregnant with her beautiful son.  We caught her and I hope we were able to lift her spirits during the mid-way point....where it starts to get tough!  We also caught a friend from high school, Lindsey Mason, who was running for charity as well!  Couldn't believe with the thousands running that day, we were able to catch every runner that we had planned to (and then some!).

We were ready to pack up and move in towards Boston to see the runners at Heartbreak Hill around mile 20.  There was a T stop there that we could catch to the finish if  it wasn't too crowded.  Well, Avery was demanding to go back home to Grandma's as she said she didn't want to see runners anymore.  Who can blame a 2-year old, it's probably not too exciting for her.  What we saw as a burden at the moment, turned out to be a blessing. 

We drove back home and when we went inside that's when we heard the news that 10 minutes prior explosions were reported at the finish line.  The local news was trying hard to figure out what happened, and we immediately texted our friends to make sure they were safe.  We heard back from everyone that they either finished and had left or were a few miles short of the finish and got diverted away safely.  We also got a lot of calls, texts, and facebook messages from friends and family around the country making sure we were safe, since we had just posted pictures of us along the course.  We probably would have been in the fray that day, if it were not for Avery.  My friend Christine who we were to meet at the finish said, "I was so sad that you, Jim and Avery didn't come down to the finish to meet me, but I truly think she may have saved us all".

The running community and the City of Boston continued to support each other and rise to the occasion after this senseless tragedy.  People have been trying to give blood (and reports were that they were turned away, but I will still try to give tomorrow), opening up their homes for stranded people to stay, etc.  Thank you to each and every one of you that reached out to make sure my little family and those close to me were all okay...through texts, emails, facebook and phone calls. 

My thoughts immediately went to fear and will this happen at another big marathon? London this weekend? Marine Corps Marathon I am running this fall? We can't allow the bad people in the world to dictate how we live and cause us to live in fear. 

My thoughts go out to those who lost their lives Monday.  Those who are hurt, gravely so.  My heart is hurting.  This was senseless and all I can ask is WHY?  This was a day to celebrate life, health and happiness...many running in memory of love ones they have lost to tragedy and illness.  A day like this to end the way it did, breaks my heart and leaves an emptiness. 
We tried as best we could to enjoy the rest of our week in Boston.  The city was somber and on edge.  The police presence was nothing like I had ever seen before.  Tents and police vehicles were on the Boston Common.  We still took our daughter to see the Make Way for Ducklings statue and made sure we were able to drink a pint of the famous Sam Adams 26.2 Brew in honor of the marathon.

What a week it was to be in Boston.  From the emotional highs of cheering on my runners in the marathon, to the lows of the bombings, to the grip of fear from the lock down and manhunt that ensued to catch those responsible.  We are back in D.C. now, but we will never forget.  This will go on for days, weeks, months, years as those injured try to adjust to their new normal.  Just as the families of those who lost their lives at the finish line and the family of fallen officer Sean Collier will never be the same.  

I wanted to congratulate each and every runner that ran on Monday.  Even if you did not finish and cross that blue line before the bombs went off, you will always be a Boston Marathon Finisher.

I am more determined than ever to Boston Qualify.  I will be now be putting in the hard work.  I can run a half marathon at a Boston Qualifying time (8:12 per mile) and will now attempt to run an additional 13 while holding that pace.  I can do this and if Boston is your dream, YOU CAN TOO!

XOXO, Live Free And (Now More Than Ever) Run

Monday, April 8, 2013

Race Review: Cherry Blossom Ten Miler

Setting: National Mall and Tidal Basin Washington, DC during the beginning of the cherry blossoms.

Cost/Registration:  Registration is done by a lottery system.  You can guarantee entry into the next year's race if you volunteer.  You can also run for charity to get into the race.  The cost was was customizable which I really liked.  There was a flat fee and then you paid more if you wanted to receive a medal (I opted not to) and if you wanted a dri-fit shirt instead of a cotton shirt (I got the basic cotton).  I thought this was a nice way to keep the cost down for people who may run a lot of races and really don't need to pay more for extra shirts or medals they don't want/need.  

Expo:  The expo was held at the National Building Museum which made it very convenient to get to as there is a metro stop right across the street.  This is a gorgeous building and the vendors were all set up in the grand foyer.  There were plenty of volunteers on hand directing you where to go.  The race organizers tried to lessen the crush of racers all at once at the expo so that created times to come pick up your bib based on the first letter of your last name.  We were the Saturday afternoon time slot and attended then.  I think this really helped as we didn't have to wait in lines and it never felt too busy or crowded.  More races should do that!  After the Expo, we decided to head over to the mall to check on the progress of the blossoms and attend the festivities.  If people travel to town for this race, there is so much going on in the days before and after the race that they would never get bored!

Start:  The start was right on the National Mall.  Again, very easy to get to by metro so parking is not even an issue.  There were 20,000 people running the race so it was pretty crowded on the mall and lines for the bathroom were long (as they are for any race) and port-a-potties were out of toilet paper...ewwww.
It was a cold morning start as well.  We arrived at the staging area by 6:50am.  The sun was not up yet and it was COLD!  I had my arm warmers on and was huddled with other runners for warmth.  Once the sun started to peek over buildings it felt better, but it sure was brisk.  I knew once I got a good pace going I would warm up, but I just had to get there first!
It was a 7:30am start with six waves of approx. 2,500 runners each.  They marked each corral with a color flag that corresponded to your bib, which made it very easy to identify were you need to go. The corral you were assigned to was based on previous race times. All entrants had to provide a past 10-mile time (or a projected time based on a 10K time).  Individuals not submitting a time were placed in the slowest time group.  I was placed in the red corral, which was the second wave which was for a time of 1:12-1:24.  I am not sure if the pace verification really helped at all though.

The start corral was so crowded that I couldn't find room to even squeeze in.  About 100 or so of us were outside the fence standing on the curb with no way to get in.  Once, they sent the first wave and the reds moved up a bit, it created some additional standing room and we were all able to squeeze through the barriers.  I ended up all the way in the back of the red corral, which wasn't where I should have been.  I could see the 8:30 pacer sign way in front of me and knew I would be running faster than that.  A friend I had met in the bathroom line hopped in at the end of the corral right next to me and he was planning on a 7:30 pace, so we discussed that we would definitely have some dodging to to do!  I run with my iphone so that I can use runkeeper to know my time, pacing and gps distance as well as listen to my music.  I got my music set up and was ready to hit start on runkeeper as I crossed the start line, but the app was frozen and I couldn't get it started.  I ran for a half mile with it in my hand waiting for it to unfreeze and it never did.  Instead of wasting anymore time, I decided to put it away and run "naked" with no timing or pacing.  I knew it would be strange, but I told myself I was up for the challenge.  I had NEVER done this training or at a race! 

Course:  The course was mostly waterfront leading from the National Mall, past memorials, over the bridge, around the tidal basin and out to the island point and back.  As I was running this I was thinking it was funny that I will be running almost this same course three times within a two month span.  Rock and Roll DC full, the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler and the Nike Women's Half Marathon...crazy!  The cherry blossoms weren't quite at peak, so it would definitely have been much nicer had they been!
I think that there were too many racers in each corral, and many racers were not seeded correctly, because the first five miles was tight and packed!  Much of those early miles I was hoping up on curbs, running around the back of spectators just to keep pace and keep from running into to people and I was not the the only one!  It was madness.  During the miles, I kept asking myself why do I run big races when this seems to happen?  Because it is very stressful!

Once I hit my stride and space opened up a bit, it felt better and got warmer.  I took off my arm sleeves and tried to put them in my stow and go bra, but that wasn't working out so I just decided to carry them.  I was thinking of tossing them, but ended up running the rest of the race with them in my hand.

I wish that I had taken the time to look at the course map and plan out where I would stop for water.  I had a HumaGel with me and decided to take it at mile 4, but wanted water to go with it.  I was apparently in the "zone" because I didn't realize a water stop was coming up until it was almost too late and I cut over to grab water, but I was at the end of that water stop which is where they were serving Gatorade.  I don't do Gatorade, so I ate half of my HumaGel and carried the rest until I got to the next water stop to take the rest with water.  Two water stops during a ten miler was definitely not ideal time wise.  

When we were out on the island, there was a group who had set up their own mock hydration station handing out cups of beer and oreos.  I didn't take any, but I sure thought it was funny.  There was a couple dressed as Ketchup and Mustard cheering on runners with a sign that said, "Runners are beating you, Go Catch Up!"....I yelled to them, "I get it!" and the Mustard yelled back, "Relish the moment!".  I ran a few hundred yards before it really sunk in and I giggled....I got that one a bit late!  Another woman was holding a sign that read, "Holler if you aren't wearing underwear!"...Of course I had to!  I love creative signs and great spectators.  That really added to the course.  Without any family that lives in the area, we never have our own spectators, but I love reading everyone else's signs and pretend they are cheering for me!

As I approached the final mile, it felt like I still had so far to go.  I could tell I had pushed myself because I didn't feel that I had a lot of extra energy to give.  I was also being very conscious of the footing below me.  That part of the race the road was full of potholes!  With my history of spraining my ankle and with the tired state I was in, I knew I had to be extra careful.  I was looking down watching my footing as best I could.   Tom Petty's "Running Down a Dream" came on and it gave me a little boost.  As we approached the finish, the final distance was very clearly marked with signs stating 1200m to go, 800m to go and 400m to go.  This was really nice, but that final 800m felt so LONG.  Felt much longer than twice around the track, but I know when I am doing that my legs are fresher!  The final 400m was a gradual uphill, which normally the hill wouldn't have seemed bad, but at that point, anything other than flat was tough....I was running out of gas.  I saw Jim jumping up and down as I got closer to the finish line and that signaled to me that I must have been running a good time....without my runkeeper I had no idea of time or pace.  I saw the clock but new that the time was not accurate for me since I was the back of the second corral.  I tried to sprint to the finish (not my finest sprint) and felt my phone buzz.  The race allowed you to sign up for text alerts telling you your finishing time.  It came through as I was in the shoot and I was able to immediately know my chip time.  VERY NICE!  Chip time came in at a 1:21:17.  Not too shabby.  In fact I was very impressed with myself to average an 8:08 pace with no time or pace of was all based on how my body felt. 

Finish:  The finish area had muffins, water and bananas.  I grabbed a banana and Jim ate a muffin and we headed over to retrieve our bag at bag check.  This race organized bag check a bit differently than previous races where it was based upon your last name.  This was based upon bib number/corral, which didn't work out too well because everyone in the yellow corral for instance all finished around the same time and wanted their bags, where as the slower corrals hadn't finished yet so there was no one in those lines.  This seemed like a poor decision on the race planners part.  Hopefully it gets changed for next year because that was a LONG line to get our bags.  And at this point, I had cooled down and was very cold again.  While waiting in the long bag check line, I ran into another girl I had met in the pre-race bathroom line and we were able to chat for a while.  Her name was Rebecca and she was visiting from Chicago (Hi Rebecca!).  She was very nice, I told her about the blog and I think I convinced her to become a Spin Instructor! :-)

Jim and I didn't stick around after getting our bag because we had to rush home to our babysitter.  Our original babysitter had gotten sick, so her mom had come over at 4:30am to fill in for her, so feeling so badly about that we knew we wanted to get home right away because that was an above and beyond thing to do.

I actually think I could have possibly ran faster.  The day prior to the race could have been titled, "How Not to PR in a Race The Next Day".  I taught a 7am spin class, then participated in a stream clean up hauling huge tires out of a river, then walked a few miles downtown at the Cherry Blossom Festival.  Most training plans advocate for REST the day before a race....whoops!  

Overall, I think this was a great race.  Mostly well organized, fantastic volunteers, great crowd support, beautiful course, and pretty trees (that could have been even prettier).  Plus, it's a Washington tradition.  Groups of Congressman even get together to form teams for the race...the New Hampshire team was "Live Free or Die Running a Ten Miler".  Gotta love it.  I would give this race an A.    The only downside was truly the crowding, but I guess everyone just wants to get in on such a great race.  :-)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Buffalo Quinoa with Tofu, Carrots and Cauliflower

This recipe was really easy to throw together and it's WAY better than eating wings! (which I don't anyway because I am a vegetarian).

I make a lot of quinoa at once and use a portion in this recipe and save leftovers in the fridge for breakfast and  I used half of it in my spicy black bean quinoa stew earlier in the week. 

2 cups of rinsed quinoa cooked in 4 cups of water.   Combine and bring to boil.  Let summer until all water is absorbed.

1 pack of tofu cut into small cubes
1.5 cups of Buffalo Sauce (I use Wing Time from Whole Foods and I like the extra hot, but it comes in mild and regular as well)
A head of cauliflower chopped
5 carrots grated
Blue cheese crumbles
Green onion chopped for garnish

If you aren't using leftover quinoa, cook and set aside.  Don't forget to rinse it in a fine mesh strainer first!

Put some coconut oil in a pan and heat.  Add the tofu cubes and cauliflower.  Cook until tofu is browned on two sides.  Then cauliflower and carrots and cook until they are cooked through and tofu is browned on all sides.  Add in the prepared quinoa.   Pour the buffalo sauce over the entire dish in the pan.  Mix through.  If you would like more sauce, you can add it now depending on how spicy you want it.

 Serve on plate of baby spinach and add blue cheese crumbles and green onion to the top.  Or Serve with a side salad of your choosing or carrots or celery for the true buffalo wing experience.

This cooked enough for my 5 servings.  My husband and I each went back for seconds and he took the leftovers to work for lunch.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Holy Nerves!

Oh boy.  The nerves are really starting to set in now.  Butterflies in the stomach type nerves.  It's Thursday and the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler is on Sunday.  Blooms should be at their peak, which is awesome, me at my peak?   Not so much....hence the nerves.  I will be completely honest...I have not logged many miles since completing the Rock and Roll Marathon three weeks ago.  Sad face.  I gave myself a few days rest to recover, then got sick.  I couldn't run because the pounding of my feet made my head pound.  I lost about a week of training there.  Once I was starting to feel better, I went for a three miler which felt good.  My next run, I felt I had pulled something in my right thigh and each push off that leg was painful.  And, another training week gone while I tried to rest that leg.  Boo.  So here we are....almost race time and I have run a total of 3 miles.  At least I have still been teaching my spin class each week so my aerobic capacity isn't all gone I am sure, but it's scary.

I guess the least I can do is enjoy the view right?  Can't beat that.....

And if I am running slow, I can just say I am taking the time to stop and smell the cherry blossoms!  

Working on a pumping playlist to keep myself rocking the miles.

Good luck to everyone running this Sunday.  Happy Running!