It’s actually not so hard drinking green

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It took me a loooong time to get on the green smoothie bandwagon, but I think I’m officially there.

I was feeling sick 2 weeks ago and I knew I had the Pittsburgh half coming up and was looking for something to make me feel better. I went to go get chicken noodle soup at the HUB and they didn’t have any that day. I wandered around for a bit because I didn’t have a plan B. I was not feeling like eating much of anything, and then remembered there was a Jamba Juice and that would probably feel better than any of the junk food that was available. While I was in line, I saw there was a “ginger and greens” smoothie and decided I would dive in. Ginger seemed like it would help to clear out my sinuses and I figured that it must not taste too terrible if it was on the menu, right?

Anyway, I got it and it was amazing. Of course I’m not going to spend whatever ridiculous amount of money that costs on a daily basis, so I figured I’d try on my own. I went out and bought kale, frozen mango, frozen peaches, lemon juice and fresh ginger. I’ve been making that or adding home made yogurt to it almost every day that I’ve been home since.

I will say that I could not believe it was ever possible that a green smoothie would be edible, let alone taste good, no matter how many people told me I was wrong. It’s helped me to get more greens, and also it’s been pretty filling, especially if I add a little yogurt. I did decide to order ginger juice so that I can get more of a kick and also spend less time cutting up fresh ginger in the morning. I’m hoping that it works out well since I haven’t been able to reproduce the spiciness of the Jamba Juice version even when I add a lot of fresh whole ginger.

I’m hoping to make this a habit as one of the steps to eat healthier in the future.

 

 

Pittsburgh Half Marathon and Relay

This past weekend I finally got to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I was so excited. I used to live in Pittsburgh and it was the first half marathon I had any contact with. The Hubs did it in 2013 as his first. At the time, of course, I thought he was insane. I did the 5k last year with friends while he did the half a second time, and this year we were bot able to run it.

First things first, I’m totally biased. Pittsburgh is basically my favorite place in the world. I know, weird. But I think it’s a combination of nostalgia and the fact that I know my way around that just makes it a really fun place for me.

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We got into the city fairly late on Friday and went out to get a late dinner. We ate at Eleven which was fairly close to our hotel. The food was really good and the service was excellent.

Speaking of hotels, I need to give a huge shout out to the place that we’ve stayed now all 3 times we’ve been in town for race weekend. The Hampton Inn on Smallman Street in Pittsburgh has always been an amazing place to stay. It’s close enough to walk to the start and from the finish. It’s very close to the expo so if you are like me and like to go at least twice, that is pretty convenient. It’s close to a riverside trail and walking distance to the Strip District which itself is an awesome place. We always make a stop at Penn Mac for spices, nuts, italian stuff and sometimes cheese. We also LOVE Pittsburgh Popcorn Company.  We did all of this on Saturday and ate lunch at Rolands and got dinner at Emporio which served pasta and meatballs. After that we got a drink at The Sharp Edge while we watched the Kentucky Derby and then went back for an early bedtime.

As for the race itself. I often tell people that The Pittsburgh Marathon has the expo that ruined all other expos for me. Since it was the first one I ever went to, I thought that all expos were just that big and awesome.

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I wasn’t able to get an angle that showed how amazing it is. But it is row after row of vendors. Dick’s Sporting Goods sponsors the race and has a huge store inside. There is also a Fleet Feet, and there was a Brooks store set up with a treadmill doing gait analysis. There was also a Sierra Nevada Beer tasting, Bubbly wine tasting and Wigle Whiskey (local to Pittsburgh) tasting as well. There are a ton of really fun custom T-Shirts that are great for nerds like me that like Pittsburgh as much as I do. (You can see some at Steel City Cotton and Fresh Factory). There are a too many more places to name, but trust me when I say it’s worth saving some time to walk around.

The morning of the race I wasn’t in a huge rush to get out of the door. The weather reports had been mixed for a few days, but pretty much all of them involved some sort of rain. I knew that since I was starting in the last corral, I’d be waiting for a long time before I got to the starting line. The Hubs and I walked over and met Becca, who graciously offered to run the Half with me, even knowing how I get on long runs, and Debbie who was doing the full Marathon but was able to start with us until the course split. To add to the confusion of this race, I was a member of a relay team. The wife of one of my high school friends reached out to me to see if I’d be on her relay team. I was already signed up for the half, but it turns out that you are able to do both, as long as you do the first leg (or 2). Another friend of mine was going to pick up leg 2, but ended up injured. Since it didn’t lead to any more miles for me, I offered to just pick up leg 2.

After waiting in the corral for what seemed like forever, we were off and headed down Liberty Ave. It was SO crowded. It was hard to move at all. We also ended up behind a walk run pace group. While I think that whoever wants to do the race should, and I fully support the interval folks who come out to do the race (some of which finish faster than I do) it can be frustrating to be bunched in with them. A lot of them follow the appropriate etiquette when stopped (hand up when they are walking) some of them did not. I almost ran full force into a few as I was looking around trying to enjoy the sights.

We turned down Penn and Over the 16th Street Bridge and I was feeling great. This year the course changed so that you were directed around PNC Park and Heinz Field which made the time go a little faster. Around mile 6 1/2 you head over to Southside and this is where things got hard. At mile 7 I finally decided to give into my bladder and stop to pee. I thought this was basically destroying any hope I had at beating my time from October’s race. But I had to stop, it was actually painful and I knew that I still had a long way to go. I also worried that when I had to stop at the relay point, my bladder would just give up on me. I will say this was a strategic error. I did feel SO much better and I needed to pee, but had I known that once I got to the relay stop there would be rows and rows of porta-potties I would have waited.

The relay stop also took longer than I thought. Pittsburgh is a really well run race. Everything I read about doing both the relay and the half it said volunteers would help get off my bib and shoe tag. This is one place that I felt they dropped the ball. No one helped me at the exchange. Well, no volunteers. Becca came to the rescue and helped me so we could get moving again. But those two stops, so close together didn’t do me any favors. By the time I hit mile 11, I was pretty out of it. I think that my fueling wasn’t great. I only ate a banana and Gu before I started and then I had one more on the way. I did have another on the dreaded Birmingham bridge because I was so out of it I didn’t know where I was. I thought it was the final last hill and not just out of wishful thinking.

When we turned off the bridge there was a little downhill and one last big uphill. I just couldn’t make it all the way up and had to walk a little bit more. At that point I thought there was no way I was going to PR, but Becca came to tell me that if we really pushed the last 1-1.5 miles we might do it.  I thought she was crazy, but I decided that that was all I had left, so I really started to run. I’m normally a 12:30 ish pace or slower on long runs, but mile 12-13 was 10:49 and the last .3 was a 9:46 pace which is unheard of for me. I was really proud that I pushed myself and was able to get a PR even with a bathroom and relay stop. I really didn’t think it would happen. It wasn’t a huge PR, but it was a mental victory given all the things I dealt with during the race.

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After the race we went back to the hotel. I was SORE. It was more my back than anything, so I spent some time with my feet up on the wall. 20170507_113851

After that we went with friends to Bakersfield to get some tacos and beer. We walked around a LOT that night and got home fairly late. All that walking led to me somehow injuring my ankle which is worrying me right now since I have Ragnar in less than a month. I haven’t had a chance to get it looked at, but for now I have a restrictive brace and compression socks on in hopes that it will help until I can get somewhere.

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Oh, I did forget one more thing. When I lived in Pittsburgh I LOVED Prantls. We used to get little things there, but a few times we had their burnt almond tort which is now famous since it was named “Greatest Cake America Has Ever Made” by the Huffington Post. I will say that it’s probably #2 in my book (Wegmans Chocolate Cake has them beat) but still I told myself that if I got a PR I would buy one so…..

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Overall I think I will someday do this race again, but probably not next year. It’s a little sad for me since I love this trip whenever I make it, but this course beat me a little and I think I need some time to recover. I won’t ever do the relay and the half again. It really was nice to help out a team, but the time I lost was a morale killer, especially after my bathroom break.  Also, going to a city I like and know as much as Pittsburgh has it’s downside. I eat and drink more than I likely would anywhere else and so it’s not an ideal race/recover spot. I did bounce back today with a green smoothie for breakfast and a day full of raw almonds, grilled chicken, tea, and carrots. So maybe I can look at this as a last hurrah until next time we get to the city. Or maybe, much like me saying I’d never even do a second half marathon, I’ll change my mind when the time comes.

 

April Challenge

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There isn’t all that much to report on the April challenge. It wasn’t a particularly hard one, but I managed to get more walks in with the family. Because of schedules etc, we didn’t always all go together, but there were more in general for all of us and that was mostly what I wanted to achieve.

Onward and upward to May’s challenge which is to use one thing from the deep freezer once a week for meals. My husband is a hunter and I also end up putting things in there if I don’t get around to making them, so it’s pretty full. I got a jump start on it yesterday when I brought some venison Kielbasa to a friend’s house for a cookout.

Pittsburgh is NEXT WEEK! I am getting nervous and enjoying the taper, but man, I’ve been so exhausted. I’m hoping May is less busy. I spent April doing a ton of work, social, running, mom and kid stuff. Plus I had to cram in a ton of CLE credits to keep my law license active. The thing I’m most looking forward to is 5 days of forced rest after the half!

 

 

March Challenge

I know I’m late with this, but I kept putting it off and hoping I’d have some pictures or data. My March challenge was to get rid of one thing everyday. All I can say is that depending on how you look at it, I more than surpassed my goal, or just squeaked by.

I got rid of a lot of clothes, kids toys and other things that were in my garage waiting for their next home. If I count each item of clothing, each toy, ect, I’m way over the goal of 31 things. If I wanted to be tough on myself and count 1 bag of clothes as 1 thing, I think I would still almost make my goal.

This is one challenge that wasn’t hard for me, but it was good to force myself into it. It came at a good time and I was able to have my mother in law post things to sell and also I was able to get rid of both summer and winter clothes since it’s the time of year that I’m starting that rotation. It was also helpful because I realized that I had more summer clothes for the kids that I had thought, so I didn’t run out and buy anything for them. That’s a win since I was thinking I would have to.

Overall I think this is a challenge I need to do a few times a year. The April challenge is one family walk per week. I chose that since I was doing Cherry Blossom in D.C. so I knew the buy nothing challenge and the no eating out challenge were not meant for this month. Also my son’s birthday is in the beginning of May, so I will be looking to buy him presents and to buy party supplies this month.

I’m ready to hit the challenges hard again though and really need to come up with a good one for May. Right now the one I’m liking the most is to use something from our deep freezer for a meal once a week. I’ll be in Pittsburgh for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May, so I know that I won’t be able to do no eating out or buy nothing again. Those are going to be the tough ones to fit in, but I think I’ll need to not let them wait too long since the fall is when I like to finish up holiday shopping.

Cherry Blossom 10 Miler

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Race number 2 for the year is done! My race recap is more about logistics since I know that is what freaks me out when I’m traveling to run.

PRE RACE

I had a lot of reasons to be excited about the Cherry Blossom. I was traveling with my 3 BRFs (Becca, Jeannie and Loren) and we were all meeting my long time friend Liz in on Saturday to see the expo and get dinner the night before. Also they were all meeting each other for the first time before we run our Ragnar Relay together in June. Liz will be stuck in a van with me, Loren and 3 other folks for a long, smelly, exhausting experience, so it’s always good to at least spend a little time together before then.

We left around 9 on Saturday morning and had an uneventful trip. My traveling companions got a taste of my ridiculous level of superstition during the drive. I know that my superstitions are worse than most, but seriously, you do NOT talk about how reliable your car is while your in the middle of a long trip. It’s just tempting fate. There were also a few other things that happened on the trip that let them see my particular brand of nutty, including Jeannie picking up a penny that was tails up. I’m lucky they didn’t just leave me in Washington D.C. and I can only guess it’s because I offered to drive the first leg home.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol hill. I had seen early on that this was the recommended hotel, and in a moment of race travel panic, booked it right away. I think it was a good choice. Once we got there and were able to check in right away even though it was well ahead of normal check in time. We unloaded the car and then it was valet parked. The one expense I hadn’t considered, and should have, was the cost of parking. It added about $70 worth of expenses to the trip when you factor in tips etc. Luckily we were splitting that cost 4 ways.

After that we headed off to the expo to pick up our bibs and shirts, and to meet up with Liz. The bib pick up was separate from the shirt pick up. After our 4ish hour drive and the walk from the hotel (which was about a half mile from the hotel at the National Building Museum) it seemed like a lot. The expo was a little disappointing for the size of the race. I think I may have an unreasonable expectation of race expos though. Going with the Hubs to his first few races was my first experience with expos. His first race was the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Their expo is amazing. It’s held at the David Lawrence Convention Center and is not only huge, it also has a ton of vendors. I have yet to be at another one that even comes close to matching it. But I will say that the Cherry Blossom expo didn’t even match up to the Monument Avenue 10K  which is a really nice race, but I would expect that Cherry Blossom would be a little nicer given that it’s a kind of higher profile race (well in my mind anyway).

After the expo, we walked in the general direction of the staging area for the race. We were getting a little hangry and decided that street vendors were the best option. We found a row of food trucks. I got a falafel burrito which was basically the best thing ever. Some other people got tacos that were apparently pretty tasty and I think there was a quesadilla thrown in there somewhere as well. Some people decided to carb load with ice cream. I opted against that. While I was not at all disappointed with my food selection we later found a plethora of food trucks at a different location and felt like we should have waited for more variety.

We didn’t want to trash our legs completely especially since Liz had a pretty fast goal time, so we chilled at the hotel until dinner. We took a cab to Dino’s Grotto for dinner. I got some pasta with mushrooms which was pretty much perfect for a pre race dinner. I think everyone was fairly happy with their choices there.

RACE DAY

The morning of the race we walked the 1.5 mile from the hotel to the start. It was right near the Washington Monument so it was really easy to find. We didn’t want to go too early since it was coldish so we left around 7:00 AM. We got to the starting line pretty close to when the first wave left. We knew we were in the last corral, so there wasn’t a rush to hop into the fray just yet. We had some throw away heat blankets that super racer Becca had from previous races, and checked a bag with clothes for after. Liz said that there was a long line at bag check, but by the time we got there, we didn’t have to wait at all.

Our timing paid off since we were only in the corral maybe 10 minutes before it was our turn to go. The beginning was slow going as usual. It was really elbow to elbow and hard to get around anyone. It thinned out a bit around the half mile mark, but this whole race was really crowded. I felt like I was constantly running into people. As always the first mile felt like 3 miles, but the view was pretty amazing so that helped. The course starts by taking you over Memorial Bridge and then there is a circular turn around. The visual of runners going around in all directions was just so cool.

Overall the course was fairly flat and gorgeous. The people seemed to be in good spirits. We had decided not to speed through the course and had all saved up things to talk about on the run, so the 4 of us took turns chatting about various things.

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Some of the views along the way included the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial (which I missed) Kennedy Center, the Washington Monument, and of course Cherry Blossoms. I think we also passed the FDR memorial but I missed that too.

One complaint I had about this race was that the water stops were all only on one side of the road. The course was already narrow. Other than that it was a beautiful race on a beautiful day. I was glad that I didn’t read race caps from previous years since I now know they all talk about how bad the wind is. We got pretty lucky and I don’t remember much wind at all.

Since we all did the race for fun, the first 8.8 ish miles were fairly easy. When my watch hit 9 miles without the 9 mile marker in sight I had a little internal temper tantrum. I know that it was from weaving etc, but I was ready to be done at that point. Coupled with the only really big hill (though still it was small compared to the hills I regularly run on) being between mile 9-10 made the end difficult. To me it seemed like everyone other than my running buddies walked on the hill. I knew I wanted to finish with them so I didn’t let myself stop, though I did slow down a bit. I was able to catch up with them before the finish line which I was glad for since that was the point of running together.

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The time cut off is pretty strict and even if you are well ahead of the last people as far as clock time, they will give you a DNF for the race if you exceed 2:20. I knew I could beat that time with plenty to spare and it still freaked me out. But, I definitely recommend this race to anyone who is confident they can finish it in under 2:20.

Out of My Comfort Zone

There is a lot that I love about my running group. There are people of all different ages/paces/backgrounds. While there are  people who are just too fast for me, some of those people regularly will hang back with me if I don’t have someone else to run with me. But, if I ever want to push myself, there is no shortage of people who will help me with that too.

I’ve been trying to run slow for most of my training this cycle. I have a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is just the enjoyment I get from running slow miles and chatting with friends. I was ready to give up at the beginning of this cycle because I just wasn’t loving it anymore. I was going so fast I couldn’t talk and ended every run feeling that I couldn’t take one more step. Since making that decision, I’ve rarely tried to push the pace.

On Sunday night, I went to bed knowing the weather was iffy, but thinking that it’d be fine. Monday morning I woke up and was checking to see if it was raining, and every time it was a slight drizzle. I thought several times about canceling (though in fairness that thought crosses my mind at least once ever Monday morning). Instead I got in the car and headed out to meet the group. When I got there, three other runners were waiting. I was thinking one of my regular buddies would be there, but she ended up having alarm issues that morning. I was still thinking I was fine though since with four of us, we could break into 2 groups. I knew it’d be faster, but nothing too harsh.

It was pouring rain at this point, and that’s when one of the three decided to bail rather than risk running in the pouring cold rain and get sick. Because of my knee, I knew I shouldn’t join her in step class and I was already there, so I decided to run in the rain. That left me with two other runners, both who are significantly faster than I am. I knew that at least one of them would stay with me if I did my normal pace, but given the rain I wasn’t that excited to be out there longer than I needed. So I decided to push my pace. I started out just slightly faster than normal, and then kept pushing a little harder. I was able to chat for most of the run except the one small hill and the very end when I decided to just go for it. I wasn’t able to carry on the normal breezy conversation, but I was able to participate enough to keep it enjoyable.

It rained hard for a while, but then it slowed down. By the end it was a drizzle. It was cold, but I wasn’t freezing. I always forget that running in the rain isn’t that bad provided it’s not near freezing. The only downside is that since I took the Hubs’ truck, the poor guy may have had a bit of a wet ride to work that day. He didn’t mention it though so I’m hoping that it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

I was really glad to push myself a bit for a few reasons. My knee is still recovering (though I went to PT and have a plan that I’m optimistic about) and I was able to see an improvement from the last few times I tried to run faster paces. It also helps me believe that my goal of a sub 32 5k this year is within reach for sure.

9 Miles! 4 Miles! Ouch!

I have definitely figured out that while I sign up for a crazy amount of races, those races are what keep me motivated. I know that this past weekend I would not have gotten out for a run if I didn’t feel the impending pressure from my upcoming 10 miler, half, Ragnar and trail 10K. I was supposed to run Saturday, but postponed because of weather. OF COURSE the weather was fine Saturday morning anyway, but since I had moved it already, my buddies had made other plans. So Sunday it was.

I was dreading it. It was going to be awful. Why do I do this?

You know what? It was FUN. There was one hill that had me cursing at the person who had made the route (who also happened to be running on the beach in Florida while I was going up this stupid hill in just above freezing weather and dogging ice and snow falling from the trees and power lines). But up until then, and after that I was just chatting with friends, listening to their stories and was all around just happy. I know, without a doubt, that I would not enjoy these long runs on my own, and that some day I might have to face that. But for now I’m grateful that I rarely run on my own, and other than a 6 mile treadmill run in the dead of winter, I’ve done all my longer runs with friends.

I felt good the rest of the day and decided that, in order to get back on track, I would just do 4 miles on Monday. So yeah, I decided to run a half marathon’s worth of miles over less than 24 hours. Maybe not my best idea? I was so sore all day.

Luckily I had a pre scheduled massage appointment last night, so I was able to get some relief from my soreness. Of all the things that I do for training, I really think massage is one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s both a physical and mental boost and it always seems to fall at a much needed time. I suppose any time I went in would feel like I need it though.

From here it’s onward and upward. I’m altering my plan to fall back this week since I have Cherry Blossom on April 2. I am not nervous about the run, but race travel makes me nervous all the time. Unfamiliar food, sleeping arrangements and transportation are not something I deal well with when I have to be somewhere at a scheduled time. I’m thinking this is something I need to work on, especially before Ragnar.