Our VIP Concert Experience

Saturday was all about being in the right place at the right time.

We arrived at Nationals Park about two hours before the concert started.  We walked a couple of blocks away to grab a quick dinner at Subway, and then walked back to the ballpark.  About an hour before the concert started, we started to make our way up to the 400 level, where our ticketed seats were located.  Since we had some time to kill, we walked around the 300/400 level concourse.

Preston was enjoying a pre-concert ice cream when we were approached by a member of Billy Joel’s concert staff.  He asked us if our seats were near where we were standing (one of the 300 level section entrances).  We responded and said no, our seats were actually up in the 400 level.  We were then told that he was offering people like us who had nosebleed tickets the opportunity to sit on the field.  At first, we thought it was a scam, as he wasn’t wearing very visible identification.  All we noticed was that he had a walkie talkie on his belt and a small ID hanging beside it.  He assured us that it wasn’t a scam, and handed us two tickets for second row seats as well as the required wristbands to gain access to the field.  We figured that the worst that could happen was that we’d try to get onto the field, be turned away, and then return to our nosebleed seats and enjoy the concert from where we had intended to.

As we made our way back down to the 100 level, we remained in complete shock and disbelief.  Had we really just been given upgraded tickets to the second row?  For free?!?  The closer we got to the field entrance, the more wristbands we started to notice on other people’s wrists, which got us thinking that this couldn’t have possibly been real, that there was no way that this could have actually been happening to us.

Our upgraded tickets

Our upgraded tickets

The tickets were legit.  We really had been given upgraded tickets and were on our way to starting a VIP concert experience.

As we walked out onto the field and were shown our seats, we couldn’t believe our good fortune.  We sat down and waited for the start of the concert, and in talking with others around us found out that they too were supposed to have been sitting in the 400 level, and had also received upgraded tickets.

The view from our field seats...no zoom needed here!

The view from our field seats…no zoom needed here!

Waiting for the concert to begin

Waiting for the concert to begin

We hadn’t done much research into who was scheduled to open for Billy Joel, only to find out shortly after arriving on the field that the opening act was none other than Gavin DeGraw!  How could this night get any better?

What an incredible way to kick off an unbelievable concert!

What an incredible way to kick off an unbelievable concert!

Around 9:00, the Piano Man himself took the stage!  Hands down, this was the best concert I’ve ever been to.  Even if we had been in our original nosebleed seats, it still would have been the best concert that I’ve ever been to, and being upgraded to the field only made the concert that much better.  And then about halfway through the concert we received the icing on the cake: security allowed the front three rows to move even closer to the stage.  We were within ten feet of the Piano Man himself!

billy joel 1

 

billy joel 2

Hands down, Saturday’s concert was one of the best experiences of my life!  It ranks up there with seeing the sunrise over Haleakala in Maui and then biking down the volcano, crossing the finish line of my first half marathon, and of course our wedding day.  Saturday’s concert will be an experience that I will never forget!

IMG_3877

QOTD: When have you been treated like a VIP?  Was it a surprise, or was it planned?

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon Training Log – Week 13

The theme of this past week was finding a balance between unpacking the house, keeping up with my training schedule, and working on the annual curriculum project that I’ve worked on every year since I started teaching.  My view during the day last week, and what it will continue to look like in the coming week, looked something like this each day:

While the stereotype is that teachers don't work over the summer, many teachers in fact do work

While the stereotype is that teachers don’t work over the summer, many teachers in fact do work.  By the end of this coming week I’ll have spent two weeks working on a district wide curriculum project to edit existing resources in a database and add higher level thinking activities to them.

With my daytime hours being tied up with work, my evening hours have become a balancing act between unpacking/getting our house set up and my training.  While I completed my three scheduled runs last week, I didn’t have time for cross training or yoga.  Fortunately, this coming week is my last week of working on the project, and then my attention will only be pulled in two different directions, not three.

The fitness highlight of this past week was my return to the gym on Wednesday.  It felt absolutely incredible to complete a speedy run on the treadmill, and then to focus on weight and circuit training for almost an hour!  To say my body was sore on Thursday is an understatement!

Mon 7/21 – Rest day

Tues 7/22 – Rest day

Wed 7/23 – 3.10 mile treadmill run, 0.39 mile cool down walk, kettlebell squat swings, abs, legs, glutes, arms, back, shoulders

Thurs 7/24 – Rest day

Fri 7/25 – 3.01 mile neighborhood run, 0.20 mile cool down walk

Sat 7/26 – Rest day

Sun 7/27 – 4.18 mile run on the Cub Run Stream Valley Trail, 0.31 mile cool down walk

Total Weekly Mileage – 11.19 miles (13.61 mile less than week 12)

Total Half Marathon Training Mileage – 183.78 miles

While I had hoped to accomplish more this past week, I know that setting goals is just the first step towards achievement.  Having goals and working towards achieving them, even if not meeting them 100%, is better than not having any goals at all.

brucelee

And for those of you who follow me on Instagram and Twitter, you probably already know what my personal highlight of the week was…..Saturday evening’s Billy Joel concert!  The concert was absolutely incredible!  Gavin DeGraw opened for Billy Joel and we got to experience the entire concert from our upgraded second row seats!  The concert and the VIP experience deserves its own post, and I’m beyond grateful that I had a real camera with me in order to capture the evening. My plan is to dig the camera cord out of a packed box tomorrow after work, so hopefully I’ll be able to share my concert experience with all of you on Tuesday!  Stay tuned!

Saturdays concert was absolutely incredible!

Saturday’s concert was absolutely incredible!

QOTD: When your schedule only allows you to focus on one, which do you prefer: cross training or weight training?  Why?

Posted in Motivation, RnRVB Half Marathon Training, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Friday Five – July 25th – Summer Goals Check In

This week’s Friday Five theme with the DC Trifecta is Goals, and I thought that this would be the perfect time to give a status report on the progress I’m making in meeting my summer fitness goals.  At the beginning of June I shared five things that I planned on doing this summer, many of which are training related.  At the end of June I shared an additional training goal for the summer.  So what progress have I made towards meeting my summer goals?

1.  Make running outside during the week a priority

new neighborhood

Since school ended a month ago, I’ve completed many more of my training runs outside.  While part of this was forced upon me since I went almost two weeks without going to the gym, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to explore our new neighborhood by foot.

2.  Reaching my 1,000 mile milestone

973 miles

Since I started running last March, I’ve run, walked, and ellipticalled almost 973 miles.  I’m only 27 miles away from reaching my goal!  My guess is that I’ll reach this milestone sometime in early August.

3.  Completing my third half marathon

rnrvabeach

Training for Virginia Beach has been going extremely well.  Its hard to believe that in five short weeks I’ll be running my third half marathon!

4.  Closing on and moving into our first house

We're homeowners!

We’re homeowners!

Check!

5.  Celebrating my third wedding anniversary

our wedding

Photo Credit: Romine Weddings

Okay, so celebrating our anniversary isn’t a goal per se, but its still very important nonetheless.  Next Wednesday marks our third wedding anniversary.  I can’t wait to kick off our anniversary celebration this weekend at the Billy Joel concert at Nats Park Saturday evening.

QOTD: How are you progressing in working towards meeting your summer goals?

As always, thank you to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting the weekly Friday Five Link Up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well!

DC_linkup

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Feels So Good To Be Back!

Yesterday evening I went to the gym for the first time in two weeks.  Although I’ve been able to keep up with most of my planned runs in the midst of our move, its been hot and humid, and I haven’t had access to weights in order to keep up with my weight training.  I’ve noticed that the lack of weight training has led to some muscle loss, but I expected that to happen.

The humidity yesterday was unbearable, and I was beyond grateful to be able to run on the treadmill instead of having to face the humidity again.  It felt incredible to complete a speedy run, and then spend almost an hour working on weight and circuit training.  I walked out of the gym on Cloud Nine, and couldn’t wait to shout my joy from the mountaintops!

Although I know that I’ll be feeling the effects of yesterday’s visit to the gym, it feels incredible to be getting back into the swing of things.  The soreness that I’ll be feeling from not only yesterday’s workout but the workouts to come as I continue to work on getting back into my regular training routine will be well worth it in the end.

winning quote

While the house is still nowhere close to being completely unpacked, I know that the gym is there as my escape from the craziness of what’s happening at home right now.  I can’t wait until my next visit to the gym!

QOTD: Where do you go in order to escape the craziness of everyday life?

Posted in Motivation, Training | Tagged , | 11 Comments

The End of an Era

Yesterday afternoon was bittersweet.  Almost three weeks after closing on our house, and 10 days after moving in, we said farewell to our apartment.  It was a bit emotional for me, as our apartment marked so much for us, including:

  • Tomorrow would have marked our four year anniversary of moving into our apartment
  • It was the first “home” that Preston and I shared together, which we moved into three weeks before he proposed to me
  • Its where we brought our first “child” home to last February
Riley on his first night at home with us

Riley on his first night at home with us

  • Its where I made the ultimate decision to start running two months after Preston ran his first marathon
  • On days when leaving the apartment complex to run outside or get to the gym wasn’t ideal, I logged my training miles in the gym in the basement of our building
  • Its where I started blogging
Our empty apartment right before we closed the door for the last time

Our empty apartment right before we closed the door for the last time

Of course, there are countless other memories that we made at our apartment.  And while I know that there are greater things to come, it was still difficult to hand over our keys and walk out the front door of the building for the last time.  After we left the apartment, we immediately drove to our old gym and were finally able to transfer our Gold’s Gym membership to a location much closer to our new house.  Getting back into my regular gym routine will be the final step of getting back into my regular training routine.  It feels like it was ages ago that I did any weight training!

Here’s to all of the great memories that we’ll make in our new home!

QOTD: What emotions did you experience the last time that you moved?

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged | 23 Comments

Our Cooking Challenge

About a week before Preston and I closed on our house, we agreed that with a new house and a new kitchen, we wanted to try out new recipes.  We’ve both always enjoyed cooking, and when we were first married and money wasn’t as tight we often took cooking classes together at our local Sur La Table.

Showing off my gyoza at a Japanese cooking glass at Sur La Table

Showing off my gyoza at a Japanese cooking class at Sur La Table back in 2012

With purchasing a new grill, we knew that would immediately open up new cooking possibilities.  But we didn’t want to fall into the routine of cooking the same recipes over and over again, which is a habit that we’ve fallen into over the past year or so.  With a new house, we wanted to challenge ourselves to try at least one new recipe per week.

We kicked off our challenge last week.  Our inspiration for last week’s recipe was our local grocery store ad.  I say inspiration because one of my best friends Linda, who went to culinary school, shared with me awhile back that a recipe never needs to be followed word for word.  The measurements of ingredients and ingredients themselves can be altered and/or substituted altogether to accommodate specific dietary needs and/or preferences.  Recipes should serve as guidelines, allowing each person to alter them and make them their own.

If you follow me on Instagram then you already know what last week’s recipe was: Lime Fiesta Chicken Salad.  Preston and I have always enjoyed making salads and topping them off with various proteins.  We also spent last week trying to get back on track with our regular diet after almost two weeks of take out and frozen pizza (gotta love moving!).  So when I came across this salad recipe in the grocery store ad, I thought it would the perfect recipe to kick off our cooking challenge with.

limefiestachickensalad

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken breast
1 cup diced avocado
1/2 cup canned corn kernels
2 cups chopped tomato
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice and zest of 1 lime
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
Salt and pepper

Instructions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Slice into bite-sized pieces.
2.  Combine chicken, avocado, corn, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle with lime juice and toss gently.
3.  Arrange vegetables and chicken over lettuce.

Yes, its that simple!  Two notes: first, we opted to grill the chicken instead of cooking it in the oven.  Also, Preston didn’t think that the lime juice was enough of a dressing, so he added ranch dressing to his salad.  I thought the lime juice was sufficient, but again, its a matter of personal preference and taste.

With this new challenge, I’ll be sure to share some of our newly discovered recipes with all of you!  Yesterday Preston and I made another new recipe.  Stay tuned to the blog next week, and I’ll be sure to share the recipe with all of you then!

QOTD: What new recipe have you recently tried out?

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Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon Training Log – Weeks 11 and 12

As I mentioned last week, week 11 of my training was pretty much a complete bust.  Between painting our townhouse and packing up our apartment, as well as the move itself, I only had time to train once.

Tues 7/8 – 3.10 mile treadmill run, 0.41 mile cool down walk, kettlebell squats, abs

The rest of the week I was very active with everything involved with moving.  With our townhouse being three stories, I’m sure I logged plenty of miles going up and down the stairs.  Too bad I didn’t have a pedometer on to track all of my steps!

The long run that I missed was only scheduled to be four miles, so in the grand scheme of things I didn’t miss too many miles during week 11.  In the long run, it shouldn’t have too much of a negative impact on my Virginia Beach training.

This past week was all about getting back on track.  Although we still haven’t transferred our gym membership, I was fortunate this week that the heat and humidity weren’t in full force like they have been up to this point of the summer.  Its been a welcome relief since I don’t have the treadmill as an option right now.  I thoroughly enjoyed spending the week exploring the new neighborhood by foot, and especially enjoyed running on a new to me trail during my long run on Sunday.  With the Cub Run Stream Valley Trail being about a half mile from our house, I’m loving how close we now are to a trail!  At the apartment we had to drive in order to take advantage of one of the local trails.

Scenes from my run on Sunday.  Its hard to believe how peaceful it is just 40 minutes west of DC!

Scenes from my run on Sunday. Its hard to believe how peaceful it is just 40 minutes west of DC!

Mon 7/14 – 3.05 mile neighborhood walk with Riley

Tues 7/15 – 2.87 mile neighborhood run, 0.41 mile cool down walk

Wed 7/16 – Rest day

Thurs 7/17 – 35 minutes of yoga, 3.33 mile neighborhood run, 0.31 mile cool down walk, squats

Fri 7/18 – 3.53 mile neighborhood walk with Riley

Sat 7/19 – “Rest” day (we cleaned our old apartment for close to six hours!)

Sun 7/20 – 11.05 mile run on the Cub Run Stream Valley Trail, 0.25 mile cool down walk

Total Weekly Mileage – 24.80 miles (1.17 miles more than week 10)

Total Half Marathon Training Mileage – 172.59 miles

QOTD: What was the highlight of your training this past week?

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Friday Five – July 18th – Friday Favorites

With us having moved from our apartment to our townhouse last Saturday, and having spent much of this week unpacking and trying to get back to normal life, its been an absolutely crazy week!  Since our house isn’t dog proof yet and Riley’s separation anxiety makes crating him an unrealistic solution (trust me, we’ve tried!), somebody has always had to be at the house with him, which has added another level of complexity to our already crazy week.  Given that we also still don’t have Internet set up at our new house yet (Verizon is scheduled to finally come on Sunday!), I’ve been going a bit nuts this past week!

But a few (new) favorites have helped to ease the stress of this past week.

1.  Daily Internet time at Starbucks

starbucks

Starbucks has been my Internet home away from home this week.  I’ve spent time each day at Starbucks (there are two locations within five minutes of our house), which is the only reason I’ve still been able to blog almost everyday this past week.

2.  Wegmans

While in college at AU, I heard people, mainly those from New York, rave about Wegmans.  Then when a Wegmans store opened in Fairfax I started to hear about people driving up to an hour to go there for their grocery shopping.  It just didn’t make sense to me – why would people drive up an hour each way just to go grocery shopping?  With Wegmans now being 15 minutes away from our new house, I now understand why people will drive there.  This place is great!  The meat, seafood, and produce is super fresh, and their bulk meat prices are comparable to that at Sam’s Club or BJ’s without having to pay for a club membership.  I went to Wegmans last Sunday, and I cannot wait to do the majority of our grocery shopping there!

3.  Our new grill

Preston and his brother cooking burgers on our brand new grill!

Preston and his brother cooking burgers on our brand new grill!

One of the many things that Preston and I looked forward to buying for our new house was a grill.  Since most apartment complexes, including the one that we lived at, prohibit them, we couldn’t wait to buy one.  Other than one night this week when it was pouring rain, we have cooked dinner on it every night this week.

4.  Trying new recipes

lime fiesta chicken salad

Wednesday evening Preston and I made something new to us for dinner – Lime Fiesta Chicken Salad.  Stay tuned to the blog next week – I’ll share the recipe with all of you and introduce you to the new cooking challenge that Preston and I are putting ourselves up to.

5.  Exploring our new neighborhood

new neighborhood

This week I was able to get out a couple of times, both running and walking, to explore our new neighborhood by foot.  Running here is completely different than in the area we used to live.  I have found some great areas to complete short distance runs, and I cannot wait to further explore this weekend and discover new places to go to during my longer distance runs.

QOTD: What is one of your newly discovered favorites?

As always, thank you to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting the weekly Friday Five Link Up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well!

DC_linkup

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged | 18 Comments

My Final Decision About What My Big Fall Race Will Be

Last month I shared my debate about what big race, if any, that I should register to run this fall.  Thanks to the many of you who offered words of encouragement and support.  I cannot fully express just how grateful I am to those of you who offered suggestions about what I should do.  I greatly appreciate the support!

Since that post six weeks ago, I’ve done some serious thinking about what I want to do about my big fall race.  At this point, the best decision for me is to make the Army Ten Miler my big fall race.  I don’t think there is any shame is making a ten miler a major race for the season – a half marathon would only be 3.1 miles more.  While many of you showed great support for the Richmond half, it still isn’t calling out to me and I don’t want to register for a race just for the sake of having a race on my calendar.  There are other 5ks and 10ks that I’ll also be running this fall, so it isn’t like I won’t be racing at all.  And I have my eyes on a couple of early spring half marathons that are calling out to me much more than Richmond or any other fall half marathon is.

Do I see this decision as a cop out?  Absolutely not!  With everything we have going on with our new house, including all of the major expenses that go with that, and knowing that I’ll have another busy school year ahead of me teaching an AP course again, I feel that this is the best decision for me.  And because I’m very excited about running the Army Ten Miler, I want to focus on fully training for it instead of treating it as a training run for a half marathon a month later.

QOTD: What factors affect your decision making about what races to register for?

Posted in Races | Tagged | 16 Comments

A Year Ago I Ran My First 10k!

A year ago on Monday marked my 10k anniversary.  On July 14, 2013 I ran my first 10k, the Biggest Loser 10k, here in DC.  It was the first time that I ran a race of a distance further than a 5k.

biggestloser

Its hard to believe just how far I’ve come in the past year!  Since then, I’ve completed three additional 10ks, as well as a ten miler and two half marathons.  My next 10k won’t be until September when I run the Dulles Day 10k on the Runway (you can check out my recap of the 5k from last year here).  Since I powerwalked my last 10k in January, and haven’t run a 10k race since October, I’m very interested to see how much I can improve my finish time by, especially since the Dulles Day 10k course is on the airport runway at Dulles Airport and will be super flat.

Here’s to many more 10ks in the future, as well as other long distance races!

QOTD: What milestone race did you run a year ago?

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