Friday Five – March 27th – Florida, Here We Come!

Tomorrow Preston and I are leaving on a jet plane for one of our favorite places – Florida!  This trip will be unlike any of our previous trips to Florida, as we’re combining a lot of our favorite activities into one trip, instead of just going to Disney World or just going to the beach.  In the coming week, I’m looking forward to:

1.  Exploring a new to both of us beach.  We’ll be spending the first three nights of our trip in Cocoa Beach, and I cannot wait to put my feet in the sand, lounge around the pool, and enjoy some great seafood.

During our last Florida beach trip - Key West in April 2012

During our last Florida beach trip – Key West in April 2012

2.  Spending my birthday at the beach.  My birthday is on Monday, and when I first discovered that my birthday fell over Spring Break this year, I told Preston that I wanted to spend my birthday at the beach.  If I could, I would live at the beach, and I’m beyond excited to be able to spend my birthday in an environment that makes me so happy.

3.  Eating at five brand new to me Disney restaurants, three of which are also new to Preston.  We have a habit of making reservations at Disney restaurants that we’ve eaten at before and really like, but we decided to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone for this trip.  We only have one reservation at a restaurant that I’ve eaten at before, and that’s because Be Our Guest only recently started accepting reservations for lunch.  When I found out about the change last month, I immediately jumped on the computer and made a lunch reservation for one of the days that we’ll be at Magic Kingdom.

4.  Going to a Phillies Spring Training game.  For me, spring and summer aren’t complete without baseball, and I cannot wait to spend an afternoon in Clearwater cheering the Phillies on!

At our first Phillies Spring Training game in Clearwater in February 2011

At our first Phillies Spring Training game in Clearwater in February 2011

5.  Spending a week away with my husband.  Although we’ve done several weekends away by ourselves, Preston and I haven’t taken a week long vacation just the two of us since summer 2012 that didn’t involve a race.  I can’t wait to spend some much needed R&R time with my husband.

With us headed to Florida, I’m not sure that I’ll blogging everyday while we’re away.  I know many of you are anxiously awaiting my Shamrock 8k and Shamrock Half Marathon recaps, and while I plan to work on writing those on the plane tomorrow morning, I also want to do the recaps justice and don’t want to just throw them together.  I hope you all understand, and I promise, those recaps will be coming soon!

QOTD: When you travel do you try out new restaurants or stick to what you’re familiar with?

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!

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2015 Shamrock Marathon Weekend Expo

Shamrock Marathon Weekend kicked off this past Friday.  I took Friday off from work in order to still fit in an appointment with the chiropractor before getting on the road to Virginia Beach.  Kathleen also flew into DC Friday morning, so after my appointment and a couple of other errands, including dropping Riley off for boarding, I picked her up from the airport.  Our goal had been to get on the road for Virginia Beach by 1:00 p.m. in the hopes of getting down I-95 before rush hour traffic got bad, but Preston got stuck at work.  We finally got on the road around 1:45 p.m., thinking that traffic driving south wouldn’t be terrible yet.  Boy were we wrong!

Between an accident on I-95 near Stafford followed by a four mile backup on I-64 in Hampton Roads, what should have been just over a three hour drive turned into a nearly five hour drive.  We finally arrived at the expo around 6:00 p.m., which was held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center (the same place where Rock ‘n’ Roll holds their race expo).

The entrance to the expo

The entrance to the expo

Our first stop at the expo was packet pickup, which was well organized.  Kathleen, Preston, and I quickly picked up our bibs, and Kathleen was easily able to change her corral for the 8k.

There werent any lines for bib pick up!

There weren’t any lines for bib pick up!

Having some fun at the expo

Having some fun at the expo

My shirts and bibs for the 8k and half marathon

My shirts and bibs for the 8k and half marathon

After passing by a fun setup of cardboard leprechauns and other props, we picked up our race shirts and packets.  We were then led into the official merchandise area.  Although I had been excited to browse the merchandise, I was a bit disappointed in what was available for purchase, and we only wound up purchasing a pint glass to add to our collection, as well as a Dolphin Challenge magnet for me.

The few items we purchased at the expo

The few items we purchased at the expo

The expo itself was a bit underwhelming.  There were a smaller number of vendors than I was expecting, and most of them were the same usual vendors that I’ve seen at other DC and Virginia races.  The only expo purchase I made was a Shamrock themed Sweaty Bands to wear during the half marathon on Sunday.  While walking around, we did make sure to stop at the J&A Racing booth (J&A is the organization that puts on Shamrock) to say hi to Jenny (she’s a J&A Ambassador), and to discuss where we wanted to meet up prior to the 8k the next morning.  After spending less than an hour at the expo Kathleen, Preston, and I agreed that we were ready to go.

Jenny, Kathleen, and I

Jenny, Kathleen, and I

Kathleen and I ready to run the Dolphin Challenge, and Preston ready to run the half marathon

Kathleen and I ready to run the Dolphin Challenge, and Preston ready to run the half marathon

After the expo we headed to dinner at Hot Tuna, a seafood place that Preston and I had eaten at during our Rock ‘n’ Roll trip last August.  After being seated, I was excited to see the “Runners’ Specials”, and opted to order the Tuna Three Ways.  It also came with a side of pasta, which was a bit random and I didn’t even eat, but we took it to go and it was a great snack after the 8k on Saturday.

My dinner did look delicious, I just wish I would have enjoyed it more

My Tuna Three Ways

I had high hopes of enjoying my dinner, but a horrible migraine that came on during our drive to Virginia Beach had other plans for me that evening.  I almost got sick several times both in the car and at dinner (but thankfully never did), but it was difficult for me to enjoy dinner.  I was worried about Saturday’s race, but thankfully I had planned to take the 8k really easy.  I mentioned to Kathleen that if I was still feeling miserable in the morning that I might just walk the entire race, and since we had planned to run the 8k together and take it easy since we were both striving for a PR at the half on Sunday, she said that she would walk the race with me if need be.

After dinner, we made a stop at a grocery store to pick up a couple of things, including bananas for breakfast and some ginger ale for me to drink to help with my nausea, and then we headed to our hotel to check in.  Upon arrival at our hotel, we found Sarah checking in just ahead of us, and I was so happy to see her since we had hoped to make it to the expo in time to see her while she was working the J&A booth (she’s also a J&A Ambassador).  I had read in Sarah’s Shamrock recap from 2014 that the Holiday Inn in Norfolk had taken great care of runners, offering late check out and a shuttle bus to the half marathon on Sunday, so when I saw that they were offering runners the same amenities this year we decided to take advantage of it.  The cost of staying at the Holiday Inn was about a third of the price of staying at one of the oceanfront hotels, and we decided that staying slightly further away was well worth it.

Check in wasn’t the smoothest process (Preston and I were assigned to an incorrect room based on what we had reserved), but it was eventually straightened out and we were finally headed to bed around 11:00 p.m.  With a cold compress on my head, I went to sleep in hopes that I’d feel better for the 8k the next morning.

QOTD: Have you ever gotten sick the night before a race?

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My Spring “Training” Plan

With my big Spring race now behind me, its time to turn my training focus elsewhere.  Although I’ll be running other races this Spring, including the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run in just under three weeks, these races aren’t going to be a major focus of my training.

After finishing the 2014 Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

After finishing the 2014 Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run

Currently, my next “big” race isn’t until Labor Day Weekend when I’ll be running Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach, so my focus until I start training in May for Virginia Beach will be conditioning and maintaining my current running strength.  However, I’m contemplating adding one or two 10ks to my Spring race calendar in an effort to get a better proof of time for Wine and Dine, so that may slightly alter this plan.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t be taking my Spring races seriously.  But mentally and physically I’m in need of a bit of a break from long weekend runs.  I’ve spent the past 18 weeks focused on training for Shamrock, which has required a lot of time and dedication, especially on the weekends.  Over the past 18 weeks I’ve encountered my fair share of obstacles, the biggest one being my car accident on January 28th, and I’ve pushed through and refused to let those obstacles prevent me from continuing to train.  But for now, I’m in need of a break.

Preston and I have lots of exciting activities on our calendar for this Spring, and I’m ready to turn my focus on the weekends to things other than running for awhile.  Plus, we leave for Florida Saturday morning and I don’t want to feel guilty not doing a lot of running while we’re on vacation.  While I plan to pack my running shoes, the focus of our time in Florida will be on relaxing and enjoying our time away together.  Although we’ll be spending some time lounging around the beach and pool, we’ll also be doing plenty of walking during our days at Disney World.

I also want to give my back some time to rest.  Since the car accident, I’ve been seeing the chiropractor three times a week, which has significantly helped in alleviating my back pain.  However, at mile 8 during Sunday’s Shamrock Half Marathon my back started throbbing, so much that I contemplated walking the rest of the race.  I obviously didn’t (and will explain what motivated me to keep going when I write my race recap), but my back is screaming for some rest.  At yesterday’s appointment, my chiropractor wasn’t shocked to hear how much pain I was in given how tight my lower back was, so clearly its time to slow down for awhile and give my back the rest its screaming for.

So that’s my current plan: to take it easy for the next couple of weeks.  If I PR at Cherry Blossom, great, but if I don’t, I’m okay with that too.  My hard work over the past 18 weeks resulted in a massive PR, and if that’s my only PR for awhile I’m more than okay with that.

QOTD: Are you always “in training” for a particular race or do you ever allow yourself a mental and physical break from training?

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Shamrock Half Marathon Training Log – Week 18

What an incredible weekend this past weekend was!  All of my hard work, persistence, and determination paid off yesterday morning, as I PRed by over 10 minutes at the Shamrock Half Marathon!  I can’t wait to recap the half in full and share all of the ups, and downs, of both the race itself and the entire weekend.  It wasn’t an easy weekend by an means, but neither has my training over the past two months.  The most important thing is that I ran my first half marathon in almost seven months and PRed!

post shamrock half

We had a fabulous weekend in Virginia Beach, which included lots of great food, spending time catching up with an old friend, and enjoying a couple of hours on the beach.  Yes, it might have been in the 50s during our beach time on Saturday, and I may have been wearing jeans and a jacket, but it was a gorgeous sunny day and I absolutely love any time that I get to spend on the beach.

on the beach

In the week leading up to race weekend, I continued to listen to my body and took it pretty easy on the training.  Clearly, it paid off yesterday morning with my massive PR!

Mon 3/16 – 1.92 mile walk around the neighborhood with Riley

Tues 3/17 – 3.52 mile run around the neighborhood, 0.24 mile cool down walk, abs, stretching

Wed 3/18 – 30 minutes on the elliptical, arms, chest, back, abs

Thurs 3/19 – 2.26 mile run around the neighborhood, 0.38 mile cool down walk

Fri 3/20 – Rest day

Sat 3/21 – Shamrock 8k

Sun 3/22 – Shamrock Half Marathon

Total Weekly Mileage – 29.12 miles (15.94 miles)

Total Shamrock Training – 266.03 miles

QOTD: When did you last PR?

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Friday Five – March 20th – Five Things I’m Looking Forward to About Spring

Happy first day of Spring!  And how are we celebrating here in the DC area?  I think this weather forecast map says it all:

Photo Credit: Capital Weather Gang

Today’s weather forecast as of 9:00 p.m. Thursday night (Photo Credit: Capital Weather Gang)

Yup, that’s right.  We get to spend the day dealing with more of that white stuff.  Old man winter, you’ve overstayed your welcome.  Its time for you to go into hibernation.

Despite the snow today, I’m not letting that get me down about it being the first day of one of my two favorite seasons of the year (Summer is my other favorite).  From the warmer temperatures to the longer days to how gorgeous everything looks when its in bloom, there’s so much to love about Spring.  And this Spring, there’s many exciting things that I’m looking forward to, including:

1.  Kicking off Spring by running the Dolphin Challenge during Shamrock Marathon Weekend.  My friend Kathleen flies in this morning, and we’ll be headed for Virginia Beach this afternoon.

2.  Spending a week in sunny Florida.  I cannot wait wait to spend a week relaxing with Preston doing some of our favorite things, including spending time at the beach and pool, going to a baseball game, and spending a couple of days at Disney World.

3.  Seeing the Cherry Blossoms.  It wouldn’t be Spring in DC without getting to see the Cherry Blossoms when they’re in bloom.  And right now the weather experts are predicting that the Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run will be during peak bloom, which will make the race all that more scenic.

One of my favorite views of the Cherry Blossoms has always been how they beautifully frame the Jefferson Memorial!

One of my favorite views of the Cherry Blossoms has always been how they beautifully frame the Jefferson Memorial!

4.  Spending more time outside.  Just in the past couple of weeks with the sun not setting until later Preston and I have been able to take Riley for more walks after work.  I can’t wait to spend more time outside in the coming weeks and months as the weather continues to get nicer and nicer.

5.  Having Preston’s best friend visit us in May.  Its been way too long (to be exact, since August 2013) that we’ve seen Preston’s best friend.  We’ve moved, he and his wife have moved, and life has just been crazy for all of us.  Sadly, the timing of the trip doesn’t work for his wife to also come, but we can’t wait to have him here for five days.

QOTD: What are you looking most forward to about Spring?

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

Lastly, congrats to Krystal for winning the Magical Miles giveaway!  Please e-mail me (dancingtorunning@gmail.com) to claim your prize!

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged , , , | 49 Comments

My Goals for Sunday’s Shamrock Half Marathon

The weekend of my fourth half marathon is finally here!  My hard work, persistence, and dedication over the past 18 weeks has led me to this race weekend.  To say that I’m excited about heading to Virginia Beach for Shamrock weekend is an understatement.

shamrock

On Saturday, I’ll be running/walking the TowneBank 8k, the first race of the Dolphin Challenge.  Since the half marathon on Sunday is my goal race, I’ll be taking the 8k really easy.  During my Shamrock training I did five weekends of back to back runs, so I know that my body is prepared for the challenge.  My plan is to run-walk the 8k using one minute intervals.  I’ve only run one other 8k, and have no intention of pushing myself to PR Saturday morning.

Sunday will be a different story though.  During the first several months of my Shamrock training, I focused on speed work at least once a week, and I’ve seen it pay off on my long runs.  My current half marathon PR was set last August at Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach, which I ran in 2:30:14 (11:27 pace).  I don’t want to jinx myself, but unless something goes horribly wrong Sunday morning, I should be able to PR at Shamrock.

I have set some pretty lofty goals for Sunday’s race.  I’m optimistic that I’ll have a great race, and that I’ll be able to meet either my A or B goals.

Goal A – Finish the race in under 2:21:35 (10:48 pace – my pace from my 12.5 mile training run 3.5 weeks ago)

Goal B – Finish the race in under 2:23:33 (10:57 pace – my pace from my 14 mile training run last Sunday)

Goal C – PR and finish the race in 2:30:14 (11:27 pace)

QOTD: How many time goals do you usually set for yourself?

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When Blogging Friends are Also Real Life Friends

The term “blends” is common among bloggers – bloggers who have become friends as a result of meeting and connecting online, usually over Social Media.  But what about when bloggers were friends before they started blogging?

Kathleen and I at dinner in Georgetown back in April

Kathleen and I at dinner in Georgetown last April when she was in DC to run Nike Women’s Half Marathon

Kathleen and I have been friends since high school.  We were not the runners in our group of friends though.  I was the dancer, and Kathleen was on our high school golf team.  As our high school friends have found out that we’ve each picked up running, they’ve been a bit shocked that out of everybody in our group that we’re the two that have started running.  Out of everybody in our close group of friends, we were the least likely to have ever started running.

Kathleen and I during Senior Year of High School

Kathleen and I during Senior Year of High School

I’m excited to share Shamrock weekend with Kathleen.  She currently lives outside of Chicago, and is flying in Friday morning for the race, and then we’ll drive to Virginia Beach together Friday afternoon.  She is on a quest to run a half marathon in every state, and back in the fall when I mentioned the possibility of running Shamrock, she said that she’d be interested if I decided to run it, as this will check Virginia off of her 50 state list.  We both registered for the Dolphin Challenge on the same day, and are looking forward to enjoying the race weekend together.  We’ll both also be pushing to PR at the half marathon on Sunday (I’ll share my goals for Shamrock with all of you tomorrow).

You can count on seeing lots of pictures of the two of us posted on Social Media this weekend!  Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and Kathleen on Twitter!

QOTD: Were you real life friends with any bloggers before you both started blogging?

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged | 30 Comments

Tuesdays on the Run: Race Day Rituals

Today I’m joining Erika from MCM Mama Runs, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and April from Run the Great Wide Somewhere for the Tuesdays on the Run Linkup.  This week’s topic is Race Day Rituals.  This is a great topic for this week since in three short days I’ll be on my way to Virginia Beach for Shamrock weekend.

Tuesdays-on-the-run

My race day rituals actually start the night before the race, when I lay out my race day outfit.  I always love taking my “Flat Kathryn” photo.  After getting my race bib, taking my flat race photo always makes race day seem like its really the next day.

flatrnrusa

Flat Kathryn ready for the 2014 Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Half Marathon

In addition to laying out my race outfit the night before, I also try to get everything else laid out that I’ll need on race day, including my Garmin, race fuel (usually a combination of Gu Energy Gels and Clif Shot Bloks, depending on the length of the race), my hydration belt (I usually wear my belt for any races 10k or longer in distance), my sunglasses, and Body Glide.  If I’m going to check a gear bag, I make sure that its packed, which usually includes a change of clothes and sandals to put on my feet after the race.

On race morning itself, I always take a shower.  Showers help me to wake up, and I like having a clean face and body when I go to run a race.  While this ritual might seem odd to some, I find a shower to be useful.

After I’m dressed, I eat my usual race day breakfast: a peanut butter sandwich and a banana.  When I travel for a race, I usually bring the food I need with me.  You never want to try something new on race day, and you never know what a hotel or nearby restaurant might have available.

Once I’m at the race, I always make sure to take lots of pictures before, during, and after the race.  I usually bring my “running” camera with me.  Its a small, cheap Canon camera that Preston and I had to buy from a Best Buy Express on our honeymoon after our old point and shoot camera broke only a couple of days into our trip.  While it isn’t an advanced camera by any means, it takes better quality pictures than my phone does, and has a strap, so if I want to I’m able to keep it around my wrist while running a race.  And since it wasn’t an expensive camera, I won’t be heartbroken if it accidentally gets dropped.

And if its a race that I’ve earned a medal at, my race day experience isn’t complete until I’ve taken a picture with my medal.

Speaking of races, have you entered my Magical Miles giveaway yet?  This book is a perfect resource for any runner thinking about running a race at Disney World.

QOTD: What is one of your race day rituals?

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Shamrock Half Marathon Training Log – Week 17

Alright, so when you’re tapering you’re supposed to cut back on running, right?  What about the rest of exercise?  I took the term “tapering” very literally this past week, as I only worked out three days.  Its not what I had planned to do, but its just the way things worked out.

I spent much of the beginning of the week letting my body recover from my 14 mile run.  I was more sore than I thought I’d be, and took my first run post 14 miler run very easy.  My bad ankle also bothered me on and off throughout the week, which is another reason why I took the extra rest.  The extra rest paid off though, as I set an unexpected 5k PR Thursday evening during my run.

5k PR

So what did I do with my extra time this past week?  I spent time catching up with a friend on the phone one evening, I went to happy hour with friends on Friday, and more importantly, I took care of several chores around the house.  It was nice to have extra time for some of the things that I haven’t had time to do over the past several weeks of training.

This coming week I plan to take it easy again, listening to my body and doing as it says.  If I feel up to it, I’ll try to do one day of cross training in addition to the two days of running I have planned for this week.  My legs felt very heavy during yesterday’s long run, so I won’t be doing any lower body weight training this week.  Most importantly, I want to give myself the best chance possible to PR next Sunday at my fourth half marathon.

Mon 3/9 – 1.24 mile walk around the neighborhood with Riley

Tues 3/10 – 2.25 mile run on the treadmill, 0.44 mile cool down walk, abs, stretching

Wed 3/11 – Rest day

Thurs 3/12 – 3.11 mile run around the neighborhood, 0.50 mile cool down walk, abs, legs, glutes

Fri 3/13 – Rest day

Sat 3/14 – Lots of walking around the outlet mall

Sun 3/15 – 5.01 mile run on the trail, 0.63 mile cool down walk

Total Weekly Mileage – 13.18 miles (14.25 miles less than week 16)

Total Shamrock Training – 255.09 miles

QOTD: How many days do you run in the week leading up to a major race?

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Friday Five – March 13th – Five Scenes From My Week

This week’s Friday Five theme with the DC Trifecta is “Day in the Life.”  Since I wrote a “Day in the Life” post back in January, I thought it would be fun to do a little bit of a spin on this theme and share five scenes from my week instead.

I kicked off the week on Sunday with my 14 mile run on the treadmill.  Not only was this the furthest that I’ve run on the treadmill, but its also the furthest distance that I’ve ever run.

14 mile run

Wondering why I had to run on the treadmill?  Despite the fact that the highs have been in the 50s and 60s this week we’ve still had plenty of snow on the ground.  This was the scene in the parking lot at the chiropractor’s office Monday afternoon.

snow

Fortunately, our HOA had the sidewalks in our neighborhood cleared last Thursday when it last snowed.  I was sore and eager to stretch my legs a bit after Sunday’s long run, and I was happy to see the sun still shining brightly at 6:00 p.m. (thank you Daylight Savings), so Preston and I took Riley out for a mile long walk.  All three of us enjoyed it!

walk with Riley

This week has been Spirit Week at school.  Wednesday’s theme was “Character Day” and the ladies of the Social Studies department decided to go with a Disney theme.  I was excited that I had an excuse to wear one of my favorite race shirts to school.

character day

Yesterday I completed my first weekday run outside since the fall.  It felt great to run outside, and although I didn’t think I was running that fast, I surprised myself by setting a new 5k PR!

5k PR

QOTD: What’s one exciting thing you did this past week?

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

Also, be sure to check out my giveaway for your chance to win a copy of Magical Miles: A Runner’s Guide to Walt Disney World.  This book is perfect for any runDisney fan!

Posted in Milestones | Tagged , | 56 Comments