Friday Five – August 29th – Fall Race Preview

Wow, how is it already the end of summer?  I can’t wait to close out this summer in Virginia Beach, and run my third half marathon on Sunday.  While I’ve spent the summer mentally and physically preparing for Sunday’s race, I’ve also been working on my fall race calendar.

I shared last month that my big fall race will not be a half marathon, but rather a ten miler.  My other fall races will be shorter distances – a combination of 5ks and 10ks.  I’m looking forward to working on continuing to increase my speed, and hopefully this coming winter will start to train for a spring half marathon.  (And no, I haven’t decided what race that will be yet!)

I’m looking forward to running some new races this fall, as well as revisiting a couple of favorites that I also ran last year.

1.  Arlington Police, Fire & Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5k

9-11 race

I will be running this race just six days after running Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach, so its very likely that I will be jogging more of this race than running it.  I ran this race last year, and it was such a meaningful race experience that I wanted to make sure that I ran it again this year, even if that means that I walk a good amount of it.

2.  Dulles Day 10k

dulles day

To say I’m excited about this race is an understatement.  After running the Dulles Day 5k last year (there wasn’t a 10k option for last year’s race), I knew immediately upon finishing that this race was going onto my 2014 race calendar.  Because its a flat course, I’ll be pushing myself to set a new PR at this race.

3.  Clarendon Day 10k

This race is just one week after the Dulles Day 10k.  Neither Preston or I have run this race before, but we’ve heard fabulous things about this race from several people, and are very eager to give this race a try ourselves.

4.  Army Ten Miler

army10miler_logo

With this being my big fall race, my training after Virginia Beach will be geared towards preparing me for this race.  After having volunteered last year, I cannot wait to run this race this year and participate in the 30th anniversary of this landmark DC race.

5.  Veteran’s Day 5k

veterans day 5k

Preston and I ran this race last year, mainly because the main beneficiary of this race is Team RWB, the veteran’s organization that both Preston and I belong to.  It’ll be nice to close out the fall race season with a race on an easy course that I’m already familiar with.

In case you haven’t been keeping track or haven’t checked out my 2014 Race Recaps page recently, these five races will complete my mission to cross the finish line of 14 races this year!  I cannot wait to celebrate this accomplishment!

QOTD: What races are you looking forward to running this fall?

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 Races | Tagged , , , , , , | 15 Comments

My Goals for Sunday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

Its a bit surreal to think that at this time next week I will have run my third half marathon.  A year ago, I was just getting ready to start training for my first half marathon.  What a year its been!

Preston and I before the start of last year's race

Preston and I before the start of last year’s race

I’ve been looking forward to running Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach ever since Preston ran it last year.  I ran the 5k, and loved finishing the race on the boardwalk with the ocean as the finish line backdrop.  While it will likely be hot and humid Sunday morning during the race, like it was last year, the course is extremely flat.  Because I’ve been doing a lot of hill training this summer, I’m hopeful that it’ll pay off for me on race day and will help me push myself that much faster on the flat course.

The course elevation chart

The course elevation chart

I’ll admit, I’m going into Sunday’s race with very ambitious goals.  When I won the Pacebands giveaway that We Run Disney hosted, I debated for awhile which band to order, but ultimately decided that I should push myself on race day since my training has been going really well this summer.

Goal A – Finish the race in under 2:30:00 (11:27 pace)

Goal B – Finish the race in under 2:37:30 (12:01 pace)

Goal C – Finish the race in under 2:45:00 (12:35 pace)

Meeting any of these three goals would allow me to also PR, since my current half marathon PR from Rock ‘n’ Roll USA is 2:55:26 (13:24 pace).  I’m very optimistic about not only meeting one of my three goals but also crushing my PR.  Given that I ran the Leesburg 20k two weeks ago in 2:25:47 (11:44 pace), I’d say setting a new PR this weekend is very likely to happen, especially given how hilly of a course I ran on in Leesburg.

I know several bloggers will also be running the race this weekend, and I’m hoping to see as many as possible throughout the weekend.  And anybody who is running should keep their eyes out for Preston at the start line, as he’s volunteering there instead of running the race this year!

QOTD: Do you push yourself to reach ambitious goals, or do you play it safe with your goal setting?

Posted in Races | Tagged , , , , , | 35 Comments

White Clam Naan Pizza

Over the past month, Preston and I have made three different naan pizzas, all of which were inspired by recipes we’ve seen in the Wegman’s Summer Menu magazine.  Last week I shared the recipe for a Sausage and Zucchini one.  This past weekend we used the same recipe but substituted pepperoni and green pepper for the meat and vegetable.  But the first naan pizza that we made, on the night of our anniversary actually, was a bit different.  It was after making White Clam Naan Pizza that we decided that we really wanted to explore the world of naan pizzas.

white clam naan pizza

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen clam meat, thawed, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
2 whole grain naan flat bread
4 tbsp Alfredo sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp shredded Italian blend (Parmesan and Romano) cheese
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Instructions:

1.  Toss clams in olive oil.  Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder per personal taste preferences.
2.  Divide Alfredo sauce between the two naan breads.  Top each with half the clams, mozzarella cheese, Italian blend cheese, and parsley.

The pizza before being put on the grill

The pizza before being put on the grill

3.  Grill until cheese is melted and the naan bread is slightly browned.

QOTD: What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon Training Log – Week 17

This past week was my first week of tapering.  While some runners often find it difficult to taper, especially mentally since they think they need to run more, I definitely didn’t face a mental struggle this past week.  I attribute this to the fact that since I’m going back to work today (the first day for my students is next Tuesday), I spent much of this past week trying to get a lot of errands and chores done.  I also went into work three days this past week to get ahead on my lesson planning, which will hopefully ease my stress this coming week and as the new school year starts.  I had plenty to keep my focus off of the reduction in my training mileage!

Although I had planned to complete three runs this past week, I wound up only completing two.  After my run on Tuesday, my right calf and foot started to bother me.  It wasn’t anything significant, but with Virginia Beach this coming weekend, I didn’t want to push anything or risk injury.  Instead of running on Thursday, I opted for the elliptical instead.  I’m glad I listened to my body, and that my calf and foot felt fine during yesterday’s run after a couple of days of rest.  Clearly my body needed the extra rest!

Mon 8/18 – 1.98 mile walk around the neighborhood with Riley

Tues 8/19 – 2.85 mile treadmill run, 0.39 mile cool down walk, kettlebell squats, abs, shoulders, arms

Wed 8/20 – Rest day

Thurs 8/21 – 35 minutes on the elliptical, chest, back, arms, abs, glutes, legs

Fri 8/22 – Rest day

Sat 8/23 – Rest day

Sun 8/24 – 4.16 mile run around the neighborhood, 0.34 mile cool down walk

Total Weekly Mileage – 13.02 miles (7.71 miles less than week 16)

Total Half Marathon Training Mileage – 255.29 miles

The highlight of my training week was completing yesterday’s run with Preston.  When I first started running, we completed a lot of our runs together.  (Not all of them, since he was training for Dopey and I wasn’t, but it was nice when we did run together.)  This summer though, Preston opted not to run much, but with the Army Ten Miler less than two months away, he’s starting to run again.  I’m looking forward to even more training runs together.

After our four mile run on Sunday

After our four mile run on Sunday

Its hard to believe that I’ve already reached week 18 of my training, and that in 6 short days I’ll be running my third half marathon!  The countdown to Virginia Beach is on!

I proudly wore my Virginia Beach training shirt yesterday after my run

I proudly wore my Virginia Beach training shirt yesterday after my run

QOTD: Do you find tapering to be a mental challenge?  When tapering, do you err on the side of caution, or do you push through any pain?

Posted in RnRVB Half Marathon Training, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Friday Five – August 22nd – Five Things I Love About Cooking

When I first shared our Cooking Challenge with all of you a month ago, and my intention to share here on the blog, I didn’t realize how interested some of you would be!  Some of you have been very vocal about how much you’ve appreciated the recipes, and how its inspired some of you to be more adventurous with your cooking.  Some of my friends who read the blog, but don’t comment on here, have also shared with me how much they’re enjoying reading about our Cooking Challenge.  Truth be told, I never imagined I’d get the response that I have, and I’m glad that so many of you are enjoying the recipes!

There are so many things to love about cooking!

love about cooking

 1.  Recipes are only guidelines.  What makes each chef, and their cooking experience, unique is the personal spin that they put on what they cook.

None of the recipes that we’ve tried or that I’ve shared here on the blog have been followed word for word from the recipe that we derived the inspiration from.  While I’ve always shared where the idea for the recipe originated (in no way am I trying to violate copyright laws or pass somebody else’s ideas off as my own), we’ve always made the new recipes that we’re trying out our own.

2.  Its all about trial and error.  Not every recipe is going to be a success.

Tuesday evening, looks were deceiving, as the stuffed clams we made didn't taste as great as they looked

Tuesday evening looks were deceiving, as the stuffed clams we made didn’t taste as great as they looked

This week Preston and I took a stab at making Stuffed Clams.  While it looked good when we pulled it out of the oven, it didn’t appeal to either of our taste buds (and thus, I won’t be sharing this recipe with all of you).  Given that this is the first recipe over the past month that we haven’t liked, I’d say we’re doing pretty well!

3.  Its something that Preston and I enjoy doing together.

Preston and I at a sushi class at Sur La Table in 2012

Preston and I at a sushi class at Sur La Table in 2012

Cooking is one of the many common interests that Preston and I have.  Who doesn’t enjoy doing something they like with their significant other?

4.  Its fun!

I absolutely love trying out new recipes, and then getting to taste the results of our hard work.

5.  Cooking at home is usually healthier than eating out.

limefiestachickensalad2

Its imperative that runners, and all athletes for that matter, fuel their bodies with nutritious food.  Although eating out is convenient, and sometimes a treat, we don’t know exactly what ingredients are being used to cook our meals.  I’m not saying that you should never eat out, but eating out several times a week isn’t the healthiest (or cheapest) option.

QOTD: Why do you love to cook?  If you don’t like to cook, why not?

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 Cooking | Tagged | 27 Comments

Favorite Race Signs

One of my favorite parts of any race are the signs that spectators hold and use to help cheer runners on.  Over the past several months, some of my favorite race signs have said:

“Today you’re all Kenyans”

032

“You run the first mile with your brain, and the rest with your heart”

Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

“You’re running better than Metro” and “You’re running better than Congress”
(I saw both of these signs at Rock ‘n’ Roll USA, and were perfect for a race in DC.)

033

“When does Jumbo Slice open?”
(I also saw this one at Rock ‘n’ Roll USA, and Jumbo Slice is a DC area favorite in Adams Morgan.)

QOTD: What has your favorite race sign said?

Posted in Races | Tagged | 20 Comments

2014 Leesburg 20k Recap

Sunday’s race is one that I won’t forget for a long time.  It was an incredible experience, a race that I felt strong and powerful during, and one that I’ll definitely be returning to.

Most people dread long runs during the summer, especially in the DC area.  This area is well known for its summer heat and humidity, especially in the mornings.  That didn’t deter me from signing up for this race, and I’m so glad that it didn’t.  It was surprisingly cool Sunday morning when I first got up, so much that I actually wore a long sleeve shirt while we drove to the race.  By the end of the race though, it was in the low 80s, which isn’t surprising given that it is August afterall.  I ended the race drenched in sweat from head to toe, more than ready for a shower.

The race was staged in downtown Leesburg at Market Station, which is a quaint area filled with shops and restaurants.  As with all the other Potomac River Running races that I’ve run, bib pickup was super easy.  Because of other things going on last week, I opted to pick up my bib the morning of the race.  I waited no more than five minutes to get my bib.  One of the new perks that Potomac River is offering its runners at some of their races is a $10 gift card in lieu of a race shirt, which I took advantage of.  I have plenty of things that I could put a $10 gift card towards!

One of the things I was looking forward to about this race was meeting up with several blogger friends.  After I picked up my bib, I easily found Jenny from Run Jenny Run, Deb from Deb Runs, and Deb’s friend Erin.  We snapped a quick picture, and then Jenny and I decided to make our way towards the porta potties.

From left to right: Erin, myself, Jenny, and Deb

From left to right: Erin, myself, Jenny, and Deb

As we were getting in line we spotted Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC and Julie from Diving Into The Gene Pool.  I’ve been wanting to meet Courtney in person for awhile now.  You may recognize Courtney’s name from the weekly Friday Five linkup that I participate in with the DC Trifecta.  We’ve tried to meet in person previously, and I’m so happy that we were finally able to connect at a race!

From left to right: Julie, Jenny, myself, and Courtney

From left to right: Julie, Jenny, myself, and Courtney

We finished up at the porta potties only a couple of minutes before the race started.  Since Courtney and Julie had gotten caught in traffic we parted ways – Jenny and I headed to the start line while Courtney and Julie headed to bag check.  Jenny and I got to the start line with only a minute or two to spare, and before we knew it we were off!

Jenny and I just after we crossed the start line Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

Jenny and I just after we crossed the start line
Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

This course was an out and back course, with most of it on the W&OD Trail.  Because most of it was on the trail, the majority of the course was shaded, which was perfect on a hot and humid August morning.  The out and back course allowed me to see blogger friends multiple times.  We were all able to encourage one another, and I even gave Courtney and Jenny a high five the second time that I saw them.  In addition, to seeing blogger friends, a Dopey Challenge runner was also running the race (he was wearing a Dopey Challenge shirt, which of course led me to ask him if he had completed Dopey).  We chatted for a few minutes about our race experiences back in January, and he jokingly said that this race was harder than Dopey was since the majority of the crowd support for this race was at the start and finish, whereas at Disney there is crowd support throughout the entire race.

During the first couple of miles of the race, I felt strong and kept thinking that reaching my A or B goal was entirely possible.  I had done my research prior to the start of the race, and had mentally prepared myself for the hilly and challenging course.  Although all of the hills were in the first two thirds of the race, I also knew that since it was an out and back course that all of the hills that I was running up I’d eventually run back down, which would help me complete the race with negative splits.  The last hill on the course ended at the mile 8 marker, which left me with four miles to speed up my pace.

Who doesnt love running a race that has the majority of the hills in the first half of the race?

Who doesn’t love running a race that has the majority of the hills in the first half of the race?

Up until mile 8 I had been running 2:1 intervals, but because I was still feeling strong I ran the last four miles in 3:1 intervals.

Notice the negative splits, especially after mile 8

Notice the negative splits, especially after mile 8

Around the mile 10 marker I knew that my B goal was definitely attainable, and that depending upon how fast I could push myself that maybe my A goal was within reach.  I decided to run the last 2.5 miles a bit on the conservative side though since, after all, this was a training run for Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach, and I didn’t want to risk injury only two weeks out from the race that I’ve spent all summer training for.

I continued to feel good as I neared closer to the finish line.  Around the mile 11 marker we passed a series of townhouses, and on the deck of one of them a guy and his baby were outside cheering everybody on, and I could hear “Eye of the Tiger” blasting from his deck.  It was just the motivation I needed to push myself through the last part of the race.

As I rounded the last turn towards the finish line, I had one mental slip, and allowed myself to walk a few extra seconds.  Given how mentally strong I had been the entire race, I’m not at all disappointed in myself, since I was still able to cross the finish line strong.  As I neared the finish line I spotted Preston on the sidelines, and his cheering gave me the final push I needed to sprint to the finish line.

Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

My finish time was 2:25:47 (11:44 min/mile pace).  I had finished smack inbetween my A goal (11:30 pace) and my B goal (12:00 pace).  This is a huge accomplishment, and has left me feeling very well prepared for Virginia Beach.

After the race I received my medal and a bottle of water.  I met up with Preston, and we waited for Jenny to finish.  We briefly shared our race experiences before we parted ways.  We both agreed that, once again, Potomac River Running had done a fabulous job with this race, especially since there were plenty of water stations, Gatorade was offered at some of them, and Gu packets were even handed out at both mile 6/mile 7.5 water station.  There was plenty of food after the race for runners to refuel with, and of course the free photos are another great perk that few other races offer.

Post race with Jenny

Post race with Jenny

This is one race that I won’t forget.  Although most people don’t like running long distances in the summer heat and humidity, the majority of the course was shaded and the water stations were well placed.  I will definitely run this race again!

leesburg 20k medal

QOTD: What unique race distance(s) have you run?

Posted in Races | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Sausage and Zucchini Naan Pizza

This is the second naan bread pizza recipe that Preston and I have made.  You may have noticed on Instagram a couple of weeks ago that we made our first naan bread pizza, a White Clam one.  While it tasted good, I thought this one was a much tastier combination of ingredients, and I was very eager to share this recipe with all of you.

The inspiration for all of our naan bread pizza recipes thus far has been none other than the Wegman’s Summer Menu magazine.  Its actually inspired us to come up with our own pizza recipe this week, which I’ll of course be sure to share with all of you.

sausage and zucchini naan pizza

Ingredients:

1 small zucchini
1/2 small onion
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp alfredo sauce
3 tbsp pizza sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp shredded Italian blend (Parmesan and Romano) cheese
2 whole grain naan flat bread
1 cup cooked Italian sausage
Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper to taste

Instructions:

1.  Cut zucchini into long strips (large enough to grill and not fall through the grates), and toss with olive oil.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Grill about 8 minutes, until zucchini is browned.  Flip halfway through cooking time.  Remove from grill and set aside until cool enough to handle.
2.  Mix alfredo and pizza sauces together.  Divide mixed sauces between the two naan breads.
3.  Cut grilled zucchini and onion into thin slices.  Top naan breads with vegetables and Italian sausage.

before cheese 4.  Divide mozzarella and Italian blend cheeses between the naan breads.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and/or crushed red pepper.

with cheese 5.  Grill until cheese is melted and the naan bread is slightly browned.

All of the seasoning is meant to be added per your taste preferences.  That’s one of the great things about recipes – none of them ever have to be followed word for word.  You should feel free to make all recipes your own and put your own spin on them.

QOTD: What is the best pizza you’ve ever had?

Posted in Cooking | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon Training Log – Week 16

This week was another fabulous week of training!  I’ve been working hard, and I’ve really seeing my hard work pay off lately!  If you follow me on Social Media then it should be of no surprise that the highlight of this week’s training was the Leesburg 20k, which I ran yesterday.  I cannot wait to relive this fabulous race when I write my recap this week.

Approaching the finish line Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

Approaching the finish line
Photo Credit: Potomac River Running

The Leesburg 20k was just the icing on the cake to a very productive week of training.

Mon 8/11 – Rest day

Tues 8/12 – 3.10 mile treadmill run, 0.37 mile cool down walk, kettlebell squats, abs, legs, chest, back, arms

Wed 8/13 – Rest day

Thurs 8/14 – 30 minutes of yoga, 1.20 mile neighborhood walk with Riley

Fri 8/15 – 3.10 mile treadmill run, 0.32 mile cool down walk, arms, back, glutes, abs

Sat 8/16 – Rest day

Sun 8/17 – Leesburg 20k

Total Weekly Mileage – 20.72 miles (9.10 miles more than week 15)

Total Half Marathon Training Mileage – 242.27 miles

Yesterday’s race was my last long run of this training cycle, which means I’ve finally arrived at taper town!  I’ve been working hard and now its time to let me body rest a bit so that I can put all of my hard work, focus, and determination to good use and give Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach 100% in two weeks.  With all of the high mileage that I’ve logged in recent weeks, its going to be difficult to scale back on the running, but I know that its for the best.

If being only two weeks out from my third half marathon wasn’t exciting enough, I saw this on Timehop yesterday:

timehop

Was it really just one year ago that I was plotting out my training plan for my first half marathon?!?!?

If this isn’t representative of the running progress that I’ve made then I don’t know what is!  Here’s to the next two weeks as I taper and finish getting ready for half marathon #3!

QOTD: A year ago, what major event(s) were you preparing for?

Posted in RnRVB Half Marathon Training, Training | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Friday Five – August 15th

Happy Friday everybody!  Is it just me or are the days and weeks flying by this summer?  It seems like the 2013-2014 school year just ended, and the new school year is just around the corner!

There’s been a lot of exciting things going on lately, some of which I’m shared on Instagram.  I was also looking back at my blog calendar and noticed that I haven’t done a random Friday Five post since mid June, so I thought it would be the perfect time to write one and share some of the excitement with all of you.

1.  Preston and I had a fabulous weekend in Charlottesville last weekend.  We went to several new to us wineries, as well as visited a couple of our favorites in the area.  We also went to Montpelier, the home of President James Madison.  It was a great way to celebrate our anniversary.

charlottesville

2.  Today marks my fourth day with Shakeology.  After much consideration and research, I’ve decided to give it a try.  I’m very interested to see how it affects my energy level, especially once the new school year starts.

shakeology

3.  On Wednesday I attended a day long DBQ (document based question) training for work.  I left the training with lots of resources to use with my AP students and have lots of ideas on how I can better use DBQs with my Honors students.  Attending the training has me very excited about starting to lesson plan for the upcoming school year.

4.  On Sunday I will be running the Leesburg 20k.  This is a new to me race distance, and I’m very excited to use this weekend’s race as a test run for my half marathon at the end of the month.

5.  Next month my dad will be here on a business trip, and in order to spend time with Preston and I he is extending his trip into the weekend.  We’ve started working on figuring out what the three of us want to do while he’s here.  I cannot wait to see him!

QOTD: What exciting things are going on in your life right now?

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 , , | 30 Comments