Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays

It's been a while.  Two major holidays down, one to go.  I don't know about everyone else, but I'm ready to get back on track with a regular training and eating routine.  I've had a couple of good training sessions the last week though.  Last Thursday Sarah and I hooked up for a pleasant 19 mile run before work.  It was a nice run.  We held a steady pace that averaged out to 8:49 and took minimum rest breaks with virtually no walking.  Saturday I met up with a small group headed by a tri coach, Jon Noland with Tri Tampa Bay.  I may start training with him so this past Saturday was kind of a test drive.  We started the at 8 AM at a local track and did a total of 8.2 miles.  We had a 10 min warm up with stretching and then 2 laps at an easy comfortable pace.  Here's the rest:

2 trial laps - make a note of the time for each lap for later use: lap 1 - med/easy, lap 2 - hard
5 X 5 laps - each lap of each set was determined by the flip of the coin
set 1 laps: easy, hot (hard), hot, hot, easy
set 2 laps: all easy
set 3 laps: all hard
set 4 laps: easy, hot, hot, hot, easy
set 5 laps: easy, hot, easy, hot, hot

Cool down was a light jog twice around the track.

My easy laps were supposed to be at 2:04/lap, but ended up being between 1:50 and 1:55.  My hot laps were supposed to be at 1:32, but ended up being around 1:35 - 1:37.  I had a couple of hot laps at the end that were 1:30.  So, not bad considering I haven't done speed work like that in a looooong time.  Of course, being there with all boys who were the same pace or faster than me pushed me.  I'm glad there weren't any girls, actually because I probably would have "blew" myself up.  This is a new term that I have been hearing people use a lot.

After the track work we headed over to Davis Island for some speed and strength training on the bike.  We did one warm up lap, then 4 sets of one full lap (start at round about at Severn towards the baseball fields and make a u-turn to head back to the round about) in the hardest gear, half lap sprint, half lap easy.  It was freezing and there was a ton of wind.  My legs were shot after the first full lap.  Luckily some of the guys slowed down so I could catch up and draft off of them so I was able to complete another 2 sets without falling so far behind.

Given the training on the Saturday I think that Jon's group training sessions will be very beneficial to to my speed training.  I'm definitely going to get in more with his group training sessions.  Not sure if I'm going to use him for one on one coaching just yet though.  Maybe when it gets to be a couple of months out from Vineman. 

So, onto more fun things.  CHRISTMAS! and NEW YEARS!  Daniel and I had this year to ourselves.  We spent Sunday with his family and my parents went and did their own thing.  It was actually quite nice to not have anything to do on Christmas day.  We don't have anything planned for New Years either.  Well, anything big that is.  Our plan is to make dinner at home and then head to Ybor and find a spot to chill and get some dranks (yes, dranks, not drinks  :)).  I did spend most of Christmas Eve night and Christmas day playing with my new toy, the Nexus 7.  I plan on setting up all of my training on Training Peaks and keeping a PDF or some document form of my training so that I can take it with me to the gym or pool and I will always have my workouts ready so I don't have to try and memorize everything.  Then I can log everything immediately as well.  I spent about 2 hours looking for the perfect cover for this thing, though.  Geez Louise there are so many different covers.... covers with keyboards, covers that protect from clumsiness, covers with graphics, covers with stands, covers with pockets, covers with corner claws, clovers with all four sides covered, leather covers, rubber covers, covers with handles... See why it took me so long?  I still will probably have buyers remorse when I get the one that I finally decided on.  I ended up going with the MoKo Slim-fit cover.

We got the 2-year protection plan for an extra $28 which protects against everything, even regular wear and tear.  So, I figured I didn't need anything that super duper, just something that didn't add a lot of bulk and allowed me to cover or keep open the tablet.  I really wanted one that had a pocket too, but all the ones that did coverered all the sides of the screen and I didn't want that.  Eh, hopefully I'm so happy with this purchase the pockets will be an after thought.

I hope everyone had an awesome Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever you may celebrate!          

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gift Ideas for the Person Who Has Everything

Since we won’t be spending Christmas with my family in North Dakota this year, I have been trying to do the majority of my gift shopping online to in order to minimize time in line at the post office. I’m at the point now where all the easy gifts are out of the way, and I’m on the hunt for unique gifts for those hard-to-buy-for family members. While perusing various online retailers, I came across these gems.

Ceramic Toilet Bowl Mug – because who doesn’t want to drink out of a toilet??

toilet bowl mug
Doggie Boob Scarf – I’m sure we all know a dog who could use a little help with her cleavage. Plus, as an added bonus, this scarf will keep your poor flat-chested dog warm. Fashion AND function!

dog boob scarf
Mr. T Salt and Pepper Shakers – I pity the fool whose Christmas table won’t be adorned with these guys.

mr t salt and pepper 
Beard Hat Beanie – As the Beard Hat Beanie website says, “Give your face the hug it deserves!”

beard hat beanie
Sock Monkey Willie Warmer – This exists, and that’s about all I have to say about that.

penis sock monkey
And now that you see the types of things I’ve been looking at, is it any wonder that my Christmas shopping is not done??

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vegas Highlights

It’s hard to believe I’ve already been home from Vegas for almost a week now. As promised, here are some of the non-running highlights from the trip.

Food! To be honest, I was not as impressed with the food in Vegas as I thought I would be. However, there were two stand outs, both of which were breakfast food and neither of which I actually ordered for myself.

Balsamic Strawberry Waffles from Serendipty 3. Cesar ordered these the morning of our marathon, so I only had a couple of bites, but I would have loved to have eaten the whole plate.

Andy's sage fried chicken w/ fresh spinach, hardwood smoked bacon, market tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs from Hash House a Go Go. This work of culinary art was featured on Man V. Food. I’m not sure whether or not Adam Richman was able to conquer this beast, but here’s the damage Cesar and I did.

I am pretty sure if you dipped cardboard in that chipotle cream, it would still make your top ten list of best things you have ever eaten.

The Sights

bellagio christmas collage
The Christmas display at the Bellagio was amazing. The polar bears were made entirely of flowers, and there was a village constructed from chocolate, cereal, and candy. I was completely in awe of the level of detail that went into creating it.

wynn flower collage
The flowers at the Wynn were so gorgeous. I can just imagine some beautiful weddings take place there.

Of course, the real highlight of the trip was spending time with my husband and some good friends.

175   IMG_0288
Oh yeah, and I saw Daniel propose to Maria, and it was awesome! I am so happy for both of them and I’m thrilled that I got to witness such a special moment in their lives.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rock’n’Roll Las Vegas Marathon

Marathon #3 is on the books, and it happened in Vegas, yo!


Packet Pick Up: Our flight got us to Vegas mid-afternoon on Saturday. After checking into the hotel and freshening up, we headed over to the expo at the Sands Convention Center. Packet pick up would have been a smooth process if I knew how to read numbers. My bib number was 51253. On the first attempt, I led Maria to the line that started with 1500. Fail. On my second try, I went for the line that started with 5100. Fail #2. In addition to being nowhere near the correct number, I was also choosing lines that were for half marathon participants. Luckily the girl at the second line I chose pointed us to the correct table. Who knows if I ever would have made it on my own? After that, it was smooth sailing to get our bibs and shirts, and we spent some time wandering around the very large and very awesome expo.

Course: The course started by taking us down the Strip for the first few miles before taking us out into what felt like the middle of nowhere for about 15 miles and then back along Fremont Street and onto the Strip again for the finish. Crowd support on the Strip and on Fremont Street was awesome – people lined both sides of the street and were loud and encouraging. However, the middle portion of the course was unpopulated and BORING. Painfully so, in fact.

Aid Stations: There were seventeen aid stations along the course. Gatorade was available at every other stop, and Gu gels were available at two of them. The aid stations had plenty of volunteers, and all of the stations were well-stocked and prepared for runners.

Post-Race Goodies: I am not sure I can even recall all of the food options available at the end because there were so many! I helped myself to a chocolate milk, a small Jamba Juice all fruit smoothie (my favorite!!), four Snickers Marathon bars, and an apple. While I was thrilled about the Jamba Juice, I was a little disappointed that there weren’t any bananas at the finish. Bananas are the one thing I always enjoy post-race, and I thought it was a little odd that they provided apples instead. Overall, however, the post-race food selection was top notch. There were a lot of options to choose from, and at least when I went through the line, there was no shortage of supplies. It looked like they had enough food to feed many armies.

Swag: If you have run a Rock’n’Roll race before, then you know exactly what the shirts were like – Brooks short sleeve techinical tees. I liked that these were black, as having a neutral color makes it easier to wear them again. The medals were fun; they are glow in the dark, which is perfectly fitting of a race held in Vegas!

vegas race collage

Results: I’m not really sure how I feel about my results in this race.  I knew even before the race started that I didn’t have a repeat of my Fargo performance in me because my training hasn’t been as dedicated as it was for that race, but my plan was basically this:

Secretly, I was hoping for 3:35 or so, but that was not in the cards. I finished in 3:48:10; 18/241 in my age group, 90/1158 for women, and 494/3233 overall. I can partially blame it on this:

There were times when I felt like a tumbleweed being blown around, and I had two miles that were over 10 minutes when I was running directly into the wind. That being said, I also made a lot of mistakes for which I can blame no one but myself. As I mentioned before, I took my training a little more lightly than I should have, I ran my last 20 miler 9 days prior to the race, I went out too fast at the start, and I drank more Gatorade than what I am used to. While I am slightly disappointed in the time that was on the clock when I crossed the finish line, I will say that I am proud of my performance overall. This was easily the hardest race I have ever run, and I know that I left everything I had on that course.

Overall, while I enjoyed the race, it isn’t one that I will be repeating. The middle section of the course was  so very boring, and while I know that every race isn’t going to have the awesome crowd support of the Fargo Marathon, I was really disappointed in the lack of spectators in Vegas.

I have some other fun Vegas stuff to share, but this post is already too long, so it’s going to have to wait for another day!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Happens In Vegas, Stays in Vegas

Well, not really.  :)  Daniel proposed after the RnR Las Vegas Marathon (check out the race recap here).  Let's back track a little and start from the beginning of the trip. 

Sarah, Cesar, Daniel and I all had the same flight going to Vegas.  We landed in Vegas on Saturday afternoon and headed to our hotel, Vdara.  It's a super nice hotel.  There's no smoking anywhere in the hotel, each room has it's own little kitchenette, there's an indoor swimming pool (that I wish I would have known about sooner so I could have packed a swimsuit), and there's no casino.  It's a sister hotel to Aria, right next door, which does have a casino, nightclub, and restaurants.  It's also connected to Bellagio so you can get your clubbin' and gamblin' on there too. 

Saturday night for dinner we ate at California Pizza Kitchen.  Sunday we got up whenever our bodies decided to get up which was actually pretty early considering we were still operating on East Coast time.  We headed out to meet up with my brother, Marcus and his boyfriend, Myke for brunch and settled on Serendipity 3.  This restaurant had delicious food.  Although, not the best food to each before a marathon. 

My meal: fruit with granola and yogurt in a half coconut shell

Marcus' meal: lox bagel with tomato and cream cheese with a side of potatoes

Daniel's meal: hash with eggs, potatoes and toast

The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the hotel room before the race.  After the race, Daniel was at the end of the finisher's chute waiting for me.  We started walking over to where everyone else was.  The race finished just in front of Cesar's Palace and there's a gazebo with statues around it.  At night the gazebo is lit up and looks real pretty.  I wasn't expecting anything.  So, as soon as I saw Sarah I immediately went over to talk to her about the race.  I didn't notice at the time, but she was just kind of nodding her head and not really responding to me.  Then she tells me there's a sign for me.  I look around and see Marcus and Myke holding a huge sign with just my name on it.  I was thinking to myself "OK.  That's great, but the race is over.  What am I supposed to?"  Then they flipped over the sign and it said "Will You Marry Me?"  I was so confused, I just had a blank look.  I was thinking "Why are they asking me this?  I know we're in Vegas and I guess it's kind of a funny joke."  When they realized I wasn't comprehending they yelled "Turn around!".  So I turned around and Daniel was on one knee holding the ring box open.  I walked over to him and I said yes.  Then he told me "Wait, I didn't ask yet.  I have a speech.  'I gave up a long time ago trying to catch you in a race.  But, hopefully I've caught your heart.  Will you marry me?' ".  And of course I said yes again.

The ring

Gazebo during the day

This was obviously the highlight of my trip.  But, let's continue on.  After all this awesomeness, we went back to our hotel rooms to clean up and rest for a bit then we headed out to dinner.  I really wanted a burger and shake but it seems almost impossible to find a place that offers both.  So, we settled on a place in Monte Carlo that had a pretty wide menu selection.  I was able to satisfy my burger craving but had to forego the shake.  I don't remember the restaurant but it was decent.  The prices were the cheapest that we saw around and again the menu had a large selection of food options.  And, they serve breakfast all day for anyone who likes breakfast any time of day which was pretty much everyone in our party. 

Monday we had reservations for Hash-House-A-Go-Go.  They're food is made for giants.  But, it's all so good.  Not a lot of healthy options on there.  So, when you go bring an appetite and don't go before a big race!  :)

My brown sugar and banana pancake.  Even with sharing I couldn't get through half of it

My smokd salmon with cream cheese and eggs hash

Daniel's fried chicken and waffles.  The waffles have bacon in the middle
Daniel's BLT bloody mary.  There's actually a piece of toast, lettuce, tomato and bacon in the drink for you to put together and eat.

If you want to see more Hash House food selections, take a peek at Sarah's Vegas trip recap.  Amazingly enough I wasn't tired after eating all that food.  I kept on trekking with Daniel, Marcus and Myke into the casinos and gambled for a little bit.  We met up later to get tickets for shows that night.  Daniel, Sarah, Cesar, and I went to Penn and Teller and Marcus and Myke went to La Rev.  We all enjoyed our shows.  Penn and Teller was fun.  Even with them showing you the magic tricks you're still baffled at how they do it!  I really wanted to keep going and party it up, but I was dead after Penn and Teller.  Before the shows we met up for dinner at PBR (professional bull riders) at Planet Hollywood.  Marcus has a friend from high school, Yvonne, that is the executive chef at PBR.  So, of course she made sure that we had the highlights of the menu.  She even got her seux chef to whip up some off the menu items.  Everything we ordered was delicious.  But, again the food choices weren't the healthiest.  By the end of the trip we were all ready to give up fried foods and eat fruits and vegetables for the next week.  But, gotta live it up every once in a while, right?

PB&RJ (Peanut Butter & Raspberry Jelly) with banana, fried.  It's not on the menu fried, but there's a dessert that takes this concent and fries it but adds ice cream.  So, Yvonne and the seux chef both thought that Myke would like this much better fried.  He did.  And so did everyone else. 

Grilled cheese sandiwch with eggs and bacon and a side of fruit -- yeah this is mine.

But so is this.  Dorito covered mac and cheese.  It's sounds a lot better than it tasted.  It was good, just not as good as I was expecting it to. 

This was the grand finale.  A cinnamon donut and a chocolate donut topped with vanilla ice cream and bacon filled waffles with some berries thrown in there, covered with chocolate syrup.  Yup, we were all pretty full by this point.  But, how can you say no to this?

 I was determined to get dressed up one night so I wore a black dress and heels.  Sarah was informed that I was wearing a dress and she wore one too.  So, now we actually have pictures of us dressed up looking good and not sweaty and gross.  We clean up pretty nicely, huh?

 So, that was our Vegas adventure.  Not as wild and crazy as I was planning for.  But, it was fun and eventful and I got to share it with most of my favorite people. 

Rock n' Roll Las Vegas Race Recap

RnR Las Vegas 2012 Race Recap:

Saturday 12/1/12

  • 4:10 - Arrived in Las Vegas and headed to the Vdara hotel
  • 6:00 ish - headed to the expo for packet pickup
  • The expo was pretty enormous. There were a lot of vendors there and among them was a company called WHOOHA. Here are the two shirts I got from them.  They are very comfortable.   


  • 7:00 (PST) - We're (us/we = Daniel, Sarah, Cesar, and me) starving by this point and it's kind of my fault because I got lost in the expo with all the stores.  We wanted pizza and amazingly enough couldn't find a decent place to sit down and get some.  We finally came across a California Pizza Kitchen.  We didn't get to eat until about 8:15. 
  • 9:30 (PST) - Made it back to hour hotel rooms and we were pooped.  So, no going out for any of us.
Sunday 12/2/12

  • Woke up around 7:00 AM because it was really like 10:00 for my body. 
  • 9:30 ish - met up with my brother, Marcus and his boyfriend, Myke for breakfast
    • We ended up at Serendipity 3 which had good food but not a very good selection for healthy eating options before you're about to run a marathon. 

 Yogurt with granola and fruit. Yogurt is in a half coconut shell.

  • We went back to our hotels after breakfast.  I read for about an hour and then I took an hour nap.  Woke up at 1:30 and started getting ready for the race.  Meet up time and place with Sarah was 2:00 in the hotel lobby
  • I had a Strawberry Honey Stinger in prep for the race.  3:00 was start time
On the course

For about the first mile the wind was at our backs.  Then we made a U-turn and it was right in our faces and felt like it was for pretty much the rest of the run.  The temp felt about the same the entire time on the course, even after the sun went down, right around 60.  It dropped to mid-40's, low-50's as I finished the race around 7PM, but I barely noticed because I get hot very easily. 

About the course:
The course was totally flat except for one 100yd dip that you hit around mile 10 and again when you come back around mile 20.  The wind was also against us at mile 10.  At least it felt like it.  The crosswinds even felt like they were head on.  So, trying to get up the steep incline with the wind zapped a lot of energy early.  Running down the strip going out and coming back is the most interesting part of the course besides running through Fremont St at night, which you hit around mile 22.  Everything was lit up and that's when the spectators started to show up again.  There wasn't a whole lot to see between miles 10 - 21 so it was kind of boring.

As I stated earlier I had the Honey Stinger before the race.  On the course I took a Gu every 5 miles until mile 15.  After that I started taking a Gu every 3 miles.  I took water at just about every stop and Gatorade every other mile after I took a Gu.  After I used the bathroom just before mile 10 I didn't have any GI problems for the rest of the race.  I didn't need to pee and I was even pretty good for the first hour after I was done.   

My experience:
Considering that the course was flat and it was a cool race, you would think that just about everyone would PR.  Well, that's not the case.  That wind was just as brutal as the hills in the Via of Leigh Valley marathon in Pennsylvania and the heat in any of the S. Florida races that I've done like Palm Beach marathon and ING Miami marathon.  Also, my breakfast choice wasn't the best.  I started off good, keeping a close to 8 min/mi pace up until mile 8, then it slowed to 8:10 for miles 8 and 9.  At this point, I had to use the bathroom.  So, I told Sarah to go on ahead.  It was pretty much down hill from there.  After I used the bathroom I felt a lot better, but my heart rate was so high. 
My average HR at mile 9 was 195.  I stopped to use the bathroom shortly before mile 10. 
Mile 10 my average pace was 11:04 and my average HR was 194

Mile 11 ave pace - 8:15, ave HR - 194

for miles 12 and 13, every time my HR got to 200 I would stop and walk until it came down to 190
Mile 12 ave pace - 8:46, ave HR - 196
Mile 13 ave pace - 8:56, ave HR - 197

for miles 14 and 15 I incorporated a run 2 min, walk 1 min strategy
Mile 14 ave pace - 10:04, ave HR - 192
Mile 15 ave pace 10:17, ave HR 193 - my pace is a little slower here because I walked through the aid station as well which was around mile 15.5

for miles 16 - 17 I ran 3 min, walked 1 min
Mile 16 - ave pace 10:57, ave HR - 189 - my pace is slower here because I walked through the aid station that was at mile 1.6
Mile 17 - ave pace 9:53, ave HR - 185

At mile 17 I was finally started to run steady and didn't need the walk breaks anymore
Mile 18 - ave pace 8:47, ave HR - 188.  I actually function pretty well with a HR this high.  Anything under 190 is sustainable for long periods of time for me.  It's when I get to 190+ that I know I won't last much longer at my current pace.

After two crises averted I thought I was in the clear for the remaining 8 miles.  But nope.  My right IT band started hurting during the early part of mile 19.  At mile 22 and 24 I took extra water to pour on my right leg.  The cold water helps with the IT pain. 
Mile 19 - ave pace 9:20, ave HR - 189
Mile 20 - ave pace 9:30, ave HR - 189
Mile 21 - ave pace 9:48, ave HR - 188
Mile 22 - ave pace 10:58, ave HR - 182
Mile 23 - ave pace 9:58, ave HR - 189
Mile 24 - ave pace 10:12, ave HR - 187

For the last mile and half I refused to stop running.  I wanted to get the race done with.  I also didn't want to be caught walking!  LOL. 
Mile 25 - ave pace 9:55, ave HR - 187
Mile 26 - ave pace 8:58, ave HR - 192
last .2 miles - ave pace 8:48, ave HR - 194

Overall: Average pace 9:09, ave HR 189, total time 4:01:05. 

Not my worst marathon, but not anywhere near my best.  Oh well.  I'm not worried or upset about it.  The experience was awesome.  I got to spend a few days in Vegas with great friends and family and I did get to run down Las Vegas Blvd.  It's pretty cool that they were able to close down the whole strip for the race.  The locals weren't very happy about it.  But, hey, it's only one day... half of a day  :). 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Marathon Humor

With less than 72 hours to go before the start of my third marathon, I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything other than running. I’ve spent most of tonight obsessively browsing marathon-related websites instead of packing or finalizing my playlist (you know, the things I should be doing), and I came across a few funnies I thought were worthy of sharing.

FCM race sign