Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday, Yeah!  I’m not going to lie, I love my birthday much like I love every holiday, it’s a reason to celebrate and something to look forward to.

I started out celebrating last night with my mom and brother.  We went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Oyamel.  I enjoyed table side guacamole and one of their special cherry margaritas in honor of the Cherry Blossom Festival.  My mom got me some great new running clothes, a Brooks mesh running skirt, Adidas running shirt and Brooks running hat.  In my opinion Brooks makes the best running hats, they fit my small head and are somewhat fashionable, win!

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I look forward to wearing these new clothes when I can start running again (bone scan scheduled for next week Wednesday, fingers crossed no stress fracture!)

This morning I woke up a little later than usual, skipped the gym because I just couldn’t get out of bed and did some crunches and planks and a little morning yoga to start off my 31st year.  Doing yoga is one of my goals for this year, so many of my injuries are rooted in too tight muscles, no matter how much I stretch.  I’m looking forward to really working on that.

I made myself a lemon and blueberry smoothie  for breakfast with Chobani lemon greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, half a banana and a little vanilla soy milk, it was delicious.

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Then I checked my email and randomly birthday notes from my eye doctor and bank as well I got birthday cards from my chiropractor and dentist….interesting.

I’ll be going out to lunch to Matchbox with my co-workers and then celebrating more tonight with Dan!

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Race Recap: Rock n Roll USA Marathon err Half Marathon

Leading up to my marathon this past Saturday I had felt awesome! Then about three weeks ago I started to have calf issues. After starting to feel better I got the go ahead from my doctor and was ready to take on the race.

My goal for this marathon was to break 3:35 to get my Boston qualifying team, that meant every mile had to average under 8:12. My training had been great leading me to be pretty confident I could attain that goal.

On Friday I took a personal day from work and headed to my favorite bagel place for breakfast and carbo loading and then made my way to the armory for the race expo.

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The line to get into expos at the armory is always long because it is a government building and they have check your bag etc. I got there early and the line moved pretty quickly.

I picked up my number, walked around a little bit and talked to some friends before heading home to relax for the rest of the day. I was actually feeling great and my calf wasn’t bothering me so my confidence was raising for the race.

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On race morning I woke up at 4:15 to get ready and then headed out of the house a little before 5. My amazing husband dropped me off at the East Falls Church metro station due to track work and I caught the first train into town. When I got off at the race start, I ran into Mandy and then we found our coach.

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I hit up the bathroom a couple of times before the lines started and then planned to drop my bag off at bag check and go to the bathroom one more time before the race started. I gave myself 30 minutes to do this, boy was that a mistake.

This was the first year that this race did not start and end at RFK stadium, so they had school buses to move our stuff to the finish line. The buses were organized by last name and when I went to find mine the line to check my bag was 2 bus lengths long. A line to check my bag? Seriously? It took 20 minutes to check mine. Then I jogged to my starting corral, I still had to go to the bathroom but I knew I would make it in time the lines were so long. Let’s just say I got creative with going to the bathroom and I wasn’t the only one.

When the race started I felt great. I held myself to a good pace around an 8 minute mile and continued to feel awesome even into the hill at Calvert (cruel rock n roll, just cruel). I pushed on through Columbia Heights and got to see my mom, brother and nieces around mile 9. Then everything started to fall apart.

As we headed down North Capitol my IT band started to hurt, then my knee was hurting, I hadn’t and pain like this at all during my training. After that my glutes started to get tight and then my hamstrings. By the time I got to H street NE I was hobbling and my pace had slowed to 8:45 minute mile. I even stopped to walk a one point. At this time I knew I wasn’t gong to finish this marathon and I would be lucky to make it through the half.

As I approached the half marathon/marathon split I had started to feel better, but I knew the smartest thing would be to go the finish, seeing my coach and fighting back tears I told her I was done for the day.  I made it to the finish with a time of 1:46:38.  I was in a bad mood and all I wanted was to get to my phone so I could call Dan and tell him he wouldn’t see me running down the mall because I was out.

I approached the bag check and there were a few people in front of me, but no one was getting their bag.  Apparently there was no organization what so ever with how they put the bags in the bus so they had to look through every bag to find your number.  The line started to get long and they hadn’t brought anyone a bag.  A nice man next to me let me us his phone to call Dan and I left him a message, holding back tears I continued to wait for my bag.

45 minutes later people started to get mad and just got on the bus and started organizing the bags themselves.  We were calling out numbers for those in line.  About 15 minutes later (roughly over an hour after I got in line), my bag was found and I was able to phone Dan and answer all the text messages coming in asking me what happened. (unacceptable Rock N Roll, you should have your organization down to a T with all the races you run).

I managed to hold myself together until I called Dan.  I broke down, I had been holding back my emotions all week with the “can I run or not” and it finally all came out.  He told me he was coming to the armory to meet me and bring me my clothes and then we would go from there.  He had been with my brother and my mom waiting for me by the waterfront.  After he met me, I broke down again.  We ended up having to walk to Eastern Market to get on a metro train and then met my family for lunch.

I wallowed in disappointment for the day, all the hard work and then your body just won’t let you do it.  Now I am waiting on news from the doctor to find out what is really wrong with my calf.  Hoping it is not a stress fracture, and trying to look on the bright side, I don’t want this to ruin my BIRTHDAY WEEK!

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I’m in the Clear

Got the green light yesterday from both my doctors to run this marathon! Maybe I overreacted a little bit about the pain in my leg, however last time I had pain from running I needed hip surgery.

So now I can forget it all and get excited for this race! Making it even better will be all my friends and training partners who will be there and the most special will be my mom, brother and nieces who are going to come and cheer me on.

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Time to rally with Rocky on repeat!

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To Run or Not to Run

To run or not to run, that is the question I have been battling since last weekend.  I was feeling better with the calf injury and then I felt a setback last week.  I did a short run on the treadmill on Tuesday and felt fine, on Wednesday night my leg felt a little off during a short run and on Thursday I tried a few marathon pace miles at the track and it was just annoying, I could feel the knot in my leg, it wasn’t painful to run, but afterwards I was walking with pain again.

Friday morning, feeling defeated, I went to the chiropractor to have him work on the muscle again and he told me to take it easy until the race.  I should rest all weekend and maybe try for a short run midweek to see how I feel.  I also decided on Friday to finally purchase some compression sleeves to try and speed along the healing process.

Then, I began to worry, what if running on my calf makes the injury worse, turning what could be a 2 week recovery into a 2 month recovery.  I started to read horror stories online (stupid, stupid, stupid) and was really questioning if this was a good idea, while sending myself into an emotional roller coaster.

I made a deal with Dan that in addition to seeing the chiropractor 2 more times this week before the race, I would make an appointment with the orthopedist to ask their opinion.

This morning I went to the chiropractor and he worked on the knots in my calf some more and did the ultrasound machine, telling me my leg felt a lot better.  In his opinion if I do a short run tomorrow and it doesn’t hurt I am fine to run the marathon and it will not do any further damage to calf.  Tonight I have the orthopedist appointment, so we will see what he says.

I am not letting myself get excited for the race yet, which sucks, I have been resting and in taper mode so I can’t exercise the frustration away, so fingers crossed I get the go-ahead and I can start to prep for the race on Saturday.

Here’s to hoping for good news!

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A Trip to GNC

Recently I had been experiencing some pain in my calf while I was walking.  I wanted to nip this pain in the bud because my marathon is coming up.  So I went to see the trusty chiropractor to work his magic and get this small muscle strain back in shape for my runs.

When I asked what could have caused this to happen, as I couldn’t remember doing anything out of the ordinary to bring this on, he said it was a lack of protein.  This seemed weird to me because I had been making smoothies for breakfast with protein powder and I eat a lot of greek yogurt and more meat than I usually like to, but I took his word for it.  He said that the long runs were breaking down my muscle and I should look into buying amino acid pills to take before and after my runs, and that this would also help repair my calf muscle.  He told me to go to the nutrition store and look for Branched Chain Amino Acids.

So, that night I drove to the mall and found the GNC.  Now, I never thought I would ever go to a GNC and buy anything, I’m just not really into that, but doctor’s orders.  I asked the person working there for the BCAAs and he looked at me like I had 4 heads.  Apparently these are pills more commonly used by body builders.  I told him what I needed them for and that my chiropractor had told me to get them.  The salesman pointed out the kind I should buy and still very warily rang me up.

I took the pills home and opened up the container, much to my surprise the pills were HUGE!  How am I going to take 6 of these before and after my long runs as prescribed, let alone 2 every day until my marathon?  I choked the first 2 down before my workout the next day, just barely.  Then, the following day I tried cutting them in half thinking 4 halves would go down better than 2 wholes… I was wrong.  The sharp edges actually caused me to cough one back up.  Eventually I got the hang of taking these massive things, swallowing 4 before my long run and 2 after, that’s enough right, 6 is a little overkill I think.  I have also incorporated more eggs in my diet as I taper for this race.  I’m not sure if the BCAAs are doing anything, but I assume they can’t be doing any harm.

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Do you take supplements?

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A New Favorite

The other day in the grocery store I noticed a new product from my favorite Greek yogurt, Chobani, they are called Chobani flip. They are yogurt with a topping/ something to mix into them in a separate corner compartment. My grocery store carries 4 flavors, strawberry, vanilla, key lime and coconut. I bought all but the coconut (not a fan!).

My favorite flavor is strawberry surprise, but all were good. I will be adding this into my breakfast rotation. They average about 130 to 170 calories each so with a banana are a great first meal of the day for me!

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*I was not paid for this review. I just really love Chobani….Next up I have to try some recipes that use Chobani instead of oil/butter etc.

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Taper Time

It’s taper time, those last 3 weeks before a big event where you let your body rest. At this time no additional hard training will improve your fitness for the big day.

The Rock n Roll USA marathon in just under 2 weeks away. I have said good bye to Bodypump and spinning for these weeks and have lowered my mileage on runs. I am eating lots of protein and amino acids while also trying to eat for my current activity and not my usual weekly exercise.

I know I will feel overly energetic, but also somewhat lethargic during this time, however that is how I prepare my body for running the marathon. I am also using this time to visualize my race and plan for the days leading up to it.

Now I’m just counting down the days until March 16th.

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Thousand Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies

This weekend we were looking through a cookbook we received as a wedding gift and I noticed this amazing looking chocolate chip cookie recipe. They have an unusual method to make them, almost like a sugar cookie and they bake up big and somewhat flat.

The bittersweet chocolate means they aren’t overly sweet and I think they would be amazing with ice cream and maybe a little caramel drizzle.

Thousand Layer Chocolate Chip Cookies
from The Newlywed Cookbook by Sarah Copeland

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp fine table salt
9 oz high quality bittersweet chocolate (I used 8 oz because they came in 4 oz bars and I didn’t want to buy 3 of them)
1/4 tsp fleur de sel

Directions:

Cream the butter and both sugars together in stand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, two at a time, then add vanilla.

In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix on low until just combined. Scrape bowl and then mix one more time to make sure everything is together.

Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Put each dough portion on large piece of plastic wrap and pat into 4-by-6 inch rectangle. Wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, coarsely chop chocolate into thin shards using a serrated knife, set aside.

When dough is chilled, preheat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lay one portion of dough onto floured surface. Sprinkle with half the chocolate and top with another pice of dough. Repeat with remaining chocolate and dough until you have a slab of dough with two layers of chocolate. Dust lightly with flour and roll gently with a rolling pin until the dough is about 1.5 inches thick.

Using a 2 inch biscuit cutter or the top of a drinking glass, cut dough into rounds and place on cookie sheet, leaving about 3 inches between cookies. Lightly beat the egg and brush egg wash lightly on the tips of the uncooked cookies, sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Bake until the cookies are set, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets half way through baking. Let cookies cool slightly on baking sheet, about 3 minutes before moving to cooling rack. Let the baking sheets cool completely before using to bake the remaining dough.

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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Hiking West Virginia

Last week I had my last work trip for the foreseeable future, which is good because it feels like I have been out of town every week in the last two months.  On Thursday morning we headed south to Lewisburg, WV.  We wanted to hike through one of the proposed areas we are working to protect, but instead opted for a hike through the Big Draft Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest, which was designated in 2009.  This was the first wilderness bill I worked on when I started my job and the first time I have ever seen the “fruits of my labor.”  It was soo great to see the brand new wilderness sign and know that I had something to do with getting the area protected.

The hike that we did was the Blue Bend Loop trail, it was a 5 mile loop that was strenuous at times as you climbed up to the top of a small “mountain” and then descended back down with some great views of the valley below.  We kept commenting that the hike is probably gorgeous in the spring and fall with budding flowers and colorful leaves.  We walked through mostly dead leaves and bare trees, but it was still great to get out into the forest.

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Running Solo

This past weekend was a “recovery week” in my marathon training so I had only 16 miles to run instead of the previous week’s 20 miles.  A few of my running partners who I usually meet up with for my long runs were out this week traveling and, unfortunately, nursing some injuries, so I took this opportunity to tackle a long run solo.

I usually hate doing long runs by myself.  I have struggled with training alone in the past, my mind likes to play games and that has been a hurdle for me.  However, I know the marathon is going to be a solo race and I am going to have to get through those head games that strike around mile 18, so I set out Saturday morning on my own.

I hadn’t run the W&OD trail by my house in a while and knew the hills would be good for me.  I welcomed the excuse of the alone time to listen to my book and worked on keeping my pace slower than I normally run on the trail, knowing that my plan called for the last four miles at marathon pace.  I cruised through the miles, fending off my usual mental blocks and for the first time, in a long time, I wasn’t willing myself to the end.  Even when I had to pick up the pace, I was able to hold it pretty steady, a little faster than I plan on running the marathon at, and felt great when I finished.

This was the run that I needed.  It was a total confidence booster for the 26.2 miles that I will be taking on in a little over a month.  My training has been going great (knock on wood), I have been cross training, a first for me, and I finally got a chiropractor to work out the kinks in my hip so I don’t experience such tightness in my hamstring during the later miles.  I’m getting even more excited for my race and will remember this run around mile 23 when all I want to do is finish!

BRING IT ON MARATHON, I’m not scared any more!

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