Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From One Race to the Next

If you've ever looked at my race page, you've seen that I have run in five road races in my adult life. I obviously dont race a ton. The only time that I've run one race right after another was in October, when I ran/walked the Somerset 8k with Nathan 8 days after dominating Baltimore. I did Somerset more as a social activity and, hopefully made apparent by my 1:01:03 finish time, I did not race it.

This week I'm in a weird place, though. I raced a 10k on Thursday and I am "racing" the Hot Chocolate 15k on Saturday. I should have planned ahead better and done one last "training" run over the weekend but I didn't. So I've been unsure exactly what to do this week. Last week, I tapered for the Turkey Chase. Do I just carry on the taper?

My answer is yes. But, as I've said before, I have a really hard time running slowly leading up to a race. I always want to speed along and prove to myself that I can run fast. So last night, I let myself do that. But only for 2.47 miles.

Then I woke up this morning and let myself run slower for 4.0 miles.

While running, I thought about the Hot Chocolate race but not in an "OMG, it's this weekend and I'm stressing" kind of way. I actually thought about how little I have blogged about it and, apparently, how little I've cared. Unlike Baltimore, and even the Turkey Chase to an extent, for which I was planning finishing time goals and speed workouts weeks and months in advance, I have done very little to prepare for Hot Chocolate specifically. I'm not too worried about this because I am confident that my preparation for the 10k will suffice as preparation enough for a 15k.

The big question, now that the race is four days away, is: What the hell kind of goals am I going to set for myself? In answering this question, there are several things to consider...

  • I have about a million friends running this and I plan to run with at least a few of them so it will be hard to set specific pace goals without knowing what they're thinking and planning.
  • The race is going to be extremely crowded and trying to dodge people the entire time will just frustrate me.
  • This is my first 15k so I get an automatic PR. Yes!
  • This will be the furthest I've run since my sweaty dance (and, by dance, I mean fight to the death) with Baltimore.
  • It would be nice to burn a ton of calories so that I can consume gallons of ghirardeli hot chocolate fondue at the after party.
  • It will be cold so running fast is imperative to staying warm.
  • And, last but not least, I want to have fun.

So help me friends: How does one prepare for back to back races? Have you ever raced with friends? If so, do you set goals together or do you just run for fun and ignore the clock?

Are you running Hot Chocolate? Want to hang out and eat fondue together afterward?

And finally, have you entered my Sparkly Soul headband giveaway yet? All the cool kids are doing it!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Lazy Weekend and The Best Phone Call Ever

The Lazy Weekend

Thanksgiving is most definitely my favorite holiday. I love everything about it: the family time, the food, the relaxation, and the foliage. But it is hard to deny that a day of feasting and a night of board games and doggy snuggling on the couch breeds a weekend of laziness.

So for the three days following that wonderful fourth Thursday in November, I was a whole lot of lazy. I spent Friday sleeping in, watching football, beating my dad at chess, and eating leftovers.

Then I spent Saturday sleeping in, exploring Rock Creek park, beating Joshua at chess (apparently I love chess now), watching football, and eating leftovers.

After witnessing a terribly sad performance by the Florida gators, Josh suggested we beat the lazy spirit, and our disappointment, by doing something random. So I suggested going to Georgetown and walking to Virginia and back across the Key Bridge. So we did it and saw this on our way.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

We then wandered around and ate two expensive crepes at midnight on the Georgetown waterfront with schools of rats playing in the bushes behind us. Sorry chic new park by the river but you can't fool us, we're still in a major metropolis with little rodents everywhere. That aside, it was wonderful to go somewhere and do something unusual for a Saturday night, especially when it involved piling on even more calories with a Mac and cheese and a nutella peanut butter crepe. Perfect ingredients for a good night's sleep.

Sunday rolled around and I slept in, played frisbee, ate pumpkin pie froyo for lunch, picked Ingrid up at the airport, had a lovely long drive to catch up and then watched friends reruns all night while eating the last of the leftover sweet potatoes and stuffing. I had to soak up the last hours of acceptable lethargy before getting up the next morning and facing real life.

It's weird to have so much time with nothing really to do. Don't get me wrong, it is amazing. But on some level I guess I need to be busy. Somehow it was more simple for me to fit a run in today, after working eight hours, than it was on Friday or Saturday, when I had absolutely nothing on the agenda. It's been real, lazy weekend. I will miss you but I was ready to see you go.

The Best Phone Call Ever

I got a call tonight from Joyce, my best friend from college, who is currently attending grad school in Boulder CO. She and I, who were once inseparable, have seen each other for a mere 36 hours total in the past 15 months. To say I miss her would be a drastic understatement.

Anyway, Joyce graduates next May and has decided that she wants to join me for a month or more of cross-country bike ride 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And yes, 75 exclamation points were necessary after that sentence.

Words can't even tell you how incredibly happy this makes me. Very very incredibly happy. The happiest. Now, I have only to talk to work and figure out if the whole trip is even possible. I plan to do that this week and I am only slightly terrified to hear what they say. But enough with the terror. I will leave you with "1,000 lovely words" to express my happiness after the best phone call ever.

How was your weekend? What was the best news you got this week?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

10k: Bethesda Turkey Chase Race Recap

I signed up for the Turkey Chase, my first holiday race, a few weeks ago and had big plans to run fast (for me). I trained for it by introducing my body to several new types of speedwork but started to have doubts about my ability to run as quickly as I'd originally planned. So I changed my goals a little bit, deciding that I'd be satisfied to run a sub- 8:55 pace instead of sub-8:30. It was my first 10k, after all, and I really just wanted to have fun. How could a turkey running with a purple sparkly headband and a garmin on its wing not have fun?? Impossible!

Being notoriously nerve-prone, I was a surprised by how little I worried about this race leading up to it. I slept at my parents' house on Wednesday night and my mom drove Josh and I the two miles to the start line before stuffing her turkey and putting it in the oven. It was a cold morning but sunshine was in the forecast. I bundled up and danced to "It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A." in a muddy field in front of the YMCA to stay warm.

Then Josh and I split up and I lined up to start. I was lingering between the "8:30 and faster" and "9:00 and faster" corrals. Whatever makeshift wave I was grouped with finally got going and I crossed the start line. 

I ran into a friend from high school who was running with his fiance and he sped by me about a tenth of a mile in.

I was cruising at first and that made me a little nervous. My pace was teetering right around 8:00 and I thought about my tempo runs when running a sub-8 minute mile was so hard. Why was it so easy all of a sudden?

I knew it was adrenaline and I also knew I'd probably burn out but I just kept going with what was comfortable. I held steady until we hit some hills and my pace slowed significantly. The hills were something I didn't even consider for this race but they were definitely there. We ran up many steady inclines on Wisconsin Avenue which didn't end up being much of a problem for my speed. 

The biggest challenge was that, being on such a major road, the race course was restricted to the curb lane of Wisconsin Avenue, and Old Georgetown Road when we got there. With 4,000 people chasing the turkey, it was extremely hard to weave and pass people on these narrow parts of the course and it was even worse on the hills, where many slowed down and/or walked. I am certain that most of the people I passed were not running "8:30 and faster" and many probably weren't even running "9:00 and faster" which was really frustrating given that those were the corrals they must have started with. So I spent a lot of time passing people via sidewalk and curb and brushing shoulders as I dodged other runners. I was back to believing I could hold a sub-8:30 pace and I was prepared to work for that.

Running up the final long hill during mile 4, I ran by my parents' street and they were standing on the grass cheering for me. I waved, threw my gloves and ear warmers at them, and just kept going. It's funny being cheered on in a race, because you're like "hey you see me, i'm running, thanks for coming, ok i'm running away from you now, bye". But when your cheerleaders only had to walk a block and a half to see you, there's not much need to feel guilty. And, having missed each other in Baltimore, it was really nice to see them there.

Their cheers gave me a boost that, luckily, I don't even think I needed. I ran hard for the next two miles and before I knew it, I could see the finish line. Josh was a few hundred yards from it taking pictures and he yelled something at me with the word "FINISH" in it. I thought he was telling me to stop posing for the camera and push myself to the finish line.

I did push myself and crossed that line 52 minutes and 36 seconds after I'd left it. My watch said I'd averaged an 8:21 pace but it also mapped the course as 6.3 miles long.

Apparently Josh had yelled "I'll meet you at the finish". One thing we really need to work on is deciding on a meeting spot before we split up. We never do that and it is always a mess. Not having heard him, I walked to where he had been standing, back to the finish line, through the finisher's tent, and around the field three times, before finally asking to borrow a woman's phone and calling him. Then I met him at the finish.

We high-fived and hugged and then walked about a mile before my mom picked us up on the side of the road. By then, the sun was shining and the air was crisp and beautiful. I had met my original goal speed and I'd had fun. I was very thankful for it all.

When the  official results were posted, I wasn't surprised to see that my Garmin had been a little off but am pleased to report that I still beat 8:30.

I did not, surprise surprise, negative split the race (unless you count the final .2 as a split) but I am also pleased to report that I ran every mile in under 9 minutes.

This was my first 10k and I have to say that I really loved racing this distance. I felt that it was long enough to challenge my race strategy and make me run smart but it was also short enough to fly by and let me be a little gutsy with my pace. Hopefully running a 15k next weekend will be just as much fun!

Have you ever run a Thanksgiving Day race? Did you find that more people took it seriously or ran it for fun? Did you notice my sparkly headband in the pictures? Enter for a chance to win one of your own!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Food Lover's Challenge: Pumpkin for Life

When I suggested a challenge involving eating as much pumpkin as possible, I had no idea how intense it would get. Apparently Kate loves pumpkin as much as I do, which I wasn't sure was possible. She came into work every day telling me that I was going down. And that fueled my fire to want to win this competition even more. We both cooked a ton and, when we didn't have the time to make things from scratch, just threw canned pumpkin in everything.

On Monday, Kate and I went through our phones and counted up the pictures we'd taken of all our recipes. My pumpkin consumption had dwindled over the weekend and I hadn't made some much anticipated recipes, so I had accepted the fact that I'd likely lose. Somehow,  though, despite all of our hard work and our trash talk, we ended up each consuming 21 pumpkin dishes. At first, we called it a tie but, after all of our hard cooking and our excitement, a tie just wouldn't cut it. I told Kate I'd rather lose to her than settle on a boring tie.

So we are leaving it up to you, loyal readers of the weekly Food Lover's Challenge posts, to vote for the winner. Take a look at all of our tasty pumpkin dishes pictured and listed below and then leave a comment with your unbiased opinion of which assortment of dishes you would rather eat in a week.

  1. Pumpkin and steak hash with an egg beater
  2. Pumpkin chili
  3. Pumpkin cheesecake
  4. Pumpkin beer
  5. Pumpkin cheddar crackers with cheese and pumpkin butter
  6. Pumpkin cream cheese muffins
  7. Pumpkin crusted steak
  8. Pumpkin granola with greek yogurt
  9. Pumpkin incense (pictured). Mozerella balls dipped in pumpkin butter (not pictured).
  10. Spinach salad with baked pumpkin
  11. Pumpkin martini
  12. Pumpkin pancakes with pomegranate seeds
  13. Pumpkin butter, mozerella, and grilled pumpkin pizza
  14. Pumpkin muffin
  15. Pumpkin seeds
  16. Pumpkin ravioli
  17. Pumpkin spice latte
  18. Savory Spanish pumpkin dish
  19. Pumpkin ice cream
  20. Pumpkin soup
  21. Pumpkin, cucumber, and leek juice (remains in juicer pictured).

  1. Pumpkin applesauce
  2. Baguette with pumpkin butter and goat cheese
  3. Pumpkin beer
  4. Pumpkin bread
  5. Kashi cereal with pumpkin vanilla soymilk
  6. Pumpkin chicken salad on sesame kaiser roll
  7. Everything bagel with pumpkin butter
  8. Pumpkin and honey oatmeal
  9. Pumpkin rice crispy treat
  10. Pumpkin seeds
  11. Pumpkin souffle
  12. Pumpkin butter glazed pork chop
  13. Pumpkin crumble cake
  14. Pumpkin cream cheese muffin
  15. Pumpkin pancakes with greek yogurt and pumpkin butter
  16. Rosemary turkey, chevre, and pumpkin butter sandwich
  17. Peanut butter, banana, apple, and pumpkin butter sandwich
  18. Pumpkin and ricotta pasta casserole with green beans
  19. Pumpkin mashed potatoes
  20. Pumpkin gingersnap milkshake
  21. Chicken and penne pasta in pumpkin cream sauce

So... what do you think? Be honest!

Thanks for your input and don't forget to enter my Sparkly Soul giveaway!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving: Real-life 10k, Virtual 5k, and Lots and Lots of Food

On Sunday I declared that when you're not sure whether you've burned or consumed a more massive amount of calories, you've been successful and, going on that assumption, I had an extremely successful Thanksgiving.

I started it by running my first 10k, the Bethesda Turkey Chase, which, despite its being a real race, I also considered my virtual 5(+)k hosted by Kiley of The Daily Vitamin F. I forgot to print the race certificate but Kiley says that a picture of you doing the 5k will suffice. Thanks to Josh, I have plenty of those and, thanks to photoshop, I have this...

Yes, of course I carried the certificate with me for 6.2 miles
and held it up for the camera 100 yards from the finish line.
And yes it is 3 times the size of my head.

I will hold off on writing a full recap until later in the weekend but I will say that the race was amazing. The weather was perfect, the distance was long enough to be challenging but also manageable, and my legs and mind worked together magically to dominate the course. According to my Garmin, I ran in 52:37 at an average pace of 8:21 minutes per mile.

Before the consumption part of my day could begin, I just had to get together with a bunch of friends and burn some more calories for fun. So I headed, with Josh and Nathan, to Norwood Park, a few blocks from the house I grew up in. Seven of us played several games of touch football and I'm not really sure who won but I think it's better that way. Hesitant to leave the beautiful outdoors, we stayed around for a while and took turns kicking field goals. The furthest I kicked was from 17 yards.

We hurried home to get dolled up and stuff our faces with my favorite meal of the year. We sat around the table discussing a million things and being thankful for each other.

I could tell you every last thing I'm thankful for in great detail but I'd rather spend the rest of this lovely night playing games and drinking wine with my family so I will stick to the basics. Here are a few key things I'm thankful for:
  • My loving and supporting family
  • My amazing friends, near and far
  • My Joshua
  • Having a job and having dreams for my life. It is important to be going in the right direction.
  • My good health and my ability to sweat in style on the regular
  • Living in DC. My perfect apartment in its ideal location with my favorite roommate.
  • Having discovered a passion for writing this blog. And all of the readers who give me a purpose in writing this blog. Your support is truly appreciated.
  • Fall food. And all food.
  • The University of Florida. Still has a big place in my heart.
On this great holiday, my favorite of the year, I think it is key to focus on what you're thankful for and, if there are people in your life that you appreciate, make sure they know it. Today is about family, love, thankfulness, and food. And, I hope for many of you, it is also about sweating. I wish you a wonderful thanksgiving and a quick recovery from the food coma you may be experiencing.

What are you thankful for? Did you get a chance to sweat today? Have you entered my Sparkly Soul giveaway yet?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sweating in Sparkles: My First GIVEAWAY

This morning I went on my last run before the Turkey Chase. I have a hard time with last runs before races because I have to fight off the urge to prove to myself that I can run as fast as I'll need to on race day and, instead, just take it easy and get my legs moving one final time. I slowed myself to three 9:00 miles and realized that I may need to re-evaluate my race goals.

I want to run fast and set a record race pace but I also want to enjoy myself and have some heart left in me to play football after the race. So here is what I'm trying to accomplish:

A Goal: 52.49; 8:30 pace
B Goal: 55.24; 8:55 pace
C Goal: Have fun and look stylish.

Having fun is never much of a problem for me. Looking stylish, especially in cold weather running, can be more challenging. Luckily, I have a new sweat-friendly accessory that will help make any gear sparkle.

I have had my eye on Sparkly Soul, Inc headbands for months and finally got around to checking out their website. As soon as I did, I knew this was a company that I would love to support. It was created by a marathoner and triathlete, is based in "the city with lots of sparkle" (NYC), and, as stated on their site, the headbands are designed "for all the women who find their strength and soul while pushing themselves to their athletic limits." The only downside of my whole shopping experience was that I wanted every single color and could not narrow it down. I eventually decided on lavender and then I obsessively checked my mailbox every day for a week.

Yesterday, the pretty thing was waiting for me when I got home and I let only 12 hours pas before testing it out. My biggest challenge in finding a great running headband is that they all tend to be either too tight or too loose and slippery. I want it to fit on my head and stay in place without my being able to feel that it is there. And, let me tell you, the 6-packs of athletic bands at CVS don't really do the trick. So, with the rain still coming down this morning, I set out to see if my Sparkly Soul would be as magically non-slip as the company claimed it would.

During the run, I forgot that I was wearing the headband. It didn't press too hard against my head but I also didn't have to fiddle with it at all. After three miles in the rain, the thin little strip of sparkle had not moved an inch. My hair was wet and frizzy but it was held in place perfectly by the headband.


It didn't take long but I am sold on the magic of Sparkly Soul. Sweating in Style won't be hard if I make sure to keep Sweating in Sparkles. And, in the spirit of giving, I want to share the love and give everyone else a chance to sweat in sparkles of their own. Sparkly Soul, Inc. has so generously offered to give one of you your very own headband in the color of your choosing. Beware: There are many wonderful colors to choose from and it will be hard not to want them all!

There are several ways to enter the giveaway. Please leave a separate comment for each entry.

1. Become a follower of Sweating in Style via Google Friend Connect or let me know that you already are (required)
2. Go to the Sparkly Soul website and let me know which color headband you want most (required)
3. Follow me on Twitter
4. Follow Sparkly Soul, Inc. on Twitter
5. Blog, tweet, or share the giveaway on Facebook and let me know that you did

The giveaway will end on Sunday, December 4. Good luck and thanks for entering!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Weekend Recap: Food, Friends, and Fun Running

I can't think of many things more special than sitting around a table of loved ones, with heaps of delicious food on my plate, taking turns saying what we're all thankful for. And I can't think of many things I'm more thankful for than my health and my ability to sweat. In the past three days, I did little more than those things and it made for quite an amazing weekend.

The amazingness started Friday night, at Babescout Thanksgiving, made from scratch by Sarah and Nikki. The Babescouts are my group of five work friends who don't all work together anymore but continue to share our lives. Along with feasting, talking, and laughing a ton, we went around the table and shared what we are thankful for, focusing on the friendships that the five of us share. And we cried.

This is how we dress for Katy Perry concerts, not for thanksgiving dinners.

On Saturday, afternoon, in a pumpkin pancake food coma, I showed up at my favorite workout place, Wilson High School, for what may have been my last soccer game of the season. For the first time, our team had a chance to make the playoffs but the team playing before us had to lose and we had to win in order to make that happen. Sure enough, the team we needed to lose did so our fate was in our own hands.

It was sunny and chilly when our game started and something just felt right. We were all on and our passing was pretty. We scored an early goal and held a lead until the last minute of the first half, when the other team scored in return. We came back with two goals in the second half and won 3-1. At this time last year, we celebrated winning one game all season long and now we have made it to the playoffs. The terribly unfortunate news is that our (one, maybe two) playoff games are scheduled on the same morning as the Hot Chocolate 15k, which I have been registered for, and excited about, for three months. I will be really upset to miss either so I'm going to try everything I can to commit myself to both.

The rest of Saturday, I ate food, watched football and movies, had a face-time party with Josh's Florida friends, and cooked for the shelter. I went to sleep early and was up at 8 am Sunday to begin my next sweaty adventure. I had agreed to run Fleet Feet's five mile fun run with Nikki and Jamey at 9 am. I met them at the store and we started out with the group. This was my first time joining a running group and it was fun.

Sean, store owner and leader of the run, called it the Church of the Open Road and I knew right away that this, like frisbee, was a Sunday morning tradition I could get on board with. There were probably about 20 people, of all ages and abilities participating and we all stayed together for the first half of the run to the Lincoln Memorial where we sat for a picture. On the way back we ran through Rock Creek Park and everyone split up to go at their own pace. The route ended up being 6.3 miles so, with my 1.5 mile "commute", I ran a total of 7.77 miles at a 9:11 pace. This was the longest I've run since Baltimore and it felt really good. I know I could have run faster and that boosts my confidence for Thursday's race.

One major perk of this fun run, was the even more fun [free] brunch at the store that followed. As a "thank you" to their runners, Fleet Feet hosts a thanksgiving brunch after this November fun run each year. Did I deserve a "thank you" for all my dedication to Fleet Feet over the past year? Probably not. But will I be back for more fun runs, merchandise, and maybe even training groups, in the future? Hell yes.

Mimosas not pictured. But we drank them.

In the spirit of giving thanks, Nikki and I headed to her apartment, where our boyfriends were waiting for us with a 20lb bird and a cozy apartment. We were kind of co-hosting an annual Sunday-before-Thanksgiving potluck dinner, which our friends would be showing up for in the next six hours. We spent the afternoon cooking, lounging, and turning the living room into a festive dining space. The sun set, the apartment heated up, and the wine flowed. Thirteen of our friends arrived and we all sat around a lovely makeshift banquet table to taste each others' homemade favorite family recipes, talk about life, and share what we're all thankful for. Again, we focused on friends and living in DC and, again, I almost cried.

I really can't think of a better weekend than one that centers around food, friends, and fun running. When you're not sure whether you've burned or consumed a more massive amount of calories, I'd say you've been successful. Which is exactly why I plan to run a 10k and play football on Thursday before eating Thanksgiving Dinner #3. And, more than anything, I am really looking forward to going around a table and giving thanks for things that focus on family.

How was your weekend? Have you ever run with a running group? Do you only eat one Thanksgiving dinner or do you prefer to make the holiday last all week?

Friday, November 18, 2011

All in a Week's Speedwork

After last week, with a successful start to my first official speed workouts, and with my first ever 10k next week, I was anxious to get back to the track and to the tempo. But, of course, I needed company.

So on Wednesday, I recruited Josh to meet me at Wilson high school after work. It was raining but that didn't stop us. Josh isn't a runner so I knew he'd do his own thing, and wasn't sure exactly what that thing was, but was glad to have him there for moral support.

I ran 17 laps total: 3 warm-up, 6 fast with a rest interval lap between each, and 3 cool-down. All the while, Josh ran sprints, the grapevine, and did other things that reminded me of my 45 minute soccer warm-ups in high school. I timed his 40 yard sprint and he did it in 4.59 seconds. Gamin connect didn't understand the results of such a short run and couldn't give me any statistics on it. But I'm pretty sure the time and distance are all that matters.

My stats, though, read loud and clear. I'm still unsure whether the watch can't handle my running in circles or whether each lap is actually less than .25 miles. Either way, I'm happy to report that my fast laps are coming in around a 7:00 pace, and under 7 if each was actually a quarter of a mile..

Unfortunately that sub-seven minutes is nowhere near sustainable for a complete mile on my tempo runs. Last Thursday, I struggled to make sub-eight possible and, today, on my first morning run since the glorious Baltimore Half Marathon, I couldn't even do that much. But I still did a lot and I feel accomplished.

I woke up at 6:25 and it was nearly freezing. My garmin located satellite faster than ever so there was very little standing around in the cold. I set off at 6:40 to meet Nikki in Woodley Park.

We did pretty much the same thing we did last week, running small laps around Kalorama to keep our course fairly free of hills. After completing a warm-up lap, we picked up the pace and stayed under 9:00. During mile 3, while aiming to run a mile in less than 8 minutes, I really struggled. I watched our average pace slowly rise and watched the distance between Nikki and me grow. I had little bursts to catch up with her but I felt really nauseous, probably from the Pumpkin Gingersnap Milkshake I made myself at 10 PM. I said discouraging things about vomiting and slowing down and I offered to give her my watch so that she could run ahead and accurately track her mileage. But she offered responses alternating between "SHUT UP YOU CAN DO IT!!" and "are you ok? we can stop and walk if you want". I decided to take the "shut up, you can do it!" more to heart and pushed on. We finished the mile in 8:10 and stopped to walk for five minutes before completing our next two miles.

This was my first daylight run since the time changed and I was very much a fan. Despite the fact that my skin felt like ice by the time I got home, and that I felt weak and tired, I may have to get up early and pick up morning running again. There is nothing like watching the sunrise and jumping for joy before 8 AM. It definitely beats running in dark rain.

My goal for next week's race is to run an average 8:30 minute mile so it is a little discouraging that I ran fewer than 10 kilometers this morning at an 8:53 pace. Tuesdays results are a little more promising, though, and I learned three things from my tempo run:

1. Don't eat a rich milkshake 7 hours before the start of a run.
2. The most important thing is to jump for joy no matter what happens.
3. I should convince Nikki that she needs to skip Thanksgiving in Vermont to run the Montgomery County Turkey Chase so that I have someone to tell me to shut up and push myself when my positive attitude starts to slip away.

Since I am not actually a selfish person who puts my needs above those of my friends' and their families, I will pass on lesson number three. I'll stick with eating healthy and having fun no matter what. Hopefully I can be my own motivator when things get tough.

Happy Friday! Any fun plans for the weekend, that involve sweating or not?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Food Lover's Challenge: Writing Down Our Food

Last week, Kate was going out of town for work and concerned she wouldn't have much control over where and what exactly she ate. So she challenged us to write down everything we ate and drank for the week.

This challenge was not as fun as some of the others but it was a good way to hold ourselves accountable and to prevent me from eating six cookies in one sitting. My food notes were much more pretty and organized but Kate's were funnier. One day she ate "too much emotion", cheese, gummy bears, and beer. At least that's what she ate according to her notes.

Carrie's Food

Kate's Food

Neither of us were too passionate about the competition last week so we conceded to tying when Julia was hesitant to choose a winner. This week, though, I think there is going to be blood. The challenge is to eat pumpkin in as many different dishes as possible. I have had a long love affair with pumpkin and I had no idea that Kate would also be so into this one. She tells me daily, sometimes even hourly, that I'm going down. I think she's wrong. Only time will tell.

I told Josh and Ingrid that this is one of the best weeks to be my friend because I am cooking up a storm. It also doesn't hurt that I am attending two thanksgiving dinners this weekend. Hear that Kate? You're going down!

Do you have any pumpkin recipes to add to my growing list? What is your favorite fall food?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Running the November Heat Wave

A few weeks ago, I suggested that Ingrid, who is running the Hot Chocolate 15k in December, start doing a long run each weekend and increasing her mileage until she hits about 8. With her brother in town, and lots of things on the agenda (including one too many drinks and a too few hours of sleep), she did not get to her run this weekend. With frisbee, though, I didn't either. So we agreed to run seven miles together last night in the uncharacteristically warm November air.

We ran much more slowly than I will need to on race day but I am confident that focusing on my track and tempo runs for speed will allow me to get away with a slower run once a week. And for some reason my body, especially my left glute (read: buttcheak) is really sore. Slow and steady was perfect.

We didn't take the time to map a route and just went with it. We started at our own apartments and ran toward each other until we met up, which happened on Connecticut Ave. just north of Dupont. We ran northwest for a while and got lost on the streets of Glover Park until we finally made our way back to Wisconsin Ave. Turns out we only spent about a mile running the unchartered territory but we learned that running in a strange unfamiliar place, unsure of where exactly you are, is a good way to make the miles (or mile) fly by.

We ran in a few more circles on Wisconsin Ave. and then meandered back to Cleveland Park. Ingrid has been seeing a Sports Medicine Dr. who gave her calf tape on Friday to ease the recent pain in her muscles. On last night's run, though, she had knee pain for the first time ever and blamed the tape. I also had achy knees, unfortunately not at all for the first time ever, so we sat on the floor and iced our joints.

Then we wandered the .2 miles to Cleveland Park Bar and Grill to use up some Living Social deals and gorge ourselves. We made an impromptu decision to take advantage of the open rooftop but quickly realized that the wind above the bar and our sweaty bodies were not friends. It was very chilly. But our food came and all was right with the world. Josh ate wings and Ingrid and I shared a pizza, salad and sliders and, somehow, I still felt like I could have eaten more.

I had a missed call from my mom and she wasn't thrilled when I told her I had been running in the dark. It's true, November can't hide the fact that winter is coming by throwing a few balmy days at us. But I'm still fighting that typical Carrie instinct to hibernate about now and I feel very lucky to have many friends willing to fight it, and mainly the darkness, with me. Seven miles is my longest after work run to date and that is worth eating and icing for.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Let's talk about aggression. And I'm not talking about scary aggression. I'm talking about being aggressive in sports. Like "B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E".

I was always told to be aggressive while playing soccer. I knew it was something I was good at, you had to be, but I didn't think I was anything unusual. I am still a girl who likes to be pretty and dress up. And I wear vintage workout clothes that match my bike in order to fool people into thinking I'm more into my looks than anything else on a sports field.

Wrong. Now that I play frisbee, I sometimes feel like a crazy person. I never stop running, on offense or defense, and I will do anything in my power not to let my opponent catch the frisbee. The problem is that it's really hard to keep an eye on your man and on the person throwing the frisbee. I told Josh one time that I sympathize with professional football players who have to guard wide receivers. Because it is totally the same thing.

I usually just watch the person I'm defending and get in their way as much as possible, even though I can't see where the frisbee is coming from or where it's going. Yesterday, while guarding Nathaniel in the endzone, I like to think that I put my aggressiveness to the test. As he was about to catch the disc, I jumped in his face, blocked the frisbee with my head (ouch), stepped on his toe (accident), and fell to the ground scraping my knee (bigger ouch).

Maybe I just want to prove that I'm still a kid at heart because I come home with scrapes like this a lot. I won't lie, it does make me keel badass to make a diving catch or to stop a point with my head. But sometimes I do wonder exactly how much aggression and competition are appropriate in a particular circumstance.

We play frisbee for fun and I wouldn't do anything to change that. But I also love to win and I know I'm not alone.

I'm lucky I have a boyfriend who prefers my athleticism and competitiveness to my being clean and girly. And, who am I kidding, I will never stop being aggressive. I like to give it my all and that's never going to change.

But now is your chance: Do you find it annoying when people take friendly sports too seriously? Or do you think competitiveness and aggression are the signs of a champion?