Monday, February 27, 2012

Weekend Recap: 14th Street on Foot

My long run schedule is all screwed up thanks to the cold I've been fighting the past three weekends so it wasn't until Saturday morning that I decided exactly how long to run. I decided to drop back to 8 or 9 miles and then go for 11 or 12 again next weekend, and skip the 13 mile run during this training cycle.

I ran a loop through the city on Tilden Street, Park Road, 14th Street, P Street, and Wisconsin Avenue. Aside from the sting of blowing my nose so much in the cold and windy air, I felt good on this run. It wasn't my best ever but, even with the the steep uphills on Wisconsin Ave and the .74 mile cool down at the end, it was my fastest long run in a few weeks.
Fourteenth street isn't one that I've run down many times and, though it was a pain to maneuver around all the construction on sidewalks, I really enjoyed it. Just like my run to Eastern Market and back, I found that there is something so inspiring and satisfying about running city terrain that you've rarely run before, even if you've walked portions of it many times. All I do is think while I run and I have time to take in things that I might not otherwise notice. Like the location of Martha's table, the many restaurants I've been dying to try, and some that I had never heard of.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

I got home and told Josh that, after eating and chilling for a few hours, we should head over to 14th and U. It was a freezing cold and windy day but we were up for a chilly walk together. We wandered from Dupont Circle to dinner at Cafe Saint Ex, stopping in Miss Pixie's, Home Rule and (my favorite) Current Boutique on the way. I was very intrigued by Cafe Saint Ex for two reasons:
  1. It is named after Antoine de Saint Exupery, the pilot and author of Le Petit Prince. That's cool.
  2. They have a fried green tomato BLT on the menu that I had to try.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

I have to say Josh and I were both a little disappointed by this place. The atmosphere was great but the food was kind of average, and not worth the price. I would go back there to dance and drink a few more glasses of wine but I'm not sure I'd return for dinner.

With another hour to kill before our friend's party in Dupont, we walked to ChurchKey where we selected, on our minimal beer knowledge, from the massive selection. I had an IPA with a little too much hops for my taste and Josh and an awesomely smooth Red Ale. I wish I remembered their names- mental note to start writing down the names of beer and wine I try. We headed to 19th Street in the crisp air and I felt satisfied and a little tipsy. One of my favorite things to do after a filling meal (or drink) is take a walk. One that's cold and crisp is even more refreshing. We walked a total of 2.4 miles between shopping, dinner, and drinks and it was lovely.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

After this, and my day exploring Barracks Row, I'm on a mission to spend more time running and walking more areas of the city that I don't get to often enough.

How was your weekend? Did you do any good exercising, eating, or exploring?

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Running Buddy and New Optimism

In high school, I didn't actually like running but I did it because I knew it'd keep me in shape for soccer. When I wasn't running at practice, I liked to run to a destination, thinking that I would get too bored if I were to just run in a circle. I used to run from my house to my best friend Rachel's house, a mere 1.42 miles away. I would go inside, hang out with her for a while, drink water, maybe watch some SNL, and then run home.

Now I like running [a lot] and running in circles doesn't bore me. But it still doesn't hurt to have Rachel to run toward. I set out after work yesterday and headed south on Connecticut Ave where I met up with her as she ran north away from her Dupont apartment. We literally ran in circles and did a kind of figure eight around Dupont Circle. We chatted and practiced our spitting skills. We ran exactly 1.53 miles together and then stood on the corner of 18th and U to talk for a while.

It blows my mind that I went over a year without seeing this girl. It is like nothing has changed and she still knows me so well. And because it's as if no time has passed and there's not too much catching up to do, we had plenty of time to talk about frivolous things like running shoes. Rachel was sporting some awesomely neon nikes that put my asics with ghetto pink laces from payless to shame. I may not be as stylish with the footwear but today I had a perfectly matched, and retro, outfit so I think I deserve some style points for that.

I finished feeling the best I have in weeks at the end of a run. I have been sick for 12 days and it has made running hard and unpleasant. I have had a pretty negative attitude toward running lately, feeling discouraged and tired. But tonight's 4.58 miles uplifted me big time. I am still fighting the cold but most of my body feels back to normal. I am strong again and my biggest challenge is breathing through the phlem in my throat and nose.

I look forward to many more "running in circles" runs with Rachel in the near future. I'm so glad to have rekindled this old friendship and to have gotten a new running buddy out of the deal. And, for the first time in a few weeks, I am looking forward to my long run tomorrow instead of dreading it.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Recapping a Lot

Hi friends and readers. I'm sorry for neglecting you for almost two weeks. My only good excuses for not blogging are:

1. I have been sick
2. In trying to get well, I have not done too much sweating.
3. I was reading The Help last week and it was so good that I didn't really want to do anything but read in my free time.

This week I'm back and we have a lot to catch up on. Since it's Tuesday and I don't even know where to begin to fill you in on my life, I'm going to turn this "Long Weekend Recap" into a "Two Weekends and the  Week Between Recap". It will be short and sweet and then we'll resume with regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

Here's what I've done in the past 12 days...

Had dinner with one of my best friends from high school.
Her name is Rachel. We both live in DC and we hadn't seen each other in over a year. We haven't done the best job of keeping in touch but we had an awesome time and we're going to hang out far more often. I'm going to make her run with me and she's going to drag me to the rock climbing gym she belongs to and we're also going to eat more food together and be adventurous.
This is Rachel and I in 2009. It makes me want long long hair again.

Woke up sick on Saturday morning and cut my 11 mile run down to 4.
I was slow and I wasn't loving running. It was pretty discouraging but I wanted to prevent myself from getting worse.
I added some flair to my shoes though and that was cool.

Hosted a ridiculously fun and competitive charades party with Josh.
We had 13 friends over for "game night" and it turned into a four-hour long charades fest complete with four games, hysterical laughter, and very very much competition and yelling into the wee hours of the night. We plan to do it again.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

Spent a lovely, romantic, freezing cold day wandering Barracks Row in Southeast.
Josh and I finally made it to Ted's Bulletin for brunch and it was awesome. We spent the rest of the afternoon at eastern market, shops in the area, and admiring houses of the neighborhood, where I now think I'd like to live one day.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography
Stayed home sick from work and missed Valentine's day festivities.
Spent the whole day sleeping and reading the last 100 pages of The Help. My sick day was made infinitely better upon receiving this in my inbox. These are some of my best friends and we are the babescouts.

Had a nice, relaxed valentine's day despite our colds.
Josh made me a mix CD set of love songs. We also ate chipotle, reminisced about past valentines days together (all FIVE of them) and ate chocolate.

Had a fondue party with friends.
Without a fondue pot, we got creative and managed to make rich, creamy cheese and chocolate fondues and they were delicious. It also made me want to find a little authentic fondue place in DC. One that is not the Melting Pot and, preferably, one that is very french. Any suggestions?

Ran 9.5 miles and did not enjoy it.
I woke up Saturday morning, knowing I wasn't 100% better but I did my run anyway. I was supposed to do 13 but I hadn't run more than 5 miles in 3 weeks so I knew that 10 would be better. I felt weak and slow the entire time and I didn't really have fun.

Tried Pho.
I'm pretty sure I had this as a kid but I hadn't tried it again since it became trendy. Josh and I went to Nam Viet in Cleveland Park and it was good. We also watched the help and please, I beg of you, read the book before you see the movie.

Played frisbee in the cold for the first time in weeks.
It was a lot of fun but it may have prolonged my getting well.

Photo by Josh Bassett Photography

Feasted on a six course meal from L'auberge Chez Francois to celebrate my mom's birthday.
This is a fancy restaurant in Great Falls, VA in the form of a french country inn/farmhouse. The food and wine were amazing and it was wonderful to sit at a table with my family talking and laughing for three hours. Also, people at the table next to us got engaged during dinner.

Tried running again and determined I'm still slower than I should be.
Nikki and I ran five miles together yesterday and it was fun to run with her, a rare treat these days, but I was still slow and I still felt kind of crappy running.

I woke up this morning with a sore throat and stuffy head. At the end of last week, I was on the upswing but I've declined again over the weekend. I thought that my three days of sweaty activity would help bring me back to life but I'm worried that they may have made me sick again. The half marathon is three weeks away and I'm getting really frustrated. I am also just bored of not working out enough. Between last Saturday and the one before, the only workout I did was a 25 minute ride on my bike trainer. I can't have another week like that. But I'm going to try and stay optimistic and kick this cold in the butt. I've been trying for a while so wish me luck.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fitting Workouts into a Full-time Schedule

Yesterday I got a text from my best friend Nicole that read:

"Ms. Blogger :-) do you know of any good fitness challenges? Preferably ones that wouldn't take a lot of time each day"

She is a teacher in Tampa, FL and she is gone to work every day from about 6:45 am to 4:45 pm but she has church stuff some evenings and she has a boyfriend with whom she rendez-vous most nights. She feels like she doesn't have any time but she wants to find an easy way to stay active.

Nicole, Joyce and I being active together.

This is a tough question for most people. Those of us who work 9-5, or longer, often feel that a workout just can't be squeezed into our day. And, if it can, it's sometimes even harder to motivate ourselves to want to do it. The only sound advice that I have on this subject is that you have to truly want to fit a workout in and you will make it happen. For a short time, it will feel like an obligation. But then it will become part of your routine and you'll begin to feel like your day, or week, is incomplete without it.

I know that it's easier said than done but, for anyone who is frustrated by their inactivity but feels they don't have time for exercise, here is what I say:

This is my sample plan for Nicole to start with, based on the weeknights that I know she has regular commitments:

Some days it won't work and you can't beat yourself up about that. You have to accept it, enjoy whatever got in the way of your workout, and make it a priority the next time. According to my training plan, I was supposed to do my tempo runs every Tuesday but I've made Tuesday Hot Yoga a tradition so I have pretty permanently moved those to Monday nights. No harm in that.

Today, my schedule calls for five miles. But I was invited to dinner with friends tonight so I ran my five miles last night in the rain and did a quick ab workout this morning. Fifteen minutes of abs wasn't the best cross training I could do but I know that I did well the rest of the week and that life will go on.

I asked Josh to photograph me post run and then I couldn't take my eyes of a P90X commercial.

Be flexible and have fun. Soon, your workouts will be second nature and, just like you wouldn't skip lunch, you won't skip your daily sweat.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My Quads are Burning

My quads are burning. It started on Monday night with my weekly tempo run. Only thing was, I hadn't done my weekly tempo run in three weeks. Because of my short run on Saturday, I was interested in making this tempo run longer than the traditional five. As I ran my warm-up mile I decided that I'd try and cover six miles at the following tempo paces:

1. Warm-up
2. 8:15
3. 7:45
4. 8:15
5. 8:45
6. Cool down

Of course the warm-up mile ended up being about 8:45. I can't force myself to slow down from that when it feels perfectly comfortable, especially when I'm running slightly downhill and I'm anxious about having to pick up the pace so much in the coming miles. When mile 2 clocked in at 8:10 I was happy but also frustrated with myself for not being able to maintain a steady, solid pace. Not only the speed, but the understanding of how to pace myself, is what will make me a better runner.

Mile 3 was right on par but, at the end of it, I knew that it was going to be a real struggle to get two more tempo miles out of me. I thought it would be hard to get even one more 8:15 minute mile from those legs. So I gambled with myself. I decided that, as punishment for running mile 2 too fast, I'd run mile 4 in 8:10 but, if I did so, then I'd ditch the mile 5 pace and begin my cool-down immediately.

My legs did not feel abnormally worked after this run but there is always a little recovery period for them after a solid tempo run. That's why I was excited to go to Hot Yoga the next day to cross train and get my body all stretched out. But, it turned out, my instructor had another thing in mind. Legs!

We seemed to focus most of our energy on our legs yesterday. We did runner's lunge after runner's lunge and warrior pose after warrior pose until my legs were so shaky I wasn't sure that they could finish the class. Next time I'm hoping for more planks, cobras, and whatever all those other poses are called that made my back feel so good and sore after the first hot yoga class. But I survived and I got spaces next to my friends this time which was lovely.

It was Hadley's first yoga class and I have yet to get her full verdict. I don't think it was her favorite experience of all time but hopefully when we're both members of Gold's Gym, and I make her take yoga all the time, she'll learn to love it.

We did sweat like maniacs and I decided that I absolutely need to buy myself a yoga towel mat thing. I literally had globs of sweat dripping off every crevice of my body and my hands and feet were sliding around on my mat so much that, during all of the lunges, I worried I'd slip and tear something in my knees. I am truly happy to sweat that much and I feel so cleansed afterward but I need a way to wipe it up.

I am a jerk and made Sarah and Hadley take this picture with me after I'd changed into my clean, dry shirt, while they were still sopping in their sweaty ones. You wouldn't catch me dead in that class in a long-sleeve shirt. But I think we all still look hardcore and accomplished, them more so than me.

I am glad that I went to yoga and want to continue it as a weekly thing but my legs are really hoping for some more planks next week. I was sitting on the couch watching FL v. KY basketball last night (don't want to talk about it) and my legs felt like jello. Even though it wasn't the best cross-training in the moment, I know that it will only make me stronger for running in March and biking next summer.

Monday, February 6, 2012

I Heart NY Running

This weekend I visited Inna, one of my favorite people on earth, in New York. The best part of my visits with her, aside from the obvious quality time we get to spend together, is that I get to live New York the way Inna lives it and not as a tourist. This usually means that we stay downtown, we walk for miles, we do a lot of thrift shopping, and we eat very much delicious food. This weekend wasn't much different except that we also lived New York the way that I would live it if it were my home. And, by that, I mean that we woke up on Saturday morning, dressed in our most stylish spandex, and went for a run. We fought about this a little bit because she didn't understand why, when we only had 36 precious hours together, we had to devote so much of our time to running. We have the same values on pretty much everything except that I think fitness should be incorporated into all parts of life, including vacations and visits with friends, and she doesn't necessarily. And also, I think Katy Perry is amazing and she thinks she's abysmal. But she humored me and we ran 4 miles together, to and halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge.

I hadn't run with Inna in a long time so I had no idea what to expect from her pace-wise. To be honest, I thought we'd take it kind of easy but we ended up averaging an 8:45 minute mile. I left my garmin at home so I used my Nike GPS app for iPhone which can't always be trusted. But I felt like we ran fast so I'm choosing to believe it.

From the bridge, we walked to starbucks for a pee and a hot beverage, stopping in a thrift store on our way. It was cold in our sweaty clothes but we walked to the waterfront in Brooklyn Heights to get a view of the bridge from afar and of Manhattan's southernmost skyline. It was a beautiful day.

We spent the rest of the weekend doing what we always do: eating, drinking, strolling, shopping, and talking about everything.

I have very mixed feelings every time I leave New York. I am usually so full of happiness, especially after a visit with Inna. And I am often torn between feeling like I could really love to live in that one-of-a-kind city with so much food, character, and style and feeling like I couldn't survive without more green grass and fresh air in my life. And, most of the time, I also feel like my credit card could use a break.

But I almost never, except maybe after the 5 Boro Bike Tour experience, leave New York feeling disappointed. The best kind of friend is the one that you can fight with a little and laugh with a lot because there is nothing more real than that. If they'll run just to make you happy, drink tequilla and champagne with you post-run, and take you to the best restaurants in town (according to me, there are about 10,000 best restaurants in New York so I'm allowed to say that) then they're even better.

I hope everyone else had a great weekend! What did you do?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thoughts From the Bolt Bus: My Kind-of Productive Week

Hello again, remember me?

I'm sorry for my posting fail this week. Due to an over-booked yoga class, a new couch to build, and a wine-filled dinner date with my mom, I didn't get as much sweating in as planned.

But here are some of the ways in which I was productive:

Bike Trip Planning
My professional trip planner, my mom, has done some amazing stuff with google maps and her "Summer 2012" notebook. We arranged a planning date last night at Bistro du Coin but it was more of a review of what she has planned. I did come out with a checklist of what I need to do in the next month or so. My mom is the queen of itineraries and logistics, and she loves that stuff so why fix it if it isn't broken?

I'm not exactly the queen of organization but I could be the queen of fitness and enthusiasm so, along with my checklist, I'm going to study the route religiously and make bike training plans for everyone.

There are so many details to hash out in the coming months but many of them deserve posts of their own. I will begin to share our plans with you next week.

Blog Redesign Planning
I had lunch with my good friend Julie on Sunday and we talked a lot about life and about blogs. She writes a beautiful blog about all things foodie, crafty, and girly and her posts are always filled with gorgeous pictures and graphics that she has designed herself.

She really has the aesthetics of blogging down. And I know that a blog's aesthetic is more important in her community of fashion, food, and design bloggers than it is in my community of sweaty fitness bloggers but I also think you guys deserve to look at the prettiest version of Sweating in Style there can be.

She was honest with me and said that my current header looks a little kid-like. I do agree with her and I appreciate the honesty. She has agreed to spearhead my blog redesign and branding project once I get the photos and ideas I want together. I'm hoping to have this all done in the next month or two.

Living Room Makeover
I have spent a lot of time the past month on pinterest and craigslist, dreaming up the best way to re-do my living room. There are still a lot of things that need to come together, and several DIY projects to be done, but this week, Josh and I made the biggest progress yet by putting our beautiful new couch together, buying new curtains, and finally organizing and filing our mess of papers. Josh still isn't sold on the filing-cabinet-as-end table-idea but I'm hoping he'll come around.

When it's all done, I'll show you some official pictures. This is where the "style" part of my blog comes to play. I may love to be sweaty and gross but I also like pretty things.

Romantic Weekend Planning
I'm on the bolt bus headed to that big apple up north for a quick and romantic weekend with one of my best friends. We have spent some quality time on gchat this week discussing where to get late dinner and drinks tonight, what to wear on our Brooklyn Bridge run in the morning, and where to brunch and shop post run. Very important business, obviously.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!