October Goals

I’ve been reading around the internet about the importance and benefits of goal setting. The problem is that I goals all the time, but my goals are more “big picture” and travel based. For example, I have a goal to visit India/China/Africa (aka somewhere BIG) by my thirtieth birthday. Is this the most sensible goal I’ve ever set? No, not really. But, it is something I like to think about. Given where I am at this very moment in my life, I’d say that traveling to somewhere like India is possible. My goal of traveling to India is not a bad one at all, but I do need to work on setting smaller, more achievable goals. Because really the best goals are ones that include a deadline. The goal (or is it a dream?) to travel to either India/China/Africa has a deadline of my thirtieth birthday, five years away. But, I can be more realistic and if I write it down I am held accountable to all of you.

So, without further adieu, I present you with my October Goals:

  • Run, slowly.
    In a little over a week, I should be okay to begin running again. Over the weekend, I started running super small snippets during my walks (from a fire hydrant to a fire hydrant, to the end of street, etc). I felt great as I was doing it, but I am nervous about re-injury. The plan is to start slowly – run for five minutes, walk for ten for the first few days and then start adjusting based on how my knee feels. I have a 5K at the end of the month that I’d really like to complete pain free.
  • Walk/Cross-Train.
    Walking and the elliptical have been good to me these past few weeks. I’ve  managed to keep my mileage up fairly well. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not at square one and my speed hasn’t slowed at all. Especially if I am able to run again, I need to make cross-training a priority.
  • Cook a new recipe each week (and blog about it)!
    I feel like I’ve been in a funk with food lately. What better way to shake it off than to try new things. I am totally open to suggestions as to what to make!
  • Drink water.
    Pretty self-explanatory. I definitely have not been drinking as much as I should.
  • Put my clothes in my laundry hamper, not on the floor.
    I am the person that will only clean when company comes over. And my bedroom floor is like one big laundry hamper to me… even I though I have a hamper. This is a lifelong habit, but I need to break it. Perhaps this will be the month when I finally get in gear.
  • Read a book.
    Suggestions, please!

And there you have it, my October goals. Mostly fitness related, but overall a good place to start. And they are totally do-able. I just need to be disciplined and focused.

PS — Pretty sure Chris will be super excited to constantly remind me about putting my clothes in the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor!

Do you set goals for yourself? If so, what are they?

Are you dressing up for Halloween? Is it lame if I dress Penny up for Halloween?

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Race Recap: The Color Run

(ignore the massive amount of clean clothes I have sitting on my kitchen counter. no judgment here, unless you’re my husband.)

Despite the knee and blister issues I’ve got going on right now, I decided to participate in The Color Run.

The easiest way to sum this race up:


(If you love Arrested Development then I automatically love you.)

Kristen and I signed up for this race back in April. After hearing about its popularity and how fun it is, we were pretty psyched to participate. A race that makes you look like a rainbow? Count us in.

Except… it wasn’t that great.

The Color Run website said the location was Washington, D.C. However, the race was at the National Harbor in Maryland. And it really isn’t that close to DC. This shouldn’t be a big deal or really even something to fret about, but I was a little irked. I think the backdrop of DC with the monuments could’ve made for better photo opportunities and an easier to access race. The National Harbor has approximately one route in and one route out by car. Parking is limited to a few small garages and a dirt lot. Also, National Harbor is like a more sophisticated town corner — a few boutiques, interesting restaurants, and thats about it.

Chris drove Kristen and I to the race. We sat on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge for an hour waiting to merge into the one lane of traffic to access the garages. Once we arrived in National Harbor the cops directed us through the entire area before allowing us to park into a garage we had passed twenty minutes prior. This shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it was.

The Color Run is NOT a timed race. This information originally didn’t bother me. But, once I crossed the start line I was bothered at how slowly people were moving. There was also very little space to move within the route due to the amount of participants. I don’t have any issues with people walking because we all know I’ve been there but with such a narrow course there was difficulty weaving around slower people.

I felt old during the race. The average age of the participants in my wave had to have been eighteen. And most had clearly never run before, ever.

So many babies and so not enough room for everyone.

The start line was fun though. The organizers had fun music playing and I danced a little to get warm. They engaged with the crowd and tossed out freebies like more color packets and bandanas.

The course wasn’t interesting. We ran past a few shops and then ended up running around the perimeter of the National Harbor. Some small hills, large gravel paths, and not too much scenery.

Running along the water for the .15 miles at the end was definitely the most interesting part.

I did run eagerly through each of the color stations. I didn’t want to see an ounce of white on any part of my shirt. Someone said color stations were at each kilometer, but I don’t know how accurate that was. I ran through red, orange, yellow and blue.

We kind of went a little crazy with the purple we received in our race packets.

Would I do this race again? No, once was enough. I don’t think I’d participate in any race at the National Harbor.

Would I recommend this race to a friend? Sure! Depending on what your goals are. I think this is a GREAT first 5K race. No elite runners, no time clock, knowing you have as much time as you need to finish? Who doesn’t like that confidence boost!

Following the race, Chris and I went to grab brunch. I feel like this is becoming some sort of a tradition with my racing career.

A woman waiting behind me at the restaurant was not pleased that I showed up to the restaurant resembling an art project. I listened to her speak to her husband/friend about how inappropriate I looked. Funny, considering I must’ve had a handful of people congratulating me on doing the run and how jealous they were they weren’t able to do so either.

One woman stopped me while I was walking in the restaurant this morning asking me how far I went. I responded “Oh, just three miles.” And she was like “JUST three miles!? That is something you should be proud of, I wish I could do that!” It made me smile.

Knee update:

I ran as much as I was able to. When it hurt, I walked. When it stopped, I ran. Unfortunately I don’t have any time or distance to reference, but I’d guesstimate I went through half of the race running. It hurt so bad after such a short amount of time. I think I’m pushing my luck with this injury. Luckily, I start strictly cross-training tomorrow and working on getting better at stretching. Ugh.

Penny wishes she could’ve participated in the color run too!

Have you ever done the Color Run or a race like it? How did you feel about it? If you haven’t, what’s the most interesting race you’ve participated in? 

Does your cat/dog/baby like to sit on your shoulder? Penny seems to never want to leave. 

Guest Post: From a Half to an Ultramarathon

Seriously. I really did just go there.

Today’s post comes from one of my best friends, Kristen. She is a simple, 25 year old who isn’t passionate about much besides cats, Christmas, craft beer, Disney, food, and running! (And some might say making alphabetical lists!) When she’s not pounding the pavement with me, you can find her at Dogfish Head or at home with her cat attempting to cook. I wish I was joking. 

She has been my biggest influence in running and I could not thank her more. She is patient when I am moving ridiculously slow and when I want to walk. She encourages me to keep pushing, to keep moving, and to sign up for more races than I can count. I remember when I saw on Facebook that she had completed her first half marathon and thinking there was zero chance I would ever be able to do that. Little did I know that her finishing a half marathon would inspire me to compete in my own.

A big hello to Sarah’s readers! I was seriously stoked when she asked me to write a guest post! My first thought was, yes, someone is *finally* asking me to talk about my love of running instead of just putting up with it (hi mom…and my coworkers…)

If you told each one of my gym teachers spanning from kindergarten to high school that I’ve just finished an ultramarathon, they’d collectively blink their eyes, look at you in disbelief, and insist you have the wrong person. “Kristen isn’t a runner,” they’d say. “The furthest we’ve seen her run is from the gymnasium to the school buses to go home.” The girl who feigned mysterious stomach aches, her period, chicken pox (without the rash, of course), ebola, mad cow disease, and any other off-the-wall illness to get her out of running the dreaded mile around that quarter-mile track, is now the girl who runs marathons. What?!

In May 2011, one of my best friends and I were so stressed out at work, so we said screw it, let’s run a half marathon. I had never run more than a mile before this point (and begrudgingly at that). For the record, I do not recommend this approach! Despite the lack of training (and my giant Chipotle feast a mere three hours before the start gun), we finished the race in 3:10:09, which is nearly a 15-minute per mile pace. Even after three-hours-ten-minutes-and-nine-seconds of straight huffing, puffing, and death crawling to the finish line, I was willing to do another race just to prove I could do it and wasn’t a fluke.

I immediately signed up for the Disney World Half Marathon to be held in January 2012 and the DC Rock n Roll Half Marathon to be held on St. Patty’s Day (And yes, green beer was served at the finish line!) I trained intermittently, but not seriously for these events and was able to finish the DC Half in 02:32:43, a 37ish-minute improvement over my first time. Not bad. *Now* I was hooked. Despite salty sweat stinging your eyes, shivers, hunger pains, and cramps and aches all throughout your body, nothing can touch the feeling of accomplishment you get after crossing that finish line.

My race day gear!

Running through Cinderella’s Castle at Mile 6 and a Post-race Mickey bar

I ran a few half marathons after that (including re-running my first ever race exactly a year later in May 2012 and coming in 42ish-minutes faster at 2:28:35!) I also completed my first marathon. Barely. However, thanks to that addicting feeling of accomplishment, adrenaline, and major life stressors such as a new job, new apartment, and nasty breakup, I truly committed myself to running. What better way to demonstrate this commitment than by signing up for an ultramarathon. In the desert. At midnight. Under a full moon. At an elevation of 6,000 feet. Right outside the ominous and mysterious Area 51. Done!

Cheesin’ in the elevator at my hotel. Ready to do this thang!

At the “Black Mailbox” before the start!

Fast forward to August 5th after a spring and summer of training, and I’m toeing the sandy, desert-y start line of the Extraterrestrial Area 51 Midnight Marathon and 51k. Oh crap. We had just made the 2.5 hour trek from Las Vegas to Rachel, Nevada and everyone was pumped! It’s midnight under a full moon with clear skies and stars for miles when the race director yells “Go!” Quite a humble start with zero pomp and circumstance. Just a sea of runners with their headlamps, glow bracelets, reflective tape, and Camelbaks.

Days earlier, I had met up with an incredibly nice group of fellow runners online where we decided to follow the Jeff Galloway method of running and do 2:1 splits. (This means two minutes of running for every 1 minute of walking. This would give us an 11-minute per mile pace. Totally respectable for a midnight marathon held at high elevations!)

Our fearless leader, Dave, hit the lap button on his watch and off we went, exchanging nervous glances and hooting into the night! We were ready to conquer this:

Source

After only a mile had passed, I naively yelled out, “This is so much fun!” Laura, another member of our 2:1 clan replied, “Let’s see what you say at Mile 26.” But see, it *was* so much fun. Despite the almost literally neverending hill, cramps, elevation, and night sky, I was happy. The girl sitting in the nurse’s office with a fake stomachache during gym class was running an ultramarathon­ and actually holding her own!

As we slowly took down the miles, we began to gain and gradually lose members. People would stick with us for awhile, but would eventually fall back and walk. Dave and I stuck together the whole time, running most of the 13.1 miles up to the halfway point. Along the way we spotted cows, heard coyotes, gazed at countless shooting stars and rocky canyons, and talked about our families, cats, and post-marathon dining (and drinking!) traditions. Why run if you can’t eat?

At Mile 20, we started to approach the finish line at the Little A’Le’ Inn. (Literally the only business in a town of 54 as of 2010). But before we could cross that line, the marathoners had to run 3 miles past and 3 miles back, and ultramarthons would run 6 past and 6 back. Ouch. I held it together until about Mile 26 and then started walking. My aching legs just couldn’t keep up with the 2:1 splits anymore.

But then around 5:30am, the sun started to rise over the canyons and rocks and for the first time, I could see the road ahead of me. Incredible! I got a jolt of energy and was able to run a little more, enough to get me over the finish line.

Scenery from the race!

Mile 30. 1.67 to go!

I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face at 7:39am. 31.67 miles in seven hours and thirty-nine minutes for a 14-something minute per mile. Ouch.

Crossing the finish line!!

Iconic!

As I was beating myself up, I realized several things:

1- I had run 13.1 miles straight uphill. I could now tell people I ran an entire uphill half marathon!

2- I had PR’d at the marathon distance. My previous time was 6 hours; I was at the marathon point for this one in 5:50.

3- I ran all night. Literally. And had been up for nearly 27 hours by the time the buses brought us back to Vegas.

4- I didn’t get attacked by a rattlesnake or abducted by an alien. I win!

After arriving back in Vegas, I took a cold shower (it’s good for your muscles!), assessed my wounds, ate a miraculous Kind bar (oh, that is a post for another day!), finished the last few chapters of Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run,” and slowly drifted off to sleep. For the first time in a long time, I finally felt like myself again. I might have started the summer running away from something (everything!), but had now run my way to irrevocable happiness. From now on, as long as I have my sneakers, I know I’ll be able to confidentially outrun whatever life throws my way.

My two new favorite things…

The Kristen I knew ate McDonald’s or Taco Bell everyday for lunch. Funny enough, she still does this quite often. And she is an ultramarathoner. Wow! 

I am so lucky that she chooses to run alongside me. 

Who inspired you begin running? How so? Do you know anyone that has completed an ultramarthon? Which one? What were their thoughts? Let’s discuss!

Presents to Myself

I’ve decided that the best gift I could give myself for my birthday is… THE BEST BODY EVER. Well, technically, my best body ever.

Because, let’s be honest, I could lead a huge debate on who has the best body ever.

The goal of my twenty-fifth year is to get into shape. Getting into shape for me does not mean getting skinny. Sure, I’d like if getting skinny was a consequence of being in shape. But, I just want to be physically fit. I want to be strong, I want to feel strong, and I want to be athletic.

Clearly, I’ve already started making moves to obtain this goal. Between training for the marathon and monitoring my diet, I feel like this is within my reach.

For an actual gift to myself, I signed up to do the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2013! Besides being ecstatic for the race, I am so stoked because it means a trip to Disney World!! Traveling, competing, and Disney — what more could I ask for? Also, princess theme? Totally there. Can’t wait to put on a tutu and a tiara and just enjoy myself with this race.

The best part with all these races is that it is forcing me to continually exercise which in turn is going to help me achieve my goal. And I am totally pumped.

Do you make birthday goals? Have you done a race at Disney? How was it? Have you reached your “best body ever”? What kinds of exercises did you do to help you get there? Lets discuss!! 

 

 

Birthday Shenanigans

Chris baked me a cake and lit all the candles. On the 10ft walk over to me, they all blew out except one. Love it.

My actual birth date was filled with a lot of love and happiness.

Cupcakes, flowers, and a new running toy? Consider this girl elated!

To celebrate my twenty-fifth birthday further, I was whisked away to Atlantic City!!

Chris, Jenny, and Kristen conspired together to surprise me with a fun-filled weekend of gambling, comedy shows, and alcohol.

We went and saw Aziz Ansari. If you haven’t heard of him or checked out any of his stuff, you are missing out. I definitely peed my pants a little from laughing so hard during his set.

Chris managed to snag us tickets about six rows from the stage. Definitely no complaints there. [I apologize for shitty iPhone quality photo, but its just for proof.]

We prepared for the show accordingly.

Following the show we went out into the casino and tried our luck at various table games and slots. Personally, I am a fan of roulette. Picking the numbers is fun for me and there isn’t really much skill involved unless you can do probability based math.

Embarrassing Sidenote on Gambling: On Saturday night during my first time ever playing Craps, I hit someone in the face with dice. No joke. My hand was shaking so bad and I lost all control of my arm with adrenaline because I was so focused on trying to hit the back wall … instead I threw the dice up, not down like a normal person would and BAM! I hit some poor innocent player square in the face. Thus ending my future career in Craps dice rolling. Also, I could’ve probably slowed down on the drinking to avoid the future jokes made on my behalf about this situation, but such is life.

The rest of the weekend was spent doing a little shopping, eating, consuming more alcohol, and more gambling.

Being the smartypants I am, I took Monday off to recover. For my own celebration, I treated myself to seeing the Katy Perry movie which I shamefully admit to crying at, doing a speed work exercise, and grocery shopping. A nice change of pace from the last couple of weeks.

This birthday was a lot of fun and I could not be more thankful for the people involved in making it such a fabulous occasion. Seriously, all the love shared on the day and then the weekend with the fun and ahhhh. Getting a little too sentimental and emotional here, but whatevs, I have great people in my life.

What has been your favorite birthday? Why? Have your friends and your spouse ever worked together to plan a surprise for you – party, trip, etc? Let’s discuss!