Monthly Archives: January, 2013

The Best Birthday Present Of All

Today’s post is a short one but I just had to share.

I thought that this was the best birthday present anyone had ever given me:

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But shortly after receiving them I was shocked again and have decided that no, THIS is the best birthday present I have ever received:

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That’s right…. MIKE AND I ARE GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t even begin to describe to you the excitement I feel at the chance to spend the rest of my life with the most amazing man I have ever known. He has brought love, joy, security, and happiness into my life that I never dreamed was possible. I’m taking everyone’s advice and just savoring this moment of being engaged to the love of my life. I’ll share details soon but for now I am just the happiest girl in the world (and I started crying on the metro this morning thinking about how happy I am… so don’t worry I haven’t changed at all)

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Studio Review: Epic Yoga

I’ve been working hard to develop a solid home yoga practice. It’s going pretty well and I’ve been drawing inspiration from yoga DVDs and workouts on OnDemand from Comcast (actually not a terrible selection in there!). However, nothing will ever take the place of a beautiful studio yoga class. There is just something about being in the company of other yogis, in a space that is specially reserved for practice, and having a trained teacher there to lead you through a great sequence and push you to find you intelligent edge. I discontinued my membership at The Studio DC after the move to Arlington because the studios were just not convenient enough anymore to make the membership fees worth it. I tried to go it alone for several months, but I think it’s time to start looking for a new studio. Not that I intend to become a member at one, but perhaps purchasing a class package to supplement my home practice. My home practice is good but it’s not as advanced as my studio practice was. I miss exploring new postures and the feeling of elation when you finally get into a pose you’ve been working towards.

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[an old picture of me playing around with koundinyasana – still one of my favorite arm balances!]

So I guess that was just a really long winded introduction to this post. I decided to give Epic Yoga off Dupont Circle a try last night after work. I had actually intended to go to a class at Yoga District on I Street but when I went to sign up this morning it was already full! This also happened to me last Friday, so I guess I’m going to have to sign up at least a day in advance in the future? Oh well. Epic Yoga was offering a hot yoga class (the website says the room is heated to approximately 95 degrees) at 6 pm. Perfect. Why not give it a shot?

[Source – DC Fit Crasher]

They have a good first-timer special where you can get one week of unlimited yoga for $20. I grabbed it, figuring I could try out a couple different classes and teachers before making my final decision. Overall, I’d say it was a very positive experience. When I arrived at the desk to sign in, the instructor, Abby, was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Upon learning it was my first time at the studio, she took me on a tour of the facilities. Facilities that are definitely pretty impressive for an urban yoga studio. There are locker rooms with showers, several studios, and best of all complementary towels!! I was totally sold. The hot yoga room was nice too with exposed brick walls and lovely mood lighting. They class wasn’t too full or crowded … added bonus!

Here were some things I really enjoyed about the class and the studio:

  • She started with a dharma talk. I love me a good dharma talk and learning more about yogic philosophy is one of the reasons I go to studio classes. Today we focused on the idea of fear and learning to embrace situations where we were afraid as an opportunity to grow.
  • The warm up was great. It was super cold outside so Abby started class with a good core warm up and a bunch of sun salutations to build some inner fire. Definitely helped since it’s positively glacial in DC right now.
  • We spent some time practicing uddiyana bandha (which is the abdominal wall lock that yogis employ to move safely through practice and do challenging poses like inversions). Pranayama (breath) and bandha practice is definitely something I don’t see enough in yoga classes… A+ for that!
  • We all explored handstand at the end of class. When I first started practicing in 2008, I went to a studio that would teach basic moves and offer advanced variations like arm balances or inversions but only “if they were in your practice.” I was always curious… how do they get in my practice if I never learn how to approach them? I really appreciate when an instructors takes time to teach a pose and encourage everyone to attempt it to the best of their ability. Even though I practice handstand regularly, I even took some good pointers from her demo!

Here’s where I have some concerns:

  • The studio wasn’t really hot, even though it was billed as a hot class. I barely sweat, which is one of the things I love about hot yoga. That being said, it’s like 15 degrees outside so I’m willing to overlook it for now. It was at least warmer in there than it was outside.
  • I was hoping for a slightly more advanced class. I really don’t want to sound like a snob, because that is not it at all! I just have a great practice at home. So if I’m going to pay to go to a studio, I’m really looking for a class that’s going to push me outside my comfort zone and allow me to work in the advanced postures. While I thoroughly enjoyed this class, Epic Yoga only offers beginner and mixed levels classes. Mixed levels can be pretty hit or miss depending on the instructor and the modifications / variations they choose to offer. The only advanced class available is The Rocket. I’ll probably try that one out if it works in my schedule but I don’t LOVE a set format class. Just a personal preference though!

Final Summation: If you’re a DC area yogi OR looking to get into yoga… I’d definitely suggest trying out Epic Yoga. Their facilities rock and everyone was really helpful for me as a first-timer. I dug the vibe in the studio too. There was definitely plenty of Lululemon represented but there was just a great mix of people, bodies, and attitudes in the room that made it feel approachable and friendly. Sometimes yoga studios can be snobby to the max. Bleh. The newcomer specials (they have 1 week for $20 or 1 month for $50) make it really easy to try out the studio before need to make any commitments. I will most DEFINITELY be going back. They offer a yoga / barre hybrid class that I’m going to check out on Thursday.

Hope you found this review helpful!! If yes, I’ll do more reviews of studios I attend. If no… well then I won’t!

If you’re a yogi… what do you look for in a yoga class or studio?? Do you have a home studio that you always go to or do you switch it up?

Crock Pot Overload

I didn’t have a recipe post for you guys last week and I used an old recipe this week, so I thought I would give you a look at what else I’ve been up to in the kitchen the last couple weeks. Julie over at Peanut Butter Fingers is doing a crock pot challenge and I decided to participate! Basically, I’m going to try 10 new crock pot recipes before the end of February, write up a summary post of all the recipes I tried, and link up with her on her site. I’m aiming for about 2 recipes per week so I don’t go on crock pot overload. However, last week we had a lot of social events or nights with easy dinners like pancakes / eggs, so I didn’t have much to show! Crock pot recipes are awesome but they’re kinda lame to highlight on the blog. Like, what am I going to show you? I opened a bunch of cans and packages, dumped them into a pot, turned it on, and went about my life until it was ready to eat. Not exactly a lot of skill involved in that. But I’ll give you a sneak peek prior to my big recap.

My first recipe was this gingered beef and vegetables recipe. It ended up being several days worth of lunches and it was GOOD. I almost always use chicken or vegetable stock when cooking but I need to stop overlooking beef stock. It is SO flavorful and delicious. This was a great “hearty” lunch to take me through after work social events like a concert and a basketball game.

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Saturday was a great day to use the slow cooker for dinner. Sometimes I don’t like to use it during the week b/c all the recipes say to cook for 8 hours on low. It’s always more than 8 hours from when I leave the apt in the morning to when I return in the evening. Sometimes I don’t want to leave it sitting there on “warm” for 2 more hours! Since I was around on Saturday, it was such a nice treat to not have to think too hard about cooking dinner when the time came. I used this recipe for Pasta with Eggplant Sauce. I loved this sauce because it was so thick and hearty with vegetables. It made my portion of high-fiber mini penne look positively massive (see the picture below… YOWZA). I am a pasta eating champion and if left to my own devices could easily put down a ridiculous amount of pasta. By adding lots of vegetables / thickening agents to the sauce, it’s a great way to tame the pasta eating beast within!

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And this Santa Fe Chicken is cooking in the crock pot for dinner AS WE SPEAK! Gonna be some goooooood eatins tonight. I love these kind of crock pot recipes, especially because I can throw the chicken breast in whole and shred it after it’s had 9.5 hours to cook with just a fork. So easy. And also delicious.

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Anyways, as you can see the creativity I can employ with photographing crock pot meals is pretty minimal. So don’t worry, you won’t be seeing a crock pot recipe every week until the end of February. I’ll spice it up for you! But so far… the recipes have been amazing (even if they’re slightly boring to look at). I’m planning on making this Vegetable and Chick Pea curry later this week! Crock pot challenge FOR THE WIN!

Anybody have favorite crock pot recipes they want to share??? I’ve got a lot more meals to make before the end of February and I am taking any and all suggestions 🙂 

Gingerbread Cake Roll

This was actually my first effort at my Winter 2012 To Do list baking goal. This recipe is obviously WAY overdue and probably won’t be very beneficial now that the holidays are over. BUT if you’re in the mood for a delicious winter dessert and have the time to put in a little effort, let me suggest making this amazing cake roll! I had been wanting to try out a cake roll for a long time because, well let’s just be honest, they look super cool. Luckily, my lovely friend Sarah hosted a “Christmas Cake” party this year. The party was on a Sunday afternoon, so I used Sunday morning / early afternoon to assemble this beautiful cake. I’ve mentioned before… I’m not a baker. But this kinda makes me look like one right?? Good thing I had Mike there to supervise me (and take 1000 photos). I used this recipe because it required the least complicated ingredients. There were other recipes telling me to buy creme fraiche and I was like, thanks but no thanks.

First obstacle.. I was supposed to use parchment paper. I didn’t even really know what that was to be honest. Again, my childhood cakes came out of a box from Betty Crocker or from an adorable Italian baker named Nino. But I quickly googled and realized it was kind of like wax paper, which I happened to have (and have never used because I had never once had a use for it). The article I was reading said parchment paper was better than wax paper, but I figured beggars can’t be choosers. Wax paper it is! I added extra flour in hopes it would prevent sticking.

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I’m not patient, so the eggs portion was definitely hard for me. You had to beat the yolks for forever and then the whites for EVER LONGER. Lame sauce. This was by far my least favorite part. My egg whites totally didn’t get stiff before I said “screw it” and threw them into the batter. I don’t think it really mattered.

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Before I knew it, into the oven it went! It cooked really quickly because it was so thin.

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While the cake was in the oven, I read the instructions for how to roll the cake probably 400 times. And then made Mike read the instructions. And then explained to him what I thought the instructions said to see if that’s what he thought they said too. Finally, I think we had some sort of idea what we were going to do. I was only upset that I had to put that towel in the wash after. Dishes are one unfortunately side effects of cooking… but laundry too??

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While the cake was cooling in its towel cocoon, I made the icing, which was my favorite part. Making whipped cream icing is possibly one of the easiest things ever. And this frosting tasted SO GOOD with all the spices in it.

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Then it was time for the moment of truth! Unroll, fill with frosting, roll it back up, and pray.

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I covered up a few minor imperfections with the rest of the frosting (including plugging up the ends to make it look more solid) and VOILA! Gingerbread cake for everyone! This whole process did end up taking several hours (including letting the cake cool completely). I even changed outfits. Yeah can you believe it? I changed INTO this hippie/yuppie combo outfit I’m rocking below. Sundays are not for style my friends. I swear I put different clothes on (and bathed) before the party.

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But thankfully the cake was a HUGE hit at the party. It is pictured below alongside Sarah’s lovely white chocolate triple layer cake that was divine. If I had to make one adjustment, I’d put a little more frosting on the inside. I didn’t want to use too much or not be able to roll it up correctly, but it could have stood a little bit more frosting.

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Marathon Musings – Week 9

This post is alternately titled “The week that wasn’t”. Did I run? Yes. Did I strength train? Yes. Did I do yoga? Yes. But am I where I should be for  more than halfway to a marathon? Absolutely not. Despite scaling back my training exponentially this week… I’m still in pain.

Last night, after a good conversation with Mike, I’ve made the decision that it’s time to call it on the marathon. My knee isn’t ready for this right now. Everything in my body is screaming at me that continuing to push to train for this marathon isn’t the right decision. It’s time to stop fighting it and listen. One mantra that Tina uses a lot that I really love is… “Accept and adjust.” I know there’s going to be another marathon in my future, but it’s not going to be this March.

I won’t lie, thinking about having to admit that I was “giving up” on the blog gave me huge pause. But then I stopped at reminded myself two very important things. 1 – I’m not giving up. I’m not quitting. I am making a decision about what is right for my body and my mind. And 2 – As Amy also pointed out at one time, I can’t live my life as exhibit for this blog. (A “publicity stunt” as so so eloquently put it!)

Also… I’ve already run a marathon. Life bucket list item accomplished. Why can’t I just let it lie?? During our talk (that was probably painful for him but I really like to just beat a subject to death before letting it go), I confessed that I felt like I couldn’t be a hardcore runner or athlete without running marathons. I have this horrible habit of thinking that I should be able to do everything (and do it well) and if I can’t, I’m lacking in some way.

But I am a runner. I am a runner whether or not I ever run another marathon ever again. This is just an opportunity for me to find a different challenge. The challenge that is right for me at this moment in my life. And if you know me at all… you know I’m going to find one. This morning I woke up with a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Accept… and adjust.

Luckily, the marathon I chose has a half marathon too! I’ve decided to defer down to the half and still fundrace for Back On My Feet! So Marathon Musings is going to change… to Half Marathon Musings! I’ve still got a half marathon coming up this spring and who knows… maybe there’s a new PR in it for me? 🙂

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Here’s to running in health and happiness for many years to come!!

Winter To Do List Check In

Let me reiterate again how much I love having a seasonal to do list! Doesn’t feel too pressured (I have three months at a time after all) but it’s also short enough to keep my accountable. You can see my original Winter To Do List as well as my Summer and Fall to do lists.

Here’s a check in on my Winter To Do List!

  • Love Marathon Training – It’s going. My training has encountered some issues (seen here and here)… I definitely am enjoying training so much more this time around. Last time I felt completely suffocated by the training. So far, not feeling that way! What’s still getting in the way is my confidence, but I think I’m making good progress!
  • Strength Train at least 2 times per week – This is going well so far! I’ve been drawing inspiration from bloggers, magazines, and workout videos to keep my strength training routines interesting. I really do feel better when I do it and it makes my knee so much happier 🙂
  • Read More, Watch TV Less – Definitely cutting WAY down on TV (except Downton Abbey and Nashville but I love them and I won’t stop!) I like background noise, which is often TV by default. However, Mike and I have started listening to Songza a lot at home (We’re currently listening to the station “Beach Grooves”.) This allows us to put on music without having to actually pick the album or artist (which sometimes becomes such an arduous task.) I’m also getting in bed earlier to read instead of watching TV to unwind and spending weekend downtime in bed or on the balcony with a book instead of on the couch with the remote. It’s making me enjoy the TV I do watch so much more. Like Sarah Silverman says, “Make it a treat!”
  • Read a classic novel I haven’t read yet – I’m about 1/3 of the way through Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. So far I think I like it but I haven’t gotten completely engrossed in it. I’ve been reading a lot of other books but for some reason I find it really hard to get into some of the classics. I tried A Clockwork Orange but omg the slang makes reading it SO tedious. I still want to try again though. Also considering Atlas Shrugged (my bestie and her bf both just read it and loved it) or Brave New World. I’ve had a copy of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on my bedside table for probably six months now… might be time to crack it open.
  • Watch 5 “classic” movies I haven’t seen yet – I have watched The Seven Year Itch with Marilyn Monroe but other than that I’m not doing SUPER well. I’m hoping to get another one in soon. The classic movies collection on Netflix Instant is pretty pathetic (as is the selection on Netflix Instant in general unfortunately). I have Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Graduate in our queue. Still want to get an Audrey Hepburn movie in there and a couple Kubrick movies…
  • Read at least three full news articles per day – I’m getting there. I’ve been using the newstand app on my iPhone a lot more. I wouldn’t say I’m doing it every day yet but I’m definitely reading more and actively seeking out more information… which I suppose is the point. 
  • Go to Zoolights – Unfortuntaely, this did not happen due to Mike’s mono. That’s ok though… another year will come for Zoolights 🙂
  • Do at least one additional “Christmas” activity in DC – Ditto on the above. 
  • Make 2 new-to-me holiday desserts – I made a gingerbread cake roll and a carrot cake! I am hoping to try out a couple new recipes before the end of the winter too. I’m participating in a crock pot challenge and want to try using my crock pot to make a dessert.
  • Play with Fig and Little Mac a little bit every day – Again, won’t say I’m doing it every single day but I am definitely much more mindful of it. They play with each other all the time but they really do like to interact with me besides just petting and snuggling. We’ve definitely upped the play time.
  • Participate in another blog related “challenge” – I signed up for and started Courtney’s 2012 Closeout Workout Challenge but mono / sickness kinda side lined me. I did a lot but I kinda stopped checking in and probably didn’t hit 2012 reps. That’s ok! I’m currently participating in the PB Fingers Crock Pot Challenge (try 10 new crock pot recipes by the end of February) and Gretchen Rubin’s 21 Day Relationship Challenge (every day she emails one tip to improve your relationships and so far I am LOVING it)
  • Participate in at least three volunteer opportunities – Hmm let’s see… I volunteered at DC Central Kitchen with my coworkers in December, which I LOVE. I also technically volunteered with Girls on the Run DC for their fall 5K in early December, but it was not a positive experience to put it lightly. I’m not going to say more b/c I won’t “knock” an awesome charity on my blog, but I’d like to get at least two more volunteer opportunities in before the end of the winter. I am fund-racing for Back on my Feet for the marathon in March, so I’m hoping maybe a volunteer opportunity could come out of that as well.
  • Practice yoga three times per week (even if it’s only for a few minutes) – This still isn’t going THAT well. I’m doing yoga more than I was in the fall but I’m still not at 3 x per week. I have started going to a studio occasionally, which definitely helps. I want to focus on grabbing 10 free minutes to practice instead of not doing it at all.
  • Tackle the “little tasks” right away (“One minute rule”) – This little mantra has totally stuck with me… it’s awesome. Taking care of my space feels so much less arduous 🙂 Big success on this one.
  • Go skiing at least three times (weather permitting) – Well unfortunately, Mike’s doctor has recommended he not ski until end of January (just incase his spleen was still swollen and he had a bad spill), which definitely puts a damper on these plans! We’re still hoping to go a couple times in February to get some skiing in this season.
  • Try three new restaurants in our neighborhood – Hmm let’s see. We have tried an Indian place in our neighborhood with another couple so I guess that’s only one? Need to identify two others and make it happen!
  • Tackle a new ethnic cuisine at home – Haven’t tackled this yet. I’ve been more focused on my baking task. Still want to try making dosas. Or perhaps something Asian like dumplings or summer rolls? I was intrigued by this recipe on Cupcakes and Cashmere.
  • Learn more about wine – Bahahaha… nope. Still clueless. I did buy a bottle of red wine at Trader Joe’s today that was 40 cents more expensive than the cheapest bottle… does that count??? But seriously… someone teach me (preferably for free?)
  • Spend Wisely – This is one of my favorite resolutions of the season actually! Normally my relationship with money is so singularly focused on saving / frugality. I always felt guilty after any splurge and scrimped in places it didn’t really make sense. I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve purchased and have been able to do that while still being financially responsible. FTW!
  • Practice gratitude This has been such a good practice for me. I’m not saying I’m zen because I am far from zen and I certainly don’t feel grateful all day every day. But by spending just a minute every day feeling grateful, I am able to frame my day in a much more positive light. Also makes handling the blows a little bit easier too 🙂

Marathon Musings – Week 8

Let’s make today short and sweet… just wanted to check in with you guys about marathon training (wanna know something weird… 9 times out of ten when I type the word “marathon” I initially spell it “Marathong”… what is that all about??)

Here’s what the schedule looked like this week:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
8M Tempo Strength + Yoga Speed (1k Repeats) 6M + Strength 5M 15M 7M

I did a great strength circuit on Tuesday that I shared on the blog but also topped off the day with a 75 minute advanced yoga class at my old studio. I was supposed to meet a friend, but sadly she got stuck in traffic. In hindsight, even though this class ROCKED my socks off, I overdid it for what was supposed to be a “rest day”. This is definitely where I struggle with marathon training. It’s just so much RUNNING and I like to do other stuff too. So I tend to cram my other favorites into my rest days and they end up being well… not that restful.

Good news is my 15 miler on Saturday was a DREAM. My legs felt awesome. I did 15 miles in 2:37 which about a 10:30 min/mile pace. Perfecto (I should’ve probably run it a bit slower but WHATEVER) I finished that run being like “I’m going to kick this marathon’s ASS. Marathon training rocks, why do I hate it so much??”

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Bad news… my knees were KILLING me by Sunday. I did my 7 miles but it was not pretty. By the end I could barely bend my left leg. I took an ice bath on Saturday but Sunday I had ice packs on and off my knees almost all afternoon. This is not good because this is exactly how my knees felt when I got injured fall 2011. Since that injury (which had me out of running for over 2 months and I was NOT happy), I went to a physical therapist who helped my build up more strength in my hips. She and I also worked together to fix my stride a bit. I was originally using a very quad-dominant stride with somewhat of a tendency for heel striking. Now my stride is more balanced with my hamstrings / glutes and I am much better about mid-foot striking.

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I wasn’t anticipating this injury to flare up again. I thought I fixed my stride, I’m strength training again, I focus on all the right stuff… this shouldn’t be happening! Also… UGH. What else is going to go wrong this training cycle? First mono and now this?? This makes me feel frustrated. And a little sad if I can be completely honest.

This all has gotten me to thinking… is The Hanson Method the right approach for me? Honestly, I don’t know. The whole point of this training program is to reduce your risk of injury while also turning you into a marathon running beast. But maybe 6 days per week of running is just not what is right for my specific body?? I have been looking at a couple other training plans to see if maybe I could do a switch. I’m considering one of Hal Higdon’s training programs (either Novice 2 or Intermediate 1… depending).

I woke up this morning knowing there was positively NO way I could do an 8 mile tempo run. I did 75 minutes of cross-training to somewhat simulate the workout (purely time wise, not really in intensity) and even that was challenging. I think for this week I’m going to take a week from Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan and see how I do. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Cross Train 4M + Strength / Yoga 8M 4M+ Strength / Yoga Cross / Yoga 17M Easy Cross

Anyone else ever changed training plans mid-cycle?? I’m freaking out a little over here (I know… BIG SHOCK. Whatever I’m just your run of the mill emotional trainwreck people!)

Spring 2013 Racing Schedule

I swear that I was planning this post for today on my own. Then Amy put up the EXACT same post today (and hers is WAY more awesome and hardcore than mine b/c she rocks and is running Boston this year). Sooo great minds think alike? 🙂

So there’s this weird thing that I notice almost every runner loves to do… make their race calendar for an upcoming season! I love to run… but more than I love to run… I love to RACE! Mike and I ran 10 races each last spring. We’re all about it! Though we decided that was a few too many for our schedule / budget / desire to still have friends and family who talk to us, and we scaled it back a lot this Fall. I’ve been thinking ahead to my Spring 2013 racing calendar! PS – you can keep up with my race schedule and see all my race recaps / reviews on my Race Calendar Page!

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Obviously the big one is Rock’n’Roll USA Marathon on March 16th! Things will kind of be revolving around that. I’d like to do a tune up race prior to the marathon. Ideally I’d do that 4 weeks out, but that is President’s Day Weekend and I will be in NC celebrating my Dad’s 60th birthday. So I’m looking at 3 weeks out right now. I’m planning on the Colonial Half Marathon in Williamsburg, VA. Purely out of convenience and February races aren’t the easiest to come by. I also want to do the Love the Run You’re With 5K for Valentine’s Day because it’s cute… sue me.

Last Spring I did my marathon late in the season (I had a knee injury up through Christmas last year so I couldn’t train in time for a March / Early April race). I was pretty dead after it (even though I did a half marathon and a 10K within a month of the marathon… my body was NOT pleased with that).

I’d like to take some time off from distance after the marathon, so right now we’re thinking Monument Ave 10K in Richmond and Pike’s Peek 10K in Maryland for the month of April. That’ll keep me running / in the racing game, but also allow me to back off training / rest up. Plus maybe I’ll just blow my speed game out of the water! Who knows 🙂

I’m planning to up my distance again in May. I will be entering the lottery for the Broad Street Run in Philly (which is a ten miler). If I don’t get in there is also the Marine Corps Historic Half in Fredericksburg, VA. I really like doing a “travel race” once a season, but I don’t know if that’s in the cards this Spring. I’m planning a decent amount of other travel (both of my parents are turning 60, I want to visit a close friend who moved away to Boston, visits to Philly obviously, and other fun events).

I’m also going to try and con Mike into a June race. He HATES summer racing, but I’m afraid if I don’t have a June race I’m going to lose stamina for training. I always struggle in the summer b/c there are NO races (and its hot… duh)! Right now I’m thinking the Lawyers Have Heart 10K here in DC. Alternatively, the Baltimore 10 Miler.

I just realized that is 7 races… which is still a lot of races. But they’re shorter races so it’s different? I dunno we’ll see what we end up actually doing 🙂 Who’s racing this Spring?? What’s on your calendar??

Book Review: What Alice Forgot

Apparently I’m just not understanding the PB Fingers Book Club thing but I swear I’m going to figure it out! I was finished with this book WELL before the deadline, but I didn’t realize you were supposed to write it up on your blog FIRST, and then she would link to your blog when she reviewed it. Lesson learned. That’ll be my goal for next month. I did want to talk about the December selection though because it was a really interesting book!

I’ve defined POTR in my mind as a “wellness blog”. I wouldn’t consider it a food blog or even healthy living blog, since those seem to require me posting all my meals in a given day and a daily workout report. Instead, I think I’m aiming to address all areas of wellness in a place that is both personal and informational. When I decided I wanted to add books to the blog, I had to ask myself why? I think the Happiness Project was more obvious because it did SO MUCH for my general happiness and disposition, which is a crucial part of wellness. However, I think books in general (for me) play a huge role in my wellness. In my definition, wellness is more than eating right and exercising (which I write a lot about on here). There’s also a mental / emotional component to it that, for me at least, is probably the most critical. Therefore, I’d like to spend one post per week talking about some aspect of wellness OTHER than diet and exercise. Book reviews fall in this category for me because I’m not really interested in discussing the plot. I’m interested in discussing my reaction to the book, the way it made me feel, and the questions it raised in my mind. So without further ado… a book review for you!

So the December PB Fingers book club pick was… What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. To give you a very very very bare bones plot summary… basically the last thing Alice remembers is being 29, happily married, and expecting her first child. Suddenly she wakes up from an apparent fall at the gym to find that she is actually 39, has three children, and is in the middle of a bitter divorce from her husband. The remainder of the book follows her as she struggles to remember what happened over the last 10 years that has changed her life so drastically.

Source

I, for whatever reason, am pretty hit or miss when it comes to novels. I LOVE non fiction books and read a ton of memoirs (usually of the dark and gritty variety… call me weird, that’s ok with me) The novels I do enjoy tend to be more historical fiction, dystopian, etc. Something besides “regular every day life”. But for some reason, this book really captivated me. I was reading it on my Kindle and would open it up whenever I had a minute… on the metro, in the elevator. I also stayed up WAY too late reading on numerous occasions. I almost felt like I was scrambling and rushing through the first part of the book, because I was so desperate to find out more of Alice’s memories! The author did a great job simulating that desire for more information. She really put you in Alice’s place almost. There were places I felt like things were kind of dragging but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

Mike wasn’t a huge fan of me reading this book. Which is a weird thing to say and makes him sound weird and controlling, which he is definitely not. But the way Alice’s marriage to Nick completely disintegrates over the course of 10 years, from honestly nothing more than stress, work pressure, and lack of communication, really upset me. We would be sitting together reading and I would look up very concerned and ask Mike if he really thought that he and I could make it forever or if he thought that we were supportive enough of each other. He said he preferred when I was reading The Happiness Project because I was… well… happier! But this book really made me think. Not that I didn’t already know it, but relationships are HARD. Not only with your significant other but also friends and family members. You have to work at those relationships all the time or they can slip away before you realize. Interestingly enough, I found that Alice’s relationships with Nick and her sister Elizabeth were most damaged by the things they DIDN’T say to each other, or felt like they couldn’t say.

I also found myself for most of the book being like “Wow, Alice sucks.” The way information was unfolding and being relayed it made her sound well… terrible! And Gina too for that matter. There was even a little part of me that was like “No wonder your marriage fell apart… look how horrible you were!” I also got the feeling that Alice kind of felt that way about herself too. But then when her memories all come flooding back to her on Mother’s Day, I realized she wasn’t horrible at all. She was just a normal person, experiencing every day stresses, and trying to find her own path. It showed me again how important it is not to judge someone’s actions or behaviors. 99% of the time there’s a back story there that you have NO idea about.

While I definitely found myself sad at many points in the book, I’m really glad I read it. It really inspired me to put in the effort in all of my relationships. Making sure I say what I’m feeling and make time to show affection even when I’m tired, overworked, or grumpy. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested!

Here’s a link to Julie’s write up for the book club (I also used her picture since I didn’t have the book in hardcopy). The January book club pick is “The Secret Keeper” by Kate Morton. It looks pretty interesting to me… somewhat similar to “Atonement” it appears, which is an all time favorite of mine (I actually love basically everything Ian McEwan has ever written and was gifted his most recent book “Sweet Tooth” for Christmas!) I was hoping everyone would pick “The Fault in Our Stars” because Mike’s brother gave that to me as a Christmas gift and I’ve been wanting to get into it. I think I will keep up with the group though and try and squeeze in some others this month 🙂 I actually just subscribed to Audible.com and might give it a try with this one!

Marathon Friendly Circuit Workout

How sweet is this picture?? I used Picmonkey.com to jazz it up for you guys!! I read about Picmonkey from Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers and am very grateful for it 🙂

Anyways onto the post at hand! In the spirit of my resolution to do more strength training this week (for the sake of my knee but also in the hopes of one day having a smoking hot bod… bahaha just kidding), I put together a “marathon friendly” circuit workout to do on Tuesday morning. Marathon training and strength training require a delicate balance. I don’t want to blow out my legs lifting when I need them for a difficult run, but at the same time I want to make sure I’m keeping key running muscles toned and ready for injury prevention. I also don’t want to neglect my upper body and core, which are totally crucial to good running posture and injury prevention (mostly core for the injury prevention part).

I tend to use my off day and my easy run days for my strength training to allow all my energy / focus to be on running on my SOS days (That’s Hanson Method speak for “Something of Substance” workouts… basically your hard workouts).

I incorporated some basic lower body movements and plyometrics (GREAT for runners), a solid upper body workout, and plenty of focus on the core into this approximately 30 minute strength training workout. I did it “for time” to get my heart rate up and challenge myself. You can totally just do 12 reps each for 3 rounds and not time it.

My times were: Circuit #1 = 7:57, Circuit #2 = 7:25, Circuit #3 = 8:59

Marathon Circuit FINAL