Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The 3 Ingredients of a Fantastic Post-Race Party (A lovely (and chilly) weekend in Chicago)

This past weekend, I traveled to Chicago to meet up with my family to hang out in the greatest city and to run a wonderful little 10K sponsored by the Big Ten Network.
I took a screenshot of the Southwest in-flight tracker on my iPad because we flew right over my hometown!
We got in to Chicago around 11:30pm, didn't get to the hotel until almost 12:30, didn't get into bed until 1:00am, and had to get up to go to the race at 5:30am . . . not necessarily a recipe for success.  It was a *very* early morning, but I really love this 10K.  I did last year's inaugural BTN 10K the Saturday after taking the Illinois Bar Exam (I can't believe that was already a year ago!)
This is the banner pic from the registration page on the race's website.  The pic is from last year's inaugural BTN 10K.  (If you look at the left end of the image, you'll see a a dude in a gray shirt and a sweatband.  That's my dad!!  You can see my forehead, but my face is blocked by my dad's right shoulder.)
The BTN 10K is a really fun event, especially for anyone who grew up loving Big Ten sports (especially football).  When you register for the race, you get to select the Big Ten team of your choice and your race shirt will be specific to that team.  Of course, we chose Iowa.  Well, most of us...my sister-in-law grew up in Nebraska, so she was wearing Husker Red.

My dad, my husband, my sister-in-law, and I ran the 10K and my mom and my brother (while pushing Adorable Nephew in the stroller) ran the 5K.

The first mile was frustrating (like first miles always are) - lots of bobbing and weaving.  After that, people spread out a little more so there was more room to run.  I'm pretty sure my first mile was the slowest of my 6.2 miles.  My legs actually felt great the entire race (I can't say the same for the rest of my body, sometimes lack of sleep makes me a little sicky).  
In reality, I was just hoping to average 10:00/mile.  I was sort of hoping to break an hour, but I knew that would be a super long shot.  I'll get it next time.  In truth, I'm satisfied anytime I finish any race longer than a 5K in under 10min/miles, so you'll hear no complaints about a 9:54 average today.

Once we finally got through the slow shuffle through the finish shoot collecting water, gatorade, banana, snacks, and a medal, there was an AWESOME finish line party.

Without further ado, the 3 requirements of the best finish line party:

#1 Dancing mascots (including Herky!)!!!
 #2 Food :: Incredibly delicious Amylu chicken, apple, gouda sausage (allegedly available at Costco) + Banana Creme Muscle Milk (not pictured, the best beer in the world Goose Island 312) 
 #3 - The cutest 15 month old little boy on the planet (you know him as Adorable Nephew)
Seriously. The cutest.
I think that is the "No Aunt Alaina, don't touch me, you stink!" look
 Of course, being in Chicago means that I have to indulge in some of my favorite foods:
Lunch after the 10K @ FoodLife in Water Tower Place
(I'm not going to go into details, but I saw Dwyane Wade out with his sons. One word. Adorable)
New Favorite: Snickers Pie from Sweetwater Tavern & Grille
(I shared this with my favorite guys: my dad and my husband)
Lunch on Sunday @ Potbelly
I really, really love their Vanilla Malts.  How cute is it that they put two little butter cookies on the straw?! 
Chicago really is my favorite place.  I've been gone less than 36 hours and I'm already ready to go back.  Unfortunately, I probably won't have time to go back until the marathon in October.

Unrelated, I fell into the trap of watching the Bachelorette last night.  I had read the spoilers on Reality Steve at the very beginning (like I always do), and hadn't really been watching the season, but I am floored by last night's episode.  This is the first time in YEARS that I don't know how the next episode of the Bachelor/Bachelorette will end!  It is a very strange feeling.

What was the last race you ran?  How long do you normally go between races?

What characteristics do you look for in a truly great city?

Did you watch the Bachelorette?  Where you as floored as me? (and then, subsequently, awkwarded out by the nearly 30 minutes of awkward hugging and crying and constant "I'm sorry"s?) 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Weekend Roundup + A Treadmill Workout

I wasn't going to do a weekend recap because we were pretty lazy this weekend, but there are just a couple of highlights that I just have to share.  Also, this is going to be the shortest post ever because it is after midnight and I can barely keep my eyes open!

First, how adorable is my little dog and her love for Husband?  She jumped up and decided to lay on top of him.  I promise you, this photo was NOT staged.
Second, two words: "bacon pancakes."  Yeah, that's a real thing.  I indulged in them at Original House of Pancakes here in Vegas.  Woah, mind blown.  You should check them out.  
I'll be trying to make them at home someday soon.  I'm thinking buckwheat and bacon pancakes.  Stay tuned.

Finally, I feel obligated to inform you July is a *very* special month.  Apparently, 29 years ago, then-President Reagan proclaimed July as National Ice Cream Month!  I know you're going to be very sad when I inform you that you missed National Ice Cream Day...it is the third Sunday of July (two days ago).  I celebrated by chowing down on some delicious strawberry ice cream mochi from Trader Joe's.  Strawberry is my favorite right now, but I love all of the flavors (strawberry, chocolate, mango, & green tea).
According to Wikipedia, "President Reagan designated July 1984 as National Ice Cream Month and July 21, 1984 as National Ice Cream Day with Presidential Proclamation 5219 in 1984."  The fact that the first National Ice Cream Month occurred just 4 months after I was born is no coincidence; I was born to love ice cream!!
Which brings me to Monday.  The weather was actually under 100 degrees when I left work...really bizarre and a really welcome change in the Vegas weather pattern.  Even though it was still 96 degrees when I got home, I was planning on running outside.  However, my Garmin watch was dead as a doornail and I was not in the mood to run tech-naked, so I made my way to the treadmill.  I decided to do an interval workout with 800m runs @ 9:20 mile pace with a 400m recovery runs in between.
I really liked this workout...it'll be making a repeat appearance.
Full disclosure:  This is what I watched while I was running:
Are you jealous of my awesome taste in movies?

Favorite type of ice cream, go! (not ice cream flavor, like favorite ice cream novelty treat)
     (I pretty much love all ice cream, but right now I'm eating a lot of mochi and fruttare)

Are you weirded out by the bacon pancakes?
     (I'm more a member of the "the more bacon the better" camp)

Do you watch movies/tv while on the treadmill?  What are you watching these days?
     (I have a 90's teen/rom-com thing going on lately)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

I found a deal on the BEST running head band!

Do ya'll get the Very Jane emails everyday?  If not, you should - it is basically like Groupon but with a more Etsy feel.

Well, I opened my Very Jane email on Wednesday and found that Very Jane was repeating one of my FAVORITE deals:
The deal will end on Friday, July 19, 2013 @ 11:00 pm Pacific Standard Time

Historically, I've had a difficult time finding a headband that didn't slip off my head while I was working out.  These seriously work so well and don't slip around at all while I'm running.  The side that comes in contact with your hair is basically velour and that texture somehow stays put better than those headbands that have the rubber on the inside.

I've purchased several of these in the past.  I wear my sparkly black and my sparkly silver ones the most often.  I especially like the sparkly silver headband for those days when I want to feel like I'm running in a tiara =)  In fact, you might remember my sparkly silver active band when it made an appearance as my trusty wispy hair tamer for last month's Ragnar Wasatch Back.

I've purchased similar products at race expos that also work, but these work just as well and this is a great deal!  

(I think the gray chevron is my favorite of this batch, I may have to order more)

Do you wear a hand band or a hat when you run? (or are you one of those people that has perfect hair and doesn't need to tame those wispies?)

How often do you purchase things from one of these daily deal websites?

Another Delicious Salad & My Cross Training Day

I really love running.  But, as much as I love running, I also really love cross training days because those are the days when I have time to swim!!

Wednesday Workout:
Rode my shiny road bike the 1.1 miles from my house to the gym
Swimming 1800 yards :: I had written out a workout, but when I got to the gym, I realized that I had left that workout in my living room (not helpful).  So, I came up with this little workout while I was swimming my 300 yd warm-up.  It is pretty low rest, so that ups the intensity.  You'll notice that most of it is multiples of 200 yards.  This makes it easier to calculate the total yardage.
           300 swim 
           4 x 75 kick-drill-swim     IM order
      Main Set
           200 swim - 20 seconds rest
           2 x 100 - 20 seconds rest
           4 x 50 - 20 seconds rest
           8 x 25 - 20 seconds rest
      Kick Set
           2 x 100 fly kick on back (fantastic ab workout!)
      Cool Down
           200 easy swim
Rode by shiny road bike the 1.1 miles from the gym to my house
Several hours prior to my fantastic, difficult, and (surprisingly) relaxing workout, I ate one of the most amazing flavor combinations that I've ever tasted in a salad.  Without further adieu, I introduce, The Beet Salad from The Bronze Cafe at The Center.  It consists of mixed greens (seemed like a baby spring mix) with roasted beets, quinoa, carrots, candied walnuts (woah, yum), goat cheese, and topped with lemon vinaigrette.
In the background you can see several delicious sandwiches that my friends ordered and a refreshing cup of watermelon juice.  I want one of everything on the menu, seriously.
In case you're not fortunate to live near (or visit often) Las Vegas, I found several recipes online that would probably mimic this reasonably well.

  1. Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Candied Walnuts (by Guilty Kitchen) 
  2. Roasted Beet Salad with Candied Walnuts (Food Network)
  3. Baby Greens with Goat Cheese, Beets and Candied Pecans (by SkinnyTaste)
1. How regularly do you do a cross-training workout?
     (If you count hiking, which I do, I cross-train 1-2 times per week)

2. For the bicycle enthusiasts out there:  Do you ride to burn calories, for transportation, or for both?
     (Both. I drive a gas-guzzler, so avoid driving when I can. Burning calories is an added bonus)

3.  I know not everyone loves beets.  Are you pro beets or not so much?
     (I don't love them alone, but they are SO good with goat cheese!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A new toy and re-tiring an old one

I had a fairly exciting day, at least I think so.  

No, I did not randomly decide to buy myself a new laptop . . . my wonderful, amazing husband randomly decided to buy me a new laptop!!!  
I maybe, kind of, sort of gave him a tiny bit of a hard time because my co-worker got flowers the other day and I felt left out.  Then, around 12:30 this afternoon, I got a wonderful email saying that my new MacBook Air was waiting for me to pick up at the Apple Store!!
#MyFavoriteFruit #Apple #MacBookAir
Don't get me wrong, I'm crazy excited about my new toy. In fact, my writing this blog from it now!  That being said, I went through a lot with my soon-to-be-retired MacBook Pro and I'm slightly sad to be saying good-bye to it.  

I purchased it a few weeks before I started law school in 2009.

My MacBook Pro was with me through all six semesters of law school (and six rounds of finals).
This is definitely from finals time....notice the multiple sources of caffeine?
Law school forced me to miss the birth of my adorable nephew, so I first met him over FaceTime on my MacBook Pro
Look how tiny he is!!
Around that same time, law school also forced me to miss my younger sister's college graduation.  But, never fear, my MacBook Pro was there to stream her graduation
If my baby sister is old enough to graduate from undergrad that makes me.....old.
Then, it was really there for me while studying for the bar exam (among the most stressful times of my life)
My friend's cat made an excellent study buddy.
Actually, she just made me want to take naps all the time.
And finally, last summer, I took the bar exam on my MacBook Pro.
Hitting submit after typing out the bar exam was one of the most terrifying and, at the same time, relieving experiences of my life
I'll certainly always cherish the time I had with my MacBook Pro, but it is time to move on and embrace the MacBook Air chapter of my life =)

Monday Workout:
4 mile run (treadmill)
My legs felt a little stiff from Sunday's run, but I did this as sort of an interval workout.  After my warmup, I did 800m repeats at 9:20 pace (10K pace) with 400m recover between at ~10:30 pace.  Then a little cool down.  After I got back to my apartment, I did the Washboard Abs Challenge workout by Amanda Russell.  
Tuesday Workout:

3 mile run
Feeling a little bit more sore than I was on Monday.  I tried to do three Yasso 800s at 4:30, but the soreness made it so the third Yasso was not that successful, but I completed the run and felt pretty good about it.  Afterwards, I did about 30 minutes of strength training (calves, hamstrings, glutes, curls, tricep extensions, lower back, planks)

Be honest, my obsession with my MacBook Pro is abnormal, right?

Do you have a favorite youtube workout video?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sunday RUNday

Sunday, I had a pretty disappointing workout.  I meant to wake up and start running by 7:30 (8:00 at the latest).  Well, that didn't happen.  I finally convinced myself to get out of bed around 8:45am thanks to my always inspiring SweatPink sisters:
So, I finally left my apartment around 9:15am, setting out to complete an 8-mile run.  I know I say this all the time, and y'all are probably sick of it, but it is HOT here and leaving at 9:15 for an 8-mile run is waaaaaaayyyy too late (go ahead, roll your eyes, I'll wait).  I seriously thought I'd be okay because I had my camelback with ~2L of water.  

I was wrong.

The first 2-3 miles weren't that bad, but by the end of the 3rd, I was actually feeling pretty sick (probably b/c most of it was uphill).  I walked most of mile 4 (also uphill).  I did better with mile 5 (because it was back down the hill).  But by the beginning of mile 6, the sun was beating down on me and I just felt like I was baking.  I tried to be tough for the rest of the run, but to make a long story short, there was just a lot of walking. But, I did get the miles on my legs and I guess that's what really matters at this point.

I was pretty down on myself about my failings as a runner, but after some reflection, I had this revelation that as long as I'm out there putting one foot in front of another and taking care of the body that God gave me, I'm doing what I can.  I was pushed in the heat and the next hot run will be a little bit easier because I did so.

Slightly unrelated - after I got back from my run, I tried the Berry Zym Tablet from my July StrideBox and WOAH!!!  I felt like a new person after drinking the whole thing down.

Even more unrelated - I had an *awesome* lunch.  On the off chance that any of you visit the fantastic Las Vegas, I really must insist that you eat a meal at Viva Las Arepas!  What you see below is the delightful Perico Arepa and the Perico Arepa (left - scrambled egg, onion, tomato, ham & cheese) and the Coconut & Cheese Pastelito (right). 
Via Wikipedia:  an arepa is a flatbread made of ground corn dough or cooked flour, very prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela.
Please, please check out Viva Las Arepas.  You won't regret it; Yelp even backs me up.

Did you run on Sunday or was it a day off?

What time do you normally start your weekend morning runs?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

July StrideBox Review

About a week ago I posted (with great excitement) this picture as I opened my July StrideBox.
I've been meaning to post a review of the contents, but this past week sort of got away from me.  So, without further ado, here are the contents of this awesome, running-treats filled package.

#1 - SpiderTech - X Spider - Pre-Cut Kinesiology Tape
I've never tried Kinesiology Tape before, but I see people running with it on all the time.  Fortunately, I haven't been injury plagued lately (as I'm knocking on every wooden surface in my apartment).  However, the description for this literally says "[s]tick it where it hurts" and my husband sometimes have pain on the outside of his knees, so maybe he'll be my guinea pig on this one.

#2 - Surge All Natural Energy Gel by Body Glove
I'm usually pretty partial to clif shots and to the powerbar gel, mostly because I like the ones with caffeine.  So, I have to tell you, I'm a little skeptical of what the description describes as "long lasting natural energy" that comes from "protein and green tea."  Nevertheless, I'm going to give it a try on one of my upcoming runs because the consistency feels comparable to the thinner energy gels like power bar and this particular packet is in my favorite flavor, double espresso.

#3 - Fabulous Ginger Peach - Energy Bar by Bearded Brothers
From the Bearded Brothers website:  "Bearded Brothers is an organic snackfood company, located in beautiful Austin, Texas."  I've heard wonderful things about this company from several bloggers, but I think I heard about them first from Olive to Run.  I am particularly intrigued by this flavor combination and plan on eating it as a reward after my long run tomorrow.

#4 - Apple Pie Nutrition Bar by PR*Bar
Before this StrideBox, I was unfamiliar with this brand of nutrition bar, but I gotta tell you, if this bar actually tastes like apple pie, I'm sold.  Also, the bar is 200 calories, which isn't terrible for a protein bar that has 15g of protein.

#5 - StrideBox Water Bottle & Hydration Sampler Package 
(Maggie was feeling neglected and wanted to be in the picture)
I've really been LOVING all the nuun that I ordered a few weeks ago.  I think that having the flavorings have really increased my water intake, which is a very good thing.  Perfect timing StrideBox!  Don't get me wrong, I really love the three flavors of nuun that I've tried so far (lemon-lime, tropical, grape raspberry).  That being said, I'm looking forward to giving these other electrolyte powders/tablets.

1. Lemon Lime Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydration Mix
2. Grape Berry HDX Hydration Mix
3. Tri-Berry GU Brew
4. Grape nuun Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs
5. Berry Zym Sport Drink Tablets
6. Tropical Punch Healthy To Go! Acai Energy Drink Mix

The only brand of these drink mixes I've tried is nuun (and I am *very* excited to try the new flavor), but I'm super pumped to try out the Zym.  Zym appears to differ from these other mixes in that it contains TONS of B12.  

I'll definitely be washing down my Bearded Brothers bar with one of these electrolyte drinks after my long run tomorrow.

Have you ever tried kinesiology tape?  Does it actually work?

Do you replenish your electrolytes with gatorade or have you tried these powders/tablets?

Favorite way to re-fuel during a long run/race?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Desperate for Motivation & Inspiration

Historically, I haven't been the best at balancing fitness with hectic times at school/work.  Don't get me wrong, I would always prefer to go for a run, do a little lifting, and go for a swim.  However, obligations and my love of eating on a regular basis usually persuade me that school/work must come first and this necessarily requires me to spend most of my spare time sleeping to rest up for the next day of school/work.  Not a very healthy balance, but sometimes this is just reality.  Surely this is a reality that most people face at certain points, right? please?
I feel ya buddy... sometimes, life is just exhausting
At some point yesterday afternoon, I realized just how desperately I was in need of some good ole fashioned inspiration and motivation.
I don't know why I was scouring the internet for inspiration from random strangers when I inherited half my genetic make-up from the biggest inspiration I've ever encountered:  my mother (sorry daddy, this one's for mommy)
(circa 1984)
admittedly, both my mother and I have aged slightly (only slightly) since this picture
In fact, I got home this evening and decided to zone out by clicking around Facebook and look what I found!!!

Way to go Mama!!!
When I saw this, my heart was swelling with pride of my mother.  Actually it still is.  My mother has always spent her time making sure everyone else was taken care of and I am *so* happy that she is finally taking time for herself and her health.

Things like this make me really sad that I don't live closer.  I am so excited that my mom and I have yet another thing in common (not that we needed another thing).  I would *love* to go for a run with my mother (and I intend to go for a run with her in the near future).

My inspirational mother coupled with the rather inspirational weather we've been having here (I don't think it got over 100 today) have me excited to get some more miles on my legs starting today!!

Who in your life inspires you to keep running when you feel like you're in a rut?

What are your strategies for fitting in your workouts when other areas of your life become busy?

Quick:  Favorite Song on your running playlist.
       (Miley Cyrus, We Can't Stop - judge if you want, I still love Miley)