Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In between the start and finish line

So for those of you who read my blog, you know I love running. And for those of you who know me, you know I love talking.

So you can imagine how I can get when I talk about running. I can easily get carried away.

You can't say you haven't been warned...

Alright, let's rewind back to this post, where I glazed over some of what went on race day. For those of you interested in the actual running part itself, allow me to carry on with some more deets of what went down in between the start and finish line.

Image via here
Starting line: As I previously mentioned, I heard the gun go off as I was exiting a porta potty and had to rush back to the crowd at the starting line. They had it sectioned off into groups according to your pace: 5 min/milers up in the front continuing to the 12 min/milers in the back. I ended up pushing my way to somewhere in between 10-11min/miler group, which was problem #1. I would have to spend the next 2 miles trying to work my way up to my 9min/mile pace group, which was NOT as easy as I thought it would be.

Miles 1-2: I continued trying to make my way through the crowds. I felt really strong, knowing it was largely due to adrenaline and the slower pace of the group. But gosh, it was wonderful to be able to look around at all the sky scrapers in the financial district of my home city. So wonderful, in fact, that I had a brief moment of overwhelming emotions and felt that burn in my eyes right before tears form. Yeah, I know - pathetic/ridiculous/over-dramatic; but I totally soaked it up for all it was worth. And then out of nowhere came this manhole cover sticking out a good 1-2", and before I knew it I was down on the pavement on all fours. I pushed myself right back up and continued on my way, but I could feel the burn in my knees that let me know I definitely broke skin and was bleeding. All I could think is how lucky I was to not have been trampled or severely injured. I reached the Mile 2 marker, saw 22 minutes on the timer, and thought "OH CRAP!" I knew if I continued at this pace, then I would not meet my goal of finishing in under 2 hours. So I picked it up big time.

Mile 3: I made it across the Longfellow bridge to Memorial Drive. There was a nice breeze coming off the water at this point and plenty of shade, which was nice. Little did I know, this shade was to be short-lived. I still felt really strong, which I was thankful for.

Mile 4: I had skipped the first 2 water stations, so I opted to stop and grab some water, Gatorade, and a GU gel pack. I start to think, "these GU things are genius. Why didn't I think of this? I could be a millionaire right now! Wow this vanilla bean flavor is delicious." I try not to suck it down all at once, and I carry it the next few miles with me. All of a sudden, police cars and motor cycles are coming down the other direction on Memorial Drive. I realize this must be the leading male pack. Everyone (spectators, volunteers, racers) start cheering uncontrollably, myself included. There were two guys in the lead, running ~5 min/mile, and I felt my jaw drop just a tad when I saw how fast they passed us. I then start to try to calculate how much further ahead in the course they are than me, try to estimate their completion time, and I feel instantly envious. I was only about 1/3 of the way done, and they were already on their return journey. It made me run a little faster.

Mile 5: The course is not very well shaded anymore, and the sun is beating down. I can feel the sweat building up on my upper body. I keep looking over to the runners traveling down the opposite way on Memorial Drive and can't help wish it was me. Damn you, switch back courses! I also look up at one point and see this 70-year-old woman of steel. No lie, this lady was at least 70, no more than 5% body fat, and trudging along in tiny shorts and a sports bra. If that isn't inspiration to pick up the pace, I don't know what is.

Mile 6: The turnaround point is so close! There are more spectators out cheering us on at this point, which makes me smile. There are little kids reaching their hands out for a clap, which kind of tugs at my heart strings a bit and reminds me of when I used to watch the marathon as a young'n from the end of my grandparent's street in Ashland. I'm feeling really strong when I reach the turn around point, and I wave to some of the spectators cheering us on. I make sure to grab some water at the next station.

Mile 7: Over half-way done! I hit one of the few hills on the course at this point, and it definitely took some extra energy to get over it. There hasn't been good shade in almost 3 miles, and the sun is strong. I see a good number of people sneak over to the shaded grass in the sidelines. Some people are not looking so good: spitting uncontrollably, bent over trying to catch their breath, and some even throwing up. I feel very lucky to be still feeling strong, so I push on.

Mile 8: There's another Gatorade station, so I grab some of that, more water, and another GU gel pack...delicious strawberry banana this time. I've managed to keep very well hydrated at this point, which was one of my biggest concerns coming into the race, so I mentally pat myself on the back. I also happened to look around at this point and noticed how many (for lack of a better word) overweight people there were still running strong. I have an overwhelming urge to go up and tell each one how absolutely inspirational they are. Instead, I use it as fuel to pick up my own pace.

Miles 9-10: My legs are starting to feel a little tired when I hit the mile 9 marker, but I silently rejoice that there's only 4 miles to go. Aaaand then, I hit the Longfellow bridge again, which is the beginning to a ~2 mile incline. Not going to lie, I kind of feel not so great as I make my way over the bridge, and when I get to the top, I'm a tad light-headed. My legs are feeling it, I am mentally tired, and running directly into the sun for the past 4 miles has been quite intense.

Mile 11: For the first time all race, I have the overwhelming desire to stop and walk once I see the mile 11 marker, but I know it's more of a mental thing than a physical thing. So I keep on running, running, running. When I reach the commons, there are a lot more spectators on the sidelines, which is a great adrenaline booster. I grab my last water and Gatorade, and make a deal with myself to really push it the last 2 miles.

Mile 12: I can't really describe how I feel when I see this marker because I'm pretty sure my mind blacks out. The only thing my body wants to do is get to that finish line and as fast as possible. I make my loop around through Government Center, make sure to soak in the views, smile for cameras on the way, and give thumbs up to the spectators cheering us on. I also realize I'm totally going to cross the finish line in under 2 hours time. Hell yeah!

Mile 13: Up until this point, the first 3 miles were my favorite part of the race, but let's be honest. That last 0.1 mile is UNBELIEVABLE. Cresting the hill of Seaport Blvd and looking out at the last bit of the course reminds me what it's all about. I am pretty tired at this point, but surprisingly, not as exhausted as I anticipated. Maybe it was seeing the end point for the first time, or the crowd cheering, or the nice downhill, or 'Call Me Maybe' blaring in my headphones...or just pure adrenaline, I HAUL it to the finish.

Finish line: We are directed by volunteers to go into the World Trade Expo center, where there are water/Gatorade/snack stands set up. I am not much of an immediate post-run eater, so I opt for just a water and Gatorade, then exit the building. Brent comes and meets me, gives me the greatest congratulatory hug ever, and we walk around for a bit to cool down my muscles. I stretch a bit in one of the nearby parks before we hop in the car and head home, where I proceed to stretch another good half hour. I'm still convinced this is why I was not sore at all afterwards.

In typical Jen fashion, rather than spend the day recovering and resting, we head back into Boston for the day to celebrate. I definitely was exhausted by the end of the day, and Brent captured a less than desirable picture of me passed out on the couch once we got home, but it was SO worth it.

I've taken the last two days off from exercise. The last time I went 2 consecutive days without working out was almost 9 months ago - seriously. I planned to take the week off from running altogether, but let's be serious here...I kind of knew that wasn't a realistic plan. So I'll be back at it hitting the pavement tonight, just a few miles. It will sure be nice to get back into my regular non-training workout schedule.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's a wrap, folks

I thought it would be kind of cool to do a recap of the past 12 weeks that I've spent training for this half marathon. But first, I'll start with the Week 12 recap:

I ran a total of 26.6 miles, including 2 strength training sessions, a whole lot of stretching, and of course, the big race! Here's my week 12 training summary:

So onto some of the 12 week training highlights...

My mileage began at 14.75 miles during week 1 and capped at 34 miles during week 10.

My weight stayed within 118.0 - 120.5 lbs over the 12 weeks. I was 119.0 lbs on race day morning.

My shortest training run was 2 miles (week 12), and the longest training run was 12 miles (week 10)

My fastest long run was during week 10: 12 miles in 1:47:03

Mileage of Month #1 (Weeks 1-4): 63.65

Mileage of Month #2 (Weeks 5-8): 106.8

Mileage of Month #3 (Weeks 9-12): 109.2

...Which means I ran a total of 279.65 miles over 12 weeks.

Well, that's it. It's a wrap, folks.

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's over already?!

WOW. Wow Wow Wow.

That is the perfect word to describe my first half marathon experience.

I was at the receiving end of many interesting questions after the race, ranging from to "Do you think you'll ever do another one?"(aren't you just dying to know the answer to that one??) to "How are you even moving right now?" and then my personal favorite "Did you get sick? Did you throw up after??" (thanks, Mom).

So I guess I'll start with the info you've all been waiting for...

I totally achieved my goal, guys!! My official race time was 1:58:31. I placed 409th out of 1394 in my division, which isn't AMAZING but at the same time, it's kind of cool to think I placed in the top 30% of my age group!

Now for the race weekend deets.

Saturday was extremely hot out...which gave me the perfect opportunity to wear my new lil dress I found at Target a few weeks ago. With a high bun of course.

Brent, Allyson, and I all ventured into Boston for the pre-race day expo so that I could pick up my race bib and check out some of the vendor gadgets. 

The must-have pre-race photo
The Seaport World Trade Center was filled with free drinks and discounted running gear. I came to learn that I do NOT like coconut all. I took a sip and almost died. So gross. I took a second sip and decided some things just aren't worth the health benefits. So I threw that sucker right out. I also learned I am kind of in love with Odwalla Superfood fruit smoothies. And you should go try it. Just close your eyes when you drink it because it's this really undesirable green color. It worked for me!

Allyson and Brent were kind enough to be my support eaters on Saturday. We sat outside at the Atlantic Beer Garden for lunch, where I consumed this pre-race day carb-o-licious meal:

Tomato and Mozzarella panini with curly fries MMMM
We then continued to tour the surrounding Seaport area, which has somehow become one of the most beautiful areas of Boston over the last year or so. It's starting to look more and more like Chicago actually, and my friends know how much I LOVE Chicago. It made me feel like a tourist in my own city with all the pictures I ended up taking.

Brent, Ally, and I deemed it to be our new "go to" area this summer - it's FULL of outdoor/patio bars! 

Smith and Wollensky's outdoor lounge

Rumbar's new outdoor bar at the Intercontinental 
Ally was very excited to be able to wear her new hat! haha 
Anxiously awaiting our blueberry lemonades in the heat 
Walking around Boston was the best thing I could have done on Saturday because it really got my mind off the fact that I had to run 13.1 miles the next day. I had a big bowl of s'ghetti then went to bed at a record-breaking 9pm on Saturday night, and I think I had the best sleep of my life. Then race day went something like this:

5:00am - alarm goes off. I gear up in this:

5:30am - eat a slice of wheat toast with peanut butter, 8 oz glass of gatorade, and 8 oz glass of water; stretch for a bit; make sure everything is packed.

6:00am - head out to the Seaport World Trade. We hit traffic in the tunnel, so of course I had a mini freak out that I was going to miss the start, but it all worked out.

6:30am - arrive at starting line; the lines for the bathrooms were OUTRAGEOUS.

7:00am - The starting gun goes off when I'm leaving the (absolutely disgusting) porta potty, so I have to RUN to the start line...not the best way to start the race.

~9:00am - I cross the finish line. Brent was able to get a few shots from far away:

I'm the one in the orange tank top just crossing the last blue line

I lot happened in between 7-9am, which I think deserves its own post. Two hours is a long time to be spent doing anything, and I have to say, your mind wanders to the most ridiculous things, as I learned while recanting some random thoughts I had during the race to some of my friends afterwards. So I'll be sure to share that with you. Oh, and the part where I fell at mile 2? Yeah, I'll share that, too.

All in all, it was a truly amazing experience, and I would TOTALLY do it again! Now I know why people say these things are addictive. I mean, look at how excited I was after!

Friday, May 25, 2012

What happened to April showers brings May flowers??

To say I have been slightly obsessed with checking the weekend forecast is an understatement.

Last night, I went to bed seeing Sunday would be "party cloudy with scattered t-storms, 20% chance of precipitation". I could totally handle that, considering the race starts at 7am, and any t-storms that might pop up would likely be in the afternoon once the temperature has reached its high.

This morning, I log in and see THIS:

Let me pause for a moment.



Don't get me wrong - I'm all for a running a few fun miles in light rain. A few. Not 13. At least it's only 40% chance?

Mother Nature, please do not let me down on Sunday. Let there be no morning precipitation.


With that said...only 2 miles of training lie between me and the Run to Remember, folks.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Race Day Gear

I've been trying to figure out what to wear for the race on Sunday - which by the way, is only 3 days away now AHHH!

For those of you who know me, you know my love for TJ Maxx - particularly their workout gear section. Guys, you can get some pretty great brands of clothing in there for cheap. All you need is a little patience. I do know I'll be wearing this Adidas running shirt on Sunday that I scored at TJ Maxx last month:

It's lightweight, breathable, does not ride up - and it's BRIGHT ORANGE. Perfection.

Obviously, I'll be rockin' my new kicks, which are fully broken in now:

Since I'm one of those girls whose inner thighs will always touch, I typically like to run in nice smooth running capris to avoid any kind of friction my inner thighs may produce in shorts. I had planned on wearing one of my many pairs of running capris, however these lululemon shorty shorts intrigue me. I will be making a trip to their store on Friday to give them a shot. Reviewers claim they do not ride up at all or cause chaffing - two of the biggest reasons I prefer capris to shorts. So we'll seeeee.

I will surely be wrapping my feet for this race as well. I started to notice in the longer distance runs, the tendency of blisters to form was a lot higher. The excessive sweat and constant rubbing creates a pretty ideal environment for blisters to form. Not the prettiest thing, but I've found that wrapping my feet with some light gauze pad and medical tape completely eliminated this problem:

I'm definitely one of those people who have to listen to music (loudly) when I run so that I don't concentrate on the sound of my breath. I've been using my iPod arm band through training, but I have to say, once I get to sweatin' glistenin', this silly thing isn't all that comfortable. The band starts to rub, and I find myself having to tighten it as it will slide. My wonderful friend spotted this fanny shadow pack at City Sports on sale, so I think I'm going to go with that - plus it will make my iPhone a lot more accessible for taking pictures during the race! And I'm hoping the pocket will be big enough to fit my inhaler in it.

I'll also be bringing a bag with me to leave at the finish line that contains water, Gatorade, chapstick (a MUST!), extra hair elastics, a towel (yuno, to clean my "glisten" since girls don't sweat), an extra pair of shorts to change into after the race, and a banana. Bananas have become my new favorite post-run snack. Brent will be there, too, to cheer me on and see me cross the finish line, which absolutely means the world to me.

What are some of your go-to race day essentials?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Looking Ahead

Lately, I find myself (quite often) saying, "when I'm done training for this half marathon, I'm going to _____."

In that blank, I have inserted the following:

1.) Treat myself to a much needed visit to the salon for a pre-wedding snip. Case and point:

2.) Bite the bullet and get a pedicure. Runners' feet are surely not the prettiest. And long distances seem to have really taken a toll on mine. Blisters and dry heels will never be "in".

3.) Try bikram yoga. I've always wanted to do it, and there's a studio less than a mile from my work. It's been calling my name.

4.) Go for long walks after dinner. After a 6 mile run, the last thing I feel like doing really is continuing on with a 3 mile walk. And I kind of miss it.

5.) Book a massage appointment. ASAP.

6.) Get back into kickboxing 2-3 times per week. In 40 minutes, you can get a total body workout - plus, it makes me feel badass.

7.) Start reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I have banned myself from reading during training because I have no self control when it comes to books. I may or may not go on Amazon once a day and hover my mouse over the "Buy Now with 1-Click" button to send to my Kindle; but I have not actually clicked it yet. Now, if that isn't self control, I don't know what is.

8.) Throw myself into the rest of wedding planning. I have a few more small projects I need to start, including booking my calligrapher and sending out invites. September is approaching fast!

9.) Conquer the world. And by world, I mean this recipe. Oh, and this one, too.

10.) Reorganize and redecorate my apartment. Brent and I got some pretty amazing gifts at my bridal shower, and I can't wait to utilize everything!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Week 11 Training Summary

Oh em gee. Less than 1 week until the half marathon.


Yeah, that's right. I am happy excited enthusiastic psyched  STOKED (to say the least!) I was driving down Memorial Drive on Friday and started to get that tingly anxious feeling to get out and run it. While listening to Call Me Maybe of course. Foreshadowing a bit for Sunday, no doubt.

Anyways, week 11 was all about tapering. I went from running 34 miles the week before to a total of only 19.5 miles this week. I think my body was a tad confused, but happy nonetheless. I didn't get to sneak in my 2nd strength session this weekend as I planned (busy weekend is an understatement), so I'll make sure to get that in tonight. I predict a LOT of stretching and/or yoga going on this upcoming week. Some people say stretching doesn't do anything for them - well I can assure you, that is not the case for me. My legs will bring me a lot further with much less effort if they are limber.

Here's my Week 11 Training Summary:

As for the rest of my weekend - it was absolutely AMAZING. Honestly, I am so blessed to have the family and friends that I do (I love you all!). I am dying to post about my bridal shower, but I need to gather pictures from the attendees beforehand. I don't know why I thought I would be unoccupied enough to snap pictures the entire time. If my hands weren't holding a mimosa, they were holding a cupcake, wrapping paper, gift, or bacon. So stay tuned!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Baby, I'm about to have me some fun

I don't think it's possible for me to be more excited about this weekend than I am this very moment.

Wanna know why?

Lots of reasons! 

1) Brent's mom and aunt are coming into town for the weekend from Michigan! I took the afternoon off from work and will shortly be heading out to go pick them up from the airport with Brent. We're planning to take them out for lunch (possibly at Top of the Hub - can't beat the view, especially with today's clear skies!) and sight-see around Boston for the day. Sometimes, it's just so much fun being a tourist for the day in your own city.

2) Holy cow, have you checked out the weather for this weekend? Spring perfection, I tell ya!

3) Our cake tasting is tomorrow at 11am. The moment I have been waiting for all my life. Don't even pretend like finding your dress cake tasting isn't the best part of planning a wedding.

4) While we're down in the Plymouth area, we're going to take Brent's mom and aunt to see our wedding venue. Which means we FINALLY get to see the reception tent up!

5) My bridal shower is on Sunday!!! And I'm in for a surprise - I can't wait to see what my bridesmaids and mom have been secretly working on over the past few months. It is going to be so wonderful!

6) My long runs are over, so I won't be spending 2 hours on Sunday running! The little things, right?

7) In just a few hours, my weekend will officially begin, and I will be doing plenty of this:

So cheers to the weekend! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Black Bean & Sweet Potato Quesadilla

Aaaand I have here for you today another recipe from my favorite blog, Eat Live Run: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas.

I tried Jenna's recipe a few months back and totally made the sweet potatoes way too spicy for my liking. My lips were BURNING after 3 bites (I may have gone a little too heavy on the chili powder and cayenne peppers - woops). So I amended it a little and made sure to not make the same mistake this time around. And guess what...they came FAB!

In my opinion, this was just the perfect meal following my tough 5 mile hill run yesterday. One of these quesadillas is packed with fiber and protein, not to mention they taste delicious (especially smeared with some refreshing salsa!)

And HEY! If you've got any leftover sweet potatoes and black beans after this meal, save them to make these Veggie Frittata Muffins

Side note: you can use whatever brand tortilla you prefer, however if you are watching calorie or carb intake, I highly recommend trying Joseph's Tortillas, made with flax, oat bran, and whole wheat flour:
They contain less than 50% of the carbs and half the calories that your standard flour tortillas have, and honestly, they are just SO GOOD. I don't even buy any other brand anymore! The nutritional info below was calculated using Joseph's tortillas, so just know if you use traditional flour tortillas for this instead, your calories will increase by about 140.

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Quesadillas

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, small diced
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon (special ingredient I decided to add)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp olive oil
1 C shredded reduced fat Mexican blend cheese
4 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
4-6 tortillas
salsa or hot sauce for serving

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a large bowl, combine diced sweet potatoes, cumin, cinnamon, chili powder, sea salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and oil. Toss well to combine. Spread sweet potatoes out on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast for 25-30 minutes until very tender. Make sure to stir halfway through roasting time. 
  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Place one tortilla at bottom and spread ~1/4 cup roasted sweet potatoes over the top. Next, add about 1/4 cup black beans, 1/4 cup cheese, and 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro. Place another tortilla on top. Press another heavy skillet over the top of the quesadilla while cooking.

Makes 2-3 quesadillas. I like to eat half a quesadilla with ~2 Tbsp salsa and a side of fresh vegetables. Enjoy!

Nutritional Info:
Serving size: one whole quesadilla
Calories: 335 | Fat: 12g | Fiber: 17g | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 26g

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Summer Bikini Challenge

Well, it's that time of the year again. We're less than two weeks away from Memorial Day weekend - that wonderful time of year where seasonal summer businesses reopen, covers make their way off of pools, and people begin trekking to local beaches to soak up the sun.

Which means it's bathing suit season.

Me? I've always loved summer weather. I don't mind the heat (humidity I can do without, but can't everyone?), and there's nothing better than being able to leave the house without having to wear a jacket. There's something about warm, sunny weather that makes me feel invincible almost.

Except for that damn bathing suit.

What is it with bathing suits? For 20-something females, we've got it tough in some ways. If you wear a one-piece, you're basically throwing yourself right into the middle-aged woman category 20 years early. If you wear a bikini, you're left completely vulnerable - every unflattering curve, dimple, and crease is there for all to see. And we all know it's all about the way the light hits, ladies.

And even after having shed excess weight through the past year, I still dread wearing that bikini. Putting it on always makes me feel like there's something more I could have done (exercise and diet-wise) through the year that would make me feel less self-conscious. Maybe if I had cut out alcohol for a month; or worked out 6 days a week instead of 5; or cut out desserts - then maybe my legs would be leaner, arms more toned, and stomach tighter.

But you know what? Just because bathing suit season STARTS in 2 weeks does not mean you only have 2 weeks to get into the best shape of your life. There is no deadline for being healthier. Sure, you may not have lost those 10 lbs you set out to lose before summer, but there is nothing stopping you from continuing to live a healthy lifestyle THROUGH the summer.

And with that said, here my challenge to you:

  • Take a 'before' picture of you in your bathing suit by Memorial Day. 
  • Use the summer to keep up with your goals - 3 months is a long time! With warmer weather, I always find it easier to get out and be active. Be adventurous with the produce this season - experiment with new recipes. If you know you have an event coming up on the weekend, limit your alcohol intake and monitor calories through the week so that when you splurge on the weekend, it's not setting you back.
  • Finally on Labor Day, take an 'after' picture in the same bathing suit you wore for your 'before' picture. I bet you'll be surprised what you've been able to accomplish in the 3 months of summer!
I'm taking part in this challenge as well, so here are my 'before' shots!

Side - BEFORE 
Front - BEFORE

Good luck!!

Monday, May 14, 2012

I love Wineries

For those who live in New England like I do, you know there's no point in checking the upcoming weekend forecast before Thursday, because chances are it will change at least twice before then. So I {im)patiently waited until Friday to check it, and I was psyched to see sun and warmth! 

I had a million and one errands to run Saturday morning (oil change, car inspection, clothing return, shoe shopping, trip to Michael's for wedding shtuff), so I left the apartment before 8am and was done by noon with plenty of time to spare to enjoy the afternoon! 
Except I couldn't figure out for the life of me what to do with the day, especially since lately, I don't often have more than two hours of time where I can just spur of the moment decide to go out and do something. And that's where my lovely fiance comes in. Brent is kind of a genius at times. And he can be a clutch decision maker. So when he threw out the idea to visit Nashoba Valley Winery, I completely dove right into it. 

If you haven't been to Nashoba Valley Winery, it's PERFECT for a spring or early summer weekend day visit. Located in Bolton, it's a bit of a drive outside of Boston, but if you take Rte. 117 the whole way there, it's a beautifully scenic, almost refreshing drive through conservation land, gorgeous colonial houses, farms, orchards, and plenty of local ice cream stands to stop at on the way home!

When you do finally make your way there...

For $5/person, you can purchase a wine tasting, where you get to taste 5 wines of your choosing. They have a pretty wide selection, including dry whites + reds, off-dry and semi-sweets, as well as dessert and fortified wines. They also make spirits and beer, but I recommend sticking to the wine. They've been doing it a lot longer, and in my opinion, it shows in the quality. 

Brent and I participated in our tasting and decided our mutual favorite was one of their dry whites, called Vignoles. It reminded us of a mix between Sauvignon Blanc (my all-time fav white!) and Riesling and can best be described as rich with tropical notes of pineapple, melon, honey, and citrus. If you like Sauvignon Blanc and/or Riesling, you would love Vignoles. 

After the tasting, we proceeded to the wine store (obviously) and bought a couple bottles to take home with us. We also noticed a lot of the customers were buying bottles to take outside and drink at the picnic tables, so we decided to embrace the crowd. Genius, I tell ya. 

We cracked open our bottle of Vignoles and went to town...

Life is good :-)

Creeping on a wedding reception on the way pretty!

Me after 2 glasses of wine = even happier 

New shoes! Lucky find at TJ Maxx...

After our winery outing, I protested going home because I wanted to be outside and enjoy the sun some more. So we made our way back to Waltham to try out the roof-deck at Biagio. The weather could not have been more perfect! The patio overlooks the Charles River at Moody St. And the cocktails here are DELISH



Week 10 Training Summary

Less than 2 weeks to go! My last long run was this weekend, and now it's time to start tapering down the miles a bit until the race. Am I relieved? Ask me again in 2 weeks when I've crossed the finish line. Until then, I will be a ball of anxiety and excitement. Poor Brent!

I ran a total of 34 miles this week, including two strength workouts and lots of stretching. Here is a look at my Week 10 Training Summary:

Yesterday, I ran the furthest distance I ever have in my life - 12 miles, baby. I live less than 10 minutes from the Minuteman Bikeway, so I parked up in Lexington Center and set out on the path for a nice long run. I can't believe this is the first time I was on this trail - it is amazing! It's spacious, scenic, nicely shaded, paved, SAFE, and considerably flat compared to the terrain I'm used to running in Waltham. And at 9am before it got too hot out, it made for an absolutely perfect run!

And hey, guess what - I finished the run in 1 hour and 47 minutes!!! Pretty cool, right?? When I heard the voice of Map My Run take over my headphones to tell me my distance and time, I almost died! Up until mile 9, I was holding an average 8:34 mile pace, and I was feeling pretty great...until my hamstrings tightened up during mile 10, and I had to stop and walk twice to stretch out my muscle cramp.

My goal is to complete the half marathon in less than 2 hours. If I can manage to duplicate yesterday's performance, I will be able to meet my goal! Let's just hope my hamstrings cooperate better that day...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chile-Rubbed Shrimp

You know what I love? Shrimp.

I love it cocktail style; I love it sauteed in garlic and olive oil with a big bite of pasta; I love it coconut crusted and fried; I love it stuffed with breadcrumbs and more seafood; I love it grilled on skewers. I don't know what it is, but I can't seem to get enough of it these days.

Not only is it's super low calorie and packed with protein. 8 jumbo shrimp = 120 calories = 13 g protein.

Brent is very welcoming of my love for shrimp and only encouraged it more when he found this recipe on Epicurious (Recipe from here). We have yet to try the avocado corn salsa on the same recipe page, but when we do, I'll be sure to put it up here! This time, we served the shrimp with some delicious broccoli sauteed with garlic and topped with some fresh grated parmesan - highly recommended!

Chile-Rubbed Shrimp

16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (or if you're like us, just use a quality frozen pre-cooked brand)
1 Tbsp ancho chile powder
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • If using raw shrimp, rinse the shrimp under cold running water then blot dry with paper towel. If using frozen, follow the directions on the bag to thaw.
  • Combine all the dry spices in a mixing bowl and whisk to mix. 
  • Add the shrimp and toss to coat evenly. Stir in the olive oil. Allow shrimp to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour, covered.
  • Heat frying pan over medium-high heat (no need to add more oil since there is plenty of oil in the marinade!)
  • Transfer shrimp and marinade to the hot pan and cook 1 to 3 minutes per side (for raw, cook until pinkish white and firm to the touch; for frozen, cook time should be fairly quick, you only need to heat them really since they're already cooked). 

Serve with your favorite side dish and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Week 9 Training Summary

The half marathon is officially less than 3 weeks away, and much to my own surprise, I am getting extremely excited about it! The weekly long runs are so much less intimidating now, and my body has felt really strong. Of course I have been starting to get pre-race what if I suddenly injure myself the week before? Or what if I get the flu and can't function? Or what if the weathermen predict downpour conditions for the day of the race?! I probably sound a little crazy, but all of these things are possible! And I'm sure everyone else registered to run it are worried about the same things...right?

This week of my training program went very well! I ran a total of 29.1 miles, including two strength training workouts as well as a nice 40 minute yoga session the day before my 5K race to make sure I was nice and stretched out. Here is a summary of my Week 9 Training Workouts:

I was able to fit my long run in on Monday following my 5K. I had intended on doing only 8 miles, but I took a wrong turn somewhere during the route I had mapped out and ended up covering about 9 miles. I normally don't mind when this happens, but my legs were pretty tired from the race the day before and all the hills on the 9 mile route (see what I mean?)...

And I didn't have to stop and walk at all! I completed the run in ~81 minutes, averaging about a 9:10 mile.  
I only have one more long run before the race...good ol' 12 miler coming up this weekend! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Race Day Pet Peeves

I am extremely excited to be able to tell you guys....I placed 5th in my age group (19-29) in the Moody St 5K yesterday!! I was actually pretty surprised when I saw that I had because I didn't feel like I had really pushed myself much during the race, and my time was not a PR or anything. I think I might have just lucked out this time! And I also realized I was only 7 seconds behind placing 4th, which really fueled me to push myself more for the next race - I know I can do it!

I ran it with Brent and Ally, and we had an absolute blast! Both of them beat their PR's...Brent shaved 3 MINUTES off of his time for the St. Patty's 5K (AMAZING!!), and Ally cut 1 MINUTE from her time! So we had lots to celebrate post-race yesterday!

The course itself was very friendly to all levels of runners. This event was VERY family oriented, which meant hoards of children running, and also brings me to one of my BIGGEST race day pet peeves....

I'm not sure if any of you have run in events with middle school or high school-aged kids, but they have a tendency to run in groups so they can gossip through the run...I'm talkin' 7 people all side by side in one long line.

And while that may be fine for after school practices, when you're in a race of 1,000 people, the course is narrow, and there are runners trying to get around, these kids make it impossible to get by. I know that Brent and I spent most of mile 1 trying to get around these hoards of children, and I have to say, it was quite obnoxious. When I realized my pace was only 8:15 for the first mile, I knew I had my work cut out for me to try and get that back down to sub-8:00. It makes me appreciate the more "adult" 5K races I'm used to running, where people respect space a lot more!

Another pet peeve of races? When people who know they will be walking a good portion of it but line up at the 7:00 mile pace group anyways. This happens A LOT in these races, and I just don't get it. What ends up happening is these 12:00 milers begin running with the 7:00 milers, try to keep up with their pace, realize it's too fast after a few minutes, and then they suddenly STOP right in the middle of everyone to walk. I can't tell you how many people I have almost completely toppled over because of this!

Which brings me to my next racing annoyance - when people stop to walk in the middle of a group of runners in a course without looking around them first. This can be extremely dangerous. Believe me, I've been caught with a muscle strain, stomach cramping, shortness of breath, etc, and when this happens, you really should stop and walk rather than continue hurting yourself. However, rather than suddenly halting right in the middle of everyone, it's best to slowly make your way over to the outermost edge of the course and THEN stop to walk. It's much safer for all parties involved!

And one thing that doesn't happen often but is relatively annoying when it does...extreme PDA at the starting line. I just don't get it. I don't know about you, but when I'm about to embark on a race, the last thing I really feel like doing is engaging in a full on make out session with Brent. Don't get me wrong, a nice hug, hand squeeze, or kiss for encouragement is completely understandable. But I really don't want to see this girl in front of me's tongue down her boyfriend's throat as the race gun goes off. Please, just no.