I talk to God on the road. And He talks back.

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Pittsburgh Marathon: Training Week 15

Hey guys,
Sorry for being a little MIA lately! I meant to post this yesterday, but I came down with a cold and have been feeling like crap for the past 24 hours =\ I took some cold medicine today and am feeling a little better…we’ll see how the rest of the day goes. So briefly, this weekend…
Saturday morning I did my 20 miles solo on the Mount Vernon Trail because we had plans to see a movie around noon and I was nervous that I wouldn’t get back in time if I went running with CAR (the coach moved the run out to Maryland this weekend). It didn’t go nearly as well as my awesome 20 miler two weeks ago; it was hot, I was bored running by myself, my legs were tired from weight lifting the day before…but I got it done! Last long run in this training cycle!!
I rewarded myself with some homemade banana pudding afterwards (Fitnessista’s recipe – soo good). 001I proceeded to scarf down whatever leftovers I could find in the fridge, took my ice bath and showered, and then we were off to see the new Captain America movie. It was so great just resting my legs ( Sunday was reserved for chores, chores, chores because we got nothing done on Saturday. But I also managed to squeeze in a trip to DSW because I had a birthday coupon burning a hole in my pocket. 016 I only meant to buy a pair of boots, but the ones I liked were on the clearance rack, and I realized that if I spent just a little more, I could get $20 off my purchase (DSW was running a sale that weekend). And then these cuties caught my eye…015With my birthday coupon, 50% off on the boots, and $20 off the total, I spent a total of $50 and felt like a robber walking out ;)
Sunday was so busy that I was grateful when Shaun texted to let me know she couldn’t make it to Bikram, so I had an out too. I guess I’ll have to wait till next Sunday to use Mike’s gift though – a yoga/ gym bag!011 I’ll post a review later, but this bag is just what I was looking for – roomy and well-designed without being bulky or heavy.
So that was that – we didn’t end up going to Toki this weekend because we had the BBQ and I forgot that Cherry Blossom festival was this weekend, meaning the traffic into DC was insane! I think we’ll make it there either this weekend or next.

Pittsburgh Marathon: Week 15 Training Log

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 4.17.01 PM
Monday: 5 miles easy on the treadmill (10:35 pace)
Followed up the run with a strength training session – my upper body is getting strong again!

Tuesday:8 miles of hills outside (9:44 pace)
This was a pretty simple hill workout outside; I looked for the biggest hill I could find nearby, and ran up and down several times, with jogging breaks on flat ground in between as needed. I have no idea if I’m prepared for the big hill in the Pittsburgh course, but I figure I’m more prepared than I’d be with no hill training.

Wednesday: rest day!

Thursday: 4 X 800 meter interval workout outside
I hadn’t done intervals in a while, but I was craving a little speed so I did some 800s on the 4 Mile Run trail near Shirlington. Strong splits: 3:55, 3:50, 3:45, and 3:40. Given that I haven’t done any 800s in 2-3 months, not bad!

Friday:5 miles easy on the treadmill (10:35 pace)
Followed up the run with another strength training session, which I probably won’t be doing before long runs anymore, lol.

Saturday:20 miles solo outside (10:53 pace)
I’m not proud of my pace for this run, and given how tough it felt, it makes me nervous for the marathon. But not every training run needs to be awesome, and the important thing is that I got it done – no blisters or black toenails as a bonus! I know that the taper is going to work its magic so my body is more rested for the marathon than it was for this run.

Sunday: Shaun couldn’t make Bikram, so I skipped too :) Shoe shopping counts as a recovery activity, right?

And now I’m officially tapering! I am so ready to reduce my mileage (down to 32 miles this week), get my Saturday mornings back, and rest my body over the next three weeks. I’ve also got a bunch of fun cross- training activities to look forward to this week:
- barre at Biker Barre with Christina tonight
- hot yoga at Mind Your Body Oasis with Mike on Thursday
- Bikram at Bikram Tysons with Shaun on Sunday
Can’t wait! I’ll probably nix the strength training this week to compensate for the extra activity since I’m supposed to be dialing back on the exercise.

Marathon taper – love it or hate it?

Favorite place to shop for shoes? Usually Zappos online – it’s hard to find size 6 wide shoes in the store!

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Guide to Preventing Blisters

I am both scared and excited for this weekend. Scary part: the weather will be nearly 70 degrees for my last long run (20 miles, second one this training cycle), which sounds down right tropical after all my winter training. I think I’ll be stuffing my hydration pack with ice. Aside from the run, I’m sure I’ll appreciate the gorgeous warm weather!
weather 10Apr

goodbye puffy winter coat!

Fun part: we’ll be watching a movie in my favorite movie theater and eating Toki ramen. I love the Courthouse movie theater – it has huge reclining seats! I almost don’t care what I watch, but we’re going to see the new Captain America movie so I’m pretty excited about that too :)

Blister Prevention Products/ Techniques

Blisters on my feet have been my personal plague over the last year- I’m not talking small blisters, but big blood blisters after most long runs and some weekday runs. I haven’t figured out what the cause is, since I managed to train in 2012 without a single blister, but I know for a fact that the front of my feet are wide due to bunions. While blisters don’t stop me from running, they are quite painful and can slow me down because of the pain!

As a result, I’ve spent the last several months trying nearly every blister prevention product under the sun, and I’m happy to say that I’ve found a few that work for me so I’ve been running nearly blister-free lately! Here’s what’s been working (and not working) for me:
Light Protection (short runs – 4 to 6 miles)
-Blister-free socks by themselves do the trick here – I like Wrightsocks (double layer) and Balega (comfortable and plenty of ventilation). Thorlo socks have given me terrible blisters in the past so I don’t recommend them for the blister-prone.
-If I’m not wearing blister-free socks, I might stick some moleskin on the blister-prone areas of my feet, or spread a little Vaseline to reduce the friction.

Medium Protection (mid-distance runs – 6 to 12 miles)
- For this distance, I don’t run without a thick layer of Rungoo, which is a thick white cream that contains lanolin and wax to reduce friction. I then carefully roll on a pair of WrightSocks (the double layer kind), making sure not to rub the cream off.
Heavy Duty (half marathon and beyond)
- This distance took the most trial and error (and lots of Googling) before I started coming home without huge blood blisters.  The method that works 90% of the time for me is gel squares secured with medical grade tape (Tensoplast) on the blister-prone zones combined with double-layer Wrightsocks.  The gel squares serve as a cushion that prevents my feet from rubbing against the sock/ shoes, and also provide some lubrication to and cool off the skin.
This method has been working great – I had NO blood blisters after my 20 miler from a few weeks ago!

blister prevention heavyProducts that Haven’t Worked
So now the sad part – here are the products that haven’t worked for me at all. They all have great reviews on Amazon, so I’m sure there are people that swear by them, but the protection they offered was too light to be effective for me.
- Blistop – this is a spray that you apply on blister-prone areas that creates a layer of film to reduce friction.  A light application did nothing for me, so I tried creating thicker layers but that didn’t provide much protection either.  To the trash bin!
- 2Toms Sport Shield Roll-on – I had high hopes for this product because I liked the easy, mess-free application of the roll-on! Unfortunately, I think the product rubbed off on my socks pretty quickly, and I didn’t find the coating to be very buildable (I couldn’t apply a very thick coating that might stay on through the run).
- BodyGlide Skin Glide Liquified Powder – I love the BodyGlide Anti-Chafe Stick for other areas of my body, so when I saw this product and saw reviews claiming it worked great for preventing blisters on the feet, I decided to give it a whirl. It’s a liquid, kind of like a lotion, that dries to a silky powder once applied to the skin.  I found out pretty quickly though that the product wasn’t staying on my skin – probably being rubbed off or sweated off pretty quickly during the run.
blister prevention noSo there you have it, my tried and true blister prevention guide! If you’re suffering from blisters, I hope this helps!

Have a great weekend guys!

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Pittsburgh: Marathon Training Week 14

I celebrated my birthday yesterday with 8 windy miles – 8 miles on April 8!

My run was followed by some Thai take out and my favorite cupcake (the 9:30 Hostess cupcake from Buzz Bakery).004 003 002 006

The cherry on top was finding out that our TV had recorded the first Game of Thrones episode -apparently HBO had a free preview period over the weekend! Does anyone else think Jaime Lannister looks completely different this season? I barely recognized him as the same actor.

I also celebrated by signing up for my first fall race! I took advantage of a coupon code for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in the Cherry Blossom virtual goody bag because I thought that would be a great goal race to keep me training during the summer. It’s 10% off with the coupon code CB10, good through May 15. I’ve heard it’s a very picturesque course, and it’s capped at 5000 runners.

Okay, onto my training log from last week!

Marathon Training: Week 14 Training Log

pittsburgh wk14
This was a welcome step-back week – are they ever unwelcome? lol. I incorporated more cross-training in the form of strength training sessions and Bikram yoga on Sunday for a more total body focus to my training to supplement the lower mileage. I also completed 3 sets of my knee PT exercises throughout the week; slight knee achiness was a good reminder that I need to keep up with the PT at home.

Monday: rest – much needed after a high mileage weekend!

Tuesday: 6 miles easy pace on the treadmill (10:30 pace)
I also completed a 30 min strength/ core workout using dumbbells and a Swiss ball. The move that’s kicking my butt this week? Single-leg deadlifts (link)– so good for your hamstrings and core.

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: 6.11 miles easy pace outside (10:17 pace)
I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and do the rest of my runs outside this week – it was wonderful. #nomoredreadmill

Friday: 8 miles outside with some hills (10:04 pace)
I’m still trying to get in some hill work in preparation for Pittsburgh, but I’m also not pushing myself too much because the hills aren’t awesome for my knee.  I’ll do what I can and hope the taper period gives my knee a chance to rest before the race.

Saturday: I nixed my 5 miles because my knee felt sore after the hills yesterday, and completed a strength/ core training session instead.

Sunday: Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and my first Bikram yoga class @ Bikram Tysons!

Overall, this was a stellar week of training and I still took rest when I needed to. I missed one day of running, but still hit a solid 30 miles for the week, and I finally got in a much-needed yoga class :)

Do you strength train while training for a race?

Favorite core exercise? It’s not my favorite, but I’m focusing on my planks right now (my longest is 1:45 from yesterday). I’d like to get it up to 2:30 by next week!


I’m 27! + Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Race Review

Today’s my birthday and I am now 27! I can’t say I feel a whole lot wiser than I did a year ago, but I (and my joints) definitely feel older ;) Since it’s a weeknight, I think the celebration will be limited to eating cupcakes, but we’re planning to watch the Winter Soldier in the movie theater this weekend and go out to Toki Underground afterwards!! If you’ve read my blog for a while, you may recognize this as my favorite restaurant in DC; I went there for my birthday last year too.

Cherry Blossom 10 Mile - 2014 Recap

This was the second year that I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler - I really enjoyed the course last year, so I was looking forward to running it again this year, this time with Alexa!

I woke up on race day (Sunday) at 5:20 AM, and ate a bagel with jam and drank some water while waiting to feel somewhat awake and functional. I’m thinking about trying a little coffee on race day next time; these early wake-up calls are a little tough! After debating the night before between a long sleeve and short sleeve shirt, I ended up going with a long sleeve Nike dri-fit top and capris. I’m glad I opted for the long sleeve because it wasn’t that warm on Sunday morning, and I didn’t feel like I was over-heating at any point in the race.

I also wore Mike’s oldest, holey-ist sweatshirt as a throw-away on top.  Per usual, I didn’t bring any liquid (I just drink at the water/ Gatorade stations on the course), and I decided to try out the RooSport pouch that I picked up at the expo the day prior to hold my phone and a few gels.

Andrew wanted to spectate the race to support Alexa, so he got up early as well. In case you’re wondering, Mike chose to get some more sleep and potentially spectate while playing golf at Hains Point later that morning ;) The three of us left the house at 5:45 AM and parked at Pentagon City to take the metro into DC. The race start/ finish was by the Washington Monument, which looked beautiful in the early morning sunlight, especially now that the scaffolding is all gone!004 (2)We got there in plenty of time to use the port-o-potties (lines weren’t bad) and get into our corrals.
005 002 (2)I was internally debating at this point whether to push for a PR or run an easier race, and I decided not to go all out because of my achey knee. We headed into the corrals and waited for our wave to start around 7:45. Once our wave reached the front, Alexa and I wished each other a good race, started our watches and began running…and then I felt the RooSport fall off my pants. I scrambled to go back and get it, apologizing to the runners for getting in their way, and then I started running again with the RooSport, gels and phone in my hand. I was definitely a little thrown off by my flustered start to the race!

I saw Alexa up ahead so I caught up with her and told her what happened, and felt my irritation dissipate as we ran together and chatted. The miles went by quickly, and the day got warmer as the sun came out (I tossed my sweatshirt around mile 2 after the bridge). We ended up running the entire race together and had a great time!

The course was the same as last year – beautiful scenery with the monuments and river-side paths. The cherry blossoms weren’t in full bloom yet, which makes sense given the late start to spring, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the gorgeous day! Here’s the course we ran – it starts at one end of the National Mall, does a pin across and back on the Memorial Bridge and goes north along the Potomac before turning around and tracking along the Tidal Basin and finally around Hains Point.  I think the Tidal Basin was my favorite part of the course – so scenic!
mapOur final time: 1:45:12 (10:31 pace). A solid pace for a long run!

I went to collect my medal after the finish (you have to pay extra for a medal when you sign up), and we met up with Andrew, who didn’t see either of us on the course, which was not surprising given the nearly 18,000 runners in the race. Post-race spread was very simple – bananas and granola packets.  Here’s what the medal looked like this year:

007 (2)And here are the 2013 and 2014 medals side-by-side:008I had a blast running the race this year with Alexa! I’ll definitely be signing up for the lottery again next year :)

Thoughts on the course: While the course itself is flat and fast – good for a PR, there are so many runners that it might be challenging to hit your goal paces for the first couple of miles. If I get into the race next year, I’ll start in the right corral and see if that makes a difference! It’s otherwise well organized (I’m a fan of the corral start) and has plenty of fluid stations and spectator support on the course.  The race amenities are a little minimal – tech t-shirts and medals cost extra – but they say that’s to keep the base cost of the race down.

Thoughts on my race: I’d love for every race to be a PR, but running with a friend made the race 100X more enjoyable! I’ve also realized that while I love incorporating shorter races while training for a long race like the marathon, running that hard equals significant recovery time and often forces me to reduce my mileage the following week. I’m glad I didn’t push too hard this past weekend since this week is my last high mileage one before tapering and I want to make it a solid one!

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Pics from the Weekend

Friday night began in the best way possible – Strawberry Ale and American Hustle from Redbox (we loved the movie).
I slept in and lounged around the house on Saturday before heading over to the gym for a run and some weights, but ended up nixing the run because my knee felt a little achy. I’m starting to enjoy lifting weights again, and I’m trying to incorporate a quick strength session twice a week.
After a little lunch, Alexa and I headed to the National Building Museum in DC for Cherry Blossom packet pick-up!
009There was a line, but it went quickly (it helps to have your bib number). We went to pick up our t-shirts – standard cotton in teal for me, the upgraded tech tee in pink for Alexa.010011We wandered around the small expo – Alexa grabbed a few Gus for the next day, and I wanted to see the RooSport booth, which is a pocket that attaches magnetically to your pants. After watching the demonstration, we were both sold and we each bought a large RooSport. I haven’t really used it so I’ll post a review later once I get a chance to test it out.012We went back to Virginia and chatted while walking around the Pentagon City mall, then headed back to the condo to get ready for dinner at Le Diplomate in DC, a French restaurant that’s been getting a lot of buzz lately. I made reservations about a month in advance because I heard it was hard to make a reservation here, and sure enough, the only seating available for 4 people was 5 PM.  A tad on the early side, but it worked for us since we needed to get to bed early for our early wake-up call on Sunday anyway.
My first impression of the restaurant was that it looked kind of like a castle!
013 014I was immediately drooling at the sight of the freshly baked bread.015The inside of the restaurant is divided into two spaces, and our section felt like an outdoor bistro/ greenhouse, with lots of natural light and hanging plants.016Everything we ordered was delicious! For appetizers, we tried the escargot and French onion soup, and for mains, Mike got the beef bourguignon, Alexa got the duck, and Andrew and I both got the skirt steak. I think the table favorites were the duck and the fries that came with the steaks!017 018 019 023 022 024 020The service was fantastic and attentive – all the drinks/ bread/ food/ check came out quickly, and our water glasses were never empty. We definitely recommend this place! We followed up dinner with some gelato from Pitango nearby, and headed back home for an early night before our 5 AM wake-up call.

Sunday was the Cherry Blossom race! It was a beautiful morning in DC, and Alexa and I chatted the entire 10 miles, which made it go by really quickly.  Big thanks to Andrew for driving us and coming out to spectate! Full race review coming later this week.

We followed up the race with brunch, of course! We made reservations for Farmers, Fishers and Bakers since Alexa hadn’t been there before.  The service was MUCH better this time around; I don’t think I commented on it before, but our server during our first visit only stopped by twice and all the requests were fulfilled really slowly – we had to ask for cinnamon rolls a number of times, and they finally showed up 45 min into the meal, and coffee took a similar amount of time.  I know they’re very busy on the weekends, but it made the experience a lot less enjoyable for us and I wasn’t sure I wanted to return.

I’m so glad we did though, our server this time around was so attentive and prompt, making for a much more pleasant experience! My thanks to Amy for taking such great care of us :)011 (2)Pictured above is one of my two (or three? can’t remember) plates.  I tried the bruleed grapefruit this time and it was so good! I bought some grapefruit afterwards to make it at home :) The grits, cranberry-orange French toast and honey chicken were also very tasty.

After brunch, we said goodbye to Alexa and went home to get our usual chores done.  Later that evening, I went to my first Bikram class with Shaun! We both got 10 class packages for Bikram Tysons a few weeks ago and decided to try our first class this week.  I was a little nervous going into the class because Bikram is very different from hot vinyasa/ power yoga – it’s an hour and a half long, and you move through the same 26 poses and 2 breathing exercises each class.

I ended up loving the class and found it really relaxing, and Shaun and I decided we’ll be back next Sunday! I’m curious to see whether I’ll enjoy the repetitive nature of the class or eventually find it boring.

Have you tried bikram yoga? Thoughts?

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Resolutions: First Quarter Check-In

Happy Friday friends!

I skipped hot yoga again last night…I just can’t seem to find the motivation to work out after work these days.  Good thing I like running in the morning again! I thought it would be fun to do a check-in with my 2014 resolutions today, and it seemed appropriate since the first quarter of the year is already over! So here we go:

2014 Resolutions: 1st Quarter Check-In

1. Read the whole Bible in a year – behind track
Yikes, I am really behind on the Bible reading program I’m using (like 2 weeks behind!). Fun book reading has taken of daily Bible reading the last couple of weeks, so this check-in is just what I need to fix that.

2. Start my master’s program at GMU in the fall – on track
I’m currently taking one of the pre-requisites (Linear Algebra) at my local community college and will take a few more pre-reqs (computer programming, statistics, and differential equations) over the summer and into the fall, which will prepare me to take my first class in the fall! I’ll be in it for the long haul – the program is going to take me 3 years (attending part-time) to finish, but I know it’ll be worth it.

3. Run 1000 miles by the end of the year –on track
I’ve run 346 miles since January 1st, which well exceeds the 250 I should have run by now, but that’s because I’m currently training for Pittsburgh :) I know this number will drop during the summertime when I’m not training for a race anymore, but I still think I’ll be able to reach my goal running 15-20 miles a week.

4. Get back to my 2013 spring weight –??
Meh, I have no idea. I’ve definitely lost a few pounds since January, but I haven’t been tracking my calories that carefully, although I have been using MyFitnessPal as a food journal to track my snacking habits. I’m not that concerned about my weight because I’m pretty happy with my body, no matter the number of the scale.  I also know that if I focus on eating high quality food and reducing snacking, my running will take care of the rest! So let me just stash away this bag of Oreos…

5. Get eye surgery – complete!

I also added another goal at the start of Lent of serving/ volunteering more, which I’ve been meeting through my time at the Carpenter’s Shelter! I think this has been the most important goal for me this year; it’s teaching me to re-prioritize and think about how I REALLY want to spend my time. I’m adding this to my list of goals for the rest of the year!

Overall, I think I’m tracking right along! I’ll be back with my next check-in around June.  Thanks for letting me be accountable to you guys :)

From Around the Web

If You Run Slow, Who Cares? - I saw this on Christine’s blog a few weeks ago and loved it

Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods Decision Tree from The Washington Post – funny!

Discomfort vs. Pain: The Runner’s Dilemma from Run to the Finish

6 Essential Truths I Learned from Winter Exercise Hibernation from Sweet Life Ericka – great perspective

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Unfiltered Thursday + The March List

Hey guys, hope you’re having a great week and start to the new month! Here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

- We’ve booked our flights and started booking hotels/ activities for Iceland! We were debating whether to go in September or October, but after discovering that all the non-stop flights were sold out over the period we wanted to go in September, October was the easy choice. While we won’t be able to go inland on this trip (roads start to close or become inaccessible b/c of weather), it gets a lot darker in October so we might get to see the Northern Lights.

- I loved this April Fool’s Pranks List for 2014 from Time Magazine and was silently laughing for a good 15 minutes at work :) My favorite was Cats You May Know – LinkedIn for cats.  I also totally saw Google’s Shelfie prank on my Gmail on April 1 and closed the pop-up without realizing it was a prank!

linked in cats

- I’m LOVING the warmer weather and enjoying the mild temperatures before it turns 100+ degrees up in here, lol. At Mike’s request, I made Greek orzo for dinner this week – I love the light flavors in this spring/ summery dish!


- Did anyone else get money from the Amazon eBooks Antitrust settlement? I was recently notified that I was awarded $10.47 from the settlement, good towards Kindle or print books on Amazon! I’m thinking I’ll pick up Ruins (book 3 of the Partials Series) by Dan Wells, which was just released this month! I read the first 2 books over a year ago and have been waiting impatiently for the last book to be published :) If you like dystopian sci-fi novels, I highly recommend this series.

- I tried making a batch of peanut butter energy bites last week but couldn’t get them to stick together in ball form. So I’ve been eating it like granola with plain yogurt and coconut flakes. Failure never tasted so good.


The March List

I had so much to be grateful for last month, both on the running and non-running fronts.  So in no particular order, I’m grateful for:

1. A great month of running and a new 10 miler PR!  Running continues to teach me how to persevere when the going gets tough, a lesson that applies to the rest of my life.  The Reston 10 taught me not to give up, which made crossing the finish line so much sweeter.

reston 10

2. Mike’s dad visiting and a really relaxing day at Copper Fox Distillery.  After the busy-ness of February, I learned to dial it back and relax more on the weekends! Everyone needs time to re-charge, right?

034 012

3. Exercise dates with friends! I loved going back to the barre with Christina, and hot yoga on Thursdays have become a fairly regular “date night” for me and Mike.  I love combining hangouts with fun exercise classes :)

4. Finding a great physical therapist and recovering from my knee injury.  I am so, so grateful to be able to run again.  Every time I run without pain, I lift up a silent prayer of thanks to God for healing my knee and allowing me to do what makes me feel so alive.  I don’t take pain-free runs for granted anymore.004

5. Lastly, I’m thankful for Brother T. I don’t share what goes on with my siblings/ family that frequently on this blog out of respect for their privacy, but in a nutshell, T started college in the fall of last year and struggled with motivation and direction.  Our dad’s illness and passing was especially tough on him because he had to help take care of him at home.  So he decided to take a break and joined a missions program in January of this year.  I’ve been completely blown away by how much he’s changed and grown over the last couple of months, and I’m so grateful that he’s discovering the love of God in a myriad of ways and seeing himself in a new light!

What are you grateful for lately? It can be serious or frivolous – no judging here :)

Did you come across any awesome April Fool’s jokes/ pranks?


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