Monday, October 21, 2013

Columbus Marathon 2013

Also known as my first marathon where I DID NOT WALK! Woo hoo! (That was my one & only goal going into this race.)

Biggest medal ever.

I signed up for the race just 6 weeks before, so I didn't have much time to put in a lot of quality training. I decided to take a laid-back approach to this marathon and remember why I love running - because it's fun. 

My Business Man and I headed down to Columbus Saturday afternoon, and strangely I was not nervous at all. We hit up the expo for some goodies. (Thank you, King's Hawaiian, for the 7 free product coupons!) Love that the tech shirts are long-sleeved this year... seems like I always need more cold weather running gear than hot weather running gear.

Somehow we scored an awesome deal on a hotel room corner suite. I swear, it was bigger than our first apartment. Bedroom, complete with lounge chair and hot tub. Bathroom with a double shower (with 3 shower heads on each side!) And then a full living room with a pull-out couch. If only we were able to stay at the hotel longer than 11 hours, haha.

Glorious king-size bed.

Crazy shower. A nozzle on each side with water coming out in three places. You could have some fun in there.
Sunday morning, we were up super early to meet up with my running bud, Amy, at her sister's house. We all rode to the start together, where her hubby, Jim, dropped us off. My Business Man, Jim, and their daughter all spectated the race together on bicycles, which was so awesome. They got to see us 5-6 times along the course because they didn't have to worry about where to drive, what streets were closed, or where to park the car. (It also probably helped that Amy & Jim both went to OSU, so he knew the area really well.)

Amy & I decided to start nice & easy with the 3:35 pace group. We actually spent the first mile trying to catch up to them! It was quite the congested start. After we caught up, we stayed right with them for about 4-5 miles, then somehow found ourselves in front of the balloons.

We didn't even plan to match... we both had on grey long-sleeves, black shorts, and neon calf sleeves & shoes. Lol.

We kept it easy, chatting the whole way. Before we knew it, we were 10 miles in. I had made a deal with myself to avoid looking at my watch for as long as possible. (I actually didn't look at it once until mile 23.4, woah!)

Whoever said it was impossible to shimmy & run at the same time? I think I've got it down!

We just kept cruising, probably right around an 8:00 pace, and passed through the half in 1:45, right at an 8:00 average. We picked it up a little after that, as we ran through the Ohio State campus.

Around mile 17-18, we even got to run through the Shoe! That was a lot of fun. I had never even seen the stadium before (I know... I am not a true Buckeye), so it was neat to run through it. 

After we came out of the stadium, I was still feeling really good. Amy told me I should go ahead, but I was still pretty nervous of hitting the wall. My previous 3 marathons have all included miserable bonking experiences in the last 6-7 miles. Finally, at mile 19, I decided to just go for it.

And I flew! I felt so good, I couldn't believe it. THIS was why everyone always said to run the first half of the race conservatively. Lol. Instead of being passed by everyone and their mother, I actually passed 248 people in the last 6 miles. And I never stopped to walk, which is what I'm most excited about. (Never done that before!)

So, big question - did I PR? No way. I ran 3:24:56. (My PR is 3:20:48.) But I was pretty darn close, considering the short training cycle and lackadaisical approach to the race.

The details:

Love being able to look at my splits from the Garmin. Can't believe I waited so long to get one, lol.

The biggest thing that I'm taking away from this race is the fact that I finally had a positive marathon experience, where I actually enjoyed the entire race. It makes me excited to train for another. I think I will still take a more laid-back approach to training/racing, because it was so much more fun. (Who needs that added stress & pressure anyway?)

And I was so thankful to have Amy to run with the first 2.5 hours of the race! It was so wonderful to have somebody to talk to, bounce ideas off of,  and just be generally goofy with. She ended up finishing just a few minutes behind me, and had a great race as well!

Such a great day, let's hope I can carry this runner's high on for awhile! Lol. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Twosie Tuesday

I saw this idea for a blog post on another site, and thought I'd have some fun with it.

Two foods I cannot get enough of:

Peanut butter & pumpkin butter on a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel. It's the perfect fall lunch. Can I also mention that I love the fact that I get to eat lunch at home and actually toast my bagel? And not cram bathroom + lunch prep + eating + chill time all into a 26 minute lunch period?

Mellowcreme pumpkins. Enough said about that.

Two people I got to see this weekend:

I drove over to the other side of IL to attend my BFF Talen's bridal shower. It was a lot of fun. This was the only pic I snapped of the day. Doesn't she make a gorgeous bride? Haha.

I got to meet my mom for breakfast at Cracker Barrel on my way back Monday morning. Nothing like catching up over coffee & bacon. So good to see her. 

Two new clothing purchases:

I got my first maxi skirt. There was a deal on and I ordered one for just $8.99. Oh my goodness, it is so comfortable. It's like wearing yoga pants, but acceptable for 'dress-up' occasions. I think I need 6 more.

This Everyday I'm Hustlin' tshirt. Love it. And no, I don't look anywhere near that voluptuous in it. It's not a magic shirt. Haha.

Two meals that have only furthered my obsession with butternut squash:

Browned Butter Gnocchi with Butternut Squash, Bacon, and Balsamic Glaze. Recipe coming to the Chief Market Blog soon.

Panera's Butternut Squash Soup. It's like fall in a bowl.

Two thoughts about running a marathon in 2 weeks:

I had a great 20-mile run last Friday. Just need to add 6 more miles! Eeek, excited for October 20! I have been using margarita shot blocks because they have extra salt. And I like to pretend I'm drinking margaritas at 6am. Not really.

I recently got a hand-held water bottle and used it on my last two long runs. I cannot believe I have never run with water before. I feel so much better during, and especially after, the run. Recovery has been a lot easier when I don't get as dehydrated. (And I never even thought I was dehydrated before! Ha!) I will be using it for the marathon.

Two things I'm looking forward to:

The Taste of Home cooking show this Thursday night. I am going with a group of girl friends and am very excited. And I'm sure my Business Man is just as excited that he doesn't have to go with. (Like he did three years ago. And how was that three years ago?!?)

My friend Lindsey to pop out her kidd-o. She read somewhere that a pedicure would help... yea, tried that, no baby. Haha. At least I had an excuse to go get a pedicure. It's much easier to justify when you go with someone.

Two recipes I can't wait to try:

Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Salted Caramel Apple Crumble. With vanilla ice cream.

Who wants to come over for dinner?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It was quite grand...

This past Saturday, I held a grand opening for my little cupcake counter downtown. It was so much fun! (And so much work, haha.)

The cupcake counter has been open since the beginning of July, but I wanted to do a grand opening of sorts to make it 'officially' open. If that makes any sense. It turned into more of a grand opening/fall open house. My parents even came out to visit and help with it! They haven't been to visit since the cupcake counter has been open, so that was fun.

As soon as they got here Friday afternoon, I put them to work. Yes, my dad learned how to use the blow torch on the S'mores cupcakes. He did a pretty fantastic job, if I do say so myself. (Mom, you did great with the pecan pie filling, too. :-P)

In addition to having cupcakes for sale at the counter, I planned a few more activities to ramp up the excitement of the day. 

I held a Create-a-Cupcake Contest in the days leading up to the grand opening... anyone could submit their brand-new cupcake idea. The top ten were then taken to voting on Facebook, and the top three were baked and taste-tested at the grand opening. The three contenders were Puppy Chow, French Silk Pie, and Snickerdoodle. While they were all delicious, Snickerdoodle came out as the champion. (By just one vote!) The winner gets to have their cupcake on the menu, plus they received a pretty sweet prize pack.

We also had cupcake decorating for kids... it was definitely a hit! (With some adults, too. Hey, we're all kids at heart!)

These were the raffles - a few prize baskets and some gift certificates for free cupcakes. You could earn raffle tickets for various reasons. (Walking in the door, making a purchase, wearing a Sara's Sweets cupcake pin, bringing a friend, etc...) Wishing I could have won! Lol.

All in all, I baked over 700 cupcakes and not a single cupcake was left by 2:30pm. (The event was supposed to last from 11am-3pm.) I think my dad was a little disappointed when he realized that he & my mom weren't going to be able to take any cupcakes back home with them! Haha. 

Under-the-bed storage containers are just giant tupperwares, right?

the menu line-up: Pumpkin Cheesecake, Carrot, Chai Latte, Vanilla Raspberry, Apple Cider, Black-bottomed Cheesecake, Buckeye, Pecan Pie, Vanilla Tie-dye, and S'mores

And... I also finally got some Sara's Sweets tshirts! They are so cute. And I also love the fact that I do not have to think about what to wear when working the counter anymore. My life goal to never wear real clothes again is coming along quite nicely, haha.

So, it was a pretty smashingly successful weekend... minus the attempted 18-miler on Sunday morning that turned into a 14.5-miler. I think I was just a wee bit exhausted after working a few consecutive 15-hour days, lol. Absolutely lovin' life, though. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

That time when I signed up for a marathon that's only 6 weeks away...

Yea, that happened this week. It's actually now only 5.5 weeks away. Yikes!

Sure, why not?

I haven't been in a running routine since I was training for Boston last spring. Through May & June, I kind of lost my running mojo and it was really hard to get motivated. I told myself I was 'recovering' from Boston. (Which is totally legit.)

Somehow I squeaked out a 5k PR on July 4, without doing much speed work at all. I've been running most of the summer, but no real training plan or focus. At the end of August, I found myself telling someone that I was still 'recovering' from Boston... 4 months later. Lol, don't think I can use that as an excuse any more. :-P

So, one of my running buds here in the Bean Town runs the Columbus Marathon every year, and I have run the half-marathon the past couple years. I've done a few of her long runs with her, and last weekend we did 14. I felt pretty good, so I decided to go ahead and sign up for the half-marathon. But... the half was already filled up, so I did the next logical thing - signed up for the full! Haha... it is on October 20, so just 38 days away.

I have a strange sense of peace about this race... I know it's very unlikely that I will PR so I am going in with a 'just have fun' attitude. Usually I plan out a whole 16-week marathon training cycle, with tempos and hill workouts and three 20+ mile runs. This time, I think I will try for a 16, 18, 20, and then taper. It has actually been a lot of fun to approach the marathon in a pressure-free way. (I know, I am the one who usually puts the pressure on myself to perform well. It's so hard not to when you are putting in a lot of hard training!)

So we'll see how it goes. In other news, I finally broke down and got one of these...

I have been using a Wal-mart watch for the last 5 years or so. Its only function was to keep time, so I would either just run for time or map the route when I got home. Well, my Business Man had some extra points in the prize-catalog at work and gave me free rein. (Which was like the best day ever. Think back to fundraisers when you were a kid... the more junk beautiful knick knacks you sold, the better prize you got to pick from that rockin' prize catalog. This was just like that, but without the door-to-door selling and disappointment of never earning enough points!)

This pretty green watch was in the catalog so I decided to go for it. Now, I don't really use it much besides start & stop like my old watch. (I have no idea how to set it up for intervals and whatnot.) But it is so fun to see my splits & elevation broken down after the run! I have noticed that my first mile is always a lot slower than the rest. I'm pretty sure that's because I am sleep-running that first mile. 

On a more pathetic note, I did a depressing 'hill' workout on Tuesday. First of all, I went out around 10:30am on a day where it was already 88*F with something like 85% humidity. Not the wisest choice. So I ran my 400m 'hills' that I have done in the past, where I run hard (but steady) up the hill and then jog back down. I came home, so excited to see the elevation climbs on the watch. I pretty much climbed mountains! (Or so I thought.) And... it was a total elevation change of about 50ft. Haha, so hardcore. Not. Oh well, at least it was something.

So, I might be back to blog about marathon training. (Or 'marathon training'.) But more than likely I won't, since my track record of blogging hasn't been so great lately. At least I have an excuse to eat more carbs now...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Day of School...

Long time, no blog, haha. I thought I was a bit overdue for a life update so here goes...

My Business Man and I have had a great summer... super busy, but super fun. I haven't taken a TON of pictures, but I have been faithfully Instagram-ing... so here's our summer, Instagram-style.

  • We've been working on remodeling the kitchen since May, and it's just about done. Just missing some lighting and a few switch plates. Perhaps I will write a blog post with before & after pics at some point. (Haha, yea right.) 

This drawer might be my favorite part. I am so much more organized now, I love it!

  • I got to spend some quality time with my BFF Talen. She came to visit the Bean Town for an entire week (!) and it was so much fun. Running, episodes of Friends, cupcakes galore... it was almost like college. Except no math stupid homework.

Rockin' the glasses. I also had an ulcer in my eye for two weeks at the beginning of summer. That was real fun.

  • My Business Man and I were blessed to be able to go an awesome vacation... a cruise through the Western Mediterranean! I had never been overseas, and it was absolutely the best vacation of my life. I now want to travel the world.
Portofino, Italy, aka the most beautiful place in the world. No joke.

Gelato, all day everyday. Seriously. I think my Business Man had two cones in each port. This Nutella was my favorite.

The best meal of the trip - paella in Valencia. With a glass pitcher of sangria.
  • Before flying across the pond, we got to spend a night in Atlanta with one of my best friends from high school... and meet her cute little sweet pea for the first time! It was so good to catch up. 

  • I ran the Freedom 5k on July 4. And I ran a PR! I haven't PR'd in the 5k in a very long time. Everything just fell into place that morning and I felt really good. I was also 2nd place and received a $25 gift card to MC Sporting Goods. Woot woot. This reminds me that I still haven't spent it. Looks like I need to go to the mall.

Loving all the neon right now.

  • CUPCAKES!! This is probably the most exciting thing of the summer. Lots of good news for Sara's Sweets. First things first, I legit got a website. A real website! It's so cool. 
Cute lil' mini cupcakes.

  • And another exciting cupcake-related thing... I opened a cupcake counter. It's inside a cute little shop called Pears Avenue in the downtown area of the Bean Town. It's open two days a week. Basically, I bake a TON of cupcakes, take 'em all down there, load up the case, and sell my little heart out! It is 
I love my job.

  • And on a last & final note... today was the first day of school. And I did not go. First time in 20 years that I have not gone back to school in August! I am now officially a full time cupcake queen. AHHHH! It is so exciting. I have been really blessed with the success of Sara's Sweets, and after lots of talks with my Business Man, we decided to step out in faith and take Sara's Sweets to the next level. And it has gone tremendously well so far. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.
So, there's a big ole' life update! Hopefully I will be back to update the blog sometime sooner than 4 months from now, but who knows?!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Marathon 2013

Boston. What an experience. 

By God's grace, I was not anywhere near the finish line when the explosions happened. I had finished the race around 1:40pm, and walked the couple blocks to the family meeting area to meet up with my Business Man and BFF Talen. After visting for awhile, we headed to the car around 2:40pm, ten minutes before the explosions happened.

We didn't even realize anything had happened, because we were in the car on the way to our hotel about 10 miles away. After receiving several texts & calls, we flipped the news on to see what everyone was so concerned about. 

It was so surreal. Just one hour before, I had run by the same exact spot. Crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. 

Immediately, I started contacting my running friends that were at the race. After learning they were all okay, we sat there in the hotel room for 3+ hours, just watching the news coverage. 

I have such a bittersweet ball of emotions about the whole experience. I had a fantastic Boston race experience... it was everything I hoped it would be. But it's hard to be excited and happy about a race that ended so tragically. Devastating for the victims, devastating for the families of the victims, devastating for the runners who didn't get to finish. 

The most overwhelming thing was just the sheer amount of people who contacted us to make sure we were okay. So many people that I would have never expected to reach out... just wanting to make sure we were safe. Never have I felt so loved and cared about in one day. A huge thank you to everyone who sent a message of concern.

**Race report to come.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

I think I'll go to Boston...

Well, it is here. Time to head to Boston! The original plan was to drive the 13ish hours today, but after spending some time on Priceline last night, we ended up with a great deal on flight + car rental. 

16 weeks of training, and I'm ready to go! It's crazy how much the taper helps... just a few weeks ago I was so over running. Just get the darn marathon over with already. But now, after having a couple laid-back weeks and lower mileage, I am ALL ABOUT THE RUNNING! I cannot wait to toe the start line on Monday and unleash the beast. 

Kicks for the race
I have been so blessed to have awesome training partners through this awful winter... despite the nasty snow, wind, freezing rain, I got in more outdoor runs than I ever have in a winter. So a big thank you to Amy and Jim for motivating my butt out of bed at 5:30am multiple times a week.

So glad we are done with this weather.
I was talking to my students about the race yesterday, and told them that I have run over 800 miles (828 to be exact) in preparation for this one race. They thought I was crazy. They will be watching the live stream of the marathon on Monday with my sub. They told me to wear something bright-colored so they could spot me on TV. (I'm not sure they quite understand that it might be kind of hard to see me in a sea of 27,000 runners. Lol.) I also had a few ask if I was going to win. I told them it was very unlikely. "But just run fast! You can do it!" Haha, they have no idea.

weekly mileage over the last 16 weeks

Anyways, enough blabbering. What are my goals? I would like to PR, so under 3:22. I would really like to run 3:15, as I was on pace to run that at last year's IL Marathon until about mile 20.

My main focus is going to be on taking it out easy. Start slow. I did a GMP run earlier this week, and tried to hit 7:20 each mile. It was hard to lock into that pace. Most of them were closer to 7:00-7:10, even after telling myself "sloooow down!" Add in the excitement of the race and the downhill first section, and I can see it being really hard to go out slow.

Once I get past the Newton hills though, all bets are off! I'm going to see what I can do. More than anything, I'm just really excited. I have had a great training cycle, and some awesome long runs. I'm feeling confident, and I'm ready to experience all that Boston has to offer.

If you'd like to track me during the race, my bib number is #10223. I am in wave 2 starting at 10:20am. See ya from Boston!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Break, baby!

One of the best parts about being a teacher is spring break, for sure. (And Christmas, I mean winter break, and obviously the three months of summer vacation.)

Life has been insanely crazy busy the past few months... between teaching, filling orders for Sara's Sweets, making desserts for The Met, and training for Boston, there hasn't been much down time. 

My Business Man and I booked a cruise with my parents months ago for spring break, and it was the best decision ever. Seriously, it came it exactly the right time. After such a long, nasty winter (and running through a long, nasty winter), it was so nice to spend a week in the sunshine and 80-degree temps. The cherry on top was that we had no cell phone service at all! No distractions, no emails, no voicemails to tend to. No responsibilities for an entire five days! We almost didn't know what to do with ourselves. Don't worry, we managed to fill the time. ;)

We cruised with Royal Caribbean on the Liberty of the Seas. Seriously, I had no idea a boat could be so big. The ship was fifteen stories (!) with three pools, a 300m jogging track, an ice skating rink, mini-golf, a full-size theater, a rock climbing wall, etc. There was so much to do! (Of course, my favorite thing was to lay by the pool.)

Me & Dad, rockin' the shades

We stopped in two ports while at sea - Belize and Cozumel. In Belize, we did a snorkeling excursion. Snorkeling was ok... I think I would have liked it better a different environment. (Because the Great Barrier Reef was obviously not gorgeous enough.) Just kidding; it was really pretty, but there were a TON of people. We were in a group of about 200 people, and it was pretty much a free-for-all. Everybody jumped into the water at once. So it was a bit chaotic. 

In Belize, we also got to eat a local place for lunch - the Wet Lizard. My mom & I fell in love with this Green Iguana drink... pretty much like a pineapple-coconut smoothie. With a few other yummy mix-ins... ;) 

If you share drinks, it's totally legit to order drink after drink, right?

We also shared an order of fish tacos... so yum!

In Cozumel, we did a big ole' Jeep tour which was awesome. We caravanned through the countryside visiting a few different places. Thankfully my dad took the wheel because I was not about to learn to drive stick...

We stopped at one of the most beautiful beaches. Seriously, so gorgeous. 

The water was a wee bit chilly.

We also stopped at a tequila factory so see how the good stuff is made. It comes from the agave plant, which to me looked like a huge pineapple. Of course, we got to taste-test, too. There were all sorts of flavors - cherry, orange, blue, coffee, cream. (And yes, 'blue' was a flavor. Lol.)

When in Mexico...

The tour finished off with a Mexican lunch with some of the freshest pico de gallo I've ever had. 

Nothing better than Coca Cola light from a glass bottle.

This trip was just the right mix of relaxation and play time... and we were totally spoiled on the ship. There was even a cupcake shop! (Though I will have to say, they most definitely used frosting from a tub... blech.)

And we got to come back to our room each night to a fun towel animal. There was even a class on the last day at sea if you wanted to learn how to make them. Pretty sure I slept through that one. 

We had such an awesome time. It got a little crazy windy on the ship, but I'm pretty sure I can deal with a little wind.

Trying to look all pretty for formal night. Key word: trying.
Such a blast. But... now we are back to reality. At least spring has arrived! And just 5 days until the Boston Marathon. Thoughts on that coming later... 

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