Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Cincinnati Highlights

Last week, I went on a trip to Cincinnati to cross off an exciting item on my 30x30 list- going to a professional tennis match!  I've been a huge fan of tennis for the past few years, and I love watching sports live.  So- it was perfect timing when there was a huge tournament in nearby Cincinnati!

The entire trip was so much fun, so I'm excited to recap what we did:

Beer and Food

Everyone told me that I had to check out the breweries in Cincinnati.  Don't have to tell me twice!  We started our trip by heading straight to the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, where we grabbed some vegetarian burritos at Findlay Market.  I always love going to markets, and this one was amazing!  There were lots of food stands, live music, indoor and outdoor stalls, and even a mini beer garden.




We grabbed our food to go, and headed down the street to Rhinegeist Brewery.  This place was amazing!! The brewery is in a huge building, with the main floor filled with benches, corn hole, and ping pong tables.  There were lots of different beers to try, so I of course went for a flight.


I got Bubbles, Cougar, Coffee Uncle, and Uncle. Bubbles was one of my favorites, but they were all amazing!


There's also a rooftop bar that's only for 21+, so it was definitely quieter.  There was music along with a lot of places to sit.  We got another drink up here and enjoyed the sunshine and view of Cincy!



After finishing up, we headed out to another brewery- Woodburn.  The place was smaller than Rhinegeist, but had a really cool vibe.  There was a live band playing, and a taco stand outside on the patio.  I got another flight, and tried out some really interesting varieties- Cucumber Melon Wheat, Coffee Pumpkin Ale, and a Belgian Tripel.  They were all great and the flavors worked really well together.


On Monday, we headed out to breakfast before the tennis matches started.  We went to the Sleepy Bee Cafe, which was absolutely perfect.  The menu is full of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free options (along with traditional items as well).  The restaurant also works with farmers and businesses in the area, so it felt great to support local places.  I got a tofu and califlower scrambled with avocado, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onion, along with a coffee.  When we left, they even gave me extra coffee in a to-go cup.  Best idea ever!


I loved all the touches of honeycombs all over the restaurant- even on the ceiling.




The Tournament

Since this was my first tennis tournament, I had no idea what to expect.  We got there right as the gates opened at 9:00, and figured out the matches we wanted to watch for the day.  Before the first one started at 11:00, we walked around the grounds (which was HUGE and amazing) and watched a few practices.  I loved how all of the practices are open, so even though I couldn't see some of my favorites play, I got to see them up close and personal!  It was definitely one of the coolest parts of the tournament.


Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal!


Watching all of the matches was amazing as well.  We had tickets to the Center Court, but could also watch any of the matches on any other court.  It was kind of cool to just walk in during a match (between games of course), watch for a while, then head to another.  I got to see so many different players and watch on every single court, which was a really neat experience.



I even got to see one of my favorite players SUPER up close and personal during a doubles match- Alex Zverev!


There were wine gardens, a mini Rhinegeist brewery (even had ping pong tables set up!), and big TVs set up everywhere, so you wouldn't miss a single moment, even if you were taking a break to eat.



Overall, the entire experience of the tournament completely exceeded my expectations.  There was so much to do, so many opportunities to interact with the players (even getting to see them walking around the grounds with us mere mortals!).  It was such a blast, and I can't wait to go to more tournaments in the future...maybe even a Grand Slam!



Favorite sport?
Anyone play tennis?  
Favorite local brewery?  Always looking for new ones when I travel!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Buffalo Creek Training Week 1

I'm so excited to say that half marathon training has officially started!! I've always loved training for races, but I don't think I've ever been this eager to get going.  I have such a great base built up from the past few months, and I'm really optimistic about my race goals.  Best way to start off a training cycle, right?!

Here's a look at how my first week of training went, which started with a mini vacation to Cincinnati:


Monday

3 miles / 10:00 pace
We got to Cincinnati, and I ran in my hotel's gym before we headed to the tennis tournament.  I had to wake up around 6AM to get my run in,  but I couldn't skip my first run of my training schedule!  After my easy run on the treadmill, I completed the "Dirty Dozen" core exercise that's included in my training plan.


Tuesday

Rest Day!!
After being out in the sun from 7AM to 10PM and having to get up early again, the last thing I wanted to do was go for a run.  So, I took a rest day!  I figured all the walking we did at the tournament and walking up and down the stadium steps (and watching people play tennis) counted as a workout..right?!


Wednesday

3 miles / 9:31 pace
Got home from my trip to Cincinnati and forced myself out the door for my easy run today. It was super hot and sunny by the time I started and I was exhausted from the long drive, but I did it! Definitely felt better as the run went on.  While we were in Ohio, I picked up some beer from Trader Joe's (in Pennsylvania, the stores don't carry alcohol), so I bribed myself to run by treating myself to a cold beer after I finished!  Whatever works!


Thursday

5 miles / 8:37 pace
First speed session of my half marathon training! Today's was fun and not too hard- 1 mile warmup, then 5x (2 min fast, 1 min slow, 1 min fast, 2 min slow), and a half mile cool down.  This was my first day back at work and I got the run done beforehand, so I definitely started out tired and sore but warmed up and kept feeling better as the run went on.


Friday

Rest Day!!
Felt great to take another rest day.  I started a new yoga challenge on the website Do You Yoga, which was a nice, quick flow.  Nothing too challenging, but great stretches!


Saturday

7 miles / 9:28 pace
I met up with Jessie and Jessica for the first long run of my training cycle!  Jessie is also doing the same half marathon, so we are being accountability partners during training and getting together for speed work/long runs whenever we can.  It was great to have two people to meet up with so I had motivation to get up early and finish up my run in the morning.  I ran 5 miles with the girls, then finished 2 by myself.  I wasn't feeling the best, but we talked constantly so the miles just flew by and we ended with a great pace!  After I got home, I completed another Do You Yoga video targeting the hamstrings, which felt AMAZING after a long run.


Sunday

5 miles / 10:38 pace
I did this run with Maddie, who was doing her longest run ever (16 miles!!).  Luckily we kept the pace easy since I was a little sore after a full week of training.  It was really foggy and humid out when we ran- so humid that the air was almost like a mist and I looked like I was in a rain storm when we finished!  Luckily it was a cool morning (in the 60s) so it actually felt kind of refreshing.  When I got home, I did a Runner's Cool Down yoga video, which had some great stretches.


Who else is training for a fall race?!
Do you love or hate starting a training cycle?

Friday, August 18, 2017

Top Five Friday : Already?

I seriously can't believe that it's Friday already!  Dan and I went on a little trip to Cincinnati this week, so all day yesterday (my first day back at work), it felt like a Monday.  I won't complain that the weekend is already here :)  I'll be sharing a bit about our trip below, but look for a full post coming soon!  It was such a fun trip and I got to cross something off my bucket list, so I can't wait to share more.  I hope you all had a great week as well!


linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five 



Song

Explicale by Yandel
A few weeks ago, my music obsession was Wisin, and now it's his old duo partner Yandel is coming out with new music.  I love this song, which has a completely different sound than Wisin.  This doesn't really have a hard beat like most reggaeton music, and I can't wait to hear more songs from his upcoming album (which includes a song with Wisin)!


Podcast

Runner's World Podcast
This has definitely been one of my favorite podcasts from the past year, and I always look forward to new episodes coming out every week.  Some times they interview famous runners (like a recent episode with Desi Linden), but other times a few experts just discuss one topic in a round-table format.  This week's episode was all about running your best fall race, which is coming at the perfect time for me since I just started training for my next half.  The advice is all great and the episode is very informative!


Product

Lululemon Tracker Short V
At the beginning of a training cycle, I like to treat myself to a new piece of clothing to help keep me motivated and excited to start running.  This time around I picked up a new pair of shorts from Lulu- the Tracker Shorts!  I like these because they are a bit longer than the Speed Shorts (which I always feel like I have to make sure aren't exposing anything to runners behind me!!) and has a larger pocket on the side.  The material is really comfortable for running, and they keep me nice and cool in this warm, humid weather.  What more could you want from a pair of shorts?!


Show

Big Brother
Since I was traveling this week, I didn't really get to watch any TV.  I did catch up on Big Brother though, and I love a good double eviction night!  Even though there's a lot of drama going on in the house, I feel like there's not a single person that I'm really rooting for.  It seems like Paul is the only one playing the game, and everyone else is just following his advice.  I hope that changes soon!


Random

Cincinnati Open
The reason that we went to Cincinnati this week was to watch a tennis tournament- the Western and Southern Open!  I've been a fan of tennis for a while now (even if I don't play), so I was so excited to go to my first tournament.  It was so much fun to watch the matches in person and to meet a few of my favorite players!  The tournament is still going on, and is the last big match before the final slam of the year- the US Open.  I can't wait to see if a "Next Gen" star will win it (GO ZVEREV!!) or if Federer/Nadal will end their magical year on a high note. 


What's your favorite sport?
Who else is watching Big Brother?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Top Five Friday : Summer Nights

Happy Friday!!  What a week this was- work was insane, I took care of some things that I've been putting of for years (that really took a weight off my back), and kept on with my running streak!  I'm really looking forward to this weekend, because Dan and I have some fun plans to spend a bunch of time outside hiking and kayaking, and will be getting ready for some exciting plans next week.  I'll share what we're up to next Friday, but for now I'm going to be sharing my favorites from the week!



linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five 



Song

Jasmine Tate
A few weeks ago, I went to Vine Rewind at the Pittsburgh Winery, and got to listen to some great musicians.  One of them stuck out to me, and I haven't been able to stop listening to her ever since!  Jasmine Tate has such an amazing, interesting voice, and her songs are beautiful.  I really enjoyed listening to her sing live (the entire band was just electric), so if you ever see her performing around the Burgh, check her out!


Podcast

Girls Gone WOD Podcast
I've talked about this podcast a lot in the past, but I just had to plug it again this week!  Last weekend was the annual CrossFit Games competition.  Joy and Claire (the podcast hosts) both went to the Games, so it's been great to hear their take from behind the scenes, and to hear them discuss the results.  Even though I don't do CrossFit, I love this podcast and would recommend it to anyone- females, males, CrossFitters, or just regular ol' people.

Product

Saucony Ride and Kinvara
A new season of training for a half marathon means time to get new shoes!  It's been so long since I replaced my shoes (way too long if we're being honest), so I was excited to try out some new styles.  Pretty much every time I order a new pair, I order two- one for shorter distances and one for longer.  I decided to stick with a model that has been working out really well for me- Kinvara 8- for shorter distances (in a flashy print that I'm obsessed with) and a different pair- Ride 9- for longer distances.  So far I'm loving both of them, and will definitely keep you all updated as my training continues.


Show

Big Brother : This season is NUTS guys.  It started out pretty tame, but it's been fireworks all over the place ever since Cody came back into the game.  I'm not sure if there are any players that I actually like that much, because everyone's pretty much bullying everyone else then crying when they get bullied in return.  Kevin still cracks me up, so he might be my favorite, but he never does well in competitions!

America's Got Talent : On the other hand, this might be the worst season I've ever seen of AGT.  Not only are most of the acts that made it to live shows singers (including all but ONE of the golden buzzers), but the other acts just aren't that good.  I feel like the producers are really pushing for one the many, many kids singers to win but fluffing up their "competition" with gimmicky acts (hello, Dancing Trump and Mirror Image- although I will vote for MI because they're from Pittsburgh).  I'm so frustrated!!

World of Dance : There's been a lot of debates and arguments about the finale, and while I don't think the right dancer(s) won, I really liked the show!  There were so many amazing acts and different styles showcased, and I really enjoyed it.  All six of the final dances were amazing, so I could have made a case for any of them winning.  Apparently the show got renewed for another season, and I know I'll be watching.


Random

Modern Mrs Darcy's Summer Reading Guide
To be honest, I have not been reading lately.  I blame that mostly on the fact that I just found out that you can download episodes of shows using Netflix's app, so instead of reading on my bus commute I'm watching TV.  #guilty.  I want to snap out of that, so I was excited to see an amazing looking reading list for the summer on the Modern Mrs Darcy blog.  I haven't read anything on the list, and everything sounds so good!  I especially like how the list is organized into categories, and I'm going to try to make my way through the list by the end of the year.  If anyone's read any books on the list and has suggestions on what to get started with- please let me know!!


What is your favorite running shoe?
Reading anything good lately?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Half Marathon Plans : Buffalo Creek

It's that time again- time to start training for my next race!  It feels like it's been such a long time since I really trained for a race, and even longer since I focused on the half marathon.  I think it's my favorite race distance, because training doesn't have to take up your entire life, and the races are always fun.

For my next half marathon, I decided to run the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon.  It will be my first time running this race, and there are a few reasons why I decided on this one:


  • Close to my house.  This means that I can stay at home before the race, eat my own food, not wake up super early to get to the start line, and also train on the actual course!  
  • Rails-to-trail course.  I've done other races on this kind of crushed-limestone course, and I really like it.  It's easier on my body, and I can train on other trails around my house for my long runs. 
  • Net downhill.  The course is supposed to be perfect for getting a PR- in fact, most of my friends have PR'd on this course!  Maybe I'll be next.
  • Lots of support.  I know a lot of people doing this race, so it'll be great to have some built in support on the course.  
  • Cheap fee.  Let's be real- half marathons can get PRICEY.  This one was a reasonable price, so I knew I had to sign up right away.
  • Good reviews.  If I'm doing a race for the first time, it's always great to hear good feedback from people I know.  I was convinced to run it after hearing the great experiences some friends had while we were on a run together!  If you would like to see some race recaps, here are some that my friends posted:

So, now that I picked out my goal race, it's time to pick a plan!  I decided to follow Kara Goucher's 10 week half marathon plan.  I actually used it earlier this year in my lead up to full marathon training, and I loved it.  I knew that as soon as I was ready to train for a half again, I had to use this as my plan.  Here are some of the highlights:


  • 3-4 easy runs per week.  I know some people don't like to do a lot of easy/junk miles, but I like doing my daily run!  These are all in the 3-7 mile range, so I really don't think it'll affect my training. If it gets to be too much, I'll definitely add an extra rest day.
  • 1 speed workout per week.  This is my favorite part of the plan- each week the speed workout is different and exciting.  Most of the workouts are centered around race pace, so I know that this will boost my confidence when I get to race day.
  • 1 long run per week.  These start at 5 miles, and go up to 11 miles.  
  • 2 core workouts per week.  I love that there is a core workout built in to this plan, and I hope to stay consistent with it!
  • 1 cross training workout per week.  For my cross training, I will be doing yoga and kayaking.  Got to keep it fun, right?

Training officially starts next Monday, and I can't wait to get started!  I'm still working on my goals, mostly because my paces have been wildly inconsistent with my running streak and the crazy weather we've been having.  I'll see how the first few weeks go with my long runs and speed work, and come up with a goal soon.  Until then, you know I'll keep you all updated with my training!

What are you training for?
What's your favorite race distance?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

What's New With You? Linkup #19

July was such a busy and fun month, and I can't believe it's August already.  I seriously can't believe that the summer is basically over..before we know it there will be pumpkin spice lattes, scarves, and Halloween decorations everywhere!  Before then, you all know what time it is.  That's right...it's already time for the monthly linkup with Kristen and me.  Make sure you link down below and tell me what's going on!



Goals and Resolutions



Do Something Crafty.  This definitely took a back burner in July.  I was so busy with being outside as much as possible, hanging out with friends, visiting with family, hosting guests from out of town, that I didn't really do anything crafty!  Whoops :)

Be Musical. I've been playing piano like crazy and I can tell a huge difference since I started!  I'm so glad that we splurged and decided to buy a keyboard last year, and it's definitely one of the most-used things in our house.  I also started playing the sax last month, but I need to start practicing more.  I'm still hoping to join a group this fall, so I don't want to embarrass myself :)

Stay Active.  Definitely crushed this goal!  I decided to start my first Run Streak in July (my first day was the 4th!) and I'm on day 31.  I made this my goal for two main reasons- 1) Dan was away for a work trip for most of the month and I wanted to make sure that I stayed active and didn't get lazy/stay inside all day every day, and 2) I wasn't training for a race, so it's easy for me to get out of the habit of training.  I ended up running a race this month (you can check out my recap here!) and decided on a goal race for the fall, so I think my streak worked!


We also went out on the lake on our new kayaks a few times, and I took two stand-up paddleboarding classes.  The first one was a yoga class (now I can cross that one off my bucket list), and the second was to learn how to SUP with a dog.  They were both so much fun and I can't wait to get a paddle board next!

Drink Beer!  So far, my Tour de Beer is going pretty well! This summer I visited a bunch of different places- Southern Tier, Hop Farm, Grist House, and All Saints.  I still have a ton to visit (Cobblehaus, ShuBrew, and North Country are on the top of my list).  I'm also hoping to start brewing my next batch of beer in August, so more to come on that!




Other Stuff

We went to Mexico!  This was technically at the end of June, but we did get back in July, so it counts?  I shared my recap of the few days we spent on Isla Mujeres, and I'm still working on a post about our time in Cancun (and my first time staying at an all-inclusive resort).  The trip was a ton of fun and really relaxing.  The only bad thing about the trip is that I immediately started to plan another trip- something about traveling always makes me want to explore more.  Where should I go next?



I also visited Falling Water.  This was another item on my bucket list (did really well with that in July!!), so I was really happy when my family invited me to go!  The house itself was beautiful, but I fell in love with the grounds.  There were miles of trails to walk on and a beautiful stream (hence the falling waters!!), so I'm looking forward to going back in the future.


I went on a lot of group runs.  I'm not typically someone who likes to run with other people, but I made it my goal during my streak to run with someone else at least once a week.  Luckily, I found a few local girls who like to run on the weekend with me and it's been a lot of fun to get together for runs- sometimes on the road, sometimes on trail.  I really want to start improving with my running and reaching some key milestones (1:45 half and 4:00 marathon), so I know that running with other people will only help me!






That's all I've got for today- let me know what's new by linking up below!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Elorapalooza 5 Miler Recap

Hi everyone!  Today I'm going to be sharing a race recap from the Elorapalooza 5 Miler.  I wasn't originally planning on running this race, but since Sokphal was visiting from DC and wanted to enter a race while she was here, we both decided to run it!

This is a small local race that raises money for the Elora'a HOPE Foundation, which supports blood cancer research, provides scholarships for local students, and makes grants to cover non-medical needs of cancer patients and their families.  The race and foundation is named in honor of Elora Geier, who went through a lot of challenges in her life before losing her courageous battle with Leukemia in the 7th grade.  This year was the 12th annual event, and a 5 mile race and kids' fun run got added to the original 5k and 1 mile run (or lollygag).  I've done the 5k a few times in the past, so I was excited that a longer distance was added.

I really enjoyed this race and ended up getting a new PR in the 5 miler, so I'm excited to share this recap today!  Let's get right into it:



Mile 1 - 8:52

There were three different races- a 5 miler, 5k, and 1 mile, each starting about five minutes apart.  The 5 miler went first, so we were all told to get up to the starting line.  There were only 31 of us, so I pretty much started at the front line!  After a group hug and group singing of the National Anthem (both traditions of this race), we were off. I kept my first mile nice and easy to loosen up, since I was pretty sore from my long run the day before and a ton of walking all over the city.



Mile 2 - 8:08

There were lots of rolling hills along the course, and this mile was mostly all downhill.  Since this is an out-and-back course, I knew I would have to come up this hill pretty soon!  My new strategy changed to taking the downhills hard to make up time, then keep moving on the uphills.


Mile 3 - 8:22

We made it to a loop at the end of the Lodge Loop road, which was our halfway point.  It was nice to have a loop to run around instead of a traditional out-and-back, but I couldn't tell what place I was in.  I saw the lead male and female coming around, but everyone else was close enough to me that I didn't see them coming back.  I saw two females in front of me, and in this mile caught up to them and passed them.



Mile 4 - 9:18

This was definitely the hardest mile of the race.  I was getting warm (but was happy that I grabbed a sip of water at all the water stops along the course) and we hit the uphills that I enjoyed going down so much earlier in the race!  Luckily, I could see Sokphal up the road and made it my goal to catch up to her.  We were also on the 5k course at this point, so I picked out some of the people walking the race and tried to pick them off to keep my mind off the hill!


Mile 5 - 7:37

Right as we passed the final mile marker, I caught up to Sokphal.  She told me to go ahead, so I pushed myself for the last mile as hard as I could.  I had no idea what my pace was and just made it my goal to stay ahead of her.  Nothing like some friendly competition to help really push yourself, because I was absolutely SHOCKED when I saw my pace at the end.  I don't know the last time that I saw a "7" in a mile split! 

Here's a look at the race's elevation, and you can see the tough mile where I struggled!

After the race, there was a huge buffet- cole slaw, potato salad, hummus, cold cuts, baked beans, roasted potatoes, ham barbecue, pulled pork, and cake.  There was even free Rita's!  We grabbed some food then settled down to listen to a bluegrass band playing on the stage outside of the Lodge.  I haven't done a lot of races here (most are at the Boathouse), but it's such a nice venue!  Very quiet with lots of space.


The award ceremony happened a bit later, and I ended up getting 3rd place female in the race, and Sokphal won her age group!  The medals are really unique- the family who organizes the race orders them from a foundation for mentally disabled adults.  The adults create art work that is sold, and they earn 100% of the profits from their art.  For the age group winners, the artists created medallions that are hung on string (an artistic version of a traditional medal), and overall winners got beautiful ceramic mugs.  Every year the prizes are different, and I absolutely love the mug!


Besides the award ceremony, there was also a silent auction and raffle.  I ended up winning one of the auction prizes- 4 tickets to go tubing at Seven Springs.  I've never gone tubing and thought it sounded like a lot of fun!


Do you prefer small races or big ones?
Have you ever gotten a surprise PR?
What is the coolest race medal you've ever gotten?