Monthly Archives: May 2016

Weekdays Can Be Weekends Too

Happy Wednesday aka hump day, friends!  For me, Wednesdays are hands down the longest day of the week for me to power through, so I always love starting it out with a solid workout.  Per my usual Wednesday morning routine, I hit up Andrew’s P/E (power and endurance) class at the Blue Ash Recreation Center.  While it’s slightly out of the way for me now, this class is hands down one of my favorites and a great value at $6 dollars for a drop-in fee.  Plus, I used to be a regular back in 2014, where I attended 4-5 mornings a week!  So, it’s always a good time seeing some familiar faces :).  Andrew organized a killer workout this morning.  I think the hardest part was the third tabata we did–instead of the traditional 10 seconds of rest between rounds, we did wall sits.  Ooof!  Super challenging.  As always, loved the puns on the workout board and the high energy of class.  Can’t wait until next Wednesday!

  
I wanted to pop in today to tell you why I think treating your weekdays like weekends is a good thing.  That’s right.  The world we live in is incredibly fast paced, over-scheduled, and full of constant, non-stop activity.  My life is no exception to this.  Sometimes, this can lead our weekends to feel just as busy as weekdays and no time for relaxation with loved ones.  In an effort to try and be a more positive thinker, I’ve come to the realization that slowing down can be a good thing.  I read this post a few weeks back and realized what a great concept it described:  Making our weekdays feel more like the weekend.

  
I spend every day of my workweek looking forward to Saturday, my one guaranteed day off each week.  I look forward to taking my time in the morning, getting in a great workout, enjoying a delicious breakfast or brunch I might not normally indulge in (or have time for) during the week, and in general, moving slower.  Weekends are also great because they involve more mental relaxation and time spent with friends.  Weekends are also great for downtime.  I read this article from Scientific American recently, that describes why our brains need more downtime.  “Research reveals how mental breaks increase productivity, replenish attention, solidify memories, and encourage creativity.”  Mental breaks can look different for everyone.  For me sometimes it’s curling up with a good book.  Sometimes it’s eating a delicious meal outside and just enjoying the quiet and peacefulness.  Sometimes a mental break is a walk to grab coffee with a friend.  These mental breaks can lend towards productivity in the workplace, but can also allow us to have a clear head and positive attitude when it comes to making healthy lifestyle choices too.

  
While I can’t say I’ve discovered a true love for meditation, what I have found is that slowing down and allowing myself to enjoy activities I traditionally save for weekends has allowed me to think more clearly, positively and remain more productive and motivated to accomplish goals during the workweek–work goals, fitness goals and even health & nutrition goals.  I gave this idea a shot on Monday, because we all know Mondays can be tough, and it worked out really great.  From moving just a touch slower and making a real effort to incorporate things into my day that provided mental breaks from my work tasks, I was really able to end the day feeling positive and refreshed, even though I spent 9 of those hours at work.

  
In an effort to move slower, Monday started out sleeping in an extra 15 minutes until 5:30 AM.  While it seems silly, allowing myself the extra 15 minutes made a huge difference!  After waking up and enjoying my coffee with a dose of NBC news on the side, I did a 25 minute circuit in my apartment.  Normally, I wouldn’t have time for this, but I knew that working out helps me to clear my head and start the day on a positive foot, so I was happy to make time for some movement.  I did a few tabatas and EMOMs (every minute on the minute) and then made breakfast.  I have been craving bacon for weeks now, and it’s typically a weekend food for me, but since I was trying to have a “weekend” kinda mindset, I went with it.  Breakfast was soaked oats, fruit and extra crispy bacon.  This meal left me so, so happy.

  
Later that day, I decided to take a work break and squeeze in a walk + coffee date with a friend instead of my traditional lunch break where I snack at my desk.  The sun was shining and there was a nice breeze.  It felt absolutely incredible to grab an iced latte and breathe in some fresh air.  It made all the difference in my day.  After work, I went straight to the park to meet up with my friend Mary for a run.  Normally, I probably wouldn’t go to a park on a weeknight, just for sake of time, but in an effort to incorporate more interesting and exciting activities into my day, I was excited to go see how the development of Summit Park was going.  We did 4 easy miles on the loop that surrounds the park before our good form running clinic that was meeting at the park later that evening.  Wandering and exploring the park prior to the clinic was a fun way to slow things down too!

 

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 The day ended with the Bachelorette  premier + pizza with Mary.  Pizza is normally a weekend food for me, but in honor of treating Monday like the weekend, and JoJo, why not?

  
What did I learn from slowing down my Monday?  Well it didn’t impact my productivity negatively, and I ended the day feeling more refreshed, less stressed, and overall more positive about my week.  While slowing down every day isn’t a realistic goal for me, I will be making a more conscious effort to incorporate more positive activities into my days to make them more interesting and exciting.

  
Your turn, how would you make a Monday feel like the weekend?  What are your tips and tricks for slowing down?

 

 

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Why Early Morning Running Is My New Favorite Thing

Happy Monday morning everyone!  Is it just me, or does the weekend always end too quickly?  I had a nice one, specifically because I got to spend Saturday catching up with my brother; he moves to Seattle next week!  I also got to hit up the Hyde Park Farmers market and that always puts a smile on my face.

  
So these past few weeks, I’ve been making it a pretty permanent part of my workout routine to squeeze in some early morning runs before work.  That’s right, I said early.  When I run in the morning, I’ve gotta be moving by 5:15 or 5:30.  Ridiculously early, I know.  I used say that that waking up before 5:20 AM was too early and I wouldn’t do it.  I also used to roll my eyes at the 5:00 AM runners I’d drive by on days I used to go in to work at 6:00 AM.  Things change though, and these early runs have actually become my favorite thing.  Here’s why:

  1. After I finish, it’s usually just after 6AM, and I feel BADASS because I’ve accomplished something awesome, while most people are still sleeping.  
  2. It’s calm and quiet outside.  I have most of the streets to myself and have time to just think and release any stress from my week.
  3. Because recently, I feel like I’m chasing the sun.  I start around 5:15, and by the time I finish, the sun has completely risen.  I get to see the world wake up right before my eyes.  
  4. The sun rises early now so recently, there has been less of a need for my reflective gear.  Three cheers for safety!  
  5. Now that the sun has started rising earlier and the temps are warmer, all my fellow Hyde Park neighbors are joining me for runs.  While I typically do my early AM runs solo, it’s fun and motivating to see so many other runners hitting the pavement at ridiculously early times.
  6. Weekend warriors!  My fellow neighbors come out to run early on weekends too.  Case and point?  I had to work Saturday and ran at 5:45 am.  SO MANY other runners were out.  It was surprising to me that so many individuals in the area had such incredible motivation to get up and at it on a weekend morning.   LOVE IT.  
  7. Finally, who else feels like they can conquer the world after an early morning run?  It sets a nice tone for the rest of the day.
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Fun Week of Workouts

It’s Friday.  YAY!  This week has flown by and I’m certain part of that is because I’ve had so many fun things going on, including some new to me workout classes in the Cincinnati area that have helped me to deviate from my regular routine.  I’ve been trying to make it a priority to incorporate more strength training into my workout routine because I used to experience the benefits when I was an avid bootcamp goer.  I just haven’t been as proactive about fitting it into my schedule until recently.  I’ve discovered some fun new workout facilities around town and had time this week to check them out.

First stop?  Cincy 360 Fitness.  This gym was a new to me option in the area.  I discovered it through word of mouth.  Some running buddies of mine had mentioned that they tried a class and were super sore from it.  Awesome.  Sounds like what I was looking for.  After doing some investigating, I discovered you can try your first class out free.  Sold.  I signed up for the Cincy Circuits class Monday evening and was excited to experience a new workout.  Circuit workouts happen to be some of my favorite.  I love how you are moving through various stations and do a variety of movements and exercise, maintain a high heart rate, but never get bored.  The structure of this class was awesome–the first circuit was 8 strength exercises focusing on upper body and core.  We rotated through the circuit 3 times and spent 40 seconds on each station with 20 seconds to rest and move to the next station.  The second circuit was mostly legs and plyometrics, or as the instructor called it, her cardio circuit.  I certainly understand why too!  This really shot my heart rate up.  We rotated through the circuit 3x, but this time did each exercise for 30 seconds since these were much more intense exercises (think burpees and box jumps).  The instructor was really friendly and provided modifications and demos as needed.  You can pay to “drop in” here so I’ll definitely be back for another workout soon!

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My favorite workout of the week was definitely last night.  I attended the Yelp Quirks Out event at Corestrong in Covington, KY!  As a Yelp Elite, I am so thankful to get access to events like this just for sharing honest reviews of local business on the site.  I had never heard of Corestrong prior to this event but it’s safe to say I’ll want to return.  This studio was located in a warehouse type setting.  They have the Indo-Rowers which are powered by water, they have TRX Suspension Training, sleds, battle ropes, tires, boxing bags and a variety of other equipment to prevent members from getting bored.

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Loved the modern feel of this facility too.  While it was in a warehouse type setting, they definitely gave the gym a more upscale feel.  The class offered free to Yelpers was essentially a sampling of everything they offered.  We divided up into 4 groups and rotated through each for 10-15 minutes at a time.  The instructors here know what they are doing because they certainly got the room sweating in a matter of minutes.  We all started warming up together.

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Then, my group started on the TRX.  Loved the inspirational quotes on the walls.  TRX training is one of my favorite ways to incorporate strength exercises into my routine.  I’m always sore after.

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Next up, boxing.  I’ve done kickboxing classes before but never using a bag.  This was fun and really got my heart racing.  Third stop?  Rowing!  I’m not very good at these.  I’ve tried the Indo-Rowers a few times before at another gym and the instructor there has tried to help me improve my form but I tend to overthink the motions.  I know if I could improve my form, this would be a sweat dripping workout all by itself.

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Last up were the sleds.  I’ve never pushed a sled without weights before.  While it was still super tough, it was fun to see how fast  I could move while pushing it.  After the 4 stations, one of the instructor lead us through some cool down yoga.  Then we hopped back on the rowers for Glow Row!  They turned out all the lights, gave us glow sticks, and had us compete in races in teams.  Super fun.  Your first week at Corestrong is free so it’s safe to say I’ll be back.  I’m not sure if I’ll invest in a membership quite yet because it is pricey, however,  with all the different options it’s safe to say this provides some great variety to any workout routine!

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Anyone else try some fun new workouts this week?  Where is your favorite fitness class?

 

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Thursday Thoughts #3

I think this is the third time I’ve written a post entitled “Thursday Thoughts.”  They say it takes at least 3 times for something to become a habit (or 21 days) so I think sharing my Thursday Thoughts is officially a thing now.  Don’t you?

Early morning runs are my favorite.  Loving them even more now that the sun is up around 6 when I finish!

  
It was my Mom’s birthday Monday.  This cake was hands down the highlight of my week.  These cakes are infamous in Cincinnati and make any special occasion extra special.  Mmmmm opera cream 🙂

  
After seeing a bazillion friends go nuts over the cookbook Cravings, I broke down and bought it.  Hands down worth every penny.  The book is full of “cravable” (see what I did there) recipes that do not require too much hands on effort.  My favorite!

  
I made the spicy tomato skillet eggs + prosciutto (I subbed ham) and it was super tasty.  Served with toast for balance 🙂  The recipe reminded me a lot of shakshouka, a dish that reminds me of happy memories in Israel from the summer of 2009.  Except the version I ate in Israel wouldn’t have included pork.

   
 Yay speed workouts!  Queen City Running Club focuses on shorter, speedier workouts during the summer. Tuesday was super gross outside, but running buddy Mary and I drove over to Covington, KY to meet the group.  The organized workout began and ended with a slow but steady 1 mile warm up / cool down and the middle chunk was speed intervals by Paul Brown Stadium.  I’m never super pumped about speed work until I actually start moving and this workout was no different.  At the end of it all, I dropped some sub 8 minute miles and felt pretty spectacular about it.  Go me!

  
This new flavor of kind bar I discovered is my new favorite snack.  I want to eat it all the time.

  
Loved squeezing in a Blue Ash Rec Center workout.  Always a good sweat fest.  Sweat fests make me happy.

  
And… I’ll end this post with an awkward photo of my feet.  My right big toe is definitely swollen.  You know how sometimes on walks you stub your toe in the sidewalk crack, but then the painful feeling goes away immediately?  That apparently didn’t happen here.  I’m thinking this will go away soon but who knows.  Maybe I’ll keep you guys updated.

  
Tell me, what are you thinking about on this Thursday?

 

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Missouri Weekend

Hi friends.  Happy Tuesday.  Just popping in here on this dreary Tuesday morning (so sick of the rain…who else is with me?!) to share some snapshots of my quick, weekend trip to Columbia, Missouri.  Myself and some of the fam went to see my younger brother graduate before he moves to Seattle.  Exciting stuff!

The drive from Cincinnati to the Columbia area took almost 9 hours.  I blame rush hour traffic in the St. Louis area.  Is St. Louis rush hour always the worst?!  The drive included plenty of packed road snacks (almonds, fruit + iced lattes) and a Panera stop for lunch.  Upon arrival to Columbia, it was dinner time.  Off to one of our favorites in Columbia, Broadway Brewery!  Broadway Brewery is located in the basement of a building so it’s very dark inside so unfortunately, no photos.  While I was 100% underwhelmed by their pre-selected graduation menu and did not enjoy my meal Friday, from a previous experience, I can report that their burgers are top notch and you can’t beat the beer.  I like their honey wheat.  Instead of food photos, here’s an attractive family photo at the restaurant.

  
The next day was a late wake up call.  After a morning workout and hotel breakfast, it was off to explore Columbia.  Coffee, scones and donuts?  Yes, please.  I was sad sour cream dunkers were the only type of donut Harold’s had left, but just goes to show in a college town, the hangover can motivate students to buy all the donuts at a local donut shop before lunch.

   
 Next up, a very early (like 3:30pm) dinner at Sophia’s before the graduation ceremony.  Sophia’s was good, not great.  In true Kaplan family fashion, we tried a bunch of stuff.  Started with an antipasti plate.  It had pita, cheese, fruit, and meat.  So tasty.

  
The ahi tuna pita flatbread was just okay.  The horseradish mayo was way too overwhelming for my taste buds.

  
My favorite was the pasta carbonara.

  

I was most confused by the grilled romaine.  Why is that a thing?

  
After or dinner (or linner–lunch + dinner, is that a real phrase?) we wandered the Mizzou campus for pre graduation photos.  Then, much needed coffee.  Then, a boring graduation ceremony.

  
The drive home was long so immediately after returning to Cincinnati, a run was in order.  5 miles with my friend Maria in the books.

  
Congrats to the grad!

Who else is traveling to graduation ceremonies this month?  Any healthy traveling tips you swear by?  Does anyone actually like grilled romaine salads?

 

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OAND Pre-Conference: Your State, Your Plate!

Hi Friends!  Happy Monday.  Posts were few and far between last week, but for good reason!  On Thursday I was up in Columbus for the day to participate in the Ohio Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics (OAND) annual pre-conference event.  I have always wanted to attend the actual conference however, I had plans to travel to Missouri with family Friday and Saturday.  So, when I saw this pre-conference meeting was an option, I jumped right on it.

    
The day was planned and organized by the American Dairy Association Mideast, with help from the Ohio Pork Council, Ohio Poultry Association, and Ohio Cattleman’s Association in partnership with the Ohio State University Extension Center.  The goal for the meeting was for participants to get a firsthand look at how our foods are produced.  We got to chat with farmers and speak with food production experts to learn exactly how different foods end up on our plate.  Awesome!

  
First tour?  OSU’s dairy farm.  Before heading over to the actual farm, we had to put on some super attractive foot covers (pictured above) to prevent bringing contaminants on site.  Clearly they take great care of their cows.  I think for starters, it was incredibly surprising to find that right in the dead center of an urban campus, there is a fully functioning 167 acre dairy farm featuring over 100 Jersey cows.  While the main focus of this dairy farm is obviously to benefit the university (research, education, student employment), they do sell their milk to Smith’s Dairy and these profits help support the mission of the farm.

  
Now, let’s talk milk!  What I found most interesting about the dairy industry was that there is typically a turnaround of no more than 48 hours from milking the cow, to the milk appearing on supermarket shelves.  Crazy to think that milk from the grocery store is literally as fresh as it could be.  What I found to be slightly more shocking though, was how little farmers earn off each gallon of milk sold at the grocery:  only 65 cents to a dollar.  This amounts to around a $40,000 / year salary for a farmer with 100 cows.  I would have guessed they earn more considering how hard the farmers work.  It’s a 24/7 job!

   
   
Next stop was OSU’s Garden of Hope.  This garden is a unique set up designed specifically for local cancer patients.  The farm is used as a means for educating patients, survivors and family members on healthy dietary patters, specifically with cancer in mind.  These individuals also have the unique opportunity to come harvest their own produce from this ENORMOUS garden.  A lot of thought and consideration went into developing this project, including pesticide use.  They do not use pesticides or herbicides because most of the people picking the produce are immunosuppressed cancer patients.  In addition, this farm cannot be considered organic due to use of synthetic fertilizer.  Again, due minimizing risk for the cancer patients, the decision was made to prevent exposing them to the organic fertilizer, which typically is made with manure.

   
 
During lunch, we skyped a pork farmer, and he introduced us to his pigs, and explained the process of raising pigs.  Unfortunately, the skype connection was not the best and it was very difficult to hear what the farmer had to say.  However, I was very impressed with how clean the facility was and how well managed it appeared.

After lunch, we were off to the OSU Beef Facility.  Here we got to speak with the farmers and student interns who manage and maintain the cattle.  Fun fact:  did you know there is a beef farm in every Ohio county?  What was also interesting to learn was that all the cattle are artificially inseminated in order to synchronize the breeding.  This allows for all cows to be on a similar schedule, making animal management much less cumbersome.  While this farm functions just like any other beef facility might, the primary purpose here is for research and education.  Any beef left over is sold at a university meat market at a discount price (aka perfect for struggling college students!).

   
   
After the long day of farm tours, it was time to head home to Cincinnati.  Such an interesting way to spend a day–while I don’t do any farming for my work, I deal with individuals who are constantly asking questions about food and where it comes from.  This meeting provided me with new facts and perspective on what it takes to get food from farm to plate.

 

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Recent Eats + Fitness

Hi Guys!  Hope everyone had wonderful weekends celebrating with Mom!  I certainly did.  I went over to my parent’s house yesterday morning and surprised my mom with a simple but tasty brunch–bacon + egg breakfast sandwiches and fruit.  Delish!  I had been craving breakfast tacos, but these still hit the spot.  Mom was surprised too.  I caught her right after she worked out so I couldn’t have timed this meal better.

  
Sunday was pretty rainy, but Saturday, the sun was shining all day.  Running buddy Mary and I made sure to meet up with Queen City Running Club for the kickoff workout of summer training.  Considering Saturday was 1 week post-marathon, we were both very happy with our pace for this quick 3 miler.  Perfect way to start out a weekend.

  
Random thought regarding Saturday morning’s run…  so it was in the upper 60s to low 70s and there was a woman wearing a full blow track outfit (jacket + matching pants).  I was sweating just looking at her outfit.  When people over dress in the heat for runs, I get confused.  Do you guys have a go-to rule of thumb for how you decide what to wear for runs?  Tell me.  I’ve been told I under dress  when it’s cold and over dress when it’s hot!  (Insert thinking emoji here).

  
Earlier in the week, I received my first Blue Apron box!  After seeing so many positive reviews for the service, comparing it to other services, and overall liking their menu options the best, I decided to sign up.  I like the flexibility of being able to cancel my weeks whenever I chose to with Blue Apron.  I live alone so the 6 meals I receive through the service lasts me longer than a week so I don’t need a delivery more than 1-2x per month.  It allows me to mix up my meals from my standard routine, without wasting too much food or over spending.

  
The first recipe from the box I prepared was this Udon Noodle Stir Fry with Shitake Mushrooms.  It took maybe 20 minutes to prepare and was a nice way to mix up my regular dinner routine of chicken or fish with whatever veggies I had in the fridge.  Loved the shitake mushrooms in this recipe too.  I had green beans in the fridge so I added some to the mix to up the veggie volume.  Worked perfectly!  I had leftovers to enjoy all weekend.  I ended up getting 3 meals out of it.  Awesome.

    

Last thought on my mind relates to Kodiak Cakes!  Who else is obsessed?  I remember when they were on Shark Tank and now they’ve become a pantry staple for me.  I picked up their new flavors at Target this weekend and had to try them out.  The peanut butter mix wasn’t my favorite.  It didn’t have as strong a flavor as you’d expect.  I still felt the need to drizzle peanut butter on the cakes themselves.

  
However, the chocolate mix combined with the peanut butter mix was heavenly.  Topped with a banana and more peanut butter?  Perfect way to start a Monday after a drizzly 5am run.

  
Who enjoyed the Sunshine this weekend?  Thoughts on appropriate running attire?  What is your go to garment for running?

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Thursday Thoughts

Why did I just discover that my local Whole Foods has the 7.99 “Meatless Monday” special?  I filled that plate to the max with veggies, tofu and other vegetarian staples and got a Monday dinner + Tuesday lunch out of it.  Such a mega bargain.  I’ll be back.

  
I’m becoming marathon obsessed.  I thought I was hasty signing up for my second marathon 2 weeks after my first, but I broke a new record Monday.  I signed up for marathon #4 just 2 days after my less than desired experience at marathon #3.  Redemption + a new PR?  Yes please!

  
I’m traveling to Redondo Beach, California for a work conference in September.  It ends Friday but I’m not flying back until Sunday.  I need ALL THE SUGGESTIONS for food, fitness and travel activities I should experience.  Should I rent a car?  Where should I go?  What should I do?  Where should I stay?  I’ll be traveling solo.  Help!!!

  
Looking for a good cookie recipe.  I’ve recently made this one about a dozen and a half times (totally exaggerating but still).  Cookie requirements:  must have a chewy center and crisp exterior.

  
I’m pedal wagoning this weekend.  I’ve never done it.  I’m excited.

  
Happy Cinco De Mayo!  To celebrate, I’m going on my first post marathon run.  Hope the ankle holds up.  TBD.  If it doesn’t, there will certainly be a margarita in my future.

  
I take beautiful race photos.  Case and point below.  

  

What are you guys doing to celebrate Cinco De Mayo?

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Louisville, Kentucky Eats + Activities

Happy Hump Day, friends!  Hard to believe that it’s already Wednesday and that I’m officially a 3x marathoner.  The more time I’ve had to sit and reflect on Saturday’s race, the more content I have become with how things shook out.  26.2 is such an unpredictable distance and many seasoned marathoners will likely agree with me here, that anything beyond mile 18 is going to be a mystery.  There is no way I could have anticipated the issue I encountered with my ankle, so the fact I still beat an old time to earn a shiny new PR is nothing short of wonderful.  Even if this PR does not reflect my current level of fitness, I beat my previous time and that’s what counts.  Plus, in other ankle related news… Guys!  It’s officially not swollen and completely pain free.  I’m still taking care of it, but I don’t think it’s going to take me out of commission.  It might force me to ease back in incredibly slow, but who said that’s a bad thing 🙂


So while the main purpose of our trip was obviously to run, we did do our best to sample some of Louisville’s best eats and activities.  First on the agenda Saturday after a nice post-race nap?  Pizza!  Right next to our Airbnb was this nifty place called Garage Bar.  It was raining, so we ordered our pizza to go.  However, this place sticks out due to the garage like patio set-up it has.  While we waited for our order, we sat at the bar and enjoyed some local craft beers before taking the pizza back to the apartment.  It was AMAZING pizza.  We got a sweet corn and bacon, as well as a brussels sprouts pizza.  I wolfed down 5 slices so fast I forgot to take a picture.  .  Running 26.2 miles will do that to ya 🙂

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Next on the agenda was another nap.  We were wiped.  After that, time for dinner!  We heard about a BBQ joint / Brewery called Against The Grain and knew that would be the perfect spot to continue the post marathon celebration.  Obviously we all sampled some of the beers (my favorite was their pilsner) and of course the BBQ nachos.  For dinner, we split a few different items including a beer can chicken, brisket, and a ton of sides.  The chicken was moist and delicious.  Unfortunately, the sides were a major bummer.  I felt like they came from a deli counter at Kroger opposed to a nice restaurant.  For a sweet bite after dinner, we obviously tried the bacon donut.  It was good, but not my favorite donut.


 Post dinner included checking out Louisville night life for drinks on 4th Street.  If it wasn’t for my swollen ankle, this might have been more enjoyable.  Always fun to explore though!

Sunday morning we slept in.  First on the agenda was coffee and Louisville’s best chocolate chip cookie at Please and Thank You.  This place was absolutely adorable.  I could spend a lot of money here.



Our early morning snack was followed by brunch at Wild Eggs.  I felt the need for some veggie action so I got a veggie hash with fried eggs on top.  Hit the spot.  And a celebratory bloody mary–because marathon weekend 🙂


Last stop?  A mandatory visit to a location on the Bourbon Trail.  The Bulleit Bourbon Tour was a blast.  The property was very beautiful and well maintained plus, our tour guide was passionate and had a sense of humor.  He was also incredibly knowledgeable.  I learned that my favorite bourbons have a higher ratio of corn than barley or rye which is what makes them sweeter.  Cool!




I’ll also mention that our Airbnb was in a really cool part of town called “NuLu.”  It’s a very trendy area that’s really turning around.  The streets were so beautiful too–Market Street specifically was lined with cute shops and restaurants.

Who’s been to Louisville?  Favorite spots?  Favorite post marathon meal?

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The Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon Recap

Well folks, what can I say?  It was one heck of a weekend.  Hard to believe that 19 weeks of training have come to a close and marathon number 3 is one for the books!  It’s been no secret that breaking the 4 hour threshold was my goal, and I’ll throw this out in the open right now that I did not get there (yet).  However, I accomplished something Saturday that most people don’t get to say they’ve ever done so I have to be proud of that.  After the race Saturday, we adventured around Louisville so I’ll share the food related adventures later this week.  For now, I know you’re all really curious to hear about the marathon.

 
Obviously, the first stop we had to make while in Louisville was the race expo.  We wandered around for a bit, snapped some obligatory photos, and then decided to head off and actually drive the course.  

  

As I mentioned before, I trained for this race with Queen City Running Club and my two friends Mary and Katie.  For Mary and Katie, it was their first 26.2 so we wanted to drive the course to get a visual of what we’d be conquering the following morning.  Ended up being a great idea.  Driving through the course gave us a spot on perspective of what to expect, especially around miles 11-15 which various rumors had led me to believe would either be incredibly challenging, or not as bad as the hype.  I had been warned by many that these hilly miles through Iroquois Park would be brutal, but I needed to see it to believe it.  Having the visual image of what to expect coming into these hills was actually incredibly helpful, but more on that later.

  
After a successful run through of our race (on wheels of course!) we headed back to the apartment we booked through Airbnb.  This worked out well because instead of eating out, we stuck with a solid plan of cooking our pre-race dinner!  We decided on stir fry with chicken, veggies, and white rice to fuel us for the marathon.  Hit the spot.  Perfect way to fuel up before the race–a balanced plate with some carbs, protein, and veggies.  Awesome!

  
Our alarms went off bright and early at 5:30 AM and we were ready.  It also looked like the rain was going to hold off until about 9 or 10 AM meaning we’d get to start out running this race nice and dry.  I was definitely excited about that!  By 6:30, we were out the door and walking to the start.  That’s right, I said walking!  Benefits to Airbnb?  We booked a place within blocks of the start line.  After taking some obligatory pre-race photos, Katie split off from me and Mary to find a faster pace group to run with, and Mary and I lined up with the 4 hour pacers, since that was my goal time.

  
 
Before we knew it, the guns hand sounded and we were off.  Within seconds of crossing the start, our 4 our pacers had weaved their way through the crowd, going almost a minute faster than the average goal pace for a sub-4 race, so Mary and I while frustrated, decided it would be better to keep a consistent pace on our own instead of trying to chase these women (who quite frankly weren’t being very good pace leaders the way they were shoving their way through the crowd).  So, adrenaline aside, our first mile wasn’t ridiculously fast, it was right around where I expected it to be.

Mile 1- 8:50

After making our way out of the classic “start of a race bottleneck,” Mary and I made the decision to stay together until I felt I was ready to push off.  This is a new to me thing as I typically go all out, but I knew that I wanted this 4 hour marathon so bad, that I wanted to try my best to conserve energy for the end of the race, especially since I knew there would be some brutal hills at the half way mark.  After the first mile, Mary and I slowly settled in to the pace needed for a sub-4 race:  9:09.  To be completely honest, the next few miles up until we hit Churchill Downs were pretty flat, boring and uneventful.  We saw Mary’s boyfriend around mile 6, which was motivating as well, but for the most part, the flat, boring course made keeping this pace pretty easy.

Mile 2- 9:06
Mile 3- 9:12
Mile 4– 9:09
Mile 5– 9:15
Mile 6– 9:15
Mile 7– 9:12

Around mile 7.5 or so, we hit Churchill Downs.  This was arguably the coolest part of the race.  Obviously since this was the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon, there was hype built up around this very facility where the derby takes place year after year.  It was incredibly surreal  running through Churchill Downs.  The horses were out, and they had the whole place lit up just for the runners.  Totally awesome.  Even better was that the rain held off until right around this point in the race, so I got a solid hour or so of running in before the continuing rain that I had to endure the rest of the race.  Our first “hills” of the race happened in Churchill Downs as well.  The ramps into and out of the facility were quite steep and narrow, but I still somehow maintained a solid pace.  I slowed down a little bit on the ramp leading out of the facility but not by much.

Mile 8-  9:06
Mile 9- 9:24

After leaving Churchill Downs, the course became slightly mundane again.  The rain had really started to fall at this point so the roads were wet and the crowd support was non existent, which was a mega bummer.  Mary and I kept strong and decided to continue motivating each other because we knew the big bad hills of Iriquois Park were coming up around mile 11.5.  Around mile 10, we met a new friend, I think his name was Dave, who was shooting for a similar goal time.  Dave was looking for some extra motivation because he was used to the Miami, FL heat he trained in, not the cool, rainy temps we were experiencing.  We all decided to run together for a bit to motivate each other in preparation for the hills.  The motivation definitely helped!

Mile 10- 9:06
Mile 11- 8:57

The dreaded climb began around mile 11.5 and that’s when our pace started to slow.  This was planned though as Mary and I had no interest in wasting energy at this point in the race knowing we still had so much further to run.  We were chatting too and while Mary was at the upper end of her limits as far as pushing pace (go Mary!), I had a lot more to give and knew after the hills I’d eventually break away.  While constant ups and downs of the rolling hills in the park were no joke, the park itself was absolutely beautiful.  With the rain falling, it felt like we were in a rain forest.  It was a nice change in scenery from the barren, flat roads we had previously been running on.

derby

Mile 12- 9:27
Mile 13- 9:42
Mile 14- 9:45
Mile 15- 9:45

As you can see, the hills definitely took a toll on our pace, however I had the energy and mental drive to bounce back.  I had planned for these slow downs the entire time and my theoretical goal was to come back and eventually hit some sub 9 miles.  With this plan in mind, my sub-4 marathon was still in the scope of realistic things.  At mile 16, I was feeling AWESOME and turned to Mary.  It was time and we waved our goodbyes as I slowly started to increase my pace.  I was having a blast and dancing to the music, waving at the few brave soles who came to cheer in the rain.  I was motivated and pumped up.  I had a goal to chase!

Mile 16- 9:24
Mile 17- 9:18

Mile 18 I started to feel a minor cramp in the right side of my stomach so I slowed down a bit.  Gotta listen to your body.  I grabbed some powerade at a hydration station and kept going.  The electrolytes solved my cramping issue almost immediately and I was back on my original plan of slowly speeding up.

Mile 18- 9:39
Mile 199:21

It was around miles 20-21 where things started to go downhill.  All of a sudden, my ankle started throbbing.  It was a pain I had never experienced before.  My ankle muscles had been twitchy on and off since the start of the race, but nothing that I couldn’t conquer.  This minor ankle pain had happened on one of my long runs but I bounced back so quick from it I didn’t think anything of it.  I decided to listen to my body, since the pain was pretty bad and slow down.  I had to readjust my frame of mind at this point because I knew as my miles slowed, I would not get my sub 4 hour marathon.  I decided maybe a sub 4:15 would be realistic.

Mile 20- 9:48
Mile 21- 11:06
Mile 22- 10:48

Right after 22 was when it really got bad.  The pain continually got worse and I decided to start run-walking.  I started walking through water stops and increasing my walking bouts as the pain worsened.  Over the last 4 miles of the race, my pace slowed so significantly that the once seemingly realistic finish time of 4:15 blew away and I knew I just wanted to PR–less than 4:29?  It was possible.  My drive to ring the PR gong at the finish line was the only thing keeping me from hiding out in a porta pottie and quitting.  It was mentally tough.  These miles were made slightly better though by some good conversation with other runners.  I met a few people doing back to back marathons and asking me for advice on the Cincinnati Flying Pig, my favorite race and hometown race!  I don’t think I could ever run back to back marathons so props to these people.  Eventually around mile 23 or so, Mary passed me.  She had slowed down too but was still looking strong.  Go Mary!

Mile 23- 12:24
Mile 24- 12:57
Mile 25- 12:39

With just over a mile to go, the sky opened up and what was a constant drizzle became a pretty major downpour.  I knew I had just over a mile to go and was ready to get this brutal race over with.  My feet were cold and soggy and mentally, I was over the entire thing.  Ankle pain or not, I started to speed up.  I was getting my PR even if it wasn’t the one I had originally set out for!

Mile 26– 11:27
Last .2 nubbin’- 9:03

 
I did it!  I sprinted through the finish line and powering through that pain exerted so much physical energy from me that I started wheezing and hyperventilating.  The medical tent attendees tried to get me to sit down but I didn’t want to.  I was a mix of emotions.  I had PR’d, yes, but it wasn’t the PR I had hoped for.  I let them give me some water and then I moved on through the finish area to find some nourishment.

Final time- 4:20:40 (average pace 9:57)

 
As you can see, the ankle issues I endured really took a toll on my time but I still PR’d by over 8 minutes so I’ll take the win.  It was frustrating knowing I had worked so hard for a specific goal and I was physically capable of it, but the cards just didn’t play in my favor.  Regardless, I ran my third marathon and that itself is an accomplishment.  Sunday evening, we met up with our training group for the post marathon celebration event at Braxton.  It was such a great time swapping battle stories with fellow running friends.

 

So, I’m still pretty set on this goal still, and I’m like 99% certain that I’ll make a final attempt to conquer that sub-4 goal in November in Indianapolis.  Every marathoner says they’ll quit running marathons until the next one… am I right? 🙂

 

 
Who has a favorite race?  Anyone run a marathon this weekend too?  Any tips for better ankle support while running?  Who’s used KT tape?

 

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