Honeymoon Recap – Nice, Monaco & Monte Carlo

Our amazing honeymoon trip continued with a stop in Nice. For this port, the boat docked out in the water, so we took mini boats called tenders in to shore. Ian and I chose to do this day mostly on our own and opted just for transportation. We hopped on the bus to Nice and our tour guide welcomed us with the warning that she usually loses at least one on each trip, so don’t be late getting back to the bus. She then handed out cards with the number for the cruise in case we did get left behind – yikes!

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To top things off, because every couple ahead of us decided they EACH needed a map, she ran out of maps by the time she got to us. She insisted we would be fine if we just, “memorize the city with our eyes.” I tried to explain that would be tough given we had never been here before. No one wanted to part with their maps though, so we struck out on our own hoping for the best! Sheesh!

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Nice was a cool city, but with only a few hours we didn’t get to see too much. We saw the Court – called the Palace of Justice – and walked through the flower market. We saw the statue of Apollo and then walked through a park built over a river bed that steam shot up through. We took a bunch of pictures here pretending to walk through the steam like badasses, because we are just that cool!

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Before finding our way back we took a long walk along a rocky beach. I was expecting beautiful white sand beaches, so this surprised me, but I’m guessing they are in another part of Nice?!? We also stopped at a cute little cafe/bakery where we had the best peanut butter chocolate chip cookies – they were still warm along with a hot chocolate for me and an Oreo milkshake for Ian!

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The bus took us to Monaco next. This might be one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen and one of the places I would definitely want to go back to some day. We started our afternoon in Old Monaco City, which is built on top of a giant cliff and has unbelievably beautiful views from the top.

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We got a quick history lesson and learned why Monaco is referred to as a Prinipality instead of a Kingdom – it is a country too small to be considered a kingdom so they are ruled by a prince who will never become king. We walked by an Ocean Musem once run by Jacques Cousteau and saw the Church where Princess Grace is buried.

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We ate lunch outside of a small restaurant called Pasta Roca. With apologies to Rome, Ian enjoyed the best fettuccine alfredo he has ever had and I had one pretty amazing four cheese white pizza. Yum!

The best part of the day was we got to visit the city of Monte Carlo, which we were initially told would be closed because of a meeting of heads of state. We took a city bus to Monte Carlo, which took us along the route of the famous Grand Prix there – so cool! The bus was empty except for us and a guy in a three-piece suit. Apparently this is what happens when you have public transportation and no poor people in a city. As we pulled in to Monte Carlo we got a glimpse into how the other half lives…or maybe the other one percent is more like it.

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We of course went to the Casino Royale. The cars parked in front were unreal. We saw Bentleys, BMWs, a McLaren, a Rolls Royce and more! I had never heard of a McLaren – when I asked Ian if they were considered nice cars he told me they cost a million dollars – wow. The casino was also surrounded with expensive shops like Cartier, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and on and on.

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We peeked into the main Casino to see the lobby, which was beautiful, but were chased out when we were unwilling to pay the 10 euro fee each just to get on the casino floor. We popped into a side casino where we played pin-ball like roulette for an hour and turned our 5 euros into 12.50. Woo – we took money out of Monte Carlo! I left out the exact amount and just told everyone else on the bus we had more than doubled our money, haha!

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After heading back to Monaco we took in some more views of the Alps and the water. We saw so many amazing yachts including one so big it had a helicopter pad!

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It was a very cool trip and if anyone ever wants to bankroll me, I would love to go back and really play in the Casino Royale!

 

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Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

I’m a bit late with my morning recap today, but figured better late than never as I fly back to DC after a weekend away! I had a pretty decent week as I started my 5k training. I only put in three runs as opposed to my usual 5-6 as this was also a recovery week from my second half marathon in the last few weeks.

Here’s the day-by-day breakdown…

Monday: I put in an easy 3-miler at about a 7:55 pace after work on the Mt. Vernon Trail. P90X core routine.

Tuesday: P90X core routine plus I taught morning boot camp.

Wednesday: Full Rest Day

Thursday: P90X core routing and I taught morning boot camp to kick the day off. After work I took advantage of a beautiful day to get some quarter mile repeats in on the relatively flat W&OD trail. After a quick warm-up I went quarter mile on quarter mile off for five repeats keeping them all between a 6:25 and 6:58 minute pace – with my fastest being my last one at 6:25! I felt really great about this workout, especially since my stomach wasn’t feeling so great beforehand since I decided a fountain coke, jimmy johns sandwich and salt & vinegar chips were good pre-run fuel!

Friday: Travel/Rest Day.

Saturday: I took today off so I could drive down to Boston and have lunch with one of my closest friends before dragging her an hour south of Boston to watch Ian do his coaching thing. His Plymouth State Panthers beat UMass Dartmouth to go 7 and 1 on the season!

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Sunday: I hit the treadmill for a 30-minute progressively faster run. I started at an 8-minute pace and worked my way up to a 6:58 pace. The best part about this run was I ended feeling strong like I could keep on going rather than counting down the seconds until the clock hit 30!

Something New

Now that my so-called “spring” half marathons are done, it’s time to look ahead and set some new goals. I saw progress in my training at both the DC RNR half and the B&A half in Annapolis, but now it’s time to really work on my speed. To do that, I am going to do something new – and something I have never done before: train for a 5k!

What?! How can I claim I have never trained for a 5k with the number of years I’ve been running and the dozens of 5ks I’ve completed? Well, yes I have run a ton, but I have never trained specifically for one. I either just went out and did it because I knew I was capable of running 3.1 miles, or in the case of my speedier ones, I just ran them in the midst of training for another longer distance race.

Hal Higdon’s plans have proven successful for me in the past, so I’m going with him again for this one. I have chosen an 8 week advanced 5k plan culminating in the Alexandria Running Festival 5k on May 24.

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So, what are my goals for this?
My pie-in-the-sky dream goal is to break 20-minutes in a 5k. My current PR stands at 21:25, so that would be a dramatic jump, but a small part of me believes this is possible and plans to throw reality out the window for the next eight weeks and go for it. My B goal is to set a new PR. Since that PR has stood for quite some time now, I would still be pretty thrilled with this outcome. My C goal if training doesn’t go quite as planned is to get back to a sub-22 5k time and have an excellent base to spring me back into BQ marathon training!

Will I have any other races along the way?
Yes, in fact I have a handful planned over the next two months to give me a chance to see where I’m at and have some fun picking up the pace. You’ll see me at:

Let me know if I’ll see you at any of these races and tell me about your upcoming goals and races!

Pure Barre DC – Oiselle Style

On Sunday, I tried out my first Pure Barre class in D.C. Thanks to several teammates who go their regularly, the Eastern Market studio hosted a group of DC birds for a free trial class. Photos are courtesy of Courtney over at Eat Pray Run DC.

I have to say I was a bit skeptical, but that’s only because I would rather just run all day everyday than have to cross train. It’s also a bit on the pricey side for me when I know I can do a lot of strength workouts out of my own home or at the gym I already pay a monthly fee for. Whether or not I actually do those strength workouts on my own is another story. 🙂

Our instructor Sydney was fantastic. You could tell she’s very experienced and did a really great job of keeping the class flowing while simultaneously stopping to help us newbies – something that is not easy to do. She also made the class fly by. I looked down at my watch at one point thinking maybe we were halfway through and we only had 10 minutes left to go.

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Another pro – I loved that it was set to a playlist. I don’t run with music much anymore unless I hit the treadmill, and forgot how fun it is to work out to tunes.

I honestly thought the strength component would be tougher. I’m not saying it was easy (it was not) – just that I thought it would be torturous. Reading things like this guy’s hilarious recap of attending Pure Barre with his fiancee made me expect the worst! Maybe I am just getting better at those strength workouts on my own …and those near daily P90X core sessions and push ups are having more of an impact than I realized!

I wish I had grabbed at least the 3 pound weights. You have a choice between 2, 3 or 5 for arm workouts and being overly cautious I grabbed the 2-pounders and did not get as much as I could have out of the arm sections.

The leg stuff was great and a few of those squats on your tiptoes while squeezing a ball between your thighs (there is probably an actual name for these) had my legs shaking pretty good. Still, I thought it was all very doable and having run a half marathon that morning had expected this to hurt a lot more. I was pretty proud I didn’t collapse mid-class! Adding pistol squats and single leg lunges back into my routine about a month ago definitely helped me out on these ones. We also did some hip opening and strengthening exercises I struggled a bit on that has to be helpful for runners doing this on a regular basis knowing how common hip tightness can be for us.

The stretching – now this was a whole other story and every bit as tough as I expected and then some for this not-at-all flexible runner. I nearly burst out laughing at a couple of the things we were expected to do – then realized as others in the group started to do them with no problem that this was no joke! Nose-to-knees? Ha, I can’t even touch my toes, so that is just not happening. From one position we were told to reach back and grab our foot if we could. I’m pretty sure my foot was in another zip code. My favorite was when the instructor raised her arms over her head and pulled back as far as she could then asked us to do the same – the only way my arms could find that position would be to start them behind my back and pull them up!!

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While Pure Barre may not be entirely my style of workout it was definitely a cool experience. The stretching clearly made an immediate impact as I was way less sore on Monday than I was just two weeks ago after the RNR DC half. So much of it is also great for runners, so I can see why so many like it. I don’t think I’d make it a regular thing, but could certainly see myself dropping in for a class here and there. If you’ve never tried it, I’d certainly recommend giving it a go!

Race Recap: B&A Trail Half Marathon

On Sunday I ran the B&A Trail Half Marathon in Annapolis put on by the Annapolis Striders run club. I will admit I had a really bad attitude about going to this race. I was already disappointed in myself since this was initially my target full marathon, but I didn’t put in the training to be able to give it a legit shot at qualifying for Boston, so I decided to opt for the half shortening my recovery time to go at it again.

After some pretty decent weather recently in the greater D.C. area, I was unbelievably annoyed when I saw it would be a feels like temperature between about 16 and 19 for the race. You all know I do not like running in the cold, so this news just sucked! Since I was doing packet pick-up day of (glad they offered that) I had to leave super early meaning a wake up in the 4s… mornings are right up there with the cold on a list of my favorite things!

Despite all this, I was pleasantly surprised with the race. The start and finish line were at Saverna Park High School, so they used that as their staging area. It is always nice to be able to hang out indoors before a race, but especially so when it is as cold as Sunday was. I arrived about 6:30 and had no trouble grabbing my packet. I got my bib on and shoe tag timing chip then found the bathrooms that surprisingly had a pretty short line.

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I wore my Oiselle portman pants and then all the layers on top starting with the verrazano sports bra and topped with the scantron tank, flyte long sleeve and tech hoodie. As race time got closer I ran my stuff out to my car since there was no bag drop for this race and put my car key in my back pocket of my pants and a Gu in the front pocket. For the second straight race I ended up not feeling like I could get anything down mid-race and again didn’t take it. I need to start practicing nutrition again.

I headed back into the high school and found a quiet hallway to do my warm-up. About five minutes before go time I made my way to the start line and put myself between the 8 minute and 8:30 minute pace corrals. It was pretty informal and self-selected pacing, but the signs with pace times were a nice guide. I really enjoy the ease of these smaller races.

Soon after the National Anthem was sung and we were off and racing. The start was a little crowded, but fortunately we didn’t link up with the trail till about a mile and a half in giving everyone enough room and time for it to thin out. This was a paved trail very similar to the W&OD for those familiar with the D.C. trail system.

I didn’t feel as cold as I worried I would, but all of my layers including my gloves and neck gaiter probably helped with that. The sun was also shining brightly, which upped my mood a little bit. Just like Rock N Roll DC a couple weeks ago, the miles just ticked by. It was a great feeling, especially since I was in such a negative mindset before the race started. Also, like RNR, I didn’t look at my watch once until I crossed the finish line, so I ran completely by feel.

I felt really strong for the first six miles or so. From about mile three on, I found myself running mostly alone or with just a few other people nearby. I actually didn’t mind this at all – it was relaxed and so similar to many of my training runs. The volunteers were also incredible, nice and enthusiastic. They had to be absolutely freezing, so a big time thanks to them.

I was expecting the race to be completely flat, but boy was there a tough hill between miles seven and eight or so. It really took the wind out of my sails for awhile and definitely impacted my overall pace – note to self: add more hill training in to workouts!

It felt like time had flown when all of a sudden volunteers were directing me off the trail at the split between the half and the full and down the homestretch back to the high school for the finish. I crossed the line in 1:48:07 (unofficial). According to my watch I ran 13.22 miles for an average pace of 8:11 – how I could screw up tangents in a mostly out and back race is beyond me, but I do always find a way! Another race day tactic I need some work on for sure.

Mile by Mile:

1 – 7:45
2 – 7:41
3 – 8:06
4 – 8:07
5 – 7:58
6 – 7:56
7 – 7:51
8 – 8:40
9 – 8:40
10 – 8:28
11 – 8:12
12 – 8:34
13 – 8:30
Final .1 pace – 7:40

I was really pleased when I saw that time and realized I’d taken almost four minutes off my half marathon time in just two weeks! It is about five minutes off of my PR, but is a time I felt really good about given my current fitness level. I’m continuing to see strides (pun intended) in my speed throughout my weekly workouts and it was nice to see that show through on race day.

After I crossed the finish line, I immediately made my way back into the high school to warm up. They were offering all racers a free massage and had a great food spread. If I weren’t so chilly I probably would have taken advantage of this, but I really just wanted to get home so I grabbed a banana and a water, jogged out to my car and turned the heat all the way up for the ride home!

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All in all, a pretty good race day. You can certainly tell the organizers have done this before and know what they’re doing. I thought the four water/gatorade stops along the half course were completely sufficient and well staffed. If it were a warmer day I probably would have worn my water pack though. If you like smaller races that almost have more of a Sunday long run feel to them, then this one is for you.

Footprints: Monday Morning Recap

Once again I’ve been MIA for awhile, but I’ve been busy with lots of good things happening. This week started off awful with no runs Monday through Wednesday, but then I had a strong end of the week, so I’ll focus on that for the recap!

Here’s the day-by-day breakdown:

Thursday: I taught morning boot camp then got in my P90X core workout. After work I put in just under 4 relatively quick, but still felt easy miles along Four Mile Run & W&OD trails. I was motivated for this run thanks to the arrival of my new Oiselle tool belt roga shorts and wazelle halter tank – the near 70 degree temps didn’t hurt either!

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Friday: I put in a speedy out and back negative split run along the W&OD for 4 miles.

Saturday: I was up early and all bundled for a very easy nearly 4 mile shake out run along Four Mile Run & W&OD. After 70 degrees two days earlier, a feels like of 22 felt awful!

Sunday: I ran the B&A Trail Half Marathon up in Annapolis and had a pretty good race – more to come soon. I also got in my P90X core routine and a Pure Barre class with my fellow DC Oiselle teammates in the afternoon. Pretty good day for working out!

Race Recap – DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

On Saturday I ran the DC Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. I finished in a time of 1:51:58 and while not a PR, I was really pleased with my performance for the race.

I should start this recap by saying that I’m not a big fan of the RNR races in general. I think they are too expensive, poorly organized and promise things they don’t deliver based on past experience, so some of my critiques might be based on already having a negative view of them. I got a great discount for this one though, so I decided to give them another shot.

I stopped by the expo on Friday at the DC Convention Center during my lunch break and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I was able to grab my bib, shirt and make my way through the expo. I made a quick stop at the honey stinger booth to grab a few waffles and bites!

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On Saturday morning I was up at 5am. I had a couple pieces of toast and a yogurt for breakfast and did some of my core routine. It was supposed to be high 40s and rainy. I could already hear the rain on the windows so I knew we weren’t likely to get any reprieve from that and we sure didn’t. I wore my Oiselle flyte long sleeve over my gwen tank with stride shorts and CEP tall compression socks along with my speedy Newton shoes.

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I drove to Rosslyn and took the metro in from there. I figured getting to the Federal Triangle stop an hour before the race start would give me plenty of time. I would be wrong. I really regret not getting off at the Smithsonian stop instead. It took probably 25+ minutes just to get out of the metro station.

The rain was coming down pretty good and in typical RNR fashion everything at the start seemed disorganized and a pain to get to. I ran my way past the race corrals and down the block to the street where the UPS trucks were waiting for bag drop. Signage for each truck was at ground level so it was blocked by the people waiting in line and I had no idea which truck my bag needed to go in. I finally found the right one and then sprinted back to the bathroom lines, but they were ridiculous. I knew there was no way I was getting through the line before the race started and was immediately regretting all the water I had the night before and with breakfast.

I took off running again down 12th street to find the other set of bathrooms. I made it to them 10 minutes before the race started but after 5 minutes in line I was still nowhere close so I made the decision to just wait until the first chance to stop along the course. The last RNR race I missed the start for because I was waiting in the bathroom line (they started the race early without making any announcement due to inclement weather on the way) I ended up getting diverted to the finish at mile 20 and having to give up on a BQ attempt.

I took off running again – probably put in close to 1.5 miles before the race even started – and found my way to my corral just as the National Anthem was finishing up. On the plus side, I was really well warmed up. On the downside, my shoes were already soaked through and the rain would not stop for the next 13.1 miles.

We took off on Constitution Ave and did an out and back over Memorial Bridge before turning up Rock Creek Parkway. My goal for the race was to run hard, but not stress over time, so I didn’t look at my watch the entire race (except to note how much time I lost making a pit stop for the bathroom just before mile 2 – about 80 seconds, err!). I actually managed to successfully do this and was pretty proud I never cheated and took a peak at the time.

I felt strong at the start and kept telling myself not to go out too hard. I didn’t feel like I was overdoing it and the miles just seemed to tick by, which is always a great feeling.

Mile 1 – 7:41
Mile 2 – 8:41 (including a pit stop!)
Mile 3 – 7:46
Mile 4 – 7:53

I continued along Rock Creek Parkway making my way towards the huge hill up to Calvert Street that spanned the end of mile 5 and beginning of mile 6. This hill is brutal and I wasn’t looking forward to it. There was not a ton of crowd support for this race, which I’m sure was down some cause of the rain and cold and it didn’t feel like there were as many bands as promised, but RNR certainly did this hill right. The Blue: Run to Remember crew was out strong with signs that had pictures of fallen military members and others holding American flags. It was really inspiring and definitely took your mind off the hill.

Mile 5 – 8:07
Mile 6 – 8:13

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I kept going through Adams Morgan with a few ups and downs, made my way past Howard University towards North Capitol Street and H Street. I don’t know this area of DC as well and don’t run here very often, so it was a nice change of scenery. My times definitely show that the hill hurt me for a little bit. I had brought a Gu with me, but didn’t feel like I could get it down, so decided to just push through with out it.

Mile 7 – 9:26
Mile 8 – 8:36
Mile 9 – 8:20
Mile 10 – 8:23

Miles 11 through 12 I dealt with some side stitches that slowed me a little, but my legs still felt strong.

Mile 11 – 8:53
Mile 12 – 9:00

Even though I could tell I had slowed down I was really pleased with how quickly the miles had passed. It felt like I got to 12 in no time and I never hit that stage where I was just praying for a mile marker to show up. I picked up the pace a bit again for the final mile and made my way past the DC armory to the finish.

Mile 13 – 8:35
Final .1 – 7:44 pace

I was so pumped to have completed the race feeling strong after having battled through the rain. According to my watch I ran 13.31 for an 8:25 pace – a result of either being really bad at running tangents or veering off course for my bathroom stop – either way, I’ll take it! Officially I ran 1:51:58 for an 8:33 average pace coming in 2,322 out of 15,216 overall, 179 out of 1,924 in my age group and 803 out of 9,462 women!

The finish line set up was beyond awful once you waked out of the finish chute. After collecting my medal, space blanket and snacks I had to walk all the way to the back of the lot to get my gear bag. We were about as far away from the metro as possible, which was pretty frustrating given how much they encouraged people to use the metro. I was almost convulsing I was shivering so hard as I made my way to the metro – I think that walk was seriously harder than any mile during my race.

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I finally feel like I’m making progress in getting back into PR shape and look forward to what the next couple months will be. The best part about this race for me was that despite the terrible conditions I caught myself breaking into a smile for no reason at certain points just because I was having fun out there! I was also so thankful for all the online support from my Oiselle teammates – several of whom were out there as well. A special shout-out to fellow bird Prianka who persevered through that rain for the full 26.2 and on top of that, set a PR! Amazing!

How did your weekend races go?

Next up for me is the B&A Trail half marathon in two weeks. I’m looking forward to what I expect will be a slightly easier course and what I hope will be better weather!