Workout of the Week

Last week was my first one back on a plan and boy did it feel good! I still haven’t decided on which half marathon I’m going to do – and even added another possibility into the mix – but all three are the same weekend in the D.C. area, so I have some time to narrow down which one I want to do.

Instead of breaking down the whole week day-by-day like I used to, I thought it’d be fun to switch it up a bit this time and share the highlights as well as my favorite workout – or workout of the week – as I go along. I’m trying to recap them each day on Instagram and twitter, so if you have any desire to hear all the deets, follow me on there!

Running in my brand new Saucony Kinvara 5s (they fit like a glove!) that I won in a Pacers contest, I put in nearly 40 miles over the course of six runs along with a spin class, some strength work (not enough), core workouts, stretching and a lot of rolling.

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It was one crazy weather week here in the D.C. area. I ran in near 90-degree, high humidity weather and also had a few perfect mid-50s, low humidity morning runs!

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My workout of the week was definitely my long run. Granted an 8-miler would probably be considered mid-week mileage during some of my old marathon training plans, it was a good distance to start out at for half training. I was up early on Sunday and greeted by sunshine and absolutely perfect running weather!

Gearing up for Saturday's run...the bum wrap Oiselle skirt made it's first appearance of the season!

Gearing up for Saturday’s run…the bum wrap Oiselle skirt made it’s first appearance of the season!

I put on a tee, my rogas and compression sleeves and was out the door to a nice, quiet Sunday morning. Other than other runners, the streets were pretty empty. I love how Sunday mornings in Arlington/DC are so sleepy and quiet – such a difference from the normal hustle and bustle of the area.

I set out on one of my favorite routes that I used to take from my old place all the time, but haven’t done once since moving last July! I scooted up to Wilson/Clarendon Boulevards, the main streets running through the Rosslyn to Ballston corridor, and headed down the hill and over the Key Bridge into Georgetown.

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After a jaunt down M street I briefly ran along the Rock Creek Park trail and headed off by the Kennedy Center before starting my return loop over the Memorial Bridge, past the Iwo Jima Memorial and back up the hill to home.

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Like all of my runs this week, it was at an easy pace, but without even realizing it, I ran 30 seconds a mile faster than my run that was 2 miles shorter the morning before. My last mile that included ups and downs, but mostly ups, was also my second fastest – only falling behind the all downhill mile – and I felt like I could have kept going. I love that feeling of finishing strong!

I’m counting week 1 of training as a success! How did your week go? Any stand out workouts you want to share? Do you have a goal race on the horizon? Let me know in the comments!

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My Favorite Arlington Restaurants

One of the great things about running and working out so much is that I get to enjoy all of the great restaurants (in moderation of course!) near me in the Arlington area without worrying about packing on the pounds! I’m by no means a foodie, so fancy or trendy restaurants aren’t my thing, but I do love to eat. There are so many great spots to eat out at here, but given my love for pizza and pub food, it should come as no surprise that my top three spots in Arlington in the Rosslyn to Ballston corridor are RiRa, Fire Works and Ray’s Hell Burger.

RiRa is an irish pub up in Clarendon. It’s part of a chain that tries to bring a bit of Ireland to the states by hiring bartenders and servers from Ireland and serving dishes like Guiness stew and fish and chips. For years my favorite Irish pub in the area was Four Courts, but since they have stopped serving Magners and have taken my favorite food options off the menu, RiRa is now number one.

RiRa has a great appetizer selection. My favorites are the soft pretzles and the spinach dip. If you’re not looking for a full meal, you can get a sampler to share with three full-size apps for under $25. They also serve good burgers and chicken sandwiches, which is about all it takes to please me! I love the setup and atmosphere of RiRa as well – you can catch a game in the eating areas downstairs, come for trivia night or head upstairs where another bar is located for some great people watching, especially on 80s cover band nights!

Fire Works near the Court House metro opened a couple years ago and won me over right away with their wood-fired oven pizzas. I also love their garlic knots and their spinach dip (are you sensing a theme here?) served with delicious pizza bread. I generally go with the plain old cheese and herb pizza, unless the special of the day is their buffalo chicken pizza, which is quite tasty. They have an extensive beer list and a few ciders too, so I usually end up ordering a Crispin or two.

The only downside to Fire Works is their service. I’ve never had anyone be unpleasant, but they are usually understaffed resulting in pretty slow service. The food and atmosphere make up for it though, especially when you can sit out on the patio on a nice summer evening or even on cooler evenings if you’re by the fire.

Ray’s Hell Burger might be the best burger I’ve ever had. If you’re looking for a great burger, then look no further than Ray’s. It’s cash only, so be sure to stop at the ATM first or you might miss out on your best burger ever. The meat is seasoned perfectly – you have several seasoning options to choose from – and cooked to juicy perfection. I always add a side of seven cheese mac and a coke. I’m no expert at restaurant reviews, so head on over to Croutons Stuck in Futons for a review that does Ray’s a bit more justice.

I finally made it to Ray’s: To The Third recently. It’s another one of the restaurants in the Ray’s family and is right across the street from the plaza that houses Ray’s Hellburger. I didn’t think it was fair to add to this list since I’ve only been there once, but it will quickly become one of my favs. It contains all the Ray’s wonderfulness from the steakhouse, Ray’s Hellburger and Ray’s Nice ‘N’ Greasy Steak ‘N’ Cheesy. The steak and cheese sandwich was out of this world, and the inside of the restaurant is a bit nicer than the more cafeteria-style version over at Hell Burger.

The best part about these places: all three are walking distance from my place. Some might argue with me on that when it comes to RiRa and Fireworks, but hey, it can never hurt to work up an appetite on the way there or walk off a delicious meal on the way home!

Fun in the District

I moved to Arlington for grad school six years ago now. It’s so hard to believe I’ve been down here that long – time has absolutely flown by. I instantly fell in love with this area and am still blown away by how many cool things there are to do in Arlington, D.C. and even occasionally (usually begrudgingly) Maryland.

I’ve gotten to a couple Nats games already this season. Nats Park is a great, new stadium with some awesome stadium food options too! I’m a fan of the Ben’s Chili Bowl spot, but might have to try out Shake Shack on my next trip there now that I’ve finally gone to their restaurant. I was lucky enough to go to opening day here during the Nats inaugural season and have attended several games a year since then, even getting to sit in the Diamond Club seats once.

This season I caught a Saturday afternoon game with friends in a packed stadium to watch the Nats beat the Phillies and got out of work for a weekday game as part of a department outing. We got to see Strasburg pitch, but unfortunately it wasn’t his day as the Nats lost to the Padres.

My parents made a trip down to D.C. to visit in late May, and having visitors is always a good excuse to get to play tourist in my own city. They’ve been coming down for years now, so we’ve already done most of the usual touristy things and joke that most of our visits are planned around food, but with all the great restaurants down here, you can’t go wrong doing that! We ate at some of our usual favorites, Rhodeside Grill, RiRa and Brooklyn Bagel Bakery (best bagel spot in the greater D.C. region!). We also got a deep dish and a thin crust at District of Pi Pizzeria, which my Dad had never been to and wanted to try after I’d been raving about it for some time. It didn’t disappoint. Their specialty seems to be the deep dish pizzas, but both of ours were delicious. The service left a bit to be desired, but fortunately the pizza was so good it made up for that.

On our past visits to the National Mall, we’ve never made it all the way down to the Capitol Building so I decided to start on that end this time. I get to run around this area a lot and it’s such a great site to take in, so I was excited for them to get to see it up close finally. I waited too long to try and get tickets for a tour unfortunately, but we walked all the way around the outside and passed by the Supreme Court and Library of Congress as well.

My favorite museum to visit in D.C. has always been the Newseum. Working so close to the National Mall now, I have no excuse not to visit some of the Smithsonian museums I still haven’t managed to get to in my six years here. I’ll share some future posts on my experiences at them and which ones I think are most worth visiting.