Four Years of Shamrockin’

With one of my favorite road races coming up this weekend, I thought it would be fun to look back at my last four years of running of the Yuengling Shamrock half marathon.

Throwback Thursday or Thinking Out Loud?

Either theme works I guess.

I’ve run the Shamrock half marathon four years in a row. This year will be fifth Shamrock and 29th (?) half marathon.Shamrock half marathon VA beach

2012: 1:33.30 (recap here)

At the time, this was also my half marathon PR.  It was my fourth half, and I ran it while on college Spring Break.  I don’t remember a lot about this race except my brother ran the race the year before in a time of 1:33.31.  Granted he didn’t train, and I did, but it was sibling rivalry at its best.  It was my fourth half marathon at the time, and I was running it after taking four months off of running for swim team.

2013: 1:25.14 (recap here)

2013 remains my fastest time on the course.  While it was windy, I surprised myself.  I trained hard through the Upstate NY winter.  I didn’t race much (because racing in -20 stinks).  At the time it was a half marathon PR, although it was short lived because I Pred again a month later at the Nike Women’s half).

This was my favorite year, not because I Pred but because I got to watch dad finish his full marathon as well.

This photos reminds me it was very cold and windy
This photo reminds me it was cold and windy

2014: 1:25.29 (recap here)

2014 was a letdown race.  After my course PR the year before, I expected to PR again.  Looking back, I should have known I was not ready to PR.  I wasn’t in the same physical shape, and I also had a lot going on that weekend.

We had a huge Oiselle meetup, and I didn’t eat my usual evening race food (Similar to last week when I ate Octopus.  I swear it doesn’t happen often).  I felt lethargic and run down during the race.  In fact, it’s one of the few goal races I failed my nutrition goals. I put socializing first but honestly I had a great time with the team.  Even though I didn’t run to my full potential that day it was still a great event.  I went to PR at the April Fools half marathon two weeks later.

But I did get this sweet photo...
But I did get this sweet photo…

2015: 1:33.04 (recap here)

Last year I raced injured.  To be honest, it was dumb and set my injury recovery back more.  I ran the half at roughly the same pace as the first half of the Phoenix full marathon.  I had more important things to worry about that weekend like my final touches on our wedding and hanging out with both sides of my family.shamrock 3

One of my closest friends Kris ran the half as a tempo.  She ran an entire mile with me, and it was the closest glimpse to elite running as I’ll get.  Not sure if there is a reality TV show called “Running with the Stars” but sign me up.  (Kris is running the full this year…so missed opportunity).

shamrock 2

 

2016: ?!

Will I run a 1:25?
Will I run a 1:33?
Will I break this strange pattern? 

Who knows…It’s been two months since my PR at the Carlsbad half.  I’ve been training consistently with no major set backs, and Shamrock is a faster course.

However, it’s forecasted to pour rain.  You can’t control the weather so we will see how it goes.  40 degrees and pouring rain aren’t ideal for racing or for my hair (hashtag knot city).  My goal is to have fun, race as hard as I can for the day and to see as many of my friends as possible.

Shamrock is one of my favorite races and a race I recommend to anyone.  The course is flat, and crowd supported, plus the after party can’t be beaten.  Logistics wise, it’s one of the biggest races I run that you can find a hotel close to the start (or finish).

It was fun to look back and see my racing the last few years there.  I can’t wait to make it 5 in a row.  I think Shamrock is the only race I’ve been able to run that long straight (knock on wood).

Questions for you:
What is your favorite race? (Let me know if you are running this year)
Do you have any St. Patricks Day Plans? 

A Quick and Enjoyable New Years Trip

Last week I was able to go home and see my parents for New Years. It’s hard to believe I hadn’t been to my Virginia Beach hometown since the RnR Virginia Beach race in September.

I’m close with my family, so it was nice to spend a few days with them.  It was a great few days and we got to relax, enjoy New Years and run the Resolution Run.

My mom made the best Christmas gift.   When I was younger, I used to play with American Girl Dolls and had everything for those dolls. My mom has a small business and sews outfits for them (as well as other custom made items), so she made a LOLZ running outfit complete with runderwear and all.runner american girl doll

When I was much younger, my hair was dirty blonde, so this was me at about age 10.

You can go to her facebook page here if you are interested in her stuff.  She makes everything from American Girl doll clothing to baby blankets and bibs.  She ships too! 

My family, husband and I just spent time relaxing and hanging out.  Plus drinking coffee from one of my favorite coffee shops.

Jojacks Coffee
Is that enough whipped cream?

After running a 5k PR at the resolution run, we came back to enjoy family time.

An adorable photo of my 16 year old cat.
An adorable photo of my 16 year old cat.

One of my favorite desserts that mom makes is her Chocolate Ribbon Pie. It’s a pie made from cool whip, cream cheese as well as chocolate pudding. I’ve never attempted making it because I know I would be disappointed that it doesn’t taste like moms.

Chocolate ribbon pie
Chocolate ribbon pie

After a delicious and fun New Years lunch, we headed back north. I never realized how short the drive from Virginia to New Jersey is when you don’t stop ten thousand times along the way. It’s only 5.5 hours!

Questions for you:
How was your New Years?
Do you like pie?

Training: An Unexpected 2.5 Year PR

This was the week.

The week of weird, unexpected and the week I Pred…while wearing a wet seal prom dress.

Thank you Ally for this photo
Thank you Ally for this photo

Life is full of unexpected events and without the unexpected I don’t think LOLZ blog would be able to exist because I’m normally pretty boring.

With that training this week was weird, and I’m okay with that.

Monday: OFF
Tuesday: 13.35 with Liz (her longest run ever)
Wednesday: Easy run with Tim
Thursday: Morning Shakeout run in VA
Friday: Hair of the Dog 5k (18:22)
Saturday: Easy run
Sunday: Easy Run
Total: 69 miles

On Monday I felt sore, so I rested.  The last few weeks have been weird for me.  Typically I take Thursdays off but lately I have been taking Mondays off.

My run on Tuesday has become one of my favorite because I enjoy running with Liz. It’s always a lot of fun to just chat and hang out for 2 hours. It was raining (again), but we had a great time. Plus it was Liz’s longest run to date.

Liz and I

Wednesday and Thursday were both easy runs. I had planned to do the Beat the Ball 5k on Thursday evening. I’ve done the race several times (2012, 2013, 2014)  and always had an enjoyable race. This year, however, I wasn’t feeling that well. I was exhausted and miserable all day and afternoon.  I was bummed to miss the race, but my husband and I stayed home. Dad went and had a great race.

Even though I was disappointed to miss the race, I told myself “it’s better, you don’t feel well and racing would do more harm than good”.

On Thursday, I ran the Resolution Run. It was put on by my local running club. I’ve run the race several times under the previous name of Hair of the Dog. The race has a formal wear division that you are supposed to dress in your “night out clothing”. This year fewer people were wearing outfits, and I wasn’t going to compete in the “formal wear” division until I saw personal friend Wendy wearing her dress.  So I started the race in my Wet Seal Dress.

Sadly we did not win the Formal Attire
Sadly we did not win the Formal Attire

Spoiler: I felt good, and ended up finally breaking my 2.5-year-old PR. To be honest, I’m still shocked it happened.  After not feeling well the night before, it was the last place I expected to PR.  It is a 13-second lifetime PR and a 26 second recent PR.

Saturday and Sunday were both easy runs.

Final thoughts:

I’m still surprised that my PR finally happened. It feels excellent to start the year off on such a great foot.  While I did race, I didn’t do any workouts this week.  I’ve been hitting 2+ workouts weekly for the last month so this was a nice mental break.

Thoughts for next week:

I’m running the Icicle 10 miler next weekend in Wilmington. I raced that last year and had my first good race effort post stress fracture. I’m excited to see what I can do this year.

Questions for you:
How was your New Years?
When was your last PR?

So You’re Running Late with Gift Giving?

If you are anything like me then you normally wait until last minute to Christmas shop. Unfortunately, that isn’t as easy this year because I’m working. So I was forced to get my shopping done early and by early I mean yesterday and online.  Just thinking out loud, I’ve created a LOLZ worthy edition of some last minute gifts to get your loved ones. 

Last week to get into the Holiday spirit, I posted about the five types of Holiday shoppers.  Now I’ll post about getting a few last minute Christmas gifts.

Last minute holiday gift guide

So you waited until last minute?

Christmas is two days away, and you see friends and relatives all have gifts out…but you forgot about Great Aunt twice removed Sue, who you met once after having a few cocktails.

Like half of the population, I never got my “gift giving guide” on the blog.  I never really had a great gift guide to be honest, I feel as if I just purchase people what they want and gift guides are never that personalized.  My dad loves to run but doesn’t want a Spi belt…gift guides tell me Spi belts are great options for runners.

Here are some awesome gifts you can go out and buy in the next 24 hours. Maybe even on Christmas at your local drug store.

Socks: Most people need socks as much as underwear. Since it’s just awkward to buy someone underwear…stick with socks. You might not want to know their underwear preference.

Towel: Most people shower and after taking a shower you must dry off. A towel is a nice way to do that. Heck, you can even personalize and glitter gun it if you are the crafty type.  Or give it to them in a towel animal form.

Plus you can make a towel animal post with it too...
Plus you can make a towel animal post with it too…

Tweezers: Tweezers are one of the most universal items out there.

tweezers

Do you have an emergency eyebrow hair in the way?

Do you have to tweeze out a splinter?

You never know when those guys will come in handy and when they do…the gift receiver will text you a solid thanks with a Facebook “like” emoji. 

Calendar: Since most people have their personal planner preference choice (or none at all), it’s wise to go towards a wall calendar. The last thing you want to mess up someone’s planner life with one they won’t use.  I recommend staying with a plain calendar because you don’t know if someone really likes cats that much (if they don’t they are weird).

calander

My other recommendation is to take 12 selfies and make your own personalized calendar for friends.  Your friends and family can appreciate that, but you’ll have to tape the photo to the calendar since it will take more than a day to get a custom one.  Bonus: You’ll look crafty too!

If all else fails go for the Gift Card: I get it…you want to unwrap something. So wrap the gift card in the biggest packing box you can find, add some tissue paper and you are fine. They unwrap something under the tree, and you don’t have to worry about a return. Alternative options include putting a 20 dollar bill inside a box but hoping it doesn’t somehow get lost.

Bonus: If they have cats or small kids, they can play in the boxes.  Double gift giving!

cardboard box

And of course, have a Happy Holidays. Anything of these things will most certainly make for a happy day, though.

Questions for you:

Are you done with your Holiday Shopping?

How are you spending the Holidays?

Thanksgiving 2015

For Thanksgiving, my husband and I cooked our first turkey.  As someone who is terrible at cooking, this is a big deal.

If you recall, I won a turkey last week at the base Turkey Trot. Winning something so useful was nice. Most people that have followed my blog for a while know  I’m not a cook. I can cook very simple and easy things. My standard meal is meat, potatoes and vegetable. Cooking an entire turkey terrified me but life is full of challenges.

Before beginning the process, we both agreed if we hated the meal or something went wrong then we were going to the diner no questions asked.

So with a plan and a backup plan in mind we began.

The Turkey started like this:

A turkey that I won

After sitting in the freezer for a week and then dethawing for three days, it was ready.

Step one: Take Out the Giblets (Please mind post race glamour hair)

take out giblets

Step Two: Stuff the Turkey.  We decided to use a recipe with champagne and apples.  A few weeks ago my friend recommended it over traditional stuffing, and it came out perfectly.  We were surprised with how simple but fancy it was.  Recipe here.

stuffed turkey

Step three: Add Bacon and beer?

I’m not sure if I saw more memes or recipes about a turkey wrapped in bacon, but we decided to try it out. We just used this simple recipe. (Maybe I just spend too much time on the internet). It didn’t look incredibly difficult, and we just made a patchwork quilt of bacon on the turkey.

Into the Oven she goes...
Into the Oven she goes…

It came out well; I was honestly quite surprised. I thought the bacon might burn, or that the turkey would not cook right, but nothing went wrong.

The light...it burns...but not too much burning...
The light…it burns…but not too much burning…

All finished

All done
All done

We also decided to cook stuffing.  We used a bag of premade stuffing, added the butter and few onions and cooked it on the stove.

Stuffing is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving. We made an entire bag which apparently is for a family of 6...oh well.
Stuffing is one of my favourite parts of Thanksgiving. We made an entire bag that apparently is for a family of 6…oh well.

We also had canned cranberries (why my husband likes that I’ll never know…)

cranberry sauce

Since sweet potatoes are in season, we decided to make those too. Nevermind these look like 5-pound weights. I forgot to take a photo but they just looked like regular potatoes.

I’m proud of how everything turned out. To be honest, I don’t know if I would have done much differently. I wish we added more bacon to the turkey to cover the side but that is not a big deal.  Nothing was inedible, and we both enjoyed cooking it. I’m sure as we cook more turkeys we will learn how to cook them better and with different styles but I enjoyed it!  I would definitely recommend any of the recipes we used because they were simple.  The bacon on top of the turkey looks a lot more complicated than it was.

Keep in mind I’m no foodie.  Yes, I blog and try to eat relatively healthy but I’m no chef.

Questions for you:
How was your Thanksgiving?
Have you ever cooked a turkey before?

Why Running Streaks Don’t Work for Me

Many of my friends got their running starts between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Several magazines and fitness blogs do “running streaking”.  Runners World hosts a challenge each year to run every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas.  It helps motivate people, get people out the door and helps from gaining holiday weight.

Why Running Streaks Don't Work For Me

What is a running streak?

Run Streak-Running every day

What are some benefits for “streaking”?

  • More motivation to run…it’s hard to stop once you get past 1…2…3…days…then somehow you find yourself at 100 and who wants to break that?
  • It builds a base. Inevitably you will probably run more miles, and your general fitness will improve. Like any training, there will be plateaus as well as high points.

So on paper a running streak looks great.  You build more mileage and endurance and possibly get stronger and faster.  What type of runner doesn’t want to get stronger and faster? 

So why isn’t a streak something I’m interested in?

I’m injury prone.   I’ve come to a point with my running that I need to take a rest day fairly often. I run high, unconventional mileage and race a lot. Personally this causes me to not only need but WANT more rest days. I take anywhere from 4-8 rest days a month.  My current schedule has caused more workouts, less mileage and more rest days.

To be honest, sometimes sipping coffee during my typical run time is all I want to do.

For instance, a couple of Mondays ago I woke up and felt unexpectedly sore. I didn’t plan to rest, but I knew it was the best option. I couldn’t even imagine running a quarter of a mile, let alone 1. So I rested. If I were attempting a streak, I would have still gone for a run…I probably would have been more sore the following days.

Similar to running shoes, there is a perfect training plan for everyone. Some people thrive on running streaks! Other people like myself, don’t! Either one is fine, and that is the beauty of the sport…there are so many paths you can take once you cross the start line.

In summary, running streaks have their positives and negatives. They are beneficial for some and not for others. Similar to running shoes, it depends on the person, the lifestyle and the goals to whether a running streak will work for you. Either way it’s important to have some sort of activity throughout the year.

Questions for you: 
Have you ever done a running streak?
How many rest days do you like weekly?