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Archive for March, 2011

The animal below is a tapir…

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But in case you didn’t see through my corny pun, I’m going talk about tapering (but HOW perfect is that photo?!?)

Tapering (in the running world) is when the athlete lessens the distance they run each day as the race approaches.  The idea is to have your muscles be truly rested for the big event, thus maximizing performance.  In other words, we don’t want no “dead legs”!

I’m running a half-marathon on Sunday, so the past ten days or so have been “taper” days.  I ran my longest run (11 miles) about 2.5 weeks ago and since then, I’ve been gradually reducing my mileage, running 6 miles as my last “long run” just over one week beforehand.

Luckily, my spring break vacation (Ahhhh, one of the true joys of being a teacher- spring break!) coincided with my tapering week and we just happened to have a trip to Florida planned. While March in New York City is a cold, blustery wench, it was 85 degrees, sunny and (miraculously) not humid. Perfect running weather!

Here is my pre-race training, starting from 7 days out. Running in Florida was awesome.

Day 7- Run 1:00, Walk 1:00 for 30:00 total

Day 6- 15:00 Water Aerobics (in the pool, yeah!) and 20:00 Walk

Day 5- 4-Mile Run

Day 4- Rest

Day 3- Run 1:00, Walk 1:00 for 30:00 total (same as Day 7)

Day 2- 30:00 easy Elliptical

Day 1- 20:00 easy Jog

RACE DAY!

I’m very much looking forward to this race, probably because I have no goal time and plan on just enjoying myself.  It’s the first race I’ve ever run like that and I think it’s going to be fun.

Have you ever run a half-marathon? Do you taper before a race?

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Hey, y’all! I’m back, didja miss me? I’m sorry if you’re a new reader and I didn’t get a chance to respond to your comment love (thanks!) but I was on vacay down south in the good ol’ M.I.A.

Ah, sun, sand and my in-laws, what could be better (wink)? Seriously, though, Miami is a fun-ass city, especially if you get off the (in my humble opinion) over-priced, skeeviness that is South Beach.

Since Pete is Miami-born-and-raised (leave it to this girl, the biggest Latinophile ever, to somehow find the like, one white boy in the entire city) and I lived there for a year, we tend to seek out things that are a bit more off-the-beaten path.

I rarely do this kind of “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”-type post but I figured every now and then, it could be fun.

We were there for six days, rented a car from our local Enterprise (you have to have a car in Miami, the public transportation is pathetic. That subject alone might get it’s own post in the future) and did all sorts of fun things. Here’s the run-down of our time…

Food and Drink

Knaus Berry Farm

Although it’s a bit of a drive south (technically in Homestead, FL), it’s totally worth the trip! In addition to picking your own strawberries here, they have the world’s best cinnamon rolls.  I ate three for breakfast and washed them down with a strawberry milkshake. Gotta love being on vacation!

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Chicken Kitchen

This is a local chain that makes “Chop-Chop” bowls with a variety of fresh ingredients, most notably chicken (duh) right off the grill.  I like the “Deluxe,” which include chicken, yellow rice, lettuce, tomatoes and a healthy dousing of their mustard curry sauce (the sauce is the best part, don’t skip it!)

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Deering Estate’s 7th Annual Seafood Festival

The options here are limitless and the setting is perfection.  Tell me what’s better than fresh stone crab claws eaten on a wooden plank with a cold brewski to wash it all down while the ocean breeze tickles your neck? Nothing, that’s what. In addition to the stone crab claws, we feasted on the fried seafood platter, shrimp paella and fish tacos.  And Cold Stone Creamery. YUM.

Our half-eaten platters of deliciousness

The setting- Deering Estate

Monty’s

This is a local haunt in Coconut Grove, conveniently located right next to the marina. It’s got a thatched roof, open-air seating and a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. Dress code is cazch (you’ll often see people in bathing suits and cover-ups) but you can’t beat the raw bar during happy hour, where oysters, clams, peel-n-eat shrinp and stone crab claws are cheapy mcheap! Happy Hour is from 4:00 pm- 7:00 pm and all drinks are half off, as well.  This means that pitcher of beer that’s normally $13 is only $7.50, which probably means you’ll have to order a second one 🙂

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Things To Do

Beaches

We managed to hit up three different beaches in Miami, none of which were South Beach.  First, there was Matheson Hammock, which is a 19th-century, man-made pool on the coast.  There’s trails in the mangroves for walking and it’s fun to watch the wind-surfers fly over the waves.  We also went to the Key Biscayne causeway because it’s dog-friendly (but Perri still hated the water.  Siiiiiigh.)  Finally, one our last day, we made it up to Bal Harbour to visit some co-workers who were also on vacay there and pay our final homage to the sun god (It worked too well.  I look like a lobster. Boo.)

Sony Ericsson Open

It was my first time at a professional tennis tournament and I had a blast! Even though I didn’t know any of the players we saw (we opted for the cheapie tickets that didn’t allow us into the Grand Stand where the top seeds played) it was still exciting.  We saw a great match where the unseeded American James Blake upset No. 27 Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil in a tie-breaker. It was good, clean fun for everyone involved.

James Blake in action!

I dressed the part, with a white “tennis” skirt and classic, wide-brimmed visor.

Miami Heat Game

While most people would go to see Lebron James play, I love Heat games for my future husband, Dwayne Wade. I’ve been a fan since I lived in Miami back in 2005 and I know, in my next life, we’ll be perfect together.  Plus, the American Airlines Arena is right next to Bayside Park, which has lots of shops and outdoor restaurants to catch a quick drink before heading into the game.

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C’mon, tell me that face and those muscles don’t make you weak in the knees!

As you can tell, we went for the cheapest seats possible here as well…Story of our lives.

Let’s go HEAT!

Coconut Grove

The neighborhood is definitely my favorite in Miami.  It’s got tons of cute boutiques, outdoor restaurants, a comedy club and multiple bars, ranging from shady to posh plus a marina and beautifully-maintained public park.  I could spend a whole day wandering around.

It also has my all-time favorite restaurant ever, The Knife, which is an Argentine steakhouse with a pre-fixe price that includes a bottle of wine.  PER PERSON. Win!

In addition to all these activities, we managed to see lots of Pete’s friends from high school who still live in the area.  On Saturday, our friend invited us to her mom’s 60th birthday party.  Envisioning chips and dips, sports on the telly and perhaps a board game or two, we showed up to find this instead:

In case you can’t tell, that’s tented a dance floor, complete with a DJ and a photobooth in the right-hand side, plus themed furniture rented for the occasion (the party was 60’s/70’s themed.)

Now, there is nothing I love more than a good theme party so I was bummed we didn’t dress up but not to worry because there were awesome favors that helped us to fit right in!

There was also a tikki hut with a hosted bar, passed appetizers, a coffee bar and cake. Yeah, Miamians know how to party and we salsa’d, mambo’d and shook our dang patooties off.

This is my “dancing-is-serious-business” face.

And this is my “I-really-really-like-cake” face!

Needless to say, I was not a happy camper the next morning but a few hours laying out by the pool left me refreshed and feeling much better.

Whew! No wonder I’m still pretty wiped because after reading this over, I realized that we did quite a lot in six days.

Anyways, hope you enjoyed my recommendations and summary of our trip, I’ll be back to running stuff tomorrow!

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I do.  It’s my dirty little secret.  For someone who teaches physical education for a living, runs marathons and writes a running blog, it’s borderline ridiculous.

For example, I use 2.5 pound weights. I swear, I am not making this up.

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My arms get really bulky if I use anything heavier (normal t-shirts have been known to cut off circulation) so I go for light weights with more repetitions (plus, I’m a weenie.)

I like to say that I lift 2-3 times a week but in reality, the number has dwindled to an average of 1.5 times per week (the half is for all the times I either enter the gym with the intention of strength training but then wuss out or actually manage to start pumping iron but give up before finishing.)

I know that lifting gives me a strong core, which makes me a better runner, as well as prevents osteoporosis but I JUST HATE IT! Something about the hardness and slowness of everything makes me antsy in my pantsys.

I’m running a half marathon in 11 days, so it’s too late for me to do anything different for this race but for the Chicago Marathon in October, I vow you all: I will maintain a steady weight-lifting program (and hopefully blog my way through it.) Please hold me accountable if I start to slack.

Where do you stand on strength-training, love it or hate it? Got any good moves to share?

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I haven’t had a bad run in a while but man, yesterday’s kicked my arse! I set out with the intention of running 12 miles (my long run for the week, got two weeks until the More Half Marathon!) but only managed to complete 10.5 before my legs just quit on me completely.

Honestly, the entire thing was a mental battle that, while I did win, was fairly intense.  Usually in a long run, the first couple of miles go by quickly but on this one, I was wiped right from the get-go. My legs felt like they had 20-pound weights strapped on to them and I lacked the usual spring in my step. There were SO many times where I wanted to stop and walk but somehow, I managed to keep trudging along at a pace far below what is typical for me.

It probably didn’t help that it was 74 (!!!!!) degrees and sunny out, quite a departure from the typical 40-degree and raining weather I’ve been running in as of late. Plus, I forgot a hat and/or suntan lotion so I wound up with a wicked lobstah face and a funk leg tan. Oooooops (Don’t tell me mother, she’ll KILL me!)

The only thing that made this run less than a total disaster was that I didn’t poop my pants.  Yes, laugh, laugh all you want but it’s happened an embarrassing number of times.  It’s a runner thing.  Actually, that topic probably deserves it’s own post, stay tuned…

What’s frustrating is that I don’t really know why I felt so poorly during the run.  It would be understandable if I had done an intense work-out or weight lifting session the day or two before but I didn’t.  On Wednesday, I ran 4 miles easy with a co-worker and then on Thursday, I ran about 3 miles.  Neither of these should give me dead legs but I sure as sh*t had them on my run yesterday.

I used to get really upset when I had a bad run, one where I didn’t feel like I went fast enough or far enough but I think I’m finally at a point where it doesn’t bother me as much (OK, being honest, it still bothers me a little because I kept getting passed by other runners and I HATE THAT!) because I know that it’s not necessarily an indicator of how I’ll do come race day.

And even better? I’m not running this race aiming for a certain time (I’m leading a group of co-workers) so there’s zero pressure, which is really nice.  Although, truthfully, the only pressure there ever is is self-imposed but giving myself a break isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

Long story short: Bad runs happen.  It’s how we react to them that matters and in my case, I guess I’ve finally got enough running experience to shake it off.

Whoohoo, another level of maturity gained!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick my nose and laugh at my farting dog because while I may have matured somewhat as a runner, in the rest of my life, I’m still five years old.

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Oh yes, my friends, forget about the Holiday season, this is the most wonderful time of the year.  It’s Girl Scout cookie season (I am a total cookie monster) and I am happier than a pig in sh*t.

Usually, I have to go on quite a hunt for these elusive cookies but this year, luck was on my side and some of my students who are in a Brownie troop twisted my arm into buying a box.  Or six (they twisted really hard, OK?).

But the best part is that you order the cookies in January but then spend two months dreaming of the party-in-your-mouth that is the luscious Thin Mint.   So when they finally arrive, oh Lord, they’re even better then you remembered.

Put ’em in the freezer, crumble ’em over ice cream, eat ’em straight up , it don’t matter, every bite is heaven.  And then, suddenly, poof! They’ve vanished, not to return until the following year.

I can never decide which is my favorite kind.  First off, in my humblest of humble opinions, there’s only three types worth eating: Thin Mints, Tagalongs and Samoas. Forget anything that resembles a fruit or does not involve chocolate. I can easily demolish an entire sleeve of Thin Mints out of the freezer.

So in the interest of science, research and cookies, tell me: Which is your favorite cookie?

Thin Mints

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Tagalongs

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Or Samoas?

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Personally, I’d have to give it up for Samoas (toasted coconut and caramel? YES please!) but it’s a very close call.  How about you??

 

 

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The Way of the World

I was all set to write a kick-a$$ running post about my half-marathon training but for some reason, it’s not what’s on my mind right now…

What is on my mind, however, is the incredible fragility of human beings.

My great-aunt has stomach cancer that has spread to her lymph nodes.  My father-in-law recently spent ten days in the ICU with bleeding ulcers. My fifth/sixth grade elementary school teacher committed suicide last week.  One of my mom’s best friends was just diagnosed with breast cancer. And all I can do right now is ponder how short life seems.

I’ve finally started to realize that  as we get older, so do our parents and grandparents. Our bodies are not built to last forever and never is that more apparent to me right now. I am finally at the point where my once-invincible parents are starting to show signs of age.

And it’s not just me.  Already, close friends have lost parents, grandparents, relatives and so on.  For some, it was their time and some went far too soon.

Even though I know this is, in fact, the circle of life and the way things are meant to be, it’s been difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that one day, the people who mean the most to me will not be with me forever.

It’s hard to accept that I am not the first generation anymore.  Rather, I am what I always think of as my parents’ generation and they are poised to move into the role of the oldest members of the family. I suppose that’s the way things have always been, one generation replaces another, over and over again.

For what it’s worth, I read once that the greatest gift a child can give his or her parents is simply to out-live them.  That is the natural order of the world and what I imagine every parent hopes and prays for.

Thus, in the midst of all these deep thoughts and  world-view changes, I need to say this-  Mom and Dad, I love you both so so much, thank you for everything you’ve given me and all that you’ve done for both of your children.

Alright, I’ve gotten this out of my system, enough of the emo-pensive thoughts, I’ll be back soon with some more uplifting posts, I promise!

And in the meantime, appreciate your loved ones and go tell them so, because I’ve learned that things can come crashing down all too quickly…Much love to you all.

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