Finally Busting Out of a Running Funk

I’m finally starting to feel like I’m getting my groove back! And I’m super excited that it’s happening just as I start marathon training next week.

Since February, I’ve been struggling with the running thing. To be honest, I’ve often thought of just quitting, especially after some really tough, mentally and physically difficult runs. My allergies, my lungs, my silly knee and IT band were all conspiring against me. Because I couldn’t breathe well for much of those months between February and well, a week ago, my performance really plummeted.

The two marathons I’ve run this year pummeled my confidence. In my head, I’m a sub-4 hour marathoner, but in reality, I’ve only been able to do that half the time. Sure, weather and physical limits had something to do with that average, but it still doesn’t feel good to not be able to live up to my own expectations.

I want to PR pretty badly in both the marathon and the half marathon. But I need to get stronger and faster before I can do that. I’ve also fallen into some bad habits of taking walking breaks when I KNOW I don’t need them. I never used to do that and now I do it more than I care to admit. This needs to stop and I’m going to start working on it, like now.

This week, I had two great runs in not so great weather conditions. I get up before the crack of dawn to beat the heat and to get in my workouts before my family wakes up and while I do often get to run before the heat of the day takes over, humidity is still a big component that early in the morning.

Most of the time at 4am or even 4:30am, the humidity level is high, or at least higher than what I’m used to. Like above 70%. I often feel like I’m running through a cloud and that I’m sweating more than normal but not cooling off. I drink fluids while I’m out, but the humidity doesn’t allow me to cool down as quickly as I probably need to and that’s why I’m hitting small “walls” at miles 4 or 5. It’s a pain.

But this week, it was different. I was really tired on Monday morning. My body was sore and I just felt out of it. But I wanted to get in a run and it turned out to be really, really good. The humidity was there again, like a wall of moisture, but I was okay with it. And I loved pushing myself to get the work done. I hadn’t seen this average pace in nearly a month! And the last mile was the fastest of the six!

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Splits: 8:50, 8:39, 8:34, 8:38, 8:40, 8:16

Then on Tuesday, I went out for another run. I didn’t check the weather beforehand, but knew as soon as I walked out of my garage, that it was going to be a steamy one.

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The air just felt heavy, but I felt good running. My legs and arms were sore from the previous days workout, but that loosened up after a mile warm-up. I hadn’t intended to run at a faster pace because I had run pretty strongly the day before, so these paces just happened.

Honestly, I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t be able to run consistently in the 8:30s again. And not feel like I was going to bust a lung. That’s the key: not busting a lung. Shockingly, I was able to run the last mile of this run even faster than the previous days’. And it didn’t feel overly difficult!

Splits: 8:53, 8:46, 8:49, 8:35, 8:31, 8:35, 8:02

You can see how sweaty I got on Tuesday’s run. It was insane! My hair was dripping wet, like i had just got out of the shower. I couldn’t even hold a plank for more than 2 minutes because the sweat was running into my eyes and burning. When I went upstairs 10 minutes later (after stretching!), my hair was still dripping!

But I felt amazing. And that’s the feeling I have been lacking for months. I’ve been in a funk and struggling to keep going, but I feel like it’s starting to turn around. Maybe my goals of PRing this year are obtainable? I sure hope so!

Las Vegas Part 3: Eating Our Way Through Town (WIAW)

Halfway to the weekend, people! How are you doing to celebrate? I’m planning to have drinks with a friend tonight and I can’t wait!

Since it’s Wednesday, I thought I would do a “What I Ate Wednesday” but tell you what I ate in Las Vegas last week. Much more exciting than my every day eats, right?

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For more information on WIAW, check out Jen’s blog.

Las Vegas – I love it for its relaxed feel, for its party atmosphere, and mostly for its food. There is so much good food to be had in this city that it boggles my mind. So many famous chefs have restaurants here that you can eat a gourmet meal at every meal. We ate our way through Vegas and it was amazing.

On Monday, we rented a cabana (you can read about our pool day here) and decided to kick off the day with a little healthy eating. Normally, we go big at each meal when we’re on vacation, but by the middle of the second day, our stomachs are angry and we’re having a hard time enjoying the great food that we still have to eat the remaining time we’re away. Not this time!

We decided to make healthier( or not so rich) choices during the day and then indulge at dinner time. This goal didn’t work all the time, but we also didn’t leave Vegas feeling bloated and overstuffed like normal.

During the pool day breakfast, we each had a yogurt parfait. Seriously delicious. It had honey in the bottom and fruit on top that you mixed with a crunched up granola bar. The honey made the entire cup. I wanted a second, but that would be gluttonous! Hehe!

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Before lunch rolled around, I decided to get my first drink of the day. I should have gone with water, but I picked something almost equally as hydrating, yet all adult. It was called the Skinny Beach and it was so good! And I got it in this cool tumbler and just kept refilling it all day long (4X at last count).

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And the bonus? It was a 40 calorie cocktail! Ok, maybe not for each drink since it was probably 2 servings each, but there was still a lot of calorie savings there!

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For lunch, I went with the Chicken Caesar Salad. There was a little too much dressing on it and I know that Ceasar salad is not the healthiest salad option, but it was really tasty and I didn’t feel super full and loaded down afterwards either.

And my Skinny Beach is photo bombing the salad here.

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For dinner, we stayed at Mandalay Bay and had dinner at Strip Steak.

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As with a lot of the Vegas restaurants, lighting is dark so it made it hard to take really great pictures. But here’s our dinner time drinks.

Matt had an Old Fashioned and I had the peach mojito. I loved my drink and it was right in line with the refreshing drinks I’d been enjoying all day.

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This next picture is of something so delicious. Strip Steak doesn’t have a bread basket, like most restaurants do, but they do give you a tray of French Fries!

There were three different kinds of French Fries: one that was garlic flavored, one that was cooked in bacon fat, and one cooked in truffle oil. The sauces that went with each one perfectly complimented the flavor of the fries. Seriously amazing! I could have eaten a giant bowl of the truffle one.

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Since it was a traditional steak house, you order your steak and then some sides to share (or not). Matt and I each ordered the 10 ounce filet, which felt like it was way larger than 10 ounces. It was freaking amazing, just melting in my mouth. I usually get my steak cooked medium, but when Matt ordered his medium rare, I followed suite. Such a good decision.

For sides, we ordered the creamed spinach with bacon sauce and the potato gratin. Holy moly, they were both so good! Each dish was extremely rich, so you didn’t need much to feel satisfied.

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You would think after that totally satisfying dinner the night before, that we wouldn’t be that hungry for breakfast the next day. You would be wrong!

I had worked out that morning and by the time we actually left the hotel room for breakfast, it was close to 10am. We went downstairs to The House of Blues since it was so convenient.

My favorite breakfast is eggs and pancakes, so I ordered their banana pancake and then added two eggs on the side. Matt originally ordered the three pancake breakfast, but the waitress told him to just go with the one because the pancakes were so ginormous. She wasn’t kidding!

Look at the size of that pancake!! The eggs looked tiny when I put them on top. I ate the whole thing.

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I don’t think we ate a real lunch that day because breakfast really filled us up. So on to dinner it is!

For dinner, we went over to the Cosmopolitan Hotel and ate at Scarpetta. The chef is Scott Conant. I’ve seen him all over the Food Network so it was cool to actually go to one of his restaurants. It was highly recommended by Matt’s friend Tim. Such a good recommendation!

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We were seated by the window that overlooked the strip, so we had a perfect view of the Bellagio fountains. The view just got better and better as the sun set and the Vegas lights were turned on.

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We started out with a bread basket that I didn’t take a picture of. But inside was the most amazing bread. I think it was a stromboli that both Matt and I tried and we were both groaning over how good it was.

We decided to share an appetizer and they even split it into two plates for us.

This was their caprese salad. Isn’t it beautiful? And it was amazing too! The heirloom tomatoes, the olive oil and especially the mozzarella cheese just made me want the world to stop so that I could just keep enjoying the explosion of flavor in my mouth. I want to go back to Vegas just for this dish.

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For my entree, I had the black cod with a calamari “salad” on top. It also had some baby zucchinis under that fish. I love fish and this was no disappointment. It was crispy yet tender at the same time. And the “salad” on top was a nice addition. The texture was completely different, which was nice. Everything was cooked to perfection!

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After dinner, Matt and I walked down the strip to the Bellagio. i love to people watch and the strip is the best place to do this. We watched the people and then a nighttime version of the fountains doing their dancing thing. It was beautiful!

We then went inside the Bellagio to the Jean Philippe Patisserie. I wanted a dessert, but wasn’t sure what. Finally, Matt and I decided to share a crepe after seeing one being made. Chocolate it was!

I loved how chocolatey and gooey and sweet and decadent it was. There was chocolate filling inside, chocolate ganache on the outside, and then chocolate (brownie?) chunks on top. Even the whipped creme on the side was a perfect compliment because it wasn’t sweet at all. Loved it!

Chocolate crepe - Yummy!

Chocolate crepe – Yummy!

Like I said, Matt and I ate our way through Las Vegas. We hit a lot of different restaurants, but there are still so more to try out. Everything was delicious and made my tummy happy.

Tell me about the best thing you ate this week!

Las Vegas, Part 2 – Exercising & All the Rest

So I have more on Las Vegas? Of course, I do! Here are some more pictures of what we got into while there. It’s going to be my last vacation for a while, so I’m trying to draw it out, can’t you tell?

(Here’s my first post on Las Vegas – Pool day!)

This post will focus on what we did while we were there and how I kept up my exercising while on vacation (something I always like to do). My last post on Vegas will focus on the food because there was a lot of great stuff we ate. It deserves it’s own post!

This is something that was pretty consistent while in Vegas: yummy drinks. In this picture, we’re at Strip Steak and Mandalay Bay and we each enjoyed a cocktail. He’s having his regular Manhattan (I cannot stand the smell of it, BTW) and I had a peach mojito. I want to recreate this thing at home because it was so delicious. I like regular mojitos, but fruit infused ones are even better.

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I am not a dress girl. I rarely wear them except for weddings and special events, so I stepped way out of my comfort zone with this one. It’s a simple Target dress ($25!) and the first one I’ve ever worn that was pretty figure hugging. My normal dress style is A-line, so pretty flowy on the bottom. This one was fitted throughout and I actually felt really comfortable in it.

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This is totally random, but when I was leaving the gym on Tuesday, I noticed this mannequin in the window of the spa outside. This is the most muscular female mannequin that I’ve ever seen! It was the only one I saw like this, though. All the other windows had standard stick think ones. Just thought I’d share!

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Matt and I walked over to MGM one day and saw these Transformers out on the walkway. We thought D would get a kick out of them!

Last year, I saw a couple dressed as Mickey and Minnie and this year I also saw someone dressed as Spongebob Squarepants and one of his random sidekicks. Vegas is nuts!

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On Tuesday night, we ventured over to the Cosmopolitan Hotel for drinks and dinner. We loved this hotel and really want to stay there next time.

We went to Vesper bar, which we heard had the best rated drinks in Las Vegas. I had two margarita variations and they were fantastic. I’m digging the refreshing, light tasting drinks that really pack a punch.

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Selfie in the cool bar.

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I’ll tell you about the great dinner we had at the Cosmopolitan in my last Las Vegas post. After dinner, we wandered around the hotel and checked out the absolutely beautiful chandelier that they have hanging in the center. It drapes around this one landing that has a bar in the middle. Seriously, these pictures do not do it justice. It’s just breathtaking. It’s all crystals strung together.

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They also had this bedazzled car on display. The entire thing was covered in crystals or gems of some sort. I forgot to read the sign to get a description.

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After wandering around for a bit, we walked down the strip to the Bellagio. I’ve never seen their fountain show at night, only during the day. It was a completely different experience and I loved it.

We then wandered inside the hotel to get dessert.

The Bellagio always has a display of some sort going on and I’ve only ever seen the Christmas one. This one was a gardening theme and it was gorgeous.

Then we went over to the Jean Philippe Patisserie to get a crepe. The train is covered in marshmallows and the pastry case is just amazing. Everything looked delicious.

The chocolate fountain is also amazing. It’s floor to ceiling and I just want to dive right in.

Here’s a picture of our chocolate crepe. So delicious!

And some more eye candy. At least for me. ;)

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I love Las Vegas at night. It’s so beautiful lit up.

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So as far as exercising on vacation? I always like to do it. It keeps me feeling sane and relaxed. It also helps off-set some of the over indulgences I tend to do (although sometimes it’s not enough of an off-set, hehe).

Not everyone likes to exercise on vacation because it can be a pain. You have to pack your stuff, get up before everyone else to get it in (at least for me since I don’t want to miss a second of the rest of the day), give up extra sleep. But for me, it’s worth the extra effort. I always feel better for having done it.

If I choose to run where we’re vacationing, it gives me an opportunity to see the city we’re in. I’ve run by various beaches that I wouldn’t otherwise have visited (in cities like San Francisco, Monterey, San Diego, Maui). But you have to be safe while doing this because most of these places will be unfamiliar to you. I always:

  • Run in the daylight (I run in the dark at home, but not where I’m not familiar with the area)
  • Don’t run with headphones
  • Carry a phone
  • Tell someone where you’re going

So whether exercise on vacation is for you or not, go with what makes you feel best. I like a good sweat before starting the day. It’s like my coffee in the morning, it gives me a jolt and makes me feel calmer. In any case, make sure you don’t forgo time with your family or friends and give up memory making just for a workout. It can always wait until you get home.

Have a great day!

 

New SF Giants Playroom & SJ Giants Game

We had a busy weekend around here!

I started out Saturday morning with a 12.5 mile run, which turned out to be pretty great. I think I’m ready for this coming Sunday’s San Francisco First Half Marathon. It feels like forever since I’ve raced.

After breakfast, Matt and I got to work! We recently swapped out the family room and the kids playroom and wanted to redecorate the playroom so that it was more kid-friendly. The new family room was pretty set in terms of color scheme (gray and red), so it didn’t need any more work.

But the kids’ playroom was a different story. We’ve been living with the ugly yellow walls (I love yellow, but not this yellow) and one greenish feature wall since we bought the house over 2 years ago. I’ve always wanted to change it out, but never wanted to put in the work. Well, that changed when the room became about the boys. Funny how that happens.

Here is a before picture.

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What was our theme? San Francisco Giants! Matt is a huge fan and the boys are going to grow up as fans too, so we totally tricked the room out.

First order of business was to paint the room a different color, so I went to Home Depot and picked up a generic gray (Anonymous, semi gloss) and all the supplies we needed. On Friday during my lunch hour, I started taping off the room. We finished that on Friday after dinner and were ready to go on Saturday morning.

Matt handled the edges of the room because he’s really good with the little corner and edging tools. I do not have that patience.

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I then concentrated on rolling most of the walls until Matt was done with the edges and joined me to finish up the room. We tag teamed taking care of C because he just wanted to play. :)

Here is the room in it’s interim phase.

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Last week, Matt ordered some San Francisco Giants decals and we started putting them in the afternoon after the walls were dry.  They took us a while to put up, especially the ginormous 6′ one above the sofa. It’s a beautiful shot of AT&T Park, where the Giants play, but it was a struggle!

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We then put up a giant decal of Buster Posey, the Giants’ incredible catcher. Love it!

There were a ton of smaller decals that came with the larger ones, so we randomly put them up all over the room. Love it!

Because this wasn’t enough work, we also put up some window shades in the new family room. This was tough and made tougher because we were so tired.

We started by ordering some cellular shades from Home Depot. These are 3/8″ double cellular blackout shades with a top-down, bottom-up feature. I’ve had these types of shades in previous houses and have loved them. They’re especially perfect because we’re using the family room as a movie room too, so wanted to block out as much sunlight as possible so we can comfortably watch TV during the day.

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We got one for both the family room space and for the dining room since it’s really one big room with a step-up to the dining room.

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Putting them up took longer than it should have even though it wasn’t hard to do at all. After putting the kids’ room back together, putting up the shades, doing some laundry, and chasing after C, I was exhausted! I was in bed by 9pm and out by 9:15pm.

C woke up Sunday feeling a little out of sorts, so we ran some quick errands in the morning and then came home to watch Toy Story 2 in bed. After an hour long nap, and a short one for me, we both felt tons better.

After Matt got home from golf and D came back over to our house from his mom’s, we went to the San Jose Giants baseball game. It was so much fun!

I loved this picture of the boys as we were leaving the park.

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They were giving away these super cool insulated bags. Inside was a can of Pepsi, Red Rope licorice, flavored sunflower seed pack, and a package of sour Angry Bird candy. I sent D to school with his lunch in one. I can’t wait to use mine tomorrow!

We had a busy, but fun and productive weekend. Next weekend is more of the same. I’m already ready for another break!