Friday, June 29, 2012

Beat the Heat

Check out the forecast for Richmond over the next three days:

Don't you guys just love summer?

It's no secret that I really don't love summer. In fact, I pretty much detest it. My hate of summer goes back to long before I ever became a runner, but now that the heat impacts my run routine I loathe these months even more.

Of course now that the heat is upon us, it seems like I have read 4583520 blog posts, "tips", and magazine articles about how to deal with or work around the summer heat and your run schedule. The thing is, I don't really like any of their suggestions, the most-oftened mentioned one being to run very early in the morning or late at night. I hate early mornings almost  as much as I hate summer, so this just doesn't jive with me. Other common suggestions are running a shaded route (sorry, but it's still too hot even in the shade), wearing as little clothing as possible (again, even if I ran naked - not that I ever would - I'd still be too hot), and slowing your pace (I'm to world's worst pacer).

In spite of all of this whining, I have made the realization that I am going to have to start to learn to run outside when it is more than 70 degrees. If I'm going to train for the marathon and continue to become a "real" runner, I'm going to have to suck it up and learn how to sweat it out. Therefore, I have made an effort this year to push myself when it comes to hitting the pavement even when it's warm out. One of the hottest runs I ever did was with the Run Like a Girl group back in April, when the mercury was hitting 87 and it was muggy as all get out.

So, when Greg, Siri, and I met up in Richmond on Wednesday night to tackle a 5 mile route in the dry 85 degree heat, I wasn't too worried or too whiny. I even felt pretty well prepared, given that I had remembered to bring along my hand held Camelbak to sip from during the run and was wearing my most lightweight top.

Things started out nicely. Yes, it was hot. Yes, I was sweating. But thankfully Richmond's city streets are lined with big old trees and tall houses, so we were afforded some shade.  Our pace hovered between 8:30 and 9:00 for the first 3 miles. And then I started to get a stomach cramp that soon became an all out "Oh God I'm going to puke if I don't stop running" feeling pretty quickly. At first I thought it might have been the giant piece of cake that I had decided to consume that afternoon and that it would pass. But the cramping did not go away.

Around mile 3.5 I stopped to guzzle water and just stand still for a minute. I waved Greg and Siri on, telling them I'd be fine. After the brief break I started out again, allowing myself to go no faster than a 10:30 pace. I probably couldn't have gone faster if I wanted to. For once I was glad when I got stuck at red lights waiting for traffic. I stopped and parked myself on many a step and front stoop, waiting for the lights to change. Sometimes I even waited through a cycle of the light.

Finally, at about mile 4.5, I decided it just wasn't worth the pain to keep trying to run. The last thing I wanted to do was end up getting sick over a stupid half a mile, so I walked for a few blocks. About 3 blocks from the start/finish of our route, I saw Greg doubling back to check on me and we ended up jogging back to the start/finish. I refilled my water bottle from a spiget on the wall (God only knows what quality that water was) and sat, defeated and feeling horrible, on the steps of the church that had served as our gathering point.

When I had recovered to the point that I felt like driving was safe, I headed home. My stomach was in knots for the rest of the night.

The forecast for Thursday was 93 degrees... and my schedule called for a 5 miler. After Wednesday's debacle, I was not about to even attempt to run outside again so I took the easy wait and headed to the nice, air conditioned safety of the treadmill at the Y. I wasn't sure what to expect from this run - I had truly felt the worst I ever  had during the last mile on Wednesday night and figured that Thursday's outing would likely not be a good one.

Imagine my surprise when I cranked out 6.25 miles with absolutely no problem. In fact, I could have kept going but felt that I should probably get home to Husband, who was making dinner. I felt extremely relieved to know that I could attribute the complete disaster of Wednesday to the heat and not to a sudden loss of running mojo.

So the morals of this entry are:
1. Eating a giant piece of cake before attempting to run 5 miles at an 8:30 pace in 85 degree weather is not such a good idea.

2. The next time I attempt to run in 85 degree weather, I need to slow down.

3. If all else fails, embrace the whiny wuss you know you are and enjoy a temperature controlled jaunt on the good old treadmill.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

4 Bridges in 4.5 Miles

We were very lucky in Richmond yesterday - we were blessed (and I mean blessed!) with an absolutely picturesque, gorgeous, perfect day. Temperatures were 10 degrees below normal, topping out around 80. The sky was clear and blue. There was a cool breeze blowing in from the north.

There was almost NO. HUMIDITY. That's a big deal for a June day in central Virginia.

I was chomping at the bit all day - I just couldn't wait until the work day was done and I could get out there and go running. The plan was to meet up with Siri and hit a new route that my other running buddy Greg had taken us on two weeks or so ago. He called it the 4 bridges in 4.5 miles route and it was a stunner, taking us across Richmond's Belle Isle, along the Canal Walk, across the 14th Street Bridge to Mayo Island, along the Flood Wall, and back across the river on the 9th Street Bridge.

The whole thing is incredibly scenic. Siri and I opted to reverse the route this time, starting out by crossing the 9th Street Bridge. This, it turns out, was not such a good idea. More on that later.

Things started off wonderfully. I had been a litle bit nervous about getting lost, but my worries were unfounded. With our combined brain power, Siri and I were able to recreate the route easily. She filled in my blanks and I filled in hers. We stopped along the way for me to take some pretty gorgeous photos of the Richmond skyline from the flood wall on the southside of the James River.

This one is my new banner
Along the canal walk, there is a fabulous mural of some graffiti art, which I believe was sponsored by a great local arts organization called Art 180.

This one made me laugh out loud. I'm sure it IS the James that we smell in Richmond.

The toughest part of the run turned out to be running back up 5th Street. The hill was absolutely killer and completely wiped me of any delusions of turning this loop into a 6 miler by added an out-and-back down Monument Avenue. Siri and I both agreed that the original route had worked out better... 9th Street is also a hill but it is not anywhere near as steep as 5th Street.

See that lovely elevation gain during mile 4? Yeah. It kicked my butt.

There were no protests from my ankle tonight, but strangely enough the inside of my right knee is hurting in a really strange way. It's not like any other pain that I've ever had, so it is making me nervous. I didn't wrench the knee, land wrong, or do anything else different that would've caused a sudden injury so I don't know what's going on. I probably ok, I admit I didn't stretch enough beforehand, but I'm not always the most commited pre-run stretcher anyway.

When I got home I iced it for about an hour... hopefully it was just some weird incident and the pain doesn't persist. I just managed to escape BFF Steve... I don't want to go back!

But I definitely do want to run this route again. It's not looking good for this week - the forecast is calling for 100 degrees on Thursday and 102 on Friday!

Summer. Blah.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Eat: Beef & Asparagus Farfalle

Have you all noticed that I love pasta yet?

Husband and I discovered this recipe a long time ago. I printed it, according to the time stamp at the bottom, on April 8, 2008. That was before we were even married(!). Anyhow, we made the recipe not long after and then it got filed away and we never made it again.

It was resurrected over the weekend and turned out to be quite delightful in many ways: 1) it was fast, 2) it was fairly easy, 3) it is relatively healthy, and 4) it was absolutely delicious!

So without further ado, I give you

Beef and Asparagus Farfalle
from Betty Crocker

Total prep and cook time: 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings

3/4 to 1 lb lean top round beef
1/2 pound asparagus, chopped into 2-3" pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup beef broth
8 ounces farfalle pasta
1/2 cup tomato puree (add a touch more if you like things to be "saucier")
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or  2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

Possible substitutions:
Replace Parmesan with crumbled feta

 1. Trim fat from beef, then cut into strips. Meanwhile, heat water for pasta.

2. Spray 12-inch skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Cook asparagus, onions, and 1 cup of the broth in skillet for 5-7 minutes or until liquid has evaporated. Remove mixture from skillet.

Once pasta water comes to a rolling boil, pour in farfalle and cook according to package directions (usually 10-12 minutes).

3. Add beef to skillet. Cook about 2 minutes over medium heat, until beef is no longer pink.

4. Return asparagus and onion mixture to skillet. Stir in remaining broth and ingredients except cheese. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until mixture is hot.

5. Drain pasta; toss with beef and vegetable mix. Sprinkle with cheese and chow down!

Friday, June 22, 2012

What Happened?

Things had been humming along quite nicely here at Run Eat Play RVA and then I dropped off the face of the planet.

So what's the deal?

The weekend after we got back from Boston, BFF and her husband came to stay with us for a visit. We explored nearby Berkeley Plantation (Fun facts include: site of the first Thanksgiving and taps was composed there during the Civil War), ate copious amounts of Key Lime Cake in honor of BFF's birthday, and had an amazing brunch at Can Can Brasserie, which I had every intention of writing a Richmond Rave about.

BFF, unamused by the number of candles on her cake.

Then life happened. That Sunday morning before we headed to brunch, I got a call from my Mom - one of those  kind of calls. My grandfather had died early that morning. The next few days were spent in Hagerstown helping my Mom deal with all that... and not running or doing anything else noteworthy other than stuffing my face with Krumpe's donuts and chicken salad sandwiches.

Krumpe's Donuts - a Hagestown tradition and quite possibly the best donuts on Earth.

This brings us to the weekend of the 16th and 17th... another weekend full of activities. Husband and I traveled to Virginia Beach for my 11th Dave Matthews Band concert (his 4th). Again... very little running going on but lots of interesting people watching.

Otherwise, I've been extremely busy with my work, which means I've been writing a lot of intense stuff, which saps my blogging powers. I've also been going to physical therapy in the mornings, which requires me to wake up at 5:30 am. By the time I get home in the evening after a run, all I want to do is eat dinner and go to bed... and that's pretty much what I have been doing.

Now it's June 22nd. How did that happen, anyway?

More importantly, it's June 22nd and SUMMER has happened. Big time. All of my fellow east coasters have been experiencing this lovely heat wave with me. The past 3 days have seen temps above 100* when humidity is factored in. As a result, I've been pretty much banished to the treadmill, which doesn't make for interesting writing. It also means I'm in a pretty foul mood because I hate summer and the heat and humidity that comes along with it.

Despite all of the craziness going on in June, I have managed to keep plugging away at the run but not getting nearly as many miles as I had hoped. It's looking like I'll be lucky to hit 70 miles for the month, which just feels pathetic to me. But I have to remind myself that my monthly goal last year at this time was 30 miles.

Yesterday at my Physical Therapy appointment, my new BFF Steven deemed me fixed, canceled the appointment I was supposed to have this morning, said to take next week off, and scheduled a follow up for July 3rd. That's right friends - I'm no longer defunct! I have a whole laundry list of exercises to continue to do, including some core strengtheners that are a real b*tch, but Steve thinks I'm ready to start my marathon training without a problem.

Mainly I'm just thrilled that I won't have to wake up at 5:30 am anymore. Though with the heat we're experiencing, I just might have to bite the bullet and start to run in the mornings. But for now, I continue to resist. I'm pretty stubborn (and inherently lazy) so I don't see this changing any time soon unless something drastic happens.

So that's what happened. I hope to get back into the swing of things next week, although I am still in a pretty intensive period of writing through July 5th. After that, marathon training starts (!!!!), at which point I'm going to try to begin a weekly marathon training update. A good intention, but only time will tell if it happens.

Meanwhile, everybody stay safe in this heat!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Boston Trip Photo Journal

Hello Bahhhhston!
Band geekin' out in front of Symphony Hall - home of the Boston Symphony

More geekin' on stage in Symphony Hall

Reuinted with Wagamama and it tasted so good.

Yes, I found a Lulu (2, actually)

Husband beer tasting at Sam Adams Brewery
Yep, I still hate beer.

Enjoying a sunny day on the Common

Breakin' the law outside of Fenway Park

Hanging out on the green monstah.

My favorites from Boston Museum of Fine Arts

All dressed up for the Boston Pops

At Brasserie Jo, about to enjoy some delicious French food

Pardon me...
The Boston Pops play John Williams... conducted by John Williams!!!

Pizzeria Regina perfection

And seeing as how this is a running blog and all... the famous Citgo sign

Friday, June 8, 2012

Scenes from Monument Avenue

First things first - I promise a Boston photologue. We had a great time, but unfortunately weather prevented us from participating in the Freedom Trail 5k running tour.

But right now, let's talk about my last two runs, which happened on Wednesday (National Runner's Day - yay) and Thursday.

For about a week, I'd been logging a lot of treadmill time. The weather wasn't cooperative here or during our time in Boston. I was eager and happy to hit the pavement on Wednesday night. The weather was not pretty but it was perfect for running - about 70 degrees, overcast, with a slight breeze. Unfortunately, my run was not quite so perfect. Maybe the fact that I was running way too fast had something to do with it.

Maybe it was the soreness in my right glute, leftover from a challenging yoga class the night before. Maybe it was the huge lunch that I ate which included a big fat slice of lemon butter cake. Whatever it was, I struggled through the whole run. Despite the distraction of the music pumping into my brain via my iPod, I was trying everything possible to distract myself from the fact that my legs felt like lead. This mainly took the form of carefully studying the lawns and gardens that I passed as I ran down Monument Avenue. It seems like everything is in bloom right now, but the gorgeous hydrangeas in the beautifully manicured gardens along my route are what really caught my eye.

I was determined to make last night better. Things didn't start off well... it was kind of warm today (80 degrees) and when I got to the Y I realized that my water bottle was not in my bag. Then I realized that my iPod was also M.I.A. To occupy my mind, I decided to take along my iPhone and document some of the lovely flowers that I had encountered along the avenue the night before.

Aren't they just gorgeous? I think hydrangea are my favorites. I tried to grow a hydrangea of my own but it hasn't worked out very well. We've had it for 4 years and despite my best efforts (which I admit haven't been so great lately), it is a piddly small sad thing that had never bloomed until this year, when it produced one tiny cluster of flowers.

As you can see, my gardening skills are rather pathetic. If I lived on Monument Ave I would be a shame to my neighbors. But then again, I'm sure that their beautiful hydrangeas are the result of professional landscapers and gardeners who are paid to produce and care for such lovely plants.

Aside from taking pretty pictures, I was hoping that being on the lookout for noteworthy landscaping would make me slow down my pace a little bit. It worked... kind of...

...but not really.

Despite the higher temperature, I did feel better for this run. I paused one last time during mile 4 to take a photo of a building on West Franklin Street that I had never noticed before. I have no idea what it is or why it was flying the flags of my three favorite countries, but I had to take a photo of it.

Anybody know what this building houses?? And why are they flying the French, US, and British flags?
BFF is coming to town tomorrow with her husband for a visit. There won't be a lot of running going on, but I'll try to make time to post about Boston because it really was a wonderful trip that I'd like to share!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Resolution Check In

Running - Goal: Run at least 500 miles this year; run at least 1 half marathon

Through May 31

January: 47 miles
February: 72 miles
March: 80 miles
April: 69.5 miles
May: 76 miles

Total for the year: 344.5 miles

Reading - Goal: Read at least one book per month

January Books
Riggs, Ransom - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Bray, Libba - A Great and Terrible Beauty

February Books
Moran, Michelle - Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

March Books
Massie, Robert K. - Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
Sussman, Ellen - French Lessons
Gilbert, Elizabeth - Committed: A Love Story

April Books
Clark, Colin - My Week with Marilyn
Morgenstern, Erin - The Night Circus

May Books
Raybourn, Deanna - Dark Road to Darjeeling
James, P. D. - Death Comes to Pemberley

Currently reading:  
A Storm of Swords: A Song of Ice and Fire (still!) 
50 Shades of Gray (because BFF says I'm the only woman in the country who hasn't read it) 

Movies (no resolution; just to keep track)
The Artist
Underworld: Awakening
The Hunger Games
Wrath of the Titans
The Avengers
Mirror Mirror