Friday, May 31, 2013

Stop and Smell the Roses

If you haven't visited Maymont's Italian Garden during the month of May, you should get there soon. Having been gone for half of the month and in zombie land for an additional quarter, I nearly missed out on the rose  bloom this year.

This morning I took a slight detour down into the Italian Garden before heading back to shut myself into my office for the rest of the day. I'm so glad that I did; as soon as I stepped into the garden, the scent of roses was all around me and the stunning blue of the sky against the whites, greens, and corals of the garden made for quite a pretty picture.

Though still beautiful and fragrant, this riot of roses isn't going to be around much longer. I encourage you to get to Maymont as soon as you can to enjoy this little slice of heaven.

Monday, May 27, 2013

2nd Annual HMR + KBP Memorial Day Run + Lift

Today, for the second year in a row, Marcey (aka Hot Mother Runner) and I met in downtown Richmond for a Memorial Day run.

We could not have asked for more glorious weather!

Richmond, looking East from the pedestrian bridge to Brown's Island
Marcey and I hadn't seen each other for a few weeks and this little date was more about catching up and socializing than running.

That and indulging each other along the way by stopping to take some silly (and serious) pictures.

Is this mural on the Canal Walk new? Or did I just never notice it before
because I'm too in love with the brooding, mysterious Owl mural?

We are rule breakers. Look OUT.

We had some walk breaks and Marcey kept trying to apologize. Finally, I said, "Girl, the reason I came here this morning was NOT to run fast! It was to spend time with you and just happen to maybe run a little bit along the way."

It's the truth. Sometimes, your mileage or your speed are not the important things. Spending time reminding yourself how lucky you are to live in a beautiful place and have people who get you is.

Near the end of our run, we stopped by the Virginia War Memorial, just as we had last year. I bet you that 90% of people who live in the metro-Richmond area have no idea that this peaceful but haunting monument even exists. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that the Richmond Marathon route runs right by it, as a matter of fact.

We spent a few minutes there, quietly taking a moment to pay our respects to those who have given all for this country.

Afterwards, per tradition, we made our way to Lift where we each managed to order food that color coordinated with our respective ensembles.

Aren't we special?

All in all, we ran/walked 5 miles and spent nearly 4 awesome hours together, just enjoying the day, our city, and our friendship. I couldn't think of a better way to spend my Memorial Day morning!

So with that lovely thought, let me take a moment to recap the past few weeks in running.

In my Italy recap entry, I'm not sure if you noticed, but despite my best intentions, I did not run a single step in Italy. Well... that's a lie. I did run - once - because it was raining and I didn't have an umbrella. I really needed to go to the bathroom, so I ran from the Colosseo metro stop to a nearby cafe that I knew had a bathroom.

The only miles my carefully packed neon pink running shoes saw were logged tromping around Pompei, Positano, and then to our favorite gelateria, Giolitti Gelateria, where they picked up the only evidence that they were even in Italy at all...

A drip of gelato. Apparently I wasn't eating fast enough.

Getting back to the run this past week was really hard. Going from doing nothing but eating gelato, pasta, cappuccino, pizza, and bread for two weeks to hitting the pavement in hot, humid central Virginia was not a pleasant experience. The jet lag didn't help either.

The first run, on Monday with Greg, was the worst. It was hot and extremely humid. If he and Earl hadn't been with me, I'm sure I would've turned around at mile 1 and gone back to my car.

On Wednesday morning, hoping to avoid the pain of running in 90 degree + 90% humidity weather, I forced myself to wake up early and go for a run downtown before work. I have never ever done this before. This was my reward:

$60 parking ticket. Oh yeah.
I blame Italy brain.

By Friday, 100% of my brain and body had finally decided to rejoin me from Italy. Thanks to a cold front that did away with the humidity, I had an absolutely wonderful 5 mile run after work. Finally, I felt like myself again.

Just in time too. I have less than a week before marathon training starts. The first Marathon Training Team (MTT) group run is on Saturday morning. Hard to believe that it has been an entire year since I first decided that I wanted to run a marathon. Last year, I was terrified.

Now, I'm not afraid.

I'm ready to rock it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Italy in 25 Pictures

Ciao! I am still alive (yay!) and back in the U.S. (boo!). Jet lag and some surprise deadlines when I arrived back at work on Monday have been wreaking havoc on me for the past fews days, hence the long-delayed return to the blog. I know you guys were desperately awaiting my return, right? (Ha!).

I could write an entire book about our time in Italy. To put it simply: I did not want to come back. Ever.

Here is a selection of 25 of the 1,100 photos that we took over the 13 days we were there. 

Our apartment in Rome was just a few blocks from the Coliseum,
making it the most-photographed object during our trip.

The Oculus inside of the Pantheon

Husband leaving our apartment in Rome

The first of many, many, MANY gelato breaks.

Tossing my coin into the Trevi Fountain

Self-timer portrait with the Coliseum
(not too shabby if I do say so myself)

I became a true cappuccino addict while in Italy.
It was bad. Very bad.
The withdrawl is worse though.

Mount Vesuvius still glowers over poor Pompei

A brief stop in beautiful (but terrifying to get to) Positano.

Husband + Duomo

Fancy cappuccino in Florence

Florence Framed

On top of the Duomo

I don't think I have to tell you what this is

Top of the Leaning Tower

Gondola sighting + Rialto Bridge in Venice

The Grand Canal is just gorgeous.

Nice work on this photo, Husband. 

Twilight Gondola ride

THIS is the life.

And then the water came - this is St. Mark's Square, water flooding
in on day 2 in Venice.

From the famous Bridge of Sighs

How I felt about leaving.

The most "runner-like" behavior that I engaged in
for the duration of the trip.

One last shot of Florence, our favorite spot,
from atop the Duomo.
It's very hard for me to believe it's over, but don't worry... I'm already plotting my next trip (don't tell Husband).

Saturday, May 4, 2013


This morning, I did what any rational person would do 24 hours out from a 13 day Italian vacation:

I ran 10 miles!

I finally met Jill (of Run Jilly Bean) today, meeting up with her and her Saturday running group at 7:30 am for a 10 miler. As always, I was so happy to meet a previously-only-stalked-via-blog-friend in real life as well as some fabulous Richmond runners including Emma of A Mom Runs This Town and lots of others. 10 miles goes by so fast when you're getting to know new people and as runners, there is always something  (usually lots of things) that you will have in common.

To be honest, those 1.5 hours were the least stressed I've been all week! I just can't believe that tomorrow is May 5 and we really will be getting on a plane and leaving for Rome.

Yesterday, Husband and I spent the entire day cleaning the house and packing. It was pretty exhausting. But I think we are finally ready to go... or as ready as we'll ever be.

All checked in - it's really happening!

Running shoes are packed!
And I had space left over! IT'S A MIRACLE.
We will be dependent on Italian WiFi, so I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be able to do. I'm going to try to check in at least once from each city, so prepare yourself for gratuitous food photos and shots of the various places we'll be visiting (Rome, Pompei, Positano, Florence, Pisa, and Venice!).

For now, arrivederci to the US and buon girno to Italia!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Resolution Check In

Goal: Run 800 Miles

Through April 30

January: 55.1 miles
February: 45.3 miles
March: 65 miles
April: 77 milesTotal for the year:  242.4 miles (this is a little scary... hope I can make up some mileage in the coming months)

Three PRs:
10k - 47:49
10 Miler - 1:26:16
Half Marathon - 1:51:52

Goal: Run a Full Marathon - this one will have to wait until November

Goal: Do a Sprint Triathlon - this one has to wait too

Goal: Read One Book Per Month

January Books
George, Elizabeth - Mary, Queen of Scots

February Books
Davenport-Hines, Richard - Voyagers of the Titanic
Mantel, Hilary - Wolf Hall

March Books
Galbadon, Diana - Voyager
Galbadon, Diana - Drums of Autumn

April Books
Pierce, Murr, Moss - Run Less, Run Faster

Surprising Spring Racing Season

Whew. Finally, I am finished with my crazy spring racing season. I'm still not sure what the heck I was thinking when I signed up to run four races in the space of 6 weeks (and not just 5k races either... a half, a 10 miler, a 10k, and a 4 miler!), especially considering that my first real run after 3.5 months of complete cold turkey was on December 15th.

Things could have been disasterous. There were many days when I was full of self doubt and wondering if I would ever feel like myself again.

When I had to take off for a week at the height of my half marathon training plan (which was measley to begin with), my best hopes for the Shamrock Half were simply to cross the finish line - running. walking, or crawling, if necessary.

I waffled for hours - maybe even days - about whether or not I should sign up for the Monument Avenue 10k.

When we got chosen for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, instead of being excited, I was annoyed and stressed.

But the thing about running is that even when I am sure that what I am attempting is impossible, somehow, I achieve it. And this spring, I not only completed 4 races, but I set personal records at every one of them and turned out what I consider my best race performance ever at very race I was sure I wouldn't be able to do.

It's certainly not what I expected to happen back in January when I started my super duper beginner half marathon training plan.  To be honest, I'm not really sure how this successful spring happened. And the thing is, I don't really care to figure it out. All that I know is that I cannot express how grateful I am that I am healed and have been able to get back to what I love the most.

Now I'm going to take the month of May to rest on my laurels. In just 4 short days, Husband and I will be leaving on a jet plane for a 2-week vacation to Italy. Yes, I am taking my running shoes and a few outfits, but I don't anticipate logging high mileage while we are there. Really, I just want to go run on the Circus Maximus so I can say that I have trod where the chariots did. Otherwise, there will be lots of art, lots of food, lots of wine, and lots of relaxation (I hope).

Once we get back, I'll have two weeks until my official training for the Richmond Marathon starts. This year I opted to not be stupid/lazy and go ahead and join the Marathon Training Team, whose first group run is on June 1 -exactly one month from today. During the last two weeks of May I'll just run wherever, whenever, and however long I want to just for the joy of running.

Strangely, I am not nervous about the marathon at all. This springtime season of epic races has finally helped me regain my confidence. I'm not afraid of running 26.2 miles; I know I can do it. I'm not anxious about the training schedule; I'm looking forward to it. There is a tiny bit of nagging fear that I will break myself again, but I'm doing my best to convince myself that I'll be fine. I'm taking calcium, I'm sticking to the don't-run-two-days-in-a-row rule, I'm cross training, and I plan to employ the Run Less Run Faster method.

Basically, I'm gearing up to totally kick asphant on November 16, 2013.