Saturday, April 30, 2011

Morning Trail Race and Cooking with Bridget

The Grunt Girls were at it again with a fun (and challenging) trail race. Loved all the excitement, yet the laid back atmosphere of a trail race. Road races are often so keyed up with fighting for a spot, lots of congestion during the first couple of miles, and focusing on a PR. With a trail race, you often have to wait your turn when it's single track, which forces you to just enjoy the scenery while reaping the benefits of an all-over workout. Even my shoulders are tired from working hard to maintain balance while navigating all the rocks and boulders. The Ledges never disappoint for a race location.

Post-race I spent time in the kitchen with Bridget making blueberry muffins. She did all the work from start to finish, except breaking the egg. I didn't even end up using the mixer - she did it the old-fashioned way with good old muscles! Pictures below tell the story - so much fun!

As Julia Child would say, "Bon Appetit!"

Friday, April 29, 2011

Racing Season Is Upon Us!

Three weeks ago, I ran my first race of the season. Just a short 5k, but a nice tune-up for spring racing. This weekend, I will be running a 4.5 trail race - the April RAINN Trail Run sponsored by GruntGirl Racing. I'm beginning to get excited about my upcoming races and it makes me ponder my training goals.

This weekend's trail run is mostly for fun and to give my quads a screaming workout. Plus, it's sponsored by a kick-ass girls group and the money goes to a worthwhile cause. I'm also using this race as a progress check for the Rite-Aid 10k, which is fast approaching in 2 weeks. My best 10k time was a 1:03:02 at the Milwaukee Zoo race last June. I'd really really really like to break one hour. It's not going to be easy as it requires a sub-10 for EVERY mile. I can maintain that pace easily for 3 miles, maybe 4...but 6. Yikes! But I want that 59:59!

On Mother's Day, I will be cycling 50-miles alongside Karen as we knock out Fat Cyclist's 100 Miles of Nowhere. We'll be doing it by spinning like maniacs through 3 spin classes, drinking tons of water, then walking like John Wayne afterwards. Wish us luck!

In 7 weeks, I'm registered for the Mayor's Half Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska. I recently read course reviews on and the course is challenging in spots. It's mostly a "trail" course, but that's defined as like our Towpath trail, bike trails, and this gravel trail that a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people complained about, as well as the hill at the finish line that the winner actually walked up (wtf?!). My current half mary PR is 2:17:30. I'd really like to hit 2:15. I don't think that's too out of the question, but we'll see on race day! But if I see a Moose or a Bear on the course, then I'm golden...and chances are, seeing a Moose or Bear will definitely make me run faster!

In 10 weeks, I will tackle my first triathlon of the season. I've been trying to do one sprint triathlon a year, mostly to overcome my weakness in the water. The bike portion in a spint tri is less than my work commute and the 5k run I can churn out easy peasy. But a half mile swim, Hmmmmm....I can do it, but it's ugly. At Portland, it took me a miserable 30:51 to swim 800m with the fishes. The fishes were even embarassed! I've been improving my stroke, so I'm hoping to shed 10 minutes from that previous tri. My goal for the Mossman Sprint Tri is 20 minutes swim, 50 minutes for the 12.5 mile bike, and 30 minutes for the 5k run. I'm actually decent in transition because T1 and T2 is like being a mom and having to rush everywhere. The funny thing about this race, though, is it's billed as being in the "protected waters of the Long Island Sound." Huh? Do I need protected? Protected from what? I dunno if I like that...

It's going to be an exciting several months and I can't wait!

What races do you have planned? Anything you'd like to recommend - I need to fill August! Any post-race brews that go better with a 10k or a half marathon? That would make for a good post - pairing beers to races. Viper, that one's yours!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Riding Around Northern Ohio

On a recent library trip, I checked out Pedaling to Lunch: Bike Rides and Bites in Northeast Ohio by Stan Purdum. In his book, Purdum outlines 20 different rides for all levels of cyclists as well as lunch recommendations. No chain restaurants, just places with local flavor. I was surprised to learn that Greg and I have already tackled a couple of his recommended routes and I'm looking forward to a couple more. 

Three of the rides I'd like to tackle this summer include:

Ride 1: Fairport Harbor to Geneva-on-the-Lake. The recommended route is 54 miles long and is “relatively flat” (right….). Purdam recommends the Sunrise CafĂ©, but I think I might want to try the Flying Burrito Cantina. Uhmm, on second thought, burritos coupled with a long ride might not be a good combination!

Ride 2 (but his Ride 18): Strasburg to Baltic Loop in Tuscarawas and Holmes Counties. The route is 39 miles and categorized as “relatively flat to hilly.” I liked the points of interest Purdum included – Breitenbach Wine Cellars, Ragersville Cheese Factory and Broad Run Cheese House. This is a shorter ride with great Ohio scenery.

Ride 3 (his Ride 11): Clinton to Sterling Loop covering Summit and Wayne Counties. The route is 34 miles and flat to hilly. The major point of interest is Rogues’ Hollow. According to Purdum, the Famous Seven of Rogues’ Hollow are Walsh’s Saloon, Mrs. Ducey’s Saloon, The Liebert Saloon, The Hole-in-the-Wall Saloon (also known as Devil’s Den), Murray Saloon, The Jenkins Saloon, and Smith Saloon. Best of all, this area in the 1860s and 1870s was “known and feared as a hangout for rascals and scoundrels.” The eating joint recommended is Bradley’s for the Bradley Burger and Burger Fries.

Pedaling to Lunch includes great little tidbits of Northeastern Ohio history found in the columns called "Changing Gears", historical pictures, course maps and course descriptions (turn-by-turn) as well as plenty of food offerings for even the pickiest of eaters.

So do you have a favorite route you like to ride? Do you stop off at a neat place - like an old ice cream shop or a little burger joint?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hip Hop a Hippity Hop Easter

No Sugar Hill Gang, but just as fun as 70s rap. We "easter'd" in Arizona this year and the Easter Bunny had to contend with sunny, 90 degree temps versus cold, wet and rainy Cleveland. It was a win-win for all of us. As a family, we saw Rio on Saturday, played in the pool a couple of days, grilled out, enjoyed some wonderful little restaurants with great flair and filled up on gelato. I even managed to sneak in two runs and a little stop at Lucy for some yoga wear before heading home.

Awkward family photo - is it no wonder Meg didn't want to jump into this one?!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday's Treat: Sing, Floss, Travel Jacket

I have a big summer trip looming in the background. Other than the stress of having to train for a half marathon by June at this destination race, I am also faced with packing for a multi-weather kind of vacation. How do you pack for Alaska? The weather in Anchorage resembles Northern Ohio, but what if I encounter rain, wind and chilly temps? Have no fear, Lululemon is here!

Enter my little splurge - the Sing, Floss, Travel Jacket. I lust over Lululemon - the products, the lifestyle, the colors. And now, I know I will have that nice little warming layer - complete with a hoodie! And in my favorite color, gray. Lucky me :)

Today's guilty pleasure: what else, but treating myself to something wonderful at Lululemon!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Loving My Training Partner - Garmin

Sunday, I gave speedwork a try. Is that even the right word, "try"? Hmmm...whatever. I ran my ass off in my own little mind. I started out with a nice one mile warm-up followed by 4x400m intervals. I "tried" to go a little faster than 10k pace and I felt good about my four intervals. I hit each one around 2:02-2:04. Might sound slow to you, but I was buzzed about it. I'd like to break two minutes, obviously, but for my first venturing this year, I'll take it and build off of it. I couldn't believe how heavy the legs felt on the first one, how good the legs felt on 2 and 3, and how 4 couldn't come soon enough?! Boy, have I missed that feeling! I have a 10k coming up in 30 days and I'm hoping to hit a 9:30 pace so I can finish sub one hour. I finished my speed workout by logging in another 2 miles post-speedwork and kept a 9:40-9:50 pace.

What I'm really loving is the focus that Garmin gives. Before, I would log in 11-ish minute miles and feel good, thinking (sometimes foolishly) that I could run 10-minute miles during races. I love the instant feedback that Garmin gives me and I'm finding I'm getting more and more competitive while training. I actually get a little bothered when I go over 10s. I'm also finding out that keeping below 10 is not overly exerting me, which I think means it's where I should be. Garmin's also driving me nuts because I can't end a workout on 3.99 miles. Are you f-ing kidding me, I've got to end on an even 4. *sigh*

Today's guilty pleasure: Easter candy. Today, I sampled a mini Reese egg (not the normal, yummy-sized egg), a Starburst, and a hershey's kiss in the pastel wrapper. If Peeps were within striking distance, I would have ravished through them as well. Love me some Easter candy!

On a final note, Way to Go Elizabeth on your Boston Marathon finish!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hello, Exhaustion. It's Me, Robin!! I cycled to work today and I'm toast! It's 14 miles to my office from my house with most of the ride allowing me to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Cleveland Metroparks. But here's a few things I learned today during my 28-mile round trip:

1. When it's 45 degrees outside, don't forget to wear those little booties that go over your running shoes! Running shoes breathe...yeah, great in the summer, but it also means they have those lovely little "vent" holes that basically turns the shoe into air conditioning. Not wise when it's frigid outside.

2. Leave a little earlier. At 7:00 a.m., there's limited traffic. At 8:00 a.m., it turns out for a free-for-all, encountering drivers with coffee in one hand and texting with the other . Whatever happened to share the road?! The funny part was that I made it to work EARLIER than I normally do when I drive. Go figure!

3. When the Weather Channel app says "wind advisory", what they really mean is holy-crap-hold-tight-to-those-handlebars! I was exhausted just from trying to stay vertical and keep some kind of forward movement. At one point, I just laughed at the red light thinking about how ridiculous I must look to the motorists beside me.

4. And my favorite lesson of the day is to hide the bike so coworkers can't make asinine remarks like: it's going to rain, how will you get home? or I could never do that (ride to work), I have (insert lame excuse here).

The best part of cycling today was the ride home when I ran into another female cyclist. When we both stopped at the red light, she asked me if I had any salt tablets. I'd like to think she thought I was not a pleasure-seeking-cyclist, but maybe a more serious, athletic type (hey, it's my delusion!). I told her I didn't because I just had a short 14-miler today. That brief smugness kept me peddling for another couple of miles!

Today's guilty pleasure: singing out loud while riding my bike because no one can hear that I was not born with the gift of music!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Newest Addiction: Garmin

I know! I am so late to the party! I must be that kid that always got the new shoes half-way through the school year! For my birthday (yes, in February), my family presented me with a lovely package to open - the Garmin 305. I finally took the time yesterday during my lunch hour to read the instructions. I're wavering between "she's so inconsiderate not to appreciate a gift RIGHT AWAY" while at the same time thinking, "Yeah, I get that. I'm super swamped, too. Who has time for reading directions?!" Now, whoever designed the instruction package for Garmin must have been someone who already had an understanding of parts and widgets and whatnot. Remembering that I had stumbled across this blog, and remembering that he had done product reviews, I immediately pulled him up on my trusty little computer (the one thing I actually know how to operate). Complete with pictures and idiot-proof instructions, the DC Rainmaker walked me through my Garmin 305. Today, with the weather absolutely beautiful at 50+ degrees, sunshine and little to no wind, I set off to locate those satellites. My gosh, I'm addicted. I was a running fool out there, I tell ya! I kept looking to see what my pace was and I actually got pissed when it registered a number I didn't like. This is exactly what I needed to take my running to the next level - you know the level - the one where you finish in the MIDDLE THIRD of the pack! Who knows, with Garmy by my side, I might just finish in the top 25 (of my age group, at a small race)!

Today's guilty pleasure: driving with my sunroof open! Who knew that would turn out to be so pleasurable. That's what living in northern Ohio with 6 months of winter will do to you - make you grateful to use that one car option!

If you have any inside information, tips or tricks that you love about your Garmin, fire them off to me. I'm looking forward to being able to do more than just "pace" myself!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Race Report - Yes, A Race Report!

I can't believe it, but I spontaneously committed to a 5k race. At the request of a coworker, I registered Thursday night and then ran the Run to the Beach 5k at Portage Lakes this morning. What a fun race and great way to knock out 3.1 miles on a Saturday morning. The race was a nice split between road and trail, both single track and a bridle trail size. I wasn't sure how I would fare or what to expect since I haven't tackled a race since rehabbing the knee, but I was happy with this morning's results! I finished in 30:42 (a 9:54 pace) with no knee pain!

The course was outstanding with wonderful views of the lake. Finish line was amazingly well stocked with goodies. The race shirt is the brightest "highlighter yellow" shade I've ever known, but cool nonetheless. Temps were a bit chilly, with rainy drizzle all morning, but I'll take that over snow and extreme heat. Overall, great morning and a nice way to kick off racing season!

Today's guilty pleasure: Coming home to see Bridget playing with her Barbies and Ken. All of five of them were either in plank position or downward dog. Hysterical! She told me that even boys do yoga. Hear that, Nitmos? That's my little yogi.

Even though I consider the Cleveland Metroparks simply wonderful, I have to say I enjoyed Portage Lakes. Do you have a favorite park that you enjoy running - trails or multipurpose path?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gorgeous Core: DVD Review

First of all, I'm not good about fitness DVDs. Don't get me wrong, I have quite a collection, but I'm terrible about watching them. This one is different. It arrived yesterday in that wonderful little brown box with the "To Robin. Love Amazon" label. I tore it open and prepared myself for the first session: long, lean and strong. Each session is only 12 minutes (my attention span exactly, give or take a few minutes) and packs quite a wallop in those short 12 minutes. Tomorrow is Classic Abwork and I'm not dreading it. Isn't that what a fitness DVD should do - 1) fit easily in your already-crammed schedule; and 2) be challenging, but not discouraging. I can say this DVD is both!

Do you have a go-to fitness DVD?

Today's guilty pleasure: fresh crunchy gala apple. It was my snack today and it was perfect!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Runner's Recipe for Refueling: Shrimp Ceviche

Great way to add protein for muscle repair as well as a light and refreshing way to refuel after a long run (or medium or short run!).

1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 small cucumber, quartered and sliced
1/4 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 TBSP minced picked jalepeno chiles
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 BSP olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked pepper

Cook the shrimp in a pot of boiling water 3 minutes or until done; rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Combine shrimp with remaining ingredients in a large nonaluminum bowl. Cover and chill for several hours to combine flavors.

Use leftover lime for the Corona! Enjoy!

Today's guilty pleasure: those damn peeps. It's Easter time and they're everywhere, including on my countertop!

How do you fuel on those long runs? Do you have an easy recipe for quick and yummy fuel?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Can Coffee Really Be That Good?

The answer is yes! Every time my husband visits Philadelphia on business, he knows that to regain entry back into the house, he must cough up one bag of La Colombe coffee...preferably the Corsica blend. This last trip, he outdid himself by producing TWO bags - Corsica and Monaco. If you are in the Philly area, definitely go to their Rittenhouse Square location. It's magic to your mouth!

Today's guilty pleasure: when the barista makes a little design in your latte. I mean, seriously, does this bring a smile quickly to your face as well?

Monday, April 4, 2011

These Times They Are a Changin'

While at Ohio University on Saturday, we made a quick trip to Meg's old Elementary school. She loved this place and I credit it for making her an open-minded individual. For two weeks during Kindergarten, they studied about diversity. To learn the alphabet, they had a different food each day starting with the day's letter. She ate hummus, turnips, and kimbop (korean). Amazing school. At my insistence and her excitement, we took a picture of her in the same spot as her first day of kindergarten. Wow - time is flying way too fast!

Today's guilty pleasure: Party of Five. Neve Campbell is on the cover of Health magazine and it reminded me how much I loved that depressing, brooding show. Even after Matthew Fox was on Lost, I still called him Charlie (drove my husband nuts). And because Jennifer Love Hewitt (Sarah) was such a bitch to Bailey, I cannot stand watching her on TV to this day. I loved Claudia in Mean Girls. But whatever happened to Owen?

Did you have a favorite 90s show that was your guilty pleasure?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Do at OU

While talking to a very dear friend on Thursday, she mentioned that Ohio University (our alma mater) was having a Spring Reunion featuring I Do at OU at Galbraith Chapel for married couples who either met at Ohio University or got married at OU. As luck would have it, we had a free weekend. And since we both graduated from OU and met at OU, it was a must-do on my weekend list. On a whim, I signed us up and off we went on Saturday.

We arrived early enough to do all the cheesy back-to-college-campus stuff. Drove past our old houses (slum cottages to some), checked out some of the old bars (I still need to replenish my "I Get High at the CI" plastic cups), drove the three main streets in Athens - Court, State and West Union. We also stopped by Meg's old elementary school for some playground time (all of us) and visited a new place - Fluff - for some yummy goodness. Of course, Meg and I stopped to get the to-go coffee at Donkey (favorite coffeehouse maybe ever).

Then all four of us walked to Galbraith Chapel. Not sure of what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised. I met my friend, Anne, and her husband, who were also doing the same cheesy thing. We said our "I do's" at 18:04 (year college was founded) and toasted champagne in OU-engraved flutes while snacking on mini-cupcakes. It was a nice touch that the minister asked all the couples to introduce themselves and how they met. We were married the least amount of time, my friend will be celebrating her 20th anniversary this year (and she even wore her bridal veil), and another couple were celebrating their 36th! Heard some classic OU-kind of stories. Greenery, anyone?

Bridget enjoyed taking camera pics everywhere we went - especially this one of Megan and Greg on the College Green. It was just a quick down-and-back day trip and was the perfect length!

Today's guilty pleasure: Donkey Coffee, Burrito Buggy, DP Dough's, and the CI. Good stuff!