Friday, August 15, 2014

Five Things Friday 8/15

Another unintentional blog hiatus.  Sorry, y'all!  School got started again, and things have just gotten crazy.  Once I get back into the school year routine, I'll be around more regularly.

Since it's Friday and my brain is all over the place, I'm just going to share five random things with you.  Hopefully next week I'll be back into the routine and have more exciting posts to share with y'all!

1. Teacher Pre-planning week = LOTS of free food.  And let me tell you, being at two different schools, I worked it PERFECTLY to get in on each school's free breakfast and lunch.  That may or may not have determined where I was each day ;)  Check out these adorable cookies we had at the welcome back lunch on Tuesday!
2.  Tequila is chewing up EVERYTHING lately.  If anyone has any ideas on how to train her to stop, please let me know!
3.  My routine has really been thrown off--I haven't even gotten in a workout in the last two weeks!  It was tough to do while our guests were here last weekend, and I just haven't gotten back in the groove since we returned from Chicago.  My goal for this coming week: write workouts in my planner again (check!) and DO THEM!
4.  Next weekend, I'm going out to Seattle to see Kristie and Joe!  And...guess what we're going to do??  Skydive!  It was one of my goals for 2014, and now it's actually going to happen!  I'm really excited, nervous, anxious, and scared all at the same time.  But, it should be fun!

5.  Finally, I have a pretty big announcement for y'all.  You know how I signed up to run the Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon again this year?  Well, as you might know, my knee started hurting during the ZOOMA Chicago half, and it hasn't fully recovered.  I still haven't run since then, and I don't want to cause more serious problems.  So, I won't be running RnR VB :(  This was a REALLY tough decision for me, especially because I was going to get to see my good friend Krista and her husband Josh AND go to the Virginia Tech football season opener!  But, for the sake of my health, I think it's the right decision.  Sad day, but hopefully it'll mean many more happy runs in the future.

Hope you have a great weekend!  I'll do my best to make things more exciting around here next week.

Questions for you: How do I make my puppy stop chewing everything up?  Have you ever had to withdraw from a race?

Monday, August 11, 2014

6 Words Weekend Recap

Well, hey guys!  How are you doing?  Things got a little busy around here last week, and I wasn't prepared with posts for y'all.  My bad!

Instead of giving a really detailed recap of my weekend, I'm going to show you some pictures and caption them in 6 words or less.  Annette does this every now and then, so I thought it'd be a good way to fit everything in to one post without boring you!

Farrah came to visit!  Woo hoo!
Beautiful beach day on Thursday :)
View from the Top of Daytona
Salmon with Blueberry-Citrus Compote--YUM!!
I live in a gorgeous place
Gringotts Bank, Diagon Alley, Universal Studios!
Drinking Butterbeer in Diagon Alley--sosweet
Taking the Hogwarts Express!
Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you?
Oh, there you are!  With Shaggy!
Daytona Cubs game with the brother-in-law (left of Cubby)
Pretty fireworks after the game

Rainy Sunday = New book series!!
Question for you: How was your weekend?  What'd you do?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WIAW #40: Chicago Eats

Hey, everyone!  How is your Wednesday going?  Mine is pretty great, because my friend Farrah is getting in to town today for a visit!
Farrah and I are sorority sisters and lived together in college, and I'm so excited to get to see her and show her around FL!

Until then, since it's Wednesday, it's time for another edition of...
Today's post will go through some of my meals while in Chicago!  I talked about the restaurants we ate at during my weekend recap, but let's actually look at what I ate.

Thursday's Dinner at Joe Fish
After looking at the prices on the menu, Joe and I decided to split an entree and a side dish.  We got lobster ravioli and broccoli and spinach.  Everything was really great, but the side dish was REALLY what stole the show!  It was perfectly steamed and seasoned, and we both wanted more!

Friday's Breakfast at Starbucks
While Joe slept in a little on Friday, I headed to Starbucks for some breakfast!  I grabbed an egg and cheese sandwich and had an iced vanilla macchiato with my food.  Everything was really, really good! I read a little and enjoyed people-watching while everyone heading to work came in for food and coffee.  Fun times!

Friday's Lunch at Giordano's
It is a NECESSITY to eat some deep-dish pizza while in Chicago.  Many people have their favorite places throughout the city, but we decided to meet my little Cindy at Giordano's.  I personally LOVE the deep dish pizza because I love bread.  Joe wasn't really a fan, but hey, at least he tried it.

Friday's Dinner at Ditka's
My phone died during dinner, so I didn't get a picture of my meal.  I did get a picture of this cute little drawing the restaurant has of Mike Ditka all over the restaurant.  Too cute!  I ordered spaghetti and meatballs to carbo-load for the race, and everything was really good.  Joe ordered the meatloaf and really raved about it.  The portions were HUGE, so if you eat there, ordering an appetizer/side dish and an entree to share between two people would be more than enough.

Saturday's Brunch
This was the meal I received after the race, and I ate it as brunch (even though I also ate breakfast and lunch).  It was a roasted veggie sandwich on tomato focaccia bread, and it was really yummy!

And there you have it!  All the food pictures I took while in Chicago (Saturday's dinner was ballpark food at the Chicago White Sox game).  I've got to say, we had some pretty great food!  Chicago, thanks for the yummy visit.

Question for you: If you've been to Chicago, what's your favorite restaurant in the city?  If you haven't, what city that you've been to has really great foo?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ZOOMA Chicago Expo + Race Recap

It seems like once one of my Monday night shows ends (Dancing with the Stars, the Bachelorette, The Bachelor), another one starts back up the next week!  Well, last night I watched the Bachelor/ette spin-off Bachelor in Paradise.
Image Source
I told myself I wouldn't watch it, but I was a little curious.  Now that I have, I feel like I lost a few brain cells while doing so.  Unfortunately, I will probably watch the whole season since Bachelor In Paradise is kind of like a trainwreck--you just can't look away!


As you may know, I ran a half marathon in Chicago on Saturday!  I wanted to recap my whole race experience with the ZOOMA Women's Race Series today.  I won a free entry to this race through a #RunChat, so I was excited to experience this race series!

I'd heard a lot about this race series before running it, so I expected this to be another large race much like runDisney or Rock 'n Roll races.  Well, I quickly learned walking in to the expo that the ZOOMA races are not as large as other race series I've done.  The only booths at the expo were the sponsors of the race, but I still managed to get some free samples!
The swag bag that came with race registration was great--the race tech shirt, a pair of Feetures! socks, a reuseable bag, a hat, and some other samples.  Good stuff!

The race on Saturday started at Burnham Park at 7am.  I got there very early and was able to enjoy some beautiful views while prepping for the start.
There were about 600 runners total (400 for the half marathon and 200 for the 10K, almost all of them women), and everyone lined up in "corrals" based on pace.  I started the race with a lofty goal of keeping up with the 2:20 pacing group.
The course took us along the Lake Shore Trail, an awesome path that runs right along Lake Michigan.  The path is two lanes and was not closed off to the public while we were running.  It made for a little bit of a bottle-necked start.  The first half of the course was three miles out-and-back into the city.  Our turn-around point was a famous Chicago landmark, Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears football team plays. 
We ran back to Burnham Park, where the 10Kers ran to the finish, and the half marathoners continued 3.5 miles south on the Lake Shore Trail for another out-and-back route.

Before the race, I knew I wasn't very prepared.  I decided on a strategy much like the Lake Minneola Half Marathon: run the first mile straight, then start a 3min:1min run/walk ratio.  I started this race out a little fast, but I was able to stay in between the 2:20 and 2:30 pacers for about 5 miles.  

I think I started the race a little fast because I became REALLY tired after those first 5 miles.  So much so that I considered pealing off at the 10K finish and stopping then.  However, I extended my walking breaks and regained some energy.  My time from the first half of the race was pretty good, and I decided to make my goal to finish in 2:30.

When we started the second half of the race, the outside of my knee started hurting, signaling some IT band problems.  I continued to extend my walking breaks and stretch out when possible.  The 2:30 pacers passed me during mile 7, so I readjusted my goal to finish in under 2:40.

I was already struggling during the second half of the race, and to make things worse, there were no water stations from mile 8 to mile 11.  There was also very little shade, so it made for a very warm, semi-miserable time during the race.  Luckily, there were a few water fountains along the path, so I was able to get some water.
Joe texted me when I was around mile 11 telling me he was at the finish line, which gave me the push I needed to get to the end!  I decided to run 1 minute, walk 1 minute until I was only about half a mile away.

Despite my struggles, I managed to finish with a smile!  The cool medal and beautiful scenery certainly helped, too!
I also was able to meet my third goal in finishing under 2:40.  I figured I would since I never saw the 2:40 pacers anywhere close by, but it was really exciting to actually do so.  Please ignore how horrible I did in my age group.
I knew the post-race party was one of the things ZOOMA races are known for, so I was excited to check it all out.  First stop: free Muscle Milk samples while foam rolling!  GREAT IDEA to have those available, especially after my IT band problems!

Next up, I grabbed my snack box and a banana.  These snack boxes were pretty fancy!
I wound up eating the sandwich later, but I was impressed at the quality of the food!  Tomato foccacia bread was really, really good!

Last up: time for some wine!  Barefoot Wines brought their new Refresh line of sparkling wines.  I like drier wines, so I didn't think I'd like these much.  I tried the Crisp Red, and it was actually really good!
I should have gotten more than one glass, but I figured I should probably drink some water.  They also offered free yoga sessions for recovery, but I decided to skip that and head back to the hotel with Joe.

I really liked the medal they gave us, too!  Pretty design, sparkly, and features a Chicago landmark: the fountain in Grant Park!  Plus, the charm at the bottom is removable to make a necklace.  Sweet!
Overall, I really enjoyed this race despite my personal performance.  I wound up enjoying how small the race was.  Everything was very well organized, and I loved how the swag, pre-race, and post-race experiences were geared toward women.  The scenery was really great, as well.  Plus, it was great to take my first race-cation with the hubby!!

I do wish they had more water stations (both at the start and throughout the course), especially later on in the race.  I also wish I'd known about the size beforehand, even though it turned in to a positive for me.  

If you have a shot to run a ZOOMA race, I do recommend it.  Just be wary that it is a smaller race, but they do have some great things going on!

Question for you: Have you ever run a ZOOMA race?  Have you ever run a gender-specific race?  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Chicago Weekend!

Well hey there!  Joe and I made it home from Chicago yesterday after a very fun race-cation (fancy word that I learned from Kat meaning "vacation for a race")!  So, as I normally do around here on Monday, let's recap the weekend!

As I was preparing this post, it was getting REALLY long.  So, I'm going to share some pictures and brief descriptions of what we did on our Chicago racecation.

We checked into and explored our awesome hotel: Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago.
Check out the view of Navy Pier from the hotel's 3rd floor patio!
Dinner on Thursday was at a restaurant called Joe Fish.  I'll talk in detail about all of our meals on Wednesday's WIAW post!
Fun fact: the restaurant caught our eye because that is Joe's nickname from high school (our last name is a type of fish)!!  We knew we HAD to go when we saw it in the hotel's Chicago guide book.
Drink and pictures at the Signature Lounge at the top of the Hancock building!

Not a bad view for breakfast and good book, huh?
Comfortable pool time in the late morning/early afternoon.  So nice to not be uncontrollably sweating like in Florida!
Lunch and catch-up time with my little sister from my sorority Cindy!
Selfie in The Bean.
If you've never heard of it, The Bean is basically just a piece of art in a park.  It's large, shiny, and shaped like a bean!  The funny thing is, there is no significance to The Bean at all, and yet so many people want to come see it when in Chicago!  How funny!
ZOOMA Chicago race expo swag!
Dinner at Ditka's steakhouse
My phone died during dinner, but the rest of the night was spent shopping on Michigan Avenue and getting drinks with Joe's buddies from the military near Wrigley Field.  I headed home early to get some sleep before the race!

Great view before the start of the race.
So excited to finish!!  Full recap of the expo, race, and post-race party tomorrow!
Bid/medal after the race and before I napped for two hours.
No pictures, but we went to the Field Museum of Natural History and saw the The Machine Inside: Biomechanics special exhibit.  Very interesting!!

Chicago White Sox game!
Fireworks afterward, set to oldies music (until the finale, set to Fall Out Boy!)
I went home early to crash.  Man, that race took a lot out of me!

Goodbye Chicago!
We got home around 3:30 and spent the rest of the afternoon doing chores.  Fun times!  I'm planning to enjoy today, since it's my last day before the 2014-2015 school year starts for me on Tuesday.  What a short summer I had!

Question for you: Have you ever been to Chicago?  Did you do anything fun this weekend?