Friday, October 28, 2016

Five Things Friday - Las Vegas Edition

Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas is two weeks away! I feel like I've been planning this trip all year. It's been a few years since we've been in Vegas and there is so much to do. The one thing I have to keep in mind is that I'm there to run a race, I can have all the fun and stay on track.

Of course we are going to be traveling and sightseeing, but why not make it fun? This week on Five Things Friday I'm going to share five little healthy tips while in Las Vegas to help you stay on track while on vacation. 

1. The Las Vegas strip is very easy to navigate. Set a plan and walk instead of taking a cab. Get those steps in on the way to the buffet! Each hotel is different. Why not walk for each hotel to another. Playing a slot machine? Set a number of minutes you will be on a machine then walk to the complete other end of the casino and pick another. As long as you are moving, you are keeping up your cardio. 

2. Take the stairs! It sounds so simple, but most places have escalators. Take the steps and get the blood flowing. Even adding in a few sets of stairs will make such a difference. 

3. Sure, a buffet sounds great, but most people load up plates and overeat. I'm not telling you to skip the buffet, but try taking smaller portions at the buffet. It will force you to move around instead of just sitting and eating. 

4. Stay hydrated. It's hot in Las Vegas all the time. Staying hydrated is the easiest thing you can do to keep healthy. You can buy water everywhere on the strip, but bring a refillable bottle so you always have something on you. 

5. SUNSCREEN! You are in the desert. The sun is always out, all year long. Pack a small bottle of sunscreen with you. Skin cancer is a real threat and can happen at any point. Enjoy the pool and the outdoors, after you apply your sunscreen. 

No matter what you do, you will have an awesome vacation. From shows to food, there is something for everyone. If you are going to be running Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas make sure you check out the We Run Social meet up at 3:30 in front of the VIP tent on race day! If you are around on Saturday, you can also join myself, Briana and Brandi as we host a We Run Social meetup before the 5k! More details coming soon! Make sure you check out, from shows to food, there is something for everyone!

What are some of your favorite Las Vegas adventures? What do I need to add to my list?

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Week That Was: 10/17 - 10/23

This week was a recovery week for me. I raced really hard in St. Louis for two days, and add in travel. My legs needed the break.

After a crazy evening of travel coming home from St. Louis, I ended up going to work on Monday with about three hours of sleep. I was so tired all day and ended up giving myself a headache. When I got home I slept for over three hours. Needless to say, I did nothing on Monday.

Tuesday I was still feeling pretty terrible. We were going to have a cold front coming through and I knew that was the reason why. I decided to do a 30 minute kettle bell workout and then started over on the Quick Strength For Runners plan. It felt super good to be moving, but my legs still felt really heavy.

Wednesday I ran with the Couch to 5k group. We did just about two miles. I'm so proud of these ladies. They are doing such a great job. We reached the midway point of their training and everyone seems to be on track!

Thursday was our first day of pouring rain. I made the decision to do another training from the Quick Strength book and did some other things. I ordered my bike trainer and some swim gear! 

Yes folks, I'm committing to doing a tri in 2017! I found the open swim hours for my school district and after Las Vegas, I will be adding in one day a week of swimming! The plan for right now is the day that I swim I will also bike. That might change as I go along, but for now it's the plan.

Friday was a complete rain out. Just poured all day. I spent a good amount of time in sweatpants and cleaning out my DVR. It was needed. This is a recovery week!

Saturday I ran with the C25K group again. They had two miles of non stop running. It was FREEZING! It was in the low 40's, raining, and windy. My toes were frozen. I am not ready for colder running yet. If you are new to the blog, I spend most of winter on my treadmill. I do not handle cold well.

Sunday hubs and I both had the day off. Since it wasn't going to be very warm outside, I didn't have to wake up super early. We slept in and met Kelsey for the last five miles of her 10. I ended up doing six. We ran intervals which felt wonderful. Nice and easy which was a perfect end for a recovery week.

Weekly Total: 10 miles.
October Total: 58.3 miles.

Next week is going to be crazy. I have a big week at work and I'm traveling back out east to do some bridesmaid dress shopping for my best friends wedding. It will totally be a week of fitting in workouts when I can, but I plan on a long run and maybe some faster paced miles. I need to start adding more speed in now so when I start officially training for Princess I will be ready!

What do you usually do during a recovery week? 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis Half Marathon Recap

I woke up Sunday morning as ready to go as I could be. It was about 68 degrees at 5:30 and I was worried about another Philly incident. Luckily the humidity wasn't high so it might just be toasty. 

Joe and I walked to the VIP area to meet with Brandi and Kristen. We also ended up meeting Heather there as well. I don't think I ever said out loud that I was trying to go sub-2, but that was my goal. My last three half marathons have been 2:16, 2:10 and 2:15 so sub-2 seemed like a huge goal. I just wanted to keep it to myself.

I loved seeing the Gateway Arch all weekend!

I started in corral 2 and it seemed to be the Hall Of Fame corral. Seriously. All the usual's were in this corral. They were having a blast and I'm just ready to go. It stared to drizzle a little bit and I noticed I really needed to pee. This wasn't going to be good, I needed to stop right away. We haven't even started yet. 

My corral started about two minutes after the start. I knew I would see Joe early in the first mile and that was probably it. I saw him probably a minute in to the race. Well, that was fun. 

Once I realized that we were going right pass the hotel I remembered there were port-a-potties on the left hand side. I had to stop. Thank goodness I did. 

Alright, back on the course. I settled into a groove. My plan was to stay around 9:09-9:11 for the first 5k. I wanted to take it easy early. I knew the rolling hills would catch up to me eventually. 

Somewhere in the second mile I saw Richard! We have missed each other a few times at races and I was so excited to meet him. He was talking how it was a bit humid for him and was taking it easy. We took a picture and then I headed out.

"Pretend we like running!" Thanks Richard!

5k split: 28:56 (9:19 pace)

My legs got comfortable right after the 5k split. Everything was clicking. It was getting warm, but still bearable. I had decided to switch to gels for this race. I'm terrible with fueling and need to get better. I decided to take a gel every five miles. I also took Gatorade at each stop they had it. 

We ran through St. Louis University and I had the realization how closely this course resembled Akron. You think you are done going up and you just get a short break. I'm still working my push harder on the downhill and flat and ease back on the up hill. 

10k split: 56:30 (9:06 pace)

We got to The Grove which I had never heard of. It was a super trendy cool area in town. Apparently there is a bunch of historical stuff along with it. It was also in this area that I noticed a man with a Pittsburgh Marathon shirt on. It was nice to chat with someone for a second and really make sure I wasn't singing out loud or having a full fledged conversation with myself. 

It's getting a bit warm for me around mile 8. I grabbed a water and poured it over my head. The hills seemed to pick up around this point. Trying to do runners math in my head was not working. I just needed to get to the 10 mile mark to see what I needed to do. 

10 mile mark: 1:30 (9:05 pace)

Okay. If I'm aiming for a sub-2 I love having a sub-1:30 10 mile split. I know I can run a 5k in under a half hour. On this course, I really could have used an extra minute to feel comfortable. 

The hills haven't stopped. I thought after the 10 mile mark it may have calmed a little bit. NOPE! Let me explain for a second, these hills aren't crazy, but they don't stop. You have very little "flat" consistent elevation. It's really hard to try to get in that groove to run a sub-30 minute 5k at the end of a tough half. 

I grabbed Gatorade again at the water stop at mile 12. I knew I needed it and the little bit of time it took to make it happen was worth it for me. I also dumped another cup of water on my head. It's warm and the sun is coming out. A lot of the course was shaded but when you were out, the sun was there. 

The end of the race was the same as the day before. A slight uphill (that I pushed really hard on the day before and had nothing left for the finish) right before the finish line. I look at my watch and saw 1:58. PUSH STEFF! IT'S TIME TO MOVE!

Finish time: 1:59:37

I was shocked. I actually did it. I saw Joe and I just cried. Not the same type of cry as my half PR last year, but it was tears of relief. I can still do this. I accomplished each of my goals for the weekend. I even cut 15 minutes off my half time in about a month. It's amazing what your body can do when you're healthy.

After the tears.

I'm so lucky to have spent so much time with Kristen. She broke 1:35!

By completing the half, I finished the remix challenge. It was also my fifth Rock 'n' Roll marathon race this year so I got my roadie medal. I also completed the Midwest Quest for running Chicago and St. Louis. 

All the bling!

Midwest Quest Medals

St. Louis Medals!

Half marathon shirt and medal

All the bling from the weekend!

This course was tough. Even for me who prefers this type of course. I think the weather had a bunch to do with it, but I'm still thrilled. Since Vegas will be a fun race, this was my last attempt to finish the year on a high note. I would say so for sure. 

Below is the course map and elevation chart for the race. 

Disclaimer: I was provided entry to this race as part of the Rock 'n' Blog program. All thoughts are my own.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis 5k Recap

After a fun day of exploring St. Louis, it was time for the first race of the weekend. I have kept my goals for this weekend a little quiet because I wanted to attempt something scary. I wanted to try to age group the 5k. 

For those who aren't sure what I'm talking about, the top three finishers in each age group usually win an age group award. Rock 'n' Roll doesn't do age group awards for their 5k's but I still wanted to give it a shot. I looked up the results from the year before and it looked reasonable. 

I knew the course was tough, there was no doubt about it, but what better time to push yourself out of your comfort zone? If I fail, oh well. At least I tried. 

Flat Steff was ready!

I loved seeing the Gateway Arch so much!

Before the race I met up with a few friends at the We Run Social meet up. This is the first time I really said my goal out loud. I've talked to people just in conversation but now it's out there. Kristen said she would pace me since she was racing the half the next day. We decided we wouldn't run together but close enough to each other to just have a presence.

The Crew!

We are in the starting corral and I noticed this tiny little girl standing in front of us. The back of her shirt said "Speedy". I turned to Kristen and said "we are going to lose to her". We giggled but knew it was true. We also saw barefoot Elvis. Fun times in corral 1. 

Okay, race time! I wanted to stay around a 7:40ish pace. The start was a slight downhill which was nice. I knew there was a pretty decent uphill coming quickly. Kristen left me quickly out of the downhill, which was fine. My stomach was already not having this race a half mile in. Just sloshing like crazy, but I made it up that hill like a champ!

Joe caught Kristen and I!

Mile 1: 7:44

Out of the hill there was a flat patch and instantly my entire right side of my torso cramped up. I haven't cramped like that in a long time. I'm so glad I made the decision to carry my water bottle and emergency chews. Yes, I'm that person who had to take a chew during a 5k. Luckily out of the flat there was a downhill so I could try to shake the cramp. 

Not so lucky for me that we went RIGHT BACK UP THE HILL WE JUST WENT DOWN! Not to mention we ran pass Pappy's Smokehouse at the turn around. I don't even eat BBQ, but the smell of food just turned my stomach. It just wasn't good.

Mile 2: 8:33

After the up we went right back down. I found a happy enough pace that I could breathe fully. The cramp had started to loosen but my stomach was still up in my ribs. I had a lady pass me complimenting my outfit, which was fun.

During the final up hill I wanted to give it all I could. I pushed myself up that hill, but had nothing left for the finish. Nothing. 

Mile 3: 8:21

Straight away to the finish line seemed forever away. I'm getting passed left and right, but by men so I'm still great.

Finish time: 25:37

I saw Kristen at the end and she said "Speedy" did end up beating her, but she finished as the fourth overall female! "Speedy" finished third overall female at a cool 11 years old. You go girl!

It took a few hours for the official results to come out. I had Kelsey stalking the website since we were going out exploring. I was shocked when they were released. 

I ACTUALLY DID IT! I placed third in my age group! If the weekend ended right there I would have been thrilled. It's been such a rough year for me, racing wise, that this made it all worth it. 

Despite my side cramp, I really liked this race. It was small, but the course was challenging which was a nice change of pace. The medal and shirt were great and just spending the extra time with Kristen and the other ladies made it so much fun.

Below is the course map and elevation chart!

Disclaimer: I was provided entry into this race as part of the Rock 'n' Blog program. All thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Out and About in St. Louis

If you have ever met my husband you know he is a huge trip planner. We know what we're doing and when at all times. This trip was a little different. We have both been so busy that all we had planned was when we were flying in and out, the hotel and the races. That's it. 

After we landed in St. Louis at 9am, we took the MetroLink to the hotel. Little did we know there was a stop right next to our hotel. Literally! We were staying at The Westin right next to Busch Stadium. We knew we were early but tried to check in early. Lucky for us they actually had a room ready for us! Seriously best hotel ever. The room may have been bigger than our first apartment!

We did a quick search for food, found a place called Sliced Pint. It was right by the convention center so we got a feel of where we were going. On our way to the restaurant we found a local brewery that didn't open until 3 so we made a mental note to head back. We made it to Sliced Pint and we loved it! A really cool building and great food. If you are in St. Louis make sure you check it out. 

From there we went to the Scottrade Center to check out the team store. We had tickets to the Blues game Saturday night but wanted to check out the walk and the store before hand. 

From there we went to the Gateway Arch! Now, Joe is not the best with heights, and I have a fear of falling, but we put on a brave face and needed to do this. So glad we did! 

From there is was time to go to the expo! This was straight forward for us because we traveled only with backpacks. Couldn't bring anything extra back with us at all! 

We then checked out Alpha Brewing Company, which was the brewery we walked passed earlier. They had a variety of sour beers, which are my favorite. It was really good and a super cool place!

We went back to the hotel to power nap since we had a long day. Joe found a restaurant across the street from the hotel called Cardinal's Nation. We decided to eat a small dinner there since we really weren't hungry but needed to eat. Another great find! 

On Saturday after the 5k (recap coming soon) we went back to the room to clean up and figure out a plan. Everyone told us about the zoo so we figured out a way to get there (thanks Metrolink!). Guys, the St. Louis zoo is free and incredible! It was so clean and well put together. We had just a wonderful time. 

Once we got back we had to start getting ready for the Blues game. We wanted to eat before hand since arena food could be sketchy before a race. We ended up at Flying Saucer which was another super cool building with amazing food. We really did awesome picking out food the whole weekend. 

The Blues game was everything we hoped it would be. The Blues beat the Rangers (yay)! We saw some interesting quirky things the fans do, and really just had a fun time. 

After the half on Sunday (recap coming soon) we had to check out and find somewhere to eat. We found Bailey's Range, and ice cream and burgers place. I had some really good mac and cheese and the nice waitress kept the cola flowing! They also had homemade ice cream that I wish I could have had, but my stomach was a wreck after the race and I had to pass.

Yes, we did a lot in St. Louis, but we really don't know if or when we will get back. We got really lucky with an easy to use metro system and tons of stuff we could do on foot. It's a super easy long weekend destination and relatively inexpensive! 

Make sure you stay tuned the next few days for my race recaps!