It's that time of year when I take a break from the rest of the world and concentrate on ME. And my husband, and family, and friends. The important things in life.
See you all in September!
When I have my next "first dance" with Shaun, it's going to be to this song...
Goodnight, world :)
On Thursday night I found out that my Saturday plans had been cancelled and that I was left with not.a.single.thing on my calendar for this weekend - well, Saturday and Sunday since we did see Miss Britney Spears (and DJ Pauly D, whom I would 100% be down with in a Vegas nightclub, yes, I said that) last night at the house that Shaun built, aka CONSOL Energy Center.
Anywhoodle, I was beyond excited, and we've been pretty successful at taking it easy today. Shaun occupied the girls on the side porch while I slept in for a bit (stupid ear infection coming is killing me) and then we walked up to Pamela's for brunch outside. I splurged (calorie-wise) on their famous hotcakes (if they're good enough to be flown down to the White House, they're good enough for me) stuffed with strawberries, brown sugar and sour cream while Shaun rolled with a grilled chicken sandwich. With full tummies, we came back, loaded the girls into the car and headed to the P-A-R-K for some fun off-leash time with Gramma Bean, aka my mom. One loop around the park and the girls (and we) were toast. It's a hot one out there and with thick black fur, Little Miss Poopster was wiped out. It was back to Gramma Bean & Grampa Larry's for some air-conditioned relaxing, complete with Dogsters (yes, that's doggie ice cream) for the girls and an exciting surprise gift for Shaun from my parents - new golf clubs! He was completely floored and so thankful...I'm pretty sure we'll be hitting the driving range tomorrow :)
Their kind gestures and the ability to just call up my mom, tell her to meet us at the park in 20 minutes and then relax at their home for a bit (while eating their food and drinking their Gatorade, and iced tea, and beer, yet I digress...) is probably something I take forgranted far too much. On Tuesday, they'll be there to drive me to the airport and then they're pup-sitting for a week and a half while I'm on vacation. And they never ask for anything. Life is good :)
This past weekend I ran my fourth half marathon - the Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon!
There were a few firsts for me with this race: first time running a very flat course, first time running out of town/traveling to a race, first time the time weather decided to only rain a tiny bit rather than a torrential downpour...
Since the race was in Chicago, travel was involved. I flew out a week ago today in order to get in some working time at my office in Chicago. Later that day, Ashley and I went to the race expo to pick up our packets and were a little bummed that it wasn't very exciting. Our wallets, however, were happy! One race belt later for Ashley and we were on our way to meet up with our good friend Steve Boyle who was in town shooting for ESPN for dinner at Big Bowl. (If you want to hear all about our dinner location dilemma, you'll have to read an upcoming blog post, because it was ridiculous!) Oh, but not before we stopped at my Chicago jeweler to get one of my diamond earrings replaced. Damn you Bally's swimming pool, you will have my original diamond earring forever! Bonus points for getting my rings cleaned and the extra pep in my step from looking at my sparkly hand....love you Shaun :)
Saturday morning found us sleeping in (I would like to note that I was actually up first in the house for all of those, ahem...Shaun, who think I sleep too much) and then heading off to the most amazing Whole Foods in Lincoln Park for lunch and to pick up dinner ingredients. It was at this point Ashley and I determined that we really aren't good at making non-important decisions together as we debated what to make for dinner for about 15 minutes. Oops! We settled on basil peanut flank steak as I would be cooking with some quinoa on the side (lots of protein here!) and then hopped over to the prepared food area at which Ashley grabbed a sandwich and I grabbed some sushi and edamame. The majority of our day was spent laying on the couch watching the nation's most enlightening TV on Bravo, HGTV and TLC. What can we say, we love a good excuse to do nothing but watch trashy and mindless TV.
Dinnertime, aka Ashley's cooking lesson, was super fun. Major props to Ashley's sweet boyfriend Stephen for the nice knife & cutting board selections. With Ashley as my trusted sous chef we whipped up a pretty excellent meal if I may say so myself. Basil peanut flank steak with quinoa and a green pepper. Delicious!
Here's a picture of the finished product! I'll still take Ashley's word for it that it was tasty as she about licked the plate clean :)
Julie = Happy Chef
Look for the recipe to be posted soon in the new 'The Eats' tab!
Now onto race day. The alarm went off way too early at 4:45 am and after washing my face, brushing my teeth, getting dressed and going to the bathroom about 15 times (do I pee from nerves?!) we were out the door by 5:20 am and on our way to Grant Park. Once we got there, I finished my chocolate PowerBar and bottle of G2 and hit the bathroom again before finding our corral.
It was at this point Ashley and I decided that we would stick together no matter what during the race. We found ourselves in Corral 14 and at about 6:40 am were off and running! We set our pace early on, knowing we needed to stick around 10 minute miles in order to hit our 2:15 goal time. We both decided to wear our ipods (excellent decision as even though this was the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon, the amount of music on the course left much to be desired.) Plus, I like my ipod for background noise. If anything, it's comforting. I breezed through the first 4-5 miles and felt great. Only one small point where we were running on a road that slanted heavily to the left did my left foot start to feel funny, but it was due to the crappy road condition and once we were on a flat surface again, I was totally fine. Miles 5-8 were pretty uneventful as well, minus the most rain we felt during the race and a nice surge from spectators as we rounded Jackson onto South Michigan. We were staying below our 10 minute/mile pace, drinking water and/or Cytomax (BLAH!) at every station, and feeling good!
At about Mile 9, the joints in my knees were telling me they weren't too happy with me. This was also the point where the course got really boring. Ashley and I did a great job pushing one another and before we knew it, were at Mile 11, and by this time, my hips were joining my knees. We pushed on home - with the obligatory sprint to the finish 'let's hold hands as we cross the finish line' - and pulled off a 2:07 half. A PR for me by 6 minutes and a PR for Ashley by 17 minutes!
In a previous blog post, I noted the following as goals for myself: go in with an excited and optimistic attitude (CHECK!), do not stop to walk (CHECK!), enjoy the city, music & spectators (CHECK!), push myself and Ashley (CHECK!), and finish around 2:15 or so (CHECK, CHECK, CHECK!). And most importantly: have FUN! (DONE!) So overall, I was one very happy racer! :)
After grabbing some water, bananas and pretzels, we made it to Stephen's car (thanks for picking us up, Stephen!) and being the great boyfriend he is, had ice cold G Series FIT 03 Recovers (mango pineapple) for us. Recovery has never tasted so good! We made it home (after a quick Starbucks stop) and immediately showered and passed out on the couch. We were complete wastes of life...and we loved it.
We eventually got our lazy butts off the couch and walked to Feast for lunch. And by walked, I mean painfully waddled, but nonetheless we moved. We each had a cheddar burger and I added in a local Michigan wheat beer. (Gluten, we will talk later!)
After lunch, we hit up lululemon (it was right across the street and was practically calling my name) for celebratory purchases (wunder under crops in grey for me and the turbo tank in black for Ashley) and then it was back to the couch and more entertaining TV/napping until we grabbed a white pizza with fresh basil and a growler of Hefeweizen from Piece for dinner. In all, not a bad day! :)
Looking back on the race, I have a few thoughts. First, the course could have been WAY better. There is so much of the city to utilize and so much lakefront, too - why were we running in the middle-of-nowhere southside? Second, there were not nearly enough fluid stations and nothing was pre-poured. I was running in place waiting for a cup of water or Cytomax to be poured. I probably could have ran a 2:05 if the drinks were poured! Third, I loved running with Ashley. It was so much fun to have a 'partner in crime' who is at your pace. It made the race that much better. Fourth, my recovery (maybe there's something in that G Series FIT 03 Recover!) has been fantastic. I normally have a hard time moving/walking normally for at least a solid week, but honestly within 2 days, felt completely fine and back to normal. I was SHOCKED. And still am. Is this because the course was mostly flat and my body didn't feel the impact from hills? I would love anyone's insight here. And lastly, I do wonder how fast I could be (could I break 2 hours) if I actually put time into training?! This is where my "please do not do as I do" speech comes into play, as I literally only ran two times (yes, I am admitting that - two times) since the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 15. One run was 3 miles and the other was 5 miles. I know people, shake your head at me and tell me I will get injured. I know it wasn't smart, but I would like to say that my cross training was excellent. I was walking the dogs 3-4 miles everyday, dancing 3x/week and swimming a lot. So while I was at least moving, it's a great reminder to not take your physical health forgranted (I remind myself of this everday given some of the crap I have gone through) and that you can really do anything you put your mind to.
Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something.
Last but not least, I'd like to thank my most amazing hosts and friends, Ashley & Stephen, for putting up with me all weekend long. Your home, laughs, friendship and couch were the greatest gifts and I am so thankful and grateful to you both :)
And now that it's time for half marathon number five, I am taking your recommendations on where I should go next. Should I run Pittsburgh in 2012 or head to another city? What are some great races you've done that you'd recommend to others? I am dying to hear ... thanks in advance!
Now go out there and have a beautiful weekend full of sunshine, laughter, friends, fitness and good health! Cheers! :)
Celebrated four years of marriage to this stud.
Witnessed the marriage of Janine & Matt and had a great time catching up with friends!
Running the 2011 Chicago Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon with Ashley!
The return of Steelers football...and tailgating...and beer. AMEN!
Miss Britney Spears comes to town and I get paid to (work) go to the concert. Wonder if she'll remember me from our SLS Beverly Hills treadmill days?!
Officially (and finally) starting to swim with Team Pittsburgh Masters Swimming! So excited to get back into a routine with a team...even ordered a new kickboard & paddles to celebrate!
Taking my first vacation to Cape Cod with friends! Can't wait to see the area, go deep sea fishing & relax!
Heading from Cape Cod to Stone Harbor with the Mason family! I mean, 11 days at the beach with family & friends, I am one lucky girl :)
WE ARE...PENN STATE FOOTBALL!
Running the Great Race! It's a 10K and my favorite race in the city. A great time of year to run, the course goes through some lovely neighborhoods, and there are lots of hills. With 16K+ runners, you can't help but love it!
What are you looking forward to most during the upcoming months?
It's that time again...race week! Up on the docket this Sunday is the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon with my awesome colleague but even better friend Ashley!
With less than a week to go, we've been chatting lots about the most important things on race weekend: how excited we are to shop at the expo, what G Series FIT attire we will be wearing, what we want to eat the night before (i.e. what I will be cooking in her kitchen) and will we shower/eat/nap/watch TV when we are done, or say "the shower can wait" and eat/pass out first. The important things, people.
Earlier today I took a deep breath and checked weather.com. Lindsay Barndt, mention number two in one week, where are you when I need you?! Here's what we're looking at:
My immediate thought is "amen it will only be 78 degrees" on Sunday. But 68% humidity level? Eh....bring it, weather. We start running at 6:30 AM CT so God willing we will be done by 9:00 AM CT at the latest, before the weather gets the best of us for the day. Regardless, proper hydration is going to be key, and with Cytomax on the course and not my trusty Gatorade, let's hope I like it! (Note: It is recommended that you train with what is going to be served on the race course. Oops. I am just too loyal to G!)
My race week prep is rather simple: focus on nutrition, sleep and stretching. I did one final three-mile run last night and probably wasn't the smartest as I really pushed myself (let's talk hills sometime, something Chicago doesn't have) in prime 6:00 PM ET heat. Hence the heavy amounts of stretching this week (really, is anything better than a great stretch?!) and keeping an eye on my body. The nutrition focus is fish, lean proteins and fresh vegetables & fruit. Nothing processed and no restaurant food, if that can be helped. Lots of G2 and water to drink supplemented by Pellegrino when I get the itch for something "different" - it's amazing that I haven't craved pop (except immediately following July's triathlon) once since I stopped drinking it and I credit a lot of that to sparkling water.
My goal for the race is simple: go in with an excited and optimistic attitude, do not stop to walk, enjoy the city, music & spectators, push myself and Ashley, and finish around 2:15 or so. And most importantly: have FUN! Having never ran a hot (or completely flat) race before I have no idea what to expect so it will be a great learning experience if nothing else!
Feel free to leave good luck messages on our Facebook walls; it would make us really happy and we promise to post pictures and say thanks :)
Hello friends! I hope you all had a great weekend :)
After attending a wedding this past weekend with a lot of my college friends (whom have blogs) I was reminded that I have completely fallen off the blog wagon. But in the spirit of better late than never, I am diving back into things with a virtual "take my word for it - things will get better" promise :)
This past weekend was the wedding of Janine and Matt in Princeton, NJ! Both being Lion Ambassadors (God, we all seem to marry one another?!) you can imagine there were a lot of Penn Staters in the wedding. Here are a few of my favorite pics for your viewing pleasure (shout out to Jillian Klotz & Lindsay Barndt for these!)...
Everything about the wedding was truly perfect for Janine and Matt. They are such a special couple and I am so excited to see what life brings them from this day on... :)
From a wedding planner perspective, the evening was a success, too! (No, I did not have anything to do with the planning...I was simply a guest! How fun!) My favorite elements of the evening were the lighting (seriously people, always invest the $$ in lighting...what a difference it makes in a room!) and the PSU football player table numbers. We were at the Michael Robinson (#12) table. A great, cost-effective way to personalize your wedding!
I hope everyone has a great week...I'll be back later today with another post! :)