Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tour de Minneapolis - Diptic Style

I just got back from visiting my super great friend, Sonia, who used to live in Seattle but then left me to go back to Minneapolis (why? I don't know!) and had a blast!  You might remember her from being the amazing friend who paced me to my sub 2-hour half back in March.  When I told people I was going on vacation in Minneapolis everyone looked at me like I had a second head, but I'm telling you...it was a really fun city!!

So I don't bore you to death with every detail of what I did I will recap Diptic style (with a few extra photos thrown in).  If you haven't heard of Diptic yet, don't worry, I didn't until this weekend either.  Much like my late entrance into Twitter and Instagram, I didn't hop on the Diptic bandwagon until Sonia told me about it over the weekend.  It is basically a photo collage program that makes you look like a professional collager :).

Without further ado...tour de Minneapolis or MSP as the locals call it:

1. The Minnesota State Fair!

We went to the great Minnesota State Fair on Friday right after I arrived. Now if you people have never been to this fair you have NOT experienced anything close to this at your small county or state fair!  The second we walked in I proclaimed "it's like Disneyland!".  No lie, this place was legit...paved streets, really nice buildings, amazing rides, an international market, fried EVERYTHING and baby animals!  That picture of that baby cow with it's mom up there was born while we were there in the Miracle of Life Birthing Center, that's right, they have a whole building dedicated to baby animals being born!  That giant head in the lower right is carved out of a 90 pound block of butter!

I also indulged in some fair food including friend cheese curds, a turkey sandwich, french fries, chocolate chip cookies and a few beers enjoyed while walking around the fair.

Sonia and I...already miss this chic!
Saturday morning we woke up and went to run Lake Calhoun (like Greenlake only prettier with better views), had breakfast and went home to clean up after a sweaty sweaty humid run...how people train for marathons in that weather is beyond me!  We had big plans that night for some yummy eats and drinks but with a couple hours to spare we headed two blocks away from where Sonia is staying to another Minnesota great...

2. The Mall of America!

Holy smokes this mall is gigantic.  The picture in the bottom middle does no justice to the amusement park inside the mall that had 3 roller coasters, a water ride and much much more!  Caribou coffee is to the midwest what Starbucks is to the northwest...FACT! We putted around a bit and I found a cute dress tax free...score!

Next up for the evening...

3. Eats and Drinks!

We went all out for Saturday night and started the evening at Haute Dish which touted midwestern food.  Sonia's friend Ang joined us and we had a great time eating and drinking.  We headed over to a secret speakeasy called Marvel Bar but weren't to impressed with the people in attendance so we left after one drink. We ended the evening at Sonia's old college bar Elsies for some good 'ol karaoke and cheap beer.  After some rude MSP boys took our cab we found another and crashed hard until Sunday morning.

Sunday we started the day with Bruggers Bagels and Caribou Coffee...perfect combo to help ease the night before activities ;).  Next up...

3. Walker Art Museum Sculpture Garden
Sonia is a pretty artsy gal and while I'm not so much this was a great outdoor activity on this hot and humid day.  The cherry in the spoon is evidently the iconic MSP piece of art work so that was cool to see.  I would definitely check out this sculpture garden if you ever find yourself in the MSP area.

After checking out some other spots and eating lunch we headed over to the hip neighborhood called Uptown (also where Lake Calhoun is that we ran around on Saturday).  After enjoying some mani/pedis and a glass of wine we hit the lakes for some biking...

4. Nice Rides

ALL around the city they have these Nice Ride stations and you can take a bike from any of them and bring them back to any other station.  They are super cheap and a great way to get around the city...Seattle REALLY needs to look into this idea.  We biked around Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun enjoying the scenery and only mildly freaking out when I thought I lost my cell phone...turned out my purse ate it for a minute :).  The homes around both lakes are out of control amazing amazing and I almost veered off course many times gawking at the multi million dollar mansions.

Biking in the heat and humidity makes you hungry and tired so dinner and bed followed Nice Riding!

Sonia had to work a little on Monday morning so I got up and walked over the Mall of America again since the couple hour visit on Saturday was not enough to see every square foot of the mall.

5. Sea Life Aquarium at Mall of America

My Minnesota State Fair ticket got me half off admission to the Sea Life Aquarium and it was awesome.  They had a massive series of underwater tunnels with huge sharks, rays, turtles and other fish.

I hopped on the Monday afternoon flight back to Seattle and back to reality I went. I seriously had the best weekend thanks in major part to my awesome tour guide and friend Sonia!  Minneapolis is a great city and I will definitely be back...watch out!

Question: How was your weekend? Did you run Hood to Coast with every other blogger (besides me) out there :)?  If you were part of #NUUNHTC I cannot wait to read your recap(s)!!  I've already been brainstorming for my application to be part of the team next year.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Race Recap: Lake Union 10K

This past weekend I ran the Lake Union 10K in my Seattle "backyard". Lake Union holds a special place in my running heart since the first time I ever ran 6 miles at once was around this lake with my Team Flying V gal pals over 4 years ago.  I can remember feeling like we were going to "die" more than once and absolutely starving after...oh how naive we were about running and nutrition back then :).

Since then I have ran around this lake more times than I can even try to remember but have never "raced" it so I was excited to sign up for this particular race and even more so when it benefits Girls on the Run Puget Sound. I managed to recruit 4 of my NuunKOTB ladies to run it as well...we missed all the rest of you!!

Packet Pickup and Pre-Race Dinner

Packet pickup was at REI all day Saturday so Meghan, Stacie, and I decided to meet there before dinner.  No expo of any sort just grabbing our stuff which included a pretty good looking tech tee!  Arielle from Nuun came over to say HI to us since she lives around the corner and we got to hear all about her upcoming Ironman Canada trip...GOOD LUCK Arielle!!

Meghan, Stacie, and I headed over to Pesos where we met Becky who drove up all the way from Tacoma just to sit in the presence of us ladies for some food ;).  On the recommendation of Arielle I had the butternut squash enchiladas and they did not disappoint...yummo!!

We were all terrible bloggers and took no photos of each other...when will we ever learn?

Race Day!

I went to bed at a decent hour, set my alarm for 5:45AM and dozed off to a good nights sleep.  I woke up in the morning, looked at my clock and saw it read 6:15AM!!  It took me a minute to register what was going on and I bursted out of bed disregarding all usual pre-race routines and raced out the door in record time.  My phone had died overnight even though it had a full charge when I went to bed...WTF!

The race started at 7:30 and I wanted to make sure I didn't have to walk 5 miles to the start and luckily I still got there early enough to get a decent parking spot and hit the porta-potties before the line got long.  The race started at South Lake Union Park and the morning was a perfectly cool and cloudy 65...slightly muggy but very comfortable!  After a stretch of hot sunny days I was happy to see some clouds.

Small but organized well!
Other NuunKOTB ladies in attendance were Megan and Dawn who couldn't meet us the night before for dinner :(.

pre-race (minus Dawn)...me, Megan, Stacie, Meghan
Note to self: NEVER wear such boring colors around such amazing, colorful ladies again :).  I'm going to blame my alarm failure!

The race started on Westlake Avenue and I lined myself up to be with the 9:00/mile group not really knowing how I would race that day.  We started off running straight north on Westlake Avenue and then taking a turn to go over the Fremont Bridge.  Once we hit the Burke Gilman Trail (mile 2ish) by Gasworks I was feeling like I went out a tad too fast and when a guy next to me told his friend he was running at an 8:30 pace my suspicions were confirmed.  I slowed it down a tad until we went over the University Bridge and ran alongside Eastlake.

I was feeling pretty good after the half way point and decided to just go all out for as long as I could.  I realized I was on track to finish in under 55 minutes (previous 10K PR is 57:36) so I made that my goal!  When were about .5 mile from the finish I went to pass this girl but she would NOT let me pass her and she began to speed up and slow down along with me. After we cruised through the finish line we looked at each other, gave each other a high five and thanked one another for pushing each other...running ladies are awesome!

I crossed the line of the Lake Union 10K in 53 minutes and 45 seconds, a new personal record by almost 4 minutes!

I saw Megan and Meghan immediately after and we re-fueled with Great Harvest Cinnamon Chip buns and some water of course - they really should have had some Nuun though!  We cheered Stacie, Dawn and Meghan's parents (who are ridiculously cute BTW) in to the finish and I think we were all beat from the early start time and went our separate ways shortly after for more sleep or brunch.

post-race (minus Meghan)...Megan, me, Stacie, Dawn
I would definitely recommend this 10K to anyone in the Seattle area. It was smaller, well organized (there was water on the course twice and even GU!), and parking isn't too terrible in that neck of the Seattle woods.  Of course we chatted about the next NuunKOTB race and some mumbling about the Fairhaven Runners 15K in Bellingham on September 8 were rolling around...anyone want to join?

After the race I promptly went home, made a huge breakfast and passed out for about an hour!  I spent the rest of the eventually sunny Sunday at Hempfest (I did not participate in any of the "activities" BTW) with my brother and probably walked another 10K to and from my car and around the festival...my legs are TIRED today!

Question: Who else raced out there this past weekend?  A big congrats to Ricole Runs and Hiker Mom for completing their VERY FIRST triathalon over the weekend!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

Hey...I won my first award!  Well not quite, but Andrea, Tasha and Lena nominated me over the past couple of days for the Liebster award floating around the blogosphere.  I believe it started to highlight smaller blogs and to help others find other smaller blogs to start following.  I'm honored to participate, thanks ladies!

The Liebster Blog award asks the blogger to do the following:
1. Answer 11 questions posted by the person who nominated you.
2. List 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Nominate 11 blogs.
4. Write 11 questions for the blogs you nominate.

Since I have a lot of questions to answer, I'm going to just answer the question from the ladies and not do 11 random facts...I don't want to bore you all to death :).

Andrea asked the following:

1. What's your current running/fitness goal? Oh, loaded question for me right now as I honestly don't have any and I'm totally ok with that.  This time last year I was consumed with marathon training and while I do like having a plan I'm just going to try new things.  First up, Crossfit! I bought a 30 class online coupon deal to a local box so I'm going to give that a chance and see what all the hype is about. And doing anything fun with friends like Flywheel, Adventure Runs and more!
I'm having a blast working out with new blog friends!
2. What's your guilty pleasure running song? I only get to pick one!  I remember during one half marathon (can't remember which one) I honestly put Miley Cyrus The Climb on repeat for the last 3 miles and it totally helped me push through! Right now my gym jams playlist is made up of music mostly found on C89.5!

3. Do you have a favorite post race meal/restaurant? I used to religiously follow up almost every long run and half marathon race with a bagel and cream cheese and a chocolate shake or jamba juice smoothie.

4. Do you have siblings? Yep, one younger brother!  He recently moved back to Seattle so we have been spending a lot more time together...I like it!
bro and I - Halloween 2011
5. Are you right or left handed? RIGHT!

6. Best meal of your life? My mom's cheesy chicken every year for my birthday and all the other days of the year I demand it :)

7. Where would you want to retire? Oh man, retirement is so far far away but I would LOVE to live right on the beach somewhere, preferably a warm beach maybe in another country.

8. Favorite day of the week? I kind of really love Sundays because it is usually my relax, unwind, rest kind of day that usually includes lots of TV watching and leisurely dog walks.

9. What did you want to be when you were little? I went through a lot of phases including an astrologer, a geologist, an anthropologist, but most of the time I wanted to be a marine biologist (did someone say science NERD). Shockingly enough, I actually do work in the marine field now...I'm lucky!

10.  Cat or dog person? DOG...DUH! I'm actually kind of allergic to cats.
LOOK at that face!
11. Ever have major surgery? Unless you count wisdom teeth as major than not yet (fingers crossed).

Tasha asked:

1. What is your favorite season and why? Fall in Seattle!  It's not too warm and the rain hasn't quite returned so it's usually a sunny 65 and beautiful!

2. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?  I have always wanted to visit Australia so that is definitely first on my list.

3. If you were a car what would you be?  If we are talking about what is closest to my personality I would say something responsible like a Subaru.  If you were are talking about what I wish I was I would say more of a Audi convertible :).

4. What is your biggest pet peeve?  I have to pick just one? ;)  Honestly, people who are late really bother me. I've always been an extremely punctual person so when friends are late to things without a legitimate excuse other than "oh I just couldn't get out the door"...that bugs me!

5. Your dream job would be? I would have to say something with an aquarium taking care of the animals.

6. Do you prefer cats or dogs?  Such a popular question, refer to question 10 above and here is another Stacey pic for your pleasure.
7. If you could be an actor in any movie what would it be?  Baby from Dirty Dancing...LOVE that movie!
I was Baby in a corner for H-ween one year :)
8. Do you prefer running or strength training?  BOTH!  I kind of love both right now and think I have a good balance down.

9. What are three food items you can't live without? Eggs, cheese, and coffee!

10. What is your biggest fear? Oh, we are getting deep here.  Probably just loosing someone in my family or my doggie dying since she is getting older :(

11. What is your biggest accomplishment that you are proud of?  Finally getting a job I can see as a real career and being able to support myself!

And now Lena's questions

1. What fuels your desire to run best? Encouragement or discouragement? Always trying to achieve that personal record is usually what fuels me and I'm only encouraged by how much faster I'm getting each and every year.

2. Have you lived in multiple cities? States? Where was your favorite? I was born in upstate NY but don't remember living there.  Otherwise, I grew up in Eastern Washington, went to college in Bellingham and moved to Seattle.  I LOVE Bellingham to death but the job market up there is pretty much non-existent so I still love Seattle!

3. What was your favorite subject in school and why?  I loved my marine biology classes in college since we got to take them at a marine center on the water.

4. What was your proudest achievement to date? Since I sort of answered that above I'll say that running wise running a marathon and finally achieving that sub 2 hour half!

Post marathon with my cutest supporter and cousin!
5. Who is your favorite musician/band? I really listen to a wide range of things all the time but more recently some of my favorites is Blind Pilot.

6. What piece of exercise gear can you not live without? Good socks! I spend money for good ones and (knock on wood) I have never lost a toe, got a million blisters or had any chafing problems.

7. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started running?  The importance of strength training and not just running running running!

8. What is your absolute favorite thing to do? Probably travel!  I don't do it nearly enough but I look forward to even small weekend trips more than anything.

9. What race is on the top of your bucket list? After running the Ragnar relay for so many years in a row I really want to take on Hood to Coast next!

10. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would it be and why? Refer to Tasha's number 2 question!

11. Do you have a phobia? Yes...SNAKES!! Definitely stems from my mother who is deathly afraid of them and can't even watch them on TV...she past in on to me although I can watch them on TV :)

I know I'm breaking the rules by not nominating 11 bloggers but I think this award has made it's way around to every single blog I follow, so please just check out the ladies who nominated me for some stories!

Question: Any "new" bloggers out there you recently started following? Tell me so I can check them out too!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Create Your Own Workout

Major Disclaimer!!: I have absolutely no professional education or background or anything that claims I can even remotely tell anyone what to do when it comes to working out.

Okay, with that out of the way I thought I would share a couple little workouts I've added on to my normal routine, mainly so I have a place to remember them when I want to do them again...and if one of you thinks it looks like fun and tries it then great...if you hurt yourself doing it...refer to the disclaimer up top, ok?

Anyways, sometimes I get bored with my typical lifting weights routine at the gym or a regular old run outside.  While both of these activities are great for me, everyone reaches a plateau and lately I feel like I'm hitting one.  So...using the creativity in my brain and my surroundings last week I did a couple of fun, short workouts that you might actually enjoy too!
I know you all do push-ups for photographers in your street clothes right? Thanks to my great friend Heather for having a fun day taking some photographs of me ;)
The Abs, Chest, Tricep Quickie
3 rounds of:
30 second plank
10 pushups
10 tricep dips
NO REST in between, that is the tough part.

I did that as a warmup of sorts to get my heart racing before actually lifting some chest and triceps weights. Although I didn't feel totally dead after the next day I was more sore than usual, so win! You can even tack this on to the end of your workout for an extra boost.

If regular ole pushups are too boring for your checkout Blonde Ponytail's 10 pushup variations...darn that girl is STRONG!  As a matter of fact if you actually want real workouts from someone who knows what they are talking about visit her Pinterest page.

Try it here!
Next up is the "I don't feel like running anymore so I'll do something else" workout!

Post Run Tune-Up

After a 3 miler in my hometown over the past weekend I stopped at a park and saw some playground toys in the distance so I took advantage:

Step 1: Alternate lunge across field to playground

Imagine there is playground equipment by those trees because there is now and that is where I lunged to
Step 2: Find a toy that is low to the ground with 4 sides (or just make it up) - a picnic table could work for this as well
Step 3: Use each side of the square for one exercise, do them all in the row before resting -
10 pushups
10 "box" jumps
10 tricep dips
Tap ups with leg (10 each side) -step up on toy and tap ground with one leg 10 times and repeat with other leg
Rest just long enough to catch your breathe (or not feel like you are going to throw up like me) and repeat for a total of 3 times. The entire workout including 3 mile run and walk to cool down took about an hour.

Don't forget to stretch!
Question: Do you add any strength moves onto the end of your runs?  Sometimes during park runs I'll challenge myself to stop at every bench and do 10 pushups and 10 dips...my park has a LOT of benches!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lake Union 10K - YOU Should Sign Up!

I really have nothing exciting to blog about this week so I'm going to plug a super awesome 10K that you should all go sign up for immediately!!

The Lake Union 10K is happening on Sunday, August 19 and it benefits Girls on the Run of Puget Sound...enough said! If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time you know how passionate I am about this organization.  I began my involvement as a running buddy and have now increased it to being in charge of the 5K course each Winter and Spring.

So...what are you waiting for, go sign up! The course is a pretty flat 10K around Lake Union and if you live in Seattle you have likely ran this loop about 1000x like me.  I'm excited to actually RACE it instead of just run it for once.  And as if you need reason other than supporting Girls on the Run you also get pancakes from Portage Bay at the finish...YUMM!!  And don't forget to bring all your old running shoes to donate to Redeeming Soles. You know you all have a pile of worn out shoes to give.

A handful of team NUUNKOTB are already registered and it would be great to make a huge blog showing and just take over the race, sounds like fun right?  Maybe we can all color coordinate...too much?

If you aren't a runner you can volunteer for the race and still support Girls on the Run.

Question: Did you sign up yet?  Leave a comment so I know who to look for!

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Birthday Weekend...In Photos

Happy Monday all!  I had the awesome pleasure of sharing my birthday this year with my cousin from the great state of New York!  She flew out late last week and we made the most of her time and the awesome weather while she was in town...which included my 31st birthday.  I'm too exhausted to type anything intelligent so I'll just leave you with pictures from all the fun.

Theo chocolate tour - HIGHLY recommend...super interesting to see how a chocolate bar goes from a cocoa pod to a bar

I had so much fun last month at the Road Runner Adventure run I dragged my cousin and conned Nicole and Lindsay into doing it with us!

Friday morning Kristin and I went kayaking in Lake Union...what a surprise workout, glad I had Nuun to hydrate!

What started out as a joking text message to my brother about needing models for his clothing company summer release ending up being the real deal and thus my modeling debut!  I think their "Play Hard. Live Harder." slogan is pretty awesome and I loved that tank in the picture so much I bought it and pretty much wore it all weekend, look for it on the Swagger and Young website soon!

This is my brother
Saturday (my actual bday) was spent recovering from Friday and getting ready to go out again Saturday.  I took zero pictures of my actual bday celebration...BIG FAIL.  But thanks to all my friends who came out, especially Nuun teammates Becky and Dawn!

Sunday was spent hanging out downtown and checking out the view from my brother's new penthouse apartment (above).  I dropped my cousin off at the airport bright and REALLY early Monday morning and back to reality I went.

Question: What fun things did you do in the sun this weekend?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Flywheel Seattle - AKA the Sweatiest Workout of Your Life

HOLY SMOKES!!  Last night I checked out the newest fad to hit Seattle, Flywheel, with some other lady bloggers organized via the wonders of Twitter.  You get your first ride for free so I figured why not give it a try!?  We all took the 6:30 class with Aina and this ain't your typical spinning class!

Rebecca, me, Sarah, and Stacie
As soon as you step in the doors of Flywheel Seattle you are immediately greeted by many smiling faces just begging to help you out.  You check-in super fast on a computer and then grab the shoes corresponding with your bike number.  Not only are bike shoes provided, but they also have towels, free lockers, bobby pins, hair ties, and everything you need to shower after.  Of course these luxuries come at a price and for $25 for a single ride I only wish I made about 2x what I do now so I could go multiple times per week :(.

The 5:30 class was just getting out and they were cleaning all the bikes (something else you don't have to worry about!) before letting the 6:30 class in.  As soon as you step in the studio you are greeted again by many friendly employees asking if you need help with your bike.  I was up and clipped in in about 60 seconds.  The studio is set up stadium style kind of like a really small concert hall with the instructor in the middle.  At 6:30 the lights go off, the music starts blaring and you start FLYING...not riding, flying!  The "warmup" consisted of going from 80-105 rpms and there is no resting in Flywheel.  Aina was a great instructor and motivator who had a total no-nonsense attitude and repeatedly told us "you are going to be fine", and "you will survive".

The rides consisted of fast flats, standing hills and probably other things that I don't really know the biking jargon for but I was sweating buckets just during the warmup.  I managed to keep up and maintain the suggested demanded rpms and torque on my bike and only felt like I was going to throw up once.  After you sweat it out to a handful of songs you take it down a tiny notch, grab some weighted bars, and do some arm work...such a pleasant surprise to work your upper body during this class!  After the weighted bars we finished up with two more songs and a race to the finish.

Oh, did I mention you actually race your fellow classmates the entire time?  Everything is recorded electronically and from time to time, Aina would show our standings on some large monitors.  I was shocked when I saw I was actually in 3rd place for the females and struggles to maintain the position, but ended in 4th...not too bad for my first class.

I logged in as soon as I got home and was honestly SHOCKED at how far I rode and the calorie burn for a 45 minute class.  When I go to regular spinning at my gym I never clock more than 15 miles in an hour long class.

Would I do Flywheel again? Absolutely!  If I win the lottery or get a huge raise at work.  Unfortunately, this type of class is a bit out of my price range but perhaps once a month or so if I got to see all my friendly blog friends again I would consider it.

No, I did not just take a shower ;)
With your first ride free there really is no excuse why you shouldn't try this sweatastic activity at least once!

Question: Have you tried any new fitness classes or fads lately? What do you think about the outrageous prices for these classes?