A new milestone

Simple weekends are pretty much my favorite. As nice as it is to see new places, there’s something to be said for staying put. Growing up, I knew every weekend from June to October we’d be at the boat and from December to April we’d either be skiing or at swim meets. I liked that stability. It was my home away from home. Now, I don’t have the ability to go back to the boat every weekend (I wish), so that routine has been replaced with a new one: biking.

I hadn’t seen Tim in almost 2 weeks so getting out of work at 3 Friday was a nice treat. There is nothing worse than sitting in a standstill when you’re itching to get somewhere. He lives about 15 minutes outside of DC, pretty close to the National Harbor. I’ve only been there once back when he worked for KIND and we wanted to go back to try out the restaurants. We ended up going to Redstone American Grill. I got a burger. I know- shocking. It was alright but I probably would try something else if I went back. The cornbread looked amazing. They have a pretty extensive menu, but because I eat grilled chicken salads on weeknights, I try to get in some red meat on the weekends.

somebody has a more extensive palate than I do

somebody has a more extensive palate than I do that looks prettier on instagram

I wanted to go on the ferris wheel because it seemed like a good idea at sunset, but I wouldn’t call it a $15/person good idea. Instead we walked around for a bit enjoying the night before heading back to his apartment where I demolished a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich. I said I was going to eat 5 because he wouldn’t let me order dessert (knowing he had it at home) but my eyes were bigger than my stomach per usual.


Saturday morning we arranged a group ride around Patapsco and BWI. I didn’t know everyone but I ended up really enjoying myself and made plans to ride with another girl without Tim. We went just over 34 miles- the furthest I’ve ever ridden on a bike- and rewarded ourselves with donuts. Because balance. Too much sugar after a workout is not generally appealing to me, but I ate it anyways. I usually crave bagels so I had one for lunch.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent watching Scandal, taking Tim’s friend’s dogs for a long walk, and relaxing. In reality, the majority of our weekends in the past few months have looked like this, but it felt like it’s been forever with my vacation thrown in. I can only watch Scandal with him which drives me nuts because it means we can only watch it on the weekends we have no plans. Slowly but surely we’re making our way through the series.

We weren’t in the mood to go out for dinner or cook so we settled on Whole Foods. The one in Alexandria is massive and I probably could eat there every day for the next 10 years and never get bored. I made myself a giant salad (lettuce, celery, peas, corn, cucumbers, roasted green beans, and a few strawberries on the side) with a little bit of mac and cheese. Whole Foods has really good mac and cheese. Not as good as my mom’s, but still delicious. No pictures. Too busy eating. I will say, though, cucumbers are heavy which=$$$.

I did manage to snap a picture of the star of the show: cake balls. The WF in Harbor East has a pretty mediocre prepared foods section so I felt like a kid in a candy shop trying to decide on my meal. I ended up getting a red velvet one. So. Good.

cake ballSunday morning we went for another long bike ride, this time just the two of us. I’ve grown way more comfortable riding and I’m actually starting to enjoy it a lot. It’s not a sport I’m good at (at all), I just like it. It’s our “thing.” I love being outside and I can only run so many miles a week without hurting myself, so biking has filled that void. I skipped the donuts this time but somebody ate the last couple. 70 miles for the weekend is a new milestone.

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Hamming it up for the ‘gram.

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking the dogs again, napping, watching Scandal, and driving back to Baltimore. We ate at a place in Fells where I ordered a grilled chicken wrap before saying goodbye to that guy pictured above^^. I got a small ice cream after because ice cream cures all. August is going to be tough with our schedules not matching up and me going home again in a few weeks so last night was even more of a struggle than usual.

The weekend went by too fast. The good ones always do.

How do you like to spend your weekends? 

Are you a donut person?

I’m really not, but I’ll eat just about anything with sprinkles.

Recovery Week 7/19-7/25

I didn’t expect to be that sore post-half on Sunday. I could barely walk until Wednesday evening. I decided to take it easy before I jump into “marathon training.” It ended up being a far more active week than I thought. I was surprised when I sat down to put this together.

Sun– run 13.2 miles (1:44:28)

I don’t have anything more to say about this except that it was almost laughable how awful it was. The course was measured (officially) as 13.18 miles, it was hot, and I was just happy to finish. I was lucky I didn’t collapse during the race like several other runners. I’m perfectly capable of running a 7:15-7:30 pace for 13 miles. I have done several 11-12 mile training runs not far off from goal pace with “negative splits” in the low 7-minute range. I learned a lot of lessons the hard way that I won’t be repeating.

Mon– OFF

Tues– OFF

Wed– 6ish miles @ November Project + 4 miles walking home from the boat cruise after work

Tuesday night right before I went to bed, Tim texted me saying, “you better not be going to NP tomorrow.” He knew how sore I was (from what I had told him via text) but I ignored the message, turned off my phone, and went to bed. I had already verbaled and everybody who is part of the movement knows you never back down on a #verbal. When I woke up Wednesday morning, I felt slightly better after foam rolling, so I decided to run the short way there. It wasn’t pretty and it was more of a shuffle, but I did 2 miles to Rash Field and 2 miles home. At the workout, we alternated between lightpole suicides and sets of stairs for 4o minutes with burpees in between. I was SLOW (especially going down the stairs) and skipped the burpees.

11731567_961262840604221_442239324524851157_oThurs- Run 4 miles

I woke up and my legs felt pretty good. Apparently the walking made a big difference and while I felt tired, I wasn’t cringing with every step I took. I didn’t push it though and kept it to a shorter run.

Fri– 8 miles November Project

I ran with my friend Troy who I ran with during college track/xc and we caught up after not seeing each other for a few weeks. He’s one of the few close friends I have left in Baltimore post-graduation so it’s nice that he’s started to join me for November Project.

Sat– Bike 34 miles

We went for a group ride with a bunch of people yesterday morning around BWI. My legs were still tired but they didn’t hurt or feel worse after. I actually really enjoyed myself.

Total-31 miles running + 34 miles biking +2 rest days

I managed to get in 4 days of running completely unintentionally. I’ve never been as sore as I was Monday and Tuesday. I couldn’t do any light cross-training or stretching- I was just too tight. I literally had to hang onto the railings and hop down the stairs of my building. Touching the muscles hurt, sitting hurt, standing hurt, walking hurt, moving hurt.

By Wednesday I wasn’t sure if I wanted to exercise or not but when I woke up, I felt marginally better and thought maybe some light movement would help. It ended up making a huge difference and I was well on my way to a full recovery.

I decided to use the Runner’s World Smart Coach training plan as a loose guide for the next 11 weeks until the marathon. I don’t want to walk into a situation I’m not prepared for and I’ll be better off with a rough plan. It starts tomorrow with a long run of 12 miles but we’ll see how I feel. I may need to adjust until I’m feeling 100%.

Narragansett Bay Half Marathon Recap

This was not the recap I was hoping to write. I mentioned last week that my goal was to enjoy the race, but that I should have no problem achieving a pretty sizable PR. Well, neither of those happened.

1) I went out too fast.

2) I didn’t taper.

3) I had unrealistic expectations given the conditions.

I’m used to running in the heat. This race should have been a breeze. But it wasn’t.

Tim and I ran 5 miles in Boston in 90 degree weather at a 7:45 pace the weekend before the race. It wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it wasn’t horrible. That was the last run I did. The rest of the week, I just didn’t feel like running. In the past,”taper” meant lower mileage, but instead I chose to skip all running in favor of walks with my mom. I probably walked 40 miles last week in addition to 70 miles of biking. That is NOT taking it easy the week before a race. However, I have no regrets about the way I chose to spend my vacation.

The morning of the race was the hottest and most humid day of the week. I woke up at 5am and it was already 70* with 80% humidity. By the time the race started at 7am, it was hot. I thought the fact that it was overcast would help, but the fog burned off quickly.

**NOTE: the race was called “Narragansett Bay Half Marathon” so I thought it would be in Narragansett. I found out a week before that it was in Providence, further away and hillier. I probably would’ve gone to the wrong location if it wasn’t for twitter.

I got to the race at 6am to pick up my bib and store my belongings in a locker. My parents were leaving to go home from the race so they wanted extra time to pack up the boat and met me at the finish. I caught up with a friend from November Project before the race and walked to the start with Emily. It was nice to see a few familiar faces.

chrisemily halfThe race originally had 1300 signed up for the half but only 917 finished. I managed to snag a spot in the front so I wouldn’t get boxed in. I didn’t think the race would be all that competitive because it was small, so I decided to just run with the front pack of females. DUMB.

I have a problem with going out too fast in races. That’s pretty much the biggest mistake you can make in a longer race. The first few miles were hilly, which I didn’t expect. I crossed mile 1 in 6:28.  WAY too fast for me. My goal pace was 7:15/mile.

I struggled to find a groove early. I was just trying to shake out my legs which were stiff from not running (or resting) all week. Miles 2 and 3 were 7:13 and 6:56. I remember being disappointed by the course. It was hillier than I expected and not along the water for the first half. We were running on main roads.

Miles 4 and 5 I was still hanging on but fading quickly (7:10 and 7:35). I began cursing myself for taking the race out too fast. At this point I started to feel the heat and regretted wearing a tank top. I’m more comfortable in sports bras during the summer but don’t love racing in them.

Mile 6 I began to fall apart. I think my pace slipped into the high 7-low 8 min/mile range. I don’t remember much from the second half of the race. I do remember spending a lot of time running on a straight, flat bike path which was on the water but I couldn’t enjoy it because I was trying not to collapse.

I started walking through all of the water stations, pouring water on my head. The majority of the remaining miles were in the 8:15-8:30 range. At one point, an older guy ran past me, tapped me on the shoulder, and said “come with me.” That kept me going for awhile. Another guy had a shirt that read “Run if you can. Walk if you must. But finish for Boston.” I loved that and kept him in sight for the last several miles.

Miles 11 and 12 I crashed. My splits were 9:25 and 9:33. When I told my best friend later that night, she gasped. The only time I’ve run that pace in a race was when we ran a 5k for fun a few years ago after staying out until 3am. I passed several people who had collapsed on the side of the course. I managed to run the last mile around 8min and finished in 1:44:28 (technically my second fastest time). The course was measured at 13.18 miles, about 7:56 pace.

my dad should be a photographer...

my dad should be a photographer…

Emily mentioned that the course was partially a loop and partially out-and-back. I don’t remember running any part of the course twice, which just goes to show how out of it I really was. I generally notice those things. That’s scary.

My dad came to find me after the race and I was laying in the grass. Once I was able to stand, we slowly made our way over to the shade with my mom. For those of you who don’t know, races are tough for my family. My uncle died of a heart attack during a race on Thanksgiving 10 years ago, so me racing is really hard on my mom. She watched at least 10 people be carried away in ambulances while they were waiting for me to finish and she said it was like dejavu of the day my uncle died.

half marathonIt took me about an hour to feel coherent after the race. My parents sat with me as I tried to breathe normally, and I got goosebumps even though it was 80. When I got back to Jamestown, I got a frozen hot chocolate and bagel and could barely stomach either. I have finished races with no appetite before, but I’ve never felt like I couldn’t keep food down. It scared me that nobody was around to check on me and I was alone on a boat so I told the launch driver (Fred) to come by in an hour. I ended up falling asleep and finally felt okay to drive to New York later around 2. My head still felt fuzzy a few days later so my guess is that I was severely dehydrated.

ate some pizza in NYC

ate some pizza in NYC

I was disappointed I didn’t achieve my goal (or come close to a PR) but my parents reminded me that it wasn’t a day to race. It was a day to finish healthy. I did what I needed to do. I’m confident that on another day, I could have easily PRed (1:39). I know I have it in me to run a 1:35 half. Sunday was not the day.

Now it’s time to refocus my attention to marathon training. I wasn’t going to “train” but I think I need to follow a general plan to make sure I’m ready to at least cross the finish line.

Have you ever raced in the heat?

Part 3: No Place Like Home

(I know Kaitlin has similar feelings on this topic)

Last week was unbelievable. I didn’t do anything crazy but it was my first vacation as a working “adult.” I did exactly what I always do when I’m home. I walked around my favorite city, visited my old beach, spent time with family, ate all the ice cream, and stared at the bridge every night. I’ve been spending weekends and summers in Jamestown since I was 2 years old. It’s familiar and it’s the kind of place that nothing ever changes, which is why I love it.

boatlife with dadBut this time, my week in Jamestown was different. It’s not my home anymore, but it will always be home. I can walk into any cafe and see a familiar face. They know my frozen hot chocolate order at Slice of Heaven, my weird wrap combination and bagel preference at the deli, and my ice cream toppings at Spinnakers. Other seasonal guests of the marina recognize me from years spent hanging out in the dockhouse, beach-goers know my face as one of the lifeguards in town, and I’m well-known as the girl that runs all the time. It’s home.

frozen hot chocolate slice of heavenGoing back last week was a strange experience. I couldn’t walk into the dockhouse like I own the place, because technically I no longer live there. I wasn’t rushing to open the beach for 8:45 or counting down the minutes until I could go back to the boat after work to watch a movie up on deck. I was no longer “the girl that lives on a boat.” I was on vacation like everyone else. And that was a weird feeling for me. The first night, I teared up looking at the bridge because I spent so many years up on deck at night by myself soaking it all in and that isn’t my reality anymore. Suddenly, those views and lifestyle I once took for granted are a luxury.

goopdbyeOnce Tim left, the excitement of trying to do everything in a few days died down and I spent the reminder of the week with my parents. My mom and I finished several books sitting up on deck. We walked around our favorite loop every morning, followed by a bagel at the deli paired with a frozen hot chocolate from Slice of Heaven. I met up with friends for lunch or walked to the beach to hang out with former coworkers, but that was it. We went shopping in Newport and walked down Thames Street and Bellevue Ave. We got pedicures at the local salon. I ate so many delicious, homemade meals. We went to my grandparents’ beach house for dinner. My dad and I got ice cream several nights in a row. It was such a simple week, but absolutely perfect. I didn’t realize how badly I needed it until it was over.

PedicuresEverything felt like old times, except not because I wasn’t there for 3 months this time. And unlike my parents who will drive down tomorrow, and every Friday night until October, I have one (maybe two) more trips to the boat this summer. Accepting that is hard. Every time I say goodbye to Cassandra, the dockhouse, my friends, and my family, it gets harder and harder. Jamestown is home. It is not where I currently live, but it will always be home.

cupcake charliesI ran a dismal half marathon Sunday morning, said goodbye to my parents who were driving back to NH and then went back to the boat to spend a few hours alone before I left. I spent so many summers alone on the boat that sharing it all week was weird. I needed a few hours to myself. I wanted to talk to Fred (the launch driver) about life, stare at the bridge without anyone interrupting, and make peace with the fact that I had to say goodbye once again.

half marathonBefore I left the island, I stopped at an open house my parents are looking at because they couldn’t go. i miss being able to spend weekends in Jamestown the same way we did when I was growing up.

REAL goodbyeIf I hadn’t made plans to spend the night with my best friend in NYC Sunday night, I don’t think I could have left. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about coming back to Baltimore. In my (irrational) mind, there was nothing here for me. The things I was most excited about when I first moved back don’t hold the same appeal they once did. Also, my boyfriend no longer lives here, and like it or not, he’s a huge part of my life now. Driving back meant returning to a life I wasn’t as excited about and leaving behind my family for another month. So to distract me, I stayed with my best friend who I talk to every day yet haven’t seen since last September. We ate pizza, ice cream sundaes, and talked for hours. I needed it.

pizzaI’m more relaxed in Rhode Island than anywhere else. More than Boston, Baltimore, and certainly New Hampshire. 5 years ago living on the boat gave me my life back. Eventually I will be back in New England. The question is no longer if, but when. I just re-signed a lease here, so I’m not moving anytime soon. A lot can change in a year. I’m not unhappy with my life at all and I needed to move back here after graduation because I had unfinished business. I wasn’t ready to leave yet. Now, when it’s time, I will be ready.

chloeHow’s that for some thinking out loud? ;)

How do you like to spend your vacations?

Part 2: Hook, Line and Sinker

When I left off yesterday, we had spent Friday night at my grandparents’ beach house, then Saturday and Sunday exploring Boston. Monday we slept until 8:30 (!!!) and hopped in the car to drive to Jamestown. When we originally planned this trip, Tim only cared about seeing Boston. I told him the only way that was happening was if we split the time evenly between there and Rhode Island, to which he reluctantly agreed.

My parents were also on vacation and had spent the weekend sailing in East Greenwich not too far from where we keep Cassandra (the boat). They brought it into the docks for us to ease Tim into boatlife and then went to my grandparents’ house for a few days to visit with them because the boat can get pretty crowded. After saying a quick hello, we immediately left for a bike ride around Newport. Ocean Drive is breathtaking and I cannot wait to run 26.2 miles there in a few months.

imageI also pretended I’m a triathlete and changed into running clothes really quickly for a mini-photoshoot. I don’t know how people do that in a race. My legs felt like lead. I won’t be doing a triathlon anytime soon.

imageAfter our bike ride, we just relaxed for a few hours on the boat. We had been on the go all weekend so it was nice to be in a quiet place where I could see all of the dock guys (none of the young ones were back, but I was so so happy to see my buddy Fred aka the launch driver slash college counselor who my parents hired to help me pick a school). I think Tim liked it too.

Conanicut Marina BoatWe decided to go back to Newport for dinner- via the ferry from the marina. It wasn’t my idea, surprisingly. The guy who said he didn’t like boats really took a liking to them quite quickly. He also made friends with a giraffe.

Jamestown Newport FerryWe went to my favorite restaurant (Brick Alley Pub) and Kilwins afterwards of course. There was a bit of a wait beforehand so we wandered around the historical part of Newport. The sunset was absolutely gorgeous- always is. God I love this place. I had my second burger of the weekend and it was probably the best I’ve ever had.

sunsetWe got back to the boat around 10. While Newport has some pretty happening nightlife, Jamestown does not. That’s a big part of why my family loves it so much- if we want a city-feel, we just go across the bridge. But at the end of the day, there’s nothing better than coming back to the marina, sitting up on deck and watching the stars. We watched Scandal on my iPad and called it a night.

Tuesday was Tim’s last day before heading back to DC. We decided to ride around Jamestown. The island is 1 mile wide and 9 miles long so we went around one and a half times for 32 miles. The weather was iffy when we woke up so we had to wait for the rain to pass but when we finally went it was perfect. We stopped by the beach and chatted with my old coworkers halfway through before finishing up the ride. Of course I finally got my frozen hot chocolate (which I had every morning Tuesday-Sunday) and bagels from my favorite deli.

beavertailThe view sucks, in case you were wondering ;)


p.s. I made it on the instagram of Machines for Freedom (where we got my bike shirt) and I felt famous for a second.

I also needed a map of my own island to figure out which way to go. That was kind of embarrassing.

mapAfter our bike ride we changed into bathing suits and hightailed it over to the beach I used to work at. Tim took a nap and I spent the afternoon sitting in the lifeguard chairs catching up on all the island gossip. I don’t miss lifeguarding, but I do miss spending my days with those people. I’ve never laughed so hard.

My grandparents loved him so much that they wanted to have dinner with us before he left. We met them in Narragansett at Turtle Soup- their favorite restaurant- and enjoyed a nice dinner overlooking the water. I actually ordered something other than a burger/pizza at a restaurant for the first time in my life (practically). Chicken carbonara. To some, it may not sound like a big deal, but for me to order a pasta dish with cream sauce mixed with peas and chicken is a huge step.

Afterwards we met up with my two best friends in Rhode Island for ice cream at Spinnakers. I’m not ashamed to admit I had ice cream 8 out of the 10 days I was home.

spinnakersAnd of course, because it was Tim’s last night, we took a picture with the bridge. This was actually the only candid shot but it came out the best. Funny how that works. It’s my new favorite picture.

Tim bridgeThis definitely goes down as one of the most memorable trips to date. My only mission was to show Tim why New England is so great and make him love it as much as I do. Shockingly, he liked Jamestown/Newport more than Boston. At one point during our bike ride on Tuesday he looked at me and said, “you’re really happy here.” It’s not that I’m unhappy where I am, but I come alive when I’m in Rhode Island.

I also told him that it’s a good thing he liked the boat, because if it came down to choosing, Cassandra would win. #GirlfriendOfTheYear

I dropped him at the airport at 5am Wednesday morning. I can think of a lot of things I’d rather be doing at 5am than saying goodbye to my boyfriend at the airport. Luckily my parents joined me at the boat around 6am to kick off the second half of our vacation.

Do you have a place where you just feel completely yourself?