Monthly Archives: March 2012

RNR National Half Marathon Recap

Oh, I suppose I might as well recap the Rock ‘n’ Roll National Half Marathon, right? I mean, although I did totally forget to keep updating my training (LIES! I didn’t forget… there just wasn’t much to say), I don’t want to just leave the whole half marathon hanging out there, unresolved. So, here I go…

I set three levels of goals for the race:

Base Goal: finish strong

Realistic Goal: set a PR (currently 2:20:33)

Optimistic Goal: 2:15:00 (10:18/mile pace)

Well, let’s just say that I kinda, sorta met my base goal. I finished strong in the sense that I didn’t want to keel over and die when I finished the race. I wasn’t terribly sore the next day. I didn’t end up hobbling across the finish (like my first half marathon) or with a runner’s knee (like I did after my second half marathon). But the real reason that I felt fine (relatively speaking – I was sore and tired) was that it was my slowest half marathon ever. Even slower than the first one, where I could barely even walk during the last couple of miles.

I definitely slacked off in my training for the half marathon, which is actually one of the main reasons I stopped updating about my training on here. I got all my long runs in somehow, but I was probably running an average of one short run during the week. Some weeks, I didn’t run at all other than the long run. Plus, I did zero strength training and zero cross-training.

I did finish the first 7 miles without walking. I think I took my first walk break somewhere in the middle of mile 8, but it was pretty short – maybe 30 seconds, tops. Once I got to mile 9, I started alternating walking and running… with more walking and less running as the miles went on, although I did run the last 3/4 of a mile or so to get to the finish.

I’m actually glad that I didn’t finish with a fast time. If I’d been able to pull off a half marathon with so little training, there’d be no motivation for me to train harder next time. My legs are bit sore from all the hills and the distance so I’m taking things easy this week – I did a 2 mile run on Tuesday, might do another one tonight, and then will probably do 4-5 miles on the weekend. I’m signed up for the GW Parkway Classic 10M in April, so I really want to focus on doing well in that race. Now that I have the distance, I need to get up the endurance and the speed. Basically, I’m treating the half marathon as if it was just a long training fun for the GW.

As for the race itself, it was a gorgeous day – at least 50 degrees at the start and probably about 65 by the time I finished. I kind of expected there to be more bands on the course (or at least, speakers spaced out a bit around each band so you heard them for more than 20 seconds), but the race support was fantastic. The expo was easy to navigate (I did get there towards the very end so my size shirt was all gone, but I just got the next size up), course support was fantastic (they even re-filled my water bottle!), and the finishers area was well organized. My stomach was sort of bothering me at the finish (I think I’d lost too much salt, since I wasn’t used to running in that heat yet), so I didn’t take too much advantage of the finishers area, but I saw tons of food – bagels, yogurt, bananas, water, Gatorade, chocolate milk… probably lots of other things I’m forgetting (I just grabbed a banana and the chocolate milk). They also had family meet-up areas that made it easy to find Adam and my friends after the race. I definitely plan to run this race again, especially if it continues to be run by Rock ‘n’ Roll since they did such a better job organizing it than SunTrust did last year.

Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 2:36:01
Pace: 11:55/mile

* * * * *

Oh, and as for my new running shoes? I’m definitely a convert to the minimalist running shoe. Based on what I’ve researched on the subject, I understand that it’s not really the shoe that makes the difference in preventing injuries, but your form. However, because the minimalist shoes don’t have as much cushioning and support, it forces those of us who run with poor form (like me) to adjust to better form. Since I made the switch, I’ve had no running injuries – that’s saying quite a lot for me, since I’m very injury-prone. I would have thought that without getting in an adequate number of miles during the week, I’d surely get hurt on my long runs but I didn’t. The only noticeable difference is that my left Achilles gets pretty tight and my calf gets sore. I think once I strengthen my legs a bit more, that won’t be as much of a problem. So my verdict is that if you are prone to running injuries and think it may be because you have poor form (which I’m betting it is), it might be worth a shot to give the minimalist shoes a try. (But note that it takes a long time to get your calves used to running on your toes, so ease into it.) Of course, you could try to fix your form without buying the minimalist shoes, but just realize that the extra cushioning and support of standard running shoes can make it easier for you to slip back into bad running habits when you’re tired. But if you’re not injury prone? I’m not all that sure that the minimalist shoe has added benefits for you. That said, Adam never gets injured and after he made the switch last year, he definitely got faster. It may be just a coincidence, or maybe not – there’s no way to tell.

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Filed under Pretending to be a Runner, Race Recap

Rasika…

About 6 weeks ago, an entry showed up on March 13th on my Google Calendar – “7:45 Stephanie’s Birthday Dinner.” (Adam and I share our Google calendars to keep track of joint events as well as so we can know when the other person is busy.)

Interesting, I thought. We’re going somewhere for dinner where you need to make a reservation several weeks in advance for a Tuesday night dinner.

I love surprises, so I didn’t want to confirm where we were going before my actual birthday. I had a sneaking suspicion that it might be Rasika, but I didn’t tell Adam that’s where I thought we were going.  Then, a few weeks before my birthday, Adam made some sort of passing reference to the fact that we’d be eating a lot of food on my birthday, so I assumed we must be going somewhere with a tasting menu.  I was pretty sure Rasika didn’t have one, so I decided that must not be where we were going.

In the intervening time between that conversation and my birthday, I completely forgot why I’d ruled out Rasika, so it tentatively went back on my list of places I thought we might be going. My second clue (in addition to needing to get a reservation well in advance) was that I needed to be dressed nicely for dinner. So I had a couple of other ideas in mind, but kept coming back to Rasika, even though I knew I’d ruled it out for some reason.

The night before my birthday, Adam told me that I should meet him at the Chinatown metro stop at 7:30. Now, I was pretty sure Rasika was actually close to his office near McPherson square, so I was back to thinking it wasn’t Rasika.

Well, as you can tell by the title of this post, we obviously went to Rasika.  (Link is to the current Washingtonian review because the restaurant has a horrendous flash website I don’t want to subject you to.)  I went onto their website the day of my birthday and determined that it (a) was close to the Chinatown metro (I was confusing it’s location with Bombay Club) and (b) it did have a tasting menu. So then, I was 99% sure that’s where were headed… and I was right. But I am so glad that I didn’t actually tell Adam where I thought we were going, because I’d much rather be surprised – even though I did guess it correctly. Adam has a terrible poker face, so if I even once mentioned that’s where I thought we were going, his face would have been a total giveaway.

So, now that I’ve written that unnecessarily long prelude, on to the food!

Rasika offers a both vegetarian and non-vegetarian four course and a six course tasting menus. We decided that because it was our first time there, we might as well go all out with the six course tasting menu so we could try as many different items as we could.  (Adam’s courses are marked with an “A” and mine with an “S.”)

First Course: Palak Chaat (both)
+ One of my favorite courses of the entire night, this was crispy fried spinach tossed in a yogurt sauce.  I could have eaten a giant plate of this.

Second Course: Tawa Baingan (S); Kadi Patte Ke Scallops (A)
+ Mine was an eggplant and potato dish with a delicious peanut sauce. I love Asian-inspired peanut sauces, but never have thought to do one with curry in it – I’m definitely going to have to try one at home!

Third Course: Mango Shrimp (A); some sort of potato fritter topped with a spicy apricot chutney (S)
+ The fritter was good, but didn’t really stand out in any way.

Fourth Course: Paneer Shashik; Black Cod
+ This was a kabob of panner, onions and peppers, served with some sort of green chili dish. It was good, although the cheese was a bit salty for my taste. Not one of my favorites of the night.  However, this course was Adam’s favorite – he said it was the best fish he’s ever eaten!

Fifth Course: I suppose this was the “main” course, but by now we were stuffed! Our plates came out with some Bhindi Amchoor (fried okra with mango powder) and basmati rice, and then we were served several different dishes/sauces and breads:
Vegetable Nilgiri Korma (mixed veggies in a cilantro-based sauce), Dal Makhani (lentils in a tomato-based sauce) Anjeeri Kofta (fig dumplings in cashew nut cream) (S); Lamb Roganjosh (I think – definitely a lamb dish) some chicken dish (A)
+ The dal was, hands-down,the best dal I’ve ever had.  I just had the leftovers for dinner (we were so stuffed by this course, we took some home) and I am sad it’s all gone.  I would have traded the previous course AND the vegetable korma for a giant bowl of this stuff. Too bad I’m pretty sure a restaurant like this doesn’t do takeout…

Sixth Course: Apple Jalebi (beignet) with Cardamom Ice Cream, Carrot Pudding, and some sort of sticky honey dough ball (don’t think it’s on the menu)
+ As I said, we were SO full at this point, we really didn’t need dessert. I thought the dough ball was WAY too sweet and wasn’t a fan of the carrot pudding, but the cardamon ice cream was delicious. It was like vanilla bean ice cream, only instead of (or maybe in addition to) vanilla beans, it had flecks of cardamom. (Well, that’s a super-obvious description. Anyway, it was very good.)

If I were to go back, I would definitely get the palak chaat and the dal, and I’m sure Adam would get the cod.  There is something on the dessert menu called a “coconut jaggery creme caramel” – not exactly sure what that is, but I’d totally get it if I had room for dessert!

Oh! I almost forgot the drinks! Adam and I tend to be more cocktail drinkers than wine drinkers, so we decided against the wine pairing you can get with the tasting menu. The cocktail list was heavily gin-based, which is not my favorite, but I found one I wanted to try that Adam swore wouldn’t taste too “ginny” (i.e., too much like a Christmas tree).  Sadly, the cocktail menu doesn’t appear to be online, so I can’t exactly say what we had.  My first drink was a gin, pear bush, and yuzu. Adam’s drink was a spicy gin, chili and (I think) lime drink. My second drink (which we ended up splitting) was so unusual – I didn’t even recognize the type of liquor in it, but it kind of tasted like mulling spices (sort of warm – flavor, not temperature – but not too spicy), with pomegranate juice and pisco. I’ve never had anything like it.  I don’t think I could have more than one, but it was very good and definitely really interesting.

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Filed under Randomness

March Goals…

Well, good thing I decided to do monthly goals rather than year-long goals, because February was a total BUST.

February recap…

1. Blog more. I wrote five posts. FIVE. And one of them was a post about what my February goals are. Sheesh, that is terrible.

2. Work out 4 times a week, including 1 day of strength training. I ran about 2-3 times a week (way less than I should have for my half marathon training) and did ZERO days of strength training all month. BUT! I purchased a Groupon for a boot camp class that I am going to do in April, so maybe that’s something. (It really isn’t something.)

3. Do LAPS — 10 lunges, 10 abs (crunches), 10 push-ups, 10 squats — every day.  I can count the number of times I did LAPS on one hand.

4. Plan a vacation. Oh my god, we couldn’t even do this one! With this whole house-hunting thing in fully swing, it seems kind of irresponsible to plan a vacation when we don’t know when we’ll have to move.

5. Take vitamins every day.  I did okay, not great. Probably the best of all five goals though.

And now for March!  I’m keeping it short this month…

1. Try to tackle several of my 101 things in 1001 daysWell, those 1001 days sure went by faster than I expected! Day 1001 is March 24, and there is no way I’ll be able to finish in time, but I do plan to try to finish them all some day!  I have 33 left, so I am 2/3 of the way done.  I wonder how many more I’ll be able to knock out by March 24.

2. Read a book.  My book club doesn’t seem to be meeting any more, so I need to motivate myself to actually read.  (So sad, but after reading for work all day, sometimes the last thing I want to do when I get home is look at more words.) I have two books sitting on my coffee table waiting for me – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Hunger Games.

3. Do one non-running workout per week. I need to branch out here, so I don’t get burned out after my half marathon.  Lots of options – spinning, yoga, strength training. I just need to mix it up.

 

Here’s to a fantastic March! Yay, birthday month!

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Filed under Goals and Resolutions