Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Shamrock Shuffle race plans

Chicago's popular Shamrock Shuffle takes place this weekend!
Getting into the spirit of things at last year's Shuffle
The weather forecast has been shifting around over the past few days. Right now they are saying possible rain. Fingers crossed any precipitation holds off until the afternoon! If conditions are reasonable, I hope to make this a PR attempt.

My current 8K PR is 44:12, which is about an 8:53 pace. I set this PR at the 2012 PAWS Run For Their Lives - so it's been awhile. Granted, at the time I was at the tail end of my Chicago Marathon training cycle. I was also about 15 pounds heavier. Basically, a lot of things have changed since then.
I feel I've made a lot of training improvements in the last several years. Admittedly, I haven't done any 8K-focused speedwork since I'm more focused on incline work these days. Even so, I feel reasonably confident that I am capable of achieving a new PR.

My hope, as discussed with Pete (aka the master of race strategy), is to run a negative split - or at least an even split.

Even though I've had very good success on the rare occasions I managed to execute a negative split, I still get terrified during the first mile or two. I think I fear starting out too slowly and then not being able to pick it up later on. (This has happened in training, particularly during long runs.)

That aside, here's my "perfect-world" plan:

Mile 1: Start out easy, maybe around a 9:00-9:10 pace. Don't let the crowd pressure get to me.
Miles 2-4: Try to maintain around an 8:45-9:00 pace, gradually working down closer to 8:45 or better with each subsequent mile.
After the 4-mile marker: Try to pick it up as best as possible. In the final 0.5 mile, gun it and hold on for dear life!!!
Now, the biggest challenge, of course, is actually executing this plan.

Pace strategy aside, I am also thinking about running by feel instead of relying on the Garmin. I know my Garmin's readings will likely be thrown off by all the tall buildings downtown. Plus, having to run through that tunnel at Columbus and Wacker at the course start always messes things up. So it would probably behoove me to take my Garmin with a grain of salt, regardless.

I am nervous about this weekend. At the same time, I am trying not to put too much pressure on myself. After all, we do these races for fun, right?
Here are words that I am trying to live by:
Take a deep breath and shuffle on!!! =)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Training week recap: Mar 21-27, 2016

I hope everyone had a fantastic Easter weekend!

Here's how my training week shook out:
MONDAY - 10 minutes on stationary bike, lift 35 minutes
TUESDAY - Yoga class, run 3 miles on treadmill
WEDNESDAY - Zumba class
THURSDAY - 10 minutes on stationary bike, lift 45 minutes
SATURDAY - Kim's boxing class with Anne, 2.5 mile run
SUNDAY - Run 8.5 miles on treadmill, 3:1:1 run/incline/walk ratio with inclines at level 5

The highlight of the training week was definitely Kim's boxing class on Saturday with Anne. It was a lot of fun to mix up the weekly routine and do some different moves.
All the boxing students flashing our gloves and mitts.
Don't we look intense and intimidating??? Don't mess with us. =D
(Photo by Kim)
I've done some boxing workout classes before, but it's been awhile! Kim is a fantastic instructor and Anne was also super helpful getting me acclimated on the fly.
Kim, Anne, and me after class
The boxing really targeted some new muscles for me. Yesterday my back, shoulders, and arms were killer sore. As I sit here typing this on Monday, the soreness has dissipated - but it's still not subtle by any stretch of the imagination!

Afterwards, Kim, Anne, and I went for a 2.5 mile run in the neighborhood. The weather was beautiful, the change of scenery was refreshing, and of course running with good company is always wonderful.
Photo by Kim
After all the adventures on Saturday, I had a very difficult time getting started on yesterday's long run. The weekend included a lot of scurrying around, so time was a significant constraint. The post-boxing soreness also added to my thoughts of skipping out. I really had to force myself to get moving. I grumbled a fair amount but inwardly bargained that "even a little bit is better than nothing."

Thankfully, I did feel better once I got my rhythm going. It was a pleasant surprise to discover the soreness didn't hamper my running flow. Hurray!

On a tangential note...
I heard Adele's "Hello" on the radio at least three times on Saturday. It promptly got stuck in my head.

Since Adele is so popular, I know it's probably not necessary for me to share the video. But for the sake of completeness, here you go:
I have a rather random association with this song. Adam and I went to a Second City improv show a few weeks ago where the audience suggested this song for the basis of a skit. The improv artists altered the lyrics so hilariously that I still giggle thinking about it to this day.

Given this, I listened to this song a few times while running and paid closer attention to the original lyrics. I was intrigued by the line, "Did you ever make it out of that town where nothing ever happened?" It makes me think of my hometown. No disrespect or anything, just an observation. (Anne, I know we touched on this yesterday.) Anyone else?

Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Good Friday! (Is that redundant?)

Today I am taking a cue from Alexandra, Katie, and many others by sharing a round-up of recent favorites.

Cookie Monster Commercials
Adam and I both busted out laughing when we saw this commercial:
This is an instant classic! Cookie Monster is me in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking desserts. Kudos to whoever came up with the idea. I am totally going to put that "Time in a Bottle" song on my kitchen playlist, too.

We both think this should have been a Super Bowl Commercial!

And speaking of cookies...

Adventures in Girl Scout Cookies
When Girl Scout cookies go on sale each year, I've long been a captive devotee to Thin Mints. My motto was, "All Thin Mints and only Thin Mints, all the time!"
This year, a mysterious cookie force came over me. This caused me to make a snap decision to try something different. I threw a dart at a Girl Scout cookie dartboard and bought a box of Savannah Smiles. (Description: Crisp, zesty lemon wedge cookies dusted with powdered sugar.)

Hello, my lovelies:
The Savannah Smiles are SO good. I am addicted.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Savannah Smiles are going to give the Thin Mints a run for the money in the future. Ladies and gentlemen, the tide has turned. I am in a world of trouble!

Finnish Hockey Players
I've previously mentioned that through Adam's influence, the Pittsburgh Penguins are my second favorite hockey team behind the Chicago Blackhawks. My favorite Penguin used to be Max Talbot until he left in 2011. Since then I never found a true new favorite Penguin... until now!

Please give a warm blogger welcome to Olli Maatta (Finnish: Olli Määttä - shout out to Pete for nailing those umlauts!):
Would you believe that Olli is only 21 years old, yet dealt with surgery last year to remove a potentially cancerous tumor from his neck? Thankfully he's made a full recovery.

I watched several of Olli's interviews and videos. In my opinion, hockey players are generally very down-to-earth - but Olli is exceptionally genuine and considerate. He strikes me as someone who would make you feel super comfortable from the moment you met him.
Olli recently signed a long-term contract, which makes me really happy. Now I can buy his Penguins jersey with less fear of enacting my jersey curse(If you're keeping score at home, yes, I'm anxiously waiting for the Blackhawks to extend Artemi Panarin's contract...)

It's going to be so much fun to follow Olli in the coming years!
Olli and his bobblehead look-alike. So cute!
The Americans
In my opinion, this is far and away the best show on free television right now. The story is chilling, riveting, and masterfully thought-provoking. There are so many plot lines to think about.
In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won't go into any story-line specifics here. I'll just say it's been gripping to see what creates motivation.

Who else is watching? If you are, please let me know so we can talk about it. There is A LOT to discuss.

During TV player introductions, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor would say he went to Swaggin' University.

Here's an example. Ike comes on around the 12-second mark (note the commentary at the very end, too).

Adam and I were joking about how for our own personal usage, we'd change it from "Swaggin'" to "Snoozin'." =D

Then I randomly came across this video in which Ike explains the credentials for getting into Swaggin' U:

You got it, buddy! Next time, I am going to try washing and folding my clothes with swag.
Have a fantastic weekend, everyone! Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

Linking up with MarCynthia, and Courtney for the Friday Five.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2016 Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon race recap

Last year, the Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon was marred by torrential rainstorms. It put an enormous damper on the whole experience (literally and figuratively). I was hopeful for a much better outing this year. After all, conditions couldn't be much worse than last year, right?

I rode a meteorological roller coaster during the ten days leading up to race day. Thankfully, race-day weather conditions ended up being just about perfect - temps in the upper 40s and overcast.

On race morning, I was up at the crack of dawn to catch a Metro bus and train to the starting area. Check out this beautiful sunrise outside of Vanitha and Asheesh's apartment:
There were other runners waiting at the bus stop with me. I had an enjoyable chat with one other woman who was also running the half. Other runners around me were all talking like age-old friends upon first sight. It's so true that all runners are friends we just haven't met yet. Love it!

I arrived at the Federal Triangle Metro stop and started making my way over to the start village. Here's a telling view of the Washington Monument on Rock N Roll race morning:
The portapotty lines were enormous and slow. I waited for about 20-25 cold minutes.

Afterwards, I made my way to the start line. The corrals weren't being enforced, so I elected to jump into a slightly earlier corral and get moving.
Starting line next to the EPA building
About 20 seconds after crossing, one of the pace leaders yelled out, "Great job, guys! We've got less than a marathon to go!" This made several folks chuckle. It's all about perspective, yes?

I reveled in the stunning memorials and landmarks we were passing along the course.
The Lincoln Monument near the 3-mile marker
I didn't have time goals for this race, but I was running a decent pace. I hit the 5K mark in 31:20, which was a 10:06 pace. Part of me debated trying to push it. Then I reminded myself of the giant hill mid-course, plus all the photos I would want to take along the course. Cue the lyrics from that Eagles song: "Take it easy, take it easy, don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy..."
Running past the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
I thought the "No Pedestrian" sign was a funny race-day contrast. =)
The next part of the course took us into Rock Creek Parkway. This was one of my favorite parts of the course for its lush greenery along a riverfront.
This picture so does NOT do the scenery justice.
I was mentally bracing myself for Calvert Hill, which I knew was coming around Mile 6 or 7. At the same time, I was also curious to see if all my hillwork would make a noticeable difference.

The Wear Blue to Remember organization puts up pictures of fallen soldiers stations folks prior to and along Calvert Hill. Folks stand holding American flags on both sides of the course. It was an emotional experience and made me think of Amy and her connections to the group. Several runners were touching every picture along the way. I tried to high-five as many of the flag-holders as I could.
The Wear Blue to Remember folks with their flags preceding Calvert Hill
I successfully ran up about 80% of the hill before giving in and dropping down to a walk. I could have run more of it, but didn't want to trash my legs too much at that point. Last year I think I ran only about half of the hill with a lot of effort - so this year felt like a win!

I hit the 10K mark in 1:04:35 (which definitely reflected the walking I did on Calvert Hill).

The course next wound through Adams Morgan. The spectators were fantastic. There were so many people in costume, holding up funny signs, playing music, offering us everything from grilled meat to doughnut holes to champagne shots. (Seriously, they had a pile of empty champagne bottles sitting on the ground nearby - I wish I had taken a picture!) I saw a man and his toddler daughter both handing out plastic cups filled with margaritas. This made me chuckle.

Here are a few spectator pictures:
Vanitha and her Batala drumming group were stationed at Mile 8. As I approached, I could hear the drums in the distance gradually getting louder and louder, which gave me energy. Vanitha's group was stationed at the bottom of a hill so I had an excellent view of them as I was approaching. What a boost it was to see her!!!
I saw a number of military folks running in and/or with their gear. Here is a snapshot of one:
Around the 9-mile mark, volunteers handed out Glukos drink packets and gummies. I know you're not supposed to try anything new on race day, but I didn't feel like going through the effort of digging a GU out of my runner's belt. Living dangerously, I went ahead and opened up a Glukos packet. Unfortunately, my hands were slippery so I had trouble opening it. Then I struggled mightily to get the contents out. ARGH.

The next part of the course included a view of the U.S. Capitol (undergoing renovations, unfortunately). I had completely missed seeing the Capitol building during last year's race, so this was awesome. What a privilege to be running in the shadows of such an important landmark!
The U.S. Capitol Building adorned with scaffolding
I hit the 10-mile mark in 1:44:03. Fatigue, both mental and physical, started hitting around Mile 10.5.

At that point, the course was running through neighborhoods with rolling hills. My quads and hamstrings were livid. I didn't remember those hills from the prior year. Maybe the rain made everything so rough last year that all I could remember was being miserable, period?
I think this was around Mile 11.
During those last few miles, my mind was pretty blank other than noticing almost everyone was turning off at the half marathon split. I always think about how brutal that must be for the full marathon runners. Yikes!

The final stretch of the course was uphill. I gritted my teeth and tried to look only at the finish line banner. I didn't even try to kick it at the end.

My official time was 2:16:26. Yay for beautiful race medals!
My results were an improvement from last year, especially since I ran straight through in 2015 without taking pictures. However, I was pretty wiped out considering I hadn't run anywhere near goal pace. Those hills ended up taking a much bigger toll on me than expected, too. Looks like I still have a lot of work to do in preparation for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. But we'll take it one day at a time, yes?

New this year, the Rock N Roll DC organizers made a changing tent available post-race. YES! Last year I also had to wait a good hour in the rain before I could get onto a Metro train. This year I was on a Metro train in 5 minutes. Even more gratitude!

I met back up with Vanitha. We had a tasty post-race meal at a cute local restaurant called Teaism.
In summary, my experience at Rock N Roll DC was infinitely better this year than last year! Thanks, Mother Nature!

All in all, the weekend was a really fun time. Shout out to my long-time friend Imran, who we got to catch up with later that night with tons of laughs and stories. It was also awesome to spend time with Sarah, Dina, and Jamie. Last but not least, my huge thanks go out to Vanitha and Asheesh for being such wonderful friends and hosts.

Life is good - and it's even better when you have great friends to share it with. =)

My next race: the Shamrock Shuffle on April 3

Monday, March 21, 2016

Training week recaps: Mar 7-20, 2016

Sorry for falling off the planet for a week and a half! I was out of town last weekend to run Rock N Roll DC, the office to-do list has been nonstop, and I had plans after work every single day last week. 

The flurry of activity has been a lot of fun - but now I have so much to catch up on!
Since I again missed recapping my March 7 - 13 training last week, we're once again doing double-duty and recapping two weeks at once.

MONDAY - Lift 50 minutes
TUESDAY - Yoga class
WEDNESDAY - Zumba class
THURSDAY - Run 3 miles on treadmill
SATURDAY - Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon
Vanitha's Batala drumming group performed on the RnR DC Course at Mile 8.
I loved getting to see her tearing it up on the course!
  • I had a blast staying with Vanitha and Asheesh in DC last weekend (thank you again for being such wonderful hosts!) Race-day weather was good so my experience at Rock N Roll DC was a gazillion times better than last year. Full recap to come.
  • I'll talk about this in more detail later, but Rock N Roll DC made me realize how I'm still very much in my infancy with hill running. This is despite all my challenging incline work over the last few months. To put it bluntly, I am growing increasingly petrified of what the Pittsburgh Half Marathon has in store for me - and that is saying something.
  • For various reasons, I only lifted once last week as opposed to my usual twice. When I resumed the subsequent week, I was weirdly nervous about losing my progress. It was a relief when there was no noticeable decline. Basically, it was the age-old battle between resting/recovering and losing momentum.

MONDAY - Lift 50 minutes, Pi Day Run (3 miles)
TUESDAY - Yoga class
WEDNESDAY - Zumba class
THURSDAY - 3 miles incline work on treadmill (10 minute warm-up, 1-minute ladder intervals between levels 3-8)
FRIDAY - Yoga class, lift 50 minutes
SUNDAY - Run 6.5 miles outside
At the Pi Day Run with Margaret and Erin
  • The Pi Day Run last Monday was a good time! The event started at 6:28 PM (2 pi). We got to fill out a pi-themed trivia quiz for prizes. Then attendees went on a 3.14 mile run (which actually ended up being closer to 3 miles), followed by post-run pizza pie and dessert pie. The pi shirts are cute, too. I didn't realize until later that the pi date is spot-on since pi is 3.1416 and the event date was March 14, 2016 (3.14.16). Very cool! 
  • I've been practicing yoga for a really long time. Back when I first started, I was instructed to focus on maintaining a constant breath the entire time (i.e. not holding my breath while holding the poses). I've practiced this way for years and years. However, these days I've noticed my yoga instructors directing us to take one breath per movement. I tried following those breathing patterns and it is tough. Now I wonder if I've been doing yoga wrong this entire time??? 
  • I had a major bout of insomnia last Thursday night. Friday was a resultingly tough day in the office. It was hard to concentrate. I went longer on lifting that day than usual since it was helping me stay energized. Then I paid for it on Saturday with a lot of soreness. Sigh. 
  • Yesterday my motivation was as low as it had ever been. I thought very, very seriously about skipping my run. I grudgingly forced myself out the door under the premise of shortening the distance to 5 miles instead of 6.5. I usually reserve headphone usage only for tough moments while running. Yesterday I allowed myself the luxury of listening to music the entire time. Once I got going, I felt better.
Speaking of music... 
Here's the latest addition to my workout playlist:
The Blackhawks play this song at the United Center during pregame warm-ups. I've said before that there are few things I enjoy more than watching Hawks games live at the UC. Listening to this song reminds me of being there and feeling the energy of both the team and the crowd.

Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The ABCs of me

I always enjoy when my fellow bloggers share details about themselves as people! Today I am drawing inspiration from HoHo's awesome ABCs post. I've got my 100 Things About Me page with lots of random tidbits about myself, so I will try not to duplicate anything here.

Accents fascinate me! A friend of mine had an instructional manual on how to speak with different accents, and I am thinking about trying to get my own copy.

Breadman and Bread are the nicknames of my favorite Chicago Blackhawks player, Artemi Panarin. Now I chuckle to myself when I see a Panera Bread restaurant or when someone offers me bread during a meal, etc.

Cinque Terre, Italy, is one of my favorite travel destinations.

Dental floss is something I've started carrying around in my purse. It has already saved my life more times than I can count.

Evonne is my middle name.

Fun is my ideal way of life. I try to have fun all day, every day.
Germaphobe I am not. Since I rarely get sick, I don't worry much about germs.

Helicopters are a mode of transportation I've never experienced. I always take notice of all the Chicago Helicopter Experiences available on Groupon, but have yet to pull the trigger.

Independence is a huge priority to me. I am uncomfortable having to rely on others and I take great pride in being self-sufficient.

JCPenney is where I worked in high school and during my first few years of college.

Knocking on wood is something I do often, since I have experienced the jinx phenomena hundreds of times.

Laughter is the best medicine for me. In tough situations, it's helpful to be able to still find humor.
Mustard, especially dijon mustard, is my favorite cooking ingredient for its incredible versatility. Any time I get low on mustard, it sets off emergency alarm bells in my kitchen!

New York is a city I seriously considered moving to through a prior employer.

Overthinking is something I do easily, especially when I've got too much time on my hands. I'm usually in a better frame of mind when I'm busy (but not too busy).

Psychology is the subject I most enjoyed studying in school, and probably the only subject I would genuinely study on my own accord.

Quads are muscles that are perpetually tight for me, no matter how much I foam roll or stretch.
Reubans are one of my favorite types of sandwich. Sadly, I don't eat them much since they generally aren't very healthy. =(

Saucony Rides are currently my workhorse running shoe.

Three is my favorite number. I think it has the perfect rhythm.

United Airlines is the holder of all of my miles accumulated from years of business travel earlier in my career.

Visual is my style of learning. I'm all about pictures, charts, and color codes as tools.
Wednesday was the day of the week I was born. Yes, I was born on a Hummmmp Day! =)

X is an algebraic expression that I will use in everyday conversation when talking about unknowns. Ironically, algebra was one of my least-favorite subjects in school. I much preferred geometry (being a visual learner, and all).

Yes is something I say often, maybe too often.

Zumba is a fitness breakthrough for me! It's enthralling to get such a great workout while letting loose and tearing it up on the dance floor.

What are some of your ABC's?

Linking up with Amanda's Thinking Out Loud Thursdays.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Training week recaps: Feb 22 - Mar 6, 2016

Since I missed recapping my February 22 - 28 training last week, I'm going to do double duty today and recap two weeks at once.

FEB 22 - 28
TUESDAY - Rest (traveling)
WEDNESDAY - 30 minutes on the stationary bike
THURSDAY - Run 3 miles on treadmill
FRIDAY - 10 minute warm-up on stationary bike, lift 30 minutes
SATURDAY - 10-minute warm-up on stationary bike, lift 45 minutes
SUNDAY - 30 minutes on stationary bike
In celebration of all the stationary biking I did this week
FEB 29 - MAR 6
MONDAY - Rest (traveling)
TUESDAY - Run 3 miles on treadmill, lift 25 minutes
WEDNESDAY - 3 miles incline work on treadmill (10 minute warm-up, 2-minute intervals between levels 3-6)
THURSDAY - 10 minute warm-up on stair machine, lift 50 minutes
FRIDAY - Yoga class
SUNDAY - Run 11 miles outdoors with intermittant inclines throughout
The BP Pedestrian Bridge in Millennium Park, one of the "man-made"
hills on which I traipsed back and forth during my long run
  • During the week of February 22, my workouts from Thursday through Sunday were all done aboard the cruise ship. The running and lifting were tough due to the rocking of the ship. I usually don't struggle with seasickness, but I did cut Friday's lifting routine short because I felt some nausea. I learned it's really hard to balance free weights on a moving ship. The next day I reduced my lifting load and felt much better.
  • The strength-training series I've been attending at work has been beneficial. I've picked up tips on proper form, learned some new exercises, and have gotten exposure to some new equipment I previously shied away from using.
  • I'm starting to consider upping my strength-training routine from twice a week (full-body both days) to three times a week (focusing on only certain areas each day). Perhaps one day of leg work, one day of back and core, and one day of arms and chest?
  • I am having to psych myself up for hillwork these days. You might notice I didn't do any during the week of February 22. I really needed a break after this long run. I've become gunshy on pushing too hard for fear of feeling like death again. During yesterday's 11-miler, I went a little easier on the inclines and felt much better. I'm rationalizing that I don't want to make it so hard that I won't keep doing it. "Conservative" hillwork is still better than none at all, right?
  • My left piriformis has historically been problematic. After my running hiatus earlier this year, it behaved itself for several weeks. But now it's starting to act up again. I am dismayed because I have been very good about strength training. I haven't been stretching and foam rolling consistently, though, so hopefully improving that will help.
  • I'm in need of some variety so I've been eyeing some new-to-me fitness classes at my company's gym. My top consideration is a "Power 45" cardio/strength class. TBD if/when I actually pull the trigger. 
  • I'll be taking things a little easier again this coming week in preparation for Rock N Roll DC on Saturday.
Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Coffee talk - March edition

Blogging is so much about momentum for me. When I was on vacation last week, I was unplugged from email and social media for the better part of four days. This caused my blogging mojo to fiercely deteriorate! So after taking a total of 10 days off from the blogosphere, I am attempting to push back in.

Let's keep things free-flowing today! I'm linking up with CocoDeborah, and Lynda for the March edition of Coffee Talk.
The Ultimate Coffee Date
This link-up asks: "If we were having [insert choice of beverage here] together, I would tell you..."

There's a lot to catch up on! But I will keep things cursory to avoid being too, too overwhelming on a lovely Saturday morning. =) First off...

Vacation came with some unexpected adventures. I was aboard the Legends of Pittsburgh cruise last weekend, which sailed from Miami to Key West and Cozumel. Enroute to Cozumel, our cruise ship picked up 16 Cuban migrants. They were floating on a makeshift raft about 50 miles north of Cuba.

James Harrison posted pictures of the rescue in action, which caused the news media to pick up the story (examples hereherehere, and here.)

Here is one of James's snapshots:
The word on the street was that the migrants had been at sea for a couple of weeks. It must have been terrifying for them. According to port authorities in Mexico, migrant rescues occur about once a week!

When the incident happened, I had joked that a cruise ship was a nice means by which to be rescued. But in all seriousness, we learned that some migrants actually decline assistance. This is because being rescued also means they will be turned over to the authorities, with all the resulting consequences.

I can only imagine the desperate situations these migrants must have been experiencing to even attempt such dangerous escapes. It really puts things into perspective.

Crazy rescues aside, the Legends of Pittsburgh cruise was a good time. The themed-cruise experience definitely deserves its own post. In summary, Adam and I got to meet dozens of Pittsburgh sports legends, hear their stories, and get to know them a bit behind the scenes. Everyone was incredibly personable, friendly, and down-to-earth. It was an awesome experience.

And speaking of James Harrison, here's one of my photos with him:
James is an unexpectedly funny guy! He's definitely a guy who pulls no punches in life. It was fascinating to talk to him and hear his perspectives.

Just one quick tidbit on James - he deadlifts 650 pounds. Wow!

Much more to come on the cruise.

Racing season is about to get underway! Next week at this time, I'll be running my second go-around of the Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon. (I'm already stalking the weather forecast, which is currently listing a chance of rain with temps in the upper 60s. That would be better than last year. But there's still plenty of time for things to take a turn for the worse. My rain jinx has historically proven to be indefatigable!)
The following Monday will be my first-ever Pi-Day fun run, filled with pizza pie and traditional pie. Oh yeah!!!
St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner which means it's almost time for the Shamrock Shuffle. Bring on the green men!
I am excited for my second running of Shamrock. If all goes well, I hope to use it as an opportunity to test out the impact of all my recent lifting and incline work.

On a similar note - after taking a year off from the 5K, my nemesis, I am considering making another attempt soon at breaking my ancient 5K PR. Again, a topic for a whole other discussion to come.

I've got a fun weekend ahead of me! Today, Adam and I are going to brunch at Wishbone, which is one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants. Afterwards, we'll be heading to Johnny's Icehouse West to cross off a long-time item on my Blackhawks fan to-do list: watch an open practice.
Later tonight, we're meeting some friends for dinner at a local Korean BBQ joint, followed by helping my friend Jack celebrate his birthday at a neighborhood karaoke dive bar.

Tomorrow, I've got an 11-miler on the morning agenda. In the afternoon, we're heading to the United Center to watch the Blackhawks take on the Detroit Red Wings.

Coming up later this week - Adam and I are going to watch 42nd Street. I am so excited! In preparation, I've been listening to the soundtrack every day. "Come and meet those dancing feet..."

Your turn! What would you tell me over coffee or your beverage of choice?