Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chicago!

My birthday was back on the 11th of this month. I was sick for it: stuffy nose, chest congestion, couldn't hear well, and my mind had trouble thinking. I was crazy busy that day at school, getting ready to leave for the National Science Teacher Conference, and didn't have a lot of time to really stop and enjoy my birthday until I landed in

....Chicago!


We stayed with Tom's brother and for the first two days I was mainly at the conference with a few colleagues. My students will tell you that I love being a nerd, so being at the conference was almost heaven. I mean - BILL NYE walked TWO feet in front of us!

I spy....Bill Nye! This was only moments before he walked by us  

Chicago is pretty big compared to DC. I was jealous of everyone, including Tom, that were running on the paths along Lake Michigan. Tom got in some serious mileage while we were there. For those first few days, all I saw of the city was the convention hall and the Starbucks around Dan's apartment. When I did get out to run I didn't feel too hot. I mean, I was actually cold because it was cooler along the lake than it was in the city, but because of my cold I was not feeling the greatest. I was also overwhelmed with how many runners there were on the paths and there was constant noise from the traffic. I probably would become an 'ipod runner' if I had to live in Chicago. And can we talk about the hills - or the lack of hills?! I just could - not - get over the fact that there were no hills. None. No inclines, just flatness. I have become really good at running hills since moving to DC and the lack of elevation change was killing me.

Selfie mid-run

The frozen Lake Michigan at sunset
Finally, on Saturday, I got to see some of the city.

Chicago KNOWS how to celebrate St. Patty's Day. The river is colored and EVERYONE is in green! I couldn't get up to 'The Bean' because Millennium Park was closed, but I loved walked around.

A boat passes through the river a few times, releasing a vegetable-based dye into the water. 

Thanks to diffusion we get a green river! Gotta love Science!
T highlights of the trip, in no particular order:

  • Hanging out with Dan and Katie! They were awesome hosts and were great at pointing out the bests of the city. 
  • Meeting up with a friend (and former teammate) that I haven't seen in a few years. 
  • Being a nerd with my two awesome co-workers! 
  • Deep. Dish. Pizza. Quite possibly the best food out there.

  • Bill Nye - or, William Nye - if you want to go by his nickname :)

  • Garrett's Popcorn (thanks to Andrew's mom for recommending this to us)
  • The opportunity to learn more Science and to take ideas back to my classroom. People, we need to reduce our CO2 emissions NOW. If you all could have spent just one day listening to what I heard you would make changes immediately. 
  • Free rides from Uber and Lyft - it was nice hearing what other 'locals' recommended around the city and not to mention being able to get dropped off exactly where I needed to be. 
  • The GIANT McDonald's with a museum inside. Note: I do not normally go to McDonald's but we just had to check this place out.
  • The architecture 

  • The skyline
  • The glow of the setting sun on my evening runs. 
  • Walking up Clark Street during the St. Patty's Day celebration - that was entertaining.
  • The LEGO Store. I was always jealous that I never got any as a kid. Why did adults assume a girl wouldn't want any? 
  • Eating a Chicago dog with some Guinness on the back porch because it was in the 60s. What glorious weather!


  • Winning free registration into next year's conference in Nashville!
  • Realizing once again that I truly love my job and am so happy that I went back to school for teaching. 
Chicago was a ton of fun. I'd love to go back when the weather is warmer and when I'm feeling a little better. 


Friday, March 6, 2015

Snow Day Running

DC was hit with snow storm Thor yesterday. When I woke up it was raining, by the time I was making breakfast I could hear it was changing to sleet, and then a half hour later there were snow flakes falling from the sky. This was quite a contrast to the day before, when it was warm enough to run in shorts! Since school had already been declared off the night before, I took my time in the morning doing something I never do: catching up on the newspapers and completing a cross word. Random note - the only cross words I've ever been able to complete are the ones in the NSTA Monthly Newsletter because they are Science themed.



Around noon I went out for my run. I started heading North and instantly hated what I was doing. The snow was flying in my face and I was instantly reminded of my run two Saturdays ago when ice began forming everywhere on my face. A man told me I was crazy. Maybe so.....

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I decided to turn around, thinking that maybe it would be best to stay inside and do a cardio/strength workout. But as I was jumping over a snow pile to cross the road, I said something automatically, without thinking.

"This is fun - running in the streets with no cars on the road! No one is out here!".

Do you see what happened there? While the conscious part of me was seriously considering going back inside because it was cold and wet, a subconscious part of me thought it was fun to be out there. A deep part of me wanted to be out there. At that moment I decided that I would get my miles in, rather than going inside.

I turned south, heading into downtown DC, and it was a good choice, too. Business people were out clearing their sidewalks, there were few cars and people about, and I was heading with the snow and wind while I adjusted and warmed up during my workout. I ran by a woman who exclaimed, "that's dedication."

You bet! I can't let this silly storm ruin my training. It was nice knowing that I was out there with a purpose - Boston.


The White House was gorgeous in the snow!


I took a loop around the Washington Monument where a guy was riding a fat-tired bike. He asked if I could take a photo of him and then asked if I wanted to try the bike. Ha! I wasn't planning on having that question asked. I politely declined and continued on with my run.

It's funny running in DC in a storm - people start talking to you all of a sudden. I mean, everyone has a comment to make. On the way home ice began building on my eye lashes and eye brows as I headed straight into the falling snow. One guy laughed at me saying I was crazy and one woman said she was impressed (hey lady - you clearly didn't think it was bad enough to go shopping!).


It's true that running in a snow storm becomes a little trickier and a whole lot wetter, but it is also more beautiful than it typically is. If you can get out and focus on the positives of a run you may be surprised at what results.
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The sun is out today and you better believe I'll be heading back outside! Another snow day means another day to get in some mileage. We have just one more day of below 30 degree temps and then it looks like spring might be making its way around here. I'm looking forward to temperatures in the 50s next week!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Snow Day Traditions

I really love living in DC. Maybe some day I will write a post with my favorite things from this city. One perk to living here is that there are frequently school delays when there is snow predicted for rush hour, and the forecast of 4 inches of snow will close schools for the day.


Two weeks ago we got our first (and only) snow day of the year. Last year we had 8 so it's been a little sad to have to wait so long in the season to get one. Tom was also home and we were able to continue with our "snow day" tradition that started last year.


The first part of our snow day tradition is breakfast and coffee at a nearby Firehook bakery. We make the trek outside to check out the snow and enjoy a relaxing morning of people watching and just simply talking. Tom usually reads the newspaper and I can get in some grading. Since when did we grow up and become adults?


After our coffee we head home for a while. I usually have a burst of energy and can do some cleaning around the apartment. It feels good to get it done during the week instead of weekend.


We usually meet up with a friend of ours, John, around midday and head downtown for a run. Last year we ran through the monuments, but since Tom and I had just completed 15 miles the day before, we took it easy this time and ran to the White House and back.


The afternoon was gorgeous and it was awesome to be out in the streets running instead of inside working. Yes, we were one of those crazy runners that the Washington Post wrote about, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

It's ironic that I tend to get in more miles around snow storms considering the streets are not in ideal conditions, but the extra time gives me the opportunity to get out there and enjoy it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reston 10 Miler Race Recap

Being part of a team can be motivating because you know there are others out there to race with and in some instances, relying on yo to be there. Being on a team was the only thing getting me out of bed at 5:00 to go to the race this morning. It wasn't because they were relying on me, but the =PR= race team has some really fun people on it and I knew I would enjoy my time at the race by getting to warm up with them and cool down with them.

This was my third time heading to Reston to run. I like the races at South Lakes and know what to expect from the =PR= Race directors. There's a fun vibe at the events, plenty of bathrooms, and more than enough food at the end.

How did the race go? As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I knew I would go into this and treat it as a tempo run. There was a part of me that was secretly hoping that I would get into mile 1 and feel amazing enough to race. That didn't happen. The course was much hillier than I remember, even though I do recall there always being rolling hills, and the snow started falling at mile 5, making yet another thing to worry about. The cold, the extra layers, the who knows what else - I just didn't have the desire to race it.


The highlight of the morning was just meeting more members of the =PR= Team. I'm slightly jealous that they all live out in Virginia. They frequently get to run workouts and race together so they have a pretty good bond going.


Below are the thoughts that ran through my head at each mile.  
  • Mile 1 - 6:32 - Ehh! That's not a bad pace! Staring to regret the decision to wear mittens, though. 
  • Mile 2 - 6:43 - Egh - Good thing I'm not racing. Goodbye lead ladies - and then some! 
  • Mile 3 - 6:56 - Today is definitely a tempo day. And why did I wear these mittens?  My hands are more than toasty. These things have no breathing capabilities.
  • Mile 4 - 7:20 - What happened here? (After the race others noted there was a hill at this mile that also killed them. When wasn't there a hill?)
  • Mile 5 - 6:35 - Just hoping to get the halfway mark. Oh look - there's snow!
  • Mile 6 - 6:57 - Over half way there. Just keep on truckin.
  • Mile 7 - 7:16 - Why can't I catch the guy in front of me? We've been running the same pace for some time now. Oh look, there go some women flying past me. Why do they look so much stronger than I feel? Maybe I should start focusing on my form instead of everything else I'm thinking of right now.
  • Mile 8 - 7:09 - It's still snowing. I'm actually glad I wore these mittens - I'm starting to feel the wind on my fingers. I'm so close to the end!
  • Mile 9 - 6:58 - Caught up to the guy. "We can do this!" We chatted for a bit. He recollected that the map said Mile 8 and on were supposed to be downhill. He mentioned this on another uphill. 
  • Mile 10 - 6:30 - OK, now we can turn on the jets and cruise home. 


Finishing Time: 1:09:09
6:54/Mile Average
4th in age group
13th/565 Women

I would have loved to have been able to race today. I felt bad about writing my mile splits up there knowing they aren't what they should be, but my plan was to tempo. Two+ miles for warm up and 4 miles for cool down put me at 16 miles for the day, and they were all done before the rain and sleet hit!

Another perk to =PR= race is the tech T's that they give out. I had to choose between a shirt or a $10 gift card to their store, but I'm happy with my choice. I also wasn't expecting a medal, so a little bling isn't that bad either!


Boston is my next race on the schedule. 
Only 50 more days!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

2015 Racing Kicks off Tomorrow

Tomorrow is scheduled to be my first race of the year. I signed up for the =PR= Running Reston 10 Miler in January, thinking it would be warmer after reviewing the temps around this time last year.


Nope. When I got back from my 8 miler today I discovered that the afternoon snow that was forecasted is now expected to start at 8:00am tomorrow. I'll be running in snow and 21 degree weather.

I'm not a huge fan of running in the cold so it is no surprise that the thought of racing in the cold is killing me. I won't lie - I have considered not running many times today, but there are a few reasons to go: I don't know what Boston will be like (but it better be warmer that 24!) and being part of a race team means that there are others that will be out there too. I can't wimp out.

If I have to get in 16 miles tomorrow I might as well do it with some company instead of waiting until later in the afternoon when it will be warmer, but "ice pellets" will be falling from the sky, according to Weather Undergound.

I wanted tomorrow to serve as a gauge for where I'm at for Boston. I was originally hoping to attempt a PR. My speed workouts are feeling good and my body seems to be running faster and stronger than it was last year. Knowing that the temperatures are going to be so low, however, is forcing me to readjust my plans.

I'm not going to go into tomorrow's race expecting a fast time. I'm not even going to attempt it. Maybe it is good that I know this already, because I won't feel bummed when I finish with a slower time. I'll let tomorrow's "race" serve as my tempo workout for the week.

My biggest stress isn't actually the cold itself, it's what to wear. 21 can feel cold or warm depending on the sun (which there won't be tomorrow) and the wind. I know I'll need to wear regular winter mittens because my Raynaud's will totally freeze my hands and I don't want to have to worry about that in the middle of a race. Warm hands equal a happy, and warm, Dani.

In other news, my PR racing singlet came back a few days ago with my Nuun logo printed on it! It's official now - I'm really part of Team Nuun!


I am also really happy to be able to run for Honey Stinger this year. I've been using their products since moving to DC. Usually I have a waffle before a long race (10-milers to marathons) and their gels during longer races. I love knowing that there aren't the same crazy ingredients found in other energy products, and as I've mentioned other times on the blog, I really enjoy munching on something like the waffle, which tastes great and makes me think I'm eating a dessert instead of an energy product.