Monthly Archives: July 2013

Read, Eat, Write, Run.

After a strenuous weekend where I penned not only my regular posts, but also my first book and restaurant reviews, Monday was back to the easy stuff: work and working out.  I had expected writing a book review to be a serious challenge, and it was, but evaluating a restaurant was tougher than I anticipated.  Of course, choosing a 958 page behemoth to write my first ever literary retrospective about was probably not one of my better moments of forethought and that mistake made just about anything, especially writing a restaurant review about somewhere I’ve frequented for three years, much more brain friendly.  After posting my restaurant review and leaving one last edit of my book review for Monday, my exhausted mind gave me a good reason to hit the hay early Sunday night and I headed into Race Week well rested.

I began my Race Week Blogging by finalizing and posting my review of A Dance with Dragons, then moved on to Race Week Training with a fast two miler Monday afternoon that felt amazing.  The weather was warm, but the notorious humidity was low and a mild breeze kept me cool.  I turned in a time that made me really happy and was feeling great about all of the week’s training and, of course, my race.  Good thing I went into today, Tuesday Two A Day, feeling good.

Putting my last Tuesday Two A Day before Fall Season 2013 kicks off in the books meant starting with 6x200M sprints on the Boardwalk.  After a half mile warm up and a few minutes spent stretching out my hips, quads and hammies, I was still hyped from Monday’s pretty great two miler.  In order to get my Garmin 210 set up for intervals by accessing the aptly monikered Interval screen, I held down the Menu button.  That’s when I accidentally selected the also aptly named History screen.  My closest running buddy has been having trouble pulling up my GPS tracked history lately, and today it full on froze.  Out for a run that was going to be less than two miles, yet here I was sitting on a bench holding down three of four buttons on a watch that was obviously mad at me.  At this point, my feeling good was replaced by strong, to fairly strong, irritation.  Luckily for everyone, a timely reset put my electronic device and I once again on the same page.  Feeling good returned as I rocked through my intervals and cruised into North End Crossfit for the second half of my Two A Day.

Irritation raised her head again as I looked at the WOD.  Clean and jerks, toes to bar and more running (!).  Exactly zero of my favorite activities.  I worked to a Clean and Jerk 3 rep max, but didn’t push hard to hit a new PR because I knew there was plenty more coming and wasn’t looking to beat my legs and shoulders up too badly during Race Week.  I pushed through the assigned three rounds and, at the end, was surprised I had been able to find the perfect weight that left me feeling exhausted but not like I was about to lose a limb.  Feeling good returned.

I’m ready to race, and with FitNicePT’s newest program launching Thursday, I’m excited about the rest of the week, too.  Time to pick out something new to read!


A Dance with Dragons

a dance with dragonsThe fifth volume of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is the continuation of his epic fantasy but you won’t notice it tale of Westeros’ Seven Kingdoms and their counterpart, The Free Cities.  Inhabited by murderous siblings, the undead, spies, skinchangers and dragons, Martin’s people and lands deliver a story of betrayal and struggle that does not disappoint.  In the tradition of the first four novels, A Dance with Dragons twists and turns in ways the reader won’t see coming, and doesn’t necessarily want to.

The good ones die and the bad ones win in this world of war, leaving hero and anti-hero intertwined as Martin keeps every character’s head hovering above the proverbial chopping block.  Tyrion’s sense of humor and morbidity far outsize his stature as the bitter dwarf spends the bulk of his story simply trying to survive.  The pompous Queen Cersei is thrown in disgrace from her tower in King’s Landing, mischievous Arya Stark reappears blind in the free city of Braavos, and prince Quentyn Martell chases after his slave freeing, dragon wielding child queen Daenerys Targaryan in Meereen.  While ruling the Night’s Watch, 998th Lord Commander Jon Snow is forced to make difficult decisions about handling the always troublesome Wildlings on the other side of his wall as winter continues on its headlong collision course with the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.  Religious tension grows around each participant playing the game of thrones as priests and priestesses from each of Martin’s faiths fight for power and the blessing of their own gods.

Told from a myriad of viewpoints, the sheer number of characters can at times become overwhelming, and ensures good use of the who’s who, Houses Great and Small, appendix.  This entry into A Song of Ice and Fire starts to bring the bloody autumn in Westeros to a close and finds characters crossing paths in a crescendo towards book six, The Winds of Winter.  The driving forces behind A Dance with Dragons, Westeros’ impending winter and the struggle of many characters to reach Queen Daenerys in Meereen, could do without some of the points of view.  A bit more time spent with Kevan Lannister in King’s Landing would have been welcome and with the surprise reappearance of the spider Varys in the final pages, I wonder what I missed while watching Tyrion traverse oceans and following Theon Greyjoy as he is beaten across Westeros.

Though lengthy at 958 pages and bulky in the hardcover edition, the quality of Martin’s literature is undeniable and his prowess as a wordsmith mirrors that of Daario Naharis’ sword play.  In creating a world of incredible depth, characters to match and a world where sometimes up is down and down is up, Martin has hidden a fantasy land in the cover of a novel about kings and pawns.  Not a light read, I’d pick something else for the beach, but a rainy day calls for just what Martin has written.  Each of tome of the series is excellently crafted in Martin’s distinct hand and A Dance with Dragons is just as good the first four.  I’ll eagerly await delivery of The Winds of Winter and look forward to seeing what HBO does for the next season of its Game of Thrones franchise.

Beach It

Saturday dawned a gorgeous day and not even a nagging headache could make me want to stay inside.  A short morning run in the sand and Boot Camp were both breezy and cool with a typically beautiful sunrise to match the weather that came with The Great Cool Down.  After a Saturday afternoon nap that managed to clear out my nagging three day old headache and a few very exciting loads of laundry, it was off to a lovely dinner at Rudee’s on the Inlet (I review it here) and a few games of darts in the garage before heading to bed in preparation for a big beach morning.  It wasn’t, and isn’t, very sunny today, likely due to the predicted rain this afternoon, but the clouds kept the crowds away and I was able to accomplish my goal of finishing A Dance with Dragons with only the sound of waves to distract me.

Checking the last page of A Dance with Dragons off my list was the icing on the ‘get stuff done’ list, as a great week of workouts finished up yesterday with three miles in the sand as a final prep in the sand for next Sunday’s Fall 2013 season opener, the Sandbar 5K.  Recently, all of my training in the sand has been barefoot, but as I mentioned last week, I plan to race shod in a pair of old runners.  I wanted to get back into shoes for a training run because I know how much my stride changed when I took them off and could only assume it would change again with them back on.  It did.  My pace increased in the packed sand and the deep stuff was slightly easier to navigate, so I’m happy I’ve decided to race with my rubber soled friends.  This first race week of the Fall season will feature interval speed work, two short, hard runs at 2 and 4 miles, one day of strength training and only one day of rest before the race.  Before a half marathon, I finish running three days before the race and take two days to let my muscles recover before running 13.1 hard miles, but for a short run like the Sandbar, I should be alright with just one.  If I don’t feel good about the race afterwards, I’ll have to sit back and figure out why, then chalk it up to the learning curve.

Something I definitely feel good about, however, is finishing A Dance with Dragons.  Regrettably, closing the cover of it has left me yearning for the sixth tome of George R.R. Martin’s epic to hit his publisher’s desk, but it sounds like it might be a while.  I’ve made mention of the book along the way, but now that it’s all wrapped up, my official review is here.  Next on the shelf is Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose, a best seller told from a dog’s eye view of the world.  Like Marley and Me and The Art of Racing in the Rain, I expect a few tearful moments but an overall delightful story.

Now it’s on to Race Week and work to finish prepping for the launch of FitNicePT’s newest program, the Virginia Beach Mother Runners, on August 1st.  The next seven days look to be fairly exciting, and I’m ready to get Fall 2013 under way!


Rudee’s on the Inlet

Sun and rain, snow and heat, outside and in, swings and the bar, Rudee’s is always the same.  A Virginia Beach staple offering brunch, lunch and dinner, this waterside locale is loved by locals and embraced by outsiders.  Located at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Rudee’s is easy to find and has plenty of parking, Rudee'sincluding valet in the evenings on weekends.  With a menu highlighted by signature cocktails, excellent seafood offerings and burgers to match, Rudee’s offers something for any palate.

Arriving around 6pm, the valet service at Rudee’s was speedily efficient and after making our seating selection (Rudee’s offers indoor and outdoor dining options, both featuring bar or table seating choices), we received a pager for our glider table from the outdoor hostess.  It was then off to wait for our table with an adult soda in hand at the outdoor cabana bar.  Setting foot inside the cabana bar we immediately chanced upon a couple leaving, and gladly took their empty seats.  A skilled bartender asked for drink orders, and an Orange Crush was my beverage of choice.  Relaxing at the bar while waiting for a table was a great way to not only enjoy a beverage, but soak in the relaxed atmosphere Rudee’s is famous for, and a little people watching.  Seeing everything from flip flops, Prada heels and Virginia Beach’s own WRV gear worn by people aged nine to 99, Rudee’s is a home to everyone in a world where some places aren’t.  You are welcome here with your infant or your grandparents, wearing your denim shorts or your wedding dress, so long as you came for a good time.

Before I was able to finish my adult soda, our pager lit up and off to the hostess stand I went.  Quickly escorted to a two person glider table on the railing of their outdoor deck filled with them, and a view of the docks, the not quite swings are a comfortable fixture of Virginia Beach dining.  After our excellent server handed us menus, we were left to select an appetizer and choose dinner courses.  Citing that I’ve been to Rudee’s numerous times prior to this, I’ve had the opportunity to sample quite a few of the their dishes.  This trip, however, was the first time I indulged in their chicken nachos.  (Sidebar: I’m somewhat of a nacho snob.  As my favorite bar food, I give the chicken or chilli nachos a shot any place they’re on the menu, and Rudee’s held up their end of the bargain).  A massive plate of chips was delivered to the table by a Rudee’s t-shirt clad waiter promptly and just as ordered (jalapenos and guacamole on the side).  Crisp chips, plenty of cheese and a little spice on the ample amount of nicely grilled chicken were the perfect complement to my first Sailor’s Return.  Watching the return of the Lost Pearl and offshore fishermen prepare for the next morning’s trip were the first course’s entertainment, while the second was turned over to the boaters coasting down the inlet to their homes and sharing the water with stand up paddle boarders and kayakers.Rudee's 2

Having gorged myself of chicken nachos, and not ready to place a dinner order, our crafty server stowed our menus in the awning of our gilder table.  Even after giving the nachos a moment to settle, I wasn’t particularly hungry enough for one of their delightful burgers or a big seafood platter, so a shared half pound plate of steamed shrimp went along with my second Sailor’s Return.  Due to previous experience, I am able to vouch for their burgers.  The kitchen staff always makes a darn good one, especially the Rudee burger.  Peeling shrimp, dipping it in drawn butter and enjoying perfectly seasoned fruits of the sea with a view of the inlet was a wonderful way to partake in what  Virginia Beach dining has to offer.

With protein or carb rich choices, Rudee’s is the perfect spot to hit after a tough run or race, but also a good source for a pre race meal.  Getting exactly what you order means no real surprises, so you can try anything on the menu without worrying your digestion, and therefore your run, might be damaged.  Reasonably priced and delicious food, tasty (yet pricey) signature cocktails and tempered weather made for yet another magical meal at Rudee’s.  You can spend as much or as little money and time dining at Rudee’s as you wish, but spend at least a little.  An afternoon or evening spent drinking one of their signature cocktails and eating any of Rudee’s menu options while rocking back and forth on the wooden not quite swings is time well spent.  With little regard for time of day, I look forward to my next visit to Rudee’s and wouldn’t even mind being seated indoors.

The Great Cool Down

It’s Friday!  After checking out the weather prediction last Sunday, I had rearranged my schedule to avoid running in the thunder storms and rain on Thursday.  A strength training workout replaced my usual Thursday tradition, and the long run was set for Friday.  As predicted, for once, it really did rain, thunder and lightening a bunch the last two days, and this morning brought not only lower temperatures for the weekend, but a major decrease in humidity.  Whew, about time.

Wednesday was a semi formal day off, and I was back in the groove at North End Crossfit yesterday morning with one of my favorite workouts.  This time, however, Fran had a twist: we were to do it backwards.  Well, it’s a whole lot different knowing your next set is more reps, instead of less, and mentally it was a challenge.  To add to the challenge, this was also the first time I did all 45 pull-ups on the bar, rather than switching to ring rows for the last 10-15.  My time was almost two and a half minutes slower than what I usually complete this lady in, but overall, I’m really happy with how I finished.

Running on the excitement of a good strength day Thursday, I was pumped to get my 90 minute long run in this morning.  Waking up to The Great Cool Down and taking off in air with an ambient temperature of 76 degrees and low humidity only made me more enthusiastic.  I knew this run would be less of a struggle than my last two long ones, and it was.  Following in the steps of getting closer to doing Fran as she’s prescribed, I decided to try something new.  I spent the first 3 miles of my run taking a new course that featured some little to medium sized rolling hills, and thanks to my Garmin 210, I can tell you that my total elevation gain was 528 feet.  While 528 feet not be much, it’s more than I typically get and it was surprisingly easy to power over them (hmm, I guess that hill work really is good for something).  A flat portion of my course came up next, then I trotted into the state park where there were a few more grades and finally it was onto the boardwalk to finish.

A quiet morning boardwalk was the perfect way to wrap up an awesome long run, since I don’t have one next week and race season is about to kick off.  Adding some hills to the run and having it go so well also makes me feel even better about my odds of setting a new PR in Philly, where the course features a few, though none will be a torturous as those I faced in last November’s Philadelphia Half Marathon.

With this pair of great workouts sending me into the weekend, and a 5K in the sand tomorrow to finish up the week, I’m looking forward to a full out rest rest day on the beach Sunday.  A Dance with Dragons is all set to be finished and then it’s on to A Dog’s Purpose, something a little thinner, but hopefully just as engrossing.


No Good Reason

This week’s Tuesday Two A Day was great.  A 3 mile surge run paired with a lovely 24 minute AMRAP at North End Crossfit were my treats for the day and how fun they were.  Usually a speed work day, Tuesday Two A Day called for hills again, but I just couldn’t find the drive to run in a parking garage again.  The humidity had finally dissipated from Sunday and Monday, and all I wanted to do was breathe as much fresh air as I could.   Doing that meant finding another speed workout to pass the time with.  Detesting 800M repeats and joyfully seeing them on next week’s to-do list made me cross those off quickly, and 400M repeats like last week would have been pretty boring, so I got a little crazy.  I had enjoyed the only other surge workout I had ever done a few weeks ago, why not give it another go?  Go, I did, and fun, it was.  Running left my legs nice and warmed up for a workout that was even more fun leg work.  Calling for 400M runs, air squats and box jumps, I pushed my now dead legs through North End’s 24 minute AMRAP and was very happy to finish.  One big smile, two deep breaths, three big stretches and another Tuesday Two A Day was in the books!

I did not wake up sore this morning, which wasn’t surprising, but with only 10 days left until Fall Race Season 2013 kicks off, I surprised myself with a reward: I took the day off.  Well, not completely, because then I would call it a rest day, but I didn’t get it done with my friends at North End Crossfit this morning or go for a run.  After spending the morning lifting, pushing and prodding at EquiKids, with the best bunch of volunteers and kids around, it was off to work where I rode my bike alongside a running client for 40 minutes.  I had no really good reason for taking it easy today, especially since I wasn’t sore, didn’t have an aching ankle or pulled core muscle, but I had no good reason to push it, either.  I wasn’t particularly looking forward to not having a day off until Sunday, meaning seven days of workouts in a row, but I wasn’t dreading it.  With yesterday’s triumph, and good runs on Sunday and Monday, I said to myself, “Self, why get hurt now?  10 days til race season, and you’ve got the most important workout of the week, your long run, coming on Friday.  A day off is exactly what you need.”  I was quite successfully convinced that there was no good reason not to.

Tomorrow it’s back to strength training and Boot Campers, then on Friday it’s the last 90 minute training run before race season kicks off and my long runs ratchet up to 105 minutes for two weeks and 120 minutes for the three weeks after that leading me to Philly.  Let’s hope the rains hold off and I can stick with my schedule for all those weeks!


Rain, Already!

They just keep hanging overhead.  The clouds.  With their friend humidity.  Ugh.  Refusing to allow a serious breeze through, the thunderstorms that have been sitting right above Virginia Beach yesterday and today need to get a move on and let it pour.  I’m not one for sinus problems, not even nature allergies keep me from playing outside (my feline allergy, however, can prevent me from wearing my contacts, breathing properly and cause me to need an endless supply of tissues).  This stage five clinger of a low pressure system, however, has closed half of my nose off to the wonders of fresh air and led to a dramatic decrease in my ability to breathe properly while running, making it incredibly irritating in several ways.

I woke up yesterday knowing my long run was going to be tough.  My legs were tired from not having had a day off since last Saturday, but I could deal with that, and set off with a pretty good feeling about how the next 90 minutes were going to go.  I was right, for the first five and a half miles my run was awesome.  Running at a pace exactly where I wanted to be, tired but functional legs, not overheating, things were trucking right along.  By minute 50, however, I was no longer right.  The clouds had rolled in and stopped both my nose and the breeze right up.  I tried everything I could think of to clear it out, but there just wasn’t anything there.  Once my breathing became shallow and I was unable to properly control my heart rate in the lovely 80 degree, 80% humidity weather featured Sunday morning, the remainder of my run was an uphill battle.  I slowed my pace, which helped a little bit, but the slower pace also helped me notice how beat up my legs, which quickly began to feel like lead, were.  At that point, with heavy legs and shallow, fast breathing, my dear friend Frustration reared its ugly head and I just wanted to be done with it.

In the end, a run I should have been unhappy with wasn’t so bad.  I was really proud of myself for pushing through, getting my minutes in, even if it was at a slower pace, and putting my Frustration aside.  After a good stretch and foam roll, I spent the rest of the day plastered to the couch with my feet up and the totally acceptable justification of needing to rest those muscles for today’s 45 minute tempo run.  Another cloudy morning dawned and off I went into the 79 degree, 84% humidity air of Virginia Beach.  Although half as long as yesterday’s outing, I was a little concerned my legs were still exhausted and that the increased pace of a tempo run would cause the same problems.  My concern was justified as the left side of my nose continued to be stopped up and discharge-less, but having expected it, I worked a little harder to control my breathing and, although the humidity didn’t allow me to sweat much, didn’t suffer nearly as much as I had 24 hours earlier.  My lazy legs perked up with an increased pace and I finished the 45 minutes feeling pretty darn good.  Now to get ready for Tuesday Two a Day tomorrow!


PS:  As I write this, that evil low pressure system has unleashed the thunder, lightening and rain and my nose feels like it is once again beginning to function as it’s meant to.  And that will be handy for both tomorrow’s speed work and strength training.

The Countdown is On!

A great morning on the beach and a rest day to get ready for tomorrow’s 90 minute run makes for a nice Saturday afternoon.  North End Crossfit put me through a workout that crushed my shoulders yesterday, so scheduling today off was not only quite lucky, but handy.  After a post work snack, I took a peek at the predicted weather for my long run tomorrow and noticed it had changed slightly, so it looks like I’ll be heading out a little earlier than originally planned.  So much for ‘sleeping in’ until the late hour of 7:30am.  Checking out the weather turned me on to my calendar, and I happened to look ahead to August 2013.  That’s when I saw it:  ‘OBX Sandbar 5K‘ painted in bright red ink all over August 4th.

That led me to think “Two Weeks til Race Day!” with much excitement.  Fall Race Season 2013 kicks off two weeks from tomorrow and it’s about time.  I was definitely ready for a break after finishing my spring races with the Flying Pirate Half Marathon and EquiKids 5K, but have missed the fun of putting my all out there for the last 3 months.  The Sandbar is a great kick off race because of its location on the sand in the Outer Banks, its small size and the crowd.  A great crowd turns up for the race, then sticks around for a post race party starts early and rolls right on into a day on the beach.  Last year’s finisher item, a Sandbar 5K frisbee, came in especially handy.  Even though I’ve been training on the sand in bare feet, I will be racing in shoes just like last year, and am excited to see how much of an improvement there is.

Sandbar 5K Frisbee

After the Sandbar 5K, it’s time to get serious about setting a new PR in Philly, then on to the rest of the Fall’s races.



Having a Wednesday open for rest, sand running or strength training at least sounded great.  The weather was quite warm, and I chose to do some air-conditioned strength training.  The workout I did made me want to take it back.  Consisting of an overdose of Man Makers, then 100 sit-ups, yesterday left me nice and sore for a run in the sand this morning.  The best part of my barefoot 5K was splashing through the incoming tide and keeping my core temperature down a little bit in the 80 degree heat.

With workouts going as planned the last two days, and nothing much but some sore legs to report, here are some updates on the life of FitNiceRunner!  Jordy dog’s torn CCL has been repaired with a successful surgery on Monday morning.  He’s delirious on pain, anti inflammatory and antibiotic medicines, but has an appetite back and has been outside to use the rest room (with a bit of help).  Not happy about the cone of shame, he’s now sporting an inflatable one that is slightly less uncomfortable.  The incision site looks to be healing just fine, and he’s moving around every now and then in his crate all on his own.  With 8 weeks of crate rest to go, Jordy’s got a long road to get back to the beach, but he’s doing great so far!

A Dance with Dragons is progressing.  Plot lines are starting to intersect and it’s getting exciting to see difference groups of characters come into conflict, or agreement.  It’s been so long since reading the earlier books that each chapter brings back memories of forgotten twists and turns.  George R.R. Martin’s writing is amazing, and the depth of each personality, along with the sheer number of them, makes me wonder how he keeps it all straight.  There has to be a character guide map on his wall.  I know I would benefit from one every now and then!  I’m a little more than 2/3 through and honestly don’t know if I want to finish.  Knowing the next edition isn’t, and won’t be, ready for a while makes me want to linger on the current story, but I’m sure I won’t.  In fact, as soon as this is published, you will be able to find me on the couch curled with up it.

After a night with my nose stuck in A Dance with Dragons, it’s off to a Friday morning spent getting my butt kicked at North End Crossfit and training my wonderful clients.


Heat Wave

The weather for the next 5 days has already thrown a wrench into my previously planned training schedule, and with temperatures predicted to rise above 90 degrees each day during this Heat Wave of a week, the expected cool down on Sunday means it has won the honor of being chosen as the day for my long run.  Since a few miles in the heat are mildly tolerable, yesterday I indulged in a nice warm race pace 4 miler.  Today was quite warm, seeing a high temp of 93 degrees at 2:05pm and a heat index of 105 at that same time.  Luckily, Tuesday Two A Day was in the books by then.

Beach Boot Camp had a great workout highlighted by dolphins swimming by, single leg dead lifts, single arm push-ups and always lovely leg lifts.  After Boot Camp it was on to Tuesday morning speed work.  On the menu were eight 400 meter repeats, and they were, in addition to being hot, quite the workout for my quads, who were a little tired after 90 minutes on Sunday and 4 miles yesterday.  Finishing the running portion of Tuesday Two A Day with a nice long foam rolling session and a bunch of stretching was much needed, especially considering what I had coming up.  North End Crossfit had a doozy in store for me.  With legs that were already tired, the strength training portion of my workout was, to put it in a nice way, a great way to build some endurance.  Heavy squat cleans, kettle bell swings, weighted sit-ups, and, you guessed it, more running(!) meant I finished my workout with jello for legs and a heart rate approaching mach one.

Even in the heat, today was worth it.  A great pair of Tuesday Two A Day workouts this week have me ready for what the next four days have to offer.  With the long run pushed to Sunday, tomorrow is open as a rest day, but could also be a sand run or strength training day.  I’ll have to wait and see what the weather does.