Monthly Archives: December 2013

Happy Almost New Year

It’s New Year’s Eve eve, which means we’re less than 36 hours away from 2014.  After summing up my Holiday to Holiday RunChatHunt with Saturday’s post, I’ve started my second week of Shamrock training, made plans to welcome 2014 and prepared for the Hokie’s Bowl Game tomorrowShamrock.

This is week two of my 12 week training plan for my first half marathon of 2014, and I hope to set a new PR by breaking the 1:40:00 mark.  I set my first PR of 2013 at this race last year, and I would love to repeat!  Here’s how this week’s workouts shape up:

Monday – 45 minute tempo run, a really good six mile tempo run 🙂
Tuesday – Crossfit cross training and New Year’s Eve, which I’ll discuss in a moment.
Wednesday – Easing into the 2014 with a 3 Mile Race Pace run.
Thursday – Back to Crossfit between clients in the morning and a dose of speed work (400M repeats) in the evening.
Friday – Long run!  10 miles on the calendar.
Saturday – Third cross training of the week and an easy 5K.
Sunday – Rest, and the Eagles playoff game (yay!).new year

Now, about those New Year’s Eve plans.  I’m not one for big parties with tons of highly intoxicated strangers and $200 per person seats, unless it’s for charity, which means New Year’s really isn’t my gig.  I’ll be spending the hours between 2pm and 5pm glued to the TV watching the Hokies battle the Bruins, likely enjoying an adult beverage, but I won’t be hitting the hay that early.  Doug and I will be heading out to check out the ChristmasTowne light display on its last night at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg.

Wednesday will be a nice relaxing day off, except for that 3 miler, and I’ll be sure to post pictures of the lights while I fill you in on some of the things I’m looking forward to in the new year.  2014 looks to be a good one, and I can’t wait to share it with you.


What are your NYE plans?  Are you starting 2014 by running on New Year’s Day?

Holiday to Holiday Wrap Up

Holiday to Holiday Run Chat Hunt is officially finished.  With Christmas a few days behind me and Shamrock training in full swing after yesterday’s treadmill nine miler, last night I looked forward to seeing if my photo drawing entries meant I would have a new running accessory for my next 11 weeks of training.  Win or lose, I had fun searching for, photographing and posting my RunChatHunt to holiday

The Hunt starts on Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas, giving me a just about a month to find, photograph and tag the list’s ten items.  Each photo tagged with #RunChatHunt was counted as an entry and so were blog posts with the same tag.  I wanted to get as many entries as possible (who wouldn’t), so I kicked the Holiday to Holiday Hunt off right away by finding three items on Thanksgiving.  The next few days were dry, then I slowly checked more items off.  Finding a few of them was a challenge, I even had to do a special late night run to get everything.  You can see all of my Hunt photos here and click on the RunChatHunt tag to follow my hunt beginning to end.

The Holiday to Holiday Hunt was a fun experience and as a bonus, I also learned something.  I do not like running with my phone.  Without an arm band, it bounces around in whatever pocket it happens to be held in, no matter how tightly it fits, and drives me crazy.  An armband might be a good solution, but there are two reasons I stay away from it.  One is that I’m not a fan of something bulky hanging on my skinny arm and the second is that running with my phone on a regular basis would defeat the purpose of running.  I run to be alone, to clear my head and over think far too many things.  With a phone in tow, I noticed I was more concerned about what emails, texts and calls I was missing than with finding some peace.  Now that the hunt’s over, I’ll be sure to leave it at home.

Did I win?  Nope.  No new running accessories for my spring training, but I’ll be OK.  It was fun to participate and I’m ready for the next one!


Did you partake in the RunChatHunt fun?

Back at the Beach

I’m safely back at the beach and while I haven’t been home long, after only 4 days away it feels like I never left.  Doug and I had a wonderful time in California, although I flew back yesterday and he arrives tonight.  Surprisingly all of my flights were on time and problem free despite LAX being an unexpected absolute zoo on Christmas morning.  I got home around 730 last night and while it was a little strange without a dog in the house, I managed to unpack, check email and do a little laundry before hitting the hay so I’d have plenty of energy for work this morning.

I woke up right on time for Boot Camp, and despite the 33 degree temperature, was ready to get going.  After Boot Camp, I had an hour break and went to pick up Jordy from the back at the beachboarder (no more empty house!).  If I thought I was happy to be back at the beach, he was ecstatic.  We went for a fun walk/run around like a banshee on the beach before heading back to work for a few more hours.  Clearly, he had a nice, though exhausting time out there.  He napped while I trained and then worked out (heavy power cleans, then rowing, pull-ups and kettle bell swings).  It felt good to throw some weights around after having missed a lift day on Tuesday, but I’m ready to get back to running with my first long run in three weeks tomorrow.

After a not-so-good, dehydrated run around the Rose Bowl to kick off 2014 Shamrock training, I had a much better Race Pace 3 miler on Tuesday and walked off to do some core work feeling pretty darn good about my fitness level.  Prior to my first run, I was a little concerned about taking fifteen days off from any serious, or long, runs, but with 10 miles in the books so far this week, it seems like I took just the right amount of time to rest after my busy Fall 2013 season.  Now that I’m back at the beach, and two outings are in the books, it’s time to step up Shamrock training.  To get it going, the rest of this week features a nine miler tomorrow with Crossfit and Speed Work on Saturday.

Christmas is all wrapped up, and so is the RunChat Holiday to Holiday Hunt, but my Runner’s World Streak rolls on for a few more days.  Hopefully I’ll close out 2013 with a photo raffle win (it won’t be announced until tomorrow) and a completed Runner’s World Streak.  Win or lose, I’ll recap my hunt and the fun I had doing it with Saturday’s post.


Did you RunChatHunt?  How did it go? 

Spring 2014 Training Kick-Off

Christmas is two days away and that means it’s time for my Spring 2014 Training Kick-Off.   Riding the new year’s wave are my Spring 2014 races, and training starts now.  The Shamrock in March is 12 weeks away, and with it my first shot at hitting a new half marathon PR.  I’ll have a second opportunity to get one, or improve on it, at the also flat April Fool’s Half Marathon in Atlantic City three weeks later, and while the hills of Nashville’s Rock n Roll don’t look promising the last Saturday in April, I hope to stay under 1:45:00.

Spring 2014 Training Kick-Off happened this morning in the great state of California.  As I mentioned in this post, Doug and I are out here celebrating the Christmas holiday with his family.  Not only am I ready to get my Holiday on, I was ready to get off my two week no serious running break, and excited for Spring 2014 Training Kick-Off.  I was especially interested to see what fifteen days of almost no running combined with eight days of heavy lifting had done for my legs.  An additional bonus was being able to do it in a totally different environment, and with a 45 minute run right next to the Rose Bowl, I had great scenery and some altitude (864 ft) to test my lately under-worked lungs.

After a nice breakfast and some quiet hotel time, we hopped in the car and made for the Rose Bowl.  Located next to a golf course, the Grand Daddy of stadiums is surrounded by a three mile recreational trail full of long, slow inclines and declines intermixed with short, steep up-and-down overpasses.  Pumped up but a little sore, I took off for my 15/15/15 tempo run on fresh legs that were quick to loosen up.  Virginia Beach comes in at 12 feet above sea level, so I expected to feel winded early, but after a stop to use a restroom and tighten my laces, I hit the 15 minute mark feeling great.  I picked my pace up to 5K speed for the next 15, and with the help of a long, mild downhill slope, rocked minutes 15 through 29.  Aside from a bit of tightness in my calves, my legs, my lungs and I were doing just fine thus far in the increased altitude.  I wanted water and didn’t have any, but kept my pace comfortable as I slowly came down to 10K for the final 15 minutes when disaster struck.  I had a searing side stitch under my left ribs, which I have never had before, and even after a short break to bring my heart rate down, found it started right back up as soon as I stopped pushing on it.  I tried a variety of breathing techniques, but nothing seemed to help and I still didn’t have any water.  Another, longer break was enough to power me through the last 7 minutes of my run, and even though they were a bit slower than I wanted, I got them done.spring 2014 training kick-off

All in all, it was a successful 38 minute tempo, hill and elevation run this morning that definitely got Shamrock training started right.  The last seven minutes, who knows, but they aren’t going to throw me off track.  After flying yesterday, I’m sure hydration had something to do with it, and I know I should have taken in more water last night and this morning.  I’ll be sure to make sure it’s not going to be something I run into again, and I’ve learned the last of my 2013 Running Lessons.  I had plenty of water after the run, which was very helpful and tasted great, before snapping some good Rose Bowl photos and heading to my Spring 2014 Training Kick-Off lunch.

Back in the car we drove almost 2 miles to Old Pasadena, where we ate at Haven Gastropub.  Several large glasses of spring water accompanied a pair of beers I had never tried before (Hennepin by Ommegang and Heavenly Hefe by Crasftsman) and a big, juicy McCormick Alley burger.  Slow service but good food made me feel better about the reasons my run didn’t go as well as I wanted it to and I’m ready to head back out tomorrow.

Now we’re off to family and some quality Christmas time.  I hope you all have wonderful Holidays and enjoy spending time with your loved ones.

Merry Christmas!


How do you deal with new running obstacles?

Spin with Tidal Wheel

Tidal Wheel, located in the Hilltop area of Virginia Beach, and only moments from the Oceanfront, is an indoor cycling center home to good people and great workouts.  Tucked in a corner of Hilltop East, the unassuming exterior hides a studio that packs a punch.tidal wheelA big reason I went to check out Tidal Wheel was for some of my clients.  When it’s cold, windy and otherwise not nice out, they look for alternatives to running outside.  The treadmill is boring, we all know that, but does the boredom trump our fears of losing fitness?  Sometimes.  To avoid that tough choice, suffer outside or in, there’s a great alternative: indoor cycling, or spinning.  Spinning not only protects you from the weather, but is also great for increasing running cadence.  I started writing about the benefits of spin class for an entry on the FitNicePT blog, and realized there’s a state of the art studio right in my backyard.  What better reason to go try something new?

Tidal Wheel has a great schedule, with classes to meet anyone’s schedule, and I chose to reserve a bike in a 6am class with Mike.  It had been a while since I last rode a bike, inside or out, and I was excited to get back on.  I popped out of bed yesterday morning, threw down some breakfast, scraped ice from my windshield and was on my way.  I was slightly worried about my lack of padded shorts, but figured I could manage 45 minutes without too much trouble and got ready to sweat.  Arriving about 15 minutes before 6:00, the large parking lot was empty except for a few cars clustered around Tidal Wheel’s entryway.

I walked in and was greeted by a friendly front desk attendant.  I then signed a waiver, was handed a pair of cycling shoes and assigned a bike (#6).  I headed towards the studio’s locker area down a clean white hallway and faced a wall of lockers I’ve never seen before.  In your items go, close the door, turn the nob and hit any four digits to set your own tidal wheelcombination.  No keys, no code to memorize, amazing.  Technology will get me every time.  I popped into the spacious and clean restroom that was equipped with a shower before sitting down and sliding on my Tidal Wheel cycling shoes.  This was the first time I’d ever worn cycling shoes and they were surprisingly comfortable as I made for the classroom.

A few fellow early morning spinners were gently pedaling away to softly playing beat driven tunes and more trickled in as I found and set Bike #6.  The room is filled with 30 spin bikes all arranged to face a raised instructor’s platform complete with its own light display.  Bands dangle from the ceiling tidal wheeland each bike is decorated with a rolled up, white towel and pair of black dumbbells, promising a little upper body work.  Large fans hang in the corners and speakers dot the ceiling as well.  As soon as I entered the room, our instructor, Mike, introduced himself and did a great job explaining seat height and what the angle of my knee should be when extended.  I settled in the saddle and clicked my cycling shoes into the pedals.

I slid my water bottle into the holder and started my own warm up while the room filled with both men and women looking eager to get started.  Next thing I knew, the lights were dimmed, the music turned up and we were off.  For the next 45 minutes, sprints, hills, biceps curls, handlebar push-ups and tri-presses were the focus of my attention.  With no visible clock and no watch, I can only guess it was around the ten minute mark when I noticed that I wasn’t uncomfortable.  My concerns about a little padding for protection from an awful bike seat faded away as I started to get down to work.  A variety of positions on and off the seat had my legs working hard and when we added the push-ups my lack of coordination became painfully apparent.  I finally got in the rhythm just in time to change exercises and sprint.  A post-sprint sweat removal and water break sent the class into some work with those dumbbells.  With Mike’s enthusiastic teaching, everyone powered through the series of shoulder raises and curls.  Of course, my shoulder felt awful and some of us forgot to keep the legs going while working with the weights and needed a reminder, but I was quick to get back on track and keep spinning after shaking my shoulder out.

Before I could get out of rhythm again, we were on to hill work.  Mike announced it was our last series (already?) and, two turns of the resistance knob later, up a hill I went.  My quads felt good pedaling against more resistance while my shoulder was enjoying a breather.  A solid finish through what might have been mountains wrapped up class that didn’t feel like it had lasted 45 minutes.  The lights came up a bit and a few students made an early exit while Mike led the rest of us through some post-spin stretching.  My lack of experience with cycling shoes made extricating my shoes from the pedals a challenge, mostly because I didn’t want to pull super hard and break anything, but also because I had no idea what to do.  Mike scampered over as I threw my hands up in bemused embarrassment and helped me detach from the pedals so I could join the cool-down.

A few pulls and reaches later, I dismounted my bike without grace and stood on tired but sturdy legs.  An hour later, my butt bone had survived, my shoulder had stopped screaming, my water tidal wheelbottle was empty and that clean white towel was now soaked in my sweat.  A high-five with Mike as I walked out of the classroom topped off a wonderful Tidal Wheel experience.  Opening my locker was easy with my self-made code, when I figured out which one it was, and I dropped my cycling shoes into the sweaty shoe collection bin before tying on my gym shoes.  A hamper received my sweaty white towel and I zipped my jacket while heading for the front door.  I think I even managed to follow all of the rules!  Not too bad before 7am.

A fun way to start any morning, check out Tidal Wheel’s schedule and reserve your bike today.  My fellow riders were friendly and after the workout there was a smile was on every face.  It’s clear the Tidal Wheel family is a fun place to be.  The staff is welcoming and knowledgable, no matter what the hour, and the studio is clean, well designed and perfectly located.


Do you Wheel?  Is spinning part of your training program?

No Schedule, Week Two

This is No Schedule, Week Two and Christmas is right around the corner.  Before I get to Christmas, a few exciting things are going to happen in the world of FitNiceRunner.  With no training plan this week, I’ve been keeping my Runner’s World Streak up but not really running and had a great strength training workout yesterday.  I also wrapped up my Run Chat Holiday to Holiday Hunt by snapping photos of a local coffee shop, a railroad crossing and animals on a farm.  Check out everything I found in this album, and Like my Facebook page while you’re there!  Today was a nice little two miler, and even though it’s technically No Schedule, Week Two, tomorrow I have something brand new planned.

The brand new, next exciting thing before Christmas is tomorrow at 6am.  I’ll be diving in to experience spinning with Virginia Beach’s Tidal Wheel and can’t wait.  I don’t spin often, but they offer a full body workout that I’ve heard great things about and, since I’m tidalwheelschedule-less, it’s perfect timing.  Spinning is an awesome cross training workout and I love trying new things, although the main reason I’m taking class is because it’s part of a piece I’m writing for the FitNicePT Blog.  Lots of runners want to stay out of nasty weather during the winter but worry about losing fitness, myself included.  FitNicePT understands that, and I whole heartedly supports spinning as an alternative to winter running.  It’s not a good idea to replace all weekly miles with a few rounds on the bike, but it’s a good leg workout and will definitely keep my cardiovascular system pumping during No Schedule, Week Two.

Next on my list is Friday’s review of my Tidal Wheel experience (it’ll be right here) and a Saturday Holiday Party.  Sunday wraps up No Schedule, Week Two with a rest day, but also kicks off one of the last two exciting things I have happening before Christmas hits.  At 0:dark:30 Sunday morning, Doug and I will be making our way to California for the holiday.  It’ll be nice to get out of town for a few days and see his family, and even though it hasn’t been bad here in VB, the warmer weather will be just fine with me.  Once arriving in California Sunday afternoon, I’ll have the most exciting non-Holiday related event of my Holiday Season happen sometime Monday.  Adios, No Schedule, Week Two, it’s time for SHAMROCK TRAINING!

I’ll be starting my Shamrock, sub 1:40:00 goal, training in the great state of California Monday.  While these two weeks of training plan free workout fun have been great, I’m ready to get started.  My goal time doesn’t take much off of my current PR pace, but does no schedule, week tworequire I run a smart, turn hugging, traffic avoiding race.  Rather than trusting myself to run an immaculate line over the Shamrock course, I plan on saving myself the trouble by getting faster.  I’ll ease into some really tough weeks with a nice 45 minute not quite tempo run on Monday, then really hammer my speed work and stretch my long runs over the next 12 weeks.  Bring it on.

Stay tuned for my review of Tidal Wheel fun on Friday, then look for me to gush about my first Shamrock training run all the way from California on Monday.


When do you start training for your spring races?  Are you excited?

The Eighty Dollar Champion

the eighty dollar championThe Eighty Dollar Champion, by Elizabeth Letts, is a bestselling novel that takes you on an incredible journey with a man, his family and his unlikely equine champion.  Chock full of feel-good, the story of Harry de Layer, his wife and children and their rescued plow horse, Snowman’s tale is a pleasure to read.

An amazing true story, The Eighty Dollar Champion is bound by history and serves it well.  Beginning with the de Layer’s departure from a war-torn Holland, Letts follows them from their arrival in the United States through their first several homes before they settle in on Long Island for the long haul.  A simple riding instructor at a private school for girls, Harry de Layer dreams of making a living with his own horses.  In a country racked with Cold War tensions, post-war hardships and an emerging middle class, de Layer struggles to find the financial footing to show his own horses.

When Harry rescues a beaten down, cosmetically damaged $80 horse from a slaughterhouse truck for the lesson program he runs, he has no idea what lies in wait for both himself and the former plow horse.  Named Snowman by the de Layer children, the big white equine is slowly rebuilt, and through a series of humorous events, discovered and trained to jump.  From crashing through small obstacles to soaring over fences taller than a man, Snowman takes Harry and his family on an awe-inspiring journey from nowhere to the top of the equine world.  Up and down the Atlantic Coast for horse shows he could barely afford to attend while balancing his family and riding instructor duties at school, de Layer’s desire to win on his own horse is more than admirable.  With a dream strong enough to turn down a blank check for The Eighty Dollar Champion’s purchase, Harry and his very own horse win the Open Jumper Championship at The National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden in 1958.  Propelled to worldwide fame by the victory, Snowman and his family were some of the first outsiders to be welcomed into the haute couture of equestrian sport in the 1950s.  As they made their way in a changing horse show world and Harry achieved his dream, the de Layers were the everyman that inspired a population desperately in need of something to distract them from the brutality of real life in Cold War era-America.

Steeped in history, Letts’ writing is emotional, honest and accurate.  Moments when the story attempts to get bogged down with historical detail are shaken off by moving glimpses into the relationship between Harry and his beloved Snowman, and when the bond between man and horse can be hard to capture, Letts excels.  Snowman and Harry ‘The Flying Dutchman’ de Layer deserve the gentle touch Letts gives them and she successfully brings the entire cast of The Eighty Dollar Champion into the living room with you.

Snowman’s story is sure to delight and inspire any horse, underdog or long shot lover.  Readers will undoubtedly enjoy burning through a tissue or two during the journey from cover to cover.  Go get your copy of The Eighty Dollar Champion today!

No Schedule, Week One

Without a training plan to follow since the Surf n Santa, No Schedule Week One of two, no schedule, rest and play weeks has been tons of fun.  I’ve been enjoying my low pressure cross training workouts, and other than sticking with my Runner’s World Streak, haven’t been doing much running at all.  Here’s how I spent No Schedule, Week One:

Monday – Kept my RW Streak alive with an easy mile and was otherwise on rest duty.  A great way to kick off No Schedule, Week One.

Tuesday – I definitely hadn’t left everything out there at the Surf N Santa, and after two days of almost total rest left me with fresh legs, was ready to get moving.  I hopped in with my buddies at North End Crossfit for a tough strength training day that not only went well, but felt awesome, too.  After a day in the gym, I went to a delicious dinner at A.W. Shucks for a little end-of-season eating and drinking that I review here.

Wednesday – Nurse a little hangover from that end-of-season celebration, but kicked it as No Schedule, Week One rolled on with another watch-less easy mile and a half.

Thursday – A busy day at work and mid-morning strength training session started off with yet another lazy one mile jog to keep my RW Streak alive.  After my jaunt, I was happy to see the day’s workout included lots of snatch work, which is something I definitely want to improve on.  Even with not very much weight, I felt better about my lifts and my shoulder felt more stable than it has in a while, a big win.  A quiet evening gave me time to finish up The Eighty Dollar Champion, which was a wonderful read.  Stay tuned for my review next week!

Friday – The lazy one and change milers I’d been putting in all week weren’t really cutting it.  I did three miles (two easy, one race pace) at lunch and called it a day.  In the evening, Doug no schedule, week oneand I attended a Norfolk Admirals game.  It was Toys for Tots night, which meant after the Admirals scored their first goal, all of the attendees were encouraged to donate by throwing stuffed animals on the ice.  The generosity of the fans was great to see, and once all of the stuffed toys had arrived on the ice, they not only piled high in the bed of a big pick-up truck, but filled the backseat, too.  The game was a blast to attend and if you’re nearby, check one out!

Saturday (today!) – I thought about a five mile run, but after seeing the day’s workout, I chose to hit the gym instead.  The morning’s gym session called for 2,000M of sandbag carry runs intertwined with man-makers, pull-ups, weighted sit-ups and box jumps that helped me keep my RW Streak alive, and work up a good sweat.  The sandbag runs reminded me that a few easy weeks won’t be the detriment to my Spring Training I’m afraid they’ll be and I wrapped up No Schedule, Week One feeling great.

Sunday – Total rest day.  And lots of NFL action.  Let’s go, Birds!

No Schedule, Week One was a big success and I’m looking forward to Week Two before a tough 12 week training schedule leads up to the Shamrock in March.


What do you do when you don’t have a training schedule to follow?

A.W. Shucks

Located in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk, VA, A.W. Shucks is a great spot for lunch, happy hour or dinner.  Known for offering a massive list of oyster choices, A.W. Shucks is also home to an internationally stocked bar and a sincerely American menu that can satisfy any palate.  Doug and I shipped out to Norfolk on Tuesday evening for a few drinks and dinner we didn’t have to make ourselves.  We’d been before, but not in quite a while and were in the mood to try a new beer, or four, making the choice of A.W. Shucks an easy one.

Nestled in the corner of a small office complex that is quiet in the evening, A.W. Shucks offers plenty of off-street parking in a large shared lot that was home to plenty of open spaces on a Tuesday night.  It might be a different story for Friday’s happy hour, but being attached to another parking area should alleviate any issues.  Easy to access from I-64 in either direction, the restaurant’s location makes visiting simple.  The trendy neighborhood is a great place to walk around and do some local shopping before settling in for a meal.  You can learn all about the Ghent area of Norfolk and everything it has to offer right here.

Entering through a covered porch that offers sort-of-outdoor seating for those brave enough a.w. shucksto dine in the cooler air, we walked into a spacious reception area and were greeted by a friendly hostess.  Straight ahead to our left was a long row of mostly filled wooden booths, while to the right was an equally long wooden bar lined with cushioned, rotating bar stools and a few patrons.  After spying two empty stools towards the far end, we settled into comfy seating in the dim, but not dark, bar area and began to explore a myriad of draft beer choices listed on a series of chalkboards.

a.w. shucksWhile exploring the posted options, we were promptly greeted by our bartender, the lovely Hollie, two dinner menus and one two sided menu featuring beer choices on one and wine and liquor on the second.  For me it was Hollie’s recommendation of the Samuel Smith’s Winter Welcome Ale, for Doug it was the Smartmouth Holiday Helper and for both of us it was an order of Buffalo Shrimp.  Chatting, choosing an appetizer and enjoying our beers was easy at the uncrowded bar and our shrimp arrived before we were ready for to try a new flavor of brew.

The bright orange tail-less shrimp not only came quickly, but packed a pretty solid punch.  With a little more heat than I had prepared myself, I could smell a.w. shucksthe warmth before I could taste it, but dove right in anyway, neglecting to dip my first buffalo shrimp into any dressing.  I immediately sated my now burning taste buds with celery and dressing and ordered another beverage, a Delirium Tremens Ale while Doug went with Weyerbacher’s Merry Monks.  Both lovely, though probably not the best choices for pairing with scorching hot buffalo shrimp.

After putting away the final buffalo shrimp, we ordered dinner.  In spite of the large, fresh selection of seafood fare, pasta dishes and sandwiches adorning the dinner menu, I elected WP_20131210_005for a bacon cheeseburger and Doug went with a chicken cobb salad.  Before dinner arrived we moved on to our third choices from the extensive beer menu, a Chimany Triple and Gulden Draak Dark Triple.  The cool beers helped return our mouths return to feeling normal and we made separate trips to the restrooms.  Two large, unisex outfits across from the reception area were spacious, clean and line-less and I returned to my seat just in time for a massive burger and huge plate of salad to arrive.

We moved on to our favorite bourbon with dinner, and Hollie made perfect Bulleit and gingers for us both.  The bourbon paired nicely with my medium rare burger that was perfectly cooked, smothered in cheddar cheese and topped with crunchy bacon on a far from soggy bun.  A side of well steamed broccoli complimented my juicy burger and tasted as good as it looked.  The large plate of lettuce in front of Doug was loaded with a big grilled chicken breast and garnished with tons of bleu cheese, tomatoes, bacon and avacado.  I struggled to clear my plate, but in the end succeeded, and Doug took half of his salad to go.  We wrapped a.w. shucksup our evening with another bourbon based night cap and headed home happy and full.

Another delicious meal in the books, A.W. Shucks is a great spot for lunch, happy hour or dinner.  Our desires to try new beers were more than met and our hunger was overly satisfied by our excellent bartender, Hollie, and her chefs.  The lengthy beer list has something for everyone and the seafood menu that also sports plenty of other proteins will leave any eater feeling full.  A great place to celebrate after a race, your protein and carbohydrate needs are sure to be met by A.W. Shucks’ menu.   Put Ghent and A.W. Shucks on your must visit list and make plans to check it out today!

Run and Learn 2013

Before 2013, it had been quite a while since I’d run a real race schedule and taken training seriously.  That meant I needed a refresher on lessons I’d forgotten, and probably need to learn a few more, too.  All in all, 2013 was a great running, and learning, year for me, but it ended on a less than ideal note with a race that didn’t exactly go how I wanted it to.  The 2013 Surf N Santa left me frustrated, disappointed and definitely burned out.  Luckily, a day or two of reflection, and forcing myself to sit down and write a race recap, have given me time to take last weekend’s experience for what it was: an opportunity to learn.  Here are three of the biggest, and most important, things I took away from Racing in 2013.learn

Trust my training.  I made the same mistake a few times this year, and it ended up costing me a few shots at new PRs.  With a notorious tendency to come off the Starting Line much too fast, especially if there are faster runners around me, I work hard to stay slow at the beginning of a race longer than 5K.  Often, the forced pace is slower than I find comfortable in a race environment.  In the Surf n Santa, where I didn’t have my watch, I overcompensated way too much and ended up costing myself a lot of time because I was scared to fade at the end.  Making a mistake is the only way to learn, and I should have trusted my ability to pace myself without my watch.  I need to believe in the miles that are already under my belt, stop holding myself back at the Start and settle right into my race pace, knowing I can always push it for two more miles.

Don’t run around runners.  It took me a few race to really learn that it’s better to race through traffic than around it.  Rather than adjust my pace in the past, I’d take wide, very wide, turns or run diagonals across streets to pass groups of runners.  After covering plenty of extra ground on several race courses this year, I finally made a commitment to run straight lines and stop checking out every inch of the race course.  The Surf n Santa was the first time I adjusted my pace until holes opened up in runner filled stretches, rather than weaving all over the road to go around them, and I’ll admit I was nervous to try it.  Worried I would fall off my pace or get stuck, it all worked out well and neither of those things happened.  Even without my watch, I could feel myself easily resuming my pace after an adjustment to get around people.  I wrote about my 2014 race strategies recently, and this is one that worked out really well for me.

Winning isn’t everything.  Yes, to this incredible competitive blogger, it actually is, but it shouldn’t be.  The 2013 Surf N Santa was a not fun run and presented me with an opportunity to learn this lesson once and for all.  I had set a tough, but reasonable, goal and was ready to wrap up 2013 with an all out effort.  The weather disagreed.  It was cold, windy and raining.  My watch refused to pick up a GPS signal and I took it off at the 5K mark.  I spent the rest of the race trying to enjoy myself, interacting with volunteers, friends and other learnrunners on the course while letting my goal go.  I crossed the Finish with too much left in my tank and no idea what I had run, other than I knew I had missed my desired time.  When I did find out my time, missing my goal by 2.5 minutes, I was really upset.  It didn’t matter to me that I beat 2012 by 7.5 minutes or was 8 of 196 in my age group, it mattered that I missed my goal.  After a few hours, reality set in and I realized reaching every goal I have every time I set one is ridiculous.  No one is paying me to run, I just like doing it.  It was nice to get out on a nasty winter day and take the pressure off.  In 2014 I’m taking this lesson and hopefully running for fun a little more often.

With my last race of 2013 in the books, I’m happy my successful but brutal fall season is over.  It was a great year to learn, and I’m glad to be taking these lessons with me into a little break before kicking off 2014 with a sub 1:40:00 goal at the Shamrock.


What did you learn about your running this year?