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Pacers St Pattys Day 10k Recap

9 Mar

I haven’t written much about running recently- largely because I haven’t had any races since my big “A” race back in November 2015. Nuts.

With all the extra time not spent on training for a specific goal, I focused the last several months of my prolonged off-season on beating the hell out of my legs in order to gain some strength. This is a bit of a revolution for me, as I will pretty much always choose running for 90 minutes over squats, push-ups, and burpees for 30 minutes. Of course, it turns out that 100% of expert exercise science consensus is not wrong–after about 2 months of regular strength training (ESPECIALLY consistent core work…. blech), I noticed a big difference in how my muscles felt during/after runs, and an even bigger difference in the numbers ticked off by my Garmin.

I signed up for the the St Pattys Day 10k mostly because I love 10ks and just don’t think there are enough of them. I’ve been running a lot with a Oiselle Teammate who is quite a bit faster than me, and I’ve been more or less keeping up — so I had a sneaky suspicion this race could be a PR. Previously, my best was 51:30 from the 2015 Capitol Hill ClassicCapitol Hill Classic, so of course I hope I could eek it in under 50:00, but I wasn’t too sure.

Here’s how it went:

Mile 1: 7:27
Mile 2: 7:32
Mile 3: 7:50
Mile 4: 7:45
Mile 5: 7:44
Mile 6: 7:45
Last 0.29: 2:04

I spent the first two miles pretty much freaking out– maintaining any mile split that began with a 7 was absolutely new territory for me. Somewhere into mile 3, I switched from the doubting voice to the DO IT voice, and decided to commit to making this sub-50 10k happen. Per my race MO, I tuned out whatever nonsense people were engaging around me and just focused on the phrase I had chosen for the day; for this race, I went “fly fast to the finish then rest,” another Oiselle maxim.

And that’s pretty much what I did! I finished in 48:09, which came as a huge surprise and a big relief, and then went straight from the finish line to the movie theater for that rest (if you haven’t seen Get Out yet, stop everything you’re doing and go see it right now).

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Like all Pacers Races, the St Pattys Day 5k/10k is amazingly well organized. Packet pickup is easy, the race is metro accessible, and day-of logistics are a dream (plenty of portapotties, lots of volunteers, well marked gear check/info/medical/etc booths). Almost everyone else I talked to commented on how beautiful the course is- Ohio Drive is the main drag, so you pass the Washington Monument, WWII memorial, Tidal Basin, and Kennedy Center but, per usual, I was too dialed-in to say whether the course is pretty or not. It is, however, pretty flat, and I most certainly took note of that.

My next race is the the GW Parkway Classic, and I’m not sure whether I’ll shoot for another PR or just enjoy the course and the run. Both are equally appealing right about now–so only time will tell. Until then, it’s back to the burpees.

 

Weekend Overachieving: Coconut Curry Chicken and a Record Run

8 Aug

It’s been a minute since I’ve had a happy surprise on the running front, and even longer since I made my dear husband something nutritious that he would also call delicious. Great news-I did both this weekend!

Let’s start with running- I have been doing my long runs with the Arlington Road Runners Club for the past couple of Saturdays, and it has been just the kick in the pants I need to remember that the hole is not actually that deep.

I had 90 minutes planned for the run, which probably would have been about 10 miles in the stank heat and humidity that Saturday showed up with. Around mile 6, Courtney pointed out that it was time to either take an uber home or make the decision to run the rest of the route with her… the rest of the route being ANOTHER TEN miles. Previous to that morning, the longest I had ever run was 13.5 miles, but I was feeling great and thought to myself, “Let’s see what the ol’ girl can do” (and that’s a direct quote–things have been weird in Kef-landia lately).

Long (run) story short- I finished the route, very much thanks to the AWESOME ARRC volunteers who set up life-changing water stops at miles 7 and 11 and Courtney for being the world’s BEST run-buddy-cheerleader. I’ve been living in a world where I didn’t believe I could ever run that far and, lo and behold, I did it without even planning to. How do you like them apples?

Annoyingly, I forgot to turn my watch back on after a water fountain break and missed some mileage on my watch. Whatever.

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Anyway, I worked and napped and ate and Hoodwinked with SummitKef for the rest of Saturday. I woke up on Sunday ready to kick more ass. I cooked a week’s worth of food in 3 hours, a nice reversal of my usual Sunday routine, which is to eat a week’s worth of food in 3 hours.

This curry chicken took ~20 to put together, made enough for him to eat all week, and got big thumbs up from MrKef. It is based off a Whole30 recipe, but I had to punch up the spice for my audience.

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Coconut Curry Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 medium potatoes, rinsed and chopped (sweet potatoes if you’d like!)
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBS curry powder
  • 1-2 TBS hot sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 can diced tomatoes, fire roasted
  • 1/3 c coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lime, sliced

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over med-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add curry powder and cook another 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and hot sauce. Stir well, and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer contents of pan into blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and coconut milk and blend again.
  3. Arrange chicken and potatoes in a casserole dish, Pyrex pan, or any high-rimmed oven-safe dish. Pour the curry sauce over the chicken and potatoes, and distribute so everything is covered. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

Listening While I Run

9 Mar

When I was busy training for my last half last summer/fall, I really got out of the habit of listening to music while I run–pretty much everyone says it’s important for runners to be able to pace themselves without relying on beats per minute, and I found that to be very true. But, I’m not really training for anything right now, so… who really cares what prety much everyone says? I’ve come back to rocking out during runs– we’ll see if I’m able to wean myself from the tunes whenever I get around to really solidifying my 2016 race plans (suggestions for awesome 10k/10M/halfs welcome!).

Anyway, these are some things I’ve been loving for running/spinning lately (check out previous playlists here and here… oh, and here but only if you’re feeling nostalgic):

Spotify Stations:

  • Big Game Workout
  • Mood Boosters
  • Feel Good Indie Rock

Songs

And in a real pinch… it’s all about watching the Underwoods undercut one another like petulant children who just happen to have the nuclear codes. That’ll get you through an indoor ride.

Capture

 

 

OBX Half Marathon: Sharks, Sheetz, and Sisters

9 Nov

Well my dearies, the 2015 race season is a WRAP. It has been a wild ride, and I’ll probably wax poetic about the whole thing at some point… but today, we’re talking about the Outer Banks Half Marathon.

I picked this race as my “A” race months ago because it was pretty much the only late-season half within driving’s distance of DC that didn’t interfere with the 10,000 other things I had to do in October (including watching JetSet get married… more on that in 6 months if I keep up with my current rate of wedding recaps). IMG_7089

BabyKef was nice enough to miss the Baltimore Greek Festival in order to accompany me on the trip. All week, the weather threatened to be miserable, so we were prepared to spend the day in our hotel room watching Netflix. We left DC around 6 am, were absolutely bamboozled by McDonalds (why oh whyyyyyyy does their oatmeal come PRE sweetened? Can’t a girl get a plain friggin oatmeal in the morning?), picked up my packet, and made it to our perfectly-lovely-but-not-at-all-fancy hotel before noon. Despite the nasty forecast, a Sisters Weekend miracle occurred and it was 80 degrees and sunny all day Saturday. What a treat! We enjoyed a beautiful water-side lunch at Stripers and then headed out to explore the town of Manteo.

Neither of us had done much research, so we googled “things to do in Manteo” and took it from there. The first thing to come up were the Elizabethan Gardens. Google has never been a better guide book– these gardens are modeled after.. you guessed it… gardens of the Queen Elizabeth era, and they are spectacular. I find private gardens are usually a little to prissy to be pretty– these were an absolutely stunning example of foliage and fancy gardendry and were the kind of place I’d love to just hang out in for the afternoon and have a picnic in.

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Clearly, I don’t understand how panoramic pictures work… had no idea I was in the frame!

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BabyKef was loving the shaped shrubs

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I do a mean Queen E. impression.

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BabyKef knows how to make a tired woman look good, doesn’t she?

After we were through acting a fool in the gardens, we ran some pre-race errands. We picked up some GF/SF waffles at Harris Teeter and secured my race-morning coffee from Dunkin’ (nb: DDs are in ample availability throughout the Outer Banks– praise Him!). While driving up and down Croatan Highway 10,823 times, there were more shenanigans (naturally):

DID EVERYONE ELSE KNOW THAT THE PIGGLY WIGGLY IS A REAL THING??? WE HAD ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA.

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Commerical evidence that Chrissy the Christmas Mouse is, in fact, the best part of Christmas:IMG_7134

The promised rain set in just as we got back to the hotel, so we did what any woman in the Kef Family would do… got into yoga pants and settled in for a Friends marathon and a nap. It was glorious.

To round out our Saturday, we took a trip to what appeared to be the only place in the Outer Banks to serve GF pizza (my traditional night-before-race meal), Mako Mike’s. This place was really something– extremely…. festive… decor and a waitress with uncanny personality resemblance to 90% of the servers at our Pappou’s amazing Fireside Diner. We both had a sweet potato and squash soup that was very yummy, followed by pizzas that were totally adequate (but couldn’t hold a candle to the glorious Spanakopizza I ate prior to the RnR Brooklyn Half).

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Fast forward a few hours and it’s 5:30 AM and I am ready.to.go. Everything in the Outer Banks this weekend was about racing and runners- many churches had changed their outdoor signs to read race-related Bible verses (my favorite: “Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”), the radio announcers talked about the race pretty much constantly, restaurants had runner specials, and everyone seemed really amped for race weekend. I took these all as great signs. The race provides two awesome parking options: park at the start or park at the finish. Because God loves me, our hotel was less than half a mile from the Finish shuttle stop, so I just strolled right over for the 5:45 shuttle. It was super-well organized and everyone from race staff to the bus driver were so, so friendly– I can’t say what a great way to start the race this was.

A short drive across the bridge and we were at the starting line. There were TONS of porta potties and when I first got there, there weren’t even any lines. Later, there were some lines but  they moved quickly and everyone commented on how this was the best thing a race director can do to make the start an anxiety-free zone. Kudos to them! On the other hand, the starting line music was all late 90s/early-millennium pop-rock (Third Eye Blind, Creed, etc), and I found songs about heartbreak a bit out of sync with the goals of the day… but we can’t have it all, now can we?

Race started right on time, and it was WINDY. Luckily, it was mostly at our backs and I did my best to angle my shoulders so it was actually kind of pushing me along. Great. Between the wind and a slight dowhill, I went out in the first 5k faster than I had planned:Miles 1-3: 8:30, 8:34, 8:44.

I tried to rein in back in once the wind wasn’t behind us and kept an even(ish) pace through the middle:
Miles 4-6: 8:50, 8:36, 8:41. This is when I realized that either the radio announcers had way overhyped residents’ interest in the race or that the gusty wind and sub-60 degree temperatures had deterred pretty much all spectators. There was very, very little crowd support throughout the course and no bands or music until the very end of the course. This is fine with me, but if you are someone who needs a lot of fun signs and cowbells, this is not the race for you.
The course has some really beautiful parts along the water and winds between the main highway, a coastal road, and some very residential streets. It was mostly flat, had ample hydration stations, and I just focused on keeping it under control and even. Miles 7-9: 8:48, 8:47, 8:10 (I really don’t know where that last one came from– I thought my watch had turned off when it beeped off with that time).
In really strange news, I ended up running a good portion of miles 8-10 with a woman who was the doppelganger of Haley, the woman who was my unknowing running buddy in my last half. I would have race-pic-stalked this woman, too, but her bib said “G-Money” instead of her name and I didn’t think to look at her number. Alas.
Anyway, the big anxiety point of this race is the bridge. You can see why:
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It comes at mile 10 (22 for the marathoners, which just seems so, so cruel) and, luckily, I was prepared for it. If I do say so myself, I am kind of a badass when it comes to hills, so I just pushed right up it. You do not have a gluteus as maximus as mine is without some extra hill power.
I knew once the hill crested that it was go time. I took advantage of the long, steep downhill and got down to work. That went well until we turned right into the wind for the final two miles. I realized that focusing on pace would be pointless, so I just tried to run by perceived exertion, and my perception was that I was exerting everything I had. Luckily, some fun things happened in the last two miles:
Dunkin’ Donuts came out–clearly, ChefKef runs on Dunkin’.
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And a mobile medical unit team had a great cheer station and we had a quick exchange about how awesome it is to be a mobile health care team:
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Finally, the sign for Mile 13 was within my sight. It was located on a right turn, so I figured as soon as I made the turn I would see the finish. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We had to make another turn, and even then the finish chute felt so long. My watch said the race was long by about 0.25 and this time I would really believe it. But, finally, I was there and finished!
FINISH TIME: 1:54:17 (or 1:53:09 if you go by 13.1 on my watch)
Miles 10-13 8:44 (nasty ol hill), 8:20, 8:33, 8:33, 2:13 (0.34)
I couldn’t believe I had hit the mid-1:50s, and will say a lot more about this some other time.
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As if a perfectly lovely race and a new big ol’ PR weren’t enough, there were SWEET POTATO FRIES at the finish line! Amazing. Also, it was the first Finish Festival that looked so fun that I almost stayed… but BabyKef and a 4.5 hour ride was waiting for me, so I took another right-on-time shuttle whose driver was so kind as to drop me off right at my hotel. BabyKef and I jetted out of town, blasting the “Rocky” themesong as we went over the bridge (our first thought was to be real jerks and play the new Adele song as we went past runners going up the hill “Hello from the other siiiiiiiideee.” We refrained.).
About half way through the ride, BabyKef and I decided that we really wanted french fries from Sheetz. We remembered about a million signs for Sheetz on the way down so we kept waiting… and waiting… and waiting for one on the way back up. Finally, we got impatient (read: BabyKef was wayyyy hangry) and drove about 10 miles off the high way to the promised land. We were greated by a ground-to-roof window display of–what else?–Sheetz Fries:
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Me: This is how big I want my serving of fries to be. BabyKef: SheetzFries make me lick my chops!

While waiting for our fries, we came across what I think is the most emblematic display of everything wrong with American food I have ever seen:
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In the event you can’t quite make our the irony, what we have here is signage promising “authentic foods” which are actually potato chips flavored either pumpkin pie or turkey and gravy.

It’s hard to ridicule the American diet when your second serving of fries for the day comes in a vessel that can only be described as a bucket… but running 13.1 miles has to count for something, right?

Naturally, as soon as we got back on the highway, we were greeted with an actual Sheetz sign. The irony.

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Well, we’ve gone a bit off topic now, haven’t we? Here are some take homes from the weekend:

Race logistics: Bar none. A++++. Easy packet pickup (with parking). Plenty of places to stay for under/around $100 since it’s so far off season. Shuttles to and from (and associated parking) were easy, on time, and staffed by the nicest people. Portapotties galore.

Race itself: Mostly lovely course, though a bit boring at times through residential developments. Atmosphere is super-local, super nice–lots of neighbors bumping into each other and families running together. Mostly flat with a few small inclines and one major hill. No bands/music on course until about mile 11 (mile 24 for marathon), and sparse crowd support until about the same point. Plenty of water/gatorade stations. As someone who isn’t in it for the bands and spectators, I really loved this ~4,000 person race. Not sure I could get through the full marathon on such a quiet course, however.

Race Swag: So much swag! I got a long-sleeved techtee, a medal, a pint glass, and a cap–all included in race fee. Finish food was great- BBQ and sweet potato fries, and the Festival seemed like something to stick around for and is set in beautiful downtown Manteo.

Racecation-ability: BabyKef and I had the best time- an easy 4.5 hour drive down from DC with just enough to keep us busy the day before the race but no pressure to run around like a crazy person trying to see/do things.

Prognosis: I would definitely run this race again and look forward to more Sheetz Fries next year!

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2015 RnR Brooklyn Half Recap: She Thought She Could and So She Did

13 Oct

Another race in the books: I ran the Inaugural RnR Brooklyn Half Marathon last weekend!

My updates here are sporadic, at best, these days so for those trying to keep track at home I’ll catch you up: I decided in March that it was time to get serious about running and make some goals. I had been chasing a sub-2:00 half for some time, and, while that was the main goal for this season, I also had less quantifiable things to achieve. I wanted to become a stronger runner who could run predictable races and get through this season injury free.

But mostly, I wanted a half time that started with a 1.

My “A” race for the season is the OBX Half in November, and my original intention for Brooklyn was to use it as a training run. I was under strict orders from my running coach to “jog it–no time goals,” and I had just completed a tough week of high mileage running, which had only gone okay, and I hadn’t performed nearly as well as I had wanted to at my track group time trial on Thursday. All of this to say, I wasn’t feeling “race ready” as I headed up to NY.

Grand Army Plaza, starting line for the 2015 RnR Brooklyn Half

It took an inordinate amount of time to get from DC to NY, and after finally fighting all the traffic 95 had to offer, the heavens opened up and let down a deluge of rain and wind pretty much the second I entered Brooklyn. The expo was just about as poorly planned as I’ve seen– the Brooklyn Expo Center is RIGHT on the water, which means it’s surrounded by one-way streets… not the best plan for getting 17,000 people in and out. Plus, they put the t-shirt pickup outside (though the chocolate milk people somehow got to stay indoors… go figure), so everyone was forced to trek into and out of the pouring rain at least twice to complete expo errands. No bueno, RnR.

Things were not looking all that positive, but I finally made it to JetSet and KimmieKef’s house, where I was greeted by Mr. Met himself,

photowho made the brilliant suggestion of getting my customary pre-race gluten-free pizza from Telio, where they have GLUTEN FREE SPANAKOPIZZA. Yes, that’s right my dearies– glutenfree dough covered with onions and spinach and feta. I am so sad to report that we did not take a picture of this gift from God, but rest assured that it was kefi in a box. Man, oh man.

Flash forward a few hours and the Mets have won their first playoff game since 2006 and it’s race day! After some coffee, eggs and a GF waffle, I got on the train and made the long trip out to Brooklyn. I sat there feeling kind of tired, a bit rundown the miles I had already put in that week, and just let the loop of negative talk run for awhile, until this question came to me:

“Who has time for thoughts like this?”

And then, just like that, I decided to be happy, see how I felt, and run whatever race I had in me that day.

It’s a good thing I decided to stop being miserable before I got off the train, because what awaited me was… chaos.

rnrstartofficialThink that picture is actually a starting line shot? It may also double as the line for the portapotties. I didn’t count, but it seemed like there were approximately 9 portapotties for 17,500 people. I got there with exactly 6 minutes to spare and thankfully talked my way toward the front of a very.long.line, which is more than I can say for this guy,

rnr guy who cut the portapotty linewho looked at a half-mile long line of women who had to pee (and at least one of us who had to poop!), darted into a portapotty and came out flipping everyone the bird. Not cool, dude. Not cool.

Anyyyyyywaaaay, so now I’ve taken care of business and am ready.to.go. I made the last-minute decision to run with the 2:00 pace group. We exchanged niceties and then waited… and waited… and waited for the 7:00 start.

At 7:31, we got going. Apparently, the other 17,499 runners had to wait in some insane security line. Not sure how I missed that trainwreck, but for once I was glad to be left on the platform!

Miles 1-3

Our pacer was Garrett, who is a superstar on the Dashing Whippets. It was his first time pacing, and his plan was a 9:05 pace for a 2:00 finish. Great, sounds like I could stick to the race plan of “just jogging” and still make my goal time of sub-two.

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Garrett and someone who is not me.

Well, you know what they say about best laid plans. The start of the race weaves around a traffic circle and it was tight and crowded. Garrett was a gem and charged through. We picked up a few more pace group members and pressed on. We were just ahead of that 9:05 pace, which at first really freaked me out, but then I realized that I felt GREAT and banished the last of those doubts lingering in the back of my mind. Miles 1-3 8:57, 9:15, 8:56.

Miles 4-6

Now we were getting into the meat of the race, and Garrett was going nuts. First he was running at an 8:30 pace, then a 9:30 pace… it was an emotional roller coaster for me and I decided to get off the ride. I was still feeling really good, so I let the good times roll and took water at each aid station. I was grateful for the flat course and the AMAZING crowd support–there were spectators everywhere!

The 10K mark was the point at which I realized that I was really going to do it: I was finally going to go under 2:00. In a race. I had expected some big emotional moment at the finish line when I did this because I have known for so long that I can do it and have come just short of the this goal 3 or 4 times, but you know- the most emotional moment for me was right there at the halfway point, when I realized I would do it and my first reaction wasn’t so much surprise or shock as it was, Well, of course you are. I feel like the phrase “She thought she could and so she did” has been going on on a lot of runners’ instagrams that I follow and it felt particularly true on Saturday: I had put in the work, and now it was time to reap some results! Miles 4-6 8:35, 8:49, 8:57

Miles 7-9

Previous to the 10k point (or there about), the course is on residential-ish streets. Miles 6-10ish were an out- and -back on a long, boring stretch of almost highway. I was lucky enough to happen upon a woman named Hayley (whose name I only learned because she had a HUGE cheering section at the turnaround) who was not only running a perfect 8:55 pace, but also blaring music out of her phone because she had lost her headphones. Hayley and I ran pretty much in sync and together for 4 miles without exchanging words or acknowledging that we were doing it! This is when I realized how much I like running with people (which I hadn’t done at all in this or the last training cycle) and decided that I would bring that part of my training back. Thanks to Hayley who got me through some boring middle miles with her tunes and on-point pace! Miles 7-9 8:52, 8:56, 8:52

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Thanks, Hayley! Also, isn’t the internet scary that with very little info I could find her?

Miles 10-13.1

There was a small off ramp that had a fairly steep incline, and I decided to power up it and I was back on my own again. I was starting to feel it here, but I reminded myself that I had no time for negativity and kept it moving. Pretty soon, we were in the park! Crowd support in Prospect Park was so good that the entirety of the last 5k felt like being in the Finish Chute! It was also the worst part… most of mile 12 was up a long, slow hill. I just focused on getting to that last mile marker and making sure nothing catastrophic was going to get between me and this damn goal! And then, there it was: the FINISH! I clocked in at 1:57:44 for a 5-minute PR and finally-FINALLY- A SUB-TWO HALF!!!!!
Miles 10-13.1: 8:43, 8:48, 9:07, 8:10, 2:37 (0.39–my watch said the race was a bit long).

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Race recap:

Pros:  this was a mostly-flat course with awesome support and especially good aid stations– 10 water stops in 13 miles? Yes please! Getting to the start was super easy on public transportation. Oh, and did I mention that medal is also a BOTTLE OPENER? Big ups to whoever thought of that one. And, of course, Garrett and Hayley, my official and unofficial race pacers!

Cons: a poor choice for the expo location + crazy security lines + way too few portapotties meant you had some really pissed off New Yorkers on your hands before they ran 13.1 miles. Add mile markers that were consistently off, a lackluster smattering of post-race food (shouldn’t bagels be required if the race is in NY?) and really poor post-race signage (how the hell am I supposed to know how to get out of Prospect Park?) and you have some disappointed runners–isn’t the whole point of a huge event company like RnR buying up all the little guys that they can execute these details anywhere?

Take Home: I’ll run this race again next year if it works for my schedule, but I won’t plan a season around it.

Elevate Interval Fitness Review

4 Mar

elevateOur tour of DC’s cross training opportunities continues today with a visit to Elevate Interval Fitness. I dropped in for a free introductory class on a cold, snowy Thursday, and here’s the bottom line: the folks at Elevate will warm you up and work you out. Quickly.

Elevate was founded by David Magida, who is a super Spartan racer (aka: a bad mamma jamma). The concept is simple: combine cardio and strength training to create a series of high-impact circuits, measure your effort with heart rate monitors, and watch the sweat pour off. The 55-minute classes are split into cardio and strength portions (though you’re doing both pretty much the whole time), and half the class starts out on a treadmill or rower while the other half works through the strength skill of the week and a circuit on the floor. Screens around the room display your heart rate and calorie burn, and awesome music keeps the time flying by. If you’ve been to a Barry’s, it’s similar in structure but has none of the BS.

I took a class with Eric, who was equal parts motivator and instructor without a bunch of disingenuous perk–in other words: we were there at 730 am to put in some work, and he was ready to get us there. He acclimated first timers to the class structure quickly and got us moving right away. I started with cardio on the rowers, and we did 12-minutes of rounds of 300M row at all-out pace, 12 standing dumbbell rows, and 12 tricep dips, adding 25M of rowing to each round. Then we headed over to the treadmill, where we ran at a sub-5k pace for 80 seconds at increasing inclines of 3.0, 4.0, and 5.0 and recovered for 20 seconds. Finally, we did some speed work with the treadmill at 6.0 on dynamic mode (you are powering the belt, not the engine).

Oh, and that was only first half the class.

The second half was strength, where the skill of the week was kettle bells. We did three different circuits:

  • 14 kettlebell swims/sphinx push up/windshield wiper planks
  • Turkish get ups with TRX strap/kettlebell thrusters/speed skater jumps
  • squat jumps, reverse flys, burpees (ascending rep rounds: 4, 8, 12, 16, 12, 8, 4)

If that doesn’t mean a lot to you, my apologies, but know this: it was a tough enough series that the thought of writing more about it exhausts me all over again!

Some other awesome things to consider about Elevate:

    • after the class, you get an email which analyzes your heart rate information– this is an amazing feature that will really rock your socks if you’re someone who loves data
    • it’s in a brand-spanking new space with a big studio and ample locker area, plus 3 big single-person bathroom/showers

pricing

    is legit: free intro class, and packages that come out to $15/class (8 classes/month) or $18/class (15-class pack). The drop-in fee is a hefty $25–a tough pill for this nurse to swallow–but those packages are definitely deals.Generous cancellation policy: just call ahead and they won’t charge you for the class!

Eric and Elevate definitely get two big thumbs up from me, and I’m looking forward to going back again soon.

2014 Cooking Up Kefi Gift Guide

11 Dec

For the Triathlete trying to keep it together in the off season:

Athleta Power Lift tights

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Bring on the winter blues! The fleece lining in these running tights will maintain heat and the flattering cut will keep her style intact… unless she could not care less about style, in which case the functionality of these guys will be appreciated twofold!

 

 

 

 

 

Bike Fitting by Smiley

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It’s unanimous: Smiley is the best guy in the DMV for a bike fitting. The DC Tri Club’s forum post with RAVES about his services is four pages long, and those people know a thing or two about bikes. Fittings with Smiley ain’t cheap, but the value is unmatched– for $275 he’ll give you as many visits as it takes to get the fit right, plus a six-month tweak if you need it. If getting fast is a New Year’s resolution for the triathlete you know, you cannot go wrong with Smiley!

Bike trainer

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The fairytale that runs through my head is that if I had a bike trainer, I would ride every single day for hours and hours. Basically, these systems turn your road bike into a stationary bike so you can ride for miles and miles without turning off the Kardashians. KMBGKef has one and swears by it. There are lots of different models at various price points, but conventional wisdom is that, with trainers, you get what you pay for.

 

Solidcore

SolidCore8Hear me now: there is no better cross-training work out for a triathlete/runner/ballerina/underwater basket weaver than Solidcore. The only way I can describe it is to say that it is Pilates on PCP–expect your clothes to be soaked with sweat and your muscles to quiver with fatigue at the end of this 50-minute class. PurplePenKef turned me on to it and after only a few classes I can say with certainty I’m stronger because of it! NB: most classes are not sausage fests, as pictured here.

For the food enthusiast who just-so-happens not to eat gluten or sugar:

Adjustable Liquid Measuring Cup

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File this under “things I can’t believe we didn’t think of before”– this measuring cup not only lists several different systems of liquid measurements for easy conversions (mL, oz, cups), but the plunger acts as a squeegee so you push out the entirety of the ingredient. The cook on your list will never waste the amazing Greek honey she lugged all over Monemvasia again! (Bed Bath & Beyond says it is dishwasher safe– don’t believe it. The numbers will wash right off!)

 

Babycakes NYC Complete Baking Kit

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Erin Mckenna is the queen of solid gold sh!t. Her bakery whips up dozens of the best gluten/sugar/nut/dairy free baked goods out there. They ship a few pre-made goods throughout the country, but I love to give these mixes for anytime use. Her cookbooks are great, too– I made recipes of hers for an ice cream parfait, a salted caramel ice cream cake, and a black forest birthday cake.

 

The Newest Cookbook from the Best Chef on God’s Green Earth

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Still not hip to Ottolenghi? Check out his roasted eggplant with buttermilk sauce, the time I made the whitest (and yummiest) salad ever, a revolution in grape leaves and pies, or the post where I realized that fennel could be caramelized. Then go buy the new book and hop on a flight to London to eat in his restaurant.

The hostess who really loves to have people over even though she doesn’t own a dining room table:

Grey Moggie Paper

Screen shot 2014-12-11 at 12.03.49 PMAs JetSet will tell you, the number of social graces your girl Chef Kef feels compelled to fulfill become less by the year. One little piece of Emily Post I will never relinquish, however, is the handwritten note. There are very few things in life that give me the same thrill as finding the perfect card for the occasion and dropping it in the mail–bonus points if it’s a surprise or just-because card. Anyway, Grey Moggie is a DC-based paper shop with a great selection of sappy and sassy paper goods.

Neighborhood Coasters

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Take it from me: table space in a city is coveted real estate some of us would kill for. What better to protect that property than these cedar wood coasters etched with your host’s favorite neighborhoods? Sadly, there’s no DC option (boo), but Baltimore, San Fran, New York, Chicago, LA and …Minneapolis all made the designer’s list. Ouch.

 

Monogram Bangle

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It could just be that I am a product of my environment (where we took nameplate necklaces very seriously until about 2010), but I have always thought personalized gifts are the best ones. I love this elegant and modern update to the initial charm bracelet, and I bet there’s lots of hosts out there who would think so too.

Mother Necklace

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I work on a postpartum unit in a hoity-toity East Coast hospital–suffice to say I’ve seen a lot of “push presents” in my time. If multiple carats are in your budget this year, by all means… but if I were a new mom and was hosting for the first time since my world suddenly began revolving around poop consistency and feeding schedules, this is absolutely the gift I’d want.

The person who thinks we’d all be better off if we supported people doing amazing work instead of spending money on ish no one really needs:

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library. Through it all, the Public Library in Ferguson has stayed open and continued to serve the community as it grieves the murder of Mike Brown. Currently only one full-time librarian is employed there, and his plans for the generous donations pouring in are to create healing kits children can check out to help process traumatic events and to hire a full-time children’s or program library.

Legal Aid. There’s been a lot of attention paid to two cases that exemplify inequity in our court system, but countless Americans whose stories will never make the news don’t get the justice they deserve because they lack financial access to legal advice and council. The Legal Aid Society represents civil cases regardless of ability to pay in cases ranging from housing disputes to class-action consumer matters.

Metro TeenAIDS. My people, always and forever–these guys are arming DC’s young people with information, skills, and jobs to fight HIV transmission, stigma, oppression and cycles of poverty. In other news, they have some very cool intern opportunities (paid and unpaid!) — if you have any righteous college/master’s students in your life, you should let them know!

Girls On the Run. In the next life, when I marry for money instead of wonderful and fulfilling love, I will be a full-time Girls on the Run volunteer. This organization (which almost definitely has a chapter near you–they’re everywhere!) teaches girls the transformative power of running through a confidence- and skills-boosting curriculum. Ahmazing.

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