Philadelphia Marathon Review

I went down to the expo on Friday after work and was pleased to see it wasn’t too crowded.  Picking up my bib and shirt was easy, as was moving up a corral.  I picked up some freebies (my favorite) and bought a new SPIbelt, arm warmers, and chomps.  I also donated my old sneakers (good riddance, Saucony Guides!).  Naked Juice also gave me a CASE of coconut water, yum.

I slept in later than I had wanted to because we were out late Friday night (we went to see the Hot Rod Circuit reunion show) and I felt like I lost a few hours of my day.  I scrambled around like a crazy person packing and squeezing in a last minute workout before driving downtown to check into our hotel.  Tom booked us a really nice suite across from the convention center, about a mile from the start line.  We walked over to the inspiration pasta dinner for TNT, which started to get me pumped up.  We were back at the suite before 10 and I tried to fall asleep.  I really didn’t sleep well, and each time I managed to fall asleep I woke up to car horns and sirens.  I realized how spoiled I’ve become living in the suburbs—it’s always quiet.

I was up by 4:30 to stretch and get ready.  I walked to meet up with my team at 6, and we walked to the start line together.  It was pretty hectic (to be expected with 27,000 runners), especially at the bathrooms and the bag check, but we managed to all start together in our corral.

We crossed the start line at 7:26 and were off.  We stayed together for the first mile, but I thought it was hard to run 5 people deep together.  I saw Tom in front of our hotel around mile 1.5, holding a sign and taking pictures.  Here’s an awkward picture he took of me tossing my arm warmers at him:

I started feeling antsy (this was also around the time that my Garmin froze) so I started moving forward.  I got pretty comfortable by mile 3.  I saw Tom around after mile 5 (!!) and was feeling great.  He kept snapping pictures, but (because I’m so fast) he only caught one of my butt, which no one wants or needs to see.  Then the race hit Chestnut Street and I started to fly.  The street was packed with spectators and the cheering was so intense.  We hit West Philly and I was feeling great.  I had one bathroom stop around mile 9 (too much Gatorade!) and took my first Clif shot at mile 10.  I was also eating 1 chomp about every 1.5 miles after mile 4.

Around mile 12 I started to calculate how much more distance I had to cover (and subsequently started to panic).  At this time, a TNT coach, Matt, jumped in and started to run with me.  I don’t know if he was feeling sorry for me but he stayed with me until mile 17.  I was tired, but he kept my pace steady. And then Matt left to find other TNT runners.  And this happened: This is where I hit my wall.  Mile 18 was so boring, and mile 19 was running into Manayunk, where people were handing out beer and muffins (two smells that I was not happy to have in my presence).  The sun was getting hotter.  I started to feel a knot develop in my back.  My stomach was miserable from eating so much sugar.  I was not a happy camper.  I managed to keep running (although I had to look down several times to determine if my feet were indeed moving), even if it was VERY slow.

And then who comes to save the day?  Matt!  Around mile 23 he spotted me and ran with me until 25.5.  He ensured me that I was still in good shape, and helped me pick up my pace.  CHECK OUT MILE 26: I saw my parents about 100 yards from the finish line, and they were so excited to see me.  I looked ahead and felt amazing, and crossed the finish line at 4:24 (including that bathroom stop).  And just like that, I became a marathoner.  I grabbed a few bottles of water, a banana and pretzels.  I found my parents and Tom.  I was on cloud nine.

And then I tried to walk.  I was so tight that I needed help sitting down.  I have been stretching at least 5 times a day, and my foam roller has been my best friend.  I actually feel pretty good today- good enough to go to pilates tonight, at least.

Overall, I really enjoyed this race.  There’s nothing like running a big race- the crowd and support is what keeps me going.  The volunteers were great and everything seemed so well organized.  I would definitely run this again (although I’m thinking about doing Marine Corps next year…).  I’ve definitely been bit by the marathon bug…

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Confessions Part II

I have another confession.  I ran on the treadmill at the gym tonight.  And you know what?  It wasn’t that bad.  I wasn’t as bored as I expected to be, and I felt pretty good throughout. 1% incline, 6.42mi, 57:13. avg 8:55 pace.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I may even be able to run on the treadmill again one day.  I only wish I had gotten the Garmin 405 instead of the 110 so I could track indoors.

Anyways, I came home and cooked the following stolen (and delicious) recipes:

Pretzel chicken a la Rachael Ray, roasted broccoli, and leftover pumpkin mac & cheese (via EatLiveRun) (I think I can maintain this blog by solely testing recipes from other, better blogs)CARBO LOAD! CARBO LOAD!

I then made this protein packed pumpkin pie (not an intentional tongue twister) from RunEatRepeat.  I thought it was delicious and Tom did not.  We had a lengthy, heated debate about my love of healthy-swap recipes and his love of “real” food (aka butter, flour, oil, sugar….you know, the good stuff).  We ended our chat essentially agreeing that we will never see eye to eye on this. More on this later.

Tomorrow is the expo!  I don’t know about you guys, but I love a good expo.  I have a few things in mind I’ll be shopping for, but am mostly looking forward to freebies.  Then Tom and I are going to see HOT ROD CIRCUIT reunite!

Saturday we check into the hotel downtown, and then we get to stuff our faces with Team in Training.  (I normally will not eat this much before a race, but as this IS my first full marathon, I think I can handle it, just this one time).

I leave you with this silly picture of Tom’s family dog dressed up on Halloween:

(If you can’t quite see it, she’s a monkey)

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I have a confession.

I hate treadmills.  HATE them.  I would rather scrub my kitchen floor with my toothbrush and then use it before stepping foot on a treadmill.

This has not always been the case.  In college I would alternate between the elliptical and the treadmill (based, of course, on how long the waiting list was at our over-crowded gym).  I was so busy watching other people that I didn’t notice that time seemed to tick by s-o s-l-o-w-l-y.  That’s my issue, I guess- I feel like time stands still (and not in a good way).  I started running because it was free and gave me some time during the day to be outside.  Why bring it inside on the hamster wheel?  I don’t want to stare at myself in the mirror and look at other people looking at me.

I also think it’s easier to run outside.  If I get tired, I slow down until I’m comfortable.  If I’m feeling it, I’ll step it up until I’m beat- sometimes that’s in 30 seconds and sometimes that’s in 3 miles.  I don’t have to think about it or press any buttons.  I can just do it.

I also prefer to run alone.  Out on the trail I may see other runners, but I never try to run with them.  I love zoning out to my (embarrassing) playlists.  I love to “check out.”  I can’t do that in the gym.  I am too distracted by the roid-raged teenager grunting on the leg press and the middle-aged mom loudly discussing her kid’s karate class on her cell.

Here’s my dilemma.  Winter is approaching.  My hours of available daylight are creeping away.  Unfortunately, I can’t run before work (I leave the house at 6:45) and don’t have a flexible job where I could run on my lunch break.  That leaves me with about 2 hours of daylight, provided that I’m able to leave as soon as we’re allowed to.  I also have a thing about running in the dark- I just won’t do it.  I won’t even run in my own neighborhood after dark.  I am, basically, afraid of my own shadow, so I am not okay with running through county parks and on trails once the sun sets.

Today, for example, I have a meeting after work and won’t be able to run until 4.  The sunset today is at 4:41.  I am in a kiiiiind of sketchy area, where I wouldn’t necessarily walk my figurative dog after dark, so this is pushing it, even for a taper run.

What’s my point?  I am coming to terms with the fact that I’ll probably be at the gym this evening, pounding out my last few miles before the marathon.  Better get that toothbrush ready…

(P.S. Meet the Brooks Launch-my new favorite shoe, I swear they make me faster!)

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I’m a runner, too

….at least by some standards.  A week from now is my first marathon.  I’m not gonna lie, I’m starting to get nervous.  I’ve been training for months and I’m very anxious to get it over with.  Training with Team in Training has been a great experience, and I recommend it to anyone interested in racing.  Fundraising isn’t easy, but it makes this whole experience much more meaningful.  I’ve met a great group of runners through this, and that has made the training process much more enjoyable.  Also, the reason I decided to go with TNT is because of a great group of runners I was with at a Ragnar event earlier this year (side note- do this race if you ever get the chance!) so thanks, NY team!

Luckily, I haven’t had any injuries this training season (KNOCK ON FREAKIN’ WOOD), minus this pretty little thing: You’re welcome.

In other exciting news, I made roasted brussel sprouts yesterday, after reading many recipes for them.  I thought they were GREAT but my darling husband thought I was trying to kill him (via odor).  Our house smelled AWFUL for a solid 24 hours.  Anyone know of a way to make these minus the smell?

Wow!  Three posts in one day–  is this some kind of world record?

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Just Maui’d!

So our reception was over at 11pm, and the party continued back at the hotel bar with more friends and family, and we had a great time… until reality hit at 4am when we needed to leave for the airport.  Ouch.  We flew from Philly to Chicago and then straight to Maui.  That may have been the longest day of our lives!  It was ALL worth it though, when we arrived here:

We stayed at the Westin Villas in Ka’anapali and had a BEAUTIFUL villa.  We spent our time relaxing and exploring the island.  Our favorites:

Everything about Maui was wonderful, and I hope we’ll be able to return one day!

Hula Pie…worth every calorie?

At the Old Lahaina Luau (this was great but it rained, so the show was cut short)

Happy Hour at the resort

After dinner at Mama’s Fish House

West Maui beaches

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Wedding

Well, it’s official. I’m the worst blogger in the history of blogging. When was my last post, again? When My Little Pony was popular? Whatevs. Needless to say, a lot has happened since whenever that post was. Like…like….oh right. Marriage! True Wuv! We had the best day ever (I guess I’m a little biased, but it was a perfect day). The weather held out, the food was great, our signature drink was delish… you know, all the important stuff. Here’s some of my favorite photos from the day:

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Lauren in Training (for Phila marathon)

Please take a minute to check out my fundraising page for my first marathon in November. I have chosen to work with Team in Training, which means they provide me with coaches, training schedules, and a team to train with, and I raise money for cancer research.  Please consider donating what you can afford- know that it will go to an amazing cause.  Thank you, everyone!

http://pages.teamintraining.org/epa/phil11/lpittaro

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runrunrunrunaway

all right, y’all.  Don’t say it.  I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written.  A question for those who have planned a wedding while working full time while working out 5x a week 2hrs per day, will this get any easier?  Will time ever slow down?  Tom and I both said the other night how excited we are to be bored (when the wedding is over).

I don’t want to complain, though.  Life is great.  We are EIGHTY days away, which is so exciting (and soso close).  We had our meeting at Tendenza last night to plan whole night (most importantly, our DELICIOUS menu).  I am salivating just thinking of the food we’re serving- yum!!

Oh, also, I graduate from Grad school tomorrow- I keep forgetting.  I didn’t know that I wanted to go to the ceremony, but I am proud of my hard work and feel like walking in the ceremony (and being hooded!) will make it seem a little more real to me.

Last week I ran in the Ragnar Relay in New York.  Myself and eleven other team members relayed 197 miles in 29 hours.  It was such an incredible experience, and I am still on a high from it. 

I have hundreds of pictures, but as I mentioned this was team effort- and I don’t want to use their images in case they don’t want them in my blog.

I was beautiful, and I’m so thankful the rain held out on us!

Because of this event, I’ve been motivated to take my running abilities to the next level and challenge myself.  I’ve joined a team where I will be raising money for charity and will be  coached throughout my training, which will peak at the Philadelphia Marathon in November.  I will also be running in the ING Rock and Roll Half Marathon in September, which I ran in last year and very much enjoyed.

I mentioned that I will be raising money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training and will be periodically posting a link to my fundraising page on here.  Please consider donating!  Every little amount helps.

Wish me luck, this is my first marathon and I am a little intimidated!

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food chronicles [pt. 1]

annnnnd I’m back!

a small life update: I’ve begun counting calories, diligently and obsessively. i love it. i can’t stop.  it’s such a new concept for me, as i HATE scales and obsessing over pounds.  but i’m getting better.  aaaaand, i’ve lost 5.6 pounds so far, so that’s great.  I’m also working out like a fiend, but again, i love it.

so with that, and in addition to tom and my vow to cook dinner more, i bring you tonight’s menu: spinach and artichoke dip with super-pretzel nuggets (yep! sooo good) and grilled pitas.

also, i made beer bread for a work function tomorrow:

oh! today marks 4 months to go until our wedding.  so close, i’m so excited!

idol time.

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winnerwinnerchickendinner

I’m currently in the process of converting to Catholicism.  Tom and I have been taking RCIA classes since September and I will receive my remaining sacraments at this year’s Easter vigil.  I was baptized and raised Episcopalian, but did not get very involved.  As Tom and I try to put more effort into our religious beliefs and practices, we spent a good amount of time deciding what we would give up for Lent.  After much debate we chose to give up eating out at restaurants (prior to this decision, we were eating out at least 4 times per week- bad for our waistlines AND wallets!)

By not eating out we have been “forced” to prepare meals more often (and I say “forced” because I truly love to cook but have been feeling extra lazy and …well, mostly just lazy).

This weekend I was able to drag Tom to my personal mecca (Trader Joe’s) and pick out dinners for the upcoming week. I completely forgot to photograph the first two meals we prepared (garlic/lime tilapia- good; apple-stuffing stuffed porkchops- amazeballs) but I would like to share with you all the past two meals we’ve had:

soy-beef stir fry: a mish-mosh of mesquite teriyaki and soy sauce with chili flakes, white pepper, and garlic salt- red, yellow, and green peppers, asparagus, green beans, over brown rice

whole-wheat turkeyish pizza: whole wheat dough, mozz, vegetarian sausage, turkey bacon, turkey pepperoni, yellow onions *cooked on a stone* (essential to pizza success)

My plan is to photograph more delicious meals for no better reason than the fact that my life tends to revolve around food.  No, really.

And here’s a beautiful photo from the Basilica in Philadelphia:

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