Five worst runs of 2014

I hesitated to write this post because it is a bit negative.  But, on the other hand, there are negative parts to even the things we love the most.  I don’t start every run with ballerina leaps because I’m so excited, and I don’t finish every run with a huge grin on my face. Also, the bad runs make me appreciate the good ones even more.  And there are important lessons to be learned from just about every one of them!

Sometimes running is a chore, or runs just don’t go quite how I’d hoped.  That said, here are my five worst runs of 2014, in reverse order!

5. The 5 miler that turned into a 2.5 miler (March): I was out running with Athena and we were dashing across the street before the light turned.  I took a nose-dive and whacked my head on the concrete curb.  Nate was traveling, but luckily my in-laws live close by, so they came and picked us up and took us home.  Then they came back to my house and took me to the hospital when I decided I probably shouldn’t drive there myself. I had a mild concussion and learned the hard way that if a light is going to change colors, it’s better to just stop and wait.

4. The poorly-timed 6 miler in (what felt like) hell (July): We started training for the Richmond marathon in mid-July.  I thrive on cooler temperatures, and running in heat and humidity is my personal version of hell. Two days before the training schedule officially began we did 6 mile run on Saturday morning, and we left the house around 10 a.m., at which point it was already really hot and humid.  I got so hot, I felt cold, dizzy and faint.  I probably had heat exhaustion.  It was a miserable run, and made me wonder if I was up to the task of training for a marathon, much less running a full marathon, if I could barely even handle 6 miles.  It put me in a really bad head-space at a very inopportune time.

3. The post-nacho 5 miler (September?): I’d just gotten home from work and I knew I had to get my run in for the day.  I was really hungry and Nate had just made a plate of nachos. So I ate a few nachos (with jalapenos and salsa), downed a tablespoon of peanut butter, laced up, and headed out the door.  Wow was this a bad idea.  I had terrible indigestion the whole time and puked in my mouth more than once.  Not fun.

2. The 18 miler that turned into a 16.5 miler (September): I had a cold, and I decided I would do my long run anyways.  To make a long story short, I ended up wheezing like I had asthma and could barely breathe.  My legs could have kept on going, but my lungs weren’t having it. It was miserable. Oh, and at one point we passed a dead dog on the side of the road.  I made Nate tell me a happy story so I wouldn’t burst into tears.

1. The 14 miler that turned into a 13 miler (August): This was the only run during which I just started bawling.  Like, “Why on earth am I doing this, this is stupid, what kind of idiot am I?” negative, messy self-talk and tears. As I mentioned, I don’t do well in heat and humidity.  I decided to experiment with a new type of fuel (Cliff Shot Blocks) on this run, which, I found out later, I wasn’t taking frequently enough.  So I was sweating tons (it was dripping off my visor) and not consuming enough electrolytes.  I felt like absolute shit.  At one point I got a side-cramp and it hurt so much I shrieked.  I was throwing a first-rate pity party for one, and it was bad.

All’s well that ends well, and in 2014 I had far more good runs than bad.  I made it through the year without any major injuries and logged lots of great miles.  I’m excited to see what running adventures 2015 holds for me!


Five best runs of 2014

A belated Happy Holidays to you all!  I hope that your holiday season has been fun, restful, and packed with lots of amazing food! Mine has been the first and third, but definitely not the second.  There’s a Christmas/December recap in the works, but seeing as the year is almost over, I wanted to do this post first!

This isn’t a running blog, but I have spent a pretty massive amount of time this year in my running shoes.  The idea for this post came to me while I was running along the C&O Canal up by Georgetown, which is a pretty route, but also really fricking boring.

That said, here are my best runs of 2014, in reverse order!

5.  5 miles in Castine, Maine (September): My dad and I took a 6-day photography trip on a schooner along coastal Maine. Our schooner docked in Castine, and we had about 2 hours to walk to the lighthouse, take pictures, and mosey on back.  This was our first real opportunity to get off the boat in about 4 days, so I laced up, slung my camera bag across my back and as soon as we hit dry land, I took off.  It was amazing.  The scenery, the views, being back in my running shoes, being alone, the photos I took…. everything.  It was an awesome run.

4. Cherry Blossom 10-miler (April): This was the longest I’d ever run at that point and this race was a lot of fun.  There were so many runners and spectators, and I just had a blast.  I had gas in the tank at the end, and I felt amazing!

3. 6 miles in San Francisco (February): Nate was in San Francisco for work, so I flew out for a long weekend to take advantage of the free hotel.  We ran from the hotel to the pier with all the sea lions and back to the hotel, stopping in the ferry building along the way.  How can a run full of cute sea lions and free food samples not be fun?!

2. Richmond Marathon (November): This race wasn’t all fun, but I dug deep and got it done, despite wanting to walk during the last 4 miles with every molecule of my being.  I made it through the cold, blood blisters, and dead legs, and I finished with a huge smile on my face.  Then I burst into tears because I was so physically and emotionally exhausted.

1. Freedom’s Run Half Marathon (October): This race was a last-minute decision and it was definitely my best run of 2014.  We were running through Antietam and at one point I turned to Nate and said, “I am having so much fun!  This is AWESOME!” Two years ago, I never, ever would have guessed that those sentences would come out of my mouth while I was running.  The course was absolutely beautiful and I killed the hills.  If we are ever in this area again in the beginning of October, we are running this one again!

Next up, my five worst runs of 2014, most of which are funny to look back upon!

Experiencing the DC melting pot

My office is in downtown DC, and I love working downtown.  All those things people complain about (tourists, motorcades, metro, etc), I love it all.

The views of the Capitol, Washington Monument, the Lincoln, White House, and the reflecting pond never get old and I smile every time I go by. I go for runs on the mall with a huge smile on my face simply because it’s so pretty.

Yesterday I was yet again reminded of how great it is to work in DC when some colleagues and I went to an event  in the Ronald Reagan building called “Winternational: A Global Celebration of the Season.” The event promised “a sampling of global bites,” and we’ll do just about anything for free food.

We entered the atrium, and there were at least 15 booths set up for various embassies from around the world to showcase local artisans and cuisine.  The first one we came to was Bahrain and, since I was there for the food, I grabbed a little pastry-ish-looking thing.  I chomped down on it, and it was a bit crunchier than I’d expected it to be (don’t worry, there wasn’t a dead bug or something in it).

The next booth we came to was Bangladesh!  I was hoping they would be represented since I love Bangladeshi food.


This was when I realized that crunchy Bahrainian pastry had snapped half my retainer off my teeth.

It was also when my colleague told the woman at the booth that I am moving to Bangladesh next year.  She got a huge smile on her face and wanted to talk about Dhaka, but all I could think about was my damn retainer.  Last week I spent an arm and a leg at the stupid dentist getting the permanent retainer I’d had for 20 years (yes, 20 years) removed and a new one put in.

So I just smiled faintly and pushed my tongue around in my mouth to assess the retainer damage.

I called my dentist and set an appointment for that afternoon to get it glued back on.  I figured that I could bite and chew with the other side of my mouth in the meantime.  Very few things can stop me from eating.

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I don’t know exactly what I ate, but they were both vegetarian and really good!  The triangle-shaped one was like a samosa, and I have no idea what the other fritter-like thing is called.

Other notable food offerings included plates of beef rendang (Indonesia booth), lumpia (the Philippines), amazing coffee (Nepal), macarons and decorate-it-yourself gingerbread men.

This is probably an event they do every year, but this was the first year I knew about it.  If you are in DC in December of 2015, make sure you check it out! (And don’t bite too hard on crunchy pastries if you have recently had dental work done.)

The best (insert holiday here) ever

Ever since Nate became an FSO, we’ve been fully embracing every holiday that comes our way, knowing it’ll probably be our last in the USA for the next several years.

So this year for Thanksgiving, we cooked a lot of amazing food, used the fine china and crystal, and hosted a relatively fancy dinner party.  We even made a seating chart and place cards.  Place cards!  Never in a million years did I ever think I’d be googling “homemade Thanksgiving place cards.”


You can’t really see it in the photo, but I wrote each person’s name on a leaf with a silver sharpie. Yes, I am someone who apparently makes place cards.

I also created a spreadsheet timeline with all the different recipes and tasks (like washing the china, making the cornbread for the stuffing, making pastry for the pie, picking my sister up from the airport, etc), which we generally followed.  Thank goodness we’d planned everything out in advance, because it didn’t all go perfectly.

But how boring would life be if things went 100% as planned all the time?

First, there was the ice cream.  My sister Bridget and I decided to make maple walnut ice cream, and instead of tempering the eggs, we scrambled them.  Have you ever tried scrambled eggs with cream, milk, and maple syrup?  Don’t; it’s gross.  So we made an emergency run to Trader Joe’s on our way to out dinner on Wednesday night and made a new ice cream base when we came home later that night.  It chilled in the fridge overnight and we churned it the next morning.

Thanksgiving desserts!

Thanksgiving desserts! Our ice cream is in the top right corner.

Then there was the gravy.  Nate made the gravy on Wednesday night, and on Thursday afternoon we heated it up on the stove top.  I tasted it and it was oddly sweet.  We looked over the recipe to see where the sweetness could be coming from, and the only possibility was either from the bacon or the sweet paprika, neither of which are actually all that sweet.  It also wasn’t very thick, even though Nate had added a third of a cup of flour.  We added some lemon juice to cut the sweetness, which didn’t work and only made it taste lemony.  I suggested we add some more flour to at least try to get it to thicken up a bit, so Nate started adding flour one teaspoon at a time.

And that was when I realized what the problem was. He was adding powdered sugar.

The powdered sugar is kept in a clear plastic container, which I never bothered to label because I’m the only one who uses it.  I felt pretty bad because flour and powdered sugar do look similar.  Luckily we still had enough ingredients to make the gravy from scratch again and it wasn’t a big deal.

So, yes, it was definitely a Thanksgiving to remember.  We finished the night off by watching the beginning of A Muppet Christmas Carol, and ate left-over pumpkin pie for breakfast.  We all did our Black Friday shopping early in the morning, came home, and put pajamas back on.  And then we ate some more, because that’s what leftovers are for!