August 29, 2014

Friday Five: Fall Preview

I am one of those people that loves everything about fall - the clothing, the weather, the treats, and the holidays.  It's just always been my season.  And that might have something to do with the fact that I was born in October so I'm just partial to this time of year.  When I saw the DC Trifecta's Friday Five topic this week of "Fall Preview," I was immediately on board.  What better to write about than some of my favorite things?!

1. A new jacket: As I've gotten a little older, I've started making investments in my wardrobe.  I'm starting to find that I'll make one or two big purchases each season and buy some fun accessories or cheaper trendy clothes to mix in.  A few summers ago, I was on a quest for the perfect jean jacket and for the past two fall seasons, I've been looking for the perfect caramel-colored leather jacket.  After enlisting the help of one of my very fashionable coworkers, I found it!  I'm looking forward to some cooler days when I can finally start wearing this beauty....and not with a Princeton swimming t-shirt and cotton shorts!

2. My third marathon: It's no secret that I'm already training for my next marathon, the Richmond marathon in mid-November. I'm on the upswing of mileage now and I'm eager to work hard through the rest of my training and see what I can do in this race.

3. A fun Birthday trip: Mom and I are heading down for a long weekend to Walt Disney World for the Tower of Terror 10 Mile race.  We've never done this race before and we're really excited for it.  The timing for the race is perfect as it aligns with a 10 mile cut-back week in my marathon training schedule.  The race also happens to fall right around my Birthday so the timing really is impeccable.

4. Roasting: It's no secret that I love to cook and I always enjoy a chance to indulge in the season's best flavors.  One of my favorite ways to cook is roasting meat, vegetables, whatever with tons of fresh herbs and spices.  It really is a perfect accompaniment to a chilly evening.

5. Fantasy Football: Now you probably didn't expect that this pink-loving, Lilly Pulitzer-wearing, domestic diva is into Fantasy Football, but that's where you would be wrong.  Each year, I strategize my team's name and corresponding logo to maximize my trash talking potential.  Previous team names have included "Brady's Baby Mamas," "Make it rain, suckas," and "Ladies is pimps too."  Many of these names originated from being the only girl in my previous league.  I LIVE for fantasy football.  Last year I was second in my league and this year I'm out for blood.

Thanks for hosting a great Friday Five linkup, Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia!  Happy long weekend Friday, y'all!

August 28, 2014

How to Rock VA Beach like a local!

With a combined 23 years of residency in the Hampton Roads area, with 14 of those being in Virginia Beach, I think we can consider ourselves locals on the area.  We've already shared our ten tips to enjoying Virginia Beach like a local and we figured it made sense to share some insight into the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach half marathon as well.

1. Beware of the heat.  Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach race weekend is known to be a very hot event.  It is the end of the summer in a mid-Atlantic beach town, so I'm not sure anyone would expect otherwise.  With that, be mindful of what you wear and choose something cool.

2. Bring some hydration.  While the course has tons of water stops, I was grateful that I had a handheld water bottle when we ran the relay in 2012.  And also a word of caution…we experienced some very chaotic water stops in 2012 so be patient when you pass through.  I've heard that RnR has made a lot of improvements in that area so fingers crossed that's no longer a concern!

3. Plan for the parking situation.  There is definitely not enough parking at the Va Beach Convention Center so locals are encouraged to park at Farm Bureau Live (formerly the Virginia Beach Amphitheater); there will be shuttles from this venue to the start and finish line.  And for those who are staying at the oceanfront, there will be shuttles from various locations to the starting line and finish area.  After having dealt with race morning traffic at the oceanfront before, I can tell you that the shuttles are the way to go.  Or if you want to skip the shenanigans altogether and have a spot at the convention center, you may want to consider the VIP package.

4. Prepare to beach bum after the race.  The race finishes on the boardwalk and the post-race party is on the beach, so why wouldn't you bring a towel and bathing suit for post-race beach enjoyment?  This is not rocket science, people!
After the 2012 race on the beach

5. Check out the sights.  You'll pass by some of Virginia Beach's notable sights along the race course including Rudee Inlet, the Marine Science Museum (aka the aquarium), Camp Pendleton, and the Boardwalk.  When you cross over the Rudee Inlet bridge, take a look on both sides. It's an incredible view…and you'll be grateful you reached the top of it both times you have to cross it during the race!

6. Know the boring sections.  Yes, like any race course there are sections that aren't my favorite.  For the Rock 'n' Roll half course, this is miles 7-10ish.  You'll be pretty far off the oceanfront and there isn't usually much air movement…or much to see.  Enjoy the bands or make a friend on the course during this section.

7. Don't let the sun get you down.  With a 7:00 AM start time, it will be sunny so I'd recommend a hat/visor, sunglasses, and sunscreen.  You can thank me later, especially the part about sunscreen.  And if you choose to hang out on the beach after the race, make sure you have sunscreen for post-race too.

Looking for more info about race day?  Check out the official event guide here.  They even have a "run like a local" section on page 42 and these are many of my routes - they're good ones!

Disclaimer: As a Rock 'n' Blogger, I received a free race entry into the Rock 'n' Roll Virginia Beach half marathon.  All opinions are my own.


August 27, 2014

Boot camp at the beach!

If you follow us on Facebook or twitter, you know I spent early Saturday morning at the beach with several other ladies for a special book camp class.  Leaving my house, with very dark clouds in the sky, it was unlikely we would be able to have a class.  But we were fortunate and the rain held off so Mitzie and I could get our butts kicked by fitness trainer Rachael.

Serene setting, but not once Rachael got us going!

The class started with some easy jogging that got increasingly harder to get our blood pumping.  We then did some grape vines and lunges before the fun started!  We did several sets of exercises that were quite difficult for the old lady of the group. I don't spend alot of time doing squats and honestly, I should.  Sunday morning I was sore in my inner thigh area from some of the challenges of the boot camp class!

Can you tell it was windy?
The class lasted for 45 minutes and by the time we were doing abdominal work and planks, I thought my arms might fall off.  Mitzie and I had a great time whining and complaining to Rachael, but it was all in good fun.  I can't wait for the next beach class and hopefully the attendance will be much better.

Mitzie kept me laughing the whole time!
Thanks to Rachael for putting this class together.  I hope we will be doing one again soon!

August 26, 2014

Final Tips for Rock 'n Roll Virginia Beach - are you ready for some fun?

It's race week for these two ladies and we are so excited.  Megan, co-author of The Runner's Guide to WDW, athlete and friend will be joining us for race weekend.  Here are some of the details to help you enjoy your race weekend in Virginia Beach!

*  Print out your final confirmation/waiver and have it filled in for ease when you get to the Expo.  They will also require a photo ID, so don't forget that important item.

*  The Health and Fitness Expo is held on Friday from 1:00pm to 7:00pm and on Saturday from 10:00am - 5:00pm.  This expo is a fabulous one so make sure to allow extra time to check out the merchandise and vendors.

*Race registration:  If you forgot to sign up for the races, don't fret!  There is still space available for Expo registration for the one mile race on the beach and the half marathon and half marathon relay.  Be sure to get to the expo early to secure a spot.

You know you want these!

* VIP Experience:  You can still sign up for this package here if you want the royal treatment on race day!  This includes special parking, pre-race breakfast, private gear check and indoor restrooms, post race lunch  with bar and a shuttle back to the start line.

In case you missed it, we also posted about our favorite things to do while in Virginia Beach several months ago.  You can check that out here!

Can't wait to a great race weekend.  Hope to see some of friends out on the course!

August 25, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Dublin non-racing fun!

Part of our experience as Rock 'n' Bloggers at the Rock 'n Roll Dublin Half Marathon included several fun events besides race day.  Christine wrote about our race day experience here and honestly, it was one of the most fun and relaxed races we have run.
Getting our credentials at the expo…and feeling a little out of our league!
And celebrating afterwards with a fun pub lunch in the Temple Bar section of Dublin was wonderful and so different than the way we eat/drink after our races here in the US.  Just look at the size of those beer glasses!
No, those weren't all our beers!
Getting back on topic, the first event we attended was the party held on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Cafe, which ended up being practically next door to our hotel in Dublin.  This event was sponsored by the Rock 'n' Roll Competitor Group and included delicious food and drinks.
Headed out for a fun evening!
It was a great opportunity to meet with many of the people associated with the event including Josh Furlow, Executive Vice President of Global events.  His travel schedule is insane!  Right after the Dublin event, he was flying to Virginia Beach, to work on things for the upcoming race on August 31st.  We also met some of the police force who are tasked with keeping all the runners safe on race day, a woman who had won her race entry via a contest, and Mary, who is affiliated with the Tourist Board of Ireland.
Enjoying a few libations!

On Sunday afternoon, while Christine shopped for clothing since her suitcase still had not arrived, I had the opportunity to take a walking city tour courtesy of Failte Ireland (Tourist Board).  Tom joined myself and 4 others including Christina MacDonald, editor of Women's Running UK magazine, who was also running the half marathon on Monday morning.  It was delightful to have a few hours to see some of the more contemporary and newer sights in Dublin.  My favorite was probably the rooftop bar at The Marker which we were told is packed on a beautiful day.  We stopped here for a brief rest and beverage and then continued the tour at a nearby area called the Grand Canal.  It is unusual to see water sports in the middle of a big city, and we learned that a place called Surfdock caters to all ages with some thrill rides and less scary water fun! Another stop was at a coffee shop called the 3fe (3rd floor espresso), that has won numerous awards worldwide for their coffee.  It has a very contemporary flair with table and chairs made out of scaffolding!

Our final stop was at the Fallon & Byrne Restaurant for dinner.  Luckily, Christine and Adam had finished their shopping and were able to join the group.  This restaurant is located above a food hall that was a gourmet cook's paradise.

Nice views of the downstairs since it was closed when we left the restaurant!
Lovely food, drink, and conversation with fellow runners/writers made the evening a fantastic way to end our busy day.  With race morning less than 12 hours away, we said our goodbyes and wished each other well.

We feel so lucky to have been extended the invitation to attend these events and are truly grateful to both the Competitor Group and Failte Ireland for treating us like running princesses!  Hopefully we will be back to enjoy this race again.

If you are interested in reading another take on the Dublin race, here is a link to "Dublin Rocked," a blog post by Chris MacDonald.

August 24, 2014

Weekly Roundup - Aug 24th

This week has been one of my best in terms of the quality and success of my training runs. I seriously cannot remember the last time that I hit all of the distances and goals for my 3 runs during the week and I'm feeling very pleased about that. 

But what I most want to tell you about was the drama from my training run yesterday. I set out at about 6:45AM and it was actually somewhat cool. About a mile into the run, I realized how humid it was and noticed I was already sweating a lot. I was consuming my fluids much faster than I anticipated. I checked the time on my watch and realized that my gym would be open right around the time I was running by so I planned to stop and refill my water bottles. I've done this before so it wasn't new. Of course I don't carry my car keys with me so I didn't have my membership card and the girl at the desk started to look me up in the computer. I mentioned that I wasn't even planning to work out and just wanted to fill up my water bottles. She didn't look up. After trying several different ways to find me in the system, she was unable to locate me. When I said "I am a member and have been since before this became the YMCA," she just looked at me. She eventually said she was unable to locate me and it was clear I wasn't getting any water. Not wanting to waste more time, I headed back out the front door with tears in my eyes and panic in my mind. 

I had at least 3 miles to go until I made it home and I knew that I would struggle without fluids. Luckily there's a brand new Starbucks that's on my route so I stopped there. And the two baristas couldn't have been nicer. They even offered to wash the Gatorade out of one bottle before refilling it! In comparison to my gym, I considered the fact that I wasn't a paying customer so they didn't owe me anything. Amazing. My frustration with my YMCA fueled me to finish my run at a very strong pace so not all was lost! 

Sunday, Aug 17th

Pam:  Ran 4 miles at about 9:30 pace, walked 6 miles
Christine: 9 miles at 9:15 pace (planned 12), stretching

Monday, Aug 18h
Pam: Lots of walking around London
Christine: 30 min circuit workout with jumping jacks, squats, lunges, abs, push-ups, hip exercises, plank

Tuesday, Aug 19th
Pam: Walked 5 miles in London
Christine: Speed training - 1 mile warm up, 5x1000 with 400 RI (I dropped it to 200 after the first 1000), 1/2 mile cool down

Wednesday, Aug 20th
Pam:  Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Thursday, Aug 21st
Pam: 40 minutes elliptical, sit ups, plank, Bosu
Christine: 4 miles descending at 9:03, 8:28, 8:26, 8:11 plus half mile cool down

Friday, Aug 22nd
Pam: Ran 4 miles descending: 9:25, 9:13, 9:05, 8:57
Christine: Rest day

Saturday, Aug 23rd
Pam: Boot camp at the beach!
Christine: 10 miles at 9:04 pace, stretching 

August 22, 2014

Upcoming runDisney Events: DL and ToT

It's getting to be the time of year when runDisney events are in full swing!  In just a week, many of you will be participating in the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend events.  We ran the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge last year and simply loved it!  It was a really fun race weekend that was only amplified by my first trip to Disneyland resort.  Hard to believe, isn't it?

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend Information
* Don't forget to print out your waiver!
* For some reading on the plane, download the Official Event Guide to your tablet.
* Need to check your corral?  Use your bib number that's found on your waiver to check your corral for the half marathon, 10k, and Dumbo Double Dare Challenge.
* Check out some of the discounts in the igiftbag.
* Don't forget to get a coupon for the free art card.  We love including these in our race scrapbooks, especially since they're FREE!
* Take a final glance at the final race instructions so you are ready to race!

Tower of Terror 10 Miler Information
* Since this is our very first ToT event, you better believe we'll be studying the Official Event Guide in great detail!
* Keep checking for the waivers to come out so you can have yours printed and ready for the expo.
* Print out the event guide or have it downloaded on your Ipad or phone so you can read it while on your trip to WDW.
* Buy tickets for friends that are not racing for the Disney Villain's Hollywood Bash after party here.

RunDisney released the new medals in June and we can't wait to get our hands on the 10 miler medal.  It has a cool new ribbon and will look great on our medal racks.  We are really looking forward to the race weekend since we will be attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party too.  It will also be fun to party with the villains after our race in Hollywood Studios riding our favorite rides, eating some treats and drinking a few adult beverages.

Are you going to be at either of these race weekends?

August 20, 2014

Killarney: Things to do

Killarney is a darling, quaint town that is situated in the southwest part of Ireland at the start of the famous Ring of Kerry drive. The downtown area reminded me of an alpine village with its colorful shop and restaurant facades and flags flying over the main street. One of the challenges of Killarney is that there isn't much on the town in tour books, despite it being a very popular place to start many excursions in the southwest part of Ireland. We had done a bit of research in advance and had a few ideas to get us going. Since we were staying at a small hotel, we also figured that we could get some tips from the front desk staff. We really loved this small town and it was a lovely contrast to the business of the capital city. 

Description: This is Ireland's first national park and is an outdoor enthusiast's dream with so many activities and picturesque views in every direction. There are many different activities from walking/hiking to boat tours to historical sites to jaunting cars (horse drawn carts) to boat rentals to bike rentals. 
Location: Every direction you travel in Killarney, you seem to be in or near the park. It's a massive park with multiple entrances depending on your activity.
Visiting: Entrance into the park is free. 
Tips: If you choose to partake in an outdoor adventure in the park, be sure to pack water and snacks/lunch. There is a small cafe on one side of the lake but we found peace of mind knowing we had water and a picnic lunch. Get a map of the park from the Muckross House which will include trails and corresponding elevation. 
Pam and Christine's take: The park is gorgeous and we think it's a must! 

The views of Muckross Lake from just above the Torc Waterfall
Muckross House
Description: The Muckross House is a Victorian estate house from the 1800s that has been restored. Fans of Downton Abbey may recognize the style of this house. The estate grounds are beautiful and include some formal gardens and a beautiful lawn overlooking the lake.
Location: Located within Killarney National Park. Note that there are several entrances for different modes of transportation so pay attention when you arrive. 
Visiting: Entrance into the house is by guided tour only. Tour groups have about 40-50 people and the tour is approximately 90 minutes. 
Tips: Tours seem to fill up quickly so arrive early or be prepared to book a later tour and see other things first. We ended up hiking the park in the morning and touring the house later in the afternoon. The grounds are definitely picnic-worthy with the sprawling lawn and numerous benches providing adequate space.  So bring some food and enjoy the spectacular views of the lake. 
Pam and Christine's take: The house is nice but we didn't think the tour was worth it. Spend your time walking the gardens and head to the farm and abbey instead.
Muckross House
Muckross Farm
Description: The farm area features the different parts of a traditional Irish farm, including different sized farms, schoolhouse, blacksmith, and tannery. It's a circular tour so it's easy to make your way between "exhibits." The farm also features many different types of animals including pigs, horses, cows, goats, and donkeys. 
Location: The farm is in the same general area as the Muckross House within Killarney National Park. 
Visiting: The farm is a self-guided tour and at each stop, there are hosts to answer questions and provide you with additional information. This is definitely kid friendly. 
Tips: Don't go first thing when it opens as not everything will be up and running. Have your cameras ready to snap some shots of the many farm animals! 
Pam and Christine's take: A big surprise and a spot that we would highly recommend! 
Charming Irish cottage
One of the many animals we saw while visiting the farm
Description: This Franciscan abbey was in operation until Orwellian times.  Now it is simply well-preserved ruins that includes a cemetery where local chieftains were buried.  It's beautifully preserved and incredibly peaceful.
Location: This isn't in the same general vicinity as the house and farm, but it's in the park and within walking distance. 
Visiting: There is no entrance fee nor is there a formal reception or welcome desk. You can walk through the abbey and cemetery at your leisure. 
Tips: Venture to the abbey early in the day when you'll find it essentially deserted. We stopped while we were on a morning run. 
Pam and Christine's take: A fun and low-pressure (also free!) addition to your Muckross visit. 
Imagine our surprise to stumble on this place in the early morning
long before most tourists were up and about!

Description: This was one of the many tower houses that existed in the 14th and 15th centuries in the Irish countryside. These houses were used to help protect a chieftain and his property at a time when there was much feudal warfare.  
Location: The castle is a very short (8-10 minute) drive from downtown and is well marked! 
Visiting: You can enter the castle on a guided tour or choose to walk the grounds. The castle entry fee (4 euros for adults!) includes a guided tour where you learn quite a bit about the construction and defense mechanisms of the castle. We had a fabulous guide and really enjoyed the 45 minute tour! 
Tips: Arrive early as the tours are small and fill up quickly. Also, the bus groups seem to arrive mid to late morning so you may want to beat them to the castle. 
Pam and Christine's take: A must do! Very reasonable and a highly informative tour.
Safe to say it was a gorgeous day to see Ross Castle!
Killarney was a wonderful town and we really enjoyed our time here!

August 19, 2014

The State of my Running

I've been doing a lot of thinking about my running lately.  Maybe it's because I'm on week 5 of marathon training.  Maybe it's on the heels of another half marathon completion.  Whatever the reason, it's been a good thing.  I've been spending more time with my training plan, more time looking at paces for my runs, and most importantly, more time on my workouts themselves.  Now don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean that I'm logging more hours at the just means I'm showing up!

Richmond is 13 weeks away and that has me a bit nervous.  My training hasn't been terribly strong so far but I also haven't been all that committed to it.  Until last week, I hadn't done a speed workout in 3-4 months!  My half marathons in Napa and Dublin were just for fun.  I haven't run a hard or PR attempt race since Shamrock and that's a LONG time for me!  I miss the burning desire for a PR.  I miss the intensity that I often wear on race day when I mean business.
Goofing off on a recent training run and a nod to Adam's military roots
I've been a little off my game this summer.  My paces haven't been what I would like and I forgot what it means to build up your endurance base. It's hard!  I'm having to work harder to run easy paces and remind myself that just because I used to run long runs at 8:45 pace in February doesn't mean I'm in any shape to run that pace now.  I know I'll get there again, and I'm working hard to be patient with myself as I adjust to new paces for marathon training and reacquaint myself with the lethargy of summer running.

And I would be kidding myself (and all of you) if I didn't confess that a new person (ok, guy) in my life has impacted my training....and mostly in very positive ways.  Lucky for me, my new beau (yes, he has a name and it's Adam) is also a runner, and a fast one to boot.  His easy runs are at 7:30 pace.  So it's safe to say that he probably won't be joining me on my long pace runs and I won't be joining him for his speed work, but it's amazing to have a companion for a 5 mile run after work.  And so far, he's proving to be an excellent cheerleader, having been on the sidelines at a 5k earlier this spring (where he ran me in the last couple hundred yards) and at the finish line of the Rock 'n' Roll Dublin half.
Enjoying the finish line festivities...and no we
didn't plan to match!
In the last two weeks, my training has been on an upswing so I'm taking that to heart and channeling that positive energy.  When I was lamenting a crummy long run on Sunday, a wise blogger friend reminded me of an important point.  Thank you, Jen, for this gem!

How do you get back on track after a training slump?

August 18, 2014

Dublin: Things to do

Despite only spending a few days in Ireland's capital city, we still managed to see a fair bit of the city. We had also spent a fair bit of time checking out tour books and websites in advance so we had a good sense for what we wanted to see. After spending time mulling through these resources and having the chance to see much of it first hand, we figured it would be helpful to give you a rundown of what we saw and our thoughts. 

Description: This is the old jail that was closed in 1924 and housed many famous prisoners during the Irish revolution in 1915-1918. It was a fascinating place and we really enjoyed seeing the different stages of the prison as it became more modernized. 
Location: On the left bank of the river and in the western part of the city and relatively close to the Guinness Brewery and Guinness Storehouse
Visiting: You can only visit the jail by taking a tour and these can fill up quickly. The tours are about 75-90 minutes. 
Tips: Arrive earlier in the day as the lines get long in the mid to late afternoon. 
Pam and Christine's take: Add the jail to your list

Description: I'm not sure this even needs a description other than the fact that the storehouse is essentially a visitation facility to learn about Dublin's most famous liquid substance. Each floor has detailed information on various aspects of Guinness- the brewing process, advertising history, proper tasting techniques, and proper pouring techniques. There are two different places that you can get your free pint - the gravity bar or the perfect pouring experience. We opted to hit up the gravity bar for stunning 360 degree views of the city.
Location: On the north bank of the river near the St. James Hospital Luas stop. Note it's a bit of a walk from the Luas but along the way you'll see Arthur Guinness's home.
Visiting: There are no formal guided tours. Audio guides are available in other languages.
Tips: Arrive early in the day and consider starting at the gravity bar before you tour the facility. We noticed many people only went to the bar so it was quite crowded by the tip we got up there.
Pam and Christine's take: Even though it's a pricey attraction, it's a must do!

Description: Again, this one is probably pretty self-explanatory. It's a gorgeous stone cathedral with both Norman and Roman architectural inspiration. 
Location: Very centrally located in the city on the south bank of the river. It's a short walk from the Temple Bar area.
Visiting: There are formal guided tours so check ahead for the times that these are offered. The cathedral wasn't overly crowded so this is an attraction where you have a little flexibility for your arrival time. Make sure you spend some time in the crypt, seeing some of the beautiful relics. 
Tips: Definitely do the tour! It costs a bit extra but it includes a trip to the bell tower where you'll get fabulous views of the city and learn to ring the bells. Plus you get a nice color book to take home. 
Pam and Christine's take: Pay the extra and do the guided tour.

Description: The only castle in central Dublin.  I was surprised to find this is more like a large government building or palace rather than a traditional castle.  Today it's simply used as a conference and dining facility.  When we visited, there were sand sculptures in the courtyard area.
Location: Just around the corner from Christ Church Cathedral on the south bank of the river.
Visiting: Entry into the castle requires admission and once inside, there are several exhibits and museums to see.
Pam and Christine's take: Skip this one! There are many other castles outside the city that are worth the time and expense of a visit. 

Description: Dublin's major university was established in the 16th century and now houses 25 different academic schools.  To give you an idea, my mind was buzzing just looking at all of the different academic studies buildings on the map - engineering, nursing, archaeology, science, etc.  Its library houses several historical documents including the Book of Kells.
Location: Centrally located on the south bank of the river just east of the Temple Bar area. 
Visiting: There are student-led tours throughout the day. Because we were there early in the day, tours weren't available.
Pam and Christine's take: A beautiful university campus for a stroll.  

Description: Enjoy authentic, local Irish music at several family-owned pubs. Prepare to laugh and partake in some fun music during this three hour event during which you'll see three pubs. We saw St. John Gogerty's in Temple Bar, The Ha'Penny Bridge Inn along the river, and Brannigan's Bar across the river. We loved doing this and the price is quite reasonable (12 Euros per person). 
Location: The group meets in Temple Bar at St. John Gogerty's on the second floor bar, which was conveniently located just down the street from our hotel. 
Tips: Wear comfortable shoes because you'll spend a fair bit of time walking down cobblestone streets between pubs. Also, try to get to each pub at the front end of your group so you can easily get a pint when you arrive. 
Pam and Christine's take: A must do!

Do you have anything that is a must see in Dublin to add to our list?

August 17, 2014

Weekly Roundup - Aug 17th

Getting back into the swing of life after vacation is never easy and this week was no exception.  While Mom and Dad are still in the UK on a hiking adventure in the Lake District, I was doing laundry, making the daily commute to work and logging miles on the treadmill.  Sounds glamorous, doesn't it?!  Well there were some fun things this week - I registered for two races as you probably saw on Instagram, Facebook, and this post.  That gave me a renewed sense of motivation to keep pushing during training!

This week, I ran my fastest 400 EVER on Tuesday evening!  And to do that after not doing speed work for several months was a big surprise.  I think it was helpful that it was my last interval so a) I was definitely warmed up and used to running hard and b) it was my last interval so I gave it my all. 
Pam hiking the Lake District of England
Wore my new RnR Dublin race shirt for cross training
on Monday
Instead of running, I gave my runner feet a pedicure on the
deck on Thursday night

Sunday, Aug 10th
Pam: Hiking in Lake District
Christine: 11 mile run with 10 at 8:57, last mile at 8:30

Monday, Aug 11th
Pam: 10 mile hike with 3300 feet climb
Christine: 40 min elliptical, stretching

Tuesday, Aug 12th
Pam: Hiking in Lake District
Christine: Speed work with 1 mile w/u, 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400 with 200 rest in between each, then 5 min cool down; stretching; abs

Wednesday, Aug 13th
Pam: Rest day
Christine: Rest day

Thursday, Aug 14th
Pam: Hiking in Lake District
Christine: Unplanned rest day - knees were really achy

Friday, Aug 15th
Pam: Hiking in Lake District
Christine: 15 min stationary bike, 20 min elliptical, 100 push-ups, Abs, stretching, 1 hour yard work

Saturday, Aug 16th
Pam: Travel day
Christine: 4 hours house improvement projects, 100 push-ups

August 14, 2014

A preview of Ireland in photos

We are working on a few posts to give you all of the details of the places we went and yummy foods we savored…but until then we figured we would share a few photos of our trip.  Because let's face it, photos are more fun than words anyways!


Locks on Ha'Penny Bridge

A colorful pub in Temple Bar
Door at Trinity College

Blarney Castle
The Poison Garden at Blarney Castle

Muckross Lake in Killarney National Park
 More to come on this beautiful country!

August 13, 2014

Race Registration-palooza!

The last month has brought several new events to our race calendar.  In July, we signed up for the Glass Slipper Challenge.  On Tuesday night, I signed up for the "newest" J&A race, the Surf -n-Santa 5 miler.  Yesterday, I was able to register us for the latest runDisney event, the inaugural Pixie Dust Challenge.  To say I'm excited about these events would be a huge understatement!

Given that I've been in a bit of a lull with race registrations, it has been fun to have new events on the horizon and most of them are new to me.  With the exception of the Princess Half, which is the second leg of the Glass Slipper Challenge, all will be new experiences.  And I like that.  I'm excited to return to Princess once again, the race where it all began for us. 

The latest J&A race, Surf-n-Santa is a modification from previous years.  This year, the race will be a 5 mile race on the Boardwalk underneath the holiday lights.  How fun is that?!  I heard the news for the change and was instantly on board.  Plus I think it will make the post-race party that much more fun since it will be on a Saturday night.  In past years, this was a 10 mile distance and I saw many that were disappointed to see the race distance cut in half.  Given that neither distance is a common distance, I am not really bothered.  And to be honest, I much prefer the idea of a shorter night race with Christmas light!

I find that having races on the calendar is a motivating factor and I think this will be good for me.  I'm not sure if any of these races will be PR attempts, but having the events looming will certainly keep me running.  And being that these are half marathons or less, they're more manageable (for me) from a training standpoint.  Best of all, I'll have a race buddy for each of these races which only adds to my excitement! 

As of last night at 9pm eastern, most of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend events still had availability but if you want in, register quickly as they're sure to sell out soon!

If you're interested in the modified Surf-n-Santa race, there is a great introductory rate of $40 until Friday.  These races have AMAZING swag so it's definitely a great price!

Do you keep races on the calendar to stay motivated?  Did you register for any of the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend events?

August 12, 2014

Why Richmond Marathon will be different

On the heels of my latest race and my second "for fun" half marathon this summer, I've really started thinking more about Richmond. My training hasn't been all that great so far and there are several things about this marathon that make it a little different. They're neither good nor bad, they just are. 
My training needs a bit of a kick in the pants!
This will be my first marathon that I'll be running solo. My buddy Danielle ran by my side at Marine Corps last fall and of course Mom and I ran together for the final leg of the Dopey Challenge. I have run plenty of other races solo but truth be told, 26.2 miles is a long way to run by yourself. Maybe I'll make some friends on the course!

For my first two marathons, I didn't have a time goal. I approached both of them with a mindset of finishing rather than a time. This time I definitely have some big dreams for a time goal. After my PR at Shamrock, I was feeling really gung-ho about a big time in Richmond. My training hasn't been terribly strong from a pace perspective so far so I've backed off my initial goal a bit. I have settled on two goals-the first for a perfect, everything goes right day and the second for a strong, but realistic finish. They are sub-4:00 and 4:00-4:10, respectively.

It's my only marathon on the books for a while and I kind of like that. Marine Corps was essentially my warm up for Dopey Challenge last winter and to be honest, that schedule became a burden. It was tons of training and many long runs. I'm totally fine with having one marathon on the books for the foreseeable future. I had thought hard about running the Shamrock full marathon next spring but right now I'm not so sure about that.

I'm excited for a semi-local marathon and for the journey that will take me there. Any tips for making the transition from training to finish a marathon to training for a time goal? 

August 11, 2014

Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon Race Recap

This morning was like most race mornings in that it started early and we enjoyed our normal pre-race breakfast of bagel with peanut butter and a banana. What made this race morning a little different was navigating to the start on public transportation in a city that was mostly new to us. 

Leaving the hotel to head out…note my oversized half zip that
I borrowed from Adam since my luggage was still MIA
Luckily, our hotel wasn't very far from the Luas, which is like a tram/light rail through the city. We were easily able to get tickets and took it to the last stop, The Pointe, which was near the starting line. When we got off, all of the runners sort of looked at each other to figure out which way to go which was a bit comical; eventually we figured out which way to go.

It was a clear, crisp morning and the starting line was very relaxed. We walked around a bit to scope out the area and then dropped off our bags when we realized we could manage without our long sleeved tops and just our throwaway blankets. 

Easy to navigate bag check
The starting line area along the river, looking back from the starting line
After some stretching and a final porta potty stop, it was time to get into our corral. We were in corral 6 which was about a 1:57-2:00 time. We met another American woman who was running by herself and enjoyed chatting while we waited for the start. I was surprised by the friendliness of the other runners, particularly the Irish. People were asking about anticipated finish times, other races we had done, and our plans while we were visiting. It was a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. 

At last the race was underway and we were surprised to find that there was no national anthem played despite the fact that this race was the Irish national half marathon championships. Curious indeed! We also were running well before we crossed the starting line which I haven't done in many races. For the first few miles, we settled into a comfortable pace of 9:15-9:20 and really enjoyed ourselves. We passed the famine ship, statues from the famine, the new Samuel Beckett Bridge (a white, harp-inspired bridge), and Temple Bar. We made our first major turn around mile two and headed up a very steep hill under the Christ Church arch. It was beautiful and brutal at the same time. And just as quickly as we got to the top of the hill, we were heading down an equally steep hill around a corner back to the main road. 
Beautiful views of the river at the starting area
Samuel Beckett Bridge
Looking down the hill under the Christ Church gate
(not from race morning)
Next we passed Four Courts, the Guinness Brewery, and Kilmaninhaim Gaol (the jail). The course took us past some houses and then into the Modern Art Museum grounds that were dotted with sculptures. Over my right shoulder, I looked over the hill and back into the center city where we had just run. This race course was simply spectacular!

Jail entrance (not from race morning)

The legendary brewery (not from race morning)
Just before mile 6, we made the turn into Phoenix Park, where we would finish the race and obviously we still had a ways to go! We were warned that the park contained a lot of hills so I tried to prepare myself for that challenge. We hit the 10k marker in about 57-58 minutes which wasn't too bad, pace-wise and then we noticed that halfway sign shortly thereafter. Through the park, we traversed several hills and saw the Papal Cross, Wellington Monument, Irish President's home, and the American Embassy. We knew that the final mile or two contained a very steep hill (up and down) so we needed to conserve a bit of energy for that. I told mom to find a power song to help ease the pain. At this point, she was feeling a lot stronger than me-my legs were pretty trashed! Once we hit mile 12.5 or so, it was mostly flat roads to the finish. And once we sensed the finish line nearing, our pace dropped a bit. The finish line stretch is always fun and this was no different. I scanned the crowd for the boys but didn't see them. We crossed the finish line with big smiles and holding hands. 
Happy finishers!
The finish chute was similar to other races-water, medals, bananas, electrolyte beverages, and other snacks. As we were taking pictures with our medals, I heard a familiar voice and we found my Dad and Adam. We shared tales of the awesome race course and of course, the pain from the hills. Our final times seem a little off-my time is nearly 90 seconds faster than Mom's time even though we ran together. 
After reuniting with the boys, we all grabbed some snacks and enjoyed the awards presentation. After the awards, we heard a few songs from the finish line band, the Frank and Walters, and reveled in our latest half marathon. At around 11:00 or so, we decided it was time to head back so we could enjoy some more sightseeing that afternoon. There was a shuttle that took you back into center city which was fabulously convenient but unfortunately the line was pretty long. Dad managed to figure out there was one line that was much shorter so we only waited about 10 minutes. 

Getting some snacks

Finish line party in Phoenix Park

Race stats:
Total half marathoners: 7,500-8,000 (we heard a range of total runners)
Countries represented: 46
Race corrals: 13
Men's winning time: 1:05.19
Women's winning time: 1:16.02 (also her first half marathon!!)
Christine's time: 2:02:04
Pam's time: 2:03.29

- Fabulous, scenic race course
- Plenty of aid stations with water and gels plus several medical stops
- Course never felt overly crowded 
- Easy, low-key start and finish area
- Powerade was given out in bottles along the course, so if you don't like carrying a bottle, this would be a con for you 
- Variety of post-race snacks including power bars, gummy bears, chips, pretzels, bananas
- Finisher certificates to print at home - love this for my race scrapbook!
- Awesome race medal and addition of a race challenge with the family fun run 

- Inconsistent race timing (gun and chip times are still listed as the same on the results site)
- Some of the bands weren't playing when we ran by but this seems inevitable
- Post-race shuttle had a very long line
Enjoying the post-race party
Overall we loved this race and found it very low key. And the differences between an international race and what we are accustomed to in the U.S. were negligible. If you get the chance to try this race, we highly recommend it. It was really fun to see so much of the city on foot in just a few hours!  And a word of warning-Guinness, pub food, and jet lag don't make PRs so don't get your hopes up for a fast race. Just enjoy the experience-we did! 

As Rock 'n' Bloggers, we have each been provided with a free race entry into the Rock 'n' Roll Dublin Half Marathon.  We are encouraged to support the race through social media and our blog, but are not required to do so nor are we compensated for this post.  All opinions are our own.