Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 10

Spring is finally here!! Of course, Pittsburgh welcomed the first day of spring with snow. Typical. I know I will be saying this every week from now until race day, but I still can’t believe that it’s almost here! Just a few more long runs to go… This last week has really gotten away from me – can you tell?? It’s freaking Saturday and I’m just getting this posted.. Oops. There aren’t even any pictures to share…not a single one. Oh well, it’s this or nothing. Hopefully I’ll have something next week (don’t get your hopes up)

Monday – Rest Day. It was another GORGEOUS day, and as usual I couldn’t throw the shorts on and enjoy it. I did get to open the windows in the house to let some fresh air in. The kids always enjoy window time as well – watching the birds go CRAZY outside makes them go crazy INSIDE. I love it!

Tuesday – I was feeling a little off and debated skipping my run, but I had a new route to try out that was near my office and I was really excited about it so I figured I should at least give it a shot. This much harder than I expected (which was a good thing) but the wind was crazy! There were a few times that I went backwards instead of forward. My stomach wasn’t really on board with this run and I had to make a brief pit stop at the office but after that I was A-OK.  I could have done without the wind but at least the sun was shining!

Wednesday – Strength day.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever detailed what my A& B days are. Today was A  and that includes: Squats 3×8  Alternating sets of: Pushups and Barbell Rows both 3×8 & Alternating sets of Step Ups 3×8  and Swiss Ball Jackknives 3×15. Since I don’t have super heavy dumbbells and the ones I’m using for the Step Ups are too light I do 3x 15 of those as well.

Thursday – Speed. I wanted nothing to do with this run at all. I was exhausted and was tired just driving home. I debated moving this to Friday but decided against it and that ultimately was for the best as Friday was a total wash. I started out with a warm up mile (11:31) and set out for 3 speedy ones. I went 10:38, 10:25, 10:29 and they were tough. Not only did I feel like I was going sooooo slow, but my legs actually hurt. My quads were on fire, like it was mile 23 or like it had been months since I went for a run. It was definitely strange, and terrible for my confidence as we get into the closing weeks of training . I just have to keep trusting the process and hope that all of this work and pushing through on tired legs will pay off in the long run.  I was so exhausted after this run. I could barely keep my eyes open at dinner and fell asleep not long after on the couch. It was not pretty.

Friday – This was supposed to be strength, my B day, by that didn’t happen. My alarm went off and I considered staying in bed because I was still really tired, but I know that a lot of times once I get my coffee I’m good to go. Then I rolled over and saw four furry faces silently judging me so that also motivated me to get up. I made my coffee and promptly fell back asleep on the couch. Weights did not happen, and I don’t even feel bad. My body is telling me that it needs a break, and I need to listen to that. I considered not even going to work so that I could catch up on some rest but I knew that we were already short a few people, and I hate calling off, and using sick time, unless I am really really sick…so I went.

Saturday – I had 9 miles planned, but was fully prepared to cut that short or scrap it all together if I was still tired so that I could be as fresh as possible for Sunday (my 1st 20 miler of the training cycle!!). My other plan was that if I WAS feeling good, I would add a mile for an even 10, which would also give me 40 miles for the week. For some reason, that seemed reeeeally important to me. It was cool, but not freezing so you know I was rocking the shorts and was happy I did – I was nice and comfortable the whole time. I used the same route as last Saturday, and while it was still tough it didn’t feel as difficult so that is good. Don’t get me wrong – it was still hard and I was still gasping for air like a fish out of water, but death didn’t feel as eminent as it did last week. I’m getting my mojo back! I think. I hope. 

Sunday – My FIRST 20 miles of the training cycle! I was excited for this – I really do love the long run aspect of training. Being out there for hours, and crushing some major double digit miles (no matter how slow) never fails to make me feel like a total bad ass. Normally 20 miles around North Park wouldn’t be a huge thing – 4 loops around the lake and done. BUT Allegheny County doesn’t seem to realize that some of us have marathons to train for (rude), and without Ingomar Road it makes things a LOT tougher.  I didn’t feel like doing the new horseshoe loop, so I started mapping out some new options. In theory, the course should have looked like this: Kummer, to McKinney, to N Ridge to Pearce Mill and up to JC Stone Field. It was perfect because Jen had 10 miles and I had 20, so I could just do 2 BIG loops and be done. So much easier than 4 little loops. However, I can’t read a map for shit and the roads weren’t clearly marked so I took us waaaaaaay out of the way and while it was very pretty and scenic it also meant that we didn’t get to climb N. Ridge. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I really don’t think I could have done that climb twice. We ended up just going up the hill behind the Boat House, then turning around and going back up behind the Boat House again. We got back to our cars, and I said goodbye to Jen as I set out for another loop, the right way this time. I got up Kummer without too much of a problem until the very tippy top by the golf course/horse show ring. I almost broke into a walk, but held on. I made the correct turn down McKinney this time, but was already dreading the N Ridge climb. Like really dreading. I almost didn’t do it, but I would have felt worse for wimping out so I went for it.  I started up, and knew right away that it was going to be brutal. I just kept chugging away, and some guy went bounding up the hill in front of me and just BLEW past me. I had to assume that he just started or that this was his only hill because he was looking WAY too fresh on that beast. This sucker was never ending and I will admit that I had to stop a few times so that I could take a deep breath or two before continuing. I normally prefer to not stop or walk because it’s so hard for me to get started again, and then once I start walking I will just keep throwing the walk breaks in, but this was necessary. The good news here, is that I was able to recover pretty well and once I got past that initial climb I didn’t have to (or want to) stop and/or walk again. Overall, this was a good run. I would have like to get a negative split, but this was a REALLY aggressive route to tackle and the fact that I kept an almost even pace through all of that is A-OK by me. This was definitely a lot, and on Daily Mile, Mike mentioned that this may actually be too much. Pick one hill or the other, but not both – that could risk injury or burnout and I need to get to the starting line healthy. When he put it that way, I realized that he is exactly right. I have two more 20+ milers coming up, plus 2 more step backs so I think I’ll alternate Kummer with N. Ridge so I can keep my legs guessing.

 

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Five Things Friday – 5 Spring Things I am Most Excited About!

​I missed last week’s link up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia (to be honest though, my life is so boring I don’t think there are 5 interesting things about it 😉  …), but am excited to get back into it this week!
The topic is Spring and I was excited because it leaves so much room for activities, ahem, interpretation!!
I love this movie!

I love this movie!

Since next week’s topic is Spring Favorites, I decided to stay close to that theme and list the 5 Spring Things I am Most Excited About:
Longer Days – I think everyone loves this. Yes, technically we lose an hour of sleep but we get so much more daylight!! I can’t stand it being dark at 5:00 in the evening – all I want to do is crawl under a blankie with a cat or three and go to sleep!
Races! Spring is the start of racing season, starting with the LA Marathon, then Boston, London and of course the Pittsburgh Marathon!
Game. On.

Game. On.

 

 

Baseball returns! I had high hopes of getting down to Florida to visit my dad this March and since he is also close to Bradenton we had planned to catch a few spring training games as well. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but I’m still so excited that the regular season is just a few short weeks away!
Let's Go Bucs

Let’s Go Bucs!!

 

Stanley Cup Playoffs! There is nothing like playoff hockey…unfortunately if you are a Pens fan the last few playoff years have been disappointing, but the games are still so fun to watch!
stanley cup
Fruits & Veggies! Slowly but surely so many delicious fruits and vegetable will be coming back into season; I am especially looking forward to asparagus! YUM!
What ‘Spring Things’ do you look forward to?

Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 9

Week 9 is done, and I completed my longest training run since October of 2013! The weather was messing with me this week – the REALLY nice days were my non-running days (Monday and Wednesday) and the not so nice days fell on my run days. To be honest, I kind of like that because it toughens me up and gets me used to running in less than ideal conditions. If I can make it through those runs, race day should be A-OK. And, if we get shitty weather for race day…then I’m ready for it!

Monday – It was SO nice out that I almost considered going for a run, but, decided to stick to my plan and made it a rest day. I also decided, along with everyone else, to get my car washed; there were at least a dozen cars in front of me and another 7 or 8 in line behind me! I knew it was going to rain in the next day or two but I HAD to get all of that salt and crap off of my car. Then as I sat in line, I started to wonder: am I really getting the wash that I paid for? I went to Get Go and picked the high class $12 wash, but there were so many cars and they were really pushing them through the line that I had to wonder if each car was getting something different, or were all getting the same thing? To be honest, I can never tell the difference between washes; the $12 one is supposed to come with tire shine but my tires never look shiny. And really, as long as I’m getting the undercarriage cleaned I’m happy. Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks about this in such great detail…? Just me? Good talk.

Tuesday – It was cold and rainy, but still a nice day for a run. It felt nice to get my legs moving after some hard workouts the week before and being cramped in the car all day Sunday.

My mom is so proud

My mom is so proud

4 miles 46:22 (11:35 pace)

Wednesday – Strength.  I’m almost finished with Stage 1 of NROLFW and I’m not sure what to do next. Continue on to Stage 2, using low to medium weights/higher reps or just repeat of few more weeks of Stage 1 until after the race when I can really focus on adding weight and (dear god hopefully) start to actually SEE a change in my appearance. Maybe if I put down the cookies I would see some results now, and could stop bitching about it but….cookies.

Thursday – Speed Day. I tried to make this a tempo run, but with all of the hills around my house that can be tricky so I while I know my pace will creep up a bit, I try to make sure that my effort is still hard. My first mile (warm up) already felt challenging, so how are 3 at a faster pace going to feel??  To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to sustain the pace for very long but aside from mile 3 I did OK.

That 3rd mile got me, but I pulled it together for my last mile

That 3rd mile got me, but I pulled it together for my last mile

It felt like a lot of work though. I even mentioned on Daily Mile that it’s amazing to me that one day I can average a 10:00 min pace for TEN MILES and on another day I can barely maintain a 10:50 pace for 3 miles. I know there are a lot of factors that go into it but it’s still fascinating!  5 miles 55:12 (11:02 pace)

Friday – Strength. The usual.

I knew they were calling for lots of rain for Saturday morning, and I’m sure there will be plenty more in the coming weeks, so I decided to splurge and get myself a nice new rain jacket.

It wasn’t quite a shell jacket, but it marketed as “storm gear” so I thought it would be great. I’m a total cheapskate so I was a little hesitant at the $80 dollar price tag, especially when I knew that I had seen other shells at a different store for half the price, but I got it anyway in BRIGHT ASS orange. They didn’t have the pretty mint color, or I would have picked that over the ‘road cone orange’.

Saturday – 10 miles in the pouring rain. In my spiffy new jacket.  I figured if the jacket didn’t work as a shell and keep me dry, it was still nice and BRIGHT (seriously, you can’t miss me in this thing) and would be good for chilly days, or days when visibility isn’t so swell. Anything to justify the price.  Since it was a longish run and I didn’t eat well the night before (looking at you, Miller Lite), I decided to eat a Clif Bar for breakfast but that particular flavor (Gingerbread) was not as delicious as I remembered so I couldn’t even finish it. I packed a gel and a water bottle to stash along my route just in case and set out. I was so excited to get back on the roads (all of my normal roads were free and clear of snow and ice!! YAY!) and the first few miles were great! I was dry, the miles were ticking by and life was good! I got to the first challenging part – this section of road is always hard. It’s a loooooong gradual incline that doesn’t look like much but it’s HARD! Since it’s been at least 3 months since I’ve run it I decided my only goal for that stretch was to not walk. I managed that, and kept a decentish pace. I looped back around, past my stashed water bottle/gel and decided to keep going. I felt OK and really didn’t want to carry it if I didn’t need to so I skipped it. In hindsight, taking the gel wouldn’t have been a bad idea – I hit the back half of the loop around mile 5 and the big hills, which are just as tough as I remember, start around mile 7.

Not too shabby...

Not too shabby…

My pace really suffered for the last 3 miles,  but overall I’m still really happy with this run.

Holy shit, I forgot how hard this is!!

Holy shit, I forgot how hard this is!!

It’s my first time out on the roads since January, as I’ve been banished to the same 4 streets or the treadmill since training started and it’ll probably take me a few tries to get used to them again. The jacket? The $80 jacket? I was soaked by the time I was done. It felt heavy and bulky and my shirt underneath was drenched. I debated returning it, but I already took the tags off (and wore it…obviously) and like I said, it could work as just a lightweight jacket for spring/fall weather but I have plenty of those… and then I still have to buy a shell. I haven’t decided what I want to do yet, but I’m thinking I might try to return it; I’m not even sure they’ll take it since I wore it, but if it doesn’t work I don’t want to keep it. 10 miles 1:58 (11:51 pace)

Sunday – Jen and I decided that we wanted to try the second half of the marathon course so that I could get a feel for it. I have been to Oakland all of 3 times in my life and none of them on foot so I had no idea what to expect. Jen mapped out a 12 mile loop for us starting at CMU and covering a good bit of the Oakland/Shadyside.  I got myself together – the high for Sunday was supposed to be in the 50s and while it was still pretty chilly when I left the house, I figured that by the time I started running and covered 18 miles it would be warm enough to justify shorts. I loaded my fanny pack (now lovingly referred to as the ‘Kangaroo Pouch’), filled up my water bottle and set out to explore The Great Unknown.

The Kangaroo Pouch isn't as bad as I thought...

The Kangaroo Pouch isn’t as bad as I thought…

I found our meeting place with ease and as the wind whipped around my car, I started to worry that shorts and a long sleeved shirt wouldn’t be enough (spoiler alert – I was right). While Jen did her warmup, I decided to stash my phone in my car, because I was worried it would bounce around in the Kangaroo Pouch too much (spoiler alert – this was a bad idea). After a quick picture we were off! Right away, I was cold. My fingers were frozen, my ears were cold and I already couldn’t feel my legs (WHEN WILL I LEARN?!). Being so cold made me miserable, which made me a shitty long run partner. Normally, I never shut up but I was having hard time holding up my end of the conversation and that made me feel bad. Exploring a new area was still a lot of fun though! I will be honest -for a suburban/North Park runner getting used to things like crosswalks was tough. I never knew if I should stop my watch, or let it go…so I did a little of both.  Early in the morning, it wasn’t much of a problem but as the day went on and more people were out it could really throw off your rhythm.

This is the 2nd part of my run - lotsa stops for crosswalks!

This is the 2nd part of my run – all of those hits to the pace are crosswalks! There were a lot!

 

We went all over the place, and so did I as I managed to trip over anything and everything in my path. Seriously…if it was there, I tripped over it and it started to piss me off. I’m sure there are a lot of people telling their co-workers Monday about “that idiot running in shorts who tripped over a stick”. We also came across a couple walking their pet pigs! We stopped and Jen made a new friend (no picture, because no phone); I’m kind of afraid of pigs (the squealing scares me) so I hung back, but seeing them walk around on their leashes was ADORABLE.  It was around here that our directions seemed a little off, but because I didn’t bring my phone we had no way of knowing where we were vs where we should have been. Since I had no idea where we were vs where we should be, I honestly didn’t even notice something was wrong. We asked a lady walking her dog , and she (sort of) pointed us in the right direction. After that break, we were off again and this time we were both COLD! Stopping and starting again made it so hard to warm up and my hands were like ice cubes. I tried to tuck them into my shirt, but that didn’t do much especially when I was holding onto my freezing water bottle. We eventually found our way back on course and headed back towards CMU. I stopped at my car to get my phone, and Jen showed me where I could use the bathroom and refill my water before I set off for 6 more miles (technically 5.75 since we were a little over 12 when we stopped). After she left, I realized that I forgot to write down the directions for my loop so I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought about driving home and finishing 6 on my normal route, but knew that once I got home it would never really happen. I figured that if I stayed around CMU campus/Forbes I would be OK; I looped around some of the building and the back part of CMU, went aaaaaaaaaall the way down Forbes and back, up Moorewood and back down and was still a mile short.

Paces were kind of all over the place, but not much I can do about that.

Paces were kind of all over the place, but not much I can do about that.

Yes, I could have done that CMU loop one more time but the thought of going past my car again almost made me cry. Yes, I’m being serious.  I was in a strange place, alone, cold, tired, was sick of tripping over everything, tired of crosswalks and am more dramatic than a 15 year old so there were almost tears. I had checked my phone, saw how late it was, and decided that 17 was enough. Despite all of that, this was a really good run. I have been so nervous about the 2nd half of the course and this showed me a good bit of it, and that I am (or will be, rather) ready to tackle this in 45 days! A HUGE THANK YOU to Jen for mapping this all out and being our navigator!! 17 miles 3:24 (12:00 pace)

45 days until race day feels like a long time, but when you take the taper into consideration, there are only a few long runs left! Up next are 2 20 milers, a step back, then a 22 miler and then taper time!! Holyshit. My biggest concern now is really nailing down my fueling strategy for race day. Unless they are forecasting a hot day, I’ll be relying on the course aid stations for water so I need to work on getting my gels down the hatch before I actually get to the station (and getting the water IN my mouth, not down my shirt). I also have to work on pre-race food too…I always have a cinnamon raisin bagel w/peanut butter, but given the time between eating that and the race starting I’m thinking I’ll need a little bit more. Probably a Clif Bar on the ride down to the race; don’t worry, I’ll make sure it’s a good flavor this time 😉

How is your training going? Do you rely on race aid stations or are you a BYOW person? How are you at drinking from the paper cups – down the hatch or down the shirt??

Pittsburgh Marathon Training Week 8

Week 8 is over and we are officially halfway there (wooo-ah! Livin’ on a praaaaayer….no? Ok, then)!!!  Holy crap! I try not to remind myself of that and to just focus on the week at hand but, I definitely started to get some butterflies and nerves when I realized it was week 8. I’m the type of person that does better when I break things down into smaller time frames, so I really try not to look to far ahead (unless it’s for scheduling/logistics purposes) otherwise I will start a major freak-out.  This was another strong week, and required a little bit of tinkering to get the miles in but I am happy to report that they are all done! I had a Sunday day trip to my brother’s house planned, which meant I had to shift all of my runs/weights around to fit it all in. This resulted in me doing my NROLFW two days in a row (total no-no), but it was that or nothing AND doing my first running double. Since I don’t go “totes hard at the gym, yo” I figured this would be ok. We are  also getting close to peak week(s) here, and I have an 18 miler coming up this weekend. Can’t. Wait.

Monday – Rest Day. Nothing hugely exciting….

Tuesday – Outside run!! 5 miles 58:00 (11:41 pace) . It was raining,  but that was OK by me!! For one, it wasn’t snow!!! And two, I honestly love running in the rain. There is something so calming and peaceful about it. It was still a little chilly out, but IT WASN’T SNOW! My legs were still a little tired and heavy from the beating they took over the weekend (10 mile race/16 mile long run…Rocky Balboa style) so I was in no hurry to go fast.

Wednesday – Strength! I’m pretty sure I say this every week, but, I’m still not seeing the progress in the mirror and I know that’s all on me. Which is fine. The good stuff though, is that I’m seeing the progress in other ways. Each week I’m able to increase the weights I’m using, and even if it’s only 5 pounds it’s something; AND I was able to do 10 REAL pushups. That was a first for me. I’m not sure that my form on those was 100% perfect, but my trainer said it was so they count.

Last one didn't count, fool

Last one didn’t count, fool

 

Thursday – Double up with my “speed” in the morning and weights in the afternoon. This was supposed to be a 5 mile progression run, but turned into a 4 mile regression run.  This is one of those ones that felt tough from the get go. I was on the treadmill and had to stop about a mile in because my stomach just decided to wake up and join the party. I got started again and the pace just felt hard and I was only at a 5.3 speed. I had to slow it down and then finally walk which I haven’t done in forever. My basement is always nice and cool, but it felt HOT and that started to irritate me. I told myself just to forget about the pace, and just get the run done. I kept the speed at about 5.2 for a while then put it back up to 5.3 and just kept alternating those speeds until I was done. Between the bathroom break and walk break, I wasted a good bit of time and I had to stop at 4 miles or risk being late for work.  4.25 miles 49:00 (11:29 pace) Weights in the PM!

Friday – This was a true “double” and a major first for me. Because I would be away Sunday, I needed to do my long run on Saturday; which meant that my Saturday run was moved to Friday. The only problem was that Saturday’s run called for 10 miles. Ruh-Roh. That is certainly NOT the type of mileage I am capable of before work, and it’s definitely not happening after work so the only other option was to split the miles up and do some in the morning and some at night. I started out on the treadmill Friday morning, and was a little apprehensive since yesterday’s run had gone oh-so-well, but told myself just focus on getting something in. Do a minimum of 3 miles, but, do more if you can. 4 is good…5 would be AWESOME! I turned Law and Order on and got to work. 3 went by quickly enough, so I told myself that 1 more mile was totally doable. I passed 4 miles and told myself that I went this far…might as well just go for 5. Of course, the last mile is the longest but I finished it strong. Imagine my surprise/delight  when I went to record the run in my planner that I was only scheduled for NINE miles! WAHOO! I know it’s only 1 lousy mile, but mentally, that was huge. Knowing that I only needed 4 more instead of 5 left me feeling very confident!  I came home, and the sun was shining so I got dressed and headed out to finish 4 more miles. I wanted to keep these easy so I wore my heart rate monitor, and thanks to the article that Jen posted I figured out where I should try to keep my heart rate for this run. *For a really awesome & thorough post about training by heart rate, read Nichole’s post. I’ve read it once and am re-reading it to make sure I get all of the info. I am almost positive I’m going to give this type of training a shot after this marathon. Go read it now. Well, finish reading this, THEN go read that post.*  Until I was running, and then I forgot the numbers, but I decided that keeping things in the 140s-150s would be acceptable. I was able to do that, and again, it helped me mentally – it was easier/more fun to try to keep my heart rate down that it was to watch my pace get slower 🙂
I think I did it right.

I think I did it right.

I knocked out the 4 miles and was surprised when I saw that my pace was still in the 11:30s. To be honest, I was just worried about surviving this so to see that I was still holding a somewhat decent pace was icing on the cake! AM 5 miles 56:55 (11:09 pace)/PM 4 miles 46:24 (11:35 pace).

Saturday – I moved my long run up and Jennifer was awesome enough to meet me out at North Park for the second half of my 14 miler. The plan was that I would run 7, then meet Jen and we would do 5 miles at race pace with a mile warm up and cool down. I took the first 7 nice and easy, and again used my HRM to make sure that I was truly keeping it easy.

Nailed it. I think.

Nailed it. I think.

I knew that if I went out too fast, that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with Jen and she might have to leave my body in a snow pile somewhere.  I parked at the JC Stone Field and ran to the boathouse, cut through the parking lot and back to the field. I suck at math so I seriously misjudged my turnaround point and had to run a little extra to get that 7. I refueled with a Gu and Jen and I got to work on the last 7. My Garmin also decided to have  some type of seizure and kept beeping and flashing so we had to stop so I could reset it. Thanks to that, my times are mileage are a little wonky but luckily I was able to get the data from Jen. We finished the warm up and starting cranking out the miles. Splits were 10:39, 10:39, 10:55, 11:02 & 10:48… I don’t want to say they were easy but I felt very strong the whole time. We climbed the hill behind the boathouse, ran to Ingomar, turned around and climbed the hill again all at race pace miles, and really cranked it up for the last two tenths of a mile to simulate a fast finish. Yeah. We’re kind of a big deal. Kidding….sort of. We ran a mile cool down to our cars and passed Nichole along the way! I know I say this all the time, too, but it so nice to actually know some of the other runners out there and cheer each other on when we pass. Love it. I also have to say, that without a running partner, I NEVER would have attempted this kind of run; putting race pace miles into a long run sounds terrifying but was actually a lot of fun. Hopefully we are able to sneak a few more of these into our weekend runs because they are awesome!!  We also tried to take a picture after, and there was a guy stretching by his car, so we tried to discreetly take our selfie and we were soooo busted. You kind of had to be there, but it was hysterical. 1st 7 miles 1:21 (11:23 pace). 2nd 7 miles 1:18 (11:09 pace).

So, I tried two new-to-me things this week and really enjoyed them both. I really see the value in adding doubles to a training schedule, but if I were to add those to a training plan in the future I would probably start out on a smaller scale like 2/2, 3/2, etc. 5/4 (or 5/5 like I planned) was a little extreme, but necessary. 

I can tell that we are elbows deep in training because my hunger levels are off the chart. I am trying to make sure that I eat lots of good, healthy foods but…Girl Scout Cookies. I also really need to start nailing down my fueling strategy for race day, but I HATE feeling like a pack mule on my runs carrying all kinds of crap. I know that on race day, I’m going to leave the water bottle at home and rely on the water stations since there are so many on the course, but I still need to carry my gels. And that means using my runner’s fanny pack. Oh goody. I can’t wait.

This should accentuate my muffin top nicely. Wonderful.

This should accentuate my muffin top nicely. Wonderful.

Friday Five – Favorites!

Happy Friday! It looks like the weekend is going to fantastic (at this point, as long as the forecast doesn’t include snow I’m calling it fantastic!) for running! I’m joining the Friday Five linkup again with Mar (Mar on the Run), Courtney (Eat, Pray, Run DC) and Cynthia (You Signed Up for WHAT?!).  This week’s topic is ‘Favorites’.  I love topics like these because it’s such a fun way to get to know other people, and to see what their interests are. I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted to list and as I sit here typing this out I am staring at more snow and dreaming of being able to go outside without elventy billion layers on I decided to go with my 5 favorite weekend/road trip destinations.

So, without further ado, here are my 5 favorite places for a quick day trip, or long weekend trip (in no particular order)

Washington DC. This is a quick 4 hour trip from The Burgh and there is always SO much to do…most of it for free! I made it down one year for the Cherry Blossom Festival, and haven’t been back since so I am dying to go sometime this year! This is great if you have a 4 day weekend coming up; some of my favorite things to do is to:

Walk the Monuments at Night – they are stunning, powerful pieces in the daytime but there is something extra special about seeing them illuminated against a dark backdrop. If you make a trip there, I highly recommend this!  

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Museums. Duh! Most of them are free which is awesome (also means they are crazy crowded sometimes), but my favorite is the Udvar Hazey Center.  My husband is an aviation nut and he loves seeing the planes up close; I am a history nerd who has slowly been drawn into the world of airplanes and I love walking through the WWII sections, and seeing the fighter jets up close! This museum houses 1 of the 2 B-29 bombers, the Enola Gay, that dropped the atomic bombs on Japan (the 2nd is at destination #2!); it’s amazing to see pieces of history like that.

Enola Gay...up close!

Enola Gay…up close!

Arlington National Cemetery. We  walked the entire length of the cemetery from the old section, all the way to JFK and the Eternal Flame and continued on to see the Changing of the Guard. This is a must see. Again, it’s an incredibly powerful ceremony and something that everyone should see at least once in their life.

Arlington

Arlington

Wright Patterson Air Force Museum, Dayton OH. This is another quick 4 hour drive from home, and there is so much to see in the museum that we usually make this an overnight trip. This (free) museum is located ON Wright Patterson Air Force Base (where I supposed to run my marathon last year, and then didn’t)  houses the 2nd B 29 ,the Bockscar, a really nice display commemorating the Doolittle Raiders, and if you are so inclined, can sign up for a shuttle that takes you to a different part of the base to see all of the old Air Force One’s and some experimental planes that never made it to the big time.  The museum is laid out in such a way that you can wind your way through the history of flight starting with the early years, and WWI, then visit the WWII displays, through the Cold War (including an awesome missile display), Vietnam, the Gulf War and present day.  We try to go here yearly, and missed last year’s trip so I am itching to get back there!

Not the Bockscar, but a terribly grainy photo of a P-40...one of my favorite planes

Not the Bockscar, but a terribly grainy photo of a P-40…one of my favorite planes

Gettysburg (Any other Pittsburghers fight the urge to add an ‘h’ to the end of every “burg”??). Once again, it’s about 4 ish hours and there is so much to see that it’s good if you can make this a long weekend trip (3 or 4 days). We really enjoyed walking the battlefields, and stopping in the little mini museums that are set up all over the place.

Pickett's Charge

Pickett’s Charge

One thing we didn’t get to do last time we were there, but would like next time is take a tour of the Jenny Wade house. If you go to Gettysburg, make a reservation at The Dobbin House; this is an original home built in 1776s. Downstairs is open for lunch and dinner and you can see the original exposed beams and wood floors. Upstairs open for dinner, is still layed out like a normal house and you can sit in big comfortable wing chairs by the fire. The waitress dress in period clothing and the bread basket is to die for.  Trust me, and thank me later.

Kinzua Dam This is a good day trip, and is gorgeous! In the spring/summer the mountains are a lush, beautiful green, full of fire red, yellow and orange leaves in the fall, and a blanket of white in the winter. I grew up about an hour from here and loved taking day trips there with my parents. They have plenty to see and do, including self-guided nature trails! I haven’t been in ages, so I have no pictures of my own, but I snagged one from the Google machine.

Source. It really is even prettier in person

(Source). It really is even prettier in person

Ohiopyle Admittedly, I’ve never been here before but I have heard so many great things about it I know that I need to see it! Much like Kinzua, the scenery is beautiful and there is something for everyone!

(source) I can't not go see this!!

(Source) I can’t not go see this!!

 

 What’s your favorite weekend destination? I need to add to my list!