Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Burnside Farms




Last weekend, while my mom was visiting, we took a trip to Burnside Farms. We had never been before. I read about it on Facebook. I guess you would call it a flower farm. They have three main flower fields in the spring time; daffodils, tulips, and iris. They also have a sunflower festival in July. The concept is that you can go and pick your own flowers...apparently the other concept is everyone beings their toddler and tries to take pictures, with or without a professional photographer in tow, while trying to make it look natural. They also scream the kid's name every 3 seconds. It was good people watching.

I was a big fan of the tulips :)
When we visited, the majority of the flowers in bloom were daffodils. There was also a good amount of tulips in bloom, but no iris as of yet. The farm posts a picture on Facebook of what the current fields look like so you can see what is blooming that day. We stuck to pulling up the tulips. I would recommend this lovely, spring afternoon activity if you like flowers and nice weather. It's also a lot cheaper than traveling to the tulip festival in the Netherlands.


The tulips we took home

Monday, April 21, 2014

Marathon Monday

This Marathon Monday seems so lackluster compared to last Monday's race review. The best thing about this week in running was being able to complete miles at my leisure since it was Spring Break. If I am being completely honest, even if I wanted to do anything on Monday and Tuesday it would have been impossible. My legs were SO SO SO sore from the race on Sunday, it was hard work just to go down stairs and go from standing to sitting. I blame sprinting the first mile or two of that race for that problem.

Wednesday I decided to give things a try. I was still slightly sore, but figured I could just walk if running was too much. Running wasn't so bad, but I was worried I would really hurt myself if I pushed it too hard. I did 4.25 miles that day. Most of it was walking, but it was a good way to ease back in to things. Thursday I did 3.33 miles at my normal pace and felt good about it. Saturday I was really wanting to do my long run, but also really not wanting to do anything at all. I convinced my mom, who was visiting, and Matt to come along for some of the miles. I did the first 1.34 by myself quickly, then came back to pick them up. This is when I convinced my mom she would be able to do five miles. After a few "are we almost theres" and accusations of conspiring against both Matt and my mom, the three of us made it to five miles. My mom was adamant that she make an appearance in this blog post and wants me to let everyone know she was a trooper. After she decided to go home, Matt stuck it out with me and took a longer way home to add two more miles onto our mileage for the day for a total of 8.1 miles on Saturday. Having company for my miles on Saturday was nice motivation to get up and get things accomplished. I was lucky to have them!

We took a leisurely walk on Easter Sunday, and then I did a few laps today at GOTR for a total of 18.33 miles this week. IT IS LESS THAN TWO WEEKS (13 days!) until the half marathon! I can't believe it!!! I have only one more Marathon Monday post before it happens.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Love

{ONE}

My Own Agenda. The best part about having days off is that you can do things in the middle of the day! You don't have to go grocery shopping after you had a long day at work, or waste your weekend doing it. And when you are procrastinating doing miles for most the morning because you would rather drink coffee instead, it hardly matters :)

{TWO}



{THREE}

Reese's Eggs. They should make these gems full-time. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I only ate two this Easter season.

{FOUR}



{FIVE}

My Mom! She's visiting this weekend! I love her!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Recipe of the Week!

Avogolemono
I LOVE THIS RECIPE! I'm serious. Its incredibly easy and so delicious. There is a little tricky part, but if you are patient and don't freak out...everything will be OK. Avogolemono is a Greek soup, similar to chicken and rice soup. I first tried the soup at the fabulous Katerina's. After having it, I pondered possibly making it myself. After googling many times, and finally deciding to get serious about making it myself instead of begging Matt to go eat there, I found a recipe for it on Dinner: A Love Story (one of my fave blogs). I followed her recipe pretty closely. To make things easier on myself, when I make this I use a rotisserie chicken that you can buy at the grocery store and shred the chicken breasts to use in the soup. Really, I highly recommend this. You will not be sorry. 

Ingredients:
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup uncooked orzo
salt and pepper
3 eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice
shredded rotisserie chicken (I use only the breast meat, I do not like dark meat. Matt eats that for dinner the next day. We are a great white meat/dark meat team.)

Directions:
In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Add the orzo and cook until tender. Season with the salt and pepper and reduce heat to low. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon juice until smooth. *Now comes the tricky part* Ladle about 1 cup of the hot broth into the egg and lemon mixture, whisking to combine. Add the mixture back to the simmering saucepan. Stir continuously just until the soup becomes opaque and thickens as the eggs cook. *The trick with the eggs is to slowly combine and quickly whisk so that you don't get scrambled eggs instead of the egg making the soup thicken.* Add the chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Are F.R.

Last Wednesday I was getting ready to leave for work. I took a quick look at Facebook and saw someone had posted a link to a developing news story that there had been a stabbing at Franklin Regional High School. My high school. I clicked on it for more information, but there wasn't any. Yet. Now I'm driving to work and my phone rings. It's my sister and she's describing the entourage of police, life flight, ambulances, etc. that she's just passed driving to her work down the street from the high school. She says that it has to be bad. I get to work. I'm watching the live feed on WTAE from my laptop while trying to get ready for my own school day. The news is getting worse. All I can think is...is this really happening? I go outside, get kids inside from their busses, thinking about kids two states away and how their lives are forever changed, thinking about my own four years of high school in that science wing where I had biology, chemistry, anatomy. I remember all my teachers, all my lab partners, all my classmates. I remember sitting in Mr. Adams' math class when I learned about Columbine, walking to Honors Speech and Comp. when my friend told me about the first plane flying into the World Trade Center. But this, this is different. There is only one high school, one tiny community that will never be the same.

I try to get on with my day, but I can't. I can't stop occasionally googling for updates. I'm talking to a third grader in my office and I can hear my phone vibrating continuously. When I return him safely to his own classroom and return to my office to look at my phone, I have a missed call from my sister and a text...call me. This is when I learn that it's so much more personal than it already was. The suspect is someone who I have met. Someone who's house I have been in when it was first built. My mother works beside his father everyday. Unreal. Everything you think you "know" about an event of this caliber is wrong. You really have no idea. You don't know what the community is like until it's your community. You might think you know that it's how the suspect was raised, or that the suspect must have been "the bad kid, the crazy kid, the kid who had no parental involvement," or whatever it is everyone thinks when this kind of thing happens. I know because I use to think those things too. Last Wednesday made me realize I actually know nothing about what's behind every other event like this.

This Wednesday, Franklin Regional goes back to school. At 7:22 a.m. the first bell will ring. Those kids and those teachers, counselors, cafeteria workers, janitors, and the administration are tasked with finding their new normal. I can't even begin to imagine what the last two months of school will be like for them...not as a student, or as a teacher. My heart and my thoughts will be with all of them tomorrow.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Marathon Monday

 

Yesterday I did the George Washington Parkway Classic. It's a 10 mile race beginning at George Washington's Mount Vernon and ending at Founder's Park in Old Town Alexandria. The majority of the 10 miles is run along the George Washington Parkway. It's a beautiful road to drive along in the spring and summertime in Washington. Pacer's closes the entire parkway for the race. The road runs along the Potomac River, making for some very scenic views. The course also starts out downhill, running from the Mount Vernon estate down to the river. The mile downhill didn't hurt my confidence either. 

some examples of the scenery along the parkway

I was feeling good for the first two to three miles. I knew I was going too fast to start, but it was hard to slow down since the beginning of the race was downhill, and I was running in a big pack of people before things started to thin out as the miles went on. During the fourth mile things started to get a little tougher. There were some major uphills along with the rising temperatures. During my training I have had very few days where I really felt like I needed water. Yesterday, I found myself desperate for the next water station. I really mean desperate. And when I got to the water stops I started taking two cups one to drink and one to dump on myself. I got to mile 5 and felt a lot better mentally. I was halfway done and the next mile was mostly downhill. I felt really pretty good for the next two miles, but I could feel it getting hotter. I found it really hard to want to run instead of walking. There was a photographer at mile 8 so I tried to look as happy and ridiculous as possible when I ran past him...I really can't wait until that picture gets put up in the next couple weeks. After I passed the 8 mile flag and knew it was less than two miles, I felt good.


Shortly after the eight mile mark you leave the GW Parkway and are running the Alexandria city streets. It was kind of a nice change of pace. This part of the course had the most crowd support of the race. Throughout the parkway there were patches of people here and there where residential neighborhoods (with ridiculously gorgeous houses overlooking the Potomac) backed up into the parkway...there were some funny people out there and a lot of kids doing crazy stuff. During the last two miles through Alexandria I walked a lot more than I wanted to, but when I look back at my mile splits they weren't really as slow as they felt at the time. About a half mile from the finish I passed a man that was approximately 85 years old. I kid you not. Apparently this guy does the 10 miler every year and walks the entire thing. Early in the race I was passed by an approximately 7 year old kid too. I think that was one of the best parts of this race...it was friendly and fun with people of all different paces and ages. As I ran across the finish, first I was handed a finisher's medal, and then right behind that guy was someone handing out bottles of water. I have never been so thankful for a bottle of water. I think the guy that gave it to me knew it too. I kept walking through the chute and couldn't get that bottle open for the life of me. My hands swell to like twice their normal size when I run. I finally asked a volunteer to help me. And she gave me snacks too. 


The finisher's medal...it was the 30th anniversary of the Parkway Classic
I found Matt and my friend Shari, who also ran the race, at the end of the chute and then we quickly found some shade until I could cool down a little bit. Pacer's had a post race party in Founder's park with some post-race food and drink. There was also a tent where you could find your official race time, and a beer tent with free beer for all the runners. The line was way too long for me to wait in, though. 

Overall, I am happy I did this race. I went back and forth about doing it for a long time. I registered on the last day possible. I only registered because I told Shari if she registered I would too. And of course she registered. It was a good way to fit in my last long run before tapering for the Pittsburgh half, I'm not completely sure I would have done 10 miles otherwise. The only thing I did not like about this race was the heat. Everything was pretty well organized except a little bit of craziness with the busses dropping people off at Mount Vernon at the last minute, but I quickly got over that. 

View from Founder's Park
This race combined with 2 weekday runs on Wednesday and Thursday, and a Saturday afternoon walk brings me to 19.54 miles this week. There's only 20(!) days until the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I really can't believe it. I'm excited to start cutting down on my mileage in the next few weeks. I think my biggest challenge in the next 20 days will be maintaing motivation to keep doing miles.

Side note: I borrowed a lot of these photos from Swim Bike Run Photography (exceptions are the one of me and Shari and the last photo of the park) so that you could get an idea of what the course looks like. The pictures were taken at last year's Parkway Classic. I am looking forward to them posting pictures of this year's race! I will post some here if I don't look too much of a mess :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Love

{ONE}

Spring Break. I can't believe it has finally arrived. In a school year that started out as the longest fall ever, followed by the longest Virginia winter ever, spring has surely sprung. I plan to spend my break relaxing, doing miles, and spending time with my mom.

{TWO}




Front Porch Sitting. I have been spending a lot of quality time on our front porch. In fact, I'm writing this post from the front porch. Sometimes there's good people watching. The only thing that is not good is the bird action. I can't handle the birds.

{THREE}




Cherry Blossoms. It's peak bloom this weekend for the blossoms. They are so pretty! It's really something everyone should see at least once. The only thing is the crowds. It's rough, but worth it as long as you go with the mentality that you are going nowhere fast.

{FOUR}




Caitlin. Apparently it was national sibling day yesterday. I never got to post a picture of my one and only sibling, so I am taking that opportunity today.

{FIVE}

Franklin Regional. Lots of love and prayers for my alma mater on this Friday. We are FR!