Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday, Dinner Edition

Sometimes it’s all about the…
Homemade pizza with pesto, avocado and
sauteed mushrooms, broccoli & grape tomatoes
and the…
Yummy glass of Cab!
 I feel ready to go on my 10 mile run tomorrow morning, cheers!

Monday, March 21, 2011

This weekend was half great

Hello & welcome to new readers and followers!  And of course hello again to those of you who keep coming back to read my blog!

The great part of the weekend started for me on Friday afternoon when I got an email confirming my volunteer duties for this year’s Boston Marathon.  I will be directing runners and loading buses on Marathon Monday on Boston Common from 5:30 to 8:30 in the morning.  The runners get bussed out to Hopkinton for the start of the race and the Common is where the buses leave from.  I know the shift starts sooo early, but I wanted to be done with volunteer duties before the race started so I could meet up with my family along the course and cheer on my cousin, Amanda, who is running the marathon.  She is running as part of the Dana Farber Marathon Challenge team.  You can read about her marathon training on her blog, Rise to Run and you can read about her fundraising (and donate if you wish!) on her Dana Farber team page. She is doing awesome and is almost at her goal!

Even though I am not running the marathon, I still felt really cool to get an email from the Boston Athletic Association that started out “Dear Heather, Welcome to the 115th B.A.A. Boston Marathon…”  Only a month away, it will be a fun weekend in Boston with my family!

Saturday was another great day.  I ran the Ocean Drive 5k and got a new PR!  So excited to shave 29 seconds off my time from the ESPN 5k two weeks ago!
The course was beautiful along scenic Ocean Drive and Washington Ave in South Beach.  The art deco buildings are so beautiful; they were even on our race bibs.
Super cute race bib
The post race awards ceremony took place at Nikki Beach and it was nice to relax on the lounge chairs there.  I was so relaxed I may or may not have fallen asleep for about 20 minutes :)
Between the 3.1 miles I ran for the 5k, I also ran an additional mile before the race, to bring my total for the Cupcake Marathon up to 9.1 miles.  Still need 17.1 miles, but I have a 10 miler planned for Thursday morning, plus a couple other short runs this week, so I won't have a problem reaching my goal of 26.2 miles.
The weather was so nice on Saturday; I decided to stay at the beach afterwards to get a little sun.  Before leaving SoBe, I stopped at Joe’s Stone Crabs to pick up some lunch.  Delicious!
Yummy stone crabs!
The half of the weekend that was not so great was Sunday when I woke up feeling like crap!  I was so disappointed because I was supposed to go to my first Red Sox Spring Training game in Ft. Myers.  The thought of driving over there, sitting in the sun all day and driving home was not appealing, so I bailed.  However, like any die-hard Sox fan, I got online and bought a ticket for a game next week.  I can not let another March go by with out going to a Spring Training game.  Besides, I had bought a new baseball and two new Sharpies so I could try and get some autographs before the game.  For now, my ball will sit blank on my counter for the next week, so sad.  Oh well, something to look forward to!

My sad little baseball with no autographs
I am not really sure what was wrong with me yesterday, but I do feel better today and I plan on sweating the rest of it out of my system at tonight’s spin class.  The teacher on Monday is amazing!  Can’t wait for class!
Make it a great week everyone!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I kept 5 out of 8 plants alive over the past year (this is good for me), so now I will attempt a mini herb garden.  Here’s to hoping they make it through the summer!
Sweet Basil

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Top 10 Awesome things from this week

10.  Hearing that my friends who live in, or who are vacationing in, Hawaii were safe after the tsunami reached the islands – awesome!

9.  The new iPad.  I went to two Apple stores and one Best Buy on Friday and still came away with nothing, how does Apple do it?  I ordered mine online yesterday and should receive it the second week of April.  I don’t like to wait, but it is still – awesome!
You're welcome Apple.  Can you please ship
my iPad sooner than April 11th?
8.  My sister recommended the documentary “Spirit of the Marathon” and I watched it the other night.  It tells the story of 6 runners as they prepare for the Chicago Marathon, they range from 12-minute milers to the elites.  It is on Netflix Instant and I recommend it to everyone.  Awesome!

7.  My boss took me to lunch this week at a yummy restaurant, The River, in downtown Miami.  I love to try new restaurants and this place did not disappoint.  I had the Mahi Mahi, so good… but I have a feeling it was really good because it was cooked with so much butter, awesome!  Glad I ran 5 miles that morning.

6.  Above mentioned 5 miles were run in my new sneakers.  I love them – awesome!
Saucony, awesome!  Yes, I have a Road ID, do you?
5.  I signed up for the gym at work.  If I want to seriously run a marathon in January the fitness level needs to go up and the lbs need to go down.  Don’t want to drag the junk in my trunk around for 26.2 miles.  Awesome!

4.  Leisurely Sunday mornings!  Enjoyed a cup of coffee and an English muffin with peanut butter this morning in bed while watching the movie “It’s Complicated”.  It is also nice and cool outside, perfect for the 10 mile run I am about to leave for.  Awesome!

3.  Girl’s weekend has been planned for Labor Day weekend at Disneyland! My three best friends & I take a trip every year and this one will be to run the Disneyland Half Marathon.  Well, Annette, Jamie & I are all signed up, but Leah is on the waitlist (who knew the race would fill up so fast!).  Please send good vibes that Leah Z will get called up off the bench and into the game!  Coast to Coast medal here I come - awesome!
The girls & I at dinner during
last year's Girls Weekend in Tucson
2.  Skyping with my niece Lily is definitely one of my favorite times of any week!  She is easily the funniest person I know.  She really gets into Skype and always has lots of toys or dresses to show me.  The funniest thing is when Lily pushes my sister away from the computer so her & I can’t talk, she wants me all to herself!  This week she even started saying my name “Heatha”… my family is from New England where Rs are not always observed… doesn’t matter, that was totally awesome!
Lily was showing me that after you roast the play
marshmallows over the fake fire, you eat them!
1.  It’s my blog’s one-month anniversary!  Who knew this social media situation would be so much fun.  Can I please tell you that two weeks ago I had no idea what the hashtags were used for on Twitter.  Actually I had no idea how to even use, read, understand Twitter. 
Thanks to you all out there for stopping by to read my posts and leaving me comments.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Please keep coming back!
Now that I have gotten a hang of the whole technical side of things, I will definitely be out there more in social media world reading and commenting on all of your blogs, tweets, statuses, etc.  Social media – awesome!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

ABCs of me & annoying spin class

First up, annoying spin class… Last night after work I attended spin class at the gym here at work.  I just re-signed up for the gym after a 3 year hiatus.  Reason for the break, I really didn’t like any of the instructors and/or classes they offered.  Nothing motivated me to get to the gym.  Now with summer fast approaching and knowing I would want a class in a/c through the hot summer months, I figured I would give the gym a shot.
I decided I would go to spin class on Mondays & Wednesdays because these classes would be taught by two instructors I had never had before.  I do not like the spin instructor they have in the mornings, the class is more of his “show” and that bugged me.  I was all excited to attend my first spin class last night but as I was walking into the studio, the gym manager says “Oh ‘morning spin class teacher’ is subbing for Tina tonight.”  What!?  Aaaahhhh!  His class was as annoying and boring as I remembered.  All I want from a spin instructor is someone who turns down the lights, turns up the music and barks instructions at us for an hour, is that too much to ask? :)   
What do you expect from your spin or fitness instructors?

So runDisney is giving participants of the Princess Half Marathon a $20 discount on registration for the 2012 Disney Marathon if you register by May 15th.  Remember how I said I would decide in July whether or not to run the marathon? 
Well, this is the first discount I have seen Disney give for a race, and Disney + Discount = Irresistable to me so I do believe I will make the marathon running decision by May 15th.  I am definitely leaning more towards “yes”, but I need to let the fact that I would be running 26.2 miles, at one time, sink in for a bit.

FYI... the Cupcake Marathon is up to over 150 participants.  They are hoping to reach 200 by Sunday!  What a fun way to motivate myself over the next couple of weeks!

ABCs of me
This post is making the rounds so I thought I'd do it too! Here it goes......
(A) Age: 33
(B) Bed Size: Full
(C) Chore You Really Dislike: Washing the floors
(D) Dogs: No thanks
(E) Essential Start To Your Day: Coffee
(F) Favorite Color: Blue
(G) Gold or Silver: Silver or white gold
(H) Height: 5'2”
(I) Instruments You Play: Unfortunately none
(J) Job Title: Account Executive
(K) Kids: No ….I mean none
(L) Live: Miami
(M) Mom's Name: Marie
(N) Nicknames: Blondie, Princess, Heath, HB
(O) Overnight Hospital Stays: Once
(P) Pet Peeve: Stupid people
(Q) Quote From A Movie: "Liver alone, get it?  Liver alone”
(R) Right or Left Handed: Right
(S) Siblings: 1 younger sister nicknamed Cheekies!
(T) Time You Wake Up: 6am
(U) Underwear: Not always
(V) Vegetable You Dislike: None
(W) What Makes You Run Late: Me
(X) X-Rays: I think I've had one of my kidney when I was little
(Y) Yummy Food You Make: Thai Shrimp Pasta
(Z) Zoo, Favorite Animal: Lions, tigers, cheetahs… love the big cats!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cupcake Marathon

From March 14th to 26th I am participating in the Cupcake Marathon!
This is a virtual Marathon (or Half Marathon, you pick the distance you want to run when you sign up) where you will run your chosen distance over a two week period.
Once you have provided photos of your treadmill time/distance ,GPS watch, Nike +, etc. to prove you have run the required distances, you will be entered to win fun prizes.
26.2 over two weeks… no problem!   
Plus this will be a great motivator to make sure I do not miss any runs.

You can read more about it, and sign up for it here and here.  Hope you decide to run the Cupcake Marathon!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

PR for 3.1 & Volunteering for 13.1

I headed back up to Orlando on Friday afternoon so I could participate in ESPN The Weekend 5k on Saturday morning at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
If you are wondering, yes my car can make the drive to Orlando pretty much on its own at this point.  While it wasn’t ideal to drive up two weekends in a row, I needed to get in the ESPN 5K so that I could complete all Disney races by January.  Nothing special happens if I do that, I am just a Disney dork who figured I would give all the races a shot this year.
Friday night I met up with Annette & Brian at Fort Wilderness for the Hoop-Dee-Do Revue.  I have not seen that dinner show in about 10 years, but not one thing has changed.  The show is the same, the costumes are the same and the food and drinks are the same.  While it is a bit touristy it is still a great time!  Definitely got us laughing. 
Saturday morning we headed over to the Studios for the race.  Mickey & Minnie were there bright and early for pictures and there were a couple of pro athletes at the start and finish lines to cheer us on.  A few members of the Harlem Globetrotters were there and there was also a player from the Packers as well.  I love sports, especially baseball and football, but if someone is not on the Red Sox or Patriots, the chances that I remember their names is quite slim.
The race was great, I love running through Hollywood Studios.  I bested my previous PR by 1:08 and was very happy about it!
My Disney character favs

Fabulous Disney bling
We spent the rest of the day playing in the park, love, love, love the Toy Story ride!    I also got my picture with a Harlem Globetrotter… they are so tall!  I also saw Kevin McHale, Karl Malone and Alonzo Mourning doing an interview for ESPN.
Basketball players are tall
Kevin McHale & Karl Malone

Back here in Miami this morning I was able to volunteer at the Miami Beach 13.1 half marathon.  I am a volunteer with the Miami Dolphins Special Teams group and today we were at the post race party handing out information on the Dolphin Cycling Challenge taking place in November.  It raises money for cancer research and last year, its first year, the Challenge raised over $500,000.  Definitely a great fundraiser!
It was fun to watch the half marathon participants at the start of the race as well as nearing the finish line at Mile Marker 13.  Before the race you can see the nervous energy all runners are feeling and as they approach the finish line you can see some of them digging deep to get to the end.  It is great to observe other runners, because you then know you are not alone in your anxiety, nervousness and extra efforts in those last miles.
I really think that all runners should volunteer for a race once in their life.  It will make you appreciate other runners and the goals you accomplish all the more!
Now it is time to go and watch "The Amazing Race", my most favorite Sunday night show ever!
Awesome sand castle at post race party

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Q & A with Guest Blogger and first time race participant!

Last month when I started this blog, I mentioned that family members & friends of mine were also runners, all at various points in their running careers.  Today I want to introduce you to one of my good friends, Annie from Alaska.
Last Saturday morning she participated in her very first road race, the Frostbite Footrace 5k in Anchorage.  Here is her story…
Annie with her friend Michelle
& sister Amy before the race
Your first road race was last Saturday's Frostbite Footrace 5k in Anchorage, AK.  What did you think about the experience?
I loved it.  I wasn't super excited about it when I woke up but once I got there and got started it was very exciting.  This being my first race I didn't have any expectations really I just wanted to see where I stood so that I know how to improve next time.

How were the road conditions?
Cold and icy!  It has been pretty cold here in Anchorage and the roads are very well plowed which means it is slick!  It was 13 degrees on Saturday (which is better than the 0 degrees the weather man had predicted) but there was an icy wind that had blown in over night and it just cut right through all of my was miserable!  Also this race was part of the Fur Rondy winter festival activities and there were parts of the course that would overlap with the dog sledding course so every once in a while you would go from slick road to about 3 inches of slushy snow to bog through for about 20 feet where the two trails overlapped.
A race trail and dog sled tail overlapping, only in Alaska, love it!

What was your favorite part of the race?
This is so cheesy but my favorite part of the race was just into mile 2 when I was starting to get tired and very cold because the race was downtown and shaded by all the buildings so the wind was just biting.  I was listening to my iPod and "This is your life" by Switchfoot came on.  Right when it gets to my favorite part where all the instruments drop out and it is just the guy saying "This is your life, are you who you want to be?" I came out of the shade and the warm sun was beaming on my face and I got an extra push of energy and a little tear in my eye because I was running my first race and yes, I am working on who I want to be.  It was a very emotional moment for me :)
Awesome!  Any runner who tells you they don’t experience some sort of emotion during a race is 100% lying.  Welcome to the runner’s club!

On Sunday morning for Disney's Princess half marathon I was wearing running capris, a short sleeve tech tee and running sneakers.  I am thinking that would not have cut it in Alaska.  How cold was the temperature & what did you wear?
It was 13 degrees but right about 0 degrees with the wind chill factor.  I was wearing a thin pair of running pants with long underwear underneath and a long sleeved t-shirt with a hoody and a fleece headband over my ears.  I wore my trail sneakers because they have extra grip on them and considered wearing ice spikes but decided not to last minute.
Very different race conditions
in Alaska than in Florida!
Why did you decide to sign up for this race?
Because I had gastric bypass surgery one year ago and I told my friend "Next year I am going to be able to run that race!" Then she made me stick to it.
Awesome Annie!  Everyone is so proud of you for what you have accomplished over the past year!

Do you have any more races planned? 
I've decided to run at least one race every month for the rest of the year so yes, I've got LOTS of races planned!  The next one is the Shamrock Scramble 5K on March 19th (the day after my 30th birthday)

I hate running in the hot, humid Florida summers.  What gets you out of bed in the cold, dark Alaskan winters?
It's actually very refreshing to run in the snow/cold.  I hate getting out of bed early but once I get out there and wake up it is really beautiful and peaceful out is one of the very few chances that I have to just be alone with my thoughts.

Any advice or encouraging words for people thinking about taking up running?
"A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step" - Confucius
I'm no runner; I'm a "wogger" (combination walk/jog).  Most of the time I am jogging at the same pace that other people walk.  But day by day, I will get better.  One day I will be a runner!

Thanks Annie!  I think just having the strength to get yourself to the starting line makes you a RUNNER!  Good job & good luck!  Can’t wait to hear about your other races!
All the runners post race on a beautiful day in Anchorage

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Princess Half Marathon Weekend

To say I had a great time at Disney’s Princess Half Marathon weekend would be an understatement.  This race is spectacular and all women, everywhere should participate at some point in their life.  Whether you want to run, run/walk or walk the 13.1 miles you will be treated like a Princess every step of the way! 
As you know, my dilemma last week was deciding whether or not to really run the race or blow of my time and just take pictures with the characters along the way.  I was still undecided as they called our Corral up to the start line.  I started off running and my first two miles were going great.  Then I turned onto World Drive headed toward Magic Kingdom and saw the huge pirate ship they had set up, along with Jack Sparrow and his Pirates of the Caribbean.  At that point I blew off my time and went into picture mode! 
It felt like I was breaking the rules whenever I pulled over to the side for pictures, I even waited in line for about 15 minutes at the MK for a pic with Minnie and Mickey.  Had I forgotten this was a race?!  It was a great experience and this race will forever be my “fun” race.  There are plenty of other races where I can work on time, etc., but this one is gonna be for the fun!  Plus, I can’t resist the pictures with the characters and how they say “Hello Princess” as you walk up to them!
Let’s get to those pictures…
I arrived in Orlando on Saturday morning and met up with my fellow Princess, Annette, and her husband Brian at the Fit for a Princess Expo at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.
Before we even stepped into the Expo we felt like royalty with the red carpet arrival and a picture with Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and Footmen.

The expo was packed!  The vendors were great and I bought a cute 13.1 charm from the Lift Your Soles booth, some Jet Blackberry GU and a new pair of Saucony sneakers.  Very successful shopping day!

Packet pick-up was also at the expo and we finally got our Princess tech tees and “fancy” mesh bags!

For our pre-race dinner we headed over to Disney’s Boardwalk and had dinner at Cat Cora’s Kouzzina.  Our dinner reservations were for 5pm… it felt like we were there for the early bird special!  I have wanted to try this restaurant for awhile and it did not disappoint.  I had the Kouzzina trio, which was a great combo of carbs and protein, perfect for the pre-race meal!

After dinner it was time to relax and hopefully get to sleep early.  A 2:45am wake up call was scheduled for Sunday morning – eek!  We got our race gear ready to go Saturday night.  When we signed up for the race we got to pick our favorite Disney Princess and her name appeared on our race bibs.  I chose the Little Mermaid, Ariel and Annette chose Belle from Beauty & the Beast.

Sunday morning started off with a coffee and a peanut butter crunch Cliff bar, my perfect pre-long run breakfast!  We were staying at Disney’s Port Orleans hotel and left for Epcot at 3:30.  We were parked and in the pre-race staging area by 4am.  I got my race gear together and went to check my bag.  Disney did a great job with this pre-race area…. Bag check was easy, clear to understand, not crowded, all really great.  At 4:40 they opened up the path that led out to the start corrals.  They say it is a 20 minute walk to the start corrals and that is not a lie.  This is the same set-up used for the Disney Half & Full Marathons as well, so make sure you are there on time!

We had to be in corrals by 5am.  I was really dreading the 45 minute wait, but we were entertained by the live MC and videos.  The time flew by!  The corral was not crowded so we were able to sit down.  They also really patrolled the corrals to make sure you entered the correct one.  Thank you Disney for doing that!  It was so nice to start a race with actual runners and not surrounded by people who start out walking.
Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother counted down to start off the race and waved us through the start line with her wand.  We were off!

Entertainment in miles 1 & 2 was a marching band and stilt walkers (don’t know how they can stay up there for so long!).
Once into mile 2 we saw the pirate ship; Jack Sparrow and the pirates; a hot air balloon shaped like Epcot’s Spaceship Earth; and the Heroes (which included Aladdin, John Smith, Prince Eric, Tarzan and I think the other guy was Snow White’s Prince Charming).  We also ran through the Magic Kingdom entrance.

Mile marker 3 had my girl Ariel on it, so I needed to take a picture.

We then passed Richard Petty’s Driving Experience.  Race car drivers were out front giving everyone high 5s.  Then Lilo & Stitch were having a luau party which also included the Polynesian Luau dancers.

Running through the Ticket & Transportation Center was next and it was filled with spectators – awesome!!  As you left the TTC there was a Chinese drum group.

We passed another marching band, I got a quick pic of the Contemporary Resort and then headed into the Magic Kingdom.

Running up Main Street toward the castle definitely made me a little teary-eyed.  It was my first time running in the Magic Kingdom and I loved it.

Turning into Tomorrowland there was Chip & Dale and then in Fantasyland I got a picture with Alice in Wonderland with Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum

Once I reached the backside of the castle I got in line for a picture with Minnie & Mickey.  I also took a picture of the Trumpeters that were there announcing our arrival to the castle.  It was fun to look around and see all of the other runners as well.

After running through the castle, we turned into Liberty Square and Tiana, Louis the Alligator and Prince Naveen were there.  Annette later told me that on the other side of the road were the Haunted Mansion ghosts.  I totally missed them!  I think I was looking ahead into Frontierland where I could see Jesse from Toy Story!

We made our way past Splash Mountain and headed out of the Magic Kingdom through a backstage area.  There I got my picture with Pinocchio, Geppetto & Jiminy Cricket.  Also in that area were the characters from Peter Pan and the Genie from Aladdin.

Next we were on the road that runs past the Grand Floridian hotel.  There was a Reedy Creek Fire Department truck set up.  With fire trucks come hot firefighters and they did not disappoint!  Annette later told me Aurora and her Prince were set up on the right hand side of the road… totally didn’t see them.  
Also along that road was Belle & Gaston, Fairy Godmothers from Sleeping Beauty and I got pictures with Cinderella’s coach & her footman and played some golf with Goofy.  Apparently running a half marathon wasn’t enough for me.  

Heading back down World Drive towards Epcot, there was another school marching band, we also  passed the Hess Gas station where they had sports cars set up out front with their “mechanics”.  
There wasn’t a line for Princess Atta, so I stopped for a pic with her.

I was able to get a picture of the Heroes and a picture with Jack Sparrow and the pirates this time around.

He was saying to me “Do you know what comes next?”… me “No”… him “Neither do I…”  that is why I look a little scared.  Just as quirky as the Johnny Depp character, pretty funny!
At this point we were at Mile 10.  Couldn’t believe there was only 3 miles to go!
Running up the ramp from World Drive there was a Green Army Man from Toy Story.

I also took a couple of pictures of the course, runners and volunteers.

Epcot!  We are almost home!

In the Epcot parking lot there was an all-girl rock band jammin' out and 4 characters set up right next to each other.  I got my picture with the mom from Incredibles, Meg from Hercules, Jane from Tarzan and Mulan (this one is for my sister!)

I took this picture of Spaceship Earth as I headed into Epcot.  There was less than a mile to go and I was so sad it was almost over.

Got a pic with Pluto (oops moved before the picture was done).  Phineaus & Ferb and Duffy Bear (who? yeah exactly) were also there taking pictures.

Needed a picture of Epcot’s World Showcase since this was where the idea to get into running all started!

A Gospel choir lifted our spirits at the Mile 13 mark.

Mile Marker 13!  The Finish Line!  Mickey & Minnie (again)!

The ladies from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique were there to sprinkle us with fairy dust and then I received my beautiful medal!

It was so organized and easy to get around after the race.  Got my picture taken with my medal.  Had some water, powerade, a banana and got a Luna bar for later.  Collected my bag, changed into my flip flops and headed out to meet up with Annette and her family.
They had signs and a flower for me… thanks Giovanelli family!  Congrats Annette on your first Half Marathon!
Like I said earlier, it was a spectacular race!  Thanks to all the volunteers for their support and to the Disney Cast Members who took my picture along the way!  Can’t wait to do it again next year!