Gasparilla Distance Classic Recap

So you already know this race was a PR for me, and you already know my goals for the race (here) so lets talk about my coach’s goals then on to the race.

post race

Based on my 5k time my coach said I COULD finish with a 2:04:00 (9:15 pace) but since we havent gotten the mileage up in training she wanted me to shoot for a 2:10 (9:50 pace).  The pace shouldnt feel easy and once past the 5 mile point should be uncomfortable.  Now I have my own goals and the goals from my coach.  Lets talk the actual race.

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The Gasparilla distance Classic is held in Tampa Bay, Florida every year and has a couple different distance and challenge options.  The races offered are a 5k, 8k, 15k, and Half Marathon.  I decided to run only the half marathon this year, I wasn’t in the mood to do any challenges this year.  My friend Brittany lives in Tampa and we decided to do this race together instead of Princess at Disney like we have in years past.

pirate princess

While this race isn’t as big as Disney (25,000 at Disney vs. 6,000 at Tampa) its still a pretty well put together race with a pretty decent expo.  Saturday was when we went to the expo to pick-up our packets and we walked around a little to see what all was there.  Most of the booths were local businesses but there were a few running merch booths mixed in as well.  Nothing really caught my eye so I didn’t buy anything.  After the expo we checked out some local spots in Tampa but made sure to get to bed before 10pm.  With a 6am race start we had to leave around 4:14am and I wanted to get some great sleep.

at the expo

The info booklet provided for the race didn’t give the best info and it didn’t look like there was a great place to set as a meeting point.  Brittany and I decided to meet at the runner recovery area but it wasnt really clear where that was.  Looking at the actual race course it was mostly out and back along the water, so pretty simple.  There was a bridg we had to cross over and back but it was just one so it didnt look too terrible.  We felt a little confused about the start line and how to get there but knew we would figure it all out (spoiler alert, we figured it all out just fine).  We checked the weather and it looks like the high was going to be in the high 70’s and the low only about 60’s.  I knew personally that was on the warm side for me but Brittany loved it.

gasparilla pirate ship

Race day is here!   I slept as well as I expected and wasn’t overly tired in the morning.  We got ready and drove over to the start, got parked, did the bathroom thing (not porta potties we got to use convention center bathrooms!!!) then lined up at the start line.  With regards to the start line here is what I have to note—there were 3 groups, elite, sub 2 hours and more than 2 hours.  While there weren’t as many runners, it made for a tight and a little dangerous first mile since there were no corrals to spread out the runners a little.  I saw at least 5 people fall because of the crowds.  Mile 2 the runners got a little more spread out and it was fine the rest of the way.  I think seeding the race a little more or having a few minutes between groups (the elite group was let through then the rest of the runners immediately after) would have been safer, especially since it was still dark at the start with not much street light.  Safety first, am i right!

pre race

There were a few pacers for finish times and I started with the 9:33 pacer for a 2:05:00 finish.  I stuck with her for about 5 miles then slowed the pace down a little.  The sun was coming up, the heat rising and I knew I couldn’t keep going at that pace if I wanted to finish.  The first 5 miles I felt ok buts its so strange, when the sun came up my quads felt so heavy I had to slow down.  It didn’t help that the majority of the remaining course was in the sun either, but its was almost all flat so I guess its a trade off.  Mile 5 I took my first gel with water while running, albeit at a slower pace, then speed back up a little.  I had been taking water and Gatorade at each station as well (running through not stopping) since I knew the heat was going to be a factor.  After I took the gels my legs were bricks and I walked for 30 seconds to catch my breath and get my head in the game.  I ran again until mile 8.5 where I got water and took another gel, but this time I walked.  It was a little too hard for me to run and take the gel at the same time probably because I haven’t practiced doing this…whoops.  Took the gel and water then started running again.  I had to walk again for a second around mile 10 for about 30 seconds to get my mind right and re-focus.  I was dwelling way too much on how much pain I was in, how hot it was, how much I was going to miss my goal time, it was a mess.  I needed to take a few seconds and re-group.  I was able to pick up the pace a little after that and the next 2 water stops I poured water down my head and back which helped, but I should have done that sooner.  The miles kept beeping along and as I hit mile 12 I got my pace up a little more to get a strong finish and hopefully come in before 2:20:00.  It was rough, my quads wanted to stop, I was hot, but I wanted a good time.  I kept going and FINALLY saw the finish line.  I gave everything I had left in the tank (not much at all) and finished with a clock time of 2:18:59.  Even with the clock time this was a PR but I was disappointed, here’s why.

medal and bib

All the stops, I didnt want to stop but this run was rough.  My pace slowed down by almost 1 minute per mile after the first 5 miles…thats significant and no way to finish with a 2:10:00.  The heat and full sun kicked my ass.  There were 4 miles in full sun with no breeze but the back 4 miles had a cool breeze and some shade.  Sadly the damage was already done as I don’t do well when I get hot and take forever to cool down.

tampa bay

Disappointment aside I got a PR, actually raced a half marathon and lived to tell the tale, got a great medal to show for it and can continue to train for the sub 2 hour time.  Overall I would say I enjoyed the race, the course was simple and I had a great friend to share it with.  Before I talk about the breakdown of what went good and bad, how about a breakdown of the race itself.

Gasparilla Half Take-aways

  • The overpass with a hill can barely be considered a hill and made almost no difference in my pace or effort making this course the most flat course I have run to date.
  • There start is congested and a big mess, they really need to work this out a little more.  Even with a small number of participants its still over 2,000 people and can cause accidents
  • The water stops were well spread out and had 2 stops for gels.  However the water stops were not on both sides of the road which made for jam ups and people trippng over each other.  They need to get water on both sides so people arent running into each other
  • The medals are really great and the finisher food is awesome (black beans, rice, paella, salad, bread, bananas, kashi bars, fruit cups, coke)
  • Runner packets had good quality shirts, bibs and a reusable tote bag which is definitely a step up from plastic crappy bags normally given out

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Ok now what went well during the race:

  • Hydration, I took water or Gatorade at each station and never felt thirsty
  • Fuel, I took 2 gels one around mile 5 and one around mile 8.5 which I know helped since I was struggling
  • PR’ed even though it wasn’t the time my coach and I thought
  • Injury free!!!
  • While I didn’t have fun running, I did have fun with Brittany before and after the race

What could have gone better:

  • Knowing how to pace with the heat.  With the summer coming I’ll have more time to work on this but I have always struggled with this
  • Cooling down.  I should have poured water on myself much sooner to keep the heat demons at bay but I didn’t
  • Focus.  I let the negative thoughts creep in which made running more difficult than it should have been
  • Not being on my feet as much in the days leading up to the race.  I wanted to go to Disney and see Tampa but my legs definitely were not as fresh as they could have been.  I don’t regret the time we spent though, not one bit

I think Gasparilla was great for me to learn more about myself as a runner and to get a feel for what it really means to race.  Lets be honest, when running a Disney race its a little bit about time but its more about having fun on the course.  The only other half marathon I tried to race was the Plano Balloon Festival and I was not trained enough for those hills to even act like I raced it.  This also goes to show how much of an impact my coach has made on my running.  Doing the workouts that seem to make not much sense to me really show that they have helped so much with endurance and speed.

CHIME IN!!!  Does the heat affect you when running?  Have you done Gasparilla before?  Do you like themed races?

 

Chorizo, Potato and Egg Breakfast Taco (Foodie Friday #26)

I have come to the realization that I do enjoy Chorizo.  Where is this coming from you ask?  Well I always thought Chorizo was a really spicy meat that I wouldn’t like.  You know what happens when you assume right 😉 .

So recently I decided I wanted to try something new with our breakfast tacos.  I LOVE the grande scrambler from Taco Bell’s breakfast menu but don’t love the 700+ calories that come with it.  I decided to try and re-create it at home and it turned out pretty dang well if I do say so myself.  Because everyone deserves a knock-off taco bell recipe in their life, I give you, my version of the grande scrambler.

taco bell scramber knock off

Chorizo, Egg and Potato Breakfast Taco

Servings: 4       Prep Time:  5min        Cook Time: 20min      Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

  • Diced breakfast potatoes
  • Chorizo (in the breakfast meat section)
  • Eggs
  • Pico de gallo (I get the premade from Kroger)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Flour Tortillas
  • Cheese (optional)

Instructions

In a skillet cook chorizo according to package instructions.  Remove and set aside.

Add potatoes to skillet (with chorizo grease still in pan) and cook according to package instructions (varies depending on potatoes).  For a crispier potato don’t use any additional oil and possibly remove the chorizo grease.  Once the potatoes are cooked to your liking remove and set aside.

In the same skillet crack open eggs and cook, scrambled.  Let sit in skillet while preparing the next step.

I highly recommend warming up the tortillas over a gas burner (gets a more authentic taste) but you can also warm them up in the microwave.  Make sure and don’t warm them up too long or the tortilla can get rubbery.

Once the tortillas are warm you are ready to assemble your burrito!  I like to put the sour cream on the bottom, then add egg, chorizo, potato, then pico de gallo (no cheese for me).  There is no right or wrong here just put it together like you feel!  Now enjoy 🙂  If there is any leftover chorizo or potatoes, put them in a leftover container to use another day.  I have found that the potatoes get even crispier when re-heated.

To re-heat the potatoes/chorizo add to a dry skillet and cook until heated through.  If you add any oil the potatoes will go soggy, the dry skillet is perfect.  Make the eggs, warm up the tortilla and assemble again like before, or change it up!  You do you!

Notes:  You can substitute some other breakfast meat for chorizo but keep in mind the potatoes wont really have flavor.  If you do go that route make sure and either get the seasoned potatoes or season them yourself.  Bland potatoes probably wont taste as good.  Also if you have leftover chorizo/potato mix, you can reheat in a pan (no oil needed) and it gets even more crispy and delicious on the second go around.

Race Goals for Gasparilla (TOL #23)

Technically I have already ran the race but in reality I’m writing this post BEFORE the race so it still counts.  I wanted to throw my goals out there and be totally transparent with yall and see how close I came.

What better way to share goals then linking up with Amanda thinking out loud style here.

Thinking-Out-Loud

  1.  Finish!  Sounds silly, but things happen so first and foremost I want to be able to finish the race.

gasparilla half2.  Don’t get injured along the way.  Again, things happen you never know if you might twist your ankle or something silly.  I want to finish and be injury free.  Sore muscles don’t count either 🙂

runner injury3. My absolute jump for joy, cry ugly happy tears eat all the cupcakes time is 1:59:59.  That’s right, one second under 2:00:00.  I have been training hard but don’t know if its possible.  Its still a goal though.

walt disney quote4.  Goal time #2 would be 2:05:something.  Still close to sub 2 hours but a little less aggressive and less risk of bad things happening.  Still a rock-star time too 😀

tuesday workout5.  Because I think heat may be a factor I have 2 more time goals.  This one is probably the most realistic and will probably actually be my time, 2:15:something.  My coach thinks this is what my time will be but that doesn’t stop be from dreaming big!  If I get this time I will know my training is going well and on pace for a sub-2 finish in September.

disneyland paris half6.  Just in case everything goes wrong, I will be happy with a 2:25:something time.  Its still faster than my last half marathon time and still an improvement.

20160101_1126127.  Have fun!  Running isn’t really fun while its happening, but I’m doing this race with Brittany in a new city with a pirate theme.  I still want to enjoy my time in Tampa and the race.  It should be higher on the list but I really want an awesome time #sorrynotsorry.

gasparilla race weekend

8.  Do you plan out goals for your races?  How long did it take you to get sub 2 hours?  Are you still working towards that club?

 

WIWW #30

I’m in Atlanta this week working out of the office here.  Yay work travels!!  So Im really exhausted and just want to sleep in my own bed for more than one night but whatever.

Being in Atlanta, I decided to wear my pineapples today because southern hospitality yall 🙂  Sorry for the bad quality photo, my hotel room is weird shaped and hard to find a good angle.

WIWW

Shirt:  Express (same style)

Jeans:  Express (similar)

Shoes: Tieks

Earrings: Kendra Scott (out of stock)

CHINE IN!!!  Are you a pineapple fan?  What did you wear today?  How life going for you?

Workout Recap 2/16-22

I’m on a mission to get all my workouts in and do them well with all this crazy traveling.  Plus this week is half marathon time!!!  Recap to come on that soon.

Tuesday:  In San Antonio the first half of this week I made sure to get a hotel with a legit gym.  Today’s workout was 3 x 800’s at tempo pace with a 15 minute warm-up and 2 minute rest intervals between each 800.  Since I was on the treadmill my coach told me to get a pace of 9:02 for 4:30 and to keep track of my heartrate. So that was a little much for me to remember and I actually messed up the pace and thought she said 9:32.  I did each set at 9:32 (6.3 on the treadmill) and the warm-up and rest at a 11:30 (5.2).  End pace was 11:02 at 3.7 miles.  I ended the workout feeling like I could have gone faster, and yup I could and should have.  My thought at the time was I didn’t want to super push since my race is Sunday, but turns out I wasn’t at the pace I should have been so that made sense.  After my workout I did foam rolling and stretching since I didn’t think I would have time later that night.

today i will kill it

Wednesday:  Still in San Antonio I hit the gym again.  Today was 3 recovery miles at easy pace.  Apparently now my easy pace is 10:00 which was a little bit of a push this morning but ended with 10:04 pace so not too far off.  Just a normal treadmill run, I was a little bored with it today though since it was just a recovery run and no pick-ups to keep my mind off the time on the treadmill.  Oh well, I have Glee on Netflix to keep me company 🙂  Oh and I remembered to take a picture of the view from the treadmill today, pretty right!  I got to watch the sunrise.  10 minutes stretching / foam rolling / icing hip when I got home.

view

Thursday:  Today is a new to me workout before my plane ride to Tampa.  Today is 4×20 second strides (downhill running).  I’ve never done this before but luckily by my house there is a small creek with a downhill slope to it.  I did the strides, shoes got all wet and the dogs loved me letting them off leash while I did this (its has a fence so they cant run into the road) but my breathing was struggling today.  I remembered what my coach has told me so many times…if something feels off then stop.  I was supposed to do 2.8 miles but ended with 2.23.  I’m not sad about it because I still have one more shake out run before the race.  A note on the strides…it was weird.  She told me to run in the grass if possible but when I run in the grass I run slower because I’m afraid of twisting my ankle on un-even terrain.  I will say my legs felt so much better running on the grass than on the street so it was a nice change of pace.  And like I said the dogs LOVED it.

oreowhisp

Friday:  Rest day…ok but it was DISNEY DAY WITH BRITTANY!!!  So rest from running but not on my feet…sorry coach Disney calls 😀  Ive never done a jumping picture before but I think we look fantastic!

disney

Saturday: 1.8 mile shake out with 4×30 second pickups at 10k pace.  It was a much needed shake out run, yesterday was a lot of walking so my legs were pretty stiff.  Ended with a 10:30 overall pace.  Its pretty warm in Tampa, making me a little nervous about race day temps.  Tampa has tons of live oak trees, who knew right!  I love big tree lined streets.

tampa

Sunday:  RACE DAY!  This is what I have been working so hard for months for.  I’m excited, nervous, blah, everything!!!  I’m going to do a full race recap soon but for now I’m just going to tell you my time and splits…or I would if this race had them.  So there was only 1 mat and the chip reader didn’t get my start time so the time is off.  The clock time said 2:18:59 but I know I went through the first mile 3 minutes after the clock time so my official time should be somewhere in the 2:15 range.  My watch said 2:15:01 but I think its more like 2:15:49.  Either way…its a PR, I’m super sore but happy to have another time improvement.

post race

Monday:  Rest day.  With all the traveling and more to come today’s rest is much needed.  I have a dentist appointment today but other than that I plan on sitting on the couch all day and only moving to go to the bathroom 🙂

CHIME IN!!!  How did your workouts go this week?  Done any new to your workouts?  Do like you running in the grass?

London Adventures Day 4—HARRY POTTER DAY!!!

Today is the day I have been waiting for since deciding to go to London.  IT’S HARRY POTTER DAY!!!!!  We are also checking in to the Wizarding Chambers at the Georgian House Hotel.  This, in my opinion, was the main and dare I say only reason to come to London.  Excited beyond words!!!  I decided to get us on the first tour of the day for the Harry Potter Studio Tour which meant our bus left at 8am.  We had to leave our first hotel at 6:30am, get to the new hotel, check our bags, then head to the bus station.  We made it with time to spare and began the wait for the bus.  Before diving into the details of the tour and the rest of our day here is what we did:  Studio Tour, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Notting Hill, Kings Cross Station, Dinner, Hotel Tour.  ***Fair warning…I took A LOT of pics at Harry Potter Tour, you have been warned***  PS—google photo animations complete me.DSC_0562-ANIMATION

Harry Potter Tour:  Don’t know what I’m talking about, here is the official site link.  Ok so technically its called the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London…but its all Harry Potter and that’s all I care about.  We booked the ticket that also included the transportation to and from the studio.  It was really convenient and they showed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on the way!!!!!!!  Plus, how cute is this bus.  I mean come on!

20160119_072310The bus ride took about an hour but there was some pretty crazy traffic.  Once we got there we had a little time until we could queue to get into the actual tour.  In the Lobby was a giant Christmas tree that was used during filming.  Now would be a good time to mention…we went during Hogwarts in the Snow so everything is decked out like its Christmas time.  I was so happy we were there during one of the last weeks for this.  Anyway…the tree.  So pretty, I love Christmas.

DSC_0248 Walking in the queue to get into the tour you walk past none other than the cupboard under the stairs!!!!!!!  Ok sorry, Ill try to keep the exclamation points to a minimum.  It had original props as well and was just so cool to peer inside.

DSC_0251  Once you get past inside you are actually in a little theater where the cast and crew have put together a little video to welcome you to the tour.  I’m no stranger to films before attractions and thought we would be exiting to the right and walking through the sound stages.  NO SIR!  The screen lifted and you are right in-front of the main doors to Hogwarts.  There were so many people crammed up there I couldn’t get a picture of the doors closed, but it was amazing and I’m not even going to lie a little of an adrenaline rush.  Don’t judge me.

DSC_0254 The doors open and we walk into the great hall.  Again, decked out for Christmas, the trees had animated tree toppers with tiny witches zooming around on brooms.  The pudding had a special effect where they lit it on fire.  Each house was represented, the house points were on display (dang Gryffindor), professor’s costumes were at the head table…it was truly breath-taking.  I know that sounds lame, but when I watch the movies and read the books I picture myself there so actually being there was just beyond words.

After we had some time to check out the great hall the group was ushered into the actual studio tour (had to make room for the next time slot to come in).  Here was where we found the rest of the magic.  Sets from almost every major scene in the movie, beautiful props that were used during filming, costumes, a tribute to Alan Rickman, the list goes on and on.

They also had a few demos around.  One I stopped and watched was how they did the goblet of fire.  Very little CGI was used, this was the actual prop for the special effect.

goblet of fireJoe watched on how they made and used different types of snow for different effects.  There was also a video section where you could cast spells but it seems a little awkward and we skipped that.  The best part though was the green screen room.  The first stop was the Ford Angelina.  It was so cool, they did a video (not for purchase sadly) doing different things then took a still photo.  Joe and I did this together and thought it was so cute.  Then you could put on a house robe and get on a broom!  Joe didn’t do this one but I HAD to.  Of course with Ravenclaw robes, this one you also did a video (which I bought and I’m 0% sad about it) and took some still photos.  I loved this part of the tour and can see why it wasn’t easy filming these scenes.  Those brooms are cute but not comfortable!

hogwarts in the snow green screenhogwarts in the snow After the green screen it was time to board a train…the HOGWARTS EXPRESS that is.  This is the actual train used in filming and a few times while we were there it steamed up.  You could walk into the train and see some props and scenes from the films.  It was so cool and Universal Studios Orlando did a great job re-creating their train.  There were a few photo ops for platform 9 3/4 which we stopped at and again there were props used from the films.

After the train there is a brief stop at a cafe where we had a boring lunch, butterbeer (not as good as Universal, sorry) then we were at Privet Drive!  There was also the night bus, the Potter’s House and a bridge from Hogwarts.  It ended up being a beautiful day too, the sun was shining and it had warmed up a little.  Being outside Privet Drive was a little surreal.

Walking back inside was the section on animitronics, prosthetics and creatures used in the films.  My favorite was Buckbeak, he actually moved.  I don’t love prosthetics they freak me out a little so I kept moving, Joe watched a little of the videos they had.

Then we were off to Diagon Alley.  Way cooler than Universal (because it seems just a smidge more like you are there) but wish you could have explored more than just the shop fronts.  As you walk through Diagon Alley you then come to the paper models of different structures of the films.  These were used as models for the eventual actual props or CGI used in the films.  The detail in these paper models was insane.  I took a zoomed in picture of the prefect’s bathroom so you can see.

But where is the actual model of Hogwarts?  You know the one used in filming?  Patience my friends, patience!

DSC_0435DSC_0429DSC_0430Beautiful, amazing, detailed, and covered in snow.  I was blow away with the size, scale and detail that went into this model.  I loved being able to see this with snow and the changing light to simulate different times of day was pretty cool too.  After we took copious amounts of pictures we were on to the exit.  Before you exited there was the wand room where there was a wand for everyone on the cast and crew.  There was also a small tribute to Alan Rickman here too.

DSC_0439  Last stop was the gift shop which had a lot of the same merchandise you can find at Universal but we did buy some Warner Bros Studio Tour specific merch.  Our bus was set to depart at 1pm, so we headed back to the bus then made our way back to London proper.  I loved every minute of this tour and was so happy we went in the winter and the first tour of the day because it was getting really crowded as we left and its not even peak season.  If you have the time I would definitely recommend checking this out.  I feel it was worth every penny we spent.

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Buckingham Palace:  Since we got back to London around 2:30pm we still have some daylight left.  Our bus station was right by Buckingham Palace so we decided to stop by during the day and see the guards.  They are in their winter gear so not as impressive but we did see someone come to the Palace in an old school carriage and that was pretty cool.  We also saw some potholes being fixed, even royals have road problems yall!

Hyde Park:  This was close to Buckingham and a park I wanted to see.  We took a little stroll and again I have to say these parks are just so peaceful.  You Londoner’s are a lucky bunch.  We walked through the park to get to the Underground (which was our mode of transport the whole time BTW) and enjoyed every minute.

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Notting Hill:  I wanted to see if this neighborhood was as picturesque as they say.  It took us a minute to get to Portobello Road (where there are tons of shops and markets) but once we got in the area we started seeing all the iconic pastel houses.  It was so quaint I can see why people love this area.  We didn’t walk down to where the more expensive houses were because of time but we did walk into some of the unique shops on Portobello Road.  Once the sun started to set we made our way back to the train station for the stop I have been waiting all trip for (aside from the Studio Tour).

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King Cross Station:  Yes this is a real place and while it doesn’t look exactly like what you see in the movie or Universal Studios its still pretty cool.  Its one of the larger stations that we stopped at and nicer too.  We made our way to the 8-10 platform area and saw the little setup they had for platform 9 3/4.  There was a pretty decent line to take a picture with the cart and the sign but that was the whole point of coming here so I waited about 20 minutes in line.  It was pretty cool because they had a photographer and someone who would hold your scarf like you were running through the wall.  All the crew had great energy and made it a lot of fun to watch other people jump up.  I was the only one decked out in Harry Potter gear and I gave zero poops about it!  I got tons of compliments on the hat and scarf though which is always fun.  Once I took my pictures (Joe was standing next to the photographer so we didn’t have to buy more pictures) we went into the cute little store right next to it.  I FINALLY got my Hedwig yall!!!  Every other Hedwig I’ve found is a puppet but this one is a legit stuffed animal.  I also got a pin and a shirt because I have a problem and I’m not afraid to admit it.  After we walked through the small shop we walked to the memorial for Alan Rickman (right outside the shop).  It was touching and beautiful to see all the tributes to such a great actor and man.  I stood there for a few minutes taking it all in then we left because I was getting emotional and didn’t need any of that sadness.  We were pretty hungry by this time so we headed off for dinner.

Cote:  I was in the mood for french food so we settled on this one that had a decent menu and not stupid expensive.  It was really cold today and by the time we had taken the tube and walked there I was ready for something warm.  Inside the restaurant was very crowded, which at 6pm is always a good sign.  We were seated right away and had a very friendly waiter.  The decor of the place was a little more modern with a cozy feel.  I know that sounds strange but that’s the best way I can describe it.  I started with the French Onion Soup and Joe got the Charcuterie Board.  I really enjoyed the soup, it had great flavor a good amount of cheese and the bread was sliced french baguette.  I didn’t taste Joe’s appetizer but he said it was really good.  For dinner I had the Roast Duck Breast and Joe had the 10 oz sirloin with garlic butter and frites (french fries).  I loved my duck, paired with cherries you cant really go wrong.  Perfectly cooked and a good portion size I was very happy with the meal.  Joe liked his steak but said he might have liked something different.  It was cooked fine and all but it just wasn’t as good as you would get at a steak place (obviously).  For dessert we shared the creme caramel and for some stupid reason I thought this would not be like flan.  WRONG.  I really hate flan, the texture more than the flavor, and that’s what we got.  The flavor was great but ugh, that eggy taste I just don’t like.  Oh well, the rest of the dinner was great and I cant fault them for the dessert because I shouldn’t have ordered something I don’t like in the first place.  After dinner we headed back to the hotel.

Wizarding Chambers at Georgian House:  I wasn’t blogging back then, but early last year news broke that a hotel in London had created rooms themed to be Wizard Chambers from Hogwarts.  I was so excited about this and KNEW I had to stay in them when I went to London.  These rooms aren’t cheap, at 269 pounds I knew we couldn’t stay here the whole time we were in London but wanted at least 1 night.  What better way to end our Harry Potter day then with the Wizarding Chambers.  When we arrived at the hotel the Front Desk agent said he had to go check and make sure our room was ready (we had dropped our luggage off that morning).  After a few minutes he took us back, through a bookcase that turned out to be a door and down into the “dungeon”.  Ok, I just want you guys to know, walking through that bookcase, you hear the theme music from Harry Potter.  There is smoke coming up from the bottom of the stair, candles are lit all the way down and I have excited chills running up and down my body.  I know immediately we are in for a good time.  He takes us down the stairs and shows us to our room (which has an owl key you guys) and I’m blown away.  The decor, the smells, the details are just on point.  That’s right I did say smells, they had air fresheners everywhere with what can only be described as old library.  He showed us a little about or room, and said if we would like to watch one of the Harry Potter movies let him know.  I immediately asked for the first movie and he brought it down a few minutes later.  We settled in, got organized for our departure tomorrow and passed out under the canopy bed while watching Harry Potter.  I will say the rooms aren’t the best functionality wise.  The sink was a little weird, no holder for the toilet paper, and the shower clearly had flooding issues (the floor boards outside the bathroom were squishy which is a sure sign someone had flooded it before).  I personally would not have enjoyed this room for a longer stay but 1-2 nights it was perfect.  I was very sad to check out the next morning, but all good things must come to an end.

Well that’s it.  That’s everything we did in London.  We had a great time but realized, at least for this time of year, we could have used 1 more day.  If there was more daylight we could have done everything in the 4 full days we had.  Food, as was expected, was nothing that really blew my socks off but we didnt go hungry.  My overall thoughts are, while I enjoyed London, I cant wait to explore somewhere a little more exotic and adventurous.  I wont have to wait too long though, Paris is only a few months away!!!!!!!!!

CHIME IN!!!   Would you stay in a fully-themed room?  Are you a big Harry Potter fan?  What’s your favorite travel memory?

Foodie Friday #25 Fish and Chips Edition

As I mentioned in my London Adventures posts (day 1, day 2, day 3), we tried 2 different Fish and Chips places.  In a bit of a change up I’m going to compare the two places now!

First, lets talk about ambiance:

  • Poppie’s has TINY, tables crammed together, little room for the patrons and waiters to walk around, and almost no room for people to stand inside and wait for a table.  There was a retractable barrier in place to keep people from walking into the dining area which I think was totally tacky.  We felt cramped and uncomfortable even when seated, which personally, is not a good way for your patrons to feel.  The decor was dingy nautical mixed with nostalgic 50’s diner.  Weird way to describe it, but there ya go.
  • Rock and Sole was also small but much more space between tables, no silly barrier and enough space to stand and wait for a table, but I wouldn’t say there was plenty of space.  We didnt feel like we were suffocating here and the restaurant was full.  The decor was almost non-existent but being a simple restaurant I’m ok with that.

Round 1 goes to Rock and Sole

poppies fish and chips(Poppie’s)

Service:

  • Poppie’s waitresses were all female and pretty ditsy.  I don’t want to give the impression that those 2 things go together, but each waitress (we had at least 3) that came by was completely confused when we would ask for something.  I was very surprised we even got our order they were that confused.  Service was fast, but definitely at the cost of quality.  I had to pretty much beg for more water, don’t even think about asking for more ketchup.  Overall I felt like an inconvenience to the waitresses, and I was a paying customer.
  • Rock and Sole had only 1 waiter and he was quick.  While not the most attentive, I always had water and Joe a coke.  Our food came out quickly and while the waiter wasn’t super friendly or anything if we asked for anything he was quick to bring up what we needed.

Round 2 goes to Rock and Sole

20160118_172235 (Rock and Sole)

Ok that’s all well and good but what about the FOOD:

  • Poppie’s I ordered the regular cod fish and chips.  The fish was hot and the outside crust crispy but I felt the fish was flavorless and a little dry.  I added lemon and malted vinegar which helped, dipped the fish in the sad bottled tartar sauce but I was still wishing for more flavor.  The chips were good, not mushy but not crispy either.  The tiny room service ketchup bottle wasn’t nearly enough but like I mentioned above don’t even ask for more.  Joe got the haddock and his fish had even less flavor.  We both wanted the large portion but were told they were out.  Overall we left full but were not impressed.  Our bill was about 35 pounds before tip (this was the only place where it was not included)
  • Rock and Sole we both ordered the same cod for me and haddock for Joe.  This time we were able to get the large portion and they did not disappoint.  When the fish came out it was pipping hot and had a very crispy shell.  The tartar sauce provided was a generous portion and there was a full size bottle of ketchup at the table so we weren’t worried about running out.  The cod here was better than Poppie’s but still lacked in flavor, however this fish was tender and juicy.  I again added lemon juice and malted vinegar with the tartar sauce.  I enjoyed this fish much more but don’t understand why its not as flavorful as other fried fish I have had in the US.  Joe said his haddock was much better than Poppie’s but I didn’t try his this time.  The chips here were very similar to Poppie’s, not crispy but not soggy either.  With getting the large fish I ended up not finished all the chips because I was stuffed!  Our bill was about 35 pounds (larger portion and tip included)

Round 3 goes to Rock and Sole.  Not only did they have the better fish but they also had the better price.

fish and chips (Poppie’s)

Overall:  The clear winner was Rock and Sole.  With the better tasting fish, lower price point and better waiters there was only one choice here.  If you are in London and want a classic dish that’s not some nasty pea thing, check out Rock and Sole Fish Plaice.  You can thank me later.

CHIME IN!!!  Do you like fish and chips?  Ever had them in London?  Do you order the same thing at different restaurants and compare?

Thinking Out Loud #22

I don’t have anything specific I want to talk about today, so I’m going to do this classic thought dump style.

Linking up with Amanda for today’s thinking out loud here.

Thinking-Out-Loud

  1. I’m on my way to Tampa today for the Gasparilla Half Marathon and to spend time with my friend Brittany.  I don’t think we have ever, just the two of us been to Disney together before so I’m excited to go the Happiest Place on Earth with her!  Tampa is about an hour away from Disney so its really easy to get to.  Being from Houston an hour is a normal commute anywhere so no biggie for me 🙂

brittany and me2.  I’m traveling pretty much for 2 weeks straight.  I will be home a day here and a day there to change clothes in my suitcase and change destinations.  Its going to be a long but fun 2 weeks.  Next week Ill be in Atlanta with Amy (for work, but she lives there) and she is going to show me her city.  Reunited and it feels so good!

amy and me3.  Joe has a training in Charlotte in April and I’m going to tag along!  I’m pretty excited I’ve never been to any of the Carolina’s before and it looks like there is plenty to do with mountains on one side and beaches on the other.  April should be a nice time of year and quick mini-vacations are always fun.  Even better Joe had enough miles to get my ticket there!  Yay for frequent flyer miles 🙂

north carolina outer banks(source)

4.  I know I mentioned it already but Im really stoked about my 5k PR.  I havent raced a 5k in I dont know how long.  I was pretty nervous at the start, didn’t have anyone to talk to, but got a great time and was really happy with how everything went.  There are things I could have done better (mile 2 getting stuck behind a 2-wide running cluster) but for the first time in a long time racing Im happy.  Now to get as fast as Fueled by LOLZ 😀

5k PR

5.  I took a United domestic flight to San Antonio Monday and got the stroopwaffle on the flight!!!!!!  Im so happy United is bringing back the small touches that made Continental great back in the day.  I know not everyone cares about this kind of thing but I really enjoy it.

in flight food

6.  While in San Antonio I stopped by this bakery called Bird Bakery.  It was close to the airport and a mid-point to my first appointment of the day.  It also had some intersting pictures on yelp.  I stopped in and this bakery is ADORABLE!  I fell in love with the decor, variety of cupcakes, sandwiches, and pies but the oatmeal cranberry walnut cookie sold me.  It was AMAZING!  I ordered a dozen cupcakes (a variety of flavors) and sampled the carrot cake which was divine.  Little did I know its actually owned by Elizabeth Chambers and Armie Hammer (Lone Ranger yall).  They have an adorable story here and now I know I will be making many return trips when Im in San Antonio.  If you are in the Lone Star state and your travels bring you anywhere near the Alamo, check this place out STAT.

7.  I became a big girl runner last week and got an official running journal, this one in fact.  I searched for a while and couldnt find one I loved and was actually using a regular notebook (gasp).  I’ve switched to a running specific journal and so far I love it.  Its a lot easier to glance back at and see what kinds of runs I did and how they went.  What I like most is that you can like your race PR’s, bucket list races, things you want to try and ailments you had and what you did to work them out.  Its a pretty nifty journal if I do say so myself 🙂

runner journal

8.  Whats a random thought you have this week?

WIWW #29

I’m traveling for work this week but to a few more casual properties so its jeans and a nice blouse (wrinkle resistant of course).  Its a lot easier to travel with jeans than dress slacks because they really don’t wrinkle at all, don’t show stains, are more durable and to me are more comfortable.  I’m also flying today and I HATE flying in dress slacks, ugh!  I tried to get a picture with the gorgeous view in the background but the sun comes up on my side of the building so it wasn’t working out.

WIWW

Top:  The Limited a LONG time ago

Jeans: Express (duh, similar)

Shoes: Tieks

Earrings and Necklace: Kendra Scott (earrings, necklace)

CHIME IN!!!  What do you wear when you fly?  Kendra Scott fan?  Anything in your closet older than 2 years?

Workout Recap 2/9-15

This week was all about building base speed and prepping my body for the 5k race on Saturday while also keeping myself free from injury for my half marathon next weekend.  Overall I would say this week went pretty well!  I mean…I did get a pretty impressive PR…but you have to wait for that.

Tuesday:  More speed work today.  This one was a little weird and I had to read it a few times to get it down.  15 minutes warm-up with 2×20 second easy picks ups then 3x2min pick ups at faster than 5k pace with 2 minute rest in between.  After that set 3 minute rest then do that same set again.  15 minute cool down at easy pace.  I really like these kinds of workouts it breaks the time up and before I know it its been 4.5 miles!  I ended with a 10:28 pace and felt really good through all the pick-ups.  I even got up to a 7:45 pace and didn’t feel like dying!  This is the face you make when you feel like you rocked a workout.  15 minutes foam rolling / stretching / 10 minutes icing that night.

tuesday workout

Wednesday:  Easy run today took the pace a little slower than on the schedule but my shins were pretty tight today.  Ended with 4.1 miles at 12:12 pace.  Gotta roll out the shins tonight to keep them fresh for Saturday.  Since I ran in the morning I also went to core.  I know crazy woman!  Since I missed Monday I wanted to make sure I went today.  It was a pretty good class but modified a lot to not overwork my hip flexors.   15 minutes foam rolling / stretching / 10 minutes icing that night.  Updated picture of my torture tools 🙂

Thursday:  Rest day!  I know but its Thursday!  I’m running a 5k on Saturday so my rest day shifted to accommodate for that.  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / icing that night

Friday:  Easy run with some pick-ups today.  Did 2.16 miles at 11:36 pace…but I messed up my watch and had it running instead of paused while I picked up Oreo’s mess.  Ugh, so my first mile was way off.  Did 4×30 second pick-ups at 10k pace.  Felt good the whole run but the dogs were acting up so I was a little frustrated with them.  Its a good thing it was a short distance today because I was having NONE of their shenanigans today.  15 minutes stretching / foam rolling / icing hip that night.  The dogs love to make sure I get my stretching in.

Saturday:  5k race day!  There is a local race done twice a month by my local running store Luke’s Locker.  Funny enough my dad has ran 60 of the same race back when he lived closer to the Woodlands.  Now its my turn.  Today’s goal was to race all out, full exertion and get a baseline for my heartrate and pace with a goal time of 28:00 (my last 5k PR was 30:12).  Luckily today was a gorgeous day with low humidity.  I got to the school and did a half mile slow warm up then some dynamic stretching.  Then it was time to line up at the start line.  No fancy chips or mats, just cones and volunteers.  The course was an out and back, very simple.  The first mile I took out too fast to get around people and speed bumps and had an 8:22 pace.  The second mile I slowed down a little and tried to find someone to pace.  I thought I had found that (mainly because they were in front of me and I couldn’t get around them) but they were going too slow, I was able to get past them but my second mile was 9:02.  I saw that time and picked it up, passed a few more people and got close to the finish line.  I didn’t have much left in the tank and I was breathing pretty hard but got mile 3 at 8:36 and the last .1 at 7:50.  Overall I got my best time ever for a 5k with 26:16!!!  My goal time was 28:00.  Ahhhh!!!!  I was so excited with my time I went to Chick-Fil-A where they were serving heart biscuits, they loved my great time too 🙂

Sunday:  Recovery day.  30 minute walk was scheduled.  We cleaned the house so that was my 30 minute walk (takes me and Joe and hour).  We don’t celebrate Valentine’s day but brunch with Summer was a great way to round out a fantastic weekend with an awesome PR.

Monday:  Rest and travel day.  I did a bit of walking today with meetings and airports, but overall rest day.

friendly skies

CHIME IN!!!  Did you have some great workouts this week?  Do your furry friends keep tabs on you while you stretch?  Do you make silly faces when you have a great workout?