Another Race? Broad Street 10 Miler

You might be thinking to yourself, “didn’t she just run a half marathon last weekend and PR? Why is she racing again?” Well, those thoughts would be correct. Sometimes I’m smart, but most of the time I’m not.

The Broad Street 10 Miler in Philadelphia is a race that has always been on my radar. So when a bunch of my friends from college decided they wanted to run it this year, I couldn’t help but throw my name into the lottery with them. I had friends from high school, college, and post-college (should I call that “adulthood?”) all signed up for the race, so I knew it would be a good time. Since I was originally shooting to PR at the Shamrock Half, I thought there would be plenty of time between the two races. Thanks to my ITB issues in January I pushed back my PR half marathon attempt, leaving it just one week before Broad Street. At first I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I just skip the run? Run it easy? Eventually I decided to run, but wasn’t really sure what my running plan would be up until I started running.

I had little expectations going into the race. Since I raced last weekend, I knew pushing my body to the same effort level was not smart. It helped that my PR for this distance was over two years old, so I knew I wouldn’t have to push hard (or at all, really) to beat it. That helped to quell my inner competitor a bit and allowed me to have a more relaxed approach to the race. I stayed at my friend’s apartment the night before and slept on her pull-out couch, I didn’t do anything fancy for dinner or breakfast, and I didn’t get to the race until about 20 minutes before it was supposed to start (which was a bit stressful).

While waiting in my corral for the start, I was kept quite entertained by men doing static stretching (tisk, tisk), a guy dropping to the ground and doing a handful of push-ups multiple times, and other antics. It was the perfect distraction from being chilly and wanting the race to just start. The forecast had predicted a relatively warm and sunny day, but by the time we started it was overcast and quite cool. I had my (sweet) sunglasses with me, but decided to hold them in my hand and hope that the sun would come out eventually. At about 8:25am the wheelchair corral was off, and 5 minutes later right at 8:30 the elites and red corral were sent on their way. By 8:33 I was crossing the start of my first Broad Street Run!

Jersey Birds do Philly! Me + Hollie after the race
Jersey Birds do Philly! Me + Hollie after the race

Per the usual, I took off at the start and made my way to the left side of the road in a comfortable spot. I’d heard nightmares about how crowded and bottle-necked the start and other parts of the race can be due to the nearly 40,000 participants, so I wanted to make sure early on that I had enough room to breathe. Since I was in the second corral and Broad Street is really wide and there were no real turns, I never experienced any overcrowding. While you would think a straight-shot race may be boring, it was quite the opposite. There were plenty of spectators, and the undulation in the road provided a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the sea of people up ahead. My first mile was way too fast and the next two were slower, but still too fast (6:58, 7:05, 7:11), and I knew I needed to slow down.

After passing the 3.1 in just about my current 5k PR, I made a conscious effort to slow. The next four miles were 7:18, 7:13, 7:21, 7:17. It was difficult to actually get myself to slow down enough. I’d lower my effort, and somehow I’d look down at my watch and be running faster than before. It was frustrating because I knew I needed to be running slower, yet my body wouldn’t let me. Of course that sounds like one of those “that’s not a bad problem to have!” situations, but I really didn’t want to be pushing my body too much. My effort was probably at around 90%, when it really should have been no more than 80%. It wasn’t until mile 8 where I actually slowed down to the pace I should have been running the whole race. My fast start combined with the sun and heat (which made an appearance around mile 2) were finally catching up to me. Under normal circumstances I would have been upset that I slowed so significantly from the start to finish of the race, but I was actually relieved! The last three miles were 7:38, 7:43, and 7:35. I crossed the finish line in 1:13:41 – a new PR by 10 minutes!

University of Scranton swimmers + soccer players turned runners?
University of Scranton swimmers + soccer players turned runners?

After the race I quickly found my friend from high school and her fellow Central Park Track Club Runners. After that I was able to find Hollie and chat with her for a few minutes before making my way to the port-o-potties to change out of my sopping wet racing clothes. As I was coming out I heard a “Danielle!” and turned to see Oiselle teammate Danielle waiting in line herself! By the time I made it back to the designated meeting place, my friends started to arrive. They all had great races themselves, and it’s fun to look at us now – running road races after spending so many years in the pool as swimmers! We had a great brunch at Fado after scaling a mud wall and hopping over a highway divide to get to the subway. I even got to stop at Whole Foods on the way home! It was  a great weekend with some of my best friends from college with a side of running – what more could I ask for?

I have a week of some more base building before getting started on some 5k work. I can’t wait for summer!

Sick Day Comforts

Late last week, I boasted to my fiancé how it was so impressive I hadn’t yet gotten sick this winter. Throughout high school and college, I could count on a nasty cold, usually turning into a sinus infection and one of those never ending tickling coughs to rear it’s ugly head at least once a winter. It really put a cramp in my training for swimming, but I somehow always managed to work with it. I got sick last year after catching a cold from my fiancé, but this year, I thought I was in the clear. Oh I was wrong.

This past weekend I headed to Scranton to attend the Alumni Swim Meet, where the seniors on the team are celebrated, and parents and alumni attend as well. It’s the last duel meet before their championship weekend, so it’s a nice close to the season. Of course, since it’s Scranton, there was snow falling the entire day, and it was quite chilly. Unlike in my college days, I made sure to dress appropriately for the weather, and headed out for a fun night to celebrate the graduating seniors, all of my alumni friends, and a recent engagement between two alumni swimmers! Unfortunately in Scranton, you are allowed to smoke in bars if you are under a certain percentage of revenue related to food. I woke up Sunday morning with a scratchy, sore throat which I attributed to screaming over the music, and a smoky bar.

Monday rolled around, and my throat still didn’t feel right, but it wasn’t too bad. I motored through the day, and when I woke up on Tuesday I felt like I had been hit with a ton of bricks. Super tired, lethargic, a raging headache, a tickle/scratch cough, and a sore throat. I knew it was game over – I had gotten sick this winter. I struggled through the work day, and resolved myself to the couch for the rest of Tuesday evening. I knew I’d be spending Wednesday at home, laying on the couch watching TV and catching up on homework.

What I'm resolved to when sick...

Even though my appetite isn’t itself, I knew I needed to eat something for breakfast. Enter the peanut butter and Nutella grilled sandwich! Until recently, I never thought of grilling some things between two slices of bread. Then I saw Shelby’s Grilled PB&J, and Caitlin’s Grilled Banana sandwich. I thought to myself that peanut butter and Nutella would work well together… and oh it does!

So whether you’re feeling under the weather or just want a treat, make this! It’s so quick and easy. I feel silly writing out the directions to make a grilled sandwich, and it’s so simple I actually had trouble writing it out. So forgive me!

Peanut Butter & Nutella Grilled Sandwich
– Serves 1 –

2 Tbsp chunky peanut butter
2 Tbsp Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
2 slices sandwich bread (any kind will do)
Cooking Spray
1 Tbsp butter

1. Spread peanut butter on one side of a piece of bread
2. Spread Nutella on one side of the other piece of bread
3. Put two pieces of bread together, peanut butter & Nutella facing one another
4. Butter one side of the bread, leave the other side un-buttered
5. Spray skillet, and heat to medium-high heat, place sandwich non-buttered side down first
6. Check every few minutes, and once one side is golden brown, flip, cooking other side until similarly golden brown

Breakfast for Dinner: Monte Cristo style!

I had my first Monte Cristo sandwich my freshman year of college. We were on a training trip to Mission Veijo, California and in between practices one day a few teammates and I ventured to a restaurant near the hotel called Sugar Shack. After we discovered that place I think at least 5 members of the team were there for lunch every day.

University of Scranton Swim Team '04-'05 in California

*Sorry guys, I just had to post this. Just a little nostalgia!

I was never a big breakfast person, but it’s slowly been growing on me. The Monte Cristo is a good middle ground dish; it’s a little breakfast with the French toast style bread, and also lunch/dinner-like with the ham and cheese.

I found this particular recipe on Serious Eats‘s “Dinner Tonight” section and took out the strawberry preserves and mustard. I’d never heard of either on that particular sandwich, and I’m not big on jelly and my fiancé won’t eat mustard (or mayo). I also couldn’t find gruyere cheese at ShopRite – their cheese display is confusing. I did, however, find chipotle Gouda so I snagged that. I know Gouda isn’t the best for melting, but since it’s my all time favorite cheese, I didn’t care.

After a solid 3.1 miles regretfully on the treadmill (thanks a lot mother nature!) I set to work on the sandwiches. The recipe didn’t specify what type of bread to use, so at the store on Monday I grabbed a big crusty loaf of Italian bread. I cut the slices on the thicker side, to make it a little gourmet looking. I cut a few slices of the chipotle gouda, and added about a slice and a half of smoked ham. In terms of the French toast part, I followed the instructions for the mixture and ran with it. Since I know gouda isn’t the best melty cheese (thank you Bobby Flay’s Throw Down episode on grilled cheese), after I cooked them on each side to a golden crisp, I threw them in the oven for 5 minutes to assist in the melting.

We paired the sandwiches with some tater tots and a salad, and we were stuffed. We had plans to tackle another cupcake from Monday, but we were just too full.

Even though I’m not a huge breakfast fan (gasp!) I would absolutely make this again. It’s definitely the type of recipe you can play with in terms of different ham and cheese types, and I like that flexibility! Now if only I could transfer that flexibility to my legs. Boy they’re tight!

Monte Cristo
– Serves 2 –

4 slices bread
6 slices ham
2 slices gruyere cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoon milk
Pinch of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons strawberry jam

1. Smear some mustard on two slices of bread. Top each with three slices of ham, one slice of cheese, and a slice of bread.
2. Whisk together the egg, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla in a shallow pan.
3. Dip each sandwich into the egg mixture, making sure to evenly coat both sides.
4. Add the butter to a large skillet set over medium heat. When melted, add the sandwiches and cook on both sides until browned.
5. Sprinkle with the sugar, and serve with the strawberry jam.

Happy breakfast, lunch, and dinner nomzing!

In Loving Memory

Brendan and I, at a birthday party in 2006

Four years ago today, I lost a very close friend of mine. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long since my Scranton Swimming teammate was taken away from us. In 2006, I was a sophomore in college having the time of my life. Spring break rolled around, and everyone was excited to head home to be with their home friends and families, or to hit up Spring Break destinations.

As a senior at The University of Scranton, Brendan Giblin headed down to Panama City Florida with some friends. Only two days into spring break, on a Thursday night/Friday morning, while stumbling home from the bar, he was struck by not one, but two drunk drivers.

I find it apt to remember him today here, because I remember exactly what I was doing when I found out – eating. I was sitting at my computer, eating a tuna and apple sandwich (sounds weird, but SO good!) when a friend called, recounting the horrific story. When they got to the part where Brendan had been hit, I remember saying “He’s ok, RIGHT?”, imagining him somewhere in a hospital bed, beaten and bruised. In that moment, my whole world came crashing down. I remember screaming for my mom, hysterically crying, and not knowing where to go from there. I tried to call everyone I knew to make sure they had found out.

I spent the rest of spring break trying to wrap my head around a concept that I had up until that point, never really encountered. The idea of having to say goodbye to a dear friend that I had become so close with was something my 19 year old self just couldn’t understand.

My teammates, friends, and I spent the rest of that 2006 spring semester honoring Brendan’s life. Some of us even went so far as to get tattoos in his memory. The swim team went ahead and purchased a record board in his name in 2008, and every year after his death, there’s a memorial golf outing to celebrate his life and give back to communities he loved so much.

There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about Brendan. I know that’s the case for anyone that had their lives touched by him. So for me, this is just another way to honor him at 4 years gone. Love & miss, biffy.