Getting the spark back

I have to admit, I’ve really been struggling with my treadmill runs lately. I get them done, yes, but I am bored out of my mind! It doesn’t matter how kickass my playlist is or what I’m watching on TV. I’m constantly eyeing the clock, watching the miles tick away, wanting to run faster just to get it over and done with. NOT the kind of relationship I want to have with running. But these aren’t exactly the temps I want to be running outside in:

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Cely, however, is a freaking rockstar and runs in the Texas heat at night. Lady, you’re my damn hero!

Thankfully my long runs on the weekend can be done outside. Saturday morning I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30am (after sleeping through my 4:45 alarm) and got ready for my first outside run of training. My boyfriend, who despises running, agreed to go with me. I asked him jokingly at  first, and fully expected him to say no. Apparently he’s trying to get back in shape, so he jumped right out of bed after I did.

Another thing worth noting: this was my first music-less run. I nearly had a panic attack on Friday night when I realized I left my iPod at work. Thankfully I had someone to run with, and I think I may have liked that even better than music!

I planned on taking a walk break after each mile, but Brad’s knee was bothering him so we walked a bit more than that. 5 miles, 1:04 – I’ll take it! My shins were being little bitches, as usual. A huge thanks to Brian who offered some great advice on dealing with my shin splints! After tons of stretching, icing, and wine-ing I felt much better.

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Another week of marathon training is in the books. The trail run this weekend was just what I needed to rekindle the running fire inside of me. I can’t wait for next Saturday’s long run!

Wine is the most civilized thing in the world

title quote by Ernest Hemingway

I have been a very busy wine drinker lately. I have also been doing a terrible job reviewing them, clearly, since my last wine recap was back in February!

First up, Francis Coppola’s Director’s Cab. Back when I first professed my love for the Coppola Claret, Mayra recommended Director’s Cut Cab to me. I don’t think this is the exact same one, but I gave it a shot anyway.

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This bottle did not disappoint; very smooth, medium-bodied wine, with vanilla undertones which I love. Brad was pretty excited to try it as well but I finished the bottle before he had a chance to. Oops…

I’m fairly new to the world of Malbecs. There was one I drank fairly regularly after I discovered it while working at Seasons 52 but the name escapes me right now. I went back and forth between the Coppola and Layer Cake (has anyone tried their Malbec or Cab??) in the store, but decided on Coppola since he hasn’t steered me wrong before.

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I had forgotten how different a malbec is. I had had a steady stream of cabs and pinots leading up to it, so this was a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, I don’t have many others to compare it to, so I can’t necessarily recommend this one. I’m going to give Layer Cake a shot next time, as well as Alamos, which I’ve heard is delicious.

And then there’s an old favorite, Mirassou Pinot Noir.

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This is my go-to, under $10 red wine. This is probably the most frequently purchased wine in our house, by far.

Last night I hit up Target on a mission: stock up on a few bottles of wine without spending a fortune. I came across a bottle with a clearance sticker on it, and I made it my job to find two more with a similar tag.

Success!

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Yeah, uh, not so proud of the Turning Leaf. I have never bought a bottle of merlot in life, nor have I ordered a glass in a restaurant. It’s my least favorite red by far, but for some reason the $4.54 price tag intrigued me. The last time I was feeling frugal I purchased a bottle of Turning Leaf Pinot Noir: holy disappointment! Apparently I was feeling risky yesterday with a wine I do not like produced by a company I haven’t been impressed with.

It definitely needed to breathe in the glass a little bit before drinking. The verdict? It actually wasn’t that bad, and I happily poured myself a second glass. Even so, merlot is still at the bottom of my list. In a pinch, I’d probably buy it again. And I may or may not be in the process of polishing off the bottle right now. Wine must not be wasted!

I’ll discuss the riesling and tempranillo in another post, you know, after I actually drink them 🙂 I have high hopes for both.

What new wine have you tried lately?

And now, a toast–TO YOU!

In October 2010, we ran our first half marathon together.

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It was exhilarating and the best way to kick off our new passion for running.  When we walked excitedly around Epcot the next day (actually, more like ate, drank, and rested our exhausted gazelles), we decided it would be a fun idea to start a blog together.

Since we started the blog, we have been signing up for races, working on our running goals, and sharing our stories with you.  We decided that we wanted to do a “Toast Post” for everyone who reads Cheetahs in Training.

It’s great to record our successes and adventures, but the best part is having people who enjoy following it, who we can make connections with. Tonight, we are raising our glasses to all of you, our loyal blog readers, with our Disney Wine & Dine glasses – the ones we purchased the weekend of our first race.

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Thank you for reading, commenting, and coming into our crazy little world. 🙂

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Cheers!

 

Melissa & Carly-

Austin Blogger Meetup

About two weeks ago, I met up with a few gals at the Iron Cactus for happy hour and a dinner. I was the first to arrive, so naturally I headed right for the bar to enjoy a glass of wine while I waited.

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Brittany, Monica, Jeanette, and Katie joined me shortly after and we made our way to the dining room. Margaritas were consumed, chips & salsa were devoured, and great conversation was had with these amazing ladies.

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All group photos courtesy of Brittany – thanks lady!

I can’t wait until the next meetup, and maybe we’ll even be able to expand our group (Lindsay, Carla, Tricia, Caitlin – just to name a few!)

Have you ever been to a blogger meetup or tweetup in your town?

Third times the charm

I’ve been having a bout of unfortunate luck when it comes to wine lately. I’ve been straying from the usual suspects in an attempt to add some new gems to the rotation. Much to my dismay, two out of three weren’t up to par.

The first was Blufeld Riesling from Mosel, Germany:

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I can’t really pinpoint exactly what turned me off from it, but I simply wasn’t a fan. The bottle was pretty to look at though.

Next up, a sauvignon blanc by Cupcake, as seen in an earlier post:

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Yes, although it didn’t tickle my fancy, I did in fact finish the bottle. I don’t like to waste things, especially wine. That’s just alcohol abuse.

While I appreciated the grapefruit notes, ultimately it was too dry for me. This won’t be a repeat visitor in the wine rack.

This evening my boyfriend has a business meeting with two friends to discuss details of the company they are starting up. Read: excuse to grill up some steaks and throw back a few beers while possibly touching on future company issues.

I’ll be spending the evening sans my male counterpart, so clearly that means I have to grab a bottle of wine, right? Obviously.

Enter contestant number three, Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc:

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Ding ding ding, we have a winner! Coming in at $13.99, this was an affordable white. Not too dry, not too sweet – just what I was looking for. (Mulderbosch also produces a fabulous sauvignon blanc, by the way.)

What’s in your wine glass as of late?

3M Half Marathon “Expo”

Today was pretty exciting! I crossed off (half of) an item on my goal list for 2011: I paid off one credit card! I can’t even explain how good that feels. Not quite as good as crossing the finish line of a half marathon, but it felt GOOD!

On my lunch break today I headed out to the 3m Innovation Center in the boondocks of Austin. Maybe not the boondocks to all, definitely to me who works downtown and lives just north of Austin. It was incredibly out of the way.

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However, I was making the drive for a bag chock full of free goodies. How could I complain?

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I was pretty pleased with the contents of the swag bag for the 3m Half Marathon. If the bag is too heavy to carry to the car, you know they’ve done a good job. Let’s take a look at what was inside:

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I love that the race shirt is a tech shirt – this guarantees I will actually wear it.

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Sunglasses – this is a huge plus in my book. I’m just not a fan of running a race in my aviators.

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Not exactly sure what a Shammy towel is, but I’ll use it. Pop-up Note & Flag Dispenser = LOVE! I’m a huge Post-It nerd, and these dispensers are not cheap. I’ll take a free one, thank you very much!

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Oh shin splints, story of my life. Clearly someone tipped them off that it would be beneficial to slip this flyer in my bag. I’m all for the shin splint cure.

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An issue of Austin Fit. If my reading it will make my abs magically look like hers, I’ll be reading this in bed tomorrow morning, for sure.

Well kids, I’m off to bed. It’s 10:34 and WAY past my bedtime. It was date night tonight and we saw “No Strings Attached” (against the boyfriend’s will). However, it actually ended up being really funny. I can’t stand chick flicks or happy endings (things don’t happen that way in real life), but there was a lot of hilarious moments and raunchy jokes in the movie. I’m still laughing about certain scenes. Even the bf said he’d allow me to sleep in the house tonight because the movie was actually enjoyable!

Ladies & gents, that’s what we call a win. I’m off to drink copious amounts of H20 to counteract all of the pinot noir and prosecco I consumed this evening.

Time to get my game face on!

My, things have changed

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Five years ago, I turned 22. I arrived at the Hard Rock Casino shortly after 10pm, and spent the night drinking and dancing until nearly 4am. It was dubbed “the best birthday ever.” Honestly, I couldn’t even tell you who was in attendance that night. Too many drinks, one extremely late night.

Yesterday, I turned 27. The evening started shortly after 6pm when my boyfriend arrived home with ingredients to prepare dinner for me. While I sipped on a delicious glass of pinot noir, he banned me from the kitchen while he whipped up dinner. (No cooking, no cleanup? Yes please!) Then, we watched a couple episodes of Criminal Minds, and after enduring a hilarious rendition of “Happy Birthday” and blowing out my candles, we each enjoyed a giant red velvet cupcake. (And I may or may not have had the rest of my cupcake for a morning snack…) We were both exhausted and headed to bed around 9pm. On my nightstand was my birthday card. The combination of the card and the personal message he added inside really made my day. It’s amazing how such a simple evening could mean the absolute world to me.

The new “best birthday ever”.

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Today, once I deem the temperature bearable enough to run in, I’ll be knocking out an eight miler downtown, as per my training plan.

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I’m off to fuel up for my run. Only 8 more days until the first race of 2011!

Happy Saturday everyone, hope you all have an awesome weekend!

Weekend Recap

It’s been a pretty productive and relaxing weekend. Seems like those two couldn’t go hand in hand, right? Somehow I made it happen.

Friday night I swung by the grocery store on my way home to grab a bottle of wine and a few odds & ends for dinner.

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I whipped up Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Spinach, recipe to be posted soon!

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Saturday morning I went on a hunt for a laptop bag. After three stores and a 30 minute deliberation on whether on I wanted red or black, I headed home with a cute new red tote bag from Kohl’s. My happiness faded when I attempted to put the laptop in the bag– it didn’t fit. I returned it, checked a few more stores, and arrived back home empty handed.

I tore apart my bedroom all afternoon. I filed, I recycled, I organized – it was glorious. I feel so much better now that the mess has been cleaned up!

Today we performed our Sunday morning ritual: pickup Dunkin’ Donuts and head downtown. Bf took the dog to the park, and I hit the trail for a couple easy miles. I didn’t plan on logging any high mileage, I just wanted to start breaking in the new shoes a little bit.

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I ran 2.68 miles, with my splits being 11:46, 12:34, 6:34. By the third mile I was really in the zone, and I felt it could have been a GREAT long run day. I didn’t want to push it though, since one week from today I’ll be running the Rock n Roll San Antonio 1/2 (at the same time Carly will be running the 13.1 Ft. Lauderdale race)! I can’t believe it’s almost here already!

On the way home we stopped at Best Buy and I finally was able to find a bag large enough to fit my laptop. When we got back to the house I jumped in my car and headed out to the grocery store to pick up this (totally against my Sunday football beer-only rule):

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And ingredients to whip up this:

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Turkey Chili w/ a dollop of light sour cream and topped with mango pico de gallo. Soo delicious 🙂

Now I’m watching football, doing laundry, and preparing for the new work week to begin. Bring it on – I’m ready!

Red, red wine

Saturday night I ordered a glass of wine with dinner, and I began to think about all of my favorite red wines. I remember back 6 years ago when I used to think Yellowtail Shiraz was the BEST wine. General rule of thumb: if you can buy it at the gas station, it is most likely not a phenomenal bottle. I have since fine-tuned my taste buds to appreciate a delicious glass of wine, and today I’d like to share my favorite reds 🙂

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The last one is a bit of a splurge, but if you are looking for a nice red to celebrate a special occasion – this bottle will NOT disappoint:

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Inaugural Disney Wine & Dine 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

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Well, first things first: we finished our first 1/2 marathon!! When I initially stumbled across the race website back in May, I knew we were meant to run it. Our wine nights, whether in person or via Skype, are frequent. We love to cook and enjoy delicious food. The Wine & Dine 1/2 was calling our name!

We trained separately for five months, her in Florida and I in Texas, and we met up in Orlando on October 1, 2010. Our first stop? The Expo at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex.

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Obviously since neither of us had done a race this large before, we had never experienced an Expo. Needless to say, our wallets were not pleased by the time we dragged ourselves out of there.

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The Expo was pretty well organized, and there was minimal chaos. It might have helped that we showed up the first day, only one hour after it opened. You pick up your number, check your D-Tag, and pick up your swag bag (not impressed with the contents, I will say though). Quick and painless!

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After picking up all of our race supplies, we grabbed a glass of Prosecco and began wandering around. We both invested in iFitness belts, a Wine & Dine t-shirt and wine glass, and I purchased a BondiBand. We also saw Jeff Galloway speaking on stage about running the race using the Galloway Method.

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That evening we headed to Café Tu Tu Tango for dinner and drinks, followed by a trip to a dueling piano bar and a nearby dance hall. Probably not the best pre-race day lineup, but the race wasn’t until 10pm the next night. Vacation mode was in full-swing!

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Saturday was fairly uneventful, as we rested up for the big night! Lots of eating, napping, and watching tv. Around 5:30pm, we began getting ready:

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and headed to the food court for a pre-race snack: almond butter & bananas on whole wheat toast:

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We boarded the bus at 6:30 to head over to the start line. In hindsight, I probably should have brought this food with me. It was WAY too early to eat that, with a 10pm start time. We were fully stocked with Gu, but something substantial closer to the race would have been much more beneficial.

Here we are at the pre-race party:

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Around 9:45 we were all herded towards the starting line. We were in Corral C, but the race didn’t start in waves, which I thought was a little odd. Everyone started at once, and it made certain stretches of the race really cramped.

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And we’re off!

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This is what a lot of the race looked like, extremely dark and on back roads. I know there is only so much we can run in the parks, but the rest of the course was pretty boring. Don’t get me wrong though, there was a bit of entertainment:

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And after running all of this:

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… it was a HUGE relief it was to see this:

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After running through Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and a couple hotels, we were about to cross the finish line in Epcot – thank god!!

We finished in 3:12. We walked probably about 50% of it, but we were completely okay with that. Our goal was to finish, and that’s exactly what we did 🙂

After crossing the finish line, we were handed a bag with a banana, muffin, granola bar, etc. in it. Then we got in line to receive our medals, and headed to pickup our bag from bag check. This is where things took a turn for the worse.

We were all funneled through four separate doors, which we assumed would lead us to four separate lines for bag pickup. This was not the case; the four doors emptied out into one large building, which had little to no airflow. Cramming hundreds of hot, sweaty runners into a small confined area only minutes after finishing a half marathon? Massive fail. People were passing out left and right. Disney definitely dropped the ball here, although it was pretty surprising since they put on numerous other endurance events throughout the year.

After grabbing our bag, we entered the Finish Line Party. Basically, it was the Food & Wine Festival setup. This party was open to the 11,000 runners, plus family/friends of the runners who purchased tickets for it (at $35, if anyone is curious). Now imagine all of those people in line at 25-30 food/drink kiosks. Pure pandemonium. The last thing you want to do after running a half is stand in line waiting for food. Especially when you enter the party with only about an hour to enjoy to it! We hit the champagne kiosk,  which had a bearable line. Then we went to Puerto Rico for frozen mojitos, and Carly had some soup. We snagged a spot on the steps of the Mexico ride, and then we decided we needed to leave ASAP. After grabbing a beer from the 15 Beers for 15 Years kiosk, we headed towards the exit.

A place where I expected Disney to fail was the transportation back to our hotel, since there were SOO many people at Epcot. However, we were able to board a bus right after we arrived at our bus stop. We arrived at our hotel, and then it was time for this:

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Happiness 🙂

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Overall, we had a GREAT time! I mean, we finished our first half marathon together – how awesome is that! Would we run this race again? Definitely. The logistics at the bag pickup/finish line party need to be worked out on Disney’s end, but it was the Inaugural year so we can’t complain too much.

Hopefully we’ll be back for the 2011 race!

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