Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ethel M Chocolates

Even though this was last Saturday, I'm posting it here for the weekly wrap.  I missed out while I was traveling home last Monday, and what better way to celebrate a two-day work week than posting about chocolate?   I didn't do much at all this week since I was in recovery mode.  I did a little bit of Pure Barre yesterday and today, with a focus on my abs.


One of the places I went while in Las Vegas was the factory for Ethel M Chocolates.  They're about 15 minutes off the strip, and pretty easy to get to.  If you're traveling to Vegas and don't have time to go to the factory, there are shops in the airport.


A little backstory: Ethel M Chocolates is a specialty gourmet branch within the Mars company, named after Forrest Mars Sr's mother.  Apparently he started the project to fight off boredom after retirement.  It was established in Nevada, since Nevada allowed the sale of liquor-filled chocolates... which by the way, those liquor filled chocolates are SO good!

My family discovered Ethel M's when we lived in Tucson, with a store at the mall.  Even though we moved away from Tucson in 1994, we keep going back to the chocolates for special occasions.


I knew after I signed up for the race, I needed to get to the factory.  I had a list of chocolates to get for the family, and after scouting out the store in the airport terminal I flew into, I knew what I needed to get at the factory.  The airport store didn't have everything, and my family loves the almond butter krisp the company makes.

If you're at the factory on a busy day, you'll hopefully see the kitchen staff working and making chocolate.  I knew since I was going on a Saturday, it would most likely be quiet, but there is a self guided tour with tidbits on the glass as you watch the chocolate process.  Then it ends in the store, where you can buy pre-made boxes, or make your own.  There are two selection counters where you can get whatever you want for your box.

This isn't even all the chocolate!
And don't forget about their cactus garden.  I walked through a little bit after shopping at the store.  There are a number of varieties, and it was strung with lights for the holidays.  Since it was before noon, the lights weren't on, but you can see pictures of the garden lit up on their social media


I'd say I have a chocolate problem, but more than half of what I bought was either for my parents, my grandfather, or chiropractor.  I wanted to get my chiropractor a box even before the race since she's kept my body together.  I tell you, with my history of injuries, it's not easy.


I'll happily admit I'm done with one of the boxes, but most of the boxes have 16 pieces.  2 pieces a day means it doesn't take me long to get through a box.

So what did I buy?  Various boxes of:

Almond Butter Krisp
Creme Liquors
Dark Chocolate collection
Taste of Las Vegas
Satin Cremes


Linking up with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for Weekend Wrap-up.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Review of the Race

Since today is Friday Five, I'll post my thoughts about the race.  There's one more post to go from Las Vegas, and I'll post it Monday.

Every race has pros and cons, and after posting my recap, this will be reflecting on the race.


1) Pro: Afternoon race so I could sleep in.  I did a lot of vegging in my hotel room Sunday morning.

2) Con: The 10k course didn't get much of the #stripatnight.  Starting at the very northern point of the strip and heading into downtown LV meant maybe 2 miles of the strip coming back down Las Vegas Boulevard.


3) Pro: The medal, of course!  I was told RnR does the medals well, and it did not disappoint.

4) Con: smelling sewer treatment or pot along the course was new for me.  It was more prevalent in downtown than on the strip.

5) Pro: Flat course.  I really appreciated the flat course.  My neighborhood has hills and flat stretches, and training on both prepared me for anything.


6) Con: Gear pickup.  I mentioned this in my recap, but gear pickup needed to be more efficient.  If RnR has staff apologizing to people waiting, it's bad.

Even though I felt super strong in this race, I don't think I'd do it again, as it stands now.  The whole point of the weekend is #stripatnight, and the 10k course didn't get to the heart of the strip until past the finish line, in the runners village.  That's not to knock the course entirely.  I enjoyed it, but I've never repeated a race since I'm always looking for something new.

In general, it was a good weekend.  I never once felt unsafe, even when I walked to the expo on Friday.  The police presence on the course was very much appreciated, and I thanked those when I could.  We even had a police helicopter fly overhead when we were in the corrals.  It was a little strange when I was driving up the strip from the airport on Friday.  Mandalay Bay is right there, but I wasn't going to let that dampen my weekend.


Friday Five 2.0 with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

RnR Las Vegas 10k

I'm back!  I'll have more write-ups but since it's Tuesdays on the Run, I have this ready.  I wanted to get it all down while it was still fresh, and the cat wanted snuggles.  My dad took care of Allie, but he said she was looking for me, and missed me.  Being on the computer let her snuggle with me.

Short story is I PR'd, and felt strong throughout the whole race.  I'll admit, I got emotional near the end because everything came together, and my knee behaved the whole time.


When I booked my hotel room, I chose the SLS Las Vegas since the 10k start line was right out front.  This make it super convenient since I was able to stay in my room longer, with a real bathroom.  There were signs through the lobby and casino that pointed the way to the start line, and I found the gear check very quickly.  I checked a long-sleeve shirt to have after the race since I figured I'd be chilly once I stopped running.  I hopped in line for one more bathroom stop, then headed to my corral.


There were 11 corrals total, and the first 5 went first, with a 30 second wait for the rest.  I do think they should've been more spaced out since the crowd didn't spread out until after the first mile.  We headed north into downtown Las Vegas before heading south again towards the strip.  It wasn't the most scenic, past motels, wedding chapels, and I did see signs for strip clubs.  I think we passed the chapel featured in the Hangover, but I'll have to watch the movie to be certain.

Once the crowd spread out, I was able to find my speed and rhythm, and I ended up playing tag with a lot of the same people.

The turnaround point was after the second mile, with a run around a block, and then headed south.  By that time the sun had set enough that the neon lights were starting to turn on.  It felt good to turn south, and I was hoping to see more lights as we got closer to the strip.  I was feeling good, and felt like I could speed up, but then we reached the part where the half marathon would be running on the left, and the 10k runners were funneled into a thin lane.  This really slowed me down since there was a back up as runners were moving into the lane, and there wasn't much room to maneuver around people.


I did take the opportunity to take a couple pictures during this point.  Since we were moving slower, it gave me a chance to soak up some more sites.  The first big sign we saw was for Circus Circus, then the Encore, and slowly down to the Mirage.  I didn't take too many pictures since I needed watch out for the crowd, and the road, and it was getting dark.  The running lane finally widened to give me room to still move around other runners, and as I got closer to Treasure Island, I started getting a little emotional.  My knee hadn't bothered me one bit during the race, and thinking about everything I've done the past 4.5 years to battle this ITBS made me choke up.  As we got closer to the Mirage, I gave it a burst of speed to cross the finish line with my new PR.


After getting my medal, I picked up a bottle of water, Gatorade, a banana, Pringles, pretzels, and a protein bar.  They really should've had bags to help carry everything.  I had to put stuff on the ground to eat my banana, and I was juggling things while I waited to get my gear bag.


This is where I'll knock RnR, because gear pickup was a cluster.  They had 3 UPS trucks for the 10k gear check, and it was organized by last name, not bib number.  I don't know if the 10k population skewed to O-Z last names, but the line was the longest, and super slow.  RnR was not handing out heat sheets, and as I was wading through the pick up line, I started getting cold.  I knew once the sun was down, and my sweat dried, I'd be cold.  That's why I checked a long sleeve shirt, but it took way too long to get my bag.  They either needed a 4th truck, or change up how they organize the bags.


After I made way through the maze of pedestrian bridges, I ended up outside Margaritaville since we popped out by the Flamingo.  I hadn't really thought about dinner, but I had my credit card with me because I was planning on catching the monorail back to the SLS (the monorail was SUPER convenient the whole trip).  I had a way to pay for dinner, and the restaurant wasn't crowded at all.  I got a frozen margarita, and had the Cheeseburger in Paradise.  Pretty good way to celebrate that PR!



Tuesdays on the Run with PattyErika, and Marcia.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

It's Race Week

It's finally here, race week.  Or is next week race week since it's Sunday?  Either way, my second 10k of 2017 is here.  I'll be flying out tomorrow morning, and coming back Monday.  A quick 4-day weekend :)

The final week has been going well.  I did 4 miles on the treadmill Saturday, prehab Sunday, Pure Barre Monday, and 2 miles on Tuesday.  I have to say it's so convenient having a treadmill in the house.  When I got home Tuesday, I was lacking motivation big time, and just didn't want to do my 2-mile run.  If that happens, I take the time to sit, relax, and try to get ready for that run.  Before, I could still head outside, but Tuesday's weather was snowy, icy, gray, cold, and once I got home, dark.  Perfect for the treadmill.

I'm definitely having pre-race anxiety, or it could be flying anxiety, but I'm really looking forward to this trip.  Here are my goals.

1) Just have fun in Vegas.  I haven't been since the Luxor was being built, so it's definitely been a while.  My friend's birthday is also tomorrow, so I do want to have a little bit of fun.

2) Get to Ethel M's.  Since I booked a rental car, I'll be able to make the15-minute or so drive to Henderson, to the Ethel M chocolate factory.  I have a list, and I'll probably get some small things as gifts for friends.  Bonus, they just lit their cactus garden for the holidays.

3) Enjoy the race.  My primary goal is always to enjoy the race.  It's more fun when the pressure is off.  I have had a great training cycle, so if I PR, excellent!  But I do know anything can happen on race day.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Monday Musings 11/6

Did we all remember to fall back an hour?  I swear today has been the longest day.  I'm writing this at 5 my time, and I feel like I need to start cooking dinner.  I know the bright side will be the light I get when driving into work.  But I also know the light I'm looking at right now will make the days shorter :-/


I did my last long run on Saturday, 4 miles total.  Only two more runs before I'm on a plane, flying to Vegas.  I did decide to get a rental since the SLS has a garage for guests, and that'll give me some flexibility to get to places off of the strip.  Like the chocolate factory.  That's important.

After my run, I headed to Target for my bulk groceries, and yes, they have their Christmas "Wondershop" up.  I did head in because I was wondering if Ghirardelli has their peppermint bark out, but I didn't see it.  What I did see is something I'm really tempted to get later this month.  A Christmas llama!  Look at the socks!  It's adorable, and I have to have it.


I wrapped up Saturday with more yoga for stress release.  If this is helping me sleep, then I'll continue doing it.


Sunday was a very long day.  Who knew one extra hour would make the day seem like it was taking forever.  It certainly was a veg-out type day.  I watched the NYC marathon (yay Shalane!!), and finished up my errands with a run to Sprouts, and the gas station.  I don't know if Allie felt the time change, or it could've been my mood, but we spent a lot of time snuggling.  We even napped together, and the girl was snoring.


Also, a special shout out to my chiropractor who ran NYC.  I see her Wednesday for one last appointment before my race, and I can't wait to ask her about it.


****

Monday: Pure Barre lower body and core; yoga for stress release

Tuesday: 2 miles

Wednesday: Pure Barre total body; yoga for stress release w/ Adriene

Thursday: 2 miles treadmill; yoga for stress release

Friday: Yoga for stress and anxiety, w/ Adriene

Saturday: 4 miles, yoga for stress release

Sunday: pre-hab exercises, ab work


Linking up with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for Weekend Wrap-up.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Keeping Busy in the Winter

Winter's fast approaching, if Colorado weather is any indication.  My race is fast approaching too.  While I always take time off after a race, it's also important to stay active during the holidays.  Holidays can add extra stress, and I am affected by the dark afternoons.  I didn't like them when I was a kid, but the older I've gotten, the more crabby I am with the lack of sunshine.

I do intend to enjoy the holidays, and December is usually when things kick off.  November doesn't really feel special until Thanksgiving, so I have a little bit of time to take my break from cardio, but then I plan to start easy workouts again.


1) My treadmill came!  Shoutout to my dad who put it together.  I got to test it out yesterday for my taper run, and it's quite nice.  It's down in the basement, which is now open to the cat, but she didn't join me.  I don't think she likes the pounding sound of running on the machine.  I'll runfess too, I got my Christmas playlist out, you know, to break it in.

2) Pure Barre.  Of course.  I like the at-home workouts, and it's important for me to keep up with my strength training in the off-season.

3) Yoga.  I know it's at the very end of training, but I've started doing some yoga for stress release.  I'm under stress at the moment, and even though mentally I feel fine, my body is telling me it's needs some TLC.  The yoga routine isn't complex at all, but it's good for me to slow down at the end of the day, and do this routine.  It's slow, I focus on breathing, and it's been getting me ready for bed.  I've fallen asleep faster the nights I've done it.

4) Fun activities.  Remember how I said I intend to enjoy the holidays?  My mom and I are signed up for a cooking class at Sur la Table in December, and the class's focus is chocolate.  Yes please!

5) Rest when I need to.  It's not good to be burnt out either, so between easy workouts, and rest, I think I'll be able to get through the holidays having a fun time.  I'm not moving this year, which make Christmas even more fun.  I don't have to pack everything up, get the moving company, and drug Allie for the car ride.


Friday Five 2.0 with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Halloween 2017

It's now November, but was Halloween for y'all?  I was super excited this year since I was living in apartments for Halloween 2009-2016.  I mentioned I went overboard on the candy, but Target's deals sucked me in this year.  I had to use two bowls since I didn't have one big enough to hold everything.  I separated the nuts from the non-nuts.


Overall it was a fun night.  When I got home from work, I did a quick two miles around the neighborhood.  I figured 4:30 was too early to start trick or treating, but I wanted to be home for the little ones.  I know they're out first since they usually go to bed early.


I had my Evil Queen pumpkin, and my mom had brought down luminaries for me to use.  They don't have kids in their mountain neighborhood, and I love these luminaries.  Next year though I need a light stick so I don't have to play with matches.  Lighting the candles was a little tricky with Tuesday's wind.


I'd say I had a successful night for a new neighborhood.  6 groups, and I saw princesses, baseball players, a couple Harley Quinns, a Kylo-Ren, a mummy, a ninja, and two Oompa Loompas, who sang for their candy.  I figured their group was the last of the night, and I said all the kids could take extra candy.  They were creative!

And I did have quite a bit of candy leftover.  I brought it into work and put "free candy" on the bag before leaving it in the kitchen.  It was gone before the end of the day.