Oh, hey.

I didn't forget I have a blog. I just started new classes this week, which is actually kind of the same thing. You should probably just click on this picture and ready all of Kathy's bad blogger confessions because...samesies. Except add "I would rather read and watch Pretty Little Liars than do anything blog-related."

Vodka and Soda

I'm THAT girl today...that girl who wears workout clothes to class. I normally try to look decent for class - the younger folk think it's weird but after several post-grad years in the working world, I got used to not looking like I just rolled out of bed (or covering it up if that happened to be the case). But today I've got on my running shorts and tee so I can dash out of class and run on my break in between classes. I've had some trouble so far figuring out how to work with my new school schedule so I'm giving this a shot. At least I'm coming home first so I don't have to wear my running shoes to class. Last week I left them outside overnight and I was afraid some critter may have crawled in them and made a home, so I asked Ben to check them before I put them on. His response: "Those shoes smell so bad, there's not way anything could live in there." And ya know what? He's not wrong.

As of today, I am not drinking for the next 50 days. I don't drink a crazy amount but over the summer I have found myself having a beer (or two) after dinner more and more often and it's not a habit I want to continue. This is more or less influenced by the fact that my marathon training, which hasn't been going all that well, is ramping up soon and I want to be as healthy as I can be for that. There are a couple of occasions when I already know I'll have a drink or two, but other than those, I won't be drinking at all. (P.S. If this is something you're interested in getting in on, click the picture above and join in!).

That's all for today! Maybe my brain will be functioning correctly again soon.

Friday Letters

Dear Becky, thanks for being the inspiration for this post ;)

Dear Virginia Tech College of Engineering, thank you for processing my change of major application in a timely manner! I have been waiting for this day for 4 months and even though it was really just a formality, I can breathe a sigh of relief now.

Dear everyone I know, stop what you are doing right this second and go binge watch Fargo for the next 10 hours. This show is extremely well-done, like we are talking Mad Men and Breaking Bad level here people. I expect a "thank you" from all of you by midnight tonight. 

Dear Cape Hatteras lighthouse, you are not a bad sight on a sunset run.

Dear summer heat, I am officially done with you. Really this time. Living in the mountains the last couple months has spoiled me because I totally forgot how awful it feels to walk outside and feel like I've stepped right into an oven. The beach vacay was nice but the heat was oppressive. Blech.

Dear Nox and Octavian, I can't wait to see you! It has been almost 2 months since our family has all been together and  I'm glad you're coming back with us this time. Heavily drugged, of course.

Have a fantastic weekend, friends! Any exciting plans?

Runners Tell All: Training Tips

I've been linking up with Amanda @ The Lady Okie and Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch every month since they started the Runners Tell All Link-up....except last month when I had 40 billion things going on and totally forgot. Whoops. But I am back for this month and I am SO excited because the topic is one of my most favorite things in the whole world: training! Lately I have felt my training has been pretty lackluster, but I've recently recommitted to it so this prompt couldn't have come at a better time!

Before we get into this, you should really buckle up and brace yourselves because I am a Grade-A, 100% nutjob when it comes to my training. Just a warning.

After my first half marathon, I learned (the hard way) how important it is to follow a training plan. And I mean, really follow it. I know that doesn't apply to everyone, and I have friends who can more or less go out and wing a half marathon (which makes me sick), but I have learned that that does NOT work for me. What does work for me is putting in the work before race day, and showing up on race day feeling well-prepared. I think it's just as much a psychological thing as it is a physical thing. Train hard, suck less. That's my motto. The biggest thing I've learned when it comes to training is that it's not one size fits all. The following tips are things I've found to work for me:

1. Pick a training plan.
There are a million options out there, and sometimes it can be really overwhelming, especially if you're training for a big race for the first time. Unfortunately, this may require some trial and error. One thing I generally look for is frequency of runs. If the plan calls for more than 4 days of running per week, it's not for me. I know from previous experience that that is not something my body can handle. Another thing I look for is length of time. Generally I prefer to have more time for training than less. However, there is such a thing as too much time. If a training plan is too long it can lead to burn-out. With those things in mind, Hal Higdon is my go-to source for training plans.

2. Don't be afraid to modify it. 
The training plan you choose doesn't have to be the end-all be-all of your training. For my first half marathon, my training plan called for one 10-miler, and I added a 13-miler just for funsies. When race day came, I really didn't feel that my training had prepared me to feel comfortable enough with the 10+ mile territory. So when it was time to train for #2, I had 5 long runs of 10 miles or more, and I felt way more comfortable going beyond that on race day. I did the same thing when I trained for my first full marathon. My plan called for one 20-miler but I was afraid that wouldn't be enough, so I did that as well as an additional 22-miler. Running is so mental for me that I've found it really helps me to get close to race distance at least a couple times, even if that's not what my training plan tells me to do.

3. Make a spreadsheet. 
I am about to unleash a whole new level of crazy on you guys. Are you ready for this? When I make a new training plan, this is what happens:
Spreadsheets for daysssss, baby. Maybe (probably) this makes me a lunatic, but honestly, I see it as being really practical. Making a spreadsheet gives me an overview of how I'm going to get from today to race day. It also allows me to see what other plans or commitments I have before race day, so I can anticipate them and plan accordingly. Also, I just really like spreadsheets. 

4. Keep track of your progress.
The other benefit of having a training spreadsheet is that it's like a 3-month long to-do list, so I get the satisfaction of checking off workouts as I go along. One thing I like to do sometimes is go back to previous training logs to compare how I was doing then to how I'm doing during this training cycle. I even have a separate page on my current training plan spreadsheet just for that purpose (told ya I'm nuts). I've used various sites (Runkeeper, Nike+, DailyMile, GarminConnect) to keep track of all my runs since Day 1, and as a data nerd, I am so happy that I can look back and see how far I've come.

5. Embrace it.
I think burnout comes with the territory and we're all bound to experience it sooner than later. I think it's important to know that it exists, it's normal, and it will pass. There's no right or wrong way to deal with it. Some people just need to grit their teeth and get through it, others need to take time off. But as corny as it sounds, whether you're training for a 5k or an Ironman or something in between, you're working toward something amazing that relatively few people will ever actually achieve. The fact that you even wanted to train for something in the first place is huge, and having the physical and mental capacity to do so is a gift. So embrace it and love the roller coaster that is training for all its ups and downs!

10 Things You Might Not Guess About Me

Since I started at a new school (well, not new, but you know what I mean) and have been meeting a lot of knew people, I've been thinking a lot about how I present myself and what people must think of me when they first meet me. I dress pretty conservatively and I'm pretty reserved when I meet people, which I've found leads people being pretty surprised when I tell them certain things. Things like:

1. I have tattoos.
I only have two - one is on my hip so most people never see it, and the other one is on my wrist, where I wear a watch 95% of the time I'm in public (not because I want to hide it per se, but because I like knowing what time it is). I see it catch people off guard when it peeks out from under my watch.

2. I have piercings.
Unless you catch me on the rare occasion I have my hair pulled back, this isn't something that's readily apparent. I currently have 8 piercings total, but they're all confined to my ears: lobes (3 holes in each), industrial, and tragus. I rarely ever wear anything in my lobes but I always have the industrial and tragus. My parents begged me to take my industrial out for my wedding, so I did, but I still left my tragus in. I had my nose pierced from when I was 18 to 20 also. I miss it and think about getting it repierced but sadly I think I am too old for that shit now.

3. I didn't (totally) take my husband's last name.
My last name is one of the top 5 most common last names in this country, but it's mine and I couldn't bear to give it up when I got married. I also didn't want to not share a last name with my husband, so I hyphenated. It's a pain in the ass if I'm being honest, and I generally just use his/our last name, but I'm not ready to drop mine. We've been married for 4 years and I've thought about changing to just his last name, but even after all this time, it still feels like his last name and not mine, so I can't bring myself to do it.

4. I was a tomboy growing up.
I spent my time outside playing street hockey with the boys in my neighborhood rather than inside playing with dolls. I signed up for every sport my brother signed up for - and then I was the one to stick with it after he quit after one season (except golf...gotta give it to him for being the golf champion). I did karate and played basketball and softball until I graduated from high school. 

(Another thing you might not know about me is that I've always had really great hair)

5. I run marathons.
Okay, if you've been around here for more than .4 seconds, this is not a surprise to you. But I don't think most people look at me and think, "I bet that girl has run 2 marathons/7 half marathons/6 triathlons/ever in her life!"

6. I was a high school teacher.
A lot of people are surprised to find out that not only am I old enough to have graduated from high school, but I actually spent 3 years teaching high school. It ultimately wasn't the career I wanted, but I can't imagine teaching any other grade level.

7. I don't have the "mommy gene".
I have spent a lot of my 20s wondering what's wrong with me since I don't have the inclination to procreate anytime soon, if ever. This generally causes people to look at me like I've spontaneously sprouted a second head. I'm not patiently (or impatiently, as the case may be) waiting to start a family. As far as I'm concerned, Ben and I and the five furry critters we share our home with are a family, thankyouverymuch.

8. I'm the first person in my family to go to/graduate from college.
I'm not sure why but this recently came as a shock to one of my classmates. Maybe it's just not that common in this day and age but no one on either side of my family went to college, let alone graduated, before I did. Technically my cousin and I are tied for first since we graduated the same day. Interestingly enough, we both got language degrees (his is in Spanish, mine is Latin).

9. I've been kicked in the face in a mosh pit.
If I saw me on the street, this is probably not an experience I'd guess that I'd had (you now, if I weren't me...just go with it). I've never voluntarily been in a mosh out but I've been to over 100 concerts and it just so happens that I've been in some and gotten kicked in the face. Shit just happens sometimes.

10. I've had ferrets for 8 years.
They're not everyone's ideal pet, but I think they are adorable. I've had 5 (not all at once; I have 2 now), starting when I adopted my first baby Roxy when I was a sophomore in college. Their little faces are just impossible to say no to.

Fall, You Can Be Here Now.

Summer is not my favorite season. While I do think its season brings with it its own, unique good things, summer's not-so-good things generally outweigh the good. Over the past few summers my hatred of this season has seemed to intensify more and more, but this year I only had to not like it instead of flat-out hate it. Confession: I have even come to kind of enjoy that I can run until 9pm because it's still light outside. I don't know if it was moving to the mountains or if we all got a collective break, but walking out of my house did not feel like stepping right into a sauna, so that was a huge win. Maybe it's the time off that I've always had during the summer, maybe it's the heat, maybe it's something I can't put my finger on, but I've never felt like I could really get into a groove during the summer. Moving (which was a 6-week process, all told) and school made this summer an especially chaotic one. It has been hard to feel settled. 

Fall, on the other hand, has an always will be my favorite season. I haven't spent the whole summer wishing for fall (like I usually do), but the closer it gets, the more ready I am for it to be here!

Because this jacket is just sitting in the back of closet making me sad every time I see it. I love those crisp fall days when it's just cool enough to need to throw on something light like this.

Because the leaves change to maroon and orange for a reason. 

Because fall running is my favorite! I have some races lined up in the next couple of months (Hokie Half Marathon, City of Oaks Half Marathon, Richmond Marathon) and I can't wait! 

I know it wasn't that long ago (like, March to be exact) that I was whining about the never-ending cold and trying to will spring to get here, but I'm over that now. Bring it on, fall!


I've thought about posting over the last few days and I've even opened Blogger a few times, but my mind seems incapable of stringing together enough words to formulate actual sentences. It's the first week in our new apartment and the last week of summer classes and I am spent. The good kind of spent, though. The kind of spent that only happens when you've been in overdrive trying to be the best at everything and knowing that, even if you're not perfect, you gave it all you had.

Here's what I'm up to as of late:

Wanting...summer classes to be over. Three more days feels like a hundred days with the number of deadlines that are crammed into them. I think I can, I think I can...

Enjoying...the animals in our new back yard! Our apartment backs up to several farms and there's a trail running all along them. It's so fun to walk Bane there and watch the horses and cows grazing.

Feeling...guilty for skipping a workout last night. I don't even have a good excuse, I just didn't feel like doing it.

Listening to...Radiohead, like non-stop for the last week. And rain, also non-stop for the last week.

Needing...some serious hair TLC. So thankful my stylist can fit me in when I'm home next week.

Wondering...how it's possible that after the Great Purge of 2014 I have another car load of Goodwill donations.

Waiting for...approximately 40 Amazon Prime shipments to get here. So many goodies on their way that will maximize efficiency in our small space!

Race Bucket List

1. NYC Marathon
I ran 14 miles through NYC last December and loved it. Running twice that far, through all 5 boroughs, and finishing in Central Park would be an incredible experience. 

2. Big Sur Marathon
I have no idea why, but I'm obsessed with Big Sur. I think it's because of the Bixby Bridge (if you hadn't heard, I'd like to build bridges when I grow up), but I'm not really sure. I've never been, but it just looks like one of the most beautiful places on earth. So when I found out there was a half & marathon there (and that they run over the bridge), I was like, "Where do I sign up?!"

3. Rock 'n' Roll: Las Vegas Half/Full Marathon
The Rock 'n' Roll series comes through my home turf every year on Labor Day weekend. Due to the insane heat that time of year (people have died...literally died. No thanks!) and the fact that it costs like eleventy billion dollars, you won't catch me anywhere near that race. However, I have heard that RnR races are really fun so I'm interested in running one, and I figure if I'm gonna fork over the dough, might as well go big or go home, right? I have heard GREAT things about RnR Las Vegas and when I looked into it, it seemed right up my alley! It's in November and it's at night! How cool is that?! I've never been to Vegas and would love to make this a runcation/30th birthday present for myself in 2017 ;)

4. Marine Corps Marathon
No one I've ever talked to about this race has anything but praise for it. I have heard that spectators line the course and are nothing short of amazing. I had the honor of running through a Marine Corps base at the Shamrock Marathon this year, and the feeling of being cheered on and high-fived by Marines lining the streets was indescribable. I can only imagine how it would feel to run MCM!

6. Maratona di Roma
I would love to do an international race and this is at the top of my list. Rome is one my favorite places on earth (I don't have a Classics degree for nothin'!). I've been once but I was most definitely not a runner then. Just thinking about running through all my favorite ancient spots makes my heart skip a beat. The whole race I'd constantly be wondering, "Is this real life?!" Can you imagine a dreamier start/finish line than right next to the Colosseum?

7. Athens Classic Marathon
While we're on the subject of international marathons in ancient cities...don't you think the original marathon deserves a spot on the list? The Athens Classic course is the same as the original marathon course as well as the 1896 Olympic marathon course (plus an additional 2k loop since the distance was changed from 40km to 42km in 1908 thanks to the British), and it even finishes in the 2004 Olympic Stadium! Talk about a bucket list marathon if there ever was one.

8. Seawheeze Half Marathon
A giant running & yoga party, sponsored by Lululemon, in Vancouver? Um, yes, count me in.

9. Boston Marathon
Oh, Boston. A piece of my heart has been there since the first time I visited in 2012 and after what happened at the 2013 marathon a piece of it will always stay. I had never given the Boston Marathon a second thought prior to 2013, but as a new runner, I was pumped for that year's race. On Marathon Monday, I was home recovering from my 3rd half marathon they day before (crossing the finish line of that one was the first time I ever had an inkling that maybe I'd run a full one day). I was so excited that I was able to watch the coverage from home and spent the whole morning engrossed in it. A couple hours after I turned it off, I heard the news. There is something about Boston that I just love, and just thinking about running down Boylston Street makes my heart feel like it could explode. Training for a BQ is not something I'm interested in attempting to do now, but I am very interested in one day running Boston (whether it ends up being by my own merit or for charity). 

10. Ironman
The ultimate of bucket list items, in my opinion. I am really unsure if I will ever actually do this, but I learned to never say "Never" a long time ago (Exhibit: A and B). Although there are other organizations that put on these races, Ironman is the official brand of the full iron distance (2.4 mile swim/112 mile bike/26.2 mile run). I don't have a particular location in mind, but I know that if I do ever decide to tackle one, it will definitely be an M-dot. I'm not spending countless hours of training and then not hearing, "YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!" at the finish line. 


For a Minute There I Lost Myself

Last week was not great. A few things did not go my way (and I really would have preferred that they did), and by the end, I was worn out. This weekend wasn't much better and I was ready to accept defeat. But, in a fake-it-til-you-make-it attempt, I'm now ready to kick this month's ass - starting with this week. One of the biggest contributing factors to a less-than-stellar week is always my lack of preparation for it, so I've already planned my outfits for the week, planned lunches, and made dinners (not just planned, but made...get on my level). This week is a crazy school week and it ends with moving on Friday/Saturday, so without some prep work, that's a recipe for disaster.

I didn't make any goals for July because there was really only one thing I wanted to accomplish: survive it. It was a crazy month of moving (part I), starting school, living on my own, and getting (re)adjusted to a new (but old) place. Some things went better than expected, some things went worse. I think I can counting making it to August as a success and move on!

  • Swim 1x per week. I have been majorly neglecting swimming in my workouts. I swam all of two times in the month of July. I would like to think I could bump it up to at least 3-4 times in August.
  • Run 115 miles. That's how many my training plan has on it, so that's how many I shall do. My mileage is starting to ramp up for marathon training - this will be my highest month since February. Already 14 down, only 101 to go! 
  • Clean up my eating/drinking. What is it about summer that makes 1 or 2 cold beers or glass of wine every night seem totally appropriate? I don't have an alcohol problem, I swear. I just think I deserve some reward for just...existing in the hell that is summer. As far as my eating goes, that's a whole separate issue. I have class smack in the middle of lunchtime and still haven't figured out what or when to eat a decent meal. It's just bad all around. The fact that I had cheerios instead of an apple fritter for breakfast this morning has to count for something, right?
  • Have our house unpacked & organized by August 16. This is a lofty goal. I'm nervous just putting it in writing. We get the keys on August 8, but that leads right into my last week of school so I will basically be slammed from then on until the 16th. But I really want to get it done before the summer semester ends, that way I can take a few days for vacation and then come back to start the fall semester and be able to relax instead of unpack.
  • Have a fun family day. Doing this a few weeks ago was good for my soul. I had no idea how much I needed it until it happened. 
Let's do this!