Friday Favorites

Kind Bars

I'm not really a snacker but when marathon training causes me to constantly feel like I've been stranded in the woods with no food source for 3 days, I have to start eating more throughout the day. I'm now ridiculously obsessed with Kind bars - specifically, the dark chocolate and sea salt ones. The grocery store sells them individually, but they were running a sale the other day and I debated just shoveling whole boxes of them into my cart went back and bought a whole box (sadly for me,there was only one left).

Yes To…Products

I've used a few different products from this brand in the past, but none that ever really wowed me. I've been making a somewhat conscious effort to use more natural skin and beauty products, but the ones I've found and liked so far have all come with a pretty hefty price tag. I ran out of facial serum a few weeks ago when I was visiting Alyssa, and since it was hard not to notice that her bathroom was essentially a Yes To… ad, I looked into giving the brand another shot. I got the Yes to Bluberries serum, LOVED it, so I ordered a couple of cleansers, towelettes (for post-workout and taking off makeup at the end of the night), and some body wash. It was all extremely affordable, especially compared to what I've been using, and the results have been amazing so far.


So I just got Spotify...welcome to 2015, much? To be fair, Ben has an account so I've been piggybacking off his since last year, but I only ever used it for running (after I found out about the Offline Mode feature - genius). He listens to it all day at work and since 2 people can't listen at once, I just stuck to Pandora or iTunes throughout the day. I've been listening to the Indie Pop! playlist nonstop this week.

Sons of Anarchy

Another party I'm a million years late to, I know. This has been on Netflix for at least a year, maybe more, and Ben has been wanting to watch it, but for some reason I just didn't think it would do anything for me. We're running seriously dry on must-watch dramas these days while we wait for House of Cards and Mad Men to come back, so I was feeling desperate and finally conceded to giving Sons of Anarchy a try. One episode and I was hooked. I think we've watched at least one episode every day this week. No shame.

Gardein Chick'n Sliders

The way I finally tricked myself into going vegetarian 3 years ago was by using meat substitutes to make the transition. I don't like eating a lot of them and really don't eat that many these days, but I have a few staples that I like even more than I ever liked the real thing. I found these in the grocery store about a month ago and thought they were so delicious. Then last week I was talking to my vegan sister-in-law and she brought them up to tell me I had to try them (already ahead of you, Vic). Despite our similar dietary preferences and that fact that our conversations are usually at least an hour long, we actually don't talk about food very often, so that's how you know these things are the real deal. The only way they could be better is if they were a full-size patty, which apparently exists but so far neither of us has been able to locate this elusive treasure. You know where to find me if you happen to find them!

Bonus Fave: This Clip

This video has been on the internet for years, but it still Every time. I was in need of a good laugh earlier this week so I looked it up, and it totally did the trick. Poor Dana.

(linking up with Amanda)

Happy Friday! Any favorites from the week to share? Plans for the weekend?!

Training for Tuesday: That Thing I Said I Wasn't Going to Do

Welcome to the first Training for Tuesday of 2015! Or, as I like to think of it, That Linkup Where I Talk About the Opposite of What I Planned to Talk About.

On today's agenda is sharing my training - that's what this linkup is for right? Right. Except I've been being really vague and shady about what I'm actually training for. I know it's not quite time for Humpday Confessions yet, but I gotta get this one out today:

The marathon just keeps singing its siren song and I can't seem to stay away from 26.2. Why is this such a shocking revelation? Well...
  • I said (like a month ago) that I was going to take the marathon completely off the table for 2015
  • I said I would never run a marathon I've already run
  • I said I would never run the Shamrock marathon again
  • I said I would never run the Shamrock marathon, period, even one time (oops)
…just to name a few.

I know I said I was swearing off the marathon for this year to focus on the 70.3 (since I called off a 70.3 last year due to being burnt out from marathon training). But this is different: I trained for a marathon from June 2013 - January 2014, and then I trained for and ran another marathon in March 2014. My 70.3 would have been in June 2014. That would have put me at literally one full year of hardcore training. This year the timeline is much more spread out: I'll spend January-March training for the marathon, and then my 70.3 isn't until 6 months later in September. It's still a big commitment, but they're far enough apart that I think I can take some time to breathe if I need to before starting up another intense training cycle.

I said I wouldn't run a marathon I've already run. But this is different: Virginia Beach is home. While I loved running Charleston for my first marathon and have so many other marathons in other places that I'd love to do, I'm at a place right now where I want a familiar route and a familiar race. I love runcations and seeing new places, but what I really want is a race that's just…home. A race where I don't have to worry about finding a place to stay or where I can get coffee in the morning. A race where I have friends at the start line and familiar faces at the finish line.

I said I would never run the Shamrock marathon again. But this is different: I need a redemption marathon, and I need it to happen at Shamrock. My first marathon is my PR and, knowing how conservatively I ran that one, I know I have it in me to run a better one. I absolutely know I have it in me to run a better race than I did at Shamrock last year. This will be my 4th year participating in Shamrock weekend: it was my first half in 2012, then I ran the half again in 2013 (took over 30 minutes off my time from the previous year!), and of course last year was the Whale Challenge (8k on Saturday and full marathon on Sunday). After a not-so-great experience last year, I really want to do better this year.

I said I would never run the Shamrock marathon, period, even one time. I have no idea how this is different. I can't explain why I did it in the first place, so I definitely can't explain why I'm doing it again. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment (Shamrock has never been particularly kind to me), maybe I just really want to be a part of the running community I've so desperately been missing, or maybe I have just really lost my marbles.

But really, what is different? It's still a marathon, so the required training is all the same. Considering I had such a hard time getting through training before, that's probably not a good start, right? But this time, I have a much different game plan when it comes to training, specifically long runs. I've finally figured out how I can run a decently non-hilly route where I live, and I have several opportunities to do long runs in Virginia Beach. Out of the 5 really long runs I have left (13.1, 14, 15, 18, and 20 milers), only one of them (the 18-miler) will be just me, by myself in Blacksburg (and there's even a possibility I'll be able to run it in Virginia Beach, maybe even with my dad). The 15 and 20 are "competitive training runs" (which are like races, except the point of them is to get ready for Shamrock, so in that sense they're not really standalone races), the 14 is a 10-mile race that I'll be doing (after I run 4 miles to the start), and the 13.1 is Rock n Roll DC with a bunch of fabulous ladies! I did several races as part of training for my first 2 marathons, so I think having these races to look forward to and having people to be around and run with will be a big mental advantage.

I'm also taking my training much less seriously than I ever have before, which sounds like it would have catastrophic consequences, but I'm not so sure that's the case. I don't mean that I'm not training - the ever-present aches and pains in nearly every square inch of my legs and feet will testify that I am - but I mean I'm not centering my life around my training like I have in the past. I understand that I have other commitments that I didn't have during training for my 2 successful marathon training cycles, and I'm working around it the best I can. Training is most certainly a priority - as it will be as far as I can see, whether I'm training for a big race or not, since that's just part of who I am - but it isn't the priority. I suspect that part of my Richmond problem may have been over-training, and while part of me worries that I may be erring slightly on the under-training side this time around, I'm hopeful that I can put in enough work ahead of time to get ready for the race while staying sane in the process. I may not have a couple of 20+ milers under my belt on race day like I have in the past, but things are different this time, and maybe that will actually be the thing that gets me to the start line in the first place.

After my failed attempt to train for the Richmond Marathon last fall, I've been really hesitant to say that I'm trying again. I haven't even signed up yet for Shamrock, and I probably won't until much, much closer to the race - my spot in the half is secured and depending on how the next 6-8 weeks go, I'll upgrade to the full if and when I'm ready. Or you know, maybe I'll be back next month to tell you about how I dropped out of another marathon. I hope not. I'm cautiously optimistic. 26.2 miles is a long way, y'all.

I showed you mine, now you show me yours? Link up below to share how your training is going!


Sunday Sweats [1/19 - 1/25]

Monday: This run didn't feel that great physically (could be the fact that I ran 15 miles the day before?), but it was such a great day for it! It was unusually warm, so warm that I was able to wear short sleeves and Ben came along completely of his own volition. We probably ran a little harder than we should have, but at the same time it felt like our effort level was a lot higher than the pace reflected.

Tuesday: I did weights before a great ride on the trainer! Not even being sarcastic. I used to go to spin class every week and I really liked it, but I haven't gone in the last couple years. I found a spin workout online so I decided to give it a shot...on my trainer, in my living room, by myself. I put the songs into a Spotify playlist and followed along with the directions for each song and I totally loved it. I was absolutely pouring sweat at the end - I forgot how intense spin is!

Wednesday: I thought 7 was a lucky number….? These 7 miles miles were nothing but terrible awfulness. It was the worst. I hadn't really run hills in a while and I tried to run up them, I really did, but I did have to walk up to the top of 2 of them. It was so bad. Like came-straight-home-and-poured-myself-a-big-ass-glass-of-wine bad.

Thursday: A tiny bit better than Wednesday, so there's that. This was my 9th day straight of working out (won't do that again) and after I finished my run and Bane's little run my legs were toast and I went and got a massage. Bye Felicia.

Friday: Took full advantage of my desperately-needed rest day, thankyouverymuch. Ben and I made Mexican for dinner and watched Citizenfour and stayed up past midnight and slept in until 10:00am on Saturday #noregrets.

Saturday: I hopped on the trainer for an hour since (I thought) doing so had been helping my long runs the next day.

Sunday: There is really no other way to say this: this run kicked my ass. I dragged my feet for 2 hours before I finally got out the door. I ended up doing 3 loops and each one was harder than the last. My legs felt tired and heavy. I walked more times than I want to count. My stomach hurt a lot (now I remember why I stopped using Shor Bloks) and getting through it was rough. Moving time was 2:40:07 (9:25 pace), total time from walking out of my apartment and walking back in was 2:57:38 (10:27 pace). Those numbers do not accurately reflect how hard it was getting through those miles! So as much as I want to say this was a disappointing failure, I can't because...17 miles is 17 miles, y'all.

- Other than making it through my workouts, I really didn't do anything else right this week. I didn't eat right. I didn't sleep right. I had a hard time getting back into the swing of things.

+ As tough as it was to get through that 17-miler, having done so means I only have ONE crazy long run (18 miles) left to do in Blacksburg by myself! I have 2 "competitive training runs" ie "races that aren't really races" with my dad and friends (15 and 20 miles), a10-mile race that I'll be running 4 miles to the start line, a half marathon (RnR DC) with lots of friends, and other than that just an 8 and 10 that I have to do alone.

Goals for the week:
  • Finally try out the yoga class offered at my apartment complex. Maybe. Possibly.
  • Get in one morning workout during the week. I don't know what it will be, but I was inspired by Holly (who is incredible, btw!) to try to free up some time in the evening by working out in the morning. Ideally I'd like it to be a swim, since I imagine the pool won't be as busy first thing in the morning, but since I don't really need to start swimming again quite yet, I don't know that that's going to happen this week. I don't think I'll ever be a morning workout person like Holly is now, but I definitely think there are benefits and would like to at least start working out in the mornings sometimes.
  • Take an extra rest day. Like I've already said, I was extremely fatigued this week. A big part of that is due to getting a new schedule and not eating and sleeping properly, but part of it was also due to not resting enough. I know how important rest is but I rarely take it seriously. I'll probably cut out one of my bike rides and maybe one of my lifting workouts this week.

The first Training for Tuesday of 2015 with me and Alyssa THIS Tuesday, January 27! No matter what stage of training you're in, from "OMG it's almost race day" to "Oops, haven't made it off the couch yet," we're here for you. Your progress, your goals, your motivation, your hopes and dreams…we want to hear it all.


What If I Told You...

It has been too many months to count since my last confession, so I'm linking up with Melissa for the redux of Humpday Confessions!

Making Melissa

I do not find Channing Tatum attractive. There I said it. Do I still get to play…?

I, along with everyone else on the planet, resolved to budget better in 2015. Or rather, I looked at how much money I put into savings last year and then at how much money I gave to Virginia Tech, and they weren't even close. I spent a lot the last couple of months working on my capsule wardrobe (#noregrets) so I needed to cool it and decided I'd give myself $100 a month this year to play with. I've already actually or mentally spent every last cent of this month's.

I impulse-bought some running shoes, which doesn't even count toward my $100 since running shoes are necessity (confession within a confession?). But you guys, you guys....I saved $95 off MSRP. UNHEARD OF. Now they'll sit in wait until I need to break them out in a month or two. I was really just looking out for future me here.

I may or may not now have a spreadsheet for the 2015 calendar year detailing how long each of my running shoes will last and when I will need to replace them.

I frequently blog/respond to comments/email while riding my bike on my indoor trainer. And by "frequently" I mean right now.

On Saturday night, as we prepped to entertain friends on Sunday, we realized we only own 3 wine glasses (2 red and 1 random white…plus a tiny stemless one I got from a race and a wine sippy cup I got at The Book of Mormon, if those count). We used to have a set of 4 of red and white and now we're down to 3. We're really good at being adults, obviously.

The first Training for Tuesday of 2015 with me and Alyssa is next Tuesday, what! January 27 - mark your calendar and get ready to link up! No matter what stage of training you're in, from "OMG it's almost race day" to "Oops, haven't made it off the couch yet," we're here for you. Your progress, your goals, your motivation, your hopes and dreams…we want to hear it all.


One Year a Marathoner

Yesterday was a big day for me. Or, more accurately, a year ago yesterday was a big day for me. On January 18th, 2014 at 12:51pm, I crossed the finish line of my first marathon. I was instantly and forever changed.

If that sounds dramatic, maybe you aren't a runner?

I didn't start running to run a marathon. I started running to maybe one day run a 5k. Maybe. I never dreamed I'd run a marathon. I mean that in the most literal sense - I really never thought I'd run a marathon, because a marathon was something I never thought about at all. A few months after I started running, I thought maybe I'd eventually run a half marathon, but a full was never, ever, ever in the picture. Never part of the plan. Never something I had any delusions of doing.

And yet somehow I found myself on an unseasonably cold South Carolina day, 26.2 years old, running through the city where I was born toward a finish line I never thought I'd see. It's hard to believe it's been a year - sometimes it feels like yesterday, other times it feels like an eternity. There's something about those 26.2 miles that makes a marathon so much more than a race, so much more than a distance covered on foot. 26.2 miles is a long way. It's hours of war waging between the body and mind. It's excruciating. It's exhilarating.

For all the non-dreaming I did about my first marathon, I could never have dreamed of a more perfect experience. My training was magical. The race itself was everything I imagined it would be. It was a gorgeous (albeit windy) day, I paced myself beautifully, and I was just…happy. Tired, sure, but happy. Looking back on that day, that's what I remember: happiness.

I remember waking up the morning of the race to find all my nerves suddenly calmed, because the day I had been anticipating for months had finally arrived.

I remember finding out that morning that my dad would be joining me for the first 10 miles as he ran the half.

I remember the way the sun, barely risen, looked as we ran along the Charleston Harbor through the historic Battery.

I remember leaving my dad just past the 10 mile marker, saying our goodbyes with tears in our eyes and knowing how proud he was of me.

I remember seeing my family for the first time at mile 18, holding signs with my name on them and cheering for me.

I remember mile 25.5, so close to the end that I could actually hear the race announcer in the distance, when a man standing on the side of the road looked me straight in the eye, nodded, and told me, "Well done."

I remember crossing the finish line, incredulous and relieved and proud that I had actually done it, and suddenly being bombarded with hugs from people I love.

I want to remember every single detail of that day and those surrounding it, the good and the bad (and oh, there were bad). But when I look back, the overwhelming memories I have are the good ones. The joy, the pride, the happiness. Things that I can take with me for the rest of my life. Because no matter what else I do in life, this I can carry with me forever: I am a marathoner.

Sunday Sweats [1/12 - 1/18]

Monday: Alyssa and I waited all day for the rain to clear up and it finally did just before dark. Our run actually ended at 6.13 miles but I couldn't end on a random distance like that so we had to keep going to 10k since that's how I roll.

Tuesday: Spent the entire day (literally - I got to the train station at 8:30am and got to my apartment at 10:45pm…there was waiting and driving and eating in there too but still) traveling back from NJ so this was my rest day this week.

Wednesday: I was still tired from my travels and a little under the weather so I didn't know what to do about my workout, but I went out for a run later in the day anyway. As long as I'm not like dying on the couch with the flu or something, running tends to make me feel better when I'm feeling yucky. Especially in the winter - it wasn't ridiculously frigid so I think the cool air actually helped. Anyway, at the beginning of my run it almost felt like I had forgotten how to run, and I felt really aware of everything, like how my shoes were tied and how my pants fit and what the road felt like, but I got over it and by the end my 4 miles felt just right.

Thursday: Nothing special today…I be up in the gym just working on my fitness. Pull-ups are still hard and I can only do one at a time but one is more than zero.

Friday: I am seriously loving my runs this week. I don't even know why - there's nothing particularly special about them, just the same old route I always run, but it's just making me happy for some reason this week. I had to stop to take a picture while I was running on campus…

We have a building on campus called War Memorial Hall (where one of our gyms and some classrooms are - I went to class more often than I went to the gym there, which is saying a lot considering I only had one class in there haha) and it's common to refer to is just as "War". I saw this sign and didn't think anything of it at first, but then I realized how odd and kind of funny it would seem out of context. Or maybe that's just me.

Saturday: I rode the trainer for an hour, meh. It really wasn't awful (the standard by which I judge trainer rides), so at least there's that.

Sunday: I swapped my weekend days so I could do my long run today because ITS THE 1-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MY FIRST MARATHON!!!! So I couldn't just not run that day, I mean, hello. I may or may not spent my pre-run time browsing this year's Charlestob Marathon hashtag on Instagram and getting teary-eyed.
This run was weird. Great, but weird. My first few miles were slower than I was expecting (~9:10 average) so I adjusted my expectations a little bit and went about my way. Then my miles starting getting a little faster and a little faster until each one was sub-9 and I finished the last one the fastest at 8:33. It just doesn't make sense because not only did I tell myself to go slower when I needed to, I definitely felt much slower in the later miles. So to have actually gotten faster throughout the run just does not compute for me. I'd be suspicious that something funky happened with my watch if a) I hadn't run a known route and b) I hadn't run 14 miles at the same pace last week. I guess my watch still could be wrong, who knows. How I felt didn't quite match how fast I was running but I guess I'd rather have that problem than the opposite.
I felt good until about mile 10, then I was tired for a couple miles, then the end was in sight so I was ok, then I got to mile 14 and was just ready to be done. So, mostly good with a little bit of ughhh in the middle. Just a little though. 
I also broke my previous no-headphone record of 8.3 miles by running 10.2 miles without them today. And then the podcast I turned on wasn't even interesting so I probably should have just done without the whole time.

- I only got in one strength workout because of my travels.

+ I got in 2 bike rides (ok so one was only 30 minutes, but still)
+ My 15-miler was not at all as bad as I want anticipating.
+ I think that after 5 months I have finally gotten to a point where I like my routes. Before I moved, my short and mid-distance runs were always the same route, and my long runs were really just extensions of that route. When I moved I suddenly had a lot more trails that connect to various trails and roads and therefore a lot more options for where I could run, so I thought I would like it if I constantly changed up my route, especially for long runs. Well, I don't. I like having a 4-5 mile base route that I can add on to or do loops or whatever and not have to constantly run up and down hills.

Goals for the week:

  • Keep up with my training while also surviving the first week of classes

…that's probably a big enough goal on it's own for the week ;)

How were your workouts this week? How's your training going?

The first Training for Tuesday of 2015 with me and Alyssa is next Tuesday, what! January 27 - mark your calendar and get ready to link up! No matter what stage of training you're in, from "OMG it's almost race day" to "Oops, haven't made it off the couch yet," we're here for you. Your progress, your goals, your motivation, your hopes and dreams…we want to hear it all.


O, Fortunata!

Despite my hangups about the actual act of traveling from one place to another, it's something I really enjoy. I haven't traveled a lot, but I still tend to take the places I've been and the things I've seen for granted. I realized that this week when Ben and I were listening to The Thomas Jefferson Hour (which probably scores us mega nerd points, but I think I reached nerd max years ago when I got a Classics degree…) - the episode was about Rome and, specifically how, for being so inspired by Rome, Jefferson never made it there to see it in person.

Prior to that moment I had never considered whether Thomas Jefferson had ever been to Rome, but I have to say, it was a little shocking. Mostly because I've been to Rome. As we were listening to the episode, it really made me think about how much I value that experience, but how little I think about it on a normal basis. Listening to the host of the show, who just recently returned from a 3-week Roman holiday, describe the sights and sounds and tastes of the city took me back to when I was there. And not just Rome, but surrounding areas as well. I thought of all the things I got to do on that trip and how lucky I am to have been able to do them. 

I looked over Switzerland and Italy from the top of the Alps.

I hung out in a medieval castle.

I lit a candle in the Duomo in Milan.

And that was all before I even got to Rome. 

Going to Rome was an unreal experience. The first time I saw the Colosseum was truly unforgettable - it was one of those great moments when all of a sudden the ordinary turns into something extraordinary.  It was our first day in Rome and we were walking around the city with my group from college, led by my professors, so I had no idea where exactly in the city we were or where we were going at any given moment. We walked through an alley and turned a corner and all of a sudden, this colossal structure I had dreamed about for years and read descriptions of in the language of the people who built it was right in front of me. It was stunning. I was stunned. 

I walked up the same steps that thousands of Romans walked and I saw the ingenious labyrinth of tunnels that would have been invisible to spectators but are now out in the open for all the world to see.

I swam in the sea right next to the remnants of the villa of a Roman emperor and I sat on what is left of one of the columns in a once-great port city.

In the Forum, where I'm sure many tourists saw ruins, just fragments of what once stood there, I saw a city I had studied for all of my young and early adult years come to life. 

I saw the Pieta and the dome of St. Peter's and School of Athens and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the coffered dome of the Pantheon and so many other works of art and architecture, even just one of which would have been more than enough, but I got to see all of them.

I feel a much greater interest in knowing what has happened two or three thousand years ago than in what is now passing. -Thomas Jefferson

At least this TJ got to see it.

There Are No Hush Puppies In New Jersey (and Other Things I Learned This Weekend).

I'm not that good at recapping trips or weekends, but when I had a 2-in-1 that also involved my first blogger meet up?! Yeah, that's getting blogged (good photos and recap writing skills or not).

I know I'm way late to the weekend recap game but this one was a little unconventional. It started early Friday and after a long day of travel, I got off a train in New Jersey where Alyssa (!!!!!) picked me up and took me out for dinner and drinks at one of her favorite local spots.

On Saturday we headed to Princeton, since one of my goals for my trip up north was to check out the course for the 70.3 I'm planning to do in September. I really wanted to check out some of the course and get a feel for what the area was like before committing to the race. The course was everything I could have hoped it would be (from what I could tell, anyway…the heated seats in Alyssa's Jeep seemed like they offered a good enough vantage point without us having to brave the 20* weather that day).

After we checked out the course we headed over to Princeton University because hello, wouldn't you? It was gorgeous but freezing so after a walk around campus we headed into a brewpub before heading back to North Jersey (everything I know about New Jersey I learned this weekend). That night we got a pie (more NJ terminology I learned) and went to a bar and awkwardly dodged the "How do you guys know each other?" question from a 23-year-old creeper, so that was fun.

Sunday after we were awake and adequately caffeinated, we headed out for our first run together...during which we didn't talk to each other at all, haha. Thankfully we are exactly the same in that we both like the social aspect of having another person there to run with, we have no interest in carrying on a mid-run conversation with that person. I feel like that may be one of those things only runners understand?

 After our run we got ready to head into the city. We had some train issues and we almost got stuck in a parking garage all night, but it was also during this time that I got to witness (and ask Alyssa dumb questions about) the fact that New Jerseyans really don't pump their own gas, and that was weirdly exciting to me, so….it worked out, I think. We made it to the city just after dark. We got in at Penn Station and walked down to the Village so we could check out some of her favorite spots in the city. We picked a bar to have a few drinks (which we soon figured out was decorated almost exclusively with taxidermied animals) before grabbing a slice of artichoke pizza. Artichoke pizza is essentially spinach artichoke dip on a pizza - brilliant! - and was every bit as amazing as Alyssa made it out to be.

This selfie was shamelessly lifted from Alyssa's insta

My last day, Monday, was rainy and nasty all day, so we waited for it to clear up by catching up on some work and binge-watching Friends basically all day. I've definitely had worse days, haha! It finally stopped raining just long enough for us to get in another, longer run together! Her town is so cute and being able to catch glimpses of the NYC skyline through the trees was a very welcomed change from my usual run scenery.

I wasn't sure to expect from this weekend, but it turned out to be exactly what I was expecting: a good, fun weekend eating and drinking just the right amount (I don't believe in "too much food"), seeing sites all over New Jersey and New York, and hanging out a friend I feel like I've known much longer than I actually have. Alyssa, thank you SO much for welcoming me into your city, your apartment, and your life for the weekend and giving me the best time!

Sunday Sweats [1/5-1/11]

Monday: Another yucky run. It wasn't that bad except for horrible stomach cramps - seems like it always something…

Tuesday: A much better run! I ran without music and really focused on staying in control and comfortable - steady pace, steady breathing, low heart rate. Since I had no music I tried to just appreciate what was around me. I also did a lot of visualizing: what it WILL feel like at the starting line of Shamrock in March, what it WILL feel like to run a half marathon after swimming and biking in September, and, one day, what it WILL feel like to have traveled 114.4 miles and have only 26.2 left before hearing those 4 words. My average pace ended up being just about the same as Monday's but it felt so much better. I lifted (NROLFW) after my run. And I did another pull-up just to make sure I can.

Wednesday: I didn't want to take a full rest day so I rode easy on the trainer for 45 minutes.

Thursday: I nailed my 14-miler! It was so cold this week that I had to wait until Thursday afternoon for it to warm up to 15*. Random time for a long run, but with travel plans startin early Friday morning I had to just get it done. And get it done, I did!
I think this run was kind of a turning point for me. So, I have a flat(ish) ~4 mile route but any other route or beyond that is rolling hills. Which I have really come to hate on long runs and has caused me to bonk on more long runs that I care to admit. So for this one, instead of killing myself on hills for a pancake flat marathon, I decided I'd do loops of my relatively flat route. I was able to extend it to 7 miles for the first loop, then I did the 4 mile loop again before coming back to my neighborhood and running a couple of mostly flat trails around there to finish up the full 14. I don't normally like running loops but I found it to be a better alternative, mentally, to running all those hills. I tried to keep my pace slow and manageable and even though I felt tired and started to slow a bit in the later miles, I never felt utterly fatigued, which is a huge improvement from my 9 miles of failure last week.

Friday: Skipped NROLFW. I had a long day of travel and wanted to get in my workout before I left, but when my alarm went off at 5:45am, it just wasn't happening.

Saturday: Rest day because Alyssa and New Jersey. Duh.

Sunday: Alyssa took me through 4 miles of her cute, snow-covered neighborhood. She was enough nice enough to keep it relatively flat for me since that's my new jam.

- I skipped a strength workout 
- My stomach hurt on a couple runs
- I only rode my bike once and it wasn't even for that long
- I'm kind of reaching for pits because I have no legitimate ones

+ My gym got a new addition this week:
I've racked up quite a few medals and bibs in the last few years, but I've never really known what to do with them. I had never seen a medal/bib holder I really liked until I saw this one on Etsy, but for $50 I was like, no thanks. So I asked my super awesome and crafty mom to make me one for Christmas and It might be my favorite gift ever. As soon as I opened it, I wrote down all my times from memory (no one was surprised). Can you guess which one I'm looking to update?!

+ This showed up in my inbox:

I actually expected this about 2 months ago when everyone else I know got their emails, and since then I kind of forgot about it, so it was a fun surprise! If I do it I'm going to come in last, no doubt, but I'm considering it because we'd be able to knock out 3 more baseball games/stadia (Milkwaukee and both Chicagos) in our quest to see a game in every MLB park. And it just so happens that all 3 teams' schedules line up perfectly with the race. And I was already looking for an August Olympic distance race in prep for Princeton but kept coming up short. So….I guess we're going to Milwaukee in August?

+ More yoga fun…I learned to do lifted lotus and practiced crow.

+ Running with Alyssa is no longer something that we talk about or plan to happen but something that has happened (and will definitely happen again). Yay!

+ Not a workout peak, per se, but I got to see what the Princeton 70.3 course looks like - it's so not hilly, and the area is super cute and nice and I think it will be super pretty in September. I have zero fears about the course now and think it's for sure my best bet for my first HIM.

Goals for the week:
- Get back into a routine after spending half the week traveling 
- Celebrate my one-year anniversary of becoming a marathoner with a 15-miler
- Cross fingers that Princeton does finally open so that I can finally sign up (now that I've seen the course) and stop talking about it.


Things I Don't Typically Do:
  • Travel alone
  • Step on other people's toes
  • Invite myself places
  • Go to New Jersey
  • Invade the personal space of others
  • Crash with non-family members
  • Meet people from the Internet

But, this weekend, I'm doing all of that. 

Because when you mention how you need, not want, but need an NYC trip, and your blog BFF who lives just across the river from your favorite city maybe-jokingly-maybe-not invites you up, well, you run with it.

So, between the hours of 11am and 5pm today, I'll be on a train wondering things like,  What if I don't talk enough? What if I'm annoying? What if I take too long to get ready in the morning? What if I wake up too early? What if I fall asleep too early? Will she even like me?!

And then at 5pm she'll pick me up from the train station and everything will be good and fine and fun. We'll do yoga and go into the city and run all over. She'll drive me all the way to the outskirts of Princeton just to calm my fears about, oh, just the biggest race of my life. We'll probably blog. We'll definitely blog.

So those are my weekend plans. A lot of things I'd normally do, just in a new/different place and with a new-but-not-really person. It's going to be a good one.

What are your weekend plans? What should I do on the train for 6 hours? Have you ever met up with a blog friend? I think the technical term is blate, but I kind of hate that word even more than the word blog so…no.

Sunday Sweats [12/29 - 1/4]

Monday: Got in a decent run even though the weather was yucky. There were a couple of times I thought might face might actually be frozen.

Tuesday: I usually lift on Tuesdays and run Wednesdays, but since I had a race on Thursday I wanted to have Wednesday to rest up. This was a nice mid-distance run, even though in all my genius I thought that taking the hilly route to campus instead of the flat route would be a good choice. The sky was so weird tonight - the sun was setting when I was heading back from our complex and looked like the sky was on fire. Then when I got to the complex to run Bane, the other side of the sky was perfectly blue with white fluffy clouds. And the moon was out, all at the same time. It was so bizarre I had to take a picture.
Wednesday: Resting up for the race so I did Erin Motz Yoga for Hamstrings. WHY DON'T I DO YOGA ALL THE TIME?!

Thursday: Started the day with EM Yoga for Hips & Lower Back then ran the Resolution Run 5k in Roanoke. It had been 2 years to the day since I last ran a standalone 5k, so my PR was in serious need of an update! Mini race report from my Dailymile:

The first half was mostly flat, and more downhill than uphill, with a tailwind. It felt fast and not too hard and I got to the turnaround before I knew it. It was and back course so the second half was exactly the opposite. It felt harder and I did slow down a little bit at times to avoid burnout. 

Mile 1: 7:41
Mile 2: 7:37 (I think this is my fastest race mile split?)
Mile 3: 7:46 

 My watch only measured 3.01 miles, so the fact that it never measures short and that my time would have been too crazy for it to have been a full 5k tells me that it wasn't. I heard at least one other person after the race say they got 3.01 also. It also wasn't chip timed, just based on finish order and bib number (don't think I have ever run a non-chip race actually), so I can't be totally sure how accurate my time was either. That was kind of disappointing, but a month or two ago I ran a 5k in training at the same pace I ran today, so between the two I think I can count 23:59 as my new PR. I know I'll need to run another, actual 5k race at that pace or better to feel like it's official, but I think it counts for now.

The race was larger than I thought it would be but still fairly small (~300 people). I knew from being able to see the leaders after the turnaround that I would probably podium, and I ended up taking 2nd place in my age group! I was the 6th female finisher and 25th overall finisher. 

I'm glad I got up and did this even after too many drinks and staying up too late ringing in the new year. I'm happy I got a fast race in so I can take some pressure off myself and have a happy and productive year of running!

Later that evening I got in my NROLFW workout that I postponed for the race. I could probably lift heavier weights if I'm being totally honest.

Friday: Post-race, pre-long run rest day. I did do Erin's newest hips and hamstrings video though!

Saturday: My long run did not go at all as planned. My legs were still sore from Thursday's race and lifting, not that that's an excuse, but it was reality. I took a new route through some neighborhoods near my apartment that I've never run through (since I remembered last weekend how much I really like sticking close to home and zig-zagging), which was nice mentally but not at all physically. It was constant up and down and after 8 miles of it my legs had had enough. My miles just kept getting slower and slower so instead of continuing on like I planned, I turned around and ran one last mile (downhill!) back to my apartment. Not what I wanted, but it's what my body gave me. Rest is important too, right? Those 9 miles felt so much harder than the 12 I ran last weekend at home, which I can't decide is a good or bad thing since I have to train here for the most part, but race at home. The plus side of this not going like I planned was getting to practice my goals of being nicer to myself (and not beating myself up for the myriad things I could have) and not letting my accomplishments (or lack thereof, in this case) define me.

Sunday: I feel like I'm getting the hang of lifting again. I still feel like I should be able to lift more weight than I do but I tried to challenge myself a little bit more on this one. I do prefer heavy weights, lower reps so I'm glad I'm getting to that part of this stage.
It was so nice out today so Ben and I took Bane for a nice walk around our complex. I thought maybe I'd get in a ride outside but by the time I got to it, it would have been dark before I could make it back home. So, instead, I made my indoor trainer an outdoor trainer. Still not as fun as actually going somewhere but at least I got to be outside!

- My crappy "long" run.
- Only got on the bike once this week due to the race

+ Pulling off a 5k PR that I was really unsure about
+ Getting a spot on the podium at said 5k
+ Not feeling like a total failure after bonking on my run
+ I DID A PULL-UP! I started with my arms slightly bent and kind of on my tippy toes (I have a pull-up bar in my door frame) but I pulled myself up from the ground!
+ Starting a yoga challenge. So much fun sharing and seeing all the poses, plus it's definitely motivating me!
Goals for the week:
  • Hit that 14-miler, damnit!
  • Cross fingers that Princeton 70.3 registration doesn't open (because at this point I'm so close to being able to see the course first that I might as well)
  • Yoga
  • Take more risks. I feel like I've gotten into a little bit of a rut and want to push myself a little harder.

I've Packed a Change of Clothes and It's Time To Move On.

At risk of being another blog on your feed today professing the grand, amazing, just-short-of-changing-the-world-or-curing-cancer things I plan to do this year, I wanted to lay out some of the things that I do hope to work on this year (and maybe some things I don't). As 2014 came to an end, I did more reflecting on the year than I think I've done in years past. I'm always reflective, but this year I sought to make that reflection thoughtful, meaningful, purposeful. To cut through the surface of all the things I did or didn't do, and get past the what and on to the why. To figure out what worked and what didn't. What things I liked, and what things I didn't like. And not only that, but how to change them. I'm just as guilty as anyone of vowing to make big changes but then not totally following through. I have patterns that I don't like but that I perpetuate anyway. I used to see yearly, monthly, or even weekly goals, as things that needed to be changed overnight, but now I realize it's not that simple. As with anything, it takes time, practice and work. 

I've looked back a lot on the events of 2014, but I haven't done much more than scratch the surface, at least not in this white box. Truthfully, I have mixed feelings about the last year. I did a lot of things I'm happy about and proud of, but it was also a tumultuous year. It got off to a rocky start and I feel like I've been riding a roller coaster ever since. Though the unexpected twists and turns led me to a place that I know is where I'm supposed to be, I still couldn't shake the feeling of the bumpy ride that got me here. While I have countless memories from 2014 that I'll cherish forever, I'm happy to turn the page and start a new chapter. New year, new frame of mind.

I'm not quite sure what to call the ideas I have for the next 364 days…plans? Goals? Resolutions? None of those seem quite right. I don't want to make any huge proclamations claiming that 2015 is going to be my year, but I also don't want to make any half-hearted plans or goals just for the sake of making them. The word I keep coming back to - thoughtful - is the one I want to drive my actions this year. I want to find balance between my over-analytical mind and my impulsive mind. To make good, thoughtful decisions, but not to debate them to the point of agony. To really understand the why behind my actions, and to be able to accept it, whether or not it's what I think I'm "supposed" to do or not. These are things I came up with organically, things that came to me rather than me searching for them. I've been thinking about these things for a little while now and I feel such sense of peace going into the new year, more than I've ever felt, like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Like I've freed myself from myself.
  • Stop planning to plan. I want to take a radically different approach to how I view,, I guess. I had a really eye-opening conversation with Ben about my need to not only plan, but plan to plan. As soon as I wake up in the morning I have a detailed to-do list already in my mind and I spend the whole day stressing about how to check off each thing on the list. I want to trust myself and others around me enough to know that things will get done, whether I plan every minute of my day or not. I like having a schedule but I can definitely afford to be a little looser with it.
  • Be nicer to myself. This is something I couldn't really articulate so simply until Kristen said it yesterday, but it's exactly what I need. I am my biggest and worst critic and can almost always find fault in everything I do. I beat myself up for not being good enough, smart enough, fast enough, driven enough, nice enough, fill-in-the-blank enough…and this year I just want to accept that I am enough. I don't want to criticize myself for not being perfect. I am doing my best, and my best will have to do.
  • Stop letting words like "accomplish" and "achieve" and "success" define me. I'm a goal-setter, a list-maker, a doer. Always have been. I checked a lot of boxes in 2014, which I thought would fulfill me, but didn't quite satisfy me in the way I was expecting. Since I've always been and always thought of myself as someone who needs a checklist for literally everything, I assumed that's what I would always be. Over the last year I've come to realize that maybe I don't need the validation of accomplishing a goal, big or small, as much as I thought. That maybe the journey is just as gratifying, if not more so, than the destination itself. I don't want to need constant validation.
  • Learn the difference between a want and a need. Should I be embarrassed that I've made it over 27 years without really knowing this? Either way, this is something I started learning in 2014 that I want to continue this year. Downsizing and learning not only how to have less, but realize we actually enjoy it, was a big step for me. I'm not perfect, but doing things like purging the things we know we don't need and starting a capsule wardrobe has felt like a step in the right direction. This is also directly related to the fact that I really want to do better at budgeting this year, so I want to be more thoughtful when it comes to my purchases, big or small.
  • Find balance. This has been on my mind a lot the past few weeks, so I think it's safe to say this is my biggest goal of all. I'm obsessive and hyper-focused and when I find something to put my mind to, I really put my mind to it; the flip side is that there just aren't enough hours in the day and other things tend to fall by the wayside. When my running is on point, my yoga is not. When I spend 24/7 on schoolwork, my eating habits suffer. When I spend time with family and friends, my house is a mess. I don't know if I'll ever be able to perfectly balance everything, but I do know that I feel better when my priorities are more proportionate. I feel like, above all else, striving for a more balanced life is the key to a lot of my other goals and will make it easier for everything else to fall into place.

Yesterday I started a new, daily yoga challenge with Erin Motz and the first day's prompt was a "pose that makes you feel celebratory." I couldn't think of a more appropriate pose than tree - it looks so simple, but a couple years ago I couldn't even get into this pose, and even now being able to hold it is cause for celebration. I've been practicing yoga for several years now, but balance poses are still the hardest for me - maybe a metaphor for my life in general? So this year, if nothing else, I'm striving for balance in all things. Join me?

(And P.S….after thinking about it for ages I finally made a blog Instagram account so I could stop using my personal one, and I would love it if you added my new one :))