California, Here We Come

Ben and I are coming up on 5 years since that warm July day when we threw an, if I may say so, awesome and completely fabulous party for about 75 of our nearest and dearest. As wonderful as our day was and as fun as it is to look back on, I would be lying if I said I hadn't been planning some kind of amazing trip for our first milestone(ish?) of marriage ever since then. 

However, a lot of things have changed since July 10, 2010, the biggest one being my huge, giant, never-saw-that-coming career change 2 years ago. Because of that, weren't really sure if we would get to take a trip at all, anywhere, this summer to celebrate our anniversary. Fortunately it turns out that I have a two-week window in August when I'll be able to take a (slightly belated anniversary trip)! 

I was originally picturing a tropical, second honeymoon type of vacation (Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas were the top contenders), but the more we talked about it, the less that made sense. While a Caribbean destination would certainly be a memorable trip, it wasn't anything unique or special to our marriage. Our New England road trip a few years ago was the best and most special trip we've ever taken together, and we've been talking about a West Coast version basically since we got back from that trip. I'll admit that I was a little hesitant when Ben brought up California for our anniversary trip (I still had visions of laying on the beach and having drinks with little umbrellas brought to me), but the more we talked about it, the more it just made sense. Maybe we don't get another stamp in our passports, or even to save money (an all-inclusive trip to Jamaica is actually cheaper than going to the other side of the US - who knew?!), but we will get a trip guaranteed to be chock full of memories for a lifetime. 

And suddenly, the decision was simple. The next thing we knew, we were booking a flight to San Francisco (which will be the longest flight I've taken since 2012 and I'm already nervous about it...someone pass the Xanax). Here's how our itinerary is shaping up:

All the baseball. Like I shared a couple weeks ago, we've made a pretty good dent in our quest to see all MLB parks (9 out of 31 so far), and we're adding 4 more on this trip. We're starting in San Francisco with a Giants game, road-tripping down to LA for some Dodgers and Angels action, then back north to Oakland to catch the A's.
Photo credit: edwardconde / Foter / CC BY-NC
All the bridges. Okay, mainly just two: Golden Gate and Bixby Creek. My love for bridges is far outside the realm of normal and getting to see these in person will be a dream come true!
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Hiking up to the Hollywood sign. Because...why not? We have no real plans in LA other than the ballgames, and I thought it would be fun to do a little hiking, see a famous landmark, and get to see the whole city all at the same time.
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Road tripping the PCH. I get serious butterflies in my stomach just thinking about this! I don't know how this trip will stack up to our New England adventure overall, but our route will definitely be more scenic, that's for sure. After we leave San Francisco, we'll start our trek to Los Angeles by heading south on Highway 1. So far we plan to make a few stops in Big Sur and stay the night in Santa Barbara.
Photo credit: jvoves / Source / CC BY
Renewing our wedding vows in Big Sur. If you've seen me pinning random wedding stuff recently, now you know why. Going to Big Sur has been a longtime dream of mine, and that's part of the reason Ben suggested this for our anniversary trip. I know we've only been married for 5 years, hardly a milestone most people would blink at an eye at, let alone celebrate in such a big way, but I've been waiting for this for a long time. While our wedding day was a beautiful and perfect day spent celebrating with all the people we love, we had a traditional ceremony and have never felt like it really represented us the way it should have. We aren't planning on having a second wedding by any means, but instead we'll have a quiet reaffirmation of our vows, just the two of us (and our hopefully snap-happy photographer), as the sun goes down over the California coastline. 

And now a pop quiz: Which dress should I wear for the vow renewal (select all that apply)?
a. black and white
b. lace
c. neither
d. you should get a new mirror that isn't cracked all to hell*
*this is the result of some recent early morning cat shenanigans and an unfortunate subsequent pillow-throwing incident
That lump in the one on the right isn't because I've been drinking too many IPAs (I mean, I have, but that's not what's going on) - I just pulled the fabric up a bit so the length would be right!


Ever been to San Francisco, Los Angeles, or anywhere in between? What are some things we have to do?! 

Training for Tuesday: The Busy Person's (i.e. Everyone's) Guide to Training

When last we spoke on Training for Tuesday, I had just run the Shamrock Marathon and was a little, shall we say...in limbo.  Even though I had a few shorter distance running races and triathlons on the horizon, I wasn't training for anything specific, and I wasn't even sure if my goal race for the fall (Princeton 70.3) was even going to take place. Would you believe that it got officially canceled literally a few hours after that post (wherein I waxed philosophical about if I should even do it anyway, provided it actually happened this year) went live?! My choices now are either don't do a half Ironman this year, to do Beach2Battleship (a non-Ironman brand race) in October. I haven't registered yet, but I'm going with the latter.

Even though I don't have any new distances in my future until October, with spring comes triathlon season so I've started to ramp up and diversify my workouts. Even though the amount of time I spend training is about the same as it was when I was marathon training, the number of workouts is a lot higher so sometimes it feels like more.  So instead of giving you all the deets about my current training cycle (which really isn't much beyond what you get from Sunday Sweats since I'm not training for a specific goal race), I thought I'd share how I fit in all of that training even with a busy schedule. I can do it, and so can you!


My husband recently told me I'm the busiest person he knows. Whether that's true or he just doesn't know enough people, I'm not sure, but you know what? He's not totally wrong. I am a busy person. On top of trying to be a decent wife, friend, daughter, sister, runner, triathlete, and yogi, I'm working on a degree in one of the top programs in the country in my field. It's incredibly demanding and time-consuming, much more so than the full-time job I left to go get said degree ever was (and, considering I was a teacher, that's saying a lot). The silver lining is that my schedule is more flexible and variable than it was when I was teaching full-time, but the bad news is that being more variable means it's way more unpredictable, and more often than not I find myself under pressure to meet an unexpected deadline.

Here's the thing: we're all busy. I have no doubt that, as an adult human being with people and things who depend on you, you have your own version of what I described above. We all have daily obligations, whether we like them or not, and unless there's some elite athlete who gets paid to run reading this (Kara Goucher, if it's you, I <3 you....call me...), I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we all have to find time to fit in training.

Did you hear me? We have to find time. The time to work out is not going to show up on the doorstep every morning with a pretty bow wrapped around it. To be sure, it's there, somewhere in the schedule, but it's probably not going to readily present itself. There are always errands to be run, dishes to be done, laundry to be folded, projects to be worked on, etc. that need just as much, if not more of our attention and energy, than our workouts. I often get asked how I manage to train so much and the short, honest answer is this: I find time. I make time. I fit it in when and where I can. Some days it's harder than others, and I don't always perfectly succeed, but as my other #girlcrush and boss lady Bethenny Frankel says: Do what you can.

Keep Your Goals in Sight
And I do mean literally. Keep them right in front of your face. Print out a motivational quote or picture and hang it on your mirror. Visualize the finish line to get motivated to get out the door or to the gym. Do you think I've had this hanging on the bulletin board at my desk for the last 6 months just because I'm too lazy to take it down?

Do you think I've had an Ironman keychain on my key ring for the last year and a half just because I haven't gotten around to taking it off yet?

Absolutely not. I keep those subtle reminders around to help me remember that no matter what I have going on, I can fit in a 30-minute run here or an hour-long bike there. Sometimes it requires some creative scheduling to get it all done, but I never regret looking back on my day and knowing I did everything I could to get one step closer to living my dreams.

Work Out When You're Tired
I know, at the end of a long day, sinking into the couch sometimes always seems more enticing than lacing up and going for a run, but sometimes those endorphins are what you really need to get your energy back up. Of course, rest is an extremely important part of any exercise regimen, so if you're absolutely dead tired and exhausted, it's probably best to skip that workout and rest up for the next one. But if you're trying to decide between a quick nap or a 5-mile run (like I was this past Friday), you may find that spending those 45 minutes being active will make you feel more awake.

Early Mornings, Late Nights
I mentioned that I have a flexible schedule, and that's true in the sense that I don't have somewhere to be from 9-5 every day; the flip side of that is that I've adopted the hours of 9am-9pm, or later as need be, as working hours. Sometimes I'm able to fit in my workouts during regular work hours, and I always try to plan a workout break somewhere during the day, but there are some projects that take longer than expected and I'm just not able to take a break like I planned. At least once a week I wrap up my work around 9:30pm or 10:00pm and only then am I free to get in my workout for the day. Sadly, that doesn't really work for running so if I know ahead of time I'm going to be too busy to fit in an afternoon run, I'll get up early and do it first thing. Working out right after I get up isn't my favorite thing in the world, but I gotta do what I gotta do. 

Make An Appointment
I've given this advice before but it's one of the most effective things I've ever heard, so I'd be doing you a disservice by not passing it on. The idea is simple: you wouldn't miss an appointment with your doctor, right? The dentist? Your hair stylist (especially when you have 3-month roots and a head full of split ends)? No, you wouldn't, and that, very simply, is why I don't miss workouts. They go into my schedule every week. They are a planned part of my day before I have time to make excuses to not do them. Sure, sometimes things come up and I need to reschedule for later in the day or even for a different day, but I rarely blow them off completely.

Have a life outside of training
Maybe that seems counterintuitive to what I've been saying, but hear me out. Again, I understand that you're busy and that time is limited, but if you take all those rare, spare moments and put them in the training bank, you're gonna go broke. I speak from experience (I learn the lessons the hard way, so you don't have to!). Sometimes you just need a nap or a happy hour instead of a run. No judgment here. As long as you keep it to an every now and then thing, and not an every week thing, you'll save your training and your sanity. The key to maintaining a successful training cycle is to make time for it without letting it take over your life. It takes a bit of practice to get the balance right, so try not to get frustrated as you establish a routine.

Train for what you love
Life is short, people. It's way too short to spend hours slaving away on the treadmill training for a 10k when you don't even like running. Or to keep working on your crow pose when you don't even like arm balances. That doesn't mean that there won't be pain and suffering, mentally and physically, when training for the things that truly matter to you. Those things are just a part of the process. But if you find yourself repeatedly making excuses to back out of your training sessions, that's a red flag that maybe you need to reevaluate what you're really training for. It might just be that you need to take a step back, or take a break until you fall back in love with you sport of choice, or it might mean that you need a new goal. As much as I love running, I realize that it's not for everyone, and I would hate to see someone push themselves through training for something like a half marathon and hate every single step. That's not the point of training. Find something you love, then train for it; if you keep waiting for the opposite to happen, your chances aren't looking very good.

Despite all of that sage advice, even I'm not perfect. Hell, I bonked at mile 8 of what was supposed to be a 25-mile bike ride on Saturday just because the weather was yucky and I was cold. I'm not saying I never run into issues; what I'm saying is that I at least give it a fair shot. I go out and I try to get it done in whatever capacity I have available to me that day - physically, mentally, etc. I'm all about taking it one step at a time because every step counts! Every step you can take is one step closer to achieving your goals.

alyssagoesbang

Sunday Sweats [4/20-4/26]


Monday: 1800yd swim + 20 minutes yoga | Swim felt good today, like I found my fins! Not quite as fast as my first swim back a couple weeks ago, but faster than my one last week and I felt like I swam easily and comfortably. Since today's #badyogisdoit prompt was crow pose, it seemed only right to pull out Erin's flow + crow video, especially since that's the only way I've ever been able to get into crow for more than a millisecond.

Tuesday: 10+ mile bike @ 16.2mph + 3 mile run @ 8:25 | Today I finally felt like the triathlete that, deep down, I know I am! I don't know what happened on the bike today, but I think it was a combination of a couple things: taking the hills more aggressively (standing up to get up them) and the wind, which I thought was at my back on the way out and would make for a suckfest coming back, but it turns out it was kind of blowing sideways, so it didn't really help or hurt (there were definitely some times I had it at my back and some other times it was in my face, but I think it mostly canceled out). My run was great; other than my stomach hurting (I think I was just hungry), it felt effortless.

Wednesday: 16 minutes yoga | All I can say for today is that it's a good thing I did yoga in the morning, because I got nothing else done. I had planned to run, even got dressed and everything, but I had a huge test to study for and just couldn't make it out the door. I hate that, but the run can be rescheduled whereas the test cannot, so there ya go.

Thursday: 4 mile run @ 8:24 + strength training + 17 minutes yoga | Today was my running anniversary (4 years!) and I was feeling all hashtag blessed so I decided to celebrate it by running hill repeats into 20mph! It was actually a good run other than the crazy conditions. I was seriously sucking wind sometimes, and I had to stop to catch my breath and settle my stomach (we have not been friends lately) a couple times, but for the most part I felt great so all things considered, I'm pretty happy with how this went. Later I did a core circuit for strength training because I can really feel my lack of core strength when I run. I did yoga before bed but, confession: I did this video in particular because it's the only one I know well enough to do with the sound off (that way I can watch TV ;)).

Friday: 5 miles @ 8:41 | Made up my run from Wednesday. My stomach and I are still not on good terms, so I took it slow and stopped by a bathroom once just in case. Oh and I stopped another time to watch and take pictures of baby horses...because what else are you supposed to do when you run by baby horses?!

Saturday: 8 mile bike @ 13mph + 65 minutes yoga | No, your eyes are not deceiving you. Those are real numbers. The bike wasn't worth writing down to be honest. The low speed can be explained by the traffic on campus and around town, and laughable mileage is because it was so cold. I didn't think it would be that bad but I had on two layers on the bottom and 3 on top and I was still cold. I wouldn't mind running in 40* cloudy weather but biking feels so much colder because of all the wind blowing past. I don't normally wimp out over weather, only because I know I'm not guaranteed ideal conditions on race day and I want to be prepared, but I just couldn't hang on this one. I came home and warmed up with a hot bath and a nice long yoga sesh instead.

Sunday: 10 mile run @ 9:04 + strength training + 20 minutes yoga | My longest run since Shamrock and also my first double digit run since then. I wasn't really into it at first, but it felt good to get it done. The weather has been really gross so I decided I'd do it later in the day to give it a chance to warm up (yes I really just said that). It went fine, except that my chest starting getting really tight and closing up about halfway through. I was really having a lot of trouble breathing so that really slowed down my pace. Not sure what was up...indigestion, pollen, humidity...? Other noteworthy event: I accidentally joined in on an Army ROTC training run for a few seconds, oops.

Pits:
- I'm really apprehensive about my running these days. I had some of the worst stomach issues I've ever had last week and it's made me really paranoid ever since then. Sorry for the TMI but I feel like I spend the whole run searching for every possible bathroom just in case I need it. It's frustrating.
- I skipped a swim this week, which means another week that I only swam once. To be fair, I skipped it because I had a lot of studying to do, but I still feel guilty for it. I feel perfectly capable of swimming, but swimming 1x per week is not on any triathlon training plan in existence so I feel like I'm doing something wrong.

Peaks:
+ I can't believe it's been 4 years since I started running. I don't think I ever thought I would stick with it this long or do so much! Rest assured, I posted plenty of cheesy, inspirational crap on Instagram to celebrate. Like this:


It's all about that extra, little step, people!
+ Even though I feel guilty for skipping my 2nd swim, I'm not that worried about it. I'm a decent swimmer even with no training, and the Beach2Battleship swim is with the current anyway. I've heard rumors that a chip bag has completed the swim before the time cutoff, so forgive me for not being too concerned.
+ I may not have cycled very much this week but HOLY HELL I averaged over 16mph!
+ Not relevant to any of my workouts this week, but a peaks nonetheless: Alyssa and I are all signed up for Wanderlust! We have so many goodies lined up in our schedule, the best of which might be paddle board yoga. Or Every Breath You Take, the The Policed-themed yoga class we signed up for. It's a toss-up, really.

Haves and Have Nots

It's been a little quiet around here recently. Let's get caught up, shall we?

I have been feeling really sad for the last week.

have not been eating the right things or enough of them, and I have been feeling like total crap, but I also have taken steps to make this a better week.

I have been working and studying all hours of the day until I can't even think straight.

I have not been reading and commenting and replying and blogging like usual.

I have been spending my few spare moments of free time emailing with a photographer in California about a photo shoot this summer. Because, priorities. More on that later, cross my heart.

have not been doing all my triathlon-specific workouts.

have been letting myself off the hook for that since I'm not training for anything big until October (and pssst! Next Tuesday is Training for Tuesday - get your posts ready to link up with Alyssa and me!). 

I have been doing yoga just because I feel like it (and if you follow me on Instagram, you have been getting bombarded with my daily asanas. #sorrynotsorry).

Here, have a random photo that I took of campus looking all gorg on Sunday
What's going on in your world?

Sunday Sweats [4/13-4/19]


This was just a bad, weird week for me (which you may have noticed if you picked up on my poor attendance in blogland this week). April 12-16 are always bad days for me and they get worse as tragedies and bad things that have happened to me and people and things that I love just somehow keep getting packed into that short span of time. Every year I carry a heavy heart through this week, and this year was especially bad since it was also the busiest week of school I've had since I started back in school 2 years ago. It was rainy and nasty until Friday anyway, and I did the best I could to keep my head above water.

Monday: 10 mile bike ride @ 14.6mph + 15 minutes yoga | I rode my bike for 10 miles and was supposed to run afterward, but I didn't because I had to study and I realized I already had 4 other runs planned this week anyway.

Tuesday: 1800yd swim + strength training + 15 minutes yoga | I came so close to bailing on my swim but I knew it was probably going to be my only opportunity for the week, and I didn't want to let my bad attitude win. I swam a slow 1800yd, went home and studied all afternoon and evening, then I lifted weights before I went to bed.

Wednesday: 4.15 mile run @ 8:11 | I ran 4.15 miles for Boston. My stomach has felt awful this week but I did my best to push through.

Thursday: 4.16 mile run @ 8:49 + 12 minutes yoga | | I ran 4.16 miles for my Hokies. It was a misty, chilly day, not completely unlike the one 8 years ago. My route takes me to campus and I get to the memorial a little over halfway through it, so Ben met me there and we spent a few minutes at the memorial. My stomach felt awful again - in some ways better, in some ways worse than Wednesday.

Friday: 2 mile walk + 17 minutes yoga | It was a rest day, but the weather finally cleared up and it was gorgeous out, so I did take Bane on a 2-mile walk.

Saturday: 3.2 mile run @ 10:35 + 21 mile bike @ 14.6mph | I ran the 3.2 for 32 Run in Remembrance here on campus. Finding out about this run 4 years ago was the catalyst for me beginning my running journey a week later, and this year was the first time I've been able to participate. A tenth of a mile for every person killed doesn't seem like a lot until you have to do it 32 times. An arch made of 32 balloons doesn't sound like a lot until you see how it stretches from one side of the street to the other. That part of it really hearkened back to thatvday again for me, because what I remember most is hiding away in safety at Ben's off-campus apartment, with news reports of the number of victims that just kept rising and rising with seemingly no end. By the time the final one came in - 32 - I was completely numb. There have been a lot of times this week I've felt the same way. But today was a gorgeous day and this was a run that wasn't about time or pace or dodging through the crowd or passing other runners; it was about feeling my feet touch the ground, taking in the sights and sounds of a place I love, surrounded by 10000 people who know what it means to be a Hokie, remembering people and a day I couldn't forget if I tried. Later in the afternoon I took my bike out for a long ride (21 miles - as it stands, that's long to me).

Sunday: 8 mile run @ 8:52 + strength training + 20 minutes yoga | I was up early again for a long run, which I'm learning is harder to do the day after a long bike than I thought. But it's something I need to get used to again and get better at going even farther.

There are some weeks that really just aren't about the miles or minutes or the sweat and this week was one of them. Because I had enough to lament about this week (some of which were related to my workouts, to be sure, but not the biggest things), I'm only sharing good things that came from this week. Things like:
  • Another week of a yoga challenge where I'm constantly supported and uplifted by so many amazing women, including some of the most inspiring women who genuinely make me proud to call them friends. There were a few days when I didn't get home until 10pm or later and, truthfully, doing yoga was the last thing I wanted to do. But when I looked through their photos and (sometimes begrudgingly) posted my own, their words became a powerful force at the end of an otherwise crappy day.
  • Also on the yoga front, after a few months of regular, nearly-daily practice I'm starting to see and feel difference and improvements in my body. I've had an on-again, off-again relationship with yoga since I first took it up 5ish years ago, and before now I've never fallen into a groove of more than once or twice a week. I didn't have to force myself to do yoga this week, even when I didn't get to it until 10 or 11 at night. It was a constant I just needed this week.
  • And speaking of things getting easier as I do them, I went on a 21-mile bike ride and it was not the most awful experience ever. It was still much slower than I'm used to so it took longer than 21 miles should, but in a way I think that's good. My hangup with biking has never been about physically making it through, but mentally, so more time in the saddle is beneficial no matter how many miles it equates to. Of course, I still need to get comfortable adding another couple hours to my rides, but baby steps. It's only April.
  • Taking Bane for a long walk. It wasn't something I had to do, or I did because I felt guilty that he'd been cooped up because of the yucky weather all week, but because we finally had a beautiful day and I wanted to spend it just...walking with him.
  • Sunday mornings running on campus. It's amazing how quiet and peaceful a place that's usually teeming with people and activities can be at the right time of day. I took a break just before mile 3 of my run to visit the memorial again. I don't know how long I was there - 5 minutes, 10 maybe - but it was so nice to have that time all to myself, to just be...no chatter or external sounds other than the flags blowing in the wind.
Looking forward to a better, more normal week this week. Love to you all.

I Haven't Been to Every MLB Park, But It's On My List

Ben and I both grew up avid baseball fans, although our geographical differences and proximities to major metro areas with MLB teams naturally led us to different team allegiances (me in Charleston -> Atlanta Braves, him Virginia -> Baltimore Orioles). We've shared a love for America's favorite pastime ever since our early dating days - in fact, catching one of our local Triple-A team's games was our second official date. Somewhere along the way, we formed a goal, a bucket-list type of thing, to eventually see a major league baseball game in every ballpark.
We went to our first MLB game together in 2009, by virtue of the fact that we had recently moved to Tampa, Florida, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Not a favorite, second-favorite, or even top-10 favorite team for either of us, but it was fun to be able to go to games (and even though we haven't made it to every ballpark yet, I think I can go ahead and proclaim Tropicana Field the worst. park. ever.). We had another opportunity to see a couple more games together in 2011, when Ben's work took us on a short jaunt to Atlanta (Go Braves!) and then to Houston.
So, in 5ish years, we'd made it to 3 out of 31 parks. Not bad. But when it came time to plan our summer vacation in 2012, we started to think a little bigger. Some friends of ours had invited us to spend some time with them in New Hampshire, so we started thinking...how many MLB games could we hit on a road trip up the East Coast?

It was 6, friends. The answer is 6.

First stop: Baltimore, MD. We left early on a Friday morning for an Orioles game that night.


Despite living a short 4 hours from Baltimore and being a lifelong Orioles fan, Ben had never been to Camden Yards (I'd been when I was younger on a baseball trip with my dad - this wasn't my first, rodeo people). I wish we had taken a picture of the back of our shirts. Even though we're wearing different teams, the backs both say "Jones, 10". I'm wearing the original of course - Chipper Jones, #10 on the Braves for literally as long as I've been watching them play - and Ben is wearing Adam Jones, the Orioles' Chipper copycat.


Next stop: NYC!


We hit up a Saturday afternoon Yankees game. I don't hate the Yankees as ardently as I used to, but they're still not my favorite team by a long shot. With that said, as much as I wanted to hate Yankee Stadium, it was basically impossible. It was huge and state-of-the-art and however many millions of dollars well spent. We sat in the nosebleeds in front of some Australians who apparently knew nothing about baseball rules and spent the whole game talking to each other and asking confused questions about what was going on. Loved them!


Onward to Boston!


Going to Fenway Park in Boston has been my biggest baseball dream for as long as I can remember. I don't care what team you root for, Fenway is a baseball institution. Granted, I do have a soft spot for the Red Sox, but Fenway has always stood out to me as the most iconic ballpark in history. Even though we didn't have tickets to a game until a few days later, our first stop in Boston was a tour of the park - it was probably the only opportunity I'll ever have to sit in the Green Monster!



We did some exploring around Boston before leaving (don't worry - we'll be back) for New Hampshire, the impetus for this whole trip in the first place.


We stayed in NH at Squam Lake for a couple days of a break from baseball. We went to a drive-in and a swimming hole for the first time!


Our plans in New Hampshire the next day fell through, so we went back to Boston (let it be known that this is the trip we came back from and wanted to immediately pack up all our belongings and move to Boston) to tour the Sam Adams brewery and go to the planetarium at the Museum of Science. We also made a completely unplanned detour to New Haven, Connecticut, where we saw two of our favorite artists in a teeny tiny basement show at Yale. I remember it being very fun, and also very sticky. A hundred people in a little room with no ventilation in July is as gross as you'd imagine.


Next we were on the road again, back to Boston (again), to finally see the Red Sox play. We saw the most perfect game we could have ever dreamed of, complete with Joan Rivers in attendance and a game-winning home run right into the Green Monster in the bottom of the 9th. I left that game with stars in my eyes straight up cartoon style.



 After Boston we started our trek back south, with our next stop in NYC again, this time to see the Mets play. Then it was on to Philadelphia for a Phillies game. Seeing as both of those teams are in the NL East with my beloved Braves, their games weren't my favorites, but at least I got to check off Citi Field and Citizens Bank Park.


And then...we reached the end of our baseball road. We finished in Washington D.C. at a Nationals game, where they played my Braves. My parents came up to meet us in DC for the game, since it was the last opportunity my dad or I would have to see Chipper play (he retired at the end of the 2012 season). With that last swing of the bat, we headed home. Nine days and 1915.5 total miles later we made it back to Virginia!

What's the best road trip you've ever been on?

Sunday Sweats [4/6 - 4/12]


Monday: 13 mile bike @ 15.25mph + 3 mile run @ 8:35 (brick) | Triathlon season has officially begun! Which also means that the 2-a-days have begun. Today was my first brick workout (back-to-back bike and run) of the season and it was challenging. I wanted to start off easy with short distances but I got a couple more miles than I bargained for on the bike because I forgot my helmet and didn't realize until a mile and a half in...I'm clearly out of practice. My legs felt like lead weights off the bike, of course. They I had every intention of doing yoga tonight, I really did, and then I stayed up way past my bedtime researching driving myself crazy trying to decide on a vacation destination this summer for an anniversary trip we only decided this weekend that we'd actually be able to take. So, sorry, yoga but I couldn't peel myself away from the pretty tropical beach photos.

Tuesday: 1800yd swim | Dude. Swimming is an arm workout like no other. My triceps were on fire after only a couple laps. Then a few more later I started getting in a groove. For some reason, swimming is the easiest thing for me to zone out during. I just feel really comfortable in the water...maybe because when I was little I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up (still do, if I'm being totally honest). This was my first time back in the pool since last September. I'd been putting it off for way too long, mainly because going to the pool gives me anxiety because I'm always afraid it's going to be crowded or I'm going to get kicked out so they can do swimming lessons or something, but I went during lunchtime and it was basically empty. I had planned to work out and do yoga later but I had way too much work and studying to get done before tomorrow.

Wednesday: 4 mile run @ 8:04 + 30 minutes strength training + 17 minutes yoga | This run felt good. My legs felt fresh, strong. I forgot that I was supposed to run hills today so I did my flatter route instead. Miles were fairly consistent and mile 4 was 7:56! Later that night I did a strength workout from Runner's World that I really liked a lot. It was 10 exercises and it only gave the number of reps for each, but now how many sets. It said it should take 30 minutes, not sure if that was for one set or multiples, but I got through 2 sets in 30 minutes so I stopped there.

Thursday: 1350yd swim + 3 mile run @ 8:09 | I realized earlier today that swimming 2x a week for the next 6 months probably wasn't going to happen, so I almost talked myself out of swimming today like I had planned. I decided to do a shorter swim with some sprint laps instead...which turned out to be more like faster-than-normal laps because my technique when I try to sprint is terrible and not worth the energy. I think that, moving forward, I'll alternate this workout as either a specific swim workout or a bike workout (like a spin class type thing).
This run was my 7th work out of the week (it's only Thursday!) and my legs were feeling it. They felt really tired but I pressed on anyway. Negative split it at 8:20/8:12/7:56 (probably thanks to the little breeze in the face on the way out but at my back on the way back). I was going to do yoga later but only managed to make time for day 9 of the challenge because I really needed to finish our box wine and email with Alyssa #sorrynotsorry.

Friday: 15 minutes yoga | Oh Friday, I forgot how much I love you. Aside from this most recent marathon training cycle when what I "normally" do went out the window, Fridays have been my longtime only rest days of the week. It's already been a tough week of workouts - NEEDED this one! I did feel like some yoga so I did Erin's yoga for hangovers video..not because I had a hangover but the detoxifying aspect of it just sounded appealing. And it was.

Saturday: 20 mile bike @ 14.6mph + 25 minutes yoga | I really did not feel like going on this ride, but I told myself I was going to do 20 mile and that's what I did. It was mostly quite enjoyable.

Sunday: 4 miles @ 8:31 + 30 minutes strength training + 30 minutes yoga | I set out intending to do 8 today but my legs were so heavy it felt like running through quicksand. It was one of those days when I seriously question how I've ever been able to run 26.2 miles. Maybe I should have pushed through, and normally I would have, but....the 8 miles were part of a completely arbitrary training plan since I'm not training for anything specific (other than a 10k PR in May if that happens to be in the cards, but nothing big until September/October), I increased my mileage from last week since I added a 4th running day this week, and I had a big week with a shit ton of non-running training. Justifications, I got 'em.

Pits:
- My bike times are SO sucky and discouraging. I'm not a strong cyclist but any means, but I swear I'm better than that. I don't think I've averaged under 15mph....ever. On an open, flat road (like the trail I ride back home) I'd average 17mph+ no problem, but here I can't really get going for more than a couple minutes without having to go up a hill, slow down to pass people walking on the trail, or stop to cross an intersection. It's just frustrating to feel like I'm putting in a decent effort and having nothing to show for it.
- I'm so tired and it's only the first week of triathlon training. Lord help me.
- I started off the week strong and died off toward the end. Bailing on my long run showed me just how much work I need to do to get where I want to be

Peaks:
+ I only intended to do 1200yd for each of my swims this week, but I ended up doing 1800yd and 1350yd. Add six more laps to the 1800yd and that's all I need to be at half-Iron swim distance - not bad for my first swim in 6+ months!
+ Not really a workout, but I bike commuted to school 4 out of 5 days this week, giving me a total of about 20 additional miles in the saddle this week.

The Thing About Anti-Bucket Lists

Bloggers and lists go together like peanut butter and jelly. That's no secret. Bloggers love lists and bloggers love goals (guilty on both counts), so what could be better than a bucket list -the ultimate goal list? But here and there I've seen people post the opposite of the bucket list: the anti-bucket list. These lists are pretty much what they sound like: things the author vows to never, ever in a million years do. And while I get that they're all in good fun, they really just make me sad.


I feel like most things that could go on an anti-bucket list fall into one these categories:

Things You'll Obviously Never Do
Like drugs. Or kill someone. Or maybe something not quite as drastic but something that still probably goes without saying that you'll never do. Why waste time and energy outlining these things? If we all took the time to list everything that we would definitely never do - because it's hazardous to our health, or ethically wrong, or harms another person - we'd all have anti-bucket lists a mile long. But really, who needs that?

Things You Don't Like
I feel like people just put these on a list as a way of expressing their dislike for that thing. Seeing "Run a marathon" on your anti-bucket list reads to me as, "I JUST REALLY HATE RUNNING, OKAY?!" Okay, great. Got it. No big deal. I just don't understand the point of including these.

"Never Say Never" Things
I'll keep using running as an example (because it's what I know and the easiest anecdote for me to use): I don't know how many times I've said it, but I'll say it again: I have NOT always been a runner, people. Not by a long shot. A few years ago, if I had made an anti-bucket list, you bet your ass that "Run a ____ (pick a distance, any distance) race" would have been on it. Running has been such a life-changing experience for me because of all the things I never thought I'd be, a runner would probably have made the top of my list, just because I told myself that's the way it had always been and that was the way it always would be. I didn't wake up one day and suddenly love running, but instead, I opened myself up to the possibility. It wasn't an overnight process but, slowly but surely, I learned to love (and in some cases, love to hate) something I spent my whole life being emphatically against.

I know these posts are usually in good fun and aren't meant to be taken so seriously (and the irony of the fact that I wasted my time talking about how I don't understand why other people waste their time making these lists is not lost on me), but I can't help but think about how sad they make me. On one hand I understand that being able to definitely say you'll never do something is reflection of how well you know yourself. I think that in some cases, that's a good thing. Having convictions is important, and I think there are definitely at least a few things we can all be fairly certain are nowhere in our futures. But on the other hand, I think that making those kinds of declarations has the potential to hold us back. I think that's the part I just don't get - life is full of so many possibilities! Endless possibilities. And I think that to shut yourself off from those possibilities is to do yourself a disservice. I've spent many years being that person who is emphatic about what she will and won't do, and I've more recently started to be a person who welcomes new opportunities - the latter is far more preferable. There are plenty of things I might not ever do, or that I'll probably never do, or will maybe never do (skydive...eat meat again...have a kid, to name a few), but I can't say with certainty that I absolutely never, ever will. I don't want to say with certainty that I never, ever will, because I might just miss out on one of the greatest experiences of my life.

What's your take? Do you have a bucket list or anti-bucket list?

Try-athlete to Triathlete

Two years ago today, I finished my first triathlon. I had started running nearly 2 years prior and had only started cycling a year prior (and only because I had a running injury at the time and needed an active way to pass the recovery time). I've always been able to swim but had never done so more than recreationally; when I signed up for the race, I had never even swam a lap in the pool! I trained for the race by training for each different discipline, but I only ever trained to do them back-to-back once before race day. I'm still not sure what made me sign up in the first place - intrigue, more than anything, I think? But oh, am I glad I did.

This one had a pool swim, which meant that all the start times were staggered 15 seconds apart...times a few hundred people, which meant a long wait until it was my turn. When it got close to my time, I lined up along the edge of the pool, watching the others who had already started their races, listening to each countdown as each person took off, until finally it was my turn.

That swim was pure chaos. There are a lot of benefits to a pool swim, especially for a first tri and for those who are uncomfortable in open water, but it's not exactly the easiest to navigate. The pool lanes mean getting stuck behind people who are slower, not being able to pass them easily, and limbs flying everywhere all in close proximity. Fortunately, it was over in just about 7 minutes.

Coming out of the pool and into transition, I'd never felt more disoriented in my entire life. I've since learned to get my bearings before the race starts, but I didn't know to do that at the time. Transition was small and my bike wasn't far, so at least I found it quickly. I put on shorts, my bike jersey, and a jacket - it was a pretty cool day for April - over my swimsuit, ran my bike out of transition, and started riding.

I was unprepared for the bike. Even though I had trained well over the race distance, I had only ever ridden on flat roads and there were a lot of rolling hills on this course. But at that point, nothing could get me down. I very vividly remember being out on the bike course, riding past rural fields and farms, and getting choked up over the unlikeliness of it all. I couldn't believe that I would soon be off the bike, running a 5k - a feat that alone seemed impossible not even two years prior - and chasing down a finish line that would turn me from try-athlete to triathlete.
Me. Me! I played recreational league sports when I was younger but never seriously or competitively, so by my early 20s, I just assumed that the days when I might be labeled "athlete" were long gone. I never anticipated I'd join the ranks of runners I routinely saw on my neighborhood's riverfront path. I didn't even know what a triathlon was a few years ago, let alone that one day I'd complete one (or eight).


My immediate reaction to finishing? That was SO. MUCH. FUN! It was crazy and it was hard at times and my legs felt like jello when I got off the bike and had to start running and HILLS, I thought this was coastal Virginia, like I had literally never run up a hill in my lifetime before that day, what WAS that?! But mostly just that it was so amazingly fun and I couldn't wait to do it again. (And I'm not here to talk about practical triathlon advice today - maybe soon, and for now you can get some answers here or here or email me - but if you have ever run a road race and thought that was fun, you need to try a tri, my friend. The shorter distances are super beginner-friendly and they go by quickly because you're super jacked up on adrenaline - switching to different activities throughout the race makes it a little more exciting than straight running, I think. You will definitely NOT drown in the pool or even in open water, you can use whatever bike you can find, and if you can run a 5k, you have nothing to worry about. Just do it and thank me later.)

Finishing my first triathlon was a life-changing event in a way that other races just haven't been. As amazing as it was to finish each one of my first running races (5k, 10k, half, marathon), the tri was different. It was significant. Something changed that day. Whereas running had become something I did to test my limits, push my boundaries, and find out what I was capable of, getting into triathlon was a lifestyle change. Having three disciplines gave me balance, it made me a more active person overall, it changed me. It was so far out of the realm of what I ever dreamed possible when I first started running that I realized the door was now open to anything. Things I had never given a thought to do. Things I didn't even know existed. All of a sudden, the sky was the limit. 

Two years later, I've completed a total of 8 triathlons at distances up to double my first one. I can say with complete confidence that I will finish a half Ironman this year and that I will be an Ironman one day. It might not be this year, or before I'm 30 like I want it to be, but mark my words right here right now, it will happen. All because I took a leap of faith two years ago!

Sunday Sweats [3/30 - 4/5]


Monday: 12 mile bike ride + 13 minutes yoga | I wanted this ride to be over the minute I got on the trainer. It had been a couple weeks since my last ride so maybe that's why it felt hard? Whatever the reason, it just wasn't enjoyable. I am not strong on the bike at all, so I try to be better than I am but then I get frustrated that I suck, and I feel like I never get better because I'm always trying to do more than I'm capable of...does that make sense? I need a bike version of Couch to 5k or something. I do think it will be better when I can start riding outside again, which should be very soon. I probably could have gone today but it was windy and just a little too chilly. I decided there's something about Week 2 of Erin's 2nd yoga challenge that I just don't like, so I skipped ahead to Week 3. I figure as long as I'm doing something, it doesn't really matter if I'm going in order or even following the challenge at all.

Tuesday: 3 mile run @ 8:06 + 30 minutes strength circuit + 15 minutes yoga | It was a great day for running on the way out, but winds at 15-20mph with 30mph gusts made coming back not as much fun. It was actually pretty bad and made my chest really hurt - I honestly think it was because of the force from the wind, no joke. My route is 3.2ish miles long but I cut it right at 5k to catch my breath. I had only planned to run 2 miles today anyway since this was technically supposed to be my first post-marathon run, but I made it an extra mile (and with no pain or problems, yay)!

After my run I went to work out and realized...I had no idea what strength training workout I wanted to do. Lifting weights using the same program I always use sounded boring, and after some searching I came up with this 30-minute Popsugar circuit. I don't really like classes like this so I'm not sure why I did it, but other than all the jumpy parts during the first 10 minutes it wasn't horrible. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was super hard, but I made it through. It was fine for curing my boredom but I probably won't do it again. Next time I'll do my homework and hopefully have a different lifting workout ready. I still felt like I needed more lower back work at the end of the night so I cheated on Erin and did some yoga with Adriene.

Wednesday: 10 mile bike ride @ 15.5mph + 17 minutes yoga | Usually seeing an abysmal speed like that makes me all kinds of depressed about how much hills slow me down on the bike, but since this was my first ride outdoors in real roads and not on my trainer in nearly 6 months, I can't complain too much. Yoga tonight was Erin's neck/upper back video. I spent several hours working on as assignment, hunched over scribbling numbers and punching them into the calculator, so my neck and shoulders were in a bad way by the end of the night.

Thursday: 4 mile run @ 8:04 + 12 minutes yoga | One thing I want to work on now that I'm not running a million miles a week is getting used to hills again. I avoided them for the majority of marathon. Training and honestly, now I'm a big wimp when it comes to running them. But I know that they make me a better, stronger runner, so I want to get back to them like the boss that I am. Got the uphill miles done in 8:09 and 8:10, the downhill in 7:58, and the flat mile in 8:02.

Friday: 42 minutes strength training + 7 minutes yoga | I only did 7 different exercises but I usually do circuits instead of resting after each set, so this took longer. Anyway, it was the longest Amoy t of time I've spent lifting weights in ages. Just did an upper body workout I found online with a little bit of calves and abs added at the end. I was going to add a leg workout but there was a good amount of squating for an upper body workout so my legs felt sufficiently exercised. I was running out of time afterward so no real yoga practice today, just some warming up with Warrior before attempting my absolutely dreadful version of Erin's Warrior III -> pistol squat -> Warrior III prompt for Day 3.

Saturday: 7 minutes yoga | My day started with a 5:3"am wake up call, followed by 5 hours of driving, several hours of house hunting, and another 5 hours in the car to top off the night. I was beat by the time we finally got home and my hamstrings were SO sore from the working out yesterday + riding in the car all day today combo. I didn't have a real practice today, but I did get inDay 4 of the yoga challenge on the beach, and a few minutes of hamstring/hip/glute work in bed when I got home...still counts!

Sunday: 6.5 mile run @ 8:31 + 30 minutes yoga | A gorgeous, sunshine-y long(ish) run! The goal here was calm and steady and I kind of nailed it. I had some serious DOMS going on but my legs still felt strong somehow. I got back to my 10k route that I've been neglecting for a while since it's hilly, and I just tried to coast as much as possible. All my splits ranged from 8:26-8:36 so I got the consistency thing down! Later it was Runner's World Power Yoga, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Pits:
- My hip has started hurting again. Probably because I haven't been doing my exercises like I'm supposed too.
- I only ran 3 times this week. Totally planned that way, it's not like I skipped a run or anything, but it still makes me sad. I <3 running.

Peaks: 
- I'm so happy with how this week went. Nothing too exciting or impressive but I'm happy with everything I did. I'm getting ready for triathlon training and couldn't be happier! Except that that means I've had to sub a run day for a bike day. Provided I can keep up with the swims I plan to add in starting this week, I'll add another run day back in soon, probably as a brick workout. I'm nowhere near where I want or need to be to six months from now, but I feel like I've gotten off to a good start.
- SHORTS!!! And tanks tops!!! I only have one pair of capris and was worried that wouldn't be enough, but if it's too warm for pants/warm enough for capris, it's also warm enough for shorts (which I have plenty of). Give me all the warm-but-not-too warm weather, please and thank you. 

Currently: April

Planning little breaks in an otherwise very busy summer, like maybe a weekend in the mountains of West Virginia doing yoga, trail running, and other hippie things via Wanderlust?

Wearing all the spring colors. Actually, only like 2 colors: teal and yellow. But that's 2 more colors than I usually wear. I'm putting the finishing touches on my spring capsule but I already started putting the things I'm sure about into rotation this week!

Loving spring weather. I know it won't be long until I start to wonder what I did to deserve the punishment that is temperatures above 75*, but while it hovers just under that and we still get a nice breeze to go ameliorate the sunshine...bliss.

Starting to ride my bike outside again. It's amazing to me how far those just two wheels and my little legs will get me in such a short amount of time. It's such an escape.

Participating in a new yoga challenge with my #badyogi BFFs Alyssa and Kristen. Apologies in advance for the stream of yoga photos coming soon to my Instagram account.


Having a hard time believing that Ben and I will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary this summer. We've packed so much into the last 5 years. I can't believe we were only 22 and 23 when we got married - such babies, it doesn't even seem right that we were allowed to get married? Looking back, I made a lot of decisions in my early 20s that I've since revised because they didn't put me where I wanted them to...but if only one of them could have turned out as planned, I'm glad it was Ben.

Looking forward to Becky's Blacksburg visit next month!

Figuring out where we are going to live this summer. We're road-tripping to Virginia Beach tomorrow to check out a few places we're interested in and, if it all goes well, our biggest dilemma will be deciding exactly how far we want to live from the beach (2 blocks or 1.5 miles?). Life is really tough, you guys.

What are you up to?