Sunday, November 12, 2017

9 Months + 2 Marathons (Chicago Marathon & Richmond Marathon)

Well, it's been a while!

Since February, life has been full (I refuse to say busy, because who isn't busy?)! I finished my final semester of classes in May, took my qualifying exam and passed, and took my comprehensive exam and passed (with an oral defense, too). Two big hurdles done with my PhD!

I spent the summer mostly at home, with a wedding in June and a trip to the beach in July, and wishing I had more travels coming up! This summer was less busy travel-wise due to writing my dissertation and lack of money due to my new house:) I hated it, but I definitely learned that I need to make sure I find ways to get out of town when the summer heat and humidity arrives and work becomes very slow. I'm convinced I have summer SAD, if that can be a thing!

In the fall, everything picked up. I started teaching two classes at VCU in August-> Techniques in Counseling and Practicum (which is a supervision class). Both have been very fun to teach and have been manageable while writing my dissertation. I went to a conference in Chicago in October and officially defending my prospectus in November, which means I am a doctoral CANDIDATE! My study is currently waiting on IRB, so fingers crossed it won't take too long.

I did a lot of weekend trips in September and October and have quite a few coming up through the end of November and beginning of December. I LOVE getting out of town for a few days on the weekend, but I also love being home in my new balance is key. My big events were running the Chicago Marathon on October 8th and the Richmond Marathon on November 11. Marathon training this year was really great. I met an awesome new group of runners and genuinely enjoyed the training season. I still hate running in the heat, and the long weekday runs get hard with work, but I am more used to it all now. After not making it to the starting line last year due to the flu, I am so thankful to get through 26 weeks of training and 2 marathons HEALTHY!

The Chicago marathon was not great (but Chicago IS great and I had the best time at my conference and exploring the city!). It was 60 degrees at the start and about 75+ at the end, and the entire 2nd half of the course was in direct sunlight. I had a gut feeling pretty early that I would not be able to maintain a sub-4 pace, but I kept it through the first 14 miles and then it was downhill pretty fast. I walked a lot, had to drink a lot of water, and generally hated life for a few hours. The course and crowds were AMAZING, but it was a tough day. I also never got the hang of how crowded it was (especially at the water stops). I finished in 4:10:01.

Ready to go at 6 AM!

Catching my mom and brother at mile 13!

After Chicago, I was not feeling my love of running for a while. I took 5 days off, and then got back into training. I continued with my training team and did another 20 miler before a three week taper. This taper was a lifesaver. By really resting up, my motivation came back the week of the race, and I felt my running "pep" come back. I also knew it would be better than Chicago because the weather was COLD, and I was running with so many friends and on a course I know so well.

Richmond did not disappoint. It was a BEAUTIFUL day, with temperatures in the upper 20's at the start and no higher than upper 30's at the finish. I started in layers and kept taking things off until mile 15. Pure sunshine the entire race.

I was so thankful to be healthy for this race. Last year was such a disappointment-> getting the flu the day before when I had had such a great training season. I got emotional the night before just thinking about what I felt like last year. I read a quote that someone had saying "don't forget to hear the birds." This was exactly how I was feeling-> I wanted to take it all in and really appreciate it. And I did. I didn't listen to any music and ran pretty much solo for 25 of the 26.2 miles. And it went by so fast. It was an incredible day, and I did not take a single part of it for granted. Even when I was struggling in miles 19-23 before my second wind kicked in (which I attribute to an awesome course ending), I was happy.

Look what I saw at the expo! I am on the 10k poster! Haha.
Finish chute! I was taking it all in. Thanks for the photo, Karen :)

Happy :)

My cheering squad!

Happier still:)


I know I have talked before how running is so much more than just running, but what the last 6 months have reiterated to me is how the journey of running is really what running is about. The races are just days, but running is a lifestyle. It brings me new friends, keeps my sanity through some emotional stressors, and makes me feel my best self. Our bodies are so amazing and there is nothing that celebrates the human spirit more than a marathon (even a bad one). I learn something about myself at every race. Yesterday reinvigorated my love for the city I call home.

I ran Richmond at a PR of 3:55:53 and enjoyed every second of it (well, maybe not some of those seconds between 19-23...). And I will bask in this glow for a while.

Monday, February 20, 2017

I moved!


Well, many weeks later, a sold condo and a new house, I am officially a HOUSE owner! My condo closed on February 8th, my house closed on the 9th, and I moved in myself (with the help of my parents and a coworker) on the 10th! So as of today, I have been in the house for 11 days! Just this weekend, since it was a long weekend, I painted the living room and dining room and have been shopping/decorating my house. Starting yesterday, it really has begun to feel like home, and not like I am living in a strange place. 

So....let's take a tour!

House in the summer....door is no longer red.

Painted and re-arranged living room! 

View when you walk in!

Painted dining room!


Guest room (and my room for the first week waiting for my bed to be delivered)



Off-kitchen half basement- it's such a nifty storage space.

Dining room (view from the kitchen)


Walk in closet!

Walk in closet!

View from closet towards bathroom (and a kitty).
I have a yard but it needs a little upkeeping, so I have no good pictures! I am still looking for more furniture for my bedroom upstairs (I am thinking a bigger rug and storage shelves with baskets for items) and a bigger accent chair for downstairs....and yard chairs/equipment...but it really does feel like home! I even did some yard work this weekend....aka 20 minutes of picking up tree "balls" (I never remember what they are actually called)..

Monday, January 9, 2017

Snow Days!

Happy Monday! Only a week into the new year and I am already off work from SNOW. We got about 8 inches (this is my guesstimate as I did not even bother measuring) from a big winter storm on Saturday. It has also been freezing. We hit 0 degrees last night and have not seen anything above 32 degrees since briefly on Friday afternoon. I love cold weather but I draw the line at single digits! This is Virginia after all. I didn't NEED a snow day just yet, so I really hope this isn't it for the season. Usually mid to late February snow is very much needed and appreciated :).

Since I have mainly been snow bound besides snow walks/runs (thankfully my condo's treadmill is in working order!) and a quick trip to the grocery story yesterday because I desperately needed kitty litter, I have done a lot of lounging and TV watching (Westworld anyone?)...and drinking. Ha! I only wish classes had started and I could get ahead on the semester...oh, well. I DID do most of my planning for the class I am teaching, so I guess that counts?

The kitties enjoyed the snow!

I love my neighborhood:)

I also had a very exciting Thursday and Friday...I sold my condo! Pending good home inspections this week, I will have a new house in February! This has all happened very quickly and pretty much down to the wire (I had a contingency contract on a house where I needed to sell my condo and the owner got another offer the same day I got an offer on my condo), so I am hopeful all will go well and things will continue to work out. I have LOVED my condo (and I still do!), but having more space and more room to make a place my own, have a yard and live a little more privately is so exciting to me! I have a backyard! A porch! An upstairs! I have already begun decorating in my mind:)

That is all for me...I hope you are staying warm!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Running and Books

Once again, I read a lot of books this year! Not my best year, but work and school caused me to read some academic related books as opposed to my fun, fiction reads! The starred (*) books are the ones I recommend.

  1. Anybody Out There? by Marian Keys
  2. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari*
  3. Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag
  4. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
  5. New York by Edward Rutherford*
  6. Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keys
  7. Last Chance Saloon by Marian Keys
  8. The Other Side of the Story by Marian Keyes
  9. A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman*
  10. Hatteras Girl by Leslie Wisler
  11. Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand*
  12. The Assistants by Camille Perri*
  13. The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand*
  14. Summer People by Elin Hilderbrand*
  15. Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand*
  16. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson*
  17. I Still Dream of You by Fannie Flagg*
  18. Babyville by Jane Green*
  19. Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves*
  20. The Housewife and the Actor by Shannon Hale
  21. Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand
  22. No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood by Henriette Mantel
  23. Gray Mountain by John Grisham
  24. Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson*
  25. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella
  26. Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes
  27. Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
  28. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult*
  29. Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty
  30. Deadline by Sandra Brown*
  31. Turning Tables by Heather and Rose McDowall
  32. Boys on the Boat by James Brown*
  33. Drowning Ruth by Christina Swartz*
I also ran a lot this year! I set personal records (PR) in the 15k, 10k, 5k and half marathon (I PRed twice!). Sadly, no full marathon PR due to getting the flu, but overall, it was a great running year! Click here to see all my records and races! My total miles for the year are about 1382, which is lower than my 1414 from 2015 BUT I blame that on my un-run marathon and the week of non-running due to illness:)

My running goals for next year actually includes running FEWER races (trying to save more $) and doing two marathons in the fall- Chicago and Richmond! I am excited to run more for fun and less for time...thankfully, setting so many PR's this last year takes the pressure off and let's me enjoy my miles for my mental, physical and emotional health rather than the clock time. 2017 will be the year of LESS pressure on myself and MORE enjoyment of my hobby!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy NEW YEAR! GOODBYE 2016!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Holiday Season 2016

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season! After many holiday parties and festivities, I got off work on December 16th with two glorious weeks off! It is my favorite break of the year, so I had to celebrate accordingly.

Therefore....I went on a cruise to the Caribbean! My sister in law and I went out of Fort Lauderdale via Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas for a relaxing 6 day adventure.

Grand Cayman Island

Costa Maya, Mexico 

Cozumel, Mexico

I lounged A LOT, got a lot of sun, played a lot of trivia , ate a lot of food and read a lot of (3) books!

Then I spent Christmas with my favorite niece, June!

We snuggled a lot...

Since then, I have visited some friends, met a lot of babies, watched TV, run and will be enjoying a low key New Years! Get ready for my year end book list coming tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Long Time No Talk!

Well helllllo!

It's been 6 months since my last post, and I have been recently getting the urge to post again! I really enjoyed the break and my step back from blogging, but I did miss posting some days. I won't be a regular poster, but I do think I am ready to get back into the blogging game for a little bit!

So what have I been doing? Well, much of the same! I started a new job in July, so I have been adjusting to my new school and my new role and it has been wonderful! I was definitely a good decision! I work at my alma mater (high school) as the Counseling Director, which is fun, but also feels very different than when I went here, so that separation has been great.

I also am almost done with this semester of school! I took two classes this semester- an Educational Measurement class on creating test and survey instruments and a Qualitative Research class. I have enjoyed the content of both classes very much, and I finish completely for the semester on December 14th! I have some presentations between now and then, but I am pretty much done. It is hard to believe next semester is my LAST of classes! BUT I have a lot to do- taking two courses, teaching a course (same one I did last spring) and then my qualifying exam and comprehensive exam....THEN I get to start writing! I have my topic and chair, though, so I am feeling good and excited to get started! This program has flown by and overall been really great. I still don't know for sure what I will do with it, but I am looking forward to having options (like not paying tuition and making more $$$)!

As for racing- oh, what a fall! I was all trained for the Richmond Marathon, feeling great and having completed THREE 20 miler runs, and I woke up the day of the race with a 102 degree fever and the FLU. It was awful, but there was no way I could race. It took me about 10 days to get over the flu (please get flu shot)! I was able to run a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 10k, and instead of finding another marathon, I ran a half marathon this past weekend the Blue and Gray in Fredericksburg) and ended up setting a personal record! SO that was exciting and at least made me feel like the marathon training was for SOMETHING. It was a hard pill to swallow to miss it, but feeling as bad as I did made it a little better. There will always be another race!

Besides all that, I became an aunt in October (!), attended a lot of baby showers, and traveled to New Orleans this fall for a conference. It has been a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to the holidays!

I will check in again soon!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

On the last day of my twenties...

On the last day of my twenties, I woke up at 5:30 AM to 50's degree temperatures and went on a 3.5 mile run...

On the last day of my twenties, I wore a purple dress..

On the last day of my twenties, I played with kittens at work...

On the last day of my twenties, I went to my summer class from 4-6:40 and talked about the different views of educational research...

On the last day of my twenties, I went to my former high school's graduation...

On the last day of my twenties, I talked to good friends and laughed with coworkers...

On the last day of my twenties, I sang Broadway in my car...

On the last day of my twenties, I watched an episode of Gilmore Girls...

On the last day of my twenties, I went to bed grateful for my twenties but ready to have them behind me...

On the last day of my twenties, I thought about all the amazing places I have been in my 29 years...

On the last day of my twenties, despite having a rough week, I felt blessed.

Here is to turning 30 and the best decade yet!