Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Hello, friends and fam and Happy Thanksgiving!

It has been very raining and cold the past day or so in Virginia, but I am looking forward to a sunny and chilly day tomorrow! I am also thankful not to be traveling in this mess. 

I am running the University of Richmond Turkey Trot 10k again tomorrow morning like I did last year, but sadly it will be by myself. My friends and family waited too long to register and the popular race sold out! Luckily, I lured my dad to accompany me to the race since a very nice Starbucks is nearby and he can do his walk while I run. Since I know how hilly the course is, I come in with the expectation of not earning a PR this year but to beat my last year time (I got around an hour last year). Since I have since completed two half marathons (with great 10k splits), I should be able to do it if my legs feel good tomorrow. You never know, though, how you will feel on race morning, so we shall see! At the very least, I will enjoy a beautiful rain-free morning that will make me work for all the delicious food I will be eating later! This is the first year friends are also coming over for dinner at our house, so it should be fun!

Safe travels and Happy Thanksgiving (and Hannukah) to all! And please don't shop until Friday- enjoy the day as it is meant to be- with friends and family. Don't contribute to the culture of people having to work on Thanksgiving (coming from the retail and restaurant industry, the day of Thanksgiving was once sacred)! Stay home, eat food and enjoy the company of others- the real world and rush of the holidays can wait a day:)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Why I almost (but didn't) get a smartphone.

I came very close today.

Too close.

My current cell phone is slowing down and my computer is aging. I was thinking that a smartphone was the answer. I could kill two birds with one stone. 

But I can't.

I was standing in the Verizon store ready to do it after looking at the newest iPhone. Then I started talking to the salesman. $199 for an upgrade with a two year contract...and an extra whopping $30 a month when I don't even come close to maximizing my current minutes or data on a 3-year-old slide phone.

It just makes no sense.

Why would I pay an extra $360 a year for a luxury that I do not need, already pay for at home, and more importantly, provides nothing to enhance my life? Sure I could kill time on my phone at work or at the store or while in traffic, but what I lose by doing all of that is the ability to live. To be alone with myself and my thoughts. Or, shockingly!- the ability to communicate with people when I am waiting around. 

Not having anything to do in specific times of waiting is no excuse to need a phone. I don't need cell phone games or apps or to be connected with the internet every second of my life. I can ask for directions. I can call someone to help me if I need a service. I can do math in my head. I can walk away from facebook, twitter or instagram for a few hours every day (or even a long weekend!) and be ok.

I just can't do it. I think it is a waste. I am happy typing right now on my laptop in the comfort of my own home. I don't need to bring technology with me everywhere. In fact, when I am away for a trip, I love the idea of having less connections with the "internet world."

Smarphones do not provide happiness or life-enhancement. This is a great quote from an article online:

"You need to build an ability to just be yourself and not be doing something. That's what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there. That's being a person." 

I can call and I can text with my phone. And if I leave it at home for the day, my world is not shaken or even bothered very much.

I will just have to submit to the fact that it will be a long while before I can be included on group texts:)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Richmond Half Marathon


Wow is the only word to describe the feeling of being not only proud of your yourself and your race time, but proud of your friends and your city and feeling a rejuvination of the human spirit.

And all from a run!

I cannot begin to tell you how motivating yesterday was. Despite the rain (and, yes, it did rain for a few miles), the Richmond HCA 8k, SunTrust Half Marathon, and Anthem Marathon were a great set of races in the capital city. The spectators were incredible all throughout the race, despite not ideal watching conditions, and the attitudes of the runners were contageous.

Best sign right at the turn to mile 11.

Runners are a crazy, fun bunch. I commented that to my friend Kate at mile 3- people were cracking jokes, thanking policemen and spectators, and talking amongst other runners. It is such an interesting and wonderful experience to be amongst a pack of runners in the middle of an intense race because despite the sore muscles, tired feet and poor weather conditions, runners are happy and great spirited.

As for my race, I am happy to report that I made a PR and ran the half in 1:58:03 crushing my time from March by 7 minutes and with minimal training! I think fresh legs are the key when you know you can do longer distances and a great route and running buddy help too!

The finish line was a glorious site from a .2 mile downhill sprint!

My friends and family commented how happy I looked along the race route. I saw friendly faces at mile 3, 7, 11 and the finish, so that was great motivation! I admit I felt good the whole way (sans the last 4 or so speed caught up to me then) and really enjoyed the route through the Northside of the city. My final mile pace was 8:58 which is crazy for me for a half! I guess running really is my favorite hobby, because I enjoyed myself the whole way and can't imagine a better way to start my weekend, despite some nerves and tummy issues the day and morning before.

It's crazy that I love running now as much as I do. It is the most challenging, frustrating, comforting, and rewarding thing I have ever done. It is where I am at my best and feel my best (or worst on some days). It gets me through struggles and stress and is where I do my best thinking. It wakes me up for the day and energizes me. It makes me better in all areas of my life. It makes me love my body not for how it looks but for what it can do.

Happy smiles after some food and re-hydrating!

When I run I know I can do anything I set my mind to. Just put one foot in front of the other.
Perhaps a marathon is in order...?!
Thanks for all the sweet comments the last few days! You all rock!!!

Friday, November 15, 2013

No Processed: Update

Ok folks, we're halfway through November, so it's time for an update!

I have done pretty well on my challenge for the month! Mainly, I have been cooking so much more and eating less sugar (besides at work...grrr). I still have eaten candy bars and gone out to dinner, but most of everything I have made myself follows all the rules.

It has been easy overall and I like that I don't worry so much about how much of this or that is in the foods but instead the ingredients. It makes eating much simpler, I listen more to my body, and I feel better. My energy has gone up along with my mood!

I have made homemade pizza twice, two crock pot chicken dinners (each of which last me 4 meals or so), quinoa, pancakes, bread, smoothies, overnight oatmeal, and various forms of spaghetti squash (a la spaghetti and as a baked dish). I still have my crystal light "cheat" beverage but have only had one soda and am mostly drinking water. I eat dates and larabars for my desserts at home instead of cookies and ice cream...but I still enjoy fro yo on occasion:) My fuel for long runs are dates and gatorade (which is technically processed but is mostly sugar water), and I limit those as well.

Overall, I probably follow the rules 70 percent of the time. Hopefully for the next part of the month this will get even better!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

2 days until #2!

Two more days until my 2nd half marathon!

I have been tapering this week, which sucks in running world because you are so used to hitting high mileage every week that cutting that back is HARD; you just want to run! I know, I know, we're weird. I did a very quick 4 mile run on Monday (9:00 pace) and a slower 3 mile run yesterday morning before work/sunrise in the COLD (9:20 pace). My legs feel great. My goal pace for Saturday is 9:30 a mile, which is what I averaged at the Shamrock Half, and since I have been running faster than that the last few weeks, I am hopeful I can stick to it. Now I just have to wait...even though all I want to do is go for a run. Walking and the elliptical in small doses will just have to do...

The race starts at 7:30 AM on Saturday, and my friend and I are meeting at her parent's house, which is about a mile from the race course, so they can drop us off at the starting line right before our wave begins. It should be warmer than it has been lately (upper 40's at the start, ending in the mid-50's), so I am planning on shorts and a t-shirt and maybe a throw-away pair of gloves. The half marathon in March was much colder, and even though I like running in chilly temps, I think these temps will be great. Chance of a small shower around sunrise, but clearing skies throughout the morning. 

In case you are familiar with Richmond, I have the course map below. It is relatively flat with a few hills in Bryan Park, which is where miles 5-8 are. The marathon route is absolutely gorgeous...I wish the half did the first part of that course. I might just have to run the marathon next year....

But the leaves won't hurt the beauty of the course, either:)

Good luck to all the runners, including my friend Jessica who is running her 1st marathon after having to drop out last year due to a bone fracture (I will be watching her after I finish) and a former classmate of mine who ran 12 half marathons in 12 months to raise money for Massey Cancer Center and is now tackling a full! See her story here.

I will post a recap after the race!

Friday, November 8, 2013

I Love Fall

This is my time of year.

Low humidity, cooler temps, darker nights, colorful leaves, cooking, pumpkin, the smell of cookouts and smoke in the air.

I love fall.

Fall and spring are easily my two favorite seasons (especially in Virginia), but I think fall takes the cake. I am naturally a morning person, so I love the change to the shorter, cooler days and the excuse to be in my pajama's and cooking by a warm oven by 6 every night. I always get annoyed in the summer when people are outside hanging out until 9! Whatever happened to my cozy, snuggly evenings wrapped in a blanket?

I love running in the fall at sunset along the lakes of Byrd Park.

And all the changing colors.

And the crunch of leaves in the fan.

And all the races!

And a good book under a blanket.

And cooking...especially with pumpkin.

Life seems to slow down a little in the fall. 

It gets a bit easier.

And I love it:)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wine Pressing

While at Sunset Hill's Vineyard this weekend, I got a tutorial on Wine Pressing from Mr. Winemaker himself!

It felt so weird yet oddly exfoliating:) Don't ask me to remember what it does...all I know is it makes wine taste better, which is always a plus in my book!

Monday, November 4, 2013

No-Processed November

Happy Holiday Season!

I heard Christmas music (as a joke) on my way to work this morning, so I am getting excited for the holidays! The extra daylight in the morning doesn't hurt my mood either (I LOVE more sunshine before work)!

Anyways, I spent this weekend away visiting a friend outside of D.C. and then my bro and sis-in-law at their vineyard. One of the great things that came out of this weekend (besides my butt becoming larger from a hike at Harper's Ferry) is that I left motivated to do what I had been contemplating (thanks in part to an awesome homemade pancake/bread tutorial from my brother)...stop eating processed food!

This does not limit my life at all, but instead expands my cooking and making of food, which I need to incorporate more into my daily life. So, for this month, I am challenging myself to eat only foods in their natural state. The rules of No-Processed November include (from an awesome blog you should read, 100 Days of Real Food):

What you CAN eat:

  1. Whole foods that are more a product of nature than a product of industry
  2. Lots of fruits and vegetables 
  3. Dairy products like milk, unsweetened yogurt, eggs, and cheese (I like coconut milk)
  4. 100% whole-wheat and whole-grains 
  5. Seafood (wild caught is the optimal choice over farm-raised)
  6. Only locally raised meats such as pork, beef, and chicken
  7. Beverages limited to water, milk, all natural juices, naturally sweetened coffee & tea, and, to help the adults keep their sanity, wine and beer!
  8. Snacks like dried fruit, seeds, nuts and popcorn
  9. All natural sweeteners including honey, 100% maple syrup, and fruit juice concentrates are acceptable in moderation

What you CANNOT eat:

  1. No refined grains such as white flour or white rice (items containing wheat must say WHOLE wheat…not just “wheat”)
  2. No refined sweeteners such as sugar, any form of corn syrup, cane juice, or the artificial stuff like Splenda
  3. Nothing out of a box, can, bag, bottle or package that has more than 5 ingredients listed on the label
  4. No deep fried foods

 Doesn't seem too bad, right? My only caveat is I am not really focusing on my drinks- I will still allow myself my daily crystal light with energy because it makes me happy and my pack-a-day gum habit because I don't swallow gum and still need to be a happy person!

To start off with this great event, I have made some awesome foods the past few days! Cooking has actually been fun:)

Saturday night: Hobo's
Sunday snack: Banana Berry Smoothie
Monday breakfast: Overnight Oats - this is my new favorite breakfast!!!

My lunches are usually dinner leftovers or meat/veggies that I prep the night before. I also love eggs, nuts, cheese, almond/sunflower seed butter and dates as snacks or add-ons to meals. YUM.

Tonight I am becoming really ambitious and am making my own pizza- dough included! I got some tutorials this weekend at my brother's place and am excited to start making my own bread! Granola bars are on my list of things to make next week.

I bought a lot of general ingredients to prep for all this cooking- flour, baking soda, yeast, plain greek yogurt (Fage), coconut milk, vanilla, brown sugar, honey, and various spices. I try to be as organic as I can but sometimes my educator salary does not warrant the organic brand.

Obviously this is not a primal or low-carb plan, but my view on carbs is different now that I have a half marathon in two weeks AND I simply just like to eat them and think when you eliminate anything completely from your diet that it limits your ability to stick with it. Also, I believe that if I can only eat carbs that I make, I will naturally eat less and they won't have all the crap in them (i.e. store bought bread, cookies, cakes, ect). Balance!

Wish me luck! I know I won't be prefect, so I am hoping for an 80% success rate this month! Join me!