Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 in Books

I thought I wouldn't have any time to read this year with so many classes...turns out I did! Check out my lists from last few years here and here. * are those I recommend!
  1. A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill
  2. The Reversal by Michael Connelly
  3. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng*
  4. The Ladies Room by Carolyn Brown
  5. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler*
  6. Five Days Left by Julie Austin Timmer*
  7. Missing You by Harlan Coben
  8. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
  9. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
  10. Mean Streak by Sandra Brown
  11. Friends Like Us by Lauren Fox
  12. Summer Island by Kristin Hannah
  13. Going off Script by Giuliana Rancic*
  14. Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler* (this book is hysterical)
  15. It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell*
  16. The One and Only by Emily Griffin*
  17. Memory Man by David Baldacci*
  18. Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
  19. Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani
  20. Zero Day by David Baldacci
  21. 10% Happier by Dan Harris
  22. The Forgotten by David Baldacci
  23. Identical by Scott Turow
  24. The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand
  25. Olivia Joules and Her Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding
  26. Straight Talking by Jane Green*
  27. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan*
  28. The Art Forger by Barbara Shapiro*
  29. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton*
  30. Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan*
  31. Last Kiss by Luanne Rice
  32. The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan*
  33. Little Children by Tom Perrotta
  34. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins*
  35. That Night by Chevy Stephens*
  36. Backfire by Catherine Coulter
  37. How to be Single by Liz Tuccillo*
  38. The Light Between the Oceans by M.L. Steadman
  39. L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad
  40. Sweet Little Lies by Lauren Conrad
  41. In the Unlikely Event by Judy Bloom
  42. Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont
  43. Woman with a Secret by Sophie Hannah
  44. Circling the Sun by Laura Mclain
  45. Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova*
  46. Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan*
  47. Night Night, Sleep Tight by Hallie Ephron*
  48. Love May Fail by Matthew Quick*
  49. The Circle by Dave Eggers*
  50. Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  51. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling*
  52. The Perfect Comback of Caroline by Matthew Dicks
  53. Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell*
  54. Match me if you Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips*
  55. The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell*
  56. If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison*
Any books you recommend from this year?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

2015 in Miles

This was a pretty incredible year, running-wise, for me. I completed my new year's resolution to run a marathon, but that was just the beginning. I hit my highest mileage total ever (~1380 miles as of December 22nd...I will probably hit 1400 by the 31st), ran my first AND second marathon, and PR'ed during six of the seven races I ran (Frostbite 15k, Monument 10k, Shamrock Marathon, Flying Pirate Half, Richmond Marathon and Blue & Gray Half-> links to all are on my races page). I couldn't have asked for a better year between me and the pavement.

I have also been lucky to have no major injuries, and only some aches and pains that are normal with excessive mileage. Running has continued to be a great release for me, where I get physical and mental exercise. I have given up the notion of trying to find another type of exercise to "balance out" the muscles I use, because the fact of the matter is, all I ever want to do is run. I don't want to do yoga, pilates or go to the gym. I can barely do the elliptical anymore on a rainy day. I only ever want to lace up my shoes, put on some music or a podcast, and experience the outdoors. Being outside and running around my city is one of my favorite things to do. I fully agree that you have to find the exercise that you will do consistently and enjoy, or else you won't exercise, and running is that for me. It is part of my life.

Here is a great post about my feelings on running from last year. I still echo all the same sentiments! As for this year, I honestly don't have any running goals. I want to focus on shorter races, but I won't rule out a fall marathon just yet. We will see how the winter and spring goes! No mileage goals either- I have a hard time thinking I will top out my total from this year, but you never know:).

Now, where is this winter weather I have been looking forward to?! I love running in gloves/hats and hate how warm it has been! 

What are your running goals for 2016? How was 2015 for you?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Blog Motivation & Holiday Happenings

I have been struggling with blogging motivation lately. I was looking through my posts from the last few years (especially last year) and I blogged much more than I do now. I wish I could say I have the same desire to do that now...but I don't. I have contemplated keeping this blog up and running or taking a step back and trying to become more private (I feel like since I started blogging, social media/internet has really taken the place of so much of what this blog was for me in terms of saying how I was feeling and documenting parts of my life). I find that instagram is my new "daily life" social media avenue. Also, the less I am on the internet/blogging, the happier I actually am, but I do enjoy having some sort of personal diary to look back on, which is essentially what this blog has been for me. I have some posts planned for the remainder of this month, but I may take a step back in 2016...we'll see!

It didn't take baby Libby long to knock over my small tree!
Updates for me as of now...I finished my 4th semester of PhD work! It was a really nice semester between supervising master's level students and taking a Statistics class. It was also very easy semester for me, and the spring looks to be much more busy, so I have definitely been spoiled! I am a little antsy about needing to do more research though. Presenting and teaching is not a problem for me (I am getting paid to teach adjunct next semester- woot woot! and I have a big presentation coming up in March in Montreal), but I do need to align myself with a professor to do more research. However, I really have enjoyed this PhD experience so much that I almost don't want to ruin it with "feeling" like I have to do anything. It has been much more of a personal growth and learning for fun experience (imagine that-> school can be fun?!). I have ideas of what I want to do when I finish, but I am not in a rush about anything. Even if I graduate and stay doing things similar to what I am doing now, it will have been worth it. As I get older I realize what a privilege it is to be able to afford to continue my education and how learning is a wonderful/insightful thing, and I want to keep it that way:) I am exactly halfway done with classes now! I have one and a half years to go until dissertation time...it's flying by!

Besides finishing classes, I have been playing with my new kitty (baby Libby) and her brother and celebrating the holidays! I have also been running more casually since I don't have any big races on the calendar for a while. It has been nice to run a more normal amount (aka not 15+ miles at a time), but I still enjoy my Saturday morning group runs!

Work Holiday Party!
She is so sweet when she sits still!
Tacky Lights!
This picture makes it look like they actually get along...
James Center!
The Jefferson Hotel decorated for Christmas!
I have one more day of work before my two weeks off (!!!) and many more parties this weekend (I have three alone Saturday night)!. I am heading to the Outer Banks for a few days early next week before Christmas, and then family comes in afterwards. I am very much looking forward to the break! I still wish I could take a bigger trip during these weeks off, but it is a hard time of year to travel with people and for good deals. Don't worry- I have a spring and summer full of great trips that I am sure I will document even if I blog much less:)

What funs things have you been up to?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Impromptu Half Marathon

I had been debating running the Blue & Gray Half Marathon in Fredericksburg since I ran the Richmond Marathon. I was a little hesitant based on my knees being a little iffy and not knowing if I would injure them more. However, all last week my runs progressively felt better, so after an awesome and beautiful Saturday morning run,I decided I would do it!

It was too late to sign up online, so I called the organizers to confirm that I could sign up morning of, and I could. It was a small race run by a local Fredericksburg running group (VA Runners). My friend was running it, too, so I was able to ride up with her at 5:50 AM on Sunday morning (talk about a fun weekend wake-up)! We made it to the race by 6:50 AM and it was nice because the VA Runner store was in a big strip mall where there was tons of parking. We were able to park about 25 feet from the start, and my registration was very easy and quick. We went to the bathroom twice before the race and even hung out in our cars a little bit to stay warm.

This course was beautiful- it goes from main roads around the Mary Washington Hospital, down to the Rappahanock River running/walking pathway and back. We ran along the river and through some neighborhoods. I don't know much about the area, so it was neat to see a different part. My friend and I were running together and our goal was to break 2 hours (that would be a PR for her). We started out VERY fast through the big downhill, but felt good enough to maintain that pace the whole race. We were averaging about an 8:29/pace through most of the race. The end was very tough as it was essentially two miles straight uphill. We split up around mile 11.5 when I had to walk a bit. I caught back up to her around mile 12 but had to walk up a part of another hill around 12.5 (she was stronger than I on those hills). She finished with a 9 minute (!) PR at 1:51:35, and I finished with a 3.5 minute PR at 1:52:12! Needless to say we were both very pleased.

My legs felt good the whole race and while the pace was challenging, it was attainable until those ending hills. 

My coworker, Karen, also ran the race and I saw her at the end! She is the one who told me about this race a few weeks ago.

Rachel and I enjoyed the food at the food tent and watched the finishers for a bit before heading back to Richmond (and an obligatory Starbucks run). It was so nice to run a smaller race (about 600 runners) and the course was beautiful and challenging. The weather was great- crisp but not freezing (in the 30's) with abundant sunshine and no humidity. It was a great morning. We both plan to do it again next year!

I think my goal for 2016 may be to break 1:50, because if the course is flatter,  I think I could have picked up my speed slightly and cut off 2 minutes. Considering I have done no run longer than a 10k since the marathon and no speedwork and did not even rest for this race (I ran Tuesday-Saturday since I didn't know if I was running the half), this race left me optimistic for that. We'll see! Rachel and I commented about how much nicer half distances are on our bodies, so this race makes it very tempting for me to stick with 13.1 as opposed to 26.2 miles!

Anyone else ever run an impromptu race?