Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day and is able to enjoy it with family and friends.
I have so many things to be thankful for this year…mostly this amazing family that I have!
Today is also the official start of my marathon training plan – although I added Monday and Tuesday runs this week to kick things off. I’m thankful to be healthy, able and motivated to run and train.
As my act of giving back for the holiday season, I donated more than 10 inches of hair yesterday to help children with medically-related hair loss. This is something I have done 3-4 times over the last seven years or so. It’s a pretty easy thing to do on my part, but helps out a kid in need.
Now it’s time for turkey! (Well after a 6-mile run that is!)
Have a great one!
One of my resolutions this year was to make more time to read. I hoped to get through one book per month and surpassed that in January reading these three. Here’s my quick review on each book:
My Life on the Run: The Wit, Wisdom, And Insights of a Road Racing Icon by Bart Yasso.
Review: This is a great read and one I’d recommend to runners and non-runners alike. It details his life and career in a series of stories about some of his many different life experiences. He bravely talks about his battle with drugs and alcohol at a young age. He regales readers with stories of some major challenges he faced. He shares stories of some of his more humorous adventures that will have you laughing out loud. I really loved this book and am even a bigger Bart Yasso fan now than I already was!
The Widow File by S.G. Redling
Review: I got this through the Kindle First program that allows Amazon Prime members to choose one of several books a month before their official release date – for free! I couldn’t pass that up. It took me 10 or 15 pages to get into this, but then it was a page turner I didn’t want to put down. It was a fast-paced action/crime mystery that took place in and around D.C., which probably increased my enjoyment of it. As much as I liked this book I felt like it was missing something at the end. It wasn’t a bad ending, it just felt like there could have been a lot more detail and story.
The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom
Review: I absolutely loved Tuesdays with Morrie, which I read years ago, also by Mitch Albom and thought this book was great as well. Based on the title I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but thought it would probably be focused on religion. I found it more a story of belief and faith – not in any particular religion, but just in general. It perfectly hit on feelings of loss and sorrow. It also had a really interesting plot that centered around more of a mystery as to how these calls from heaven were happening that kept me reading until I’d finished the book in just a few sittings. This one is worth reading for sure.
I have a whole lot of things to be thankful for in my life, but here are a few things I’m especially luck to have…
Getting welcomed with open arms to spend the holiday weekend with the family I get to marry into next year.
Knowing I get to celebrate another awesome wedding next year with these two. My big brother, he’s OK :-p haha, and his fiancée who I’ll get to call my sister soon, but am already lucky enough to call my friend.
Having amazing parents who helped me become who I am today and are always supporting my crazy endeavors even if it means trekking around D.C. in the cold to watch me run a race. Here I am with them at the finish line of my first marathon in San Diego – yes, they flew across the country that time to watch me run.
San Diego Rock N Roll Finish LIne Party
And, especially having this guy in my life and getting to spend everyday with him.
Hope everyone has a great Turkey day!
What are you thankful for today?
This week I took my speed work off the track. This is something I used to do a lot when I worked by Hains Point, which was mostly flat, straight and long enough to get my various workouts in.
This week’s speed workout however, took place on the Mt. Vernon Trail, which has a lot more ups and downs and twists and turns. I incorporated half mile repeats into my run after a one-mile warm-up. I’m not sure what it is about doing these off the track, but they seemed SO MUCH harder.
I took advantage of the interval setting on my Garmin so that it would beep down the last few steps of each half mile, and then beep the last 5 seconds of my one-minute rest between repeats letting me know it was time to get moving again. It’s a really great feature and keeps me focused on running hard rather than staring at pace or distance on my watch to see if I’ve gone far enough and fast enough.
I ran hard for all eight repeats and looking at my times after I was a bit all over the place. I think that had a lot more to do with the changing terrain though, not necessarily different levels of effort. Despite the seemingly much longer than normal half miles, I felt really great after finishing this workout and proud that I upped my mental game to push through.
Do you like taking your speed workouts off the track? Does it make it easier or harder for you?
I’ve been neglecting my blog yet again, but for real this time hope to get back on track with my regular posts. I do have some pretty exciting news to share too! Ian and I got engaged last week!
I flew home from a great, but exhausting work trip to San Diego Thursday evening. Ian picked me up at the airport with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. He had actually told me he was getting me flowers to welcome me home though, so I didn’t suspect a thing.
We had a whole date night planned after dropping my bags at home, but before we could leave the apartment he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!! I was so excited I could barely get any words out, but of course said YES! He gave me the most beautiful ring that is just perfect for me and a big hug!
After excitedly calling our families – who all had known this was coming for the past week – and posting to Facebook/Twitter to let everyone else know, we decided to bag our initial dinner plans and walked up to Fireworks, one of our favorite spots in Court House. They even gave us some complimentary champagne to celebrate!
Celebratory Toast at Fireworks
It’s more than a week later and I still can’t stop smiling. I could not be more excited and I can’t wait to get to marry the love of my life on October 18, 2014!
In my 30 Before 30 post, I said that I wanted to try three new foods this year. If you’ve read some of my posts about eating, you know that I was quite the picky eater growing up and am now trying a lot harder to try new things and eat healthier foods. Earlier this year I tried cauliflower for the first time and have used it in several meals since then. This month I tried shrimp for the first time. Yes, it’s true, I’ve never eaten shrimp.
I’ve become a huge fan of the SkinnyTaste website and have found some awesome recipes. Ian really likes seafood but we don’t eat it often because I’m a little afraid of it, so when I found a simple recipe for angel hair with shrimp and tomato sauce I knew we had to try it. Neither of us like chunky tomato sauce so we substituted smooth tomato sauce for the diced tomatoes, but otherwise followed the recipe.
It turned out great! I even had shrimp again later that week in some jambalaya we made. I wouldn’t say I love it, but it’s not half bad and something I’ll definitely try and eat more of.
Shrimp with angel hair pasta and tomato sauce
What foods did you try later in life that you found out you actually really like?
Last week Maureen from Running On Cabernet (one of my favorite running blogs to read, so go check it out if you haven’t read it before) nominated me for The Liebster Award. Thanks Maureen!
I’ve seen this going around on some of the blogs I follow and here’s how it works:
- It’s a great way to promote new blogs as it’s given to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers
- You list 11 random facts about yourself and then answer the 11 questions from the person who nominated you
- Next choose 11 new bloggers to pass the award on to and tag them in your post
11 Random Facts
- I won a raffle among the girls in my sixth grade class (all 12 of us) and got the chance to carry the Olympic Torch along the grounds of my elementary school as it made its way to the Atlanta Games.
Carrying the Olympic Torch in front of IC school
- I went to two different high schools.
- I went to three undergrad colleges in four years, but still managed to graduate summa cum laude on time. I don’t believe in quitting, but I also don’t believe in staying in a situation that makes you unhappy if you have control to change it. You make your own happiness.
- I ran cross country my sophomore year in college and actually made All Conference. Disclaimer: I could never convince enough girls at my school to come out for a meet so we never got to place as a team, and I very well may have been running in the worst conference in all of Division 3.
- When I was little I wanted to play Little League Baseball so my parents signed me up, and along with my cousin Susie, I played with the boys for years until I finally made the switch to softball for school ball.
- I love puzzles and I get one for Christmas every year.
- I took piano lessons for 10 years.
- I had a basketball coach who said if we wanted to be good at ball handling we should practice an hour a day no matter how hard it was to fit in. For the next three years of high school, my poor parents had to listen to me dribbling a basketball in our basement for an hour a day every single day, often in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. I can’t even begin to imagine how annoying this must have been!
- My brother and I built a rope ladder to climb out of his second story bedroom room onto our deck when we were probably 12 and 14 years old. After he made it down, I couldn’t reach the ladder so I put my bike helmet on and jumped into the pile of pillows we put out in case the ladder failed only I missed the pillows. Other than a swollen ankle for a couple days I was completely fine somehow. We didn’t tell our parents for a very long time. In fact, they might just be learning about it now. Oops.
- I didn’t eat my first cheeseburger until college. Why did I wait so long?!
- I’ve run marathons in four different countries.
11 Questions From Maureen
- Why did you start your blog?
I’ve always loved writing and had wanted to do a blog for a long time, but never knew how to start. I wasn’t super happy with the job I had at the time and it was making me hate writing, so I wanted to take that back and write for myself again.
- What is your favorite type of junk food?
Toss up between Reese’s Pieces or sour gummy worms
- Do you read newspaper in print or online?
I stuck with the print edition for a long time, but finally gave up and mostly always read it online now.
- What was the last move you saw in the theater?
- What was your favorite class in school?
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Ireland – in a heartbeat. I’ve been there before, but it was my absolute favorite vacation and I would love to go back!
- What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
Oh man, that’s a tough question. Recently I’d say a homemade buffalo chicken deep dish pizza. I’ve had some really good steakhouse dinners. I always love spaghetti and meatballs. I LOVE eating, so I don’t know why I can’t pin down the best meal I’ve ever had – maybe there are just too many to choose from.
- How long have you lived in your current city/town?
Almost 7 years
- What was your first job?
I cleaned the rectory offices at my Church in high school, but my first real job was in Communications at the Consumer Electronics Association – a pretty good first gig.
- What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My parents always drilled into me that working hard and being good to the people around you will pay off in the end. It does.
- What are you looking forward to this summer?
Lots of long weekends here in D.C. and on the road with Ian including my first trip to Portland, Oregon!
Bloggers I’m Tagging: (Not sure if I’d consider all of these new bloggers and I know some of them definitely have more than 200 followers, but I do really enjoy reading all of them.)
Lindsay at Flour, Sugar, Eggs, Running
Molly at Heart, Sole & Cereal
Ashley at Coffee Cake and Cardio
Jennifer at A Knack for Nutrition
Sam at Yogitastic
Rana at Life, Love & the Pursuit of Running
Katie at Healthy Heddleston
Allison at Wicked Healthy Washingtonian
Sara at Magia e Pasta
Alex at The Run Within
Jess at Jess Runs
- What’s your favorite book?
- Guilty pleasure TV show?
- How many siblings do you have?
- What’s your hometown?
- Best Vacation you’ve ever taken?
- What would you do if you won the lottery?
- What’s your dream job?
- Why do you blog?
- Do you have any pets?
- What’s something most people don’t know about you?
- What are you most proud of?
I’m pretty fortunate to live where I do right outside of Washington, D.C., and have so many amazing views to take in while I’m out on my everyday runs. Few things can beat the sun setting or rising over the monuments, memorials, museums and other great sights this city has to offer.
It’s always fun to run while I’m traveling and check out some new sights as well though and one of my favorites is the New York City skyline. Whenever I visit my brother and his fiancée in Hoboken I make sure to fit in a couple runs along the Hudson River so I can take in the skyline for a few miles.
What’s the best view you’ve ever had on a run? Tell me your favorite city to run in too!
Last week I said that nutrition was going to be my big focus for March and a major part of that would be making an effort to eat more fruits and veggies. So far I’m off to a pretty decent start. I’ve been drinking a banana-berry smoothie every day that’s super easy to make, especially in my magic bullet blender that doubles as the drinking glass!
I’ve made smoothies like this one before and the biggest things that have kept me from making them more regularly is the cost of fruit and the frustration when the fruit goes bad too quickly. Well I found a great solution to that this week – frozen fruit! I’m sure it’s not as healthy as the fresh stuff, but it’s better than nothing and it’s also a lot cheaper. I bought a couple bags each of mixed berries and strawberries at Trader Joes and it’s been working out great. I really should venture out and try other kinds of smoothies, but being the picky eater that I am, I’m hesitant to try something new. Let me know if you have any good suggestions I should try. Here’s the recipe for mine:
- 1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt (usually ends up being 3/4 cup because of the size of my blender)
- 1/2 cup strawberries
- 1/2 cup mixed berries (I usually go with raspberries, blackberries and blueberries)
- 1 small frozen banana (I pre-slice a bunch at the beginning of the week and put them in baggies in the freezer)
I also usually eat a banana with breakfast and an apple as a midday snack, so the fruit is going pretty well. The veggies are a bit harder for me. I had corn a couple time this week, which is the one veggie I really like and of course not the healthiest, but still, it’s something, right? I also did something this week I don’t know if I’ve ever done before in my life. I had a salad at home with dinner. I’ll eat salads (or eat bits of them and then push it around on my plate to make it look like I ate more) when served at weddings or conferences or at other people’s homes for dinner, but I’ve never actually made one at home to go with dinner. Ian and I went the easy route to start things off and bought a bag of pre-mixed salad at Wegmans and some light Italian dressing. It wasn’t great, but I didn’t hate it either. It’s a work in progress.
Salad – yes I know it’s small – I’m trying!
On the not so healthy side, Ian and I put together a delicious creation this week: buffalo chicken deep dish pizza. I made a deep dish cornmeal pizza dough in my bread machine and spread it around and up the sides of a 9-inch round baking tin. Ian added a layer of cheese to the bottom, then we topped with the chicken and buffalo sauce and finally another smaller layer of mozzarella cheese plus a sprinkling of shredded parmesan. Simply amazing!
Deep Dish Delicious Buffalo Chicken Pizza
It’s not a good sign when you can’t even remember the last time you had your haircut. I know it was the last time I did Locks of Love – a cool organization that lets you donate your hair to be made into wigs for kids who’ve lost their hair from cancer treatments. It’s a really great cause and if you have the patience to grow your hair long enough (10 inches) I highly recommend you give it a shot. I think it may have been May of 2011 the last time I did it, but I’m not certain. One thing that was certain is that my hair was getting crazy long and a bit out of control! There were a few incidents where it got so tangled while I was working out that I needed Ian to cut hair ties out of it when I got back home. Yikes! Ian would like to point out that this is yet another “perk” of living with a runner.
Here’s the before shot. I did like my long hair, but I will not miss the time it took to blow dry and straighten every day.
While I was home in Syracuse last weekend I headed down to the Fayetteville Towne Center near my parent’s home to a hair salon called Andrey’s, and told them to chop it! The girl doing my hair actually went to the same high school as I did (although a few years later than me…ouch, feeling old!) so we chatted about that while she gave me my new ‘do. She cut off 13 inches in total – I hadn’t realized just how long it had gotten!
I think it came out great and I’m loving my new short hair cut. The next step is mailing it in to Locks of Love in a plastic bag inside of a padded envelope. Don’t ask where it’s been sitting while I wait till I can get to the post office! Gross! Why is it that as soon as hair isn’t attached to your head anymore it becomes super gross?
Right after the cut!
It’s been great during my workouts to pull my hair up into a tiny pony tail and wrap the rest in a Sweaty Bands headband so nothing is on my neck or bothering me while I run. I also love how quickly I can dry it and get ready in the mornings now! This is perfect timing too – it’ll be long enough to pull all of it up again once summer hits and the D.C. humidity turns my hair into a frizzy mess no matter how carefully I straighten it.
First day I had to style it on my own.
Do you prefer long or short hair for working out? Have you ever donated your hair before – what organization?
Also, I have to wish my Mom a very happy birthday today!! Hope it’s a great day!