Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Big Surprise

Last Thursday morning, unbeknownst to my sister, I boarded a plane headed south to the Big Peach.  Later that day, I stuffed myself inside a box and waited outside her house until she came outside to find the surprise her husband had planned for her.  It was epic!  Even after I popped out of the box my sister was still so confused as to what I was doing in her front yard!  Hahaha  I blame it on the pregnancy brain.  (I have a video but unfortunately, when it was sent from my brother-in-law's phone to mine, it got all blurry and scrambled.  And it's also too long to email for some reason, so I apologize but I unfortunately won't be able to share this magical moment with you.)

A little background here:  My sister is currently 36 weeks pregnant, a mom to a 1 year old and 4 old and literally JUST moved into a new house (like a week ago).  To say she has a lot on her plate right now is an understatement.  My brother-in-law knew she was feeling super stressed lately and so a month or two ago he approached me about coming down to surprise her, help her and just generally lift her spirits as only a sister can do!  And dare I say it was a raging success!

I had a few goals for my 5 day visit, number one being to get the crib for the new baby assembled.  Mission accomplished!  I put this crib together with my own two hands.  Credit also goes to my 22 month-old nephew who assisted with his plastic hammer.  Definitely a key factor :)



I also helped her out by watching the kids while she ran around like a nut trying to get things done in the new house!  Hanging out with kids is just what I do, so no arm twisting required there.  Plus, I mean, how can you resist these faces?!?!


The answer to that question is that you can't. 

Bedtime selfie!
 
 
We ran a lot of errands while I was in town and it never ceases to amaze me, every time I'm in ATL and out with my sister, the number of 'twin' comments we get.  Literally every sales clerk at every store we were in asked us if we were twins.  A woman in Lowe's actually shouted across the aisle - 'Excuse me.  Excuse me!  Are y'all twins?!'  Hahaha I dk what the fascination is there.  Even more interesting is that SEVERAL of my sisters friends, who she sees on a very frequent basis in her neighborhood or at my niece's school, actually thought I was her, that I had delivered the baby, and returned to my pre-baby body all in the span of less than a week! HAHAHA  Someone actually called her to congratulate her on having the baby and she was like WHAT?!  
 
This pic is from a visit last year.  We didn't manage to get a pic together this time around.
 
 
My sister is a big smoothie fan and during our visit, she introduced me to my new favorite concoction.  It is delicious and super easy and once again, I forgot to take a pic :(  It contains only 3 ingredients:
 
Coconut/Almond milk blend
1 frozen banana
Generous scoop of Hershey's unsweetened cocoa
 
Try it! You won't be disappointed.
 
Oh I also found these cookies, in a gas station of all places down there.  I had heard about these for awhile but never came across them in Baltimore.  Vegan.  Protein.  Chocolate.  All wrapped up in a giant cookie.  SOLD!  Now I just need to find them up here.
 
 
 
While down in Atlanta, I also had to keep up with my half-marathon 'training' (I use that phrase loosely here since this has been the shortest training schedule ever).  With the heat and humidity down there, I honestly wasn't sure how I'd make my last long run happen.  I wanted to get in a double digit run since we are literally less than 2 weeks away from race day (let that sink in).  So far, I've squeezed in multiple long runs (a 10mi, 11mi, 11mi the last 3 weeks) so I've been feeling pretty good about the race, but I wanted one last long run 2 weeks out. 
 
I decided to run at night, after the sun went down since the daytime temps were about 97 degrees and 75% humidity!  I've visited my sister many many times over the years and knew her old neighborhood well, but I knew zippo about her new one.  In hindsight, setting out alone in the dark in a place where I had zero sense of direction may not have been the best decision but my lord it felt great!  That night I had one of the best double digit runs of this training cycle.  I absolutely loved running by the light of the moon.  I'm a night owl naturally (definitely not an early morning runner) and running in the dark was so peaceful.  I did 10 miles and my legs felt light the entire way.  I honestly felt like I could have run several more miles but it was already after 10pm so I decided to call it a night.  When I arrived back at the homestead I was completely drenched from head to toe.  I don't think I've ever run in humidity like that!
 
 
I always have a great time when I visit my sister.  It doesn't matter if the trip is more about business or pleasure, I'm just happy to see her and her fam.  I hope having me around for a few days gave her some sense of peace and lifted the stress she had been feeling lately.  In hindsight, scaring the crap out of a nearly full-term pregnant lady by popping out of a box on her front yard may not have been the smartest plan, but it sure was fun!
 
 
 

 
What have you been up to the last few days?
 
Ever surprise a family member in a big way?
 

 




Thursday, August 21, 2014

All the Culture

Today I'm hitting you up with all kinds of sophistication and culture so grab a spot of tea and make sure you're drinking it, pinky in air.  Let's gooooo....

First up is Art.  Have you ever done Paint Nite?  Or a similarly run program?  Essentially, Paint Nite is meant to bring out the artist in all the common folk like you and me.  Add in some drinks and the ambiance of a fine restaurant and you've got the makings of a sweet little evening.  This was my first Paint Nite.  I got a deal on Groupon so it was only $25 I think?  There is a calendar of events for each month on their website, where they list the paintings and locations for each.  I guess some people may choose to attend based on a restaurant they'd like to try, but I picked my session according to the painting.  The piece I chose was titled 'Tree of Abundance'.  How could i pass that up?! In addition to that being everything I'd like to bring into my life right now, the colors were shades of blue and green and those hues are my true loves.

My session was held at Clementine's, a restaurant I had actually never been to before.  A bit of history: many years ago as a young lass, I enjoyed doing art and even took lessons in charcoal and watercolor (but never acrylic, which is what we used here), ,so I was really looking forward to doing some painting.  We were set up in a separate room of the restaurant (maybe a banquet space?) which was really pretty.  Each place was set with an easel, 2 brushes, a plate with some dabs of paint and a water cup.  There was a server dedicated to us who came around to take drink/food orders which was nice.  Even though I had eaten snacks beforehand I was hoping to order some appetizers to munch on while painting, but after checking the menu and even asking our server if there were any options without dairy, we couldn't find any! So that was kind of a disappointment.  I could have gotten an entrĂ©e but really, I mean, you can't sit down to a steak dinner while you're absorbed in your art!  The drink menu was extensive and super creative but for some reason I didn't feel like drinking.  I ended up getting an iced tea with some homemade rosemary-lemon elixir mixed in.  Sounds weird but it was really good. 

The instructor began shortly after most people arrived and she literally takes you through the process step by step - from mixing the paint colors, to where on the canvas to draw lines, etc.  But she also made it a point to tell everyone to take liberties with their paintings and deviate where they saw fit.  She encouraged us to use different colors and in general just make the paintings our own.  She also walked around often in case you needed help and held up various people's creations so we could all see different takes on the same picture.  It was pretty neat how each person's picture looked somewhat similar but also really unique.  All in all this was a really fun way to spend a weeknight, even if I was pretty much starving by the end!  Next time I'll bring snacks.  Who knew art could be so exhausting?! 

 
 
Alright on to books.  I went kind of nuts at the library recently and I'm two books in already.
 
First up was this guy:
 

Believe it or not, Vonnegut was never required reading for me in all my years of formal schooling, and in my 35 years of life, I had never picked up one of his books.  I decided it was finally time I make his acquaintance and so I chose one of his most notorious titles.  This is a short little tome and an easy read and I finished it in about 3 hours.  I know I'm going to ruffle a lot of Vonnegut die hard's feathers by saying this but I didn't love it.  I get the whole anti-war satire here but I didn't especially like the tone of the book.  It was depressing for sure, and I felt like his message was basically stating that humanity is doomed.  He writes about the evils of war but I don't feel like he offered any hope or solution for the future.  I mean I get he's anti-war, but aren't most people anti-war?!  Who is really FOR war.  But what are we going to do about it?  Where is the hope and the solution for a brighter future her?  Nonexistent.  And I didn't like the sci-fi aspect of the story (I don't really like sci-fi at all as a genre).  Especially because I got the feeling he was saying humans are going to kill each other off and only the smarter, more enlightened aliens will survive.  Also, by the end of the book I was about to stab myself in the eye after the millionth reiteration of "And so it goes".  I don't know why fans of this book are so obsessed with those words.  Punch that phrase into Instagram and you will see people who have actually got this tattooed on their body?!  I dk I guess I was just looking for some optimism in here and couldn't find any.  I am however interested in learning more about Vonnegut as a person, so I picked up a biography about him at the library as well.  Maybe I'll gain more understanding of him after reading that.

I also just finished this book:

I personally like Elizabeth Gilbert and loved Eat, Pray, Love (I know some people have strong feelings either way on that one).  I also follow her on FB and I like her inspirational and thought-provoking posts.  She is a very Oprah-esque type person to me.  This was a hefty book, volume wise. Quite nearly 500 pages of tiny print.  It is a novel that takes you through the life of a peculiar woman named Alma Whitaker who lived in Philadelphia in the early 1800's.  The book wasn't really what I expected, but I ended up getting lost and absorbed in the story Gilbert weaved, and was looking forward to reading it every night after work.  If you like Elizabeth Gilbert, or just like a good yarn, I would recommend :)

Well this post ended up being A LOT wordier than I had planned.  Sorry about that.  Next time, more pictures, less words.  Happy Thursday!


Have you ever done Paint Nite?

What books are you reading right now?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Recently...

1.  I went to the doctor last week and my blood pressure was 88/57.  My heart rate was 56.  I'm no M.D. but I'm pretty sure with vitals like those, I should be dead.  IT'S GOOD TO BE ALIVE PEOPLE!

2.  I did another 11 miles on Saturday after I buried my feelings in Chipotle the night before and I most surprisingly felt pretty swell.  Much better than last week's 11 and a few minutes faster too.  Lesson:  Massive amounts of Chipotle will make your run faster.  Try it.
 
 
3.  After my run, I went to check out Runner Appreciation Day at Holabird Sports.  I had never been to Holabird before because I always get my running shoes from Charm City Run.  However this event sounded fun, it was free, and there was a chance you could win some cool running stuff! SOLD!  I ended up getting some free socks, picked up some Nuun and tried on the new Adidas Energy Boost shoes.  Verdict on those - I really liked them!  Ran around the parking lot for awhile and whatever that Boost material is, it definitely feels different from the normal foam cushioning in most shoes.
 
 
4.  My Saturday of fun continued when I stopped by the library and picked up lots of new books.  There's not much that makes me as happy as new books that are also FREE.  (Running, Babies.  It's a short list.  I'm easy to please.)
 
 
5.  On Sunday I went to my cousin's daughter's 3rd birthday party.  I hadn't seen these particular cousins since Christmas so it was really nice to spend some time with them. 
Aunt Jill, supervising the kids on the play set, drink in hand. #RoleModel
 
 
6.  This happened:
 

video
I was ice bucket challenged.  So if you ever wanted to know what I sound like IRL - there you go!  I'm a munchkin from the Land of Oz.  [You may be wondering how I filmed this here video considering I live alone.  If you guessed I taught my cats how to use an iPhone you'd be wrong, but that would be awesome.  No, I duct taped my iPhone to the bannister of my balcony.  Real life MacGuyver over here.  NASA should hire me.]
 
After I doused myself with ice water, I ran the fastest 7 miles of my life.  It was like running with built in air conditioning.  This has been noted and I will be ice bucketing myself immediately prior to running my half marathon.
 
That's all folks!  Enjoy your week :)
 
 
Tell me something random and fun!!!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Words of Wisdom from Chipotle

I had planned to blog last night and then I had a frankly very difficult and emotional phone conversation that evening, so that kinda just derailed my plans.  I have been thinking about the words exchanged by both parties in the time since and feeling both remorseful and angry at the same time.  Why oh why do we hurt the people we love the most and vice versa. 

In any case, I wasn't feeling too bloggy so this evening after work and running some errands I decided to pile all of my feelings in a great big bowl of heaven, also known as the Chipotle salad:

A meal bigger than my head.  Spot on.
 
 
After stuffing about 2/3 of that meal in my gullet I was feeling pretty much the same, just minus the hunger.  Well imagine my surprise when, as I was folding up the Chipotle bag to put in the trash, these words caught my eye:
 
 
 
The Universe speaks!  And just like that I was given exactly the right advice by some kind of act of Divine timing.  I let that sink in for a moment, and am going to try to put that lesson into practice.
 
I love when life proves to be completely serendipitous.
 
Well I'm planning to get up early for a hopefully 10ish mile run tomorrow morning so it's about time I hit the hay.  (In retrospect, this was prob not my wisest pre-run meal, but then again if I hadn't stopped in for this salad, I would have never seen these words! BAZINGA!)
 
Happy weekend!
 
 
Do you believe in 'signs'?
 
Have you ever received messages at just the right time?
 



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Did Something Crazy

So yeah, remember that half marathon that my sister is doing back home?  Apparently the second fastest course in the country?  And the one where I said I wouldn't be ready in time, and it would be too hot and yada yada yada.  Well, I did something crazy on Sunday, which was the last day to register, because um the race is less than 4 weeks away:



BOOM!  Look who's running a half marathon in 26 days - THIS GIRL!

The truth is, I wanted to run this race with my sister when she first mentioned it, but for the reasons listed above, decided not to.  But as the date drew closer I couldn't shrug the urge I felt to run it, regardless of heat or (lack of) training.  I certainly haven't been 'training' but I have been slowly upping my mileage and had that great 10 mi run last weekend.  This weekend I decided to run 11 mi, which unfortunately felt markedly worse than last week's.  My endurance felt ok, but I was hot (I waited way too late to go out Saturday and ended up running at noon - the hottest portion of the day #notwinning) and so it just felt rough and slow.




I do however feel healthy and just excited!  It's been too long since I've raced a half, since I wasn't able to commit to anything in the first portion of the year.  I have no delusions of a PR but I hope to enjoy it and run the best I can.  And I mean some of life's greatest decisions are those made on impulse, right?!?  Right!  Let's go with it.  I pray Sunday, September 7th is unseasonably cool and without a trace of humidity.

As I write this post, I also want to mention the tragic passing of Robin Williams.  I was cycling at the gym tonight, when the headline flashed across the TV and I couldn't believe it.  He was truly a gifted artist and I think it's terribly sad that sometimes the most creative, artistic people on earth are also the ones that suffer from mental illness because of their sensitive souls.  I think I shared once before that one of my favorite movies is Dead Poet's Society, and it is probably the role I will remember him most for (although I do love me some Mrs Doubtfire too!) so I'll leave you with one of my favorite scenes from the movie.  Williams' certainly left us all with so many of his own original verses.





What was your favorite Robin Williams memory or movie?

Ever sign up for a race on a whim?!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Current Thoughts

Once again, today's post is being brought to you by the random thoughts swirling around inside my head over the past week...Enjoy!

1.  I just finished this book:

 
It's a YA novel that I'd heard a lot about on the internets and was touted almost as highly as The Fault in our Stars.  I'll admit it took me longer than I thought to get into this one.  The beginning was a bit slow and somewhat overly cheesy for me (as YA romances tend to be, but admittedly that cheesiness is usually what keeps me coming back for more).  But as I kept reading, I became more and more interested and invested in Eleanor and Park's story and ultimately really liked it.  No spoilers here, but this is one of those books that just kind of ... ends.  With loose ends and no real conclusion.  I really dislike those kinds of endings in books. I mean I just invested DAYS of my life reading all your words on all of your pages and you're just going to leave me like that?!  There better be a sequel here. And I can promise you this - when I write my first book, whether it be the next Great American Novel or a children's picture book - there will be a neat and tidy definitive ending people! 
 
2.  Came across this video of the one and only TSwift serenading a little boy in the hospital.  Just one more reason she is my favorite ever:


3.  Was at the park with my NannyKid this week enjoying the sun and sand(box) and a perfect stranger told me he thought I was a really great nanny!  DAY MADE  I love my job, but even more than that I just love my kids and am invested in making sure every day is the best day it can be for them :)

4.  Last night I was lifting free weights in the ladies gym (I don't do my free weights in the main gym because that area is overrun with meatheads and their grunting is just too much for me), and a nice older woman approached me because she wanted to know if I could show her some exercises for the back of her arms (tris).  Can I just tell you HOW excited I was to give her some one-on-one demos and instructions on how to do this?!  I kept it simple and just showed her overhead extensions, kickbacks and dips.  Then had her try each while I watched her.  Well I'm quite sure this was the Universe calling me out to get started on my PT certification.  Why exactly have I been putting this off for the past two years?!

5.  I am addicted to cherries.  It's becoming a problem.  I eat them every day.  I really don't know how I'm going to survive when it's no longer cherry season.  Or for that matter, when all the summer fruit goes out of season.  It's really not fair that we run out of peaches, blueberries, watermelon, sugar snap peas and everything that is good and right in this world after summer, and are expected to exist solely on apples and oranges for 9 straight months.  Just another reason I need relocate to a warmer climate.



6.  I just read this article on my Runner's World Facebook feed, in which they made the RW Half course flatter and faster this year by taking out some of the hills!  Oh sure, the year after I run it, they make it flatter.  This kind of has me considering running it again this year to see if I could better my time.  Sooo, this one may be back in the candidate pool for my fall race.  If the hills scared any of you away last year, this just may be the year to get in on the fun in Bethlehem.  Come run in my hometown!  Even if I don't run, I'll show up to cheer you on and give you the grand tour of the Christmas City!  DO IT

7.  Came across this on my FB feed from a distance runner and plant-based nutritionist I follow, and life really is that simple: 



That's all for now folks.  The end :)

Happy Weekend!



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Good Days

This past weekend was just filled with good days.  I was back in PA for probably the first time in 2 months to see a friend that was about to make a very brave and inspiring cross country move!  I also had a random day off work so I was able to extend my trip a little. 

My weekend started off with a Friday afternoon visit with one of my godsons.  It has been awhile since I got to spend some time with this little man and I had SO MUCH FUN with him!  He is 17 months old now and has grown and learned so much since I last saw him.  Sometimes I can't decide if I like running or hanging out with babies more?!  It's probably about a tie.  Also, there is very little in this world that tops the feeling of holding a tiny little hand in yours.

And if you didn't think my Friday could get any better than that little reunion, you'd be forgetting that Bethlehem is home to the best vegan bakery in the world.  I stopped at Vegan Treats later that evening and drowned myself in cruelty-free soft serve and baked goodies. 

On Saturday, I wanted to go for a 'long' run because I have been slowly but steadily trying to build up my mileage in preparation for a TBD Fall Half.  My longest long run in recent months was 6 miles a couple weeks ago, so I was hoping to do 6-7 on Saturday.  Well folks, sometimes the stars just align and your legs feel like they are winged little Pegasuses.  I ended up running 10 beautiful, delicious miles and I'm quite sure the running gods were smiling upon me that day. 



The thing about running, and well, also Life, is that not every day is a good day.  They just can't be.  Everything is a series of ebbs and flows.  I don't think it's possible to ride an infinite high; that's just not the human condition.  And I think a lot of people who don't run, maybe don't understand that.  Not every run is easy.  Sometimes it's a real freaking struggle for 3 straight miles, and I want to stop, give up and turn right around and go home.  But I don't.  Because that's not how life works.  The only way through the hard times is THROUGH them.  So I feel like when I have days like Saturday, in running or in life, I ride those suckers out for everything they're worth.   By mile 6, which was my 'predetermined' stopping point, I wasn't tired in the least.  My legs were not heavy and everything still felt great.  I knew this was one of those really good days, when everything came together, and I knew I would regret not riding this wave out if I turned back early.  So I just kept going. 

I think it's important to take advantage of those 'feel good' days in life and do whatever you can with them.  Because inevitably, there will be days when you just don't feel motivated, or you're under the weather, and then all your plans go to $hit.  So when you have those magic days, when things just 'feel' right, lace up and get out there!  And in the darker days, try to remember the grand plans and great feelings you had on those brighter days, because they will often be what pull you back up again.

Saturday night I said goodbye for now to my friend who is moving out West.  Her activity of choice was mini golf and with the 3 of us involved, it could not have been any sillier.  We joked like we did back in high school.  Sometimes I can't believe we are all 35?!  We also settled on plans for my future which include running from Albuquerque NM to Denver CO which according to Google maps is 449 miles so that should occupy me for awhile.  Glad that's all settled.


My friend on the right there (the one who is moving) recently got into barefoot running with Vibrams and is loving them. She has kind of convinced me to give them a shot.  Anyone out there currently run in Five Fingers and want to give me the lowdown on your experience?!

On Sunday I got to spend the day with yet ANOTHER of my favorite little people and that would be my 3 year old nephew.  I biked for about 75 minutes in the morning around my parent's neighborhood and when I arrived home this little face was waiting for me!

Sorry, that's an old pic.  I didn't snap many pics this weekend.
 
 
This kid cracks me up.  He shares my dairy-free lifestyle so he and I are always buddies in our milk-free escapades.  We were playing 'restaurant' and he was the server.  I ordered iced tea, however he kept telling me the iced tea had BUTTER in it! Hahahaha So no iced tea for me.  Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the plastic shrimp and steak I was served. 
 
So yeah, those were some good, good days.  Summer seems to be full of them actually.  I think I secretly tuck all of my summer memories away every year, because when Winter rolls around I need a huge stockpile of them to look back on to get me through those long cold days.  When life gets hard, I try to remember the good days, because I know they'll come around again....
 
 
How was your weekend?
 
What do you do on days you're feeling really really good?
 
What about days you're feeling not so good?