Thursday, December 31, 2015

Monthly Goals : January

I'm not sure I'm a fan of New Years resolutions. Don't get me wrong, I can definitely see their benefit. I also see though the lack of follow through that typically accompanies. Goals need to be specific & achievable. I even think there should be benchmarks & obvious steps to keep someone on track to reaching their end goal. Otherwise, it can be easy to get to the end of the year & feel like you got nothing done.

So before I get to my January goals & a few yearlong 2016 goals, I want to take a look at my December goals & check in on how I did.

- Set my spring race schedule : Done! I even went so far as to sketch out the whole year of racing. As with life, it's subject to change, but I think my plan will hold true. You can check out my plans here.

- January - May training schedule : 99% done. I found a few plans online that I've morphed into what will be my training plan. It was important to me to work in several days of strength training each week. I also do not like to run more than 3 days a week. Running 5 or 6 days a week while letting strength or cross training fall by the wayside leaves me feeling trapped & resenting running. I've really found my stride with 3 days a week. I usually incorporate 1 speed/tempo/fast paced workout, 1 easy run & 1 long run each week. Once everything is finalized I'll be adding a Training tab to the site if anyone is interested in my plan.

- STRETCH : Yes. Although it's always a tough choice between running/lifting/biking for a few more minute, or cutting it short to stretch. I've also been making a conscious & successful effort to stretch for a few minutes each night in between episodes on Netflix.

- Head back to my run group : YES! And I am oh so glad to be back. I'll gleefully set my alarm for a Saturday morning & head outside to cold & snow if it means running with this great group. These people are so supportive, the pace group leaders, the coaches, program directors & individual runners. Running with other people is just more fun. I know some runners like to take the time to be on their own, but I am not that runner.

- 3 item to-do list : Eh. This was hit or miss. One of my Christmas gifts was a 2016 planner which I am excited to utilize. I'm famous for writing a to-do list on a scrap of paper, losing it, finding it 2 months later & realizing I didn't do any of the things on my list. I think keeping all my lists in one place will simplify things.

So, what are my January goals?

- Whole30 : I attempted a Whole30 in October 2014 that went awry about half way through. Gretchen & Margaret are "hosting" a RunningWhole30. Part of my issue in my first round was that I felt weaker. But perhaps I was not eating for my goals. Trying again with a supportive group of other runners will set me up for success. I may even have the BF joining me. Say what!?


- Track all meals using MFP : I've been using My Fitness Pal app for a while now. It's very eye opening. I'm interested to see how my carb/fat/protein breakdowns change while on Whole30. I also plan to keep note on how certain foods or meals make me feel/run. This will be an easy way to look back at what I ate & how it may have impacted my running.

- No workouts missed : January is always a rough one for me. It's cold & dark & has been for months, and I'm ready for warmer weather. It hasn't been too cold yet, so maybe an easy January is ahead. My goal is no workouts skipped. I can move em or double up, but skipping a workout just will not do. This will make sure I get my butt out of bed in the morning.

- STRETCH : This will become increasingly important as I up my weekly mileage. I plan to keep my stretch streak up to keep myself running healthy.

- 3 item to-do list :  I'm going to give this one another go, utilizing my new planner to help keep me organized.

I have 2 goals that are yearlong. 
- 10 pushups + 10 squats each day : Been there, done that. I did this "challenge" in 2014. I could catch myself up if I missed days, but I owed myself 10 of each for every day. It is a small amount of fitness that more often than not a gym session will cover, but if not, is something I can do in front of the TV or before getting ready for bed. A little bit of fitness really does add up, and by the end of the year I could bust out pushups like nobodies business. Now? Not so much. I want to get back to that.

- One legged squat : No real reason, I just really want to be able to do one, and so far no dice. But, I'll keep working & keep trying, and 2016 WILL be the year.

What are your January goals?
Do you set New Years resolutions?

I'm linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What's Up Wednesday #1


 MelSheaffer and Shay host What's Up Wednesday. There is no December linkup But I figured the questions would be fun to answer regardless. So here we go. 

eating this week : Odds & Ends. After a 4 day trip to Mississippi I am oh so glad to be home-ish. 4 days of eating out & car travel & homemade biscuits will really make you excited to see & eat things like broccoli and salad. Fruit? What is fruit?

reminiscing about : Rowing. I spent several years on the rowing team in HS & it's how I made my way to Pittsburgh. A dozen or so alumni put together a boat this past weekend & went out for practice with the team. We were already on our way out of town so I couldn't join in the fun, but that team & those people really shaped who I am today.

loving : The fact that writing this Muffin Master description was someones job. The tool doesn't seem to work at all. But the laugh from reading the description more than makes up for that. And it turns out I'll just keep slicing English Muffins the way I have for years, with a knife.

we've been up to : The BF & I have been soaking up all the time we can this month. His schedule rotates monthly & right now he works daylights. So we're squeezing as much hiking, cooking, hanging out etc. as can be squeezed into one month.

dreading : The January 1st gym crowd. I go back & forth on this. I'm all for people getting healthier, but can they do it at a different gym? Last year I ran on the treadmill next to someone eating a nacho Lunchable. I kid you not.

working on : My half marathon training plan. Adding a few tweaks here and there as I look more closely at the calendar & things I have happening in the spring.

excited about : NEW ZEALAND! The BF & I will be heading to NZ for 10 days in February! I can't wait, and January will be time to double down on planning out our activities.


watching / reading : My dad received "The Boys in the Boat" for Christmas, and as a former rower I immediately gleeped it & hope to start it soon. I'm watching Parenthood on Netflix, dreading the day I press play on the series finale.

listening to : Someone munching on homemade Chex Mix...although for once it isn't me. Feeling This is playing in the background. After all these years I still love this song. (side note : apparently this song is now 12 years old...I feel like that just cannot be true. Is this how getting old starts?)

wearing : Ah yes, the not so glamorous side of travel. I'm wearing tights, t-shirt & Duquesne sweatshirt, all of which could use a trip to the washing machine.

doing this weekend : Running! Meal Prep! Cleaning! Laundry! Date Night! I am oh so excited to get back to my usual routine. And who am I kidding, I love grocery shopping & meal prepping.

looking forward to next month : Well, I already said NZ, but I would like to say ditto. Eeee! A few bands I like are coming to Pittsburgh in February (because I've decided to ignore the fact that today is still December...) & I'll be buying tickets shortly! Reel Big Fish anyone?

I'll be back tomorrow with my January goals...even though it's not quite January & a recap of how I fared with my December goals.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Running Review + 2016 Race Goals

I'm in the middle of figuring out what spring of 2016 will look like for me running wise, as part of my December goals, and part of that for me is reflecting on how 2015 went & what I want to focus on going forward.

The first half of the year was spent training for the Pittsburgh Marathon. Luckily there are several races in the area that take the marathon date into account and work well with most training plans. I completed those, but I'm not certain my heart was in it.

February : Spring Thaw 15 miler
March : JASR 30K

Marathon day was HOT, like 70+ degrees & sunny, for a race I trained for all WINTER. It was brutal. I had a great first half & really fell off in the second.

May : Pittsburgh Marathon (new PR, shaved 8+ minutes off my 2011 PR)

Shortly after, during a run, my calf seized up. I walked/hobbled the rest of my way home. I took a few days off & was chagrined when my calf felt no better a few days later. Same story a week later, and so on, for a month +. I stretched & continued to cross train but running was off the table.

This meant skipping a 4th of July 5K I had been planning on. I had dreams of breaking 25:00 in 2015, after coming up just short in 2014.

Once the calf felt better it was time to start triathlon training. I ran a decent chunk, but devoted lots of time to swimming & biking as well.

I rocked my tri, and ended up WINNING my age group, though I never received my award, still salty, and the race director never emailed me back. Double salty.

September : Mighty Moraine Man Triathlon

September was super hectic with weddings + other life things. So training went by the wayside. I put up some super fast (for me) paces at Ragnar DC in early October, including a few miles at 7:30 that even shocked me. I came out of that race thinking I might be able to pull off a PR at my HM a few weeks later.

I went into the HM with no expectations. Just see what I could do...hell, my longest run had been 10 miles & was over a month and a half prior. Oops. Imagine my surprise when I cross the finish line with a 2 minute + PR!

October : Ragnar DC + Buffalo Creek Half Marathon (new PR, shaved 2+ minutes off my 2014 PR)


The Buffalo Creek Half Marathon was my last race for 2015. I shifted my focus to strength training & have been spending 3-4 days a week lifting weights and running only 2-3 days each week.

So, what have I got on tap for 2016?
March : March Mad Dash I plan to run the 5K option & then continue on for a few miles to get what I need for the day. I want to break 25:00 for my 5K. I have been keeping a decent long run base so my HM training will not require starting from scratch. I will focus the first half of my training on some faster paces & the second half on putting in the miles.

Fun fact : I ran several HM & 2 full marathons before I ever ran a 5K.

April : Boston Trail Half Marathon
I've never run this, but it has similar attributes to the Buffalo Creek half, small race, crushed limestone trail & hopefully cool weather. I plan to make this my goal race for Spring 2016.

May : Pittsburgh Half Marathon
This was my original spring goal race. But after remembering how miserable the weather was last year, I didn't want to hinge all my training on the weather. April is usually much cooler & more predictable.

July : 4th of July 5K
I've always wanted to do one & missed my shot in 2015. I'll find a small local race & just get out there & enjoy myself.

August/September : Ragnar
I've done Ragnar DC twice now & it's been a blast each time. I would gladly run DC again, but would also love to try my hand at Ragnar Trail. Appalachians & the brand new Buckeye Country race are both within easy driving distance.

October : Buffalo Creek Half Marathon
This race was great! I can't wait to run it again in 2016 & if you're looking for a fall PR in Western PA area definitely check this race out!

November & December : Fun Runs
I got sort of jealous when I saw all the Turkey Trots, Jingle Bell 5Ks, etc that everyone was running. Barring any injuries I plan to pick & choose a few fun local races & have fun, maybe even set some new PRs on seldom raced distances.

What are your running goals in 2016?
Do you integrate strength training into your training plans?
What was the first race you ever ran?
I'm linking up with Marcia, Patty & Erika today for Tuesdays on the Run.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Year in Review : Saying Goodbye to 2015

I know, I know, we can all hardly believe how fast 2015 went, and it did indeed.

But before I look ahead to 2016, I wanted to take a look back at 2015.

There were lions & elephants & rhinos, OH MY.

I spent the end of January & beginning of February in Tanzania, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro & spending the week after on a safari. I plan to do a trip recap (or two) to highlight my experience. So I'll keep this short, because I really want to upload every photo I took. But I MUST be strong.

March was spent celebrating. A friend got married & I turned 25!

April was a trip to NY, spent touring wineries & celebrating a friends 30th birthday.

Taughannock Falls State Park
May was for marathons. I ran marathon #3. Which I say will be my last. But I also said that after #2.

June held rain, not even our camping trip could escape it. But the few clear days held time spent on the river & at Pirates games, staring at this wonderful city of mine.

July held camping in Shenandoah National Park & black bears, literally.

August held excitement, my brother spent the summer of 2015 hiking the 2200 mile long Appalachian Trail, and he finally made it to end point in Maine, Mt. Katahdin.

September held my second Ragnar race, a road trip to Michigan for a wedding, my first triathlon & tomatoes from the garden, lot and lots of tomatoes.

October held a new apartment and a new half marathon PR.

November was a chance to breathe & a chance to visit home after 6 months away.

December has held warm weather, good eats, holidays parties & reflection. A chance to look back on all my photos & relive the fun.

I'll be back Tuesday with my 2015 running review & 2016 race goals and I'll have a post up in the next few days about what I want 2016 to look like for me, as well as some January goals, personal & running.

What was your favorite memory from 2015?
Any goals for the new year?
Do you set New Years resolutions? 

I'm linking up with Holly & Tricia today as I share my yearly wrap.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Thinking out Loud #4 : Christmas Traditions

Times I am grateful that it's 50+ degrees in December...? When it means I'm not driving through ice & snow on my trek home home (uhh does anyone else struggle with what to call your birthplace when somewhere new is now home?) for Christmas.
Update : Times I'm not grateful it's 50+ degrees in December...when that means pouring rain & blinding fog.

Thinking this is one of those the grass is always greener situations...

I love Christmas Eve. I'm not a big present person, giving or receiving, so Christmas Eve is my jam. For as long as I can remember my family gets Chinese food for dinner (Christmas Story anyone?) before driving around to look at all the lights.

My X-Mas Eve 2014 fortune

Afterwards, we head home, get changed & head to church for the midnight service, which thankfully starts at 11PM. 'Cause I cannot stay up until 1AM. Haha. In our tiny church, with all the Easter Christmas Christians we send my Dad ahead early to lay coats out & snag us seats.

Christmas, now that my brother & I are adults, usually holds sleeping in, a BIG breakfast, like waffles, biscuits, eggs, bacon (cooked crispy & flabby), sausage, gravy, fruit, coffee & juice...for the 4 of us, and opening presents.

Later in the day some other family joins us and we have awkward meal. You know, the meal that's too late to be lunch, but too early to be dinner & only happens on holidays? Yeah? Tell me we're not the only family. My BF thinks were crazy for doing this.

Either way, Merry Christmas, I hope everyone reading gets to enjoy their day, however they choose to spend it. I'll catch you all next week. :)

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
What time do you eat your Christmas meal?
How do you like your bacon cooked? Crispy or Flabby?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

WIAW #3 : Tacos

Pickins are slim around these parts right now. Tomorrow, or I suppose today since this post is for Wednesday I'll be heading to KY to start off my week of Christmas travel. Since I'll be gone about a week my goal was to use up as many perishables as possible. I hate having to throw food away because I didn't plan well.

Welp, I think that's been accomplished. There is officially nothing left to eat. Except a few cans of weird things I never should have bought.

So, apparently the theme of my eats on Monday was tacos. Though I didn't plan it this way. The real theme so far has been if it can't be frozen, it must be eaten. So, things got weird today.

Previously frozen bagel (probably remnants frozen before I left town some other time) + cream cheese scavenged from the work fridge made up breakfast.

Lunch was tacos round 1. I used Thanksgiving turkey, avocado, salsa, corn & some peppers & onions that needed used up. I think some cheese made it on there too. Odds and ends from different bags if I recall correctly.

I headed to Target at lunch to pick up some things I had ordered online. I was already hungry and ventured over to their food aisles to pick up a snack. I found this yogurt which was delicious. Vanilla greek yogurt, with caramel sauce on the bottom, and a little side cup full of chocolate bits & almond pieces. Crunchy & sweet.

Dinner was tacos round 2. I headed to the BF's house, but knew I was on my own for dinner as he wouldn't be home from work for an hour or two. Much to my chagrin I was greeted with this sight when I opened the fridge. A fridge full of Yuengling (beer) & Coke & some leftovers well past their prime.

Uhhh, what the heck was I supposed to make myself for dinner? Believe me, ordering a pizza crossed my mind. But then I remembered some corned venison stashed away in the freezer. Think corned beef, but made from deer. Taste is pretty spot on. Mmm, salty meat.

So, I scoured the extensive array of condiments taking up the whole door of the fridge & found sauerkraut & thousand island dressing. Mexican blend cheese was my only option, but hey, some cheese is better than no cheese. Next thing I knew my Ruben tacos were born.

2 mini tacos was definitely not enough. But I was out of cheese, meat & taco shells, so a 3rd just couldn't happen.

Side note : I'm not a wine person by any means. I know what types I like, but I can't take a sip and be all "oh I can taste the oaky aftertaste & hint of berries" or whatever people who know things about wine say. Anyhoo, this wine was genuinely flavorless. I've had wines whose flavor I am not a fan of, too dry, too sweet, what have you, but this just did not taste like anything. So, if you're looking to pick up a bottle of red, don't make it this one.

I then spent the next 3 hours complaining I wanted something to eat, but that nothing sounded good. And just repeatedly opening the fridge & freezer hoping something tasty would appear. Spoiler alert : It did not. I settled for a grapefruit & went to bed unsatisfied.

Anyone else with a fridge as bare as mine?
Are you a wine drinker?
Hard shell or soft shell tacos? Soft shell, all day every day.

I'm linking up for WIAW today with Arman to share my eats.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Workout Recap : 12/14 - 12/20

Monday : Rest
The BF has Mondays off work this month, so I've been taking them as a rest day each week. Not ideal for me, but it's one of our few chances to sleep in together, so I deal.

Tuesday : Strength training // Arms + treadmill run
Lifting was frustrating. Sometimes the weight room is packed, other times desolate, but there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason as to when. Every machine I wanted was taken, or working funny. I got it done, but didn't push myself. Ran 2+ miles on the treadmill afterwards.

Wednesday : Strength training // Legs + Spin
A speed workout was on the schedule, but I wasn't in the mood to run. The gym was desolate this morning so my leg routine was done super quick. I didn't have to wait for anything and was able to get each lift done in my preferred order. Afterwards I hopped on the spin bike for 20 minutes to keep things loose.

Thursday : Rest
I slept in, and almost slept through my alarm clock & it was GLORIOUS. I regret nothing.

Friday : Strength training // Legs + Arms
I did 2 short circuits, one focused on upper body, one focused on lower body. I'm thinking one full day of lifting + another 1 or 2 short sessions during the week will be how I fit strength into my half marathon training. I only run 3 days a week so I have plenty of time to fit it in.

Saturday : 7 miles // 9:20 pace
Back at it with a group run. I stuck with the 9:30 pace group, sort of. They took a super long water stop, but I wasn't trying to stand around, so I struck off on my own with a few others who felt the same way. I thought my watch had started, but I looked down to check my pace about a mile in & nothing had registered, so my watch was all sorts of off on this.

If your Garmin is on your wrist but doesn't register a run, did you really run?

Sunday : 6-ish mile hike // 2 hours hike time
Headed to a nearby park. The trail was challenging in parts. A few steep hills & 3 creek crossings each way. And losing the trail a few times which meant walking through a few yards. Oops.

So, 2 workouts outside, CHECK.
12+ miles run, NOPE.

If I had run Wednesday like I set out to do I would have made it. But since I'm not training for anything yet it's not worth forcing myself to run.

Since I'll be doing lots of travelling this coming week ( PA --> KY --> MS --> KY --> PA) I'm not holding myself to the same standards. I'll be gone for 7 days. So, I'm going to work towards 1 run, 1 walk & 2 indoor circuit type workouts. Doesn't sound like much, but I want to be realistic with what I can do.

What will your Christmas time workouts look like?
Anyone else traveling far away?

I'm linking up with Marcia, Patty & Erika today for Tuesdays on the Run. Next Tuesday I'll recap my 2015 year of running & have updates on what spring of 2016 will look like for me. Hopefully I'll even have my training plan ready to go by then.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Weekend Highlights : It's finally winter

After weeks of warm December weather, winter finally decided it was time to show up. A dusting of snow Friday night and temperatures in the 20's with blistering wind made for real shocked when I waltzed outside Saturday morning. Brrr. 

Saturday once again started with a group run with Elite Runners & Walkers. It was their marathon training season kick off run, and over 135 runners came out to get things started. 

A quick shower and it was off to meet my former roommate Stef. Our plan was to see the Nationality Rooms & Christmas decorations at Pitt's Cathedral of Learning

First though was puppy snuggles sloppy puppy kisses, brunch, a stop by the post office and quite a long sit in some Pittsburgh construction traffic. 

Unfortunately, by the time we made it to the Cathedral the Christmas rooms had closed for the day, but we made our way up to the Nationality Rooms and poked around, eventually taking stairs & a few elevators & exploring the 36th floor. I wish we could have gone higher, but the views of the city were exceptional. 

We stopped in nearby Schenley Park for a glimpse of the city as the sun was setting.

Sunday was spent hiking (that does seem to be a theme as of late) at North Park enjoying the sunshine.

The BF and I spent 2 hours or so hiking part of the Rachel Carson Trail, a 34 mile long trail that runs partially through the park. We ended up by a set of RR tracks and on our way back to the car saw a train up close and personal. 

A big bowl of chili and cornbread & a big glass of wine rounded out the evening. 

I'm not ready for it to be Monday again already, but I know I can make it through this short 3 day week. I think I can. I think I can. 

How was your weekend?

I'm linking up with HoHo Runs, Mississippi Piddlin & Katie to share my weekend highlights. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Favorites #3 : Winter Activities

I'm not a huge fan of winter time. For obvious reasons like it gets dark at 4:30PM, but doesn't get light out until 800AM, and it's cold. And because no one knows how to drive in snow, despite the fact that Pittsburgh gets a decent amount of snow each year. Still...everyone seems to panic...

Anyhoo, I was introduced to a concept a few weeks back known as koselig, which I feel is simply summed up here. It's the feeling of cozy, embracing the winter & weather rather than spending 5 months wishing for warmer weather and another 5 months wishing for cooler weather.

So, in the spirit of embracing winter, though it hasn't been much of one yet, I'm linking up with MarCynthia & Courtney as I talk about my favorite winter activities, in an attempt to remind myself I don't hate winter all that much.

1. Sipping hot chocolate (or mulled wine, or hot apple cider or egg nog, or really anything warm)
I love snuggling up on the couch with a blanket, my favorite slippers & a warm drink & watching Netflix. Can Netflix be my favorite winter activity? But seriously, during warmer months you'll find me outside, getting things done around the house, or just sitting on the back porch. But come winter it's time to catch up on all my favorite shows.

Right now I'm watching Blue Bloods & Last Man Standing with the BF & Parenthood on my own.

2. Bonfires
Not quite ideal with lots of snow on the ground, but a good chunk of winter is just spent as cold nights, with no snow. I love sitting by the fire, inside or out. Mostly out around these parts, due to lack of indoor fireplace, but I try to remember it gives me a chance to enjoy the stars.

3. Hiking
You just notice different things in the winter time, you can see different views through the trees, there are no bugs & the things that are green, like holly bushes, are so vibrant against the leafless trees & frosty mornings.

4. Camping ... go ahead, call me crazy.
While I haven't been camping yet this winter, I went last year with the BF & a few friends. It was a blast. We had the trails to ourselves & the shelter as well. We built a roaring fire & brought a flask. It was a little chilly the second morning, but honestly, it's all about dressing for the weather.

5. Date Night to see the lights
One of my favorite things to do is drive around & look at all the Christmas lights. I love them all. I think the gaudy, tacky, cram more things in one yard than I thought was possible yards are my favorite. But I can't deny I love a tastefully decorated house with pine garlands & white lights strung around the front porch. So, whether it's Light Up Night in the city, or driving down nearby city streets it's one of my favorite (& free) date nights.

What are your favorite winter activities? I'm not much of a skier, but I know tons of people love it.
Ever been camping in the winter?
What are you up to this weekend?