Sunday, July 31, 2016

Day Trip Diaries : Slippery Rock and Volant Mills

Sometimes you just want to get away - break out of your routine, go somewhere new or try something different. For me, two of the best ways to do that are to get out of town, or to hike a new trail. A perfect day would let me do both.

On Saturday the BF had the day off, a real rarity in our world. Since we hike nearly every weekend we've quickly covered many of the trails in Pittsburgh and the nearby burbs. We decided we would use the day to take a trip about an hour north of the city, hike a new to us trail and grab a late lunch at a favorite restaurant of ours.

We planned to hike first and food second, but mother nature had other plans. Some fast and furious rain hit Pittsburgh on our drive up, so we made a last minute change of plans and headed to Volant.

I visited Volant a few weeks back (post here) so I knew it would be a perfect stop. We headed to Volant Mills Winery first. Parking was super easy, and since the main street and shopping area is only about a quarter mile long we were able to park once and walk everywhere we needed to be.

Volant Mills Winery does tastings, 5 for $2, and sells by the glass and by the bottle. They even have two ciders available to taste. We opted to taste & dash, but they have a cute little indoor seating area if you want to stick around.

Next we headed to Knockin' Noggin. Tastings are complimentary and they offer both wines and hard ciders. They have 4 ciders always on draft and a large list of rotating seasonals. Last visit I had a cranberry lemonade cider. This visit their seasonals included strawberry, blueberry, peach and cranberry.

Their outside patio is charming and on summer weekends they have live music + a small selection of food items. The BF and I each enjoyed a glass of cider, I went with the strawberry, he chose the cranberry.

After we finished our drinks we wandered around a few of the local shops before hopping back in the car and heading to Wolf Creek Narrows. This small nature area is about a 10-15 minute backroad drive from Volant Mills.

Wolf Creek Narrows
195 Miller Rd. 
Slippery Rock, PA 16057

Parking : If you're heading east on Miller Road, a small parking area will be off to your right just before the one lane bridge that crosses Wolf Creek.

Finding the trail : From the parking area, head a few hundred feet down the road and across the bridge, the trail will begin (and is marked by a small wooden sign) just after the bridge on the left.

About two miles in length, it's well marked by white blazes and follows Wolf Creek before an uphill stretch taking you around a hilltop before looping you back down to the creek.

This trail was the perfect way to break up the day and help us work up an appetite. Although I would consider the BF and I to be fairly avid hikers this was definitely a trail suitable for anyone.

After our hike it was back to the car, and back on the back roads as we headed into the town of Slippery Rock for a late late lunch at North Country Brewing. They brew their own beer and carry a huge selection of local wines (including some from Volant Mills). If you stop in, their fried pretzels appetizer is a must (splurge the extra $.75 for the mustard and the cheese) and their burgers are great too, though, to be honest, I'm not sure I've ever ordered the same thing twice, and I've still yet to be disappointed. Ask for bread as well, it's homemade, and arrives hot and fresh at your table with a sweet honey butter.

Photo Cred : Growler Creative
After lunch we were both stuffed, but we had one more hike in mind before we called it a day and headed back to Pittsburgh. We headed to a spot known as Frew Mills, but you won't find this trail on many maps. While I'm told it's technically private property, we saw several other couples out hiking.

Pittsburghers - if you hike far enough from Frew Mills you'll hit Eckert Bridge (4.7 miles, or so I'm told) and McConnells Mills State Park. So expect to find similar scenery, but fewer people.

Frew Mills
3956 Frew Mill Rd. 
New Castle, PA 16101

Parking : Wherever you can find it on the road shoulder, there are a few good "spots" on either side of the Frew Mills Bridge. But be prepared for none of it to look like parking.

Finding the trail : If the falls are on your right and the bride straight ahead, hop over the guardrail in the bend of the road, and start hiking! This trail is entirely unmarked, but wide and easy to follow.

We hiked about two miles, stopped to swing on a swing and explored a few mini caves before finally turning around. This trail has lots of shade and great views since it follows Slippery Rock Creek for its entirety. The terrain is fairly flat, but there are some narrow sections of trail, with a decent drop off to the side.

We headed home with full bellies and tired legs. A short day trip and a change of scenery was just what I needed after a few busy busy weekends.

Pittsburghers - what are some of your favorite trails, help me find some new ones!
Where was the last place you took a day trip?
What does your perfect day trip entail?

 I’m linking up with  Holly, TriciaAmandaLovePastaToolBeltA Little R&R +  Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World for Wanderful Wednesday! 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Five #32

This week flew by. Not quite sure how, or why, but I'm not gonna question it. I've got plans to run tomorrow & Sunday + a running group picnic & a concert. So, a pretty full weekend by my standards. What are you all up to this weekend?

After a rainy day on Thursday the heat has finally calmed down some. Thank goodness. It was getting to be a little ridiculous. Heat dome? No thank you.

It's time for what usually is my favorite post of the week, my Friday Five. Where I share 5 random things from the week & usually some funnies. Here we go!
one // Ever hear a song & it takes you way back? I was on Youtube the other day & all of a sudden this song from Good Charlotte starts playing & it was like being back in middle school. The song came out in 2002 and I vividly remember playing the CD on repeat - on my diskman. I also vividly remember having a crush on a tatted up band member & thinking I was way cool.

two // The pickle craze seriously continues. Pickled watermelon rinds. Pickle relish. & more dill spears, some spicy, some not. I picked 14 cucumbers last Sunday & by Monday night there were 16 more ready to pick.

three // Could. Not. Stop. Laughing.
four // I had every intention of writing a post for Wednesday & then I just didn't. I ended up working on about a million others, but just nothing I was ready to hit publish on. Shrugs. It happens. I'm certain you all missed me. But I did pull it together to post yesterday. If you missed it, I talked about more adulting woes & 10 more ways to fake it 'til you make it.

five // I told you all earlier in the summer that my younger brother was hiking the 2600 mile long Pacific Crest Trail this summer. Yes, all 2600 miles of it. Well, his birthday was last Friday (shame on me for not posting about it then...) & as a birthday present to himself he hiked extra hard in order to make it to Oregon!

Considering the first 1500-ish miles of the trail are all California, I dare say the man was excited to see a new state. He's hiking 30-ish miles a day, 'cause he's a man on a mission with a grown up job to start in the fall. Until then, any well wishes, prayers or good vibes you could send his way would be appreciated. He still has about 900 miles to hike. And I leave you with one more pic I snatched from him. Check out this sunset.

What's a song that takes you back to middle school?
What are your plans for the weekend?
Do you like pickles? What's your favorite kind?

 Linking up with MarCynthia, Courtney, Heather, Amanda, Andrea & Tif

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Adulting 101 : 10 more ways to fake it 'til you make it

What does it mean to be an adult? If it means going grocery shopping on a Friday night, or falling asleep early on a weekend, then I'm nailing it. If it means scheduling routine maintenance for my car, or doing the dishes before they take up the entire sink, then I've got a ways to go.

Adulting looks like different things to different people, but there are some things that are just adult, no matter how you slice it. Kids will never pay bills or willingly clean the bathroom.

But, what I think it all comes down to is there's no way to teach this shit. There is no Adulting for Dummies book - I looked. Try as your parents might, they were probably just faking it too. Which, you hit 22 & you think, "Shit, I've got to start figuring this stuff out" & then all of a sudden you're 25 26 (It would be really great if I could remember how old I was) & you talk to a few friends & you realize absolutely no one has got it all together. This whole country, this whole world is being held together by a bunch of people who are 100% faking it.

Sometimes, when I'm riding a post-grocery shop high, my fridge is stocked with fresh produce and I feel like I'm ready to take on the world.

And other days, I hit snooze one too many times, show up to work with greasy hair and forget my lunch on the counter. Those are the days I start to question myself. Gone is the produce warrior of days past and I question my ability to do anything adulty.

Those greasy hair, forgot my lunch days are the ones where I need a quick confidence boost, a pep talk if you will, a few quick hits that remind me I'm a lean, mean, adulting machine a real grown-up.

In case you missed my previous Adulting 101 posts :
How to adult when you don't feel qualified
10 ways to fake it 'til you make it.

So, for those days when you need a pep talk, here are 10 more ways to fake it 'til you make it :

1. Write a handwritten note - & even MAIL it
Mailing a handwritten note is way more complicated than it sounds. It involves not only writing down words, but having an envelope & then a stamp & the address of the person you want to mail it to. And then waltzing your ass on down to a mailbox. This shit is not for the faint of heart.

2. Schedule a doctor appointment & show up for it
Pretty sure the worst part of being an adult is scheduling DR appts, especially if it involves a phone call, and then showing up to an office where you'll wait for 45 minutes before someone will poke you, engage in weird small talk & then make you pay for it.

3. Pack your own lunch
Bonus points if you eat a salad - or more than one vegetable.
Go ahead. Shoot for the moon. Save $ - which you can use for your 401K or more margaritas, your choice. Save calories.

4. Set an alarm for a weekend morning
It doesn't have to be at 7AM. But be intentional. Don't waste the day away in bed until noon. It screws your sleep up, and it's why you're always tired come Monday. Wake up. Go buy yourself a fancy coffee. Better yet, walk to the coffee shop.

5. Make a budget & stick to it (mostly)!
I've been rolling the idea of a budget post around (maybe even with real #'s, but that's a scary thought to share) - would you guys like that?

6. Update your resume
Even if you're not applying for anything. Take 10 minute and add in all the things you've accomplished over the past year. Better to have something updated and accurate when someone asks, or if you find the perfect job than to be left scrambling.

7. Clean the microwave
Go ahead, tell me there's not weird exploded food on the top of that sucker. Something has popped, bubbled or just straight up exploded in there, and I guarantee you didn't bother to clean it all the way.

8. Do the dishes
Like before the sink is so full you can't wash your hands in it.

9. Eavesdrop on teenagers
Want to feel like you seriously have your shit together? Go listen to a gaggle of teenage girls having a conversation. You'll instantly feel like you know what you're doing. And you'll also probably need to hop on Urban Dictionary - 'cause you'll have no idea what half their words mean.

10. Make a fancy cheese plate
Go to Aldi (my budget friendly favorite) or TJ's or the Farmer's Market. Buy a few fancy cheeses, the weirder the name, the fancier, obviously. Pair with some grapes, and some crackers & arrange artfully with the grapes in the middle. Eat it alone, or take to your next friend gathering & spread the fancy.

How have you "faked it" recently?
What lame adult thing do you find exciting? - I love freshly changed sheets!
What junk food would you eat en masse if you knew it wouldn't make you feel bad? - I think I would pick queso.

Linking up with Running in a Skirt for #BestoftheBlogs

Monday, July 25, 2016

Weekend Highlights : I like to eat, eat, eat

Last weekend was jam packed - a wedding, a 5K (recap here) & meal prep left me with not much time for sleep & I spent all week feeling like I was playing catch-up. With no big plans on the calendar for this weekend I was content to just hang out, rest up, & enjoy the weather wonderment that is central AC.

I figured I would share some snapshots of my weekend, but, I looked through them & 85% of them are things I, Weekend Recap : I like to eat style. I'm Linking up with Holly & Tricia to share.


Friday was shopping + homemade pizza. I used garlic naan, BBQ sauce, onion, bell pepper, ground beef, cilantro, pineapple, sriracha & then topped it all off with feta & Italian shredded blend. It was so good I made one the next day for breakfast too.

Dinner was a winner on Saturday. I made enchilada lasagna, layering corn tortillas, enchilada sauce & a mixture of green chiles, brown rice, pinto beans & chicken. Plus some cheese in between each layer. I won't claim it was healthy...'cause I did use a whole bag of cheese. Whoops. But it got the BF seal of approval. Topped with an unsolicited, "This is the best meal I've had all week".

And finally, the "Let's pickle everything" craze, that started last week, is going strong. I cut up a watermelon to eat this week, and the BF snatched up the rinds to make pickled watermelon rinds. We're domestic. :)

Saturday morning was my usual group run with Pro Bike + Run. I had planned on 8 miles, but the heat & humidity made it easy to stop after 5 miles. So I did. #NoShame

After a lazy afternoon & a belly full of enchilada casserole it was time for a hike. I'm running the Two Face 10K on August 14th. A race that involves a 10K road race, followed shortly by a 10K trail race. I've chosen to double up. The trail course was just released, so I recruited some friends to hike it with me last night.

Except, we got "lost"...not that we couldn't find our way back to the car, but just that I realized at about mile 4 of our hike that we weren't on the trail we were supposed to be. Oops. All smiles...probably because I managed to snap the picture just before I told them we were lost. :)

This whole getting lost bit really seems to be a theme of mine with trail running. IDK what it is. So, we went off-roading & made our way down to the road to get back to the car before dark.

Sunday I made PB Fingers Double Chocolate No Bake Icebox Cake  - I gluten-ized it, by using regular old chocolate chip cookies + added bourbon to my whipped cream, 'cause I'm a grown-up. But seriously. The next time you make homemade whipped cream, skip the vanilla & add a few tablespoons of bourbon. I haven't cut into it yet, it's chilling in the fridge, but I'm squeezing in this post before I head off to game night. I'll post a pic on Instagram & let you all know the verdict. But I'm betting it'll be delicious.

How was your weekend?
Have you ever eaten pickled watermelon rinds???
What always makes it on your weekend to-do list? 
I always grocery shop & meal prep.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Five #31

Hi Internet friends - finally, it's Friday again. This week at work was a long one, I started off tired after a wedding kept me up late Saturday night, and I haven't quite managed to get enough sleep yet.
I don't know about y'all yinz (it's a Pittsburgh thing), but I have had a serious case of June Gloom (at least I've heard that's a thing) except it's running late, 'cause it's July. It's supposed to be 90+ every day this weekend & following week, which is almost too hot to enjoy the sunshine. But, despite the heat, I feel like summer has already passed me by. Which, it hasn't, but aren't I a drama queen? 

So, I'm on a mission to make this weekend extra summery & snap myself out of this funk. 
In the meantime, some Friday Five. I hope you'll share some bits of your week in the comments!

 Linking up with Heather, Amanda, Andrea & Tif

one // Driving to work the other day, and what pulls out in front of me...a Sasquatch Research Unit, of course. I couldn't resist taking a picture.

two // Went to the dentist on Wednesday. Which gives me nervous sweats & a heart beat rapid enough to have me admitted to the hospital. I trust my dentist. But I don't trust my teeth. I walk in every time expecting to hear I have some sort of rare teeth melting disease or equally dramatic, but not possible issue. So I was a happy camper to walk out with a clean bill of teeth.

three // I thought surviving the dentist deserved a treat. Also, I ate my lunch really early & was hungry. So, I stopped for a jamocha shake & snack sized curly fry from Arby's. They're both the perfect size. And, the jamocha shake is hands down my favorite fast food milkshake...file that away under facts you'll never need to know about me.

four // How's this for some clever marketing? A restaurant I pass on my route home has marked itself as a Pokemon Stop. I don't know exactly that means. Like, is there a Pikachu living on their patio? Who knows. But, pretty much everyone at the red light agreed it was funny. You could see everyone pointing, and I wasn't the only one snapping a picture.

five // PICKLES! The garden has exploded this past week. It had already gone a little wild, but we've progressed to full on crazy. The BF made 10 jars of pickles over the weekend & we made another 16 the other night. There are still so many cucumbers close to picking time. But we're out of jars & we hadn't even intended to make pickles! We bought the jars to make salsa & pasta sauce when the tomatoes ripen.

Do you believe in Sasquatch? Bigfoot?  
Ever canned something - or are the BF & I just super old school?
What are your most excited for this weekend!?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Montenegro : Exploring the Bay of Kotor

Today I want to show you a taste of Montenegro. I was able to take a day trip there in April, specifically to the Bay of Kotor - and the city of Kotor. While my day wasn't long enough to see everything I wanted. I feel like I got a good glimpse of the city. Enough to make me want to come back for more.

As part of a tour with stops in Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro & Venice with Gate1 Travel (not paid by them, just feel like I got a great value for my $)

So far, I've posted a few recaps. 

Considering my trip was way back in April, I figured I should get a move on those travel recaps. I love having this space as a journal for myself, but also, I hope someone stumbles upon this post & is inspired to take a trip, or just wants some more info before a trip they've planned.

First thing's first, Montenegro is a fairly new country, only about 10 years old, and was previously part of the former Yugoslavia. They use the euro and are attempting to join the EU. During our trip we drove from Dubrovnik, Croatia. But border crossing was simple and required no more than a few minutes time. There were two border crossings. One to leave Croatia and a separate one about a mile or two down the road to enter Montenegro.

Once you cross the border in to Montenegro you'll immediately notice most signs are in two languages, Montenegrin, the local language and Russian. This is due to the large influx of Russian investment that has been seen over the last decade.

Our first stop was the Bay of Kotor, after driving through the tiny town of Persat. We boarded a small boat that would take us out to Our Lady of the Rocks, a church, located on a man-made island, created by sinking enemy ships, laden with rocks. The church was built in 1452 and has remained in some capacity since.

After a brief tour of the church, which BTW is still an active church, holding Catholic mass at least once per month, we headed back to shore. We headed further around the banks of the Bay to the walled city of Kotor.

 You'll see in the top right corner of the photo below, you can vaguely see a wall, the walls of the old city extend that high, now as a viewpoint for the brave traveller, but previously as a viewpoint from which to protect the city from oncoming attack.

Our tour of the Old Town afforded us a look at churches, like this one.

But, after the tour was when the real  fun started. I booked it to the base of the wall, which was climbable by rudimentary "steps" and gravel grades. For a 3 Euro entrance fee (which was SO worth it).

| side note | to truly climb to the tippy top is about a 2 hour trek. At first I laughed at this, it didn't look that far & I am in pretty good shape. But nope, it's true. With the time I had I was able to make it about half way, and it took ever bit of an hour.

The views looking back down on the Old Town & over the Bay of Kotor were spectacular.

Eventually, my time was running short, so I booked it back down the hill. Just in time to swing by a local bakery for a 2 Euro sandwich, and to bip into a small market for a bottle of local wine (Vranac - a red) + local prosciutto. 

The prosciutto was unlike any I've had before, its flavor was very smoky & deep. I'm told it's from their climate. Mountaintops get cold, allowing the meat to age at a cooler temperature & then smoke in smokehouses before being sold.

 Then it was time to hop on the ferry, back across the Bay of Kotor, and back to Dubrovnik.

Have you ever been to Montenegro?
What's the next place on your travel bucket list?
What's your favorite thing to try when you go somewhere new?

 I’m linking up with Amanda, LovePastaToolBelt, A Little R&R +  Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World for Wanderful Wednesday!
Linking up with Running in a Skirt for #BestoftheBlogs

Sunday, July 17, 2016

REI Trail Series 5K - Frick Park

Over 4th of July, I was chatting with my friend Rachael. She mentioned she was training for a 5K, a trail 5K at that, so I inquired about where. It was at Frick Park, a 600+ acre park in Pittsburgh. I took a look at the info online. The $15 registration fee was appealing...but it was also Sunday, the 17th...the morning after a friends wedding. Was I really going to be in 5K running shape? So, I dismissed it & went about my business.

Then, early last week I was feeling a little bit wild. I was signing myself up for the Two Face 10K but wondered if it was a good idea to make such a crazy race my first trail race. I thought back to the 5K I knew my friend was running & signed myself up! EEK.

Packet pick-up was easy & opened at 9AM at the start // finish line. There was a 5K & 10K  (two loops of 5K course) option, but I chose the 5K. I met up with Rachael & her sister, Becky, who was also running. The even was small, with only about 100 runners between the 5K & 10K. The 10K runners started at 10AM & the 5K followed at about 10:05AM.

Mile 1 // 11:16

The first 5 minutes of the race were uphill. I kept waiting for it to end, but it never did. We got to our first turn of the course, and I foolishly expected flat ground, only to find more hill. The temperature was only in the mid 70's, but it was humid & the sun was shining. Luckily, the first big hill was shaded.

Mile 2 // 8:58

As you can tell from both my time (and the elevation map), mile 2 included a lot of downhill. Rachael had sped past me during mile 1 during our uphill climb, but, I caught back up during the second mile. This was where the shade disappeared & the sun made 75 feel more like 85, with humidity to match. A lot of the "trail" was rocky, poorly crushed limestone. Not at all what I was expecting, which was single track, dirt trails. Honestly, I'm not sure which I would have preferred. I would have liked some experience on single track trails in a race setting, but given that I passed several people in mile 2 I was thankful for the wide trail.

Mile 3 // 10:33

I walked a section of hill during mile 1 & I walked another section during mile 3. I used to have a huge mental block against walking in a race, but, I checked my Garmin & since I was actually moving faster as I walked versus when I attempted to run, I didn't feel so bad. The heat & humidity really started getting to me here. A portion of this mile was on what seemed to be poor condition old concrete. Like an old abandoned road, that's succumb to the weather. I would mark that down as my least favorite running surface.

+.26 // 2:18

I rounded this corner, I hear a cowbell & I see a volunteer waving a huge orange flag. My Garmin shows 3.05 miles, but I figure it's close enough, this must be the finish. So I gun it, only to find the guy with the flag is merely guarding a crosswalk & preventing cars from running us over as we cross. I keep running, and finally make it to the final turn. One that will take me down a set of stairs & the final tenth of a mile to the finish line.

Finish Time // 33:06

After I crossed the finish line, I headed over to grab some water where the "race director" // head volunteer said "This was a pretty long 5K, but we knew that when we made it".
^Umm, FYI, a 5K is a distance, a very specific distance actually. And by creating something you KNOW is not that distance, you have not created a 5K, you've simply created a race approximately a 5K in length. Like, call it a 5K-ish. Geeze people.

Linking up with :
Holly & Tricia for Weekend Highlights 
 Marcia x Patty x Erika for Tuesdays on the Run

Ever run a trail race - any advice for my next one?
How was your weekend?
Any one else think calling something a 5K you know is not a 5K is wrong!?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday Five #30

Are Friday Five the new weekend recap!? Umm, they are when you've got lots going on & don't get the time on Sunday to write up a recap post...

I had some format issues on the blog this week, where all of a sudden things that should have been centered were showing up on the left. AGH. I got some help from another friendly blogger in my Bloggers Gonna Blog FB group, but in the meantime, I'm trying out some new Friday Five formatting (umm, chances are you wouldn't have even noticed this, so IDK why I'm pointing it out). But, in a newb move I have a few things I need to update in my coding, so hello Internet research.

Anyways. Happy Friday. WE MADE IT! I've got wedding 1 of 6 for 2016 this weekend, and it's the only one in which I'm a bridesmaid! So, my weekend is jam packed, but bring it on! I'm hoping a low key week next week will balance out my weekend, so I'll have plenty of things to recap on Monday, but in the meantime...drumroll please, my Friday Five.

one // Last Saturday was a day trip to Presque Isle State Park on the shores of Lake Erie. I biked 40.5 miles, while my friend Stef roller-bladed & then lounged around snacking on the beach.
two // We found a new winery // cidery (Knockin' Noggin) on the way home & stopped for a fun tasting & a glass of cranberry lemonade cider. We spent an hour or so listening to live music on their outdoor patio before hitting the road again to make it home around 10PM. BTW, this place was so fun & there are two other wineries nearby, that were already closed for the evening.

three // Eek, I just signed up for TWO more races.
1 is a trail 5K (or 10K - I get to choose the day of, but let's be real) on Sunday. Yeah, as in like 2 days from now. It's put on by REI (AKA good swag) & I figured it would be a good practice run for my other race, the Two Face 10K.

If you remember, a week or three ago, I asked for advice on which race to run. Well, honestly, I really wanted to pick the triathlon. But, didn't want to commit myself to the intensity of training it would take to race well. Not that I think I can fake my way through 2 back to back 10K's, but, I have low expectations as far as my trail running skills go. So, y'all might get yourselves a race recap for my trail 5K come Monday!

four // Work blew up yesterday, like this one issue bubbled over into more & then my whole day was consumed with figuring out contingency plans until our IT department can drive out to solve this issue. NOT a quick fix like we initially hoped. Needless to say, I was excited I already had plans to grab drinks with friends after work. Margaritas help everything.

five // Scenes from my trail run after work Monday. I managed to get lost...again, but still had a good time, and I think I finally figured out where to turn for the trails I'm trying to find. Seriously, there was a sign for every trail except the one I wanted!

Happy Friday Friends, if you missed it, I hit publish on a hard post yesterday, some thoughts about the chaos & shootings as of late. You can find it here. Otherwise, I'll see you back here Monday. :)

What are your weekend plans?
Been on any adventures lately?
Tell me something good - it has been a rough week.

 Linking up with Heather, Amanda, Andrea & Tif

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Letter from the other side

If you're seeing this, then I hit the publish button. Something that I originally wrote just for me, to get some anger out, to let off some steam & not go rogue starting Facebook comment wars in the process. But then I thought maybe people should read this. Maybe I should share. So, if you're seeing this, then I decided to be brave, do your best to be nice, this was a hard one to write // publish.

Please, before you read this (and potentially leave a rude comment on the Internet for all to see), make note of two things.
1. This is MY space. My corner of the Internet where I get to type things I want to type, and if you don't like it, there's a little red X button you can hit, and I'll be back on Friday with your normal Acquired Sass posts.
2. If you disagree with me & would like to discuss, but don't want to get into a comment frenzy, please, by all means, email me at

I've struggled with what to say on these shootings. Philando Castille, Alton Sterling & 5 police officers in Dallas. I've struggled with if I should say anything at all, I have my opinions, they're mine & do I really want to get into a battle of opinions on the Internet? Not particularly. But, I've watched my Facebook newsfeed blow up with posts, mostly condemning these officers for shooting, calling them racist, calling them murderers, calling them all sorts of names.

We can watch videos, we can listen to interviews & we can ask questions, trying to extract the truth. The problem is, it will never be a first person account. How can you quantify or extract the fear that someone felt in a split second.

A cop has two jobs. The first is to interpret the law as best they can with the information they have at the time - the problem is, they rarely have all the information. The second job? Get home safe. These guys put their lives on the line every day. Every person they come across could be a threat, not just to the public, but to their own lives.

I honestly can't know what went on in these shootings. What I can know is in .001 seconds these officers had to make a decision. Was their life on the line? Were other people's lives on the line? If in that instant the answer was yes, than they acted as they needed to.

Why won't I jump down their throats?

Because these officers are going home safe, 5 officers in Dallas aren't. They're not going home to their wives, their kids, their lives. The world they try to protect betrayed them. Motive unknown. But that's the problem, you don't need a motive. One crazy guy in a movie theater, restaurant, school, & it's all over.

| side note | The thing that blows here is that it was one or the other, I wish everyone could go home safe, that these three instances had never happened.

Black people & cops? They're not all that different from where I sit. Living in fear? One for their skin color, one for their uniform, a uniform may come off, but the consequences of wearing it do not.

Cops? They're the ones you see sitting facing the door at a restaurant, so they can see people as they come through. In case they ever need to describe a suspect. They're the one sleeping close to the door, gun on the nightstand, to protect their wife, in case someone they once arrested gets a bright idea. They're the ones with concealed carry permits, always carrying, so they never have to say they didn't try to stop something. They're the men & women who suit up every day, weekends, midnight shifts, holidays. They put on a bulletproof vest & they go to work & they do their best to come home safe each night. They miss all sorts of events & milestones & they do it so you can rest easy, so you can close your eyes at night & feel safe in your home.

And just the way we preach against stereotypes for races, one white person should not speak for the entirety of white people, nor should one bad action condemn the others, so why do we do it to these officers. Why does one shooting, warranted or not (because we are NOT the judge & jury) make all cops the enemy.

We rush to judge, we're animal rights activists, zookeepers & parenting experts when a child falls into a gorilla enclosure, we're 2nd amendment & gun law ownership experts when a gun owner shoots up a night club, and now we're all criminal prosecutors, rushing to convict these cops.

Wracked with guilt, condemned by hashtags, millions of views on these videos & a relentless court of Facebook judge & jury.

Right or wrong - think about it from the other side.
And let the legal system do its job.

Linking up with Amanda as I think out loud.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Crafton 4th of July 5K Recap

I had originally intended to register for this race 2-ish months ago, and then it slipped off my radar & I forgot.Then, all of a sudden, I was up late Friday night & near my credit card (always dangerous) when I realized that it was almost 4th of July & I had promised myself I would run a 5K! So, I signed up, snagged one of the last t-shirts in my size & went to bed excited.

The race was on Monday, the 4th itself. Usually, I would taper for a 5K, because I run races to run well, not to just show up & derp around. But, this race was different. I ran 7.6 miles on Saturday + hiked another 4-ish & then biked 20 miles Sunday, followed by some sangria. All of this to say...this was not a well rested foot I was putting forward.

The course is about 5 minutes from my house, packet pick-up was super easy on Saturday & parking Monday morning was a breeze as well. I snagged a spot spitting distance from the start line, even though I showed up a casual 25 minutes before the start.

While I knew the course would have a hill or two, I did not realize just how hilly it would be. In fact, I kind of thought that the initial hill would be the only hill, & that the rest of the course would be flat, followed by a steep downhill. Oh, how I really should have looked at the course map!

The elevation map lies. There we several sharp, steep uphills, and a few more gradual climbs. All to fry our legs for the short steep downhill at the end, that had me running a 4:23 pace for a few short strides. Jessie run fast, say whaaaa?

My main goal, having signed up last minute was to run a consistent race. In the few 5K's I've raced it has been a fly & die sort of race, where I spend the whole last mile trying not to puke. Instead, I wanted to focus on keeping my paces clustered together.

Mile 1 : 8:35
I started out at a comfortable pace and tried to hold it there, even as people passed me. I locked in on a woman moving about my pace in a purple tank top a little ways ahead & made it my goal to stick with her. I made it up the first hill, the one I knew about, no problem, just in time for a second hill.

Mile 2 : 9:11
That second hill was followed shortly thereafter by a 3rd hill. The top held flat ground which I was grateful for. I kept Ms. Purple Tank Top in sight. We passed through a water stop set up on a whim by a local church & grabbed a sip of water. There was a short steep downhill and I passed Ms. PTT. I'm a little bit like a freight train on the downhills. She sped past me on the next uphill though. 

Mile 3 : 7:59 
(+17 seconds for the remaining .05)
Oh boy was I glad fort this last mile. There were volunteers at every intersection & even some folks sitting on their porches cheering. We had a slow, low grade uphill before we made the turn into the final stretch, a steep downhill. Once again, I got moving, I recorded a record 4:23 pace for a few strides. I leaned forward & let gravity take me.

I rounded the corner & could see the finish line...a young girl passed me, sprinting, I tried to catch back up, but I was too late.

Finish time : 26:13
My Garmin & my official chip time were exactly the same, which made me happy.

I checked the results after & saw I had finished 2nd in my age group. I grabbed some water & a piece of cake, 'cause, ya know, I had just run a 5K & checked the results again a few minutes later, just in case someone faster had finished after me, but nope, still 2nd in my age group! Yippee!

Still chasing that sub 25:00 5K time...and maybe even a 1st place AG win!? But in the meantime, I'll take it!

What's your next race?
Did anyone do a 4th of July race?
What was the best part of your weekend?

Linking up with :
Holly & Tricia for Weekend Highlights 
 Marcia x Patty x Erika for Tuesdays on the Run