Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year from Hungry Twenties!

Well guys, it's hard to believe another year is coming to a close.  It seriously feels like it was just yesterday that we were ringing in 2013.  Yet, when I take a moment to think about everything that has happened this year and all that I have accomplished, it feels like forever ago.  I truly feel like I have become a bit of a different person from where I was on December 31, 2012.

Let's tick through some of the things that have happened in 2013.  Some of which were documented on the blog, some of which were not.  So, ya know, if something sounds new to you, it probably is.  In addition to taking some blogging hiatuses, I also chose to kept some things private.  But anyways, here is my 2013 year in review:

  • I traveled.  Despite the fact that this is the first year in a long time I didn't plan a big international vacation, there was quite a bit of travel packed in this year.  2013 brought trips all over the world from Prague to Atlanta (twice!) to Dallas to Greenville.  I traveled many weekends to Boston and New York City.  To Rhode Island and New Hampshire and Connecticut.  To Chicago (twice!) and Nashville and to Berlin and Munich.  And this year's travel was wrapped up in a November trip to Florida where I lazied laid in the sun all day and didn't do much of anything.  I'd say it was a good year for travel!

  • I enjoyed both sport & arts.  Or whatever you want to call it.  This year I saw comedians Jeff Dunham and Aziz Ansari perform, as well as a stand up show in New York City.  I saw my favorite artist, John Mayer, some back-in-the-day favorites at the Package Tour with 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men, and New Kid on the Block, and also rocked out many a nights to local band, the Audiostars.  I traveled to Newark, New Jersey and Syracuse, New York to watch the Syracuse Orange dominate in some basketball.  I visited the ballet and the orchestra this summer at SPAC.  I even went to my first Polo match.

  • I celebrated.  We celebrated my grandmother's 80th birthday this year with a big family surprise party.  I celebrated the wedding of some good friends.  The engagements of many more.  And some beautiful babies were brought into this world.  I had amazing friends around me as I rang in my 27th year and helped friends to celebrate their birthdays, promotions, new jobs, and accomplishments throughout the year.

  • I mourned.  I broke up with a boyfriend this year.  I was diagnosed with condition I will battle the rest of my life (non-life threatening.)  But, most notably, I mourned my friend Kelly, who passed away this summer after a hard fought battle with advanced, fast moving cancer.  It was barely a month from when Kelly was diagnosed until she passed away, leaving behind her daughter, husband, and many beloved family members and friends.  It's terrifying and really made me reflect on how short life is and how fast it can be taken away.  You will be remembered always, Kelly!
  • And finally, I ran.  I ran and I raced.  This year I competed in six 3-4 mile races (Workforce Challenge, Freihofer's, Firecracker 4, Jailhouse Rock, Electric Run, Albany Last Run), one relay marathon (Hudson Mohawk), one 10K (Great Pumpkin Run), one 15K (Stokadeathon), TWO sprint triathlons (one on my birthday!), and last but not least, TWO half marathons.  I PRed in my 5K time at 25:35, my sprint triathlon time I beat my 8 minutes, and I PRed in my second half marathon by about 16 minutes finishing in 2:03:41.  And while I wasn't running in races myself, I cheered for friends who ran.  I volunteered at the Ragner Relay. With the rest of the running community, New Englanders, and the world, I mourned the tragedy at the Boston Marathon.  For the first time in my life, I built weekend plans around when I was going to run.  I started waking up at 5:00 a.m. three times a week to meet friends to run.  I ran through rain.  I ran through thunder and lightning.  I ran through snow.  I ran through slush.  I ran in Albany.  I ran in New York City.  I ran in Atlanta.  I ran in Germany.  I ran in New Hampshire.  I ran in Greenville.  I ran in Chicago and I ran in the many other places I traveled this year.  I ran with friends.  I ran with coworkers.  I ran with my mom.  I ran with my brother.  I ran with strangers and I ran with my closest friends I've had since kindergarten.  At the beginning of the year, I had no idea I could do any of this.  Running in a half marathon was a reach goal.  It was terrifying.  I'm not sure anything will ever beat the feeling that I had when I ran the Nashville Rock and Roll half marathon.  It was insane, pure, raw, all encompassing bliss.  Happiness. Pride. Relief.  Joy.  Words cannot really describe how it felt, but I am getting goose bumps, chills, and butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.  My next half marathon, in Providence, was a completely different sensation and but wonderful all in itself.  I had my family and friends cheering for me, I pushed myself to go harder and faster than I thought possible, and again, blew my own expectations for myself out of the water.  I say nothing can beat that feeling in Nashville... but if I had to guess one thing that could beat it would be finishing a marathon.  Which I just happen to be signed up and training for.  So, in addition to all that I accomplished this year, 2013 is also the year that I registered and began training for my first marathon.  April 6 in Paris, France -- here I come!
So, for all of this in more, I am feeling incredibly proud, blessed, thankful, and energized about what the past year has brought to me.  And to be more frank, what I brought into the year myself.  The goals that I pushed myself to accomplish and the things that I achieved.

You know, on January 1, 2013 when I registered for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Nashville, I did it planning to go that weekend with the support of the guy I was dating at the time.  When we broke up early in my training, it could have made for a really convenient excuse to not do the race.  I don't think anyone would have blamed me if I decided to not go to a city I'd never been to, by myself, and try and tackle something that I never imagined was possible for myself.  But, I'm really proud of myself that I didn't give up.  I'm really proud of myself that I ran through it all.  Literally.  And running that race in Nashville I think changed my life.  Running that race in Nashville proved something to myself, that I am stronger than I ever thought.

I'm excited about what 2014 has to bring and I wish you all a happy, healthy New Year's Eve filled with lots of love and laughter.  And for those of you who are alone, or who are like me and don't really like New Year's Eve itself -- remember it's only one night.  How you ring in the New Year doesn't define what the year will be like for you.  Shake off the pressure to "start the new year right" and just do the best you can every day.  Come back here, keep reading, and let's conquer 2014 together.

Thank you to everyone who reads here.  I love you all!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Shit is getting real: 9 miles!

Hey everyone, I'm back in Albany for the time being and still feeling so blessed and thankful for all the wonderful things I received over Christmas and the time that I was able to spend with family and friends.  AND, I still have more celebrations to come!

It's getting to be that end of the year, reflection & look ahead time so my mind has really been nonstop lately and so many things pulling my thoughts and emotions in a lot of directions.  I had some time to think today as I completed one of my first longer runs for marathon training.  I did 9 miles today and ran all throughout Albany up and down the neighborhoods around me.  My legs felt pretty tired and still are pretty sore from the run.

While I was running and now afterwards, I started to get really freaked out.  I felt really tired after a 9 mile run.  During the previous two half marathons I've trained for 9 miles is getting into the "home stretch" almost of training.  Building up from 9 to 13.  However, this time around, in the scheme of things, 9 miles is still a pretty short run.  I have a midweek run of more than that and two midweek 9 milers as well!  I am feeling really, really scared about marathon training right now.

BUT, also really excited.  I alway feel super badass after my long runs, and yes, I may not be able to walk after a 40-mile week, but I cannot wait to get that runner's high.  It's also fun to look back at where I've come from too.  I thought a bit about my nine-mile runs while training for the two halves, and it's funny how memorable those runs are for me as well.  I documented the 9 miles I did in March pretty extensively on the blog, which you can check out here.  To be honest, I am a bit disappointed/scared at how tired my body feels after this run -- especially thinking to how I did an easy 9 mile run in August and of how much further I still need to go.  For those of you who are interested I am following the Hal Higdon Novice 1 marathon training program.  I'm only at Week 4 so there is still SO much to go!!

Shit is getting real people, shit is getting real.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas at Grammy's: 2013 holiday part two!

So, once my mom, brother and I wrapped up unwrapping presents at home (see what I did there?) we headed to my grandparent's house for our family's annual chaotic, fun, Christmas celebration.  There is always lots of present giving, lots of food, and lots of silliness.  My tradition of "Christmas Surprise" is always a part of that, but this year, a few of my cousins, my brother and I had been scheming on another family joke since Thanksgiving.

While we were at my grandparent's at Thanksgiving, we realized that they had a ton of framed sports photos all throughout the living room of 3 of our cousins -- none of who were there this Thanksgiving.  We decided to "recreate" some of the sports shots with ourselves in the images, and give them to our grandparents so that they could have a more accurate representation of their many, lovely grandchildren to display throughout their living room.  We had a ton of fun taking the pictures a month or so ago, and I printed out the pictures and when we arrived at my grandparents', my brother and I swapped out the photos.  It wasn't long after people arrived that someone noticed the pictures and we accomplished our goal of bringing lots of laughs to the group.  I've shared some of the photos here, with side by side comparisons, just so you can see the ridiculousness :)


Have I mentioned that I love my family and our silliness?  If these photos are Exhibit A, I will also go on to share Exhibit B... my grandmother proudly showing off her new mini marshmallow blaster and some ammo that she received as a Christmas present.

Exhibit C would have to be our annual "bow" picture that has been taking place for years and years.  After we open all the presents, we snatch up the wrappings and take a picture.  I know this is blurry and not a good picture at all, but I love how everyone is mid-laughter.  Especially my Grammy, right in the middle of the action!

I again, felt incredibly blessed after spending the day with so much love and family surrounding me.  I love how close we are and how much fun we have together.

And finally, I want to say thank you to my family secret santa who delivered my present via Florida.  As I mentioned in my first Christmas post, my family knows my hobbies well -- cooking & running was the theme this year and I am so excited about all the beautiful gifts I received.  Thank you!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays: Christmas 2013 Part 1!

Sorry that I wasn't here to wish you a proper "Merry Christmas" on the exact 25th -- but I do hope that you had a happy, love-filled day with your family and friends -- no matter if you are an "official" celebrator of the holiday or not.  I hope you have lots of love in your life.  And food and presents.  You've gotta have the food and presents.

I last left you off on Tuesday when I was in Albany but I am currently in Rhode Island.  It's been a fun, food-filled few days but I am proud to say that I've gotten a good amount of fitness in as well.  I know and have now accepted that food will always be a challenge for me, but I'm happy and proud of how much I have worked to make fitness a part of my life.

When I packed to head out of Albany on Tuesday, I first did my Runner's World Run Streak mile then I went and got my things together to go.  Planning for lots of runs and workouts, I packed an entire bag of just running attire and sneakers.  And then packed a tiny bag with a pair of jeans and some shirts.  Priorities, right?

I had a few errands to do once I got to my home town on Tuesday, and then I was back at my mom's getting ready for Christmas Eve with her and my brother.  She made her all time favorite meal of my siblings and I's -- her chicken wings!  They are seriously so, so good and better than any chicken wing you could ever get at any restaurant.

We had a goofy, fun night and went to bed full of chicken wings (and some veggies I decided to make) in hopes that Santa would arrive that night!  Luckily, someone in our family must have been good at some point in 2013 because Santa arrived!

Maybe it was my brother's dog Bo Bo?  He was thrilled it was Christmas.

Before we opened presents from Santa, my mom and I snuck out of the house for a 7:30 a.m. spin class at her local spin studio that I attend while I am at home.  Well, first we did a photo shoot by the Christmas tree.  Complete with me picking up my mom, because that's what we do around here.

I'm not sure why it looks like the Christmas tree is falling over in all of those pictures, but I assure you, it was upright.

It was a great way to start the morning doing something healthy before we started a day of eating tons of junk and excess food.  I doubt that it negated everything I ate, but again, it was fun.  My mom has always, always been an avid exerciser and in her words "I would die if I couldn't work out."  It's not always been something that I've shared with her but it is fun that nowadays it is something we do together.

As you can tell, we dressed up for the Christmas spin class.  But we were in good company!  Please just do your best to excuse my sausage legs in that photo.  Apparently sidesaddling a spin bike with tight capris and tight knee socks is not a flattering angle.

When we got home we went right into present opening and opened up our gifts from Santa. We also did our presents to each other, which is one of my favorite things.  I spend a lot of time trying to pick out presents and love being able to give them to my family and see them open them!  This year for my little brother, I paid for his registration to run the Tough Mudder in May as part of his Christmas present, but I also wanted to do something little and fun.  My family has a tradition of playing a little game called "Christmas Surprise" (or "Thanksgiving Surprise" or "Easter Surprise" -- whatever holiday it is, applies) and my brother is always one of the biggest fans of this weirdo little tradition (that I may have made up.)  So, I created a special "Christmas Surprise" just for him, which was fun to do on Christmas morning.  I'll try to explain the full Christmas Surprise story soon, but I still have one "Christmas Surprise" to put on for my friends tonight :)  Here are a few pictures from my brother's opening:

I felt so blessed and lucky as I opened up my gifts on Christmas morning and felt almost like I didn't deserve everything I received.  It was a really wonderful morning and I am excited to put all the running loot to use!  My family certainly knows my hobbies well, and all my gifts were around the themes of either running or cooking, which I am so excited to put to use!  Here is all my new running gear that I am so excited about!

I am a lucky girl.

Following Christmas at home, we went to my grandmother's and celebrated the holiday there.  Since this post is getting a bit lengthy, I think I will share that part of Christmas in another post, but it was a really fun day!  I am off to grab dinner with my mom before meeting up with some high school friends tonight.  I hope that you are all having a great week!

Monday, December 23, 2013

There is never enough Christmas parties!

I went to yet another Christmas party last night and it was such a cute & fun one!  One of my running buddies had a cookie swap at her home and I brought with me the meringue cookies that I didn't screw up baking the day before.  She had some delicious foods for us and the spread of cookies... was... well, it was great.

I am always, always impressed with people's baking skills, because as I prove time and time again, I have none.  I ate wayyyyy too many cookies and walked away from the party so stuffed, smiling, and with a crazy loot of delicious cookies.

Because I know myself too well, I knew that bringing that many delicious, perishable, need-to-be-eaten-right-away cookies into my home where the only one there to eat them is me, would just be a terrible idea.  So I stopped at a couple of my friends' on the way home and dropped off cookies for them.  They are so lucky to have me, aren't they??  I think so :)

It was a really great way to spend the evening and always fun when I spend quality time with my running friends -- and their friends -- outside of wearing our sneakers.

You know, I don't usually write too much about dating and relationships on here, but I want to just throw out there... that it's not always easy to be single around the holidays.  I mean, it's not always easy to be single at a lot of points in time, actually.  When your friends all seem to be in relationships and other stages of their life than you.  When all the blogs and bloggers you seem to find on the internet are newlyweds or starting families.  But, hey, the holidays can be particularly hard with it being "engagement season" and all, with all the "All I want for Christmas is you" talk, mistletoe, and holiday parties that always include a plus one and I seem to be the only one without a plus one.

And no, I haven't written about the harder times on the blog here, the moments of sadness or loneliness, and I don't think it's something I'll ever start doing.  However, I do just want to say that having the friends that I do in my life, have made what could be really hard times, not so hard.  And for that, I am really thankful and incredibly happy.

This morning we did a 3-mile run together followed by our typical Friday routine, moved to Monday, of getting coffee, which I love.  A few of us weren't working today (myself included!) and it's our last run together in a bit while we go our separate ways for the holidays.  I am looking forward to spending time with my family and giving them all super big hugs when I get to see them.

Merry Christmas Eve, Eve!  I'm enjoying some time with the coziness of my apartment right now with all my Christmas-ness going on.  My shopping is all done and my presents are all wrapped and my apartment is wonderful right now.  I love it.  And wine isn't hurting either :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How many holiday parties is too many holiday parties?

Hey guys, I hope that you are all having a great weekend and for those of you who are officially on vacations for the Christmas holiday -- woohoo!! Enjoy it, people :)

As I mentioned earlier, I am officially on vacation now but I still have had some work to do.  But, it's okay, and I've had a fun few days.  On Wednesday night I had my team's holiday dinner for work, which was really fun and involved a lot of delicious food.  We ate at a restaurant in Saratoga called the Crown Grill, which recently had some attention when Oprah had a surprise visit to the Capital Region and ate there.  I ordered the duck, because that's something that is a bit different for me and something I would never make for myself.  It was good, but by the time it arrived, I was already so full from the appetizers and pre-main meal foods.  One of which really stole the show for me, which was the butternut squash soup.  It was so creamy and flavorful and absolutely delicious and I'm sure ten million calories.

Thursday morning I did my best to burn off the soup and everything else I ate with a 4 mile run at the gym and a Tough Mudder workout with my friends.  However, things got unhealthy once again when work had a gingerbread cookie decorating party!

I love cookies, frosting, and candy so I had a lot of fun eating decorating the cookies :)  There were even little bags that you could wrap up the cookies and save them for later, so I made a TON of cookies and brought them to my next stop of the day -- which was happy hour with my friends.  I gave out the cookies and think people really appreciated my beautiful decoration skills!  One friend went to eat the cookie on the way home and sent me the following text message that made me laugh.

I don't know what he was talking about because I think that cookie is beautiful :)

Oh, and did I mention that the cookie decorating party was an ugly sweater party?  It was quite fun to see all my coworkers in their craziest Christmas getups and even more fun to see the strange looks I got when I left the party and went to happy hour wearing my sweater (notice the red tights too, haha)

So, Thursday was a unhealthy fun day that I kept going as I went into Friday.  I did a quick 3 mile run on the morning before heading off to meet my friends at the spa!  We had a great day planned consisting of a morning at the spa, lunch, and Christmas shopping.  Now, I can't share the details of the Christmas shopping as my friends and family read this here blog, but it sure was a fun day!  How could it not be, when it included these things?

I know the first picture is dark, but that is of the baths in Saratoga Springs, which I've written about a few times before.  Followed by a "Brussel Sprout Breakfast Pizza" from Max London's.  And the one (of two...) bottle of Prosecco, which was happily enjoyed with lunch (and made pulling out the credit card for Christmas shopping, slightly easier!)  How could that not be a great day??

Oh, and in case you are wondering, I ate that entire pizza.  It was delicious.  It made me laugh too because recently when I was in New York City with friends, we all had a massive debate about whether or not some of the girls could eat an entire NYC pizza.  I have no doubt in my mind that I could eat an entire large cheese pizza.  It's not even a question for me.  I could 100% do it.  I argued this as well as a friend Ashley.  Her husband and some of the other people at the party called us on it and we were pretty close to ordering pies for us to take on the challenge, but it never got to that point :)  Doesn't change my mind that I could 100% do it though!!

Friday night I spent with some handsome fellows playing Cards Against Humanity.  I finally ordered it for myself off of Amazon and I am obsessed with playing it! We had so much fun and so many laughs sitting around, drinking beers and playing on Friday night.

Saturday I was feeling pretty lazy after a late night of laughing and drinking too many beers with the guys, but I got my 1 mile run for the Runner's World Run Streak plus a mini strength workout.  Despite having missed two days while I had strep throat, I have been really good about keeping the streak going!  I spent the rest of Saturday at another holiday gathering and now, in the blink of an eye it's Sunday again. 

I did a 5 mile run, per my marathon training plan, and will be heading out to another holiday party this afternoon!  This one is a cookie swap, so yesterday I prepared some of the cookies that I made earlier this week.  Remember how I mentioned that they were so simple so I was excited?  Yeah, well, I still managed to screw these up and had to trash 2/3 of the cookies I made.  Seriously, I am missing some sort of gene and I just cannot bake.  However, I've got an okay looking stash and am looking forward to spending the afternoon with friends! 

Beforehand I have to brave the malls for some more last minute shopping, which will likely be terrifying, but all part of the holiday fun I guess!

Happy weekend everyone :)

Oh, and P.S.  Friday was my sister's birthday and I shared this photo of the two of us on Facebook.  Happy Birthday Nikki!!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Having fun while you exercise -- getting back in the saddle!

This morning I switched up my workout a little bit and attended a spin class at the fitness center where I work.  The past 6 months or so, Wednesday mornings have been spent running with my friends -- which, as I've mentioned before, is something I have come to love and really enjoy.  It's something that is fun for me.

However, I decided to switch it up today and attend spin class because just recently, a spin instructor whose class I used to attend religiously (who hasn't taught for nearly 2 years) just picked up the Wednesday AM class at the gym.  I looked back at my old blogs to see if I ever wrote about the spin class that I used to attend but I didn't see much.  Except for that I used to go with friends who would help to "hold me accountable."

I wish I had written more about that, because attending spin class with friends was really a pretty big shift for me, now that I think about it.  Every Tuesday and Thursday I would attend the lunch time class with my good friend ICT (who I visited in Brazil last year!) and other regular attendees and it would always be so much fun.  We'd walk to the fitness center together, get our butt kicked in class with our favorite teacher (who always had the best music!) and then grab lunch together afterwards.  There were "regulars" who became friends, and it was something that I looked forward to in my days & weeks.

I attended that class regularly while I was in the midst of losing weight.  And that class was probably the first time in my life that exercise became more than a chore, but something that I looked forward to doing and had FUN doing.  It was one of the things that sparked me to do even more... sign up for boot camp, try other classes, work out with friends, etc.  So much started for me when I would go to spin class every Tuesday and Thursday with ICT and push ourselves through class to the teacher's amazing tunes (I used to love when Rihanna's "We Found Love" was incorporated into spin class.)

At the same time I left my old job, my favorite instructor, who was a part of that whole journey and exercise transformation for me, left to take on a new role as well.  We've stayed in touch over Facebook but then a couple weeks ago I learned that she was teaching spin again at the new site I worked at!  I was so excited and moved my schedule around to take her class today.  She has just as much energy and intensity as in the past, and still an awesome music selection.  I loved my workout this morning and it felt great to be back in the saddle with her teaching the class.  I'm not sure if she knows what an impact her classes had on me, but spinning with her this morning left me feeling so nostalgic and reminded me so much of why I originally fell in love with exercise, group exercise, spin, working out with friends and specifically -- her classes!!  It was the first time in my life when exercise went from being a "chore" to something fun, that I looked forward to and had fun with.

I'm a bit torn as to what to do moving forward because I love my Wednesday morning runs and have marathon trainings on the schedule... but I also looooved spin class this morning and want to do that more!!

Stacie and I at spin this morning.  Sorry for the blurriness, it was early... :)
Annnnd.... this is what I've somehow turned into over the past couple years.  I am now torn as to which 6:00 a.m. workout to do on Wednesday mornings because I love them both.  Who have I become??!!  It's kind of awesome, but, hey, don't go putting out a missing persons report right away.  In case there was any doubt if I was still the same person or if I had completely gone off the deep end... let me tell you that for lunch today, I ate cookies.  Legitimately, cookies were my lunch.  I had a homemade egg sandwich and an apple for breakfast.  And today at my little lunchtime holiday gathering I organized, I ate cookies in place of actual food for lunch.  I had a few of the meringues I made (ugh, like, 4ish...), a red velvet cookie with cream cheese frosting, a mint chocolate cookie, an almond cookie, and a peppermint chocolate oreo truffle.  So yeah, I'm still me :)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cold weather and ugly food

Guys, so it is officially winter here FOR SURE.  We got 8-10 inches this weekend and another 4 or so today.  It snowed like crazy the entire day while I was at work and it was beautiful but got some people nervous about bad conditions.  And nervous they should have been!

This morning on the way in to work I saw a woman crossing the road get hit by a skidding car.  When I arrived at work one of my friends slipped on the ice walking in to work and fell.  And then on the way home from work, my normal 20 minute drive took me a bit over 45 minutes because they were so bad.

Aside from the snow, the week has been pretty good.  I ran Monday morning, which was a chilly COLD run and at the end of the 3 miles, my face was so numb, I felt like I had just gotten out of the dentist.  You know when they give you Novocaine and at the end you can't really talk right because you can't feel your lips?  Yeah, I was that way because of the cold.

I've been doing well about maintaining healthy eating during the weeks... except the holiday parties and gatherings can be a bit rough.  Monday night I had a work event I stopped by and between eating a bit too much and getting a bit too much information about things I didn't want to know about, I left in a pretty bum mood.

I tried to make the most of the rest of the evening and baked some cookies to get in the holiday spirit.  For those of you who know me, you know I CANNOT bake.  I have zero skill when it comes to baking and usually end up burning or ruining whatever I try to make.  However, I tried one of my mom's cookies recipes (she is an amazing baker!) and it was so easy and came out really good.  I will be bringing them in to work tomorrow, which I'm excited about.

Oh, speaking of which, I am technically on vacation until the end of the year!  I didn't really take any major vacations this year, and ended the year with quite a few vacation days left.  So, it's a bit unfortunate because I will have to work some through the next few weeks, but I am going to try and make myself sparse in the office over the next few days. And also, luckily for me, I love my job, so I don't mind putting in additional time.  I've got some great projects I'm working on that make me really happy.

But back to the stuff that I come here to write about... food & fitness.  I was able to get a small workout in today, despite all the snow and crazy roads.  I also made some yummy "chopped brussel sprouts" as part of my dinner, which was a recommendation from my lovely college roommate.

I used my mandolin slicer (which I think, might have been a giant waste of money) to chop up some brussel sprouts, sauteed them in a tiny bit of oil and some chicken broth (I try to use broth instead of oil), then added a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.  Turned out delicious and I ate this for dinner with a Lean Cuisine meal that has been in my freezer for well over a year.  I'm on a bit of a mission to clean out my freezer and eat the random foods I have in there.

The sprouts, were not the prettiest dish in the world, but they were delicious.  That dish is a part of a string of foods I have found myself eating lately that, although not pretty, taste pretty good.

I ate chicken sausage and spaghetti squash and spinach over the past week, and that dish pretty much looked like it was something that had been regurgitated from a previous meal.

And I also defrosted and ate a bunch of sweet potato soup, which really isn't all that pretty either.

But it tasted good!  And, it was good for me.  And that's really what matters, right?  So yeah, those people with super beautiful pics of their food all over Instagram and their blogs... although I do share photos of food a lot, I don't think I could ever be one of those bloggers that shares a picture of EVERYTHING.  My food ain't always that pretty, and then there is the whole issue of that I usually am eating my food too fast to take a picture of it.  Woops.

So anyways, working through this week as best I can.  I have two holiday parties tomorrow (one of which I organized, woot woot!), another on Thursday, followed by a happy hour, and all sorts of more temptation that will come up in the future.  Stay tuned to see how things go.  I'm fighting to see a number on the scale that I haven't seen in a few months and I'm getting pretty excited to get there.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Running in the snow

Hey everyone, hope you are all well!  I'm not sure why I didn't write since last Tuesday, it a little bit surprised me to see that but I guess I just was tired/busy?  I still feel like I spent the majority of last week recovering from the stupid strep throat but I was able to get some good work outs in and did pretty good at eating well and getting back into the groove of actually paying attention to what I put into my body.

I ran Wednesday evening and Thursday morning did a "boot camp" type workout with my friends, and Friday I finally rejoined my running buddies for a COLD morning 3 miles followed by coffee at Starbucks.  That, by far, is my new favorite ritual we've developed.

Friday night was my first work holiday party of the season, which was really fun and got me into the Christmas spirit even more!  I definitely don't need any help in that area, because I feel like every year I am becoming more and more "Christmasy."  And this year was no exception seeing as I broke a rule I usually have and both got a Christmas tree and started listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving was even here!

Last night I ran with my friends in a local 5K that I had never participated it.  It is called the "Albany Last Run" and it is [supposedly] the last 5K of the fall running season for Albany.  Well, we had a snow storm that came in starting yesterday afternoon so the race itself definitely felt like winter as we ran through falling snow!

The race started at 5:00 p.m. and takes you through Washington Park in Albany.  At this time of year, Washington Park is filled with incredible Christmas light displays that usually, you have to pay to drive your car through to enjoy.  The cool part about the 5K we did last night, in addition to having a festive fireworks display before the race is that you get to run all through the lights in the park, which turned out to be so cool!

What REALLY made the race was, of course, the people I did it with.  We have been planning costumes and coordinating for this race for weeks because we somehow decided to dress up as Santa & his reindeer for the race!  My friend Jess actually ordered AWESOME shirts for us... long sleeved dry wick shirts that are really high quality.  On the front they had a picture of Santa's sleigh and on the back all of our reindeer names.  I was Dancer :)

She ordered them from Custom Ink in case anyone is interested!!  And, I just need to shout out my friend Erin who had brought with her a sticker thing to embellish her shirt a little bit and I thought it was GENIUS.  Erin was given the reindeer name "Donnor" and brought with her the following little decal.  Isn't it so cute?? I loved it!

I was responsible for making the brown tutus for everyone.  I haven't mentioned it on here, but my apartment has been a bit of a tutu sweatshop lately.  It was a really simple, no sew process though and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to make tutus for a race or something fun.   Just search "no sew tutus" on Google or Pinterest or something -- there are lots of different resources you can find to learn how to make them.

My friend Carley was responsible for getting everyone reindeer antlers and we met up at my apartment beforehand to get dressed and head out to the race.  I had snacks out for everyone and since everyone was sort of just doing this race for fun, there may have been some adult beverages consumed pre-race :)

I wish I had taken a picture of the spread I had put together because it was really simple and came out pretty nice.  I made some pepperoni pizza bread, carrots and hummus, oatmeal raisin cookies (I purposefully bought a type of cookie I don't like to stop me from eating them...) and then some trail mix, cut up apples, and candy.  I had hot chocolate on the stove and it was a fun time having people all over to my apartment.  I love hosting but don't do it too often since I moved into this current apartment.

We also grabbed a couple pictures but the majority of the photos were taken once we got down to the start of the race.

Here was our whole crew on the steps of the New York State capital building, and then in front of the Albany Christmas tree.

After we got a number of pictures in, we headed over to the race start to enjoy the fireworks and get ready to run!

The race went well, and it was so cool to run through the park and see all the Christmas lights.  I ran with Jess, which, per usual, kept me pushing my pace a little bit further than what I was comfortable with.  There were some other awesome costumes at the run -- including a guy running dressed up exactly as Buddy the Elf, which was awesome!!   Over all, it was seriously just a really fun night. Afterwards we all went out for dinner and some beers -- with tutus and reindeer ears on -- and it was a great night with friends.  I love that my friends are as silly and ridiculous as I am!!

We had great reactions to our outfits too, both at the race, and afterwards at dinner.  AND, it turns out we even made the local news coverage of the race!  Clearly I didn't get the memo about the fact that we were NOT turning around for that one picture, haha.

After the run, I warmed up and tucked myself in, preparing to not leave my apartment for the next 24 hours due to the snow.  I woke up to quite a few inches!!  I figured maybe 8-10?

One of the things I love about living in my current apartment is that I don't have to park on the street.  And one of the things I love about living in an apartment with an awesome landlord is that I don't have to worry about shoveling.

However, I did venture out of my apartment to get in my long run for marathon training!  I was determined to get this run in today and waited until the late afternoon, hoping that roads and sidewalks would be clearer than going out in the morning.  I planned to do 7 miles but somehow while I was running I started doubting myself and thought maybe it was 8 miles I was supposed to do for the plan.  I told myself I'd just see how I felt after 7 and when I got there I figured, what the heck, what's one more?  And I kept running to 8 miles, just in case that was what I was supposed to run.

Turns out it was only 7, but now I still feel proud of myself for even getting in a little extra!  The run was a bit ridiculous as I had to navigate through various states of shoveled sidewalks and keep weaving back from the sidewalk to the road when they weren't shoveled at all.  I kept the run to roads that were really wide to be able to give myself some extra room when I had to get off the sidewalk.  Luckily there are some boulevards near me that I could run down and only have to worry about the cars in one direction.  They were plowed well and it is about 1.5 miles to do a loop around that street, so I just did that a number of times.  Having to navigate the snow, slush, and traffic kept my mind busy and the run wasn't too torturous.

Although, I was audibly cursing out loud some of the people who did not shovel their driveways.  A few times I got stuck and was literally high knee-ing through knee deep snow to get around some corners or over plowed up ends of the streets.  I am sure everyone thought I was nuts and this is the first run in my neighborhood EVER that I have not seen a single other runner out!

I kept telling myself that I knew I could do this.  I had done 6.2 miles the weekend before, and I've had some cold morning runs so far this year so I knew my body could handle it.  I especially thought of the Great Thanksgiving Slush Run of 2013 as I call it, to remind myself I could get through this.

I'm really proud of myself for the run today!!  Now, I'm heading to bed and resting up for the week ahead.  Hope everyone had a great weekend!!