I talk to God on the road. And He talks back.

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On the Road to Kentucky!

Happy Friday! We are currently on the road (well, in the air) to Kentucky for our bourbon tasting trip. We planned this trip to fall over Labor Day weekend so that we could take advantage of having Monday off, but it also conveniently coincides with our anniversary :)

I came home on Wednesday to this in the fridge:
DSC02966Mike is a good, good man. We both headed to the gym for a quick workout (run for me, spin for him), showered, and snacked on the sushi while watching West Wing before he headed out for a fantasy football draft and I hit the books for the rest of the evening, lol. Talk about a romantic night!
DSC02969But we did it up right last night at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Arlington.  I loved my blueberry mojito – so refreshing!
DSC02977I ordered a ribeye and Mike got a filet- no pics because when does steak photograph well? These chipotle potatoes with bacon and chives were a nice change from the usual mashed potatoes/ french fries, but I’d get the fries next time ;)
DSC02981Our server took great care of us; I mentioned at the beginning of the meal that we were celebrating our anniversary and after the meal, as we were waiting for our check to arrive, he surprised us with a free trio of desserts! The peach cheesecake was fantastic and I’m not even a cheesecake lover.
DSC02984A perfect end to the meal :)
DSC02983And now we’re looking forward to a weekend of whiskey tastings, beautiful hikes, and good food!

Any recommendations for us in the Lexington/ Frankfort, Kentucky area?

Do you have any anniversary/ birthday traditions?  We (almost) always exchange cards, and Mike picks up a box of chocolates. I’d love to start finding small gifts related to the traditional anniversary gift for that year – apparently year 3 is leather!

From Around the Web:
Speed Workouts for Beginning Runners (Run to the Finish)
Preparing for a Hard Tempo Run (Loving on the Run)
5 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight (The Real Life RD)
Lessons Learned From Injury (Love Life Surf) – yes, all yes.
21 Portable Allergy Friendly Snack Recipes (Oh She Glows) – I gotta try those crackers…

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Burnout and Recharge

Hey friends,
Sorry I went into a black hole for a little bit. I had some great blog posts planned for the last two weeks, but then complete inertia overtook me last week and this week my fall semester kicked off so I’ve been studying every night.

I’ve been feeling a little burnt out lately because of a couple of things going on around here:
– I’m a little stressed about school because even though my differential equations class should be fairly easy (I went through about half the course when I was in college), I’m realizing that I’ve completely forgotten calculus. and trig. and what’s the ln function again?? All of which I need for my current class. I also barely had a week off between the summer and fall semesters, so all the energy I put into studying over the summer has pretty much dissipated by now.
– I’m a bit off kilter from all the travel this month (2 weekends in NY, and we’re going to Kentucky this weekend). I haven’t had time to get my chores done, and I’ve been skipping a lot of my weekend workouts. Thank goodness for all the leftovers/ extra food I’ve frozen over the last few months; they’ve been my lifesaver since I haven’t had time to food shop and cook!
– And finally, I had the WORST chafing from my running shorts on a 7 mile run last last weekend and my skin was insanely itchy for several days afterwards (I tried to take a pic but it was pretty close to my crotch so let’s not post that on the www, yes?).  I tried so hard not to scratch, but I would wake up in the middle of the night and find myself scratching my skin raw. So I ended up going to the doctor for a steroid cream to stop the itching so I could let the skin heal, and then I couldn’t work out for several days because I couldn’t bear fabric rubbing against the area.

I seriously get the weirdest running injuries.

Anyway, I took last weekend off from everything (laid around on the futon and watched hours of Criminal Minds on Netflix), and I felt refreshed and ready to tackle life again this week. I got a calculus workbook, made a study schedule, and my skin is pretty much healed so I’ve been working out again.

We all get overwhelmed at times. Please, friends, be kind to yourselves and when you feel the walls closing in or the world weighing you down, find a way to make space for yourself to relax and regroup. And find out what refreshes you – is it an hour of TV? A walk? A cup of tea and good book? Image source
I’m definitely guilty of spending my precious free time doing stuff that DOESN’T recharge me (TV, browsing the internet). My goal this fall is to make sure that I’m intentional about making free time and spending it wisely – I’m looking forward to fall walks (maybe to the Starbucks nearby to get a pumpkin spice latte? lol), trying great restaurants with friends, and snuggling on the couch with a cat and a book.

Speaking of good food, we’ll be at Ruth’s Chris tonight celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary :) Here’s to another 70 years!

What recharges you?


NYC + Training Log Week 3

Weekend Recap – More NYC Fun!

This past weekend saw me back in NYC for Lexi’s surprise bridal shower and bachelorette party! I was a little nervous traveling two weekends in a row and missing more sleep because I’m no spring chicken, but all the travel went smoothly, I wasn’t that tired, and it was fun, fun, fun! Vivian and I decided to be travel buddies and took the 6:30 AM bus up to NYC together on Saturday morning. Vamoose bus for the win!

The first activity of the weekend was a bridal shower thrown by Lexi’s mom and sister at Pier 701 Restaurant in Rockland County. I was a little nervous that we might ruin the surprise because we arrived about 10 minutes late, but thankfully they built in buffer time for guests to arrive.

The lovely bride-to-be!DSC02924

The food was delicious (I couldn’t stop talking about my short rib entree!) and the waterfront view was gorgeous, combined with a perfectly sunny day.
We then headed to Lexi’s parents’ house to get ready for the bachelorette party, play some games and pre-party a little. I had my first buttery nipple, and it took me back to my college days, where Bailey’s was my drink of choice. My drinks have gotten progressively manlier with time – from Girl Scout Cookie to dirty martini and now whiskey on the rocks. Soon I’ll be drinking moonshine straight out of a jelly jar.

We took a stretch limo to downtown NYC (I think this was my first time in a limo?) and spent the rest of the night dancing at DL.  I didn’t manage to get any pics of myself, but I loved my outfit – bandage skirt and a loose flowy top, perfect for dancing!
I felt super old because we showed up at 9 pm and I wondered where everybody was…the lounge didn’t start filling up till a few hours later – how do people stay up so late!? Our group called it a night around 1, and Vivian and I took a taxi to our hotel – the Intercontinental on the Upper West Side. NYC Travel tip: I always use Priceline Negotiator or similar deal finder to book hotels in NYC; it’s the best way to get a hotel room in Manhattan for less than $200 a night.

Sunday morning, I went for a run in the hotel gym, showered, packed and we caught the Vamoose back to DC. It was a whirlwind of a trip – we were in NY for all of 24 hours!

About the Intercontinental Barclay: The room itself was fine, and the gym was amazing with plenty of machines, equipment, fruit and water bottles, but I experienced the worst customer service of my life – NO COFFEE in the hotel rooms or lobby. Seriously? Apparently the hotel is closing at the end of the summer for renovations, so they took out the coffee makers and stuff. I was a perfect monster to the manager (don’t worry, not really – I just said, “you should really consider putting coffee carafes for your customers in the lobby”) before going to the Starbucks around the corner and turning into a human being again. Intercontinental – you’ve just been downgraded to 1 star.

Week 3 Training Log (Aug 11-17)

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 8.42.05 PM
- Monday – rest day
Was tired after our weekend in NYC!

- Tuesday – CT – spin class

- Wednesday – Key Run #1 (4 X 800 meters) on the treadmill
I had my stats final to take Wednesday night, but I managed to get this done on the treadmill in our apartment complex and shower before sitting down to take the exam. Proof that exercise is good for the brain? I got a 251 out of 250 on the final :)

- Thursday – rest day

- Friday – Key Run #2 (1 easy, 3 mid-tempo @9:00)
It seems crazy that 9:00 used to be a fairly easy pace for me; I was lucky that my speedy bro-in-law D was here to pace me for this run! D’s going into his junior year of high school, and is the star of his track/ cross country team, so while my lungs were on fire at the end of the 3 tempo miles, he didn’t even break a sweat!

- Saturday – rest day (travel and parties!)

- Sunday – Key Run #3 (7 miles at 9:20 pace) on treadmill
I managed to wake up around 8 AM and went down to the hotel gym to knock out my 7 miles. My legs were pretty tired (maybe from all the dancing?), so I ended up walking for 2 minutes and running at 6.4 for 8 for each mile, so my final pace was closer to 10:00.

Thoughts on FIRST so far:
The Good: I like the flexibility of the plan; there are fewer “required” workouts, so I can move workouts around to fit my schedule, as long as there is a day between each key run. I treat all cross training, yoga and strength as somewhat optional since sometimes studying or other stuff takes priority, and as long as I get my 3 runs in, I’m golden.
The Bad: After 2 months of almost no running, I can’t hit most of the prescribed paces right now. This is not a plan for beginners or people who haven’t been running regularly.

My Adjustments:
I fully believe in adjusting plans if necessary to make them work for you, so I’m going to add a 4th run each week from now on- an easy run of 4-6 miles to amp up my weekly mileage and improve my running economy. Hopefully that will help, and I’ll start seeing results from my speed/ tempo runs so I can start hitting the faster pace on the weekend long runs. I had a 10K on the plan for this weekend, but I’m not race ready (and don’t feel like running it for fun), so I’m going to cancel that and continue building mileage with an 8 miler instead.

Do you stick to training plans as written? If not, how much do you muck with them?

What amenity is most important to you in a hotel? Blackout curtains is #1, coffee is a close second.


Why You Should Log Your Miles

I’ve been tired all week after our NYC trip, and I felt especially tired yesterday when I came home from work. I had an interval run scheduled for the day and was debating skipping it or pushing it off, but I knew I’d feel better once I started running, and I knew I’d regret skipping the run. So I talked myself into lacing up and headed for the treadmill in our condo gym downstairs.

Grainy elevator selfie

IMG_20140813_163208_499 (1)
And you know what? It was a tough workout, but I felt pretty great afterwards! I’ve found that 95% of the time when I feel tired, it’s more mental than physical (hello, staring at the computer screen for 8+ hours!) so once I start working out, the exhaustion falls away. I finished my 4 X 800 meters with warmup and cooldown in 40 minutes, went back upstairs, showered, and took my statistics final online. I’m officially done with my summer classes and have a week off till I start my (part-time) masters program, woohoo!

Why I Log My Miles

I wanted to talk briefly today about the value of logging your miles in some form. I’ve been using Daily Mile for the past two years to track all of my runs by either manually entering the distance and time or syncing my Garmin. Here’s why I log my runs:
- To keep track of mileage on sneakers – Daily Mile has a feature where you can add gear and then tag the gear that you used during a run. You can manage your gear under the Settings, and see how many miles you’ve racked up with each piece of gear. I use this feature to track mileage on my sneakers, which should be replaced every 250-500 miles – depending on the sneaker and your running style.

- To see my improvement – I love repeating a workout and seeing how I’ve gotten faster or the workout has gotten easier over time! I use the notes section to write down my paces and how hard or easy the workout felt.

- To remind myself that I can do it – Sometimes I feel nervous going into a run because I’m tired, or the goal pace looks fast, or it doesn’t feel like I can run x miles today. Looking back on my old workouts reminds me that I’ve done it before, and that I can do it again. The hardest part is walking out the door and starting the workout!

- To keep track of what does or doesn’t work – I keep track of new things I try on a particular run (new gels, socks, new blister treatment) in the notes section so that I remember what does and doesn’t work for the future. It’s how I figured out what type of blister prevention to use for different distances, and what clothes to wear for winter running.

- And lastly – It confirms that I’m a runner. After nearly two decades of no sports and little exercise, I’m still getting used to the label of “athlete” or “runner”. And seeing a record of all of my runs reminds me that I’m a runner and inspires me to keep on running because after all, that’s what we runners do :)Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 6.41.55 PM
So start a Daily Mile account, open a spreadsheet, or find an blank notebook lying around – it doesn’t matter what you use, as long as you can remember to update it!

Some good data to track for each run:

- date of run

- where you ran (outside, treadmill?)

- distance, time and type of run (tempo, hills, intervals, recovery)

- how the run felt (easy, hard, felt too hot, left knee hurt, got blisters, etc)

- sneakers used

Do you track your runs? What other data do you like to capture?

How do you motivate yourself to work out when you feel tired or just don’t want to get off the couch?


Weekend in NYC + Training Log Week 2

It’s funny how life works – I’ve been feeling unmotivated to blog lately (what with travel and school and work, it’s just been on the back burner), but this morning, I checked my blog email for the first time in two months. And to my surprise, I had a bunch of emails from people telling me how much they loved my blog and got something out of it! What better motivation to keep writing than that?

I actually do love blogging; I love the act of creating something and knowing that I’m adding content (hopefully useful) to my corner of the Internet. So for as long as I can, the posts will continue! And with that, I have a weekend recap and workout log up today!

Weekend Recap

We were in Manhattan for a friend’s wedding this past weekend! Mike drove up on Wednesday to hang out with his friends (it was his high school buddy getting married), and I took the Vamoose bus up on Friday. I love this bus – so clean and and convenient for me because it leaves from Virginia instead of DC. I watched Divergent and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on the way up and enjoyed both! 028
Speaking of buses, look at this swanky bus company that just started up this year. Not sure I’d pay $90 for a bus ride though.

The wedding took place on Friday afternoon in a gorgeous space near Battery Park, right by the water.  I loved the playful place cards they came up with! Louise was stunning in her dress, and I’ve never seen Andrew look so happy. Congrats to the happy couple!031 054 We spent the rest of the weekend eating and sightseeing around Central Park.  Couldn’t miss bagels and lox in NYC, of course.071And finally made it to Ippudo, after (just) a one hour wait! I’ve been wanting to try this popular ramen place for a while, and it was definitely worth the wait.  The pork in both the buns and ramen had amazing texture and flavor, and the broth was an umami-bomb.  Still like Toki Underground in DC the best though shhh.075 073I forgot how big Central Park is; we wandered all around the park on Saturday looking for the big lake and it was a decent walk! Cross-training, anyone?091 078There were several groups of street performers near the fountain, including a group of dancing pandas – they must have gotten HOT in those uniforms!
083This creative guy had a typewriter set up to write poems on request! Sister J mentioned that some other guy became pretty popular on the web with the same concept.  And no, I didn’t purchase a poem (I’m not big on poetry).
090We had a date night Saturday evening with some sushi and chocolate for dessert back at the hotel.  Perfect way to end the trip!098 100 We had to leave early on Sunday to get back to DC so my planned long run didn’t happen that morning. I could have run when we got back, but I was pretty tired from all the traveling and partying Friday night.  I’m not too worried about it though – I’ll just pick it back up with 7 miles this weekend.

Week 2 Training Log (Aug 4-10)

week 2 log

So, the mileage pic looks a lot sadder than my week actually was, but I am missing 6 miles from Sunday, like I said above.  Here’s what I did last week:

- Monday – CT (cross training day) – Body Pump!

- Tuesday – Key Run #1 (4 X 400 meters) on the treadmill
So happy to be doing speed workouts again! They’re the best because the changing speeds keep it interesting and the workout goes by fast.

- Wednesday – rest day

- Thursday – CT – spin class

- Friday – Key Run #2 (1 easy, 2 short tempo)
I ended up doing only 1 mile at short tempo pace – still working on my speed! I did 2 easy miles, 1 short tempo mile, and 1 mile recovery outside.

- Saturday – rest day (walking around Central Park)

- Sunday – skipped Key Run #3 (6 miles at 9:20 pace)

I didn’t get in all the workouts I wanted to this week (no long run or yoga, and would ideally have 1 more CT session), but life happens and I’m totally okay with that.  I’ll have perfect weeks and not-so-perfect weeks of training, but what matters is that I’m enjoying what I’m doing and working towards my goals.  All the same, I know that I shouldn’t skip too many runs on this plan since there only 3 runs a week, so I’ll get back on that this week ;)

If you blog, what inspires you to keep writing?

Have you ever visited NYC? What was the best thing you ate?

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Week 1 Training Log (28 Jul – 3 Aug)

I’ve really enjoyed re-capping my workouts while training, and since I’m trying a new half marathon training plan (FIRST) this time, I thought I’d share how my training is going each week.  Here’s week 1!
week 1 log Monday - Cross training day
Body Pump class! The plan recommends more traditional cross-training like elliptical, biking or swimming, but I want to continue weight lifting while my mileage is still low because I find it helps with strengthening my knees, hips and other joints.

Tuesday – easy run
I did a 4 mile fartlek (unstructured speedwork) on the treadmill to get used to running a little faster before starting structured speedwork on week 2. I can tell I’ve lost some speed from my running hiatus, but I’m not worried about it – just happy to be running again! I also made it to an evening yoga class :)

Wednesday – rest day! (swapped with Friday)

Thursday – Key Run #2 (1 easy, 3 medium-tempo)
When I started my run outside, I knew that I’d have a hard time immediately hitting the 9:03 tempo pace I was supposed to hit, so I ran my first mile at a comfortably hard pace, and then reduced the pace by 15 seconds each mile afterwards. This was a great way to work down to a faster speed and ensure I was still pushing hard the whole time! My paces: 9:30, 9:15, and 8:53, followed by a 1 mile recovery.

Friday - Cross training day
Easy 40 min seated bike at the gym, while watching The West Wing :)

Saturday – Key Run #3 (5 miles @ 9:22 pace)
I did the first mile or so at a slightly slower pace (~9:40) and then sped up to hit 9:22 for the rest of the run. I think this will end up becoming the hardest workout of the week as the mileage increases, but I’m looking forward to pushing myself.

SundayCross training Rest day!

Overall, a great first week. I was in better shape than I expected after taking so much time off, and I think I’ll be able to start hitting the goal paces for my workouts soon. I’m just happy that I can run and push myself during my runs without pain – I know I can put in the work and get faster and stronger as long as I’m healthy!

I’ll leave you with this happy cat:DSC02835

What was your favorite workout last week? Mine would have to be the tempo run – I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to cut down my time to an 8:53 pace for the last mile.

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Time Management (How to Do It All)

Hey guys! Hope you had a great weekend. Mine was really relaxing – Mike had to work on Saturday so I took the opportunity to clean and organize around the house a little (throw out and donate stuff). We tried a new-to-us sushi restaurant in Burke on a co-worker’s recommendation Saturday evening and were both really impressed by the quality of the fish and sushi!
DSC02837 DSC02838
We might have found Mike’s new favorite sushi restaurant on the east coast :)

I didn’t feel like going to church on Sunday, but was so glad we did – I loved Mercy’s sermon on the Power of the Cross; one of her main points was that we can’t gain spiritual traction and grow closer to God and His heart if we’re still satisfying the desires of the flesh (our sinful nature), which she compared to jogging while eating a donut – what an amazing illustration! I know there are plenty of times that I allow pride, greed, anger, laziness, etc to rule my thoughts and actions, and Mercy’s point really made me think about how counter-productive all of that is to the goal of living a God-first life. She also talked about how although we can’t control the actions of people who hurt or offend us, it is our choice to hold onto or let go of that hurt/ offense/ anger. I’ve heard this plenty of times before, but on Sunday I needed the reminder because I realized I had been holding onto my irritation against a co-worker, and it was definitely time to forgive and let it go. It gave me a lot more peace going into this week!

Warning: If the word “schedule” makes your bile rise or if your blood pressure goes up at the thought of a to-do list, you might want to skip this next section!

Tips for Effective Time Management

I wanted to share some ways that I’ve been staying organized lately. This has been one of the busiest years I’ve ever had because I’m balancing more “activities” than I have before: work, school, training, travel, blogging, along with the usual chores/ tasks that go along with running a household. I’ve always been the sort of person that likes to focus on one or two things exclusively, but as I was planning out this year I realized that even though I knew a full-time job and two classes a semester would keep me plenty busy on their own, I didn’t want to drop my training schedule or abandon my blog without at least trying to make it all work.

So I began to schedule my time more efficiently, tried different tools and tactics to stay organized and ahead of the game, and over the last couple of months, I’ve learned what works and doesn’t work for me. To my surprise, I’ve been able to balance everything with less stress than ever, as long as I’m realistic about my expectations (i.e. don’t try to schedule double workouts multiple times a week, and don’t plan to wake up at 5 AM to finish a homework assignment before work). Here are a few tools/ thoughts that have helped me stay sane and stick with it all!


1. Schedule your time: I’ve started scheduling blog/ workout/ study times/events on Google Calendar, and it has made a huge difference because it shows me how much time I have each day to get other stuff done. I set up the schedule for the week ahead on Sunday to get an idea of how busy I’ll be and cancel / move things around as necessary. I’m a big fan of color-coding events as well (gray for studying, yellow for workouts, blue for church stuff, red for important events, etc)!

2. Be realistic about what you can get done: I write down all the little things I have to do like going to the post office, buying plane tickets, clipping Kitty’s nails, etc using Google Tasks and then I assign just a few of them to each day. I really like this method because instead of an endless to-do list, I just have a few to tackle each day (no more than 3!). I like using Google Tasks because you can add it to your Google calendar and see everything at once.

3. Plan ahead of time: I’ve been using Evernote to plan out blog posts and then work on them when I find some time. I also use it to clip recipes while browsing blogs, save meals to make for the next week, and build a food shopping list well ahead of my trip to the market on the weekend. All stuff I can work on when I have a few minutes here and there (while commuting, waiting for a meeting, etc).

4. Prioritize what’s important: While I do want to get EVERYTHING done, I’ve realized that it’s not helpful to think of everything as equally important. If I have to work late at work, is it more important to study or get my run in when I get home? This goes to point #5…

5. Contrary to the title of this post – be okay with not getting everything done: I’ve learned to let go of my anxiety when something takes longer than expected so I can’t cross off everything on my to-do list or an activity drops off my plate that day (or week). A few weeks ago, I had a final and mid-term due so I deleted blogging sessions that week to focus on studying and sleep. There are plenty of weeks where I have 6 workouts scheduled and I only make it to 4 or 5. That’s okay and normal! I’d rather be relaxed and be 70% successful than super-stressed and 100% successful.

6. This is probably the most important thing I’ve learned – have downtime! I intentionally leave some evenings each week open and try not to schedule more than a couple things each weekend so that I have time to relax and recharge. I’ve learned that scheduling every waking minute of each day puts me on the fast track to burn-out.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my first week of half marathon training using FIRST! So glad to be running again.

Do you use productivity or organization tools/ apps?


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