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

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Steppin’ It Up

I went to a really fun yoga class last night; the instructor had us place our mats by the wall so that we could use the wall for various poses during class, including L-shaped headstand (never done these before!) and full headstand. I managed to kick up into a full headstand and my arms immediately started to shake…how is something that was so easy as a kid so hard as an adult? I’m pretty sure I can’t do cartwheels anymore either, come to think of it. No surprise, my shoulders are pretty sore today.

I treated myself to some Noosa after class – holy moley, this stuff is good!

My New Accessory

Anyway, I wanted to talk about a cute new accessory I’ve been sporting lately:
A pedometer! Why, you might ask? Besides the fact that it goes so well with everything I wear, my company has started a wellness challenge for its employees: if you record 420,000 steps in 6 weeks (10,000 steps a day), you get a free FitBit! I figured I’d have no trouble getting 10,000 steps every day with my normal exercise schedule, so I’ve been logging my steps for two weeks now. The verdict?

Most days I have no trouble meeting the 10,000 goal. I typically have 7,000 steps on a normal workday from my commute and going to meetings, so tack on some exercise and I meet my goal. But the days I don’t exercise and don’t go to work (i.e. a lazy weekend), my step count can be as low as 2,000.

While I don’t believe there’s some magic number of steps we should hit everyday in order to be fit or enjoy good health, a pedometer is a useful tool to see how active you are on a day-to-day basis. It’s encouraged me to get up and walk around more often at work (studies show that you should get up for a couple of minutes every hour to improve blood flow), and to be a little more active on my rest days. For example, I noticed my step count was really low last Monday, so while I didn’t feel like running, I turned on a 15 min Zumba video, which boosted my step count for the day by a couple thousand!

Incidentally, once this challenge is over, I’m going to put a pedometer on one of the cats to see what her step count is…think she’ll break a 1000?
Does your company have campaigns to promote healthy living/ exercise?

Favorite yogurt?

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The Perfect PB+J Smoothie

Happy Tuesday friends! I’m looking forward to a short work week because we’re heading up to NY on Friday for Alexa and Andrew’s wedding! Thankfully, work has gone back to the normal 9-5 so I have time in the evenings to study for my classes again. My workout schedule last week was all over the place – I had to keep moving workouts around to account for evenings where I had to work – but I got in workouts wherever I could and ended up having a great week of training. But first, I have a “recipe” to share with you guys this week:

Perfect PB+J Smoothie

With little time to cook these days, we’ve been relying a lot on smoothies for quick and filling dinners. I’ve seen adaptations of PB+J smoothies all over the web, but when I first tried one, I found it cloyingly sweet and not at all to my taste. I liked all of the elements though, so I experimented a little until I came up with this variation.


- 1/2 to a whole frozen banana

- 1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter (or sub other nut butter)

- 1/2 tablespoon jelly (we like strawberry!)

- preferred milk to desired consistency (I add about 2/3 a cup)

- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

The key is the sea salt to balance out the sweetness, and a high PB to jelly ratio. The banana adds quite a lot of sweetness on its own, so you really don’t need much jelly at all. This makes for a perfect post-workout meal too – some good carbs and protein, and plenty of potassium and sodium to replenish your electrolytes.

Training Log (Sept 8-14)

workout log

Monday -rest day (had to work). Did this 15 min Zumba workout at home to sweat a little. The Zumba obsession continues!

Tuesday - 3 easy miles on the treadmill (9:53 pace)

Wednesday- tempo workout (2 miles at 9:00, 1 mile cooldown), followed by Zumba!

I’m starting to build tempo workouts into my schedule every other week, and I’ll be increasing the distance by 0.5 mile each time. While recommendations for tempo paces vary, I follow the simple rule of thumb of running close to half marathon pace (or 15 seconds slower than your 10K pace). If you don’t know what your race paces are, just pick a challenging but manageable pace that you can maintain for 20-30 minutes – the goal is to push against your thresholds and improve strength and endurance, and you can definitely do that based on how hard the run feels.

Thursday- rest (work)

Friday- rest (work)

Saturday- 5 miles outside (9:33 pace)

This was a great, confidence building run, and my longest run outside since May! I was lucky to have Mel as my running buddy, and we drove to a park in Arlington and ran 2.5 miles out and back on the Four Mile Run trail. I mentioned last week that I’ve been struggling with running outside, and having a buddy and cooler weather made all the difference this weekend.

Sunday- 4 easy miles on the treadmill (10:07 pace) and a yoga class

Great week of training! I think I’m ready to start slowly building up my weekend long runs again :) I’d like to be back in half-marathon shape by December.

Do you have a favorite smoothie flavor/ recipe?

What’s your go-to meal when things get busy? I’d love some new ideas!!


CycleYOU Spin Studio

I mentioned last week that Mike and I like to get in a workout or two even when we’re on vacation because it gives us energy for the rest of the day and helps negate some of those “vacation calories”. One of the things we do is to look for interesting exercise studios and gyms near where we’re staying – it definitely beats getting on the elliptical in an empty hotel gym, and feels like a fun vacation activity to boot!

I did my research before we went to Kentucky last week and found CycleYOU, a spin/ bike studio in Lexington. There weren’t a lot of reviews in Googleland, so we weren’t sure what to expect when we drove up to the warehouse-like brick building in the back part of town for a Sunday morning class.
Well, we could tell as soon as we walked inside that we had come to the right place! The guy at the desk was very friendly and helpful, and showed us around the studio before setting us up with spin shoes (first rental is free!), towels and bikes. I was excited to see power meters on the spin bikes when we entered the cycling room, and the bikes were in great condition (the ones at our gym are starting to feel a little beat-up), making for a very smooth ride.
We took the Sunday AM Sweat class with Jenny, which was an hour of spin set to great music. The workout format felt similar to Flywheel, with about 2/3 of the time dedicated to standard spin tracks (hills, intervals, steady tempo) and 1/3 incorporating abs or arms with small weights. Jenny gave us cues for increasing and decreasing resistance as well as RPMs to meet (loved the meters for this!). Like other boutique spin studios, the lights were turned off for the ride, with a few candles near the instructor to provide a little mood lighting :)

The workout went by fast and we were dripping at the end of class. We made use of the showers, which were stocked with products, since we weren’t planning to go back to the hotel till the evening.
DSC03068 DSC03069
I should mention that CycleYOU is a lot more than just a spin studio; it’s part of Swim Bike Run Kentucky, a triathlon training center. Adjacent to the spin studio, we saw a Computrainer area, where can people bring their bikes and trainer and watch TV or bike a course. They sell all sorts of triathlon gear and have clinics on proper running form and other topics from time to time. They also offer yoga and TRX classes (if we had more time, we would have taken TRX too!).

Overall, I highly recommend CycleYOU for a great workout if you’re in the Lexington area! First class is free and additional single classes are $20.

For fitness adventures closer to home, Mike’s really excited that a CorePower Yoga opened up in Virginia this summer – we discovered CPY last time we were in LA – and we’re looking forward to trying the cult favorite SoulCycle that finally in DC!

From Around the Web:

- September Guide to Seasonal Produce (Cookie and Kate)

- 3 Signs You’re Ready to Train for a Marathon (

- Top Skaters Do 26.2 Miles in 90 Minutes (Washington Post)


Fall Racing Calendar and Workout Log

The events of this day thirteen years ago will never be forgotten, and we remember the people who lost their lives that day.

This week has been crazy at work; we got hit with a proposal last week, so my days have been long, long, long. But I’ve been praying for strength and a renewed mind every day, and as a result, I’ve had energy for work, been really efficient at writing my sections, completed my workouts, and finished my homework and quizzes on time! Praise God :)

Training Log (Sept 1-7)

workout log
Monday -rest day and traveling! Was not very happy about our non-stop from Kentucky getting changed to a one-stop…why can airlines do this??

Tuesday - easy 3 miles on the treadmill (9:42 pace)

Wednesday - Zumba! I’m really enjoying getting my Latin groove on lately ;) I’m still super awkward (thanks to my non-existent dance genes), but it’s such a fun workout and great cross-training, as long as I’m careful about my knees and ankles!

Thursday - rest day

Friday - 7 X 400 meter speed workout (paces from 7:36 to 7:59) on the treadmill. I felt much better during this workout than the one the week before; I’m think I’m starting to find some speed in my legs again!

Saturday - 1.5 miles on the treadmill. My legs felt like lead, so I quit after 1.5 miles instead of trying to push to 3. I find that if I haven’t warmed up after a mile, my body probably needs the rest.

Sunday - 3 mile run/ walk outside. This was supposed to be a 4.5 mile “long” run, but somehow, I couldn’t push myself to get this done.

Pretty solid week of training, except for the long run. My runs outside have been problematic lately, and I think part of the problem is that I’ve had a couple of bad runs on my usual route, so whenever I go for a run, I find myself stopping and walking at the same place, unable to mentally push through. I’m thinking that switching up my running route and putting together a new playlist will go a long way towards breaking me out of the rut! Which needs to happen soon, because I think I’ve finally nailed down what fall races I’m going to do…

Fall Racing Calendar

After canceling my half marathon, I was wondering what goals I wanted to accomplish this fall, and I decided to focus on speed and hopefully a new 10K PR. My last one was set during the summertime, and I know I’m a faster cool weather runner, so I’m thinking with some speedwork and solid training, I might be able to beat it this year! Here are the races on my fall calendar:
Oct 11 – Rock and Stroll 10K (Alexandria, VA)
Nov 2 – Run for the Parks 10K (DC)
Second shot at a 10K PR, with a few additional weeks to train after the Rock and Stroll.
vet day 5k_2014_ibc_5
Nov 9 – Veteran’s Day 5K (Fairfax, VA)
I’m SUPER excited about this race, because I’m running it with Sister J!! Not that I’m on a mission to convert my whole family to runners or anything…
Dec 7 – Run with Santa 5K (Reston, VA)
I’ve done Pacers’ Jingle All the Way 5K as my holiday race a few times, so I’m gonna run PRR’s Run with Santa 5K for a change this year. Plus, PRR gives out better shirts.

If I’m successful in upping my long run distance in mid-November and December, I might also run the Gar Williams Half in mid-December.  I love cool weather running!

Speaking of cool weather, here’s the first pumpkin-flavored food I’ve eaten for the year:DSC03088

Do you have a goal race each training cycle, or do you race for fun?


Kentucky Trip (The Food!) + Workout Log

Food in central Kentucky was a bit limited at first glance (lots of fast food and chains), but we found several good local restaurants during our weekend there! Lexington in particular has many good restaurants and a growing food truck scene. The best of what we ate:

Lyle’s BBQ Company (Lexington) – Currently operating out of a tent, hoping to buy a food truck someday.  The pulled pork was moist and flavorful, and their blueberry cobbler was out of this world.  Happy to support them!

Rick’s White Light Diner (Frankfort) – This Cajun diner had great reviews on Yelp, and it turns out that they were on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives a few years ago.  We liked the food (oyster po’ boy for Mike, DDD special including crawfish pie for me), but felt it was over-priced considering the amount of food we got.  I’d go back for the crawfish pie though!

Red State BBQ (Lexington) – This bbq place came highly recommended by Mike’s coworkers, and did not disappoint.  Probably the best ribs I’ve ever had, and we liked being able to try all the different styles of BBQ sauces at the table.

Table Three Ten (Lexington) – So, the real highlight of this new American restaurant for us was hanging out with the bartender for a few hours and trying different bourbons on his recommendation.  We even got to try a glass of the very rare Colonel Taylor Single Barrel Bourbon (only ~12,000 bottles ever produced) – definitely the best bourbon on the trip :)

Lyle’s BBQ Company was our first stop after landing in Lexington – set up in the parking lot of the Liquor Barn.
DSC02992 DSC02991 Kentucky was a lot hotter than I expected, so I was craving something light for dinner. Luckily, there was a Panera near our hotel in Frankfort, and a Cobb salad hit the spot.DSC03019 Loved the kitschy decor of Rick’s White Light Diner; it gives character to the small space!
DSC03054 My DDD special – a slice of crawfish pie, grits, pulled pork, and fried oysters.DSC03057 Red State BBQ! Don’t let its location fool you; it might be right next to a run-down motel, but the ribs are legit.DSC03071 Alll the BBQ sauce! Southern friends, is the vinegar-based sauce really considered BBQ sauce? I’m used to the tomato-based sauce, having grown up in the New England area, so I preferred the Memphis Sweet and Kentucky Small Batch, mixed with a little Texas Spicy :)DSC03075 Only the best darn frickles (fried pickles) I’ve ever had.DSC03076 We split a full rack of ribs with two sides (collard greens and corn pudding) and it was the perfect amount of food.DSC03079 Table Three Ten! I loved the simple, rustic vibe to this place. It was the perfect spot for whiling away a rainy afternoon. DSC03083

A tip for staying fit while on vacation – choose where you’re going to “spend” your calories! I knew that we’d be eating bigger/ heavier meals than normal during the trip, so we chose to pick up yogurt and oatmeal for breakfasts rather than eating at a diner.  We also skipped dessert at restaurants and picked up sliced watermelon at a supermarket nearby to satisfy sweet cravings after dinner. We saved some money this way too.
DSC03024DSC03064 We also made an effort to work out each morning; it felt so good to start with a sweat session and then relax the rest of the day :) Here’s my workout log from last week!

Training Log (Aug 25-31)

A few weeks ago, I decided to defer the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half to next year and train for a shorter race (10K) this fall instead. With all the travel we did in August and have planned for the fall, I just didn’t feel like figuring out the logistics for weekend long runs. I’d rather focus on getting some speed back and slowly building my mileage right now, and then start low double digit long runs in November and December to prep for marathon training next year. So here’s what I did last week:workout log

Monday - Body Pump class!

Tuesday - 4 miles on the treadmill, followed a yoga class

Wednesday - easy 3 miles on the treadmill (9:40 pace)

Thursday - 3 miles outside – humid and hot but got it done! About 10:20 pace.

Friday - rest day in Kentucky

Saturday - 6 X 400 meter speed workout with 1 mile warmup and cooldown on the hotel treadmill

Sunday - Spin class at CycleYOU, a gem of a cycling studio in Lexington, KY! Review coming tomorrow :)

It was my first week running 4 times (instead of 3…or less) since marathon training ended and it felt great.  I can tell that what I need right now are short but frequent runs to get my body used to and more efficient at running again.  I wasn’t crazy about all the treadmill time, but it’s just too hot right now and I’m not heat adapted at all this year.  No need to make myself miserable, right?

Do you work out on vacation or take the time off completely?

Have you ever tried a restaurant that was featured on a TV show? We’ve tried a couple of restaurants from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, but have been underwhelmed each time =\


Kentucky Bouurrbon

Hi friends! Hope you all had a good Labor Day weekend. Mike and I spent the long weekend in central Kentucky (Frankfort/ Lexington area) on a bourbon tour! 95% of the world’s bourbon is made in the Bluegrass State, so we decided to visit and tour a few distilleries and pick up some bottles that are hard to find in other areas of the country.

No surprise, bourbon is everywhere here! A visit to a liquor shop in Lexington revealed a whole aisle of bourbon alone.
DSC02990 Kentucky also produces a ton of moonshine – how cute are these mason jars? We tried some blueberry moonshine though and drained the jar after a sip – as Mike put it, it tastes like cough syrup. DSC02987
We toured two distilleries during our visit – the classy Woodford Reserve in Versailles and Buffalo Trace in Frankfort. First stop: Woodford! DSC02993
Woodford Reserve is the oldest bourbon distillery in Kentucky; they’ve been in operation since the 1700s. DSC02994
We opted to take their tour ($10/ person), which included a tour of their operating facilities and a tasting at the end. You sign up for their tours inside their visiting center; this place is very classy and simple, similar to the design of their bottles.DSC02998
Our tour started on the ground floor of the cooking and fermentation room, where our guide explained the elements from which bourbon derives its flavor. I knew that the grains and aging process added a lot of flavor, but was surprised to learn that water is also a huge flavor factor! Apparently, Kentucky has some great tasting water sources, which is part of the reason why it’s so big in the bourbon industry. DSC03004

He also explained what makes a bourbon a bourbon. Bourbon is a type of whiskey made in the United States that needs to adhere to a number of requirements by law: it has to be made of 51% corn, aged in a charred oak barrel (that can only be used once!), and be distilled to, barrelled at, and sold at certain proofs. No artificial color or flavor may be added to the product (bourbon’s beautiful amber color comes from the barrel!)

Upstairs were the mash cookers (where the corn is cooked) and the fermenting tanks, where yeast is added to the mash to start the fermenting process, which lasts 3-6 days. DSC03005
The resulting alcoholic brew is distilled to purify and increase the alcohol content; Woodford uses three copper stills to distill their alcohol three times. They claim that their process removes many of the impurities in the brew, including sulfur compounds linked to next-day hangovers ;) DSC03007
Next step: barrelling! The new barrels are toasted and charred prior to being filled. We found out that after barrels are used for aging bourbon, they are used for many other purposes including aging other spirits/ alcohols (rye whiskeys, beer, etc) – but never again bourbon; bourbon must be aged in new barrels.DSC03012
After an hour touring the buildings, we came to the best part of the tour – the tasting! We got to taste their two main products – Distillers Select and their Double Oaked bourbon.  The two products differed only in how they were aged; while the Distillers Select is aged once in single barrle, Double Oaked is aged twice in two different barrels.  The second barrel is toasted a little longer on the inside to caramelize the wood and add additional flavor to the bourbon.  We could definitely taste the difference; the former was spicier and the latter was slightly sweeter!DSC03016
The chocolate below? A chocolate shell filled with a bourbon creme made by the local candy company Rebecca Ruth’s. Who knew bourbon and chocolate go so well together! We stopped by the candy store later in our trip to pick up a few boxes for our coworkers ;) DSC03014
On Saturday, we toured Buffalo Trace, the oldest continuously operated bourbon distillery in the US (they were allowed to operate during Prohibition for “medicinal purposes”).  As we approached the distillery, it became clear that Buffalo Trace is a much larger operation than Woodford, and sure enough, they produce 17 different products (Woodford makes two).
We signed up for the 1 hour “hard hat tour” (free, but reservations required), which took us into the buildings that housed the cookers, fermenters and distillers. Because Buffalo Trace is so big, they have multiple tours to cover different parts of the operation. DSC03029
Our first stop was the mash room, which housed the huge mash cookers for cooking the corn. Thankfully, the cookers were not on today; the room gets extremely hot when the cookers are running! The additional grains (usually rye or wheat and malted barley) are cooked in separate smaller cookers in a different building.  
We then entered the fermentation building and climbed up several staircases to see the fermentation vats, which are three stories tall!DSC03038
Several of the vats were filled with liquid in various stages of the fermenting process, and our guide encouraged us to stick our fingers in and taste the fermenting mash. Don’t worry, it all get purified and distilled several times after the fermentation! The mash tasted both sweet (from the sugars forming) and sour (I think there’s some lactic acid fermentation going on).DSC03041
We passed from the fermenters to the distillation part of the process – here we are in front of the small distiller used for experimental batches! DSC03045
The huge column distillers came next! This room looked like a chemistry lab – for a giant. I loved the little buffalo details everywhere :) There are actually only three recipes used at Buffalo Trace; it’s the barrelling, aging and bottling process that results in 17 different products.
Our guide, J.W., was fantastic – very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. His enthusiasm and energy made the tour go by fast! At the end of the tour, we returned to the visitor’s center for a tasting. We got to sample two of their main bourbons – Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace.  Eagle Rare was definitely the smoother bourbon (less burn), but Buffalo Trace had a more complex flavor in my opinion. DSC03053
As a special treat, we also got to try their Bourbon Cream, which is a blend of their Buffalo Trace and real cream. It’s the bourbon version of Bailey’s, and it was the highlight of the tasting for me! Matter of fact, we have a bottle chillin’ in our fridge now, and I’m looking forward to adding it into my hot chocolate this winter!DSC03052
There are a number of other distilleries in the area (Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, and Heaven Hill for starters), but we were done after two – temperatures were in the 90s and many of the distillery buildings don’t have air conditioning! We stuck to indoor activities for the rest of the weekend, which included watching Guardians of the Galaxy – have you seen it? I thought it was hilarious and very well done.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of the food we ate and workouts we did!

What’s one fun thing you did this weekend?

What will you miss with the passing of summer? Watermelon and flip flops.


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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