Friday, October 28, 2011

My Newest Addition

Happy Friday!  I hope none of you thought that blog title was in reference to a pet...  I think you all know me well enough to know that I am NOT an animal person (no offense to all you animal lovers out there...  I just prefer children and books to pets). 

The new addition I am referring to is the piano I bought...

First off, let me say that it is not as expensive as it looks...  I was paranoid about posting a photo of this for fear that people would get the idea that I am well off - which is so not the case.  I don't know why I am so paranoid about this as the piano costs a fraction of the cost of a vehicle, and people go out and buy vehicles every weekend without feeling sheepish about it...  And I will have this piano for the rest of my life, so it's really more of an investment!

All that aside, I am incredibly happy to have a piano in my home.  I starting taking piano lessons at a young age and then in high school I had 10 students of my own (which was a pretty cool job!).  Playing piano has always been a big part of my life, but I have never had the space for a piano.  Until now! 

The piano was delivered last week and I played my heart out the first night it was in my home.  I am a little rusty as I have not played consistently for the last 8 years, but I know with time, I will get back to where I was before.  I am thrilled to have a piano in my home around the holidays - there is nothing better than playing Christmas carols in my opinion!  And then when CFA studying commences, this will be the best stress reliever out there!

Do you play the piano or any instrument?  Would you ever purchase a piano for your home?  I always thought I would purchase a piano when I had children but figured - why wait?  I might as well enjoy it now!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where I've been...

Happy Wednesday - wait, it's Wednesday today?  Seriously?  I can not keep track of the days of the week.

So the lights have been out on this space for over a week!  That's the longest break I have taken in a long time.  I wish I could say I am coming back rested and refreshed, but that is really not the case.  I caught yet another bug last week which turned into a sinus infection + nasty cough.  It's super fun to fly when you are sneezing and coughing, let me tell you.  But the show had to go on as I had a baptism and a work trip planned. 

Unfortunately, I did not take many pictures this weekend.  I have lost my photo-taking mojo.  Big time.  Maybe getting a new camera will help, but that won't be happening until Christmas at the earliest (I will probably ask for a new point & shoot camera from Santa, aka my parents).  I do have a couple of photos to share, though, courtesy of my iPhone -both of which were taken in the kiddos car seats!

Anna all snuggled up in her baptismal gown, sleeping away!

Charlie had gotten SO BIG since I last saw him.  He's full of smiles and loves to babble and coo.

I had a wonderful weekend.  It was great to see family and watch my nephews interact with each other.  I got lots of quality time with my parents as I shared a hotel room with them.  The baptism was great - Anna did not even cry (Charlie SCREAMED through his, so it was like a night and day difference). 

On Sunday, I took a train into the city, settled into my hotel, and then met a friend for coffee.  That evening, Nilsa was kind enough to invite me to her home.  It was great to see another area of Chicago and I enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal and had a great time hanging out with Nilsa, her husband, and her son!!  I just really, really click with Nilsa, so it was great to spend time with her in their home. 

On Monday, I worked from the Chicago office, and then took a 6 pm flight home.

So yet another whirlwind weekend.  This has become the trend in my life lately, and I have finally started to realize that I need to slow down.  This is hard for me as I do really love my 'go go go' lifestyle, but given the fact that I have been sick quite a bit over the last 6 weeks, I think it's time for me to listen to my body and ease up. 

That means saying no to things I have previously said yes to.  It means learning how to say no to things without feeling guilty (still trying to figure this one out)  It means letting myself sleep in on a Saturday instead of getting up at 5:45 to run. It means setting aside time on weekends for relaxing, reading, and restoring my battery.

I kind of feel like a broken record.  I keep saying I have to slow down, but I have yet to actually incorporate changes into my life.  It's time to start making those changes!  Before we know it, the holidays will be upon us, bringing a flurry of activities with them, and then CFA studying resumes on January 1st.

So now is the time for me to take a deep breath and slow the heck down... 

How have you been lately?  Do you tend to over-schedule yourself or are you good about finding a balance?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Victoria Recap - Part 2

Time for the 2nd & final photo-heavy Victoria post!

After we had walked around a bit, we hit up the race expo!  I am glad we got a picture of all 4 of us with our numbers - I guess I was wrong on my last post when I said we only got 1 picture together.  We actually got 2!

Soon enough it was time for dinner.  There were not a lot of Italian restaurants in Victoria, and only 2 had gluten free options.  We picked a local place called Pagliacci's - where we proceed to stand in line (or sometimes sit, as evidenced by this photo) for over 90 minutes!  That is the longest I have ever waited to be seated, but the food was amazing and so worth the wait!  I love how Lauren's scarf & Amber's jacket are color coordinated in this pic!

With food in our bellies, it was time to head back to our hotel.  Leigh french braided mine & Amber's hair.  I absolutely LOVE having someone play with my hair, so this was quite a treat for me!

Here we are on race day with our braided hair!

Speaking of race day, here is a photo Lauren snapped while we were waiting for the race to start.  I was excited and a little bit apprehensive - little did I know I had a big PR ahead of me!

And here we are after the race.  I was definitely glowing from my finish!  We all finished in less than 2 hours, which was a great accomplishment!

After Lauren finished (with a PR of 5 minutes!) we got cleaned up and headed to lunch.  I celebrated with a Caesar which was delicious and hit the spot!

Before we knew it, it was time to head home.  Here is a photo from the Ferry ride back to our car.  The views did not disappoint!

And there you have it!  All in all, an absolutely delightful trip!  Because of a very important event next October, we will not be able to rendezvous over Canadian Thanksgiving again, but we are already talking about doing the Chicago marathon in 2013.  Yep, you read that right.  I have been bit by the marathon bug - BIG TIME.

This sort of concludes my crazy run of travel.  I still have a trip to Chicago a week from today for my niece's baptism/office visit.  And then I think that is it.  The last couple of weeks have been great but I have to say I am exhausted.  I flew 7,000 miles in the span of about 3 weeks.  That is a lot, folks.  Throw in a wicked sinus infection and yah...  my body is ready for some downtime.

With that said, I will be taking a little break from blogging next week as I try to rest up and recover from a schedule that has left me simply exhausted.  I will be back after my Chicago trip with plenty of pics of my niece, I am sure!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Victoria Recap - Part 1

Greetings and happy Wednesday!  I am back from Victoria and settling back into real life.  It's always such a tough adjustment when you come back from a vacation!

As I mentioned in my race recap, Victoria was a magnificent city to explore.  I would return there in a heartbeat.  It would be a great honeymoon destination as the city was charming and there were lots of things to see and do!

Without further ado, here are some photos from the trip, taken by Lauren and Amber (I have a crappy point-and-shoot, so I am using their lovely DSLR photos!).

Standing by Green Lake in Seattle on Friday morning.  Lauren and I walked in this area before embarking on our road trip to the Vancouver area.  And yes, I am rocking out 2 striped pieces - a shirt & a purse!

We hit up a Lulu Lemon outlet before hopping on the ferry.  We all spend a lot of hours each week training so we felt we owed it to ourselves to buy some high quality workout gear!!

The view on the ferry ride to Vancouver Island.  The views were amazing!!

After settling into our hotel in Victoria, we headed out for some food - luckily we found a Thai restaurant that had an extensive GF menu.  Mmmm...  my pad thai was SO good!

After dinner, we headed to the famous Empress Hotel.  This place was amazing and beautiful.  It was like stepping back in time.  If I went to Victoria on a honeymoon, I would try to spend a night or 2 in this hotel!

The Bengal Room of the Empress Hotel was our next destination.  We were seeking dessert - and they had a GF creme brulee which was TO DIE FOR.  Ahem, that green thing on the dessert?  It's not edible.  How do I know this?  I tried to eat it as I was SO SURE it was edible.  Turns out it was wax.  Whoopsies.  This restaurant was so swanky, we were all wishing we were in a dress & heels instead of jeans & running shoes!

After dessert, we walked home, and walked past the beautiful Parliament.  Isn't it stunning all lit up?

The next day, we went to a brunch place that was recommended by Lauren's friends.  It was a great recommendation and once again - it had a great gluten free menu and my breakfast actually came with a great gluten free roll.  Be still my heart!  I never get to eat bread in a restaurant - and it tasted so good!

After brunch, we wandered down to the water and go our one and only shot of the 4 of us together!

I think that is enough photos for today!  As you can see, we had a wonderful time.  The weather was beautiful.  The city was amazing.  The company was fabulous.  What more could a girl ask for?  I feel so blessed to have met these amazing women!  We traveled so well together, I would go on another trip with all 3 of them in a heartbeat.  So far, I have felt this way about all of the women I have met through the blogging community!

If you want a recap from another perspective, check out these posts:
Amber - Day 1
Amber - Day 2
Lauren's Trip Recap

Have you ever been to Victoria or to any area of British Columbia?  I am head-over-heels in love with this part of North America.  This was my 2nd trip to BC and I will be back there next summer for Amber's wedding *insert squeal of excitement*!! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Race Recap - 1/2 marathon PR!!

This is what a PR looks like!!

Let me just start by saying that the race went amazingly well!  I finished with a time of 1:54:40.  So yah, totally blew my 2 hour goal out of the water - which is shocking and so wonderful at the same time!

The race started at 7:30 am so we got up at 5:45 to make sure we had enough time for breakfast.  I was super hyper in the morning, which isn't really typical, so I think my body was ready to race.  We headed down, Lauren snapped some photos, and we were off!

Here are my splits:

Mile 1 - 9:12
Mile 2 - 8:42
Mile 3 - 8:42
Mile 4 - 8:42 (wow, I was consistent!)
Mile 5 - 8:16
Mile 6 - 8:27
Mile 7 - 8:33
Mile 8 - 8:50
Mile 9 - 8:38
Mile 10 - 8:44
Mile 11 - 8:50
Mile 12 - 8:29
Mile 13 - 8:31
.25  - 8:16 pace (the course measured .15 long on my garmin)

So all in all, I ran a really strong race - my only split > 9 minutes was the first one when we were weaving in and out of people (which is my least favorite part of every race!).  I felt great at the finish and my only casualty is a blister on my left foot.

The first people I emailed were my coaches from the run club.  If it wasn't for those guys, I never would have achieved this goal.  They pushed me all summer and totally changed my approach to training.  The course was sort of rolling hills, so all those hills runs I did really benefited me today.  They kept believing in me and telling me I could do it, even when I doubted it.

Victoria was definitely a great course and I would come back here in a heartbeat, perhaps to do the marathon some day!  And we all PR'd - Amber & Leigh both ran sub-2 hour halves, and Lauren finished her full in around 3:44 (holy cannasta, she is a speedy runner!!!).

Now it's back to exploring and enjoying this gorgeous city!!!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Race Week

Greetings readers!  I haven't mentioned it this week as I have had other topics to write about, but this is race week for me!  I am super excited for my trip, but am a bit bummed that my race week is falling so close to when I was sick.  I've pretty much been sick for the last 2 weeks, but have been on antibiotics for a week now, so I am feeling much better. 

So what does this mean?  It means I probably need to adjust my expectations for this race.  I still plan on running a strong race, but I am mentally preparing msyelf to not make my sub-2 hour goal.  I will work my butt off on race day, but we'll see how it all comes together.  I ran with my run club last weekend and finished the run with a doctor; he told me that after you have a cold, it can take up to 3 weeks for your respiratory system to fully recover.  So while my legs might have a sub-2 hour 1/2 in them, my lungs just might not.

And that is ok.  There will be other races.  I know I will make this goal eventually.

With that said, here are my A, B, and C goals for the race.

A Goal:  Finish strong and with a smile on my face.  This is obviously an achievable goal.

B Goal:  PR, which means running faster than 2:04:24.  I think this is doable as well.

C Goal:  Finish in less than 2 hours.  This will be a challenge, but if I feel good on race day, I think I can do it.

Whatever happens on race day, I know I am going to have a fabulous time!  I can't wait to rendezvous with Amber, Lauren, and Leigh!  We are going to have so much fun together. I am sure that Amber will be blogging about our trip, so hop over to her blog if you want to see what we are up to! 

I fly out this afternoon and come back on Monday!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On Being Flighty

Trivia time.  Do you recognize this character?

That, my friends, is Forgetful Jones.  Bonus points to those of you who recognized him - clearly you were paying attention during your Sesame Street days! 

I have been channeling Forgetful Jones lately.  I mentioned my forgetfulness in my recap of Kyria's visit, but it's been a pervasive theme of September.  How so?  Read on. 

  • On my way back from Charlotte, I forgot my credit card in an airport restaurant.  I realized this when I got back to Minneapolis that evening.  Luckily I had only used it once that day so it was easy to figure out where I left it.  I had to cancel it and re-order it, which was painless, but still annoying.
  • Last week I was in Austin for work and when I got to the airport to fly to Dallas, I realized I had forgotten my runnig shoes in the room!  I called and luckily they said they would ship them to me.  I was so so so annoyed at myself, but luckily I had an extra pair since I had bought a pair when I forgot my shoes when I went to the cabin one weekend this summer (are you noticing a theme here?).
  • I got back from my business trip and started to unpack and realized that my iPod was not in my suitcase.  Turns out I left that in the room in Austin, too.  Sheesh.  What is my deal.  I was in a rush that am as we left for the airport at 6:30 (for a 7:15 flight - by the way - so I was in hyper nervous mode as I am not a 'let's get to the airport at the last minute' type but when I travel with a rep, I do not make the decision on when we depart for the airport, etc).  I called the 4 Seasons and they had noticed my iPod when they shipped my shoes, so luckily they also shipped my iPod to me.  Phew, what a relief!
  • On Saturday morning I went to run club and forgot my garmin.  Not the end of the world as I wasn't planning on doing any pick ups since I have been so sick this week, but it was just the last straw in a string of forgetfulness.
So yah, I basically am operating on half a brain these days.  I blame the lack of sleep and my sinus infection.  But I am actually just a really forgetful person in general.  I was the child who always lost a mitten at school.  I tend to forget things at people's houses when I visit.  I have a tendency to lose my keys.  I really hate this personality trait, but I guess you have to take the good with the bad, right?

Are you a flighty/forgetful person? 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of September

September is over?  What?  No, really, what happened to the month?


Learning to Love Again by Mat Kearney - Another great song off his new album.  To me, it's about finding yourself and learning to love yourself again - themes which really resonate with me.  Mat Kearney is coming to Minneapolis in late November and I am hoping to go to his concert.  I just heart his voice.  Big time.


Still Missing by Chevy Stevens -  I don't know if this counts as I actually 'listened' to this book on my drive to visit Nora.  It was a heavy book about an abduction, but it was a good book that held my attention for the long, boring drive!

Same Kind of Difference as Me by Ron Hall - This was a good book about a wealthy man who befriends a homeless gentleman; they both learn a great deal from one another.  It was a good book, but it has a heavy Christian message in, so just keep that in mind if you plan on reading it.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson - This was a free e-book on my nook, so I checked it out as I needed some light, mindless reading for my Charlotte plane ride.  The book is about a girl who loses her aunt and then receives 13 letters, directing her to do various things.  The believability of the book was a challenge for me, as this young high school girl has to travel to Europe alone and I just don't find that believable.  I don't know that many parents would allow their young teenage daughter to travel to Europe alone.  If she had been college aged, it would have been much more believable.

At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon - My good friend Brooke has been telling me I should read these books for years, and when I discovered that the first one was available to download through my library, I finally took the plunge.  It's a light, fun read that chronicles the trials and tribulations of an Episocopalian priest, living in North Carolina.  I really enjoyed it as I needed a light, easier read.


I ran 75 miles this month, which is significantly less than last month.  I blame this on all the traveling I did + getting really sick at the end of the month.  It wasn't a great running month, but I did the best I could given my circumstances.


That is my favorite look of the month.  It's one of the new outfits I purchased last month at Banana Republic.  I wore it to the airport the day I flew out to Charlotte, and it brought me good luck.  How so?  Well, I will explain that eventually, maybe later this month.  I usually shy away from skirts because they draw attention to my waist and I do not have a thin waist - I actually have no waist, I am just straight through that area.  But since this is high waisted, it actually looks ok on me!!