Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Family Fun in the Sun

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  Mine was absolutely wonderful.  After run club on Saturday morning, I hopped in the car and headed up to my parents lake home.  3 of my 4 siblings were there and my niece and all of my nephews were there!  We had the best time.  The weather was absolutely perfect, so we were outdoors all day, besides watching the men's gymnastics on Saturday night.  And to sleep of course!  We ate well, relaxed in the sun, celebrated my oldest nephew's birthday, and just soaked up the time together.  I made some progress on a new scarf I'm knitting, and I read quite a bit of my book.  So all in all, it was a wonderful weekend.  I was so sad to see it end!  But luckily I will be back there next weekend!

I'll let the pictures really do the talking for how awesome my weekend was!

Sometimes I am dismissive of the beauty of the midwest - but it's out there, and I was reminded of it on my drive on Saturday when I encountered a beautiful field of sunflowers!  Of course the picture doesn't do it justice!

We all ate al fresco - even the kiddos!

I love my little red-headed nephews!  I think Charlie is going to look a lot like James - but with curly hair!

We celebrated James's 8th birthday.  Getting Andrew, James, and Matthew to all look at the same camera at the same time was impossible!!

I snatched my niece Anna from my sister-in-law's arms the minute she walked in the house!  I hadn't seen my brother Chad and his family for 8 months so I was VERY excited to see this little lady!!

Anna and Charlie are 4 months apart but are basically the same size!  They played together pretty well at first...

But then Anna got a little bit aggressive - which Charlie did NOT like.  She's trying to sort of ride on his back in this photo!

James and Kolin (Kolin is Anna's brother) were up early the next morning.  The boys had hot cocoa, mom and I had coffee.  :)

I think Anna will be walking VERY soon!

Grandpa and Anna!
By the time I got home Sunday night at 9:30, I felt as tired as Charlie looks in this photo.  All that time outdoors wears a person out!  And yes, I have a million freckles... and they are not small and cute - they are big blotches.  Oh well, I can't avoid, so I just embrace them!!

Like I said, it was a wonderful weekend and I feel like I truly relaxed this weekend.  Don't get me wrong - I have had an enjoyable summer and have relaxed, but my pending CFA results were always in the back of my mind...  It's kind of like waiting to really, truly exhale for 7+ weeks.  It's nice to put that exam in my past and focus on enjoying my freedom!

My only regret is not getting a photo of Anna and my 5 nephews!!  They aren't all together very often so I am kicking myself for missing this opportunity to get a picture.  Hopefully we'll all be back together for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Do you have freckles?  If so, do you like them?  If not, do you wish you had freckles?  I have always just sort of accepted the fact that I have freckles so am sort of ambivalent about them.  But when people see me in person I get a lot of - 'whoa, you have a lot of freckles' comments! I am a little bit envious of my little sister as she has this cute dusting of little freckles instead of blotches like I have!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 6

Wow, I'm 1/3 of the way through training!  I know that the next 2/3 will fly by as well!  October 21st still seems far off, but I know it will come fast.

Today I thought I'd talk about what is working well this training cycle and what I'm struggling with.  I have been really positive in these marathon training recap posts, but trust me - not every run is awesome for me...

What's Working:  My long runs are going really, really well.  Like better than any other marathon training cycle.  I think this is due to the fact that I came into marathon training with a very nice base amount of miles.  Actually, I looked back on my training and was surprised to find that I ran more miles in the months of April and May than I did in the month of July last year when I was training hard for my half marathon.  So clearly all those miles I put in between March-May are helping me now.  I've increased my long runs a little faster than a Hal Higdon schedule would call for, but I'm listening to my body and my coaches, and I know I've made good decisions so far.

Also, this is the first training cycle where I have ran with others and clearly having some company out there on the trails makes a big difference.  I have become known as the quiet runner who doesn't really like to engage in non-stop conversation, but I like having someone else out there with me.

I have ran enough marathons to know that I have some bad long runs ahead of me - it's inevitable.  But I am enjoying these great long runs while they last!

What I'm Struggling With: Pace work is REALLY hard for me.  Like really hard.  We did a run this week where we did 1 mile at marathon pace and then 4 x 1200m at half marathon pace.  I hit my pace for the 1 mile and 2 of the 4 1200, but the last 2 1200s were ugly.  Part of it is the extreme humidity we've had lately.  It's like running through stream.  I got really frustrated on Wednesday as I was running those last 2 1200s at a slower pace than I ran my half marathon last fall...  and I was working REALLY hard (i.e. panting and wanting to die) but when I was not all that winded when I ran my half last fall.  Yes it was work, but not THAT much work.

BUT - it was also about 40 degrees cooler when I ran my half last fall and there was no humidity.  And I know I went through this frustrating phase last summer.  It's just part of the process. I had a great run on Thursday in cooler, less humid temps, though, which restored some of my confidence.

My challenge is to not give up on myself and to not mentally kick the crap out of myself after these tough runs as I am prone to do... 

Here is how the training broke out for the week:

Monday:  7.25 miles of hills at a 9:43 pace.  This was a tough run as it was very humid that night. 

Tuesday: Biked 8 miles on the stationary bike before work.

Wednesday:  7 mile run w/ an overall pace of 9:42.  Pace work:  1 mile @ 8:55, 4 x 1200m repeats @ 8:40, 8:50, 8:54, 9:02 (ugly, ugly run for me). 

Thursday:  4 miles @ 8:52 pace.  This was an awesome run for me and showed me how the humidity had been impacting my runs as it was only 82 this day and not humid, and the run went great.

Friday:  Rest

Saturday:  12 miles @ 9:48 pace.  This run went awesome.  I felt strong the whole time and was very consistent with my pace.

Sunday:  Rest

Training Tally:

Week 6:  30.75 miles
Training to date:  165.75 miles

How has the weather been where you are?  Has it impacted your training?  I am trying to remind myself that this heat and humidity will make me a strong runner come fall when the temps cool and the humidity eases.  But right now, moving to Seattle sounds awfully tempting....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Amber's Wedding!!

5 posts later, I am finally getting around to recapping Amber's wedding!  It's hard to believe it was almost 3 weeks ago - time has flown since then... and just as we knew it would, her wedding day flew by.  Luckily I got a decent number of photos!  You really should also go check out Kelly's recap as she got some amazing shots and it's fun reading her perspective of the day!!

The day got started pretty early as Amber had to get her hair curled and set at 7:30 and I was next at 8:30.  The time spent getting ready went pretty fast.  In a matter of hours we went from looking like this...

I was mostly ready in this photo, Amber still had a ways to go obviously.  ;)

To looking like this!

Amber and I shortly before she walked down the aisle!

I really, really liked the bridesmaid dress.  She picked them out and ordered them from a wedding shop in St. Paul when she came to visit me last year (where she also got her beautiful dress!), and I had a decent amount of influence on the selection.  Amber went with these dresses because of the color and the fact that we thought it would be flattering on everyone.  I think we were right - this is one of the most flattering (and comfortable) bridesmaid dresses I've worn, and I think everyone looked beautiful in the dress!!  See for yourself - here I am with 3 of the other bridesmaids!

We are sipping on a little pre-wedding champagne!
 Before we knew it, it was time for the ceremony to start!  The ceremony was held on a grassy area that overlooked the ocean.  It was a stunning setting and this wedding goes down as the most beautiful weddings I've attended!

After the wedding, I found these guys and had some cocktails with them before dinner!  The signature cocktail was a Caesar, which is one of Amber and Eric's favorite drinks (I'm a big fan too!).

 Then it was time for dinner! 

Amber and Eric entering the tent, which was down on the grassy area where the ceremony was held.
 The food was delicious and all of the speeches had me laughing - and tearing up a bit as well.

Amber and Eric both did a great job speaking!
And I ended up giving a little impromptu speech when Amber's brother called on the audience for other speeches.  There were a decent number of bloggers at the wedding, so it was fun to speak and represent this area of her life.  
It totally looks like I am singing in this photo - I promise I'm not.  Thanks, Kelly, for capturing this moment on film!

After dinner, Anais, Amber, Kelly, and I got together for a quick photo.  I really loved spending time with these girls.  I just wish we lived closer so we could all be together more often!  We all just get along so well.  We were definitely all meant to meet each other.  :)

After dinner, we headed back upstairs for the dance.
First dance as husband and wife!

After that, there was lots of dance offs and patio conversations and at the stroke of midnight, I got to wish these two a happy 2nd anniversary!!

So there you have it.  I really can't even attempt to do this day justice.  The wedding was so beautiful and there were so many great details from the lemonade stand (which was a hit) to the photo booth to the dessert table to the beautiful sunflower decor.  It was a beautiful day and Amber was literally glowing.  It's a wonderful thing to watch a wonderful friend get married to someone that you know will make her incredibly happy - and vice versa.

The day after the wedding, I was so sad to say good bye, I ended up crying.  I am not one to cry when saying good bye (it totally surprised Amber!), but I was just so sad to see the wedding weekend come to an end.  It was just wonderful spending so much time around Amber, Anais, and Kelly - I hope we are reunited again soon!

I feel so blessed to have been a part of Amber's wedding day.  The fact that I was a bridesmaid is a testament to the authenticity of friendships that can be formed through blogging.  It's an unconventional way to meet, but I am so very thankful that blogging brought us together!  I do not know what I would do without Amber in my life!!

Have you made friends through blogging?  As you all know, I have met so many great friends through blogging!  I'm thankful everyday for the people I have in my life as a result of starting this little blog.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 Vacation Park IV - Vancouver + The Sunshine Coast

First things first - thank you for the congratulatory comments on my last post!  I feel so blessed to have so many people in my life that care about me!  I was completely spoiled on Tuesday - from steak sandwiches at lunch to macaroons in the afternoon to flowers from my parents to a flourless chocolate torte at happy hour to dinner with my aunt and uncle!  The day was full of celebration!!  Now I fully intend to enjoy the next 5 months of my life (I'll start studying for level III on December 26th, but I am blocking that out of my mind for now!).

Back to the vacation recap!  When I last left off, we had just finished up brunch in Vancouver, and went our separate ways.  We didn't get much accomplished after brunch as traffic was so bad and it was taking forever to get anywhere, so we headed back to the hotel to meet up with the rest of the bridal party.

Amber had made manicure and pedicure appointments for the bridal party.  I rarely get manicures or pedicures, so this was quite a treat.  Plus, she found a place that allowed us to bring in our own alcohol, so we brought a couple of bottles of wine to really aid in the relaxation process. 

I got to sit next to Amber :)  It was incredibly relaxing to sip on wine while someone dealt with my poor feet which are totally beat up thanks to my high arches + marathon training.

After the pampering, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. The brother of Amber's hair dresser is a personal chef in Vancouver and he was gracious enough to host us for dinner on Saturday!

Amber and I on his rooftop patio.  He has the most amazing views of Vancouver. It was a beautiful night, so we ate dinner up on the patio.  It was heavenly!

Dinner was AH-MAZING.  The chef took into account my gluten intolerance so he made me my own special salad (the others had a panzanella salad). That cheese on top of the salad was flown in from Italy (I usually avoid dairy but couldn't skip a specially flown in cheese!)!  He also served tenderloin, salmon, and a corn dish.  The corn dish might have been my favorite part of the meal - it had truffle oil and a hint of jalapeno.  It was to die for!

It was wonderful to watch the sun set over the city of Vancouver.  

I was sad to see my time in Vancouver end, but of course I was excited to head to the Sunshine Coast for Amber's wedding!!  We were up bright and early on Sunday morning.  I went to mass at a beautiful cathedral in downtown Vancouver, and then I met up with Amber and Kelly for coffee before we left Vancouver for the Sunshine Coast!  We had a short drive to the ferry terminal, and then we were off.

The views from the ferry were SO beautiful and were very similar to the views from my ferry ride to Victoria last fall.  This part of the country is simply stunning - I highly recommend it as a vacation destination!!

After a short ferry ride, we arrived on the Sunshine Coast.  We stopped for lunch in a town called Sechelt.

The views from the deck of the restaurant were so beautiful!

After 20 minutes of driving on some winding, curvy roads (which left both Amber and I rather sick to our stomachs) we arrived at the resort.  Which really felt like paradise for me!

This was the view from our room.  Of course the picture does not do it justice.

I had some downtime before the rehearsal, so spent some time reading on the deck. I didn't get much reading done as the beautiful views were too distracting.

We had the rehearsal and welcome dinner that evening, but I was not so great about taking photos so have none to share.  The rehearsal went really, really smoothly, and the dinner was delicious.  Amber and I shared a room that night so I had the honor of spending the last night with her as a single lady!  She was cool, calm, and so excited for the next day - as was I!  Oh how I love wedding weekends!

I'll be back tomorrow with my 5th and final installment of this vacation recap series - Amber's wedding!

Have you ever been on a ferry before?  Besides taking ferries to Victoria and the Sunshine Coast, I also took a ferry between the north and south islands of New Zealand - but that was a HORRIBLE experience.  Unbeknownst to us, that stretch of water is known for being choppy.  So many people got sick on that ferry. I was kind of afraid of them since that experience, but it's a very calm, easy ride on the waters around the BC area (at least in my experience).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oh Happy Day!!

I have wonderful news to share - I found out this morning that I passed my level II CFA exam!! 42% of those who took it passed - so I feel really good about being in that group! :)

The wait for the results was excruciating and, in my opinion, cruel. Others got their results emails over an hour before mine. I get that they are sending out 85,000 emails, but seriously. Take part of the $600 exam fee and buy a better server.

But all that matters is that I passed! We are celebrating with steak sandwiches (sans the bread for me) and I am relishing the feeling of sweet relief. You all know how hard I worked for this; it's such a relief to know that hard work payed off!

Thanks to all of you for the support, encouragement, and 'you can do it' comments.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 5

Greetings and happy Monday!

I'm only 5 weeks in, but training is going really well so far.  I'm feeling healthy and my long runs are going well - which is such a confidence booster.  This isn't my first marathon, so I know I have tough runs ahead of me, as they are an inevitable part of training, but I am enjoying these strong runs while they last.

Besides PR'ing, another goal of mine for this marathon training session is to stay healthy.  Obviously, that is a goal we all want to achieve, but I am trying some new things to help me accomplish this goal.  First, I am really focusing on cross training and strength training.  The other thing I am doing is seeing a chiro for ART  (active release technique) therapy.  Amber recommended it to me as she did ART to help with some of the tightness in her calves.  In my case, I struggle with knee pain caused by patella femoral, and after doing some research, I found that ART can help.

So what is ART?  Well, to dumb it down, it's a massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, and nerves.  I had my initial assessment about a month ago and was happy that this chiro came up with the same conclusion as the PT I saw 2 years ago for my knee pain:  weak hips and a weak right glute.  I won't bore you with the details of it, but long story short, the chiro finds areas of tightness and massages them.  It's a pretty intense type of massage - sort of akin to the pain of foam rolling, but times 10, I'd say.  It's a 'hurt so good' type of feeling, though, and I noticed a difference right away.  Luckily it is covered by insurance and since I met my out of pocket maximum already, I don't even have to pay a co-pay.  So that is nice.  I saw him a couple of times before my trip and now I will go to him on an as needed basis when I start to feel some tightening/knee pain.  The nice thing is that you notice a difference immediately.  I am so glad I looked into this type of therapy!

Here is how the training week broke out!

Monday: Hills in the heat, 6.35 miles @ 10:43 pace.  This run was VERY difficult as it was 97 and very humid. I was so tired at the end, I could barely talk.  Our coaches kept a close eye on us and got us popsicle for after the run, which helps lower your core temperate.  This is probably the hardest/worst run of this training cycle.

Tuesday:  4 miles @ 9:25 pace.  Another hot, humid run.

Wednesday: 7.7 miles on the stationary bike before work.

Thursday:  4 miles @ 9:10 pace.  I started running at 5 so was able to beat the heat.  I felt great on this run!

Friday:  Rest

Saturday:  15 miles @ 9:47 pace.  It down poured for much of this run - and there was some thunder and lightening, so it was a bit nerve wracking, but I had a great run despite the elements.  The rain actually kept me cool so I did not feel fatigued at the end!

Sunday:  1 hour and 45 minutes of kayaking.  It was my first time, and I LOVED it.  A friend from run club took me and we had a blast and saw 4 lakes (Cedar, Isles, Calhoun, and Brownie)!!  It was a great arm workout and a peaceful way to end a great weekend.

Training tally:

Week 5:  30 miles
Training to Date:  135 miles

Have you have been to a chiropractor or had ART therapy?  

Friday, July 20, 2012

2012 Vacation Part III - Vancouver

When I last left off, I was in Seattle. I woke up on Friday morning without the aid of an alarm as I was SO excited to start the next leg of the trip (ok, and I was still on CST).  This post is going to be a tad bit long, but bear with me!

After leaving my hotel, I grabbed some Starbucks and headed over to the train station.  Shortly after arriving, I ran into these two!!!

It was my first time meeting Kelly and Eric, but after reading Kelly's blog for YEARS it didn't feel like we were meeting for the first time; it was like seeing an old friend.  You've got to love their matching sweatshirts, right?  :)

I am so glad we did this leg of the trip together.  Luckily we got seated together on the train ride.  We spent the 4+ hours talking pretty much non-stop.  There were absolutely no awkward moments.  I bet the guy who sat with us never would have guessed that we hadn't met in person before that day.

Before we knew it, we had arrived in Vancouver.  We quickly made it through customs (after getting grilled!), and went to our respective hotels.  Amber wasn't arriving until later in the day, so I dropped my stuff off at the hotel and hit the streets of Vancouver.

I started off in the Canada Place area.  I asked someone to take my picture and totally thought of Kyria when I saw the result as we have talked about how strangers usually take crappy pictures... 

I mean, it's not awful, but, well, it's not great.  But I am sure I've taken crappy pictures of others, too.

On my tourist map, I saw that you could rent bikes nearby - I thought that would be the perfect way to get some exercise and cover a decent amount of ground! 

On my bike, with the Vancouver skyline in the background.  The tourist who took this picture did a great job!

Stanley Park is a huge area with lots of biking and walking paths.  I stumbled upon this pond and if I had more time, I would have stopped and sat on a bench and read.  It was such a beautiful, quiet little spot.

After 2 hours of biking, I made my way back to the Canada Place area and met up with Kelly and Eric for some drinks.  After a couple of cocktails, I headed back to meet Amber, and we grabbed dinner and headed to bed early.

On Saturday morning, Amber and I were up bright and early!  She knew I would be training for a marathon, so we had been planning to do a long run together for months.  Our other friend, Anais, and her boyfriend had arrived the night before so they joined us!  I have also read Anais's blog and exchanged many emails with her so it was awesome meeting her and her boyfriend in person!  She is incredibly sweet and is another person that I clicked with right away - AND she is French Canadian so she has a slight accent!  I am hoping to meet up with these girls to run a race in the future!

Amber planned an awesome run along the seawall.  I think we were on the Burrard Bridge at this point of the run.  I had so much fun running with Amber, Anais, and Anais's boyfriend Olle!

After 11.25 miles of running, we had worked up quite an appetite - so we headed to a group brunch at this cute Greek place.  It was like accent-palooza.  For accents we had: Anais's French Canadian accent, her boyfriend Olle's Swedish accent, Eric's Boston accent, and Amber's mom's Canadian accent (which is different from Amber's accent). And the wait staff had Greek accents.  I just love accents so I was in heaven.

The food was great, but the conversations were even better!

After hours of chatting, we went our separate ways, knowing the next time we'd all be together was at Amber's wedding!!!

I have more Vancouver photos/stories to share, but this post is getting too long so I'll close here for now!

Have you ever explored a city on bike?  I did a bike tour of Paris and it's one of the first things I recommend to others who are visiting Paris.  If you visit Vancouver, I highly recommend renting a bike and biking along the seawall.  There is a great bike path and the views are amazing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2012 Vacation Part II - Seattle

When I last left off, I had just returned from the lake and was preparing to leave for Seattle.  I arrived home the morning of the day I flew out for Seattle.  It was a bit hectic, but I wanted to soak up as much time with family as I possibly could.  I am really proud of the fact that I a) was packed within an hour of arriving home, and b) I fit everything for my week vacation in a carry on.  Score!  Ever since my luggage got lost on a trip to New York, I have avoided checking bags if at all possible!

I arrived in Seattle on Thursday evening and got into downtown around 6 pm.  I made the most of those short few hours that I had in Seattle!  Once again, I will let the photos do the talking!!

The first sight I encounter?  Blue trees.  Strange, but sort of beautiful!  I've never seen a city paint their trees!

It was the end of the day, so the market was closing down, but some of the stalls were still open so I meandered through on my way down to the water!  You can see how blue the skies were that day.  There was not a cloud in sight and it was so sunny!  I love the weather in the Pacific NW.

If I had more time, I would have checked out that giant ferris wheel!  I am afraid of heights, but I am sure the views from the top would have been amazing.  I guess I will have to tackle that on my next trip!

I continued to walk around, taking in the beautiful blue, cloudless skies and savoring THE LACK OF HUMIDITY.  I came from 95F+ temps and high humidity, so 75 and no humidity felt AMAZING.

I worked up an appetite walking around, so my next mission was finding a restaurant with a good gluten free menu.  Luckily, I have found that the Pacific NW is VERY good about having gluten free options.  The hotel had suggested a Thai place and when I saw that it had a good gluten free menu, I was sold!

I started off with some chicken satay.  The sauce was SO good, and I loved the pickled vegetables and rice ball (err, square).

Next up was my main course:  mussels in a coconut curry sauce.  The waiter recommended it to me and described the sauce as liquid crack.  He was spot on!!  The mussels were so fresh as they were caught locally.  Besides the mussels, there were bits of pineapple, and it was garnished with bean sprouts and cilantro.  Yum!!

That is all I fit into those few short hours!  I headed back to the hotel early as I knew I had some big days ahead of me.  I went to bed so excited as I knew I'd be seeing Kelly and her husband Eric the next morning!

Have you ever been to Seattle?  Do you like mussels?  Mussels are probably one of my most favorite foods!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guest Post - Bookmarked with Joanne DeMaio

Greetings and Happy Wednesday, everyone!  Today I have a guest post from author, Joanne DeMaio.  Her book, "Whole Latte Life" was released this past March and today she is sharing a short passage from the book as well as her reflections on that passage.


We all have favorite passages we enjoy as readers when we’re immersed in a novel.  I actually keep a book journal in which I write certain details about books that move me, and I enjoy thumbing through that journal, re-reading favorite passages.

But as a writer, I also have favorite passages I’ve written for the page.  They might be lines that evoke a certain mood, or a reflection of my own heart, or a turn of a phrase that inspires a sweet memory.  So from my novel Whole Latte Life, I’ve Bookmarked certain passages that are favorites of mine, as the writer.  I’d like to share one of those here with you.

What fills their quiet are the birds singing, a boat engine idling.  It would be nice to catch it, she thinks, to reach to the sky and snatch some of that summer sound and put it in a flowered box and when you need it, you open the lid and a robin’s call rises.  Sometimes you’ll hear the boat far off idling, waiting for you to board on a crystal lake framed by tall green pines.  And she thinks the sound of a horse nickering would be in that box as well.
Bookmarked, P. 143 Whole Latte Life

This particular passage evokes memories of summers I’ve spent at a cherished beach along the Connecticut shoreline.  Often during the evening hours, a lone robin might trill until the sun sets, and it is the only sound within a summer stillness.  It is the type of sound I can always recall in a quiet moment, a memory that transports me to a serene place, literally and figuratively.  That place, a little notch in the coast along Long Island Sound, is also framed by tall green pines, and so I brought that visual from my life into the passage.  To me, that is some of the beauty of writing, to be able to preserve in a story, or on the page, places and memories that will always be special.

Thanks for visiting with me today.  Wishing you all a summer filled with peaceful sounds and memories.


This passage definitely resonates with me as so many of my childhood summer memories involve time spent near the lake waters of Minnesota.  The sounds I'd like to capture are the waves hitting the shore, the hauntingly beautiful sound a loon makes, and gentle sound of boats trolling on the water.

What are some of the sounds of summer you'd like to capture? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

2012 Vacation Part I - Lake Relaxation

I've been back from vacation for almost a week, so figure it's time to start the recapping process!  I have too much to share for one post, so I'll be sharing a series of posts, which will be capped off with a recap of Amber's wedding!!

The first part of my vacation was spent at my parents' lake home and it was awesome.  It was just what I needed.  It was the first vacation that I've taken in a long, long time (err, ever possibly?) that was totally and completely relaxing.  I spent lots of time with family and filled my days with lots of reading, relaxation, and time in the water!  I ate really well, and enjoyed some of our unique traditional food and beverages like rhubarb slush (so refreshing) and pickle dip (pickles + cream cheese + sour cream)  Yum!

I think I spent more time in the water those 4 days than I have in the last 4 years!  It was VERY hot and humid, so it was necessary to be in the water to stay cool!  I also fit in some ridiculously hot, humid runs.  Jumping in the lake afterwards is the best post-run recovery, by the way!

Here are some pictures I snapped during the week!

The word that comes to mind when I look at this picture is serenity.  That word sums up most of my lake vacation, too!  I love waking up to the calm, still waters.  Taking in scenery like this is good for the soul!

Even the kids took it easy!  There's Matthew laying on a floatie.  We spent A LOT of time on those floaties!

When we were out of the water, both kids and adults cooled off with a childhood favorite of mine - freezies!

On the 4th, we had a big family gathering.  There was 36 of us at my parents'!  Here is a picture of my cousin's adorable little guy, Odin.

It was really fun to watch my nephew Matthew go from being a bit scared of the water, to wading out, to full on swimming out to the raft (with a life jacket of course).  He was so proud of himself!!

The raft was very popular.  Abby and Ryan (pictured above) scored some bonus points with the kiddos by throwing them off the raft (at the kid's request) over and over and over!

So there you have it!  I left the lake on Thursday, July 5th feeling incredibly relaxed... and ready for the next leg of my vacation - which began that afternoon when I flew out to Seattle.

Stay tuned for the next phase of my vacation!

How did you celebrate Independence Day?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 4

4 weeks down, 14 to go! I am almost 1/3 of the way through training which is kind of crazy!

Today I want to talk about something really important: runner safety. This is going to be a "do as I say, not as I do" post as I made some stupid mistakes last Wednesday when I went for a run in Seattle.  The first part was unpreventable, but I fell about 4 miles into my run (tripped over a buckled sidewalk).  In the grand scheme of things, it wasn't too major, but I really fell hard, and skidded across the sidewalk for a bit. 

Sorry for anyone who is grossed out by blood.  It actually looks worse now than it did right after it happened! I also skinned my palms, got road rash on my upper thigh, and bruised my shoulder.  I am not kidding when I say I fell HARD.

It really hurt, but I was able to continue running.  In hindsight I should have turned around at that point and made it an out-and-back run, but I thought I'd be able to run around Lake Union.  Instead, I took a wrong turn multiple wrong turns, and this is the path I ended running. 

I had intended to run 8 miles that day, and as you can see from the map, I was no where near my starting point nearly 9 miles into my run.  I kept stopping and asking people how I could get back to the Queen Anne area and a couple of people were like - 'ON FOOT'?  I thought they were exaggerating, but once I realized where I was on my (crappy) tourist map, I knew it was time to throw in the towel.

I don't run with my iPhone, so I had to go to a restaurant to have them call me a cab.  I was dripping with blood from my fall (gross I know) and was pretty hot and tired at this point. The guy that helped me was  concerned as I looked pretty rough at this point.

Oh, and did I mention that I didn't have any money on me?  Rookie mistake.  Luckily the angelic cab driver that picked me up let me run up to my room to get cash.  I think he took pity on me as I looked pretty awful with all the abrasions from my fall.

It all worked out for me - luckily.  But I definitely made some stupid rookie mistakes that a runner with 7+ years of running under her belt shouldn't make!

So what did I learn?

1. Tell people where you are going!  No one knew when I was running, how far, or what area I'd be running in.  When you are a single person who lives (or is traveling alone), it would be smart to tell someone when/where you are running and approximately how long you'll be gone for.
2. Carry a phone when running in an unfamiliar area.
3. Always carry money on you. You may need water. Or a cab!
4. Wear something like a road id in case you are in distress and someone needs to contact a loved one (I ALWAYS have my road id on my shoes).

Wednesday was the perfect storm of runs but it all worked out in the end. Sometimes I am a bit too independent for my own good and I need experiences like this to remind myself that I am not invincible. None of us are. And yes, bad things can still happen to the most cautious runners, but it's pretty dumb to make as many mistakes as I did!

Here is how my week broke out:

Monday:  Rest day...  unless I can count dancing at the wedding as cross training.  ;)
Tuesday:  Rest day as I was traveling all day.
Wednesday:  Adventurous 8.75 mile run, 9:30 pace
Thursday:  5.25 run at 9:24 pace
Friday:  Rest day
Saturday:  16 miles at 10 min pace.  I meant to run 14 but the people I was running with were doing 16 so I stuck with them.  I was not at all sore the next day so I take that as a sign that my body was ready for the increase in distance.
Sunday:  Rest day

There were more rest days than I'd like, but I'll take what I can get when traveling.  This week will be a more solid week.

Training tally:
Week 4: 30 miles
Training to date:  105

Do you have any runner's safety tips to add to my list?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Miscellany

Greetings and happy Friday!  I am back from what was an AMAZING vacation and am slowly assimilating back to post-vacation life.  Slowly.  I feel so behind after having little-to-no internet/phone access (which was actually kind of nice).  Luckily I have a fairly quiet weekend ahead of me which I will be using to catch up!

Kyria gave me the One Lovely Blog Award over a month ago!  I am supposed to 1) Post the award logo and picture on your blog and link back to the person who nominated you. 2) Tell seven things about yourself. 3) Nominate up to 15 additional bloggers whom you think deserve the award. 4) Post a comment on the blog of each nominee to tell them they have been nominated!

Here are 7 things about me!

1.  I hate asking for directions - which makes me especially thankful for my iPhone as it typically prevents me from having to ask directions.  The map application is a life saver for me!

2.  I used to be really chatty as a child, I remember talking to pretty much anyone who would listen.  Now?  I avoid unnecessary conversations - like in places such as airplanes, groceries stores, cabs, etc.

3.  I have an incredibly strong gag reflex and am super sensitive to bad smells.  As a result, I really can't use a porta-potty or public restrooms in places like airplanes and trains without gagging.  I usually have to put my nose in my shirt and talk myself out of throwing up.

4.  I do best in smaller group settings of maybe 6-8 people.  When I am in a big group, I tend to get really quiet and do more observing than talking.  For that reason, I have no desire to ever do a huge blogger meet up.

5.   I think that the semi-colon is probably the most misunderstood and misused of punctuation.  It pains me to see it used wrongly; it can be so effective when used correctly. 

6.  I never thought I'd say this, but I prefer reading e-books to physical books.  Don't get me wrong, I still love physical books as I would love to have a library some day, but e-books are so much easier - especially when traveling.  I just love how light and portable my nook is!

7.  The last day of my last 2 big vacations have sucked - I hope this is not a trend.  Last year when I went to Paris, my flight got cancelled due to a snow storm, I got majorly delayed and re-routed through Atlanta, and my luggage got lost.  On this trip, I fell and got lost during my run (more on that in my Monday Marathon post).  Then on my walk to the train station, I got followed by this creepy/crazy guy who took my picture about 8 times (ick).  And then on the flight home, a guy in my row (who I think was intoxicated) loudly puked (and yes I had to fight my gag reflex).  So yah, I am 0-2 on ending my last 2 big vacations on a high note!  Oh well, it makes it easier to return to reality after my vacation end like that!

I am usually a rule follower, but will be skipping the picking of 15 bloggers as I have too hard of a time doing that!  Instead I'd love it if you share some (or 7) random tidbits about you!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 3

Greetings from the stunningly beautiful Sunshine Coast of British Columbia!  I feel like I've been a lot of places in the last week!  Battle Lake Minnesota to Minneapolis to Seattle to Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast.  Phew!  I've put on a lot of miles, but it has been an awesome trip so far!  I'll share more with you when I return but suffice it to say this has been an amazing vacation!!  And today is the main event - Amber's Wedding!!!!!!!  I am sure I'll have lots of pictures to share!

Today I thought I'd talk about maintaining your exercise schedule while on vacation.  I am not always great about making time for workout when I am on vacation.  My vacations tend to be active anyways as I tend to do a lot of walking/exploring.  In fact, I usually lose a little weight when I go to Europe because of all the walking I do!  But when you are training for something like a marathon, the natural activity that you do on a trip just doesn't really cut it, so fitting in runs is a must.

Last week was challenging because I was in an area that is not great for running (unshaded roads by my parents cabin, curvy narrow roads without shoulders in the area).  Add in the fact that it was ridiculously hot and humid, and it was a tough week of training for me.  As a result, I made this week a sort of 'step back' week, which means I decreased my mileage. I was due for a step back week anyways as every 3rd week is usually a step back when training. So it worked out just fine!

I did my Mon and Wed runs by myself in the hot, humid temps of Minnesota, and then enjoyed a beautiful, cool run in Vancouver with Amber and Anais on Saturday.  I will say - it's a lot easier to fit runs in when you are traveling with fellow runners!  I ran by myself earlier in the week and held myself accountable by writing it down ahead of time in my planner.  For me, writing it down helps me stick to the plan!

Here is how the training broke out for the week!

Monday:  hilly, hot 6 miles, 9:40 pace.  It was 81 and ridiculously humid, so I am surprised my pace wasn't slower.

Tuesday:  We had a big storm come through on Monday so I raked up the branches in my parents yard and helped move a boat lift.  I am considering this cross training!  I also swam quite a bit!

Wednesday: 5 hot, humid miles at a 9:40 pace.

Thursday: rest day due to traveling!

Friday: Cross training = 1.5 hour bike ride around the Stanley Park area of Vancouver.

Saturday: 11.25 miles along the sea wall at a 10:40 pace. I took it extra easy on this run and focused on taking in the beautiful views!! We took lots of walk breaks and stopped to take a couple of pictures. I felt awesome at the end.

Sunday: rest day


Training tally:
Week 3: 22.25

Training to date: 75

Are you good at fitting in workouts while traveling? I have gotten good at fitting them in when traveling for fun, but am not so great at fitting it in while traveling for work as we work such long days!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Music, Books, Miles and Looks of June

Whoa - the year is half over!!



Springsteen by Eric Church - A former co-worker (Hi Pat!) suggested that I check out this song as he thought I'd like it - and he was spot on.  I love this song!  I'm not usually a big country person, but as we shift into the season of summer, I tend to listen to more country.  I think this song is great because so many of my memories are linked to music, so I agree with Eric Church that "sometimes a melody sounds like a memory."


100 by Brandi Carlile - I was thrilled that Brandi Carlile released another album last month.  This album has a bit more of a country/bluegrass feel to it, but I love it.  This is one of my favorite songs.  Brandi is so so talented - I really hope I can see her sometime this year!  Seriously, if you get a chance to see her - take advantage of it.  Her and the twins in her band are AMAZING.  Especially in a small venue when they can perform a capella. 


This was my first study free month!  Woo hoo!  I studied about 4 hours on June 1st, but that was the extent as I took my exam on June 2nd.  Words can not express how happy I am to not have any study hours to add up this month!  With the increase in free time, I read 6 books!!!

The Voluntourist by Ken Budd - You can read my review here.

One Summer by David Baldacchi - This is the first book I have read by this author. It's a fast, mindless read, so makes for a good vacation or beach read. It's a bit predictable, and a little bit unrealistic, but that seems to be the trend for books in this genre.

Saving Ruth by Zoe Fishman - You can read my reviewe here.

The Vow by Kim Carpenter - I wanted to read this before seeing the movies as I prefer to read the book first.  It's a very fast read and can be read in one sitting most likely.  I am sure you've all seen the trailer for the movie, so understand the premise of the book.  It does have a strong Christian message, which makes sense given what this couple went through, but if those sort of books make you uncomfortable/aren't enjoyable, this is not the book for you.

The Bungalow by Sarah Jio - I was excited to read this as I read and loved her first book, Violets of March.  This book did not disappoint.  It's set on the island of Bora Bora during WWII where the main character is serving as a nurse.  If you are looking for a good, fast read, check this out.  She has another book coming out this fall and I've already requested it from my library!

The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay - This was an extremely disappointing book.  Despite the fac that it was set in Paris, I did NOT like it at all and actually gave it 1 star on goodreads.  I can't believe this was written by the same author that wrote the captivating book, Sarah's Key.  The book is set in the 1860s during a time when Baron Haussman and Napoleon III were making huge changes to Paris to make it more accomodating to its growing population.  So, for example, they were widening the street, which required some houses to be torn down.  This book is about a widow whose house is being torn down.  I understand one's attachment to their home, but feel she took it to the extreme.  And besides that, she came off as an incredibly selfish, self-absorbed person.


Another strong month for me!  Marathon training kicked off, but my run club was on a 2 week hiatus as they take a break between the spring and summer sessions, but I still got a decent number of miles in.  I ran 96.75 - I was so close to 100!!  Had I known that, I would have fit another run in.  Oh well, I know I will break 100 next month now that I am training hard!


This is by far my favorite outfit of the month.  I finally joined the 'bright colored pants' trend, and got some magenta pants!  I got them on sale at Ann Taylor. I have worn bright pants to work in the past and got a lot of snide comments from male co-workers, but no one made fun of them this time - and one random quiet guy even told me he liked the color!