Friday, August 31, 2012

Traveling Fool

The first half of the year has been a quiet one for me in terms of travel - intentionally.  Between my surgery in January and my CFA study schedule, I avoided traveling as much as possible this winter/spring!  I ended up only having to do 4 works trips from January - July:  a trip to Chicago, 2 trips to Charlotte and one to Denver.

Well, that is a-changing.  And I am actually happy about it.  I would prefer to backload my travel into the 2nd half of the year.  It's just far too stressful to travel while studying for the CFA!  This weekend kicks off a string of trips, and luckily I get to kick my travel season off with a fun trip!  This weekend I'll be heading to St. Louis to visit Nora and participate in a weekend of pre-wedding festivities!

After my St. Louis trip, I will be doing 3 different trips to random cities in Pennyslvania where I'll be co-presenting at some client events.  Oh and the presentation we are giving is 3 HOURS LONG.  Dear God, whose idea was that (it wasn't ours!).  I'm also sprinkling in a trip to Chicago for an office visit + client visits.  Luckily that trip is coinciding with my niece's first birthday party.  Score!  I love combining business with pleasure.  :)

Then it's back to St. Louis in early October for Nora's wedding!  After that, I'm not sure...  I am doing what is called a "Road Show" in my line of business, which means I am going around and visiting all of our sales offices, promoting what my group does, getting to know the sales reps, and doing some client meetings.  So in the next 4 months, I plan to visit Boston, Nashville, Dallas, Orlando, LA, San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle, Denver, and possibly Salt Lake City and Phoenix.  And probably Charlotte at some point.  Luckily I feel a lot more comfortable in my position than I did a year ago when I started to amp up my travel - and I am not battling non-stop sinus infections.  So I am actually excited for these road show trips!  They are coming at a good time as I think being out of the office right now will be good for me.  I am hoping to spend the weekend in a couple of the cities, like Boston and the San Francisco/Sacramento area, and I want to try to visit Austin when I am in Dallas as my friend just moved there from Phoenix.

I'm excited to fly out tonight for St. Louis tonight - I haven't seen Nora since I visited her in Wisconsin last September!  Kind of crazy to think it's been almost a year since I've seen her!  I'll be attending her wedding shower and bachelorette party, both of which should be a blast! 

Have a great weekend - I am so glad it's a long one for us Americans and Canadians!!  I fly back Sunday night and am so glad I have Monday off as I leave Tuesday for my first trip to Pennsylvania and will be there until Thursday. I will need some downtime before that trip as it will be a bit tiring.  I'll have lots of windshield time with my new boss as we travel to these random towns in Pennsylvania...  I guess we will really get to know each other on this trip. 

How will you be spending this (long) weekend?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Left Behind

Last Friday, my boss submitted his resignation.  That (and some other things) is the work stress I have been referring to this month.  I knew it was coming and part of me was ready for him to resign as I was tired of carrying the weight of knowing he was leaving; another part of me was extremely sad as it made me face the fact that he really, truly is leaving.

I know I had an atypical relationship with my boss, and I am lucky to have worked for someone like him.  But I am sad.  Both of us thought we would work as partners for years upon years. I don't fault him for leaving - I'd be doing the same thing if I was in his shoes.  I know he will continue to mentor me from afar, we'll meet for the occasional lunch, and I'll have dinner with his family, but it's just not the same.  I'm losing my daily support system, mentor, and confidant.

I feel pretty down about my work situation right now, but I also know that things have a way of working themselves out.  I know this case of the 'sads' will fade with time and I will rise above and make the most of it, but right now - I'm sad.  And scared. I leaned on him quite a bit and partnered with him on so much, it's a bit daunting to think of doing it all alone.

But our lives are so impacted by our outlook, so I am really trying to keep things in perspective.  We both have long careers ahead of ourselves, so maybe our paths will cross again in the future.  Also, I am very thankful that this is not happening in the midst of CFA study season.  And at the end of the day, there is so much more to me than what I do for a living.  Years ago, I learned to not let work become too big of a piece of my identity.  There are lots of other wonderful things in my life that define who I am, and bring me joy, so I will just intentionally turn my eyes towards those things. Things like my health, great family and friends, and my love of running.

And when I feel pulled down by my situation at work, I look at this quote, and feel a bit better.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday - Week 10

Woo hoo!  I did my first 20 miler this weekend.  It was HARD.  Everyone else was doing 16 as it was a step back week for them, so I started early and did 4 miles before the group started at 7.  This was not a great week to extend the run as the route was HARD.  It's called "Potpourri of Hills."  We did 6 sets of hills, and did a double loop of the last hill - which I hit at mile 17.  You know that children's song, "This is the song that never end"?  Well I sang that to myself in my head and changed the word song to hill.

These are the hills that never end.  They just go on and on, my friend. Some people started running them not know what they were and they'll continue running them forever just because...
But I survived and was impressed that my overall pace was 9:51.  I definitely struggled at the end, which is to be expected - you can see those 2 hill loops I did at the end on the far right of this elevation profile.

So running 20 miles means I burned approximately 2000 calories.  Add on the 1,200-1,600 calories a person needs, and well, you need to eat a lot on the days when you do long runs.  I think some people think that you lose weight when training for a marathon - but that is really not the case.  Many actually GAIN weight.  That hasn't been the case for me - my weight has stayed the same.  But it does seem to change the way a person thinks about eating.  I eat for performance and recovery and really think about what I put in my body.  Now I am far from perfect, so I definitely eat some things that are not healthy (hello, m&m's), but in general, I eat pretty cleanly when I am running.

I'm always curious about what others eating when they are training, so here is a selection of most of the things I ate on the day of my long run last Saturday!

coffee w/ French Vanilla creamer + PB on GF toast = my standard pre-run breakfast

Post-run breakfast of 3 scrambled eggs w/ salsa

Left over brown rice spaghetti with ground turkey marinara sauce for lunch!

An hour after lunch, I was hungry, so I had some vanilla yogurt (I'll re-introduced yogurt into my diet) + GF granola

A couple hours later, I was STILL hungry, so I boiled 2 ears of corn.  I know it's a lot for a snack, but I was insatiable at this point

Dinner was foil packets of baby red potatoes and zucchini with a small serving of steak, all grilled on my charcoal grill!

That is pretty much everything I ate.  The only things I left out were the 3 gu's I ate during the run and the chocolate milk I drank after the run (can't stand the dairy-free versions so I still drink this once a week).  So all in all, not a CRAZY amount of food, but I definitely consumed a lot of calories.  Obviously there was no dessert or sweets consumed yesterday, unless you count the chocolate milk and yogurt which are both on the sweet side.  This isn't out of the norm for me as I am just not a sweets person, and the one item I would want - frozen yogurt - would have been too much on top of the yogurt I had (my body can not handle much dairy in a day, especially since I cut back my dairy consumption last year).

Here is how the training broke out for the week!

Monday:  8 mile recovery run at 9:30 pace.  We took it easy on this run as most had ran 20 on Saturday.

Tuesday:  30 minutes on a stationary bike - 8.5 miles

Wednesday:  Yassos!  For those not familiar w/ Yassos, they are 1/2 mile repeats.  If your goal is a 4 hour marathon, you run the 1/2 mile in 4 minutes.  4 hours is my goal, so my goal was 4 minutes.  I ran my 4 yassos in 3:54, 3:49, 4:00, and 4:03.  Pace deteriorated, but I am still happy with how they went.  We will work our way up to doing 10 of them!  Eeks!

Thursday:  4 mile recovery run at 9:22 pace.

Friday:  Rest

Saturday:  20 miles of hellacious hills, pace of 9:51.  First ice bath of the training season.

Sunday:  Rest

 Training Tally:

Week 10:  39 miles
Training-to-Date:  308

Are you a sweets person?  If so, what is your favorite sweet indulgence?  I am not a huge sweets person as I prefer salty/savory foods, but I do like m&m's, starburst and frozen yogurt!

Friday, August 24, 2012

To Infinity and Beyond

Happy Friday!  Woo hoo!  It's almost the weekend!  This has been a long work week for me so I am hoping today goes by quickly.

It is probably a little known fact that I knit.  Did you know that my love for knitting - and sharing the stories of my life - inspired the name behind this blog?  Originally I wanted the title to be "Spinning Yarns" but that URL was already taken, so I settled on Lisa's Yarns.

Anywho, so I knit.  Not as much as I used to, but when there is a lull in my schedule, I find myself in my local yarn shop (which is a short walk away).  It's the very yarn shop where I learned to knit and purl 4 years ago!  In late July, I had an unplanned weekend so wandered into the yarn shop in search of my next project.  I was pining for fall and wanted to work on something warm and cozy for that season.

I settled on this very simple pattern.  It's called the "GAP-tastic Cowl" as it was inspired by a scarf that the author of the pattern spotted in GAP.  It was my first time making an infinity scarf.  I have always wanted to own one, but never saw one I really liked in a store (with a price tag I could stomach).

Here is how it turned out!

The picture is obviously a bit dated as it was taken before my haircut!

Here is an up close shot that shows the texture of the scarf

I am really happy with how it turned out.  I used my favorite brand of yarn (malabrigo), which is such a lovely yarn to work with.  It's so warm and cozy - it will be perfect for my walk to work when the temps drop!  I am glad I went with a neutral color as it will go with almost all of my winter jackets!  I want to pick up some more yarn this weekend so I can start working on another one.

Do you know how to knit?  If not, would you ever learn?  I love it because it's crafty, but there is a pattern to follow, which makes a type-a girl like me happy.  :)  I encouraged my aunt to take a knitting class and she fell head-over-heels in love with it!  She knits circles around me these days and I love hearing about her latest creations when we get together!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Yesterday I chopped my hair!!  I have been growing out my hair for quite a while, and it has been long enough to donate for awhile now.  I originally had planned to chop it off after my marathon, but the length is driving me CRAZY!!  When I ran, I felt like a horse with a mane because my hair is always on my back!  I  tried putting it up in a bun during runs and it just didn't work.  And besides that, I just feel like my hair had surpassed the phase of looking very "presentable."  It just looked long and bleh.  It did look nice if I blow dried, straightened, and then put it in hot rollers (yes, I have to straighten it before putting it in rollers thanks to my natural curl that becomes frizz).  So I decided a couple of weeks ago that it was time to cut it!

My hair-spiration for the cut was this...

Yesterday my hair went from looking like this...

To looking like this!

I am really, really happy with how it turned out.  That is much more of a Lisa look versus the long, long locks of hair.  It feels healthy - and it moves when I turn my head!  It's a fun change for me, and looks more professional and polished.  Also, I think that I look more mature with this shorter 'do.  I will be doing a bunch of presentations next month to a (mostly) male audience, so looking a bit more mature works to my advantage!

Have you ever drastically changed your look?  I am not at all attached to my hair so it wasn't scary to cut off all that length - it was exciting!  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Last Lake Weekend

Last weekend was my final summer weekend at the lake cabin.  :(  As much as I am pining for fall, it's always sad for me to see the lake season end as I really love the time I spend up there.  Plus, I see my family so much more often in the summer.  The next time I will likely see 2 of my nephews will be Thanksgiving.  I know that will come fast but it's tough to go from seeing them every 2-3 weeks to seeing them in 3 months...  but I also know I am very lucky that I do see them as often as I do.

All that said, it was a perfect, relaxing lazy lake weekend.  I'll let some of the pictures - and a short 5 second video - do the talking!

My mom and I finished off the rhubarb slush on Saturday.  This is a signature family drink and it's TO DIE FOR!!

I love how after nearly 43 years of marriage, my parents still enjoy their time together.  Here they are relaxing on the beach on Saturday afternoon!

Someone learned to walk since I last saw him!!  Here is a short video (5 seconds) of Charlie walking!  I love the 'drunker sailor' sway of a new walker.  Oh, and you get to hear my voice in this video - I am the one (obnoxiously) cheering him on (and for the record, I despise the sound of my voice)!

All that toddling around wore little Charlie out, so he actually cuddled on my lap for quite awhile before dinner.  My nephews are usually too busy to cuddle, so I enjoyed this snuggle time to the fullest!!

How was your weekend? Do you like the sound of your voice?  I can not handle hearing my voice recorded so I will never post a vlog unless I like mime it or something (this video is likely one of the only ones I will ever post).  In grad school they recorded us doing a mock interview and I could not bring myself to watch it, even though it would have been beneficial.  I cringe when I hear my voice and think - do I really sound like that?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 9

Well, I am half ways through training!  It has gone fast, but it know the next 9 are going to go even faster as the next couple of months are going to be super busy for me due to some things happening at work.

Today I wanted to talk about another important aspect of marathon training that I am really struggling with:  sleep.  There are a few good articles out there, like this one and this one.  Bottom line, runners, or anyone training for an endurance event, need sleep.  Probably more sleep than they would need under normal conditions.  According to William O. Roberts, M.D., associate professor at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine and medical director of the Twin Cities Marathon, "A sleep-deprived person is physically able to run the same distance or lift the same weight, but the mental effects can have consequences."

That is phrase probably sums up how I have been feeling lately.  I have been getting my workouts in and have been happy with how they have gone - especially my long runs, but I have felt more mentally and physically fatigued lately.  I am still absolutely loving marathon training and haven't hit a burn out point, but I just really wish I could get a bit more sleep.

Most nights, my sleep pattern looks like this (according to the sleep ap I used  I'm obsessed with on my iPhone):

I awake multiple times and don't really sleep deeply for very long.
  Then once every week or two, the stars align, or my body gives in to the exhaustion, and I sleep like this!

A blissfully deep night of sleep!
 Sleeping has never been my forte.  I struggle to fall asleep.  I struggle to stay asleep.  I avoid caffeine after noon, take melatonin at night, read for 30 minutes before going to bed, and while some of those activities do help, I still suck at sleeping.  Add in the fact that I am dealing with some stressful things at work (that I can't share at this point), and well, some days I'm a hot tired mess. 

I don't really have any solutions at this point, but one way I compensate for sleeping less is trying to plan a less full calendar.  I try to reserve 1-2 nights a week that are absolutely unplanned, and I had a couple of unplanned weekends this month.  Having more downtime seems to help compensate for the fact that I'm getting around 7-7.5 hours of sleep a night (ideally I'd like to get 8-9).  My schedule will be out of my control in September when I start to travel for work (hello, 4 business trips in 5 weeks).  I wish I could store up these times of relaxation, but I know that isn't how it works.  I guess when I start traveling, I will have to use the plane rides as times to relax or something like that!

On  a positive note, I think I have picked out my marathon race outfit - or at least my race shirt.  I think it will provide for maximum spotability - don't you think?

And yes, that is a large bunny that we are crowding around and no, I do not know why there is a giant bronze bunny in a random location in south Minneapolis!

Here is how the training broke out this week:

Monday:  Hills, 8 miles, 9:36 pace.  The temps were cool this evening so this workout went pretty well!

Tuesday:  Biked 11 miles on a stationary bike and did some strength training, focusing on my core and arms.

Wednesday:  7.35 miles w/ 3 miles at half marathon pace.  My goal for those 3 miles was 8:40, my pace ended up being 8:49.  I feel so so about that.  I gave it my all, so I can't really complain.

Thursday:  4.15 mile recovery run at 9:22 pace.  I felt SO tired during this run.  I had slept very poorly the night before (less than 5 hours of sleep), and just felt sluggish.  It was 65, but 83% humidity so not the best conditions.

Friday:  rest

Saturday:  16 miles at 9:21 pace.  Another awesome long run!!  We picked it up at the end so our last mile was an 8:50 pace!  Felt awesome!

Sunday:  rest

Training totals:

Week 9:  35.5 miles
Training to date:  269 miles

Would you say that you are a 'good sleeper'?  Like I said, I suck at it and I don't enjoy it.  I know some people enjoy sleeping and would almost list it as a hobby, but if I could take a (legal) pill to replace the need to sleep, I totally would as I do not really 'enjoy' sleeping. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Fun List

It's no secret that I am pining for fall these days.  We got a little taste of it last week when the morning temps dipped into the 60s and the highs during the day were in the 70s.  It was blissful!  Being a seasoned Minnesotan, though, I know that we still have about  a month of summer left, and likely some hot, humid temps ahead.  Life is short, so it would be foolish for me to wish the last month of summer away, though. 

To combat my urge to spring ahead to fall, I decided to come up with a short, accomplishable "Summer Fun List."  Obviously I only have a month left of summer and I have a busy schedule, so I didn't want to choose too many things and stress myself out.  So here is a short list of some things I'd like to do before the season shifts from summer to fall!

1.  Try Paddle Boarding - There are lots of areas in the Twin Cities to go paddle boarding, and a couple of girls at work have expressed interest in doing this with me!  Hopefully we can find a weekend that works for all of us!

2.  Go Kayaking - I have done this one other time this summer, but would like to get out on the lakes one last time!

3.  Read in a Park - There are lots of parks in my neighborhood with plenty of benches for reading.  I think an outing like this warrants some macaroons as a reading snack! 

4.  Get Ice Cream and Walk around Lake Harriet - There is an amazing ice cream shop by one of my favorite lakes and I need to treat myself to some dairy one week and take a walk around the lake. 

5.  Pool Day - My condo has a pool but I usually avoid it as it sometimes feels like a frat party down there...  But it tends to be quieter on Sundays, so I should take advantage of having access to a pool!

6.  Enjoy My Final Weekend at the Lake - I will be heading to the lake tomorrow after run club.  I will be gone Labor Day weekend, so this will be my final lake weekend.  I want to soak it up and enjoy the time with my parents, siblings, and nephews!  Once lake season is over, I tend to go months without seeing them!

That's it!  Not too long, and definitely accomplishable! 

Are there any activities you want to do before summer ends?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Make These!

Happy Thursday - it's almost the weekend!  Yea!

One thing I love about summer is all the fresh produce that is in season.  There is a farmer's market downtown on Thursdays during the day and a small one by my condo on Saturday, so it is easy for me to stock up on fresh produce on a regular basis.

One vegetable I have really fallen in love with as an adult is zucchini.  I don't have many memories of having this as a child - I am sure my mom served it, but I just don't remember it.  So it's been fun to discover recipes and ways to use it as an adult.

If you like zucchini, you HAVE to make these:

Sausage-stuffed Zucchini boats.  I made them last week when I had some girlfriends over to help me hang pictures on my walls (FINALLY!), and they were a hit.  Yes, they have dairy as they are topped in cheese, so it was my dairy splurge for the week.  You could easily make them vegetarian by either skipping the sausage or using vegan sausage (which I've heard is actually good!).  A serving = 1 half of a boat, unless you have the appetite of someone training for a marathon - then you'll eat 2 halves.

Gina, the author of the Skinny Taste blog (which is an awesome blog for healthy, delicious recipes), also posted a Chicken Enchilada Stuff Zucchini Boat recipe last week and I think I will be giving that a try!!

What is the best new recipe that you've made lately?  Or are there any recipes you are looking forward to trying soon?  I think I am going to make this Mexican Red Lentil Stew recipe when I am home next weekend.  I love lentils so am sure I'll love it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Midmonth Money Manifesto

Greetings and happy Wednesday!  July was such a busy month, I ended up skipping my monthly money post, but now I am back on track!

This month I thought I'd talk about the concept of saving versus splurging.  I really try to strike a balance between these two approaches to spending, but of course try to lean towards saving instead of splurging.  I think it's important to make a delineation between what you will approach with an air of frugality versus what you are willing and able to splurge on.  Here is how it breaks out for me for some items...

I splurge on...

- a latte each Friday
- daily contact (my eyes say thank you!)
- staple items for work, such as business suits, dress pants, and classic dresses
- produce - it seems like produce from the nicer grocery stores is more expensive, but does not spoil as quickly!
- eating out for lunch once a week
- my Erin Condren planner.  $50 is a lot to spend on a planner, but I use it every day, so it's worth the money spent
- Udi's gluten free bread.  It pains me to spend $6 on a loaf that is 1/2 the size of a normal loaf of bread, but it's the only thing my stomach tolerates before long runs!

I save by...

- making coffee at home 6 days of the week
- buying my summer dresses at Target
- purchasing store-brand canned goods (they seem to taste the same as the name brand ones do!)
- packing my lunch 4 of the 5 days of my work week
- buying my running shirts and sports bras at Target where they are fairly inexpensive
- using the basic gym in my condo building instead of having a membership to a club (I miss having access to classes, though!)
- using the library!  I have not bought a single book this year!!

What items fall under your splurge/save categories?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Birthday Wishes!

Today I am wishing my dear mom, Marlys, the happiest of birthdays!  Here is a photo of her from this fall.  She's in her prime in this photo as she is in the kitchen helping me make dessert for Julia Child Night.

I don't know if my future includes children, but if it does, I hope I am the kind of mom that she's been to me. 

The kind of mom that kissed child-sized owies and mended adult-sized broken hearts.  The kind of mom that kept a journal of my senior year so she could share all the things she wanted to tell me but I was too bull-headed and stubborn to listen to at the time (sorry x's 1,000 for those snotty teen years, Mom!).  The kind of mom who makes the best meals and is always happy to open her home to friends and family to share those meals.  The kind of mom who has prayed decades upon decades of the rosary for me.  The kind of mom that has believed in me at times when I haven't believed in myself. The kind of mom that gave me roots to come home to, but wings to fly.   

For all these things, and so many countless other qualities, I am so thankful God blessed me with the mom I have!!

Happy Birthday, Mom!  I hope you have a wonderful day - and I look forward to a belated celebration at the lake this weekend!

What kind of mom (or dad) do you hope to be (or are if you already have children)?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 8

Mother nature gifted me with cooler temps this week - thank God!  Cooler weather makes a world of difference!

I have firmly believed for a long time that I am built for distance - not speed. I was reminded of this last week when we did a 2 mile time trial at run club.  The 2 mile time trial is supposed to determine our VO2 Max, which in turn predicts our marathon time, and tells us what pace we should run speed work, tempos, and long runs.  I did this time trial last year and was so disappointed with the results as it predicted a half marathon time that was over 10 minutes slower than my previous PR - and 20+ minutes slower than the PR I set last fall.  So after that experience I knew the time trial wasn't necessary an accurate predictor for me.

But I decided to give it another shot this year as I am in better shape this year than I was at this point last year due to my strong spring running.  I thought maybe it would go better this year.

Wrongo batman.

My time for the 2 mile time trial was a 16:47, so a pace of 8:19.  Which predicts a marathon time of 4:27 - 5 minutes slower than my previous PR.  I was NOT happy with these results.  But I had to just let it go.  Instead of using these results, I plugged my half marathon time from last year into the predictor my club uses (Oregon Pace Wizard) and it predicted a 4:02:32 finish.  Now that is more like it!  To get a prediction of a 4:02 marathon, I would have had to run a 7:32 pace for those 2 miles.  And I really do not see that happening regardless of how in shape I am.

So I will just keep training for a 4 hour marathon and hope that the pace wizard is totally wrong.  I really think a PR is very likely for me as I am such a stronger runner than I was in 2010. 

Despite that disappointing run, the week ended on a high note with an awesome 18 miler!  My average pace was 9:26 and I felt AWESOME.  Cooler temps helped!  Everyone had a great run so we snapped a photo at the finish!

Here is how the training broke out last week:

Monday:  5 miles total, 2 of which were the 2 mile time trial.

Tuesday:  Biked 8.8 miles of a hill course on the stationary bike in 30 minutes.

Wednesday:  Hill work - finally NOT in the heat. We did 7 miles, and my overall pace was 9:45.  I did 5 hill repeats and actually felt really strong on this workout for a change!

Thursday:  4 mile run at 5 am when it was a blissful 65 degrees!  Pace was 9:07 and I ran negative splits, which I feel really good about!

Friday:  Rest

Saturday: 18.25 miles @ 9:26 pace.  Awesome, awesome run! 

Sunday:  Rest

Training Tally:

Week 8:  34.25 miles
Training to date:  233.50 miles

Would you say that you are built for distance or speed?  Or both?  As I said, I'm built for distance.  My optimal race distance is 10 miles or greater!  I think 5k's are harder than a half marathon (if you are trying to get a good time for a 5k).

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Great Perhaps

Last weekend, I read the August blogger book club book - Looking for Alaska by John Green (which was a wonderful book, btw).  Early in the book the main character, Miles, is asked by his parents why he wants to go to boarding school. He quotes the last words of Monsieur Rabelais, a famous Frenchman:

"I go to seek a Great Perhaps." 

I think I stumbled upon that quote at the perfect time as that quote could also sum up my approach to dating these days.  During the months of December - early June, I really did not have the time or energy to date.  Some have argued this point with me and said that if the right person came along, I could make it happen. But I know that this is not the case.  Between my lack of free time and the stress level in my life, it would be next to impossible to foster a new, budding relationship.

But now the CFA exam is behind me and I have 5 months of freedom until the next round of studying begins.  For a long time, I've held the belief that I should be able to meet a guy naturally and organically by living my life and doing the things I enjoy.

But the fact of the matter is that it's not working.  I haven't been on a date since October and with the exception of a few potential set-ups by friends, I have no potentials in sight.  So after much thought and some prodding by some close friends, I decided that maybe it is time for me to be a bit more purposeful about meeting someone.  

So my first step was to try speed dating last Friday night.  I like this approach to meeting someone better than online dating because it gives you the ability to immediately assess whether you are a) interested in the person and b) attracted to them - which in my opinion are not things you can determine by looking through profiles or emailing back and forth with someone you meet online.  

There was a pretty small turnout (4 guys), but I am glad I did it.  You got 7 minutes with each person, which was(more than) enough time for me to determine if I'd like to see the guy again.  And randomly enough, there was actually a guy from Paris there! Ooh la la!  But the company that hosted it (Date and Dash) totally sucks.  I matched with the Parisian but had to email the host to ask for my matches - otherwise they wanted me to pay an extra $10 to find out automatically (on top of the $35 event fee) and then the email of the Parisian was wrong...  so yah.  Kind of a fail, but I am still glad I tried it!

Because of the low attendance, I don't know that I will do another speed dating event  - especially after my poor experience with this company.  But it was a good experience for me and got me back into the swing of making date-type conversations.  Despite my reservations about online dating, I am also considering doing a short, 3-month subscription to a site, possibly eHarmony. 

And so I go to seek a great perhaps.  Perhaps something will come of it.  Perhaps nothing will.  The good thing is that regardless of whether I meet someone between now and December, I am very happy with my life and do not feel as though anything is truly "missing."  I guess that you could say that meeting someone would just be the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae that already has all of my favorite toppings.

If you are married, how did you meet your spouse?  If you are single, would you ever try speed dating?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


As I said last week, I am SO ready for fall.  I know not everyone feels this way as fall might mean going back to school if you are teacher or student, etc.  But I LOVE fall.  So when I saw Shoshanah do this post last week (via here), I had to play along!

1.  What is your favorite fall activity?
I would have to say running.  There is nothing better than running in cool fall temps.  The crisp air feels amazing after the endless days of humidity, and it's beautiful when the leaves start to turn.   And the air just smells differently.

2.  Do you follow a football team?  If so, which one and why?
Hells no.  I am not a sports person.  I do participate in this game at work where you pick one team each week that you think might win - so I watch the betting lines to figure out who I will pick and I monitor the scores so I can see who got strikes that week, but that's the extent of it.  And I do all that because I am a competitive person - not because I care at all about the actual game of football!

3.  What is something fun about fall in your area?
Well, the Twin Cities marathon is in the fall and it frequently makes the list as one of the most beautiful fall marathons - and having run it, I can say it is a beautiful course!  So if you are a runner, come run it!!!

Besides that, since we have quite a large presence of Germans, there are lots of Oktoberfest celebrations. And there are many apple orchards to visit - which is something I have actually never done but hope to do this fall!

4.  Fave fall outfit staples?
That's an easy one:  skinny jeans, a comfy sweater, and tall boots.  I also love outerwear and get excited to pull out my jackets and scarves!!

5.  Thing you are looking forward to most about this coming fall season?
Going to Nora's wedding in St. Louis!  I'm a bridesmaid so get to wear a pretty dress (which arrived last week!) and stand up next to her as a witness to her marriage to Knight!  And on top of that, I get to see Becky, Mandy, and Nilsa!!

6.  Favorite fall holidays?  Traditions?
Well, my favorite fall tradition is Julia Child Night!  We'll hold our 4th annual event this fall and are already brain storming about the menu.  I absolutely love this tradition that my aunt and I started - as does everyone who attends as the meal is seriously to die for!  It's really one of my most favorite days of the year.  I love sharing my passion for all things French with my family!

My favorite fall holiday is of course Thanksgiving.  It's actually one of my favorite holidays over all.  I love the food, the weather, and the time with family!  Also, it's the time of year that I do my "10 Days of Thanksgiving" post series, which I really enjoy as it's fun to reflect on all the wonderful things in my life.

And last, but not least, I love changing my weekly latte from a vanilla to a pumpkin spice latte!

Wow, there are a lot of exclamation points in this post. What can I say, I just adore fall. What are some of your favorite things about fall?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Marathon Madness Monday: Week 7

Another strong week of training for me.  I definitely had some cranky moments this week (due to the heat/humidity), but all in all, I really can't complain about how the week went.

Today I thought I'd talk about selecting the right training plan for you.  In the past, I have always followed Hal Higdon's plans.  I also read his book, Marathon, which I highly recommend to anyone running a marathon!  I actually got to meet Hal Higdon one year at the Twin Cities Marathon Expo.  I was so star struck!  I mean, when you follow someone's training plans for years, they really become a big part of your training, so it was cool to meet the man who helped me get to the finish lines for multiple marathons and half marathons.

Of course, there are other great training plans out there!  I know Runner's World has some great ones, as does Jeff Galloway.  Bottom line, there are many options - you just have to find what works for you.

Now that I am in a running club, I take a little different approach to training plans.  I still print out a Hal Hidgon one and use that to guide my training, but I follow the plan my coaches have put together, and I mostly use Hal's plans as a guideline for my long runs (I'm using one of his intermediate plans this cycle).

In my years of training, I have learned 2 crucial things about training plans:

Trust the training.  These plans are developed by people who know A TON about training for races.  I still marvel at the fact that I can run 26.2 miles when my longest run in past training cycles was 20 miles (it will be 22 this cycle).  But on race day, your body is somehow able to do it.  And like many things in life, it can be overwhelming to look at the whole training plan, but taking it a week at a time makes it so much more doable (this lesson is applicable to many areas of life - like studying for the CFA!)

Don't compare.  I am actually kind of glad that I didn't have a blog or read blogs back when I trained for my first marathon in 2006.  I think one somewhat negative consequence of blogging is our tendency to compare our lives to others - and this is especially true when you are training for something like a marathon.  People have different approaches and goals and our bodies have different tolerances for running (My body does not respond well to running 5+ days/week).  I'm running 4 days a week for a total of around 30 miles/week right now while others are running 50+.  And that is ok!  While I think it is healthy to aspire to improve our times - it's unhealthy if those comparison's begin to make us feel bad about ourselves or question our training.

At the end of the day - this is supposed to be fun!  Sometimes I have to remind myself to not take things too seriously, enjoy my runs, and appreciate my body's ability to log all the miles!

Here is how the training broke out this week:

Monday:  Pace work - 7 miles total including 3 x 1 mile repeats @ half marathon pace.  My splits were 8:35, 8:39, and 8:54.  The last one was ugly, but the first 3 were great, so I will take what I can get.

Tuesday:  8.5 miles on a stationary bike before work.

Wednesday:  6.5 miles with hills repeats in the heat (as usual).  We did 3 x 800m hill repeats with an 800m recovery in between.  It was brutal.  Overall pace was 10:04.

Thursday:  4 miles @ 9:06 pace.

Friday:  Rest

Saturday:  16 miles @ 9:53 pace.  This run went well despite the fact that I really did not feel like running 16 when we started.  We added some hills at the end, which were brutal, but I know will be good for me. 

Sunday:  Rest

Training Tally:

Week 7:  33.5 miles

Training to Date: 199.25

What training plan do you follow when preparing for a race?  What lessons have you learned about training plans when training for other races?  Do you struggle with comparing yourself to others?  Being part of a run club helps me cut out the comparison aspect as so many others are following the same training plan - and having great successes out on marathon courses, which helps me have faith in the training plans crafted by our coaches.

Friday, August 3, 2012


It's been awhile since I did a post like this, so I thought it'd be a great way to end my week!


- my life feels very full in a really good way, and sometimes my heart feels like it may burst over how much I really do love my life.  I feel very fortunate to say that, but I also know I feel this way due to decisions (some of which were not easy or obvious) I've made to create the kind of life I want!

- hungry often.  I know this is typical when training for a marathon.  I've been pretty good about not over-eating so far, but I definitely have a hard time resisting the m&m dispenser at work!

- a little frustrated by some things that are happening at work, but am trying to focus on the fact that I am lucky to have a job and an awesome quasi-boss (I am supposed to be reporting to someone else, but they haven't made any changes in HR, so I just keep acting like he is my boss, and feel like I always will).

- loving Amber's wedding recap posts - it's so fun to relive the day through her eyes!  If you want to see a stunningly beautiful bride and beautiful photographs - hop over to her blog!!

- a little disappointed in my patio garden.  I think moving the plants to/from my friends house before/after my vacation was a bit traumatic for my little plants.  I have gotten about 10 tomatoes, though, so I really can't complain!

- not doing a good job of adhering to my self-imposed bed time.  And am feeling over-tired as a result. I decided to stay home this weekend instead of going to the lake - I am looking forward to a quiet weekend and hopefully a solid 8-9 hours of sleep on Saturday night!!

- really, really ready for fall.  Don't hate me.  If it wasn't so humid, I would feel differently.  I am fantasizing about scarfs, tall boots + skinny jeans, pumpkin spice lattes, and cool, crisp mornings.  I was built for fall - not summer.  Seriously.  

- so excited about how well the USA girls' gymnastics team - aka the Fab 5 - did!  It brought back memories of watching the 1996 girls win gold in Atlanta.  Gosh I love the Olympics!!!

What's on your mind today?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Nice Ride!

Remember when I first told you about the Minnesota Nice Ride program last summer? Well, I hit the 1 year mark for my subscription late in the month of July.  I thought it would be fun to look back on my statistics!

As you can see, I used the bikes 321 times, biked ~171 miles, and saved 5 gallons of gas (I think that might be understated as city driving is so not fuel efficient)!  I am pretty happy with those stats.  I have used those bikes SO many times and can't imagine living downtown and not having access to them.  I've used the bikes to get to work, the grocery store, target, church, and happy hour among other destinations.

I've perfected the art of shopping on my bike after learning some lessons along the way - like the day I carried all of this home while biking...

A back pack, purse, envirosack of farmer's market goods, and a bouquet of flowers is TOO much to carry on a bike!!

Suffice it to say it was a wobbly, sweaty ride home and I was tempted to ditch the flowers.

Up until last summer, I hadn't biked for years upon years, so it has been fun to rediscover my love of biking.  I'm still thinking of buying a road bike so I can go on longer rides on the weekends and bike to/from run club (driving to run club is the only time I drive most weeks!) but haven't taken the plunge yet as I have been too busy with marathon training to really think about researching/buying a bike!  I do think I will buy one eventually!

Does your city have a bike sharing program?  If so, have you used it?  It's been so popular in Minneapolis and there has been such a low level of vandalism, they no longer authorize a day user's card for a damage deposit and instead they just get charged for their usage.  I have an annual membership so just pay once a year and plan to continue to renew my membership each year as long as I live downtown!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Music, Books, Miles, and Looks of July

Hello August!  7 months down, 5 to go!  This year is a-flying!


Drunk by Ed Sheeran - Melissa recommended this artist to me, and her recommendation was spot on!  I really like the beat of this song, which is irregular at times.  It's really catchy.  His whole album is really good!


It was another strong month of reading for me!

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese - This is one of the best books I have read this year.  I will warn you, though, that it took awhile for me to get into it...  like 250 pages (out of about 600)...  But once I got into it, I had a hard time putting it down.  It's about a family of doctors that live in Ethiopia.  The story seamlessly travels from India to Ethiopia to New York and back to Ethiopia, and it was a really engaging read.

Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas - This is a charming memoir about an American girl that moves to Paris for a work assignment. Each chapter is centered around a sweet that France is known for. She weaves the story of her expatriate life in with the story of the various delicacies she tastes while living there. And most importantly, it honestly portrays the challenges of moving to a foreign country. It's a light, fast read that I'd recommend to any fellow Francophiles.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth - I was excited to check this out as it's the sequel to Divergent, a book I read and really enjoyed this winter. But I was pretty disappointed with the sequel.  They didn't do a very good job of bridging the 2 books.  Even though I had read Divergent fairly recently, I had forgotten a lot of details so consequently had a hard time following this book.  Also, there was almost too much action involved...  I am still glad I read it but doubt I will read the 3rd book...

The Shoemaker's Wife by Andriana Trigiani - This is the 3rd book I have read by this author, and it's my favorite so far. She does a great job telling the story of Italian immigrants who moved to the US to start a new life. The story spans from Italy to Manhattan to Minnesota, and moves through time, from the turn of the 20th century to the first great world war to WWII and beyond. Definitely a great read!


I had a great month of running.  I increased my long runs fairly quickly but my body responded well so I think it was the right thing to do!  I ran a total of 120 miles, which I feel really really good about!


I have 2 favorite looks from this month!

First off, my look from the day of Amber's wedding.

It's obviously a special occasions dress so is not a look I'll be repeating, but gosh I loved wearing that dress that day!  It was comfortable and flattering - which are not words commonly used to describe bridesmaid dresses.  ;)  I also was really happy with how my hair turned out!

Look #2 is a Target dress I wore the Saturday we were in Vancouver (and it's been worn multiple times since then!).

It's striped (of course), but I like that it's a non-traditional striped pattern.  I also like that it's asymmetrical (longer in the back, shorter in the front).