Monday, September 22, 2014

Currently: September Edition

And just like that, September is over 2/3 over, and summer will come to an end this week.  Womp womp.  I am not ready for the transition to fall (summer went too fast!), but ready or not, here it comes!  Here's what is currently on my mind.

Reading:  The Hundred Foot Journey which is the book for my October family book club.  To be perfectly honest, it's been a bit dry so far so I hope it picks up soon!  It was made into a movie so I figure it's GOT to have a good story line if they made a movie from it.

Loving:  my new bike!  I am trying to get out for 1-2 rides a week right now while the weather is still nice.  I live in a great area for biking so it's awesome that I can just go out my front door and have access to many different bike trails!  Here are a couple of photos from last weekend's 40ish mile ride along the Gateway Trail!

Most of the trail looked like this.  It was a beautiful place to ride!

We biked to a cute town that is located on the St. Croix River.

Thinking:  a lot about my career and where I want it to go. 

Frustrated: by the lack of clarity I have about where I want my career to go.   

Feeling:  stressed about the upcoming business trip I am doing as I will be traveling with one of the top-producing sales reps whose opinion really counts in the organization.  I've put a lot of work into the presentation we'll be presenting, I just hope it goes smoothly.  

Anticipating: the vacation part of my trip to California!  I can't wait for some girl time in a beautiful city! 

Watching:  The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network.  I love how food trucks have really taken off in the last couple of years.  Minneapolis has a pretty big food truck culture as trucks line one of the streets downtown during the week, and we've had at least 2 food trucks open restaurants due to the success of their truck, which I think is really cool.

Sad:  that the list of people I am praying for seems to grow by the week.  There's lots of sad stuff happening, from the loss of a friend's parent to knowing people who are battling cancer.  Gah, it all just makes me so sad. 

Working:  on purging items from my closet that I no longer wear.  I've gotten rid of a lot of stuff in the last couple of months, but further purging needs to be done.  I have a huge stack of clothes in my bedroom that I keep adding to each week.     

Grateful: for Phil for many reasons but lately I'm especially thankful for his ability to listen to me talk about work stress (and understand what I am talking about since he also works in the finance industry) and reassure me everything is going to be just fine. 

Listening: to very little music these days as I am not in the car much and I don't listen to music while biking to work as I need to be alert and aware of my surroundings.

Wishing: I worked in an industry that offered an alternative schedule like 4 10 hour days.

This is my last blog post for awhile as I won't be blogging while traveling so have a great week everyone - I'll be back in October with a recap of my trip to San Francisco!!

Friday, September 19, 2014


Oh Friday, I'm so happy to see you!!  Now if this weekend could by reeaaallllyyy slooowwlllyyy that would be awesome.  Here's a recap of my week!

The high of my week was the traveling tap social event that I did last night with some coworkers from my previous company.  It's a really cool concept - it's easier to show you a picture than to explain how it works!  It was so fun to see some former coworkers.  Staying with my former company was not an option given my dislike for living in Charlotte (working in the Minneapolis office was not an option as my department was in Charlotte) but I do really miss my coworkers so I am glad I was able to see so many of them last night!

These are random people, not my coworkers

The low of my week was a snafu with the delivery of my RA injections. Long story short, my condo building messed up and didn't tell me I had a perishable package and I had to throw away half of the syringes because the medication has to be used within 14 days if it reaches room temperature, and that might have happened as the building couldn't tell me when they put my package in the fridge.  Financially it's not a huge deal as my deductible is low but that is $1,000 worth of medication so it's incredibly wasteful to have to throw it away.  And it involved going home during the day and making multiple phone calls.  And I cried because I don't handle unexpected stress right now. 

A blog post I loved was Becky's birthday post.  That girl amazes me because she's been through so much in the past year but she's still so positive and has such a peace about herself.  

For my workouts, I completed an arms workout on Monday morning, a 7-mile tempo run on Monday night, a bike ride on Tuesday, an 8 mile run that included a ladder speed workout on Wednesday night and a shred workout yesterday morning. Today will be my rest day, tomorrow I will run 16 miles (I think?  We will see how I feel) and Sunday I will bike 35-40 miles if the weather permits!

The best money I spent was on the trip to Jamaica in early December that Phil and I booked for his best friend's wedding!!!  This will be my first relaxing/beach vacation EVER!

My plans this weekend include going out to dinner with Phil tonight and stopping by his friend's birthday get together, run club tomorrow and another friend's birthday get together in the evening, and weather-permitting on Sunday my friend and I plan to bike to this cute town called Stillwater which is about about a 35-40 mile bike ride round trip but we'll stop in the middle to have lunch and walk around.  I have less planned this weekend than last weekend which makes me happy because I've had a busy week and the next several weeks are sort of jam-packed.

What was the high and low of your week?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scenes from Last Night's Ride

Last night was one of those picture perfect nights.  The temperatures were in the 60s and it was bright and sunny.  I know that nights like this are numbered so I decided to make the most of it and went for a bike ride while Phil played softball. 

I left without a real plan for how far I'd bike or where I'd go and let myself just decide as I went along.  Luckily I am super familiar with the trail system in Minneapolis after logging hundred of miles running along the paths so I had plenty of options.  Here are some pictures of what I saw!

Heading out along the Mississippi, which was smooth as glass!

After winding around a couple of lakes, I headed back into downtown.  I love the prairie grass that grows along this trail!

My favorite view of the Minneapolis skyline!  It was even more beautiful in person!

Biking makes me happy

The view of St. Anthony Falls at the end of my ride.  I feel so lucky to call this neighborhood home.
A little over an hour later, I had covered about 14.5 miles and felt calm and refreshed.  Like I said in my post on Monday, running will always be my first love, but biking is going to become a close second.  So far one thing I like about biking is that I have zero expectations besides having fun and enjoying the sights.  I wear my garmin so I can track how far I've gone, but the pace of each mile means nothing to me whereas when I run, each mile split will elicit a feeling of pride or disappointment, even on casual runs. 

Maybe with time I will form expectations for biking, but I hope that is not the case.  I put a lot of pressure (too much pressure, some might argue) on myself in many/most other aspects of my life, so I am really hoping that biking will be something that can just be plain fun.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Full, Fun Weekend

Oh, Monday.  Why must you always come so quickly?  This weekend went especially fast as it was packed full of plans!  Here's what kept me busy this weekend.

On Friday night Phil and I went out to dinner and then went to his friend's birthday get-together.  I had slept really poorly on Thursday night so I battled a bad case of the yawns all night and was happy when we called it a night around 10.  Friday nights are hard!

On Saturday morning I woke up to cold temperatures.  Burr, it was tough to get out of bed.  Cooler temps are easier to run in but this cold spell just came on so fast that I was not loving it.  Luckily it's going to warm up this week.  Phew, I am not ready for cooler weather yet.

Since it was cooler, I kind of over-dressed but I knew I'd shed the hat and my outer layer when I warmed up. 

I ran 13 miles and ended up having a great run.  My pace was slower than last week (9:30) as I stuck with the pace others were running but at the end of the run I knew I could have run further and faster which is always a good feeling.

After the run, I cleaned up and fit in a quick trip to the grocery store before my friend Courtney picked me up so we could get our packets for the bike tour we were doing the following day.  We grabbed lunch together at a food-truck-turned-restaurant that I've been wanting to check out. After she dropped me off, I headed over to visit my friend who is in the midst of getting chemo treatments.  She's fairly home bound as she is trying to avoid germy, public areas so I am trying to visit her once a month as I know she likes having visitors.

After catching up with her and her husband, I headed to my nephew's football game.  My brother is the coach so I've been looking forward to catching a game so I can support both of them.  They played so well and won 26-0!  My nephew is 9 but is so tall, it won't be long and he'll be taller than me!

After being out and about from 7 am until 5:30 pm, it was finally time to head home!  I whipped together lentil enchiladas for Phil and I, which is one of our favorite dishes and this easy Mexican rice.  I can't wait to have leftovers this week!

It was an early night as I started to fall asleep on the couch at about 8:30...  I was exhausted from my full day.

I was up bright and early on Sunday morning for the Minneapolis Bike Tour which is an annual event put on by the Parks & Rec Board that showcases the many parkways Minneapolis has to offer. I had been wanting to buy a bike for awhile so registering for this event motivated me to finally bite the bullet and buy one!  I ended up going with a hybrid which I think I am going to love!

3,000 people registered for the bike tour so there were lots of other bikers out there!

It was such a fun event and is something I will definitely do again.  We were all feeling good so we ended up doing the longest option (32 miles).  

My friend Courtney, her mom and I at the final water stop
All smiles after 32 miles

The 2.5 hours flew by but I was definitely ready to give my legs (and bum) a break when we finished. I can already tell that I am going to love biking, though.  Courtney and I already have plans to go for a long ride next Sunday which I am excited about.  I think running will always be my first love, but biking will be a great cross-training activity to do for fun and a great way to see more areas of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

I spent the rest of the weekend doing chores around the house, reading and relaxing.  I needed a quiet end to the weekend after my busy Saturday!

How was your weekend? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Top 10 Books that "Stuck" with Me

Let's close off this week with a subject that I am always happy to talk about:  books!  A couple of Sundays ago I was tagged by Amber on Facebook and asked to share the top 10 books that have "stuck" with me.  It was tough to limit my list to 10, and I compiled my list pretty quickly as I wanted to go with my gut reaction on what has stuck with me, so here is what I came up with, in no particular order!

1.  And the Mountains Echoes by Khaled Hosseini
2.  Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
3.  Still Alice by Lisa Genova
4.  Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
5.  Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
6.  Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach
7.  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
8.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
9.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
10. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

All of these books are books I have read as an adult, but there were a lot of books I could have included that I read as a child, like "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,"  "Bridge to Terabithia," "The Hatchet," or "Summer of My German Soldier."  And there were many more books that I've read as an adult that could have made the list, but these are the books I thought of first.

These book stuck with me for various reasons.  "Still Alice" stuck with me because the author did such a great job of showing what it is like to develop early onset Alzheimer's, and it took on personal meaning as Phil's father was battling this disease when I read it.  "Without Reservations" stuck with me because it opened my eyes to solo travel by a female.  "The Fault in Our Stars" stuck with me because of the writing. "The Things They Carried" stuck with me because it gives you a glimpse of what it is like to be a soldier in a war.  

What books stand out in your mind as books that have "stuck" with you?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Workout Wednesday: A Bucket List Run

I know that it is technically still summer, but like I said in my post on Monday, it's really starting to feel like fall (especially this week as the temps will dip into the 30s at night - what in the what?).  The humidity went away last Friday and the temperature dropped which means I woke up on Saturday morning to a perfect day for running.  My club was meeting in a different spot than usual in an area I wasn't familiar with.  I had gotten kind of lost on some trails the weekend before so when I saw there was a high likelihood that I'd spend much of the run lost or feeling on the verge of being lost, I decided to do my long run alone on a familiar path.

I decided to run around 3 Minneapolis lakes, which are referred to as the "Chain of Lakes."  This just so happened to be on my summer bucket list, so I was able to cross another thing off (side note:  I have not accomplished as much as I thought I would!). 

It was in the upper 50s when I started and I was a little bit cool in my shorts and t-shirt, but I quickly warmed up.  The skies were blue and the lakes were like glass; it was a picture perfect day to run.  Here are some (not-so-great) iPhone photos that I snapped along the way!

Lake of the Isles, which is the lake that is the closest to downtown Minneapolis.

Lake Calhoun, which is probably the most popular Minneapolis lake, but is actually my least favorite of the three.

Lastly, Lake Harriet, which is definitely my favorite of the three lakes!  I love the bandshell and marina area which you can see in the distance in this photo.
I have had some tough runs this summer as the workouts that the run club coaches plan are tough and some of them have been done in pouring rain, heat, and/or ridiculously high humidity.  Those tough runs have made me question if I am in as good of shape as I thought I was, but on Saturday I was reminded how much of a difference cooler temps make as my average pace for my 12 mile run was 8:53/mile, which is almost 40 seconds faster than my usual pace!  The best part is that I was able to maintain that pace without feeling like I was really working hard.

I definitely felt on top of the world when I finished this run.  Being able to run in such a beautiful area is something I really missed last summer.  Minneapolis is such a beautiful place to run as we have miles upon miles of running paths, many of which are alongside water.  It's no wonder that Minneapolis makes the 10 Best Running Cities list!  I've always appreciated the beauty of Minneapolis, but after being away, I appreciate it even more.

Life is not perfect right now (it never is, right?), but I'm thankful that I'm back in a city I love, logging miles upon trails with great views.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Soaking Up the End of Summer

Happy Monday, everyone.  While we technically have 3 more weeks of summer, in this part of the country it seems like the weather has begun to shift and fall is in the air.  This past weekend was gorgeous but we have a cooler week ahead so this past weekend I spent as much time outside as possible. 

On Friday night we hit up the driving range after work.  I hit the ball terribly so was a little bit grumpy afterwards.  Golf definitely does not come easily for me!  But it was a beautiful evening and it was great to get some fresh air. 

On Saturday morning I went for a nice long run along 3 local lakes (more on that later this week).  The temps were cool so I had a great run.  This is my favorite time of year for running!  The rest of the day was spent being productive and getting stuff done around the house.

On Saturday evening we went to a Greek Festival in the neighborhood where Phil used to live.  It was fun to sit outside, listen to live music, and eat some delicious Greek food.  I couldn't have any of the desserts, but the dessert that Phil got looked so good!

On Sunday I went to a yoga class in the morning and then went bike shopping.  I've been wanting a bike for awhile but haven't been motivated to shop for one (or spend the money) but I signed up for a Minneapolis Bike Tour that the Park and Rec Board puts on every year and it's next weekend so I need to either buy a bike or find one to borrow...  I didn't have any luck yesterday but it was fun to ride around on the two bikes I tried out.   

On Sunday afternoon I crossed another thing off of my summer bucket list - kayaking!  I bought a crowd cut deal for kayaking earlier this summer and it expires next weekend so this was pretty much my last opportunity to go as next weekend's weather forecast doesn't look great.  I kayaked to 3 different lakes.  I've ran around all of these lakes many times this summer so it was fun to see the sights from a different vantage point.

My favorite part was kayaking on the small canals between the lakes as it was so quiet and peaceful.

Being by the water is good for the soul.

On Sunday evening I used this basil

to make a trial run of the soup we are planning to serve at Julia Child night.  I am hoping my basil plant survives into the fall as I love being able to pick fresh basil!

All in all it was a wonderful weekend and it was great to not really have anywhere that I HAD to be.  I needed a weekend like this after the last couple of weeks which have been a little over-planned!  I am usually so ready for fall to start but this year I find myself a little sad to see summer coming to an end so I am trying to soak up every moment that I can!

Was the weather nice this weekend where you live?  Did you do anything outdoors?

Friday, September 5, 2014

5 Things Friday

Happy Friday!  I'm capping off what's been a really busy week with a 5 Things Friday post.

1.  I finally saw a local Rheumatologist yesterday.  I wish I could say it was a good experience but he was running over an hour behind schedule.  Plus he had a PA student shadowing him so I had to meet with her first and then meet with them together.  So when it was all said and done I was there for over 2 hours. That doesn't really fly when I work at a place where people usually don't take lunches.  I thought I'd be gone 60-90 minutes, but ended up being gone 2.5 hours so I can just imagine what my coworkers were thinking about me (I work in an environment where people watch/talk about how much you are working).  I'm just glad I don't need to be seen for another 3 months.  The doctor was apologetic and did suggest that I come on Tuesdays in the future as he books his lower maintenance patients on Tuesdays and is rarely behind on those days.  Yesterday was one of those days where I REALLY HATED having a chronic illness and there may have been some tears as I waited for the doctor.

2.  Speaking of work, I've been thinking a lot lately about the Venn Diagram of my professional life, meaning, I've been trying to identify the shared space of a) what I enjoy doing and b) what I'm good at.  It feels like there isn't as much overlap between a) and b) as I'd like there to be.  I thought I had my career kind of figured out but the last year or so has taught me that I don't.  I can't/won't say much about my job but I will say that lately I have seriously questioned my ability to continue to do this kind of work/handle this level of stress long-term...  I have a two year commitment to my employer so I know I won't be making any changes to my career anytime soon, but I know I need to start thinking/planning now so I'll be prepared to make decisions when the time comes.  Meanwhile I am trying to remind myself that I am lucky to be back in Minnesota and to have a job that challenges me.

3.  On a positive note, I have a plan-free weekend ahead of me which is such a good thing because the last 2 weeks have been way over-planned.  I'm looking forward to a quiet night tonight with Phil.  We're planning to hit up the driving range and maybe check out the restaurant I got him a gift certificate to for his birthday.  

4.  I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately but this week I started the book, The Vacationers, and I think it's going to be the book that pulls me out of my slump as right from the get go I am getting the sense that I'm going to love the book.  Yea!

5.  3 weeks from today I'll be reunited with Amber, Lauren, Leigh, and Kyria for our running rendezvous in San Francisco!  I am so excited to catch up with these girls in a city I absolutely adore.  This is the 4th rendezvous for Amber, Lauren, and I (we've been to Portland, Victoria, BC, and Chicago), and the 2nd one Leigh has been to (she came to Victoria), so we've got quite the tradition going.  I'm hoping it's something we continue to do for years to come.

What's on your mind today?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My 3rd Fix

I received my 3rd fix towards the end of last week.  It's so fun to come home to a box of clothes!  I had asked my stylist to focus on fall items.  Here's what she sent me!

Item #1 - Navy jersey dress

It's hard to see the detail of the dress in this crappy iPhone photo but it has a really fun neckline and some ruching through out the body which is flattering.  I also liked that it has a higher neckline as I do not like wearing lower cut dresses since I work in a male dominated environment.  I decided to keep it because it's something I can pair with a cardigan on warm fall days or I think I could add tights and wear it with boots and a heavier cardigan when the weather turns cooler.

Item #2 - Striped skirt

I pulled this item out of the box and thought - this is cute, but this is SO NOT fall like.  I also didn't care for the elastic waist as I don't think elastic waists are flattering on me as my stomach is my trouble area.  Trying it on confirmed that I needed to send it back.  If I had received this in spring and if it had a zipper enclosure, I might have felt differently about it.

Item #3 - 3/4-length sleeve cardigan

I think they technically referred to this as a jacket but I consider a cardigan due to the type of material.  It felt a bit frumpy so I sent it back.

Item #4 - Top 


My 4th item was a silky maroon top. It has some fun detailing on the neckline, which you can't see in this photo, and it's a top I will get a lot of use out of as it goes with cropped pants, dress pants, and pencil skirts.  I am always needing more versatile tops like this, so I kept it.

Item #5 - Chevron print 3/4-length sleeve dress

This dress is definitely not something I would have picked off a rack at a store but once I got it on, I liked it.  I really liked that it had sleeves as I am always freezing in my office.  However, the fabric was really thin and I felt like the price was too high for the type of fabric so my verdict was to send it back.

The final tally = I kept 2 items and sent 3 back.  If the price of the chevron-print dress would have been lower, I would have kept that as well.  So all in all, I feel like my stylist did a pretty good job.  Since I am keeping 1-2 items per fix, I think it is worth continuing to do it.  I think if I didn't vehemently dislike shopping so much then maybe this service wouldn't be worth it, but given my great dislike for shopping, it's still worth it even if I only keep 1 item/fix. 

I am going to do another fix at the end of September and this time I asked my stylist to send more fall looks and to keep in mind that I live in a part of the country where it can be cold in the fall so I will need heavy, sturdier fabrics.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Music, Books, Miles and Looks of August

Well hello, September!  I'm excited for what this month will bring (especially my girls running rendezvous in San Francisco) but August was pretty darn fantastic, too.   



I Lived by One Republic -  I couldn't find a good live version of this song so the audio from the album will have to suffice.  I like the lyrics/message behind this song of making the most out of life.


It was another 3 book kind of month for me, which isn't bad but isn't as much as I usually read.  I am just not making the time to read these days but hopefully when (if?) things slow down this fall I'll make more time for reading!

The Wharf of Chartrons by Jean-Paul Malaval - 2 stars
One Plus One by JoJo Moyes- 3 stars
The Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hishimi - 4 stars


I had another strong month of running and ran 109 miles. My mileage was lower than last month but I'm happy with the number of miles I got in.  I have my trail half this month and while I probably haven't ran trails as much as I should, I think I am well-prepared for the race as my club has ran quite a bit of hills.  In addition to running, I've been good about incorporating a mix of strength training and yoga into my workouts each week and for the 5th month in a row I met my goal of 31 workouts in 31 days!  My goal is to do it again this month and then maybe give myself a break in October.


One of my favorite looks of the month was the top I kept from my second Fix which I paired with cropped orange pants (side note:  Phil swears these pants are red.  I think they are orange but we are probably splitting hairs here by debating that).

My other favorite look was a maxi dress that I wore to Phil's friend's wedding this past Saturday.  It was really comfortable but had an elegant enough feel to be appropriate for a wedding.