Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Music, Books, Miles and Looks of March

Another month in the books!  March felt like a long month.  We had a week of gorgeous, amazing weather mid-month which had me thinking that maybe we would actually get a real spring this year... and then it snowed and was cold the last week of the month.  Here's hoping April brings warmer temps and RAIN showers (not snow showers) as we really need some moisture here!



Heartbeat by Mat Kearney - Mat Kearney's new album came out last month so I have been listening to it on repeat.  This is one of my favorite songs - it so peppy and upbeat.  And the music video is super fun.  I heart Mat Kearney so much... and it might be a bit of a stretch to say this, but after watching some of his live videos it makes me realize that Phil kind of resembles him.


March was another strong reading month for me as I read 9 books.  I know that is a lot of books.  People sometimes ask me how I find so much time to read and the answer is that I barely watch any television.  Most nights, unless Phil is over, I don't even turn my TV on as I don't really have any shows that I watch anymore now that Parenthood is over.  Most days, the only time my TV is on is in the morning when I listen to the news while getting ready/eating breakfast. 

It was a month of dichotomy as I read some really great books (I'd recommend any of the 4-star books) and some really not great books, the worst of which was The Empathy Exams.   The starred books are books that counted toward the read harder challenge. I'll be doing a recap later this week about the books I read in the first 3 months of the year for that challenge!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot* - 4 stars
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng - 4 stars
The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison* - 2 stars
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini - 3 stars
Paris Letters by Janice Macleod* - 4 stars
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman* - 3 stars
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri* - 4 stars
Redeployment by Phil Klay* - 2 stars
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - 4 stars


March was a strong month for running as well.  I ran 85 miles and also fit in quite a few barre classes (8 to be exact) and other strength training workouts.  My goal is to keep my mileage around this level for the next couple of months and then starting in June, I'd like it at 100+ miles so I feel ready for my marathon come October.


March was all about cropped pants as it was warm enough in the office to bare my ankles (I froze at work all winter).

Outfit #1 is from Banana (as usual).  I got the top and pants with a 50% off coupon.  It pays to have a credit card at that store as 3-4 times a year they have 50% off 5 items sales events.  I NEVER pay full price for anything at Banana - I always hold out for a 40 or 50% off coupon!

Outfit #2 is an oldie but a goodie.  The top is from stitch fix, the pants are from Banana (purchased on clearance last spring).   I wore this on a day when it was 70 degrees outside.  It was great to wear something bright and summery for a change!

Looking at these photos makes me SO glad that I am chopping my hair tonight!  It's just so long and listless. Right now my plan is to chop it to my shoulders, we'll what my hair girl has to say about that, though!

Friday, March 27, 2015


TGIF.  TG this week is over.  Between the colder weather and the stress of figuring out some of the details related to my move, I'm over this week and ready to move on...

The high of my week was finding out that my good friend Alli is engaged!  I got to meet her fiance when I went to visit her a year ago in December.  They had only been dating for a couple of months at that point but I just *knew* he was the one for her.  I can't wait for her wedding!!

The low of my week was dealing with apartment lease cancellation/renewal mumbo jumbo.  Again, I know I'm lucky that I can stay in the building in a similar unit but this is all just such a pain in the *ss.  And expensive, I might add, as there are moving fees involved, even when you move within the building plus I will likely have to hire movers as I can only move between the hours of 9-4 M-F and I can only reserve the elevator for 2 hours...  and I just don't see Phil and I being able to move all of my stuff in that short amount of time.  A couple of you asked if I considered buying and the short answer is no (I still own a condo that I rent out which I want to get rid of before buying again which seems like it will never happen due to the crappy market in that area of Minneapolis.  Also when I buy, I don't want it to be a rushed experience.  And the list goes on and on.  We'll see where I am at in a year.).

A book I am reading is Redeployment by Phil Klay.  Honestly I don't love it and I am scratching my head as to why it was the winner of the National Book Award. I'm about 1/2 way through it and am going to stick with it.  I'm hoping the second half is better.  The stories are mostly about soldiers experiences in Iraq and I just find it to be an uncomfortable and at times gruesome read. 

A podcast episode I loved was the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin.  I like that these podcasts are short (~20 minutes) and that I always walk away with some little nugget to apply to my life.

For my workouts, I completed a long run with my club on Saturday, a tempo run with my club on Monday, barre class on Wednesday, and today I will go to a HIIT class at the barre studio.  My workouts these week weren't stellar and I took more rest days than I would like but some weeks just go that way I guess.  I am SOOO sick of these cold temps as had it been warmer, Phil and I would have ran together last night and I would have gotten an extra run in but it was cold and blustery out.

The best money I spent was the deposit on the apartment I'll be leasing I guess?  But that means I essentially paid two months of rent this month as the deposit = one month of rent.  So this turned into an expensive month for me.

My plans this weekend include doing a whole lot of purging and a goodwill drop today (I took the day off), a long run tomorrow morning followed by a potluck breakfast which I am helping coordinate, a massage on Saturday afternoon, and date night at a restaurant Phil and I have been wanting to go to on Sunday night.

What was the high of your week?  What are you currently reading?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Currently: March Edition

Here's what currently going on in my world these days!

Reading: "Redeployment" by Phil Klay.  I'm a little nervous to read this one as it's about war and the experiences of soldiers on the battle field as well as when they return home so I know it's going to be a heavier read.  That said, I've heard great things about this book and it won the National Book Award for fiction so I'm using it for that category of the Bookriot read harder challenge.

Loving:  the barre classes I have been taking.  They are so challenging but I know they are going to strengthen some of my muscles that need attention, like my hips, glutes, and the muscles/tendons in my ankles.

Thinking: about getting a subscription to ClassPass this summer.  I like how I would have access to multiple studios so I could do a variety of things from spin to yoga to barre.  I just need to figure out if I can go often enough to justify the cost...  Granted I'm going to be pretty busy between marathon and triathlon training so it might make sense to get a subscription over the fall/winter.

Frustrated: with the weather.  I know that it could be so much worse as we could get a blizzard this time of year but I'm kind of over these 30-40 degree temps and the snow we got on Sunday was just depressing.  I'd love it if the weather would warm back up into the 60s!

Feeling:  the itch to take a big trip to either Europe or maybe somewhere in South America like Argentina.  My year is kind of filling up with small trips, though, so I'm thinking it might be best to wait and go somewhere as a 35th birthday present to myself.

Anticipating:  a massage on Saturday afternoon and a haircut on Tuesday evening.  I'm planning to chop off quite a few inches as I'm tired of the length!

Watching:  season 3 of House of Cards but feeling like this season is a bit of a dud.  We are sticking with it but it just doesn't hold our attention as much as the other 2 seasons did. 

Sad:  that my landlord has decided to sell the condo I am renting from him. I love my condo so much and was hoping to stay here for another year.  There is another condo available in the building that has the same floor plan and faces the river but the thought of moving honestly depresses and overwhelms me.  I just hate moving so much.  The winds of change just don't seem to stop blowing in my life!  And I realize that it could be worse - I feel fortunate that there is another unit in the building that I can move into that's comparable to my current unit.  It's just an inconvenience I wasn't anticipating.  And I'm 34 - I'm too old be moving this often.  This will be my 3rd move in just over 2 years.

Working: on another closet purge.  I got rid of quite a bit of stuff over the winter but now that we are changing seasons, I'm looking over my clothes and getting rid of any 'winter' clothing that I did not wear.  Knowing that I will be moving in about 8 weeks increases my motivation to purge...

Grateful:  that I have the financial means to go on all the small trips I'm taking this year, such as trips to Colorado in May, DC in August (to be planned but it will happen), Kamloops, BC in September and Miami in October.

Listening: to Ghost by Mat Kearney on repeat.  It's a really sad song but I love songs that make you feel something.  I heart Mat Kearney so much.  I'm so bummed that I didn't get to see him when he was in Minneapolis earlier this month.

Wishing: that my parents would retire or had a time frame for when they would retire.  They've worked so hard so many years and I'd like to see them rest and enjoy the fruits of their labor. (Hi mom, I know this is none of my business but it's something all of us kids wish for.)

What are you anticipating, loving, and grateful for?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekend Review

Happy Monday and happy last full week of March!  I'm mostly ready to usher out the month of March because I just want to get closer to warmer temperatures!  Mid-March was unseasonably warm but now we are back to the typical "high of 35-45, scattered snow showers" type of forecasts.

I had a pretty quiet weekend but it still went by fast!  Here's how my weekend shaped up.

On Friday night I went to a barre class after work which was SO HARD.  The instructor focused on our hamstrings and inner thighs.  Doing this class the night before a long run was probably not my best decision.  After class, I went to Phil's and we made lentil enchiladas and Mexican rice for dinner.  It was so good!

On Saturday morning I ran 10 miles with my club which went pretty well.  It was a little cooler than I was expecting and my legs were definitely tired from the class the night before but all in all it went well.  After the run, I went to the barre studio for a yoga class as I figured the extra stretching would help.  I randomly ran into 2 people I know!  Before class I ran into a girl that was working at the company at work at now when I started and shortly thereafter moved onto a new company.  It was fun/random to see her.  Then after class I ran into Marisa who is another blogger that I got to know through Amber.  Hopefully I'll run into these two girls at other classes over the next couple of weeks (and outside of class).

On Saturday afternoon I grocery shopped, did laundry, did some dinner prep work, and I finished the book I had been reading.  The afternoon flew by.  On Saturday evening, Phil came over and we went to church. After church we came back and had dinner which turned out pretty well.  The salad was promising but it was missing something, but I don't know what...  I tried adding crushed red pepper because that is my solution to most dishes that don't taste quite right, but it still needed something else...  But the chicken was good and very easy to make.

After dinner, we watched Gone Girl which was such a messed up movie.  I had read the book so knew what was going to happen but I guess I forgot just how messed up it was!  I once again struggled to stay awake during this movie...  I'm sleeping a bit better these days but I'm still not getting as many hours as I would like/need so it makes staying alert past 8 pm kind of challenging these days.  :/

When I woke up on Sunday morning I decided that I needed a rest day as my legs were pretty sore from the combination of Friday's barre class and the long run on Saturday.  So Sunday morning was all about relaxing.  On Sunday afternoon I met my friend Courtney at the Minnesota History Center.  We were there to check out the Hmong exhibit which was well done.  It was interesting to learn more about their culture.  It's sad to think that they have no "home" to return to and are instead scattered across the nations that they emigrated to. I had never been to this museum so it was neat to check it out.  The Hmong exhibit was definitely my favorite part of the museum.

The rest of the day was spent catching up with far-away friends as I had a couple of video chats and phone calls.  And I also watched the snow flakes begin to fall.  Le sigh.

How was your weekend?  What's the weather been like where you are?  I hope our unseasonably nice weather comes back soon.  Those 60 degree temperatures were such a tease!

Friday, March 20, 2015


This week was not my favorite so I am glad to see it come to a close.  That said, it did go by pretty fast which is good!

The high of my week was going to book club last night.  We've got a great group of ladies in our book club and I love that we actually discuss the book (as well as other things going on in our lives of course).  Last night we discussed "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" which was a very interesting and well-written book.  

The low of my week was attending my good friend's dad's funeral.  My heart just hurts for my friend. Her dad was only 61 and he declined so rapidly that she didn't get to adjust to the idea of him being gone (not that there is ever enough time to adjust to that).  I hate that so many of my friends have lost parents in the last couple of years. 

A book I am reading is The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.  It's about the medical treatment of a Hmong child and the culture clash between her parents and the American medical doctors.  We have a very large Hmong population here in the Twin Cities and I'm going to an exhibit at a local museum about the history of the Hmong population so I thought it was a good time to read this book.

A podcast episode I loved was the TED Radio Hour podcast on communication entitled "spoken and unspoken."  I especially loved the last segment of the show which was about the connection between our body language and how our bodies take up space (how 'big' or 'small' we make ourselves) and how confident we feel.

For my workouts, I completed a run and barre class on Monday, an upper body strength training workout on Tuesday, a run club hill workout on Wednesday, a full body shred workout on Thursday, and tonight I will go to a barre class after work.  I usually take Fridays off but I am fitting a barre class in this week as I'm trying my hardest to use up my 10 barre classes before the groupon expires on April 7th!

The best money I spent was on a 6-week triathlon swim class that starts in late May.  I'm doing my first tri this summer and while I'm a fairly strong swimmer, swimming is my weakest sport of the 3 so I figure it will be helpful to take this class.

My plans this weekend include going to barre class tonight and then making dinner with Phil. Tomorrow I'm going to run with my club and hit up a yoga class at the barre studio and then the rest of the day is unplanned (yea!).  I'm planning to make this honey sesame chicken recipe and we'll probably watch college basketball (hello March Madness). So far my only plans on Sunday are to go to the Minnesota History Center to check out the Hmong exhibit.

What was the best money you spent this week?  What are your plans for the weekend?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

10 Questions

 Amber and Nilsa posted their answers to these questions recently so I decided to play along!

1. Twitter or Facebook? 

Definitely Facebook, although I don't post on it all that often.  I actually deactivated my Twitter account recently as I haven't used it in months!

2. Morning person or night owl? 

I would say morning person, but I am not really a 'talk to me first thing in the morning' kind of morning person as it takes me a bit to warm up (coffee helps).  Phil and I were talking about hosting a brunch for our friends this spring and I said - "and it will be great because I'll be in my prime and won't be yawning!" I am the worst at staying up late.  And by late I mean past 10 pm.

3. How do you drink your coffee? 

6 days a week I make coffee at home and add fat free French vanilla creamer.  On Fridays I treat myself to a skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks or if I'm feeling indulgent, I'll get a mint condition mocha from Caribou.

4. It’s 9pm and you’ve got the house to yourself, what do you do? 

I would definitely be sitting in silence reading.

5. What’s on your nightstand right now? 

A book, a box of kleenexes, my glasses/glasses case, ear plugs, sleep mask (I'm a high maintenance sleeper) and Burts Beeswax chapstick.

6. What smell do you love? 

The smell of my parents home on Thanksgiving morning.  I love the smell of the turkey roasting in the oven and the mirepoix that will go in the stuffing sauteing on the stove.  Mmmm.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

7. What smell do you hate? 

The smell of reheated seafood at the kitchen at work. Why do people reheat seafood at work?  It's SO RUDE.  I also hate the smell of peanut butter when someone else is eating it.  I don't mind the smell when I'm eating it but I strongly dislike the second hand smell of peanut butter. And, last but not least, I REALLY HATE the smell of cigarette smoke.  Why do people, especially young people, still smoke in this day and age, knowing all we know about how awful it is for you?    

8. Other than your current home, where would you most like to live? 

From a practical standpoint, somewhere in south Minneapolis that is within a mile of a lake or Minnehaha Creek.  From an impractical standpoint, Paris.  :)  Other cities in the U.S. that I could see myself living in are New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

9. If you could eat only one nationality of food for the rest of your life, which one would it be? 

Mexican!  It's very GF friendly and there are so many Mexican foods I love!  The runner up would be Indian food. 

10. When you were six years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

Hmmm...  I'm not really sure but if I had to guess I would say a doctor or a lawyer.

Your turn - what smells do you love, are you a morning person or night owl, and what nationality of food would you choose if you could only pick one?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weekend Review

This past weekend was delightful.  I had enough going on to keep me from getting bored and enough down time to leave me feeling relaxed at the end of the weekend.  I need more weekends with this kind of balance!

On Friday night Phil and I met up with a group of his high school friends to celebrate a friend's birthday.  We went to a Mexican restaurant that we actually went to on our second date so it was fun to reminisce about that. And I randomly ran into my cousin's girlfriend who I hadn't seen since Julia Child night so that was fun!!

On Saturday morning I was up at at 'em early as I ran with my club at 7 am.  We ran 11 miles along one of my favorite paths in Minneapolis (Minnehaha Parkway).  I ran with 3 girls that I hadn't seen in a long time and we had so much fun catching up so the miles flew by.  Admittedly, I was ready to be done when the Garmin hit 11 miles, though!  My pace was around 9:15 which I am happy with since this run was supposed to be at a more relaxed, conversational pace.  After our run, a local running store hosted a discounted shopping event for us, so I scored some new shoes!  I'm not crazy about the color but the other alternative was bright orange which I was not a fan of!  Plus they gave me an extra discount as it wasn't their newest model (which I was more than fine with as it's the same model I'm running in).

On Saturday afternoon, I met up with Phil and his mom for lunch.  We went to this awesome Caribbean place that has THE BEST curry.  We discovered it thanks to Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  It was fun to catch up with Phil's mom over lunch.  She's a retired English teacher and avid reader so we always have lots to talk about since we share a love of reading.  After lunch, I headed back home, and did laundry. I felt extra tired so I tried and failed to nap.  My body just won't let me nap no matter how tired I am.  So instead I read a good chunk of a book I started that day.  I've read a lot of heavier stuff lately so I needed a lighter book like this! Props to Jeanie for recommending it!

On Saturday night I went to mass and then Phil came over. We ate the chicken tikka masala that I had made that day (which turned out SO good) and we watched the movie Foxcatcher.  I did not really care for the movie.  I thought it was slow moving. Steve Carrell did a great job but the film sort of fell flat for me.  My judgment of the movie is likely colored by the fact that I was so tired that I struggled to stay awake.

Sunday was all about relaxing.  It was great to slowly wake up, enjoy some coffee and breakfast and do some more reading.  It was a beautiful day so I walked to the grocery store to get groceries.  After that, I hit up a class at Core Power Yoga at noon and then spent a couple of hours getting stuff done around the house.  It was a beautiful day so I headed out on a long bike ride in the afternoon.  I followed the Mississippi for quite awhile - I love biking along water!

And then I cut across to check out the Minnehaha Falls.  The falls looked pretty cool with the remnants of winter around them!

The 16 mile bike ride flew by and I was contently tired at the end.  The rest of the day was all about relaxing as I was pretty pooped after a tough yoga class and a long bike ride!

How was your weekend?  Has it been unusually nice where you live?  I'm loving the weather we've had lately!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five Things Friday

Happy Friday!  Raise your hand if you have been loving the longer hours of evening sunlight this week **enthusiastically raises hand **

I'm closing out the week with 5 random things that are on my mind!

1.  I often sing along to songs when Phil and I are in the car (or anytime I am in the car, really).  One day "Blank Spaces" by Taylor Swift came on and during the chorus I sang, "got a lovely Starbucks lover, who'll tell you I'm insane" and Phil was like - um, I don't think you have those lyrics right - Starbucks lover doesn't make much sense.  The next time the song came on he listened closer and said, she's saying "got a long list of ex-lovers, who'll tell you I'm insane."  Riiiight.  I guess that does make more sense than Starbucks lover...  But we had a good laugh over how I had thought Starbucks lover made any sense as a song lyric...

2.  So I found out that I was promoted to Vice President this month, except I found out in the most random way as a co-worker saw a story on our internal team member website listing out the promotions and told me about it.  Turns out my boss forgot to tell me during my anual review (I can't blame him - he has 70 direct reports.  Yes, 70!!).  It really is a formality because my role doesn't change, nor does my pay. So that's the first weird thing related to my "promotion."  The second weird thing is that a sales rep in another office saw the story and called to congratulate me and he said, and I quote, "Congratulations on making Vice President!  I'm really glad you weren't fired!"  He then proceeded to tell me a story about a firm that fired him years ago.  He closed our conversation by reiterating that he was glad I wasn't fired as you just never know in our industry.   And that conversation right there really sums up the industry I work in...  You could get promoted, or you could get fired.  It really feels like a 50/50 type of thing sometimes.

3.  We have had several 60 degree days this week.  The cold weather in February really threw me into a funk but my mood flipped like a light switch when the weather changed and I feel like a different person!

4.  Warm spring weather means I get to take my bike out for my first ride this weekend!  I'm so excited to get out on it!  I bought my bike in September last year so this will be my first spring/summer having a bike and I'm SO excited to log a whole lot of miles!

5. This week I activated a living social deal that I had bought this winter for 10 barre classes at a studio close to my house.  I had done a barre class once when I lived in Charlotte but struggled with it as all of the time that you spend on your tip toes in class was just too much for my poor joints.  But I've gone to two classes this week and I've been able to do everything which is exciting!  I'm so happy with how much my joints have healed.  Barre is an awesome full body workout - I highly recommend it!  When my 10-class voucher expires I will probably look into buying a 10 class pack as I think going once a week would be a fun way to add some strength training/toning work into my weekly routine.  I also love that I can walk to the studio.  I feel very lucky to have both a yoga studio and a barre studio within 4 blocks of my home. 

What's on your mind today?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Weekend Review

Spring-like weather arrived in Minnesota this past weekend - I think the entire state might have breathed a collective sign of relief.  Friday was our first day above freezing since February 9th!  Isn't that crazy?  You've definitely gotta be a tough/hearty person to live in Minnesota in the winter!!

I had a fun, full weekend.  Here's how I kept myself busy!

On Friday night I had dinner with coworkers from my first job out of college.  A manager I had worked with that I hadn't seen in nearly 8 years was able to attend so it was so great to catch up with her.  It was kind of crazy to tell her about everything that had happened in the last 8 year.  Between getting my MBA, becoming a CFA charter holder, relocating, working for three different companies, and all the other career changes, it made me realize that I've been through a lot career-wise in the last 8 years.  I knew I'd been through a lot but when you sit there and list it all out at one time, it's almost overwhelming to think about. 

After dinner I headed to Phil's to keep him company for a bit.  He has been pet sitting for a cat for the last 14 months and on Friday night he said goodbye to Ted the cat for the last time.  Ted's owner had been working in California for the last 14 months in a contract position but she accepted a full time job and is moving there this week.  Phil has probably had Ted about 80% of the time over the last 14 months so he really felt like "our cat."  He was the coolest, cuddliest cat so we are very sad to see him go but this means that Phil will probably be getting a kitty of his own which is exciting.  Nonetheless, goodbyes are always tough but Phil handled it really well.

We are really going to miss this cuddly cat
As you know from yesterday's post, I had my 10 mile race on Saturday morning.  It didn't start until 9 so I got to wake up without an alarm and take my time getting ready.  I was up way earlier than I need to be (thanks, body, for not letting me sleep in) so I stayed in bed and finished the book "Everything I Never Told You" (which was really good).  Most mornings I'm rushing off to one thing or another so it was delightful to wake up and read in bed for a bit! 

Saturday afternoon was spent doing laundry, reading, video chatting with Mandy, and relaxing.  I was pretty tired after my race so I gave myself permission to spend a couple of hours on the couch.  I also made a lentil and black bean soup that turned out pretty good despite the fact that I accidentally doubled the amount of cumin the recipe called for.  Good thing I love cumin.  :)

This looks unappetizing but was actually really good.
On Saturday night Phil and I met up with our group of friends to celebrate a friend's birthday.  We went out for BBQ and went bowling.  It was a really fun night!  My score was over 100 for both games which NEVER happens, and two of the guys in our group bowled over 200 in the second game which was fun to watch!

Phil going in for a strike

Sunday morning was spent puttering around the house and getting some chores done.  The weather was gorgeous so I was able to open up the windows - it felt awesome to get some fresh air in my home.  On Sunday afternoon I went over to a friend's house for a knitting/tea date.  I'd only seen her once since I moved home so it was great to spend a couple of hours catching up on our lives.

When I got home from my knitting date, I needed a little snack to hold me over until dinner so I decided to use the blender I just bought on Friday.  I've been wanting a blender for awhile and decided to buy one when I saw that they were 40% off at Macy's!  I went with a Ninja as it was in the right price range and got awesome reviews.  I used this smoothie recipe which was so refreshing and good!  I'm going to be making lots of smoothies now that I've got a great gadget.  One of my goals for 2015 was to have a 'buy one give one away' approach to clothing and kitchen gadgets, so the purchase of this blender means I'm getting rid of my magic bullet.  I'm hoping Phil will want it but if not I might try to sell it on craigslist.

On Sunday evening I picked up Allison and we went out for dinner. The place we had originally planned to go was closed on Sunday night (whoops, planning fail) but we easily figured a plan B and went to a Thai restaurant in the area instead.  I hadn't seen Allison since the fall so it was good to catch up over some yummy Thai food!

All in all it was a great weekend.  It was a little bit on the busy side as I didn't have as much downtime as I like to have on a weekend but I was able to connect with a lot of friends so I really can't complain!  Next weekend *should* be slower paced!

What was the highlight of your weekend?  My weekend contained lots of highs but if I had to choose one highlight, I'd say PR'ing at my 10 mile race!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Hot Dash 10 Mile Race Recap

I ran the inaugural Hot Dash 10 mile race on Saturday morning.  Truth be told, I completely regretted signing up for this race in the weeks leading up to it.  I signed up thinking it would be motivational and would push me to increase my weekend long run distances.  I thought the motivation might result in me becoming a winter runner.

Well, that plan kind of failed.  As usual, January and February were cold.  February was especially cold as we didn't get above freezing for most of the month and there were many subzero mornings.  I'm a hearty Minnesotan, but I'm not THAT hearty.  So my mileage has been very low and I only got in a handful of runs in the 6-8 mile range.

I went into this race with no expectations besides finishing.  I didn't have a pace goal in mind; I decided to just try to hold a pace that felt comfortable.  My previous PR was 1:32:32, which is about a 9:15 average pace.  I went into this thinking there was no way I'd beat that PR.

Luckily the race-day weather was perfect.  It was 37 degrees and sunny so I was able to just wear a light long sleeve and running pants.  

Getting ready to head out the door, feeling awfully nervous about how this race would go.

In my mind I thought it was realistic that I'd run around a 9:20-9:30 minute/mile pace.  Here is how my splits broke out:

Mile 1 -8:24
Mile 2 - 8:26

* After the first couple of miles I was surprised how comfortable the 8:30'ish pace felt.  I figured this race would turn into a tale of me starting too fast but I decided to just stick with the pace I was running since it felt good.

Mile 3 - 8:32
Mile 4 - 8:29
Mile 5 - 8:23

* At the halfway point I thought - "huh, I guess maybe I will PR."

Mile 6 - 8:20
Mile 7 - 8:25
Mile 8 - 8:24
Mile 9 - 8:28
Mile 10 - 8:22
The rest - 1:30 (the course measured 0.17 miles long)

The happy smile of a girl that just surprised herself and PR'd!
My official time was 1:25:37 - so I was 5 seconds shy of shaving 7 minutes off my last PR!  My official average page was 8:34. I love stats, so here are some finishing stats:

- 338th out of 1,029 total runners
- 128th out 576 female runners
- 31st out of 107 F30-35 runners

The only explanation I can come up with for this surprise PR is that I've done a lot of strength training and cross training over the last year.  If you need proof that strength training and cross training matter, my PR is proof of that.  I have done no speed training, hills, tempo runs, etc since last September.  The only explanation for my ability to maintain an 8:35 pace for 10 miles is that the combination of strength training and cardio I have done has made me a far stronger runner than I was when all I did was run!

It's nice to have a strong race under my belt.  Now I can focus on my next race which is a half marathon at the end of April!!  The spring session of my running club started on Saturday so my goal is to run with the group one week night and on Saturday mornings.  This 10-mile race showed me that I am in better shape than I thought I was so I am feeling good about my overall level of fitness!

But all that said, even though I ran a strong race and PR'd  - I'm NEVER signing up for a March race again.  I learned my lesson - nothing will turn me into a person who loves running in bitterly cold Minnesota temps!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Project Oganization: Recipes

One of my goals this year was to tackle some organizational projects around the house, so I thought I'd share the outcome of some of these projects as I figured maybe it will give others an idea of something similar that they could do in their own home.

One area of my kitchen that has been driving me crazy for a long time is my recipe box area.  I print off recipes that I see online all the time, fold them up, and place them on top of my recipe box.  Sometimes I make them, sometimes I don't.  When I did meal prep on the weekends, I'd look at the pile and think - I should really go through that stack of recipes sometime....  but sometime never seemed to happen...

Until January when I set a goal of accomplishing a list of organizational projects.  The first one I tackled was the recipe box project.  I started by organizing the recipes by course (appetizer, soup, salad, side, entree, dessert).

And then I put the recipes in plastic protector sheets in a 3-ring binder, organized by course. 

And voila!  My recipes are now organized and that area of the kitchen no longer makes me twitch when I look at it. 

It's been much easier to find recipes to make now that they are organized in this binder.  I've discovered recipes I forgot about, like this lentil and black bean soup that I tore out of a Runners World magazine YEARS ago, which I'll be making this week for my lentil-lover Phil and I.

Do you print out recipes?  If so, how do you organize your recipes?  I'm definitely the kind of person who needs to work off of a printed off recipe as I don't care for reading recipes on my phone or laptop.  I might feel differently if I had an iPad, but I don't have one (and can't see myself buying one anytime soon.... or ever actually).

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Little Letters

Kyria did a post like this last week and I thought it was a fun concept, so I am playing along with my own set of little letters:

Dear body:  Let's get through this 10 mile race on Saturday and after that, I promise to never sign up for a March race ever again.

Dear cold:  You've overstayed your welcome.  I'm tired of sniffling, sneezing, and coughing.  Go away.

Dear March:  I know you are a volatile month that usually contains snow and cold temperatures but maybe this is the year that you should be unseasonably nice.  Please?  I'd love it if tomorrow was the last day with a high in the single digits.

Dear humidity:  Please come back.  I miss you dearly.  Without you around, it's shockingly painful (literally) to turn on light switches and lamps.  My skin misses you, too.

Dear conference planners:  75 minutes is too long for a presentation.  No one wants to listen to anyone drone on about a topic for 75 minutes. 

Dear North Carolina:  Why are you so slow at processing tax returns?  I'd like my refund back in a timely manner.  Your standard of 6 weeks to process a return is ridiculous in my opinion.

Dear Minnesota:  I love you, I really do, but I am reminded that love is a choice during winter because it is very hard to keep loving you when your weather is so horribly cold.

Dear people who say "at least you aren't living in Charlotte":  I know.  I'm so glad I am not living in Charlotte anymore, but is this going to forever be a rebuttal I'll have to put up with when I complain about something?  What's the statute of limitations on comments like this?  I hope it's not much longer than a year.

Dear coffee:  Thanks for making my mornings infinitely better than they would be without you.

Dear parents and grandparents:  Thank you for fostering my love of reading.  I can't imagine my life without this hobby.

OK, your turn - what little letters would you write?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Music, Books, Miles and Looks of February

February was a great month between my birthday celebration, our trip to Santa Barbara and time spent with friends, but I'm happy to usher in a new month as I'm at the point where I'm over winter...  I don't expect spring-like weather in March as spring doesn't arrive until April or May in Minnesota usually, but I do hope the subzero days are behind us!


Hmm...  Not a lot of radio listening happening in my world these days as I tend to listen to podcasts when I am in the car.  Brandi Carlile's new CD comes out this month, though, so I'm sure I'll have a favorite song to share from that next month!


February was another strong reading month for me as I read 7 books, bringing my total for the year to 16!  I do not expect my reading to continue at the pace, though.  I think this is just a time of year that is conducive to sitting inside and reading for hours on end since it's so cold outside.  My favorite book that I read in February was The Girl on the Train - I think it definitely lived up to all of the hype around it.  Similar to last month, I starred the books that counted towards the read harder challenge.

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion* - 4 stars
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson* - 4 stars
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins* - 5 stars
Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal - 4 stars
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes - 3 stars
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - 4 stars
A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca - 3 stars


Eh, not my best month.  It's a short month and a cold month so it's not conducive to a lot of miles.  And then I got sick at the end of the month which sidelined me for a number of days.  My total mileage was 53 miles.  I'm calling that good enough.  I'll start running with my club during the week in March so my mileage should be higher in March!


Oh, winter.  You make it really hard to get excited about outfits.  I'm thankful I can walk to work but it does REALLY impact my outfit choices as I have to stick with pants and sweaters so I don't freeze on the mile walk in.  The only outfit I was really excited about this month was the outfit I wore on my birthday.  I got the pants with a 50% off coupon at Banana and the top came from my final Stitch Fix (taking a break after getting a few not-so-great boxes).