Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sunday Funday: Wine Edition

This past weekend was packed and although I got no laundry done and had to go grocery shopping yesterday evening, it was definitely worth it. I spent Sunday on a wine tour with some gals from the Junior League, not only was it a great day but I totally forgot that one of my 101 in 1001 items was to visit three new wineries in Virginia. We went to four, so check and check!

I've only seen a few wineries so far and enjoyed that these are all in the Charlottesville area which is just around an hour away from us. We visited Delfosse, Pippin Hill, Blenheim and Trump. I think my favorites were Pippin Hill and Blenheim, but we didn't really get to explore the outside area of Trump which also looked amazing. I would love to go back with a picnic lunch, buy a bottle of wine and just enjoy the afternoon at one of these spaces. The weather was absolutely perfect on Sunday so we were able to soak in the beautiful views at each place.

Have you visited any wineries in Virginia? Although I hit my goal of three (maybe I should have made it bigger?) I am continuing to visit as many as possible while we live here. Where you have been? What's your favorite place?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Some days just make you stop and reflect on all that you have in life. After a wonderful weekend filled with friends I woke up yesterday morning not wanting to get out of bed, despite getting an hour more than my usual night's sleep. I couldn't figure out what it was, maybe I just woke up in the middle of a REM cycle?

I got out of bed, ate some breakfast, and got myself together and out the door to work. Then the work day flew by in a whirl of students, PowerPoint building, and inbox clearing. On the way home I knew I needed to go for a run and so for the second time today forced myself to get up and get moving.

While I only ran two miles, which feels so defeating after a half marathon, I ran a hard two miles and at the end I ran right into this scene.

It was gorgeous and I couldn't help but feel grateful for getting myself outside for fresh air and beautiful sights. As I walked home that train of thought continued.

I am incredibly grateful...
To have a job I enjoy
To have a purpose of helping others discover and seek their passions
To be able bodied and enjoy running
To have many wonderful friends even if some are far away
To be able to buy good, healthy food
To have a sweet fiance, even if he forgets to bring all the travel coffee mugs home

Every day that you don't want to get out of bed, go into work, go to the gym, cook dinner, or clean the dishes, remember the small joys that you have in life. I couldn't have imagined when I woke up that I would end the day feeling so grateful for the mundane nuances of life.

I'm still learning that life isn't about being busy every weekend, traveling everywhere, or flashy parties. Sometimes you just need a hot cup of apple cider, a big blanket, Walking Dead on DVR and someone to cuddle up with.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

In my lust of the fall season there was one thing I knew I'd have to do when the leaves started turning: go apple picking! Last year we knew many people that headed out to Charlottesville to go picking at Carter Mountain Orchard and this year we didn't want to miss out. We set a date with some friends and even though the weather was less than spectacular we piled in the car and headed west in search of sweet, crisp apples.

Driving up the mountain in the rain was quite the task to go through in order to pick apples but we made it all in once piece and headed out into the rainy, muddy orchard to pick our bounty. We had a fair share of successes with finding great apples to bring home, and Mr. Young had a fair share of unfortunate moments like slipping in the mud and having an orange colored bottom for the rest of the trip...

I had dreamt of what I might make with my bounty of apples. Sweet apple desserts? Savory apple entrees? Rather than acting in haste I waited a few days and spent some time searching around Pinterest and the web for a good recipe to put my hard earned apples to work. I stumbled upon this recipe for apple muffins and that was that. Check and check off the 101 in 1001 list!

One thing to note with this recipe is the fact that is calls for you to mix all of the wet ingredients together and then begin adding in the dry. Well this smart girl right here didn't think twice about adding freshly melted butter into from the fridge milk. I turned my back and I saw shiny yellow chunks floating in my butter. Two degrees later and I can't even do simple baking... Yet another reason why I find the "add a little of this, and a little of that" cooking method to be far superior to baking.

To remedy this I began to heat another stick of butter and poured new milk to be at room temperature. Instead of following directions I began to add in some of the dry ingredients first, and then added in the melted butter so it would not congeal in the cold milk. Worked like magic!

Additionally, I had all types of flour stocked up when I made these so I decided to experiment with that. I double the original recipe so for my four cups of flour I used three of white whole wheat and one of whole wheat flour. I think you definitely need to have some white flour with this recipe or the muffins may not turn out as they should but I think if I played around some more I could have used a bit more whole wheat. I also upped the cinnamon. When I saw one teaspoon for FOUR cups of flour I was outraged. Bring on the spice people!

Apple Cinnamon Muffins (adapted from Silver Pennies)
yields 24 muffins

8 tbsp. of melted butter (1 stick)
2 eggs
2 cups of milk
4 cups of flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 cup of sugar
3 large or 4 smaller apples finely chopped
1/4 cup of cinnamon sugar mix

Heat oven to 375* and grease two cupcake pans. Mix all dry ingredients together. In a separate, large, bowl mix milk and eggs together. Mix about one cup of the dry mixture into the wet mixture, when combine add the melted butter. Slowly add the remaining dry ingredients into the bowl. When fully mixed, fold in 2/3 of the chopped apples.

Spoon mixture into the cupcake pans. Top each muffin with some of the remaining chopped apples and if needed, use a spatula to press them into the batter. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

101 in 1001

I always find myself thinking or saying "Ooh I really want to do that!" "I really want to bake that!" or "I can't wait to try that craft I saw on Pinterest!" Then life happens and I don't do whatever the project was that I was so excited about. At this point in life I have plenty of time to spend accomplishing these smaller goals, so why not today?

My house has a pantry full of ingredients to bake on a whim, there's an AC Moore less than half a mile away from me that sends me piles of coupons each week, and I live in a city with a vibrant culture and vast array of events going on every weekend. So I've decided it's time to stop saying I want to do things and actually go do them.

Years ago I started a Life List, similar to a bucket list, of things that I want to accomplish or do at some point in my life. The thing about that list is that one, there are many lofty goals on it, and two there's no expiration date. Throughout life I've found that the best way for me to achieve a goal is put a time limit on it.

After I saw Charlotte make an inspiring list of to-do's I decided it was time to make one of my own. I actually started this list a few weeks ago and have checked off a few things so far. I am so excited about everything on list and am looking forward to many more adventures over the next 1001 days, a few items are cross listed from my Life List.

So you know that thing you said you were going to do this weekend? Well work it out and go do it, because there's no time like the present. I encourage you to make your own list and think about reachable goals to challenge yourself!

Start Date // October 5, 2013
End Date // July 2, 2016
  1. Get married!
  2. Complete a half marathon. [10/6/13]
  3. Complete a marathon. 
  4. Ride in a hot air balloon.
  5. Spend an entire day doing nothing but reading a book.
  6. Go to five new states.
  7. See the sunrise over a body of water.
  8. Watch the sunset over a body of water.
  9. Grow an herb garden.
  10. Go kayaking in the James River.
  11. Completely fill up my wine rack {24 bottles}.
  12. Visit two new countries.
  13. Get my Etsy shop up and going.
  14. Create a gallery wall in our house.
  15. Go on a family vacation.
  16. Buy nothing new for an entire month.
  17. Make gnocchi from scratch.
  18. Learn how to make jewelry.
  19. See a movie at a drive-in theater
  20. Go apple picking. [10/13/13]
  21. Bake or cook something with my apple haul.
  22. Get my 5k time down to 30 minutes or less.
  23. Become comfortable with speaking Italian.
  24. Learn how to sew.
  25. Be a "host" for an international student at the campus I work for.
  26. Do some soul searching and come up with professional goals.
  27. Blog every day for a month.
  28. Project 365, take a picture every day for a year.
  29. Make homemade ice cream. 
  30. Send mail to family & friends for no reason at all.
  31. Bake an extravagant layered cake.
  32. Donate blood.
  33. Host a dinner party.
  34. Buy a bicycle.
  35. Complete a sprint triathlon.
  36. Go camping.
  37. Successfully complete a Sudoku puzzle.
  38. Spend an entire day without any type of technology or social media.
  39. Participate in a "fun run".
  40. See the Nutcracker during the holidays.
  41. Make thoughtful, homemade gifts for all family & friends for one Christmas.
  42. Find a church I like enough to join.
  43. Read a book by Ayn Rand.
  44. Take a photography course. 
  45. Start taking nice pictures for the blog.
  46. Buy coffee for the person behind me in line.
  47. Run a race to raise money for a philanthropic organization.
  48. Learn how to make a really good mixed drink.
  49. De-clutter and sell/donate what I don't need or use.
  50. Leave a 100% tip at a restaurant.
  51. Ice skate outside. 
  52. Make homemade cinnamon rolls.
  53. Paint my desk a fun, happy color.
  54. Go hiking in the Shenandoah. 
  55. Cut down our own tree for Christmas. 
  56. Visit three new Virginia wineries. 
  57. Buy a lottery ticket.
  58. Go on a picnic. 
  59. Star gaze date night with Mr. Young.
  60. Paint the rooms in our house.
  61. Do a juicing cleanse.
  62. Adopt an Angel Tree kid at Christmas.
  63. Go to a UR football game.
  64. Take a random day off work just because.
  65. Visit Busch Gardens for Howl O Scream.
  66. Bake homemade bread.
  67. Read 25 books on my "To Read" list.
  68. Create something to display my race bibs and medals.
  69. Throw a surprise birthday party for someone I care about.
  70. Learn how to do an at home pedicure.
  71. Pay off my car.
  72. Take a spontaneous day trip to the beach.
  73. Watch five Audrey Hepburn films.
  74. Revitalize an old piece of furniture.
  75. Make 10 crafts off of Pinterest.
  76. Lose college weight for good.
  77. Run a half marathon in 2:20 or less.
  78. Watch a handful of movies I haven't seen {Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, Princess Bride, Good Will Hunting, Animal House, Gone With the Wind}.
  79. Visit 10 new restaurants in Richmond.
  80. Start taking vitamins every day. 
  81. Make a terrarium for our house.
  82. De-clutter my work office and make it look more professional. 
  83. Create a photo book. 
  84. Take a girls trip with some of my best gals.
  85. Go to a concert.
  86. Find a fun new hairstyle {after the wedding}.
  87. Go zip lining.
  88. Learn how to create and manage my own blog design.
  89. Try a new workout. 
  90. Attend three festivals.
  91. Find a good LBD.
  92. Handwrite my favorite recipes and keep in a nice recipe box.
  93. Learn how to make sushi. 
  94. Go on a staycation here in Richmond.
  95. Make homemade marshmallows. 
  96. Work out with a personal trainer.
  97. Go a month without buying Starbucks.
  98. Complete a 100+ piece puzzle.
  99. Actually read all of the magazines I subscribe to.
  100. Update all of my blog pages.
  101. Put $10 in savings for every goal completed.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Long Run Power Playlist

I don't think I could ever be one of those people who runs without music. Maybe I could do books on tape or a podcast, but I have to have something in my ears to keep me going and entertain me. I forgot my headphones for one of my long training runs and I just played music from my phone speakers; it was rather refreshing to hear the sounds of the city with my music in the background.

For the 10 miler and half marathon that I recently ran I knew I'd need to put together a playlist. I couldn't chance my phone not picking up Pandora, or coming across songs that I wanted to skip. In the famous words of Ron Popeil I just wanted to "Set it, and forget it!"

I set off to create a killer playlist. Every time I heard a song that pumped me up (especially when running) I made a note of it. I kept a list of songs in the notes app on my phone, I would Shazam songs I heard in the car, and screenshot good jams that came across on Pandora stations. This helped me to create the perfect playlist for my long runs.

This play list is two hours and forty minutes so it's a great length for a half marathon (or just jamming out at work). If your goal time is longer, then just add a few more songs and voila! You can easily find it here via Spotify for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

I Gotta Feeling // The Black Eyed Peas
On Top Of the World // Imagine Dragons
Toxic // Britney Spears
Girl on Fire // Alicia Keys
Hooked on a Feeling // Blue Swede
Blurred Lines // Robin Thicke ft. T.I. & Pharrell
Can't Hold Us Down // Macklemore & Ray Dalton
Next to Me // Emeli Sande
Feel So Close // Calvin Harris
Tongue Tied // Grouplove
Holy Grail // JAY Z & Justin Timberlake
Roar // Katy Perry
Get Outta Your Mind // Lil Jon ft. LMFAO
Royals // Lorde
Ho Hey // The Lumineers
1901 // Phoenix
Fly // Nicki Minaj & Rhianna
Bad Girls // M.I.A.
Feel Again // OneRepublic
Red Hands // Walk Off the Earth
Brave // Sara Bareilles
Come & Get It // Selena Gomez
Sweet Disposition // The Temper Traps
My Body // Young the Giant
Teenage Dream // Katy Perry
(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To // Weezer
Kids // MGMT
Dynamite // Taio Cruz
Send Me On My Way // Rusted Root
Pretty Girl Rock // Keri Hilson
Suddenly I See // KT Tunstall
The Edge of Glory // Lady Gaga
Firework // Katy Perry
Dog Days Are Over // Florence + The Machine
Empire State Of Mind // JAY Z
It's Time // Imagine Dragons
Some Nights // fun.
Anything Could Happen // Ellie Goulding
After Hours // We Are Scientists
Wind It Up // Gwen Stefani
Here It Goes Again // OK Go
This City // Patrick Stump & Lupe Fiasco

What songs pump you up when you're running or working out? Anything I should add?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sticky Banana Bread Oatmeal

Yesterday morning I woke up at 10:00am and after looking outside my window to find another dreary, misty, October day, I was so incredibly glad I didn't have to go run in it. Instead I played on my phone for a while and decided I wanted something decadent for breakfast.

I started scrolling through my breakfast board on Pinterest and then I found it: Sticky Banana Bread Quinoa Breakfast Bowl from Healthy.Happy.Life. This got me bounding down the stairs to the kitchen and I knew it was going to be a good morning.

As I looked through recipe I decided to make a few adaptations, and also to not measure anything. This is why I find cooking far supreme to baking. Less accidents, at least in my book. If you mess up, just add a little of something different to fix it. I had a hankering for a good bowl of oats so I used my Silver Palate Thick and Rough oats, seriously amazing.

The result? To. Die. For. If you like banana bread and sticky buns, this is like a cross between them in a spoonable form. There's not too much added sugar, protein from the nuts, and fiber from the oats. An all around win-win situation for my belly.

Here's my adapted recipe for your taste buds:

Sticky Banana Bread Oatmeal
serves two
2/3 cups of Silver Palate Thick and Rough Oats
1 1/4 cups of water
2 bananas cut into small chunks
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp pure maple syrup or agave
2/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts

In a saucepan boil the water, then add oats and cook 8-10 minutes until all liquid is absorbed stirring occasionally.

In a medium skillet melt butter over medium to medium-high heat. While butter is melting, cut up your banana. I quartered the banana lengthwise, then sliced each quarter into small chunks. Once the butter is melted add the banana, walnuts, and syrup and stir to combine. Add a few shakes of cinnamon, and a shake of nutmeg. If you're looking to kick it up a notch add in a dash of cayenne.

Stir banana mixture until everything if fully coated and combined. Once oats are finished cooking divide into two bowls. Then add half of the topping mixture to each bowl. Throw in a spoon and enjoy!

Optional: best served with a fall flavored coffee...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Race Recap: Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon

For as long as I've had the goal of running a half marathon I've dreamed about writing this blog post. That and a heavenly peanut butter banana Oreo milkshake from Cookout, which I promptly devoured when I got back to Richmond from my race last Sunday.

The events of last Saturday made my first half marathon experience incredibly different than I imagined. First, it totally messed up my pre-race eating and hydration plan. After making it down to Hampton on Saturday night we didn't even go to get dinner until 8:30pm and the best looking place near our hotel was Mexican, so we went for it. I was a bit hesitant as to how that would end, but luckily it went well.

I was certainly able to get to bed easy on Saturday night, but woke up on Sunday morning still emotionally exhausted and with a horrible case of puffy eyes which were captured in my pre-race Instagram. Honestly, I wasn't feeling much of anything. I wasn't nervous or anxious, but I just wanted to get the race both started and finished as quickly possible. It kind of made me sad to not be happy about something I had worked so hard to achieve.

I got in my race corral (the last one, of course) and about 15 minutes after the first corral took off it was our turn. I passed Mr. Young who was standing just after the starting line and then off I went. The first mile felt like ten thousand years and I was astonished to see people walking after thirty seconds. Did they know they signed up for a half marathon?

As the mileage increased, so did the heat. Unlike the 10 miler this course provided little shade and I was thankful for my last minute wardrobe change into an incredibly light, breathable tank and running hat. I'm pretty sure it was over 80* by the end of the race.

Around mile four we ran through downtown Hampton, and I passed the 2:30 pacer group. My mind was blown! At that point I got my head in the game and decided to not let that group pass me. We kept running, and running, and running. I think it was miles six through eight that we ran right next to the water and it was gorgeous. I tried to block everything out and pretend I was running at the Columbia, SC river walk, where I first fell in love with running. I started getting tired during the ninth mile and chowed down on some energy jelly beans I picked up at the race expo. Eating while running is dangerous.

At mile 10 I switched my train of thought, "I just have to run a measly little 5k. I've already gone ten miles so I can totally run a 5k!" Then the damn 2:30 pacer group passed me. Although my main goal was to finish, I had a secret time goal of coming in under 2:30 and being able to physically see my goal getting ahead of me was insane motivation. At that point I vowed to not let that guy get out of my sight.

As I got close to mile 11 I just couldn't keep running. I started walk/running and I would slow down for just long enough for the pacer to get about .1 mile ahead of me, and then I would run up to the group, slow down and repeat. I continued this until around 12.5 miles.

Even though I was hating life when I reached mile 12 I saw my friends and Mr. Young holding posters and cheering for me and I think this totally gave me the energy to finish. On so many long runs when I wanted to quit towards the end I thought, "Self, what if this was the half? Are you just going to up and quit at mile 12 after working that hard? NO! Keep going lazy!"

While I still walked a bit after I saw them, once I hit 12.5 miles I picked it up and ran strong until the finish line. I loved that my name was on my bib and spectators kept saying "Go Anna!" "You got this Anna, just a bit farther!" At first I was incredibly confused about how all of these strangers knew my name.

Then I saw it, the finish line. I started sprinting, or at least what I felt like was sprinting after running 13 miles. I took my headphones out and heard them call my name over the loud speaker, I did it. I was a finisher. I walked like a zombie towards the people handing out medals and pre-race fuel. After hobbling to the bathroom I met up with Mr. Young and company for lots of pictures, hugs and high fives. Then the best part of a J&A race was the food and beer. And by food I mean bread bowl full of crab chowder, which may or may not have been awful choice for people who just ran 13.1 miles in the hot sun.

I wore medal for the rest of Sunday. And now it's all over. I haven't ran once this week, and I've eaten like crap. As much as I'm enjoying some free blocks in my daily schedule I think it's a matter of time before I find a new challenge. Sprint triathlon anyone?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An Unexpected Farewell

This past Saturday began as I had planned. For the first time in weeks there was no long run ahead of me since my half marathon was on Sunday, but I was still up early to volunteer for a Junior League event. We packed up to head out of town for the race later that day and then Mr. Young dropped me off at the event and took our cat, Pip, to the vet.

Since we moved we slowly realized she was not acting like her normal self. Usually full of energy and sprinting around, for the past few weeks she had been lethargically laying around the house. In addition, the cat who used to binge eat no longer had much of an appetite and she was getting tinier by the minute.

There were a few things we thought we might hear from the vet: “Your cat has anxiety,” (and yes, they make Prozac for kitties) or maybe “Your cat has UTI,” (unfortunately she had also been using the bathroom in odd places) but we never expected “Your cat has feline leukemia.”

Mr. Young called me at my event to tell me the news and I immediately started sobbing. He quickly came to pick me up and we just sat there in silence for a few minutes. Little did I know feline leukemia is different than the human variety; it’s a virus that can be easily spread between cats. I took Pip out of her carrier and held her all the way home to get our other cat so she could be tested.

The short drive was filled with tears, what if’s, and the hardest decision we've ever had to make together. Unfortunately Pip was already so sick that she would have needed a blood transfusion before we could even give her medicine because she had become severely anemic. Even if we went through with this treatment path there was no guarantee of what would happen and it would maybe buy a few months. When we got home we grabbed our other cat and I also poured an entire bag of cat treats into Pip’s carrier.

After returning to the vet, the next hour ahead of us was an emotional roller coaster. We had a quick blood test run on our other cat and thankfully she doesn't have the virus and we were given some medicine for extra protection. With one weight lifted off our shoulders we then had to shift our minds back to the inevitable.

We signed papers and learned there are more options than we ever imagined of what you can do when your pet passes. While we waited for the doctor we held Pip in the afternoon sunshine near the window and told her all of the things we loved about her. The next twenty minutes felt like an eternity and as tough as it was we were glad that we could hold her and be the last thing that she saw. And then just like that she was gone.

Vet offices should really make you reconcile your bill prior to a service like this. It was no fun to go up front and fork over money for a bill equal to our monthly grocery budget, especially when we were leaving with one less cat than we brought in.

Not that there’s ever good timing to find out your pet is fatally ill, but seriously world—what shitty timing. We had to speed back to our house to drop off our other cat, and unfortunately leave the poor, confused, little thing at home by herself while we head out of town so I could grab my race materials before the expo closed.

The way that my mind works I was almost able to just put my grief on pause. After my year and a half journey to complete a half marathon I knew I needed to keep my spirits up for the next day. On the way back home from the race is when it hit me realizing that she wouldn't be there when we got home. And again going to bed and knowing she wouldn't be sleeping near my feet. 

We adopted Pip in July 2012 and although we had just a year and some change with her we've made a concerted effort to think positively about this whole situation. The Humane Society had taken her in as a feral cat, so we were able to give her a loving home she wouldn't have otherwise had. She had a best friend in our other cat, seriously y'all they would cuddle and lick each other all the time. She made us laugh with the funny ways that she would sit and her cute high pitched sneezes.

Pets definitely open up a special place in your heart, and I am so glad we had this little one in our life for as long as we did.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Smallest Step

Thank you for some of the sweet messages I got about yesterday's post. As noted I am happy with so many things right now, but it's that whole "I'm 25 and an adult, now what?" thing that I'm still getting used to.

Saw this quote today and can't stop thinking about it and several projects that I've have been lingering in my mind for a while. I think I'll take this as a sign...

And TGIF y'all, did this past week feel like an entire century for anyone else? I am so looking forward to eating pad Thai in front of the couch tonight with Mr. Young #grandma 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's Odd to be 25

It's an odd feeling to be 25. I'm not sure that I ever dreamed of what my life would be like after college, but I definitely don't think my current life would have been a part of that plan. This is not to say that I'm unhappy with my life but I think I'm still adjusting to so many parts of it.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that I'd be engaged at twenty five. I can recall 20+ times when I told people I wouldn't even think about marriage until 30, that I had a life to go live and places to see! Now here I am, 25 and engaged. I am so happy that I'm engaged to a wonderful guy and I'm looking forward to many great years with Mr. Young, but again still an odd feeling sometimes.

There are even little things that throw me off and make me wonder: where did the real Anna go? I've been practically begging for daylight savings time so I can go back to sunny mornings that are perfect for running. This is coming from the girl who used to savor every drop of evening light from late summer into the fall and preferred to sleep until 10am. I go to bed early all the time because I'm tired all the time. Heck, I'm 25 not 55. Our wedding registry makes me slightly feel like playing house--am I really grown up enough to do this? And what's the big deal about dinner plates?

Although I never had firm plans I think I imagined my twenties spent in a big city with great girlfriends, damn you Sex & the City for these false glimpses of life. I pictured a beautifully decorated little apartment that wouldn't be a sea of pink, but would still have a certain edge of femininity to it. There would be roommates who would turn into best friends and brunch is something that would happen every weekend, always with mimosas.

Now I'm in a bigger-ish city although I live in the suburbs, my house is decorated decently (with little pink), but there's definitely no brunch, no mimosas, and all of my very best girlfriends live in other places. There are no girly nights and frankly not much of girly anything, and I'll admit that's something that I need to work on. Not always easy when you live with a boy.
This doesn't quite make me happy or sad because there are so many things I love about my life right now, but there are still a few things that I'm really missing. When I stumbled upon this quote over the past year I saved it because it really stood out to me. When I'm over here having a pity party I need to remember that I'm not going to find things to be happy about if I don't make a concerted effort to seek them out.

Some of these mundane everyday life things do make me happy and while they aren't a flashy life in the city there is still joy to be taken from them. Going to sleep along side my best friend, coffee in my girly coffee tumblers, coming home to my little house and family.

Everyday I remind myself to be grateful for these small things and the many blessings in my life. But this is life lately and I couldn't get my fingers to stop after typing the first sentence. I think it's called "growing up," my least favorite word pairing in the English language.

A continuation of thoughts from this post.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Race Recap: VA 10 Miler

Those that follow me on Instagram or Facebook saw the exciting news on Saturday morning that I survived the Genworth Virginia 10 Miler in Lynchburg! Not that I didn't believe in myself, but damn that course is hilly. I knew it was going to be hilly, but when our hosts drove us through the course after dinner on Friday night I finally knew what I'd be up against.

It was a bit chilly at the first, but it ended up being a perfect temperature. I didn't get hot and sweaty at all but I also wasn't cold while running. At 8:00am sharp the race began and I ran the first mile and a half with my friend Diana before I pushed her to go ahead of me with her bad self. The sweet couple that hosted us (that Diana knew from college) were standing along the course to cheer us on so we stayed together to see them before splitting, and heading up our first hill of the course.

The hills weren't as bad as I thought and just as I imagined it was the flat parts of the course that were rough after so much up and down. I must admit that this race honestly blew me away. First it was incredibly organized and easy to navigate and second the fans, volunteers, and spectators really made it a special experience. I don't think I could went more than 100 feet without seeing people cheer me on, and it really made a difference.

The course for this race was a loop and at mile three I got a bit emotional as I saw the first runner heading back towards the finish (who finished in 47:34, superhuman). I don't even know if I can describe it, but you could just see everything on his face. How early he got up every morning, how hard he trained, how much he regimented his diet to prepare for this. It made me so happy to see this person in first place reaching their goal that I seriously got teary.

I snapped out of it and got my head back in the game, but really enjoyed continuing to watch people on their way back. I wasn't jealous or envious of them at all, but so proud of them. At the halfway point we ran off the road and through Riverside Park which had a crazy steep hill that I was not prepared for. Somehow I didn't stop to walk on it but had to take it seriously slow for the next quarter mile afterwards to recover.

Unfortunately the second half didn't go by as quickly but wasn't nearly as dreadful as I was imagining. I kept trudging along and was excited to see that our hosts were still out at their cheering spot where we saw them at the beginning of the race. It was great motivation because they were right before the infamous Farm Basket Hill. The last 1.5 miles were uphill. Who's bright idea was that?!

The last 1.5 miles felt like an entire 5k. I stopped to walk about four times up that hill and stayed motivated by the old man and pregnant women who were chugging along right in front of me. Each time I had to stop for a bit I still kept on with a ferocious power walk so my time wouldn't get too off. When I finally crested that damn hill I could see the finish the line and my power came back.

My friend Diana finished before me and I saw her near the finish. She snapped the awesome action photos. When I was about .10 away I broke out in a full sprint towards the finish line and definitely felt like a beast flying by people. Why don't more people sprint that last stretch?

It was an amazing feeling to cross that finish line and we wore our medals out to breakfast and even shopping later on that day. If it was appropriate I'd love to wear it all week to work. We got free massages (win!) and gobbled down some free race food before we headed back for showers. After rinsing away those 10 miles we had breakfast at Market at Main which was phenomenal. I had Eggs Chesapeake (Eggs Benedict with crabcakes) and a sinful homemade cinnamon roll. We threw back our meal with a celebratory mimosa and I don't think anything has ever tasted so good.

Although I still need to add another 2.1 miles on for my half this upcoming weekend it sure feels good to know I finished the 10 miler. After 10 hilly miles I'm sure that 13.1 flat miles will be fine even though I didn't get as far with mileage during training. My mental doubt has been pushed aside and if I thought it felt good to cross the finish line on Saturday I know it's going to be a million times sweeter to do it this weekend and finally hit a goal I've been working towards for so long.