Friday, April 21, 2017

Top Five Friday : It's Time

Happy Friday everyone!  This weekend is my marathon, which blows my mind.  The weeks have just flown by and it doesn't seem possible that it's already the last week of April!  I'm excited for the race and also have some fun things planned while we're visiting Gettysburg.  I'll be sure to share it all next week!  For today, I'll be talking about some of my favorite things from the week.  I hope you all have a great weekend, and good luck to everyone else racing on Saturday or Sunday!

linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five 

Song : The Cure by Lady Gaga

I was not at Coachella but I heard that Lady Gaga debuted a new song at the festival.  I love the song so much and have been playing it non-stop ever since!  It's so catchy and up-beat..the perfect song for summer.  I definitely added this to my marathon play list (which you can find here).

Podcast : By The Book

This technically isn't a podcast yet, but I had to share it.  The Panoply network is doing a project where they have four podcast pilots, and one will be green-lit based on votes and subscriptions.  I tried them all out and my favorite, by far, was By the Book.  The show is described as "half reality show, half self-help podcast, and one wild social experiment. Comedian Jolenta Greenberg and her skeptical friend Kristen Meinzer live by the rules of self-help books to figure out which ones are actually helpful."  The first episode was about the book The Secret, and it was so interesting to follow along and see if it made any difference in their lives.  I hope this show gets the green light because I want to keep following along!

Product : Nut Milk Bag and Bottles

I finally did it- I started to make my own nut milks!  It's so much easier than I thought it would be, and all I really had to do was get a few supplies.  I got the highest-ranked bag out there (which can also be used for juicing or making cold brew coffee) and two milk bottles.  These were both pretty reasonably priced and make the process really easy.  I've already made two versions- a hazelnut/almond vanilla milk and a chocolate hazelnut milk (basically liquid Nutella).  I can't wait to keep trying new recipes.

Show : Boston Marathon

Not really a show, but the Boston Marathon was so amazing to watch!  I get so inspired by the elite athletes and the other stories that are shared.  The race was exciting and I was so happy to see the Americans do well.  This was a perfect motivational program to watch right before my race (even if I'll never have the speed they do!).  It's definitely making me dream bigger and realize that with enough hard work I can actually achieve my craziest dreams.

Random : Serena

I watched this documentary on Hulu earlier this week and really enjoyed it.  It follows Serena Williams during her amazing 2015 season (when she won 3 of the 4 Grand Slams).  I love watching sports documentaries to learn about the mindset of athletes and see what happens beyond the game.  It was fascinating!  Speaking of Serena- she just announced that she's pregnant which is amazing news, but I'm also sad that she's done playing for the year.  Can't wait for the comeback in 2018 :)

Have you seen any good documentaries lately?
When's your next race?
What's your song of the summer?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thinking Out Loud : Race Week

It's finally race week and I have a lot of thoughts about it!  Since it's Thinking Out Loud Thursday, I figured it was a perfect time to share all (or at least most) of them.

I've really enjoyed training.  This is a big deal to me, because I've always been someone that trains just so that I can race.  This time around, I've just been enjoying the training aspect!  I've found mileage that works really well for me and the majority of my runs have been amazing.  Even when I have a tough workout, I've always felt like I was getting stronger or becoming a better runner.

This has been my best training cycle ever.  I ran more miles than ever, didn't skip out on any important workouts, and really pushed myself.  I think this has to do with feeling settled in my life- this was my first training cycle since moving into my first house, getting a job that I absolutely love, and getting married.  My life is good right now and I have a great routine, which I think transferred into my training!  The only downfall was taking a week off when I had a shoulder issues, but I think I bounced back from that really well.

I'm not sure what my goal is, and I don't even feel like I need one.  Usually I always have an A, B and C goal for every race.  This is only my third full marathon and the first one that I feel like I've fully trained for, and I honestly don't know what to expect.  My plan is to start out at a 9:15 pace for the first 10 miles, and adjust from there.  I have no idea if I'm going to feel great on race day and end up meeting my original goal of breaking 4 hours, or if I just won't have enough in the tank.

I'm obsessively checking the weather.  I think every runner does this during race week, and I can't help it.  The forecast has been looking pretty good (currently saying 55 and rainy on Sunday) but you never know what will actually happen.  I haven't run in rain that much during this training cycle, but rain is usually my favorite weather to run in.  I do have to say that I trained in extreme weather this entire training cycle, and I made it through!

I can't decide what to wear for race day!  I had an outfit picked out, but now that it might be rainy I have no idea what to wear.  Should I wear a jacket?  Just a hat and hope for the best?  Should I switch to pants?  What about my phone?  So many questions...

My fuel is all ready to go.  I'm going to be taking shot blocks every 5 miles, and I'll have a Honey Stinger gel with me. These both sit well in my stomach so I'm hoping for the best!  For race morning, I'm going to be eating the Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies from the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook, as well as an apple sauce packet.  I usually can't eat on race mornings so I hope I can get something down.

No matter what happens, I'm excited for the future!  For the first time in a long time, I'm excited to keep training after the race is over.  Right now I only have one race on my schedule for the rest of the year, and I have no clue what I'm going to do for the rest of the year.  I'm excited to keep training and build on this amazing momentum that I have going.  I can't wait to get back to my schedule, add in more yoga, and start trying new classes at the gym.  Plus, I have a lot of fun plans for the spring and summer outside of running, like hiking, camping, kayaking, and more!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Go Time

I've made it through training and it's finally race week!  I had a great final week of taper and now I'm a few shake out runs away from running another full marathon.  I'm getting excited and have a lot of thoughts to share in a post, but for today let's just talk about how the week of training went.


Rest Day!


3.1 miles / 9:23 pace
Nice an easy run aroun the city to start my day.  I got to see a beautiful sunrise and the weather was perfect, which made me really appreciate these early morning runs!  


Yoga / 30 min
It was absolutely gorgeous out, so I decided to do my yoga outside.  Nice and easy flow to get things stretched out.


4 miles / 8:44 pace
Did not expect this run to go well, but it was amazing! Plan was 1 mile warmup, 1 or 2 miles at tempo (8:10-8:15), 1 mile cooldown. Ended up doing 2 miles at tempo with the first mile at 8:15 and second at 7:44!!! Felt so good the entire time, like I wasn't pushing at was so awesome.


Yoga / 30 min
Another easy outdoor flow.  Loving the weather lately!


5 miles / untimed
Went for an easy run around my neighborhood before going grocery shopping and meeting up with my family for an early Easter brunch!  We went to Cashbah, which is quickly becoming my favorite restaurant.  I got a beet salad for my appetizer and mushroom pappardelle.  So good!


8 miles / 9:20 pace
This run was so awful.  I felt slow and sluggish the entire time (maybe because I had a lot of cheese and wine the night before) and the weather was horrible!  It was really warm and sunny, then it would alternate between being humid and raining.  I didn't prepare at all for it so I was just trying to get through it.  I'm hoping that a bad final long run means a good race day, because this was not encouraging.  

How was your week?
Have you ever done outdoor yoga?
Are your final runs before a race usually good or bad?  Mine always seem to be awful, which make me doubt myself right before racing :-/

Monday, April 10, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Taper On

After an up and down training cycle, I finally made it to the taper!  Most runners seem to hate this time and call it the taper crazies, but I love it!  After beating up my body for months, I can finally back off and go back to having a somewhat normal life.  It's amazing!  This week was a lower mileage week an my boy absolutely loved it.  It's hard to believe that race day is less than two weeks away, but I'm finally starting to get some confidence back.

Here's a look at my week of training!


Rest Day


3.6 miles / 9:00 pace
It was a wet, rainy day that only seemed to clear up while I was out running.  I could feel the rain about to start the entire time I was out, so that helped me keep up the pace on this run!  It was pouring by the time I got changed and walked across the street to work, so I finished just in time.


5 miles / 8:59 pace
I was supposed to do a hill workout, but my body just wasn't having it.  We had a crazy hot day (up in the 80s) and the park was completely packed, so I just tried for a fast-ish run.  I felt like I was sprinting the entire time and this run exhausted me!  I hope that my race isn't too warm because I am NOT in shape for that or acclimated to the heat yet!


Rest Day!


4 miles / untimed
It's hard to believe that I was in shorts and a t-shirt the last time I ran, because it was SNOWING all day!  I had to pull out my winter running gear and went out for an easy 4 miler.  I felt like I was running through mud and my legs felt so tired this entire run.  


Yoga / 30 min
I decided to take an extra rest day and do some light yoga instead.  I've been avoiding doing yoga because I'm so scared of re-injuring my arm this close to the race, but I enjoyed this stretchy yoga flow.  I felt amazing afterwards and was really happy with my decision to rest up instead of pushing myself too much.


11 miles / 9:15 pace
This was my last double digit run of my training, and I was just hoping for a decent run to give me a little confidence before my race.  What ended up happening was that I had one of the best runs of the year!  I felt so great the entire time, and was able to hit marathon race pace for the final 6 miles of my run with absolutely no problem.  I tested out what I'm going to be eating, wearing, and using for fuel and everything worked out so well.  Plus- this was another warm day and I felt great the entire time!  

How was your week?
Do you like to do race dress-rehearsals?
Who's running Boston??

linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs , Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin , Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC and Steff from Run Steff Run!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Top Five Friday - Zoom Zoom

Hi everyone!  What a quick week..I can't believe that it's already Friday.  I also can't believe that it's snowing today...days after it was 80 degrees and it'll be in the 70s this weekend.  #PittsburghinSpring. 

This was a great week that just seemed to fly by and I got a ton done.  I love having really productive weeks, and have a lot planned for this weekend as well!  Today I'm sharing my favorites and I hope you have a great weekend :)

linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five 

Song : Earth Wind and Fire

I don't think there's any group that puts me in a good mood quite like EWF!  It might be the band geek in me, but I absolutely love their music.  I can't listen without tapping my toe or straight up dancing (depending on how many people are around).  My favorite is definitely Got to Get You Into My Life...probably my favorite song of all time!

Podcast : No Meat Athlete Radio

If you're a vegan, or just interested in eating more plant-based meals, this podcast is the best!  The two hosts are both athletes who are plant-based and offer great advice on fueling for workouts, eating filling meals, and staying healthy when eliminating animal products.  They cover pretty much every topic imaginable and each show is so interesting.  What I most like is the fact that both of the hosts are not judgmental at all and give practical, approachable advice.  The aim of their show is to educate people, not convert anyone or make you feel guilty if you aren't 100% vegan.  I've learned so much from them and can't wait for the first No Meat Athlete cookbook to come out later this year.  

Product : Lululemon Go Getter Bag

I mentioned that I'm working in a hoteling office now, which means I have to carry a lot around with me since I don't have my own desk.  I bought a gym bag from Lululemon last year, and it ended up being the perfect work bag for me.  There are plenty of pockets in it to hold my laptop, toiletries, running clothes, towel, and lunch.  The bag is also waterproof and has held up really well.  It was a splurge for me, but I'm so glad that I got it.

Show : 13 Reasons Why

I was really excited about this show as soon as I heard about it.  The concept is kind of dark- after a high school girl commits suicide, she leaves tapes to 13 people that caused her death.  I've always liked shows that start with the ending and then piece together what led to that conclusion, so I knew I would like this.  I'm still making my way through the show, but so far I'm liking it.  There's a lot of mystery and drama going on, but the way that the past and present is woven together is so amazing.  The show is based on a book, which I really want to read now.  (Just a note- I'm lucky to have never dealt with mental illness and I hope I'm not offending anyone by liking this show!  I can see how it can be controversial, so if you're uncomfortable with the concept I would definitely stay away from watching it.)

Random : DWTS "Magic Mike" Dance

I had to make a quick mention of the dance of the season- David's Magic Mike-themed dance on this week's Dancing with the Stars.  It was such a crazy dance yet somehow worked!  David might be one of my favorite contestants ever on the show.  He seems like the nicest, most fun guy ever (loved his interview right after the dance with Erin..I couldn't stop laughing).  The entire night of dances was amazing but this was definitely the highlight for me!  (the other highlight had to be Julianne and Derek's beautiful performance...but then again I love it anytime Julianne dances on the show!)

What song always puts you in a good mood?
What show have you been loving lately?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What's New With You? Linkup #15

Let's just say that March was not my month.  It seemed like everything was going wrong, starting with injuring my shoulder.  Nothing terrible happened (which makes me feel like a spoiled/privileged brat) but I was just in a funk all month.  April is already off to a much better start and I'm just putting March behind me.  Today I'm not going to complain, but I'm going to talk about what's new!  That's's already time for the monthly linkup with Kristen and me.  Make sure you link down below and tell me what's going on!

2017 Goals and Resolutions

Break 4 hours in the marathon.  I skipped my race in March (Rock n Roll DC) because I tore/injured my rotator cuff.  Luckily I seemed to recover really quickly thanks to completely stopping running and yoga, and doing physical therapy religiously.  I'm feeling completely healed, but still am working on my endurance!! I'm nervous about the race but I'm going to do it no matter what, even if I can't reach my goal.  I still have the rest of the year ;)

Buy lunch less than 2 times per monthI think I went out three or four times in March.  I was in training for two weeks and got a little lazy with bringing a lunch, so I just joined my team in the cafeteria a few days.  I've been doing really well with this so far this year though, so I'm not worried!

Learn a song on pianoNo real progress on this.  I kind of stopped playing in March..definitely have to get back into it this month!  I also want to pick out some sheet music to learn, so that will be my goal for April.

No-buy until the marathonDefinitely didn't do well with this goal.  I bought a few pairs of shoes to try out for training, got a pair of leggings for my race, and replaced my bluetooth headphones that I somehow lost.  I didn't buy anything non-running-related this month though, so I think that's an improvement!

Disconnect dailyI've been doing so well with this lately!  I turn off my phone when I get home, or if I keep it on I don't use it at all.  I also stopped being as connected to my computer and have spent more time with Dan and Selma outside.

Save $$$!!!  March was a bad month for saving because all of our annual bills came due (taxes, insurance, registration, etc etc etc).  On the plus side, Dan finished paying off his student loans, so we're going to have a lot more money to save!

Start home brewingWe bottled our second batch of beer this week!  It'll be ready in about two weeks and I'm really excited to try it.  I want to try something different for our next batch and I'm thinking either hard cider or kombucha.  Any suggestions?

Random Updates

I need new goals!  The first quarter of the year ended, and I'm already tired of my monthly goals.  I want to come up with some new ones to work towards, so I'll share them in my next What's New With You post.

I changed offices!  I'm still in the same building, but my group moved to a new "hoteling" floor.  Basically that means that I don't have my own desk and "check in" to one every day.  I didn't think that I would like it, and at first I didn't, but I have to admit now that I absolutely LOVE it.  I'm on on a mobile application development team and used to be in different buildings from my development and QA team, but now we all sit together.  It makes doing work so much easier and faster, so I feel like I'm getting a lot more done at work.  I feel so much more inspired and enthusiastic about work which is amazing...every day now I'm looking forward to going to work and pretty much don't stop until I go home.   Even the space itself is inspiring to me:

I won't favorite part is that we now get free coffee:

On the down side, I don't have as much free time as I used to during the day, and feel pretty much tapped out creatively at the end of the day, so I haven't really felt inspired to blog a lot lately.  I'm still going to be sharing my marathon training and Friday Favorites, but for now my priority is work and my home life, so things might get a little quiet around here.

I also have lots of outdoor projects to do!  The weather is getting nicer, which means I'm spending most of my time outside and have some fun projects to get done.  I'm sure I'll share some of them (once they're finished).  In the mean time, I'll be sharing mini updates and stories on Instagram and Snapchat (my name is gretchxo!)

That's all I've got for today- let me know what's new by linking up below!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tasty Tuesday : March Favorites

Happy Tasty Tuesday everyone!  I'm all over the place today, because it's not Tuesday, and it's been quite a few months since I've done my monthly favorites.  It's been hard for me to get in a rhythm lately with my blogging schedule (I'll talk more about it tomorrow during the What's New With You link-up- make sure you join the fun!)  Today I'm going to be talking about some foods, drinks, recipes and products that I've been loving lately!


Margarita Shot Blocks
This technically isn't really food, but I had to share it.  I've been using these for my fuel during long runs and they work so well!  I love anything that's gummy, so the texture of these is fantastic.  They also have a mild flavor that isn't too sweet, and have some salt added which helps out a lot on warm days.  The blocks themselves are really big, so I typically eat about half of one every five miles, but take my time eating them.  I like doing this because it takes my mind off of my long runs, and also gives me something to help break up a long run into chunks.  And most importantly- they don't give me an upset stomach during runs which is ALWAYS a plus.

Trader Joe's Granola
I've always been a big fan of granola and love to buy it as a treat for myself once in a while.  It can be pricey and usually the bags aren't very big, so I don't buy it very often.  I saw the Almond Butter Granola at Trader Joe's last time I was there and had to pick it up.  The chunks of granola are huge, which make it perfect in a parfait.  I like to add some coconut milk yogurt (my first non-dairy yogurt that I've tried and I love it!), honey or agave nectar, and top with cacao nibs.  It's sweet, creamy, and crunchy...just what I like in a snack!  Now I want to try all of the other flavors that Trader Joe's has.


Homemade Beer
I've talked about this before on my blog, but this year Dan and I started to make our own beer.  We bought a starter kit from Northern Brewers, and are currently working on our second batch.  Our first beer was an Irish Red Ale which I really liked!  I was surprised that it came out alright (I was expecting something like the scene in Drew Carey where they all immediately spit out the beer and hated it) and it's been my drink of choice lately.  It's also fun to bring it to parties or dinners with friends and have other people try it out.  Our next beer is a wheat (which we're calling Snow Wheat since we put it in the snow to cool it off) and I can't wait to test it.

Califia Farm Almond Milk 
Since I've gone vegan, I stopped drinking dairy and have loved trying out all of the other options available at stores.  There are SO many brands that make nut milks with everything from coconut to almond to peas.  I've tried a lot of different brands and flavors, and I have to say that Califia Farm is the best.  Their almond milk is so creamy and tasty- it doesn't have any of the grainy, bitter texture and taste that most have.  I drink it by itself or mix it in my coffee, add it to cereal, or use it in recipes.  I also LOVE the design of their bottles, which might be what pulled me in at first!  (P.S.- I want to start making my own nut milk, so if anyone has a good recipe that I can try out please let me know)


Maple Banana Loaf

I know that I talk about the Thug Kitchen cookbooks a lot and how much I love their recipes, but I had to share this one.  I've never made bread before and I'm not really a fan of banana bread or muffins, but I gave this recipe a try and I love it!  It's really easy to make and tastes so good.   The banana flavor isn't overpowering at all, and the only sweetness is from the maple syrup.  I like having a slice of this warmed up with some Earth Balance for good.

Homemade Seitan
I feel like I've reached hippy status because I just started making my own seitan this month (next up I'll be growing my own veggies and completing the transition!).  I never realized how easy it was to make and now I make it all the time.  I follow this recipe which is pretty much fool-proof.  I like to switch up the flavor by adding in different spices and other ingredients and it always turns out really well.  It's so much cheaper than buying it in store and it's amazing!


Hand Blender
I got this a few months ago and have been wanting to share it!  I've been using this tool non stop to make soups, mashed potatoes, sauces and more!  I don't know why I put off buying a hand blender (or immersion blender) for so's super cheap, easy to use, and makes life a whole lot easier.  I have this one from Amazon, and it's only $15 (and comes with a beaker for easy blending!)

What gadget are you loving lately?
Anyone make their own milk?  Please give me recipes!!
What kind of beer should we make next?