Friday, July 31, 2015

Top Five Moments of July

Happy Friday, and happy last day of July!  This was such a great and fun month, so I decided to share my top five moments!  I'm excited for August and to start racing again, as well as (hopefully) some cooler fall weather starting soon.

Without any further adieu, I hope you'll enjoy taking a look back at my favorite moments of the month (along with corresponding blog posts if you want to read more).  Please share your top moments of the month!

 

Fourth Of July Weekend

This was such a fun weekend!  Selma had a blast and the lake and got to swim, and Dan and I also had a ton of fun on the boat, jet ski and kayaks.  I would love to live in an area like that some day!


Girls Night Out

It was so much fun to spend time with friends and paint a cute picture of Selma!  We also got to enjoy a great bottle of wine, so all around it was a really fun evening.  I still recommend trying a class out if you're looking for a fun date night or girls-night-out!


Getting a Bike

One of the biggest changes this month has been the new addition of my bike!  I'm still not 100% confident in my abilities, but I've gotten out multiple times each week and have really enjoyed it.  I can't wait to start going on longer rides and eventually signing up for my first tri!


Pentatonix Concert

Dan and I have been such big fans of Pentatonix every since they were on the Sing Off, so this was an amazing opportunity to see them perform live!  They sounded even better in person, and we had a great time at the concert.  A little bit of ran couldn't ruin our experience!


Family Cookout

I didn't mention this in my post on Monday, but this weekend my family got together for a cookout at my grandparents' house!  It was so much fun and we had some amazing food and drinks.  I wish that I got some pictures, but we were having too much fun to worry about that!  (The only one I managed to take was of the huge moth above that Dan saved and called Gary.)  Definitely a highlight of the month for me.


Songs

Wicked Game : Sons of Serendip

This group was on America's Got Talent last year, and I fell in love with their music.  The group consists of a harpist, cellist, pianist, and vocalist.  Each member is so talented, and they make the most gorgeous music!  I recently found their album on Amazon Music (which completely made my day) and this is my favorite song of theirs!

Peace : O.A.R.

One of our songs for Group Centergy this release is an old favorite of mine!  I love the lyrics and like the slightly country/pop feel to the song.  I had no idea that O.A.R. sang the song, but now it's on my running mix! 

Flashlight : Jessie J

This song is from the Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack (which I still haven't seen!) and I love it!  It's a pretty song, and Jessie J has such a great, dynamic voice.  This is a really catchy song that reminds me of Fight Song by Rachel Platten.

The Chairman's Waltz

When I first heard this song years ago, it quickly became a favorite.  I completely forgot about it until the So You Think You Can Dance 10th anniversary show, where Hok and Jaimie performed one of the BEST routines of all time- Hummingbird and Flower.  Best way to experience the song..beautiful dance with beautiful music.

Carmen : Stromae

For some reason, I have a strange fascination with finding cool remixes to the original Carmen song.  Another one of my favorite versions is called Carmen Fantasie by David Garrett.  Both are great songs to listen to, and a good addition to your running mix!


What were your top moments of the month?
Do you have anything exciting planned for August? 


Linking up with Mar, Cynthia and Court 
as well as Heather and Clare!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Recent Reads

Hi everyone! Sorry for not posting yesterday, but my actual job and real life have been a bit hectic, and I didn't want to throw up a post just for the sake of having one. I know you all understand, so I'll just move on to today's post!


I'm joining in a bit late on a summer reading challenge with the Blonder Side of Life!  One of my main goals this year has been to read more, and thanks to my Kindle I have been a reading addict!  Today I'll be sharing the books that I read in July along with a mini review.  I hope you enjoy, and let me know what you've been reading! Make sure you also check out the Thinking Out Loud linkup!

The Blonder Side of Life

 

Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong

10/10 Stars 

Simply put, this story is life-changing.  Lomong details his horrific childhood, in which he was kidnapped by Sudan rebels, then later escaped with older boys and ran for three days across the savannah to Kenya.  He eventually became an American citizen and Olympic athlete, even getting the opportunity to hold the American flag in the 2008 Olympics.  His story is inspiring, amazing, heartbreaking and full of hope.  This passage is my favorite from the book, which demonstrates his attitude the entire book:
I knew some who chose to feel sorry for themselves, who complained constantly about their lot in life.  What is the point of such complaining?  After all the whining and complaining is over, you still live in a refugee camp.  All the complaining in the world will not make your life any better.  Instead, you must choose to make the best of whatever the situation in which you find yourself, even in a place like Kakuma. 

Do yourself a favor and pick up this book!  It's a really easy read, and portions of the proceeds from the book go to Lomong's foundation, 4 South Sudan. 


It's In His Heart by Shelly Alexander

6/10 Stars

If you're looking for an easy read for the summer and like romance novels, this is a decent pick.  I finished it really quickly and enjoyed the story line and the characters.  It had the typical young-adult romance twists and turns, so it wasn't anything particularly special or interesting.


A Dark Lure by Loreth Anne White

8/10 Stars

I loved this book, which combined thriller and romance (my favorite!).  The main character is a woman who was abducted and tortured, then eventually escaped.  She changed her identity and ended up working at a remote ranch in Canada, where her kidnapper finds her years later.  The book is an easy read with lots of action, and isn't overly graphic like some books in this genre can be (hello, Gone Girl!).   Highly recommend!


Wreckage by Emily Bleeker

9/10 stars

I just finished this book, and could not put it down!  The story is told from two points of view and follows two timelines.  One takes place in the past, when the two main characters survived a plane crash in the South Pacific.  The second timeline is present day, when they are each being interviewed about their life stranded on an island.  It was a great read with lots of twists, turns, heartbreak and a surprise ending. 



What books have you read recently?
Has any book ever affected your outlook on life?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Upcoming Races, Training, and Goals

Hi everyone!  Happy Tuesday! For today's Tuesdays on the Run linkup, I'll be talking about some fun races that I have coming up.  As always, you can keep up-to-date on my race schedule by checking out my Races page, but I thought it would be useful to go in-depth with four races.  I always love to hear about people's goals and training plans for races, so I wanted to share mine today!



Race: Brookline Breeze 5k: August 8th

This is a local race that I have never done before, but have always heard good things about.  It's supposed to be a tough, hilly course (my favorite!) so I think I could do well in this race.


Goal: 23:59.  My fastest 5k of the year was the Riverview 5k, where I finished in 24:37.  That's another hilly race that I didn't plan on "racing", so I think I could beat that time!

Training: I based my training on the Hal Higdon Advanced 5k Plan.  I started the plan late, so I'm just doing the first four weeks on the plan (with my race being the "5k Test" day in the plan).  I like how much speed work is in this plan, while also adding a long run on the weekend.  This is the first time I've specifically trained for a 5k in years, so I'm interested to see if this makes a difference.


Race: Run Around the Square 5k: August 23rd

I absolutely love this race, and convinced Dan to run with me this year!  The course starts out on the streets in Regeant Square, then enters Frick Park for a trail portion.  It's a lot of fun and the party afterwards is worth the entry fee alone.


Goal: Have fun with Dan.  He wants a new PR (29:59) so I'll try to help him reach that.  I'm still trying to convince him that running is fun, though, so hopefully he'll enjoy this race as much as I do!

Training: I'll continue with the Hal Higdon plan after the Brookline Breeze.  This should help to build a nice base for half marathon training!


Race: Towpath Half Marathon: October 11th


This race is supposed to be absolutely gorgeous!  This will be my goal race, and I'm really excited to try again to break 2 hours.  There are two trail races that I'll be doing between the Run Around the Square and the half that should serve as good training races as well.

Goal: BREAK 2 HOURS!!!  My current PR is 2:05:59, so anything under that would also be acceptable.

Training: Training starts on August 10, and I'll go more in-depth about my training then!  It will be based on a completely different plan than I'm used to running, and is a lot more aggressive.  I'm excited for the challenge though!


Race: Pittsburgh 10 Miler: October 25th

This is my favorite Pittsburgh race!  It's one of the newer races, but it's always been organized really well and I love the course.  It's always been a lot of fun for me to run, and I'm hoping I improve my time every year!  If you're looking for a great fall race- this is the one to do.
Goal: 1:25:00.  Last year I broke one and a half hours, and I think I can take even more time off this year!  I would be thrilled if I could get under 1:20, but that might be too much of a stretch this year!

Training: Since this is so close to the half marathon, I'll just do a few runs in between the races.  I don't want to get injured by keeping the intensity up, so it will be a long taper between races.  If anyone has suggestions on how to handle this I would love to hear it!

There is also a free training program for the 10 Miler offered by True Runner!  I'm thinking about joining just to stay accountable for two runs during the week.  If you want to learn more check out the website!


What races do you have coming up?  
What has been your favorite/most successful training plan?
Are you running any of these races?

Monday, July 27, 2015

What I Learned from the CrossFit Games

Hi everyone! I hope that you all had a fantastic weekend.

Although I’m not a CrossFit athlete (I have done one WOD, if you’ll remember), I was completely enthralled with the CrossFit Games this weekend. Did anyone else watch? It’s basically a four-day event with multiple events each day with the aim of finding the world’s fittest athlete. The challenges are intense and the athletes are incredible. It was also really motivating and inspiring to watch the games, so I thought I would switch things up today and talk about some things that I learned from watching the Games! I’ll also talk about how I’ll apply these lessons to my training and running, and I hope it will also help you out as well!


By the way, as I mentioned I’m not a CrossFitter, so you might notice that I don’t use the correct terminology. Please don’t make fun of me- I’m learning!

Pain is temporary, pride is forever

CrossFit Way: As I mentioned, these challenges were tough, and a lot of the time an athlete looked like they might not finish. You could see the fire and passion in their eyes as they put every last ounce of strength into finishing the event.

My Way: During longer runs and track workouts- don’t give up. I struggle a lot with pushing through pain during the end of my training cycle, which ends up hurting me in races. As much as it might hurt at that moment, I need to remember that as soon as I finish I will feel so much better. Never give up until you cross that finish line!  This is also a great mantra to repeat during those hard miles in races, and has helped me get through to the finish line.


Shake off a bad event and move on

CrossFit Way: There were so many events in the games, with multiple events each day. I noticed one athlete have a very disappointing showing in an early event on Saturday and get very emotional when she didn't make the semi final round. Later that day, she showed up to the final event of the day and crushed everyone's time! It was inspiring to see her get over early disappointments and come back stronger than ever.

My Way: A bad race or a bad workout can really affect my mindset. If I have a bad 8 mile run weeks before a race, I start to doubt my abilities and give up on my goals. From now on, I’ll look at each run and workout as a new opportunity and forget about any bad races in the past, or the horrible run I had yesterday.


Work on your weaknesses

CrossFit Way: The Games test so many different aspects of athletes- from strength to speed to endurance and everything in between. In order to place well in the standings, athletes had to work tirelessly to improve on their weak points. For some, this might mean running extra to build endurance, or working on pull ups.

My Way: Running uses so many different muscle groups, which is why cross training is so important. In the past, my upper body was really weak, so I started to lift to get stronger. I also realized in my last race that while I’m a great hill runner and racer, I’m really weak on flat courses. That is definitely a weakness I’m going to work on, since not every race is going to be another “Marathon on the Mountain”!


Give up the good to go for the great

CrossFit Way: In a lot of the winners’ interviews, they said they would celebrate the victory with a big, healthy meal of lean protein and carbs. Most of these athletes follow a very healthy diet with little or no alcohol. For them, training is a total life commitment where every choice made can affect their training, and eventually their performance in the Games.

My Way: I’ve always loved this saying, and need to improve my diet once I’m starting to train again. As much as I love beer and unhealthy foods, I feel the best when I eliminate gluten and alcohol from my diet, so I have to adjust what I’m putting into my body to perform as best as possible.


Encouragement can make a huge difference

CrossFit Way: One of my favorite things about watching the Games was seeing everyone (especially the women) encourage each other. Not only did they celebrate together when someone crossed the finish line, but as soon as an athlete would finish, she would immediately go to another woman and cheer them on. Quite a few times, someone looked completely tired and ready to quit, but that extra encouragement helped them finish before the time cap. It was really amazing to see these athletes cheering on their competitors and making sure they finished!

My Way: During races and runs, there have been so many times when a simple “great job!” has meant the difference between stopping to walk and continuing on. Encouragement is so important, and something that I have to start paying forward to other runners!


Form is extremely important

CrossFit Way: Each athlete had a judge watching their every move. If something wasn’t done properly, the athlete would get a “no rep” and would have to repeat the exercise. Sometimes this would make the difference between someone getting first and last place in the heat. Not only is proper form important to hit all the correct muscle groups, but it’s also vital to prevent injury that happens with improper form.

My Way: Not only can proper form help prevent injury, it can also help us run more efficiently and effectively. Watching elite runners is a great way to learn correct form (especially Meb...best form EVER) and practice makes perfect. While I’m running, I try to go through different parts of my body to ensure that I’m using the best form possible. It’s also a great idea to video tape your form or take pictures to see what you’re really doing when you run.


Did anyone else watch the CrossFit Games? What did you think?


What lessons have you learned from other sports that you can apply to yourself?


Who does CrossFit? I think I need to join a box sometime in the near future...it’s such a fun and hard work out!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Weekly Workout Recap: 7/20- 7/26

Hi everyone!

For me, this week was extremely active and busy.  I can feel myself getting back in racing shape, which is really exciting for me!  I got in a lot of quality runs (mostly in the morning, thankfully) as well as some cross training and biking. 


Monday

3.1 miles PM / 27:57 / 8:59 pace
Hot, hot day, but the trails were nice and cool.  I ran about a mile on hilly trails, with more hills outside of the park.  I felt really great so my pace was a little faster than I expected.

3.5 mile bike ride
In the evening, I took out my bike for my first "real" bike ride!  I went on a pretty easy route around my apartment that wouldn't involve riding near too many cars, and it was so much fun. 


Tuesday

4 miles AM / 35:00 / 8:45 pace
I headed to the track for my first speed workout in months!  It was already humid and in the mid 70's when I left around 5AM, so I was really happy to have the workout done before work.  1 mile warmup followed by 8x200 with 200 meter jog in between, and a 1 mile cooldown.  My pace during the middle two miles was 7:30.

15 minute Total Body Yoga video
I started this video, and quickly got really bored with it.  I wasn't a fan of the instructor, and it seemed really monotonous after a while.  Selma was also interrupting my flow a lot, so I decided to stop it early and play with her.

1 mile bike ride
It was so gorgeous out in the evening, so I took my bike out for another ride.  This time I went on more busy roads and everything was great!


Wednesday

5 miles PM
For today's Run Club run, we had a scavenger hunt sponsored by Adidas!  Dan and I teamed up with two guys who were really fun to work with, and we spent an hour running all over Squirrel Hill, Shadyside and Oakland.  We had a list of items to take pictures with, and my favorite one was walking a dog!  At Schenley Plaza we saw a little husky puppy and the lady was so nice and just handed over the leash.  It made my night!
I also got to try out the Adidas Ultra Boost shoes, which were nice and comfortable, but didn't have enough support for me.


Thursday

2 mile bike ride
It was my first "bike commute"!  I went to the Humane Society after work to walk some dogs, and ended up getting home right before my gym class started.  I had no choice but to ride my bike there to get to the class on time, and it was fun!  I'll definitely be doing this most days..not only is it much faster but also a lot more fun than walking.


Group Power
Class was great and tough.  I was super sore in my shoulders and triceps the next day!


Friday

3 mile bike ride
It was supposed to be a rest day, but I had to get out on my bike!  I took a ride over to Frick Park and walked around on the trails for a bit, then biked back.  Perfect way to spend my lunch break!


Saturday

4.13 miles AM /  35:36 / 8:37 pace
On my schedule for the day was "4 fast miles", so I was lucky to start my run with the True Runner Run Club with a really fast girl.  She recently moved to Pittsburgh, which is probably why she stuck with me (she BQ'ed on her first attempt so this was probably super slow for her!) but to me this was a great run!


Sunday

5 miles AM / 45:43 / 9:07 pace

Ran downtown for Open Streets!  It was already hot and humid out, but I felt great!  I was surprised that my legs felt full of energy and not sour at all after the tough run yesterday.  Great run all around!


1 hour Total Body Fitness
My first class at Open Streets was Total Body Fitness!  It was super intense - 2 strength exercises and 1 cardio exercise for each body area (upper body, lower body, abs).  First round was 1 minute per exercise, second round was the same exercise for 30 seconds each.  We did about 8 total rounds I believe, and at the end I was exhausted!  Tough workout.


1 hour Yoga
My last class was yoga.  I was already really tired, so I took it easy with lots of child poses.  It was still a great workout and there were some much-needed stretches in there.  Open Streets was a ton of fun and it was great to see so many people out on bikes and enjoying the beautiful day in Pittsburgh!

Total Running Miles: 21.23 miles

Total Bike Miles: 9.5 miles


How was your week?
What kind of cross training do you like to do?
Any other bikers out there?  What tips do you have for getting more comfortable?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Top Five Friday #21

Hi friends!  Happy Friday!

Before I start with my favorites of the week, I want to remind all Pittsburghers/anyone who will be in the area this weekend that Sunday is the final Open Streets event of the summer!  Open Streets is a huge city-wide event with free fitness classes, sponsored runs and walks, and lots of other fun on streets that are closed off to traffic.  I've always had a great time at the event and hope to see some of you there!  (not sponsored, just really love the event and want to see it be a success!)

Source

Now that I have that out of the way, let's talk about my favorites from the week!  I was lazy and only chose four favorites, songs and shows.  I guess I'm really ready for the weekend :)

Be sure to share what you're loving this week below!


Beats By Dre Solo HD headphones in matte purple

In my happy place, with my new headphones!
After my Apple ear buds finally quit working, I decided it was time to get a nicer pair of headphones.  I've never bought any headphones besides my Yurbuds for running, so I decided to splurge a bit and try out the Beats when Target was running a sale on them.  Not only do I love the color of them, but I also love how they fold up and come with a case so I can carry them around and they won't get damaged.  Even though I think they're a bit over priced, I do think the sound quality is great and recommend them!

Gorgeous Sunrises

Has anyone else noticed how beautiful it's been in the mornings lately?  Whether I'm out for a run or taking Selma on a walk, I just have to take a minute and stare at the sky when I get outside.  It always blows me away how beautiful the earth is.  That makes me sound really cheesy, but it's true!  I hope you can all enjoy the mornings as well- tap into your hippy side and be thankful for our wonderful planet!

Free Ice Cream

On a more superficial note, this week seemed to be free ice cream week at work.  On Wednesday, my building hosted a tenant appreciation day.  There are lots of events throughout the year where all of the tenants get free presents- from a potted plant to free food- and this week was free ice cream!  There were a few ice cream trucks parked in the plaza with a few differnet types to choose from.  I got a drumstick and it was delicious!


Then, on Thursday, my floor hosted an ice cream social.  A company came with a huge ice cream cart and served us sundaes with tons of toppings.  I got chocolate chip cookie dough with caramel and chocolate syrup, topped with Oreos and Heath bars.  Am I the epitome of healthy living blogger or what?  

Happiness Project Update

Gold Star of the Week : Riding my bike! I mentioned it on dailymile, but taking my first "real" ride on my bike was a huge deal for me.  I've always wanted to do a triathlon (it's even on my 30x30 list!) but have always been intimidated and scared of bikes.  I was literally shaking when I first took out the bike (I dropped my keys about 20 times trying to lock up) but I've been going for a bike ride every day since then.  I'm proud of myself for getting over my fear and actually enjoying the ride!

Songs

Evolution of Michael Jackson : Pentatonix

Pentatonix sang this medley during their concert last week, and it was so beautiful.  I've been a huge fan of MJ's music for years, and they picked all of my favorite songs!  In Blue Band, we did a tribute after he passed away, and this brought back great memories of performing that show.

Will You Be There : Michael Jackson

This was one of the songs from the medley.  Does this song make everyone else a little sad as well?  I don't even remember much about the movie (Free Willy) but this song always makes me feel a mixture of hopeful and depressed.  Those key changes get me every time!  It's a great song no matter what, and is considered one of the all-time greatest movie songs!

There I Said It : Adam Lambert 

To be honest, I've never been a huge Adam Lambert fan, but I've been loving his newest album. This song shows his softer side and it's so perfect and shows how amazing his voice is.  I'm also loving his song Rumors with Tove Lo.

Mozart String Duo No. 1 in G Major for Violin and Viola

I subscribe to the Classical Performance Podcast (#nerd) and this song was so beautiful that I had to share.  Even though it's only two instruments playing, they fill up so much space with all the intricate and beautiful notes that they play.  Sometimes the two play together, and other times their melodies don't seem to fit together at all.  I absolutely loved every minute!

TV Shows

America's Got Talent

I'm loving the judge's cut episodes!  As entertaining as auditions are, the real show always starts for me when people start to get cut.  I'm not really a fan of singers on this particular show (why don't they audition for The Voice or American Idol!?  I want more gymnasts and flame throwers!) so this week's episode wasn't really my cup of tea. 

Big Brother

Dan and I both agree that Clay is basically running the game so far, and both of us don't like him at all!  It'll be interesting to see how the 6th sense alliance will get on if Julia is able to enter the game.  I'm still cheering for Vanessa, and I think that Austin is also a great, smart player.  Who doesn't love a big wrestler dude who's actually a big softy?

Friends

Dan and I finished the series, and we're both taking it very hard.  I've never enjoyed a show from episode one to the very last minute this much!  Usually shows seem to lose their originality and go over-the-top with the comedy towards the end (cough HIMYM cough) but we were laughing even more as the show progressed!

So You Think You Can Dance

I loved this week's episode!  There are so many dancers that I'm loving so far, but I have to say my favorite routine of the night was Jaja and Jim.  They're both incredible dancers, and the way that they joined forced and did such an amazing lyrical hip hop dance was exactly what I was looking for!  I love how emotional Nigel got after the dance, and I hope that those two dancers will go far.  


Have a great weekend everyone!

Linking up with Mar, Cynthia and Court 
as well as Heather and Clare!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Real Neat Blog Award Survey

I absolutely love doing surveys, and I was so happy when Jamie tagged me to do this one!  I loved reading her answers to the questions, and I can't wait to see how everyone else answers.   I'll be joining in the Thinking Out Loud fun today as usual- now let's get to the questions!



The rules are:
1) Put the award logo on your blog.
2) Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
3) Thank the person who nominated you, linking to their blog.
4) Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
5) Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

1.)  If you weren’t happy with yesterday, what would you do to change it?
Honestly, yesterday was a great day!  I got in all of my workouts and got to work from home, plus had some amazing food.  You can read about my day here, but there's not much I would change about it to be honest!  Maybe if Dan was home all day that would make it better.
Dan + Selma..what more could I need?!


2.)  What is your favorite book?
I've read a lot of books in my life, and I really can't think of any that stick out to me as a favorite.  I'm currently reading Lopez Lomong's autobiography and I can honestly say it's the first book that has impacted my life and how I see things.  I'll be dedicating a post to the book because it's so incredible.  I also tweeted about it, and Lopez responded which was cool!

3.)  What has been your biggest success and your biggest challenge?
Biggest Success: Making the Blue Band my freshman year!  I can't imagine my life if I never joined.  Not only did I meet the best people who are still great friends, but I also met Dan!  It's pretty competitive to get in the band, so I still think that it was a fluke that I made it in.  Definitely one of my proudest moments.
My first game as a member of the Blue Band!
Biggest Challenge: Being sensitive.  I am not a very emotional person, so it's hard for me to understand other people's emotions and can be really harsh and uncaring. 

4.)  What does your perfect day look like? (April 25th is void… ;)
Spending time traveling a new city in a new country, preferably surrounded by water, with Dan and Selma.  Great food should be involved too, and the weather should be partly sunny and in the 70s. 
I wouldn't mind re-living this day!

5.)  What is your favorite memory?
All of my trips out of the countries are my favorite and strongest memories.  I can still picture being in Switzerland hiking up to our little hotel:

or seeing the Trevi Fountain for the first time:

I guess I should say my favorite memory is from Dan proposing.  Whoops!

6.)  What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
I'm not really afraid to try anything once, but I don't really consider anything that I've tried "crazy".  Some people consider me crazy for running marathons, but I would say my adventure trip to Costa Rica was full of crazy things (by the way, I'll be writing a post about my trip sometime soon.  It was so much fun and I want to re-live it!)

White Water Rafting

Zip-lining through the jungle with no hands (the instructors called this "pollo loco"- crazy chicken)

7.)  If your life were a movie title, what would it be?
That would be a very boring movie... but I would have to go with my blog name and say "GretchRuns"!  Yeah, I wouldn't see it either ;)

8.)  If you could do anything you wanted right now, what would it be?
I love to travel and experience new things and cultures, so I would love the opportunity to travel for my job!  I've always been a fan of Rick Steves and it would be a dream come true to have travel guides published or a TV series where I just get to travel the world.  That would be unbelievable!

I tag…
Jennifer
Heather
Shaun
HoHo Runs
Kristen

I also tag YOU!  Answer some questions below..I'd love to hear your answers!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Day in My Life - WIAW #3

Hello!  Happy Wednesday everyone :)

Today is going to be a bit of a different post, and I'm very excited to share it.  I love when other bloggers share a "day in the life" post, and I thought that would be a fun way to join the What I Ate (#WIAW) linkup as well.
If you haven't heard of #WIAW, check out this post that explains it.  Basically, I'll just be sharing what I ate for an entire day. 

I hope you enjoy seeing what I do on a typical work day, as well as a full day of eats.  Enjoy!

4:45 - Wake up, drink some water, brush my teeth and get changed for running.

5:00 - Leave the apartment and wait for for my Garmin to sync up, and take a Honey Stinger gel.  This was my first time trying Fruit Smoothie and it was delicious!


5:10 - Give up on my Garmin and just use it as a stopwatch.  Run to the track for my warmup, then run 8x200, with a 200 jog in between.  I have a few 5k's coming up in August so I have to get some speed back in my legs!
#HighQualityPic

6:00 - Get back home, drink Tart Cherry Juice, eat a Kind Bar, wake up Selma and take her on a walk

6:15 - Shower, do the normal getting-ready-for-work thing and say goodbye to Dan.

7:00 - Grab my lunch and head out to catch my bus.  I checked my phone right as I was leaving and noticed messages from my work team.  Everyone was working from home, so I turned around and changed back into my pajamas.  Yay for flexible work arrangements!

7:10 - Turn on Sports Center (thank goodness Fire TV has an ESPN app!) and make some coffee. I'm obsessed with Tim Horton's coffee, but there are no stores in Pittsburgh.  Luckily they started selling K-Cups and I'm obsessed with the dark roast!

7:30 - Log in to work.  Today was a low-key day.  I had to dial in to a few meetings, and work on some reports for some upcoming presentations, but other than that it was an easy day.

9:00 - Starving again, so I had breakfast #2: whole wheat bagel with cream cheese, hard boiled egg, cheese, bacon and dill.  I was also thirsty so I got a big glass of milk.

11:00 - I have a meeting during lunch, so I take a break to take a walk to the store.  I had to pick up some ingredients for dinner tonight, and also picked up a KeVita Mojita, which was on sale (I also picked up Strawberry Acai Coconut).  It was really good and refreshing- perfect for the hot day!

12:45 - Grabbed some lunch during the meeting.  I heated up some frozen chicken, topped it with rootbeer barbeque sauce, and added a side of fresh corn salad.  I also finished off my bread and butter pickles from Picklesburg.  It's probably not healthy to eat a jar of pickles so quickly, but they were soooo good!

4:30 - Snacked on some almonds and drank a ton of water throughout the day, and now work is done!  Take Selma out for a walk and do my 10 minute declutter.

5:00 - Tried a new yoga video : Total Body Yoga which I found kind of boring and only lasted 15 minutes.  Better than nothing, right?

5:30 - Started to make dinner.  Tonight I'm making Belgian food for my monthly challenge. Does anyone else like to drink wine when cooking a big meal?  I like to have a glass of red wine and watch something on my iPad- makes cooking so much more fun and relaxing.

For dinner, we had Mussels, Frites with Sauce Andalouse and Honey Roasted Belgian Endives and Parsnips.  Not exactly summer food, but it tasted good!  I also had to bring out the Belgian beers (my favorite)!

7:00 - Dan, Selma and I take a walk to Frick Park.  It's such a nice day out, so it was great to walk in the trails.  We walked about a mile or two, then I took out my bike for a quick ride.  I'm still a little nervous riding it, so I'm trying to get out every day to get more comfortable.  Selma was worn out after the walk:

8:30 - Ice cream bar time!  I also have some coconut water and relax for the rest of the night.  Amy Schumer + craft project + foam rolling = perfect end to a busy day.

10:30 - Time for bed!!!

I hope you all enjoyed what goes on in my day.  Let me know a few highlights of your day so far, or something exciting that happened yesterday!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Running Fast Fixes

Hello!  How is everyone doing today?

I'll be joining in the  Tuesdays on the Run linkup fun today and talking about "Alternative Medicine for Runners".  I decided to change this a bit and talk about my fast fixes for running (otherwise known as running hacks.)  These are little tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way, and I hope you can learn at least one new thing today.  Make sure to leave your fixes in the comments!  I love to learn new things!



Problem: No motivation to run or workout

Fast Fix: Go somewhere new
When I'm low on motivation, it always gets me excited to go some place new.  I usually stick to to the same few routes, and go to the same workout classes each week.  Driving to a new place to run, or testing out a different class is a sure way to get back into the groove!

Fast Fix: Sign up for something
Nothing gets me excited to start training again like an upcoming race.  As soon as I feel in a funk, or find myself skipping workouts for a while, I look for a local 5k or other fun race to sign up for.  Some resources that I use to find races are runhigh, elite runners racing, smiley miles , active and half marathon race calendar.

Fast Fix: Buy something
This might not be the best way to get your motivation back, but having a new pair of shoes or cute new shorts makes me want to work out.  I wouldn't recommend doing this every week (unless you have a money tree in your back yard) but this is a good way to reward yourself for working hard.  Sometimes I'll make a deal with myself that I can get a new tank top or some shorts if I don't skip any workouts for two weeks.  It always works!


Problem: Cramps before, during or after a run

Fast Fix: Tart Cherry Juice
My mom taught me this trick, and it works amazingly.  Drinking some tart cherry juice somehow completely alleviates  all the muscle soreness after runs and tough workouts.  The taste is tough to get used to, so I suggest mixing it with water at first, or blending it into a smoothie to get used to the tart taste!

Fast Fix: Salt Tabs
During races and hot workouts, salt tabs are a complete life saver.  The tabs I use are these, which are large and tough to swallow at times, but have never bothered my sensitive stomach.  For a while, I was having horrible stomach problems during races, and this has eliminated any issues I have!  I highly recommend trying them, particularly in the summer.

Fast Fix: Foam Rolling
Most runners swear by foam rolling, and I'm definitely a fan as well.  I have a few different rollers, and use one practically every day.  Dan and I both use them for everything from neck pain to tight hamstrings.  If you're interested in learning some great moves to try, check out this article.


Other Fast Fixes

Hydrating with Coconut Water 
In the summer, plain water just doesn't cut it for me.  I'm not a fan of most sports drinks, which just taste sugary and heavy after I finish a workout.  I love having Nuun and water, but coconut water is even better!  My favorite is from Trader Joes, which comes in a big carton and tastes really fresh and refreshing.  It has fewer calories, less sodium, and more potassium than a sports drink- which also makes it great for hydrating during a workout as well!

Freeze pops for a post-workout treat
It has been so hot lately, and during my out door runs and workouts all I want is something frozen and refreshing as soon as I finish.  I bought some freeze pops from the store, and they are PERFECT, as well as super cheap!  Usually you can find huge boxes for just a few dollars.  They might not be the most healthy thing ever, but they're pretty small and make being out in the heat a little more rewarding!

Cross training with Yoga
I've tried so many different cross training workouts, and I have to say that yoga has made the biggest impact.  With yoga, you not only strengthen your body and muscles, but also improve flexibility, stretch out sore muscles, and improve your mental strength.  Yoga is such an amazing workout and is perfect for active recovery, because it won't wear out your body like some other workouts (for me, that would be Group Power and spinning).  Even if you only have 10 minutes to fit in some yoga, it will help tremendously!


What are some of your running hacks/fast fixes?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Busy Pittsburgh Weekend

Happy Monday everyone!  I hope you all had a great weekend.  There was so much happening in Pittsburgh, and luckily the weather was gorgeous!  Dan and I tried to visit all the events going on, so we were quite busy.  Let's get into this marvelous weekend!

Our weekend started with a day drinking happy hour at Independent Brewing Company.  I tried a Peach-Habanero Stout from Blue Canoe Brewing and Goedenacht from Draai Laag Brewing.  Both were decent but way too strong-tasting for a full drink, so I settled on an Oatmeal Stout from Four Season Brewing.  Dan and I also split a smoked salmon dip with pita chips. 


We stopped by Gaby et Jules for dessert.   I've never been there before, but it's an adorable French bakery on Forbes Ave.  There's also a location in Market Square!

They had amazing selections of French pastries, and we decided to get a dozen macarons. 

So many great flavors that were devoured by the time the weekend was over.  Whoops!

I also got a bike!! My parents fixed up one for me with new tires and also got me a helmet for my birthday.  I took it for a few rides and it's so much fun!

On Saturday, Dan and I walked around the Vintage Grand Prix car show.  There were so many people and cars there- it was insane!  We stayed for a while and also watched part of the preliminary races.  It was a lot of fun but really hot!

Later that day, we stopped by the Picklesburg event on the Rachel Carson Bridge!  There was a live band playing, as well as tons of vendors selling cool pickled products.  I tried a pickled peach mule from Wigle Wiskey, a pulled pork sandwich with pickled veggies on the side from Butcher and the Rye, and a pickled strawberry cupcake.  I also picked up some Bread and Butter pickles and root beer BBQ sauce.  SO good!

Our group also stopped by Sienna Mercato's beer garden to get something to drink.  I love their open rooftop, and the weather was perfect.  I had a pineapple beer and a cider.  Great summer drinks!

The city looked gorgeous at night!  There was also a night race on the river trail with live DJ's and lots of glow sticks.  Most of the roads and bridges were blocked off to cars, so it was nice to walk around with no traffic!

On Sunday, I met up with Jennifer to go running.  We went all over Oakland, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. There were so many beautiful houses that I've never noticed before.  I love running with new people and finding new places to run!  We stopped by Schenley Plaza after for tai chi, which ended up being cancelled.  Instead, we just talked for a while then headed home.

Later that night, Dan and I went to our first concert at First Niagara Pavilion!  Kelly Clarkson was playing, but the real reason we went was to see Pentatonix.  They were incredible!

There was a huge downpour right before the concert started and we all got soaked!  Fortunately it was just a quick shower and the rest of the night was nice and cool. Felt nice after the hot weather we had all weekend!  There was also a gorgeous sunset:


What did you do this weekend?
Are you a fan of Pentatonix or pickles?