Sunday, February 26, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Week 12

Well guys, I finally did it- I finished a 20 mile run!  I'll share more below, but this is a huge milestone for me and I'm really proud of myself.  This entire week was really great (thanks to unseasonably warm and clear weather).  I'm feeling better and better about training each week, and I'm getting excited for race day!  There's still 8 weeks to go where a lot can happen, but I'm on the right path.

Here's a look at how my week went:


3 miles
I had the day off for Presidents' Day and it was a beautiful morning, so I took Selma to Riverview for a trail run.  We did a loop of all of my favorite trails, and she did such a great job.  I've never run with her on trails, but she handled them so well!  


Rest Day!


7 miles / 9:44 pace
Hill repeats today! 2 mile warmup, then 6 x 1/4 mile hill repeats. These were HARD and steep (and of course in the picture it looks flat as a pancake), so I wasn't exactly sprinting up ;) I kept moving the entire time, even jogging down the hill, and finished with 2 mile cool down.


Rest Day!


3 miles
Just an easy run around the neighborhood to shake out my legs!  I got a new pair of shoes (Saucony Freedom ISO) to replace the Brooks Pure Flows that I ended up returning, so I was excited to test them out.  I'll share more later, but so far I like them.  Did I mention the weather was AMAZING?  70s, sunny, and gorgeous.


20 miles total :
5 mile warmup / 9:39 pace
15 mile race / 8:57 pace
This was the day I was doing my 20 mile run, and it scared me for a while just seeing it on my schedule.  This has always been a really big mental barrier for me and I've never made it through 20 miles before, so I knew I had to do it in this workout.  It's a little early for my training plan, but I knew that I could do it if I did it in a smart way, with lots of people around.  Since I was running the Spring Thaw race, I decided to do a 5 mile loop around the lake right before the race (which ended up being very wet with a morning shower), had an applesauce squeeze packet, then ran the 15 mile race.  Luckily I made it to the start just in time to get a picture with a few other Pittsburgh bloggers (Joanna, Ciara, Jennifer, and Chelsea!)

I got really lucky, because Jessie agreed to run with me.  She did the 10 mile race option and really helped my pace.  We met a few other runners along the course, so those first two laps of the lake really flew by.  When I started the third lap by myself, it was definitely harder and I was worn out (almost thought of stopping with Jessie and calling it a day).  I took my first Margarita Shot Block and that made me feel a lot better immediately.  Note to self- start taking these earlier in the race or long run!  I made it to the halfway point of the loop when another racer ran by me, so I shouted out "Great job!" The girl ended up sticking with me for a bit and ended up being a blog reader! She helped me out so much because at that point the wind kicked up and I was really struggling.  If you're reading this Sarah, thank you SO much for running with me and taking my mind off the race!

Overall, I was really happy with how I did in the race! My pace got slower on each lap, but I knew this was mostly about finishing and just not quitting.  I needed to know that I could do this, and I feel so much more confident about training now!  I still have 2 months to go, so I'm really excited to have a 20 miler in the bag.  The best part was that after the race, I scheduled a one hour float session followed by a one hour massage!  I'll be sharing more about my floating experience in my monthly wrap-up, but this helped me with recovery so much, and I wish I could do it after every hard workout.


Rest Day!
I had a rest day from running scheduled, but I still wanted to get out to stretch out my legs and get the blood flowing to them.  I took Selma to the park and walked about 5 miles with her (very slowly with lots of stops).  I always feel so much better if I move the day after a race or long run, so I'm glad the weather cooperated for a nice walk.

What's the biggest mental barrier you struggle with in training?
Did anyone else race this weekend?

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Top Five Friday #86

Happy Friday everyone!  Today is a great day because Dan is coming back from a work trip and tomorrow is my first race of the year.  I'm so excited and have a massage and float appointment scheduled after, so I have a little bit of motivation to finish quickly!  We're also finally able to try our first batch of home brew, so it's shaping up to be an exciting weekend.

Toady I'm sharing all of my favorites from the week!  The majority of these were recommendations from friends, so I'm happy to pass them on to all of you!  I hope you enjoy, and let me know what you've been loving this week.

Play! by Sephora

This month's bag wasn't my favorite (it had some boring products in it) but I did find a new favorite lip product, so that's a win in my book!  Here are my thoughts on the products:
Sephora mascara - I have so many mascara samples (from this box as well as a sampler I bought around Christmas) so I didn't get to this one.  I'll share my thoughts in my next empty post!
Clinique Pep Start moisturizer - I like getting small moisturizers for the gym, and this one was good.  Nothing special about it, but I've always liked Clinique moisturizers.
Origins GinZing eye cream -  I've used this in the past and absolutely love it.  The cream is really smoothing and hydrating in your undereye area, and it has a slightly pearly pink shade that helps to cover dark circles.  I have really dark undereyes and this works really well on me.
Too Faced Lip Injection glossy - I don't use any kind of lip plumpers so I don't have anything to compare this to, but it definitely plumped my lips!  It also made my lips burn like crazy, so it's not something I would use a lot.
NARS lip cream - I'm absolutely in love with this!  This is the reason why I love these bags- I would never buy this on my own and I get to try out a really decent sized sample of a high end product.  The color is gorgeous, the formula is so smooth and creamy, and it lasts really long without drying your lips.  LOVE!

The Pop Cast

I'm always on the lookout for new podcasts, so I was happy to see Amanda recommend this one.  Each week, the cohosts talk about a different subject in pop culture.  Unlike most pop culture-themed podcasts, this one doesn't only talk about recent news but goes back in time as it relates to the topic.  One recent episode talked about the hidden meanings in songs, which was really interesting and eye opening!  If you're interested in pop culture but don't really want a round up of current shows and music, check this one out.

Mikaela Davis

I actually found out about this musician while watching someone's Instagram story, and as soon as she described the style as "folksy harp" I knew I had to give it a listen.   I love when musicians play interesting instruments in their music (and harp happens to be one of my favorites), and Mikaela plays so well while singing the most hauntingly beautiful songs.  All of her songs give me chills and I could listen to her all day.  Luckily for me, she'll be in Pittsburgh next week so I'm hoping to see her perform live!

Book Recommendations

Thank you to Sokphal for sending this to me- I now have a huge list of library books I have to check out.  If you're like me and always looking for the next book to read, check this out.  I love those books that you can not put down (even though sometimes I almost miss my bus stop or spend my entire lunch break reading and not eating) and these all sound great.  I've read a few on this list and can confirm that they're great and un-put-downable (currently reading Good As Gone and  

Friday Funny

If you haven't seen the video of Alex Trebek rapping, you are missing out!  My favorite is the version where the real music was playing in the background.  I watched this at work and couldn't stop myself from laughing out lout!

What are your favorite things from this week?
What are you up to this weekend?

linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Best Yoga Videos for Runners

It should come as no surprise that yoga is my cross-training activity of choice.  It all started 3 years ago when I went to a free yoga class offered downtown, and I started doing it regularly last year.  In my marathon training this year, I've been trying to do daily videos and it's helped me so much!

I love yoga because it has so many benefits- it helps me stretch out and recover faster, strengthens my legs, arms and core, and also has mental benefits.  There's nothing like taking a half hour for myself to meditate and reflect on myself at the end of a long day.

Today I wanted to share my favorite yoga videos for runners.  I've been asked by a few people what my favorite videos are, so I thought it would be helpful to put them all in one place!  I'll be breaking it down by video length, so whether you have an hour or just 5 minutes, I have something for everyone!

50 Minutes

45 Minutes

35 Minutes

30 Minutes

25 Minutes

20 Minutes

Under 10 Minutes

Who else loves yoga?
What's your favorite yoga channel or video?
How do you cross train?

linking up with AnnmarieNicoleMichelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Week 11

Man, it's crazy how quickly things can change with training.  I was starting to struggle the past two weeks and haven't had a good run in what felt like forever, then I hit week 11 (which means I'm officially over the halfway point for training) and I have phenomenal workouts all week.  Going through rough patches really makes me appreciate those amazing, I LOVE RUNNING days.  Coincidentally, or maybe ironically, this was also my highest mileage week ever, at 36.25 miles.  Without giving too much more away, let's just get into a recap of my awesome week!


Rest Day!


5 miles / 9:05 pace
I decided to go out on this run without a watch and just run by feel.  It ended up being a really great run and I felt amazing the entire time.  Afterwards I treated myself to sushi since it was Valentine's Day and Dan was away for work.  I caught up on the Bachelor and opened a bottle of wine, so it was an all around great day!


Rest Day


4 miles / 9:00 pace
My manager let me take a half day since I had to work all weekend, so I was able to push my run back to the middle of the day.  I was procrastinating and didn't want to go out at all, because it was super cold and snowing out.  I eventually made myself go, and ended up having the best run ever.  I felt like I could have gone forever, and ran without my watch again.  I just put on a podcast and felt smooth the entire time.


5.25 miles / 8:51 pace
The weather was pretty terrible during the week, so I ended up pushing my speed work back until Friday.  Don't ask me why I thought it was a good idea to do it the day before my longest run in training (or why I had to do it on a treadmill....whoops) but luckily this run went great.  I did the Fun Reminder workout in Kara Goucher's half marathon plan, but made it a bit more challenging.  I was supposed to do 2x1 mile at half marathon pace, 1/4 mile rest, 2x1/2 mile at half marathon pace.  I ended up taking out the breaks between each rep, so I did 2 miles at 8:00 pace, 1/4 mile jog, 1 mile at 8:00 pace.  With a mile warm up and cool down, I ended up with 5.25 miles and felt great the entire workout.  


17 miles / 9:33 pace
I did it- I made it to a group run with Pro Bike and Run again!  There were a few different distances offered, and luckily one of them was 17 miles which fit perfectly with my training.  The 9:30 group that I run with is pretty large to start with, and it breaks up at each stop.  I was happy to start off the run with Jessie (and to see Jennifer and Ciara before the run started), and ended up with three guys who were doing the full 17 miles.  It was definitely a challenging run because I was completely overdressed again (it ended up being 70 degrees at the finish and I thought it would only be 50!  Whoops) and the course was pretty hilly.  I'm so glad that I had the group to run with because the miles went by surprisingly quickly.  This was my longest run of training so far, but I felt really good at the end, and ended up "racing" one of the guys to the finish line!  He turned to me with about 100 meters to go and said "let's see who has more left in the tank" and I can't turn down a challenge :)


5 miles
It was another gorgeous day, so I took Selma to North Park and did a 5 mile loop with her.  We did the lodge loop, which is a lot quieter and secluded than the main loop.  We probably ended up running about 3 miles, but it was great to be out there and have an easy workout after a high mileage and hard week.

This week I have my first race of the year- the Spring Thaw!  The weather is looking perfect right now and I'm really excited to try out some longer miles at race pace.  Let's hope it goes well and gives me the confidence I need.

How was your week?
Did you get amazing weather this weekend?
Do you prefer busy roads or quiet trails?

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Top Five Friday #85

Happy weekend!  I'm so happy that I have Monday off, and I'm looking forward to a three day weekend.  I don't have any plans, but I have some projects around the house that I want to get done.  Hopefully I'll be able to share some of them!

Today I'll be sharing my five favorite things from the week.  Be sure to let me know what you're currently loving, and what your plans are for the weekend!

Grammy Fashion

I love this dress!  It's a lot different than what we usually see on the red carpet, but I think it's so flattering on Adele, has a really interesting pattern, and I love the color (if you saw my Snapchat yesterday you might have seen that I just bought a dress in the same color so I guess that's my spring shade!)

I don't typically love Chrissy Teigan's style (even though she always looks beautiful), but I liked this look on her.  I really like how interesting the cuts are, and how it's not too revealing or over the top.

How beautiful is Carrie Underwood!?  This color and style looks amazing on her, and I also love the simple, romantic up-do 

Loreal Extraordinary Clay

I have really oily roots that make my hair look super flat, and have been trying to find products to fix that for EVER.  While dry shampoos sometimes work, they can make my hair turn really white and look dirty while not really adding any lift to my roots.  I was really excited to see that Loreal came out with a line targeting oily roots and I tried out the mask and spray.  I was SO shocked and happy to see that they worked really well and made my hair look clean and more voluminous, and really clean.  There are a few other products in the line that I want to try out, but if you also have oily roots try this stuff out!  As a bonus, the dry shampoo isn't white or chalky at ALL.

Clif Nut Butter Filled Bars

I've seen these bars all over the blogosphere and social media lately, so I had to try it out.  Luckily, Target recently had a deal on Cartwheel, so I grabbed these while they were 25% off.  I tried out the chocolate peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut butter flavors, and I really like them!  They have great, organic ingredients and are vegan, so I love to take these to work and eat them right after the gym (or before leaving if I run in the evening).  If you haven't tried these out yet, I recommend giving them a taste!

Ello Shaker Bottle

While I was at Target, I also picked up this adorable shaker bottle.  I've had the same one for years, so I was ready for a new one.  Not only does this look great, but it's also a glass bottle with a rubber mixer, so you don't get that annoying shaking sound when you're mixing the drink.  I love the size of this one (my old one is about double the size, so I never took it to work).   There are a few other items in this line at Target, so if you're in the market for cute kitchen items check it out.

Fifty Shades Darker Soundtrack

While I'm not interested in seeing this movie, I'm obsessed with the soundtrack.  It's filled with songs from some of my favorite artists- Halsey, John Legend, Sia, Danny Elfman- as well as some awesome collabs- Taylor Swift and Zayn, Nick Jonas and Nicki Minaj, Kygo and Andrew Jackson.  There are so many different styles and tempos in this soundtrack so I'm looking forward to listening through it on my next long run.

Have a great weekend!

linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Halfway!

Hi everyone!  I can't believe it, but I'm already half way done with marathon training.  I mentioned before that I was planning on doing a 20 week training program, and I just finished week 10.  Today I'll be talking about how training is going, what's worked and what hasn't, and what will change going forward.

A Look Back

I started training by following Kara Goucher's Half Marathon Plan, which I really liked.  After a few weeks, I switched over to a marathon training plan that's focused on breaking four hours.  The only thing that I've modified is switching up the speed work.  I'll incorporate some of the speed work in Kara's plan with the speed work in this plan and it's working out really well.

I like how in the marathon training plan, there are a lot of workouts done at marathon race pace.  I'm starting to get really comfortable running a lot of miles at this pace, and I know it'll help my confidence on race day.

What's Working

I've been keeping things similar from my quarter point check-in since things are working so well.  Here's what's been working for me (and what I switched up from last post)
  • Morning runs.  I'm still loving morning runs.  I'm in the habit of doing them now, so it's getting easier and easier to wake up early!  It feels great to get my workout over with before I even get to work.
  • Evening speed work.  Even though I usually run in the mornings, I decided to switch my speed work to the evening.  I wasn't hitting my paces in the morning, so I made the switch to doing those workouts after work.  It's worked out great and I realized that it's ok to change things up!
  • Yoga.  I finished up my Yoga Revolution series, and I'm still doing yoga about 4 times a week.  I want to get back to doing this daily again, because I realized that it's easier for me to do something daily rather than saying I'll do it a few times a week.  I'm one of those "all or nothing" people, so I'm going to try to fit it in every day again.
  • Protein powder!  I have a post coming up with different kinds of vegan protein powders that I've tried, but I've honestly noticed a huge change in my appetite and strength since adding a daily protein shake to my meals.  

What's Not Working

I'm still pretty happy overall with my training.  I'm glad that I'm still looking forward to each workout and not going through that dreaded phase of running where I feel sluggish and don't want to work out.  I'm hoping it keeps up, and in order to do that I have a few things that I want to work on in the next few weeks:
  • Group runs. I went to one group run this month and really enjoyed it.  It helped me stay motivated during my long run and I promised myself I would be back for more.  Unfortunately life got in the way the past few weeks so I couldn't make it, but I want to start going more often and making it a priority.
  • Slower easy runs.  I'm still struggling with slowing my pace on easy runs.  This might seem like a good thing, but I know that a lot of injuries are caused by people refusing to slow down and take easy days really easy.  
  • Cross training.  So far I've been doing great with adding yoga to my routine, but I still want to get more strength in!  I do a core video occasionally, but I want to focus on doing that more consistently. 
  • Comparison.  I talked about that in this post, and it's still something I'm working on.  I'm starting to do more runs without my watch so I don't have to worry about competing with myself or with others, but I also think I need to take a step back from social media.


What's Next

Next week I'll be running the Spring Thaw.  For this race, I can run 10, 15 or 20 miles.  I have a massage/floating session schedule in the afternoon, so right now my plan is to run a 5 mile warmup, then do 15 miles in the race for my first 20 mile run.  I'm hoping to do the 15 miles at marathon race pace, and this will be a great confidence builder!  We'll see how race day goes, because I've never run 20 miles before.

As you can tell, I'm feeling great about training.  I'm still hitting all of my miles and feeling great!  I'm hoping to stay injury free during this training cycle and get to the starting line healthy.  Now that I'm halfway through training, it's starting to feel real!

What races do you have coming up?
Have you made any big changes in your training lately?
Do you use protein powder?
linking up with Annmarie, Nicole, Michelle, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Top Five Friday #84

Happy Friday!  Man, this has been a weird week.  The temperature has been all over the place, work has been crazy one day and slow the next, and I've just felt exhausted all week.  I think I might be trying to fight off a cold because I just feel like I need a good nap and have had a pounding headache.  I have to work this weekend so I'm hoping it doesn't get any worse and can hopefully rest as much as possible!  

As usual, I'm sharing a few of my favorite things from this week.  I only have four things to share, and I'm just too tired right now to come up with a fifth.  With that being said, let's get to it!


This week I got a delivery of Nuun tabs- happy mail day to me!  I love adding these to water after a workout (especially at work) and I was excited to try some new flavors- Watermelon, Blackberry Citrus, Ginger Lemonade, and Grape.  I've tried a few of them already and they're all delicious.  I've been a huge fan of Nuun for years, so I was excited to be chosen as an ambassador this year.  Just an FYI- I don't get free products but I do get a discount on their products.  Either way I would still buy these (and have bought them over and over in the past) but wanted to be completely transparent :)  

Trader Joe's BBQ Rub

I love trying out new spices and always check out what Trader Joe's has to offer.  Not only do they carry the basics, but they also have special blends and specialty seasonings for a reasonable price.  I was interested in this one because the ingredients sound amazing- Coffee, Brown Sugar, Sea Salt, Sugar, Roasted Garlic and Onion Flakes, Smoked Paprika Flakes, and Red Bell Pepper.  This is meant for a rub on different types of meat, but it's delicious sprinkled on potatoes before roasting, mixed with pasta, or with sauces.  Best of all, it's only $1.99!

New Hair!

I was well over-due for a hair cut and finally got one this week!  It's been over a year since my last one, so I was excited to get some of the dead ends cut off and change things up.  I'm always really boring with my cut (long layers and just past my shoulders).  I love how the cut turned out and got it for cheap at Supercuts!

Blue Apron

I love trying out new meal delivery services and was excited to give Blue Apron another try.  I've gotten a few deliveries in the past, and this time I tried out their vegetarian options.  While they don't offer a vegan option yet, I still wanted to see what meals they came up with!  I was pleasantly surprised and ended up making three amazing dishes that Dan and I both loved.  I made potato and broccoli samosas (above), warm cauliflower and kale salad, and sunchoke egg noodle casserole.  It was my first time making samosas and working with a lot of these ingredients, so I really enjoyed this delivery!  If you're interested in trying it out too, I have 3 free invitations that I can send (not sponsored- it's just part of their program).  Let me know in the comments if you're interested and leave your email address :)

How often do you get your hair cut?
Favorite spice?
What are your plans this weekend?

linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Easy Ways to Save Money

Who doesn't like to save money?  It seems like it's everyone's New Year's Resolution every year to start saving more money.  It seems easy enough, but without making big lifestyle changes it can seem impossible and very intimidating!

For the past few years, I've started to make small adjustments in my life that don't seem to make a difference at first, but overtime can really save money.  I hope some of these tips will help all of you, and I hope you'll share more tips with me!

Buy in Bulk

A few months ago, I started to buy all of my nonperishable items in bulk and realized how much money I was saving.  I got a Sam's Club membership on Groupon, and every time we went I would calculate what the unit price was on common items we bought, and compare it to what we spent at regular stores.  Some items are WAY cheaper at a club (juice, tortilla wraps, canned foods, chips, and garbage bags are some of the biggest savings I've found).  Luckily at our house, we have space in our basement for shelving, so we bought a large storage rack and keep our bulk purchases down there.

If you don't have room for storage or don't want to get a membership at a club, you can still buy in bulk at a regular store.  I stopped buying canned beans and now buy dried beans in the bulk area at the store, and buy specialty spices that way as well.  This saves SO much money!  I store the dried beans in recycled plastic containers for a no-cost storage solution.

Join the Library

I know that I've mentioned this before, but joining the library and signing up for Overdrive has completely changed my life!  I stopped reading for a while after college, but if I was interested in a book I would purchase it.  Since books aren't exactly cheap, I wasn't reading much because I didn't want to spend the money.  After I signed up for the library, I started reading so much more, and can find any book that I want in the Overdrive app.  I get these sent directly to my Kindle, so I can read on the bus during my commute.

I also try new cookbooks this way.  I recently did this with the Eat Slow, Run Fast cookbook, and loved the fact that I could try out a few recipes but wasn't locked into buying the book.  There are some cookbooks that I just want to try out, but don't really want to buy and this is a great way to "test drive" it!

Find employee discounts

I've recently discovered a lot of small ways that I get discounts at work, and it's made a big difference overall.  One thing that most companies (at least larger ones) do is a commuter benefit.  At my company, I get a credit card which is filled once a month via direct deposit of my pre-tax paycheck.  This means that I'm saving about $100 a year in taxes for my commuting.

There are other small discounts that I get through work and I found out about just by asking around at work.  I save money on my gym membership, phone bill, and travel if I book through my work's website.  There are lot of stores that offer random discounts, so it never hurts to ask!

Reduce Utility Bills

There are so many ways that you can save money on your utility bill.  These savings might seem small at the time, but they really add up (and help you be more environmentally friendly)!   Here are some of my favorite tips:

-Unplug surge protectors at night and when going to work.  Even if nothing is plugged in or you aren't using something that is plugged in, it's still using energy!

-Shower at the gym.  I go to the gym pretty much every morning, even if I have an off day, just to use their showers.  This saves me a ton of water that I would use at home, and gives me an incentive to work out before work!  My gym also provides soap and shampoo, so I'm using a lot less products at home which saves even more money.

-Turn down the furnace and AC.  You don't have to turn it down to a frigid temperature or sweat all summer long, but think about turning it up or down a few degrees and you'll see the savings add up!

Make It Yourself

Lately, I've discovered the power (and money savings) involved with making something yourself.  This can cover so many areas of your life, from cooking to skin care products to cleaning products.  Pinterest is one of my biggest avenues for finding can seriously find a recipe or idea for anything on there!  

One of my recent favorite things to make myself is vegetable stock.  It can be expensive and annoying to buy stock at the store.  If I want to make soup or use it to thin out a recipe, I have to run to the store and end up spending a few dollars on a single can of good stock.  Now, I make my own and it couldn't be easier.  I keep a bag in my freezer, and throw in all my veggie scraps in there.  Anytime I make a dish and have peels, ends of carrots, beet greens (basically anything) I throw it in the bag.  Once it's full, I just add it to a pot filled with water and boil it for two hours.  Homemade veggie stock for pretty much $0!  This is also a great way to use veggies that are about to go bad, and I don't feel like they're going to waste.  After I'm done making the stock, I just throw the vegetable scraps in my compost pile!

Simplify Your Makeup Routine

Before we moved, I had a pretty intense makeup routine.  Every morning I would put on primer, foundation, concealer, powder, blush, highlighter, bronzer, eye shadow, eyeliner, mascara, lip liner, lipstick, lip gloss, and setting spray (PHEW!).  It's not secret that makeup is expensive, even if you buy drugstore products, so using that much makeup was not cheap at all.  Putting that many products on my face also made me break out all the time, so it was pretty much adding insult to injury.

When Dan and I got married in Belize, I didn't bring any makeup products with me and let my skin breathe for the week we were there.  My skin instantly cleared up, and I haven't used foundation since.  Now, my makeup routine is much simpler- cream shadow, mascara, and lip balm.  Not only is this better for my skin, but it's also SO much cheaper!

Go Vegan (or try eating plant-based)

I have to mention this, because going vegan has saved me so much money.  I look back at my grocery bills from the past year, and I can see a dramatic difference ever since I switched my diet.  The majority of my diet is full of basic, inexpensive ingredients (beans, potatoes, grains, fresh vegetables).  People that think a vegan diet is expensive are mostly looking at the specialty products found at Whole Foods- think of the pretty packages with all the buzz words on them.  These foods aren't necessary for a delicious and healthy diet, so if you want to stick to a low grocery bill just keep it simple!  If you are interested in finding cheap and vegan meals, check out one of my favorite subreddits.  You don't have to go all out to reap the benefits- just adding more plant-based meals into your weekly meal plan and you'll start seeing the savings :)

I hope you liked my tips for saving money!  I've written a few other posts on this subject, so if you're looking for even more ways to save money, check out six tips here, and how to save money at the grocery store.

What are your money-saving tips?
Where do you do most of your shopping?  I'm an Aldi's girl now!

linking up with Amanda

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Tasty Tuesday : Vegan Smoked Salmon

One of my favorite foods before going vegan was a smoked salmon bagel.  I got them as a special treat about once a month from Brueggers, or I splurged at the grocery store to get the ingredients and make them for myself at home.  The combination of cream cheese, smoked salmon, dill and capers was so delicious and filling that it made a perfect breakfast for me!  It was one of those foods that I've been missing a lot lately, so I was really excited and intrigued to read about homemade vegan versions.  I had to try it right away!

I found two different versions- one using carrots and one using tomatoes.  They both have completely different methods, but similar marinades.  I tested them both out in two recipes- in a classic lox bagel, and in a sushi bowl (recipes below).  Keep reading to find out what I thought!

Version 1- Tomato

This is what I consider the quick and easy version.  To prepare the tomato, boil it for a few minutes in water until the skin begins to peel, shock it in ice water, peel off the skin, and slice into small pieces (getting rid of the seeds).  The marinade called for kelp powder, which I found at Whole Foods, along with tamari, olive oil, water, and liquid smoke.  All of these flavors combine made the tomato have a smoky and slightly fishy taste.  All in all, this recipe took about 10 minutes to prep and was really simple.

The tomatoes only had to marinade for a few hours, but I let them sit overnight.  In the morning, I prepared a bagel and my sushi bowl.  I have to admit that I was pretty impressed by how much this looked like smoked salmon, but I had way too much marinade.  Next time I make this I'll definitely cut down the marinade in half.

The taste of this was great. I won't lie and say that it tasted exactly like smoked salmon, but it had a similar taste and texture.  The bagel was much better than the bowl since there were so many flavors going on and it was delicious!

Version 2- Carrot

The second version was definitely more difficult and time consuming, but the end product made it worth it!  To cook the carrot, you have to cook it in a salt crust (basically covering it completely in salt and cooking it for a long time at a low temperature).  This made the carrot really soft- almost like slow cooking it.  After that, you just peel the carrot, cut it up, and pour over the marinade.  This version had slightly different ingredients- olive oil, vinegar and liquid smoke.  The recipe was a bit more difficult and hands-on to make, but was still relatively simple.

Instead of only having to marinade for a few hours, this was supposed to sit for at least two days.  Luckily I had the tomato lox to get me through those two days and then I was ready to try this one out!

The texture of this was amazing- the carrot turned creamy and smooth and was the exact texture of smoked salmon.  The marinade didn't have quite the same flavor as the tomato though, so I decided to sprinkle some kelp powder in my sushi bowl.  If I made this version again, I would swap marinades and use the one from the tomato.

All in all, I was really impressed with these recipes!  They weren't exact duplicates of my favorite smoked salmon, but it filled that void and were simple to make, with ingredients I had on hand.  I liked the texture of the carrot lox better, but the marinade for the tomatoes made it taste more like smoked salmon.  I'll definitely be making them again and playing around with the recipe. I'm looking forward to trying these in sushi rolls next!

Now, here are the recipes for the bagel and the sushi bowl.  I hope you enjoy!

Bagels with Vegan Lox
1 bagel (I used 'everything' flavor)
1 tablespoon vegan cream cheese (I used Daiya)
1 serving vegan lox (carrot or tomato)
radish, thinly sliced
onion, thinly sliced

Spread cream cheese on the bottom half of a bagel.  Top with lox, capers, radish, dill and an onion.  Add top of bagel and enjoy!

Sushi Bowl
1/2 cup rice
radish, thinly sliced
cucumber, thinly sliced
1 serving vegan lox (carrot or tomato)
black sesame seeds
avocado, thinly sliced (or guacamole)
seaweed snacks (I find them at Trader Joes)

Smooth rice in bottle of a dish or tupperware.  Layer radish, cucumber, and lox on top.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  Serve with a side of avocado/guacamole and seaweed snacks.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Gettysburg Marathon Training : Week 9

Whew, what a week!  I definitely had some highs and lows this week but I made it through.  I got hit with a stomach bug that's been going around at work, but luckily made up my runs and had a great long run to end the week.  I also finished Yoga Revolution, kept up my core routine, and made sure to foam roll every night.  I think all these small changes are really helping me stay strong and (knocking on wood) injury free so far.

Here's a look at my week of training:


3.5 miles / 9:57 pace
It snowed in the morning, so I got to run through a fresh layer for my morning run.  Unfortunately it was really slippery everywhere and I kept slipping (and forgot my Yak Trax) so this was a frustrating run.  I was hoping to get 4 or 5 miles in but settled on 3.5.


Rest Day
This was the final day of the Yoga Revolution!  I really enjoyed the series and would recommend it to everyone (you can find it on Youtube on Yoga with Adriene's channel).  I made my own calendar for February so I can keep going!


Rest Day

I started feeling pretty sick at work, and immediately went to sleep after getting home.  I had a speed workout on my plan for the day but decided to skip.  I also took the day off of yoga, so the rest felt great.


6 miles / 9:19 pace
I woke up feeling much better, so I luckily got in all six miles that I had on my plan.  I felt great after having two days off, so this was a great run!  


3.25 miles / 9:13 pace
Since I skipped my speed workout for the week, I decided to do a short one on Friday.  I followed a treadmill workout that I found online which was a lot of fun.  It was basically 1 minute fast, 2 minutes slow repeating for 30 minutes.  This helped the time go by really quickly and I really liked it!


4 miles (untimed)
We spent the morning bottling our first homebrew!  It was a lot of fun and not as hard as I expected.  We did end up breaking one bottle, but luckily everything else went smoothly.  In the middle of bottling, I got a text from Sarah inviting us to check out the newly opened Southern Tier Brewing on the North Shore.  I hurried up and got a few miles in while Dan cleaned up, then we met them for some beers and food.  I'm a big fan of Southern Tier and their creative beer varieties, so I'm really excited that they opened a location so nearby!  I'll definitely be back again.


16 miles / 9:09 pace
Not going to lie, this run was really tough.  My plan was to run around North Park until I hit 8 miles, then turn around and run the other way for 8 miles.  I started out feeling pretty awful and was thinking about stopping after 5 miles.  Once I got around the lake I started to feel good again so I kept going.  Once I hit 8 miles and turned around, I really wanted to quit and told myself I would finish the run after brunch (I was meeting up with my family for my mom's birthday and had a time limit).  For some reason I have a mental block around mile 8 and always struggle at that point.  I told myself just to get back to the car and I would decide then.  Once I made it back, I felt good again so I switched on music for the final 5 miles and ended up going under 9:00 mile pace for the final lap.  I'm proud of myself that I didn't give up or stop when I felt crappy and pushed through the hard parts!

After running, Dan and I met up with my family at Wunderbar in Harmony, where I got crepes with Nutella and strawberries.  On the way home, we stopped at Soergal's Orchard for some food (they have an amazing selection of vegan/gluten free items in their organic store behind the main market) and also got glasses of hard cider at their Arsenal Cider store.  We played a game of checkers then just chilled out.  Perfect afternoon!

Did anyone else get sick this week?
Favorite brewery?
How's your training going?

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

Friday, February 3, 2017

Top Five Friday #83

It's Friday, Friday!  I actually can't believe it's already the end of the week.  I completely lost track of the days and thought that yesterday was Tuesday for some reason (what?!) until my manager came to grab me for my weekly 1 on 1, and I got so confused and thought he was playing a joke on me.  I have to say, that was a great surprise to have, and I'm looking forward to the weekend.  I have some fun stuff planned with friends, I'm going to see a movie for the first time in FOREVER (going to see Split- has anyone seen it? I'm kind of scared) and it's my mom's birthday!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Modern Map Art

I'm working on finishing up our basement, which is our TV room, and I wanted to make it Pittsburgh and Penn State themed.  So,  I was really excited when Jennifer from Modern Map Art sent me a beautiful print of Pittsburgh.  It fit in with the theme perfect, and it looks great!  I love how it shows my favorite city but in a unique way.  I got a cheap poster frame from Target, and it gives it more of a finished look rather than a dorm room look.  I absolutely love it and recommend you all check out her website and pick up a print for yourself!

Fake Succulents

I love having plants around my house, but for some reason I can't keep them alive.  I blame it on the lack of natural light lately, but the fact is I'm pretty sure I have a brown thumb.  I was surprised to find really realistic-looking succulents at the craft store, and immediately picked up a bunch!  Now I have them all over the place and I don't have to worry about keeping them alive.  I'm going to have a tutorial coming up on how I "planted" them and some ideas for decorating with plants, so an eye out for that.

Corinne on The Bachelor

To be honest, I don't know whether to laugh or cry about this season of the Bachelor.  Everything is so over-the-top and ridiculous that it almost feels fake and scripted (more so than usual).  The tip of the crazy iceburg is Corinne, who has some of the most hilarious diary room sessions that I've seen on any shows.  On one hand, I have to give her props for how clever and funny she is.  On the other hand, if she's being serious and that's her real personality, it makes me a little nervous about the future "multi-million dollar business owner"s of the world.  Either way, I'm pretty sure that I want a Corinne reality show.

Judge John Hodgman Podcast

I saw this podcast recommended on another blog post recently and immediately downloaded it.  The Judge takes on complaints from disgruntled coworkers, angry spouses, irritated parents, and everyone in between. The cases are hilarious, and the episode flies by.  It's a great podcast to listen to while running, as long as you aren't afraid of laughing out loud in public!

The Complete Cookie

A coworker gave me one of these cookies to try yesterday, and I knew I had to share it right away!  I've heard of these cookies before and know that they're popular in the paleo community, but I had no idea that they were also vegan.  The cookies are high in protein, but are free from dairy, eggs, soy, and GMO's.  Somehow, they're also incredibly tasty!  My friend filled me in on the secret of nuking the cookies, and they pretty much melt in your mouth.  You can find these on amazon or on the company's website (along with their other products).  I also found them at GNC!

What are you loving?
See any good movies lately?
Who else is watching the Bachelor?

linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What's New With You? Linkup #13

Happy One Year of the linkup!  I'm so happy to see so many of you participating each and every month, and I love to check out all of your posts.  I hope you all continue to join Kristen and me, because I love hearing what's going on in your lives!

Today I want to share an update on my resolutions, as well as some life updates!

Break 4 hours in the marathonI haven't raced yet, but my training is going really well.  The average pace for a 4 hour marathon is 9:09 per mile, and I've been training at 8:45 for my marathon pace runs.  I think running consistently has really helped me make larger improvements than ever before, and I'm excited to keep going.  I know I still have a long road ahead, but I'm feeling optimistic.

Buy lunch less than 2 times per monthThis month I went out for lunch once, for my co-worker's birthday.  I'm planning a new post on vegan lunch ideas so I'm trying out all kinds of fun and new combinations.  I think that helps keep lunch fun and exciting so I don't even want to buy!

Learn a song on pianoI've been practicing a lot on the piano this month!  I'm getting better at playing bass and treble clefs (left and right hand) at the same time, and can get through shorter songs without stopping.  Now I want to start working on a more challenging piece.

No-buy until the marathonI did pretty well with this in January.  I did buy a new pair of running shoes and a mask for running in the cold.  I'm hoping to do a real no-buy in February!  The good thing is that I have been saving a dollar for every mile I do in my training, so I'm up to $113 so far.

Be more creativeThis month I bought a cross stitch kit, and I have a few designs in mind to get started.  Hopefully I'll finish one in February!

Disconnect dailyI've been doing really well with this one- I leave my cell phone in a basket by our front door as soon as I get home.  I also try not to go on my laptop before dinner so that I can spend more quality time with Dan.

Save $$$!!!  We did save some money this month, but we can always be better about it.  I'm hoping next month to double the amount that we saved in February.  I'm also planning on having a budget discussion with Dan some time in February, just to go through our expenses from last year and make real goals!

Start home brewingWe started our first batch of beer this month!  We got a kit from Northern Brewer, and have been patiently waiting for it to ferment and turn into alcohol.  I'll write up an entire post on the process since a lot of you were interested in home brewing.  We're going to be bottling the beer this weekend, then we just have to wait another week for it to carbonate!

And now on to a few updates from January!

I finished Yoga Revolution!  After 31 days of yoga (61 if you include the 30 days I also did in December), I did it!  At times it was challenging and frustrating, and other times I found myself making huge improvements in my strength and became more flexible than I thought possible.  I decided to take a day off yesterday, but I'm planning on continuing to do yoga (almost) every day while I marathon train!

This month I want to try a new class at the gym.  Since I feel like I have to do yoga every single day, I feel free to try out a new workout.  There are so many to choose from at my gym, but I'm thinking about trying out some kind of dance workout.  Hopefully I'll be able to share what I tried next month!

I'm also committing myself to trying a float tank in February.  I talked about this last Friday, and I decided that I just need to give it a go.  I've been hearing about it EVERYWHERE lately, which I'm taking as a sign.  Plus, I'm planning on doing this combined with a massage, which I think would qualify as a spa day to check off my 30x30 list.

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Comparison Trap

Social media can be such a tricky thing.  I've talked about how I'm becoming a "student" of running, which means reading about running and listening to podcasts.  This also means that I've been reading more blogs, following more accounts on Instagram, and basically trying to take in as much information as I can.  As most other runners can probably agree (and I'm guessing this can happen in any kind of sport or hobby), this can get dangerous and you can enter the comparison trap.

In some ways this is a good thing.  I see other people crushing their workouts and breaking barriers, and all of a sudden I'm feeling really motivated and want to share my successes as well.  Someone talks about having a crappy day with a million things going wrong in their life, and all of a sudden my so-so day doesn't seem like a good excuse to skip a run and I get it done.  I've found new workouts to try, techniques to improve my form, fueling tips, and get encouragement every day!  That's really why I started a blog- to get outward motivation to reach my goals.

On the other hand, it can be dangerous.  I see other people running twice the mileage I'm doing while they train for similar goals at similar races, and I think I'm not doing enough.  I start to doubt my training and my abilities to reach the goals I have.  Why aren't I running more mileage?  Why don't I run the same paces as them?  Why do I suck while they're beasting it out??

Sometimes it takes a little venting and whine (and sometimes wine) session for me to get over myself.  Another thing that social media gifted me is an amazing support system of incredible people who are willing to listen to my freak outs and tell me everything will be alright.  They remind me that every runner is different, and race times aren't always determined by who has the best training.  There are other aspects to go into achieving goals- believing in yourself, doing things the right way, and getting to the finish line healthy.

While I'm not going to be qualifying for the Olympics any time soon, or even reaching my long term goal of getting a BQ this year, I need to remind myself that I'm on the right path.  I don't need my training to look like any other runners'.  I can use them as inspiration to work harder, but not compare myself to them.  To sum it all up- Do you boo boo, cuz Imma do me.

Does anyone have a problem with comparison?  How do you deal with it?

linking up with Amanda