Friday, May 25, 2018

Top Five Friday : Long Weekend Edition

Summa, summa, summatiiiime.  I hope that song is now stuck in everyone's head, because I am in full on SUMMER MODE, just in time for Memorial Day weekend!  The weather has been so beautiful lately and I've been enjoying outdoor time as much as possible the past week.  I'm looking forward to a relaxing and chill long weekend while I plan out my next adventure!  Let me know what your plans are, and enjoy!

linking up with ErikaHeather, and Friday Five


Everything Country!!
To me, country music is the perfect summertime music.  I love the messages of being outside and drinking a beer on the water (sounds like a perfect day to me!).  Some of my recent favorites are Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, and Florida Georgia Line.


Once again I am way behind the times, but I'm finally beginning my quest through the wild world that is Westworld.  I'm still early on and keep hearing that I will be SHOCKED by the ending, but I'm really enjoying it so far.  I have to admit that it's kind of giving me nightmares and making me question what's real and what's not.  That's normal, right?  As a bonus favorite- I've been loving listening to the Westworld podcast (by Shat On TV) to help explain some of the scenes and discuss random theories. Really entertaining and a perfect complement to the show.


The Tennis Podcast
There are a number of tennis podcasts that I listen to, but this has emerged as my favorite.  For one, it's hosted by two Brits, so it's just fun to listen to.  Two- both of them have great personalities are are hilarious together.  And finally- the podcast is regularly updated (my main complaint with the other ones I listen to) so I know that after every tournament I'll get an update on what's going on in the world of tennis.  I'm especially excited to follow along during the French Open, because they typically do daily episodes to recap all the action! 


French Open
Perfect lead-in to my next favorite- the French Open begins this weekend!  There are so many great matchups that I'm looking forward to, and this is sure to be a wild tournament.  Serena and Vika are both back on the women's side, and Maria is seeded for the first time at a Slam since her suspension.  On the men's side- will Sascha finally get some Slam success?  Will Rafa continue to dominate the clay?  Are Kyrgios, Djoker, and Stan fully healed?  I CAN'T WAIT!!

What are your plans this weekend?
Who do you pick to win the French Open??

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Scotland Highlights

Hi everyone!  Sorry for a bit of radio silence on the blog the past few weeks, but if you've been following me on social media, you know that I was on a bit of a vacation!  Back in August, I found a great deal on Groupon for a trip to Scotland and Ireland- two places on my dream travel list.  I have to say that both places exceeded my very high expectations, and I'm excited to share my trip and some pictures!

Today I'll be talking about Scotland, which was the first stop on our trip.  We flew from JFK to Edinburgh, where we picked up a rental car and set off for a 300-year farmhouse-turned-Bed and Breakfast nestled in the Carron Valley between the two biggest cities in Scotland (Glasgow in the west and Edinburgh in the east).

From there, we were able to venture out for day trips and beautiful drives throughout the Highlands!  It's definitely a trip that I'll always remember.  Here are a few of my favorite places that we got to see-


Our first stop was to the capital of Scotland- Edinburgh.  The city feels very historic, and every time you turn a corner you're met with an old stone building or quaint alleyway.  We started out at the Edinburgh Castle, and made our way down the Royal Mile towards Arthur's Seat (which, sadly, we never got to hike, but it looks gorgeous!  Next time!!).

Along the way, we stopped at medieval armor shops, kilt factories, listened to bagpipers, popped into churches, and explored the various alleyways (or 'Close' as they call it).  We also got to see lots of Harry Potter shops, and the cafe where JK Rowlings apparently started writing the series!  One of my most beautiful streets in town (Victoria Street) is even said to have inspired Diagon Alley.


Our Bed and Breakfast was really close to the town of Stirling, so we had to make a stop there! Like pretty much every town in the country, this one has a castle.  There is a saying that "He who holds Stirling holds Scotland" because of its important location (the River Forth starts in Stirling and flows straight to the North Sea/Atlantic Ocean) and gateway to the Highlands.   We explored the area after completing a Park Run in the beautiful Callendar Park, and stopped by Church of the Holy Rude, the old jail, and castle.

We went for a short hike up to an overlook with a beheading stone (!!!) and some cannons.  There was a beautiful view of the entire area, including the Wallace Monument.  I still haven't seen Braveheart, but I kept seeing monuments and statues for William Wallace, so it's on my queue. 

St. Andrews

Next up was a drive to the eastern edge of Scotland, to the tiny University town of St. Andrews.  The town is famous for a few things- it is regarded as the "home of golf" and has one of the oldest golf courses in the world, and for the West Sands Beach.  If you've ever seen the famous running scene at the beginning of Chariots of Fire, that was filmed on West Sands Beach!  It was also featured in the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony...pretty cool.

I really liked the town- even though it was really tiny, there were tons of shops and pubs.  There are also lots of pathways and other beaches to explore, castle and cathedral ruins, and the University grounds.  We also found a brewery (St. Andrews Brewing) that had some great drafts!  I had the Crail Ale and really enjoyed it with a vegetarian Buddah Bowl.


The next day, we set off for the West and a drive through the Highlands!  Our end destination was the town of Glencoe.  While I was researching the trip, I came across the most incredibly beautiful pictures of mountains and lakes (pretty much exactly what I pictured when I thought of Scotland), and knew we had to stop there.  The town is kind of famous as well, because it's been used for filming- Harry Potter (Hagrid's home!), Skyfall, and the opening credits of Outlander.

It definitely didn't disappoint, and the drive there was amazing as well!  We got to go through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and kept pulling over to take in the views.  Once we got into town, we went on a hike through An Torr, up to Signal Rock.  We ended up taking a wrong tour and accidentally trespassed on someone's farm (whoops) but it was really fun and beautiful!

As we drove towards Glasgow, we made a few other stops- the Castle Stalker (we stopped at the nearby cafe for a quick pick-me-up)

Kilchurn Castle (all ruins, surrounded by water, and required a quick hike through a field filled with Highland Cattle.  The parking lot is easy to miss and isn't marked, so be on the lookout!)

Inveraray Castle (gorgeous building with meticulous gardens, and the filming location of a castle in the show Downton Abbey)

After seeing all of the beautiful natural sites and having a wonderful drive, I was a little overwhelmed by Glasgow (Scotland's biggest city).  We came on a Sunday night, so I was expecting it to be a little quiet and dead, but it was just the opposite.  Monday was a bank holiday, so it seemed like everyone was out celebrating the beautiful weather.  There were so many people, and we were kind of exhausted from driving all over, so all I wanted was a quick meal and to go back to sleep.  We ended up going to Brewdog Dog House, which had some great beers and amazing Seitan burger.  I definitely want to give Glasgow another try when I'm not as tired!

Melrose Abbey

On our final day in Scotland, we took a trip south to the little village of Melrose to visit the famous Melrose Abbey.  This is a partially ruined monastery that was built in the 12th century, and (despite part of it being destoryed) is still in amazing condition.  There was a bell tower that we got to go up, and the heart of King Robert the Bruce is said to be buried on the grounds.  Just look at the meticulous details that are STILL prominent- can't even imagine how awesome this must have looked in its heyday!

Elsewhere in town, there were lots of cafes and coffee shops to visit. There was also a river walk that went across a historic bridge, which we enjoyed strolling along.  Side note- one of my favorite things about Scotland is the abundance of walking and biking paths.  It seems like they're everywhere, with detailed maps and lots of parking spaces so that we could pull over and explore.  People in general seemed really active, and I didn't really notice many indoor activities (movie theatres, bowling, malls, etc), but lots of things to do outdoors!  It's easy to understand why, with such a beautiful country.

There you have it!  The trip was truly incredible, and I don't feel like I could even capture the beauty of the place or even express how much I love it!  All I know is, I want to go back ASAP :)

Have you ever been to Scotland?
What's on your list of must-see countries/cities?
Have you seen a castle in real life before?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Week in Workouts [April 23-29]

Hi everyone!  What a week this was...I got to run my first race of the year and had a great trip with friends!  This was the race where I was originally planning on doing the full marathon, but doing the half was so much more fun.  Here's a look at how my week was and a quick recap of the race:


3 miles / 9:44 pace
I got to do this run with Dan!  We just went around the neighborhood, and ended up with a nice negative split run (our mile splits were 10:01, 9:41, 9:31.  Not bad!)


1200 yard swimming
I did another breathing workout for my morning swim.  Here's what it looked like-
200 yard warm up
200 yard with no breath at the wall
4x100 yard breathing every 4 strokes
4x50 sprint
200 yard cool down


Rest Day!


3.30 miles / 9:10 pace
I was working from home for take your kid to work day (NO THANK YOU) and got to run at lunch.  It was such a beautiful day and I was just smiling and waving at everyone out in my neighborhood.  I did another unintentional progression run, with splits at 9:37, 9:18, 8:47 and 8:26.

Reformer Fusion / 1 hour
I made it to another reformer class, and this time there was a different instructor.  The class was fun again- we started with some yoga moves, then moved to the reformer, then finished on foam rollers.  We got to roll out, as well as do some core work using the roller (try doing a plank, putting your foam roller under your forearms.  SO HARD).


Rest Day!
I had plans to go for a bike ride, but of course it decided to rain all day.  Oh well!  I got some yard work done between rain, so still got in some exercise.


 Rest Day / Travel Day
Early in the morning, Steff, Jessie, Maddie and I met up for cinnamon rolls and mimosas before setting off for Canton!  We went to the race expo to pick up our packets, then checked out a local brewery (Royal Docks- highly recommend) and then checking in to our Airbnb.  We stayed in and just had a blast hanging out, trying some Rose (#AllDay), singing karaoke, and just having good old girl time.


2 mile warm up + 13.1 mile race / 9:49 pace
I can't hang like I used to, so getting up early for the race was a bit of a struggle.  I felt pretty awful the entire race, but luckily all of the girls kept me going!  I hung with them for 12 miles and then coasted in to the finish line while Maddie crushed her old PR by over 8 minutes.  It was a perfect ending to such a fun weekend!