Monday, February 18, 2019

Week in Workouts : It's Over

Preseason is officially over, and my next training cycle starts TODAY!! I had another solid week of workouts, trying out a few new things, and taking a bit of rest when I got hit with a mini cold in the middle of the week.  I'm feeling back to 100% and ready to get running!  Here's how my week went- 


Core Workout
I decided to start doing some home workouts during the week when I'm not going to a class or doing a run.  This workout was SO HARD and from the beginning my abs were on fire. 

2 mile walk
I took Selma for a walk around the park on a chilly, rainy day.  It wasn't ideal, but we had fun and it was still great to get fresh air!


4.1 miles
It was another cold and rainy day (one of those days where the temperature is right on the brink of turning the precipitation from rain to snow), so I wasn't really looking forward to the run.  I decided to just go out for an easy one or two miler, but of course once I was out there I ended up doing more.

Core Workout
After my run I did another core workout- this one was much easier but was tough with my sore muscles from Monday's workout!


Hot Yoga
I tried out a different yoga studio with my ClassPass- Stray Dog Yoga in Wexford.  The class was heated to 100 degrees and was vinyasa style, with lots of flows and balance moves.  I absolutely loved it, and the 75 minutes flew by!  My only complaint is that the studio was pretty small but absolutely packed, so I kept bumping into people or had to coordinate my moves with my neighbors. 


Rest Day!
I was feeling a little stuffy on Wednesday, and woke up with a ton of congestion and couldn't stop sneezing and coughing :(  I also felt like I had 0 energy, so I ended up working from home, skipping my first watercolor painting class, and spending Valentines Day resting.


2 mile walk
I actually had a happy hour after work and stayed for a bit without drinking since I was still feeling a bit under the weather, but afterwards I met up with Dan and Selma for a walk in the woods.  It was just what I needed!


5 miles
This run was just about getting it done.  I wasn't meeting up with friends since I had plans, so I just put on a good podcast and put in the miles.  Not the best, but I got it done!

Top Golf
For my sister's birthday, we ended up going to Top Golf for a few hours of golfing fun!  I've never gone to a driving range or done any kind of golfing besides putt-putt, so this was a completely new experience for me.  It was so much fun though, and actually kind of made random muscles that I apparently never use a little bit sore!  


1 mile walk
This day was kind of a fail in terms of working out.  I was planning on running, but slept in since we stayed out late with friends the night before, then we had to run some errands, and by the time I was getting in the car to go, it started hailing like crazy!  So, I just took Selma for a quick walk.

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred (Level 1)
I felt like doing a workout at home, so I pulled out some of my old DVDs.  Apparently I went through a Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels phase, because I have a ton of her stuff!  I decided to do the 30 Day Shred, which is 3 rounds of- 3 minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio, 1 minute abs.  It was a fun workout that went by quickly!

What are you training for?
Have you ever played golf?

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Day Trip to Nikko

The first day trip that we took in Japan was to a town north of Tokyo called Nikko.  I did some research about nearby cities, and was really interested in this one because of the natural beauty surrounding incredible UNESCO heritage sites.  There's even a saying in Japanese- "Never say 'kekkō' until you've seen Nikkō"—kekkō meaning beautiful, magnificent or "I am satisfied"-which just proves the beauty of Nikko.

Here's a look at my favorite things that I saw and ate during our day trip to Nikko!


The trip from Tokyo to Nikko was pretty simple, and we were able to take all trains run by Japan Railways, which is covered under our JR Pass.  Here is the route that we took-

JR Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Utsunomiya Station (this is a bullet train, which means we got there very quickly! We got reserved seats, but there are also unreserved cars if you don't have a Rail Pass and want to save money).

Nikko Line from Utsunomiya Station to Nikko (very cute, old fashioned train, but doesn't run very often.  Make sure you check the time tables so you can plan out your time wisely).

There are buses available from Nikko Station around town, but the walk is really lovely!  It's all uphill to get to the shrine areas, but the view of the mountains is absolutely breathtaking, and there are lots of shops and restaurants to stop in to break up the walk.

Shinkyo Bridge

This bright vermilion bridge, which in English means Sacred Bridge, signifies the entrance to the shrines of Nikko and is one of the first World Heritage Sites you'll see in town.  This iteration was built in 1636, and is considered one of the three finest bridges (and the oldest) in Japan.  You're able to cross for 500 yen, but you can also view it crossing over the rapids below for free!

Kanmangafuchi Abyss

If you continue along the water, you are able to take a terrific stroll past Kanman Park, a Buddhist temple, and a row of 70 stone statues.  The statues represent Jizo, a Bodhisattva who cares for the deceased and sick children, which is why he's commonly covered in children's clothing and surrounded by toys.

The main attraction on the walk is the abyss, which was formed by an eruption of a nearby volcano.  I can only imagine how beautiful the area must be in the fall, but even in winter it was terrific!

Toshogu Shrine

The main attraction in Nikko is the incredible Toshogu Shrine, which is supposed to be one of the most elaborate and grand shrines in the world.  It definitely lived up to the hype!  

The shrine is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Tokugawa Sogunate that ruled Japan for 250 years.  While the shrine started as a simple mausoleum, it was updated and enlarged into the current complex in the 1600s by Ieyasu's grandson.

There are so many small, incredible details all over the sprawling structures.  One of my favorites is right when you enter, where you can see the Three Wise Monkeys and an illustration of "see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil".

Just look at that incredible detail!  This is how the entire complex looked and we could have spent hours just studying one building.  Well worth the 1300 yen entry fee!

Yuba-maki Zen

One of my favorite things about Japan and traveling to different cities is that most places have a regional specialty that they are known for.  In Nikko, this was yuba, which is basically the skin formed when making tofu, and can be prepared fresh, dried, or half dried.  We picked a place that specialized in different preparations, and got the set meal to try them all out!  Everything was so delicious, and I especially liked the miso soup, which had a more robust and intense flavor than what I'm used to.

Murmur Biiru Stand

We stumbled upon this little brewery and stopped in to try all the different flavors.  The owner was a really sweet guy who brews the beer in the back room of the shop, and also sells some beer that his friend in Utsunomiya makes!  While the beer wasn't incredible, it was a nice stop to make, and he was playing Napoleon Dynamite dubbed in Japanese, which made the experience even better.

Have you ever visited an UNESCO World Heritage Site?
What kind of cities do you like to visit?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Week in Workouts : Polar Vortex

We can just call this a cut-back week for running, because I definitely lowered my mileage!  We were hit with the Polar Vortex in Pittsburgh, which gave us temperatures below zero and no desire to leave the house.  I switched things up a bit this week though, including trying out a new outdoor workout.  Here's how the week went-


Total Body Conditioning
This is one of my favorite classes that I've tried with ClassPass, and today's definitely didn't disappoint!  The hour of class seemed to fly by, and by the end I was super sweaty and sore.  Loved it!


4 miles / 9:45 pace
I did an easy course around my house after work.  It started to snow pretty hard while I was out (hopefully you can tell in my shaky pic above!), but I powered through and ended up having a great run!


Rest Day!
Stayed home from work, didn't leave the house.  Brr!


Rest Day!
It was actually even colder than Wednesday, so I stayed home again.  Got a bit of cabin fever!


Cycle Bar
It warmed up quite a bit (wind chill got above 0), but all of the roads around me were really icy and not treated, so I decided to switch things up and go to a spinning class.  It was a while since my last one, but I missed it.  This class was a lot of fun and the playlist was on point!


5 mile run / 9:22 pace
I was actually planning on doing a longer run, but I did one lap around North Park and my entire body felt frozen (in addition to my eyelashes literally freezing my eyes shut a few times), so I cut my losses and called it a day.


Cross Country Skiing
A few weeks ago, I signed up for a class through Venture Outdoors for beginning cross country ski, and it ended up being the most perfect day to go!  We had a warm 40/50 degree day, but there was a ton of snow at Kooser State Park.  I've gone downhill skiing once, so I was really coming in as a beginner, but the class was so much fun and I caught on after about 30 minutes.  I definitely got a full body workout and also had a blast!

What's your favorite cold weather activity?
How was the weather in your area this week?

Friday, February 1, 2019

January in Review

If January is any indication for how 2019 will be, I'm in for a wild ride this year!  I started out the month by going to the emergency room (everything is fine- I thought my appendix was bursting and it turns out there was some kind of GI issue going around Pittsburgh).  Then, we had a girl I met during our trip to Hawaii and who is from Paris stay with us for a week which was a ton of fun. To end the month we a bang, we decided to trade in our used Subaru for a new one!

Let's hope that February is full of just as much fun, but hopefully not as much money spent or time in the hospital ;)  Here's a look at how my goals went-

Write on the blog more

Done and crushed this one!  I wrote quite a few posts which you can check out here-

It's been really great getting back to writing again, and I'm looking forward to continuing this in February!  I have more Japan posts to share, I'll continue doing my weekly workout recaps, and also want to do another Frugal February challenge (more on that below!)

Start training for the Capital City Half Marathon

If you read my weekly workout posts above you'll see that this one is also underway!  My official training hasn't started yet, but I'm well on my way.  My plan starts in mid-February, so I'll be sharing more this month.

30 Days of Yoga Challenge

I did pretty well with this.  I didn't do every day, but I'll keep going until I finish all of the videos from the challenge.  It was really fun and definitely different than past years'.  It seemed like the videos were a lot shorter and there was more sitting around in the postures at the beginning and end which I wasn't a huge fan of, but I still enjoyed it.

Read Two Books

I finished my two books, and even managed to hit my goal of one regular book, and one off of the Times Best Novels list!  My fun read was A Simple Favor, which had a really great plot and format, but seemed to drag on for a while.  I watched the movie as well which was really different from the book but also good!  From the Times list I finished Lord of the Flies, which was a very difficult book for me to read, but I got through it!  Right now, I'm reading The Perfect Nanny, which is extremely dark and twisted but engrossing at the same time.

Work on Japan Scrapbook

I made great progress on my scrapbook!  I organized my layout, and also got all of my pictures printed out from my trip.  So far I finished my pages for Tokyo and Kyoto, so I should have everything completed by the end of February.

Now let's move on to some of my goals for February!  I'm sticking to some more fun goals, since it's a short month and might be hard with the weather and training starting.

Try New Things

I want this year to be full of new adventures and stepping outside of my comfort zone, so I'm going to dive right into that in February by taking a class at a community college and joining an outdoors club.  Can't wait to share how they go!

Watch all the Oscar Best Picture Nominations

I'm not a huge movie person, but I always thought it would be fun to watch all of the Oscar nominees.  Most years have movies that I'm not super interested in, but this year has a few that I've been wanting to see and a few others that I haven't even heard of but sound interesting.  So, February will be about staying warm and watching more movies!

Frugal February

This was a challenge that I did last year, and it was a great way to kick off the year in a positive way.  Plus, this is the shortest month of the year so I can definitely go 28 days without spending money on frivolous things!  I will follow the same rules as last year, which includes:

NO buying breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, or snacks out.
NO online shopping.
NO Target!!
NO Netflix and Hulu. (I actually got rid of Hulu completely after this challenge, so now I'll just pause my Netflix for the month)
NO Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.

What are your goals for February?
How was your January?