January 31, 2017

January Recap

January has been a strange month to be in DC. I love this city but lately, it's been a hard place to be in. I've been trying to keep my head high and go about my day to day but it's hard not to get dragged down by everything that's happening.

I've moved a lot but I've never felt quite as unsettled as we do in this apartment. It's been one month and I still haven't even unpacked most of my clothes. I was so excited at having a 2 bedroom apartment so that I could have my own office, and I haven't used it once because my desk is piled with empty boxes. 

Overall this month, I'm starting to feel a little bit less stressed. I think all of the yoga has helped but I have a lot to improve on in this area. Here's a look at how my month went, by the numbers: 

Miles Run: 31

Minutes of Yoga: 896 (almost 15 hours!)

Books Read: 5
You can check out what I've been reading this month here. I'm also finishing up "The Last Days of Magic," which I'll write about in my February recap!

Trips Taken: 1
NY for roughly 1 day to escape the Inauguration Day madness.

New Recipes Made: 21 (Woo!)
One of my goals for the New Year was to cook at least one recipe out of every single one of my cookbooks. The idea being 1) to cook more at home, and 2) to actually make use of my slightly problematic obsession with cookbooks. While I don't think I've fully unpacked all of my cookbooks, so I don't know how many I actually have, I have cooked abundantly out of four of my cookbooks and dabbled in one or two others. I did realize that I have no interest in cooking out of one of my cookbooks, so I'm holding on to that for one more month to see if anything jumps out at me before giving it away. I could write a whole post on what cooking so much has taught me, so I think I will. Stay tuned!

Blog Posts Written: 11
I'm mad that I didn't post the last of my recaps about our Australia trip. I've written one of them and just need to finish putting my pictures into the post. I've posted more on this blog this month than I have since last April, so I'll call this progress. I'd still like to post more and actually stick to the schedule I made for this upcoming month. I also really want to make it a point to schedule blogging time, not just for writing, editing, and posting, but for reading blogs as well!

30 Before 30 Items Completed: 0

Highlights: The 31-Day yoga challenge! While I didn't actually practice for 31 days straight, I still completed the challenge and feel great about it.

Lowlights: The nasty fall I took at the beginning of the month that sidelined me for 2 weeks. I'm also pretty annoyed at myself for not using Classpass once. I've been pretty bad about using my Classpass membership lately and if I don't get my 5 classes in next month, I think I'll have to cancel. I love Classpass and don't really know why I'm not using it. 

So that's a look at how my month went. February is a short month and then hopefully, it will be spring! Although, we've had such a mild winter, that I'm just waiting for the worst of winter to hit.

The Month Ahead:
In February, I'm taking on a 28-day foam rolling challenge. I also want to continue practicing yoga regularly, at least 3 times per week. I'll be kicking off training for the Ottawa Marathon and I want to make sure I'm diligent about getting hill and speed work in. 

I also want to finish unpacking and actually set up my home office. I want to read 5 more books (to stay on track with my reading challenge), continue cooking up a vicious storm in my kitchen, take on French macarons, and celebrate my 30th birthday!

Before I wrap up this post, I want to say one thing. 

In the wake of all that has happened since the United States inaugurated a new president, I refuse to stay silent on the issues that matter the most to me. My Master's is in International Development and I spent a significant amount of time researching conflict, how it affects people, and how people escape from conflict. My dream is to work with refugees and I moved to DC to chase that dream. I've never spoken candidly about this but that dream has yet to materialize and today, as the Syrian refugee crisis continues to unfold and as we slam our doors in the face of refugees trying to come to the United States, my heart breaks that I'm not doing more about this.  My citizenship in this country is purely by chance. Both of my grandparents fled political persecution to come to an America that would welcome them and give them a chance at life. I only exist because they were able to take that chance.

Throughout this year, when I share these posts, I'll be featuring an organization that is doing important work to counter the hateful rhetoric and policies that are now the hallmark of the American political system. If you feel compelled to donate as well, please let me know. I would love to know that I am making an impact by sharing these organization's work with others. If you aren't interested, you can skip this part of the post.

This month, I'm donating $50 to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) who supports people in humanitarian crises. The IRC was founded by Albert Einstein, himself a refugee to support those fleeing Nazi Germany. They've grown to support international humanitarian crises all over the world and have launched an emergency appeal and are trying to raise $5M to support families that will be affected by this new executive order. As U.S. funding to refugee resettlement camps gets slashes, the IRC needs to fill that gap to continue their work. I chose the IRC (as opposed to other great organizations fighting for refugee rights) because their work not only supports refugees here in the U.S. but overseas as well and I know that my money is supporting refugees whether they are being detained in an airport, are in a camp in Jordan, or are anxiously awaiting new developments here in the U.S. I hope to donate more as the year goes on but I hope it isn't always in emergency response to proposed policies.

Thanks for reading. How did your month shape up?

January 29, 2017

Sunday Sweats 4

This was a good week. I finally made my return to running after my nasty fall and I'm feeling great about being near the end of my 31-Day Yoga Challenge. I may have missed two days in the practice but I'm caught up and I'm happy with my progress. I can definitely tell that I've improved my balance, loosened up my shoulders, and toned by abs. I know that I need to keep up with my practice throughout the year to support my running and definitely have plans to do more in-studio work once this challenge is over. For now, let's dive into what this week looked like: 

Currently Training For: 
Disney Princess Half-Marathon, February 26
DC Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon, March 11

Monday: #yogarevolution Day 23 (36:00)
Monday was supposed to be my grand return to running and it poured. It was so disgusting outside. I had plans to run after work with a friend and when we canceled, I was going to go to the gym but by the time I got home, I was so exhausted and couldn't even think about going back out in the rain. I had to pick up a few things at the grocery store and by the time I got home and on the mat, it was already 9:30. I really didn't want to practice but I'm glad I did. It was a good practice and I was so well rested when I finally crawled into bed.

Tuesday: 3.5 miles (9:23 pace); #yogarevolution Day 24 (47:00)
RETURN TO RUNNING!!! After 17 days off from the fall in which I thought I shattered my knee cap, I finally set out for a run! I felt great, although it was shockingly warm in DC and I was way overdressed. I felt a little off but otherwise, really good. The yoga practice was the longest of the challenge and I was dreading it a little bit but oh boy it felt good. This was another great practice that I'll flag for a post-long run day.

Wednesday: #yogarevolution Day 25 
I woke up Wednesday morning so sore from Tuesday's run and yoga. I had thought about going to a spin class but my muscles were so achy! I woke up, went to work, went to a few meetings, went about my day, came home, worked some more, grabbed dinner with The Pilot, went to Target, unpacked a few boxes, changed into my pajamas and plopped onto the couch at 9:30 before remembering that I had to practice. I'll be honest, if the practice had been any longer than it was, I probably wouldn't have done it. It was short, quick, and easy, and then I went to bed.

Thursday: 3 miles (PACE); #yogarevolution Day 26 (20:00)
It was another surprisingly warm day in DC and The Pilot and I headed out for a mid-day run to soak up the warm sunshine. It was actually pretty windy once we headed out and I was still sore from Tuesday and moving a lot slower than normal but I was happy to be running again! Today's yoga practice was another short one that focused a lot on core work.

Friday: #yogarevolution Day 27
Throughout this entire challenge, I hadn't gotten up and practiced first thing in the morning before work once until Friday. This practice was downright juicy and a fabulous way to start the morning! My mom had gotten to town on Thursday and I wanted to practice before she woke up so that I could get started with work and wrap my day up early so that we could venture around.

Saturday: #yogarevolution Day 28
This was a nice, easy mid-day practice to continue the challenge. I had planned to run on Saturday but my knee was feeling a little off and I was exhausted. After taking over 2 weeks off because of my knee, I decided to be ok with an extra rest day ahead of my planned long run for Sunday.

 7.5 miles (9:22 pace); #yogarevolution Day 29 (14:00)
I felt like a zombie when I woke up this morning and really wasn't up for the 5 miles I had planned. One mile in, I was feeling ok but I decided I would be ok with 4 miles if I needed to cut my run down. Around Mile 4, I was calculating my weekly mileage and what I needed to hit ahead of marathon training which starts in two weeks and decided to push for 5, come home, practice yoga, and then set out for another 2 miles. When I hit 5 miles, I felt really good and just kept going. I  missed my turn around and ended up running 7.5, my longest run since Philly and I felt great!

I was grateful for the short yoga practice today which featured a hip flexor stretch that I had never done that felt great following that long run.

Total Miles Run: 14
Total Minutes of Yoga: 189

This was a great week and I'm so happy to be back running. I only ran three times but I think that's a good number to hit after a few weeks off. Next week, I'll aim for 4 days of running and higher weekly mileage (but probably a shorter long run, we'll see) and get ready to kick off marathon training while ramping up for Disney Princess, which is just 4 weeks away!

How did your week go?
What's the longest you've ever run on a day where you just felt like running?

January 27, 2017

Reading Lately: January

This year has already been off to a pretty great start reading-wise! When I posted my New Year's resolutions, I didn't talk much about my reading plans for the year. While I didn't hit my reading goal of 52 books in 2016, I still set a goal for 2017 to read 55 books, which would be the most I've read in one year.

One reason I didn't hit my goal last year is because I went from a 90-minute round-trip commute every day to working from home three days each week. When I do go into the office, my commute can be up to 2 hours round-trip, but I'm also spending time in the morning reading, rather than diving right into work when I do work from home. It's all part of that work-life balance thing I'm trying to figure out!

This month, the Beyond Words Book Club read "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruis Zafon. 

I loved this book. I couldn't put it down and long before I finished it, I knew that this would be one of my favorite books. Set in Barcelona in the 1940s, the book follows young Daniel who falls in love with a book he finds at the mysterious Cemetery of Forgotten Books. With echoes of "The Book Thief" and a humor that mimics a telenovela at times. The book follows Daniel's pursuit to find more works by the author, Julian Carax, as he learns that someone has been finding each of Carax's books and burning them. A story within a story that has ironic parallels, this book, despite being translated from Spanish, was beautifully written and follows a story that I never wanted to end. Few books have left me in awe upon finishing and I haven't stayed up until the week hours of the morning reading a book since the first time I read "Harry Potter." Luckily, for me, it's the first in a series, the fourth of which was released in November (but not in English yet). I've heard from friends that the second book was even better than the first and I can't wait to dive into the rest of this series!

Here's a look at what else I've read this month: 

"The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. I picked up this book in a Little Free Library last year and, since the book starts in January, decided to start reading it at the beginning of the year. I found the book mildly insightful and have even implemented a few of her strategies in my day to day (like assessing a situation and staying calm before immediately snapping) but I also found her to be wildly out of touch with reality. I hate the "coastal elite" rhetoric that has floated around this election cycle but this book is everything that that term means in the worst way. Rubin has a cushy career and lives in New York's Upper West Side. She has a good life and acknowledges it. What struck me was how often she brought up that she's already happy.  Someone had written a note in the margin of my book that read "As widow, pay attention," and that really struck me. In almost every chapter, she brings up her constant need for a gold star...after planning a birthday party for her mother-in-law or buying Christmas presents for her sister...I found this selfish and wildly immature. If you need the constant affirmation that what you're doing is good and right, how happy are you, really?

"Oryx and Crake" by Margaret Atwood. My cousin Jen bought me this book for Christmas with an inscription that read, "You seem like someone who has never read a Margaret Atwood book who should definitely be reading ALL of Margaret Atwood books." It's funny because I read The Handmaid's Tale in high school and loved it and have been wanting to reread it ever since. "Oryx and Crake" is a post-apocalyptic novel that alternates between the present day, when 'Snowman' is trying to survive as the last human on Earth and the past that led him there. I gave this book three stars. I found there to be a lot of unanswered questions but it was interesting enough to keep me reading. It's the first in a series but I don't feel a need to read the other books in the series. 

"The Woman in Cabin 10" by Ruth Ware (Audiobook). I started listening to this book on Sunday and finished on Tuesday morning. The first night I read this book, I couldn't fall sleep because I thought I was going to have nightmares. I couldn't stop listening to this book. It had me hooked through about three-quarters of a book. One of my book clubs was reading this hand, while I initially had no interest in reading it because it had been compared to "Gone Girl" (which I hated), I thought this was much better and I really enjoyed it. It was a pretty good audiobook, although the Narrator really struggled with male voices and it almost sounded comical when she was trying to speak male dialogue. Overall, I recommend this for a quick, thriller but I found the ending to be somewhat anticlimactic and rushed and, in the end, I only gave it 3 stars.

Late last year, Carolann and I decided to start picking books for our Bloggers' Book Club two months in advance to give everyone time to get through library wait lists and read each book. If you're interested in joining, you can join the Goodreads group here. Our February pick is "A Man Called Ove" by Frederik Backman and we'll be linking up on Friday, February 24.

What have you read this month?
Have you read any of the books I did? What did you think?
What's the best book you've read lately?

Note: Links are Amazon Affiliates, which means that if you buy one of these books through a link, I get some cash money to buy more books. 

January 23, 2017

When You're Called to Action

Last week, I had plans to fly to Palm Springs, CA with The Pilot. He was going to a conference and I wanted to tag along to soak up some California sunshine in the dead of DC's winter.

The Pilot had to be there before I could get out and on Wednesday, I left my house and headed to the airport. I hadn't even been in my uber for 5 minutes when I asked the driver to turn around and take my back home. I had checked my connecting flight and what had previously shown 3 available seats with 2 people on standby now showed a completely full flight with 3 revenue passengers on standby and knew I wasn't going to make it out that night. Because of the time difference, and the fact that at this point, I would only be on the West Coast for two days, I decided against going.

I really didn't want to be in town for the Inauguration so I called my mom and decided to crash her and my aunt's Friday night plans to see "The Phantom of the Opera."

We had dinner near the theater, at an Italian restaurant called Becco that didn't disappoint and then wandered through Time Square for a bit before making our way to the theater. I had seen Phantom once before, about 10 years ago, and the show was just as wonderful as I remembered it.

My mom and I got back to her house around 1 am and I spent the next hour trying to figure out my plans for the next morning.

Over the course of the day, I had learned that within hours of the Inauguration, the White House website was no longer available in Spanish. Something about this set me off. It was this, combined with all of the tweets, the derogatory comments about women, disabled people, and every other minority, the conflicts of interest, the Nazi salutes, the increase in hate crimes, the inability to call my non-existent Senator or Member of Congress, the innumerable facts of what this election has meant just set me off. I hadn't planned to be at the Women's March on Washington but all of a sudden, I couldn't miss it. So, on minimal sleep, and without a flight to get on, I boarded an early train full of women in pink hats back home to DC. I got home, dropped my stuff on, and made my way to Capitol Hill. I joined the million other women on the Hill, and my husband later joined me, and I took part in this momentous occasion to show that our voices, whatever they are saying, will not be silenced.

I still feel completely useless as a DC resident with no representation to call to represent me, but Saturday, I felt like I did something and I will continue to find ways to do what I can to make sure that I, as a first generation, Latin American woman, am not silenced.

If you marched this weekend, tell me where you were and what that experience was like. 
It makes me hopeful that so many women across the globe marched!

January 22, 2017

Sunday Sweats 3

Currently Training For: 
Disney Princess Half-Marathon, February 26
DC Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon, March 11

Monday: #yogarevolution Day 16 (34:00)
I was supposed to have the day off for MLK but had so much work to do that I ended up working the whole day. I was feeling pretty sick on my stomach for most of the day but I snuck in this practice. It didn't do much to make me feel better but I still got it in. It was a relatively easy practice which I was grateful for.

Tuesday: #yogarevolution Day 17 (32:00)
I stayed home sick on Tuesday after waking up not feeling any better from Monday. The theme for today's practice was "Practice Stillness" and I thought I would be able to get through it even though I was under the weather. Boy, was I wrong! The first 10 minutes of the practice, we were literally just sitting in sukhasana (cross-legged). My back was bothering me and I was so uncomfortable. Half way through a modified Warrior pose, I gave up. I was getting really overheated and I just didn't feel right. Then I felt bad for giving up so I turned the video back on and suffered through the end of the practice. I got it done but I would really like to repeat this video when I'm in a better frame of mind.

Wednesday: #yogrevolution Day 18 (27:00)
A balancing practice that I struggled with although I definitely feel like my balance is getting better. As a runner, this is my biggest, most important takeaway from yoga, the strength I get from balance. I know that I need to keep working on balance in order to be a better, stronger runner, and this was a good reminder of that.

Thursday: #yogarevolution Day 19 (36:00)
I was in a rush today and dreaded that this was one of the longer practices of this challenge but I was able to stay focused and get it in.

Friday: #yogarevolution Day 20 (30:00)
I couldn't stand watching the Inauguration coverage so I hid in a room in my mom's house with no TV to take my mind off of things and practice. This one was good and juicy.

Saturday: Women's March on Washington

After going to bed at 2 am and waking up at the time I needed to leave to make a train back to DC, I was exhausted. I probably walked about 5-6 miles during the Women's March (which was an incredible experience, more on that later!) and then biked a little over a mile before getting home, going to bed at 9 pm and sleeping for 12 hours straight. No yoga today but I was fine with it.

Sunday: #yogarevolution Days 21 and 22 
I practiced twice today to make up for missing yesterday's practice. The first practice was somewhat challenging and the second was a beautiful, restorative hip opening practice that I'll save for after my long runs. It felt good to get in almost a full hour of yoga today and I'm almost grateful that I skipped yesterday and got to practice for that long today.

Another yoga-filled week that kept me balanced and positive through an otherwise difficult week. My knee feels much, much better and the only pain I still have is when I'm practicing yoga and on all fours. I haven't tried running on it yet as I wanted to give the full two weeks per doctor's orders. I thought about running today, but as Sundays are typically my rest days, I'm giving myself one more day and heading out for some miles tomorrow.

Total Miles Run: 0
Total Minutes of Yoga: 215

How did your week go?
Do you practice yoga? What's your favorite pose?

January 17, 2017

2017 Race Plans

If you look at the Running tab above, you'll see that I've run a lot of races. Before I moved to DC (and subsequently got hurt), I used to race all the time. When I was living in New York, I was running almost every month, mostly to get my 9+1 credit for the NYC Marathon, but also because I was hooked.

I've run six races since 2013. This year, aside from my time goals of running a sub-4 marathon and PRing the half-marathon, I want to race more. DC has so many great local races, of all distances, and I haven't run most of them. I'm also looking to travel more this year for races than I have lately. Here's a look at which races I'm planning to toe the line at this year!

Disney Princess Half-Marathon - February 26, Orlando, FL
This race falls just 10 days after my 30th birthday. What better way to ring in my 30th than by running through Disney World with one of my very best friends?

DC Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon - March 11, Washington, DC*
I love this race. If I run it, this would be my third time on the course. Right now, I might be traveling that week so I'm not sure if I can run it but I hope I get to because it is a great race and the crowd support is unbelievable.

Crystal City 5k Fridays - April, Arlington, VA
I ran one of these 5ks a few years ago. Pacers is a local running store that sponsors these races every Friday in April. I love the idea of really trying to push my 5k PR by racing every week! I usually work from home on Fridays so this wouldn't be too difficult to pull off.

New Jersey Half-Marathon - April 30, Long Branch, NJ
My uncle practically lives on this course and it's been on my radar for awhile. Alyssa and Tracy are running it this year which is really making me lean toward running!

Capitol Hill Classic - May 15, Washington, DC
This 10k runs through my favorite neighborhood in DC. I've heard great things about it and want to add it to my list of local races to run in 2017!

Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon - May 28, Ottawa, ON, Canada
I have never been to Ottawa but The Pilot flies there all the time and loves it. The course is flat and looks pretty, so why not? I really want to run a spring marathon and there isn't anything else that really jumps out at me so I've settled on Ottawa!

Richmond Marathon - November 11, Richmond, VA
I was supposed to run this in 2016 and had to change my plans, bringing me to Philly. It was easier to defer to 2017 so that's what I did.

Annapolis Running Classic - November 18, Annapolis, MD
Courtney ran this race last year and I was super impressed by the course and the swag! While I definitely won't be in half-marathon shape seven days after a marathon, I'm keeping the 10k in mind.

Are you running any of these races?
Have you run any of them?
What races are on your calendar this year?

January 15, 2017

Sunday Sweats 2

So the second week of the New Year didn't exactly go as planned. When Monday rolled around,  my knee was still really swollen from Friday night's fall. I made a doctor's appointment for Tuesday morning, which quickly got canceled. I couldn't find another appointment for the week and didn't want to drag things out, so Monday after work, I took a trip to the ER.

Luckily, there was no break (at that point, I was starting to worry that I broke my knee cap) but the doctor said it was a bone bruise and sprained ligaments. He recommended two weeks off and gave me a strong anti-inflammatory.

While I'm bummed to be starting the year with two weeks off, having recently come back from two years off, I'm so relieved it's only two weeks. I can easily bounce back from that, especailly while I'm doing so much yoga. So, here's what the week did look like:

Currently Training For: 
Disney Princess Half-Marathon, February 26
DC Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon, March 11

Monday: Skipped. I spent the day at work and then four hours at the ER. I'm more OK with this than I thought I would be. Things happen.

Tuesday: #yogarevolution Day 9 (32:00)
I picked up my 31-Day Yoga Challenge right where I left off. This practice required a lot of being on all fours which I couldn't really do so I made some modifications and made it work. In a lot of cases, those modifications made the practice more challenging, which was good!

Wednesday: #yogarevolution Day 10 (27:00)
Wednesdays are always my busiest days at work and, by the time I got home to practice, my head was all over the place and I just couldn't really concentrate or enjoy the practice.

Thursday: #yogarevolution Day 11 (29:00)
Lots of balancing today! I'm definitely noticing that my shoulders are really tight and that I can balance better on my right leg than my right. This is part of why I had IT band issues for as long as I did so I really need to pay attention to this.

Friday: #yogarevolution Day 12 (31:00)
My mind was all over the place before I stepped on the mat but this practice was down right juicy.

Saturday: #yogarevolution Day 13 (30:00)
I want to flag this practice for post-long run days because it is everything I want after a long run. Nice easy, hip opening stretches, one-legged pigeon, reclined cobbler's pose...everything. I've linked to it in case any other runners want to check it out!

Sunday: #yogarevolution Days 14 and 15 (62:00)
I wanted to catch up from skipping a day on Monday so I doubled up today. The first practice was nice and easy, the second was quite fiery but it felt good, and while I'm sstill not completely comfortable on my knees yet, I'm getting there.

Total Miles Run: 0
Total Minutes of Yoga: 211

Yoga, yoga, and more yoga. I don't hate it. I thought about taking a spin class this week but I didn't think my knee would be in shape for that. Right now, I feel like I'm about three or four days away from being back on my feet. I'm playing it smart and taking it easy though, so we'll see.

How did you week go?
What are you training for?

January 13, 2017

6 Placed I'd Like to Travel this Year

Two years ago, I wrote a post highlighting 10 places I would have liked to travel that year. I only made it to three of those places, but I went to some incredible places that weren't on that list. Last year, I wrote a post highlighting 5 places. I only made it to 2 places on that list, but again, I went to some pretty great places that weren't on that list, like Australia, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Park City.

It may surprise you to know that I don't plan travel. Unless there's a race tied to it or a special occasion, the vast majority of my travel plans over the last several years have been made on very short notice...like the time we went to Hawaii on 4 hours notice. Even our trip to Australia was planned on less than a week's notice!

It's nearly impossible for us to plan a vacation anywhere. The Pilot usually gets his schedule for the month around the middle of the previous month, sometimes later. Even with a schedule in hand, it's impossible to predict what flying standby will look like. We always have to be flexible and willing to reroute our plans. When I went to Lisbon two years ago, and didn't make it on a direct flight, I ended up hopping on a plane to London, crashing with some friends there and spending 24 hours in the city. When we went to Las Vegas a few years ago, it was only because we didn't make it on a flight to Switzerland!

When it comes to my life at home, I'm as Type A as they come. I'm a writer! My life is driven by deadlines and I thrive off of it but I appreciate the idea of throwing caution to the wind and literally seeing where life will take us! That being said, when I write these lists year after year, I never expect to travel to all of these places but I do expect that some wild adventure will turn up and I'll end up going somewhere that wasn't even a thought in my mind and that I'll at least make it to a few of the places on this list!

If we weren't throwing caution to the wind and I had my pick, here are a few places I would really love to travel to this year.

1. Copenhagen - I've had my eye on Copenhagen for awhile now but it wasn't until Carolann traveled to Denmark that I really started itching to go.

2. Geneva - I have always said that Geneva was my first European love. London was the first city I traveled to in Europe and it was everything I thought it would be and more but Geneva was the first city I ever traveled to by myself. I had no idea what to expect and fell in love with it. I made incredible friends who I'm still friends with to this day. It's been 10 years since my first trip to Geneva and 8 since my last and that needs to change this year.

3. London - Well, since we're talking about Europe, I have to talk about London. The Pilot and I tried so hard to make it there this summer but we just couldn't swing it. My 24-hour sojourn in 2015 was a vicious tease and I'm dying to go back to the city I used to call home.

4. St. Louis - I fell in love with St. Louis when I visited in 2015. I have to admit that I've always (somewhat ignorantly) said that I could never live in the Midwest because I could never live in a landlocked state but I loved St. Louis! I would love to make it there this spring to visit Sara and catch a Cardinals game.

5. Thailand - I live my life by the "I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list" philosophy and while there's still a lot of the world I haven't seen, Thailand is one of the few places that I feel a desperate need to go to. Thailand gives me serious travel envy. 

6. East Africa - I loved Ghana and Togo when I traveled to West Africa in 2009 but East Africa, specifically Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania, have been on my list for a very long time. I tried to convince The Pilot to go there this year for our anniversary but Australia won out.

Right now, I have a few travel plans for the year. The Pilot and I are heading to Palm Springs, CA pretty soon and next month, we're going to Disney World! Beyond that, who knows where life will take us? I do know one thing: I have a New Year's Resolution to have crossed 30 countries off of my list and I'm at 26. I'm also planning to finally cross the baseball stadiums off my list after 8 years of trying! With only a handful of stadiums left, I know that I'll be watching a lot of baseball this year!
Where is on your travel list this year?
Have you been to any of the places on mine?
Do you think you could fly standby, never knowing for sure where or when you were going?

January 8, 2017

Sunday Sweats 1

Since I started this blog, I've struggled with finding a way to keep track of my workouts and hold myself accountable in this little internet space. Sunday Sweats are a pretty popular post and I've decided to try them out this year, so here goes!

Currently Training For: 
Disney Princess Half-Marathon, February 26
DC Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon, March 11

I planned to start training for Disney two weeks ago but I had the most insane December of my life and ran a grand total of six miles so I decided to sign up for DC Rock 'n' Roll and treat Disney as a fun training run. Here's what my first week of training looked like:

Monday: 4 miles (9:55pace); #yogarevolution Day 2 (31 minutes)
It was cold, rainy, and miserable but I loved every minute of this run. It was my first run of the New Year, The Pilot came along, and it was our first time running in our old neighborhood since we moved back last week. 

Tuesday: #yogarevolution Day 3 (29 minutes)
This was a perfect, hip opening practice and just what I needed. I've done Yoga with Adriene's 30-Day Challenge twice now and I wasn't actually planning on making it a 30-Day challenge this time around but on Tuesday, I decided to.

Wednesday: #yogarevolution Day 4 (33 minutes)
Wednesday was a tough day. It took me nearly an hour and a half to get to work. I brought my running stuff to run at lunch and then had to deal with a work situation. When it took me another hour and a half to get home, I knew I wasn't going to run and I was really beating myself up over it. Then I realized that I do this to myself every Wednesday. It's my busiest day of the week and I don't realistically think I'm ever going to be able to run on a Wednesday so why try? I got home and got on the mat, had a wonderful yoga practice, enjoyed dinner that The Pilot made, and then spent some time with him. It was much better than trying to cram in a run plus yoga and being exhausted.

Thursday: 5 miles (10:24 pace); #yogarevolution Day 5 (31 minutes)
I worked from home on Thursday and practiced at lunch. I think this is my favorite challenge of Adriene's so far. I had plans to meet up with some Junior League ladies for a run around the Mall that evening. I was worried when I saw snow flurries but went anyway. There were only three of us, which was actually great. We got in some great miles running the monuments at night, made new friends, and had a great conversation!

Friday: 4 miles (9:58 pace); #yogarevolution Day 6 (36 minutes)
I worked from home again on Friday and wrapped things up by 4:30 which, I thought, gave me enough time to run before it got dark out. Friday's yoga practice focused on ab work, which I'm still sore from! After work, I set out for a few miles on a nearby trail and 3 miles in, it was already dark. Two blocks from finishing my run, I tripped over an uprooted sidewalk and fell flat on my face. I landed hard on my knee cap, ripping my running tights. I've never fallen so hard and it hurt badly. I immediately teared up and panicked. I got up, hobbled to a nearby stoop and sat down. About 10 minutes later, I got up and stumbled home. When I got home, my knee was bruised and bloody, and had swollen really badly. It looked like a golf ball was growing out of my knee. I iced it on and off for the rest of the night and went to bed.

Saturday: #yogarevolution Day 7 (30 minutes)
I woke up Saturday morning and my knee was still swollen and felt really stiff. I ate some breakfast, took some ibuprofen and iced it on and off before meeting up with a friend for brunch and running some errands. I was on my feet a lot yesterday, which I actually think helped things. My knee was still really swollen but by the end of the day, it was starting to feel a little bit better from Friday. We got a few inches of snow and everything froze over so I went to bed unsure whether to run Sunday or give my knee more rest. Luckily, today's yoga practice didn't require anything on all fours, so I breezed through the practice, which focused on balance. 

Sunday: #yogarevolution Day 8 (30 minutes)
I woke up this morning with my knee still swollen, unable to put any weight on my right leg. Before panicking, I sat down and iced it to see if it was just stiffness from sleeping. That's exactly what it turned out to be and I was able to make it to the grocery store walking just fine. I got home and decided to try out a run. I headed out and it definitely hurt more to run than walk, but the pain was manageable. Two blocks in and I stopped. I don't want to turn this into something when it might just be a bad bruise and I didn't want to run into a situation where I was a mile from home and needed to stop running, so I came home, and got lucky to find that today's yoga practice again kept me off of all fours. It was a beautiful, relaxing practice focused on serenity, and just what I needed.

Total Miles Run: 13
Total Minutes of Yoga: 220

So my first week of 2017 got off to a bumpy start but you know what? This is running. Setbacks happen. I'm grateful that so far, this doesn't seem to be anything serious. My long run planned for the week was 6 miles and I did manage to get in a 5 mile run so I don't feel like I'm too far off. I just need to be mindful and take it easy. I have big running goals for this year and, while it's tough to start the year with more rest than I would like, I also know that I won't hit those goals without giving my body the rest it needs.

If you aren't sure what #yogarevolution is, check it out here. I've been following Yoga with Adriene for a few years now and her free YouTube videos have really changed the way I practice yoga! I recently took a class with an old favorite teacher who I hadn't seen in almost a year and she complimented my practice, saying that it's really improved.  If you're looking for an at-home practice, I can't recommend these enough! 

How did your workouts go this week?
What goals are you chasing in 2017?

January 3, 2017

2016: The Year in Review

I mentioned yesterday that I set a lot of the same goals for 2017 as I did for 2016. I didn't hit most of those goals in 2016 but rather than looking at it as failure, I'm looking at it as an opportunity to keep getting better. 2016 was a much better year than 2015. The Pilot had a new job and was not only home more, but actually had one or two weekends off almost every month! I traveled almost every month, which is always a goal of mine, and I had a great year at work.

In January, I went back to the Sundance Film Festival for Ally's Bachelorette Party with Sara, and DC had an epic blizzard.

February brought my 29th birthday, the worst haircut I've ever had (2016 was a bad hair year), my new job, and a lot more snow.

In March, The Pilot and I took a weekend trip to Charlotte and my mom came to visit for the Cherry Blossom Festival.

In April, The Pilot and I spent a week in San Francisco for the premiere of my sister's documentary.

In May, I fulfilled a life long dream of seeing Kenny Chesney in concert and it was one of the most incredible shows I've ever been to.

June brought a girls' weekend to New York with Holly and a visit from my little sister.

In July, The Pilot and I took my mama to Paris and brought my aunt along for the ride. We moved to a new apartment in a different part of DC.

In August, I ventured to Seattle and then made my way to Vancouver to run 13.1 beautiful miles at Sea Wheeze.

The Pilot and I celebrated our 2 year anniversary in September by venturing to Australia for ten days. (I have one more Australia post to write and I'm working on it this week!)

In October, my sister and I went to Chagrin Falls, OH for another girls' weekend and The Pilot and I went to the Junior League soiree.

November brought my 7th marathon.

December was absurdly busy and I didn't take any time for myself. We again moved to another apartment, back to the neighborhood we had left just five months before.

Those are the highlights...and a few lowlights. I felt insanely lazy last year. Work took so much out of me that I think I spent more time on my couch than anything else. While I certainly traveled a lot, the weekends where I wasn't traveling, I rarely left home. Part of it was because I left things like cleaning and laundry for weekends and part of it was because, once I started marathon training, balancing that with work was way too much. I only raced twice last year and, while, this was my first full year of not being injured in three years, I definitely want to race more this year and I'm pretty excited about the race plans I do have! More on that later though!

I'm linking up with Helene today and can't wait to check out everyone's posts! You can read what my goals for 2017 are here! Happy New Year!

Helene in Between

How did your year shape up?
What are you looking forward to in 2017?

January 2, 2017

Hello 2017!

Good Morning, friends! Happy New Year! It's a cold, rainy, gloomy day in DC which is weirdly, just what I need. I rang in the New Year by falling asleep at 10pm (moving is hard!) and then hanging out with a good friend who happens to be my new neighbor.

I love the start of the New Year. I think it's such a fantastic way to look back on the past year and look ahead. Last year, my theme for the year was growth and I'm going to keep that theme. We never stop growing, do we? We learn lessons and we make changes, but we never stop growing.

Looking back to this time last year, I'm definitely a happier person. 2015 was a tough year and, while 2016 was much better, I came out of the year with a desperate need for self care. I'm linking up with Helene tomorrow to recap my year but the one lesson I learned from 2016 was the importance of taking care of yourself. For the first time in my life, I had a job that I felt like I couldn't put down at 5pm on week days and, while, that definitely isn't the case, I had virtually no work life balance. I would be on the treadmill answering work emails. By the time December, my industry's busiest month, rolled around, I felt burned out. This year, I need to learn to put a serious focus on work life balance.

Because of the lack of a work life balance, my blog seriously suffered. I never had time to post and when I did, I was too tired to sit in front of a computer and craft a post. I started last year with a 31-day blogging challenge and by March, I was posting maybe once per week. This year, I'm committing to spending at least 4 hours per week on my blog. I've planned out all of my posts for the month of January and actually have a plan to bring my blog back to it's former, for lack of a better word, glory. This will be the 7th year that I've had this blog and I don't want this hobby to fall to the way side. I need to be realistic about my plans for posting, connecting with other bloggers, and growing my blog, but at the end of the day, I just want to be blogging again.

Looking back on my goals from last year, I feel like all of my goals for this year are the same. I don't look at that as a failed 2016 but as an opportunity for a better 2017! So, in list form, here are my goals for 2017 (mostly repeated from 2016):

  • Run a sub-4 marathon: Goodness, I'm sick of making this a goal. I've had a goal to run a sub-4 marathon since 2011. I know people who eke out 10, 15, 20, 40 minute PRs and over my seven year running career, I've knocked off a whopping 7 minutes from my marathon. I'll share my running goals in another post this month but I'm tackling 2 marathons this year to try to finally get that sub-4 finish.
  • Do another 30-day yoga challenge: I did an at-home yoga challenge last year. This year, I'd like to up the ante and try a 30-day in-studio challenge, or at least mix it up with half the time in the studio and half the time at home.
  • Finish my 30 before 30:  I'll be 30 next month and I'm only about one-third of the way through my 30 Before 30 list but I'd like to finish the list by the end of 2017.
  • Hit 30 countries: I've traveled to 26 countries. I think it would be awesome to make it to 30 in my 30th year!
  • Take a cooking class: The Pilot's parents bought us a gift certificate to a culinary school in DC for Christmas! I'm so excited!
  • Cook at least one recipe from every single one of my cookbooks: I have a cookbook addiction. My obsession with Little Free Libraries and the propensity of people in my neighborhood to leave cookbooks in them doesn't help. Yet, I have a lot of cookbooks that I've never touched. I need to change that or make a plan to get rid of some of these books. 
Of course, my goals that always go without saying are to read and travel as much as possible. The Pilot and I already have trips planned for January and February and are looking at a mini vacation in March. My mom and I are planning our annual summer trip, and then there's always our anniversary trip to plan! I'm aching to go back to London, dying to explore more of Asia, and aiming for another race in another country!

I'm excited for 2017. DC is going to be an interesting city to live in this year but that's just part of this city's charm. I'm excited to crush my running goals, travel the world, and continue to work on being my best self. This year, I'm going to be 30 and this year is going to be great! I hope you'll follow along.
What are your goals for this year?

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