Motivation Mantra: Do it for Disney!

Motivation is the name of the game. When you find what gets you through, it can absolutely change your perspective, desire, and, in some cases, the outcome of whatever you’re striving to achieve. With my second marathon a mere 9 days away (but who’s counting?), I am trying to muster all the motivation I can find. Going into my first marathon I was motivated by the incredible feat, determination, time and training that went into it, and especially the sense of absolute accomplishment upon crossing that finish line.  Now that I have done it once, I know I can accomplish it, but I definitely need a little more drive to get me through.

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At least I do have some pretty spectacular views on the trail near my house. It could be worse.

Training this time around definitely felt different.  Early in my training I was wearing shoes that were causing pain in my shins (thankfully not shin splints). My legs were achy and tired after my runs, so I immediately switched back to my beloved New Balance 3190s, which are actually discontinued.  Thank you Amazon for having one of the last size 8 pairs of 3190s – your company saved the day!  After fixing that issue, I also had a few colds that bogged me down this year, and made fitting in the miles significantly harder. My body was definitely telling me to slow down while my training plan was telling me to speed up.

Once I got over the hump of October, training began to gradually fall into place. Maybe it’s because the marathon sparkle had worn off having already done one, or maybe my body was annoyed at the idea of doing it again, but it really took until my 20 mile run for everything to feel right.  Internally I was beginning to worry when my legs and my breathing weren’t in sync, and hoped that it would come together on race day somehow.  What made matters somewhat more challenging was all of the snow we had been getting throughout December, covering my trail with snow, slush, ice, and mud. Training on those surfaces is no picnic, and at this stage in the game I really don’t want to risk injury.  Which is why I completed my 18 mile run on a treadmill (I absolutely do not recommend this for anyone, talked about boring…) and thought about quitting at mile 11 of my 14 mile taper run last weekend… I didn’t quit, but it was a major mental struggle.

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It actually took until my longest training run for everything to feel just right.
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It looks a lot prettier than it actually was – mud, ice, and slush everywhere. I thought tapering was supposed to be the easy part!

Although I have been excited about the prospect of sea level running with 19 miles of Pacific Ocean views and a maximum elevation gain of 100 feet, it was hard to find the motivation I needed to get through this training cycle.  Now with one weekend left of tapering and the race in sight, it’s getting a lot easier to feel the pre-marathon excitement. Not to mention, DISNEYLAND!

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We are going back to Disney, but this time West Coast style!

So what does one do after a marathon in southern California?  Obviously you go to Disneyland. This Disney fan has always been a tried and true Disney World supporter, believing its enormity and plethora of parks made it better than it’s California rival. In the back of my mind, however, I have always wanted to go to Disneyland – to see the original, visit Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and get a sense for where it all began.  It will be my hubby’s birthday, so I wasn’t sure if he’d actually want to go. Thankfully I got home from work one day last week and he turned to me and said, “You know, it might be fun to go to Disneyland.” Done and done. Tickets are booked and reservations made – to Disneyland we go!

Here’s a little recap of the last two weeks of training:

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
1/9/17 (Monday) Yoga Sculpt N/A
1/10/17 (Tuesday) Yoga Sculpt 3.18 miles
1/11/17 (Wednesday) Yoga Sculpt 3.3 miles
1/12/17 (Thursday) Yoga Sculpt 3.32 miles
1/13/17 (Friday) N/A 3.36 miles
1/14/17 (Saturday) N/A 20.05 miles
1/15/17 (Sunday) Yoga Sculpt N/A
1/16/17 (Monday) Yoga Sculpt 3.27 miles
1/17/17 (Tuesday) Yoga Sculpt 2.5 miles
1/18/17 (Wednesday) TIU Bombshell Booty, TIU Core on the Floor, TIU Sleek Arms 3.1 miles
1/19/17 (Thursday) Yoga Sculpt 3.13 miles
1/20/17 (Friday) N/A 3.1 miles
1/21/17 (Saturday) N/A 14.05 miles
1/22/17 (Sunday) Yoga Sculpt N/A
TOTAL 62.46 miles

Any recommendations for this Disneyland novice (we will just be doing Disneyland Park)? If you had one day in Disneyland, what would you do?  What motivates you to get through marathon training? Has anyone else ever run 18 miles on a treadmill – isn’t it terrible?

Capital Campaign: Run the Monuments

A few weekends ago I found myself in the heart of my old “hometown,” if you can call D.C. a hometown, of course. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or when in D.C., run around the monuments and pretend you’re in Rome. Whatever works, right? I had been really looking forward to an amazing 18 mile run around Washington D.C.’s scenic National Mall, the tidal basin, and all the monuments along the way.  Of course I am incredibly stereotypical and love the Lincoln monument, with the views across the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and the National Monument standing majestically in the distance.  It really does feel like you’re on the set of “House of Cards” or something, and I can’t get enough of the history (however short our nation’s history is in the grand scheme of things).

Ameri-cuh! Source
Ameri-cuh! Source

While I lived in the D.C. metro area, I really wasn’t in to running. It seemed like a chore rather than therapeutic. What’s the point in running if you aren’t running to or from something? Well, obviously I have matured from that point. Or something… But regardless, I feel like I may have missed an awesome opportunity, minus the humidity, propensity for rain, and incessant bug population. Oh, and lots of tourists.

The main problem with continuing marathon training in another place, however, is you don’t really know where you’re going.  Before travelling to Naples, FL, I meticulously mapped out numerous run options before hand and checked in with my in-laws for recommendations.  With D.C., however, I had built in trainers (thank you, Ms. BakeNBurn and Justine!) with extensive knowledge of the area, terrain, and mileage.  Literally I just had to follow along (which can be dangerous when you resolve to do 10 miles and your friends want to push you to at least 12, it’s because they love me, I know…).

The morning started grey but turned into perfection!
The morning started grey but turned into perfection!

The morning of our run was windy and rainy, and I had worried that thunderstorms or excessive wind would prevent me from venturing out. Thankfully the skies magically cleared up just as we got into D.C. from Northern Virginia. I started my run expecting it to be chilly, rainy and overcast, and instead it was gorgeous! We parked along West Potomac Park, on the edge of the Lincoln Memorial. From this point you can run in so many different directions – towards the National Mall, the other monuments, the Tidal Basin, or everyone’s favorite: Hains Point.

We began by running (and Samantha biking) directly to the Lincoln Memorial. From there, excessive touristy photo-taking inevitably occurred.  We then continued along the outside edge of the Reflecting Pool (no bikes allowed on the main pathway), and made our way along the roadway surrounding the National Monument. What I didn’t account for is that because it was spring break for much of the country, and the cherry blossoms were in bloom that week, there were people absolutely everywhere! Sometimes I forget that D.C. is actually a tourist destination.

It was really the perfect day for a run around D.C.
It was really the perfect day for a run around D.C.

 

As we neared the Washington Monument and crossed over 14th Street, we veered

New grass could do this mall some good.
New grass could do this mall some good.

towards the National Mall. This is possibly my favorite spot in D.C. (stereotypical, I know), nestled between the National Monument and the Capitol Building, sprinkled with some of the world’s best museums (all of which are FREE!).  It’s hard not to fall in love with this city when you are walking through so much history. The mall itself is currently being renovated, with a new type of turf and drainage system – a long overdue repair, in my opinion. The mall was fittingly littered with sight-seers and tourists, as well as plenty of fellow runners and fitness enthusiasts.  I was naturally in my element.

Just cycling through the cherry blossoms. NBD.
Just cycling through the cherry blossoms. NBD.

We ran the perimeter of the mall, crossed back over 14th Street, and turned to the right side of the monument’s encircling pathways.  Finally we found a grotto of nearly perfect cherry blossoms! Most of the trees had shed much of their blooms by the time I had arrived, but this group was perfect. So of course Samantha rode her way through them and I got my photo op. I feel like each time I have returned in the month of April I miss the blossoms, so this pretty much made my day.

It's hard to beat this view (obviously I focused my attention on the monument...).
It’s hard to beat this view (obviously I focused my attention on the monument… Whoopsies!).
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The cherry blossoms in our little hidden grove were so spectacular!

We finally made our way back to the reflecting pool and met up with Justine at that point. I might have guilted/coerced/begged her to come run with me. Whatever the case, she joined along as we finished the run. We got a little side-tracked and ended up along the tidal basin overlooking the Jefferson Monument, but got back on course to begin the final stint of the run. And at this point, we had saved the best for last (do you sense a hint of sarcasm?): Hains Point! YAAAAAY!

Here’s my perception of Hains Point – it isn’t so bad. It’s a long narrow point in the middle of the Potomac and is wrapped with water on both sides. It’s scenic, flat, and a golf course runs through the middle of it. People either hate or love Hains Point. For me it was enjoyable because it was, as I mentioned, extremely flat, and offered gorgeous views with a nice, hefty breeze. Those who are on the loathing camp typically dislike Hains Point because in some circumstances it can seem rather boring. Almost every major race in D.C. uses Hains Point because it is easy for zoning purposes and gets more mileage with little hassle. I personally like that there aren’t that many people, significantly less traffic (almost none), and it really is an easy way to fit in more miles. Samantha, my fearless leader, feels the same way, while Justine could do without it. At Samantha’s suggestion/mandate, I ran down Hains Point and back, Justine begrudgingly yet oh-so-kindly came along for the first half before heading to the car. So what I thought would be about 10 miles turned into 12.31, and I am better for it. I tip my hat to you, Hains Point.

Okay, so I didn’t get in my 18 miles that day, but I did last weekend. Not quite the scenic 18

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I love running along the Highline Canal trail – the mountain vistas are fabulous.

I was hoping for, but my view isn’t all that bad either. With snow clouding this weekend’s forecast, I am not sure I will be able to fit in my longest run (I am hoping for 20-22 miles), so I may have to be flexible and move it to the following weekend. Thankfully I have 4 full weekends left of training, and that should give me a bit of cushion before the marathon on May 15th. EEEEK!  ONE MONTH!

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Classy ladies celebrate in the classiest of ways, with lots of wine!

The weekend itself was a wonderful success celebrating Christine, the beautiful bride-to-be! Saturday we spent much of the day meandering through Virginia wine country, with stops at Sunset Hills Vineyards, Notaviva Vineyards, and Breaux Vineyards. The wines were wonderful, and the company even better. Sunday we hosted the bridal shower, which was a gorgeously themed bridal tea brunch! Anytime you put tea and brunch together, it’s got to be amazing, right? We made lots of scrumptious goodies, had mimosas, and of course, tea. But nothing is better than celebrating an amazing friend as she nears her wedding day!

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The lovely bride-to-be!!

 

Here are the details for my training plan for the past two weeks. After returning from Virginia I listened to my body and took a much needed break. I was pretty tired after a busy weekend of celebrations, so it was nice to have time to focus on me. And getting plenty of rest didn’t hurt either. I think it helped make my 18 miles last Sunday so incredible. I felt pretty amazing throughout, which I am hopeful is a good sign for the road ahead.

Day of the Week Cross Training Miles Run
Monday, 3/28/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.01 mile run
Tuesday, 3/29/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.02 mile run
Wednesday, 3/30/16 N/A 4.03 mile run
Thursday, 3/31/16 TIU Band Workout x 2, 100 jumping jacks N/A
Friday, 4/1/16 N/A 12.31 mile run
Saturday, 4/2/16 Rest Rest
Sunday, 4/3/16 Rest Rest
Monday, 4/4/16 Rest Rest
Tuesday, 4/5/16 Rest Rest
Wednesday 4/6/16 Yoga Sculpt 4.1 mile run
Thursday, 4/7/16 Zumba 4.14 mile run
Friday, 4/8/16 N/A 2.52 mile run
Saturday, 4/9/16 N/A 3.12 mile run
Sunday, 4/10/16 N/A 18 mile run

Where is your favorite place to run? Have you ever been able to run around D.C.? Who else loves running during their travels?

 

 

 

Waiting for Wine and Dine and Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Wednesday world!  It’s post-election day, which means I am a happy camper because now the campaign ads are finally over.  Unless you’re Louisiana… which stinks.  But not here in Colorado, at least.  Hooray!  Otherwise, I am also excited that it’s Wednesday because that means I leave TOMORROW for Disney World with the hubs to meet up with our friends Mr. and Mrs. BakeNBurn for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon and the renowned Food and Wine Festival in Epcot!

We all will arrive in Orlando late Thursday evening, but with enough time to rest up for a full day on Friday!  Friday morning we will be heading out to the Expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, where we will pick up our bibs, tech shirts and other goodies.  After that we’ll head out to the Magic Kingdom for a full day of fun and festivities.  On the docket are riding Buzz Lighyear’s Space Ranger Spin, tackling Space Mountain, and making our way through Pirates of the Caribbean.  One of the elements I am most excited for that day is finally dining at Be Our Guest inside the Beast’s castle!!  Ever since my last visit in February I have been longing to dine there, and we finally got the chance!  That night is the first night of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, which should be a blast given all the rides, treats and shows that will occur throughout the night.  It should be a phenomenally incredible first day in Disney.

There will be too much fun to be had!
There will be too much fun to be had!

Saturday is race day, so we plan to rest as much as possible during the day, and fuel up as needed.  I envision lounging by

So excited to run another race with this crew!
So excited to run another race with this crew!

the pool and an afternoon doze session.  That evening we’ll head out to the race area at around 6:15pm.  The race actually begins at 10:00pm, and we’re all starting in corral H, so we will have a bit of time to wait, but this way we’re there and won’t be in a rush.  This race will differ from the Princess Half Marathon as it goes through three parks, including Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and ends in Epcot.  Because it’s all at night, the parks will be lit up (especially the Osborne Family Lights in Hollywood Studios!), and Christmas decorations will adorn the entire facility.  Disney does an incredible job keeping the runners entertained en route, even between the parks, with characters, music, and the ChEAR squad, so I doubt there will be a dull moment along the way.  After the race, there’s a huge finish line party, with food, drinks and lots of fun to be had.  Although it’ll be around 1:00am in the morning, I think we’ll make the most of it before heading back to the resort.

On Sunday we will make our way to Epcot to indulge in the Epcot International Food and Wine festival around the showcase of nations.  This part I am particularly excited for given my foodie nature.  Dozens of countries (beyond those typically represented) will have booths set up with local flavors and national delicacies.  I am SO excited to taste my way around the world, and I am sure the boys are excited to drink around the world too!

Sadly on Monday we depart, but not until later in the day to allow for a lazy morning.  We’ll probably get a bit breakfast, lounge by the pool a bit more, pack up, and head to the airport.  All in all, I am so excited for this little getaway and racecation with the hubs and our dearest friends!

But before I head out on my magical adventure, I still have work and a fun fall-themed potluck with another advising office on campus to look forward to.  In the spirit of the season, our two offices decided to have a chili cook-off!  A few of my coworker made variations of chili, others brought in sides and fixings, and I, of course, brought dessert!  I didn’t want to make my go-to pumpkin bread as I brought that to our last potluck, but knew I still wanted to bake with pumpkin.  So I hopped on the internet and searched for chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Thankfully it brought me to one of my favorite baking bloggers, Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I previously made her birthday cake blondies, which were a HUGE hit with the hubs and my office, so I thought I would give her cookies a try.  I am a big fan of chewy cookies as well, as chocolate chip cookies should be, so I wanted something similar that wouldn’t end up cakey or crunchy.

As Sally explained, pumpkins are primarily water, and typically watery cookie batters produce cakey cookies.  To avoid this, the recipe calls for melted butter, which helps to glue the ingredients together (rather than make the batter fluffy), and remove the eggs as the pumpkin will act as an adhesive and moistening agent.  So without further ado, Sally’s Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Chewy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients2014-11-04 19.11.10

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

¼ cup light or dark brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (I used the rest in another of Sally’s amazing recipes!)

1 and ½ cups all-purpose flour (I used Hungarian High Altitude Flour)

¼ teaspoon salt

My other Sally's creation of the night!  Lightened-up Pumpkin Bars!
My other Sally’s creation of the night! Lightened-up Pumpkin Bars!

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 and ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon allspice

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (plus some extra to add to the cookies after removing them from the oven)

Directions

Melt the butter over the stove or in a microwave safe bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Add the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth. Set the wet ingredients aside.

2014-11-04 19.30.11In a larger bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and, if you’d like, a ¼ teaspoon of cloves (I typically do not use cloves, due to family preference). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula. The dough will form into a ball and be fairly soft.  Fold in ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. It may be difficult to incorporate them evenly, but work them through as best you can. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes, or up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll the dough into balls, about 1 ½ Tablespoons of dough each. Press down on the dough balls and flatten them because the cookies will only slightly spread in the oven. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked, but trust me, this is how you want them so they’ll remain nice and chewy. Any extra time in the oven will cause them to dry out and become hard.  Remove from the oven and press a few more chocolate chips onto the tops, if desired.  If you find that your cookies didn’t spread much at all, flatten them out when you take them out of the oven.

Make sure to press down the dough as they will not spread much in the oven.
Make sure to press down the dough as they will not spread much in the oven.
Look at those beautiful golden chewy cookies!
Look at those beautiful golden chewy cookies!

Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack.  The more cooling time they have, they chewier they are!   Store the cookies in an airtight container and they should last up to a week.  Enjoy!

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Too good for words.

Have you ever been to the Epcot Food and Wine Festival?  What did you think?  What was your favorite dish or nation?  Are you as obsessed as I am with all things pumpkin?

Yoga on the Rocks and a Beautiful Saturday Hike

I have never experienced anything quite like Yoga on the Rocks.  That one hour of my life was so serene, so peaceful, and

Watching the sunrise over Red Rocks - so surreal!
Watching the sunrise over Red Rocks – so surreal!

yet incredibly fulfilling all at once.  I had initially heard about Yoga on the Rocks from the instructor of LacyFit, Amy Lacy.  The program is put on by Core Power Yoga and co-sponsored by Whole Foods (excellent combination).  Amy had participated with a group of friends at the end of July.  The pictures she posted were incredible!  Thousands of people from all over Colorado, and beyond, participating in a massive outdoor group yoga session, while the sun bathes you in light on the steps of Red Rocks… yes please!  Personally I am not a huge yogi, but I have done a few videos at home and sessions with friends.  This type of experience, however, was completely up my alley.

After learning there were three classes left for the summer, I checked

So grateful for my yogi friends!
So grateful for my yogi friends!  Tessa is on my left and Ade on my right.

my calendar and called my two main yogi friends, Ade and Tessa.  Ade and I bonded over joblessness and hiking after moving to Boulder, Colorado post-completion of our respective graduate programs.  Tessa is my longtime friend from high school who initially moved to Colorado shortly after I did, then spent two years in Istanbul, Turkey, and just moved back to Denver this July!  It was meant to be, we were all free on August 16th!

Knowing I would have to awaken prior to the sun, I figured this would be a good opportunity to seize the day, and asked if the ladies would also like to join me for a hike around Red Rocks after yoga.  Thankfully they were on board, so we had a whole morning of stunning scenery and physical fitness ahead of us.

Red Rocks is about 25 minutes southwest of Denver proper, nestled in the foothills of Morrison.  These naturally occurring jagged red rocks quite literally set the stage for an outdoor amphitheater.  There’s really nothing quite like it!  I remember visiting Red Rocks on my very first trip to Colorado in 2007.  Little did I know then that I would live a short drive away someday.

I picked up Tessa early that morning and Ade drove down from Boulder and met

Prepping for our morning yoga session!
Prepping for our morning yoga session!

us at the amphitheater.  The sun was just peeking above the stage and thousands of yogis were laying out mats, stretching, and taking pictures of our surreal surroundings.  The early goers got free Core Power Yoga mats and awesome bright orange sunglasses.  Obviously we all put those on immediately.  People-watching was awesome, mostly for the incredible yoga pants all over the place.  The program started just after 7:00am, and it was truly a perfect morning: barely a cloud in the bright blue sky, light breeze, and sunny.  It was the best Saturday morning I have had in a long time.

There's definitely nothing quite like it!
There’s definitely nothing quite like it!
The one artsy shot we had to get - stretching it out after a great class!
The one artsy shot we had to get – stretching it out after a great class!

Although not the most challenging yoga class, it was designed for yogis of all strengths and skill levels (good for a novice like me!).  The poses focused all areas of the body, and the instructor was very cognizant of the wide array of experience throughout the amphitheater.  She had us repeating throughout the class, “Where are you?  Red Rocks!  What are you?  Alive!”  At first it seemed like a silly chant, but looking around, it meant so much more.  Very few people in the world get the chance to do this, and what a perfect day and way to celebrate just being alive.

At the end of the class, Whole Foods stations were located at the top of the

This was the perfect post-yoga hiking trail - not too tough with awesome views!
This was the perfect post-yoga hiking trail – not too tough with awesome views!

amphitheater with fabulous giveaways and snacks.  We grabbed some vitamins, protein milk, granola and yogurt, Justin’s nut butters, and some snack bars from Cascadian Farms and Lara Bar.  We knew we needed some sustenance before heading off on our hike.  After a bit of wait getting out of the parking lot, we made the 3 minute drive over to the parking lot for the entrance to Matthews Winters Park.

Hiking up the Red Rocks trail.
Hiking up the Red Rocks trail.
Picture perfect day!
Picture perfect day!
All I could say was, "Wow!" View from the top of Morrison Slide trail.
All I could say was, “Wow!” View from the top of Morrison Slide trail.
A successful day all around.
A successful day all around.
I still can't get over these views!
I still can’t get over these views!

We started on the trail which takes you up and over some rolling hills, very un-Colorado like, towards the Red Rocks trail.  This eventually connects with the Morrison Slide trail, which boasts incredible views of Red Rocks and the valley beyond.  The sky was so clear we could see nearly all the way to Pikes Peak.  We connected back to the Red Rocks trail and took that back to the parking lot.  We were done with our morning activities by 11:15am, and at that point, it was time for tacos!  Much like Pirate Bobcat, I live for tacos, so Tessa and I ventured in the Highlands for fajita tacos at Patzcuaro’s.  So good.  Needless to say, it was an all-around perfect day!

Yup, pretty much amazing.
Yup, pretty much amazing.

Although I don’t have anything quite as exciting planned this weekend, I will be packing for my trip to London and Edinburgh.  I leave in TEN days and absolutely cannot wait.  As much as I love Colorado, I adore the UK!

Have you tried a sunrise yoga – what did you think?  Do you love to rise early on weekends and seize the day?  Any fun post-summer travel plans?

Return to Grace

Isn’t it just amazing how quickly life catches up with you?  June was one of my favorite months this year, maybe even of the past few years.  I was able to travel, spend time with the hubby and my pup, celebrate my birthday and anniversary, hone in on my health, and take advantage of parts of Colorado I love.  Then came July… It has proven to be a crazy tornado of a month, primarily due to work.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job.  I am one of those rare folks who actually loves going to work: I really enjoy my coworkers, appreciate the institution for which I work, and adore my boss.  I am truly lucky, and I know it.  However, about eight months ago I was tasked with coordinating the move of our office, which at the time seemed so easily manageable, but I have learned so much in that timeframe.  The move took place last week, and the weeks working up to our scheduled move date are in every way a blur.  Being the planner, Type-A, mild control-freak, OCD person I am, this was quite the endeavor.  During this same time, my dear friend Ms. BakeNBurn was moving to her new home (which is fabulous), so we were able to commiserate on the crazy, thankfully!

However, throughout this process I learned one important distinction between moving homes versus moving an office: you are not in control.  There are some elements during a home move you can’t control, of course,

Moving an office is a messy business.
Moving an office is a messy business.

that’s inevitable.  But with an office move, you have absolutely no control.  There is a move team managing the actual movers, how many boxes you get, the day you move, when your space is reviewed and repaired.  There is a planning team that picks your furniture, layout, and overall style.  There is an architect, lead contractor, and building team who all seem to work on their own timeline, whether you’re scheduled to move in or not.  It’s a control-freak’s worst nightmare.  Imagine my utter dismay.  Despite all of this, we did it.  We are in our new space, moved in, and thankfully I was given the time to organize our storage (I became extremely close with our office label maker…) and get things set up before the rest of my coworkers got here – my one moment of control!  Hooray!  With all that being said, blogosphere, I apologize for my incredible absence, and I am so glad to be back.

Going from an office to a cubicle... not ideal.
Going from an office to a cubicle… not ideal.
The Liberty Run 4 Miler was a blast, as was the loot!
The Liberty Run 4 Miler was a blast, as was the loot!

Besides the move, a lot of other fun things have happened in the past few weeks.  I ran the Liberty Run 4 Miler with the hubby on the 4th of July, and must admit that it may have had some of the best swag for a small race – I got an awesome beer glass (which I feel more proud of having earned by doing exercise) among other fun things.  I attended a performance by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, in which they presented a number of pieces from each of the eight Harry Potter movies (if you don’t know, I am a HUGE Harry Potter geek… I started reading them in middle school and never stopped loving them) with some awesome friends.  One of my closest friends from high school just moved back to the US from teaching English abroad in Turkey for the past two years, and decided to move to Denver (I AM SO EXCITED)!!  I rediscovered an awesome running trail that I can access from my front door, and have been loving my weekday evening and weekend morning runs there (the hubs and I are in training mode for two half marathons this fall, so it’s the perfect option).  I made my first batch of gluten free red velvet cupcakes which were a HUGE success (recipe to come, of course).  I started a cleanse this week, and have been feeling pretty positive about it so far – more on this later!  So overall, it’s been a great, busy, whirlwind of a month, and I am so glad to be back on the normal side of things.

Don't worry, I will share this recipe - they were amazing!
Don’t worry, I will share this recipe – they were amazing!
Getting adjusted to our new space - thankfully!
Getting adjusted to our new space – thankfully!

Have you just had a month where everything seemed to get away from you?  Ever been in charge of moving an office?  Was July kind of a crumby month for anyone else?

How I Almost Died and a Celebratory Weekend

Last week I decided to try out my friend Amy’s fitness class, LacyFit!  I know, two Amys in one space can get rather confusing, but she is a fabulous representation of the name, in my opinion.  I didn’t quite know what I was in for, but had heard about the class from my dear friend Danielle.  I have been wanting to incorporate more full-body workouts into my routine, particularly to focus on my core and my arms.  My legs get plenty of attention between running and the elliptical, but I very often neglect my arms.  In reading the class description on the LacyFit website, it didn’t sound too daunting…

“The toning circuits focus on a specific muscle group: arms, legs & abs. Light weights are used in the toning circuits to achieve high repetition, so your muscles become long and lean, rather than bulky. After each toning circuit, there is a cardio burst which is what keeps your heart rate elevated for the entire workout, getting you into the fat burning zone. The cardio bursts are intense, but short, so you can get thought it!”

Amy, our fearless leader (shown with the braids), is an incredibly inspiring instructor!
Amy, our fearless leader (shown with the braids), is an incredibly inspiring instructor! Source

The class incorporates barre, boot camp, pilates and a whole lot of fun (and shared groans and laughter), which is just what I had been looking for.  I thought I was in pretty good shape, definitely the best shape I have ever been in.  I was wrong, terribly wrong.

The class I attended took place in Denver’s Washington Park, more commonly referred to as Wash Park.  We began the class with a four minute warm-up run around a portion of the park.  No problem, I thought to myself, I can totally handle this.  We followed-up the run with barre-style leg circuits.  I wasn’t too worried about that, and although tough on the thighs, I can handle a little extra leg strengthening.  After the first circuit we did modified mountain climbers for 30 seconds followed by a one minute sprint.  Easy peasy.

The next circuit continued leg work, with a cardio burst of actual mountain climbers and another sprint.  Next we focused on our arms, using 3 pound hand weights, while engaging our core during some exercises.  I really enjoyed this section, as it’s an area I’ve wanted to improve.  Although I didn’t master the push up, I felt pretty confident with the rest of the exercises.  After the next cardio burst we began our abs circuit.  I thought I was going to die, and that I was indeed the weakest human being on the planet.  I have never had much issue with my core, and didn’t think much of my abs.  While I am not toned beyond belief with chiseled abs, I have always been pretty satisfied with my core.  In other words, I don’t have a 6-pack but I am comfortable in a bikini.  However, I apparently have no strength in my core and struggled through the last two circuits.  And I mean I really struggled…

All I want are some B Spears abs... I will have to work for it.
All I want are some B Spears abs… I will have to work for it. Source

I made it through, and I am definitely motivated to keep going.  Amy did an amazing job pushing us on, pumping us up, and making sure we knew why we were doing each exercise.  She explained the benefit of this workout format, how each movement contributed to our strength and our muscles, and made sure we had fun all the way through.  I cannot wait to go again this Thursday.  As she mentioned, each class is different, so you never get into a “routine.”  My goal is to be able to complete the core circuits easily (maybe not perfectly, but easily) by the time this summer is over.

To say that I could still feel my abs through the weekend would be putting it lightly.  It hurt to laugh.  Getting out of bed in the morning was an actual struggle, and not just because I was sleepy.  Hats off to fitness instructors – I dream to have your core strength one day.  And to not feel pressure every time I give a good chuckle.

Fabulously girly dinner for Danielle's birthday!
Fabulously girly dinner for Danielle’s birthday!

This weekend was all about celebrations!  Friday night I spent the evening with some amazing ladies celebrating my friend Danielle’s birthday.  We went to the 9th Door in Denver, a fancy tapas restaurant with a chic, mysterious vibe.  We all had a great time over tapas and drinks.  Danielle’s weekend was full of surprises, as planned by her boyfriend Scott (our Foodie Friday pals!).  She and Scott spent the day up in Boulder, doing all of her favorite things.  The day was topped off with AN ENGAGEMENT!!!  I am so incredibly excited for them both and can’t wait to celebrate with them soon.

Saturday, the longest day of the year, was my grandmother’s 92nd birthday.  She is one tough lady, and I only wish I could have been home to celebrate it with her.  On Sunday my parents celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary in New York City.  I know they’re having a blast, and can’t wait to hear all about it.  Tomorrow will be another big day: the hubs and I will be celebrating our third wedding anniversary.  How time flies!  I cannot believe it’s been three years already, and that come July, we’ll have lived in Colorado that

Happy anniversary to my amazing parents!
Happy anniversary to my amazing parents!

long.  It’s been an incredibly beautiful whirlwind of a journey together, and I am so eternally grateful for all the blessings I’ve experienced in my life.  Have a great week everybody!

 

Have you ever taken a boot camp style class?  What do you think about them?  Any big celebrations in store this week?  Is anyone else bummed that our days are now getting shorter? #summersolsticeproblems

 

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

It’s crazy to think how last week and this week flew by.  My birthday is this Saturday and I don’t even know what happened to the month of May!  Two Thursdays ago I flew home from Jackson Hole, WY and shortly afterwards our friends Samantha and her hubby arrived in Denver for a long weekend stay.  It was a much needed respite from work, and a welcome visit from some of our favorite people.

The first time Samantha and her hubs came to Colorado, we were living in Boulder, and had only been in residence for about 6 months.  Colorado was still very new to us, but we were able to showcase some of our favorite things, including Snooze.  My sister and brother-in-law introduced us to the restaurant a few years before moving there.  Snooze is an AM Eatery, with an old school diner vibe infused with unique flavor combinations.  My all-time go-to, hands down best order?  Red velvet pancakes.  No lie.  To be sure, our friends fell just as in love with Snooze as we did.  The first order of their second trip to Colorado?  Snooze, duh!

Delightful Snooze beverages!
Delightful Snooze beverages!

We went to Snooze Friday morning, and only waited about 40 minutes (there are no reservations, and people will line up outside to wait, so anything less than an hour is a blessing).  Thankfully they were still on East Coast time, so it was easy to rally early and head out for a delightful breaky.  I ordered their epic breakfast burrito smothered in green chili.  If you aren’t from Colorado or New Mexico, proper green chili sauce is hard to come by.  Having fresh roasted hatch green chilies makes all the difference in the world.  YUM!  I was tempted, however, by a new pancake on the menu: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie pancakes.  Needless to say, we got one to share for the table.

After gorging ourselves with Snoozey goodness, the boys went off to play some golf while Samantha and I went shopping.  Our first stop was the Run Colorado store in Greenwood Village.  I absolutely love the Run Colorado store.  Their Nike pullovers and running tanks, with great Colorado logos, make my day every time.  I bought some items for my friend Christine’s birthday, but knew that Samantha would love this store too.  To say we did some damage would be fairly accurate.

After hitting a few more stores, I took Samantha to Lark Burger for a small lunch.  She’d been hearing about Lark Burger for some time, and I often rave about it.  We each got a Little Lark and split a side of their legendary Parmesan Truffle Fries!  So fabulous… I am pretty much always sold when it comes to truffle anything.  We jetted home and met up with the boys before going downtown for drinks at Peak’s Lounge and dinner at Osteria Marco on Larimer Square.

The next morning we woke early and readied ourselves for a hike.  The last time Samantha and Michael came to visit was during the month of

This is the map of Castlewood Canyon State Park - beautiful views of Pike's Peak!
This is the map of Castlewood Canyon State Park – beautiful views of Pike’s Peak! Source

January – not prime hiking season.  But we obliged anyway!  By the end we were practically scooting on our rears all the way down due to slick, steep ice and packed snow.  This time was significantly better.  We headed southeast to Castlewood Canyon State Park, south of Castle Rock, CO.  We parked on the east side of the park, started on the Lake Gulch trail, connected with the Rim Rock trail, taking us along the top of the canyon, and then continued on the Creek bottom trail before hooking back up with the Lake Gulch to head back to the car.  In total, the entire hike was about 6 miles and we made great time.  We tired out Samantha and Michael by the end but they were in great spirits.  Samantha and I spent the rest of the day relaxing by the pool, strawberry mojitos in hand, and had a nice easy evening.

Yay hiking selfies!  And photobombing!
Yay hiking selfies! And photobombing!
Yup! That's Pike's Peak behind the adorable couple!
Yup! That’s Pike’s Peak behind the adorable couple!
Don't jump Samantha!
Don’t jump Samantha!
Gorgeous day in Garden of the Gods!
Gorgeous day in Garden of the Gods!

The following day we went to Whole Foods in the morning to prepare for the evening’s meal (light protein and carbs in preparation for Monday’s race) and our Memorial Day barbeque (Robbie’s famous burgers!).  Afterwards we drove south to Colorado Springs, meandered through Garden of the Gods, and then hopped on the Cog Railway train in Manitou Springs to head up Pike’s Peak!  The train was packed, but we made the most of it.  We made it to the top this time, although it was surrounded in clouds, and just as we were departing the clouds broke for a few moments, and the rest of the world (it seemed) lay below.  You could see all the way to the state of Kansas, so that in itself was pretty awesome.

The top of Pike's Peak!
The top of Pike’s Peak!

With the BolderBOULDER the next morning, we prepared fish and sausage on the grill with a side of purple rice.  Monday morning we were ready to leave by 6am.  We got to Boulder around 7:15am, parked at CU, and walked to the starting line.  We missed our corral by about 5 minutes, but given that there are nearly 100 start waves, it wasn’t an issue.  We started the race in red, white and blue style!  Samantha bought us all patriotic sunglasses to wear during the run and they were so fun!  Robbie wore a Captain America shirt, Michael had Superman, and Samantha and I decked out accordingly.  We ran the first three miles with Michael and Samantha, but separated after that point so they could take a bit more time due to the altitude.  The hubs and I ran straight through to the end, noticing how much easier it was this year versus last year.  We are a bit more in practice this time around!  Shortly after finishing, Samantha and her hubby joined us and we wandered through the after-race expo.  The crowds were pretty enormous, so we grabbed a few things here and there, and then headed home.

BolderBOULDER awesomeness.  I love coordinating outfits and Patriotic sunglasses!
BolderBOULDER awesomeness. I love coordinating outfits and Patriotic sunglasses!
Another awesome year running the BolderBOULDER!
Another awesome year running the BolderBOULDER!

That afternoon was spent on our back patio, eating hatchamole (guacamole with hatch green chilies!) and chips, mixing up delicious cocktails, and dining on my hubby’s homemade burgers (hello pretzel buns!).  It was the perfect Memorial Day weekend celebration.  I couldn’t have asked for a better visit!

We celebrate in delicious style.  Strawberry and blueberry mojitos and watermelon slices!
We celebrate in delicious style. Strawberry and blueberry mojitos and watermelon slices!
My boys chillin' outside - still rockin' the shades.
My boys chillin’ outside – still rockin’ the shades.
I worried Samantha and Michael would try to take Rocco with them...
I worried Samantha and Michael would try to take Rocco with them…
Perfect weekend!
Perfect weekend!

How was the start of your summer (okay so technically it starts on June 21st, but it’s the symbolic start to summer, right?)?  What are your go-to’s when friends come to visit?  Don’t you just love our Patriotic ensembles?