Friday, November 30, 2012

The letters return

With the holiday hubbub last Friday, I somewhat forgot that it was Friday and time for Friday's letters, and then for some reason the week before that I also neglected my letters. When I looked ahead earlier this week to today, I knew I'd be posting letters, even with the Foodie Pen Pal linkup the same day. So here I am, ready to write!

Dear November
, Did you even happen? How are you over already? I still have Halloween decorations waiting to be put away, and yet you're leaving and December is coming? Complete blur. Dear Candy Cane Oreo Chocolate Chunk Cookies, you better be good. I'm taking you to a cookie swap on Sunday, and Tim has his doubts. I was starving yesterday when I picked you as my final choice, so it'd be great if you could do me well. I want to win something at this swap.
Dear SEC Championship Game, please come out my way. Roll Tide Roll! All of Bama Nation would love another National Championship Birth. And with that, Dear Crimson Tide, please all play your very best against Georgia on Saturday. I'm pretty sure they're going to put up quite the fight. It'll be the best man left standing, and if that's not us, we don't even get to go to a BCS game. Let's not have that happen? Dear Oakley Overtime Sunglasses that I posted about yesterday, I think Tim will kill me if I ask for you for Christmas. There is a pair of non-running sunglasses that have needed to be fixed now for a long time sitting by the door. He just doesn't get that you're meant to run in, though. Dear JCrew Factory, you definitely had the best Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales, but your website was so crowded and hard to navigate that it turned me off. Sorry you lost a sale, but I'm guessing you wouldn't have noticed with all the other people that purchased. I really wish you'd restock the tassel keychain, though. I want that.

Dear TurboFire Fire 30 DVD, I enjoyed you a lot. Shalene is a lot less annoying than Jillian (although I still love Jillian's DVDs), but those moves are going to take me a few sessions to learn. They are fast paced! I will be incorporating you into my workout routine more regularly after January 13th, but for now I'll definitely come back to you every now and then (I'm planning a post tomorrow with more of a full review on my initial thoughts. I had more than this). Dear marathon training, we're getting along so well, and I really don't hate you. Though the long runs are mentally draining, I'm feeling so strong and so confident in my abilities. You definitely are stealing my speed though. 13 miles this weekend, which is such a nice and welcomed step back. Dear Tim, I'm hoping that work doesn't make you come in this weekend. I want to get our first Christmas tree on Saturday or Sunday! We need to pick it out together.  Dear winter break, I can see you like the light at the end of the tunnel. You're coming up soon! I'll be ready for you when you get here, but I won't rush you. Dear HBBC and Elf4Health Challenges, thanks for keeping me motivated and on my toes at this time of year. You're so refreshing, inspirational, and good for me! Could I please win one prize before you're both over in 6 weeks? Dear Readers, thanks for coming by here daily, occasionally, or for the first time. I love hearing from you and knowing a little about you. 
A few questions:
1. I want a "first Christmas" ornament. Any suggestions on a good place to find one? I haven't found it on etsy...
2. Our Christmas cards are coming Saturday. When is the official "start to Christmas cards" date?
3. Are you going to any cookie swaps? Leave a link to your cookie below. I've got two more to make something for after the one this weekend, and I'd love your tips. 

Don't forget to come linkup your end of the year goals or Christmas goals on Monday for the 

November Foodie Pen Pal Goodies

After reading Beka's blog last month and seeing her Foodie Pen Pal loot, I quickly clicked over to Lindsay's blog and signed up. The concept is really neat, and there are hundreds and hundreds of people who participate monthly; I was amazed. When you sign up, you get an email with the person you will send a package of food to (you receive from a different person than you send to). It is then up to you to email and find out about dietary restrictions, likes, dislikes, and allergies.

I sent a package to Rachael, who is a vegan, and I made sure to pick out items that would be fun to snack on but would also fit her dietary needs. You can click to her blog to see the package I sent. 

I received a package from Judy, whom I told that I like to eat pretty healthy but will definitely indulge every once in a while. Like all food in our house, it got eaten pretty quickly. My picture was taken after several bags had been opened, so I decided to throw together a collage too.
I think the Zapp's chips may actually be completely gone by the time of this picture. I didn't get very many of those.
Required in the package is also a note, and in it Judy explained why she sent each of these items. I haven't tried the cheese spread yet, and I couldn't find a picture to include the chocolate peppermint pretzel in the collage.

My favorite item in the box would have been the voodoo chips. The flavor is really unique and is kind of a mix of sweet and sour. I wish I could come up with a better way to describe them. The flavor is a New Orleans kettle style, so it has a bit of a cajun flair.

The snapea crisps were good too, although they confused me. I couldn't decide if there were real peas in them. They were baked but super greasy, and I never did decide on the presence of a pea. I kept eating them, though, so I definitely did like them.

I like sriracha sauce already, and I'm actually glad Judy sent it because I left an open bottle on the counter and need to throw it out. 

The whisk was such a fun addition, and he will go to good use. It actually matches a little omelette skilled I bought at BB&B on one of our many wedding jaunts. 

The two sweet items, the caramel wafer and the chocolate peppermint pretzel, were both good. I didn't like the pretzel as much, because the chocolate was really dark and overpowering. The wafer was yummy, as it tasted like a waffle cone with caramel in the middle. Because it was high in calories I didn't eat both of them in the package.
The Lean Green Bean
The whole point of the swap is to meet new people and find new foods you wouldn't try yourself. Some people get local items, others get homemade (although you can tell your partner if you'd prefer not to have homemade), and I've seen so many varying packages. This was my first month to participate, but I'll definitely be doing it again. Lindsay doesn't have it for December, as she suggests the $15 you would spend on your box be sent to charity instead, but she'll have it back up and running if you want to jump in in January.

Have you done the FPP program? If you're jumping over from the linkup, what was your favorite item that you received? If you've never heard of it, is it something you would consider?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A New Favorite + Weekend Buys

I'm ashamed to admit to you that after this weekend I don't know if I have lived up to my previously claimed title of shopaholic. While I did get my sister's presents and something for Tim, the only sale I took advantage of for myself between Black Friday and Cyber Monday was the buy one get on free Organix Shampoo at Ulta on Black Friday (now they're buy one get one 50% off). I even spent a few minutes Monday night looking for something that I wanted that was on sale just so that I could say that I bought something on Cyber Monday (there was a tassel keychain from JCrew Factory I wanted but didn't bite the bullet in time)! It didn't happen. I fell asleep. I'm not sure what's wrong with my shopping-self lately; that side of me has gone into winter hibernation.
Oh well, I really like this shampoo and the Moroccan Argan oil version, so it was still a pretty great buy. I loaded myself up with a lot of bottles at a drugstore shampoo price. 
I posted a vlog when I first bought the full sized bottle of the Moroccan Argan Oil Shampoo, and I promised a review (completely unsponsored and unpaid). I haven't delivered until now, but I thought it would be worth throwing out there that this is a really great shampoo. I noticed the effects particularly after going to Tennessee for Thanksgiving and not bringing this with me. My hair wasn't as soft and frizz-free as it has been since using the Organix. It felt more dried and stripped using Herbal Essences that I've used a lot of in the past. This shampoo has similar benefits to the oil in that it makes your hair soft and easy to comb when getting out of the shower. The coconut flavor smells especially delightful, but I haven't had full sized bottles to use for a full trial. When I get my Ulta order I'll be using those too.

Tim will use whatever I buy and leave in the shower, and for some reason he actually requested this again when I was shopping online on Friday. He saw it and said, "we need more of that." As he's never requested a shampoo or conditioner before, I was surprised and added another set to the order. He mentioned that it makes his hair feel soft too. 

Other than this, nothing was bought! There were some good deals, but I didn't have the clicking in me and didn't see anything on many of the sites that I just had to have. I have since found two things I would like and might buy for myself.

1. Oakley Overtime running sunglasses I don't know if they were doing anything for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but I can only hope I didn't miss out.
2. PerfectFit Protein They were having a sale, and I missed out big time. I'm still considering buying some, because I'm having non-buyers remorse. 
Tell me what you bought! I would share what I bought for my sister and Tim, but they read the blog. 

What did you buy for yourself? What did you buy for others? Did you finish your shopping?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elf4Health Challenge Beginnings

Spoiler alert on my monthly goals: I haven't met them all. I'm really bad about committing to month long endeavors like blogging everyday or posting a picture on Instagram everyday. Although I've only missed two or three days of blogging, the Instagram photo a day challenge fell to the wayside after day 3 or 4. Oops. I had a feeling it would, but I hate that it actually happened. (As a side note, you can link up your monthly goals on Monday December 2nd!)
But now I've committed myself to two 6 week long challenges that do require a fairly high level of commitment. I've talked quite a lot about the Holiday Booty Buster Challenge, which I'm enjoying so far, but I haven't mentioned the Elf for Health Challenge. The #elf4health challenge is a bit more comprehensive and includes mental and physical health as well as what we're eating, how we're moving, and what we're doing with our time. The challenges so far have proven to be really unique, and I'm excited to continue. 
I am always so focused on exercise that I sometimes let what I'm putting into my body slide. I kind of think to myself that I'm burning enough calories that I can waste a few here or there, and I hate that I think that way. 
The first day's challenge was all about clean eating. It was to spend Monday without eating meat. I'm proud to say that day one was a success! Although I had a salad at lunch and at dinner, they varied. There is so much more to meatless eating than salad, but I didn't plan ahead or grocery shop before work so I didn't have time to make my favorite sweet potato black bean quinoa burger.
For Tuesday's challenge, the plan asked us to send a handwritten note to someone. I cheated a little and left a handwritten note for Tim. He'll be surprised when he finds it this morning, as notes and cards have been left to the holidays for some reason. This should help me get in the habit of leaving thoughtful notes for him when I head out of the house. I know it'll start his day on a positive foot, and I may end up finding a note or two in return (not that I need that if I leave one for him).

Today's challenge is to try a new workout! I would be foolish if I didn't tell you that this is the perfect opportunity to pull turbofire out of the box and give it a shot. I've had it collecting dust since I bought it a few weeks ago. I think this is a great excuse! To anyone that does turbofire: what CD should I try that will ease me into it? I've got 8 miles to run today too...I'll have to do that before the turbofire.
The rest of the week includes getting up to meditate, eating as many colors as possible in one day, and cleaning out closets to donate to Goodwill. Weren't Elle and Lindsay creative? You'll be seeing me instagram and tweet about all of these things. I also have an elf, Lindsay, to help hold me accountable. I also hold her accountable, although this girl is on fire with working out and clean eating.

I'm loving the benefits of the challenge. I've already got a few things set aside to donate this weekend, and it's helping me think outside of the box on how to spend my time. I haven't looked ahead too much, but I'm excited about how this challenge will help me grow in mental and physical health. 

Do you partake in meatless Mondays? What's the last new workout that you tried?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Life Lately!

I'm helping to co-host the Life Lately today! It's one of my favorite Monday linkups, so I'm excited to share with all of you. Write about your lives in some way and linkup below!
So, my weekend this weekend felt like it lasted from Tuesday until Sunday. I wish they all did. That would make for a short work week. But I've already done a few posts about what I've done over Thanksgiving and what I did over the weekend. I don't want to repeat myself, so I'll add other details and share new pictures.
Tim and I were in Chattanooga all week visiting my parents for Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful trip, and it was so good to see my family. I miss them so much seeing that I live in Florida and they're in Tennessee. I'm hoping to allot some of the money I won't be paying towards car payments towards plane tickets to go visit them more frequently in 2013. 
My sister and I are grown adults and we decided we wanted an Olan Mills style photo session after everyone left for Thanksgiving. I'm sure that's completely normal.
Friday night was very low key. I can't even pinpoint exactly what we did. All I know is that my mom cooked food that was unrelated to turkey and dressed, because we were all getting a little turkeyed out.
Saturday was a big day...
I ran 18 miles. That's my longest run to date. I'm running the Disney Marathon on January 13th, and it will be my first time conquering 26.2 miles. I'm right on plan, and I will readily admit that these are just as challenging (more mentally than physically to be honest) as you would imagine they would be. Your mind can only handle what you're putting your body through for so long. Then it becomes a fight between heart and mind. On Saturday my mind won.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and doing my other favorite Saturday activity: watching football with Tim. 
Alabama had a major win over Auburn! Roll Tide. And Tim's Florida Gators made sure to pave their way to the Sugar Bowl. Now we (Bama fans) need a big win in Atlanta this weekend at the SEC Championship so we can show Notre Dame our stuff in the National Championship game. It's going to be a great game between Alabama and Georgia! I can't wait to watch.

On Sunday Tim and I came home to Tampa. We were so thankful to one of our friends for coming to pick us up at the airport, and we stopped on the way home at Mellow Mushroom. Yum. I got a small Greek salad and a small Magical Mystery Tour pizza. It was delicious; I've never had a pizza with jalapenos in it, but I will definitely be having it again.
Since then I've been doing work around the house and catching up on life. I'm looking forward to Christmas break where I can do a few things that I've been neglecting being out of town and busy at work. 

This week I'm looking forward to putting up the tree, putting away fall decor and getting out Christmas decorations, and a cookie swap on Sunday! I just need to pick out some cookies. 

I'm also looking forward to getting onto the clean eating train with my Elf 4 Health Challenge (starting with meatless Monday tomorrow) and staying on my workouts to earn my Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge points. I need the motivation right now to cross train and to eat healthy. I'm putting in too much time training for my marathon to waste it with bad food.

What did you do this weekend? What are you looking forward to for the week? 
Linkup your life update posts below and follow the hosts and cohosts! We're excited to have you!
I'm also linking up my post with Leeann and Molly! If you're hopping over from there feel free to linkup below!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Marathon Training Week 11

Today marks the last day of week 11 of my marathon training plan. I got in all of my miles, and seeing that I was out of town for most of the week, I'm especially proud of that fact. Being out of town and out of your normal routes makes things extra difficult, but I made it work!
My runs were as follows:
Monday: a very slow (for me) five miler on the treadmill after the Women's Half marathon turned 17 miler last weekend. I knew I had to run Monday, even though it was supposed to be rest, because I wouldn't have half a second on Tuesday with our flight schedule and work. It was a painful 5, but it felt  good to shake out some of the lactic acid that I'm sure was still in my legs from Sunday.

Wednesday: Aside from the 18 miler, Tuesday was the toughest to get in. I went to my high school since my parents live on a mountain. (Crystal noted on dailymile that she pictures a palace alone on top of the mountain. I can assure you that isn't the case. Lots of people live on the mountains around Chattanooga). I figured it would be flatter and I would be able to run 8 there easily. I was so wrong. It was super hilly, and this Florida girl didn't know what hit her. I finished the last two on the TM at the weight room because I couldn't figure out another two miles outside that didn't make me want to drive home.

Thursday: This was the Turkey Trot, and, as usual, it's always easy to get in miles for a race. Race days are what we runners live for. There was no bling, but I didn't even mind. What a great day.

Saturday: The day that shall forever live in infamy. Running 18 miles is a long way, and planning a course for a run that long is tricky. What makes it even harder is running it in a city you've never run in before (I didn't run ever in high school). I had to map out an 18 mile route around downtown Chattanooga using the advice of one of my mom's friends and another friend who couldn't meet up with me because of her schedule. That is tricky.

I ran three bridges in Chattanooga over and over again as well as a riverfront path. It was not flat at all; bridges never are. But I will tell you that I could feel a difference between my ability on hills on Wednesday to Saturday. All of the runs I did while I was in TN had some pretty serious hills, and I can now see the benefits of hill training. I didn't feel as exhausted or defeated when I faced a hill on Saturday as I had on Wednesday. That might make it worth doing some treadmill hill work in the weeks to come. There are a few freeway bridges in the Disney marathon.

I will say, as a side note, that I was very careful to pick routes that paths that would be safe and have lots of people on them. I'm very conscious of my surroundings when I run at all times, and the fact that these were new routes for me made me even more conscious. I had my music down to a very low volume and looked around me at all times. After hearing about a few unfortunate events related to female runners in the last few days, it makes me think about ways to stay even more safe as I head out the door.

Back to my run. My pace was not consistent at all.
Miles 9, 10, and 12 kind of make me cringe. I hate that I let my pace get that high, but that was right around the time I was starting to think of cutting my run short and heading home to the treadmill. After I made the decision to just finish the run and make it work, I got my paces back down.

It's amazing how much your mind matters in distance running. Getting your head in the right place can do so much to make or break your run. The views and the paths that I ran were really pretty, though. Chattanooga has a gorgeous pedestrian Riverwalk that runners and bikers use. Paired with that and the three very runner friendly bridges and public park areas, it was a great place to run. I took my smaller camera to grab a few pictures (some I stopped for and others I took mid-run).
The Hunter Museum leading to the Walnut Street walking bridge
Walnut Street Bridge
View from Walnut Street Bridge down to the aquarium
One part of the Riverwalk
More of the Riverwalk
View of the Tennessee River from the Riverwalk
Heading back downtown
You can see two of the bridges I ran in the picture above. The one in the foreground I did twice, and the blue one in the background I did countless times, because it's a walking bridge.
I didn't mention that it was in the 30's for the whole run. I wanted to document it with a glamour shot. I apologize that I cannot link to the hat's place of purchase. I'm sure you'd all run out a buy one immediately. I found it in the closet at my parent's house before I headed out.
It was a beautiful run, and I'm lucky to have had such a great place to map out a long run. 

I'm not going to workout today, though, because I just feel like resting after yesterday. Tomorrow is supposed to be a rest day, but I think I'll probably cross train tomorrow instead. 

This is what my week ahead looks like. I'm glad to be back in Tampa for these.

How were your workouts this week? Did you get in all of your miles/workouts? Did you do a turkey trot or were you active on Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Trot and Family Time

Sorry I've been more absent this week. It's funny how heading out of town can make you feel disconnected from your normal schedule. I love visiting my parents and taking a step out of the real world, but it does lead to be forgetting to blog post and schedule time for that.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I most certainly did. There were very few things that I enjoy that didn't take place yesterday. I got to run, see friends, be with family, and eat delicious food. I didn't over-indulge too much, but I did enjoy my fair share of Thanksgiving goodies.

Luckily, I started the day yesterday at the Chattanooga Turkey Trot 8k. I was originally planning on running the 3 miler with my sister and Tim, but because they decided not to run it for different reasons, I went ahead and stepped up to the 8k since I had five miles on the docket for this week. It was such a fun race, but let me give you a sneak peek of part of the course:
Do you see how that neighborhood is called "Brainerd Hills"? Well it didn't fail to live up to its name. That's about half of the almost five miles, and I assure you that the rest was just as hilly. When we got there, we found the cutest costumes. Although we snuck a few photos, none of them did the trick. Finally I just went up and asked if I could take their picture, and they didn't mind at all. I wasn't the only one! How fun is this homemade turkey?! He wins the prize!
I was so excited to have my sister and Tim there as well as my dad, who has never been to one of my races! They also ended up being like photographers on the course! They snapped some great shots.
I ran this same race last year in 44:48, and my time yesterday was 42:21, so it was a PR by quite a bit. Last year I was having IT band problems, and this year I'm in peak week of marathon training, so it's all relative I guess. But a PR is a shiny new PR nonetheless. I'll set that one up on the shelf and enjoy it. 
My goal had been to run it at around an 8:30 per mile, and my watch showed 8:27/mile for 5.01 miles (an 8k is such an odd distance that I can't even tell you what the race distance was supposed to be). I count it as a success, and the shirt was pretty cute, long sleeved, and not white. I wear the one from last year a lot, so I'm sure I'll be wearing this one a lot too. 
Although that font does make it looks like it says turkey trut...

All these miles are adding up nicely for the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge!

Afterwards we came home, my friend Blair came over for a little, and then it was time to eat! We had a house full, but it's always so much fun. I didn't take many pictures during Thanksgiving, but my family all remembered we needed to take a few after people had left. 
After we put our comfy clothes on my sister insisted on playing a board game. It was the last thing on my list of things I wanted to do. I wanted to sit on the couch and relax. We all finally agreed to play "apples to apples". Have you played before? That game is so much fun. I was the one who didn't want to play, and then I was the one begging to play again after the first game. It got intense!
It has been so nice to be home and spend time with family. We're all enjoying our time together relaxing, eating, and catching up. 

Today is a running off day, but I'm going to put in one mile on the treadmill to start off the Runner's World running streak. The whole plan is to run at least one mile every day between Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Day. It's a pretty big goal, but I think I'm up for it. Today's run will be slow, as I've got 18 to do tomorrow all around downtown Chattanooga.

Between that and watching all the rivalry football games, Saturday is going to be a big day!

What are you up to this weekend? How many miles on tap?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

...and sometimes 8 feels like 18

Sometimes runs feel easy, and I can bust out 17+ miles at 9:03 pace while feeling good the whole time. Other times running a much shorter distance feels a lot longer and harder. One of those runs happened today. I'm home visiting my family for Thanksgiving, and my parents live on a mountain. I decided with confidence that, though I live in Florida and run flat daily, I could definitely run around my high school's campus off the mountain. There were some hills, but I was sure that all the hard work I've put in would absolutely make it so that I could blow up those hills like they were flat surfaces.

So off I went. And it was a beautiful run!
I started off on the cross country loop, where I used to be forced to run as a swimmer in high school. It was funny to be back on trails that I had despised running 9-10 years ago. I loved this run and the feeling for those first few miles. Then I kept going.

And the next miles were harder, because there were some major hills. I ran up them, but eventually I had to stop at the top to catch my breathe from my burning lungs and legs. But then I pushed on. I told myself that I would cut my run short to 6 miles. After all, I had run 17 miles on Sunday and 5 on Monday. Beyond that, I am running the Turkey Trot 8k in the morning. I don't have fresh legs and I shouldn't ware myself out. After enough hills and stops, I decided to do a few laps around a flat area of campus. And then, I saw there were treadmills in the weight room as I was running by. I knew I'd be disappointed in myself if I cut my run short, so I took it to the treadmill in the weight room for the last two miles.

It's a small miracle that I got that whole run in. I in fact am not sure how I did it. It was painful, but I kept in the back of my mind my the focus and perseverance necessary to run 26.2 miles. I'm sure I'll get to a point in the race where I feel how I felt this morning. There will probably be several times I want to stop and cut it short, but in the end I won't be able to. So I guess this was a practice run for pushing through those self-doubts. And though the run wasn't easy and included a number of stops, it got done.
And then I came home and was excited to spend time with my family. I may or may not post a blog post tomorrow, but I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families, friends, and loved ones. I'm incredibly blessed, and because of my long thankful post last Thursday, I'll just link back to that for what I'm thankful for.

And a couple early black Friday notes for you: 
1. I bought three pairs of PRO Compression socks today for $67. I've been looking to buy them for a few weeks now, but the cheapest price I ever could find was $30. When I saw that LeftLane Sports was having them for $24.95 plus a $10 credit for signing up and a $5 coupon code (SHOPLLS3Y9), I jumped. I am sharing my referral link with you, so if you sign up you'll get the $10 and I'll get a sign up credit, but I didn't get a discount or free product for posting this.

2. Also, I mentioned ShowerPill on Saturday, but I wanted to follow up. I used the product after my run today and was really pleased. It's the perfect towel for wiping away sweat to feel refreshed if you can't get to a shower. It's perfect if you need to run errands after the gym or want to run on lunch.

It made me smell a little less stinky, and one wipe covered my whole body. I would say that it won't replace a shower for the day, but it keeps you feeling fresh until you can get to one a few hours later. 

From Friday to Sunday the boxes are buy two get one free on Amazon with code SPFRIDAY.
For this, I did receive product, but the opinion is my own. I didn't receive other compensation.

What are you thankful for? 
Are you running a Turkey Trot!?
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