Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 and December Goals: Success!

My 2012 goals were the above, and I am pleased to say that I was 90% successful with them!

1. I payed off my car! With a few extra payments here and there, my account balance is at $0.00! Now I will drive it until it becomes unsuitable for driving.

2. Where I'm docking myself 10% is on the marathon part. I'm 16 weeks into an 18 week training plan, and I will run my first marathon on January 13th, 2012! I would have run one sooner, but I had a major abdominal surgery in August and wasn't allowed to do any working out whatsoever for 6 weeks. As soon as I was cleared, I hit the road starting my training plan!

3. We left the continental United States and went to Hawaii! Though not out of the country completely, it's a different world and a long flight away. I'm counting it as a 100% victory!

4. I stayed in budget! We used a Google Doc spreadsheet to update every time we purchased something, and we opened a shared savings account to start pooling money from the get go. With that we were able to withdraw money upon items purchased and knew exactly how much we had left. Victory was ours!

December goals were as follows:
1. Craft one thing. Anything. FAIL. Oops...
2. Skype with my parents on Christmas morning. (This is going to be the first time I'm away from them on Christmas Morning...). Done!
3. Make at least one tradition with Tim for Christmas that we can do every year going forward. Done!
4. Use my time out of school productively. Done (and still doing...)!
5. Hit two 20 mile training runs. Done and Done!
6. Don't stress if I miss posting on a weekday. Done!

More success! This bodes well for a great 2013 and the commitments and goals I'm putting in place. I'm excited to share those goals with you tomorrow, but I'll tell you ahead of time that most of them won't actually start until after January 13th. Making any exercise or food changes 12 days before my first marathon and after the weeks of training I've put in wouldn't be a good idea.

How did your 2012 goals go? What is your main goals for 2013?

2012: A Year of Favorites!

2012 has been my best year yet. Though it sounds silly to say, I have no doubt in my mind that it's completely true. I have found my place and figured out who I am, and I'm just happy. There are so many reasons for these feelings, so I though I'd recap 2012 in my own way. I've seen questions and recaps, and I've loved them all. So I've decided to take different questions from different recaps, as well as make up some of my own, and answer them myself. If you're interested, feel free to use the same questions.

Favorite Day: July 21 of course! Our wedding.

Favorite Memory: At our reception, Tim and I sat at our sweetheart table while everyone ate and just looked around. Tim took out his phone and we videoed for a minute, but we just sat. We took in everything around us and looked at all the people that loved us enough to be there for us on our special day. That will forever be my favorite moment of 2012. 

Favorite trip with Tim: Our Honeymoon! We went to Kauai, Hawaii and left no corner of that island unturned! We explored by boat, by car, by ATV, by kayak, and by foot. It was the trip of a lifetime (until we take another one).

Favorite trip with friends: My Bachelorette Party to Las Vegas! What a fun weekend, and what amazing friends I have to share in this celebration with me! I know so many other of my friends would have loved to have been there, but I was lucky that so many were able to share in this trip and/or the wedding. I can't wait for the next one (which will be Ashley, my friend on the far right below)!

Favorite Race: I pick two! I loved the Rock n Roll St. Petersburg because it's where I set my current half marathon PR, but I also loved the Gasparilla Beck's Light Challenge because of the accomplishment of running a 15k, 5k, and half marathon all in one weekend!

Favorite Run: My favorite run this year was my first 20 miler of my Disney Marathon training cycle. I ran it down in Madeira Beach, and part of it was the Holiday Halfathon. I ran 6 miles before the race and a mile after the race. It wasn't a beautiful run; it was hot, humid, and sticky. What made it perfect, though, was that I did it! It was a personal moment of pride, and though I did it again, the first time was definitely the best!

Favorite non-competitive running event: Though the Color Run was tons of fun, it's Pretty Muddy that takes the cake for me. The mud, the girls, and the silliness made a great combination! I loved getting muddy, and I'll be back next year!
2012 has been epic. Looking back through iPhoto to pick out what I want to highlight has made me realize how thankful I am for my husband (ah!), new and old friends, my family, fun events and trips, and my ability to run!

Though I can't figure out how to fit them into "favorites" and don't want this post to go on forever, I can't forget these events from 2012:

Running the Disney Marathon Relay (and getting the taste of the marathon finish line that would lead me to signing up for my first one coming up)//Getting involved with Tampa Blogger events//My Bridal Shower//Our trip to Chicago//Our Rehearsal Dinner//Women's Half Marathon//Our first Christmas together

What a year it has been! I can't even wrap my head around it. This year has just flown by! I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store. 2012 has left some massive shoes to fill, but I'm going to do everything in my power to make it even better!

I'm going to do a separate post today following up with my December and 2012 goals, and then I'll post my commitment and goals for 2013 tomorrow. 

What was your favorite event from 2012?
What are you most looking forward to for 2013?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Marathon Training Week 16 + Weekly Workouts Linkup

I am proud of myself this week for again getting every training run in with Christmas being Tuesday and heading up to Chattanooga Thursday through Sunday. But, at the same time, I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get cross training in this week. Though it isn't the end of the world and I'm going to get on the bike tomorrow to make up for it, I still can't shake that.

And I guess this whole "taper blues" that people talk about is starting to sink in. Though this isn't a massive drop in mileage, it's at least 5-10 miles less than I've been doing for the last 15 weeks, and my body feels like it's slacking a little bit. I'm not sure how I'm going to stand it for the next two major cutback weeks. I guess I just have to trust the plan (that I've been doubting quite frequently the last couple of days...someone make me stop).

The runs this week, aside from Friday, were stellar.
The run on Christmas felt hard, but the pace wasn't terrible. 

The tempo run on Wednesday was amazing. That 8:25 pace felt solid, but I didn't feel like I was going to fall over to the side of the road during it or when I was done.

It was Friday's run that stunk a bit. I rescheduled runs while in Chattanooga since it was super cold and my parents live on a mountain. I ran this one on their treadmill, and this 9:47 pace felt harder than the 8:25 pace from Tuesday. I'm not sure if it was the altitude of running on the mountain (is that even possible?), the Christmas treats and carbs I'd been enjoying, or tired legs from the runs before. Whatever it was, the run was embarrassing. 

Today's long run of 12 miles (funny how that just doesn't feel that long) was fantastic. I'd venture to say that it was the best long run of my training plan. I was going to run two miles without music, but I ended up running a little over 8 before putting it in. I took my GU at 8, finished the second part of the route I was on, and was done. It flew by, and my pace felt fantastic. I think it bodes well for what will be happening two weeks from now (that's the marathon, if you didn't know).

This upcoming week is an even bigger step down, and I just hope not to feel worthless.
The only thing I'll do different is cross train Monday to make up for the cross training I didn't do this week.

Linkup your workouts this week with me, Kat, and Genna. They don't have to be running, and you don't have to be training for anything! Just share what you've done!

What workout this week was your best?
Which one are you most proud of?
I'm also linking up with Jill.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Trader Joe's Road Trip

Last week I posted asking for recommendations for my Trader Joe's trip, and you all delivered! Though I had been to a Trader Joe's once right as I was leaving Atlanta, where I used to live, I'd never gone in for more than bottles of wine. After reading through many healthy bloggers' posts about their favorite Trader Joe's products and having one open in Sarasota (a little over an hour from me), I decided it was time for me to make a road trip down there to pick up a few items. In actuality, once I tweeted and posted about it, I had made a grocery list that put my normal list to shame. And though those of you that have Trader Joe's might think I'm crazy for driving this way, I've found my trip to be more than worth it! I'm in fact planning another one next week while I'm still out of school. 

I went with a girlfriend and took a small cooler. I learned later that the cooler was much too small. This is what the Sarasota Trader Joe's looks like on the inside and outside.
While I was there I was pretty excited to pick up the items that I had been recommended. I filled a cart to the brim and also picked up a few bottles of wine and it only cost me $188. Though that's really high for me for a week's worth of groceries, I got at least a week's worth of meals, items for Christmas dinner, items to take to Christmas eve, more snacks than normal, and wine. So in the end, I was more than pleased with my total. The prices are great! For fresh, natural food, I was very pleased with my total and the amount that I got.

I got a whole bunch of refrigerated and frozen items, but after the longer car ride home (I had left my car somewhere to meet up with my friend Emily and ended up hitting really bad traffic) I immediately put all the cool items in the freezer and fridge and never took a picture. I promise it would have amounted to about this much or more.
And though it's been over a week since I went, we still haven't gone through all of the items I bought. Of the items pictured above, I've tried almost all of it, and I've been really impressed (have I said that enough). The vodka sauce, black bean dip, ginger cat cookies, peanut butter cup trail mix, wasabi trail mix, and cookie butter are my favorite non-refrigerated items. I haven't tried the dressing, bars, granola, or shredded wheat, though I heard great things about them as well!
I bought two pre-made wraps: the Thanksgiving sandwich (with Turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce), and the veggie sandwich (with hummus, carrots, and greens). I ate the veggie one and loved it. Tim also spoke just as highly of the Thanksgiving one, though he took it to work so I didn't get to try it. If I lived closer to a Trader Joe's I would be very guilty of stopping there all too frequently for those.

The quinoa and black bean infused tortilla chips were good, but I wouldn't say they were a necessity. They were a last minute pick up. I don't think I'd add them to my list again.
When I go again I will be loading up on the black bean dip. It is perfectly spicy without being  overpowering, and you could technically eat a whole jar without blowing your whole day's calories, though I promise I didn't. The peach salsa was okay. Again, I don't think it's a necessity.
The goat cheese was a great price and good quality, and I have another one of those in the refrigerator. The jalapeno hummus was good, but the horseradish hummus (not pictured) was our favorite. I'm glad I picked that one up as well.
The Wine Country chicken salad was amazing, and I wish I'd bought another one. It was cranberries, poppy seed, and pecans in it, and the flavor is delicious. The chicken was real chicken, and I didn't get any of the yucky chicken that I sometimes get in pre-made chicken salad. I will definitely get a few of these.
Meatball picture from here.            
This goat cheese ravioli was yummy as well. I served it with the vodka sauce I mentioned above, and we ate that together with the turkey meatballs. I forgot to photograph the turkey meatballs, because I was so concerned with getting them in the oven and chowing down on them. They were delicious, and I'll be picking them up again without a doubt. They come in the frozen foods section.

I did get a frozen pizza with arugula as well as the mushroom tarte. We ate the arugula pizza and liked it a lot, but we haven't eaten the mushroom tarte yet. Our favorite thing frozen, though, was the spinach & artichoke dip. I'd read about it on another blog, and since I had said I would bring that to Christmas Eve, I thought this was a good time to give it a try.
This was another that I forgot to take a picture of since I made it in a hurry and took it to Tim's aunt and uncle's house. I was almost embarrassed how easy it was and how delicious it turned out. You just microwave it for 4 or 5 minutes and it's ready. And then it disappears, so you have to act fast. 

Overall, I can't think of anything off the top of my head that we didn't like from this trip. I mentioned some of the things that I wouldn't be making a trip for or necessarily buying again, but everything was so natural, fresh, and for the most part healthy that I'm just a little sad that it's a little over an hour's drive from me. That's okay, though, I'll be going when I can! It's so much cheaper than Whole Foods, and I honestly think the items are even better!

If you live in Tampa or an area outside of Sarasota I would definitely recommend bringing a cooler and making a trip down there. 

Do you have a Trader Joe's? 
What is/are your favorite item/s? Any that I didn't try?
Do you feel like there's a difference between it and the regular grocery store, or am I just a newbie?

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Eve fancies to New Year's Day commitments

I think I'm done celebrating Christmas with every possible family member, and I'll share my Christmas with my parents, sister, and Grandma later. For now, I put together a New Year's Eve outfit from Anthropologie's sale section. They're offering 30% off sale right now, so I had spent some time browsing and finding cute things. I thought I'd throw some together for a New Year's Eve look to play along with {av}'s Friday's Fancies

I doubt I'll be dressing up in anything so fancy for our New Year's Eve plans. We are going over to a friend's house with a group of us, and because our plans skip anything out and about, I imagine that I'll be a little more casual. I'll share outfit pictures if I remember. What are your New Year's plans? Have you thought about what to wear?

And speaking of New Year's Eve, I thought I'd share too one of the things I'm planning on doing in the new year. While I know many people are opposed to resolutions or don't see the new year as a reason to start something, I love that feeling of freshness and new. One of the things I've heard a lot about and spoken with a few blog friends about is Commitment Day.
Have you heard of it?

There are 5ks around the country that people are participating in, but as the closest 5k to me is an hour and a half away, I'll be participating in the other part. The other part relates to making a commitment to living a healthier life. Instead of making resolutions, commitment day encourages people to make a commitment to change something or several things about the way they're living. I'm going to put more thought into what my commitments are going to be before the new year begins, but I think this is the perfect opportunity to commit to a few lifestyle changes that I've been trying to start throughout the end of this year. Again, I know some will disagree that I should just start now, but having a solid date and a clear start are so clean and fresh for me.

I would encourage you to make a commitment too. It doesn't cost anything, and you don't have to do a 5k to participate. It's just about helping America become more healthy overall. There's a neat slideshow on the website that shows why they're doing this, and it helped convince me to join myself.

And as an added incentive to myself, I did end up keeping almost all of my 2012 resolutions throughout the year, so I think that bodes well to the fresh start I'm looking forward to in 2013.

Do you make resolutions?
Would you make a commitment/commitments? 
What area of your life do you want to make a change either now or in the new year?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Two Christmases in Tampa

I'm sitting in a little regional airport headed to Chattanooga for the long weekend to visit my parents and sister for Christmas number 3! It's a little late, but it's been fun to draw out Christmas a little bit, and with a direct flight from Tampa to Chattanooga it was worth the extra day's wait. I counted Christmas number one as the one on Christmas morning with just me and Tim, and then I counted Christmas number two as the one where I cooked most of the lunch and had Tim's parents and brothers over to our house.

But before those two celebrations, we went over to Tim's uncle's house on Christmas Eve to celebrate with his extended family. It was so much fun! I didn't take many pictures, but we did so many entertaining things worth noting. We played Taboo, which was hilarious with all different ages playing, before dinner. Then we had a delicious beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce, and we were all crying from the stronger than normal horseradish. One thing was for sure, all of our sinuses were cleared! After dinner, we did the white elephant gift exchange, and I ended up with this:
The gifts ranged from silly to serious, and I was content with what I took home. I'll have to make some lil' pies to test it out. 

After that, we played a game I'd never heard of called Left Right Center. It's a money game, so it's right up my alley. Everyone started with three dollars, then three dice go around a circle and people take turns rolling. You have to do with your dollars what it says on the dice, either pass to the left, right, center, or keep your dollars. The person with the last dollar at the end (after all of the other dollars have been "lost" to the center) wins all of the money in the pot. We played three times, and Tim and I were so close one of them!
Then Tim and I stopped to see lights in Clearwater on our way back home. One particular house near where Tim grew up was decked in lights, and their snow village was impressive. They put it out for people to enjoy. My mom collects snow village houses, and I want to start as well!
On Christmas morning Tim and I exchanged our gifts and opened our stockings.
Stockings were first! My mom always took pride in filling stockings with unique and fun items, so I wanted to continue that tradition in our family. I put into Tim's running socks, an Amazon gift card, a few pieces of candy, some mint "coal" I picked up at Trader Joe's, a running shirt, movie gift cards, wasabi peas, and a few other things that I'm blanking on now! He enjoyed it though.
My stocking picture is stuck on his phone not where I am right now. He did well too!

These are my gifts from Tim; he wrapped them himself.
I took a picture of all my goodies of the day later on. After opening gifts, Tim made cinnamon rolls. I always give him a hard time because he doesn't cook, so on Christmas he decided he was going to make these. They turned out well. Here is the recipe he followed. 
Though not our cutest, we had to take a picture by the tree on Christmas morning. 
I headed out for a run (can't forego fitness even on holidays) and then cooked stuffing, sweet potato casserole, and shaved brussels sprouts to go with the ham and cranberry sauce I'd already gotten. I'm so pleased with the results, so I'll share my two creations in a separate post.
Here are all of my goodies. I'm so excited with everything. Tim got me Toms, a phone case, an ifitness belt, a Coach keychain, and a Coach phone holder. For Tim's family we picked names and his dad drew mine. He got me the lululemon skirt that I asked for and two pairs of running socks. And Tim's mom got me the Stella & Dot elephant scarf and a running log! I can't wait to track all my runs in 2013.
I had to finish up this post at my parents' house in Tennessee, and we just finished up our Christmas! I scored big here too and will share about our Christmas later! I am so thankful for my family and all that we are blessed with. It's been great to be able to see everyone in such a short time.

How was your Christmas? How many groups did you celebrate with?
What was your favorite gift that you received?
What was your favorite gift that you gave? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Busch Gardens Treat!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with family and friends! We definitely did, but I'm still taking it all in so don't have any pictures uploaded yet. Instead, I thought I'd share some fun pictures from our day trip to Busch Gardens Tampa on Sunday.

Tim texted me on Friday asking if I'd want to go to Busch Gardens on Sunday, the day before Christmas Eve. He had gotten two half off coupons for day tickets, so I of course said I would want to go! We hadn't been to Busch Gardens since August of 2008, when Tim took the day off of work to take me as a treat before the first day of my new job. That was after we had been dating about a month. What a guy!

We love going to theme parks, but we just don't do it that much because of cost and time. This seemed like the perfect opportunity! We also invited his youngest brother to come with us; his brother is a theme park expert and knows all of the ins and outs of Disney, Busch Gardens, and Universal. He has a season pass so he was up for it too! We all had so much fun together, and because we got there right when it opened, we had free reign of the place for the first couple of hours we were there. We rode two of the most popular rides twice each without waiting in line. Lines slowly started forming after a couple of hours, but we needed to do our due diligence and wait in at least a few lines. 

It was fun to go right before Christmas, because even though I've never been to Disney for Christmas, Busch Gardens does it up pretty big. Alex (Tim's brother) was kind enough to be our photographer every once in a while.
Cheetah Hunt is the newest ride, and we waited in line for it once before technical difficulties turned us around. We eventually went back and waited for about 45 minutes. It's a good ride, but it's more focused on speed than height, and I love those stomach turning drops on some of the taller roller coasters.
I loved seeing the animals! I'm not sure why, but they were all so interactive on Sunday. Maybe it was because it was cooler or because it wasn't overly crowded, but they came right to the glass or to the people feeding. It was so much fun!
Had to take the opportunity! Roll Tide!
We had to get one of Tim in front of Timbuktu! Busch Gardens Tampa's theme is Africa, so there are all different countries and cities of Africa built around the park.
I took plenty of opportunities to be silly and pose! I also wore my Garmin and tracked the mileage when we were walking outside, because I always wonder when I leave these kinds of places how far we've walked. Now I know! We tracked around 3.2 miles.
Tiger upclose! 
This was the coolest part! He jumped up on the glass to say hello! I was so glad to have my camera out, because I couldn't believe it! You hardly ever see these big animals so close to the glass, much less jumping up like this! Thank goodness I saw the movie Life of Pi. This made me want to pet the tiger, but after seeing the movie and seeing Pi have the same feelings and then barely be able to survive in the boat with the tiger, I was reminded that these animals are not for cuddling. 
We didn't stick around for it, but Busch Gardens started a night celebration for the holidays this year called Christmas town. It's a separate ticket, and we decided to opt out. Yelp had an elite event there, so I did see pictures and it looked nice. Kat, Beka, and Caroline all had great recaps of that event.
I have decided that this is my favorite roller coaster, called Sheikra. This is the massive drop, and there is another just this steep but about half the height. Both of them leave your stomach at the top while you drop. When we went on this one I had forgotten about the huge drop, and I was saying to Tim and Alex as we were climbing the hill that I'd meant not to go on this one and didn't realize this was the drop one. Oops. Too late!
Sesame Street Christmas decorations!
We happened upon the kangaroo feeding, which happens three times a day. Their tails are strangely long and fat.
We stood in line for Cheetah Hunt, that I had mentioned before, ate lunch, then headed out!
It was a great day at Busch Gardens! I loved going at Christmas and spending the day with Tim and his brother. It was chilly so the park wasn't overly crowded.
Are you a theme park fan?
What is your favorite?
Do you ride roller coasters?
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