Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Redemption.

Everyone has something, or a few things, they're passionate about.  It may be career, taking care of others, creating, etc.  While my true, or at least first, passion lies in travel, it's not something I can throw myself into on a regular basis.  My next passion falls upon running.  To be overly dramatic, last year was devastating when I lost running.  Running is close to my heart, and it's an activity that just makes me feel so alive.  To lose something that I love so much was extremely hard.  I'm not sure that non-runners can quite understand this loss. Imagine a hobby you devote quite a bit of time to (ie. reading, photography, video games, etc.) and then imagine that hobby being taken away completely.  Again, I realize this sounds dramatic, but quite honestly these are my true feelings.  Finally running started to come back to me.   After many tears, a couple of un-run races, plenty of money, and ongoing physical therapy, my leg allowed me the ability to run another half marathon.


I chose a half because the 13.1 distance is my happy distance.  It's not too short, but just long enough for me to really push myself, surpassing boundaries I think can't be won.  I trained for twelve weeks for the Rock N Roll Raleigh half marathon.  I constantly worried my leg (which has still never felt completely back to normal since my stress fracture) would not allow me to run long distances again.  Even though I'm only soon-to-be 29, my body often feels as though it wants to rebel against me.  I feel every twitch, twinge, and soreness.  This made the process of training and racing more emotional for me.  Initially I hoped for a PR, but with injury pains lingering, I settled for my goal to be simply to finish the race.

  
This race felt like more than just a big fuck you to a past injury.  It was at home.  I feel in love with running in Raleigh.  I truly fell in love with this sport in my town.  My favorite weekend includes an early morning run on the greenway with a view of the Raleigh skyline.  Running has made me who I am today.  It has made more confident and proud woman.  This race felt so close to my heart being in Raleigh.  This is my city.  My running city.  It was a redemption race.  The was the day after my mom's birthday.  It was the race I worked so hard for.  Rock N' Roll Raleigh would make or break me.


In the days before the race, my leg was feeling a little "off" but it wasn't an injured typed of feeling.  I left home feeling so grateful for this chance.  The opportunity to run a half healthy, in my city, with D at the finish line was what I had been working towards.  It was a gorgeous day.  The temps were in the 50s for the start of the race, and the sun was shining.  Regardless of my nerves and anxiety, I felt ready.


The sun was beaming down on me.  The hills were plentiful and intense.  My mantra was to make the hills my bitch, and I did.  I ran up every damn one of them and did not walk.  I was hot.  I was exhausted.  My knee started hurting around mile 5.  At mile 10, I didn't even want to think about running another 5k, yet something kept me going.  My love for running?  My will to succeed and achieve?  The fact that I would never forgive myself for giving up?  All of it.  I never gave up.  I may have walked two times, but I ran with all my heart for the last 1.1 miles.  I achieved something that I worked so desperately hard for.  I accomplished something I've been waiting over a year to come to fruition.  I pushed myself.  When I wanted to give up, I pushed even harder.  This race reminded me why love running.  I am able to prove to myself that this is me: a strong woman who doesn't give up on what she sets her mind to.

  
I had D to meet me at the finish line, which makes a race a million times better.  I'm so grateful I had him there to give me a big hug and congratulate me.  It never would have been the same without him there.  We spent the morning enjoying brunch, bloodys, and beer.  What made this crazy, hard, perfect, race even better?


An unintentional PR (oh, and no post-race chafing!)!  My official time was 2:36:36, and I couldn't be more proud of myself.  My original PR was on an almost completely flat course in the Outer Banks.  This record was achieved post-injury, with a sore knee, and run in the heat and over a million hills.  Rock N Roll was the redemption race I needed.  I'm almost scared to even think about running another half because it will never be like this one…almost.

What's your next race?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday motivation.

[via]

I'm taking a page out of Alex's book and sending a little Monday motivation your way.  I've been away, and in the meantime I've been quite a ball of emotions and stress.  This quote (while not necessarily as motivating as it is thought-provoking) struck a cord with me.  Sometimes I come to a place in my life where I want so much to live but feel that living requires having earned something.  Everything in life seems to cost.  For now, I'm trying to kick the stress and worry aside and focus on my happiness and how I am living.

  • My first half marathon post-injury is Sunday.  I've worked so hard (and have been feeling really good on my long runs), and I know that work is going to pay off.  Running again has reminded me how great it feels to work so hard at something and be able to accomplish something.
  • Spring weather.  Enough said.
  • Planning our Spain/Portugal trip!  And counting down for it!
  • Reading.  Currently: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
  • Book club
  • Me time.
  • Yoga. Expanding my horizons and trying new things
  • My weight loss challenge with D.  Bring it!
How are you living these days?  What's making you happy?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weekend getaway :: Snowy oasis in Blowing Rock.

For our anniversary every year, it's become a tradition to head to the mountains.  We rent a cabin and bring the dogs (which is nice because it's one of the only trips we make that allows us to bring our babies along).  For our first anniversary we headed to Boone.  Second was Asheville/Max Patch, third was Boone again, and this year was Blowing Rock.  We typically leave Thursday evening (after work for me) in order to enjoy a full three day weekend in the mountains.  In our previous three years of venturing to the mountains in March, we have never encountered snow.  Now that I think about it, we've had rain every single year.  Not this time...
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The snow started coming down on Thursday night and did not stop until mid-day Friday.  D estimated it was about six to eight inches.  That's a lot for us.  Luckily D's car is four-wheel drive so we didn't have any problems getting to the cabin.


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Nonetheless, we decided to stay in on Friday.  I was coming down with a bit of a cold, so it was nice to spend the day reading, playing in the snow, and downing tons of hot tea.  It was so great to have the dogs and let them play in the snow.  They had the best time.


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Our cabin was great!  They had everything we needed for cooking and living (although I couldn't find the hair dryer they were supposed to have).  Lucky for us, we even found a sled!


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On Saturday, the sun was out and everything was gorgeous.  We spent the day visiting Beech Mountain (and the brewing company there),  gorging ourselves on Mexican food, taking naps, exploring the adorable tiny town of Blowing Rock, and finishing with an amazing dinner at Gamekeeper.


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Friday, March 7, 2014

Commitments & resolutions :: sticking to your guns.

I'm in the mountains with D for our 4th year anniversary, but I thought I'd share a guest post with you all.  Earlier this week, I discussed my 2014 commitment progress.  My friend, Blake, reached out to me a while back about sharing some tips for staying committed to a healthy lifestyle for the new year.  Based on my resolutions from previous years, I know it is so difficult to remain focused on healthy resolutions.  Blake has some great tips (more than one I had never thought of), so I hope you find them helpful!



Getting in shape and eating right was hands down one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life.  Last year, at 35 and with two young boys, I realized that my diet and exercise habits had become a problem and were affecting me in ways that hindered my performance as both a husband and a father. I would run around in the backyard with my boys and after about 5 minutes have to sit down and attempt to catch my breath. Afterward I would go inside and eat whatever I felt like and not even think twice.

January 17th 2013 was the date that I made the conscious decision to turn around my lifestyle and get serious about my health. I had little to no knowledge of how to go about doing this but in this day and age information about anything is right at your fingertips. Webmd and NerdFitness were two great resources for me.  Those first 2 months of my new lifestyle were incredibly challenging. Exercise was painful and embarrassing. I wanted comfort food so badly it hurt sometimes. Even with the challenges, I stuck to my guns, and I am so proud to say that. Here I am about a year later and my new lifestyle has changed me in so many ways. I have so much more energy and vigor for anything. My wife sees it, my kids see it and my friends see it. I cannot imagine living how I used to. I know this time of year a lot of new years resolutions can start to fall to the wayside. I’m telling you to stick with it. Here are a few tips I picked up from my journey that hopefully can help you stick to your guns.

Fall into a Routine//

They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, well it’s time to find out. To some people, routines may seem mundane; however I feel they are a great way to stay focused. The one habit I believe is the most important is consistent sleep patterns. Going to bed and getting up at the same time will make you so much fresher. You will not believe it. I know it can be near impossible to be asleep at the same time every night, especially if you have children; however, it’s worth making the effort. Your body is smarter than you think, and after a while it will start to pick up on the signals. Another routine I recommend is consistent meal times. Eating at the same time everyday will condition your body when to expect food and what to do with it. Create good habits for yourself and stick to them.

Financially Commit//

I don’t know about you all but if I’m paying for something I’m going to make sure that I am satisfied. My wife calls me cheap, but I prefer frugal. I decided to apply this tactic to my newfound hobby of working out. It has paid dividends.  Instead of going for a monthly membership when I signed up for a gym, I threw down the cash for a year. This way I was sucked in for a year. By not going I would be reminded of the money I was wasting, which for me was unacceptable. You can use this method with food as well. My wife and I decided to subscribe to a monthly fruit basket from Shari’s Berries. It arrives every month and not only is full of healthy snacks, but also serves as a reminder of the commitment we made personally and financially to ourselves.

Share your goals//

Setting goals and accomplishing them is a great feeling. I have enormous respect for people who will say they want to do something and then go do it. I firmly believe in letting your goals be known to your friends and family. There is also a bit of a psychology behind this as well. Once you have told everyone around you that you are attempting to get into shape it becomes that much harder to go back on your word. I know some people are afraid of being over sharers on social media, but I say screw them. If people don’t want to see what you are up to then they do not have to go to your page. I love when I see people posting about personal successes on social media, and it inspires me to go out and achieve my own.

Attempting to completely change your lifestyle can be a bit of a shock since it is a huge task. Remember to take it one day at a time and revel in the small victories. If you exercise and eat clean for an entire day, pat yourself on the back. Last year I was so far out of shape, and my diet was atrocious. With the right motivation and correct information I turned it all around. It’s never too late for a fresh start, take the plunge and change your lifestyle. You will not regret it!

Thank you to Blake for sharing some of your story, which I am always inspired by, and tips for staying committed.  If you're interested in contacting Blake, you can email him at bdaniels589@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 :: February commitments + March mini-goals.

I'm thoroughly enjoying setting these mini, monthly goals for myself.  They're allowing me to be mindful throughout the month, and I'm pushing myself to take steps and follow through with my yearly commitments.  Even though February was a short month, I was able to be overall successful with my mini-goals.


HEALTH//

I did schedule a dentist appointment (March 12!) and have no idea why it seems so difficult to accomplish this.  There is something about insurance and finding providers (and inevitable bills) that make me avoid the process.  I mentioned that I started reading this book in an effort to research and understand yoga more.  I was able to snag another yoga book that I'm diving into this month.

FITNESS//

I did sort of complete the Move, Nourish, Believe challenge.  Snow days threw me for a loop, but I am proud of what I did accomplish.  I never would have completed 5 minutes of planking if it weren't for MNB.  I'm making steps to establish a consistent yoga routine, and I consider that a success.  I was able to try hot yoga (not for me, although I do want to eventually try my hand at a different style of class) and find a local studio that I am in love with.  

HAPPINESS//

With all the snow days I had in February, I had plenty of time to hang my framed photos.  To be honest though, I only hung one.  I framed the others and just need to figure out the arrangement on the gallery wall.  We finally got our new couch and had to do some furniture rearrangement, so that seemed to be enough for the living room for the moment.  Thanks to Anna, I was inspired to purchase this little convenience (but in a much prettier color!).  It was a perfect gift to myself!

FOR OTHERS//

The biggest fail of the month was the clothes donation pile.  I just got plain lazy and did not complete this.  I did start a book donation pile, so I plan to make this another mini-goal for next month.  I sent my just because card and enjoyed it so much that I'm doing another one next month.

Now for March...


March seems like it's quickly progressing, so I need to get on the ball with my mini-goals.  I'm not necessarily loving that 3+ goals are monetarily-related since finances can put a kink in completion.  I'm not going to let that get me down for now though.  After January and February successes, I feel confident March will work out too!

Have you thought any more about your resolutions since January?
How are you staying on track?

Monday, March 3, 2014

old friend from far away v2 :: pulled between two places.

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In a whirlwind in 2010, I “eloped” and honeymooned for a week, returned to Georgia and immediately made the solo five and a half hour trek to my new home in Raleigh, North Carolina.  The following day, I started a new career with no friends and no family close by.  Between week days at my new job, I drove back to Georgia for the following three weekends to plan and throw our wedding party.  D finally joined me in North Carolina a week later.  Suffice it to say, this was one of the most stressful times in my life.  Getting married, starting a new job (and career path), and moving are some of the most draining (albeit exciting) changes that occur in life.  What were we thinking packing them all into one month?

I was only thinking about leaving.  Prior to meeting and falling in love with D in 2005, I had been antsy to escape from Georgia.  You see, I never really left my home town.  I was lucky enough to have an amazing college right outside the city where I grew up, and I had a young sister whom I wanted to stay close enough to visit often.  After a couple years, these decisions left me feeling trapped.  For me, there was nothing worse than living life as an adult in the same town where I grew up. It took five more years for me to finally move away from the only state I had ever called home.

I now call two places home, North Carolina and Georgia.  My family home is still in Georgia.  Since most of my life was spent there, that place is filled with mixed memories.  Over time people and families evolve; we go through ups and downs.  While, I have fabulous memories of college days spent with great friends, these reflections are balanced with remnants of conflict and arguments with overbearing parents.  Holidays brought good times, but the past few years have been overshadowed with stress and anxiety.  I always love seeing my grandma, and I know she adores having me visit.  It’s nice to catch up with family and just be together since the distance separates us.  There is never a time that I regret making the trek to Georgia to see my best friends even though it rarely happens.  D and I met and started our relationship in Georgia.  We built a family of friends through D’s first post-college job that we always love visiting.  My heart always feels conflicted and torn between emotions in this state.

My life in NC is choke full of great, happy memories.  We started our married life in Raleigh.  D and I bought our first home here.  This is the place where I began to call myself a runner.  I’ve grown-up and evolved, to the point that I believe I truly know myself.  Alternately, Raleigh is also the place where I have very few friends, especially “close” friends.  It’s taken the fours years I’ve been here to acquire those people I do consider close.  I have gone through three jobs in four years which brought much stress, anxiety, and sadness.  Somehow the great parts of living in North Carolina completely outweigh the difficult times.  My years in my new home coincide with what I feel have been some of the most transformative, best years of my life.  In turn, a special bond has grown between Raleigh and myself.

Do I love my North Carolina home more than I love my Georgia home that is filled with family and friends?  It so often feels that way.  This feeling leaves me conflicted.  These days the trips home are regularly filled with stress and anxiety.  Many times I feel so different from my family members.  Nonetheless, this is my family.  I am supposed to want to see them; however I’m often left feeling like it is a one-way street.  The responsibility seems to be in my hands to make the calls, the trips, the plans.  There is still the love, the pull, that continues to send me down to Georgia.  My sisters who are still so young, even if they seemingly want to have little to do with me.  There’s the pain of thinking that my family believes I ran away and abandoned them.  Did I?  North Carolina currently holds my heart, my happiness.  There is very little pain here, even though it may not always stay that way.  The is my conflict between my homes.  The battle that leaves me feeling guilty and torn.  

Thank you again to Megan for the "old friend" prompts.  It's been amazing writing about real things from my heart.  Volume one of my Old Friend From Far Away essays can be found here.  

Friday, February 28, 2014

friday feature v2 :: baked eggs + pale ale.

I don't normally have time to do a recipe and beer feature for the blog, but I really stepped up my game this week!


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I mentioned I'm trying to work hard at an eighty/twenty balance with Paleo and non-dairy eating.  I made this recipe a while back and had forgotten how easy it is!  My baked eggs are adapted from this recipe from Paleo Spirit.  My recipe feeds 2-3 people.

What you need//

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon
  • 4 farm fresh eggs (preferred as whites can still be runny after cooked)
  • Coconut oil
  • Fresh or dried parsley
  • Pepper
  • Optional: Dijon or horseradish mustard
Steps//
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Wipe portobellos clean with a damp paper towel.  Then scrape out the stem and any gills necessary.  You want a "bowl" to be able to hold the meat and egg.  I've found the deeper the bowl (and more rounded the edges), the better it is for holding the eggs.  I look for this when buying my mushrooms
  3. Melt a bit of coconut oil.  Spread this on the outer edges and bottom of your mushroom to assist with cooking and prevent sticking to the pan
  4. Optional: If you prefer, spread a bit of dijon mustard in the "bowl" of the mushroom.  I simply dipped my cooked mushroom in mustard, but I think it would be easier and possibly more delicious to cook it this way.  The dijon helps to cut the saltiness of the salmon.
  5. Layer a couple of pieces of salmon in the "bowl" of the mushroom
  6. Gently, crack an egg on top of the meat
  7. Season with pepper (no salt needed as the smoked salmon is salty enough) and parsley or other herb of choice
  8. Delicately, put the pan in the oven (you don't want eggs spilling over the mushrooms!) and cook for 20-30 minutes until eggs are to your liking.  I find in my oven 25 minutes leaves the yolks a bit runny still which I prefer.


It's that simple!  I like to make this dish when I'm having a solo dinner because it's so easy to prepare for one.


As for a beer pairing, I chose a simple pale ale.  I fell in love with Blue Mountain after visiting their brewery on a trip to Virginia.  The brewery is gorgeous!  I would definitely recommend checking it out if you're ever in the Charlottesville area.  Blue Mountain's Full Nelson Pale Ale is a well-balanced, not too hoppy beer.  I absolutely love a craft beer in a can (it's perfect for camping and travel!), and Blue Mountain was the first craft brewery in Virginia to introduce cans.

This beer is only 5.9% alcohol, so it's great for all-day drinking at the beach (and not too hoppy for that) or just to help you relax after a long day at work.  

What is your favorite solo meal to make?
Any favorite canned craft beers?

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