General goals + our sunny Saturday!

Hi friends!

Welcome to the last week of January! Now that we’re almost one whole month into 2018, I would like to know: did you make any New Years resolutions, and if so, are you still sticking to your goal?

A couple years ago I made a resolution to run 2000 miles over the course of that year. Between my Garmin watch (I have the Forerunner 620 – HERE) and my training log, I have been tracking all my miles for years. I was well on my way to achieving that 2000 mile goal (I made it about 1500 miles)… then I got injured. Boo! :(

This year I didn’t make any specific resolutions. However, I do have some goals for life in general, one of which is to incorporate more fish into my meals. So far I’ve been sticking with this pretty well! I cook salmon about twice a week, and it has been a lovely addition to our meal rotation. :) Friday lunch involved salmon, black beans, brown rice, salsa, corn, bell pepper, onions, and tomato!

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Another life goal I have is to incorporate more strength training into my workouts. When I’m in marathon training, I normally do hip/glute strength exercises to support healthy running. These exercises include clam shells, single leg squats, and hip hikes, among others. When deep in training, I also faithfully stretch and foam roll (this is the roller I have). It is weird but I find it easier to stick to a strength/stretch/roll routine when I’m consistently running higher volumes. It’s a LOT harder to keep up with all the “little things” when I’m not preparing for a specific race. But I know I really need to stay on top of it, regardless of where I am training-wise.

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Looks like my favorite balega socks (similar ones here) are going to be sporting an extra hole very soon. I got these 2 years ago on sale from RunningWarehouse.com <– my absolute favorite place to buy running stuff! (they have great deals and free 2 day shipping) These are some of my most frequently worn socks, especially during winter because they come up above my ankles. I wear them ALL the darn time, so it’s no wonder they are looking a little threadbare!

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Our Friday night consisted of sweet potato, pork, steamed broccoli, and a movie (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). We made it through 45 minutes before calling it a night. The movie was “meh” — not my cup of tea, but Joel enjoyed it. We finished it later in the weekend.

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On Saturday my friend Priscilla and her family were supposed to come over for the day (she lives in Queens) but her 7 month old came down with a fever. Poor little guy! We rescheduled their visit for February and I’m looking forward to seeing them when Edgar is all better! It was about 45 degrees (nice and mild!) so Joel and I headed outside to enjoy the lovely day. It felt great to walk around outside in the sunshine!

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Afterward we grabbed lunch at the deli. There were a ton of university students inside the deli — I think most of the group consisted of the Quinnipiac lacrosse team. I ordered a cup of chili for my lunch, and Joel got clam chowder and a roast beef sandwich. Our food took quite a while to come out (probably because it was so crowded) and the very friendly manager apologized to us for keeping us waiting. We weren’t in a hurry so we didn’t mind at all. When our meal finally arrived, the manager told us it was on the house! We weren’t expecting that in the slightest but it was a nice turn of events. :)

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Sunday morning involved an earlier-than-usual wakeup time (or maybe it just felt earlier due to staying up late finishing the rest of the King Arthur movie) and church. We stuck around for a bit afterwards chatting with various friends. Speaking of, Joel and I were laughing about how as kids we were always super impatient when our parents would take forever chatting after church (let’s goooo) but now here we are doing the very same thing lol!

We headed over to a semi-recently discovered Indian restaurant, Zaika! They have a great lunch buffet and since we arrived before their lunch rush, it was fairly quiet. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves :) They had a different spread on offer this time around, including a lamb curry (amazing!) and a new dessert.

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The dessert this time was Golub Jamun :) This sweet little treat brings back some memories! Years ago in Texas my friend Anita introduced me to the huge variety of Indian desserts… we went to this incredible sweet shop in Houston that had probably a hundred different Indian treats. Joel and I went back a couple times to sample a few and were never disappointed. I wish I could remember the name of the exact shop, but all I recall is it is on Hillcroft Avenue. Nevertheless I can VERY MUCH appreciate the deliciousness that is Golub Jamun! :)

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There’s nothing like a refreshing glass of water! Another one of my general goals is to drink more water every day, and so far I have been doing pretty well :)

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Question: does it count if the water is consumed with hot chocolate? hah :)  My Sunday afternoon consisted of a good chunk of time with my nose buried in my book. For some reason I felt a little chilled, but a mug of hot chocolate sorted that right out. I am halfway through my book (find it HERE) and very much enjoying it! There are so many interesting themes and the characters are so rich. Strangely, the main character (the narrating voice) is the least developed as of yet because the story has mostly revolved around the grandparents and parents. It’s been an interesting thus far, so no complaints from me. I have heard that the second half of the book is mostly about the very unique main character, so I am excited about that :)

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Joel serenaded me with a couple songs — it’s a good life :) Before we started dating (about 15 years ago), my friend Priscilla taught me how to play the acoustic guitar. One day she and I were in the dorm lounge where she was teaching me new chords so that I could play a song. I remember Joel randomly walked in and chatted with us. We sorta had crushes on each other at that point :) He grabbed a guitar and effortlessly played the song I was trying to learn, making it look way too easy. Just one of the many things I thought was pretty cool about him. Ah memories :)

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What book are you reading? Do you play any musical instruments? Your favorite Indian dessert?

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Snow day + 2 meals I haven’t eaten in 15 years!

Hi guys!

Happy Friday! We just had a pretty major snow day yesterday and ended up getting around 12 inches, maybe a bit more. It was the very FIRST snow storm of 2018! I love a good snow day. :) Granted, it’s a lot more fun to enjoy the snow from a warm home rather than having to drive around in it.

I worked from home and this was my view for much of the day:

Side note: the lights reflecting in the fireplace are from our Christmas tree — it’s STILL up even though we had every intention of taking it down on the 31st. So our new plan is to take it down this weekend… (how long do you leave your tree up?)

Before I jumped into work, I first dived right into a juicy CANTALOUPE for breakfast! I bet you aren’t at all surprised about that :) After all the cantaloupes I have been eating lately, I have become something of an expert at cutting these up. It takes me around 30 seconds flat to cut one up… ok maybe that is a slight exaggeration… but it’s super quick and easy! I first slice it right in half, then spoon out the seeds. It’s much easier to get the seeds out in one go as opposed to taking them off each individual slice later. After that, I cut the whole thing up into thinner half-moon slices and compost the rinds. I think our compost is around 70% cantaloupe rinds at this point :)

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Speaking of composting, do you have any recommendations as far as compost bins for the countertop? We usually collect our food waste in a bowl, and when it’s filled up we take it back to our compost area behind the shed. The bowl is often rather unsightly and can sometimes develop a funky smell (lookin at you egg shells). I’ve been browsing a couple options that look nicer and would probably keep our kitchen odor-free. Here is one that I’ve been contemplating

Who else worked from home yesterday? I am sure that many of us in the northeast either worked from home or had a complete day off on account of the storm. One of my friends who works in my department (Walter), does NOT like working from home at all — he says he gets distracted and can’t be as productive. He shows up at work no matter what… rain, snow, sleet, gale force winds, etc… and yes, he definitely walked to work yesterday during the insane storm! Anyone else out there an ultra-dedicated super-employee like Walter? Just gotta admire his stick-with-it-ness! :)

I gotta say, I don’t mind working from home. It’s a nice change of scenery, isn’t it? One of the things I like about it is not having to plan ahead for lunch or snacks. See, some days (not as many as I would like) I am on top of my game with packing my lunch/snacks for work. Other days I find myself hungry with nothing to eat, and rushing out to buy lunch from somewhere. Although there are plenty of yummy options near my office, this can get expensive after a while. But when I work from home, I can just mosy over to the fridge and grab something!

Case in point… my snack yesterday consisted of (no surprise) carrots and spinach dip! :) We have been going through this tasty snack like crazy. It’s been a fun little experiment to try different variations of spinach dips available at our grocery store. The night before the storm, we popped over to the grocery store to pick up some “snow day food.” While there, we made sure to restock our carrots and dip supply! This particular dip by Marzetti is a nice iteration –> much creamier than other dips we’ve tried. It also has more of a “whipped” consistency compared to the one we normally get. I like it, but I gotta say, I much prefer our regular favorite dip. (THIS one is is the one we like best!)

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We got a decent amount of snow (a little over a foot) over the course of the day yesterday. It was SUPER windy out there too! When the wind would kick up, I could not even see our patio furniture! I would not have wanted to be out there driving or walking. It was much better idea to stay inside where it’s warm and toasty!

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A couple days ago I got a shepherd’s pie from the Playwright Irish Pub in Hamden! I haven’t had shepherds pie in YEARS but for some reason, it sounded like the exact right dish to order on a cold day. It was pretty delicious!

Fun fact: I went to boarding school growing up, and the cafeteria would serve shepherds pie every now and then. At the time, I really really really did not enjoy it in the slightest! It was one of my least favorite dishes that the cafeteria served. Any time shepherds pie or chicken pot pie was on the menu, I would just CRINGE. After I graduated, I don’t think I ate shepherds pie or chicken pot for for around 15 years! Fast forward to now, and I have voluntarily eaten shepherds pie AND chicken pot pie within the same week! My high school self would probably faint. And guess what… I VERY much enjoyed them both! (especially the chicken pot pie… yum!).

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Now that it’s Friday, I’m excited for the weekend! We are thinking about having friends over on Saturday for a game night –> haven’t had a game night in a while and we are overdue! At some point over the weekend we may check out a collegiate ice hockey game but it will all depend on whether we can get tickets in time. We also plan to put another coat of paint on the bedroom walls :) as long as everything looks good by that point, we’ll be ready to put the outlet-covers back on the walls and clean up any messes we made during the project! It’ll feel nice to have that project completed :)

Are you a fan of working from home? What are your weekend plans? Do you like shepherds pie?

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A few photos from the archives! Hang on to your hats friends!

Hi guys! :)

Today’s post is brought to you by the ARCHIVES! I imported a bunch of old photos into my Google Photo account and had an absolute ball reliving some of those memories. I spent a good deal of time giggling to myself — there are just so many hilarious photos! I sent a few gems to my family and friends… their reactions ranged from “omg I forgot about that” to “burn that photo immediately”!

First, before we dive into the archives, here are two things…

1) I’m still solidly on the salad & vinaigrette bandwagon (this vinaigrette is 100% my all-favorite!)… I will spare you YET another photo of my bowls of lettuce :) and I’ll instead show you this SAMOSA! Can anyone say no to a vegetable samosa? I think not… unless a meat samosa is the alternative! We grabbed a couple of these from Zaika, our friendly neighborhood Indian restaurant. It was the perfect accompaniment to my usual salad! :)

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2) We ran out of coffee, so naturally Joel immediately popped out to the grocery store to restock our pantry with this insanely good Gevalia coffee!. We have been drinking this coffee blend for YEARS and there are no signs of stopping. :) Our grocery store has a Dunkin Donuts in the bakery section and I was pleasantly surprised to see that he brought back a couple donuts to the house! :)

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Ok, it’s time… let’s take a nice little stroll down memory lane! You are about to see some doozies so hang tight to your seats friends!

After my freshman year of college, my friend Priscilla and I spent the summer working at a Natural Science museum on my college’s campus. We also lived together just off campus in a big, ancient house. It was a typical museum job — we gave tours, set up exhibits, and did other random jobs/tasks for the museum. The museum had a non-venomous snake as a pet, and we would often play with it. Priscilla especially loved the snake and would let it crawl all over her. One time, the snake somehow wrapped itself around Priscilla’s neck… and started SQUEEZING! She stayed calm but I freaked out and ran to get one of the supervisors. We eventually got the snake off but man that was scary! I have no idea why we decided to pose like this for the photo… :)

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There was an Italian Ice place called Rita’s close to college campus, and we would sometimes go after work or on weekends to sample their flavors. I still remember that orange shirt from Old Navy and that silver Guess watch… the watch was my prized possession – I got it in 8th grade and wore it for like 14 years!

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When my museum job wrapped up for the summer, my highschool girlfriends and I took a road trip down to Virgina Beach. The trip took HOURS longer than it should have due to numerous events along the way, including flat tires, getting lost, and taking detours to pick up more friends at airports. Nevertheless we had an amazing time hanging out at Virgina Beach (yup, my friend Kristi is pouring sand on me out of a cup? lol) and the  trip was one of my first big adventures as a young adult! :)

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Joel and I started dating during our Sophomore year of college (we were friends for a year before that and were in the same friend group!). We would go on all these hikes together – there were a lot of awesome trails near our college. One time we hiked 14 miles of the Appalachian trail together in one day – it was probably the farthest I had walked in a single day up to that point!

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I think this was during our junior year of college. Just LOOK at these babyfaces. I can’t get over how young Joel looks! I think we were in his apartment.

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After junior year I spent the summer in Kenya volunteering at a few different hospitals/clinics in Nairobi. I lived at home with my parents and younger sister. After I returned from Kenya, Joel and I got to hang out in Delaware (he was staying with his aunt while working a summer internship at DuPont). We must have found a rope swing while we were tubing down the creek.

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At some point we made our way down to DC to explore the city and take photos in front of the White House. I wish I could remember what Joel was saying!

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After graduating from college, Joel moved down to Houston and I moved to NYC so that we could start new jobs, so we were long-distance for a while (not the funnest). But as soon as I got into gradschool (University of Texas – School of Public Health) 6 months later, I moved down there to be closer to him! We both spent thanksgiving in Maine with his side of the family — this photo was taken during that trip! I distinctly remember hiding a big ol’ zit on my chin haha

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We got engaged shortly after I moved to Texas. We actually took a trip to San Antonio and Joel proposed on the River Walk! It was New Years Eve at the time so there were lots of twinkly lights and the air was very festive. The following summer my friends threw me a combined bridal shower + bachelorette party! I flew up from Houston to Pennsylvania (it was easier for all of us to get to PA) — it was such a blast! We stayed up ALL NIGHT talking and laughing – I love these girls!

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This is from our honeymoon! We started our honeymoon in Kenya (we got married in Nairobi). We stayed a few nights at the Windsor Country Club, then flew out to Singapore where we spent a few days on Sentosa Island. The rest of our Singapore trip was spent with my mom (we stayed at her apartment). It was my first time back in Singapore in over a decade, and it was Joel’s first time there ever! We enjoyed a ton of incredible food and got to spend time with family that we rarely see.

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When we bought our first townhouse in Houston back in 2008, we decided to do all the renovations ourselves. Fortunately, Joel is very handy and did the lion’s share of work. One of the bigger things we did was to take up the carpet that was in the living/dining room and put down hard wood. We picked out a blonde color in bamboo (we liked that it is a renewable resource) and loved the lighter color!

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We bought him some knee pads so that he had some cushioning (all those hours spent kneeling can’t feel good on the ol’ knees)!

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The finished product! He did a great job!

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Here’s the last one — Grace and I at our friend Rachel’s wedding! We got to hang with all our highschool girlfriends (we try to get together at least once per year), and did our typical staying up all night talking and laughing thing that we always do :)

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There are a million more photos but I’ll call it for now :)

What are some of your favorite memories from growing up? What was your first big road trip without parents?  

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Our Thanksgiving, and the Annual Black Friday Tradition!

Hi friends!

Happy Monday! It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving has already come and gone. I am STILL reliving the thanksgiving memories through my photos so I thought I’d share some of them with you!

We had cheese and crackers on hand before the actual meal, as well as some raspberry preserves. Last year we had goat cheese and fig preserves on the platter too, which was lovely. This year we kept it simple with cheddar and swiss. I branched out with the crackers by getting the generic brand… they turned out to be a little crumbly. They tasted great but were a little messy on account of the crumbs. Next time I’ll stick with a tried and true cracker brand.

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We ended up doing a combination of cooking, catering, and potluck for the meal. For the catering, we got the Classic Thanksgiving meal for 12 from Whole Foods (check out their holiday meals here) which included the turkey, green beans, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce. So great! All you do is place the order online and pick it up in store! I ordered the meal a week early because I heard they sell out — and I’m glad I did, because they totally ended up selling out! Whole Foods also provided some awesome instructions for reheating (ie, temps and times) which helped to simplify the whole process. We were really impressed with everything and would definitely be open to catering again!

In terms of home-cooking, we cooked a couple supplemented sides the day of, including roasted sweet potatoes and mandazis (Kenyan donuts). And as far as potluck, our friends brought over a few homemade side dishes (corn pie, brussel sprouts, carrots, bread rolls), which were all delicious! They also brought over drinks (wine, beer, and cider) and a few homemade desserts (pumpkin pie, mini pumpkin muffins). The pie coupled with vanilla ice cream was unbeatable. It all made for an INCREDIBLE feast!

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My brother (wearing the black shirt) and his wife (wearing the white sweater) came up from NYC to spend the holiday with us. They stayed a few days and made their way back to New York on Saturday night. It is always awesome to see them and spend time together. I hope they will eventually move to Connecticut at some point! Oh and side note, we set the food out on the kitchen counter so that everyone could fill their plates buffet-style. There were so many dishes that it made more sense to do it this way rather than try to fit everything on the table!

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Joel did a nice job carving the turkey! Every year he is in charge of the turkey, and has always done a nice job. We usually cook our turkey in a bag because that’s how his mom used to do it. This year since the turkey came with our Whole Foods order, we didn’t have the pressure of cooking it, which was really nice! All we needed to do was pop it into the oven to heat up (Whole Foods provides all the instructions for heating each dish). After the feast was over, he made a nice turkey soup with the bones. DELICIOUS!

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This is only the second or third time we have eaten in our actual dining room. Our house has a formal dining room and a breakfast table area next to the kitchen –> we usually eat at the breakfast table, but it was super fun to use the “real” dining room! Since there were a good number of us, I used a couple benches instead of chairs. This made it easier to fit more people at the table. I’d say the 9 of us fit pretty well around the table!

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After we finished up with the big meal, we packed up the food into containers and got everything into the fridge. It was nice having everything put away instead of letting the food sit out all day long (which is what we have done in the past! haha). Many hands made for light work and it didn’t take long to get all the leftovers put away.

We were stuffed to the gills so none of us were ready for dessert just yet. We decided to play some rousing ping pong to help work off the meal. Joel definitely won every game he played, and we all joked that we need to befriend a professional ping pong player so that Joel will meet his match!

After ping pong came PIE! :) I had a mini pumpkin muffin (they were similar to mini pumpkin pies –> crust on the bottom, filling on top!) they were ridiculously yummy. My sister-in-law nailed her recipe! I also had some vanilla ice cream on the side, which of course was the absolute right decision. I was way too stuffed at that point to try any of the other pies, but each pie got amazing reviews from everyone else!

While dessert was underway, we debated which game to play. We are huge fans of game nights (one of our holiday traditions is to get a new game every Christmas) and we all voted for “Bang!” If you have never played Bang, you definitely should get your hands on it stat! We always have fun whenever we play it.

It’s a game based in the wild west, and each person is a character. The only character that is known to the group is the sheriff, and everyone else’s character is hidden. There are outlaws, a renegade, and a couple deputies. There was a fair amount of shooting (of course) and everything else you’d expect in the wild west.

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Thanksgiving was such a fun day and we really enjoyed soaking in time with friends and family. We were utterly exhausted that evening and rolled ourselves off to bed with full bellies and happy hearts.

Over the past few years we have gone to see a movie with family on Black Friday, and it’s become such a fun little tradition. We have an incredible theater near us that is brand new — they have a crazy amount oof stellar food/drink options (Joel took advantage of the kettle corn this time around) and big comfy seats that recline.

This year we saw Justice League! Apparently it didn’t have great ratings, but we all enjoyed it anyway. I still haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet, but now I am even MORE excited to see it! I love Gal Gadot and how she portrays the character.

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We’ve been enjoying all kinds of thanksgiving leftovers over here. We probably have enough to last us through the week! I feel like the food is even tastier as leftovers. My favorite thanksgiving food is stuffing and I am pretty thrilled that it is still making an appearance on my plate! I’ve seen a couple leftover pinterest recipes for turkey pot pie, so I might give that a try at some point. I guess we’ll see where the week takes us! :)

What’s your favorite thing to do with thanksgiving leftovers? Did you do any shopping Black Friday or Cyber Monday? What do you have going on this week? 

Keeping the cold weather at bay with warm memories!

Hi friends!

After such warm fall temperatures, mother nature decided to bring in some MUCH cooler weather — Where I am, the last couple days that felt more like January than November! Brr… winter is coming and I’m not ready.

It’s much more pleasant to discuss memories of warmer days, right!? So let’s take a stroll down memory lane together!

Earlier this past summer, we discovered that a polo match happens every week near our house! It was a totally random discovery. We were driving one day and saw a small hand-painted sign propped on the side of the road. We couldn’t resist checking it out, and we’re so glad we did! It made for such a fun afternoon! The horses were beautiful and the day was perfection. Neither of us know anything about either team (or much about polo, really), but it was a blast to watch the players do their thing. It must take some serious hand-eye coordination to hit the ball and not fall off, while telling the horse where to go too!

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There was some divot-stomping at some point, which apparently is a polo tradition, and it was fun to participate in that. We could drive right up to the field with our vehicles, which was cool. A lot of people had their trunks propped open and were enjoying the game tailgate style. Since it was our first time, we did not know to bring anything, but next time we’ll definitely bring some drinks and snacks to enjoy while spectating. After the game, the players rode around the perimeter of the field to say hello and give high fives to spectators. Joel made sure to get in line to congratulate them!

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Another awesome memory was going to the Connecticut Open! We had tickets for the CT Open a couple years ago, but I ended up having to sit it out because I got sick (summer colds are the worst!). Since it was pretty last minute, none of our friends were available to use my ticket, so Joel ended up going by himself. He said he didn’t mind that at all, and ended up having a good time. I got to hear all about it later. When we got the chance to go again this year, we were really excited. It was such fun! Our tickets were for the day of the women’s qualifying rounds, so they mainly played in the smaller courts. There was also a huge stadium which was used for the bigger games later in the week. It was super impressive seeing all the talented women, and we enjoyed taking in all the good tennis! It was a crazy hot day, and there was no shade anywhere. Many people were smart and brought umbrellas for shade. We should have too!

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This next memory is from a couple summers ago! Joel and I met up with a few of my siblings in Port Chester and had a picnic to celebrate my brother’s birthday. We were one of the only people in the park, so it felt like we had the entire thing to ourselves. We hung out in a big gazebo and did a lot of talking and laughing the entire time. Time with family is the best! I remember that we had a bottle of wine but had forgotten to bring a cork-screw (oops!). We were trying to figure out how to get it open, and one of my brothers found this youtube video on how to open a wine bottle with a shoe. We definitely gave it a try — let’s just say it did not work, but it was fun trying haha! I can’t remember how we eventually got the wine bottle open, but somehow we managed (I think one of my brothers went to get a corkscrew from somewhere).

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Here’s a random memory… we found this super cool rug at Target a while back. I almost bought it! I love the colors, grey and whitish cream, and thought the antique’d pattern was pretty. The dimensions would be perfect for our living room. I must have stood there for 10+ minutes just thinking about whether or not to buy it (I think Joel enjoyed that part hah). In the end, we ended up not getting it because there was some question about the price — the target attendant couldn’t find the price of the rug anywhere even in the online store, and the price they settled on was based on a similar-size rug (different brand) which seemed a high. Oh well, the search continues!

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So this next memory isn’t necessarily from warmer days, but thinking about it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, so I guess it counts! Shalane’s big win! Who else watched the NYC marathon a couple weeks back? I was glued to my TV screen! Shalane’s grit gave me goose bumps. When she crossed that finish line I almost shed a tear. So happy for her! I wish more marathons were televised. I don’t know what it is but I can watch runners for hours. I also love listening to any running-related commentary. One of my favorite runners to watch is Desi Linden. Desi is always cool as a cucumber, and incredibly strategic in her running. She wasn’t competing at NYC this year though. Anyway, Joel joined me for the last part of the race, and he kept remarking that Shalane looks like a machine. I couldn’t agree more haha – she’s a beast!

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Here’s a random photo from earlier this year… the innards of a grape! When was the last time you sliced open a grape like this? We almost never cut grapes around here, they get popped into mouths whole! But Joel was collecting the seeds to plant in the garden. (We didn’t end up planting them this time around, but maybe next season will be all about grapes!). With the sun back-lighting the grape, I thought it looked kind of cool. Is it just me or do the seeds look a bit like miniature ovaries?

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Welp, I guess I outta wrap things up here. I hope you’re enjoying your day!

Have you ever watched a polo match? Ever successfully opened a bottle of wine with a shoe? Do you like watching marathons? 

Back to 5am running, an empty pool, and storm damage

Hey there friends!

Happy Monday and top of the morning to ya! I am officially back in the routine of running at 5am every morning. For a couple days there I experimented with running later in the day, but once again, it’s just not for me. Turns out, what I’ve always known remains true: I love being getting my miles in before the sun comes up. There’s something about getting it done early that makes me feel super productive — like I’ve already accomplished something before the rest of the world wakes up.

Last night I randomly woke up at 3:30am. It was one of those times where I was weirdly wide awake at an hour when I shouldn’t be. I have no idea why I woke up. I tried unsuccessfully to go back to sleep, but after a while of that, I finally ended up getting up. I got dressed, had a banana, and headed out the door for my run!

Normally 6 miles is my jam, but today I clocked a 5 milers. For some reason I just felt “done” by the time I got to 5, so I called it. Normally I would try to push myself to get that extra mile under my belt, but I don’t feel pressured to do that right now. I’m not training for anything in particular and it’s not like one less mile per day is going to break the running bank.

Remember when I talked about my love for my gym? It will probably come as no surprise that the love is still going strong! This morning at the gym, I was walking past the pool when I saw that it had been completely drained. They must be doing some kind of maintenance on it. Pools look so weird when there is no water in them!

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This is the pool I used for pool running back when I had a foot injury after the Hartford Marathon. I would get in and do my hour of pool running at the deepest section. It was a decent workout, and didn’t put any extra pressure on my foot. I did this every day instead of regular running, for about 3 weeks. My foot still wasn’t 100% at the end of that time (it took several months for that) but I was able to run easy in supportive shoes, and kept paces slow until my foot was healed. I hope I will never have another foot injury, but if I ever do, I will be back in this pool!

Speaking of pools, back when we were looking at houses to buy, we looked at a couple homes with backyard pools. For me, pools are not a huge selling point to a house.

In Houston, our townhouse was right in front of the pool. We thought we’d use it all the time! After all, the hot climate lends itself to bigtime pool usage. But despite the sweltering summers and living LITERALLY 15 feet from the pool, I hardly ever got in it. I might have gone once or twice in the 7 years that we lived there. Joel used the pool maybe a handful of times each year.

Since it turned out that neither of us were super frequent users of it, we agreed that a pool wouldn’t be a huge attraction to a house. The maintenance doesn’t seem worth it since it wouldn’t get much use.

Last week I was driving to work one morning, and I saw multiple big branches lying near or across the road. For some reason I thought that our town must have gone around cutting branches to maintain the trees (hah!). Turns out it was actually storm damage from a storm that came through our area. Actually, I’m pretty sure the storm hit most of the northeast. It rained for a couple days and was VERY windy. Many flights got cancelled, and a lot of people lost power.

Thankfully, we did not have any damage to our property (our solar powered lamp got blown off its hook, but it was simple to re-hang on the deck). All of the trees on our street survived the storm just fine. We lost power at some point, but it must have happened while we were sleeping or at work, because we had zero idea. The only clue we had that we lost power was the clock on the oven which reset itself. I’m glad we didn’t have any bigger issues. I drove past a couple huge trees that got blown over and I’m glad this didn’t happen to any of the ones near us.

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On a random note, there was a chipmunk in our garage today. I think I scared it when I came home from my run. It gave me quite a fright! I heard some scuffling, but since it was dark I couldn’t see what was causing it until I flipped on the light. It must have been stuck in there all night. The chipmunk scampered around in a panic as I tried to usher it towards the open doorway. I don’t know how sheepdog corral entire droves of sheep — I had a hard time getting that darn chipmunk to go in the direction of the door! It kept running from corner to corner, even though the open doorway was mere feet away. I finally managed to shoo it out the door, and it ran off into the grass.

It made me think of times in life when we do the very same thing as that poor chipmunk. How often do we get ourselves in a fix, and then run away… or detach… from the very person who is trying to offer help? Hah! I suppose that little chipmunk is all of us at one point or another.

Have you seen my other posts? Here’s one on things to do in Connecticut, and another one on how we moved house in the middle of winter!

What is your favorite time of day to workout? What are your thoughts on backyard pools? Were you affected by the storm last week?

3 easy DIY Halloween costumes for frugal procrastinators

Hi friends!

Before we jump into things, can I just ask – where is the time going? 50 points to anyone who can give me September and October back. I had some pretty big plans to get on the fall decorating bandwagon this year. Huge plans. As soon as I saw the very first pumpkin in my instagram feed this year, I knew I wanted some white gourds for the mantle. But alas, time has managed to wiggle away from me. Now here we are in the middle of October and I have set out exactly zero amounts of fall decor.

But nevermind about that… I will *clenches fists* WILL decorate for the holidays.

Anyway, we’re right around the corner from Halloween! It turns out that this is the perfect time to share a couple of spoOOoooOOoky memories. :)

Ok, so maybe not spooky exactly. Let’s talk costumes!

Joel and I have always specialized in inexpensive DIY costumes. I don’t know about you guys, but we’re usually pulling our costumes together the day before the party. We also like to stick to the easy end of the spectrum — a costume that requires less than 30 minutes to put together? Yes please!

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Snorkelers who can’t swim

One year we went as snorkelers. We wore all our own swim gear tat we already owned. Like wetsuits, flippers on our feet, and snorkeling masks. The only items we bought were from the dollar store — we got some pool floaties for our arms, and donut floaties for around our waists. Why did we get floaties, you ask? Because we decided we wanted to go specifically as snorkelers WHO COULDN’T SWIM. Don’t ask me why, we just thought it was funny. :)

The costumes scored high points in terms of cost and DIY-factor, but maaan, anyone who has tried to walk while wearing flippers knows it is next to impossible to walk lol! There are two ways to walk while wearing flippers… you can either shuffle without lifting your feet off the ground, or you can pick your feet up comically high off the ground with every step. The flippers definitely didn’t last long on our feet — they came off within 5 minutes of arriving at the party lol!

Also, I still remember sweating like the dickens into my wetsuit all night long… wetsuits are meant to keep you warm, something you don’t exactly need on a muggy Houston night! But overall the costumes were pretty awesome and I would definitely wear them again.

What you’ll need: wetsuit or swimsuit (if you’re brave), flippers, snorkel masks

For that extra touch, you’ll need: floaties

A pair of dice

Another year, we went as a pair of dice. We had cardboard boxes sitting in our attic from when we moved, and decided to put them to good use.

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upcycle old boxes into halloween costumes!

I’m telling you, dice are the easiest costumes to make! And super inexpensive! All we did was glue white paper all over the boxes. Then we glued big black dots strategically to achieve that “dice” look. After that, we cut holes in the top and sides so we could get our heads/arms through, and that was it!

Dice costumes are awesome because you get a huge amount of bang for buck. Since we were upcycling the boxes and already owned regular white paper, the only item we bought was black construction paper (for the “dots”).

Another thing, dice are easily recognizable! They are probably the most obvious costume ever — everyone knew immediately what we were. :)

The only downside to wearing huge a huge box is it was impossible to sit down lol… but they looked awesome in photos and were a perfect couple costume. We ended up leaving the dice costumes at our friend’s house so that her kids could play with them. She said that they were a mega-hit, and the kids played with them for daaays.

What you’ll need: large cardboard box, white and black paper, glue, scissors

Ping pong players

Another year we went as ping pong players. We wore matching knee-high socks from when we played in a co-ed soccer league. Joel decided to borrow a pair of my shorts, so he was showing a lot of leg! :) We also bought some inexpensive ping pong paddles (they came with ping pong balls in the package). We owned sweat bands from when we played tennis, so we threw those on too.

Joel decided to glue a ping pong ball onto his paddle. At first I wasn’t sure about this idea… but it turned out to be absolutely brilliant! In all our photos, it looked like he was right in the middle of an intense game of ping pong! It was hilarious. Check out one of his “action shots” below… makes me crack up every time! When my dad saw this photo on my instagram, he was all impressed that Joel had “contact” haha! :)

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Probably the only downside that I remember with this costume was that we were FREEZING when we were walking back to our car. It was definitely a cold night in Connecticut, and Halloween in New England feels very different compared to Halloween in Texas hah! Maybe I should have worn the ping pong costume in Texas and the snorkeling costume in Connecticut. :) That wetsuit would have kept me toasty warm, that’s for sure!

What you’ll need: ping pong paddles and ball, athletic clothing (shirt/shorts)

For that extra touch, you’ll need: sweat-bands

There you have it! Three ideas for easy and cheap DIY costumes for Halloween! So simple :) Out of the above ideas, I think my favorite costume was the ping pong one. Since we were wearing regular clothing and shoes, we were super comfortable (until we were out in the cold hah!).

Have an amazing Halloween everyone!

Check out other memories! Like the time I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, the time we went to the Saltaire Restaurant and Oyster Bar, and the time I moved to New York City!

What is your Halloween costume this year? What is your all-time favorite Halloween costume that you’ve ever worn?

Memories of the dark

Hi friends!

Do you remember being a little kid, scared of the dark? I was thinking about times as a child when I would be suddenly afraid of the dark.

As we’re right around the corner from Halloween, I thought it fitting to begin this post with “It was a dark and stormy night” ooOOoOOooo how classically spooky of me, right? So here are some of the memories that have been dancing around in this head of mine.

It was a dark and stormy night… I was around six years old. I sat cross-legged on the floor with my younger brother. The storm outside raged, rain pelting against the windows relentlessly.

A particularly beastly clap of thunder rattled our entire house. Its effects ripped through the air, destroying the neighborhood power lines. The friendly lights in our home instantly died.

Is there anything more terrifying to a child? One second I was playing contentedly with my brother, and the next second I was in fear. Although deep down I knew that I was safe at home, I recall feeling a sudden rush of panic, and being almost certain that a something scary was about to clamp its hand on my shoulder.

Darkness can be frightening because it makes us feel disengaged, disoriented, and perhaps worst of all, calls attention to our unawareness of what may be right in front of us. It’s like the scene in the movies when an isolated – and eerily backlit – character is stumbling around in darkness only to discover (usually with the help of strategic flashes of lightening) that whatever they are afraid of is inches from their face.

But you know what? As I got a little older, I was pleased to discover that darkness had a non-scary and actually USEFUL side. Not as exciting as the spooky stuff, but I still found it super interesting!

One of the more fascinating roles that darkness plays is in our health and general well-being. Regular intervals of darkness (ie: natural night and day) fosters a healthy balance of hormones like melatonin which improve sleep quality… and it is mostly during sleep that the body repairs and restores itself. Exposure to too much darkness during the day or too little of it at night can disrupt the body’s normal melatonin levels and sleep cycle, which in turn disrupts our health and sense of well-being.

However, darkness can be frustrating, especially when it comes unexpectedly. In Kenya, where I grew up, we often had electricity blackouts. This can be irritating and is certainly not ideal. But as it happened quite often, we grew accustomed to it. My siblings and I even managed to have fun during these blackouts.

Although our family owned a generator for such times as these, generator fuel is expensive and we tried to conserve it for emergencies. Thus, to pass the time in darkness, my brothers and sisters would sometimes play games by candlelight.

The blackouts became opportunities for childhood creativity.

My sister and I created whole fashion shows, starring us (of course) as the runway models. Our runway was the corridor in our home. We sometimes had an audience (our other siblings haha).

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Once, during a power outage, a couple of us choreographed an entire dance to the Spice Girls’s song  “Wannabe” complete with lip-syncing, costumes, and props. It was pretty awesome.

Another time, during a different power outage, my brother, inspired by Gambit, recruited the rest of us to play a new game which involved the art of throwing playing cards with great accuracy at opponents. It got pretty intense.

Yet of all these times in the dark, there was only ONE time that I was immersed in a special kind of darkness… it was so inky that I could not see past my own eyelids.

Have you ever experienced a darkness so dark that you feel like it is a physical mass enveloping you?

I remember that it took a while for my eyes to grow accustomed to it. And even then, I could barely make out objects.

Friends, I encountered this impermeable darkness on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The landscape, though vast, was cloaked in a thick coat of darkness (see more on my summit here). I remember that after peering about for some time, I started to truly realize the absolute magnitude of the night sky. This is something I would never have been aware of, had I myself not been dipped in darkness.

Up on the mountain, the combination of altitude, lack of artificial light, the impossibility of clouds far below us, and all the upturned eyes brought about the realization of the ridiculous smallness of my world.

I was suddenly aware that here I was… just a tiny, insignificant person… standing on this slightly less tiny (but still quite insignificant) mountain… daring to look into the unbelievable enormity of the UNIVERSE.

I have never experienced the beauty of the stars so profoundly as on that night.

It caused me to realize that despite the unsettled feeling that darkness sometimes leaves us, there is no doubt in my mind that darkness can have a true purpose and meaning.

After all, darkness has clear roles in the promotion of health, as well as in the provision of opportunities for creativity.

Thus I have now what I did not have as a child, sitting cross-legged on the floor, terrified by thunder on that dark and stormy night.

I have an appreciation for the dark.

And with that, I bid you all a very Happy Halloween! I hope you have an incredibly fun and safe time!

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Check out my other posts!

Have you ever been afraid of the dark? What are your plans for Halloween? Dressing up as anything?

How we moved house and survived

 

Hi friends!

I’ve been thinking about all the times in my life that I have moved house. I have mentioned before that I have moved a few times over the years. I have lived in Kenya, Singapore, Pennsylvania, New York City, Houston, and Boston. For the past 4 years Joel and I have lived in Connecticut.

I moved from Kenya to Pennsylvania when I was 18 to start college, and then afterwards moved to New York City to start my first job. When I got accepted to graduate school, I moved to Houston to start my graduate program. Joel and I lived there for 8 years, during which time I earned 2 masters and a phd. When I was offered a postdoctoral position in Boston, we moved back to the northeast. And we relocated again when for “real jobs” (haha) in Connecticut.

Relocating definitely has its advantages. For one, being available to relocate for jobs can open up the possibility of amazing career opportunities. And of course, it’s exciting to start a new chapter and get to know new places. We have had so many interesting experiences from all our adventures.

However, anyone who has ever moved knows that it is never easy to pick up and start a new life.

Our most recent move was into our house here in Connecticut. We went to a lot of effort to make the process as smooth as possible.

In the months before our move date, I shopped around local moving companies to find the best deal. We have moved on our own without the help of moving companies in the past… it’s totally do-able, but it’s really tough! We have acquired some heavy furniture, and rather than have to figure out how to manhandle it between the 2 of us, we decided to go with a moving company.

After acquiring quote estimates from a few places, I finally settled on a local company called Up & Down Movers. They offered the best rate for a 3 man crew and a 26 foot truck.

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I started packing 7 days before our move date. We still had all our boxes and moving blankets from our previous move –> this is one of the plus sides to having relocated previously, haha! We didn’t have to buy new ones. We did buy some new packing tape so that we could secure the boxes and ensure that they don’t fall apart.

The first room I packed up was the kitchen. I knew it would be the room that took the longest. Carefully packing up each glass, bowl, pot, and plate took a while! We bought some cushiony thingies (for lack of better term) to put between stacked plates and between glasses so that they didn’t rattle against each other and break.

Throughout the packing process, Joel and I were surprised by how much STUFF we have. We have always tried to avoid accumulating useless things, and like to make regular trips to donation centers. However, despite all of our Goodwill donations, we still could not believe how much stuff we have.

It is a pretty weird feeling to look at all your material possessions when they are piled up in boxes. We kept joking about how we had the “Mary Poppins” apartment because things kept piling up from nowhere!

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One of the things that we liked about Up & Down Movers was that the guys helped us dissemble our furniture and wrap it nicely in blankets. This is a really important step because it prevents the furniture from getting chipped or dented during the move. Dissembling furniture, especially the heavy stuff, can be tricky. It helped to have extra helping hands for that. You can tell that the movers are total professionals and do this every day! They expertly handled all of our heavy furniture. Nothing was damaged in the move! And side note, we kept all our moving blankets from our previous move, so it was nice that we could re-use them and not buy new ones.

 

 

The guys also helped us reassemble everything when we got to our house. This was super helpful too. Joel could have done the reassembly on his own, but having extra hands helped the process go much quicker.

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Something that really helped me to stay organized was to put labels on boxes that were very descriptive. I used sticky notes and tape to quickly label boxes so that I would know what was inside them. Instead of simply writing “kitchen” on the label, I tried to be more descriptive, for example “plates, bowls” or “wine glasses”.

This helped to speed up the process of unloading boxes when we arrived at our house. All I had to do was look at the label and know which room the box should go to. When you’ve got 4 guys (counting Joel) unloading a truck, grunting under the weight of heavy boxes, and asking you where to put them, you don’t have time to open up each box to see what’s inside.

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The extra descriptive labels were also extremely helpful when it came to unpacking the boxes. Instead of having to rifle through 15 boxes all labeled “kitchen,” I knew exactly where to find the plates. It was much easier to figure out what to unpack first, like plates and utensils. And I could leave the less urgent things to be dealt with later, like the blender and slow cooker.

 

 

Just like after our previous move, we decided to hang onto all the boxes and blankets. you never know when they might come in handy. We flattened the boxes and folded up the blankets, and tucked them all away in our basement. –> We have already put a couple of the blankets to good use when we bought some antique furniture (read more on that here!).

Have you seen my other posts about life and our home? Here’s one about hosting a party, another about hosting airbnb guests, and another about furnishing and decorating our house!

When was the last time you moved? Do you save things like boxes and moving blankets?

That time I ran a marathon while injured…

 

Hi friends!

Remember how I’ve run a couple marathons? In today’s “Monday Runday” Let’s talk about my first marathon experience!

The Hartford marathon!

Let’s start with the night before the race. I remember waking up randomly that night due to nerves, going to pee, hydrating/snacking on carbs, then going back to sleep. By the time my alarm went off in the morning, I had gotten about 4 hours of sleep.

But I was ready to rumble! Buzzing with adrenaline, I barely noticed the lack of sleep.

For pre-race fuel, I had 2 honey stinger gels and a few bites of a plain bagel. I was too nervous to get any more of it down (in hindsight, I should have eaten the entire bagel).

My weather app said it was in the 40’s so I wore throwaway arm sleeves ($2 tube socks with a hole cut in the toe). I got too warm quickly due to my very toasty “adrenaline jacket,” and tossed them in the first mile.

I originally had a goal time for the race, but scrapped it due to injury. You see, just a couple weeks before the race I was diagnosed with “mild plantar fasciitis.” Looking back, I can say it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I made mistakes overtraining and did not listen to my body during the training cycle. I was too naive to realize what the ache in my foot was signaling. I ended up getting a cortisone shot in my heel 10 days before the race. I would not do this again (the overtraining OR the cortisone shot!).

Anyway, back to the race.

There was fantastic spectator support at the start. I heard Joel yell my name and turned just in time to catch sight of him before I was swept away by the sea of runners.

The course winds through Hartford then out onto residential streets before looping back downtown again. There were a few musicians and DJ’s at various points, but not many spectators. The course is mostly flat, with just a couple rolling hills as it transitions from highways to paths along the water, and vice versa.

I had to remind myself a few times that I was running a marathon… because it didn’t feel hard or even REAL. I kept reminding myself that my dream was becoming a reality, and I wanted to soak in every second.

The temperature rose to mid-50’s, and eventually peaked in the 60’s. There was no shade, so it felt HOT when the sun came out.

My foot didn’t feel great. I remember stopping to stretch my calves several times. I had read that this can help to loosen the plantar, but it honestly didn’t seem to help me much.

Joel met me at mile 13 – he was easy to spot due to the scarcity of spectators. He held a big green sign that said “Go Dawn!” He gave me a hug and said I looked good. I remember feeling great and was so happy. He took my photo, said “see you at mile 21!” and sent me on my way.

My foot started to bother me at mile 15. I switched up my foot strike, which helped a lot. Note: I wouldn’t exactly advise changing your footstrike in the middle of a marathon… my calves were crazy sore afterwards!

I still remember when the lead man flew past me, moving effortlessly in the opposite direction towards the finish line. I kept a lookout for the lead woman. The look on her face was one of complete focus. Her form was smooth. I gave her cheers of encouragement and felt totally inspired.

My foot started to REALLY hurt at mile 16. As well as other parts of my body…my I.T. band…my shin…my ass.

Desperate for a distraction from my crumbling body, I got the earbuds out of my running belt and started listening to some music.

Getting to the turnaround point at mile 17 was a huge mental boost. My legs rallied. The pain evaporated.

I reached mile 20 feeling oddly good, but unable to pick up the pace. I knew that Joel was waiting at mile 21, and that motivated me to keep going.

It was so GOOD to see Joel. He snapped a few more photos and offered to run the final miles together. I told him I felt fine to finish on my own. He sent me off with an encouraging “see you at the finish line!”

Mile 22… the road pummeled my feet. Surely I would emerge from the race with stumps instead of legs.

At mile 25, I managed to pick up the pace. Many were walking by this point, so I passed a lot of people.

When I rounded the corner to the finish line, I was exhilarated!

FINISHED!!!

A woman put a medal around my neck and a man wrapped a foil blanket around my shoulders. I couldn’t resist a couple selfies with my shiny new bling. :)

In the days following, my legs and feet were toast. I mostly penguin-hobbled around my 2nd floor apartment until I felt confident enough to attempt the stairs.

I took a lot of time off running afterwards to let my plantar fasciitis heal. This is when I started cross-training in the pool (pool-running!).

A few lessons I learned from this experience…

Lesson #1

It’s better to be undertrained than overtrained. Don’t be a hero. Listen to your body. Take rest days. Run EASY. You don’t want to toe the line injured (or worse, not at all).

Lesson #2

Don’t start your watch until you are physically crossing the start line. I made the rookie mistake of starting my watch when the gun went off — I was so far back in the crowd that I had already traveled .22 miles and lost 2 minutes by the time I reached the actual start line. My splits were off for the ENTIRE race.

Lesson #3

Eat a WHOLE bagel (or the equivalent) before the race. I only ate a few bites due to nerves. As a result I felt a bit bonk-y towards the end of the race.

That’s it for now! Catch up on other running posts here!

What’s your longest run ever? Aside from running, what is your favorite workout?