Sunday, October 27, 2013

Relaxing Fall Weekend

This weekend has been the perfect balance of relaxing and productive.  On Saturday I had to get some stuff with my car taken care of so I got up early in hopes to beat the lines.  It ended up being super quick and I made it to Panera to pick up some bagels (including my beloved Pink Ribbon Bagel...only a few days left of it this year!) and home in less than an hour.

Every fall Saturday should start with Pumpkin Pie bagels and coffee in the San Diego Zoo mug.

I still feel like I'm trying to get my life back together after traveling and I did some much needed deep cleaning of my apartment when I got home.  I always feel better knowing my apartment is nice and neat!  Maddux and I got in a nice, long walk around our neighborhood and some quality napping time before I hit the road for my run.  As I was getting out of my car at the park, I noticed that someone had put a huge scratch on the hood of my car!  I was beyond angry (it certainly doesn't look like an accident) and ended up taking it out on my run.  It felt good to burn off some frustration and my run was significantly faster than most of them have been lately!  At least something good came from it I guess!

When I got home and opened my mail I found a package from my college roommate waiting for me.  Inside was the sweetest card and pictures asking me to be her bridesmaid!  I can't wait to be a part of her special day!  Definitely a great way to lift my mood.  She's marrying an amazing guy who lived across from us our sophomore year of college and I couldn't be happier for them!  (He's also an amazing cook.  He used to make us "family dinner" in college.  Major points there!)

Today has been a perfectly lazy day.  My nice friend and I went to a comedy show that was a little later than this girl is used to staying up last night so I spent most of the day sleeping in.  We carved our pumpkin and I'm starting to get really excited for Halloween!  It's always been one of my favorite holidays and I love getting in the spirit.

After our pumpkin carving, Maddux and I headed to the park to get in a walk and enjoy the gorgeous day. As we approached our car at the end of our walk we saw a deer standing right next to the car!  Maddux definitely gave the deer a vicious look, but the deer didn't seemed fazed at all and after lazily glancing in Maddux's direction went back to eating its grass.  I think it hurt Maddux's pride a little ;-)

I hope everyone has had a wonderfully relaxing weekend!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Getting Back into a Routine

My days of crazy travel are over! (for now.)   On Monday I got back from visiting Georgia for my childhood best friend's wedding (and a quick trip to see my brother who graciously housed Maddux for the weekend!).  While I had a blast hanging with my little bro and seeing my beautiful best friend tie the knot, it was nice to know that I had some days of normalcy ahead.  No obligations, nothing to train for. Sometimes this old lady just can't handle all the excitement!

Reunited after a way too long separation!

I promised myself when I got back that I would finally start a real workout routine and make an effort to eat healthier.  Yes, I had been running in prep for my half marathon, but my overall fitness level has just been kind of blah.  I haven't felt like my normal, healthy self.

Guys, seriously, I am so weird.  Once I finally didn't have to run, it's all I really wanted to do.  I got in three runs this week (two sets of intervals and one relaxed run where I totally got lost in my thoughts) and two sessions of a 15 minute total body workout followed by 30 minutes of intervals on the elliptical.  Embarrassingly enough, I've been really sore this whole past week.  I guess cross training has it's place after all ;-)

This weekend was amazing and I finally felt recharged.  Maddux and I enjoyed a long walk at our favorite park on Sunday.  It's finally starting to feel like fall and the changing leaves made our walk so pretty!

This picture doesn't do it justice. 
I even tried out a couple of recipes that have been hanging out on my Pinterest board for at least a year. While the spinach feta turkey burger recipe wasn't my ultimate favorite, the tortellini vegetable soup turned out pretty good and was a quick, easy alternative to my normal soup recipe!

I'm thinking some good fall relaxing is just what I need.  Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blog the Change: Cool Dog, School Dog

**Somehow I missed the October 15 Blog the Change, BUT since this post has actually been typed up and ready to go since the July date, I'll go ahead with it.  Let's be real, any chance I get to talk about my pup make me happy.  Right now I'm working on just enjoying my workouts again and finding a new post-race routine so this came at the right time!

Before getting Maddux I never really considered taking a dog to training classes.  I just kind of figured I could look up what I needed to know online and work with him at home.  My sister got a border collie mix several months before I got Maddux and the next think I knew she was at classes all the time trying to figure out her dog.  She seemed to really enjoy going to classes with Barley and their relationship definitely improved.  When I saw them they just seemed really in sync.

Once I brought Maddux home I really didn't know what to do with him.  He seemed like a chill enough guy and I thought I'd hit the jack pot and would just need to love him, play with him, and feed him.  Easy enough, right?  Then we took a walk and came across other dogs.  All of a sudden my sweet, chill guy turned into a rabid honey badger.  Ok, not quite, but he was barking his head off, walking backwards so he could stare the other dog down, and lunging.  Not only was I kind of embarrassed (a dog who walks backwards?  Come on now.), but I was scared that someone might think that my sweet as can be dog was not a nice dog.  I didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea about him and then potentially causing trouble for him down the road.

After talking a lot to my sister, I decided that I should sign him up for a reactive dog course.  Honestly, it was probably the best decision I could have made for my dog.  The class taught me so much and while Maddux still has his moments, I feel much more confident walking him when other dogs are around.  The class was just as much for me as it was for him.  Since then I've been to two other classes with Maddux as well as some workshops.  The classes taught me how to really get to know my dog so that I can help him though his anxious moments as well as prevent him from getting into bad situations. They stress the importance of advocating for your dog.  We even practiced telling people, "No, you can't pet my dog," and "My dog needs space," so that we would be more comfortable telling people in real life situations.

The classes were a lot of fun and I really enjoyed them and looked forward to having that special time with my pup.  He loved them, too, and you can tell how much he loves to learn and work while we are at the training center.  I am so proud of how far my pup has come!  I'm definitely keeping my eyes open for more opportunities so we can keep going on the right track.

I wish more people would take the time to train their dogs.  It strengthens the relationship between you and your dog so much and eases tension.  I used to get so stressed when Maddux would do his barking routine because I just didn't understand how to deal with it.  Now we can usually prevent those situations by using some simple commands and our walks are much more pleasant.  I think a lot of people's problems with their dogs come from not understanding or not knowing what to do.  Training can help you and your dog through it.

So let your dog be a cool dog, school dog and look up some local classes.  You won't regret it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's Been a Long Time

Fall is finally here and I've gotta say that it's probably my favorite season.  (I may have said this about summer, too, but seriously, fall rocks.)

Fall is a time of gorgeous weather, pumpkin everything, and this year has seemed to be my craziest time of the year.  It's been hard trying to find a balance between all the fun things I want to do, need to do,  and getting in runs that I need in order to be in good shape for races.

Vineyard harvest party scarecrow making contest.  Only in fall.

Happiest find at Target.

In September I headed to Ohio to do an early celebration for my sister's birthday.  I got to stop and see my mom in Pennsylvania before she moved to Alabama and that was amazing.  I'm not gonna lie, when I know my family time is limited it is REALLY hard to get out the door for a run.  I hate "wasting" our time together even though they are all understanding.

Avett Brothers with my sister beat out running that weekend.

I knew when I signed up for the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon that I didn't have much time to get ready.  I knew it was going to be in the midst of some crazy travel plans, but I loved it so much last year that I didn't care.  I made my training plan and tried my best to stick to it, but as you can see, life got in the way.  While it definitely helped having something I could physically check off (I love lists...), sometimes I had to make decisions and running, unfortunately, just wasn't always the priority. 

Race day rolled around, and I was feeling semi optimistic.  While it had been a few weeks since my last long run, I had some great outdoor runs which is a huge change from a lot of my former races.  I conquered my fear of getting stuck somewhere on a trail and that is definitely something to be proud of!  (I may have even bribed myself with a new running shirt if I did my 10 miler outside.  You do what you gotta do.)  My nice friend once again joined me on the ride out to Hampton and we had plans to meet up with a big group of friends for dinner.  Since we had a few hours before dinner we decided to stop for a snack.  I opted for a milkshake (no one said this was a healthy eating blog) and soon ended up completely regretting the decision as I got violently ill.  I had to drag myself to the expo and prayed that I would survive the few minutes (woo efficiency J&A racing!) it took to get my packet.  

This archway made me so happy because it means they are planning to keep the race around for a while :-)

Luckily whatever was ailing me made its way out of my system in a few hours and I was able to enjoy dinner with my friends to the fullest.  It made me a little nervous for the race though because my stomach (as any semi long readers know--bless you for sticking with me) can be super unpredictable sometimes.  By the morning of the race my stomach had its usual pre-race nerves, but other than that felt fine.  I gave myself plenty of time to roll my IT bands, drink a cup of coffee, and eat my bar before heading over to the start.  After a quick trip to the ladies' room I met up with my amazing friend Laura and her boyfriend to find our corral and await the start.

Like last year, the announcer was dressed as a crab and made us laugh with his jokes.  The Hampton University marching band played to start us off and the energy was amazing.  Have I said how much I love J&A Racing?  The course was the same as last year's, but this year I wasn't quite as smiley as before!  I felt my lack of solid training and the lack of shade on the course (not so noticeable last year since it was overcast/rainy!) and really started struggling after the first 10k.  (The first 10k my splits were pretty respectable!  The last 7 miles ehhhhh).  My race basically turned into a run/walk which while disappointing, was just the reality of my fitness level combined with hotter than my training runs temperatures.  Some of the neighbors had set out sprinklers (and mimosas!!  I was SO close to stopping...I mean my run really wasn't going to improve so may as well drink up!) and while I had one moment of discomfort as a volunteer (trying to be helpful) hit me full on in the face with a blast from a hose, overall the water stations were incredible (there were also pretzel and candy stations which I did not partake in, but appreciated).  Thank you so much to all the amazing volunteers!

At the final bend I saw my nice friend with Maddux which gave me the last boost I needed to finish strong.  My best friend was screaming for me as I crossed the finish line.  It really does make a difference having a support system!  I was then handed a cool towel (seriously, the best thing that has ever happened to me at the end of a race), my medal, gatorade, water, bananas, and a Power Bar and hung out in the shade with my bestie until my nice friend could meet up with me.  Since they moved the party inside I had to just grab my delicious crab chowder (in it's beautiful bread bowl) to go (no dogs allowed), but the lines moved quickly inside and it looked like everyone was having a great time!  

My time was nothing to brag about and was significantly slower than last year's.  That's ok.  I think until my schedule clears up a little I'm going to try to focus on shorter distances (5ks, 10ks) and getting my times down on those before I set my official half marathon goal race.  I just need to get in a better place with my fitness level so I don't get discouraged.  As much as I try to stay positive, it is hard knowing that I am capable of so much more.  I think the shorter distances will be a big confidence boost and will be challenging without being quite as time demanding.

I hope everyone is enjoying the start of fall as much as I am!  Happy running!