Confessions; Life, Lately

I haven’t done one of these posts in a while…so here we go…

-Friday, I applied to be a part of  the “fit team” for a company that I adore… with my cell phone. I could NOT get the link to work on my computer so I finally resorted to using my phone… Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?! I really hope I didn’t make any fat-finger typos…and I really hope they pick me!!!! I’m 90% sure that they won’t… but there’s always that 10% chance…keep your fingers crossed!

– You may or may not know that I haven’t been on Facebook in a long time. In all honesty, I don’t miss it (other than it seems to be the only way some people keep in touch), however, as much as I hate to admit it, as I am trying to grow/improve the blog… I may have to reactivate it sooner rather than later… any thoughts on this? I’d love some opinions from other bloggers.

-I really miss just hanging out with my best. I haven’t seen her face in far too long and it really stinks…we keep in touch, don’t get me wrong, but it would be nice to hang out in person and not through phone or internet.

-Speaking of social media, Twitter completely overwhelms me sometimes. That is all.

-The #WinterMiles Challenge? I ran a total of 20.25 miles for week 1 (that includes an unscheduled rest day to deal with the head cold from hell).  I am pretty proud of myself because getting up the gumption to run in the cold is really difficult for me…some nights, I’ll sit in my car for 20 minutes before I finally talk myself into getting out and actually doing the run!

-Speaking of running, we have our first two registered runners for Strides for James! I am so excited! Once again, if you’re looking to visit Upstate NY…or live here, sign up! It’s going to be a great race! Not to mention, we have some amazing swag!

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-I told a white lie the other day, Farmer Ben and I never made it to the gym the other night… by the time he got home the other day, we wouldn’t have made it before they closed…but we did get out and run on a crazy windy night… this weekend, I took advantage of the ridiculously warm weather… maybe this week. I’m dying to check it out!

-I was really happy to get some positive feedback on this post. In case you missed it, here it is again:

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-I probably forgot to mention this, but Farmer Ben and I are doing the core and more challenge from Lifting Revolution. Basically, you commit to doing a plank, followed by some push-ups every day for the month of January. I am happy to report that I haven’t missed a day yet…. this never happens!

-Yesterday, Farmer Ben forced me to go to Burlington with him for a mini-date day…which meant that I had to do a night run. I don’t regret it one bit.

-I haven’t been working at job number 2 much lately… really not at all for the last month or so (except New Year’s Eve). Anyway, I got called in to work Friday and Saturday night at the new location. This location has an upstairs…. my calves are ridiculously sore from running up and down the stairs carrying trays of food and drink…can we call this cross-training?

-I saw a post on Instagram the other day that really ticked me off. It was one of those “inspirational” quotes that people take time to fancy up and make pretty. It said something along the lines of  “It’s easier to get up early and workout than it is to look in the mirror every day and not like what you see.”

Ugh!!! Why is it that the only reason a person needs to work out is if they don’t like their appearance? Okay, I get it…sometimes we need to lose a little weight or tone up and it’s easy to get stuck on that, but seriously?! Chances are if you hate the way you look that much, working out at 5:00 am is NOT going to change that. Why can’t someone work out because they like to? AND why is it that in order to be considered an athlete, you have to wake up at some ungodly hour in order to “get your sweat on?!” I’m sorry, but I do the majority of my workouts in the evening…and I’ve always been that way. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with getting up early, and I truly envy those who have the discipline to do so… but I am NOT one of those people …and I still like myself… and I don’t workout because I hate what I see in the mirror…I workout because I like the way it makes me feel …End rant.

Your Turn: What’s going on in your life? Any juicy confessions I need to know about? “Fit-spirational” quotes, yes or no?

 


It’s All About the Benjamins; Running on A Budget

I bet you thought that this post was going to be about Farmer Ben, but it’s not. Sorry…I know he’s a pretty neat guy. Instead, I’m talking about cash. Dinero. Money. It can be a dirty word. Having money is really nice, and not having it…well, it stinks.

I hesitated whether to write this post or not… but in all honesty, I feel like there are plenty of people out there who deal with the same kind of thing… so here’s some real talk, straight from the Notebook.

The other day, the hubs and I were having a discussion about money. We have some silly debt (student loans, car payment, etc.) that we just want to get rid of. So, we are committing ourselves to paying them off–early!–one at a time. It’s kind of like when you’re running a race, you start from the back, pick off the slower runners first, and move up to take on the big guys last–after you build up your confidence.

So, we are getting back to our B-U-D-G-E-T.  Does anyone else have a love/hate relationship with that word? I find it empowering and depressing at the same time.

This means that we had to take a good hard look at where our money is going. What are we buying? What are we spending money on that isn’t necessary?

As I’ve rekindled my relationship with running, I notice that I spend more of my hard earned cash on running-related things…whether it be a race entry fee, new sneakers, or some shiny new gadget, running on the regular can add up.

True, all you really need to run is a good sports bra (if you’re a female), and a good pair of sneakers… but even those can cost upwards of $100…and if you’re on a tight budget like myself, it can be tough to afford it.

Obviously, it’s easy to be envious of other runners (especially other bloggers) who are able to do all of the cool races, have all of the latest models of running shoes and other gadgets and always seem to be up to date on…everything…especially when we are constantly hit with images of their cool stuff on social media. Am I right? BUT….it’s also a perfect example of why we have to work hard, on our runs and in real life.

This year, one of my goals is to run 14 races (click the little icon on my sidebar for more info!) in 2014. Depending on when and where races are, that can add up.

Side Note: I decided on (committed to) this goal right before the previously mentioned “budget conversation” with Farmer Ben. Impeccable timing, am I right?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any free race entries, running shoes or other fun gadgets/apparel coming my way… I also don’t have a ton of extra income to spend on said items because right now, paying off the silly debt comes first…but that’s okay. It just means I have to get creative.

So, I decided to share my plan for saving money AND accomplishing my 14 in 2014 goal.

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1. Sign up early. Most races will have the cheapest entry fees the further out you sign up…. if you wait closer to race day, you’re likely to pay up to $60 more! Bonus: If you already spend the money, you’re more likely to stick to your training!

Real Life Example: Remember how I signed up for the Wineglass Marathon in December? Well, the registration fee has already gone up $10!

2. Scope out smaller races. My first marathon was an $80 entry fee (and that was after the price increase), why? Because it was small. Not only do you get to see more and feel less rushed, but you save! Bonus: A lot of times smaller races have some pretty unique swag (Wineglass has a blown glass medal!) that you won’t find in a bigger race.

Real life Examples: With more popular races, such as the Rock n Roll Series, you’re going to pay $130 (got that from their website), plus you’re going to have to shell out travel and lodging expenses in major cities–if you don’t live in said city. (Not that I wouldn’t love to run a Rock N Roll race…but this year will not be that year). I paid an $80 entry fee for Wine Glass. Next, I was perusing active.com the other day and found a half-marathon about 40 minutes from me for $20. Um, yes please!

3. Stay close to home or with friends! While it may be temping to turn a vacation into runcation, if you’re a penny-pincher, like myself, shelling out big bucks for a hotel room and air fare is not always an option. So, if possible, stay with friends/family,  race within driving distance, or car pool! (When I run Wineglass, I’ll be crashing at my sister’s house!) It’ll be more fun!

Real Life Example: When I ran the Army Ten Miler a couple of years ago, I drove down and stayed with my friend Liz-this saved me over $200 that I would have had to spend on a hotel room. AND while it took more time, I ended up saving quite a bit by driving instead of flying (This was due to the fact that I ended up getting into the race at the last minute, and the closest airport to me only flies direct to Boston, Florida and Vegas.).

4. Use discount codes. Many bloggers are also race ambassadors. That means, if they are running a big race, they’ll often have a discount code to share with their readers. This also applies to gear and running fuel (Shameless Plug; 25% off ENERGYbits with code, “NoellesNotebook.”).

Real Life Example: I’ve found some great discount codes for brands such as ProCompression, ENERGYbits (see above) and Reebok from some of the blogs I read and #RunChat is always offering discount codes to their twitter followers.

5. Bring something with you. A lot of races will allow for a discounted race entry if you do something for the organization.

Real Life Example: I’m looking at a “run for chocolate” in February–they will discount your race entry if you bring something chocolate! Other races will ask that you bring a canned good or similar with you.

6. Volunteer. I’ve seen a trend in the last few months that certain races (or a race series) will give you a credit for a future race if you volunteer. OR, if you bring a volunteer with you, you’ll get a free race entry. What a great way to give back and save some cash! Team up with some friends and make it a party!

Real Life Example: This organization out of Massachusetts.

7. Run as a team. Some races allow runners to form a team, especially corporate groups. This allows team members to get a discounted registration, while repping their organization….now if only I could get some of my co-workers to run!

8. Look for deals. I cannot stress this one enough. I very rarely pay full price for running apparel/sneakers. Not because I’m cheap (okay, maybe I am), but because I look for the deals… whether in the store or online–I hate getting weekly emails, but I keep myself subscribed because every once in a while, I find a GREAT deal. I also look in places out of the ordinary (Craig’s List, TJ Maxx, Woot, etc.) Lastly, I try not to worry about getting the newest model clothing/shoes because last year’s model is usually discounted.

Real Life Examples:  I always update my cold weather running gear in November. Why? Because Dick’s has all Reebok cold weather gear on sale for 50% off AND I use coupons (I saved $85 this year)! I also get apparel at Target–I found a pair of C9 compression capris that are the most comfortable I’ve owned and weren’t ridiculously priced. Next, I snagged Ben a pair of Vibram Five Fingers from Woot.com for $30…Lastly, I purchased my foam roller at TJ Maxx for $15 and frequently see high-end sneakers there for a very affordable price, just never in my size. Bonus: Now and then you can score an amazing deal on treadmills or other equipment on Craig’s List, it never hurts to check the “free” section!

9. Save your race goodie bag! I know it’s tempting to just toss it  without looking through it, but speaking from experience, people spend a lot of time putting those together…at least take a peak at what they’ve got for you!

Real Life Example: I’ve gotten $30 worth of gift certificates (to the same store!) from the last two races I’ve done…not to mention other coupons, all in my goodie bag. That’s $30 off the price of my next pair of running shoes.

10. Start Saving. This may seem a bit elementary, but it doesn’t hurt to set aside some money in your budget specifically for races (especially if there is a big race you REALLY want to do)…even if it’s just saving the random change you find while cleaning your car. It all adds up.

Real life Example: The other day, I was going through a pile of stuff I had been neglecting and found $23. It immediately went into savings. I also set aside some of my tip money whenever I randomly pick up a shift.

That’s it. Simple enough, right? We’ll see how I do as the year progresses!

What about you?! Any tips and tricks for saving on races or running must-haves?! Favorite major savings story on running related items/events? Best race swag you’ve gotten? What races are you running this year?!


“A List for Last Year,” A FINAL Update on 2013.

Oh hey! It’s officially 2014… I won’t get used to writing/typing 2014 until June…but it’s fine…

Anyway, I figured I should give you all one last look at how my 2013 goals were accomplished. I’ll keep it short and sweet, I promise!

Enjoy!

Noelle’s (Re-Re-Updated) List of Things to do before December 31, 2013:

1. Create a logo for the blog and go self-hosted.

Fail. That’s all.

2. Excel in my job.

I think for the most part, I do my job pretty darn well, but I’m still learning a lot… so I’ll call this one about 85%…..

3. Make 2013 a “Yes!” year/7. Be more present.

Yes. I killed this one.

5. Take more time to read.

Again, killed it.

4. Run a half marathon/6. Run 26.2 miles.

Half Marathon-I still haven’t raced it…but I’ve run it.

Marathon-Done.  So we’ll call this even.

8. Pay off at least one big bill–Get better about saving money.

Didn’t happen… 2013 was the year of random things that come up and shot our budget to Hades AND realizing that we really need an emergency fund.

2014 will be the year of actually having an emergency fund (We’re 75% of the way to our EF goal!) and being able to handle those budget killers.

On the plus side, I upped my 401k contribution and Farmer Ben started his retirement fund at work in 2013…so it wasn’t all bad!

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

Nope…. I can probably do about 30 without stopping…maybe 40 if I am feeling like a boss.

10. Do more food-ing.

Absolutely! Done.

Told you that it would be short and sweet… I’d say I did well… granted, I failed miserably at two of my goals…but I definitely learned something from most of these challenges. And of the few that I didn’t accomplish, we are better prepared for them this year.

2013 was a good year, but 2014 will be better… I’ve got big plans for this year and can’t wait to fill you in along the way!

Now it’s your turn! How did you do with your goals for 2013? Anything you’re still struggling with? OR, do you have any advice for 2014?! Let me know! 


To Farmer Ben

Today is a special day. You were born.

Happy birthday to an amazing husband, best friend and soul mate. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to share my life with. Cheers to the youngest 31-year-old I have the pleasure of knowing!

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I love you!

This year’s birthday celebrations will be low-key. We’ll be enjoying some of Farmer Ben’s favorites: Mac & cheese, homemade cake and some vino…or beer.

Feel free to give the hubs a birthday shout-out in the comments!


Currently: Bruises, Beardless Ben and Race Planning

Hi Friends!

Hope you’re having a great week! I’m really looking forward to baking cookies with a bunch of teenagers who are way cooler than me this evening. It’s pretty much the highlight of my week…oh, and hanging out with Farmer Ben.

So what else have I been up to?

-I worked a retirement party this weekend for job number 2. While I was carrying a whole pan of ziti out of the kitchen, the swinging door came back and crashed into me. The pan bounced off my thigh and went crashing to the floor, covering my pants in marinara sauce and melted cheese.

Yes, I’m that girl who always drops things and makes giant messes.

-This little mishap left me with a giant bruise on my leg, which I didn’t discover until the next day.  My leg still hurts.

-#elf4health is in full swing. We just started the second round and I have another pretty cool match. Danielle blogs over at Eating Running Living and is a fellow runner. Love this!

I’m loving the challenges this week. I’m most looking forward to Friday-run a mile as fast as you can! I’ve got some big goals for 2014 and this is the perfect way to get establish a baseline. Not that I need the challenge to do that, but it helps.

-Farmer Ben finally shaved his beard! This makes me incredibly happy. Don’t get me wrong, the man looks good with a beard, I just really like his face.

-The hubs is also almost fully recovered from getting his wisdom teeth out.

-It’s *almost* that time of year where I start devoting way too much to race planning. Strides for James is coming back for its second year in May 2014 and we have some AMAZING sponsors lined up.

We’re moving to a new location and have a great team of volunteers. I am incredibly excited for our second race.

-The weird part about getting back into race planning is that I’ll probably be re-activating my Facebook account. Not just yet, but eventually. I haven’t used it since the beginning of July, and honestly haven’t really missed it…but it’s one of the biggest ways we reach out to runners…so you’ll probably being seeing my return sometime in the near future (this is partially because I am kind of a control freak when it comes to promoting the race… I admit it.).

-This may be too much info, but I recently got some new underwear from Hanky Panky. They are amazing; super cute, comfortable and made in the USA(!).

No, this is not a sponsored post…I just think they are a great company! Anyway, check them out if you are in the market! They are a little pricier than your standard Hanes 4-pack… but well worth it…and you can find some great sales.

-In other news, you know that cheesecake that I thought I burnt the other day? Turns out it was the best cheesecake I’ve made to date. No big deal.

-I’ll be starting a slightly different version of job number 2 this weekend (new place, same boss). Wish me luck! I’m hoping I make some good tip money because I desperately need to do some Christmas Shopping…and buy new running shoes!

-Lastly, check out this gorgeous salad the hubs made me for lunch. Am I spoiled, or what?!
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What have you been up to lately? Favorite brand of Underwear? Have you ever dropped an entire pan of something? Or worse? Facebook, yes or no?

Happy Wednesday!


Life Update: Bearded Ben, Turkey Trotting and Running Fast

Hi Friends!

I know it’s been awfully quiet around here lately!

So here is a look at what’s been going on (in no particular order):

Confession, I wrote most of this post last night…

Farmer Ben had all four wisdom teeth out today (yesterday) and I have to say, he is a trooper!

I just took a Bourbon pumpkin cheesecake out of the oven (last night) and I am 65% sure the crust is burnt….

Also, have you ever gone to bake something (that you need to bring somewhere the next day) and realized you were missing almost half of the ingredients? Yeah, that happened to me tonight. Cue my scrambling to find substitutes to avoid leaving the house. Thankfully, I went a bit overboard on buying random ingredients for Thanksgiving/December baking so it all worked out… I think.

You may have noticed from this photo that Farmer Ben participated in No Shave November at his workplace.

Post Turkey Trot...My face is frozen because I don't have a beard.

Post Turkey Trot…My face is frozen because I don’t have a beard.

And apparently people like it because he won a gift card… Why can’t I win a gift card for not shaving my legs?! I’m only half-kidding.  And I’m still waiting for Farmer Ben to shave…sigh.

On Black Friday, the hubs and I scored a pretty sweet deal on cold weather running gear at Dick’s. All Reebok stuff was 50% so we couldn’t resist….major sales are pretty much the only time I buy name brand anything, so we splurged on some tights, (not exactly) sweats, gloves and a half-zip w thumb holes (!).

The pants are (almost) the most comfortable pants I’ve ever worn and I am not even embarrassed to say that I have had them on almost every waking moment that I don’t have to wear work pants since I purchased them. My standby XL sweats may have a rival!

On Thanksgiving, Farmer Ben and I did the Turkey Trot…. and froze our butts off. We actually had our family dinner on Wednesday so we got up with slight food hangovers to run in ridiculously cold and windy weather (15 degrees. Real feel, 5. and WIND.).

Luckily, we pre-registered and picked up our race packets the night before so we just had to show up.

I had signed up for the 10k… but at the two-mile mark, while I was struggling to run in a semi-straight line, not slip on the ice and not blow all over the road, I decided to drop down to the 5k… I just didn’t have the gumption to continue in those conditions for another 4.2 miles. That’s the thing about the Turkey trot, you never know how the weather is going to be. Do I feel bad for dropping down to the 5k? Not really…it happens.

I’ve been participating in the #elf4health challenge with Elle and Lindsay and am loving my partner elf! Hi Rach!

You know that crazy (and super vague) thing I mentioned I *may* be doing? Well… I took the first step. Not gonna lie, I have no idea what the outcome will be! Its invigorating and nerve-wracking at the same time.

In other news, I’ve been thinking about what my goals are for the new year, particularly my fitness goals:

To start,  I want to focus even more on my nutrition (oh hey, ENERGYbits!) and my form. But I also want to get stronger. And Faster.

Another marathon is definitely on the docket for 2014… but I am looking to improve and not “just finish.”

I want to finish strong.  I don’t know why, but admitting that out loud (or on blog) kind of freaks me out.

I think this realization hit me on a run a couple of weeks ago. For the last year, I’ve been running about 9:45-10 min mile pace, give or take 10 seconds. Completely respectable and nothing to sneeze at. I really haven’t been focused on time, just getting out and getting those miles in.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I did a four mile run at a faster-than-usual pace. When I got back to my car, instead of getting in or starting to stretch, I ditched my excess layers and reset my watch. I proceeded to run a timed mile at 8:23 pace.

What?!

You can imagine I was pretty stoked.
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About a week later, I had a jam-packed day, so I planned to run at lunch.

Unfortunately, my work place is not located in a runner-friendly area. There’s a lot of traffic and people drive fast. So, I drove to a spot in town where I do some of my night runs.

This meant I would have just under 30 minutes to run, after drive time/make-myself-presentable time (luckily it was a Friday). After parking, I started mapmyrun and took off on the bike path. I meant business (mostly because I didn’t have a lot of time).

When the app notified me that I had completed a mile and gave the split, I thought it was a mistake but kept moving (my second mile was about a minute slower and the third was somewhere in the middle).  

In the end, I ran 3.1 miles (I had only planned on 2) in 28 minutes. My first mile was run in  8 minutes and 16 seconds.

That’s speedy for me. I haven’t run that fast in a long time…and it got me thinking… Could I run that pace consistently for a whole 5k? Or longer?!

I haven’t trained for speed in a long time… since high school. I’ve gone out and run fast, and randomly done a speed workout here and there, but I haven’t consistently tried to get faster.

So, this is going to be a new adventure…and a challenge.

And completely off topic, but there is currently 2.5 gallons of hot sauce in our fridge. Go big or go home, right?

If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking through my ramble!

Let’s chat, what have you been up to? Did you run a turkey trot? Beards-yes or no? What are your fitness goals for 2014? Any suggestions for speed work?


Oh Hey!

Just stopping in real quick to say Happy Thanksgiving! Have a safe and happy holiday and be blessed!

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