Why Can’t You Just Be Happy?

Hi Friends!

Can we have a real, honest-to-goodness conversation? I need to unload a bit…there are a lot of thoughts roaming around in my brain!

I am a big ball of nerves and randomness lately…not sure if you’ve picked up on this or not. But, as strange as it sounds, I feel more focused and clear-headed than I have in months. It’s strange; I’m all over the place, yet… I have it together (in my head anyway). Does that make any sense? Have you ever felt like that? I just feel like something big is coming… what it is, I couldn’t tell you, but it’s something important!

I’m looking forward, hopeful…but I’m also enjoying the present (mostly). This is something that I’ve always struggled with and this feeling of hope and moving forward is relatively new—and exciting! I’m ready to challenge myself and to do bigger things than I think are possible…it’s scary territory but I am finding it’s exciting and helps me push past those feelings of uncertainty.

I try to keep this relatively light-hearted on the blog… I also don’t hide my faith, but I don’t discuss it very often in this space. However, I feel like we know each other well enough that I can be truthful and open. I’ve wanted to tell this story for some time but I wasn’t sure if the time was right… today feels like the right day to take a chance and to make a confession.

The winter months are typically very difficult for me. I struggle.

I have a hard time being my best self in the winter. I don’t know how else to explain it and I never understood it in my younger years, it was just something I dealt with…I still don’t completely understand it and I still “just deal” with it.

When I was a kid,  I’d push my feelings down and focus on something else… then I would eventually have a melt-down and repeat. Not the best way to deal with things, but it got me through.

As I got older, I had a harder time dealing and pushing my feelings away. I would go to work every day, but on weekends I would hide away, not changing out of my pajamas and just trying to block the world out. Or I would cling to other people, other things, put all of my hope on them for my happiness and self-worth, which automatically set them (and me) up for failure. I never talked about my struggle.

I vividly remember a conversation with someone close to me during a particularly bad year. I was having more frequent meltdowns because I couldn’t find a good distraction and things were falling apart before my eyes, I couldn’t deny it much longer. We were having an argument and he looked at me and said “Why can’t you just be happy?”

I was stunned. And I couldn’t answer, so I did what I always did; ended the conversation and cried myself to sleep that night.

I had asked myself the same question several times but I had never uttered it out loud… I would make up excuses and just tell myself that I wasn’t happy…yet. That it wasn’t my fault. But even though the same question had always tugged at my heart, no one had ever asked me that out loud… and it hurt. It made me feel like a freak…a failure.

Even though I never answered him and that person is no longer in my life, that question has haunted me. (Looking back, I realize how completely insensitive that question was…but he had every right to ask it, even if I couldn’t answer it.)

I blamed my failure at happiness for making my life fall apart (this happened a few months after that conversation).  I took all of the blame; it was all my fault because I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t attractive enough, my job wasn’t good enough,  I wasn’t HAPPY enough. I was messed up. Looking back, I realize that this is all bull shit (pardon my French). Yes, I did some stupid, terrible things, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control. And it’s never entirely one person’s fault.

It was a God thing… I needed to be broken so I could be made stronger. And I’ve never been more grateful for a series of events.

In a recent conversation with a good friend, this time in my life came up and she asked if I was truly “over it.” Answering as honestly as I could, I said, “Yes. I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t get upset thinking about certain things, but I have no ill will. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still painful to think about at times, but it’s because I didn’t like the person I was then. And thinking about that former self is difficult.”

A lot has changed in the years that have passed since that question was spoken into existence.

I’ve regained my faith as a direct result of things falling apart.  It’s incredibly freeing to know that no matter how much I mess up, God is there. That He will take care of anything I give to him, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.  Yes, I still have responsibility, but He’s behind me.

I still struggle with “just being happy,” especially in the winter months, but I’ve been blessed with an incredible support system that gets it and the ability to find joy in the small things. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get down and I don’t get depressed…however, I don’t pin all my hopes and future happiness on other people and events…that’s just not realistic. But I do things that make me happy and I try not to over-obsess about the negative. And I try to be a better person and to help others.

If I’m having an off day, I admit it. Embrace it. And I talk about it… then I try to find the good and move on. Some days, this a lot harder than others.

In recent years, people ask me a completely new question and it always catches me off guard: Why/how am I “always so happy?” Quite a change, right? The answer is simple; I’m not. But, I don’t let my off days consume me as they once did.

In my slightly older/not-that-much-wiser years, I’ve discovered there are things that help me.

The number one thing is my faith, the second thing is my incredibly understanding and hilarious husband, Farmer Ben.

Running helps. A lot of people assume that I run because I want to get/stay in shape. That’s not the reason (most of the time). I run because it reminds me that I can survive and that I can persevere. It makes me feel strong and brings me a joy that I can’t completely explain. It’s also my time to talk to God. Running helps me get out of my head, get out my frustrations and my fears and just helps me … to be.

Speaking of talking to God, prayer. I’ve been a “re-Christian” for almost five years and sometimes I still have a hard time with prayer, especially praying in front of other people…but I’m finding that practice makes perfect and HE can do amazing things.

Another thing I’ve found is reading my Bible helps. I’ve always been bad about reading, but this year I am making a concentrated effort at making this a daily habit. It’s amazing what you find reading through this book. David, for example, was a man after God’s own heart. Yet, he STRUGGLED. He faced so many challenges; including someone trying to kill him… and he also struggled with “just being happy.” The first time I really read Psalms and paid attention, I was overwhelmed….speechless.

I had a lot of hard lessons to learn before I could “just be happy” and I probably still do. I suffered a lot of heartache and setbacks, but it forced me to take responsibility, to take a long look at myself and it made me move forward. Again, I’m far from perfect, but I’ve I feel like I am finally there–or at least a lot closer–even with my off days and my struggles…I’m in a good place and I’ve been incredibly blessed. Great things are happening, and there’s a plan for me (and you!) in spite of those times when I don’t feel like my best self.

Why can’t YOU just be happy?


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!

strides for james

-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:

budget

-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?

 


In Case You’re Interested; BlogLovin’ & WinterMiles

Happy Tuesday!

I thought I’d just fill you in on a couple of fun tidbits for today… here we go!

In case you’re interested, I recently added Noelle’s Notebook to BlogLovin. You can find it here. Not sure what BlogLovin is? Basically it’s one place to read all of your favorite blogs, a nice organized little feed if you will.You can sort them by type of blog, find new blogs based on those currently in your feed and sort new posts by individual blog or group…which is helpful if you follow a ton of different sites, like me. Anyway, I’d love if you gave a follow!

Not gonna lie, I just started using it yesterday and am already hooked! After adding a lot of my regular reads to the feed, I’m a little overwhelmed… I didn’t realize I followed that many different sites, and I have a few to add!

Also, if you follow me by email and got a post called “bloglovin’,” I’m sorry…that was a test. Not gonna lie, Noelle is not the most tech-savvy person out there.

In other news, yesterday, I started the #wintermiles challenge with Run with Jess. Find more info here (P.S. It’s not too late to join!). I’m excited to do this because I really need motivation to get out and run in the winter time. I’m aiming for 20 miles a week…which seems ambitious right now but it IS a challenge after all…

Screen shot 2013-12-20 at 7_47_48 AM

One thing that is definitely going to help me do this? A free gym! Yes, that’s right.

Yesterday, I talked about running on a budget. So you know that paying a gym membership is not in the cards right now ($70 a month? No thanks) and…I’m always looking for a bargain.

Anyway, I recently discovered that the local high school (two miles down the road from our house) allows district residents to use the fitness center for free… how awesome is that?! The best part? An indoor track! This will make it a lot easier to run in the cold weather…especially when the temperature dips below zero.

The only drawback is that the hours are limited, but they seem to be compatible with my schedule for now. Farmer Ben and I are going to check it out tonight… I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!

That’s all for today, thanks for reading my randomness!

Let’s chat! Any Winter Challenges or running goals for the coming months? Do you use bloglovin’? Or a different feed/reader? Free gyms…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.

budget

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! 


My Year of Running, 2013

Happy Holidays Friends! Hope you’re enjoying the last week of 2013!!!

I came across this running survey on Miss Zippy’s site and decided to play along…visit her original post to view the link-up party!

So, let’s get started!

What was your…

Best race experience? I didn’t do a lot of racing this year…but the races I did do were all pretty awesome.  Regardless, I’ll have to go with completing my first marathon.  It’s something that until this year, I never really had the urge to do and up until crossing the finish-line, I wasn’t sure I could do. This was the most difficult race I’ve ever done but it was so worth it.

You can't tell from this photo, but I am incredibly happy at this moment

You can’t tell from this photo, but I am incredibly happy at this moment

The marathon tested my entire being but I’ve never felt more uplifted in the running community. I’ve never connected with other runners, volunteers and spectators  as much I did with this race and the memory of that day is something I will cherish forever.

I’m already looking forward to marathon number 2.

Best run? Again, I’ll have to go with the Adirondack Marathon. I’ve never felt so accomplished in my entire life and I don’t think I’ve raced a more beautiful course.

I did it!

I did it!

Outside of racing, I’d have to say my best runs were the last month of marathon training… I felt on top of the world.

Best new piece of gear?  

Hmm…I don’t feel like I really use a lot of “gear” and/or “gadgets.” I’m pretty low maintenance on my runs…  If I had to pick something, I’d go with my CamelBak or ENERGYbits…. both of these were instrumental in marathon training and really helped me stay on track nutrition/hydration-wise.

Resampled_2013-06-20_12-18-54_891

I loved ENERGYbits so much that I became an ambassador so I could share them with everyone I know (*and a 25% off discount–use code “NoellesNotebook”).

Powered by bits

Powered by bits

Best piece of running advice you received?

Run your own race. It’s really easy to get caught up in the comparison trap…especially when you are a blog reader/writer. It’s tempting to compare yourself to other runners and wish you could be more like them… but at the end of the day, your biggest competition is yourself.

Trust your training. It takes hard work to improve. There’s no way around it…if you train well, you’re going to run well. I had a lot of mini-meltdowns over the summer as a result of a crazy schedule and marathon training…but I survived.

Most inspirational runner?

This is a tough one. In real life, I’d have to say my friend Kristy. She’s a mom, a student, a small business owner and still finds time to run. It puts me to shame! In real life/blogging life-my friend Jona. She’s so determined–when she establishes a goal, she doesn’t stop until she’s accomplished it–She’s a 46er and recently PR’d her 10k time by a lot. Pretty awesome!

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

I’d say 2013 was a challenge, a year of learning, pushing through and a test of my abilities–both mental and physical.

Let’s chat: What was your running highlight? Biggest challenge? What inspires you?!

*Disclaimer: As an ENERGYbits ambassador, I do receive a little bit of money if you order using my discount code, however all opinions are my own.


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?!
wpid-IMG_20131211_120601.jpg

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.
image

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?


Real Talk: Sworkit Review And {Giveaway-CLOSED}!

UPDATE: The winners of the giveaway are Liz, Vanessa, Jessica and Chelsea. Congratulations!  please contact me to claim your prize!!!

Hi Friends!

Hope you’re having a great week so far!

I’m super excited because I discovered a new fitness app.

If you’re anything like me, once the weather turns colder and the days get shorter, getting outside to workout is really difficult. Why? Because motivation disappears. I’d rather be reading a book, curled up under the blankets and wearing my giant XL sweats than venturing outside in a pair of running tights and a moisture-wicking base layer… and let’s be honest, I don’t have the cash for a gym membership right now.

For example, on Saturday, I planned on running. I really did… but it was my first REAL day off in I don’t even know how long and, well… I didn’t feel like doing a damn thing. I managed to venture out to drive the hubby to work, but then I went directly home, popped in a movie and got sucked into being a bum. I know I’m not the only one this happens to.

Anyway, it got to be 4:13 pm and I realized that my plan to get out and run was not going to happen as daylight was quickly fading (and can we talk about how windy it was?!). So, instead of putting on my reflective gear and head lamp, I searched for an alternative.

I found Sworkit.

SworkitRectangleBanner

I downloaded the free version and opted for the 20 minute “anything goes” workout. Before I knew it, I was doing burpees, shoulder clap push-ups (excuse me?!), side planks, tricep dips and a variety of other exercises I probably wouldn’t have thought of doing on my own in that short of time. And I was so glad that I did them.

After m first Sworkit

After my first Sworkit

The great thing about this app is that it does the thinking for you. Each exercise is 30 seconds. If you need it, there is a short how-to video (I needed this for a couple of the exercises). 30 seconds of rest is also incorporated every few minutes. And if it a two-sided exercise (like a side plank), it will tell you when to switch sides. So, basically, you start the workout and let Sworkit do the thinking–and the counting–for you.

image1

It’s also easy to mix it up. You choose the workout length (anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes) what type of circuit you’d like to do (strength, cardio, yoga) and what areas you’d like to work (arms, legs, core, anything goes, boot camp, full body stretch, etc.). You can also customize workouts.

Here is an explanation directly from the Sworkit Website:

What is it?
Sworkit builds randomized circuit training workouts that you can do anywhere. You just choose which part of your body you want to work on and how long you have to work out, and Sworkit takes care of the rest. By providing an actual workout and taking you through the motions, you don’t have to do any other planning or have any extra equipment.
Why Sworkit?
We all have the desire to take care of ourselves and we know that we need fitness to stay healthy. But it’s easy to come up with excuses: “I don’t have the time”. “I don’t like gyms”. “I don’t want to buy new equipment”. “I get bored too easily”. “I travel for work”. “I don’t know where to start”. Sworkit is here to make sure that none of these excuses apply and we can all get a simple workout in whenever we want.
What’s with the randomization?
Workouts can be boring or they can be fun. The reason Sworkit employs randomization is to give the user a new experience every time they workout. This allows for more motivated sessions and provides excitement, and sometimes even pain. Pain is good.
Why circuit training?
Circuit training has been proven to provide highly efficient workouts at a fast pace. Sworkit allows you to choose the total amount of time you want to work out and provides you with the proper exercise timing, rest, and transitions.

Another plus? It syncs with myfitnesspal. I love love love this!

The Pro version has a few more options to choose from, saves your customized workouts and saves your stats (weight, daily/weekly goals, etc.).

iPhone-Pro-Settings

I downloaded the app on Saturday and have done a variety of workouts ranging from a few five minute workouts, to a 20 minute workout. I tried to mix it up to get a complete picture of what the app has to offer. And I was not disappointed. Each sworkit left me feeling accomplished. If I wasn’t sure how to do something, the how-to videos were short and sweet.

On Sunday I did three of the five-minute workouts. Last night, I did two of the ten-minute workouts. The possibilities are endless!

Post ab and back strength sworkits.

Post ab and back strength sworkits.

The most exciting part about finding this app? I can share it with you!

After my first sworkit, I tweeted about my experience and was very surprised to receive an email from the creator, Ryan. He informed me that there is even more customization coming out in December-I can’t wait to see what’s next!

He also thanked me for tweeting, AND gave me some codes to share for a free upgrade to the pro version!

How nice is that?!

So, after checking with Ryan,  I decided to share the free upgrade to Sworkit Pro with a few of you lucky readers. I have 4 Pro upgrades to give away!

Here’s How to Enter 

  • Check out the Sworkit Exercise List and leave me a comment, telling me which exercise listed is your favorite OR if there is one you’d like to be added.
  • In the same comment answer the following question: What is your biggest excuse for not exercising?

All comments must be received by Thursday, November 8 at 11:30 pm. Winners will be picked at random.

I will announce all 4 winners on Friday, November 9, 2013.

Sworkit is available for iphone and Android. Download via the App Store or Google Play.

  • As with any new workout, please consult a physician before starting a fitness regimen and be smart.
  • Disclaimer: I received a free upgrade to Sworkit Pro, HOWEVER I was not compensated to write this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.  

Confessions: Daylight Savings Edition

Hi Friends!

Can we talk about how foolish I was when I believed that life would slow down after the marathon? Yeah, call me crazy. Regardless, life’s been pretty good lately. Also, confession: I started writing this post last week…and am just now publishing…fail.

Prepare yourselves, this is going to be RANDOM!

As you know, I am officially 26 as of a couple of weeks ago. It doesn’t feel much different than 25, other than I didn’t have a birthday meltdown. I’ll call it a win! How did I celebrate? A margarita and nachos with girlfriends, of course! On my actual birthday, I woke up to a delicious breakfast of filet mignon, homemade hash browns and a fried egg. Perfection.

My excuse for being absent? I’ve been insanely busy at work and in spite of some major technology/communication issues, extremely productive. I’ve managed to finish some special projects that have been hanging over my head and am able to focus on other things, at least for now. As a result of this busy-ness, I haven’t even wanted to look at a computer outside of work/on my lunch break. My bad.

Also, does anyone else get completely weird with daylight savings? I just can’t get a handle on it. Hence my writing this post more days after Daylight Savings than I care to admit….

In other news, I’m super excited because my friend Tina is not only doing the Turkey Trot this year (AND, Vanessa, too–I think!), but she asked me to run the loop with her a couple of weeks ago. She may have thought it was a mistake when I made her run up the hills, but she was glad when it was all said and done. I’m still waiting for her invite to run the loop again…

Post-forcing Tina to run up the last hill!

Post-forcing Tina to run up the last hill!

Other than that, I did a race three weekends ago. My friend Kristy and I even went in costume…kind of. She did an awesome job of painting our faces. Read about it here.

Big news! Farmer Ben and I finally bought a new bed. Not only did we upgrade from a full to a queen, but we also went with memory foam, and let me tell you, I have not slept so well in a LONG time. We also got a ridiculously good deal.

In fact, between daylight savings and our new bed, getting up in the morning is damn near impossible!

Moving on, Farmer Ben made bagels. While cooking dinner. I know I’ve said this before, but how amazing is he?!

My Mad Scientist

My Mad Scientist

I love Farmer Ben.

I love Farmer Ben.

Breakfast was epic last week…

And dinner? Even better.  What he made while making bagels:

Pan-fried (garden) potatoes, grass-fed bison steak and homemade sweet-and-sour (local) cabbage.

Pan-fried (garden) potatoes, grass-fed bison steak and homemade sweet-and-sour (local) cabbage.

In other food news, I’ve been craving greens lately. Greens and anything kind of related to tacos/nachos.

On the running front, I’ve been bad about getting out and running (shocker, I know), but I have a run planned after work (Hi Kristy!) and as soon as I finish this post, I’ll be updating my schedule to include workouts this week. I am still deciding if I want to a December half marathon for giggles… and I have it narrowed down to two races! One of them will be free if I can find a volunteer…any takers? It’s in Gloucester, MA…. The other is in New Hampshire…apparently I like torturing myself by running in freezing weather….

This weekend was marvelous. I slept in on Saturday, drove the hubby to work, came home, vegged out with a movie, took a nap, caught up on some reading and discovered an awesome new workout app. I’ll fill you in a little more on my next post, but I am still sore today.

Big shoutout to my friend Chelsea on her most recent 5k. She ran a kick-ass race and improved her time by about 9 minutes. 9 minutes!!!! Amazing!

Happy Monday!

Tell me, what’s your favorite breakfast? What foods are you craving lately? Any winter races on the docket? Give me a random update!