Big (Racing) News!

Hi Friends!

As you may or may not know, I am one of the race directors for Strides for James. It’s a 5k/10k run  and walk, in memory of my co-worker who passed away in 2012. James was a runner and loved the outdoors…so this event is a perfect way to honor his memory.

james

We are super excited to share that registration is now open! This year’s run is on May 10, 2014.

If you live in Upstate NY, or are looking for a reason to visit in the spring, I highly recommend signing up! All race profits go to the James Wilson Scholarship Fund at Clinton Community College. This cause is very near and dear to my heart and our scholarship committee has worked extremely hard to make the fund happen.

In its first year, the run had over 200 participants and raised over $5,000. This year we hope to double that.

Our second year will be bigger and better than last year, here’s why:

We’ve already have some AMAZING sponsors lined up. I can’t wait to fill you all in… It hurts to keep it under wraps right now!

We’ve moved the event back to Chazy, NY (where James lived). That’s right, we are back on his home turf!

We’ve lowered the registration fee…and who doesn’t love saving money?

If you have any questions, would like to volunteer or are interested in sponsorship opportunities, you can email us at stridesforjames@gmail.com.

To register, use this link: http://www.active.com/chazy-ny/running/races/strides-for-james-2014-4941580.  *

*Please note, there will be team and family discounts. Please contact us at the above email address for information regarding these discounts.

Anyway, please pass this along! Hope to see you on race day….and I apologize now for future posts written on this…I am pretty darn excited!

Let’s chat, what races are you signed up for this year? Ever volunteered/directed a race? What are some of your favorite charities?

 


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! 


“A List for the New Year,” an(other) Update.

Oh hey! It’s October 18, 2013.  I figured I owe you all a second update on how my 2013 To-Do list is going.

So, here you are! Enjoy!

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

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

Not gonna lie, STILL haven’t done this… however, I have gotten some ambassadorships that are pretty awesome and feel like I’m moving in the right direction. (you guys get 25% with my code for Energy Bits!)

I also finally broke down and got Twitter and Instagram… not that I know how to use them very well, but it’s all about networking, right? (usernames for both are NoellesNotebook if you’d like to give a follow!)

I’d love to know what you, readers, would like to see content wise…I realize that this space has morphed into a different animal from what I originally intended it to be… but I’m okay with that… however, I want to keep it interesting for all of you…so I’d love your feedback!

2. Excel in my job.

Confession: I struggle with this one.

I feel like my “promotion” has transformed into something else… my time is filled up with special projects that seem to take over what I’m actually supposed to be doing. And honestly, I have days (or months) where I just wonder how I am supposed to get everything done…  Does anyone else have this problem?

My boss tells me I’m doing well, but some days, I really have trouble believing that….but I just keep on going and I’m hoping that counts for something.

To be completely honest, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this particular aspect of my life, what’s to come of it, and what not.

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

I’m killing this one.

  • Strides for James was amazing–we had over 200 participants and raised over $5,000 after expenses. We were able to reach our scholarship goal in less than a year and someone in our community is already benefitting from our group’s hard work.
  • Farmer Ben won tickets to a Red Sox game. We went and loved it.
  • The Hubby and I were in the bridal party/catered our friends’ wedding. Not gonna lie, it was exhausting but worth it.
  • We got to do some hiking this summer! I cannot tell you how happy this made me!
  • Just starting a new online class today.
  • Farmer Ben and I just returned from a kick-ass road-trip and are craving more adventures. We drove to St. Simons Island, Georgia, then headed up to Charleston, South Carolina. I am ready to move there!
  • On our road-trip, we ate Barbecue for 3 days. I’m not even a little ashamed.
  • Ben finally got to meet my good friend Natasha who lives in DC and we visited (and by visited, I mean had a couple of drinks and crashed on her floor before getting up ridiculously early and hitting the road again) Liz–FINALLY! I even got to show him my old apartment.
  • Also on our trip, we spent the night on a sail boat-a first for me!
  • I also ran my first marathon.
  • Spent more time with family
Catamount Mountain, August 2013

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

I think those are all of the big ones, but honestly, I feel so blessed this year with all of the adventures we’ve had and I am wondering what’s next!

As far as spending less time on my phone, I’ve absolutely cut down on this. I deactivated my Facebook account and haven’t looked back. I may re-activate it when I get back into the heart of planning Strides for James 2014… but for now, I am content to be in the dark about what that girl who was in my gen ed class, freshman year is doing. I’m learning to appreciate those around me and treasuring the time with people I don’t see every day.

Any suggestions to continue my “Yes” Year?!

5. Take more time to read.

Yes. Doing this.

I won’t bore with the entire list, but these are my favorites I’ve read this year (Not gonna lie, it looks almost exactly like the list in my last update):

  • My Bible
  • all three Hunger Games Books (twice)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire
  • Garlic and Sapphires
  • The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Born to Run
  • Eat & Run
  • The Dirty Life
  • The Beautiful & Damned

Any other reading suggestions?

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

Half Marathon-I’ve run the distance but haven’t raced it. Can we call this one even? I may look for a race in the next month or two… just to check it off the list, but I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t get that race in.

Marathon-Done. One of the most difficult and worthwhile things I have ever accomplished… and I’m already planning to do another!

I did it!

I did it!

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

I’m getting closer.

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

I still haven’t been working on my burpees.

10. Do more food-ing.

Absolutely!

I definitely went on a vegan recipe kick after reading Eat & Run. I’ve also been experimenting more with using different ingredients, especially when I was training for the marathon, I had to get creative with pre/during race foods because of some digestion issues.

We’ve also made an effort to eat at home more this year…and when we traveling, we try to eat at a local restaurant.

Roasted beets, cukes, lettuce, beet greens, tomatoes, carrots and homemade horseradish avocado dressing.

Roasted beets, cukes, lettuce, beet greens, tomatoes, carrots and homemade horseradish avocado dressing.

So, there you have it. I’d say for the most part, I’m doing pretty well…I definitely see areas where I can improve, but I am happy for now.

Now it’s your turn! How are you doing with your goals? Anything you’re struggling with? OR, do you have any advice to help me out?! Let me know! 


“A List for the New Year,” an Update.

Oh hey! It’s March 4, 2013. Where has the time gone?! I figured I owe you all an update on how my 2013 To-Do list is going.

So, here you are! Enjoy!

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

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

I haven’t given this much thought….I can’t even pretend.  Shame.

2. Excel in my new position.

I’m still learning a lot of new information. Every day.

Just when I finally think I have something down, something happens and I realize I am just scratching the surface…. Whether I am excelling or not, I don’t feel that I am, yet…. but I am definitely enjoying the learning process.

I’ll check back in another month or so.

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

I think I’m doing pretty well with this one.

  • The hubby and I did a Valentine’s Day Wine Tour. Wine and Chocolate. Perfection.
  • I attended a farm and food event and got to chat with some local farmers and producers.
  • I signed up for some fitness challenges
  • I volunteered to make favors for a bridal shower (super excited about this…even though I’m not very crafty)
  • Expanded my cooking/recipe arsenal.
  • I am working on the perfect dessert for the wedding of two friends. It’s not cake!
  • I’m also signed up to take two online nutrition courses. I cannot wait!

With everything else,  planning Strides for James (a charity run) has gotten me out to meet a ton of new people as a direct result. Getting sponsors and taking the lead on this has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone.

image

Terrible picture, but here is an initial race flyer design. I love it!

Yes!

As far as spending less time on my phone, it depends on the day. Race planning has taken up a lot of my time the last couple of months and because I get emails, texts and check our Facebook page on my phone, some days I spend a lot more time doing these things than I should… it’s a work in progress.

Any suggestions to continue my “Yes” Year?!

5. Take more time to read.

I’m killing this one! So far I’ve read a lot of books and have expanded my blog reading (some blogs have been added to the current web obsessions page)…

Books include my Bible,  all three Hunger Games Books, A book of stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald (which, surprisingly, I hadn’t read before), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, Garlic and Sapphires and I just started The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest… that’s been in the last month.

I’ll be re-reading the Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice… just because, I need to.

Any other reading suggestions?

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

As you know, I started marathon training. However, winter running is not going as well as I had hoped….between being sick, silly injuries (falling down a flight of stairs and shin splints) and my body not wanting to cooperate, I’ve had a tough time.

Initially, I planned on doing a May race but given some setbacks, I am starting to have second thoughts. I realize that a few bumps in the road are part of the training process, but I worry that I won’t be ready.

So, I am tossing around the idea of doing a fall marathon and checking off the half marathon in the spring. I haven’t made any decisions yet. And I won’t for another couple of weeks.

I’ll keep you posted. And don’t worry, the GBN posts will be starting up again soon!

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

Not gonna lie, I’ve had some setbacks with this one, some out of my control… but it appears that I am back on track.

I’m working on practicing an incredible amount of self-restraint to get me even closer…. we’ll see how I do.

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

Not gonna lie, I haven’t been working on my burpees. Fail.

10. Do more food-ing.

As I mentioned above, I’ve expanded my food-blog reading in the last few months, I also signed up to take some nutrition classes online…done some wine-tasting and gone to a farm/food expo.

I’m working on expanding my cooking knowledge… I feel like I do pretty well, but being married to a chef, a lot of times I just let him take care of our meals. Not anymore. I’ve tried a few new recipes, nothing crazy difficult, but still tasty and have been dabbling with vegan and gluten-free cooking/baking.

I also have been doing some food research. With friends, for other people and through other people. Food research is a great conversation starter!

Farmer Ben has been diligently planning his garden and I am pretty pumped. I hope to improve my growing skills and help him out a lot more than I have in previous years.

Oh! And we are looking into a CSA. Meat, Dairy and Eggs. So excited about this!

So, there you have it. I’d say for the most part, I’m doing pretty well…

Don’t forget to sign up for Strides for James!!!! (Sorry…shameless plug… I know!)

Now it’s your turn! How are you doing with your goals? Anything you’re struggling with? OR, do you have any advice to help me out?! Let me know! 


Oh Hey, It’s 2013-Or “A List for the New Year”

A new year… A clean slate, if you will.

In the spirit of starting anew, I figured it was time to come up with a few things to do for 2013.

I don’t necessarily like the term “New Year’s Resolutions,” so I’m calling it “Noelle’s List of Things to do before December 31, 2013.”  That has a much better ring to it… yeah.

Anyway, this is the first moment I’ve really had to sit and think, as my NYE was spent working 18 hours and helping others have a good time.

I could have done it yesterday, but let’s be real. After getting home just before 3 am and being busy all day, I wanted to do nothing more than hang out in my giant sweats and be a bum….and I did just that.

Some of the things on this list are not very impressive…but others are kind of a big deal…at least for me. They are in no particular order…some are meant to be repeated and others are one-time items.

So, it’s the second of January. Better late than never!

Noelle’s List of Things to do before December 31, 2013:

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

As I’ve gotten more passionate about blogging, I’ve decided that I want this to go somewhere. Maybe not as a full-time thing, but as a creative outlet and something more.  

It’s so touching to hear/see people tell me that this blog is helping them and inspiring them to do more and it just makes me want to make it better. Period.

That means it’s time to get serious. I’ll probably be asking some of you wonderful people for feedback and maybe even some design ideas! I’ve got a lot to learn!

2. Excel in my new position.

I’ve been holding out on you, mostly because I wanted to wait until it was official… but I’m getting a promotion. I officially start next week and I know it sounds corny, but I want to do the best job possible. I’m super excited and a little nervous to start a new chapter and to learn a ton of new information and skills. But I’m all over it.

3. Make 2013 a “Yes!” year.

I always lament that I don’t make enough time to do more fun things. Not this year. I’m going to say “yes” and make time for new adventures. Whether it be taking a vacation, doing something silly or learning a new skill/hobby, count me in.

Just hanging out with Larry, Curly and Moe. No big deal.

Just hanging out with Larry, Curly and Moe. No big deal.

4. Run a half marathon.

No big deal. If I can do 10 miles, I can do 13.1 miles.

5. Take more time to read.

I haven’t been reading as much as I used to and I miss it.

6. Run 26.2 miles.

Maybe a big deal… but I’m turning 26 this year, and what better way to celebrate than running a marathon before it happens?!

I figure that if I put all of these fitness goals into writing, I’ll be more likely to succeed.  This means that the GBN posts will be making a comeback. I’m sorry and you’re welcome.

Also, the half marathon fits into the marathon training schedule… coincidence? I think not.

7. Be more present.

This kind of goes along with the third item on the list. I want to be around and available to my loved ones. I want to share in the joy, love and wonder of every day. I don’t want to work my life away. I want to live it!

I’ve realized in the last 24 hours while my phone has been completely dead–and I still totally enjoyed myself… I spend far too much time online or messing with my phone,  instead of in the real world. I’m going to work on that.

Love spending time with FB!

Love spending time with FB!

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

I have student loans, a car payment, a credit card payment and the regular monthly bills… I’m not terrible with money but I never seem to be able to save it–at least not for very long. While I have enough to cover my expenses (most of the time), I don’t usually have (much) extra. I want to change that this year.

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

I think that would be bad-ass. Right now I can do about 20-25 on a good day.

10. Do more food-ing.

Whether it be researching, growing, baking, cooking or enjoying. I want to know more about my food.

 Let’s do this.

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Here’s to a new start!

I’m sure this list will grow and change as the year grows on so I’ll be creating a separate tab to keep track. And so you can hold me accountable!

Now it’s your turn! Do you have any goals or items to check off your list this year? Tell me about them! Any advice for me? I want to hear from you!


It’s Love

Good morning, Friends!

I’m currently on a bus en route to New York. We’ve been up since 3:30 this morning, but it’s all for a good cause. I love my hubs!

Tomorrow is Farmer Ben’s 30th birthday.  A day that calls for major celebration!

The hubs and I are headed to the Brooklyn Brewery to take in the food, people and beer of the Food Experiments Championship!

To be honest, finding out about this event was a complete accident but I knew as soon as I found out that Ben would love it!

So off we go. Tomorrow we have a date with the Rockettes and then an even hotter date with the Katz Deli.

Here’s to a wonderfully adventurous and delicious two days!

Oh. Also, I caved and joined twitter… find me @noellesnotebook!

image

It was entirely too early for photos. He must love me!


What Did I Eat?

I’ve been eating a lot of delicious food lately. Seriously.

I would call it major (over) indulgence on my part…but then I would feel guilty…

Anyway, I’ve been holding out on you… The hubby and I have done some cooking. Like this delicious macaroni and cheese, complete with jalapenos and caramelized onions.

image

Melted cheese gets me every time….

While I was in DC, I ate some seriously good food. Like the Pesto Burger from Silver Diner.

Silver Diner is a 50’s style diner, jukeboxes on every table and really great staff. Seriously, I don’t think I have ever been into one and had an unhappy server. One thing that I love is that in the last few years they have gone local. They also try to do organic/minimally processed foods, making everything super delicious.

My first night in DC, I knew we had to go. So we went. And I ordered this burger.  Pesto. Goat Cheese. Roasted Red Peppers. Grass-fed beef. I couldn’t resist.

image

Pesto Burger. Life is good.

I also had to have lunch at Potbelly… we don’t have any in Plattsburgh, so I HAD to go…and eat a lot of processed meat. Yum! If you’ve never been to one, please go. Now.

image
A Wreck on Wheat. Loaded.

There were a couple of other places that I revisited/had delicious meals at …but I didn’t get photos.

That’s one thing I really miss about living in DC, so many wonderful places to eat for whatever your mood.

But then I remember that I am married to a chef, who makes me things like Birthday Paella (complete with chicken, shrimp and cod) in a flash…

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This is love.

And takes me out for an apple cider margarita at one of our favorite restaurants (and they use our favorite local cider)….

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Magic in a glass. Local cider makes everything better!

And allows himself to be dragged apple picking on the last day of apple picking season…and then goes a little apple crazy, resulting in this….

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A bushel of apples…Empires, Cameos and Macs, NBD.

But it’s fine because I know we’ll use them…

And lastly, he makes homemade ravioli. With local flour, squash, butter, cider, shallots…you get the picture.

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Acorn Squash Ravioli, apple cider reduction and caramelized shallots…just a typical Sunday lunch.

I guess I don’t need to live in a big city to eat well. I just need to run…everywhere… and then run some more.

So yeah, that’s what’s been happening on the road/in the kitchen. Any recipe requests?

What’s going on in your kitchen? Or at your favorite restaurant?

Happy Friday!


GBN: Weeks 10 &11-The Ragnar Relay Adirondacks!

Confession: I am super behind on my blogging.

I have so much to tell you!

So, for the sake of time, I am combining GBN Weeks 10 & 11 into one post.

Here we go.

Week 10:

Monday-9.6 miles. I came down with a cold early in the GBN week and decided not to push too hard because it was so close to the race, this resulted in 4 days off without running. On Monday night, Farmer Ben and I were determined to get a long run in. And we did. Per usual, the first mile or two was a bit tough but after? I felt like I could take over the world. The original route was 8 miles, but I decided that I could go further. And I did. I was sore the next day, but it was totally worth it.

I am ready!

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were rest days. Unintentionally but definitely needed. I managed to kick the cold for the most part and was mentally prepared for the Ragnar Relay.

Total Mileage: 9.6 Miles

Overall-Even though  I only ran one day, I still feel it was a success. I got my long run in and I stayed healthy, for the most part. That’s all I wanted to do. And I did it.

Week 11:

The Ragnar Relay!!! Hooray! I woke up at 4:15 am on Friday morning. Having gone to bed after midnight, it wasn’t a happy morning, but I was pumped. We crammed everything into Zeke (the Versa) and headed toward Saratoga.

Because we had a bit of a van snafu, we ended up having to bring my car along for the trip, this allowed for some extra room, but was a huge pain. I totally missed out on precious hours of sleep because I had to drive my car to the major exchange points and then to my mother’s house. Le sigh.

Anyway, my first leg of the relay started around 1 pm. It had rained all morning and I was not looking forward to getting–and staying– soaking wet. I tried to nap before I started running, but of course that didn’t work. I was too excited to sleep! 

At the starting line!

It felt like an eternity before I started running and I was starting to get nervous. When I saw runner 6 (Hi Jessi!) barreling toward me, I knew that there was no turning back.  It was time to go. I put one headphone in my ear and found a good station on Pandora, then I started on my 9.3 mile trek.

It was still raining, but barely and it would be clear by the time I finished running. I was feeling pretty good but knew that I hadn’t hydrated enough. No worries, there would be a water station somewhere along the course, right?

Wrong. I got to what I assume was the 6.5 mile mark, based on my leg map (they only marked the last mile of each route) and realized that I was on my own. Had I known this, I would have had the van meet me at the halfway mark with some water, but it was too late. I kept going and had, up until that point, kept up a good pace, but lack of sleep and proper hydration was definitely catching up with me. My phone died around 7 miles, taking my tunage with it.

Shortly before I saw the glorious blue mile marker (which by the way, was NOT at the mile mark, but further out), I started to crash. My body did NOT want to keep going and I slowed down a lot. But seeing that blue sign awakened something in me, and I took it one step at a time.

The funny thing about running is that even though your heart and your body are going crazy and pushing as hard as you can (at least during a race), and sometimes you’re not sure if you’ll be able to finish, your head is usually calm. Focused. I find that I have some of my most intimate conversations with God when I am running. Not intentionally, it just happens that way. Something about pushing yourself to the limit makes you clear your mind of all other distractions.

I used the last two miles of the race to talk to God. And to ask Him for help. And he sent it.

I didn’t catch his name, but this ridiculously tall, overly excited Ragnarian whizzed by me…at the exact moment that I let out a pained grunt. He whipped his head around and cheered me on. Although he was much faster than me, he yelled all the way up the last little hill until he was out of sight. After that, Sara, another runner ran by and continued to cheer me on, I ended up staying close to her for the remainder of the leg and went over to thank her for helping me finish. 

Then I thanked Him.

After my first leg.

After my first run, I cheered (loudly and obnoxiously) for the rest of our team. It had started raining again but we didn’t care. Our team was looking good and by the time we got to exchange 12 we were running on Clif bars and adrenaline.

 At around 8:30 the first runner started his second leg of the race. We were in Lake George. Our van went to find food and I drove my car a little over an hour to my mother’s house, stopping at a Stewart’s to grab a sandwich, chips and chocolate milk (best recovery drink ever!). When I got to my mom’s, I threw my wet clothes in the dryer and then drove by where she would be volunteering for the rest of the night. After that, we drove to Ticonderoga (just under an hour), the next major exchange point and the beginning of my second leg. I got there a little after 11 and managed to nap for an hour or so.  According to Van 1’s schedule, I’d be running around 2 am.

I was exhausted but wasn’t too worried about this leg as it was only 2.4 miles. I walked around and stretched to wake up and warm up (although it was warmer out in the middle of the night than it had been all day!). Once I started my leg, I was feeling great. My shoe came untied so I had to stop and tie it, other than that, things went off without a hitch. The last mile was uphill, but after some of the hill training I’d done, this was no big deal.

I ended up running my middle leg at about 9:10 pace. Much faster than I expected, so it was a pleasant surprise. I got back to the van and someone noticed I was bleeding. Apparently, our team slap bracelet had cut me. No big deal.

A minor injury… and headlamps are totally in right now!
(Thanks for the photo, Tori)

Again, after running, I was too excited to sleep, at least for the next few hours, so I cheered on my team.

Our van stopped at the halfway mark for Farmer Ben and we noticed that he was taking a little longer than usual to get there. I started to worry because I knew his foot was bothering him and because it was 3 am, dark and rainy.

He finally came into view and I could tell he was hurting but he simply grabbed a bottle of water from me and kept going.

We went up a little further (about two miles from the finish) and I decided that I would jump out and finish his leg for him. That didn’t go as planned because he wouldn’t give me the slap bracelet, so I ended up running with him.  He was determined to finish, what can I say?

After Ben finished, I finally got a short nap in, but woke up a few times to cheer on one of our other runners. I stayed awake until we got to the next major exchange (where Van 1 would be starting) and then slept for a couple of hours. When we got Ausable Forks (where I would start running again), a few of us went in and got breakfast from the high school cafeteria. I had low expectations, but I was still disappointed. It was pancakes, eggs and sausage…I think. As gross as it was, I knew that I needed to eat something so I choked about half of it down. Then I ate an apple and filled up on water. I changed into dry clothes (it was still raining, but starting to clear up) and peed about 23543452456 times.

I was very happy to see two of my closest friends and the mother of another team member show up at the exchange point to cheer me on. Being exhausted, I was really worried about running my last leg. It was 5.1 miles, a rolling route that stayed along the Ausable River and seeing familiar faces really helped.

  My heart was struck with genuine fear when Jessi came sprinting toward me, slap bracelet raised high. But I took the bracelet like a champ and started running. You could tell the end of the race was near because the excitement was everywhere, cars and vans drove by, honked, beeped and blasted music. This all kept me going.

About a mile in, I heard a familiar voice and turned to see a friend from church in his car. He slowed down and chatted with me for a few minutes and then wished me luck and went on his way.  I later found out that another friend had seen me running. The perks of doing a crazy relay close to home!

I even passed a water station on this leg, but I was so disgusted that I didn’t stop.

I asked another team that had pulled off how far I had to go. They said the magic words: You’re halfway there. This was a great feeling. I felt a little spring in my step and even picked it up a little. Once I got to the 1-mile-to-go sign, I was feeling great. I handed off to our next runner and found out that I had run at 9:40 pace, which doesn’t seem that fast but it was a lot faster than I thought. I’ll take it.

I felt amazing after that last run. I had done it . 18.8 miles (this includes the extra two miles). I survived. Now my only job was to cheer for my team like crazy! 

Just finished running… surprisingly warm and not raining!

We ended up having to sub in a runner for the last mile and a half of the race, but we finished. We crossed the finish line at about 5 pm. And then headed over to get our free beer, medals and shirts.

Soaked but so happy!

This was an amazing experience. I cannot wait for next year. The actual running wasn’t as difficult as I thought, but the lack of sleep and food were a huge challenge. I definitely pushed myself and am jones-ing to do so again!

After the race, we met up with my mom (who lives about 20 minutes from Lake Placid) and I drove my friends Jessi and Niki back to Saratoga to pick up their car. Then we headed down to Albany to drop off the van. At that point, it was after 9 pm and I was so tired I could barely move, so we rented a hotel room to crash for the night.

Since the race, I have been pretty low-key. I’ve been going to bed a lot earlier and haven’t gotten any running in. But I will.

The Army Ten-Miler is 17 days away and I still have some work to do. That means tonight I get back to running. I’m fighting the sniffles after being in the rain all weekend but I am feeling a lot better and my body is finally recovered. So, the GBN journey continues!

What are some of your exercise challenges you’ve faced over the last two weeks? Any races coming up?

Happy Running!


Rainy Days and Mondays…

Ah Monday, the beginning of the week. A time to get back to routine.

I hate it. Okay, maybe I don’t hate it. But it was definitely hard to get myself in the groove this morning…

I had an amazing weekend. Here’s a little recap:

Friday: Worked at job 1. Scored a super sweet groupon deal with Canvas on Demand. Then headed to the restaurant. We had a local band playing, so it was a fun…and slightly crazy night. I was bowled over by something that was said to me-more on that later-and had a really good night. I ended up doing a little bit of everything, including getting to enjoy the music!

After work, I headed out for a quick 3 mile run. I had wanted to get in a few more miles,  but it felt good to let loose after a semi-stressful week. And I was surprised by my time.

Saturday: Ben let me sleep in. This was glorious. When I dragged my butt out of bed at 9:45, we headed to one of our favorite breakfast places. It’s about a twenty minute drive from our house, but they have the best homemade roast beef hash I have ever had. Worth it. After filling up on coffee and hash, we decided to check out our last legs for the ragnar relay, as they were only about 10 miles away.

My last leg is going to be gorgeous, it runs along the Ausable River and is a relatively flat, winding route. Ben’s is going to be a bit more difficult. He not only starts at the bottom of a small hill, but most of the run is heading up a steep hill, with no relief at the end. We have some work to do.

After our little drive, we headed home to relax for a bit before work. Then we had tacos for lunch. Win.

There was a crazy storm in the early evening and the result was a beautiful, full double rainbow over the lake. Gorgeous!I have a few decisions to make in the next few weeks and I took this rainbow as a sign that He’s got my back.

I ended up getting out of work early, so I did some errand-running and then waited for the hubs to get out of work. We enjoyed a glass of red wine and went to bed after watching some little gems on YouTube.

Sunday: What a great day! Ben and I got up and went to church. We also enjoyed a bagel with lox and cream cheese for breakfast. I really enjoyed the sermon, it was one of those times when I felt like He was speaking directly to me…it definitely has me prepared for the week ahead.

After church, we took a short nap and then headed out for a five mile run. The first couple miles were hard, but I soon found my stride and went on auto-pilot. It really helped to clear my head.

I felt so good after our run, that I did some planks. My body is protesting a bit today, but I know it’ll thank me later!

After the run, I dropped Ben off at work and then I headed to job 1 to do some catch-up work. It’s amazing how much I can get done in a few hours when left by myself.

I stopped into the restaurant and enjoyed an absolutely delicious dinner of steak and veggies over pasta with a glass of one of my favorite red wines. It was the perfect end to my weekend, and was a nice opportunity to just relax. I waited for Ben to finish work and then we headed home. After catching up on my food journal (this was a bit painful), I drifted off to sleep.

Today, Ben and I are heading down to tackle that Ragnar route. I’m a bit nervous about the hill, but I am looking forward to a night off and the chance to run with Farmer Ben. It’ll be a great way to start the week and get some hill-work in!  I can’t wait!