All posts by Steph

Got Fall? We’ll Travel.

Vacations. We need them to rest, to get rejuvenated, to break up the monotony, to disconnect from devices and reconnect with people, and sometimes to challenge ourselves in different ways. As Floridians, we also need them to experience some seasonal weather!

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We recently returned from our third trip to Blue Ridge, Georgia. It was one of the most beautiful, relaxing yet active, perfect vacations yet. For a recap of our first trip as well as the reasons we love to go read Mountains are hilly from two years ago.

It took about 7.5 hours to drive from Orlando to Blue Ridge. But it felt not much more than 5 hours because all of the girls (including this one!) slept in the car from 5:30-7:30 am. Thanks Bill! We stopped for a quick breakfast and once to get gas along the way, and then drove straight into town to stretch our legs, eat some lunch, and play in the leaves.

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Leaves!

After that, we headed to our cabin for the long weekend and played there for the rest of the day.

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The backyard came complete with a creek.

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We brought dinner from home that night, so Bill and I relaxed on the porch overlooking this beautiful backyard with a glass or two of wine while the girls enjoyed exploring the five acre piece of property that the house was on. They loved the creek and making trails.

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After dinner we roasted some marshmallows over a bonfire and then moved to the front yard where we all cuddled together and looked at the stars. Believe it or not, I have never ever seen a shooting star. We saw three (three!) the first night we were out there. The sky was so bright without all of the city lights obscuring our view. It was magical.

I ran the next two mornings. It was so nice not waking up to an alarm, and getting outside to explore whenever I felt like it. I ran a little over six miles the first day, and about four the following day. They were some of my best runs ever in terms of how I felt (especially given the hills), the scenery and the weather. Some views from my runs:

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Do you see the deer? It looks way farther away in the picture than it was in real life. Wild animals scare this city girl a little, but I kept my cool and kept running.

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We were supposed to pick apples on our first full day, but the orchard was no longer offering u-pick because they were picked out due to a summer drought. We were bummed about this because it’s one of our favorite things to do, but we stopped by the Mercier general store and picked up some of their apples to take home with us. Those Gold Rush apples. Mmmm.

With no apple picking option, we headed to Tennessee! It was only about twenty minutes to the Ocoee Whitewater Center in the Cherokee National Forest where we enjoyed some rock hopping and a 2.5 mile hike. It was our first time visiting here. The girls LOVED the rocks. These little gymnasts easily made it over the rocks (they were literally jumping from rock edge to rock edge). One of their parents may have taken a spill, but it’s cool.

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Cool thing about these rocks. They are natural rocks, but were removed prior to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and repositioned in the river to create the kayak course. During the summer, the rocks are less exposed and the river is full until Labor Day when it is partially drained. I’d love to see what it is like in the summer.

We hiked that day in the Cherokee Forest, and the next day back in Georgia on a trail we’ve hiked on every year (starting when our youngest was 2!) as well as part of a new trail. Being outside and hiking is our family’s happy place.

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Heeeyyyyy, Hey hey baby, I’d like to know-ow-ow if you’ll be my girl….

The very last thirty minutes of hiking on the last day was the only time this happened. These girls are troopers!

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On our second night, we met an awesome couple in downtown Blue Ridge for dinner. It was nice catching up with our Blue Ridge friends. I love how there are some people that you may not see for ages, but you are able to quickly reconnect with them when you see them. Bonfire and stargazing on repeat.

After my run the following morning we settled into our vacation morning routine again. How I love rush-less mornings!

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Vacation mornings
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One despises eggs (and this picture) so we relied on her to celebrate National Oatmeal Day. For real.

After a full day of hiking, we spend the evening at home with dinner we brought from Orlando. Bonfire and stargazing again too. I was so not ready to go home on Sunday. This trip was so easy, relaxing, peaceful, and yet super active every day. This is my ideal vacation recipe. I felt so in tune with nature and my family and myself. When can we go back?

I’ll leave you with a few more fun pictures from the trip.

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I call this (1) Urban Girl Goes Day Hiking and (2) Urban Girl Meets Friends for Dinner in Mountain Town
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Like Mother like Daughter. Love love love this girl’s eye for beauty.
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Hiking Family

Swimming lessons and some other random things

Just popping in with a quick and extremely random post. Guilt made me do it. So guess what I had yesterday?

The good/bad stuff.
The good/bad stuff.

It was barely my fault. I hadn’t had one since my July post, and have gotten used to not having Powerade in my life. I’ve replaced it with more water (goal #1), coconut water, matcha green tea latte, and an occasional Vitamin Water and bai. However, we were at One’s looong afternoon softball game, and it was warm and I was thirsty. I also wanted to be hydrated for my race today, and Bill bought it for me. Who am I to waste money and generous actions?

It just made me laugh. I don’t like being extreme about any type of food. And just like Coke Zero, a couple Powerades during the year won’t kill me. I am super proud of myself for breaking the addiction though. I’m in a good position to moderate now.

I also had coffee for the first time in two months this week. I wasn't trying to refrain because #coffeeislife, my stomach just hadn't been cooperating. Tall soy mistos for life!
I also had coffee for the first time in two months this week. I wasn’t trying to abstain because #coffeeislife; my stomach just hadn’t been cooperating. Soy mistos forever!

Moving on to other amazing things:

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For posterity. True that it was Bill’s easy run and my tempo run, but still, will there ever be a run again where I log in a faster time than him? Answer: no.

Finally, did I tell you guys that Bill got me swimming lessons for my birthday? I’d been mentioning that I would love to have a coach watch me swim, work on my stroke efficiency, and just generally correct any of my self taught improper swimming techniques. I guess he was listening because he got me six 30 minute private swimming lessons with the head of swimming/masters swimming coach at the Y. What an awesome gift!

Also an awesome gift: the start of fall weather. Barely there but I know it's coming.
Also an awesome gift: the start of fall weather. Barely there but I know it’s coming.

I had my first lesson on Friday. I can already tell that I’m going to love these lessons and get so much out of them. The coach watched me swim a couple of laps and basically told me that I was working way too hard. We worked on my technique from the beginning by focusing on body position in the pool and body/core position during the freestyle stroke. It was so amazingly helpful. I LOVE how he is breaking the stroke down into basic basics. It is exactly what I wanted out of a class.

I only swim once a week, but it is an important part of my cross training routine. It is so nice to give my legs, hips, knees and feet a break from pounding the pavement. Swimming can be relaxing (and that is usually how I choose to spend my swimming day – nice and easy), but it can also be a great workout for your upper body and core, which I love. If you want to work the legs too, throw in some kick board drills and feel the burn. It is shocking how hard my legs work without my shoulders and arms “working way too hard.” Ha.

Have you ever taken a lesson as an adult for swimming or other sport?

How do you feel about food rules? Are you an abstainer or a moderator? Definitely a moderator here (unless kettle corn is involved), but Bill is an abstainer.

 

 

 

To Marathon or Not To Marathon

Who followed the Chicago Marathon on Sunday? I didn’t watch the whole thing, but we caught parts of it on TV and followed my cousin’s husband on the Marathon app. We had the BEST time at the Chicago Marathon last year and the whole family was sad not to be there this year. Especially since the weather was perfect fall running weather again. Maybe next year.

Early morning pre-Chicago marathon spectating walk. Loved the energy in the air.
Early morning pre-Chicago marathon spectating walk. Loved the energy in the air.

Maybe next year…I run it? I’ve always said I would never run a marathon. Before I was running focused, I’ve always been health focused and, frankly, I don’t think running marathons is very good for your body or good for your overall health.* Plus, while I enjoy 14 mile training runs for the half marathon, I don’t know that I’d enjoy running an extra 8 miles for my long run. I’m also quite certain my feet would not love it. Buuuut, cheering Bill and my cousin’s husband (can I just say cousin-in-law?) last year with the whole family was so fun, and it looked so beautiful (and flat!), and I’ve kind of come around on the marathon running community (just fyi, you are STILL a runner even if you don’t run marathons:)…plus it’s my hometown….Maybe next year. Maybe someday.

See you someday. Maybe.
See you someday. Maybe.

In the meantime I’m training for one of my favorite races, the OUC (Orlando Utilities Commission) Half Marathon which is in early December. I love the race because it is local, and I have run almost every part of the race course during my typical weekly runs. Familiarity is good. I also love that it starts near Bill’s office so real bathrooms. Yes!!! It’s also such a great time of year. It’s usually a little cooler and so pretty outside. This is a big race for Orlando, and Track Shack (the race organizer) has a great post race event around Lake Eola. The only downside of the race: brick roads. Not my favorite, especially around miles 8 and 9.

Bill has been transitioning my workouts with an eye towards the upcoming half marathon. My tempo runs are now four miles at a slightly slower pace than my typical three mile workouts. He also had me do a new-to-me workout last week at the track. I knew I was either going to love it or hate it…I ended up really liking it! I did 16 x 400, alternating 5k pace (6:56ish) and marathon pace (7:53ish). My 5k splits were all between 6:43 and 6:55 and my marathon splits were all between 7:50-7:59. It was a tough workout because I never felt like I could fully recover from the faster lap, but it was great for honing in on different paces and learning to recover without settling in to an easy pace. I’d definitely recommend it! I initially thought that 16 laps sounded like torture, but they flew by.

Just one more. I love this city!
Just one more. I love this city!

Completely unrelated: I’m still in love with my new cookbook, Run Fast Eat Slow. Since my last post, I made the Moroccan Lentil Salad with Couscous, Swiss Muesli Bowl, Wild West Rice Salad, Noodle Salad with Runner’s High Peanut Sauce, and Make-Ahead Breakfast Burritos (confirmed that they are every bit as delicious after being frozen and reheated). I liked every recipe I have made from this book, but my absolute favorite is the Moroccan Salad. The different textures combined with the cinnamon, turmeric and cumin spice mix = absolutely addicting. I ate it straight out of the bowl for five days straight. I love that this cookbook is all about real food that is really good for real appetites.

Noodle Salad with Runner's High Peanut Sauce
Noodle Salad with Runner’s High Peanut Sauce with a side of marinated and baked tempeh
Moroccan Lentil Salad with Couscous
Moroccan Lentil Salad with Couscous

What are your thoughts on the marathon? 

Favorite genre of food? 

* A quick internet search led me to  this , this, and this. I’m not saying marathons are the worst thing for your health, but articles, posts and research studies make me at least question whether marathon training and running is good for your overall heath.

Trying to Run Fast and Eat Slow

The goodness that came in the mail today:

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I’ve already made and tried the Superhero Muffins (delicious!), and the Banana Spelt Bread is cooling and ready for breakfast tomorrow.  I’ve wanted this cookbook since before it was released this summer, but made myself wait until my birthday to get it. I highly recommend Run Fast Eat Slow if you like good food that also happens to be healthy and nourishing. There is a good mix of drinks (smoothies, tea lattes, etc.), snacks, salads and light meals, main entrees, and treats. And that’s not all! I sound like an infomercial. Seriously though, every recipe looks awesome.

On the workout front, I’ve been keeping up with my normal running routine, although I’ve subbed in a track workout every other week in place of my tempo run. I think it’s super important to have one faster or challenging workout per week.  Although I take some time off a couple times of year from all speed work (usually after my December half marathon and after the end of the local racing season), for most of the year I include a tempo run in my weekly schedule. My 5k times have improved with just a weekly tempo run, and I think tempo workouts have an even greater impact on longer races – the 5 mile, 10k and half marathon.

During and just before my racing season, I will substitute a track workout for a tempo run every other week. I like doing 5k paced track workouts because my coach makes makes me do them they help me to lock in my pace during a 5k race, give me confidence that I can run fast, and also help me to get faster. However, as Bill likes to say, “the track giveth and the track taketh away.” My body (especially my feet) take a beating from the combination of regular track workouts and races. So I try to limit my time on the track to key times during the year.

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“The track giveth and the track taketh away.”

Racing! Although I missed the first race in the local series this year (we were in Chicago in August), I was able to run the September race which was the Rock N Run 5k in Casselberry. I’ve always liked this race, mostly because there are no brick streets. I ran a 21:37 (6:57 pace) which I was very happy with. Four seconds faster than last year’s race, and my new PR for chipped races. I am also now fairly convinced that I did not run a 21:29 at the July race, as I used the mile marker clocks during the Rock N Run to estimate the distance I ran before I started my watch at the July race. I’m pretty sure it was a bit longer than the two seconds I previously estimated. Obsess much?

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The splits for miles 1-3 are  actually slightly faster than each of those splits during the July race. That’s something!

My last bit of workout news is that I’m back on the strengthening train again. Twice a week for the past month. For real. I’ve started doing the workouts at the gym instead of at home and it’s made a big difference for me in terms of convenience, liking it more, and making it a more challenging workout. There is a lot more space, and all of the equipment I need is there – a better variety of weights for different exercises, a step to elevate my legs for some of the abdominal work and an exercise ball that is not half deflated (or my kids’ hopping ball with a handle on the top of it, also half deflated). The best part is, I discovered that I actually kind of like going to the gym. So that’s been kind of fun to discover. Oh, and I’m getting stronger. My planks have gotten longer and my single leg squats are so much easier than they used to be. I need to figure out how to go lower without hurting my knees or add some weights next time. Progress! I guess some consistency in strength training actually makes you stronger. Weird.

Ok, that’s enough for now. Bill’s sofrito chicken and arroz con gandules have been simmering for the last 90 minutes and everything smells so good. I can’t wait to scrape the overcooked rice from the bottom of the pot. Does anyone else do that? It’s the best part!

Which do you prefer, track workouts or tempo workouts?

Favorite strengthening exercise?

Favorite cookbook or recipe source?

Rounding out the summer

Greetings! Is it fall yet? I dream of jeans and sweaters and manageable hair. Meanwhile, some of us take this heat in stride.

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This last part of summer was busy but good. One went to a five night sleep away camp for the first time. I was supportive of her signing up, but when it came time for her to go, I surprised myself with how anxious I was about letting her go. For so many reasons that I won’t share lest you think I’m a complete crazy lady.

All I can think of is The Parent Trap. They also had an Arapahoe cabin.
All I can think of is The Parent Trap. They also had an Arapahoe cabin.

One day when we were all home, I took the girls to a community yoga class early one morning at the lovely East End Market. I loved this morning – sharing my love of yoga with my girls. Also, Two is totally down with crow pose. Like it’s no big deal.

yogis
yogis

I’m a little obsessed with strawberry rhubarb, oh, EVERYTHING. I made a crumble and we devoured it in less than 24 hours. So the girls made another one. On their own. Completely impressed.

the making
the making
ta-da!
ta-da!

One of our most favorite things to do over the summer is to visit my family in Illinois. My parents live about 30 minutes outside of Chicago. We love relaxing at my parents’ house and hanging out with family and friends. I really enjoy not thinking about what to make for dinner every night and taking a cooking break. There is something about Midwest summers that will always make me happy.

The big girls headed up there with my dad a week early, and had the best time getting spoiled by my parents. They loved picking veggies from my mom’s garden, watering pots and pots of flowers, running around their basement (a novel thing for Floridians), swimming and checking out the Lincoln Park Zoo. It really is the little things.

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Love that background!

Meanwhile, Three and I chilled on the porch here at home.

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doll baby

Seriously though, having one child = way harder than having more than one child. I really underestimated how much the girls play together and entertain each other. I’m so grateful for the girls that they have each other, and will have each other for life. I’m also thankful that they have each other for me. Just sayin.’

Bill, Three and I eventually met the rest of the crew for a couple of days with my parents. I loved catching up with family and old friends, and also attending my twentieth high school reunion. I had the best time and I think Bill had a pretty good time too. There is something really cool about reconnecting with friends from high school, middle school and even elementary school. People that knew you before you really even knew yourself. I’ll always feel a special closeness with them.

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Goooooooo Hornets!

The running was also amazing up there. Although it was not as cool as I’d hoped, it felt so nice running without that humidity. Vacation running is one of my favorites. I know that some people look forward to taking time off from running and exercise during vacation, and that is great for them because vacation should be about what you truly find enjoyable and want to do. But I am the opposite. I can’t wait to get out there and run new routes and see new things. Experience different weather and terrain. Explore new areas. I always look forward to running when we travel. It was extra awesome on this trip because I could jump in my parents’ pool after my run. Best cool down ever.

Seen on my run
Seen on my run

A couple things about some of our travel eats. First, the corn on the cob. Fresh from The Farm. I mean, I can’t even. It tastes significantly different than the corn here in Florida. Juicier and way less corny, if that makes sense. Second, Portillo’s chopped salad every day for lunch? Don’t mind if I do. Can we also discuss why Orlando does not have a Standard Market? Overpriced (but so super cute) grocery store, maybe. But the Grill? Just plain good, simple food with tons of healthy options (and amazing pizza). Great place to eat a casual dinner with the whole family or pick up a quick meal. Please. Someone open one soon. I’ll be your best customer.

The day after we arrived back home in Orlando (yes, I realize that home is two places) One and Two started school. Yikes! Three started 4 Day preschool this past week. Back to the old grind here. Yay?

sisters
sisters
celebrating/crying on her last first day of preschool
celebrating/crying on her last first day of preschool

Hope your school year is off to a great start!

What was the best part of your summer?

 

Give me a drink

The bad news about racing faster is that it means your workouts get harder. It’s really unfair when you think about it. You push yourself and persevere while simultaneously wondering why you find racing even remotely fun. Then you get a PR. Yay! You ride the high for a day or two. Before you know it your next workout day is up, which isn’t great to begin with, and then you realize you have to go even faster now to keep up with your training. So that’s awesome.

But what's really awesome? This view on a recent run at the beach.
But what’s really awesome? This view on a recent run at the beach.

So my tempo run yesterday. It wasn’t even that my three miles were  much faster than they had been, if at all. It’s that they were supposed to be faster which tricked me mentally into thinking that it felt much harder. Let’s not even discuss the two cool down miles afterward that lasted at least forty minutes.

Tempo Wednesday
Tempo Wednesday

But I digress. The main point of my post today is to declare to the world I mean my two readers that I’m going to work very hard to give up Powerade Zero. It’s embarrassing that I even drink it at all. For the most part, I eat whole foods. Bill and I cook a lot at home. I don’t buy much packaged processed food. Our favorite friends are the ones who like to hang out at each other’s houses and cook and eat good food. I gave up pop (Midwest strong!) two years ago. I stopped chewing gum this year. I care about things like soy protein isolate and BPA in canned beans. Why the heck am I still drinking Powerade Zero nearly every day?

Stir fried veggies with rice and peanut sauce? Yes please. Even if it's on a bench at a softball game.
Stir fried veggies with rice and peanut sauce? Yes please. Even if it’s on a bench at a softball game.

 

I think I originally got into electrolyte drinks after an annual physical with my doctor a few years ago. He expressed some concern that with my naturally low blood pressure, getting even minimally dehydrated during my summer runs could put me at risk for fainting and other negative side effects of low blood pressure (nausea, dizziness, weakness, fatigue). He encouraged me to drink daily electrolyte drinks to help prevent dehydration and keep everything running smoothly.

Know what else helps you to run smoothly? This view.
Know what else helps you to run smoothly? This view.

That made sense to me, especially since I had experienced all of the symptoms of low blood pressure and dehydration after my summer runs. Since I needed only electrolytes and not fuel, I wanted to avoid sugar water based drinks. I tried the drinks advertised as more “natural” without sugar, chemicals, artificial colors and flavors, and drank them almost exclusively for a year. The taste of stevia doesn’t bother me, but my stomach doesn’t love it. Plus, the more I read about it, the more I became convinced that stevia is not nearly as well researched as other artificial sweeteners, and while it enjoys a campaign involving words like “clean” and “natural” there is not much long term research regarding its long term health effects.

Long term health right here.
Long term health right here.

So last summer while we were at the beach (the day before the first Track Shack series race) I picked up some Powerade Zero at Publix because it was convenient and I wanted to make sure I was fully hydrated for the race. It was delicious. And easy. I ran a great race and I logically concluded it was because of the Powerade.

I mean really
I mean really

Over the last year, I’ve been drinking way more Powerade than I need, and I’ve realized that my water consumption has drastically decreased because of it. Sadly, water just doesn’t taste as good to me as it did before. I find myself craving something more flavored and sweeter. Not cool at all. Plus, while Powerade is easy on my stomach, I hate that it has artificial coloring in it and other questionable ingredients. Good thing I gave up Coke Zero.

So here I am ready to be done with it for good. It turns out that there are a lot of foods that are naturally high in electrolytes and I eat them already. Bananas, dates, peanut butter, olives, tomatoes, lettuce, oranges, melons, raisins, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, beans, avocado. The list goes on.

Toasted Ezekiel English Muffin. Cashew butter on one side, avocado on the other. Sautéed kale in the middle. File under sounds gross tastes awesome.
Toasted Ezekiel English Muffin. Cashew butter on one side, avocado on the other. Sautéed kale in the middle. File under sounds gross tastes awesome.

I’m also planning to try some coconut water again once I consult with the Food Babe to determine which ones are legit. We live in a strange world.

If I start experiencing the nausea and lethargy I used to feel after running, then I will stick to my nuun tablets (strawberry lemonade without the stevia). Imperfect, but at least it doesn’t have all of the junk that gives my Powerade that mystical blue color.

My primary goal is to drink more water, but I plan to have this on hand (made with regular old Earl Gray or my beloved Lemon Ginger) for days when I’m simply bored and want a non-water drink. I might give my Tazo iced herbal teas another whirl. Maybe mix in some watermelon juice or pureed fruit to make it interesting? Plus there is always LaCroix, which I love but BPA, and the sparkling waters from Whole Foods are really good too.

I'm saving my absolute love of homemade cold brew coffee for another post. I'll be drinking that too.
I’m saving my absolute love of homemade cold brew coffee for another post. I’ll be drinking that too.

I think I can do it – I’ll keep you posted!

Do you regularly drink electrolyte drinks?

Do you like coconut water? 

What is your favorite flavor of tea? 

A new PR!

Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July tie for my favorite holidays. They come with all of the positives and none of the obligations of other holidays. Thanksgiving is simply food, family and friends, and relaxation. The Fourth is all about summer fun, BBQs, celebrating, and generally being happy to be an American. There are no presents to be bought, events you are *supposed* to take the kids to, lines you have to wait in, eggs to hide, Valentines to make, etc., etc. I’m truly a lazy person at heart.

So the Fourth! For the past few years we have been in Chicago for the holiday, but this year we were home. I missed seeing my parents and cousins, but it was fun being home and hanging out with my sister and our good friends.

Saturday and Sunday were all about relaxation and fabulous lunch eats at the Foodies’ house. Smoked chicken, lima bean salad (changed my opinion on lima beans), homemade cornbread, watermelon, margaritas with fresh lime juice and Mrs. Foodie’s ah-maz-ing cookies. The best I’ve ever had. All of the girls had a blast outside in the pool and on the trampoline. These little gymnasts are too cute.

On Monday, I was up bright and early for the Watermelon 5k in Winter Park. A big thank you to Track Shack for my bib! As always, Track Shack put on a well organized and fun race.

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How cute are these bibs?

I planned to put forth a full effort, but I wasn’t expecting much given the brutal humidity and not having been on the track since March. I looked at my watch shortly after the race started and saw that I was running a 6:40 pace. I felt okay, but knew I couldn’t keep that pace up. I figured I’d just go with what felt good and if I crashed and burned at mile 2 or 3 – no big deal. This was just a fun race, after all – who cares? Which then got me thinking about why it was a “fun” race – because there was no chip time? Because there were no awards? Because there was no official record of your running time? All things I’ll be pondering over the next couple of weeks.

Anyway, by the time I got to mile 3 I was done. I spent the first half of that mile wondering if I should just phone it in or keep going as best I could, even though I knew I had slowed down. I saw a couple of friends during the third mile which distracted me from the discomfort. Right around mile 2.6 I saw a friend and fellow runner who cheered me on and gave me the push I needed to pick it up a notch and finish the last half mile. (Only two laps around the track – that’s nothing! The things we tell ourselves.) If you’ve ever doubted how much of an impact you make cheering for runners during a race- don’t. People who take the time to be out there and cheer on racers are THE BEST and they get me through every time.

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Rounding the corner and seeing the finish line = glorious.

Part of my third mile was slower than seven minutes but I was able to pick it up during the last portion of it and for the last .1 stretch:

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I was shocked when I got to the finish and saw that I was going to beat my best 5k time. I was so happy and proud of myself!

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Despite the time and full 3.1 plus distance on my watch, I’m calling my time 21:29 because I think I might have started my watch a second or two late. I typically press the start button when I cross over the starting mat, but because it was not a chipped race there was no starting mat which threw me off a little bit. Plus, my watch lost the signal during the national anthem (which gave me goosebumps, I might add) and I may have hit the button right after I passed the starting flag. Only runners would obsess about that second and potentially imperfect data.

Still, even a 21:29 is 12 seconds faster than my pervious PR from last September. When I started racing three years ago, I never thought I’d run much faster than an 8 minute per mile pace, especially for more than one mile. It’s crazy what a little work, some early mornings and great coaching (thanks, Bill!) can do.

After the race I dripped around Central Park, caught up with some friends and saw my sister, nieces and brother-in-law (who pulled his hamstring during the race…ouch). I did a mile cool down run and then came home to get ready for a day of fun (after the cleaning and cooking).

I spent the rest of the holiday with a house full of little girls, one baby boy, friends and family. Perfection.

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This table is what holidays are all about.

We ended the night at Lake Eola watching the fireworks.

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Three got the best seat in the house for fireworks.

What a fantastic day!

What is your favorite holiday?

Anyone else race? 

 

Summertime and stinky clothes

I can’t believe it’s almost July. Why does summer always fly by? We have been loving the no school attitude around here. My big girls spent the first week of summer break in fun camps  – my oldest at a Harry Potter themed camp at the Orlando Repertory Theater, and my middle at the Naturalist Camp at Mead Gardens. My obsessed-with-magic- performer loved the REP, and my explorer-not-afraid-to-get-dirty-animal-lover was in her element outside and learning about nature and animals all day long. She even took us on a private tour of the the Gardens the week after her camp.

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The girls at Mead Gardens. Side note: Love my Orlando neighborhoods shirt.

We saw a woodpecker, giant grasshopper and turtles on our visit. We checked out the new boardwalk too. It was fun to explore another new-to-us place in our hometown.

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Huge grasshoppers at Mead Gardens

The last week and a half have been low key relaxing weeks at home – my favorite!! No daily rush to get the kids out the door in the morning. No interrupting our Mad Men binge session at night to make lunches. No frantically trying to get everything done in between two different school drop off and pick ups and after school activities. Lots of time spent in rocking chairs on our front porch reading the newspaper and sipping my cold brew coffee while the kids run through the sprinklers. Lots of time watching the girls swim in the pool. Lots of time spent getting together with good friends, old friends, new friends. Lots of green-egging, summer beverages (hello again white wine), and ice cream. Lots of late nights and early mornings but not in a bad and exhausting way. Summer is kind of my favorite. 

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The girls and their cousins and summatime

One thing that is not my favorite: acclimating to the stifling temperature and humidity during my runs. I was REALLY hurting 3-4 weeks ago when summer rolled in, wondering how my easy runs were thirty seconds per mile slower with the same effort. Maybe even more effort. I feel like my long runs are still slower and harder than normal, but otherwise I think I’ve adjusted.

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I didn’t spend too much time being bothered about being slower and adjusting when I got to see morning skies like this. Love when the sun rises on one side of the lake and the moon is bright on the other.

Speaking of stifling, let’s discuss the stench and nastiness of clothes post-run. After even a short and easy run in this summer weather my clothes are completely soaking wet and must immediately come off after I get home. Sorry kids, breakfast can wait. Maybe you are awesome and you immediately wash your clothes, but washing exercise clothes may not happen for several days in my house. Last summer when Bill was marathon training we discovered that even after washing our exercise clothes, they still smelled bad. There was no way we could afford for both of us to completely replace our running wardrobe so we did some research to find out if there was any way to save our clothes.

It turns out that the moisture-wicking fibers in our clothing, great for drawing moisture away from our bodies, was trapping the natural-occuring bacteria in our sweat and causing the hard-to-get-rid-of stench. Gross, right? There is a ton of information about this on the web and a lot of suggestions for how to get rid of the odors in this type of clothing. This is what we have done and it works – not perfectly but pretty well:

After removing the clothing we immediately rinse it in cold water, wring it out and hang it on a drying rack in our bathtub. It’s now a fixture in our bathroom and I don’t think of the tub for anything other than drying our running clothes. Anyway, after the clothes are completely dry, we thrown them in a separate laundry basket for exercise clothes only. Then, about an hour before washing them in the washing machine we (I) dump them in the kids’ bathtub or a bucket filled with water and 1-1.5 cups of vinegar. Let them soak. I then wring them out and wash them in the washing machine – cold cycle with not too much detergent.  I’ve heard that any excess soap can get trapped in the fibers and contribute to the odor. After that, I hang the clothes to dry on yet another drying rack. So yes, I hate washing exercise clothes.

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We go through a lot of vinegar.

I just spent half of this post discussing my dirty laundry.

Before leaving you with some random summertime pictures, I just want to say that my heart goes out to Istanbul. I don’t live my life in fear, but I deeply feel for all of the innocent people who have been killed, injured or affected by terror attacks. I wish I could come up with more eloquent words, but I’ve been really sad the last two weeks about the shooting in Orlando, and hearing about Istanbul makes me sad all over again.

Trying to end on a positive note:

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Reaffirming that summer.is.awesome.

 

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I just love this one.