Category Archives: Friends

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?

 

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? 

 

Rough Flight, All the Sights and Tasty Bites – Our weekend in Virginia and Washington, DC

Bill and I had a great time in Virginia and Washington, DC, last weekend. We had hoped to run the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler at some point, and so last fall when our friends invited us to visit them in Virginia, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and run what we had heard was a great race. So we decided to try our luck on the race lottery.

I was thrilled to get into the race (Bill got an automatic entry based on his qualifying time), thrilled to visit our friends, and thrilled to have a reason to visit one of my favorite cities. And my parents were thrilled to stay with the girls. I call that a win win win.

We had a full weekend, but let’s start with the terrifying airplane ride out there on Friday afternoon. I’m a bit of a nervous flier, so there’s that. There was also a rather large patch of storms covering the southeast as well as a cold front moving in and fairly high winds in DC. The flight was extremely turbulent and the descent and landing were not particularly pleasant either. The pilot did not ease my fears when he kept saying, “This is Mother Nature showing us she is in charge.” I mean really. Feeling the plane slide around in the wind as our wing almost dipped into the Potomac (at least it looked that way) made me feel ridiculously happy to be alive once we landed. Lots of breath counting on that flight in an attempt to ease my nerves.

Anyway, after landing (Hallelujah!), a metro ride and drive, we arrived at our friends’ beautiful new home. I still can’t completely forgive them for leaving Orlando last year, but Bill and I were happy to catch up with them and their kids. I love how time doesn’t seem to pass when you reconnect with good friends.

 

Thanks for a great visit, Sue!
Thanks for a great visit, Sue!

 

Sue and Tiger (I crack myself up nicknaming friends here) prepared an amazing meal for us on Friday night. Homemade focaccia with soft Gouda cheese and an olive tapenade for appetizers, followed by a creamy homemade pasta and chicken dish (and by homemade I mean the pasta itself was made from scratch by Tiger), salad and roasted asparagus. Plus some great wine. Our friends know that good food is the way to our hearts.

After dinner we hung out on their porch and enjoyed great company and perfect weather.

Sue made a delicious breakfast on Saturday morning and, after much too quick a visit, we were off to the metro to get into the city. Sue, please reserve the room for a week next time!

After checking into our hotel, Bill and I ran about a mile and a half to pick up our race bibs. I was prepared for lines and chaos but it was well organized and we were out of there in no time. We ran back to the hotel, did some stretching and got ready to explore the city.

I spent a summer in college working in DC so I know some parts of the city fairly well. For so many reasons it was one of my most defining experiences and I will always love the city because of that summer. Plus, what’s not to love? It’s a gorgeous city with so much history.

Our hotel was in an unfamiliar (to me) area so we enjoyed exploring 14th street heading north from Thomas circle. What a fun trendy area! There were so many cute restaurants and shops.

We continued meandering for awhile, but then decided our feet needed a rest before racing the next day. Bill really wanted to head back to the hotel for a nap but I suggested a movie…during which I promptly fell asleep for about 30 minutes. John Goodman was entertaining and all, but I was just so tired, and it was dark, and the chairs were so comfy. Out.

Saturday evening, we headed back to Sette Osteria on 14th street for a delicious pre-race meal. Bill went with the Fettucini Alfredo and I had the Margherita pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. I loved that we were able to watch the chef make my pizza from our bar seats (which is what we get for not making reservations).

I followed that up with some Powerade and about one hundred checks of the weather before hitting the hay early in anticipation of our 5:30 alarm Sunday morning.

I need you, sweet Powerade, blue coloring and all.
I need you, sweet Powerade, blue coloring and all.

The race! You can check out my recap of the race here.

Bill and I finally caught up to each other after the race (somehow he missed me crossing the finish line) and, after a coffee/hot chocolate stop and a warm shower, we were ready to explore another part of the city. We walked back to the race start and enjoyed seeing the typical tourist sites: the Washington Monument, the Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial (my favorite!) and the World War II Memorial. We walked by the White House and my former place of (unpaid) employment, the Old Executive Office Building.

I worked here!
I worked here! Also, our picture taking skills are a work in progress.
Blurry picture of my love and me.
Blurry picture of my love and me. Thank goodness for the sun. It was a chilly day.
The Korean War Memorial. Freedom is not free.
The Korean War Memorial. Freedom is not free.

Based on Hardcore and her family’s recommendation, we hit up GCDC for lunch. A buttery grilled cheese, egg and tomato sandwich and tomato soup for lunch, capped off with a beer? Don’t mind if I do.

Not sure it was well deserved, but a much enjoyed beer at GCDC.
Not sure it was well deserved, but a much enjoyed beer at GCDC.

We continued walking around the Foggy Bottom area (and saw my old apartment at 23rd and Virginia!) and Georgetown, stopping every so often for a tasty beverage. We also geeked out a bit in Dean and DeLuca. Before we knew it it was time for our dinner reservation at the highly recommended Founding Farmers.

Founding Farmers is owned by 40,000 family farms, and it strives to truly connect farm to table. I love that concept. And the meal did not disappoint.

We really outdid ourselves that night. We started with the skillet cornbread, which came in a cast iron skillet with enough to feed six, and the deviled eggs. I despise mayonnaise so deviled eggs is not something I’d typically order, but I was in the mood for eggs and these were really good – smooth, oniony and not too much mayonnaise.  We followed that up with salads – Bill had the wedge because bacon and blue cheese (although this version did not have bacon!). I had the Farmer’s salad which, while boring sounding, was one of the best house salads I’ve ever had. It was topped with avocado, dates, almonds, grapes and olives. It was such an interesting combination that worked well together (although I have to admit that my first bite of the date surprised me). The portion was pretty large too. Which didn’t stop me from finishing it. Obviously.

On to our main dishes. Bill chose the spareribs and I got the cedar plank salmon. The salmon had a slightly sweet glaze on top that complemented the fish perfectly. I enjoyed that with roasted winter vegetables and some sort of pickled cauliflower and onion side as well. I wish we had room for dessert because that looked good too.

Bill and I give Founding Farmers two thumbs up.
Bill and I give Founding Farmers two thumbs up.

We took our first Uber ride of the trip back to the hotel that night and crashed. We were out early the next morning on a (thankfully) uneventful flight back home.

We loved our time in Virginia and DC. We had so many great recommendations for things to do and restaurants to try in the DC area, I wish we had time to visit them all. I can’t wait until our next trip.

What are your favorite sights and restaurants in Washington, DC?

Which word is worse in your opinion: moist or mayonnaise? 

 

 

Running Friends

What is it about running friends? Even if you don’t spend a lot of time outside of running with them, they know you. Like really know you. Chances are, they know way more about your digestive health than any other human on the planet. Like what too much wine/cauliflower/butter/ice cream the day before means for your long run that morning. They immediately understand what you mean when you mention that your right hip is nagging at you (again), and whether your foot/knee/butt/back/calf pain is the same or different than the pain you had there eight weeks ago.

Everyone knows who is going to be extra grumpy when meet-up times need to be made earlier (me) or later (Legs and Curls). Who will look forward to cross training on the bike this summer (Legs and Muscles) and dread it (me). Who wants (that’s a strong word) to get some track sessions in (Curls and me) and who would rather run 10 extra miles than step one foot on to the track (Hardcore).

But the bond that running friends share goes beyond knowledge of the obvious physical stuff. There is something about meeting friends to run when you are barely awake and definitely not put together. Before you’ve had a chance to get ready and prepare for the day, both physically and mentally. It’s in those early morning hours before you are “on” and ready to present some version of yourself to the world, when you are just you. Well not *just* you, but you, your true self. That is the person running friends get to see and know, and I think that is why there is a closeness with them that is hard to match after you unlace your running shoes.

My running group has had some pretty intense and personal conversations, and I think it has something to do with being able to be open and genuine because we are our authentic (half asleep) selves when we come together. It may also be because we don’t necessarily share the same social circles outside of running. There’s this sense of closeness yet distance that governs the relationship, which makes it easier to talk openly.

Another important part of the running friend relationship: no kids allowed. You know I love ’em but, really, when is the last time you’ve had a full, let alone deep and meaningful, uninterrupted conversation with them around? The ability to completely focus on what another adult is saying in a relatively quiet space without being pulled on, whined to, stepped on, etc., only happens when I am out on my runs. I’m also not distracted by my phone, and I’m not simultaneously in the middle of (or thinking about) laundry, cleaning the house, making grocery lists, making meals or running errands. It’s just the girls and me out for a run before real life begins.

Now let’s be real – the majority of our conversations are not all that deep, but there’s a bond between running friends that is hard to articulate and replicate.

Speaking of conversations, we had lots of them at a recent running group dinner. We all got together with our husbands to discuss important things like compression leggings,  shopping math and our shared love of brussels sprouts.

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Do you like my inside shoes? Classy.

It was so fun! We had a delicious southern meal that included brisket cooked by Bill on the Egg, baked grits, baked beans, an array of roasted vegetables, and some roasted brussels sprouts* with a balsamic reduction and goat cheese. Dessert included three different varieties of bites made by Mrs. Foodie’s company, Sweets Petit. We had Coconut Pecan, Salted Nut and Cacao Nib and Pistachio Fig bites – sooo good! I also picked up some dark chocolate salted carmel cutie pies from P is for Pie. Also delicious. We do love our food.

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Sweets Petit bestselling coconut pecan bites.

* I just learned that brussels has an “s” on the end of it. Please tell me I’m not the only one!

Do you prefer to run alone or with friends? 

Any insights on running friends you’d like to share?