New Paltz Challenge Half-Marathon Recap!

Half-marathons are my shit.

Ever since I ran my first half 3 years ago, I’ve been addicted.

Not just to the challenge of race day, but the training, the pride, the dedication, the discipline, the mothafuckin’ free food post-race, the unparalleled sense of accomplishment and disbelief when the legs I berate for not being good enough carry me swiftly across the finish line.

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                                                                           all the mothafuckin’ food.

My deep devotion for the half-marathon game is shared with my number one running bud: my dad. But, since he injured his achilles and hasn’t been able to train, I ran my first solo half this past weekend…ironically, it was on Father’s Day!

Me & Pa, post-race

                                                                                   Me & Pa, post-race

The three best things about this half?

  • It’s a true blue trail run on my home turf in New Paltz, NY on my absolute favorite woodland trail
  • It’s small and the course is flat
  • It’s incredibly beautiful

For this year’s New Paltz challenge, mother nature played a nasty trick on me. From the moment I went to sleep on Saturday night to the moment the gun went off at start time, it was pouring. Truly, pouring.

Now, since the race is entirely on a rail trail, rain basically demolishes the gravel and dirt, turning the whole length of the race into a virtual muddy swamp.

I went into this race absolutely PUMPED and 100 percent confident that I would smash my current half PR of 1 hour, 56 seconds.

The minute I got on that trail, I threw the possibility of a new PR out the rain soaked window.

Most of the race, I was ankle deep in mud, or calf deep in puddles. From my heavy, drenched sneakers to the mud particles in my eyes and under my fingernails, and not to mention the neverending stream of water flowing down my face, every minute of this race was a challenge.

But ya know what? It was fucking fun.

Screw PR’s, screw finding my stride, and screw passing every lagging person I can. I ran my ass off while being tested by the elements and still managed to finish in under 2 hours.

By the time I crossed the finish line, I was about to puke from the enormous effort of simply picking my abnormally heavy feet up and putting them down but I smiled through it cause I was, and still am, proud of myself. Not for still managing to get a pretty decent time, but for not giving a fuck about it when I was chasing the rain.

Running the most challenging race on my home town course reminded me why I love to run…it makes me remember how incredible I am, what my body and mind are capable of when they work together, and above all, it always get me where I want to go in every way.

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5 Great Pieces of my Week

HAPPY FRIDAY BETCHES!

This week was hella busy, whether it was from the hustle and bustle at work to unexpectedly awesome social scenarios or from, of course, cooking and running my ass off.

For the first time since I can’t even remember, the sun was shining every. single. day. of the week!! Take it from me, in Rochester, that is something that doesn’t happen very often.

The sunshine on my face, the daffodils and tulips lining the sidewalks, and the walks to work with a light jacket, and back home with my jacket shoved in my bag, made for a truly uplifting week filled with all the good springtime feels 🙂

If I had to narrow it down, the five best pieces of my week were (so far)…

  1. The Red Wings Game! Collin and I ended up going to see the Red Wings (Rochester’s minor league baseball team) play on Monday night spontaneously. His friend Zach and Zach’s girlfriend Mary had extra tickets that they got for free and the four of us ended up watching some ball. Of course it was on the only day that the cold was still lingering and rain was coming down, but the apocalyptic lack of attendees gave us the freedom to sit cozily under one of the stadium’s roofs and enjoy the game out of the rain. Despite the cold, it was so nice to get our chat and crack up on with some awesome people.download (2)
  2. SMORGASBORD MEALS! My lack of creativity in the kitchen and money in the bank left me a little down in the dumps earlier in the week when I wanted to whip up something fancy and elaborate for dinner one night, but didn’t have the ideas or the funds to satisfy my onboxiously high standards when it comes to cooking dinner. Instead of being a little bitch about it, which I tend to do often when I can’t decide what to make, I did a total inventory check of my kitchen and just stuck to simple. Ironically, cooking with the simplest ingredients I had on hand reinvigorated my creativity, and I was able to turn out a tasty spread that totally shut my grumbly, temperamental tummy UP. I made some rice seasoned with fresh dill, dried oregano, and sea salt mixed with sauteed spinach and garlic in lemon juice. To go with that, I roasted some zucchini and eggplant in balsamic and made salt and vinegar crispy potatoes! IMG_5553 (1)
  3. LUNCH BREAKS @ HOME! I’ve felt a little bit antisocial at work for the past few weeks and instead of sitting with my “group” of friends, I’ve been gravitating more towards solo lunches spent watching netflix while eating and then taking walks outside and reading. Since the weather has been so nice and I just cannot stand how much I have to sit at work, I’ve been trekking back home to have lunch outside on my balcony with my plants. Although the walk is about 15 minutes each way, cutting my actual hour lunch in half, it’s worth it to A. get in a significant walk, and B. break up my day with some quality comfort and laid back alone time. To me, when I separate myself from work as much as possible during the one hour per day I am allowed free time to do as I please, I am more productive, energized, and at peace for the remaining four hours of the day.

    Me, Myself, and I...and my food, on my balcony. I really was happy, I swear...

    Me, Myself, and I…and my food, on my balcony. I really was happy, I swear…

  4. POST-WORK RUNS! Since I am in the midst of training for my next half-marathon coming up on June 21st, my runs have been increasing in length as the weeks go on. Instead of rolling out of bed to pound out a half hour on the treadmill at the gym at 5 AM before work, I now must gear up and hit the pavement post-work to clock my miles. While I am a morning person, 5 AM is still difficult for me when it comes to runs before breakfast, but it is really nice to know I got my workout on before most people are even awake and before I spend the day at work. Despite feeling a bit worn down after work, I’ve been able to fuel up with a clif bar and have some impressive post-work runs! The sunshine certainly helps, but I’m also finding myself more meditative than I previously had been on evening runs. Rather than dreading running after a full day of activity, I now look forward to finally moving my body after a long day of sitting and reflecting/leaving the day behind me. My times have been killer, and post-run dinners are the best kind of dinners.female-runner
  5. THE OMNIVORE’S DILEMMA! I’ve been dying to read this book for months now and finally got my hands on a copy (thanks Col). Michael Pollan is a wise, intelligent, and genius journalist who documented his experience tracing the pathway of the modern meal. The whole first section goes into detail about how we are essentially ruled by corn. He visits a modern day mono-crop farm where the owner plants solely corn that gets shipped to cows on CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations…AKA factory farms AKA concentration camps). He then follows the food chain of this nature further, ending the chain at McDonalds where he consumes a burger from the cows from the farm who ate the GMO corn. He follows this process from a highly sustainable farm where he consumes the chickens he helped slaughter, and then finally hunts a wild boar and gathers mushrooms to make a meal he hunted/gathered himself. Although I don’t necessarily agree with everything he has to say when it comes to eating animals, he truly dissects the modern way in which we receive, think about, and eat our food and really emphasizes the heart of the matter: that CAFOs and mono-crops of corn are NOT SUSTAINABLE for our future as mankind and the future of our planet. The book is truly a modern masterpiece and I urge everyone to give it a read!OmnivoresDilemma_full

I hope everyone has had a stellar week of sunshine, good food, good runs (or whatever you like to do to move your body), good reads, and good people.

CHEERZ TO DA FREAKIN’ WEEKEND~

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Weekend Recap: My First 10K!

HAPPY MONDAY EVERYBODY!

And no, I’m not wishing that sarcastically, I really mean it, it’s a glorious day! Here in Rochester the sun is shining, the wind is only blowing a tiny bit (which is a friggin’ miracle here), and it’s almost 80 degrees!

I woke up this morning with a sunburn on the tip of my nose and my tank top laid out for work today and it instantly brought a smile to my face and made me ready to put my blissfully exciting weekend in the books and get ready for another excellent week.

This post is the “books” I’m putting my weekend in, so lemme just start off by saying that I finally ran my first 10k race yesterday in Ithaca!

Although I’ve completed 4 half-marathons, I’ve never run a “normal” distance race! In the spirit of spring beginning and my happy season of running from April-Novemeber, I decided I’d sign up for a race every month until December!

The Skunk Cabbage Classic in Ithaca started my monthly race goal off with a bang! I finished in 51 minutes, 56 seconds, beating my goal time by over 3 minutes!

No headphones were allowed and the course was kinda hilly (helloooo, Ithaca hills anyone??) but I managed to kick ass and had such a great time before and after the race.

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My dad drove up from down home with my Gigi (grandma) to meet Collin and I at the Cornell campus where the race began.

Col and I drove to Ithaca Saturday morning and spent the day there exploring and eating vegan burritos and delicious Thai food. The weather was absolute shit Saturday, so I was kind of worried race day would follow suit, but we woke up to a gorgeous sunrise and the day was literally perfection (hence the sunburn on my nose this morning).

The course took us along rolling farmland and even brought us next to a pheasant farm (didn’t want to think about why pheasant farms are even a thing…) and even hugged the lake a tiny bit. It was such a scenic course ideal for my first race without music.

I started way up front to keep myself motivated by those faster than me, and my tactic worked! I picked a girl whose stride I admired and stayed right behind her the whole time, pushing myself hard the whole way.

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Post race (after I snagged as many free bagels and bananas as I could carry from the stadium), we went to brunch at Stella’s which was actually a huge disappointment! They had a few vegan options, so I got quinoa oatmeal and a root vegetable hash. My oatmeal was literally a bowl of quinoa with apples on it, and while my hash was good, out food took 45 minutes to get out!

Even though it wasn’t the most pleasant brunch in history, we did have such a sweet time goofing off and I was still experiencing my runner’s high…plus all of the coffee I drank while waiting the 45 minutes for my food. Needless to say, I was off the walls in the best way.

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Post-brunch, we stopped at Green Star, the most amazing health food store known to man to get some treats (I got a vegan fruit and oat bar) and then made our way to the Ithaca Beer Co. Brewery!

I got a flight for a little variety, and my dad, Gigi, Collin and I sat outside at a picnic table surrounded by a golden field, hens roaming around, and customers playing frisbee, drinkin’ brews and basking in the sun’s glory. I cannot wait to take another trip there once summer rolls around.

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Before we drove home, we stopped at Cayuga Lake to skip some rocks and take in my favorite view of all time: any body of water, anywhere.

This weekend I realized just how far I’ve come with my running…how many incredible places it has taken me, both within and outside of myself and I truly felt completely connected and grateful for this body that has taken such a beating from me and my outrageous expectations of it.

My body is incredible in every way…my body is my hero and I am so proud of her and all that she does.

It was also a weekend I never thought would come: the first true weekend of Spring weather where hopes are high, everyone is outside grasping at the sun they thought would never show its face again, and PLAYING which I try to do every day.

So, now that my weekend is in the books, on to half-marathon training my my June 21st trail half and a week of (hopefully) sunshine.

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Exercise Blues

For all of you non-New Yorkers who aren’t aware that Mother Nature has lost her shit and is dumping foot upon foot of snow on Western NY, let me tell you, not being in Buffalo is what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Here in Roch, just one hour East of Buffalo, we’ve only gotten a total of about 6 inches, which is just enough to be winter wonderland-y, but not so much that getting to work is virtually impossible.

But, as beautiful and magic-filled as the snow may look, it’s cold. It’s so, so cold.

Since I’ve lived in western NY since I was 18 and starting college, you’d think I would be used to not just the bone-chilling cold that seems to just laugh at my misery all winter long, but also the harsh wind that seems never to cease. But, I’m still not used to it, and I don’t think I’ll EVER be used to it.

My body just doesn’t agree with the cold. I’m pretty positive I didn’t officially thaw out after last winter until around June of this year. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m a smaller individual with not much body fat, or if I have some sort of legitimate issue with my circulation or what, but during every winter I am in a constant state of cold…shivering, don’t-touch-me-if-you-don’t-want-frostbite COLD. My hands, my feet, my nose, everything is cold to the touch.

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Me, all winter long.

The worst thing about being cold isn’t the usual agony of not being able to feel my feet even with two pairs of socks on, or my heating bill going through the roof in order to function in my house…. It’s not being motivated to exercise!

While on the positive side of things, I’ve built a consistent and improving yoga practice, and go to class at least 2-3 times per week, my cardio has been lacking in so many ways.

The treadmill at the gym at work is always taken during lunch and running outside right now is out of the question, so I’ve been turning to my old friends T25 and Insanity to get my cardio fix. While I love these workouts and used to get so pumped doing them, lately I just cannot find my JUICE. Ya know, that feeling you get right when you’re in the thick of things during your workout, when you feel your most badass….yeah, my juice cup seems to be empty, and my workouts have been half-assed, not badass.

All I can think about during my workouts is being done, getting in a hot shower, eating a ton of hot food,  getting into long johns of some sort and knitting the night away. Apparently the cold has made me age 60 years.

I have incorporated more strength exercises into my workouts which anyone who knows me know I absolutely HATE and have even turned to my childhood favorite past time of jump roping, where I have found some of my juice, but it’s just not the same.

I guess I just A) miss running and B) would rather be cozy 24/7 than workout these days.

In hopes of not turning into a hopeless, pudgy couch potato, does anyone have any tips on how to get motivated to workout this winter? Any workout suggestions? I’d really like to keep improving my fitness, and need something new to jazz it up.

Please enlighten me, beautiful bloggers, I need ya.

Peace, Love, and WARMTH.

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Back on the Saddle A.K.A. my Running Grind

Five years ago, I started my running journey.

I was at a loss for how to go about my recovery, and not only wanted a heart-thumping exercise of choice to go hand-in-hand with eating real foods (and keeping them down), and keeping my body healthy on the outside.

Not only did running help me shape the body I’ve always wanted; one that was capable of pushing past its comfort zones, one that was toned, fit, and lean, and one that I was proud to call my own, and comfortable to just BE in, running provided the escape I had been reaching for my entire life.

As the years went by, I got better and better, increasing my mileage and decreasing my mile time, suiting up even in the harshest winter chills and the most brutal summer heat waves.

I’ve completed four half-marathons, and have ran up to 19 miles multiple times.

My dad and I at our 4 half's

My dad and I at our 4 half’s

After finally reaching a place in my recovery where I feel safe in my own mind, at peace with my own body, and comfortable with who I am, I’ve spent the last year decreasing my mileage and experimenting with different forms of exercise. I still run about 3-4 times per week, but they’re usually just 2-4 miles and I don’t keep track of mile times.

As much as I love pushing myself and training, I tend to be extremely hard on myself and never give my body a break when it’s screaming for one, so this past year of tapering has been freeing.

BUT, last night while I was on a run I thought would just be a regular old half hour around my neighborhood after work and before dinner, I felt it….my running high was back!

After my half hour was up, I didn’t want to stop for the first time in a while, so I kept going until I had gone about 5 miles. Now, I know it may not seem like a huge deal, but I haven’t WANTED to run five miles in over a year, and I let my body take the reigns for once and what do ya know, it feels like she’s ready to get back on the saddle and catch that running fever again.

I’ve been thinking about last night’s run all day today and I think it’s time to kick it up a notch once again.

Maybe only die hard runners will understand my giddy excitement thinking about making a training schedule or beating my best mile time, but I’m ready to RUN again.

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Monday Happy List

Ahh, Mondays….how I love thee, yet how I LOATHE thee.

I loathe the pesky before-work butterflies traveling a mile a minute every monday while I eat my breakfast and think about how many emails will be in my inbox, how many scripts I’ll have to write, how many clients will make me want to crawl under my desk and eat my hair…ya know, the usual.

BUT, there is something about mondays I just love: that feelings of a fresh slate, of starting the week off on a good foot. Whether your plans for the week include accomplishing something huge at work, or going on a date now that rent is paid and maybe you can even afford a drink with dinner, or if it’s crushing your workouts every day and planning out your recipes for the week.

Mondays actually rule. I know I stress embracing each day, even the drudgery of the week days spent at work, but I think it’s one of the keys to happiness and to reducing stress.

Here are some random happy things to be grateful for on my Monday morning.

  1. My beautiful Halloween weekend spent with the beautiful people in my life

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Like these two…my very best friend and my man who bring copious amounts of love, joy, fun, and trust into every damn day.

2. Sunday grocery shopping trip. Collin and I made the trek to Trader Joe’s (okay, so 10 minutes probably doesn’t count as a trek per say, but when I’m in walking distance to two other grocery stores in the city, then yes, 10 minutes counts as a trek. Plus I was feeling the Halloween boozing, so it felt much longer) to stock up for the upcoming week; one of my favorite rituals. I know moms across America will probably want to slit my throat/hire me as their personal shopper, but I truly love grocery shopping. As a cook and healthy food lover who also loves to explore new foods and recipes, getting stocked up on healthy foods, vegan treats, and supplies just makes me feel put together and ready for whatever the upcoming week brings, because I have what I need to keep my body fueled properly and in check.

3. Alice Walker’s “Living by the Word: Selected Writings, 1973-1987.” Enough said. Alice Walker is not only an intelligent, spiritually and environmentally aware beautiful woman, she is badass as hell and writes beautifully. This book is full of journal entries, poetry, essays, and random thoughts…the kind of book I love reading most. I truly love memoirs, but love them even more when there are journal clips included. They truly create a portal into the author’s innermost thoughts which I am fascinated by….and they make me feel like I’m a little less insane for the crap that runs through my head and into my pen.

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4. Runs by the River. As an avid runner for the past four years now, running is something I can always count on, always come back to. It cleanses my body and soul, rids of headaches, gets me interacting with nature on a daily basis, and just eases my mind all while keeping me in shape. WIN WIN WIN. Yesterday I went for a jog by the Genesse even though I felt like death from my Halloween indulgences that consisted of rum, wine, and beer…great combo, you should try it (but, I mean, don’t). Once I laced up, got my feet pounding some pavement, and finally felt the sun on my skin after days of dreary rain, I was elated I decided to get my ass in gear and reconnect with my run. For me, solid runs always begin with a solid location. Now, your solid location could change from day to day, from run to run, based on how you feel, the distance you want to accomplish, and what you’re training for. My runs by the river are my go-to’s for just about all of these. As a wannabe mermaid, the river soothes me, treats my eyes to a better view than gas stations, and goes on forever. It was a perfect choice for my Sunday run that was short, but meant to invigorate and heal me.

5. My new (thrifted) Tea Kettle. I know it may not seem all that list-worthy, but I drink a lot of tea now that I only treat myself to good coffee on the weekends. I used to microwave my tea, but I’ve always been skeptical of microwaves in general, and try to utilize mine as little as possible. Plus, the whole ritual of “putting on the kettle” makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, and really feels like a treat for me. There’s nothing like hearing my pastel white kettle shout at me from the kitchen that it’s time to either start my day off right, or end my night with my mug, my book, and much-too-large socks.

Do you guys have a love/hate relationship with Mondays like me?

Either way, hike up your britches and make today beautiful in any way you can.

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