Just Livin’ That Lovely Life

Over the winter, when I thought about the whole marathon training + working + planning a wedding + staying social thing, I knew it’d be a little busy…but I had no idea! It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, a good one, and I’m in my own happy little version of Oz.

The Green Bay Marathon is quickly approaching: Only about a month away now! I’m so ready. I’m excited, but I have to admit that I am fully looking forward to it coming, and then going and being done. Staying in alone Friday nights, then getting up at the crack of dawn and running for 3+ hours on Saturday morning isss getting a little old. I love, love, love running—why else would I run a marathon?! But all the time that training’s taking away from the rest of my life…well, I’m ready to get that back. 😉

That said, training’s been decent. I did my 18-miler two weeks ago. I felt great for it all, ’til what I thought was my hip flexor, but I now suspect was perhaps my groin(?), was pretty tight for the last 3-4 miles. I finished without pain, but had some dull aching that night and the following couple of days. I took off Sunday—Thursday, then did a 2-mile test last Friday. I didn’t want to push my luck, so I only did 9 miles as my long run this past weekend (instead of 19 miles). I have a 20-mile run on the docket in two weeks and I think I’ll be golden for it. In the meantime, I’m looking up hip and groin stretches and strengthening exercises to help keep me feelin’ good ’til that finish line is in my crosshairs.

In other news: Work + wedding + social life have been fabulous.

I earned a promotion at work a few weeks ago, something I’ve been working towards for almost two years, so that’s exhilarating and motivating. YAY! Of course, that means big projects + personal goals to make things even MORE uber-awesome now, which means I’ve been putting in some extra hours lately. All worth it, though! Can’t live, or work, without a little extra passion. Amen.

I wish I could say I’ve been just as on top of wedding planning.

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I was feeling good about it, like I was ahead of the game, and then the last 2-3 weeks have positively FLOWN by and suddenly my to-do list is glaring at me. Eeeek.

Hope to do some real updating and more in-depth recap on my training lately…stay tuned!

– – –

How do you balance it all? 

Weekend: Piano Bar, Brunching & Running

What more does one need?

I guess an extra day in the weekend to recover from all the fun, but don’t we all wish that…

Matt and I started out the weekend by heading on an impromptu trip to Milwaukee on Friday night. First stop: Transfer Pizza for dinner. We’ve eaten there twice and both times loooved their pizza. My favorite so far is the “Katalina Pizza” — it has a garlic cream sauce, cheese, artichokes and salami. Definitely not a healthy option, but oh-so-delicious. So delicious, in fact, that I didn’t even take the time to snap a pic before devouring it…

After chowing down, we met up with my friend and then cabbed it to Lucille’s Piano Bar in downtown Milwaukee. This is our favorite place to go when we’re in Milwaukee. Dueling pianos are theeee best! If you have never been to a dueling piano bar, basically two people are playing at pianos/singing across from each other. The audience can take up their song requests (with some money to speed along their place in the queue). It’s popular for birthday parties, bachelorette parties, etc. because you can make the guest of honor sit up on stage while the piano players sing and play them a special song. You can imagine how this can be interesting (and hilarious) for the bachelor/bachelorette parties! Ha

Funny moment, off the bat, was when someone paid them $5 to play “Oh, Canada”—then someone brought up $10 to make them stop and play the US National Anthem instead. And because this is Milwaukee, you bet everyone stood up, put their hand over their hearts (with beer in their left hand) and sang along. Haha!

Singing the National Anthem at Lucille's Piano Bar

Singing the National Anthem at Lucille’s Piano Bar

We were out late, so Saturday morning had an equally late and slow start. Nursing some slight headaches, we headed out to brunch at a new (to us) place: Café Centraal.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Uhhh, amazing brunch! I mauled the Chile Rojo Corn Cakes: Cornmeal pancakes topped with fried eggs, chorizo, white cheddar cheese, chile rojo, salsa verde, housemade pico de gallo, and chipotle sour cream.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Sooo tasty. Kelsey got a yummy omelette, but Matt’s French Toast stole the show and we helped him eat it: Fresh berries on top of cinnamon coated challah French toast, layered with creamy mascarpone cheese and topped with basil.

Brunch in Milwaukee at Cafe Centraal

Last vestiges of the best french toast ever…

OMG, best french toast any of us had ever had. Go. Try it.

After brunch, Matt and I headed home for some errands and grocery shopping. We made dinner (Matt’s specialty, beef stroganoff) and then watched American Hustle. WOW, what a funny and great movie! I know it’s gotten all sorts of acclamations but it really is all it’s cracked up to be.

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And I love J Law. And Bradley Cooper…

Ended the night reading some of my latest book, A Thousand Splendid Suns.

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Had to force myself to put it away to go to sleep!

Snoozed away until this morning, then I spent a little over 3 hours (!!) getting in my long run for the week. Rest of the day’s forecast: Eat, take a nap, and relax! I’ll just leave all that house cleaning for, uh, tomorrow I guess… Why can’t the weekend have three days in it?

– – –

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Favorite book/movie of the moment?

The Countdown Is ON

In t-minus three days, I will be having a sleepover with my older sister and her new dog (!!), then waking up ridiculously early to head to the airport. After a few short hours up in the air, we’ll be reunited with our long-lost little sister in Phoenix, Arizona…in the SUN and WARM air and happiness!

Can you tell I’m excited?

My blog posts have been lacking {or just, MIA} lately, mostly due to a crazier-than-usual work schedule and actually staying on top of my workouts despite that. Which leaves no real extra time for this little hobby o’ mine. At least the craziness of the last few weeks will make this little run-cation all the more sweeter! I can’t wait to let you all know how the Phoenix Half Marathon goes (first race of the year for me), and fill you in on the other fun parts of the trip: Sweet hotel, pool time, drinkies, lots of good eats, baseball? and who knows what else.

last year's runcation, celebratory drinks

last year’s runcation, celebratory drinks

Actually, who knows what else? Really? We have all been so busy we haven’t planned…ANYTHING…beyond our race. I guess we’ll play it by ear once we get there.

In the meantime, while I daydream and drool over the thought of running in a t-shirt and not freezing my arse off, I am passing the time in the following ways:

• Obsessively googling bridesmaids dress options. I think I have it figured out…
• Equally obsessively tracking my bridal shoes’ arrival date (helloooo, beautifuls)
Badgley Mischka Randall wedding shoes in mint blue
• Agonizing over our ‘final’ wedding guest list. Seriously, this is the toughest part! We want everyone to be there…
• Watching DVDs of the West Wing to distract me from above wedding things.
• Tromping along on my new (to me) treadmill at home!
• Chugging down protein shakes, eating tuna sandwiches, and sleeping.

My legs and body have been getting sore more than usual in the last few weeks, and I’m not sure why. The fact I’m on a diet—maybe I’m not getting enough protein? Not enough sleep? Pushing myself too hard? I’m betting on the protein/sleep combo. For now.

P.S. Is it pathetic that my right arm and left buttocks are super sore from bowling on Saturday? ‘Cause I kinda think it is. But I ran a marathon last year, so it’s cool. Right?

– – –

What should we do in Phoenix, Arizona? Where should we eat & drink?
What’s making me so sore lately—need more cowbell protein?

Crafting & Partying

Howdy all! What a fun, quick weekend.

I had a rousing Friday night of crafting—woohooooo. My running club had its yearly swanky party on Saturday, and I volunteered to make some DIY table settings. I had fun picking out the supplies at Hobby Lobby, and ended up making all 80 place settings for about $15 (could have been cheaper, but I didn’t realize one of my stamps was $7).

DIY place card table settings with mustache and bow stamps

It was super easy! All I did was pick out two stamps (mustache for the men, a bow for the ladies) and got black and pink ink. Then I bought what were technically bookmarks, but they worked perfectly once I folded them in half to stand up.

A little stampin’ on top and then I wrote the names below—they turned out super cute!

DIY place card table settings with black mustache and pink bow stamps 

I’m already excited to make the table cards for our wedding, is that weird?

I woke up early Saturday morning and went on my cuh-ray-zay hard long run. Afterwards, Matt took me to lunch, by which time I was ready to gnaw off my arm or anything that walked by. Literally. Luckily, no appendages were harmed and I scarfed down some buffalo chicken pizza. It was scrumptious, and I inhaled it too quickly to take a photo. Then I laid around almost all afternoon because I was so totally spent.

By 6 o’clock, Matt and I were on our way to the running club party. It was fun to see everyone dressed up and snazzy, rather than sweaty and smelly like we usually are. Ha! There were a TON of people there this year, and it is so cool to see our little running club growing so fast.

We chowed down on some delicious food: Bruschetta and bacon-wrapped dates for appys, filet mignon and boiled potatoes, and homemade desserts. I washed it all down with a couple cocktails and watched people bust their moves on the dance floor (it takes a lot more than two cocktails to get me out there) before we called it a night around 10. We were pooped!

Sunday was spent getting lots of things done around the house, before we went to an impromptu Super Bowl party at a friend’s house for a couple hours. Highlights of the game were the Red Hot Chili Peppers, lots of yummy appetizers, and a glass of wine. Notice no football mentioned there. 😉

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Highlight of your weekend?

What did you do (and eat) for the Super Bowl? 

Cupcakes and Cosmos and Mexi – Oh my!

Let’s take a look at some food porn, aka, what I ate last week.

A post that will start out deceptively healthy…and then you see that, eh, perhaps not so much.

I started out the week well enough.

healthy banana oatmeal muffin

I made these banana oatmeal muffins on Sunday night, to eat for breakfast in the mornings. With bananas, oatmeal, and applesauce in place of oil, these little babies were guilt-free and tasty.

I also chowed down on coconut vanilla greek yogurt, which I’m obsessed with. It’s so freakin’ good.

coconut vanilla yogurt

I topped it with French vanilla granola and praline pumpkin seeds (from my NatureBox haul—the best snacks!).

I did takeout for lunch one day at work: Vietnamese food for the win.

shrimp bun

This Shrimp Bun (pronounced “boon”) is the best. I want to try to make this at home—rice noodles, cucumbers, tomatoes, romaine and tasty shrimp topped with a little sweet & sour sauce.

Okay, let’s get to the bad [good?] stuff.

Birthday dinner #2 last Tuesday at one of my favorite restaurants. Matt and I started with some duck wontons.

duck wontons

Delish! And yeah, a Cosmo on the side. Heh.

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For my main dish, I had chicken breasts [healthy!] wrapped in bacon […not healthy?], topped with pepper cheese and a deep fried jalapeno. I could totally recreate this dish at home, and I plan to!

Of course, no birthday dinner would be complete without…

chocolate raspberry cupcake

A birthday cupcake! Homemade by my friend Liz: Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream. Heavenly.

You can’t follow up a birthday dinner like that… Except with maybe a fiesta the next day!

Matt and I made homemade “lightened up” enchiladas (so, kinda healthy?) from the HowSweetEats blog.

homemade enchilada sauce

I was nervous about making a homemade sauce, but it was pretty easy.

We scarfed down taco dip while we waited for the main dish to cook.

taco dip

So very un-healthy but so very yum.

By the way, photographing enchiladas in a pretty way = impossible.

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And that is why I’ve lost no weight this past week.

But hey, for my first week as a 27-year-old, I think I’m livin’ the good [eats] life!

What good eats have you enjoyed lately? 
Any healthy recipes you recommend or can’t wait to try? 

Saturday Morning Tidbits

My usual Saturday morning long run was thwarted by all-night-long freezing rain = icy roads this morning. Sunday morning long run, anyone?

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Water, water everywhere. And yes, our Christmas lights are still up. heh

So, instead of running talk this morning, I thought I’d share some random loveliness with you… Enjoy the musings and pandora’s box that is my brain!

» I usually read every night before bed. I’m a bookworm and I’ll read anything. I’ve been eating up pieces of Bart Yasso’s “My Life on the Run” and it’s a fun, adventurous read.

Bart is my fave!

I love Bart {I’ve gotten to meet him twice now}, he’s the best! But, I haven’t found a really good book to get lost in. Any suggestions?

» I heart Van Morrison Pandora lately. I am an old soul at heart. This reminds me, I’m due to make a new workout playlist…suggestions there, too?

» I said in my goals post that I want to lose weight before my wedding day {August 30th}. I haven’t buckled down too tight yet, but by simply getting back to working out a few times this week & making better food choices {and drinking less vino}, I’m down a pound as of this morning. Woohoo! Sometimes, small changes = big difference.

» My friend, June, signed up for the Green Bay Marathon. So excited for her first marathon, and to have a buddy to run it with. My friend, Liz, (who also ran Chicago) will be joining us, too!

» I love this post Runner’s World tweeted yesterday: Seven Habits of Highly Effective Runners and Eaters. Every one of these habits is something I’ve worked on developing over the last year or two, and it really does make all the difference in the world:

1. Have a support network. My running club. My family. This blog! You guys are the best.

2. Set goals. See: Chicago Marathon in 2013, Green Bay Marathon to come in 2014.

Three sisters = Three marathon runners.

2013 Goal: Run the Chicago Marathon!

3. Keep track of workouts/food. I heart my Garmin & its online tracking; I can see all my workouts on a calendar and exactly what I did. I also like to use Livestrong’s DailyPlate for meal tracking if I’m trying to lose weight.

4. Plan ahead. I love to make race training plans {like…in a strangely obsessive way} and break that down into weekly workout plans. I also try to think ahead so I can bring healthy snacks and meals to work each day.

5. Have reasonable expectations. Instead of thinking, “I have to work out every day,” I know I am busy and will be happy with 4-5 workouts a week. And even though I want to lose weight, I know I won’t drop it quick—planning to lose just 1 pound a week will keep me sane and won’t make me feel deprived.

6. Stay consistent. I try to follow my workout plans & stick to healthy eating most of the time. It’s easier to stay consistent than constantly try to “get back” to consistent.

7. See the value. That’s easy. I’ve never been happier or felt better!

Would I add any habits to that list? You bet: Get enough sleep. Stay positive. Work hard, but keep it fun. I try to follow these rules in my every day life, and so far, so good. 😉

– – –

What are your “highly effective” habits that make you a better or happier person? 

Book suggestions?

Song suggestions? 

2014 Goals & Running Plans

I’m not normally a New Year’s resolutions type of gal. If you decide you want to do something, you should do it any week of the year, any day of the week, any time of day. But last night, our house was finally quiet and I had time to reflect on what I’m looking forward to this year. With that in mind, I have a few things I want to work on in the near-future…I refuse to call them “resolutions,” but I am excited to have these goals to work towards!

• Train for the Sister Run-cation Half Marathon in March
My sisters and I finally picked our run-cation half marathon, but I’ll wait to reveal that in another post. You’ll have to wait! Think warm & sunny. Here’s a hint from the event’s Facebook page…

2014 Sister Run-Cation preview

I am stoked to have a 13.1 miler to train for—I already feel motivated and amped to start my workouts and get back to more consistent running. I don’t know if I’m in any shape to PR for the half, but I’ll evaluate a time goal after I get a few longer runs under my belt.

• Cook More + Share Recipes

Southwest Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

With a busy workweek, plus getting home after 6pm post-workout, I tend to fall back on cooking the same meals. I want to spice up my cooking life and try some new recipes, including a lot of lightened-up meals to help me shed a few pounds! And lucky you, lovely blog readers, you get to be the guinea pigs.

• Lose 20 pounds
Alright, I gotta pull the cliché bride-to-be “I want to lose weight” card.

I'm on a diet until the wedding's over.

I’ve wanted to do so for the last two years, so this will be good motivation, right? Losing 20 pounds should be easy to do before August.

• Blog more often
I love writing and it makes me happy, so I want to set more time aside every day to do what I love!

And last but not least…

• Run the Green Bay Marathon
Cellcom Green Bay Marathon
The granddaddy of them all: I signed up for my second marathon! After I ran the Chicago Marathon this past October, I knew I wanted to run another marathon. I felt like I could have trained better and run faster, so here’s to an injury-free year of running and a marathon PR at the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon in May.

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Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? 

What are your goals for 2014?