whole30: "WHYYYYYYYY?"

that's just one of the many reactions i got from people when i told them i was thinking about doing a whole30. other common responses included:

"what (insert your chosen expletive here) is that?"

"why would you do that to yourself??

"so, what CAN you eat?"

"are you crazy??"

and perhaps my favorite, from the people who know me very well:

"30 days without beer or bourbon??"

(what? you don't drive to another state and use a shopping cart when you shop for beer?)

before i go into my own personal reasons for doing this, i have to confess that i used to be one of those people who had all of those same questions at some point. i've known about the whole30 program for a while and have even watched as a few friends completed their own, but i was always a little skeptical of the entire thing. i mean, no good can come from totally eliminating entire food groups from your diet. everything in moderation...right??

well, i sort of lost sight of the most important word of that last sentence.

(yes, i'm looking at you MODERATION.)

so, here are the reasons i decided to give this whole30 thing a try:

1. i was eating the same "fake healthy" (but really, totally processed and not at all good for me) things for breakfast and lunch week after week. and in addition to being so very boring and not enjoyable at all, the food i was eating was not providing the good fuel my body needed and i felt hungry all the time.

2. i was not cooking dinners for myself. like, at all. it got to the point where i actually ate takeout from a different place every night one week because i was was in such a bad mood or so exhausted after leaving work each day that the last thing i wanted to do was spend time in my kitchen on my feet.

3. instead of enjoying a few drinks during the weekend and maybe some random weeknight beverages, i was having a beer or some bourbon every night as a "reward" for getting through another day.

4. my sugar cravings were OUT. OF. CONTROL. i was hitting the candy jars in my principal's office after dismissal duty every day and following up most meals with something sweet. and the more sugar i ate, the more i wanted...well, MORE SUGAR. and food just didn't even really taste good anymore unless it was filled with sugar or coated in cheese or processed beyond anything resembling anything natural.

5. in addition to all of the weight gain, i felt like i was in a constant state of bloat. and with the bloating came this general unhealthy feeling and a total lack of energy or desire to really do anything.

6. and then there were the moods. the horrible, wretched moods unlike any i've ever experienced before and by that, i mean that they were happening on a near daily basis.

so, i ordered myself a copy of it starts with food, told myself that my spring break out in seattle and portland would be my "last hurrah" (and what a hurrah it was), and started mentally preparing myself for 30 days without any of the following:

-added sugar (including agave, honey and maple syrup)
-alcohol (even in cooking)
-grains (including non-gluten "grains", like quinoa)
-legumes (including peanuts/peanut butter)
-white potatoes
-dairy (not even yogurt!)
-carrageenan, MSG or sulfites

with all of those restrictions, i was shocked by how excited i was to actually give this whole thing a try. but instead of thinking about all the things i couldn't have and dwelling on the negative, i found myself really looking forward to trying new foods and recipes and getting back in the kitchen. and yeah, the stubborn part of myself was really looking forward to proving that i could actually do it and stick with it for 30 days.

(also, in full transparency? the reports i read about people jump-starting their weight loss and losing anywhere from 5-15 pounds during their whole30 were definitely not hurting.)

however, i will put this out there right now - i have no intention of eating like this permanently after this whole experience is done. (c'mon now, have you seen all the alcohol that is still sitting on top of my fridge?) i'm also not doing this because i think i'm allergic to certain foods or because i think any certain foods are destroying my body. for me, this is all about getting back in control of my relationship with food, cleansing my body, and breaking the bad habits i've fallen into lately. but i will leave you with this little spoiler for now, as i finish day 22 of my whole30 -


(like...maybe even good enough to consider eating like this *most* of the time after my 30 days are done.)

more later!

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long time gone

well, folks...it's been a while, eh? a year and 26 days, to be exact. the last time i updated this blog, it was last school year, which is basically forever ago in "teacher time".

before i launch into the real reason i'm back here updating this blog again (and hoping to do so on a somewhat regular basis again), here's what you've missed since i last checked in:

1. this school year is my TENTH year of teaching. this month, i will "celebrate" the tenth anniversary of my college graduation. both of these facts make me really feel every single one of my 32 years.

(from year #3 of teaching, when april & i were babies. before she had her babies!)

2. oh, hey - i turned 32 in october! my birthday was on a monday and i spent it with some of my very favorite people. after $2.50 tacos and delicious beers at victory, the evening ended with a candle in a piece of cake and free shots of limoncello.

(happy birthday to me!)

3. since i last posted, i've visited six new states and traveled a lot. some of the highlights of all those trips included:

-another awesome rudyfest week down in maryland.
-long weekends up in ithaca (as often as possible).
-camping on the tippy tip of the door county peninsula in wisconsin under the most ridiculously star-filled sky i've ever seen.
-visiting breweries and eating chocolate in ann arbor, michigan.
-drinking lots of beer, visiting garden of the gods and mesa verde national park, and riding to the top of pikes peak in colorado.
-horseback riding in wyoming.
-visiting friends in salt lake city and arches and canyonlands national parks in utah.
-eating tamales from street vendors and enjoying a spa day in new mexico.
-drinking bourbon (and moonshine!) and roadtripping through kentucky and west virginia with my sister.
-escaping the worst winter ever and visiting my mom in florida. twice. in two months. (dude, this winter sucked so much.)
-visiting a friend in seattle with my sister and taking a mini roadtrip down to portland.

(click image to enlarge...trust me, it's worth it.)

4. i've finished 10 more races, including two ten-milers (broad street run 2013 & 2014), two half marathons (the oddyssey half and the philadelphia half), one 10k, and a whole bunch of 5ks. ps. the 10k and one of the 5ks were run back to back, down in st. pete beach, florida as part of the st. pete beach classic.

(two races in one morning = three medals for me!)

so, based on all of the above, my life is looking pretty awesome lately...right? well, except for the part where i have gained back nearly half of all that weight i lost a couple of years ago. because despite experiencing some seriously awesome times over the course of the past year, there were also a bunch of really negative things that happened (both in my personal and professional life) and i didn't do so well at handling them and staying positive. it know it seems kind of ridiculous (because really, i do have it pretty great and i do really enjoy my life), but i just couldn't shake this overall sense of sadness and loneliness for the longest time. and i think that just made me upset more, because i wanted to feel happy, but felt like i just couldn't...if that makes any sense at all.

(this is the part where i thank all of my friends and my sister, for putting up with me this past year and supporting me and letting me cry in their offices at work and not making me feel stupid ever. seriously, i really am so very lucky and i know that.)

add to that the fact that my right heel has been bothering me for months and keeping me from running, which has led to a total loss of running endurance (and my first official "DNS" - the love run half marathon back in march) and put me in an even worse mood. i know i just wrote above that i've done ten more races in the past year, but i've finished each one at a progressively slower pace, culminating with last weekend's broad street run, half of which i ended up having to walk, because i did not train for it at all. but no matter how long it took me, i was NOT leaving the city of philadelphia without that damn medal.

worth every painful step.

i feel as if i'm at the beginning of the other side of all of that now. i mean, not the running/heel pain part - that will take much more time. and i'm still not sure exactly what i want my future to look like or what i want to do with my life, but i'm feeling much calmer about everything lately. and i do believe that at least part of the reason for this is that i've taken steps to get myself back on track with my eating and back in control of my relationship with food. which brings me to this:

that's right, y'all - i've gone whole30!

insert dramatic cliffhanger music here...i'll be back with more information in my next post!

(and yes. the title of this post is the name of a dixie chicks song. the only dixie chicks song i like. actually, the only dixie chicks song i know, and that's because leesa put it on a mix for me once and it really is one of the most perfect "driving around with the windows open in the spring or summer" kind of songs.)

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checking in on a saturday afternoon

oh, hello you beautiful weekend you.

i had a long day yesterday (after a rather long week) and slept in pretty late (close to noon) today before finally pulling myself out of bed and making my way to the kitchen. i've been really digging making myself "restaurant/diner-style" brunches at home lately. it's awesome because i'm usually so rushed during the weekday mornings and always either make myself a smoothie or breakfast sandwich for breakfast, so it's nice to treat myself on the weekends. plus, i'm saving money by not going out for breakfast and can make healthier versions of my restaurant favorites for myself!

today's plate = 2 scrambled eggs with goat cheese, turkey sausage, avocado and raspberries, with some hot tea on the side...because i was lazy and didn't want to wash the french press.

this weekend feels like the "unofficial" beginning of what is usually a pretty crazy time of year for me. the fact that i'm performing with two orchestras right now is making it even crazier. between now and the end of the school year, i've got so many rehearsals and concerts (both my students' and my own) and performance field trips and sometimes, it gets a little overwhelming. i'm also training for broad street in may and the oddyssey half marathon at the beginning of june, so i've got to keep my mileage up and run at least three times a week.

none of this should be taken as a complaint - i honestly love doing all of these things. it just makes me appreciate the slightly less busy weekends (like this one) even more...and makes a little extra sleep and laziness feel perfectly okay. my big plans for the rest of this weekend include hitting up the gym later today and performing in a concert tonight and then running 7ish miles and going on a beer trolley tour in philly with my sister tomorrow.

but first, i have a hot date with my couch and a couple of episodes of six feet under (i'm starting season four today). happy weekend, everyone!

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half a year in one post

at first, i thought the title of this post was probably a bit of an exaggeration. but then i started thinking about how the last time i really posted a life update-esque post was back in october, right before laurel and i were heading out to vegas to celebrate her 30th birthday. and well, it's april now. so...i really am about to cram six months of life into one blog post.

alright, let's do this!

1. vegas!

i have to admit...i went into our trip to vegas thinking i might not like it that much. based on everything i'd ever read/seen about it, it just didn't seem like a ME sort of destination, you know? but it was definitely a place i wanted to check out at some point in my life and laurel's 30th birthday was the perfect excuse for it (and i found us awesome deals on our flights and hotel room...and show tickets and hoover dam tour tickets and pretty much everything else - seriously, we MADE OUT like crazy).

we managed to cram an obscene amount of stuff into the 48ish hours we were there (thanks to a crazy early flight out to vegas and the fact that we barely slept while we were there. some of the highlights of the weekend included:

-walking the length of (nearly) the entire strip, from our cheap-as-can-be motel near the top down to the famous welcome sign at the bottom. we ducked into almost every casino/hotel and explored pretty much everything there was to see. we ate breakfast at denny's (because we were starving after our flight and it was the first place without a wait that we passed) and macarons at the venetian. we watched the fountains outside of the bellagio and were freaked out by the talking tree in the conservatory inside the bellagio. we even stumbled upon an awesome $5 sushi happy hour inside mandalay bay!

and then we totally rode the bus back up to our motel, because we were BEAT.

-pretty much all of friday night. we had a late dinner inside the venetian and then made our way down to cesar's to go dancing at pure. i got us on a "vip guest list", so we didn't have to pay to get in, got to use a special (shorter, faster) line and ladies drank for free until midnight. at one point during our time there, i turned to my sister and said, "man...i need to hear some nicki." not even five minutes later, the dj played "pound the alarm" and i turned back to laurel and said, "this night is going to be AMAZING."

and it really, really was. after pure, we headed back to the venetian to hit up the bourbon room and didn't end up going back to our motel until somewhere around 4:00 in the morning. i won't go into too much detail here, but between the "ladies drink free" special at pure and the generosity of the (several) new friends we made throughout that night, we didn't spend a single cent after dinner.

if you are ever in vegas, GO TO THE BOURBON ROOM.

-visiting hoover dam. yeah, it really (really) sucked having to get up so soon after all of our friday night (saturday morning) fun...but i'm so glad we did this. i got the tickets through a living social or travelzoo deal and it included our transportation, tickets to the museum and about an hour to explore the dam itself. the weather was gorgeous and it was nice to get away from the craziness of the strip and see a bit more of the state of nevada.

-the beatles love show. i got these tickets for about half off what they usually go for, but i would pay full price to go see it again. it was SO AMAZING. seriously, go see it.

2. other travels

i actually haven't traveled nearly as much this school year as i normally do, which has been good for my checking and savings accounts, but not at all for my mental state. (i am not at all dramatic, heh.) in november, i flew out to indianapolis to watch one of my best friends from middle/high school (mary) marry her awesome guy (brian). since my friend elisabeth lives about two hours from indy, she came to the wedding with me and we made a whole weekend out of it.

and then i didn't go ANYWHERE (unless you count our rehoboth half marathon weekend) until my spring break, which just happened at the end of march. laurel and i flew down to florida to spend the week with mom and anthony (and i managed to squeeze in a quick trip up to tampa to visit frances, susan and sweet baby will!) - but that trip will get its own post soon!

3. work

i'm having a pretty good year at work. all of my winter concerts went well and we're now approaching spring concert season (at a slightly scary pace, ha). i'm still crazy busy and get way too stressed at times, but i'm really loving all of my groups this year and next year promises to be even more awesome (i will post more information about why at a later date).

everybody should have this much fun at work.

4. the holidays

laurel and i went down to my uncle's place for thanksgiving and it was our first thanksgiving without mom. she called during dinner and there were a few tears falling around the table, but the day was still really nice. christmas was even better because mom came back up for a visit! i spent christmas eve at laurel's and then picked mom and anthony up at the airport on christmas day (her flight was one of my presents to her...and also a present to MYSELF). she spent some of her visit with me (during my winter break), some with laurel and the last part with grandmom. while she was here, we made all of the christmas cookies she usually makes, spent lots of time with the family, went to see les mis, visited longwood gardens and just enjoyed hanging out together as much as possible.

5. adventures in dating

yeah, i finally sucked it up and embraced accepted the fact that if i want to be in some sort of relationship, i actually have to give this dating thing a try. mostly, it's been annoying as hell and pretty discouraging. i did meet someone back in january and we've been hanging out since then and i even took him to a wedding with me at the end of march...but i'm not sure what's going on with us at the moment. (and yes, i'm being all sorts of vague, but that's about as much information as i feel comfortable sharing here for now.)

6. playing with orchestras

in december, i got a call asking if i'd play viola with the chester county pops orchestra for their january concert season and have since become a part of their regular roster. and through the connections i made with chesco pops, i ended up joining the viola section of immaculata symphony. it's been really nice playing in an orchestral setting regularly again (seriously, i didn't even realize how much i was missing it until i started doing it again) and having performances of my own to look forward to again.

7. life without cable

it's been several months now since i pulled the plug on my cable (well, most of it - i still get about 12 channels or so) and it's been pretty awesome. i'm watching way less tv and am still able to keep up with the few shows i do watch because i still have on demand. (i can even watch shows on on demand that are on channels i don't actually get!) my bill is less than half of what it was before i made the change and i don't think i'll ever go back to having full-on cable again. the only thing that is making it challenging now is the fact that baseball season has started and over half of the phillies games are on channels i no longer get. i purchased a season-long pass to mlb.tv, thinking i could watch them through my roku, but oh, hey...what's that? all the games are blacked out because i live in the philly area? yeah, i don't even want to talk about it.

8. baseball!

who went to her first spring training game EVER two weeks ago? this girl right here!

but speaking of baseball, IT'S BASEBALL SEASON AGAIN!! also known as, the most wonderful time of the year. and even though i might not be able to watch every game on my tv, i can still listen to them in my car or on the radio at home and i'll be able to use my mlb.tv subscription to keep up with the games during all my travels this summer. hey, speaking of...

9. summer travel plans!

currently in the works:

-our annual rudyfest trip down in maryland the week the school year ends in june
-a roadtrip out to chicago and camping up in wisconsin in early july
-floyd fest down in virginia in late july (maaaaaybe)
-as many weekends up in ithaca as i can manage (all summer long)
-a major (solo) roadtrip through new mexico, colorado, wyoming and utah in august

consider me officially STOKED.

10. i still haven't done my taxes.

yep, it's come to this.

and because ending with the topic of taxes is kind of a downer, here's a picture i took last night during my gorgeous sunset run in perfect spring weather!

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coming out of hibernation

maybe you noticed (or maybe not, ha) that my little blog here went silent during the winter months. honestly, i sort of went into hibernation mode myself this winter...but what a good winter for hibernating. it was bitterly cold and so very long/still going on (seriously, it was snowing when i drove to work yesterday morning) and we didn't have a single snow day.

so. very. cold.

i know, i know - you non-teacher folks are reading this and rolling your eyes. but you have to understand that there was the hope of multiple snow days this winter. our weather people got us excited for a surprise morning/day off on more than one occasion, but then we woke up the next day to nothing (or rain or just enough snow/ice to be annoying but not close anything) each AND EVERY time.

so, what's my version of hibernation mode? well, apparently it goes something like this: "get sick in december and don't get better until february (after two visits to the doctor and two rounds of antibiotics + an inhaler), eat whatever you want whenever you feel like it and stop working out for weeks at a time."

christmas breakfast with my sister (eggnog pancakes from skinnytaste.com, turkey sausage, fruit & tea...with a side of dayquil!)

the good news is that i'm back on track (like, whoa) and that i did some solid thinking (ok, over-analyzing) during my time away from this blog and i'm feeling much more focused this time around.

first, a quick recap to bring us all up to speed:

once upon a time (in january of 2011), i joined weight watchers and over the course of the next 12-18 months, i lost 76 pounds. then, summer of 2012 came along, during which i traveled an insane amount and basically stopped counting points. the decision to stop counting points was based on a a combination of three factors:

1. being totally burnt out after a year and a half of counting (nearly) everything i put into my mouth
2. wanting to level out and not have to buy any additional new (smaller) clothes for a while.
3. wanting to enjoy all the food that the various places i was visiting had to offer

oh, voodoo donuts...why are you so far away?

and well, i just never went back to counting points. i also trained for and ran two half marathons (one in september and one in december) and with all the running i was doing, i fell into that "i ran 10 miles today...i can eat whatever i want" trap in a hardcore way.

running the rehoboth half in december with my sister...one of the best days EVER.

between summer and fall or last year, i probably gained back about 8-10 pounds. (i stopped weighing myself weekly, so i can't be sure.) and then this winter came along (with the getting sick and the eating and not working out for weeks at a time) and i gained back about 5 more.

yes, folks...that's a total of 15 pounds. and before you say anything, no...this is NOT okay. 5 pounds? sure. (fine. whatever.) but FIFTEEN? not okay at all. those are 15 pounds that i fought so hard to lose before and to just welcome them back onto my body so casually is not cool.

so, it's time to do something about it (actually, it was time about three weeks ago, but i'm just writing about it now) and i've got a whole new game plan this time around. here are the highlights:

1. no more weight watchers.

yep, i officially "broke up" with weight watchers and canceled my online membership this week. i just got so tired of the points and knew that i was abusing the "free fruits and veggies" feature. when it comes down to it, a calorie is a calorie. which brings us to...

2. yes, i'm counting calories.

i know it's similar to counting points, but i actually am liking this better for two reasons - calories are easier to find/figure out than points and i know exactly how many calories i should eat each day based on the calories i'm burning during my workouts. (so far, i've been using myfitnesspal.com because the database is huge, the app is great and it's FREE.) and while i don't intend to count calories forever, i think it's the best way to re-lose the pounds i gained back, as well as lose those additional 10-15 pounds that i never got around to losing the first time.

3. whole foods > low-calorie foods

in addition to switching to straight-up calorie counting, i've also changed my entire approach to how i eat at home and work this past month. all through the winter months, i had slipped into a total rut of eating microwavable "light" breakfast sandwiches every morning and eating frozen lean cuisine/smart ones meals for lunch because they were low in points and so fast and easy. there was no thought required - just grab them and go and still stay within my points for the day. the result was that my taste buds were getting bored and i never felt full, so i'd buy more food from the cafeteria or eat too much in the evening.

i may have gone a little crazy at the 6th grade culture fair...

well, since the beginning of march, i've been way more picky about what i put in my body and i think the shift to counting calories actually helped with this in some weird way. basically, it comes down to this - if i'm only going to eat a certain number calories a day, then i want them to come from the best possible sources. i'm working on a more in-depth post about all of this, but the biggest changes i've made have included making weekly meal plans and grocery lists, trying new recipes each week, eating more protein and healthy fats, having probably too much fun trying/creating new smoothies and adding some "paleo-eqsue" staples into my diet.

4. weekly weigh-ins

not weighing in regularly was fun in an "ignorance is bliss" kind of way, but i knew it was time to get back to some sort of accountability. thankfully, beth over at beth's journey happened to start a dietbet game right around the same time i was doing all this thinking (ok, over-analyzing), so i threw my $25 into the pot, got back on the scale for the first time in months (ouch) and gave my stubborn side permission to come out in full force. (i do NOT like losing money...ahem.)

oh, hello old friend...you bastard.

so far, i've lost 9 pounds (man, i forgot/missed how fast those first few pounds come off!) and have already reached the 4% i need to win some of the pot when the game ends on april 1st. i'm hoping this extra bit of (monetary) encouragement will help keep me focused on clean eating and solid workouts when i'm enjoying my spring break down in florida next week!

5. reunited (with running) and it feels so (effing) good

since i ran my second half marathon in december, i've lost a lot of my endurance and strength, but when i went for my first "return run" a few weeks ago, i was thrilled to realize that i haven't lost all the fitness i built up over the past two years. i've been getting in a couple of shorter runs during the week and aiming for "long runs" of at least five miles on the weekend...though this past weekend, i got a little excited about how good i felt and how much i love (LOVE!) running and ended up running seven miles. and while it's been pretty nice to run for fun and fitness as opposed to following an actual training plan (like i basically did for the entire second half of last year), i just recently found out i was one of 20 people selected to run broad street again this year on dunkin donuts' team dunkin!

since i'll be running 10 miles at the beginning of may, i'm considering just sucking it up and registering for the oddyssey half in june...even though running 13.1 miles IN JUNE sounds so very NOT fun. i'm about *thisclose* to registering for that one. it will probably just be a race that i run for fun (and the pint glass, shirt, medal with built-in bottle opener and beer garden access you get for finishing).

and before i ramble on for any longer, i'm going to end this here. i'll be back later this weekend with an update on all the other non-food & fitness related parts of my life. for now, i'm off to enjoy a night of games with awesome friends from work and celebrate the first official night of our spring break!

ps. happy spring, everyone! (hopefully it feels more like spring where you are than here in pennsylvania...brrrr!)

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playing catch up!

it's been such a crazy week, in anticipation of what promises to be an even crazier weekend. my sister and i are waking up at 4:00AM tomorrow morning and heading to the airport to get on a plane and spend the next 48 hours in LAS VEGAS. neither of us have ever been and it's her 30th birthday weekend, so we decided to celebrate in a BIG way. we have plans to walk all up and down the strip, eat lots of good food, go out dancing (tomorrow night), head out to the hoover dam (saturday morning) and see the beatles love cirque du soleil show (saturday night) before flying back home on sunday morning. it's going to be quite a whirlwind, but i'm excited!

and in honor of the fact that IT'S VEGAS and well, where else can you wear stuff like this (besides gay bars in philly), my 30th birthday booty shakin' dress is already packed and ready to come along on the trip (though i'll be pairing it with a tall pair of black boots this time around)!

laurel and i celebrating my 30th birthday last year

so, aside from being crazy excited about this trip, it's been an interesting couple of weeks. last week...well, i don't really know what was up with me, but i just had a really OFF week. i felt all sorts of moody and emotional and found myself dealing with random bouts of somewhat intense sadness. maybe it's the shift of the seasons or maybe it was just a bad few days. i don't know, but it sucked and i used it as an excuse to eat like crap and not exercise all week.

(and...um...watch EIGHT episodes of that wretched honney boo boo show. i can't even...i just...i don't even have words.)

thankfully, it passed and i've been totally ON this week. i ran 5 miles on sunday, 4.6 on tuesday and 4 earlier tonight. i also did a killer plank workout last night. i've also been eating clean all week - i think it's safe to say that the half marathon training excitement has set in for real now!

the past two weekends have also been awesome, in totally different ways.

two weekends ago, laurel and i headed to philly on friday night (october 12th) for a guinness believer media event being held at world cafe live. i had been to one of these years ago (at 30th street station) and remember having a great time, so when i got the email invite to attend another one, i jumped on it.

they had food set out and were pouring perfect pints of guinness for everyone there. there were some presentations and pint-pouring competitions and they also brought out samples of a few of their other brews, which we accepted happily!

i love guinness.

after we had our fill of guinness (aka, after they kicked us out), we headed over to city tap house to get something more substantial to eat and enjoy some full-size glasses of beer.

well, laurel had a full pint...i was too distracted by the amazing amount of seasonal beers they had ON TAP to commit to just one of them and ended up enjoying a flight of four different pumpkin beers.

we also shared an order of their house-made frites and the grilled halloumi cheese.

the next morning, we headed back into the city to meet up with the rest of the awesome members of team stellar to run the second annual "your next step is the cure" 5k, to benefit the bonnie j. addario lung cancer foundation. this is the same race i ran last year, as my first 5k ever, and it's just a REALLY special one for me. this year, we beat our goal of raising $1,500 and everyone on our team ran really great races (lots of new PRs!) and it was just an amazing morning. (i will definitely be writing a full recap of this one!)

go team stellar!

after the race, laurel and i headed down to baltimore for the rest of the weekend. we love to go every october and my cousin's (jeff, who lives outside of baltimore) wife (stacey) wanted me to take their family christmas card photos this year and offered to let us stay at their place, so it worked out perfectly!

laurel and i had dinner at a mexican place near jeff and stacey's place and then headed into fell's point to visit our very favorite bar, max's tap house, where they proudly serve roughly ONE HUNDRED beers on tap. we each enjoyed two rounds and then got some gelato before heading back to the beds that our younger cousins so graciously gave us for the night. the next morning, we got breakfast and then did our photo shoot on the grounds of the hampton national historic site, which just happens to be in jeff & stacey's backyard. i'm really excited about some of the shots i got - can't wait to share them!

laurel snuck this shot of us in action.

and then last weekend...well, it was awesome as well! laurel came up to my place and we headed over to pam & jeremy's for an autumn-themed potluck/beer-tasting/scary movie night! i made pumpkin barbecue pulled chicken sliders, laurel made homemade applesauce and pumpkin cornbread (which we ate warm, with honey) and pam and jeremy contributed a gorgeous spinach salad (with cheese, pecans and craisins) and some delicious mashed butternut squash and potatoes.

everything was SO delicious. and we washed it all down with some of my beer run goods, which we all shared in small tasting glasses, to spread the (delicious, beer-y) love!

i spent the rest of the weekend doing some much-needed relaxing, doing some shopping and running five miles (and eating cider donuts). i'm glad i got to enjoy one weekend this month in which i didn't do any traveling at all, especially since i'll be in vegas this weekend (and indianapolis next weekend)!

hey, speaking of vegas - i have to wake up in 4.5 hours. and with that, off to bed i go!

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back in training mode!

oh, hello! i know it's been a little quiet here lately - i've had an interesting (in both good and bad ways) couple of weeks and i'll be back later this week with more of an update on how life has been since my big weekend up in ithaca. but for now, i have some exciting news to share!

no, i am most definitely NOT running a full marathon...but i've decided that i'm up for the challenge of running another half and i've picked the rehoboth beach half marathon to be my lucky #2.

why rehoboth? well, first of all, it's in DECEMBER...which means i get to train during what i consider the very best running months of the year. plus, i've got a little bit of history with it, since i drove down to rehoboth last year to spectate the race and support a friend from work who was running it. my uncle also happens to own a condo about ten minutes from the start of the course, so i'm planning to make an entire weekend of it (like i did last year). with my friend suma running it as well (and hopefully my sister, if we can convince her that she can totally do it), it's sure to be an awesome weekend!

out in rehoboth during last year's marathon weekend...what, your marathon weekend doesn't come with drag queens?

oh, and did i mention that the finish line is mere steps from THE dogfish head brewpub. last year, i went out for my own run after watching beth (my friend from work) CRUSH her half marathon goal and then headed over to dogfish head to enjoy some beer with all the runners and had the BEST time ever. i met some awesome people and i want to do it all over again, but this time with MY OWN medal around my neck.

i "officially" started training this past week and by "officially", i mean i realized that the rehoboth half is less than two months away and i hadn't run farther than a 5k since my first half back in september. so, i threw together a (pretty shoddy) training plan and did my first long(er) run of 5 miles on sunday.

it was a gorgeous day to be out running. but the run itself? oh, it was pretty much the opposite of gorgeous. i'm not sure what happened - i actually felt pretty good early on and my legs were loving every part of being out there. but early into mile four, my entire torso cramped up - my stomach, sides, shoulders - everything felt awful. i ended up walking probably half (or more) of mile four and then only managed to run (most of) mile five by keeping my arms down at my sides and barely moving them. considering how awful i felt, i'm really happy that i stuck with it and actually finished all five miles that i had planned...though, since i was doing an out & back route, i had to stick with it to get back to my car!

another thing that got me through this run was the promise of a fresh, hot apple cider donut from highland orchards. i've never had one before, but everyone i work with raves about them and it's less than a 10-minute drive from the trail where i run on the weekends. so, i promised myself that if i finished all five miles, i'd make the drive over to get one for myself.

let me tell you - that donut did NOT disappoint. this might be my favorite new way to "refuel" after my long runs, ha! i have a feeling the promise of more of these delicious things might be some serious motivation to finish all of my long runs this training cycle!

in other awesome, training-related news, i went back to the rock gym last night!

my friend allison drove out from philly to do some top rope routes with me and i realized just how much i've missed it. i also miss all the strength i used to have in my arms. when i was climbing regularly back in the summer, i was up to 5.7s and last night, i could barely finish the 5.5s i was doing. i was also in the best shape of my life and all that upper body strength did amazing things for my running. so, i'm excited and hopeful that i've overcome my "fear" of going to the rock gym without gretchen and mj...now, if i can just find myself a regular belay partner who actually lives out here and can climb with me on a weekly basis!

alright, it's time to wrap this up now. somewhere in the middle of running 4.6 (which was supposed to be 3.5...ooops) miles earlier tonight, this deep, achy, post-climbing feeling settled into my arms and chest and i am kind of loving it. but i am also seriously looking forward taking my achy self to bed. goodnight!

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