Monthly Archives: January 2013

13 for 2013

Now that January is basically over, I guess it’s about time I share my goals for the year. I always wait until the ninth to finalize them in my head – it’s my lucky number and I believe it allows time for the “OMG, it’s the new year, let’s make all these crazy resolutions right now” hype to die down a smidge. Now that it’s the end of the month, and according to multiple statistics, most people have already given up on their resolutions, I’ll share mine. Spread some more optimism.

1. Do more yoga. I believe that I went to yoga all of 10 times in 2012. I’m not kidding. Instead of me setting some crazy goal of going from zero to twice a week like I did last year, let’s just try to do more than I did in 2012. If I manage to stretch myself out 11 times this year, I’ll deem this one a success.

2. Be able to do 20 push-ups in a row. Bringing it back because I really want to do this one. I’m ready for buff biceps. And I just want my entire upper body to look nice.

3. Run a sub-2 half-marathon. Another goal from last year, but I’m so much closer to crossing this off the list than I was then. My current PR is 2:06.41, and I’m ready to train hard and slash 6+ minutes off my time. Goal race to make it happen: New Jersey half-mary with team Lululemon in May. Here we go!

sneakers

4. Participate in the first Manhattan Relay for Life. It’ll be my seventh Relay, but the first in the city I now call home. And the first in Manhattan, ever. I’m on the planning committee to help make this big dream a reality and I could not be more excited. My mom will be celebrating her 50th birthday this year, which makes this Relay even more special to me and my family. Get ready, folks, there are some great fundraisers in the works and I would love to see you.

5. Run in a relay race. I’m already starting to make this one happen with Abby and a bunch of other fabulous ladies who plan on running Reach the Beach in Massachusetts this May. It’s 12 days after that goal half-mary, so I’m hoping to be in prime running shape to do my fair share of running legs. But more importantly, I’m excited to have fun with 11 other run-crazy women, crammed in a van for 24 hours. Doesn’t that sound like a great time?

6. Run six half-marathons this year. One of my big life goals is to run a half-marathon in every state before I’m 30. I did the math at the end of last year, and in order to do that, I need to run six every year. Phewwwwwwie. It’s not impossible, but it’s a jump for me. I’ve done five half-marathons total, so jumping to six more in one year is a big leap. But I’m ready to take the plunge and will reveal which races I have my eye on soon.

race rack

7. Go on vacation at an all-inclusive resort. Dustin and I had the cruise experience and loved it, but now we want to check out another way to relax. We’ve been intrigued by the concept of all-inclusives for a while now, so let’s make it happen this year. We’re thinking about the Dominican Republic, but are open to other suggestions. Please share!

8. Pay off one student loan in full. I’ve paid off one loan completely and am on track to do it again soon. Ideally, I’d like to check this one off before the end of summer, but sometimes life gets in the way. I’ll be happy if it’s completed by December 31st.

9. Read two books per month. Last year I read one each month and you all know how much I loved it. I’m picking up the pace this year and will continue to get my knowledge on. For a quick recap of the books I devoured in 2012, click here.

10. Read my personal training certification books. This is separate from goal numero nine because I don’t consider text  books to be a part of my leisure reading. Nonetheless, I’m excited to bust these babies open and get back to studying.

11. Buy curtains. It might sound dumb, but I’ve been living in New York City for almost two years and I still don’t have them in my living room. 2013 is the year to purchase appropriate window fabric. 

windows

12. Finish a scrapbook. I used to make time for this little hobby o’ mine back in college, but it’s fallen to the wayside since graduation. I really enjoy making them, for myself and others, and think it’s a great way to package photos and memorabilia. I have one that’s been in the works since 2010 (eek!), so let’s aim to at least finish that one up.

13. Ride in RAGBRAI. What’s RAGBRAI, you ask? Oh, it’s just a bike ride that starts at one end of Iowa and ends on the other side. Karla, our co-worker, John, and I are gearing up for the race in July and I am pumped! Have I done a bike race before? Nope. Do I know anything about bikes? Not so much. But has that ever stopped me before? Not a chance. Remember, my first running race was a half-marathon. Go big or go home, right? (If anyone in NYC wants to teach me how to ride well, that would be great)

There ya have it, folks. 13 goals for 2013. Now it’s your turn: what goals have you set out to accomplish this year?

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Books, Books, Books

Last year, my goal was to read one book per month. As you know, I accomplished that goal and could not be more proud of myself for sticking with it. It really helped me relax and well, preserve my sanity, whenever things got crazy with work, training, friends life in general.

Back in August, I gave a quick recap of some of the top reads I devoured through the summer months. Now, I don’t think it’s quite fair to show those books the love without spreading it around to all of the great titles I read this year. Not to brag, but I picked some seriously awesome reads. In fact, I don’t regret a single one. So let’s take a look back and I’ll give you the quick 4-1-1 on each, mmk?

If I don’t post a quick synopsis here, you can find it in the last post mentioned above. For more of my book recommendations, check out my Pinterest page.

January 2012: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I started reading this in 2011, but didn’t finish the beast until the new year, so I counted it as the first month. What a great novel. Set in World War II, it tells the story of Louis Zamperini and his struggles as a runner, a lieutenant in the Air Force and someone hoping to survive a horrific crash. It’s all about resilience and strength, and despite it’s length, Hillenbrand kept me enraptured with every page.

February 2012: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. At first, I wasn’t sure this plot line was going to work for me: a circus that only comes out at night, and two magicians who are fighting against each other to the death end up falling in love. First, the whole magicians thing isn’t usually for me. Second, it all sounded a little cliché. Boy oh boy, was I wrong. Morgenstern does a great job of weaving characters together and made me root for both of the magicians, no matter how the ending turned out. And the fact that it all happened at night? Well, that just made it cool. You know how things always seem to take on a new life at night – scary or intriguing, most of the time? That’s what happened with this book.

March 2012: Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

April 2012: Healthy Tipping Point by Caitlin Boyle. I got to read this before the release date for work and I’m so glad I did. I’m a regular reader of Caitlin’s blog and love how her voice transferred over effortlessly to her second book. The success stories sprinkled in with Boyle’s down-to-earth narrative and advice made it a page-turner, and makes you seriously think about making changes in your life for the better.

healthy tipping point

May 2012: Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

June 2012: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

July 2012: Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

August 2012: Gone Girl by Gillian Fly. An amazing page-turner that is extremely well-written. It took me a while to get into this book because I felt that the main character, Nick, was weak and not taking any responsibility for his failing marriage. But part two hit me like a ton of bricks and I was instantly sucked in. This novel is all about how things aren’t always as they appear, and no matter what source you go to, there’s always another side of the story. You’ll want to read this just for the mind warp.

September 2012: Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. Clearly I went on a Giffin kick this year. I love this movie, but never got around to reading the book first. So I had Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson stuck in my head the whole time, but those aren’t necessarily bad things, right?

books

Anyway, this beach read follows the story of Darcy and Rachel, two best friends living in NYC – Darcy is the overpowering, beautiful blonde who always gets what she wants handed to her, and Rachel is the quiet do-gooder who always has Darcy’s back, despite Darcy frequently taking things from her. Before you know it, Rachel is in bed with Darcy’s fiance. Obviously drama ensues, but the best part of this book is the fact that I was rooting for Rachel the entire time. Based on her actions, you should want to hate her, but I was cheering for this girl’s happy ending.

October 2012: Something Blue by Emily Giffin. The sequel to Something Borrowed is almost as good as the first one. Instead of the story being told from Rachel’s perspective, we shift vantage points and hear about what happened from Darcy. And then we watch the story unfold when she finds out about Rachel and fiance Dex shacking up and she flees to London. It was definitely smart of Giffin to write the sequel from this point of view – I managed to develop some empathy for the little blonde girl who’s finally starting to realize life isn’t handed to you on a silver platter.

November 2012: Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. Libby finished reading this in two days and immediately passed it off to me, saying the movie was coming out around Thanksgiving (FYI – if you’ve seen the movie, the book is way better. But the movie was good). The main character, Pat, believes that life plays out like a movie and that every situation has a silver lining. Heart-warming, right? Things get interesting when you find out he’s just been released from a mental institution after having a nervous breakdown because he caught his wife cheating on him. Ouch.

Then you meet Tiffany, another girl who needs help because her husband died unexpectedly. We watch their stories intertwine with one another, while they fight with each other and their families, all while just trying to figure out their own silver linings…together. Aww. It might sound cheesy, but just read it. I promise it’s good.

December 2012: Divergent by Veronica Roth. HOLY CRAP, this book is amazing. Seriously, I’m as obsessed with this series as I was with The Hunger Games. So if you liked that series and haven’t read this one yet, I strongly encourage you to go pick it up immediately at your nearest bookstore or download it to your Kindle.

divergent

I’m a huge fan of dystopians packed with action, drama and romance, and this book delivers in all three areas. Roth is only 24 and has managed to create a brilliant world filled with conflict that cuts straight to everyone’s soul. I can’t give many details because it will give away the story, but just trust me on this one. Pick it up, and thank me later when you’ve finished it in two days. That’s what happened to me.

And that was 2012! In 2013, I’m upping the ante and trying to read two books per month. So far, I’m right on track. In January, I read:

  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth – the sequel to Divergent. Duh. I cannot wait for the third book to come out this fall, or for the first movie release in 2014.
  • Baby Proof by Emily Giffin. I forced myself to break from the dystopians for a few weeks since I was starting to have some seriously messed up dreams, ha. And you can’t go wrong with a Giffin novel. That girl knows how to deliver a light-hearted read that still touches on important life choices.

I have a few others up my sleeve (back to dystopians with Gretchen Powell’s Terra – so excited!), but am anxious for recommendations. Tell me, what book have you recently read that is an absolute pick-it-up-right-now-or-you’ll-regret-it-forever kind of story?

Four Years

When you first start dating someone, you never actually expect it to work out for a super long time. Sure, you’re optimistic about the future and think about the potential that might be there, but you don’t actually picture what life will be like with this person three, five or ten years down the road. And if you do, you don’t allow yourself to think about it too much, in case it doesn’t work out. Because many times, it doesn’t work out. So it’s a way of protecting yourself, right? Minimizing the heart break that could happen.

OK, maybe some of you do view relationships and the future of them in a more optimistic light. But I never did. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t think so. I think it just makes me cautious. It makes me think about things ahead of time – about what I really want, what the other person really wants, and whether or not we can actually give that to one another. Not about whether we hope we can make it work. Because sometimes, things just don’t work out. Blame it on mismatched personalities, different views on important matters (kids, beliefs, finances, etc), or something as simple as timing.

But sometimes they do work out. Or at least, they continue to. And I’m so unbelievably lucky to have had this relationship of mine for the last four years.

anniversary

No, Dustin and I don’t get along all of the time. We don’t smile and blow each other kisses during every waking moment. But ya know what? I wouldn’t want that. Because if that’s what we were like, how would I know that we are strong enough to survive the tough stuff?

goofy face

Sometimes just spending the day in the same room together is all we need. We don’t have to be holding hands, talking to each other, or even doing the same thing. But having him around while I do my thing and he does his – there’s something about it. It’s comforting.

That’s what we did yesterday. After I ran 7.5ish miles, I spent the day with Dustin. We had a wonderfully amazing lazy day together. He played video games, I caught up on TV shows and immediately became addicted to Scandal (damn you, Netflix). Did I go to the yoga class I originally planned? Nope. Did we have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner? Yep. And I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about my day.

astoria park anniversary

Other times, you show each other how much you care and what exactly it is that you love about them. We did that on Monday, which happened to be Martin Luther King, Jr. day and the day of the Presidential Inauguration. It also happened to be our four year anniversary (Score for the vacation day!)

hunt

We spent the majority of the day out and about, as I took Dustin throughout Manhattan and Astoria, solving clues to get to spots important to us. He loves to solve riddles and puzzles, so a scavenger hunt seemed like the perfect idea. Turns out I was right – he loved reading my rhyme-filled clues and then rushing to wherever he guessed the next location would be.

It also turns out that he hates it when I have information and he doesn’t. Sucker 🙂

After our scavenger hunt, I found out he was feeling sentimental too. We were quite the travel bugs in 2012, and Dustin printed out all of our photos from our trips throughout the years so we could put together a photo album together. Talk about a great way to reminisce about the adventures we’ve had in the last four years.

four year flowers

When I think back to four years ago, I never would have imagined Dustin and I would still be together, happier than ever. Sure, I was optimistic and I hoped it would work out, but I was in college and not really into seriously dating at the time. I thought, “Let’s give it a whirl and see where things go.”

I’m so glad they’re still going.

I’ve had such an amazing four years – I can only imagine how unbelievable the next four might turn out ❤

NYCRuns Hot Chocolate 10K Race Recap

At long last, the recap for my first 10K race is here!

nycruns-hot-chocolateBack in November, I heard about the Hot Chocolate 10K on Roosevelt Island and was instantly intrigued. I didn’t know anything about the location of the race, which is a shame since I’ve been living in NYC for a year and a half now (what?!). But hot chocolate was in the name, which I was sure meant they’d serve me some after I covered 6.2 miles. Special food and/or drinks at the end of a race pretty much guarantees my presence, so I glanced at the mid-December date, prayed it wouldn’t snow and signed myself up. The low price point, no travel costs and promise of a souvenir mug didn’t hurt, either.

run 6

Right after I gave up my money, I went to Twitter to see who else was running it. Obviously. Turns out, a ton of awesome runners would be there; ones I hadn’t seen in forever. It sealed the deal that no matter what, this would be an awesome day. Oh yeah, and as I said before, it was my first 10K. An automatic PR is never a bad thing!

Dustin and I took the tram for the first time (awesome) and hopped off around 9 a.m. thinking both the 5K and 10K started at 9:30 a.m. WRONG. The 10K didn’t actually start until 10 a.m., leaving us with tons of time to catch up with friends and putz around. Could I have been productive and done a warm-up jog? Sure. Did I? Nope. I was so distracted by the laid-back atmosphere of this small race – I have only run big-name races thus far – that I barely took time to squeeze in some dynamic stretching. But I was smart enough to squeeze in about 5 minutes worth of moves before Dustin headed out to find his first spectator spot.

run

(Photo stolen from Erica)

The race itself was interesting and a lot of fun. Again, this was a really small race, so we didn’t even have the roads fully closed the entire time. Case in point: check out the video Dustin got of me chasing after a truck around mile five!

We ran on different surfaces, from grooved pavement and dirt roads to regular ole’ streets and sidewalk. Most of the course was along the water, which I greatly appreciated despite the slight wind that came with it. If I get to run by the water, I’m a happy girl.

run3

I didn’t really have a goal for this race, other than to finish in under one hour. I wasn’t there to go balls to the wall or to really test my speed. I wanted to work on my pacing and just have fun while I was out there. I did my best not to look at my watch and go by feel. Unfortunately, I had more knee pain than I expected. Once I hit mile two, my body really started to scream at me because I was  in desperate need of new sneakers. I haven’t switched to a new pair in quite a few months, even after training and racing for multiple events in them, so I knew I had it coming. My poor wallet kept telling me to hold out to see if I got a new pair for Christmas, so I sucked it up to finish my 2012 race year in my good ole’ Brooks Adrenaline 12’s.

run 4

They’re officially in retirement now.

Despite the pain that traveled through my knees all the way up to my butt (seriously, I felt like I pulled a glute afterward), I really enjoyed this race. I had enough in the tank for a great kick at the finish, and I loved the easy travel and opportunity to hang out with so many runner friends. The course was extremely spectator-friendly, too. We looped the same course twice, so I saw Dustin five times – a record for us! And that one goal of mine? I met it 🙂

run 5

Hot chocolate post-race = happy runner.

run 2

If you’re in the NYC area and looking for a fun race to end the year, I’d definitely check this one out. You can tell the people at NYCRuns worked hard to make this a very low-key, relaxing and fun event. I plan on being back next year – we’ll see if I can go sub-:50 by then!

Do you like the 10K distance? Any fun ones you’re signed up for in 2013? 

12 Photos for 2012

After I wrote about last year’s resolutions, I got a comment about how it still sounded like I accomplished a lot, even if it wasn’t what I originally planned to accomplish. I kept thinking about this and ya know what, that person was right. I knew I had a great year, and I wasn’t upset about the lack of accomplishment toward the goals I had set at the beginning of 2012. But when I wrote that post, I didn’t appreciate everything that I did  accomplish and experience.

So let’s give credit where it’s due. For me, 2012 was awesome. I experienced so many amazing things and crossed a lot off of my bucket list. Let’s take a look back on the last 12 months and every wonderful thing that happened.

January: I celebrated my three-year anniversary with Dustin. He’s a pretty cool guy, so it’s fun that he likes to stick around.

flowers

February: I danced the night away with Dustin and our friends from his hometown while one of his close friends, Cayla, tied the knot. We got a surprise the day of the wedding, too: she was pregnant! Now she has a beautiful little boy who is adorable and unbelievably well-behaved.

dance

March: Dustin and I traveled to Washington, D.C., where he watched me run a half-marathon for the first time. Oh, and I got an unexpected PR.

dc

April: After a lot of tears and a tough decision, I dropped from the full marathon distance and raced the half in Nashville. This was the first time my dad ever saw me race, and while it wasn’t even close to my best performance, I wouldn’t change any of it. I learned about leaving it all out on the road, and how to really push through to the finish line.

dad

Seeing Rodney Atkins in concert post-race was pretty cool, too. I got one of his guitar picks and a T-shirt. WIN.

May: A lot of fun things happened at work while we celebrated our 20th anniversary, like hanging out with a bunch of awesome bloggers and meeting Mia Hamm.

sam-and-mia-hamm

June: I surprised my mom for her 49th birthday, then returned home a few weeks later to participate in my sixth Relay for Life. I walked over 26 miles and helped raise over $78,000 for the American Cancer Society.

relay

At the end of June, I moved out of my old apartment and into a new one. During that same weekend, I drove 12 hours round-trip and danced the night away at another wedding. We are never packing that much stuff into one weekend again.

July: Dustin and I roadtripped it to Boston so I could go to Fenway for the first time! We crossed an item off the bucket list and caught a Red Sox vs. Yankees game.

fenway

At the end of the month, I hiked my first mountain with my brother!

August: I had a skin cancer scare and vowed to be better about my skin care.

frisbee

We also sent summer off with a bang at the annual Lefave summer party, where we raised money and collected toys and canned goods for local charities. Before that though, we saw Keith Urban in concert. Since he’s my favorite musician in the world, I could not have been happier.

September: Check another one off the list! Dustin and I went on our first cruise vacation and had a blast out in the Bahamas. 

cruise

The week after I came back from vacation, I hightailed it up to New Hampshire and had a girls weekend with my Aunt Sue, where we caught the opening show for Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away tour. Amazing.

October: Seriously, I dominated my bucket list this year. This month I  learned how to surf and went stand-up paddleboarding for the first time.

sup

I also threw my best friend a baby shower and found out I was officially named Kassidy’s godmother and guardian. #warmfuzzies

November: I flew down to Disney World for the Wine & Dine half-marathon – my first night race!. Despite my lack of training, I pushed through for a shiny new PR.

disney

I also celebrated my 23rd birthday, saw Wicked on Broadway, reunited with Karla, spent Thanksgiving upstate, and went back to my roots as a guest lecturer for creative writing and journalism students at SUNY Oswego.

December: I went to my first football game ever and saw the Bills actually win for once (note: I am not a Bills fan. That’s all Dustin. Go Pats!) I also ran the Race for Recovery 5K to raise funds for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and got a new PR. A week later, I  ran my first 10K race on Roosevelt Island (I still owe you a race recap, I know).

christmas

Dustin and I also saw The Rockettes Christmas Spectacular, sent out our first Christmas card together, traveled to visit a ton of family for the holidays, celebrated his 24th birthday and rang in the new year down in Chattanooga, TN with my dad, step-mom and step-brothers. Phew.

Like I said, 2012 was a great year! I have a feeling 2013 is going to be even sweeter.

Tell me about the cool things you did in 2012. Some might be over the nostalgic look-back-at-the-year stuff already, but I’m a sucker for it. Help a girl out.