Trail Running + Hiking

For a girl who loves the great outdoors, this has been an excellent week.

I recently started trail-running with a friend Andrew and I met through Ultimate Frisbee, and we met this week for a river run.

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It’s tough to have a bad workout when that’s your scenery!

On Tuesday (my day off), my friend Kate and I drove to the mountains for a hike.  We started with the hike I did a few weeks ago–Humpback Rocks–but when we reached the Appalachian Trail, we walked south rather than north and discovered a few new-to-us overlooks.

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Gorgeous, right?  We hiked about six miles total, including some serious uphills!  My glutes were a tad sore the next day.

There’s just something about the mountains–and being outside in general–that is good for my soul. No matter how grueling the workout, when there’s beautiful scenery involved, I always walk back inside feeling rejuvenated.

Have a great Sunday!

Did you get outside at all this week or workout in any beautiful places?

Autumn River Run + Crock-Pot Pho

Yesterday was one of those ridiculously beautiful autumn days, and I decided to skipped my morning run in favor of an afternoon run by the river near my office.

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As you can see from the photos, it ended up being a fantastic decision. 😀  I love the soft trails with the crunch of the fallen leaves underfoot, the sights, the tranquility, and (near) solitude.  I paid no attention to speed or distance, but rather just ran because it felt good.  It was an awesome way to break up the work day.

<Sigh>

On a completely different subject, we made Vietnamese Pho in our Crock-Pot Sunday, and I am really excited about having the leftovers tonight for Stewsday!  The food I desire most when it’s cold and I am lazy/tired/sick/(or not) is noodles and broth.  Not chicken noodle soup, not vegetable noodle soup–noodles + broth.  I love it.  When Andrew suggested making a large batch of noodles and broth, I simply couldn’t say no.  (Yeah, there’s some chicken and vegetables in there too, and I muscled them down for good measure. ;-))

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The recipe was easy and probably didn’t actually require the Crock-Pot.  We put 2 quarts of chicken broth + a pound(ish) of cooked, shredded chicken in the pot on high.  After a few hours, when we were close to being ready to eat, we added a box of brown rice noodles, bean sprouts, a sliced jalepeno, sliced mushrooms, chopped basil, cilantro, and lime juice.  As soon as the noodles are soft, the pho is ready.  It was, pho real, a delicious batch of soup. 😉

Enjoy the lovely fall weather and all the delicious foods that go with it today!

Do you prefer running on trails or on the road?
Have you ever tried and/or made pho?

Random Friday Thoughts

I confess that I do not have anything particularly insightful to offer on any one subject today, so instead I will share some random highlights of my week, guided by the photos on my phone. 🙂

1. On Tuesday Andrew walked in the door after work with a beautiful bouquet of tulips and said, “Happy Tuesday!  I thought you’d like these… they are fall colored!”  (Yes, they are fall colored;  never mind the fact that tulips are the quintessential spring bloom. ;-)) I love that guy.

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2. I cheered on one of the high school girls in my youth group (Gena, with whom I ran this 5K) in her cross country meet on Wednesday.  She goes to my former high school, where I used to run cross country, so going to this meet brought back a lot of memories–I even got to catch up with my old coach!  Despite the course being notoriously grueling and hilly (not all the memories were good…) Gena ran strong until the very end!  Go, girl!

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3. Garden labels:  I made them.  Using popsicle sticks, outdoor craft paint, and a hot glue gun, I created these guys this week:

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4.  My mom and her friend Bill are at the beach this week in the Outer Banks, and she sent this picture to my siblings and me:

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One summer many years ago, while we were making drip castles on the beach, a local artist approached my mom and asked if she could take our picture.  She paints everyday beach scenes, and sells the prints in a lot of beach shops.  We always look for ourselves when we see this artist’s work, and my mom found us this week!  We are a little bit famous.

5. I’m working on building up my running mileage, and yesterday I ran 7.25 miles!  I know it isn’t a long long run, but I am pleased with myself nonetheless.  My first mile was a slow 9:43, and I gradually increased speed, running the last mile in 8:44.  I’ll take it.

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That’s all the randomness I have for today 🙂

Tell me something random about your week.

Easy Mornin’

I know it was only Monday when I said that weekends aren’t really weekends for me because of my job.  Today, however, thanks to a couple of amazing parents who volunteered to drive a group of our youth on a scheduled service project, I have a Saturday. <Cue angels singing.> 😀

I kicked it off by sleeping in until 9:15.  That *never* happens.  I initially woke up at 7, which is pretty typical for me, went back to sleep, and the next thing I knew it was after 9.  I didn’t quite know what to do with myself!

It’s a perfect fall day today–mid-60’s and sunny–and I hadn’t done a long(er) run yet this week, so I ate a banana with some peanut butter, got dressed, and headed out the door.

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I didn’t run especially fast, but my goal was to complete 6 miles and enjoy.  Check.  🙂

I followed up the run with a delicious breakfast: blueberry oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and (two!!) cups of coffee with almond milk.  I even cooked the oatmeal on the stove as opposed to making it the night before.  Overnight oats are great, but hot oatmeal wins in terms of taste.

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Now we are getting ready to watch some football–Andrew’s alma mater, Virginia Tech, is playing–and later this afternoon we are going wine-tasting at a nearby vineyard.

Yep, it’s just an easy Saturday over here. 🙂

What are you up to this weekend?

A 5K, a Wedding, and Two Picnics

Friday afternoon as I returned to work after my lunch break, I passed a friend in the parking lot who said, “I’m so glad it’s finally Friday!”  Automatically I replied, “Oh yeah, me too!”  Then I thought, Well, when you work at a church, Friday is often like Sunday: it’s the day before everything gets crazy!  Now that it’s Monday morning, I can breathe and relax. 🙂

This weekend we kicked off the new school year in the life of the church with a bunch of awesome events that definitely kept me busy!  Saturday morning our church, in partnership with another church down the road, hosted a 5K.  We encouraged the youth group folks not only to run, but to dress up in costumes.  I couldn’t find a great costume, but I did find these fantastic purple “skapris” (oh yes, “skapris” are a skirt/capri combo) plus a purple sequin headband in the kids section at Target.  All I’m saying is that I looked pretty good. 😉

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I ran with my sweet high school friend Gena, and we rocked it!  I won my age group, and Gena placed second in hers (with a lot more competition.)  We had over 200 participants and raised a lot of money that is being donated to a couple local charities!!

Saturday afternoon, on our way to a wedding in Virginia Beach, we made a stop to visit our good friend Allison.  We ate lunch, watched the Virginia Tech football game, and so enjoyed catching up and laughing!

On Saturday evening we attended the wedding of my good friend and coworker Evan and his beautiful bride Kristina.  The day was perfect, the decorations and details were adorable, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen two people so excited to get married!  It was a sweet, joyful celebration.

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Just bein’ us

It was close to 1 AM when we arrived home from the wedding, and I had to be up pretty early for church, er, later that morning.  Rather than our usual three services (two traditional and one contemporary), we had one huge, blended service to bring everyone together as we kicked off the school year.  Even though I was operating on insufficient sleep, the morning was awesome!  I don’t know  how many people were there, but the sanctuary was PACKED, and we had overflow in our Welcome Center.  Some chose to sit on the floor with their kids.  The atmosphere was just relaxed and genuine as everyone came together as one community to worship God!

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After the service we had a picnic lunch, and people spread out all over the church grounds–inside and out–to share a meal with friends!

And because one picnic on a Sunday is never enough, that evening we had a youth ministry picnic at a local park to kick off the school year and welcome our new families.  I was unable to do a headcount, but I estimate we had 150-175 people (youth, parents, and siblings).  I felt a little bit overwhelmed…in a good way.  🙂

I am most definitely an introvert, so being in a crowd like this drains my energy.  As soon as everyone had eaten, I’d finished speaking, and we started to clean up, I was ready to lie down on a picnic table and sleep.  Hah!  It was awesome, though, and I am so excited to see what’s in store this year!

As great as the weekend was, I’m so glad it’s finally Monday!! (…aren’t you?  ;-))

What was the highlight of your weekend?

Last Week’s Workouts and the Wonder of New Shoes

For the last few weeks–perhaps even a month–my knees had been feeling achy on runs and long walks.  I pulled back on intensity and distance, which helped some, but not enough, and then it finally occurred to me:  I haven’t bought new running shoes since April.  Those shoes maxed out their mileage some time ago.  Sunday night I bought a new pair, and it’s made a huge difference in my workouts this week!

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The Brooks Ravenna 4

Here’s what last week looked like in terms of workouts (spoiler alert:  I kind of dominated :-D) :

Sunday: Biking- 11 miles (with Andrew… it’s possible that we stopped for ice cream/Italian ice somewhere in the last few miles, but if we did, I assure you it was 100% Andrew’s decision, and I only went along with it for moral support.)

Monday: Running- 30 minutes (debut run for the new shoes!)

Tuesday: Lifting- 30 minutes; Ultimate Frisbee- 90 minutes

Wednesday: Running- 30 minutes

Thursday: Lifting- 30 minutes; Elliptical- 20 minutes (intervals);

Friday: Running- 60 minutes (trails)

I have been a devoted living room weight-lifter for years, but while we were in Jamaica I discovered the beauty of lifting at the gym.  The allure is about 15% accountability–I won’t skimp on reps if someone is standing next to me–and 85% vanity–mirrors on multiple walls so I can see my muscles working from different angles?  Heck, yes!  Pure vanity, but very motivating.  I had two great lifting sessions this week as a result, and  I’m pretty sure I’m stronger already.

In retrospect I should have taken a day off because we are leaving today to hike and camp for the long weekend!  I think today will mostly be driving and setting up camp, with most of the hiking being tomorrow, so hopefully it will give my muscles a chance to rest.  I can’t wait to be in the mountains!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

What was your best workout this week?
Weight lifting: living room or gym?
Any big plans for the long weekend?

Running Playlist–Need Suggestions!

When I trained for my first marathon in college, I made a kick-butt playlist that I listened to on all my long runs.  To this day, those songs (plus the taste of strawberry-lime Gatorade) remind me of the early morning in Harrisonburg, VA.  I don’t typically listen to music while I run, but there’s no question that it helps me stay motivated and keep pace during a run.  

As we move toward cooler weather, I am tentatively planning to run another marathon in December (“tentatively” because I haven’t signed up yet, but I am putting in the runs.)  The time has come for another kick-butt playlist to get me through those 18 and 20-milers.  I want a fresh batch of songs that will pump me up and years later remind of this time in my life.  

I need your suggestions:  What are some great songs for my running playlist that are:

     a. clean
     b. relatively current
     c. make no mention of “bein’ in da club”?  

I’m open to any genre.

Thanks!!