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.> ūüėÄ

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.


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

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.


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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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. ūüėČ


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.



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!


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. ¬†ūüôā

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!


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.


Trampolines, a Brave Birthday, and Family

Happy Monday, everyone! ¬†We had a full weekend in North Carolina celebrating our niece Lauren’s 4th birthday. ¬†My dad, aunt, and uncle drove up from Georgia for the weekend, and my mom and brother drove down from Richmond Saturday. ¬†I know there will come a time that the entire family can’t gather for the nieces’ parties, but for now I love the tradition. ūüôā

We drove down early Friday evening and met my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and friend Jeanine at Defy Gravity–Raleigh’s indoor trampoline gym. ¬†If you have never been to a place like this, find the one closest to you and go. ¬†Today. ¬†Jumping in a room full of trampolines makes you feel like a kid… and also gives you a fantastic workout!

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Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get a non-blurry, mid-jump iphone photo. ūüėČ

Saturday morning, before the party prepping picked up for the day, my aunt Ann and I went for a run through the Capital Area Greenway–a beautiful park with lots of trails (paved and unpaved) and wildlife.

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I took these photos as the end of the run, but I wish I’d run with my phone to capture some of the beauty of this place. ¬†We ran around a lake, jumped across streams, high-stepped over roots, and ran within feet of a bunch of deer, who were obviously accustomed to having people around. ¬†It was fantastic!

After the run, it was party prep time. ¬†I’ve mentioned this before (see Kendall’s birthday party back in March), but Whitney and Jeanine go all out for birthdays. ¬†Lauren’s party was “Brave” themed (the movie, not the adjective ;-)). ¬†Here are a few of the details:

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Plus the Highland Games in the backyard:

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Beanbag toss (board painted by Jeanine), log toss, and archery

Everyone had a great time at the party, and we were all pretty wiped out afterwards!  For the rest of the evening we relaxed, made tacos for dinner, and just enjoyed time with family.  Most of the crew hit the road early Sunday morning, but Andrew and I hung around to have brunch with the birthday girl (her actual birthday was Sunday.)  Finally, with full bellies, we said goodbye and drove back home.

The first thing we did when we arrived home was crawl into bed and take a 45-minute power nap;  between the travel and the excitement of the weekend, neither one of us were going to be functional without a nap :).  Afterwards we made a trip to the grocery store, and when we arrived back home, Andrew mowed the grass, and I started dinner:  salmon, roasted acorn squash, and a brown rice/quinoa mixture (we had about 1/2 c left of each that we needed to use!)



What was the highlight of your weekend?
Have you ever been to an indoor trampoline gym?  What did you think??

Ultimate Frisbee + My New Favorite Squash Recipe

I am¬†sore this morning! ¬†Last night we played Ultimate Frisbee with friends, and we played¬†hard. ¬†I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, dinner.

We enjoyed leftovers from an awesome dinner Monday night: chicken sausages with a potato, squash, and goat cheese gratin.  I used this recipe for the gratin (minus the milk and Parmesan cheese; Andrew can handle goat cheese.)


Oh, it was delicious.  Squash by itself?  Not my favorite.  Squash with my beloved potatoes?  Oh, yes.  This recipe is a winner, for sure.

After eating, we made our way to the University of Richmond to meet the Ultimate Frisbee gang.  We went a little bit early so Andrew and a few others could play Spikeball first.  I embraced the opportunity to go for a walk through the beautiful campus.

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Ready. To. Play. ūüėČ

Last week we had 8 people for Frisbee; ¬†this week we had twenty. ¬†Rather than play a crowded 10-on-10 game, we made four teams and had a mini tournament on two adjacent fields. ¬†We each played one game (first team to score 11,) then the winners played, and the losers played. ¬† By the end, we’d all spend about 90 minutes running pretty hard. ¬†The teams were beautifully even in terms of abilities, so although we won our games (:-D), both were very close, and there was no time to rest.

After driving home and hobbling from the car to the house, I made my favorite workout recovery meal–a smoothie. ¬†This cup contained frozen berries, banana, mixed greens, peanut butter, and soy milk. ¬†While this sounds rather strange and is not my typical smoothie combination–I usually use spinach, but we have mixed greens on hand right now, and I usually forego the peanut butter, but I wanted some extra protein–it actually tasted great! ¬†And no, I could not taste the greens. ūüôā


I love smoothies as workout recovery fuel because they contain carbohydrates, protein, and lots of vitamins, depending on what fruit you include. ¬†Unfortunately, none of that is preventing my legs and glutes from being¬†incredibly sore this morning. ūüėÄ

What do you eat/drink after a hard workout?
Do you ever play Ultimate Frisbee?

Fitness Apps and Listening to Your Body

Last week I mentioned that I downloaded the¬†MyFitnessPal¬†app out of curiosity about how my diet measures up to recommended guidelines. ¬†Since then I have been recording my food and exercise (on week days), and I have one overarching thought about the app: It’s a helpful tool, but it’s still crucial to listen to your body. ¬†Before I go into that,¬†here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Monday: Running-30 minutes (AM); Walking-25 minutes (PM)
Tuesday: Weight circuits- 30 minutes; Walking-30 minutes (AM); Ultimate Frisbee- 70 minutes (PM)
Wednesday: Walking- 30 minutes (AM); Yoga-60 minutes (PM)

Thursday: Weight circuits (upper body)-20 minutes; Walking- 30 minutes
Friday: Running- 30 minutes

Let me draw your attention to Tuesday. ¬†I burned a lot of calories through exercise that day–in the morning I lifted weights and did some light cardio, and after dinner I played a very intense game of Ultimate Frisbee with a group of friends. ¬†The game was four-on-four, which means we all did a lot of running (with so few people on each team, you really cannot take a break,) and the only other girl playing (opposite team) was very comparable to me in terms of physical abilities (speed, willingness to crash into someone to catch the frisbee ;-)), so I was giving my all the entire game.

When we arrived back home around 9 PM, I had a substantial snack, but according to MyFitnessPal, I still fell way short on calories (and fat) that day.



(Side note: check out my fantastic protein intake;  the only meat I had that day was about 2 oz of pork tenderloin at dinner.  Bam.)

Wednesday was a different story, however. ¬†I took it easier with my exercise, but I was so much hungrier as a result of the previous day. ¬†MyFitnessPal is just a tool and does not recognize that hunger can carry over, so on Wednesday I exceeded my recommended calories, fat, and…well, everything! ¬†I think it would have been detrimental to my health to adhere strictly to what the app said I needed–my body knew it needed more.

My point is, this app is a great tool for getting the nutrients you need, but it doesn’t know your body as well as you do. ¬†Listen to and honor your body!

Workout Motivation: Strong Over Skinny

If I learned one thing from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in¬†The Silver Linings Playbook, it’s, well, to look for the silver lining in any situation. ¬†(Andrew just read that over my shoulder and said, “No, it’s that if you are doing a lift while dancing, make sure you don’t get caught in the crotch.” ¬†I’m sticking with the silver lining thing.) ¬†One upside to my scary experience Friday is that it has provided excellent workout motivation.

While running on Monday I thought,¬†What would I do if the guy drove up beside me in his car right now? ¬†As I pondered the question, playing the scenario out in my head, I noticed I was running faster. ¬†I felt the desire to push myself to be in the best shape possible–to be strong and able–so that if I ever end up in a similar or more dangerous situation, I have a fighting chance at defending myself. ¬†I don’t want to run simply to burn calories, but rather to be fit and prepared for whatever challenges come my way.

Then I started thinking about workout motivation in general, separate from this specific experience. ¬†I think what motivates us to exercise can change from month to month, even day to day. ¬†Maybe we do it to lower our risk of a disease that runs in the family, or because we like how it makes us feel (go, endorphins!) ¬†Maybe we want to be able to defend ourselves or run a marathon. ¬†Maybe we just want to look good in a bikini. ¬†There was a time in my life that I valued being skinny over a lot of other things. ¬†But what’s the point of that? ¬†What good is “skinny,” if you still can’t do the things you want to do? ¬†We cannot reduce the value of our bodies to their size.

In recent years, I’ve learned to value¬†strong over¬†skinny.

Why I Workout:
To be healthy–There are many diseases and conditions that regular exercise can prevent (or at least greatly lower your risk of.) ¬†If I can avoid certain heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, and other issues just by going for a walk each day, you better believe I’m going to do that.
To do what I loveI like to hike; I like to kayak. ¬†I don’t ever want to miss out on an activity because I am not physically able to participate (for reasons that are my own fault.) ¬†I don’t ever want to be nervous about having to park far away from where I’m going or not be able to explore a new city by foot.
To be¬†strong–I want to be able to run (more) marathons. ¬†I don’t want to say, “That’s too heavy; ¬†I’ll wait until Andrew gets home.” ¬†If the need ever arises, I want to be able to not just defend myself, but kick someone’s tail.

If I also end up thin while aiming to be strong, it’s no more than a happy byproduct. ¬†Thin, in and of itself, holds very little value.

This was actually not the direction I intended to go on the blog when I started writing today, but I’m okay with that. ūüôā

What is your non-skinny motivation for working out?

Weekly Workouts–Highlights and Lowlights

Lately on the blog I think I’ve been focusing more on food (specifically food from our garden :)) and less on fitness. ¬†In case you think I have fallen off the exercise wagon, here’s what my week looked like in terms of workouts:

Saturday: Kayaking- 2 hours
Sunday: Biking- 1 hour
Monday: Running- 30 minutes
Tuesday: Weights- 30 minutes (Jillian Michaels’ Ripped in 30)
Wednesday: Running/Walking- 20 minutes
Thursday: Free Weights- 30 minutes, Walking-30 minutes
Friday: Rest

The Lowlight:
<Warning: I am about to whine.> ¬†My quad is still bothering me when I run as a result of that softball game a few weeks ago. ¬†I have not attempted any sort of speed work or distance since then, but about 15 minutes into every (slow) run, that quad tightens up like crazy, and I have to stop to stretch (which doesn’t completely relieve it, but it helps for a few minutes.) ¬†Then, as soon as I started running Wednesday, my knee began to hurt. ¬†I kept it slow and allowed myself to walk, but ended up cutting it way short because of the pain. ¬†I have no idea what that’s about! ¬†I haven’t had knee problems in years, and I’m a very frustrated with it. :-/

The Highlight:
Kayaking was a blast last weekend! ¬†As I’ve said before, I love getting a workout from outdoor, physical activities that aren’t specifically workouts–kayaking, hiking, playing tennis, etc. ¬†I love taking a break from the usual workout routine on the weekends to make room for just playing. ¬†Kayaking gives you a cardiovascular workout without using your legs (well, you use them some for stabilization, but your arms are doing most of the work), ¬†which makes it great for people who are, say, having knee issues from running.

And, because fitness and food go hand-in-hand when it comes to wellness (and because I am in the weird habit of taking pictures of my dinners), here’s our super lazy dinner from last night: ¬†Grilled burger patties (made with lean ground beef), steamed broccoli, and Alexia baked oven fries.


Pretty tasty ūüôā

What was your workout highlight or lowlight from the week?

Father’s Day, a Retirement Party, and a Wedding

Andrew and I kicked off our weekend with a date night Friday at the Mellow Mushroom–a new-to-Richmond pizza restaurant. ¬†We had learned they make gluten-free, dairy-free pizza, so Andrew was excited to try it (as excited as you can be about GF, DF pizza. ūüėČ ¬†Don’t tell Andrew I said that… I always tell him his pizza tastes delicious.)

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Overall, the food was really good! ¬†Andrew ordered their version of a supreme pizza, minus the ground beef that usually comes on it, and I had a cheese pizza with Roma tomatoes. ¬†My only complaint is that I received a rather pitiful amount of tomato, as you can see in the photo above. ¬†One thin tomato slice per pizza slice? ¬†Come on, Mellow Mushroom… you can do better than that! ¬†We both definitely enjoyed our meals though… and had plenty of leftovers!

On Saturday morning I went for my first run since hurting my quad during softball.  I kept it to an easy 30 minutes, and my legs felt good other than being a little achy from not running a lot lately.  Success!  I am going to take a break from our softball game this week, then hopefully play again next week (with a thorough warm-up and stretching.)

Saturday late morning/early afternoon, we worked in the yard (ah, the joys of home ownership. :))  I weeded the garden bed around the perimeter of the back yard, Andrew mowed the lawn, and we cleaned up the vegetable garden a bit.


(Also, I think it might be time for me to buy a new camera. ¬†All my photos have been blurry, regardless of the setting, lighting, etc. ¬†Something is “off,” and I don’t think it’s just user errors.)

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…And we picked and ate our first green bean ūüėÄ

That evening went to our good friend Erin’s wedding. ¬†Everything was wonderful–Erin looked absolutely beautiful, and both she and Nick seemed so happy. ¬†It was a joy to celebrate with them!


(I may have borrowed this photo from Facebook…)

erin's wedding

Additionally, we were able to visit with friends who came in town for the wedding. ¬†We don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, and it’s always great to catch up!

Sunday morning we went to church to hear our pastor’s final sermon before retirement. ¬† John has served our congregation for 16 years! ¬†It was a bittersweet day, full of emotion as John’s wife, Julie, escorted him out of the sanctuary at the conclusion of each service. ¬†After the final service, we had a reception/farewell party in our fellowship hall. ¬†The committee in charge of decorations went all out! ¬†They created a “tailgate” theme and used the school colors from John and Julie’s alma maters: ¬†Randolph-Macon, UVA, and Duke.

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For Father’s Day, Andrew and I were limited to phone calls with our dads–mine lives near Atlanta, and Andrew’s dad was at the Cape. ¬†In honor of my dad, (Papa Walt, as he has been renamed since the addition of my nieces, the next generation,) I resurrected this photo gem to post on Facebook:

Papa Walt

This was taken at the preschool party for my 4th birthday. ¬†Andrew pointed out that I still make that face, minus the green marker on my nose. ūüėČ ¬†Papa Walt is the best dad a girl could ask for; ¬†I love you, and I’m so proud of you, Daddy!

Sunday afternoon, after an accidental nap on the couch, Andrew and I went to the hardware store, purchased supplies, and built a more permanent cage for our strawberry plants.


We bent 2-ft tall chicken wire to make a box, secured the top with small wire pieces, and added a rope handle so we can lift the whole thing off. ¬†Take that, birds. ¬†I am 83% sure that our neighbors think we are nuts. ūüėÄ

And now, off to tackle Monday!

What was the highlight of your weekend?