Marathon Monday: that ‘red line’

Happy Marathon Monday!!!!!!!!!  Hope you all had a restful weekend (and holiday if you are American!).  Things were pretty low key around here – errands, food prep, condo-hunting (!!!), watching six episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine (does anyone else watch this??), and a couple of runs.  Guess I can’t complain, right??

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So I’m three weeks into my training plan (thank you, Phaedra!) and I’d be lying if I said I felt great.  I’m getting my runs done but I don’t feel amazing about them.  Some are on the treadmill (which I hate) and the outdoor ones have been quite a bit slower than I’ve expected.  I know it’s still early but when you are used to running 7:00-7:30 minute miles for a tempo run and then all of a sudden struggle to hit anything under a sub-8:00, it gets frustrating.  I came across this article that reminded me not to get wrapped up in numbers, especially when the weather is less than ideal.  It was CRAZY windy during my last two tempo runs so I know that played a huge role in slowing me down.

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And this was pretty much all I needed to read:

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My red line on Tuesday’s crazy wind storm was a lot different than my red line on a perfect sunny day in September.  AND THAT’S OKAY.  My red line after a day of work is going to be a lot different than my red line first thing in the morning when I’ve got all the energy in the world.  AND THAT’S OKAY TOO!  We just do whatever we can with the cards we are dealt for that day, right?  Right.  With all that being said, tempos still rank high on my ‘favourites’ list.  I love any and all speed workouts.  I go into them knowing I have something to focus on so they go by much faster than a long steady-paced run.

Just in case you are wondering (because I never knew what the heck a tempo was when I started running):

Tempos: warm-up -> run at/above anaerobic threshold (aka “red line”/comfortably hard) for X amount of miles -> cool-down

Why run tempos?  They increase your lactate threshold (point at which your body gets tired at a certain pace), allowing you to run faster with less effort.  They make faster paces feel easier so YOU MUST DO THESE.  Doing a weekly tempo run was the only reason I was able to PR at the Scotia Half Marathon.

And for last week’s workouts:

Monday: OFF

Tuesday: 7 miles @ 8:01 AP

Wednesday: strength training

Thursday: OFF

Friday: 3.1 miles @ 9:07 AP + strength training

Saturday: 6.2 miles @ 8:32 AP

Sunday: 15 miles @ ???

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Yesterday I ran with OTHER PEOPLE!  This is rare and it was so, so nice.  It was my friend Heather’s birthday so a bunch of us got together and ran just over 13 miles together (and I ran a little before I met them since I had to get a bit more distance in).  It was such a great day and the time passed so quickly.  To top it off, it was warm enough for SHORTS.  I’m not sure what my average pace was because when I met them, I forgot to stop my watch and we chatted for a good 5-10 minutes before I started running again so I hit the reset button…but I’m guessing it was somewhere around 8:45-8:55.

Crossing my fingers that I’m a little more excited about this week’s training.  One month until 2014 is over (crazy, right?) and my goal is to log some good quality miles and stay POSITIVE despite the weather that will be heading our way.

Do you have any goals for the month?

Thinking Out Loud #36

I haven’t done one of these Thinking Out Loud posts since OCTOBER 23rd!!!  Don’t let me go that long without having me give you a list of random thoughts ever again, okay?

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1.  First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American friends!!  I kind of wish I was Canadian in October and American in November so that I could celebrate twice.  From what I hear, Thanksgiving is HUGE in the U.S. – bigger than Christmas???  I would love to experience it sometime and see how you Americans do it.  Anyway, I hope you all have a fabulous day full of delicious food and quality time with your friends and family.  It really is the best holiday.

2.  Speaking of the U.S., I picked these up while I was in Arizona:

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I am SO jealous of the cereal selection there!!  I actually bought a box of Fruity Pebbles and a second box of the Sugar Cookie Crunch but had to leave them behind because they didn’t fit in my luggage so I will have to do a better job at cereal smuggling when I head back in 91 days.

3.  Cinnamon Toast Crunch will always be my #1.  While I was in Starbucks yesterday, a girl (who was maybe 12 years old) ordered a COTTON CANDY FRAPPUCCINO.  I asked her if it was on the menu and she said, “No but I follow Starbucks Secrets on Instagram and they tell you all about these secret drinks you can order.”  Umm okay.  How do 12 year olds know about these things??  Anyway, I obviously went onto Instagram, found the account (@starbuckssecrets) and THIS:

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What the???  I don’t think I’ve ever ordered a frappuccino in my life but I might have to try this at some point in the near future.  Maybe after a long run…

4.  …because Starbucks after a long run is becoming a thing and I am really liking it.

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I love just hanging out by myself after a run and analyzing all the numbers on my watch while drinking something delicious.  P.S. it’s supposed to be 8*C this Sunday so that means SHORTS!!  I am dodging pants for as long as I can.

5.  Say no to pants.

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6.  This weekend Phaedra has be doing 16 miles with the last 6 at race pace which is totally freaking me out.  I’ve never trained like this before and not sure how I’ll be able to pull off any speed after running 10 miles.  Good news is I’m going to be running with a bunch of super cool people in the city to celebrate my friend Heather’s birthday and they’re all faster than me so it should help me push the pace.

7.  Next week it’s DECEMBER.  How the heck did that happen??  As much as I love Christmas, the season totally stresses me out.  I’ve decided not to buy into the gift-giving this year.  I’m not anti-presents…it’s just that there are no kids in my family anymore (my youngest cousin is 21) so we just end up getting each other things that we don’t really need.  We’ve decided to do something different this year and put more of an effort into spending time with each other.  Way better if you ask me.  I’m voting for several pizza nights in pyjamas while watching Elf.

8.  I might treat myself to one of these shirts though:

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HOW DOES ONE CHOOSE?  They’re all from Thug Life Shirts.

9.  If you need a good laugh, check out What if Guys Acted Like Girls on Instagram.  You must read the captions and hashtags.  You’re welcome.

10.  Someone tell me why strength training has to hurt so much.  I almost fell when I got out of bed this morning because my legs are absolute jello.  Let’s not talk about the effort it takes to sit on the toilet.  I might have to share this workout with you guys tomorrow for those of you who like to torture yourself in the gym.

Enjoy the rest of your Thursday/Thanksgiving if you are celebrating!

Marathon Monday: gift ideas for your favourite runner!

This post was supposed to be published yesterday (hence the ‘Marathon Monday’) but things got a little cray around here and I didn’t get a chance to finish so here we are.  Marathon Tuesday.  Doesn’t have the same ring to it now, does it?

With the Holidays just around the corner, I thought I’d put together a post about my current favourite things that I am training in this season and maybe give you some gift ideas for your favourite runner!  …or you can put them on your own wish list…or you can just buy them for yourself because buying gifts for yourself is amazing.  I do it all the time! ;)

I’ve only included women’s gear but everything has a men’s equivalent so there’s something for everyone, I promise.  I’ve also tried to include items with varying price points so that you can get ideas based on your budget.  Names and links to all of the items are at the end!

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1.  Mizuno Breath Thermo Layered Tight ($90 CDN) – I tried these tights out for the first time last winter and they were the ONLY tights that kept me warm enough throughout the insane polar vortex we experienced!

2.  The new Mizuno Wave Inspire 11 ($120 USD – not available in Canada just yet)!!!!!!!

3.  Garmin Forerunner 210 ($250 USD / $340 CDN) – I’ve only had this Garmin for a few months but I love everything about it so far (except that it costs more here)!  It’s super light and user-friendly, plus it’s purple and looks real cute. #amirightoramiright?

4.  Mizuno Breath Thermo Jacket ($130 CDN) – I don’t have this jacket just yet but am really excited to get it soon.  It’s both water and wind resistant so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a lifesaver for me.  It’s available in purple and blue as well.

5.  Road ID ($19.99-$29.99) – You can customize these identification bracelets to include your name, emergency contact numbers, allergies and medical history.  Every runner NEEDS one of these.  It is so important to have ID on you, especially when running alone.

6.  PRO Compression Marathon Socks ($50) – I have been wearing these for every race and long run over the past year or so and I looooove them.  Not only do they help with circulation and recovery, but they come in a bunch of different colours so you can match ALL the race outfits.  Because we all know race outfits are almost as important as PRs.  Almost.  You can use code BLG14 for 40% anything on the PRO site – just an FYI!

7.   Mizuno Cable Knit Bobble ($15 CDN) – This is actually from the golf line but I received one last year (in black) and wore it all the time during my winter training.  I love it SO much and it’s only $15!!!  It comes in a bunch of different colours too.

8.  Mizuno Breath Thermo Wind Guard Glove ($30 CDN) – Wind guard?  Yes please!  Anything to shield our poor little fingers from the brutal winter winds.

9.  Mizuno Breath Thermo Seamless Body Crew ($100 CDN) –  Anything seamless is a winner for me.  Even better when it actually keeps you warm.  This one is also available in black and purple.

I think that wraps up my list for now!  I’m thinking about putting another wish list together of non-running related things that I’m currently obsessing over.  Believe it or not, there are other things I am interested in.  Shocking, I know.

Hope you’re having a fab Tuesday!

What’s on YOUR wish list this season??

I MUSTACHE YOU SOME QUESTIONS!

So I was tagged by the lovely Robyn Baldwin to get in on this fun little ‘I Mustache You Some Questions’ Q&A party that’s making it’s way around the Internet.  It worked out perfect since I had no blog post planned for today so now you get to read a whole bunch of random things about me that you probably don’t care about.  Exiting, right?

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1. Four names that people call me, other than my real name:

  • C
  • Chris
  • Xtina
  • Mense (my friends shortened my last name and called me by this all throughout high school because there were so many Christina’s)

2. Four jobs I have had:

  • Cashier at a grocery store (my very first job at age 15!)
  • Restaurant Hostess
  • Sales Associate (at a million different places with Michael Kors being my favourite :) )
  • Spin Instructor

3. Four movies I have watched more than once:

  • Titanic
  • Mrs. Doubtfire
  • A Walk To Remember (THE TEARS)
  • Elf

4. Two Books I recommend:

  • Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong
  • Not That Kind Of Girl by Lena Dunham (currently reading)

5. Four places I have lived:

  • Ummm Toronto.  That’s it.

6. Four Places I have been:

  • Hawaii
  • Costa Rica
  • Italy
  • Trinidad & Tobago

7. Four places I would rather be right now:

  • In bed
  • On a beach
  • Running anywhere
  • In a Mexican restaurant eating something delicious

8. Four things I don’t eat:

  • Mushrooms
  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Chicken

9. Four of my favourite foods:

  • Pizza
  • Burritos
  • Chips and salsa
  • Sweet potatoes

10. Four TV Shows I watch:

  • Shameless
  • Orange Is The New Black
  • The Amazing Race
  • The Bachelor

11. Four things I am looking forward to next year:

  • Running The Phoenix Marathon
  • Visiting Vancouver again
  • Hopefully finally owning a home
  • Going on another vacation with my mom (I think we are doing Vegas – I’ve never been!)

12. Four things I am always saying:

  • What the…?
  • Dead.
  • I’m hungry.
  • It’s cold.

13. Tag 4 people:

Was that random or what?

HAPPY FRIDAY!

10 tips for running in the COLD!

Happy Wednesday!  So last night I went out for what was supposed to be a tempo run but HOLY SMOKES – it was SO cold and windy.  I tried my best to keep it together and fight the wind but it was a bit difficult so the speed just wasn’t there.  I got it done and felt really good once it was over (mostly because my legs, face, and hands were finally able to thaw out!).  With the temperature dropping here (and in a lot of other places), I thought I’d put together some tips for running in the cold (all based on my own experiences).

Here we go.

1.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.  The fact that you are outside running in these ridiculous temperatures is an achievement in itself.  It’s hard to run fast in the cold and even harder when the sidewalks are full of ice and snow.  Pace yourself, be careful, and keep reminding yourself that it’s not always about speed.  Janae posted this on her blog yesterday and it really helps to put the impact of cold weather running into perspective!

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Full article from Runner Academy can be found here.

2.  Choose winter-friendly running shoes!  I know some people who will either wear Yaktrax over top their running shoes or even stud the bottom of their shoes with screws to help with traction.  Last year I just wore my Mizuno Ascends and I was fine.  They are trail shoes so the bottoms had more of a grip than my other Mizunos that I train in (Sayonaras and Inspires).  They don’t make the Ascends anymore but the new Wave Kazan would be this year’s equivalent!

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I highly suggest you cover your ankles too…

3.  Become BFFs with the TREADMILL.  I hate the treadmill but there are going to be some days this winter where I have no other option.  Last year we were hit with a few ice storms which made it impossible to run outside unless I wanted to risk breaking my face.  Learn to love the dreadful ‘mill and just be thankful that there are other options for running when Mother Nature decides she wants to mess with you and your training.

4.  Find people to run with, whether it’s outside or beside you on the treadmill.  It will make winter running more bearable.  I do the bulk of my training alone but when the cold weather hits, it’s nice to have someone with you to make the time go by, even if it’s just for a portion of your run.  With that being said, if anyone wants to do long runs on Sundays……… :)

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5.  Don’t give yourself the chance to make excuses.  I’m notorious for saying I’ll run later…and then not actually run.  It’s really, really easy to stay at home under your covers instead of heading out the door for a tempo when it’s -15*C outside.  To make this a tiny bit easier, I always have my clothes ready.  If I’m doing a morning workout/run, I will either wear (some of) my clothes to sleep or lay them out on my dresser so they are right in front of my face when I wake up.  If I’m doing an evening/post-work run then I will wear (some of) my clothes to work (i.e. I’ll wear my running tights/running socks with nice boots and a sports bra under whatever shirt I’m wearing to work) so that when I get home I just have to put on a different top layer and change into my running shoes.

6.  Wear the right gear.  I know running clothes are expensive but trust me when I say this – they are 100% worth it.  A good wind/water-resistant jacket (like this one), thermal top (like this one), lined tights (like these), a hat, gloves, neck warmer… Wear it all.  Layer up.  It’s easier to take layers off than it is to be freezing for the entire duration of your run.  I know a lot of people dress for 10* warmer than what the weather actually is but I personally cannot stand being cold (plus it takes me longer than the average person to warm up #circulationproblems).  I tend to layer and then if need be, I’ll take my jacket off and tie it around my waist or remove my gloves and stick them in my pockets or sports bra (a little enhancement never hurt anyone haha).

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7.  Give yourself something to look forward to at the end of your run.  Whether it’s a post-long run Starbucks latte or that soup you batch cooked on the weekend or even just a reeeaallllllly long, hot shower – knowing there’s something HOT at the “finish line” kinda helps (for me at least!).

8.  Don’t forget to HYDRATE and FUEL.  We don’t get hot or feel dehydrated as quickly when its cold out so it’s harder to remember to drink and eat.  Keep in mind that straws and spouts may freeze so it’s best to start drinking right away (even if it’s just little sips) to keep the passageway open/unfrozen.  If you are wearing multiple layers, wear your hydration belt or pack over your first layer (close to your body) rather than over top two or three layers.  This will help with freezing too.  I tend to stick to gels over chews because chews freeze and turn into rocks, making them very hard to eat!

9.  HotHands!!!  I still need to go buy a box of these for this season!  Your hands (and feet) usually take the longest to warm up so these things are life savers.  Just stick them in your gloves and your hands will be nice and toasty.  I had no idea they made foot warmers and body warmers too!  Must. Buy. ASAP.

10.  Keep your END GOAL in mind all. the. time.  I was in the exact same place last year – training through a brutally cold winter for the Phoenix Marathon.  I just kept reminding myself that the race would feel SO easy compared to the crazy conditions I put my body through during my training.  Remind yourself that it will all be worth it in the end.  Every bone chilling run through the ice, snow, wind, and cold will make the finish line feel that much sweeter knowing how hard you worked.

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If you can think of anything else that helps YOU make it through cold runs, please share!!!

This is when it sets in…

So I’m back in Toronto and not happy about it.  This is just about the time that depression sets in.  If I had one word to sum up my trip, it would be: PERFECT.  Every time I visit, I come back home questioning why I don’t live there.  If my entire family was up for a stateside move to Phoenix, I’d pick up everything and go.

I never really have the words to express how my visits to Phoenix go.  Is it weird to say you feel “at home” somewhere when you’re not really at home?  I think that’s the best way to put it.  This post probably won’t convey the love and gratitude that I have for this family, the way they open their doors to me, and the way they treat me like I belong there.  Maybe because I do…? ;)

Anyway, here’s my best attempt at a recap of my trip!

It was one of those trips where there were absolutely no plans.  We basically just ate, shopped, took a day trip to Tuscon, talked, laughed, ogled over Baby Bowen, and ate some more.  It was completely stress-free.  I didn’t even care about my running (sorry Phaedra!) so I’m already a little behind in my Phoenix Marathon training but it’s okay.  I’ll make up for it and get my butt in gear this week.  I should have known better than to think I would take it seriously while I was away.  Laying on the floor and eating popcorn just sounded like a better idea.

I’f you’re on Instagram then you’ve probably seen most of my photos already.  We didn’t take as many as I thought…guess we were too busy having fun!  But here’s a glimpse into what went down…

The people:

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So I have a few things to say here:

1.  Bo is seriously the best baby ever and I’m not just saying this because he belongs to Emily.  The kid does NOT cry.  Like, ever.  He’s the happiest and most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen/met/taken selfies with.

2.  I don’t have one photo of Ellie’s (Emily’s daughter) face (she’s wearing the dog mask in the top right photo) or any photos of Emily’s parents.  Major fail on my part.  Emily’s mom, Karine, also came to the airport to pick me up and we all went to Cafe Rio before doing anything else.  It’s kind of become a ritual that she’s one of the first people I see and it’s the best ever.  She’s the nicest ever and SO welcoming and doesn’t think it’s weird at all that her daughter met me on the internet and now we are real life besties.

3.  I’m not that short (I’m about 5’5″).  They are just kind of tall.

4.  Arizona sunsets are unbeatable.

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The food:

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I don’t think I had one moment to actually get hungry on this trip.  I was literally eating something at all times.  Some of my favourite meals included:

1.  Tortilla salad from Cafe Rio (I could eat this every day of my life and be 100% happy)

2.  Classic Margherita pizza from La Grande Orange (the A-Z cookie is also amazing from here but I forgot to take a photo!)

3.  Andy’s Favorite “TLT” (tempeh, lettuce, tomato) with sweet potato hash and kale salad from True Food Kitchen

4.  Vegetable Crudites with Tzatziki and black olive dip from True Food Kitchen (we got this as a starter one night and it was so, SO good)

I tend to go back to the same places over and over again every time I visit because they are that good! :)

I actually debated extending it by a couple of days because IMAZ was happening yesterday and it would have been cool to cheer on some of our friends but I came back to a week of work instead (boo) and am counting down until my next visit.  I decided that I’m buying a one way ticket next time and then I’ll book my flight home once I get there…or I’l just stay forever.  You never know!

I’ll get back into the regular swing of things on here soon.  The break was much needed but I’m excited to get back to sharing my training and everything with you again.  Things should start to get interesting as it has started to SNOW which is not my favourite to run in but I’ve gotten really good at pretending that I love it.

Hope you had a wonderful and restful weekend!  There we a few races going on this weekend too so a huge CONGRATS to everyone who ran their hearts out!!!

A HUGE thank you to all of your comments on my last post.  I read them all but haven’t gotten around to responding yet.  WILL DO ASAP!!!  You guys are seriously the best and know how to make a girl smile.

Trust the timing…

First things first, I’m the realest. <– does anyone else sing that in their head when they start a sentence with “first things first”?!

Anyway, what I was going to say was – first things first, you may have noticed an enormous ad (sponsored by Poise) popping up at the end of my posts and I am sorting that out.  I didn’t put it there so I have no idea why or how it got there.  It should be gone soon.  I think.  The peeps at Mode Media are pretty quick with these things so it shouldn’t be too long.  I’m sorry if it’s distracting…

Moving on.

This is going to be a loaded post.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  As much as I love being happy and talking about running, food, Princeton, and cool people….that’s not real life.  I mean it’s a huge part of my real life, but it’s not my whole life.  It’s hard to relate to someone who only talks about awesome and happy things so I’m just trying to be transparent.  Life has a lot of not-so-awesome days.  I struggle.  We all struggle.  Lately a lot of my frustration has been about life not going “as planned”.  But what does that even mean?  Do peoples’ lives ever go exactly as planned?

I won’t lie – I thought I’d be at a different place in my life right now in regards to a lot of things.  But things change.  People change.  Life throws you for a loop.  You might think and plan for a certain outcome and then BAM – think again.  What you thought may have been progress in one direction turns out to be ten steps in the opposite direction.  I think too  much.  I get attached to people, to ideas, to plans…and when things don’t work out as anticipated, I dwell, analyze, and figure out what I need to do in order to revise said “plan”.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.35.53 PMThanks, Tupac. [he apologizes for the F-bomb BTW]

We all have goals, wants, and needs.  Everyone is different and each of us fulfills them at different points in our life.  This is what I’m trying my very best to grasp and become okay with.  It’s easy to compare yourself to other people – friends, family, idols, etc.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little jealous every time I saw an Instagram post of someone announcing some sort of milestone.  Don’t get me wrong – I am so incredibly happy for these people.  I love seeing them smile and living out their dreams.  Some days it just gets hard and frustrating because it’s taking me longer to live out mine.  Even though I know that’s okay, I sometimes feel like I’m a disappointment – to both myself and to those who may have expected more from me at this point in my life.  I’m learning to trust the process and the timing in hopes that a longer wait means that bigger and better things are in store for me.

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I cannot complain.  Life is very, very far from bad.  I live comfortably, my family rocks, my dog makes me smile so big that my face hurts, I travel (ARIZONA TOMORROW!!), I race (a lot!), and I hit the jackpot when it comes to my friends (I’m totally RICH!).  I think I just expected some things to be different but you know what?  The timing of my life is different than the timing of yours.  If it means waiting a bit longer to get what I truly want and deserve, so be it.  I’m a patient person.  There’s no sense in rushing and settling for something only to become unhappy and unsettled because it’s not truly in line with who I am and what I want.

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That. Statement. Right. There.

What’s the point if it doesn’t feel good?  If it doesn’t serve you?  If it doesn’t make you happy?  If it’s not helping you grow?  Looking good on the outside will only get you so far.

I came across this article yesterday: The Best Part Of Life Is Realizing Why It’s Better That Things Didn’t Work Out.  It was kind of ironic because I had this post scheduled to publish today…good timing… ;)  Have a read if you’ve got a moment – it’s not long!

The entire article is pretty amazing and it was so hard to choose a part to share…

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Failing at life = NOT an option.

Accept where you are.

Search, search, search.

Or at least that’s what I plan on doing… :)

This post is all over the place, but so is my head right now.  See, this is what happens when I let you into my mind…!  I’m not looking for sympathy or anything like that, just trying to be real and let you guys know when things are no bueno.  I wish I had something more entertaining for you today but this is where I’m at. #allthethinking

Good news is that I’m hopping on a plane in less than 24 hours for some much needed time with my BFF in STEAMING HOT AZ.  We are already planning on hitting up Cafe Rio as soon as I get off the plane.  HECK. YES.  ALL THE BEANS AND RICE AND TORTILLAS.  I’ve just gotta get through my work day, a 10K run, and some last-minute packing and then I’m OUTTA HERE.

Not sure I’ll be blogging while I’m there…may not even bring my laptop.  I’ll be posting to my Instagram (@the_athletarian) though so you can catch our Arizonian adventures on there if you’d like!

Hope you have a great day/rest of your week!!