2016.116-118: Something New + A Beach Trip

Hello! A lot has happened since we last talked, and it’s only been a few days. I love post-tax season life!

For starters, I have decided to attend an RRCA coaching certification course so that I can “officially” coach runners. I realize that I could do this without a certification, but I truly want to learn more about the sport that I love and make sure that I am giving people solid, sound training advice. I have turned a few people down in the past, solely because I didn’t feel “qualified” to help them. It’s time to change that!

I don’t know exactly what it will look like, but I have several days a week to devote to coaching over the summer and I knew that I wanted to get started ASAP. As it turns out, ASAP is this weekend. Ashley and I are headed to South Carolina to attend the class together. I’m so excited about the class and that Ashley is going with me! It would’ve been quite a long road trip to make by myself.

I’m also thinking about getting certified to teach tennis lessons as well. I feel like coaching will make the perfect fill in for my off days in the summer and winter months, when my accounting job is less busy and it will (hopefully) allow me to do something that I truly love!

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Secondly, it’s Workout Wednesday! I haven’t done a workout in a few weeks and it really felt good to get back to it. I kind of let my workouts fall by the way-side the last few weeks of tax season, but that’s okay. My mind and body needed a break from the mental and physical stress of juggling work and strenuous workouts.

I headed to the treadmill when we got home from our trip (details to follow). I had a 6 mile tempo run to do and I got that done with a 2 mile warm up, followed by 6 tempo miles at 6:40, 6:40, 6:30, 6:30, 6:40, 6:35 and a 1 mile cool down.

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I listened to our Ragnar Tennessee playlist on Spotify and I now I am even more excited for that trip, which is coming up in a few weeks!

Mom and I had a wonderful mini-vacation to Watercolor! We did pretty much this exact same trip last year after tax season and had so much fun that we decided to make it an annual thing. Last year, we went Sunday and came back Tuesday, but this year we went Monday and came back Wednesday. The rates are a little bit better if you go during the week.

Brooks wasn’t thrilled to see us go Monday. I’m pretty sure he is saying, “Not cool, Mom. Not cool.”

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After a quick pic, we were ready to hit the road!

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I’ll go ahead and apologize, but this post will have lots of pics, mainly of mom and me. We are great travel buddies and just buddies in general, so we always have fun no matter what we are doing.

We got in and did a little shopping before we were able to check in to the hotel. Our room (the same one we stayed in last year) and the view were incredible!

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We walked on the beach for a little while once we got settled and headed to Bud & Alley’s for dinner. We ended up getting our dinner to go and walking back down the beach to sit on our balcony and watch the sunset. It was a nice, relaxing evening.

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After a good night’s rest, we were up and at ’em pretty early (vacation early at least) and ready to go! I got a good run in and met mom on the beach on my way back and we walked back together. I absolutely love running and walking on the beach. It’s one of my most favorite things to do. There is just something about being out there, especially early in the morning when not many other people are out and about yet, that is so peaceful and serene.

I saw a sign while I was out running that really made me think. It simply said, “Be Healthy.” The more I thought about that, the more I realized how different that could look for different people. For some people “healthy” may mean getting off the couch and getting active and for some people that may mean taking a rest day. For some it may mean cutting back on sugar and for some it may mean indulging in a delicious dessert.

I started to think about what “healthy” means to me. I think I would have definitely defined this differently over the years, but right now I would start with saying that it refers to your spiritual, mental and physical state, with spiritual being at the top. I was debating (with myself) whether mental or physical would come next, and I decided that they are so inter-related that it doesn’t really matter which one is more important. To me they go together. I think this little graphic describes it well.

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Being healthy means being able to do the things you enjoy and enjoy the things you do! I was thankful to be healthy, happy and running in one of my favorite places! It was a sunny day and the water was so clear and beautiful! We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

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I had been wanting to paddleboard in the Gulf for a long time and I was determined to make that happen this trip. When we got back from our run/walk, I was ready to get out there. The gulf was a little choppy, but not too bad (in my opinion). They suggested I use the “YOLO Yak” instead of the standard paddleboard. Despite the name (I think YOLO might be one of my least favorite acronyms ever), I was fine with that, as it was more stable and better suited to handle the waves. It was actually much easier to paddle in the gulf than it is in the bay sometimes.

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I loved it! I am hoping to paddle more this summer. I’m definitely counting that as a core workout.

After a pretty busy morning, we decided to relax a little bit, read and catch a quick nap before dinner that evening. I got super invested in the book I took to read. I read an entire book (Emily Giffin’s The One & Only) while we were gone. I wanted an easy, fun read and this book fit that criteria perfectly.

We walked over to The Great Southern Cafe for dinner that night. I’m pretty sure we go there every trip. It’s so good though! I got the salmon (per usual) and (also per usual) it was delicious!

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We got dinner and made it back to our room to watch the sunset again. We enjoyed another chill, relaxing evening. I guess that’s just how we roll! Play hard, rest hard, and repeat.

I got another good run in the next morning. I actually carried my phone and got some pics of the scenery. It’s just so pretty, I couldn’t resist. I love how diverse the scenery is. You go from this …

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To this …

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To this … All in one run!

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Mom came out to meet me and we were going to walk for a little bit, but we got caught in a huge downpour! There was only a 20% chance of scattered showers, but they found us. I normally wouldn’t care at all, but since I was carrying my phone, I had to seek shelter from the rain rather quickly. Thankfully my phone survived. We survived as well, we just had that drowned rat look going at the end.

We decided that we like piña coladas better than getting caught in the rain
and we’re not (all that) into yoga, but we possibly have half a brain (between the two of us as least).

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That is a pretty quick overview of our vacation. We got home this afternoon and it’s back to the real world (whatever that really means) tomorrow.

One last pic, because clearly I need one more pic of the two of us in this post … Just look that that water though. So pretty!

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That’s all she wrote! See you soon!

 

 

 

2016.112-115: Spring Cleaning

Hey friends!

I got a little bit of spring cleaning done in my off time this week and I feel so much better now. It was really nice to put away the winter clothes and bring out the bathing suits. Summer is here!

Side note: I was a little bit surprised at just how many pairs of running shorts that I have accumulated. Now I see why Daniel tends to question whether or not I “need” new running clothes sometimes.

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In other news, I took “little” Brookser for his annual checkup at the vet Thursday. He loves a good car ride. Actually he just loves life in general.

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But y’all … he has gained 17 pounds since last year, from 87 to 104. Holy moly. The vet was asking me a bunch of questions, like if his exercise had decreased or if his food intake had increased, but I didn’t really think that they had. I felt like a bad doggie mom. As it turns out, Brooks has a little bit of a low thyroid. Poor little buddy.

He’s oblivious though. Daniel and I have been telling him that he is “big, brave and beautiful.” He’s still loving life. He’s especially enjoying his new exercise regimen, which includes lots and lots of swimming!

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And also some rolling in the sand …

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Brooks loves summer just as much as I do!

We got to spend some time with our niece this week too. She is so precious! She is a very chill, happy little thing.

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Daniel and I were a bit out of our league, but we were able to successfully hold her and give her a bottle. I mean it did take both of us to do that, but hey, it takes a village right? I’m actually still kind of confused at how one person could hold her (what takes two hands (for me at least)), give her a bottle and wipe away the drool all at the same time. Do you grow extra arms when you become a mommy?

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We enjoyed having lunch with his mom and sister and loving on sweet baby Ava!

There is a new coffee shop in town called Soul Caffeine. We were finally able to try it out for the first time yesterday. It has a very up-scale vibe to it. Daniel and I went in after running (duh) and I kind of felt underdressed. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but the coffee was good and the service was great, so I’m sure we will be back!

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A couple of our friends ran Boston last week and so we got to catch up with them this weekend and hear all about it! They both ran great and we are so proud. I found these awesome bracelets for them.

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Another side note: Now I really want one of those bracelets for myself too. Does that happen to anyone else? It’s probably just me. It’s the whole only child thing I’m sure.

You know what else is awesome about summer? Fruit!

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I have made two hugely delicious fruit salads this week.

I apologize that this post has been a little bit all over the place. I not used to actually having things to tell you about (as opposed to the last few months of work, run, sleep, repeat), and I’m having a hard time organizing my thoughts. Hopefully it’ll come back to me soon!

I’m off to pack for a fun little mini-vaca to 30A! One last thing. Check out this super cool packing apparatus that Daniel got. Just disregard our psychedelic walls, it was cool in 1960. Actually I kind of love it. Maybe it’ll come back in style? Anyways … you can organize all of your stuff and then pack this into your carry-on luggage, or you can just carry this as a suitcase.

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Pretty sweet right?!

Anyone else excited about summer?

2016.107-111: Gulf Coast Half + Misc. Extras

Well y’all … we made it. I *officially* survived another tax season and it wasn’t even all that taxing. Who knew?!

I managed to sneak in a half marathon two weekends ago that I haven’t done a recap of, so today’s post will cover that. I don’t really enjoy reading “late” race recaps myself, so feel free to skip over that portion of this post if you want to. I’m just writing it for myself. I haven’t missed a race recap since I started the blog, so I don’t want to start now!

Gulf Coast Half Marathon at Pensacola Beach

The race itself was somewhat of a last minute addition to my schedule. I needed to get a long run workout in anyway, the Running Wild team had some race entries that needed to be filled and Rebecca was planning to go over for the race as well, so I decided to go too.

This race is part of the Gulf Coast half marathon series, with races in Gulf Shores, AL, Pensacola Beach, FL & Mandeville, LA.

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We did the Mandeville race a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so I was excited to try the Pensacola race this year. The course is an out-and-back route that takes runners from the Casino Beach Boardwalk out onto the roads running in between the Gulf to the south as and the Santa Rosa Sound to the north.

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The race starts at 7 a.m., which makes for an early morning commute over to FL. One nice thing about the early start was that we got to see the sunrise over the water, and it was a beautiful morning.

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We got to the start with plenty of time to spare, got in a quick warm up, hit the porta potties and lined up at the start. Since the race wasn’t technically even on my schedule (coach didn’t know I did it until afterwards … surprise!), I was just hoping to get in a good, solid effort. I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to be feeling and so I didn’t put any pressure on them to “perform.”

Rebecca and I started off together. We came through the first few miles in 6:58, 6:58, 7:03, 7:03. I felt pretty good for the first 4 miles and we had decided to break the race up into three 4 mile segments and then see how we felt and go for in on the last mile.

Once we got to mile 5 and 6, things got a little hairy. And by hairy, I mean windy. Very, very windy. We were running straight into the strongest headwind that I can ever remember running in. It was crazy! Although I think our effort remained the same, the pace fell off to 7:23, 7:17. Just after mile 6, we passed the turnaround for the 10 mile race. Rebecca did the 10 mile race, so she turned off and I was left to battle the wind by myself.

Fortunately, I only had one more mile of headwind. I came through mile 7 in 7:27. I was hoping and praying that the tailwind would carry me home after we turned around! Thankfully, that did prove to be true. It’s amazing how much of a difference the wind made on my pace.  I was able to keep it under 7:00 pace for the rest of the race. My splits for miles 8 through 13 were 6:45, 6:56, 6:55, 6:46, 6:41, and 6:45, with 0:44 for the last 0.1, for a total time of 1:31:45.

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Running Wild was very well represented. We went 1, 2 and 3 in the half marathon for females! I was super-duper happy with my time. I think it is nice to go into some races with a mindset of just enjoying it and seeing what you can do that day. No real expectations, other than to be thankful to get to do what you love and love what you do.

The post-race party was at Flounders on the sound. It was a beautiful day to be outside and so we hung out for a little while, soaked up some Vitamin D and waited on the awards. I really enjoyed the race and would definitely do it again.

A few other things that have been going on …

We had our after tax season crawfish boil Sunday afternoon.

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I got a new Garmin! It is the Forerunner 235. I am obsessed. It has heart rate technology that measures heart rate at the wrist 24/7 and it identifies your heart rate zone and beats per minute in real time. A built-in accelerometer captures distance and pace data when you’re running on an indoor track or treadmill, with no need for a separate foot pod accessory. Once you’re done running, it doubles as an activity tracker, counting your steps and calories throughout the day (so I have replaced my FitBit with this guy). Plus, it’s so pretty! I mean, what more can you really need in a running accessory?

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Summer is around the corner! Actually, let’s just go ahead and start calling it summer. That makes me happier. My summer schedule is shaping up nicely. I’ll be working part-time and I definitely plan to take more time to just slow down and enjoy life. I plan to get back to blogging more regularly. I really enjoy it and I miss it when I am “too busy” to feel like I can write something worthwhile.

I have found writing, when mindfully engaged in quiet and solitude to be a way of listening to myself. I don’t know about you, but I know that I am really good at shutting things down and not listening to myself. I need some sort of “activity,” like reading, blogging, journaling, yoga, etc. to make me slow down and practice mindfulness. Lately, I feel like I have been practicing mindlessness. Hoping to change that, stat!

I was reminded of this quote recently and I like it.

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It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind that you forget that it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t get me wrong, there will definitely be times where you do just have to “endure” to survive, but hopefully this isn’t your normal state.

I also saw this little quote and it made me smile, so maybe it’ll make you do the same.

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That’s it for today! Make it a good one y’all!

2016.095-106: The End of a Season

Hey guys!

I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet, but I have a couple of things to share with you today …

First of all, it is April 15th! Can I get an AMEN?! Technically the tax filing deadline is April 18th this year, because of the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington DC. The holiday marks the anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act, which president Abraham Lincoln signed on April 16, 1862, and celebrates the freedom of slaves. It is being observed on April 15th this year. We are just going to keep that little secret between you and me though and pretend like tax season is O.V.E.R. Deal?

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Secondly, my devotion was so on point yesterday that I really wanted to share it with you in case someone else needed to hear it to. The scripture is Leviticus 24:1-2 (NIV): The LORD said to Moses, ‘Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually.’

I don’t know about you, but I likely would have read that verse and not really even given it too much thought, but after reading the following passages, which were written by Lysa TerKeurst, I was kind of blown away.

Where light is needed, oil is needed. But getting the oil from the olive requires a pressing and crushing I’m sure the olive would rather avoid. However, this hardship of the olive is what allows the most valuable part of the olive to emerge … the oil. The oil then can be turned into glorious light.

Think about what a miraculous process this is! The olive’s greatest hardship turns into it’s greatest purpose. And I think the same can be true for us.

I know some of these deep hurts personally. I’ve been right where you are. But I’ve also seen God do something miraculous and holy with my deepest hurts and most devastating heartbreaks. He’s turned them into light that I can shine into other people’s hurts to give them hope.

And when my hurt turns to hope? My soul is ignited with a fresh sense of purpose and deep assurance!

God truly does everything with purpose and a passionate love for His people. I wonder if He had them touch the olives, hand crush the olives, feel the oil, and then watch it turn to light so they could witness what could be true for them as well.

Broken, hard pressed olives becoming the most beautiful, bright-burning lights for a high and holy calling! And like today’s Scripture says, not only do we bring our light but we keep it “burning regularly.” Yes, this is my prayer for you and for me.

 

Isn’t that so awesome?! The timing of this devotion was so perfect too (I love it when The Lord does that), because I have really been praying and thinking about some pretty big things along the lines of using my “toughest hardship” for (what I hope to me) my “greatest purpose.” With tax season behind me, I am excited to pursue some new paths!

More to come on that, so stay tuned!

2016.093-094: Off-Roading (i.e., My First Trail Race)

Well y’all … I did something a little bit crazy this weekend. I ran my first trail race! I survived and I absolutely loved it (like really, really loved it).

I realize you might be asking yourself, “Is that really any different than all the other running that she normally does?” I am here to tell you that it is most definitely different from “road” running (especially when there is flash flooding all across the coast the night before the race).

Since I am admitting to my craziness, I need to go ahead and tell y’all what else I did. I signed up for my first ultra-marathon! It’s a 50K (31 miles) in August … wait for it … in Tahoe! You might remember that last year I ran 30 miles (broken up into two runs) for my 30th birthday. This year I am continuing the tradition with a 31 mile trail race for my 31st birthday. The race advertises itself as an “adventurous romp through some of planet earths most scenic and challenging trails […] with 360 degree panorama views of Lake Tahoe.” To say that I am excited about it would be a huge understatement!

Since I am running a 31 mile trail race in a few months, it seemed logical that I should practice running on trails. Enter –> Blackwater 10 Mile Trail Run Challenge just outside of Pensacola, FL in Blackwater State Park. I had heard about this race before, but I had never run it and I figured a 10 mile race would be a good way to ease into trail running. You know, start “small” with a 10 miler? It made sense in my head, but now that I am typing it out it doesn’t seem all that logical.

I have run on trails before, but I had never raced on trails. I would say less than 0.01% of my running has been done on trails. We just don’t really have a lot of trails to run on in this area. I plan to jump on any opportunity that I can get over the next few months. My friend Ashley is running Tahoe with me and I also convinced her to run the 10 mile race this weekend.

We got up early Saturday morning, made a quick stop at Starbucks (because … coffee) and made the drive over to Pensacola. We pulled into the park to find that the road was completely flooded. I don’t know if you’ll really be able to tell, but the water was pretty deep. At this point, we were starting to doubt ourselves a little bit. What in the world were we getting ourselves into?!

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The atmosphere was refreshingly relaxed. I have heard that the “trail racing scene” was very low key and those rumors were definitely confirmed this weekend. The race director was going over some last minute course changes with us and he said, “Now at this point, the trail and the creek basically become one.” He also told us it wasn’t a matter of if the trail was going to be wet, it was whether or not any portion of it would be dry. Well okay then. Basically we went into the race with no real expectations, other than to not break ourselves.

The course is a point-to-point race that consists of single track, technical footing with some short stints on fire roads. Due to the flooding this year, we actually ran a few of the miles on the road, road, which was really nice for me. I was able to pick the pace up on the road and make up some time.

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The trail the first three miles weren’t too bad. The trail was more sandy than muddy. We saw several deer and I was just enjoying being out and soaking up all the nature that I could. I ran the first three miles in 7:39, 7:21, 7:31.

We took our detour around mile 4 and ran a few miles on the road. I sped up and ran those miles in 6:59, 6:45, 6:49. I ended up passing a lot of people on the road, which I didn’t really want to do because I ended up in no man’s land. I was pretty sure that I was going to be running slower on the trail than the folks I passed though, so I wanted to go ahead and make up some distance on them.

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Photo cred: Shanna Houdashelt

Of course this is about the time that we turned onto the really muddy, wet portion of the trail. See pic above. For a mile or so I couldn’t see anyone in front of me. I tried my best to follow the course (it’s harder to do than it sounds) and stay upright. I came around a corner at mile 7 or 8 and all of a sudden found myself almost knee deep in water. The tree with the trail marker on it was smack dab in the middle of (what seemed like) a big pond. Hmm. I had no clue which way to go and either way was going to involve wading through water that was over waist deep. I made the executive decision to stop and wait on the next runner to come before I kept going. I really didn’t want to be lost in the middle of the woods.

I am so glad that I waited because we definitely went to the left and I was leaning towards going to the right. We had to wade through the “pond” and then cross the creek on a railroad tie (which was very slick). The water didn’t get much over my shorts and it actually worked out quite nicely because I was really muddy before that and the water cleaned me off. Gotta look on the bright side, right?!

The last few miles were all on super muddy trails. My pace slowed way down! The last four miles were 8:47, 9:00, 9:01, 7:30. I felt like I was doing “high knees” the whole time. It was tricky because there were lots of roots, limbs and trees to cross, but sometimes you couldn’t really see them because they were underwater. It was pure craziness and pure bliss at the same time! I was on an extreme runner’s high by the end of the race.

I crossed the finish line in 1:17:52 (just under 8 minute pace). I was 7th overall and 1st female. Less than two minutes later, Ashley came in. She was 2nd female! We got separated at the start and the majority of the race was single track, so I wasn’t really sure where she was. We were both really pleased with how it went and we had a blast!

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Now I want to run all. the. trails. and I am even more excited about Tahoe!

Nature. Love it or hate it? I’m definitely in the love it camp.

 

 

2016.083-092: Already April?!

Hello fools friends! Can you believe that it is already April? Me either! Where has the time gone?

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My “no more March” flowers courtesy of Daniel!

It is time for the next installment of the monthly running recap where I tell you a lot of random stats about the month that you likely don’t care about, but since this is my blog and numbers make me happy, you just humor me.

MONTH RECAP: March

Total running: 306 miles

Workouts: 1 (that I actually cut short). I have been struggling to find the motivation to do my workouts recently. It’s no big deal. I’ve done several races and I like to kind of use this “season” as a break anyway.

Races: 3 (2 5Ks & 1 10K)

Favorite race: This one is going to be surprising. I know that I have confessed my undying love for Spring Fever Chase all over the interwebs for many years, but … the winner of favorite race is going to go to the McGuire’s St. Patrick’s Day 5K. A dark horse steals the show!

Longest run: 21 miles

Shortest run: 4 miles

Favorite run: “The One with All the Rain”

This run deserved its own post, but alas, I did not and still do not have enough time to do it justice, so you will get the abbreviated version. For starters, there was no rain in the forecast the evening before this run took place. Spoiler alert … it rained. A lot.

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Rain ‘erywhere!

I met several friends at RW and we started out on our long run, which was an out and back 21 mile route. It was not raining when we started, but about mile 3 or 4, the bottom dropped out. We had to seek shelter from lightning several times (one time involved 4 soaking wet girls walking into a local gas station to ask the policemen who were having donuts breakfast if we could take a look at the radar on their phones … that was interesting), we passed up a couple of offers to hitch a ride (one of us wanted to ride and the rest of us wanted to keep running, but I won’t name any names) and ultimately, we had an absolute blast! It was an unforgettable run for sure and we felt super hard core once it was done.

Rest Days: 3

Cross Training: Um yeah, about that. It’s on the list of things to do post-tax season.

Other random data from the month: 186.5 hours worked and 255 hours slept (averaging 8 hrs. and 13 min. per night).

March was a good month, but I can’t really say that I am sad to see it go. April brings the end of tax season and that can never get here soon enough. Even though this year has been so much better, I am still looking forward to getting back to my “summer schedule.” I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I can see lots of paddle boarding, boating, reading, writing and OF COURSE running in my future!

There will be lots of good sunsets to enjoy and plenty of time to relax. I can’t wait!

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Talk to you soon!