Monthly Archives: May, 2012

Cookout Remix!

Quick note before getting into today’s post… remember that time I totally chickened out of going to Mike’s running club’s track workout? Well last night… I went! I completed the workout and even made a friend! More on that soon.

So hopefully you all enjoyed your wonderful Memorial Day Weekends! After having just spent a weekend at the beach in North Carolina, I opted to stay in the city for the holiday and decided to seek out an urban oasis. Monday morning started with a run (I did 5 miles, Mike did 6, we both died afterwards from the sweltering heat at 9:30 am… hello DC summer). Then we headed over to my brother’s apartment building to hang out for the day. The afternoon was spent laying out by the rooftop pool and reading (and by laying out I mean I laid out and Mike spent the entire afternoon moving the umbrella around to prevent all sun exposure and asking if I needed to reapply my sunscreen hehe).

Note: these pictures were taken at about 1pm when the crowd was still pretty small / tame. By 4 pm it was like Spring Break in Daytona Beach up there!

After spending the afternoon by the pool we headed back downstairs  to have a little cookout! My brother’s apartment building has community grills in one of the courtyards and I was anxious to use them. I decided to take a gamble and cook up some veggie / turkey burgers for myself and the boys. I saw this recipe on SkinnyTaste a while ago and was really intrigued by the idea of including veggies in with the meat of a burger. I had to improvise a little because I wasn’t at my home kitchen… but luckily my brother is a great cook and his kitchen is amazing. Here is what I came up with:

I started with that basic turkey burger recipe of 99% lean ground turkey, two eggs, some Italian breadcrumbs, ketchup, barbecue sauce, salt, pepper, and parsley

Then instead of adding a grated zucchini, I chopped up some broccoli slaw and carrot chips into small pieces.

I was already feeling pretty good about these before we went down to the grills

Then Doug (that’s my brother… hey bro!) threw them on the grill (because he is the Grill Master General) and they were so juicy! Veggie success!!

We returned to the apartment (now with Doug’s friend Dan in the mix) to enjoy a delicious dinner of healthy veggie/turkey burgers (with cheese… obviously) and a big salad with Doug’s homemade mustard balsamic vinegarette dressing. Annndddd of course a cold glass of white wine.

It was the perfect end to an amazing weekend. Summer is officially here!!

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A Special Date Night

Maybe I’m getting a little off message this week but as I’ve said before… life is all about balance! I can’t spend all my free time in the gym or on my yoga mat. In an effort to ward off any misconceptions about that… I thought I’d share a special “date night” Mike and I had last weekend! As I mentioned in my very first post Mike and I live about 45 minutes apart (without traffic… and if you know DC at all, you know how often there is “no traffic”). During the week with both of our work and, of course, workout schedules, evenings we get to spend together are often short and spent in workout gear (ok, I’m always in workout gear, he usually changes). Most of the time, we don’t care as long as we are together! I look forward to the evenings I spend hanging out at home with Mike and our respective cats, cooking dinner or just running to the grocery store to pick up something easy. But every once in a while, it’s really nice to spend a special night out together doing things that are fun and different! After reading a couple blogs (especially my new favorite Peanut Butter Fingers), I noticed that some couples plan special date nights at a predetermined interval (every month, once a week, etc.) I thought this was a great idea!! So here is our “May Date Night”. Mike got to plan this one, and we had our date out in the suburbs near his house!

We started the night at this really awesome restaurant called Mokomandy (which we were told stands for “Modern Korean by Mandy”). Mike and I are both very adventurous eaters and really enjoy different ethnic foods. Luckily, there is NEVER a shortage of places for us to try in DC and the surrounding areas. Mokomandy was really intriguing to me because it is described as “Korean and Cajun” foods. Um… YUM. I thought it was going to be fushion cuisine but it actually wasn’t. The menu was described as a “duet”, featuring both cuisines.

We got a seat at the bar because we apparently weren’t in the loop that you needed a reservation but it turned out great! I started with a Hazed and Infused beer and Mike had a cocktail (details of which are evading me).

We decided to get several items and share them all since the menu was a mix of tapas style small plates and mezze style medium plates. We started with gator croquettes with their homemade hot sauces (which were all amazing). For our entree we had poutine (not sure that this is either Cajun or Korean… but I LOVE poutine so I wasn’t asking questions), bulgogi beef, and a wild boar bowl with fried egg and purple rice. 



We finished off the meal with a cajun favorite… spiced rum bread pudding! The bartender, who was by this point our buddy, gave us a sample of Madeira to go with the bread pudding and it was delicious.

After dinner we headed over to Woody’s for an evening of miniature golf! I haven’t been mini golfing since I was a kid, but it used to be kind of corner stone of my 10 year old social life down the shore. I loved it! Mike was sure I was going to win because I actually play golf. This was not the case. In fact, he beat me by many, many strokes. We’ll just add that to the growing list of things that Mike is better at 😛

 

 This picture of Mike putting was incidentally RIGHT before he shot a hole in one (show off). It was a fantastic night! I’m curious… does anyone else plan special date nights with their significant other? What’s your formula?? I’m already busy thinking about our next one… which will be my turn to pick!

Race Review: Cascades 10K Firechase

So this past weekend I closed out the spring 2012 racing season with the Cascades 10K Firechase in Sterling, VA. This was really different than pretty much every race I have done so far this season and it was SO fun. I can’t recommend enough trying out a small community race, especially if it’s in your community! They have a totally different feeling. They’re GREAT for first-time racers (very low pressure). They are also budget-friendly (I registered really early and it ended up costing me $20). Smaller community races typically allow jogging strollers and sometimes even pets… so grab your kids and your animals and head to the race course!!

Traditionally my race reviews (some past reviews can be found here) include a pros and cons list, but small community organized races get more grace from me. These are hard events to put on and, while I think large racing companies can benefit from some constructive feedback, I’m just going to say… you guys rocked!

The course was basically two loops around a neighborhood, which was also a bit different. It was relatively easy with just a couple hills to add a little challenge. They had local boy scout packs (are boy scouts called packs? I know girl scouts are troops… whatever, I digress) manning the water stations, which was precious. People who lived in the neighborhood were also setting up independent water stations, which was helpful because IT WAS HOT. The race began at 8 am and even then I was drenched in sweat in minutes. I actually got slightly dizzy just before mile marker 5 but thankfully it passed. The race benefited the local fire department so there were plenty of police officers, firefighters, and EMTs out on the course rooting everyone on. The finish line was probably my favorite part because it was just a GIGANTIC American flag hung between the ladders of two firetrucks. Perfectly themed for a Memorial Day Weekend race.

Ever since the marathon, my races haven’t been my best. I think my body is trying to tell me to slow down a little bit. But even with not feeling 100%, I achieved a PR of 58:58 (Prior to this I had never run a sub 1 hour 10K)!  I felt like before the marathon, I could’ve run much faster so I’m currently looking for a fall 10K to try out this theory 🙂 The real winner though was Mike because he actually, literally was a winner! He won second place in his age division with a PR of 41:14! I told you he was fast!!

I haven’t actually done a ton of 10Ks (and I’ve done even less 5Ks). I have really been more of a distance lover, because speed isn’t really my thing. However, I really enjoyed the challenge in this race. Over drinks later that night, Mike and I got into a pretty in depth conversation about the different race distances (it’s a good thing we date each other because we are basically unfit to date in the general population). We talked about how 5K are classic VO2 Max races, whereas 10 milers – half marathons are classic lactic threshold races. 10Ks fall right in the middle, so they are a really unique challenge.

So that’s it, boys and girls, spring 2012 racing season is O-V-E-R. Mike and I counted and we both ran 10 races this spring. We agree that may have been too many! We just got really excited for the season and overcommitted. I am looking forward to a summer of working on speed, running just for pleasure, and sleeping in a little on weekends 🙂

Summer 2012 To Do List

Happy Memorial Day!! Hope you are all having an amazing weekend… I know that I am! There will be post updates this week with some details 🙂

Like most amateur bloggers (I literally don’t even deserve to be called an amateur blogger… I think there might only be 2 people who read this blog who are not related to me, but whatever!) I learn a lot by reading more established blogs. I read many really awesome fitness blogs, but I also venture away and read some other blogs for fun. One of my favorites (don’t hold your breath this blog is like more than famous) is Cupcakes and Cashmere. Recently there was a post with a summer checklist and I thought it was a really fun idea. Here’s mine! I’m hoping to post updates when I achieve any of the items on the list.

  1. Try out trail running (This post on Lavender Parking really got me psyched up)
  2. Go for a day hiking trip (Maybe this one or this one)
  3. Convinve a friend to go paint pottery with me at All Fired Up! (I heard you can bring wine??)
  4. Attend a backyard BBQ (someone else will have to host because I have neither a backyard nor a BBQ)
  5. Take Mike’s motorcycle out for a scenic drive in Virginia / West Virginia (obviously he’ll be driving)
  6. Go watch an outdoor movie screening (they only have 100 million of these in DC and I’ve never gone)
  7. Eat or get a drink at five new places from this list
  8. Play some sort of lawn sport in the park across from my apartment
  9. Make a creative DIY garland for the wall above my bed
  10. Take a weekend trip to NYC to visit all my friends who live there.

Mike’s Summer To Do List (I made him make this over drinks on Saturday night)

  1. Go to more Saturday Long Runs with running club (we didn’t go to many this spring with all our traveling and racing)
  2. Ramp up marathon training (Mike is running the Philadelphia Marathon in November)
  3. Try Sake Bombs (we were at a sushi restaurant at the time, inspiration comes from all over)
  4. Continue Wednesday track workouts (and convince Christina to join)
  5. Go to either Kings Dominion of Busch Gardens (ride a roller coaster)
  6. Go to a rock climbing gym
  7. Get Dave (his brother) to visit DC
  8. Get Little Mac (his cat) and Fig (my cat) to fall in love (they haven’t warmed up to each other the way we had hoped)
  9. Try at least three new pizza places (Mike LOVES pizza)
  10. Get Christina an amazing one year anniversary gift (hehe)

Have a great Memorial Day everyone!! I’m off to sit next to the pool all day 🙂

Friday Favorites

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A beach day with two of my favorite girls (and my mom behind the camera!)

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Fig playing in an empty box of seltzer

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Sweat art after a really intense yoga class
(Not mine, so I had to be really stealthy to get this picture)

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My Bonnaroo wristband arrived!!

My favorite look… dripping sweat after a really hard workout 🙂

My Week in Workouts:

Friday 5/18:

75 Minute Circuit Workout

  • Run 2 Miles
  • Upper Body Exercises (10 – 15 reps each)
  • Back: Bent Over Row / Deadlifts
  • Chest: Push Ups / Chest Press
  • Shoulders: Overhead Military Press / Alternating Front / Side Raises)
  • Biceps: Bicep Curls / Hammer Curls
  • Triceps: Overhead Extension / Dips
  • Run 1 Mile
  • Repeat Upper Body Exercises
  • Run 1 Mile
  • Repeat Upper Body Exercises
  • Cool Down / Stretch

Saturday 5/19:

  • Rest Day (I played Golf!)

Sunday 5/20:

Monday 5/21:

  • Rest Day

Tuesday 5/22:

  • Lunch: 60 Minute Cardio / Strength Intervals Class
  • After Work: 75 Minute Level 2 Hot Power Yoga Class

Wednesday 5/23:

  • Early AM: 60 Minute Level 1.5 Hot Flow Yoga Class
  • Lunch: 45 minute Cardio session (20 minutes Elliptical, 15 minutes Stair Master, 10 Minutes Elliptical)

Thursday 5/24:

  • Early AM: 60 Minute Level 1.5 Hot Flow Yoga Class
  • Lunch: 60 Minute Cardio / Strength Intervals Class

That Time I Totally Chickened Out

So last night I was supposed to join Mike at his running club’s weekly track workout… but as the title of this post suggests I totally chickened out at the last minute. I sometimes feel like as a runner, I don’t quite fit in. I would consider myself a “serious runner”, but I am not fast. I kind of chuckle when I read blogs by other runners and they’re like “I ran SO SLOW it was like an 8:00 minute mile”. That would be REALLY fast for me. I thought it was a huge victory to run 9:30 minute miles. I know I’ll continue to improve as I continue running, but some of it is just how my body is made. I am not that fast. I feel really confident about myself as a runner approximately 99% of the time. Yesterday was that 1%.

Mike says that joining the running club increased his love of running (especially the marathon distance) exponentially. He typically meets up with the club on Saturday mornings for long runs, and, most recently, Wednesday evenings for track workouts. I joined him for the Saturday long runs several times over the winter / spring, while I was marathon training. Unfortunately, it’s typically only the “hardcore” runners that come out in the winter, and “hardcore” runners are fast… way faster than me (even though I still think I’m pretty hardcore). I was routinely the slowest person in the group. That didn’t bother me TOO much (ok it bothered me a LOT on my first run with the group but I had a good little pep talk with myself over my 12 mile run and it helped) because after a while I would just be on my own, running my pace, and enjoying my morning. The group gave me the external motivation to get up and get running by a certain time and variety in my routes, which is what I was looking for.

It seemed only natural that I would also join Mike for the Wednesday night track workouts. I have been trying to work more on speed, so I thought it would be good. But then I was thinking about it yesterday and I started FREAKING OUT. I was having flashbacks to pre-season training for field hockey in high school (as you’ll recall, I was very overweight and running was completely humiliating), imaging a coach yelling at me and fast people finishing first to watch and laugh. I also realized that if I was the slowest person in the group, there would never be a time when I would be alone. The fast people (including my boyfriend) would just be passing me again and again and again. Suddenly, I felt very tired and really wanted a nap. I didn’t end up going.

Yesterday was a good reminder to me that it doesn’t matter how many races I’ve run, how many medals I have, or how many new PRs I’ve set, confidence comes from within. Next week I’m going to that track workout, and I am going to face my demons. I have to remind myself that most of the time when you think people are laughing at you, that’s you projecting your insecurities (and the other times, those people suck! So forget them). I will also remember that there is value in continuing to struggle. We all have insecurities and denying that they exist isn’t any healthier than wallowing in them.

I’d love to hear from others… what’s your biggest insecurity, and how do you work to overcome it?

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Race Review: Divas Half Marathon North Myrtle Beach

So as I mentioned yesterday I spent a beautiful four day weekend at my parents’ home in North Carolina. My friend Haley (who ran the Pittsburgh Marathon a couple weeks ago) and I ran the Divas Half Marathon in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is under an hour from my parents’ place, so it was a perfect destination race! You know I love a good race review because racing is expensive, you want to make sure you’re signing up for quality events! I think I thought going into this event that it was women only, but I did see a couple dudes sprinkles in the crowd. I actually did my first ever half marathon in a predominantly female race (I ran the ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon in June 2011). It can be a really cool experience to be out there on the course with all other women, supporting each other, cheering, and yes, there is a lot of “wooing” (for those not familiar… it’s kind of like this… WWOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!). So ok enough dawdling here is my race review!


Haley and I just after the 5 mile marker

How My Race Went: I’m going to say… pretty good. Far from my best, but it definitely could have been a LOT worse (like the time I ran a half marathon in Savannah, GA with a knee injury. That sucked). I probably should have been done for the season after the marathon and given my body a break from training, but this race looked like so much fun, I really wanted to do it with Haley (who also just ran a marathon, so we were in the same boat). Haley and I started together and ran between 9:30 – 10:00 min miles for about the first eight miles. We saw my parents and Sarah at about mile 5, which was super fun (my mom finally got that cow bell she’s been wanting, and I heard that she was dancing in the streets like the fabulous woman she is). My right knee wasn’t feeling 100% at this point, which was odd because I’ve had no knee problems at all since February. My left foot also started hurting (I was concerned I was getting a stress fracture in this foot right before the marathon). All of this makes me sound like a grandma… gross. But basically, I know my body well enough to know that this was not going to be a PR day. Also, my Garmin died… super. At around mile 5, I decided that I needed to take it easy and enjoy this SUPER fun race. I had to stop and go to the bathroom, which I don’t like doing (it totally added like 4 – 5 minutes to my official time because I had to wait in a line!) but sometimes it must be done. Haley went ahead while I used the facilities, so I was on my own after that. During this stretch of the race, I realized how much I really enjoy running alone sometimes. Having a buddy is super fun, but it is also nice to just set your own pace and enjoy the solitude. It was also kind of nice running without the Garmin. It is an amazing training tool and I absolutely love having it, but after it died, I realized that I enjoyed not always checking my pace. I went with what felt good, and it was a nice change! My official time was 2:15:23, but I did lose 4 – 5 minutes with my BR break. Even with that, not even close to my fastest half marathon. But that’s ok! As Mike loves to remind me, you can’t set a PR every time you race 🙂


Coming to the finish line!

Pros: For lack of a better word I’m going to refer to this as a “gimmick” race, but not at all in a bad way! The same way Rock’n’Roll races are known for the bands / live music out on the course, the Diva Race is this amazingly frilly and froofy race with more women wearing tutus, fairy wings, and body glitter than my 1st grade ballet recital. If you are the kind of person who can get really into fun girly stuff (I TOTALLY am, but no judgment if you’re not), you’re going to love this race. The official race shirt is hot pink and super feminine, and every bib has the word “Diva” in front of your name (so my bib read “Diva Christina”… I believe you had the option to personalize it though, so it didn’t have to be your name. I saw one girl with “Diva Holla at Me” on her bib. 10 points for creativity). Their official merchandise at the expo is also super cute and pretty reasonably priced. I scored a hot pink singlet with a picture of a tiara on it that said “Run Like a Diva” (as seen in these pictures) for $22. The course through North Myrtle Beach was actually pretty great. It took you through all the different areas of North Myrtle, and there were so many people out cheering! Also, right before the finish line there is a feather boa and tiara station! Awesome, even though feather boas feel pretty gross when you’re sweating, it’s ok. I couldn’t get the teeny tiny tiara to stay on my massive dome while I was running so I just held it. When you cross the finish line you had the choice to get your medal from either a shirtless fireman or a knight from Medieval Times. I meeeaaannnnn… that wasn’t horrible. You also got a red rose and a glass of champagne! I cannot drink even a sip of champagne or I get sick, so Haley had mine too (she’s SUCH a good friend). Post race food was also pretty awesome. The race was sponsored by Vitamin Water so there was regular and Vitamin Water Zero! I got a regular Revive and a XXX zero.

Cons: You know I don’t like to go too negative and I want to reiterate that I loved this race and had an wonderful experience! But every event has one of two things that could be improved. I’d rather refer to this section as “constructive feedback”. They did not have assigned corrals, which was really ok with this size race (there were approximately 4000 runners), but they did not do a wave start.  I think that would’ve made the beginning of the race a little less congested. It thinned out just fine after a couple miles, as all races do. Wasn’t a huge deal to me, but perhaps if you were really looking to set a PR this would’ve been more of an issue. The event also included a 5K that started 20 minutes after the half marathon. The only problem was at one point the 5k course fed into the half marathon and the courses were not divided. Where I was in the race meant that I was running about 9:50 min per mile and the people who were coming onto the course in the 5K were walking. It got a little hairy there. I thought maybe if they had a course marshal out keeping half marathoners on the left side of the road and 5k-ers on the right side that would’ve reduced the confusion. That’s it 🙂

Final Summation: If you’re looking to do a first half marathon or looking to do a great race with a group of friends for fun… this race is for you! If you are a serious, serious, serious runner, this might not be the race for you. You need to be in the mindset of having fun, or else you’re going to miss out on what makes this race so great!

Life Lessons from the Game of Golf

I had the pleasure of spending a wonderful four day weekend at my parents’ house in North Carolina with two of my best girlfriends, Sarah and Haley. We had a really amazing weekend of hanging out with my parents / each other, getting some sun on the beach (or in Sarah’s case wrapping up like a burrito and avoiding all sun exposure… she’s the healthiest of us all!), and we even squeezed in a half marathon (post on that to come later this week). However, on Saturday afternoon, Sarah and I grabbed our clubs and joined my dad for nine holes of golf. Sarah is a really impressive golfer… her swing is GORGEOUS. She played on her high school team, so she is, needless to say, much better than me. My dad has been golfing for many, many years, but much more frequently since moving to North Carolina full time two years ago.

I am not a great golfer but over years of my dad trying to teach me and enough really messy rounds, I am able to hold my own on the course. I typically shoot in the low 100s. But I got to thinking while out on the course on Saturday what a great lifestyle sport golf can be. Sure it’s not the same as lacing up my sneakers and hitting the road for a run, but it’s a great way to get out, enjoy good weather, and have an active afternoon. There are also a few things that golf has really taught me that serve me well in not only my other athletic pursuits, but also my every day life. I thought I’d share those with you all 🙂

  1. Patience is a virtue. People golf for YEARS and still struggle. Good golfers have terrible days. Some days I hit my 3 wood like a dream, other days I can’t get a decent shot all afternoon. The more frustrated I get, the worse I play. Sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and remember that you are in fact playing for fun.
  2. A short term memory serves you well. Whether it be your last shot, or your entire last hole, or your entire round up until this point, you cannot dwell in golf. This is true is basically every sport, including running. Shake it off and move on. There’s no where to go but forward.
  3. It’s all about feel. Differently than most other lady golfers (who traditionally struggle to hit the long shots, but have a good feel for the short game), my long game is awesome and I really struggle in the short game. I have such a hard time finding the right balance of force and aim. As in life, the short game is all about trial and error before you find the right touch.
  4. Pure force isn’t enough. Golf isn’t a game that you can muscle into submission, unlike most of my other athletic pursuits. It requires that you understand how to approach it first. I once took an amazing yoga workshop on arm balancing and the instructor reminded us that without understanding the mechanics of a pose or how to approach it, it won’t matter how hard you try or how much strength you put behind it. This is true in life too. You have to understand a situation before you can change it.

In addition to teaching me all of these life lessons… golf gave me a beautiful afternoon outside with one of my best friends and my dad. So for today, I am grateful.

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An Egg-cellent Alternative

Trying to keep fresh produce in the house can sometimes be a delicate balance. I try to predict how many meals I’m going to cook in a given week and pre-plan them so I am not just buying produce on a whim. This is especially important when I get my produce delivery, because if I’m not careful in preplanning I will end up with a lot of spoiled produce and that makes me sad. It’s wasteful on many levels. However, sometimes I end up with my back against the wall so to speak with my produce. I found myself in such a situation this week. My best friend Sarah came in to town from Philadelphia in preparation of a four day girls weekend in North Carolina with my parents. I had produce that was just about to go bad, and I needed to use it all up ASAP. My go-to solution when I need to dump a lot of produce into one dish is a frittata. They’re not only delicious, but they’re also healthy, and you can load them up with any veggies and herbs you want. For our dinner I decided to make a broccoli, vidalia onion, and sharp white cheddar cheese frittata.

I had to buy eggs for my macaroni and cheese recipe, so I had plenty of those on hand! The process for making a frittata is ridiculously easy and you can substitute absolutely any produce you desire. Start by pre-heating your oven to the broil setting (my oven is basically ancient so it says it has a “broil” setting but I think it’s really just a super hot oven. If you don’t have a broiler… don’t sweat it. A hot oven will do you just fine). I like to chop my produce up into relatively small pieces because it makes the frittata a little more congruent in the end.

I coated a medium sized skillet (you can use larger if you prefer) with SmartBalance Omega spray and sauteed the broccoli and onions for about 5 minutes.

I added the eggs and cooked it covered for about another 5 – 7 minutes (this process is not at all exact so just check it often. You want the egg to start firming up but not be completely cooked. You’re better off using a low heat over a longer period of time).

I topped it with cheese and cooked covered for about another 2 minutes.

Cover the handle of your pan in aluminum foil for your own safety and pop it uncovered into the oven. Let it broil for maybe 5 minutes, just until the edges and topget slightly browned. You want it to be kind of crispy on top.

I served it with a large sweet potato that I microwaved for about 8 minutes.

Voila!

Friday Favorites

A drum circle in Meridian Hill Park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon

An afternoon spent on a blanket in the sunshine, reading and playing Go Fish (which is not just for kids, and Mike is better at it)

Mike trying out his cousin’s bike. He has been looking at them on Craigs List ever since. I’m partial to the bike he already has though, it’s easier for me to ride on it 🙂

Salted Caramel Yogurt from Pinkberry with Dark Chocolate Crisps and Brownie Pieces (and Elsa in the background)

This picture Mike put on Facebook of me the morning of my marathon. Aren’t I a joy??
Oral hygiene is very important though 🙂

And finally a picture of Elsa finishing her first half marathon in October 2011. This is actually sad because Elsa is moving from DC to Boston next week. I am going to miss her so much!!