Made (and Remembered) With Love

On Tuesday, I found out that a good friend of mine – someone I’d known since middle school, who I’d skiied with, gone to school with, laughed with, learned with – was killed by a predatory bear while doing field work in Alaska.

Every day, I open Facebook and another one of Erin’s many friends or family members has written something beautiful about her. They’ve shared happy memories, amazing pictures of her adventures… and it’s at once so sad and so comforting to know that she was so well-loved.

She brightened so many lives and it’s just effing awful that she’s gone because the world is missing out on the incredible person she was and had yet to become.

Erin was always cooler than all of us.

Tuesday evening, I needed to do something with my hands so I could think about something else for just a little while. Tuesdays in the summer are also traditionally pancake nights in our house, so I pulled out my sourdough starter and got to work.

This starter is special to me for a couple of reasons. One, it was a gift from my mom for my wedding. Two, it’s starter she made in Alaska and feels like home. I needed a little bit of home this week. 

Along with the starter, my mom gave me a few of her sourdough recipes: brownies (omg), biscuits (below), and pancakes. The biscuits might be my favorites, but they’re all delicious. 
The sourdough pancake recipe as become my go-to this summer, though. One batch makes a huge stack of the most delicious ‘cakes ever. Clay likes his with chocolate chips, I take mine plain, and lately, my mom has tried making them with slices of apple baked in. As is the case with most pancakes, the possibilities are nearly endless.

My mom’s pancake recipe is as follows, for anyone interested in trying for themselves. If you want to try your hand at making sourdough (if you don’t have some already), it’s actually pretty simple. King Arthur Flour has a great post about how to do it.

I usually add a little flour (around 1/4 cup, maybe less) to the batter, because I like my pancakes a little thicker, but the recipe as-written is generally perfect. Seriously. Look at these.

Mom’s pancakes this week became comfort food – and I’m okay with that. They reminded me of home and home is where I want to be right now, to be close to the community I grew up in, and to give hugs to those who need them.

Erin was a little spark of magic on earth.

This weekend, Clay and I are going to go climb some mountains I think – feels like an appropriate way to honor Erin and remember her adventurous spirit. <3

 

A Quick Five to Massachusetts

A quick five day vacation, that is. Over the past few years, it feels like that only trips I’ve been on lately have been RACEcations. This trip was solely to relax and spend time with semi-retired Chick, Bec, and her family.

People, I did not even bring a sports bra! There was nary a Garmin or Spibelt in sight. I’d be lying if I said I missed any of those things. We really didn’t have much on the agenda and that was a-okay with me.

It was so good to just kick back, watch Bad Moms, eat yummy food, and enjoy each other’s company. (And the air conditioning because holy crap, it was hot.) Sometimes you just need to be with your people to recharge your soul and that’s exactly what we did!

We visited Hornstra Farms where we played with the barn cats and cows. And ate delicious ice cream (twice!).

Purple Cow = Black Raspberry with chocolate and white chips

Purple Cow = Black Raspberry with chocolate and white chips

We shopped a lot and bought random things. (Not these though - we just liked that our initials were together.)

We shopped a lot and bought random things. (Not these though – we just liked that our initials were together.)

I got to see the town where she grew up. You know, on the beach. #nottooshabby

I got to see the town where she grew up. You know, on the beach. #nottooshabby

You can "adopt" the carousel horses and the one I was one was named "Merry". Kismet? I think so.

You can “adopt” the carousel horses and the one I was one was named “Merry”. Kismet? I think so.

Fun house mirror... but I really am that much shorter than Bec and her daughter. Whomp whomp!

Fun house mirror… but I really am that much shorter than Bec and her daughter. Whomp whomp!

On the hottest day ever, we decided to go to Boston. I think a part of me is still there, melted on the pavement.

On the hottest day ever, we decided to go to Boston. I think a part of me is still there, melted on the pavement.

Worth melting for!

Worth melting for!

After 3 days, the cats came out of hiding. Cleo even let me pet her!

After 3 days, the cats came out of hiding. Cleo even let me pet her! #judgingme

We took a goodbye picture with pouts and frizzy hair but this one is much cuter.

We took a goodbye picture with pouts and frizzy hair but this one is much cuter.

My traveling doesn’t stop there! Later this week, I’ll be heading off to Europe for 10 days with my husband. We’ll be doing fun things there, including visiting Blindekuh (that would be a restaurant where you eat in complete darkness) and potentially doing this…

Oh! One more thing. As per usual, I hang out with some awesome people. Here are a few that you might be interested in checking out!

  • Are you into gardening? Do you want to be? This is a hot off the presses blog from Sonya, the brilliant friend who helped us start our home garden. I adore her!
  • My dear friend, Bernadette, is a mom who is kicking cancer’s ass. She wrote a children’s book to help little ones that have a mom with breast cancer. Check it out here.
  • Jersey Girl in the South is an awesome home decorating blog from Tracy. If only she lived closer – my house could use her expertise!

Happy Wednesday and happy middle of August!

Finding your motivation – what drives you?

New Year, New You! How many times have we heard that? And how many times do we set out on a new year journey with the best of intentions, only to find that they fall to the wayside, some sooner than other. Because, not for nothing, but LIFE. Life can be overwhelming, exhausting, and throw you a few curve balls when you least expect them.

This post is for everyone. For those who need a little boost as we jump into 2016. Those who need a little ‘atta boy (or ‘atta girl). And those who are looking for motivation in all the right places. That would be right here, just so you know.

A year after the birth of my first son, (who will be 11 years old in February – Oh Em Gee) I found my local tribe and began a healthier lifestyle with a fitness course called Stroller Strides. Before that, I was basically a mess. I wish I were kidding but no, I’m not.

Anyway, it was there that I met many dear friends, including Brandi, Jen, and Megan. What kept ME going in those days was knowing that I had a standing date with them, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Megan, Me, Jen, and Brandi in the front. Matt and Sean in the back. I think this qualifies as business in the front, party in the back?

Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k – 2015- Megan, me, Jen, and Brandi in the front. Matt and Sean in the back. I think this qualifies as business in the front, party in the back?

These women are very strong motivators in my life. They saw me through the very early stages of my running career, meeting me at local parks and telling me that I wasn’t going to die when I swore up and down that I would. (Running brings out the drama in me.)

Jen, Brandi, and Megan have been with me through it all and they continue to be there for me, supporting and lifting me up through every trial and tribulation. Furthermore, they are very strong in knowing their WHY. When you surround yourself with motivated people, you can’t help but set goals and achieve dreams yourself!

Rather than me blather on and on (after all, you get me all the time) I figured I would ask them if they would share what keeps them motivated. Naturally, they were all about it.

brandinameplate

I believe staying motivated is a mindset. If your head is not fully in your decision to change, you will never change. As a personal trainer my career is to motivate people on a daily basis, but sometimes it’s hard to motivate myself to keep going.

brandiraces

One trick I have is to take a quiet moment to myself (even if that means escaping into the bathroom or in my car just to get a couple of minutes alone), take a breath, and ask myself what I am trying to achieve in that moment and how I can do it.

I am also a list maker, so if I can find a quote that moves me, I will write it at the top of my list as a reminder, then start to list all the steps I need to work on completing my goal. It’s all about keeping my Negative Nelly voice quiet and not let her be loud enough for me to hear.  When I keep her quiet I know I can do anything I set my mind to.

brandiphilly

 

jennameplate

Did you ever hear of that quote that says “I don’t have the time, I make the time” in regards to working out? Maybe it’s because I went to Catholic school; maybe it’s because I’m a teacher but I have been told that I would do really well in the military.

My running schedule is a fine oiled machine that screams at me from most-high on the fridge, like a Jillian Michaels trainer. That’s just the way I like it. The calendar is my motivation. I use good old fashion pen and paper. I need to see the big picture, like a month, to see progress or slowing down. It holds me accountable. I see gaps, highs, and lows. I see variety. Everyday is something different, if I want it to be. I have control, I write it down, and cross it off with pride when I have finished.

jenrunstreak

It all started like this. I came face to face with very common issues most young mothers have.

“How do I work out with young children/babies?”

“How do I muster the energy after the baby has been crying all night?”

“How do I make time for myself without feeling guilty?”

I only have so many hours to get what I want completed before 3 o’clock hits and then BAM! Homework, snack, dinner, karate, etc!

I was already in the frame of mind that I don’t need to pay an arm and a leg for a gym. I can run at home on the treadmill in the basement or with the jogger. YouTube videos like XHIT Daily work for strength training days.

My magic numbers started out as 2 days cardio, 2 days lifting. But after training for and completing Philly Half Marathon and then sliding right into the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak (#rwrunstreak), the schedules are showing me that my body can go harder and farther than expected.

Just as I scheduled my workouts, the day also has baby time, rest time, and clean time. It just works for me. Some days, something gets skipped. With hyper-scheduling comes fluidity. But as the calendar shows me, there is always tomorrow to conquer.

jenkettlebell

megannameplate

What keeps me motivated?  I think that I have found that as I get older, what keeps me motivated in most everything in life (exercise, parenting, studying, going to the grocery store, you name it) is pretty much the same things.

meganumbrella

Motivation boils down to whatever is going to make me feel happy or is going to make my inner light shine.  If the end result is a sense of overall awesomeness, then I can pretty much push myself to do it, whatever that particular “it” may be.  I link myself with positive and inspirational people.  Motivation is contagious.  I do activities that bring the most joy.  If in some way it doesn’t feel good at the end, then it might not have been worth doing.

I tap into the mantra of my yoga studio…what is the BEST that can happen???  Don’t go looking at the worst thing that can happen.  Bad stuff can always pop up along the way.  But, if I choose to venture down a road (or lace up my running shoes, or put my butt on my yoga mat or tackle a new project)…what is the BEST possible outcome?  A focus on the positive leaves me challenged and inspired instead of putting me in a negative frame of mind.

meganyoga

If I’m not feeling motivated in the moment, I think of reasons why I shouldn’t do something. Are they truly valid reasons? Or are they simple EXCUSES or JUSTIFICATIONS for letting myself off the hook?

Valid reasons, I can live with.

Excuses, I cannot.

And through the course of it all, I allow time for breaks and silence and laziness and gratitude and reflection. Those moments and days are not “excuses” or a “lack of motivation.” They are instead rewards for kicking my own ass the rest of the time. Those little breaks are a way to honor my joy and reflection on the hard work that goes into everything I choose to do, and they are a way to recharge my motivation for the next task. Nothing fancy, but I have found that truly living a life I love (even in the hardest of moments) is motivation enough to see me through pretty much anything.

I would love to hear what thoughts or mantras keep YOU motivated as you trip along life’s journey. A positive and a forgiving heart seem to really go a long way when I am dealing with myself. I tend to want to go, go, go but sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m only able to do so much in the time that I’m given each day and that it’s okay because I’m still doing incredible things.

Many thanks to Megan, Jen, and Brandi!

 

These (Stray) Boots Are Made For Walking – Philadelphia

As anyone from New Jersey can tell you, the state is divided into three distinct parts.

source: nj.com

source: nj.com

Growing up, I was a Central Jersey girl. My city was New York, my town was filled with BMWs and Lexuses, and if someone held the door for you after they went through, you were having a good day. I kid, I kid. Sorta.

College brought me to South Jersey and I’ve lived here for the better part of twenty years. My city is now Philly (although I do still adore New York, for the record). So when Jenn and Cam told me that they’d like to visit Old City in Philadelphia, I naturally knew all the places to go and what to do. Right?

Nope (with a pop of the P).

I realized just how lacking I was in the historical department of Philadelphia. I mean, I sort of knew where the Liberty Bell was because I’ve run past in during numerous races. I kind of knew how to get there. I think?

Bound and determined, I visited Groupon, knowing that they’d have my back. I get approximately 10 emails a week and I always, without fail, see Philly tours.

We are not strangers to tours - this was the Boston chocolate tour!

We are not strangers to tours – this was the Boston chocolate tour!

When choosing our tour, I considered the audience. Which is us. Which is to say we are loud and like to do our own thing. Having a tour guide and a group wouldn’t be fair to the tour guide or the group.

Because we are loud.

Very loud. And inappropriate. And curse a lot when not near children.

An up the nose (and crotch) shot with a statue on the tour. See, inappropriate.

An up the nose (and crotch) shot with a statue on the tour. See? Inappropriate.

Stray Boots to the rescue! For an very affordable $8 (thanks Groupon) we purchased a tour of Old City. Stray Boots has 4 Philly tours, as well as tours in cities all the country. The app starts you at point A and brings you on a walking tour around the area of your choice. Ours was about 2 miles and we landed right back at point A.

tour2

Certain clues (particularly the first one) were a bit tricky for us but they give you a hint, if you ask for it. It’s a scavenger hunt through the destination of your choosing with extra information after each answer so you can learn more history about the location and the people of Philadelphia.

One clue was a no-go because the building we were supposed to go into was under construction. However we were able to figure out the clue from a sign on the street and a little Google sleuthing. There’s an option to let the app makers know if something like that has happened.

And, of course, there are a couple of questions where you get to interact with people working in gift shops and stores. A tip from us? Don’t just ask them the answer to the scavenger hunt question. They are a fount of knowledge and more than happy to share!

Also awesome? Since you’re doing the tour on your own time, you can stop if you want to buy things or have lunch. We walked right past the Continental and doubled back for lunch!

tour3

We saw at least five properties that we dreamed about owning. We wandered back alleys that reminded me of Spain and listened in on a few of the walking tours that were near us.

tour5

We behaved ridiculously and made people laugh.

Soft kitty, warm kitty.

Soft kitty, warm kitty.

Now of course, I’m not going to tell you all the clues, in case you plan on visiting Old City. But I will say this, we all agreed that this was the best $8 we spent!

Sorry we cut your head off, Ben.

Sorry we cut your head off, Ben.

It was the perfect way to spend a day taking in the sights, while still resting before our half marathon the next day. Good times and good friends. Nothing better!

Have you ever done a Stray Boots tour or something like it? What is your can’t miss spot in your town? Have you ever been a tourist in your own city?

Star Wars Half Marathon picture pages

A week back from Anaheim, I am again itching for SoCal’s summerlike weather, delicious food treats and fabulous friends.

I ran the inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon at Disneyland last week and – to my surprise – ran like I was being chased by imperial fighters. Swift feet and a fast course took me to a new PR at 1:55. The weather was perfect and I was thrilled. Here’s my race recap on my work blog.

The weekend was about so much more than running, as I went to Anaheim to spend a few days with friends. We laughed, we ate (everything) and had an incredible time.

So here’s a virtual photo album of my trip:

SW3The course was strong with this one. My medal at the finish line of the half marathon. I wore it at the park Sunday night and someone actually offered to buy it from me. I declined, but curiosity has me wondering how much the fan would’ve offered.

SW13

We went to the Wookiee Welcome Party in Tomorrowland Thursday night. The event featured amazing desserts (like these-I ate them all and then some), drinks and a meet-and-greet with many Star Wars characters.

SW23

CHARACTERS!

SW10

We also rode a few popular rides – sans any lines. Plus this was my first time on Disneyland’s Space Mountain. I went on a few rides for the first time on this trip – the Paradise Pier coaster, DCA Tower of Terror and Mickey’s Fun Wheel all included. I still haven’t recovered from that last one.

SW11

Heather and I spent much of Friday in and around the parks thanks to extra magic hours.

SW14

4 1/4 friends! We met up with Laurie, Anya and their handsome little guy Finley!

SW22

Of course we got Minnie ears. Pluto dug them.

SW12

I spent a few hours working at the PRO Compression booth at the expo. Loved chatting with so many runners!

SW15

Saturday brought the Star Wars 10K and I watched the winner cross the finish line! Way to go Jacob!

SW16

Imperial motivators

SW17

Spent some time with these lovelies – Dani and Linzie

SW24

I stopped for a few pics mid-run and this one with Boba Fett was one of my faves! I’ve got my awesome Sparkle Athletic skirt and tank on, with an Oiselle base layer and PRO socks.

SW18

A stunning sunrise stopped me mid-stride on the streets of Anaheim.

SW19

After our run, we went out to celebrate at Club 33.

SW20

This pic of Cam says it all! We had a blast together all weekend long!

SW25

The gang’s all here – from left Cam, Heather, me, Jillian and Mike. Happy racing everyone!

Cam and Heather both ran the half – and Cam PRed! Click here for her recap.

Did you attend the Star Wars half weekend? What was your favorite part of the course? What did you like best about the weekend? What would you change? Tell me in the comments!

5 Reasons to do the Jog ‘n Hog

toppings

When preparing for a race, one doesn’t usually make sure she’s armed with sprinkles, Magic Shell and whipped cream. But this is no ordinary race…

It’s the Jog ‘n Hog!

2014shirts

If you know anything about me, you know that ice cream is my weakness. Or some might consider it my strength! Let’s go with strength.

When I first heard about the Jog ‘n Hog last year, I knew I needed to participate. For the record, I realize how crazy the idea is and on any normal day, I’d say running and eating do not mix.

However, on National Ice Cream day all bets are off.

The Jog ‘n Hog is in its third year and I plan to return again and again (I’m only sad that I didn’t know about it from its inception). What’s so great about the Jog ‘n Hog? Let me count the ways!

1. Uncle Dave’s Homemade Ice Cream

halfhogger

Let’s not get it twisted, first and foremost, I do it all for the ice cream.

Which would you be, a half hogger or a full hogger? After last year’s race I talked a big game and said that I would go for the quart (full) versus the pint (half) in 2014. However, when I went to register, I couldn’t pull the trigger.

digin

Pints all around!

It might be a good thing I didn’t because I (still) couldn’t finish the pint. I definitely ate more than I did last year though so I bested myself and I consider that a win.

Christina finished her ice cream last year AND this year. She's thinking full next year!

Christina finished her ice cream last year AND this year. She’s thinking full next year!

2. Friends (who are just as crazy as you are)

It’s always fun to see who is down for a little jogging and hogging. This year the cast of characters was smaller than last year but mighty!

jognhog1

Meet Christina, Linda and Maureen. Christina is Victoria’s high school friend, Linda is a college friend and Maureen is a blogger/twitter pal. Perfect example of world’s colliding, in the best way!

Of course, I’ll be there again next year so you already have a built-in friend. You’re welcome!

linedup

As you might imagine, most people who are in attendance are there for the fun and novelty that this race has to offer. You make friends as you go!

3. The Brothers Smith

Andrew and Brian Smith are the geniuses behind the Jog ‘n Hog (they also host a Pepperoni Ball event in Erie, Pa. earlier in the year) and are, in a word, awesome.

smithbros

They put on a good event and also know the power of social media. Through the year they’re interacting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The Jog ‘n Hog has a family feel, from the bib and shirt pick up to the volunteers cheering on the course. Who doesn’t like family?

4. The Price

A pint of Uncle Dave’s Ice Cream runs for $5. If you register the first day of registration (St. Patrick’s day), it’s $22. What? That’s practically free! Well, okay, no… it’s not. But the way I rationalize it is this:

$22 for registration – $5 for a pint of ice cream = $17
$17 for 1.6 miles out and 1.6 miles back = $5.30 per mile

runningjognhog

Uh. I don’t even know. Whatever. It’s cheap. And it’s good, clean fun. Plus, the running nearly negates the ice cream. (Shhhh, let me live in my dreamland.) Additionally, your bib gets your 20% off at the farm store and the store has great produce, great candy, and WINE.

5. The Pig, Yo

Meet this year’s pace pig.

pacepigHe was out there cheering for the runners as we headed toward the ice cream. The “goal” of this race is to beat the pig during the second half of the race.

We are going to star in a new musical called The Pig and I.

We are going to star in a new musical called The Pig and I.

The Pig beat me for the second year in a row however, I ate ice cream and from what I understand, he did not. Therefore, I think that I won by default!

I was just chatting with my husband over dinner and we were thinking of the next step for the Jog ‘n Hog. Why not take the Pace Pig to the next level with not one, not two but THREE pigs: Brick, Sticks and Straw? The Brick pig could be the fastest pace pig, Sticks at a medium pace and Straw pig could keep a slower but challenging pace. Hey Smith Bros, I’ll be your Straw pig! Dude says they could hand out stickers that say, for example, “I huffed and puffed and beat the ‘Stick’ pig.”  (Note:  Alcohol may have been a factor).

Another challenge for future events? Grab a paver near the start line and run!

pavers

Maureen is totally up for the challenge!

So let’s recap. Fun, ice cream, family, nearly free, pigs, friends, me. Who will I see next year? Have you ever participated in a zany race like this before?

P.S. Sprinkles make a great noise while running. I might ditch my music and run with sprinkles all the time.

P.P.S. I’m not kidding.

Nike Women’s Half shakeout run

It was a last-minute decision, to head to the Saturday morning shakeout run the morning before the Nike Women’s Half Marathon.

I had an insane work week that kept me office both early and late for several days. But I knew I wanted to see several friends, so when Oiselle teammates Amy and Gabby suggested heading to Nike Georgetown for a team meetup bright and early, I thought it would be the perfect chance to visit with friends I might otherwise not see.

shakeout5Birds and friends ready to fly, from left, Amy, Gabby, me, Jillian & Kyle.

Once in the store, we were all directed to the second floor, which I found odd since we were running outside and it seemed to create and extra unneeded step. So up we went and we were soon rewarded with two surprise guests – American long-distance runners Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson.

 shalanejoan1That’s how close we were! The ladies share a few tips

shalaneUp close and personal

Flanagan, 32, just ran the Boston Marathon last week, besting her own marathon time by more than three minutes. Hers was the fastest time ever for an American woman on the Boston course. She told us that she ran Boston with the intent to win, and is proud to have come away with a shiny new PR and knowing that she   set the pace that paved the way for other elite women to succeed.

joan1Joanie!

Samuelson, 56, the first-ever Olympic Marathon winner in 1984,  and has raced through five decades.

Both women also shared a strong message with the racers – strive to do your best. That’s a lesson that applies to every aspect of our lives.

Moments later, the pair revealed the Tiffany necklace each finisher would receive after 13.1 miles through DC. I purposely didn’t look since I wanted to be surprised once I finished running.  We stretched and jumped around to warm up – and while tweeting I shared the above image with my Twitter followers.

Funny story: Shalane retweeted my picture! I was beyond excited. (it’s the little things.) Sadly, while I was jumping around, I bumped the account to one I rarely use. So if you follow Shalane Flanagan on Twitter…. look for HeardviaScanner. It’s one of my alter egos.

The TWEET:

 

shakeout1A better shot! From left, Amy, Gabby, me, Jillian, Kyle and Anya

We headed outside, posed for the above pic, found our pace groups and set off for a 2-mile run around Georgetown. That is, everyone but Amy and me who were on a mission to locate our names on the participant wall outside the store.

nwh1Found me!

Because of our photo op, Amy and I were a bit behind. I nearly took out a photographer (oops! Sorry man!) as sprinted forward together to find our friends

Amy and I found every one of our friends and chatted as we ran. Thanks so much for an amazing run, my dear!

When we returned to the store, loads of Nike employees were on hand, cheering us in and treated us to some delicious Jamba Juice!

shakeout3Celebrating with Jillian

Then Kyle and I went shopping.

shakeout2She’s excited!

It was so great to see friends from across the country and to loosen up my legs for Sunday’s race. I’ll leave you with my fave image of my newest treasure, the Tiffany necklace,

nwhMs. Tiffany goes to Washington. (and the White House)

Here’s more my race experience but stay tuned on scoot for Meri’s take on the day!

Do you typically run the day before a big race?  If yes, how far do you go? Have you run a Nike race on either coast?