Wednesday, May 26, 2010

San Fran, Here I Coooooome!

Yep, got nothing else to say in this post except HOORAY FOR VACATION! I'm off to San Francisco for five days. Happy early Memorial Day, all!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The BEST Weekend!

I've had a lot of hilarious and incredibly fun weekends since living in New York, but this past weekend takes the cake. First and foremost though, the half marathon was AWESOME. Team Bevetori united at the start and all of us were ready and excited to get the race underway:
It was definitely a special moment for Allison and I as well since this was our second half marathon each, both begun with one another:
I finished the race in 2:04 which beat my St. Louis half time by 13 minutes! I was really proud of myself and elated that I felt so strong the whole race. It certainly sparked hope of me doing a full marathon in time and that really encouraged me. I was honestly more proud of Allison than anything though as she finished in 2:20 after running with pain in her knees the whole time. I was absolutely thrilled for her that she made it through and did so well. There is no better feeling in the world than an accomplishment like this that you work so hard for:
After the race, it was most definitely time for celebratory beers. I completely forgot that it was only 10:00am too but that didn't matter one bit to any of us:
I was excited to meet up with Joel and his friends, who all ran as well. We stayed on Coney Island for a while relaxing before heading back to the city to gear up for our second celebration. We all met back up at Croxley for what began one of the most fun nights I've had in SO long:
Sweet Joel and his awesome friend, Balint, asked us to come out to Williamsburg for a BBQ at his friend's place and they couldn't have been warmer or more welcoming. Their apartment was stunning with a gorgeous outdoor patio and we spent hours there, literally. We apparently drank a lot of their wine, too:
Hahahahaha! All I know is we're FUN people, period. My abs were actually sore from laughing. THAT is a good feeling! ;)

On Sunday, Joel and I sat near the East River for a while before meeting up with Yogi. We all went to meet Balint and his buddies for the day and had another afternoon of nothing but laughter. It was honestly a close to perfect weekend and I felt incredibly blessed for so many reasons. It will go down as one of my top five favorite experiences in New York, definitely.

Now, if I can only get my mind out of vacation mode so I can focus at work before leaving for San Francisco. Two more days, weeeeeee!

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's Half Marathon Time!

Twelve hours from now, my alarm will be going off and I'll be doing my morning race routine of drinking coffee, forcing down a bagel and peanut butter (fun when you're not remotely hungry), and getting some extra water in. Only this time, my routine is for the Brooklyn half marathon, hooray!

I'm so excited that the day is finally here. I'm ready to get out there and see how I do, hopefully beating my St. Louis half marathon time! I've worked very hard and I'm so proud of myself. I've taken it easy all week as well and gotten some good sleep so I feel excited more than nervous which is awesome. If I'm honest, I really just can't wait for the wings and beer after that will be consumed with much less guilt than on any other day. :P

The course goes around Prospect Park in Brooklyn twice to reach 7 miles and then we run on to Coney Island with the last mile being on the boardwalk. Several friends of mine are running also and we're all meeting up to relax a bit on Coney Island before heading back into the city for the real celebration. If all goes well, I'll be finished by 9:00am which is damn early so I'm not sure beers are in order just yet. Or, are they?

All I know is god has blessed me with some strong training runs and the ability to go the distance. I feel really lucky to have excelled so much with my running over the past year and I look forward to kicking this race's butt. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Muffins

Everyone knows that I am not a baker by any means. I sort of have a "mix and pour" philosophy when it comes to baking because I simply don't possess the patience and precision it takes to do serious baking. However, I am pretty darn good at mixing and pouring things, hehe. It must be all the extra love I put into food. ;)

I baked these homemade blueberry-lemon yogurt muffins the other night and they are freaking delicious:
They aren't much to look at (neither is my food photography) but they are so good! They're obviously super easy too or else I wouldn't have baked them. :P I wanted to make them as healthy as possible so I used fat free stuff, minus the butter, to see how they'd turn out but they certainly don't have to be made that way. I'm sure the glaze is delicious too but I wasn't in the mood for the added sweet touch. I included it in the recipe below anyway though.

(Adapted from the Land o' Lakes peach yogurt muffin recipe)

Muffin Ingredients:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup good quality fat free blueberry yogurt
1 cup good quality fat free lemon yogurt
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons fat free half & half
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)

Glaze Ingredients:
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Heat oven to 375°F. With a hand-mixer, combine butter, yogurt, egg, half & half, almond extract and lemon zest in large bowl. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl.

Stir flour mixture into butter mixture just until moistened. Stir in almonds.

Spoon batter into 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake for 16 to 19 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan.

Meanwhile, stir together all glaze ingredients. Spoon glaze mixture over warm muffins.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Less Than A Week...

...til the Brooklyn half marathon, ahhhh! I've worked so hard for this and it's finally here. I'm both excited and nervous but mainly ready to get it over with. I'm already thinking of the ice cold beer I shall have right after... 

Let me just say that our weather over the weekend was incredible. I spent as much of my time outside as possible. My friend, Tally, came to visit from Georgia and we had such a nice and relaxing weekend!

I was excited to take her to La Palapa for margaritas on Thursday which was SO fun! We met a couple of friends and we all must have had the giggles because we just laughed for what seemed like hours. Friday night, I cooked dinner for us since I had to stay in and get rest before my last long run on Saturday. I actually ran the Healthy Kidney 10K and just continued on from the finish to get in 11 miles, total. It was decent, I suppose, but not the strong run I was hoping for. At the end of the day, I have trained consistently and I'm as ready as I'll ever be. So, I'm excited and look forward to the challenge! After the run, we all went out to my friend's apartment in Jersey City to have a cookout that was so awesome. He has a great deck with patio furniture and I just loved sitting in the sun and relaxing! When it got dark, we went down the street to the best beer garden I think I've ever been too, seriously. It's called Zeppelin Hall and IT'S HUGE and so nice! It was just a perfect Saturday and we really had a good time:
On Sunday, I treated Tally to brunch at Cafe D'Alsace which I just LOVE and then we spent the day outside near the East River, talking and roaming around. I introduced her to Pinkberry after and then it was time for her to head to the airport. I really can't stand goodbyes so that made me sad. :( I felt very lucky, yet again, to have another friend come see me and it makes me feel special. So, we really enjoyed our visit and another beautiful New York weekend!

On a totally unrelated note, I have been completely sucked into both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour of California that started yesterday. Over the past couple of years, my interest in and enjoyment of cycling has nearly tripled, no exaggeration. I have absolutely loved getting to know the sport better and getting my first clipless pedal road bike last year just enhanced it even more for me. At any rate, I'm recording both events and it's got me so pumped up to see how the guys do. My favorite cyclist, Christian Vande Velde, crashed out in the Giro a few days ago and that just sucks. He broke his back in the Giro last year yet still went on to finish 8th in the Tour de France in July. The guy is a machine. This time, he broke his collar bone in three places so we'll see if he's able to make it to France this year. Anyway, I'm loving the cycling action and interested to see how Lance Armstrong and his new Radioshack team do in the TOC this week!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Calm, Not Speed

This past week/weekend was a bit of a blur. I've had so much going on already in May and I know the rest of the month is going to fly by, too. It's exciting having things to look forward to and I love it - I just wish I could capture moments and save them.

I had two very successful 9 and 10 mile runs last week. I needed the encouragement after last weekend's disaster of a 9 miler so it felt good. I also did a bit of baking (yes, I baked!), met friends I hadn't seen in months for happy hour, and finally tackled my closet organizing project. My friend, Tally, is coming in town this week so I wanted to get a lot of the nitty-gritty cleaning out of the way. Yay for being over-the-top anal when it comes to cleaning and organization! Anyway, I sat down with my calendar this morning and looked ahead at the next two weeks; basically the rest of May. I just had to shake my head because every single day is packed for me until I leave for San Francisco on the 26th and even my trip out there is packed, too. I'm drooling already thinking of all the places we're going to eat. We're also spending a day in Napa and I cannot wait to get there. :)

Feeling a little overwhelmed this morning made me appreciate the devotion I read SO much. It was entitled 'Calm, Not Speed' and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I know that the majority of what's kept me so busy is healthy and happy but, nevertheless, I don't think our lives are meant to pass us by in a blur. There is so much more meant to truly living than devoting ourselves to things that make us miss precious moments we have right in front of us. Again, I absolutely love making plans and having things to do - I simply have begun to realize that I need a perspective shift as to where I focus my attention. My devotion strongly states that all agitation is destructive of good; all calm is constructive of good. It then goes on to say, "First, be still and know that I am god. Then, act only as I tell you. Calm is trust in action. Only trust, perfect trust, can keep one calm". I thought that was just awesome. It reminded me totally that forging ahead, speeding through life, can sometimes be a huge way of trying to control that things turn out well. Trying to have control is the complete opposite of trusting and having faith. I think if I run a certain amount of races then I know I'll be able to run a marathon one day. Do I need to be proactive and push myself? Sure! But, I have no idea what's around the corner of each new day that may or may not prevent me from running a marathon or ever again. Instead, it's the idea beind "calm, not speed" that ultimately allows me to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Deep thoughts for a Monday, friends. :P

Monday, May 3, 2010

May Already?!

I dunno about anyone else but I'm just floored that it's already May. I feel like it was just New Years and we're now edging toward the year being half over. I really wish I could slow time down. Anyway, it's Monday yet again and I've spent the better part of the day yawning. Is it Friday yet?

This past weekend it officially got hot. I'd forgotten how miserable it gets in my 5th floor apartment but I was surely reminded quickly. My friend, Kristine, lives on the hot 5th floor of her building as well and said hey, it's a free sauna! to which I had to giggle. Oh, how I miss central air conditioning. I did enjoy a relatively relaxing weekend overall (which I needed after Brant being here!) but I still feel so tired.

The half marathon is less than three weeks away and I'm feeling a mixture of nerves and excitement. As mentioned, the weekend was hot and I had quite a frustrating 9 mile run on Saturday. I already knew I wasn't properly hydrated and I've gotten pretty poor sleep the past couple of weeks but it's still discouraging to me each and every time a run doesn't go well. I'm hard on myself and I know it so I just tried to let it roll off my back the best I could. I guess sometimes I get frustrated when, for example, a few days prior to that I knocked out 8 miles with strength and ease. All I can do is work hard and be as consistent as possible so I just pray for strong legs and solid breathing the day of the half. I'm shooting for 8 miles tomorrow and 10 on Saturday so I'm going to stay positive.

On a different topic, I tried a new church on Sunday morning and was so disappointed. It's been a very long time since I went to a service where the pastor basically told people they were wrong if they didn't do things a certain way. I was pretty shocked and it took me back years to when I'd experienced pretty awful judgment and condemnation in some churches I've attended. I can't even begin to get into my views on faith in a blog entry but I will state this opinion boldly: people get it all wrong. People put their own spin on things and allow their own opinion to completely overshadow any part of what Jesus was put on this earth to do. I love how those same people will wear the "WWJD" bracelets because you know what Jesus did? He walked with the "sinners" and talked to the non-believers and loved the unloveable; THAT is what Jesus did. He did not point fingers, he did not condemn, he did not judge. Jesus loved. The pastor on Sunday made this exact statement: If you only pray for five minutes in a day then you have nothing to say to god. I about smacked somebody. I had such a heavy heart because god loves us just as we are, just where we are. There is no rulebook and there is no 'how to' guide for prayer or for any part of a relationship with god. It is a personal, intimate relationship that gives no other human being the right to judge. Just the other day, I had probably the most intense moment in prayer that I've had in years when I took two seconds out to say god, thank you for saving my life. How does anyone reserve the right to say that I've got nothing to say to god if I only pray for five minutes? I reserve my own right to invite people into my life to learn exactly what that two second prayer means to me and I find it incredibly sad and wrong that anyone might stand in judgment.

I have to stop myself from going on and on but I was sort of refreshed by that service in my quest to truly live my life the way I believe god calls all christians to do - in faith and accepting love. So, I turn the anger I felt from that service into motivation to never stand in judgment of anyone the way I felt that pastor did of his congregation. I pray that I will always be set apart and that my life will reflect the true actions of 'what Jesus would do'.