Goodbye, 2013!

I’ve seen a bunch of running-related year in review posts on other blogs but I’d like to make this an “everything” year in review instead.  So I’m going to recap my favorite things about 2013 in general, then take a look at goals and plans for 2014 for both life and running. 

 

In 2013, I completed three chapters of my PhD dissertation and the end of the year marks roughly halfway through this whole PhD process.  Getting so much done this year is definitely my biggest accomplishment of 2013 and I hope everything continues to go well so that I can get that degree in hand sooner rather than later!

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We also had Joe’s parents come out to visit for about 5 weeks this summer and my parents were here over Christmas so we got to show both families around and spend time with them which was great, especially now that we live so far away from everyone.

 

In November, I traveled to Ireland to visit a friend from my master’s program and had an         awesome weekend in Dublin with one of my favorite people 🙂 Claire is awesome and you would all love her.  And she totally indulged me walking around for 40 minutes all over these     little alleys because I had heard there were burritos.  There were in fact burritos, and they were delicious. 

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We also traveled to Greece so I got to see the Acropolis (which I’ve always wanted to see but particularly after a Greek architecture elective I took in college) and play on the beach in Mykonos

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On the same trip, we visited Croatia over Joe’s 30th birthday and now I can say Croatia is        definitely one of my favorite places I’ve been.  Plus, we were lucky enough to travel with our good friends who we hadn’t seen in 9 months so it was definitely an incredible trip.

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And we managed a tiny trip to Venice but it’s a city I’ve loved since the first time Joe and I went there back in 2006.  It was fantastic to be back and of course, I had pizza, and it was AMAZING. 

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Those are my highlights 🙂  Progress on my PhD, lots of time with friends and family, and four new countries! (Ireland, Croatia, Greece, and Switzerland…I had already been to Italy)

 

I had no PRs in 2013 because this year marked my comeback to the sport after much time off, mostly due to injury.  So 2014 is ripe for many PRs (hopefully!) and I intend to go get them.  My goals for 2014 are:

-Consistent running aka NO MORE INJURIES!  That means being safe with mileage increases, stretching, and strength training and I really need to work on those last two.  I’d like to aim for 300 days of running this year but I hope it will be much more, just a safe estimate if I can remain healthy.

-Half-marathon under 1:30!

-A good showing on the track in what will be my first outdoor track season

-See more of the world!  I really like to travel and have so many places I’d like to see.  I’d like to see at least one new place in 2014.

-Finish my dissertation 🙂  This would be huge and my goal is to finish in December 2014. 

-Get better at photography.  I really like to take photos, especially when I travel but I have never taken the time to learn much about it and I’m not very good.  I’d like to get a little better this year so I can do some of these amazing experiences justice– I really loved the view of the sun/castle in that photo above in Dubrovnik and it’s my favorite picture I’ve taken but I know in the hands of someone experienced it would be a million times better.  I’m hoping to get only maybe 10x better 😉

 

And for those of you, like me, who didn’t have PRs this year thanks to injury, life taking over, or any reason at all, I leave you this from professional runner and general awesome lady, Shalaya Kipp:

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What were some of your 2013 highlights?

Biggest running-related goal for 2014?

 

 

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Another day in Zurich

Got to do a 5 mile fartlek run at my new favorite lake and it was gorgeous

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It was outstanding and the sky was all crazy but the weather was perfect so pretty much the best ever.

 

I’m just going to do the rest with blurbs and photos because this pretty city will speak for itself 🙂 

 

City views on the river

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City view from the top of a hill

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Beautiful church

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Same church in the morning fog from the hill

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View from the top of the church tower!

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Morning view from the top of the city (complete with crazy clouds and light)

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Me walking by the lake in afternoon sun (and yes, I did stick my hand in the lake to see how cold it was…obviously)

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I always climb up towers/churches/mountains when I travel to try and get better vantage points for photos…but I’m not the biggest fan of heights.  In Croatia this summer I massively chickened out halfway up a tower because I just couldn’t handle the rickety metal stairs.         Thankfully, everything in Zurich has felt very stable so I’ve been a little more adventurous 😉

 

Favorite time of day to run given all-day freedom?

Any slight (or severe!) phobias?

 

 

Another day in Switzerland

Woke up and had an amazing 8 mile run right next to Lake Zurich on a gorgeous 45 degree morning.  I could get used to running to this view:

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Those are my fingers in the corners…it’s harder than you think to run and take photos at the same time.

 

We had lunch at a gorgeous little cafe all decorated for the holidays

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The hot chocolate was literally just melted Swiss chocolate.  Insane.

 

Then we went to do this game and took the tram 20 minutes to a different part of town

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You get locked in a room in the dark and have an hour to try to figure out how to get yourself out with hidden keys and secret codes and the like.  It was just Joe and I and would have been even more fun in a big group but it was neat to try to figure out how to get past all the locks and weird codes.

 

We did dinner at a place that specializes in local Swiss dishes

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And I had a steak tartare as big as my head

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Joe’s appetizer was a blue marlin carpaccio which was super different.  He had a giant mess of delicious meat and potatoes which is a Zurich specialty for dinner.  The picture isn’t very pretty so here’s his appetizer instead:

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And of course, more mousse for dessert because when in Rome…or Zurich, as the case may be…

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I really need to move that lake to my house.  I don’t have anywhere that peaceful and beautiful to run so it was such an amazing treat to be able to do it on vacation.  Best 8 miles in a long time. 

 

 

What was the best thing you ate this week?

Favorite vacation run?

Hello from Switzerland!

Apologies in advance if the formatting for this is crazy, it’s my first time trying to blog from a mobile device.  But anyway, hello from Switzerland!  Because my parents are awesome, they gave us the gift of housesitting/dogsitting and sending us to Switzerland for a few days!

Going to limit my words for the rest of the post but here are a few things we did yesterday:

Walked all around town then ate lunch overlooking the river

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Walked around more, took a nap at the hotel, then went for dinner

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After some fondue and chocolate mousse we went to see the town at night

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Sorry for the quality of the phone pics, I’ll try to get better ones up tomorrow!

Did you go anywhere for the holidays?

Where is your favorite spot to vacation?

 

A cozy little Christmas

Christmas Eve started with 7 miles nice and easy in some beautiful sunshine.  My parents came over in the afternoon and my mom fixed up Stevie’s favorite toy for her (we took it away a few months ago when she ripped it and tried to eat the stuffing).  To say she was excited is an       understatement…she carried it around everywhere and would only play with that toy all day.

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I almost always have to share the couch with her but now I have to share with the giraffe too. 

Slider just enjoyed the pretty weather and sat in the sun most of the day.

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Christmas morning I only managed 3 miles before coming back and setting things up for the food and presents. 

I got the watch I wanted SO badly!

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And you know you’re a runner when you get crazy excited for socks and everyone looks at you like you’re nuts.

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And we obviously set up a whole Christmas for the dogs complete with stockings, toys, treats, and dog candy canes.

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They loved it.  Little one got a toy as big as she is and spent the first few hours terrified of it.  Big one devoured all of his treats in a few bites.  They had the best day ever.

And Joe and I got this amazing gift from my parents that we are using this weekend…want to guess?  Here’s a hint:

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So excited 🙂  I’ll do mobile posting from our little trip this weekend and we’ll see how that goes!  Today we’re spending the rest of the day with family and watching football.  

Hope you all had a lovely holiday and that you runners got all the socks and running gear your little hearts desired!

 

What was your favorite gift this year?

Want to take a guess where we’re heading or what we will do there?

 

Christmas Eve Survey

I kept seeing this around and I love reading about how other people do Christmas because it’s just so different from person to person, even when you’re from the same region/town.  So here we go with my answers on this lovely Christmas Eve morning!

Eggnog or hot chocolate?

Please.  We have a huge hot chocolate collection!

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Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Definitely wrapped, never heard of leaving unwrapped presents until this week!

Colored lights on tree/house or white?

I love white lights, they look so elegant and pretty 🙂

Do you hang mistletoe?

Nope, never!

Snow? Love it or dread it?

In general, I’m not a cold weather person.  But I love the idea of snow ON Christmas (which doesn’t happen for us that often) and I love the way my older dog reacts to snow because it’s the cutest thing ever, nothing makes him so happy as snow.  He’ll just go and sit in it for hours.  Guess it’s because his breed is Norwegian?

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When do you hang your decorations up?
Usually a few weeks before, probably early December.  Except last year Joe and I set up his     parents’ tree the day before Christmas so my niece and nephews would have somewhere for their presents to sit!

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

We do a seafood feast on Christmas Eve (Italian feast of the seven fishes, except we live in a place with fantastic access to other seafood like Maryland crabs so it’s crabs, scallops, lobster, shrimp, etc) and it’s the best thing ever.  I like Christmas Eve better than Christmas because of the fantastic food!

Favorite holiday memory as a child?

We got a stocking in our room (not our “real” stocking, just one with 2 small presents) and a gift outside our bedroom door so that when we woke up early and weren’t allowed to wake EVERYONE, we could still open a few small presents and get all excited about them in our rooms.  It was the best 🙂

What is on your Christmas wish list?

Running stuff!! a really warm running jacket, the new Garmin 220, and running socks.  You know you’re a runner when you get super psyched at the idea of someone giving you socks for      Christmas!

Do you open a gifts on Christmas Eve?

Not usually, although sometimes one present.  Joe and I exchange on Christmas Eve now          because Christmas morning we do stuff with our families so it’s nice to do a one on one gift    exchange late the night before.

Real tree or fake tree?

Fake 🙂 haha

Do you remember your favorite gift?

I’ve had so many wonderful ones but because she’s the gift that makes me happy every single day, we’ll say the baby pup who was our Christmas gift to each other 2 years ago

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What’s the most important thing about Christmas for you?

I love the anticipation of it all, the preparation and the excitement and seeing all your friends and family.  And seeing everyone else get so excited about their gifts. 

What is your favorite holiday dessert?
I don’t think I have one!  We don’t do specific desserts for the holidays so I just love all the desserts I normally love and eat all the darn time anyway.

What is your favorite tradition?

Christmas morning cinnamon rolls while we open our stockings!

Do you prefer giving or receiving?

Giving!  Especially for Joe, I get all antsy and don’t want to wait until Christmas to give him his gift. 

Favorite Christmas movie?

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What is your favorite Christmas song?

Bells of Saint Paul by Linda Eder

Candy canes, yuck or yum?

Yuck, I hate mint.

What do you leave for Santa?

Cookies and milk!

Do you prefer to shop on-line or at the mall?
Online 100%.  I can’t stand malls or crowded places.

Christmas letter or Christmas card?

Card 🙂  And we didn’t send one this year but here’s a photo of me and the dogs last year in front of the tree:

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Pick some and tell me your answers! I love hearing about how other people celebrate              Christmas 🙂

Tourist in my own town

Woke up to an absolute torrential downpour and 40-50mph winds.  Gym is closed for the      holidays+renovations so no indoor option and with no desire to run in that kind of ridiculous wind, today became my rest day.  I’m secretly excited to run on Christmas instead of taking that as my off day so it’s all going to work out fine 🙂

 

Today was the day my parents wanted me to show them around our new city and it was fun in theory since I have done NOTHING touristy in the year and a half we’ve lived here, but the weather didn’t let up all day, which is nuts because we were told 10% chance of rain today so we thought it was a safe bet that it would clear up…wrong!  Very cold, very wet, and very windy but still got some touring done!

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And in extra special news, two years ago we drove 9 hours each way to pick up our sweet little girl pup from a rescue shelter.  We had seen her picture and she’s the same (rather uncommon) breed as our boy and as soon as we saw her we just knew she’d be perfect for the younger     “sibling” we had always wanted to get him.  In honor of 2 years since we brought her home, here’s a picture of her as a baby in the sweater we had to buy her because she weighed 8 pounds and was FREEZING and shaking in the December weather:

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Obviously the cutest puppy ever 🙂  She’s much bigger now but still just as rambunctious as she was then.

 

What did you do today for Christmas Eve eve?

Ever play tourist in your own town?

Definitely the Holiday Season!

Woke up today and it was BEAUTIFUL out so of course I had to take advantage and do an interval workout at the track.  Hardest I’ve done in years but still so fantastic.  Ran 12×400 nearly all-out, I could barely hold on the final 5 seconds of each one.  Now that it’s several hours later though, I can say it was wonderful and a great workout but during I definitely felt like                 dying/quitting on more than one occasion.  So proud I stuck it out.  Capped it all off with a Picky Bar, which I just got for Christmas and they’re really delicious (of which I was skeptical due to the whole gluten-free thing). 

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And it’s definitely feeling like the holidays because my parents are in town and we went for a fabulous and festive dinner at one of the best restaurants in town.

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I had this yummy fish.

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Hubby had super tender venison.

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Had to re-paint my dumb nails because they chipped off after my shower.  They are that “liquid sand” finish and it feels very snowflake-y (technical term, I know).

 

Oh, and here’s a snapshot of a conversation I had last night with one of my favorite people, my friend Katie, in which she and her dog mock me. 

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That last bit is a tiny bit embarrassing but then Joe said he thought the exact same thing.  If you haven’t heard Michael McIntyre do comedy, go find some because the guy is HILARIOUS and we were watching some last night and he mocked Christmas music and said something about    “George” and that song.  I look it up, and lo and behold, it’s not a chick singing like I always thought.  The reference to Wham! Katie is making is because I rather embarrassingly had the Wham! album as a child and knew all the songs and absolutely LOVED them.  And somehow I still thought this was a girl.  I feel like I’ll like it more now though haha.

 

Any embarrassing song mishaps where you thought it was one artist (or gender!) and it was by another?

Have you had any holiday dinners yet or do you plan to do anything before Christmas itself?

 

It’s a pain in my tummy

My parents came today and we had to be available to go pick them up anytime so I didn’t get much of a run in today 😦 Only a quick 2 miles out the front door, which ended up being for the best because I was awakened by stabbing stomach pain that lasted through mid afternoon, I think maybe a mild case of food poisoning because it hurt so bad I couldn’t move out of the    fetal position all morning.  I barely gutted it through the twenty minutes it took me to hobble around my neighborhood.  Maybe I should rethink that whole living off pizza and enchiladas and cake thing I did yesterday.

Gloomy day but somehow that looks okay on some of the old buildings downtown, which is where my parents are staying with no room in our tiny townhouse.
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Oh, and I did these last night for the holidays:
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Ignore how messy they look, I did them in the dark.  I thought the flakes would look more gold but oh well, still festive.

Liverpool won again today so I’m in a fantastic mood despite the tummy pain.  Now let’s hope pain-free tomorrow because the preliminary plan is speedwork (*evil laugh*)
Over on Carson’s blog, she brought up a great point about the subjectivity of calling things “easy runs” and basically people feeling like others may be “run-shaming” even if they don’t intend to.  There are tons of people out there who I think DO intend to, every runner is competition to them.  But then there are so many fabulous runners, even pros, who would be the first to tell you that just getting out the door is amazing, whether it’s 5:00/mi or 12:00/mi.  It got me     thinking about myself, because I’ve had easy runs at 6:30 pace in the past and now consider an easy run to be 9:30 ish pace.  Starting over is humbling to say the least and it’s hard not to be      competitive with myself but I’ve never felt that with someone who tells me they run, instead I just feel an instant kinship, like we are all part of a special club.  I’m happy for you when you run well and happy for you for merely running, even if I beat myself up over a crappy run.
Never be ashamed of your running, no matter how slow! Share a running accomplishment you had this week 🙂 
Are you competitive with yourself like me?

All the bad food in the world

Some easy miles this morning, only 4 because I had to get home and get errands done.  DYING to do some speedwork and/or a much longer run and my chest infection is feeling much better so I might venture out and try both of those things (not at once, duh) this week and see how that goes.  Hopefully I’m all better now. 

 

So last night I had pizza again, because that’s what I do.  But don’t worry, I branched out and got something new. 

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Pulled pork, cilantro, blue cheese, and onion rings (because there MUST be onion rings)

 

Then we went to this glorious place:

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Which means I had this for lunch today:

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Obviously.  Please ignore the my makeupless face and sweats.  That’s how we do last minute trips to Costco. 

 

We are getting ready for my parents to come visit us for a week (they get here in the morning!!) so we have been doing dishes and such and trying to avoid messing the house up so while we were at Costco we picked up a little something for dinner tonight too. 

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And because no one can pass up something that looks as good as this, we also brought home a 4lb cookie dough cheesecake.

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I’m sure our waistlines need that…

 

I promise I’m going back to eating healthier soon!  Well, the pizza won’t stop, but I won’t be     eating like a 5 year old child every single day once the holidays are over.  I think…