Category Archives: Exercise

Strength & Selfies

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“Hey there, ho there, how do ya do…”

Okay, sorry, I just accidentally channeled my inner Lana (Mandy Moore) from The Princess Diaries.

I wish I had more than a few minutes to stay and play, especially given that I have blogged a very sad number of times this month, but I am positively swamped. I’m putting in 20-25 hours per week at my Internship site — which I am absolutely loving — plus I have more than a lot going on classwork-wise. That’s all I’ll say so as not to go on a stress-induced rant… Besides, sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging. Sorry I’m not sorry that I don’t have the mental or physical dedication to get up an hour early just to make sure I post something daily. As much as I love blogging and I genuinely appreciate the feedback I receive, I don’t anticipate receiving this year’s Hardcore Extreme Blogger Award.

Tonight I want to talk about my two self-challenges for October (y’all know I love a good challenge ;-)) — strength and selfies.

[Ummm… what?]

My first self-challenge is to complete three days of strength-training for every one cardio workout. Whether that be yoga, weight-lifting, intensive stretching, or what have you, I am determined to fit more strength-training into my workouts. I’m not seeing the muscle tone or definition results I’d like, and my weight loss has all but stagnated. I’m not gaining weight, but I’m certainly not losing it, either. I’m hoping to take progress pictures to remind myself of how far I’ve come and of the gradual progress I’m making toward the fit woman I aspire to be! I haven’t decided yet whether these will grace the blog. I’m not one of those brave souls out there who can bare all via Instagram for the sake of comparison. More power to ya, but my tummy ain’t makin’ the front page anytime soon!

My second challenge is to take more pictures of myself! This does not literally mean the blog will suddenly be full of selfies, but… Well, I do live alone… So yeah, that’s probably exactly what it’ll mean! In looking through my iPhone recently, I have found that about ninety percent of the photos I take are of food, food prep, grocery-shopping, adult beverages, wedding dresses… basically anything and everything except myself. I realized that what makes me enjoy other bloggers’ sites so much is their photos of them actually doing the things they’re blogging about. This is something I’d like to beef up, too.

That said, I’m off and running! No rest for the weak and weary, is there? 😉

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Thanks for stopping by!

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Back In It

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Y’all, I am BACK.

Back in the ‘Burg,
back in my apartment,
back in my semblance of clean-eating,

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(mostly) back in my exercise routine,

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back with my grad school girls whom I missed so much(!),
and back into blogging.

It’s not hard at all to believe I went 13 days without posting. Between wrapping up my summer teaching position, studying for the CPCE (which was this morning, by the way), wedding-planning, and packing, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of stress and excitement. Perhaps I should have taken a page out of Colleen’s book and simply taken the month of August off, knowing how much was approaching, but alas…

I had several posts I desperately wanted to write: the emotional ending to four summers of work with my students with autism; an update on Ian’s and my Zero Negativity Challenge; a close family friend’s wedding last Saturday; and a few other piddly topics. As much as I adore my blog and sharing my life with you guys, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I’ve really dropped the ball on monthly mileage updates toward my 2,013 miles in 2013 goal. As I begin my 600-hour internship next week, I’ll be putting my time-management skills to the ultimate test! 😉

Right now, at this moment, I am in such a good mood. That counseling exam is behind me, it’s a gorgeous 79 degrees, I am finally blogging (and blogging outside),

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I have dinner plans with some of the girls to celebrate yet another grad school milestone behind us, I have little else on my agenda besides a post-exam, pre-dinner workout calling my name and Pretty Little Liars reruns to watch, and I move my baby sister in to her apartment tomorrow to begin her senior year of college! I am truly blessed, because I could not ask for a much better Saturday 🙂

This semester, I plan to work diligently to be a more frequent blogger. I think daily posts might be a bit ambitious, but I’m aiming for at least every other day. In other words, my goal is not to procrastinate or make excuses; when I get an itch to write, I’ll write! Thank you all for sticking around during my unplanned and unannounced absence. I write Sarcasm for me, but it means a lot to know there are interested readers and friends out there!

With that, I’m off to hit the gym! I’ll have much more activity in the coming weeks, and I promise to make a better effort to share it!

Grown-Up Weekend

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You may or may not be able to relate to this, but do you ever feel like just because you’re in your 20s, in professional school, working, or living independently, that you’re not quite a grown-up?

I’ll be 25 in December, I will begin the third year of my M.Ed. program in 25 days, I have my own apartment where I attend school, and I am planning a wedding… but I still do not feel like a grown-up.

Maybe it’s because I still call my mom to ask, “What do I do?!” for the simplest of queries.

Maybe it’s because I will wait until I’m on my death bed to see a doctor. (Though the way I hear it, a lot of grown-ups do the same thing!)

Maybe it’s because I conveniently seem to forget about appointments I’d rather not go to (e.g. the OB-GYN).

Maybe it’s because I have chosen to live with my parents (from the time I graduate in May) until Ian and I are married in October.

Whatever the reason, I, A.K., do not self-identify as a grown-up. Nevertheless, Ian and I decided to engage in some “grown-up” activities this weekend. For example, we hosted our first cookout at his apartment. We invited several close friends, including two of my favorite heterosexual life partners whom I have known since freshman year at Longwood, Rachel and Charlotte.

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We carefully prepared our menu: blue cheese-infused turkey burger sliders with all the accoutrements, baked beans, and curly fries. Our couple-friends, Mark and Heather, brought one of the most delicious and unique cheese balls I have ever tasted! Plus wine. It’s definitely not a grown-up cookout unless there’s wine involved 😉

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We asked our guests to arrive around 7, so we began preparations at 5:30. Ian had done the grocery shopping earlier in the day. As nervous as I was about someone who doesn’t eat tomato or avocado choosing the perfect ones, he did splendidly with the insanely detailed thorough grocery list I gave him.

He caught me a bit off-guard while I was trying to slice and dice the perfect little onion and tomato wedges and figure out the sliders:

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[Don’t worry; I usually cut vegetables with my eyes closed, so I’m a bit of a pro.]

Ian and Mark manned the grill while we ladies waited for the beans and the fries to be ready.

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The men must comment on the status of cooking meat, in addition to the size and heat of a fire, the poor gas mileage on cars, what good time they’re making on a road trip, and the score or status of any sports event imaginable, amiright?

The sliders turned out much smaller than I had anticipated and the blue cheese flavor wasn’t as prominent as I hoped, but everyone proclaimed the meal a success. I considered it a success myself afterward when everyone sat around moaning about how full they were 😉 I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I was glowing when Charlotte complimented my ability (read: luck) to have the sliders, the fries, the veggies, and the beans done simultaneously.

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A wonderful evening was had by all! I was sad to see everyone go, but it was 11:30 before I knew it and Ian and I were fading fast. We finished cleaning up and hit the hay. Asleep by 12:30 on a Friday night? One of the most grown-up bedtimes we’ve had since I met this HSC gent.

Saturday morning, we slept in and did absolutely nothing. It was positively glorious knowing we had nowhere to be and nothing to do. Ian made me a breakfast of scrambled eggs, Chobani Flip, toast with apricot jelly, and apple cinnamon oatmeal. We did a little wedding-planning business, and then we settled in for the Harry Potter marathon. My lazy butt needed a nap toward the end of the first movie, and I awoke at the beginning of the fourth thinking, How long have I been asleep?! Turns out, the movies were being played out of order. Momentary panic.

Around 3:00, we packed up and headed to my house. We ate an early dinner and then Ian and I, my parents, my sister, and her boyfriend piled into the car for the 90-minute drive to Spotsylvania. My dad and I ran in the Spotsylvania FCHC Twilight 5k at 7:30. Ian served as my gracious photographer as I stretched, got prepped, and tried to get “into the zone.”

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You probably know by now that my dad and I run races together, and we keep pace with one another. I am the watch-wearer in this relationship. Our goal for months now has been to finish together in ≤34 minutes.

We started off fairly strong with a 10:37 first mile. We lost a good bit of speed as we rounded the halfway point on the out-and-back course at 17:14. We hit mile marker two at 22:25, and I was pretty certain we weren’t going to make our PTR. To say the course was “rolling” was a gross understatement. There were some hills, man. Plus the humidity was killer.

When we rounded the last turn leaving the neighborhood and I could see the finish line in the distance, I said, “Let’s go, Dad!” and he said, “Go!” I didn’t think I had much left in me, but somehow I took off. I sprinted toward that finish line, hearing our four supporters calling my name and cheering me on.

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Dad finished strong just behind me:

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I clocked myself at 34:36. I couldn’t find the “stop button” immediately as I crossed. The chip I wore strapped to my right ankle clocked me at 34:38, finishing 118th out of about 200 runners. Dad was clocked at 34:53, finishing 119th. According to my official time, I averaged 11:09-minute miles, so we should have been right on pace to finish within our goal.

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As soon as I caught my breath — which I never thought I would between the humidity and pushing so hard at the end — Ian and I headed toward the snack tent for a banana (and the requisite post-race pics).

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After the race, we celebrated with custard from Carl’s, a Frederickburg favorite, as evidenced by the crowd snaking around the building. For a shop with only five flavors, the place sure was hoppin’ at 9:00 on a Saturday night. I was too pooped to snap pictures, but Ian and I split a chocolate sundae with chopped nuts. The custard hit the spot with my sweet tooth and wet my whistle, but it can’t hold a candle to Sweet Frog or Coldstone.

Things got a bit silly on the drive home as Rob, Caroline, Mom and I cracked up at the Instagram account @youhadonejob. If you’ve never heard of it, check it out. These ridiculous mistakes will have your sides hurting!

It was to bed early for everyone as soon as we got home at 10:45. Yet again, I felt like such a grown-up: splitting a sundae, participating in an out-of-town race, and getting to bed at a decent hour in preparation for church today.

Needless to say, it was a wonderful, fun-filled, adult-like weekend. Talk to you again soon!

What were you up to this weekend? How did you get out and move?

There’s No Good Title for This Post

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I feel like by now, I should know that when I toss around words like “normal” or “routine,” my week will be anything but.

Monday, I developed a headache midway through the workday, but I was pretty well able to ignore it… Until it turned into a full-blown migraine after dinner. I was in bed by 9:00 and I couldn’t have been more grateful to myself for having picked out my outfit, packed my gym bag, and packed my lunch in the afternoon. Being proactive (read: OCD) pays off 😉

Tuesday, my mom and Caroline and I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar at a Richmond-area church whose choir director was Caroline’s and my childhood choral conductor, and whose drama production manager is the current drama lady at my former high school. The musical (a.k.a. rock opera) was phenomenal, and it was hard to believe Jesus, Judas, and Mary Magdalene were played by high-schoolers!

Wednesday, I started to get that itchy, tickly throat I often get before a major cold, sinus infection, or allergy attack knocks me on my ass. Nothing ever really came of it, but I still felt like someone was progressively sucking the energy out of me as the day wore on. I had all but resigned myself to skipping the gym when I started to feel guilty… and I went anyway. I didn’t feel one bit like running, so I hopped on the bike and spun for about 30 minutes.

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While I was having a private pity party, a news feature popped up about Annette Fredskov, a woman who recently completed 366 (three hundred and sixty-six) full marathons in 365 days, finishing strong with a double-marathon. I thought, if this crazy bitch can run 26.2 miles every single day, how come my procrastinating butt can’t even train for 13?!

I’ve realized recently that no matter what I choose to train for, I’ll always feel like exercising differently. Training for something gives me incentive to push myself and try for harder and faster and longer and more difficult, but it also causes me to grow weary of that particular event. For example, today I “cross-trained” by swimming a mile:

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(i.e. putting off half training for one more day, but still getting good exercise and calling it race prep).

If I were training for a competitive swimming event, I would probably find excuses to run or hop on the elliptical. Swimming is just such a fantastic total-body workout, and it really melted my stress away after a long and difficult work week.

See what I mean? 😉

#FirstWorldProbs at their finest: not knowing which elective exercise to perform when.

My throat still hasn’t felt any better over the past three days, though I have been downing this stuff and as many fluids as possible…

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…while pretending I’m naive to the fact that my body will excrete whatever it can’t use. Curse you, vitamin C threshold.

Getting to sleep by 10:00-10:30 every night doesn’t hurt, either, nor does not having much on my plate for this weekend. In fact, tonight’s activity of choice is studying for the CPCE I am scheduled to take August 24. What a delightful Friday evening! Ha…

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May your throat feel less scratchy than mine; may your Friday night be more adventurous than mine; and may your weekend be just as free and relaxing as mine. Ta ta!

Gym Hiatus, Over

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I got back into the gym yesterday after having been out for more than two full weeks due to our family lake-cation and then my first week of work plus Bible School last week. I was anticipating a difficult run, but I surprised myself by not only powering through 3.2 miles in 34 minutes, but breaking my PTR for a 5k! I wish that in real life, my body kept me at the steady pace the treadmill does… But I guess that’s part of the “fun” in the challenge of competing in races.

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I am not above the post-workout sweaty selfie. I guess I'm not above not having friends, either...

I am not above the post-workout sweaty selfie. I guess I’m not above not having friends, either…

Today, I was able to get in 28 laps in the 25-meter pool before the teenage lifeguards up on their high-horses blew their whistles with all their might, acting like the British were coming over a few rumbles of thunder. Swimming is my favorite form of cross-training, and probably the only sport at which I’ve ever felt I was good.

I’m not nearly on the pace of my half-marathon training schedule that I’d like to be. However, my goal for June was to feel relatively comfortable running six miles at a pop; goal accomplished! My goal for July, then, was to feel comfortable running nine miles at a time. Not only am I nowhere near feeling comfortable with such a distance, I have never run as far! I’m hoping to get back on track with my training as soon as possible, though comfortability with nine miles in the next two weeks is probably not feasible.

Neither my half buddy, Lauren, nor I has maintained our training schedules as strictly as we would have liked to, and we’ll readily admit it. I’m glad that we’ve agreed to move our half back at least until October, which will give us more time to train, to save money, and to prepare ourselves mentally for the challenge which lies ahead. Neither of us wants to lose sight of the goal we set four months ago, but we also don’t want to pay good money to be unprepared for something that could potentially cause us injury. Kudos to all you working moms out there who train for marathons year-round; I have the ultimate respect for you and how much dedication it must take to be so disciplined!

In other news, I had a revelation recently. Pretty much up til now, I’ve blogged when I had “something to say.” I try not to post vapid,  empty material that isn’t worthy of anyone’s time. Not every post needs to be pithy or tug at your heartstrings, either. I just want to strike a balance. It occurred to me, though, that plenty of my favorite bloggers write something simple every day (or almost every day) in an attempt to give readers a window in their everyday lives. I’ve decided that as long as time allows, that’s the kind of blog I want to maintain. Here’s to making an effort at blogging as often as possible to keep you updated on what I do day-to-day! 🙂

P.S. Is there anything in particular you’d like to see on SWASOV? I’m happy to oblige!

The Week from Hell

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You guys, I’d like to be able to tell you that the reason I haven’t blogged in six days is because I’ve been having so much fun, loving life, and stopping to smell the roses. But honestly, this week was the week from hell.

This was my first official week on the job, and I am working with three full-time staff and five wet-behind-the-ears trainees. We get along really well and we have great chemistry as a group, but things were a little bit off kilter this week trying to adjust to everything. I’m not complaining, though; this is my fourth summer, and I remember exactly what it was like to be the wide-eyed new girl trying to soak everything in without mucking it up too badly. I’m grateful that I have eight easy-going colleagues who don’t seem to mind my OCD.

So, after working from 7:45 until 3:30 or 4:00 each day, I came home, packed my lunch for the following day, and poured myself into bed for a 20- or 30-minute nap. At 5:00, my mom and my sister Caroline and I were out the door for Vacation Bible School. Dinner was served at 5:30, and then we nursery workers hightailed it down to man our post. For as long as I can remember, the three of us–accompanied by various helpers over the years–have been the requisite VBS nursery volunteers. We’re not especially interested in participating in VBS for whatever reason, but we’d still like to do something in the way of helping out. Many moons ago, we found our niche! It’s actually quite relaxing to sit in a rocking chair and supervise little ones as they entertain themselves “making dinner” and playing with a Little Tikes piano.

Come 8:30, though, I was fried. I would come home, chat for a few minutes with Dad, throw some shampoo and water in the direction of my hair, and collapse. A few nights, I managed to make some decaf and sit in the swing with Mom, but most nights I was just so excited to see my inviting bed.

To say that “I didn’t have time for the gym” is just an excuse, especially since I was getting 8-9 hours of sleep per night. But, I know my own body and I know my limits, and adequate rest wins over trying to force the gym into a chaotic week. Fingers crossed, next week will be calmer and more routine. I’m beginning to forget that I ever knew what boring, same-old-same weeks used to look like. This summer has been so go-go-go that I feel like I’ve hardly taken a breath.

Again, I’m not complaining. I know that I’ve been very blessed with the opportunity to take two vacations, to get two (very, very interesting) classes out of the way to lighten my load during my third year, to volunteer for VBS, and to be rehired at my favorite job in the world for the fourth consecutive summer. Opportunity has knocked, and I have repeatedly answered. Sometimes, though, it’s just nice to have a second to yourself.

Prayer has been one of my biggest allies through all of this, though I think God and I are on different wavelengths right now. We’ll get our stride back, though. I know He has big plans for me coming up; I’m just not sure what they are yet or where they’ll take me.

Today was… better. I “slept in” until 8:40, then enjoyed (caffeinated) coffee outside with Mom. There were blueberry pancakes for brunch, then Mom and I braved the Saturday madness at our fourth bridal store. There had been talk of Capital Ale House for dinner, and I was delighted to find out that it was true. My favorite lamb burger and orange chive vinaigrette mixed greens salad almost made this week worth it. I even indulged in a raspberry Lambic before we set out for Monsters University (which, by the way, is super adorable and totally worth the outrageous theatre price).

Finally, I wanted to tell you about my first week with Simone France. First of all, the skincare regimen is super easy to get used to after just a few days. I already feel like a pro at “making the sandwich”–Simone France’s terminology for the morning regimen. Here’s my cheesy giddy selfie after five days of regular SF usage:

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My skin is by no means cleared of the little bumps that seem to hang out around my hairline, or the blackheads that have adorned my nose and chin for eons. However, I love how non-greasy and yet simultaneously moisturized my skin feels throughout the day. It feels soft and smooth without having that lovely oily sheen. I’m sad that I’m almost halfway through my official SF cleansing cloths, but I’m seriously considering investing in more of the product line with my own money. Of course, Colleen’s glowing endorsement didn’t hurt, but I am living proof that this stuff really works and that the experience of using it has been nothing but pleasurable.

Now, it’s quite time for bed. Tomorrow we are skipping church — which probably doesn’t help my cause with the Big Man — in favor of getting to my cousin’s baby shower in Staunton on time. Hopefully, I’ll have really adorable pictures to share with you.

If you’re still reading, thanks for letting me vent! I’d love to know: How was your week?

Richmond Firefighters Beat the Heat 5k [Race Recap]

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G’day, blends!

I fully realize that it’s been a week since we last “spoke,” but I have a good excuse! I was in an eating disorders education class Monday through Friday from 8:30 until 5 on the button. I came home, made a quick and easy dinner (let’s play ‘Can You Spot the Repetition?’),

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and dove headfirst into my work until 10:00 or so. I was lucky if I remembered to condition after shampooing before I all but collapsed into bed. (I’ve been watching season three of PLL, so I’m channeling my inner Hanna with the drama factor.) After all, that’s the mark of a quality education, right, Dr. P? 😉

Yesterday, I left immediately from the ‘Burg and drove straight to P.F. Chang’s at Stony Point for dinner with Ian and one of his groomsmen, Mac. Dinner (ahem, and drinks) put me home after 10, which barely gave me five minutes to greet my family before pouring myself into my inviting bed.

This morning, I was awakened from some gnarly dream at seven… to run for the first time in more than a week!

[Timeout for a second.]

I don’t want to make excuses, because those women who get up at 4:30 to hit the gym before work, and those women who run up bleachers and staircases because they don’t have the extra bucks for a gym membership, put my grade-A whiny butt to shame. But–in my world–last week, there simply wasn’t time to get buff and lean, nor was there time to spare to blog.

[Okay, time in.]

Dad, Mom and I piled into the car still half-asleep at 7:30. We got down to Shockoe Bottom and somehow found a place to park in plenty of time. Within five minutes, here came Ian and Mac, the other two-thirds of our cheering section 😉

Dad and I stretched out and joined the crowd at the front of the race. We are by no means among the first to finish, but we like to get a good start rather than trip over people’s dogs and strollers.

We started well, and the first mile breezed by in 10:40. It’s between the first and the second when I’m like, where the hell is mile-marker 2?! Finally, we crested a small hill, and two came into sight. We passed it with about 12 minutes left to make our goal of 34 minutes. If you will recall, 34 minutes was our goal last month, and I missed it by 12 seconds.

I thought, this is literally the best pace we have ever kept, and it didn’t feel like we were slowing down much. I was especially grateful for the extra time we had built up at the end, because the concluding segment had a slight incline, and I was really feelin’ eight days out of my workout regime.

When I saw that beautiful American flag come into sight, I gasped out, “Is that the finish line?” Dad said, “Yep!” and we both knew what we had to do. We picked up our pace even more, really kicking up our heels. At this point, we had two minutes left to meet our goal, and time was ticking.

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I slowed down a bit when I reached the American flag suspended from the fire truck because I thought that was the finish line, but we were corralled single-file into the narrow finish where the timer was. Dad and I crossed together in 34:11.30.

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I was immediately disappointed that we hadn’t met our goal, especially since we had kept a faster pace than ever, and we had had extra time at the end to allow for zapped energy, the heat, and the incline. Ian spun it like this: even though Dad and I didn’t precisely meet our goal of 34 minutes, we did beat our previous time record, and we did run the entire distance, and we did finish together. When it’s put like that, I guess we didn’t do so bad after all 😉 Not to mention that we earned these snazzy medals!

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In the spirit of full disclosure, I L-O-V-E earning a medal at a race. Call it my need for extrinsic motivation, but wearing that sweet thang around my neck for the rest of the day makes me feel like the biggest rock star.

After the race, we celebrated with breakfast power sandwiches, fruit smoothies, and even a shared Cobblestone at Panera.

I want to add that even though this morning’s race kicked my ass a bit in the legs department, my clean eating all week certainly supported me nutritionally.

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I was thanking myself in leaps and bounds–literally–as I struggled through mile three.

Well, that’s pretty much it for today. Also, welcome to those of you who are new to SWASOV! For the next two weeks, I’m gonna do it all over again. Well, sort of…