Half Marathon Training

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Over the past few years I’ve really embraced running as a way to set goals for myself and push myself to new limits. A huge part of that is signing up for races. There are countless races to choose from and I’ve been making a major attempt to run as many different races as possible because they are all so different. One of my goals this year is to run a race in New York City and I am super excited to be able to cross that off the list in April.

My best friend Heather and I have signed up for the More/Fitness Women’s Half Marathon on April 13th. Not only will I be running my first race in NYC but I will also be participating in my first all women’s race. I’m about seven weeks into my training and it’s been going well despite the hazardous outdoor running conditions and my disdain for the treadmill. I’ve been using Hal Higdons Half Marathon Novice 2 training program and my weeks look a little something like this:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Run or Spin
Wednesday: Run and TRX
Thursday: Run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Long run
Sunday: Bike or Swim

My weekday runs range from 3-5 miles and my long run progresses about a mile each weekend. I’ve been trying to include some cycling and swimming in my training as well to prepare for my first triathlon in May (more on that later). I’ve been logging all my miles on Daily Mile so feel free to follow along and keep me honest! You can also follow along with Heather’s training at the Team Arnicare Blog.

What races do you have coming up? Any favorite training programs?

Stuck In A Rut

Well hey there! It seems on the surface that I’ve completely forgotten about this here blog but that’s not the case. In reality, I’ve been thinking about it a lot and what exactly I want to accomplish with it. My original idea seemed great at the time, but that doesn’t really seem to lend itself to great blog content. So I’ve been doing some thinking as to what I want to do with this space and I have a few ideas rolling around in my head.

Aside from a potential change in blogging direction, if I’m being completely honest, I’ve fallen into a bit of a winter slump. This winter (as I’m sure you all so well know) has been extreme. And I don’t do too well with all this cold and snow. The result has been a bit of hibernation and a lack of fun and exciting activities to write about. In other words, we’ve crossed off absolutely nothing on our bucket list in over a month.

So all of this to say I’m hoping to come back from this little funk and not let winter get the best of me! Because, since moving to California isn’t an option, I really just have to embrace this weather and move on with it already.

Anyone else feeling the winter blues?

High On A Mountain Top

Skiing has always been Jon’s thing. He grew up hitting the slopes with his family pretty regularly. I, on the other hand, can count on one hand the number of times I’ve skied during my adolescence. Most of those trips were courtesy of Girl Scouts and contained more socializing than actual skiing. Until I met Jon it had been years since I wrestled on ski boots, but since then we’ve made a concerted (although not entirely successful) effort to go skiing at least once every year.

Last Sunday was our first trip to the mountains in about two years and we were both itching to get back on the slopes. I won’t even pretend that my skiing skills are anywhere above beginner level, but after a few easy runs my muscle memory kicked in and I was feeling pretty good. I’m more of a slow and steady skier so I stuck to the greens and blues while Jon and the rest of the gang ventured to the terrifyingly steep (yep, I’m definitely a baby) black diamonds and terrain parks. We got in a good six hours at Blue Mountain (with a quick break for lunch at the overly crowded lodge) before calling it a day.

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After those six hours I was definitely ready to throw in the towel. Not only was I exhausted, but my hands and feet were freezing! Somehow, I manage to do a great job of keeping my body warm, but no matter what I do I can’t seem to keep my fingers and toes from going numb. This is always a problem for me, so I tried to prepare myself as much as possible with the right accessories.

  • Socks. You want a pair that’s warm but wicking. A great fabric for this is wool. You also don’t want to wear multiple pairs, though it might seem like a good idea. I bought a pair of Smart Wool and they definitely helped.
  • Gloves. This is where investing a bit more could go a long way. The gloves I own right now were $20 from Costco and they definitely aren’t doing the trick. For optimal warmth, mittens are definitely the way to go and they are next on my list of upgrades.
  • Hand and foot warmers. Disposable hand and foot warmers can definitely help. Though, the hand warmers didn’t quite do the trick for me. They did a great job of keeping my palm warm but my fingers were still ice cold.
  • Neck warmer. A scarf could easily work in this case, but I hate all the extra bulk or pieces hanging down. This is where a neck warmer definitely comes in handy. I purchased a basic Turtle Fur neck warmer and it was a life saver.

Of course, proper snow pants, jacket, hat and plenty of layers (both wicking and insulating) are important too. It definitely makes skiing much more enjoyable (especially for this hater of the cold) if you know how to dress for the weather. I’m still working on finding the perfect fix for my perpetually cold fingers and toes, but I’m getting there.

All you skiers out there, any advice or cold weather accessories you can’t live without? I’m definitely up to trying new things.

¿Hablas Español?

This post was going to be all about our outing this past Sunday to the Wings game, but I realized that isn’t all that exciting to most of you. Sure, Jon and I had a great time and were able to cross something off our list, but it would have made for a super short post (and I totally forgot to take any pictures!). To sum it up: they lost in overtime to the Buffalo Bandits but I learned a whole lot about lacrosse in the process.

Instead, I thought I would talk about another goal of mine that I figured may be more appealing to anyone reading this and may even be a goal of yours too. I want to learn to speak Spanish. I took German for six years while I was in school and of course forgot every bit of it (aside from “Darf Ich auf die Toilette gehen?” or “May I go to the bathroom?”) because when on Earth do you have the opportunity to speak German on a regular basis? Spanish, on the other hand, the language I should have taken, is much more useful. So I’m making it my goal to learn more than the basics.

I didn’t want to shell out the big bucks for Rosetta Stone and did a little searching around the App Store to see what was available. I stumbled upon Duolingo while browsing through the featured Apps and was immediately eager to try it.

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So far I have been loving it! I try to get on it for at least a few minutes every day. The first couple skill sets have been very basic vocabulary but there are tons of lessons and I have barely even scratched the surface of what it has to offer. Aside from Spanish you can also choose to learn German, French, Italian, Portuguese and English. There is also a desktop site but I’ve only used the App at this point.

So if you’re looking to learn a new language or simply brush up on one you already know, give Duolingo a try. And if you do, don’t forget to add me (username samposen) as a friend!

You’re a wizard, Harry!

If you know me at all, then you understand my love for Harry Potter. I’ve read all the books. I’ve seen all the movies multiple times. I was happier than a camel on Wednesday when I finally got to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter . So when I heard about the Potted Potter from my friend Heather I knew we had to go. “All seven Harry Potter books in seventy hilarious minutes”? Of course it was going on the bucket list. We crossed it off last Sunday at the Prince Theater in Philadelphia and rounded it out with some pretty awesome sandwiches and fries at Good Dog Bar. The play was as hilarious as it claimed to be – I barely stopped laughing the entire seventy minutes. I’m a sucker for good crowd interaction and they definitely delivered in that department. I won’t give too much away for those of you who may want to go see it, which I highly recommend if you’re a Harry Potter fan (or even if you’ve just seen a few of the movies and have some sense of what it’s all about – it’s hilarious either way). Jon and I both had a great time and it was the perfect way to start off January.

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M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E

This post has been put off for far too long. The holidays were a whirlwind and the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas flew by in a blur. Here we are, almost a month since our plane took off for Florida and I am just now sitting down to write this recap. Christmas at Disney was everything I hoped it would be (cliche as that may sound). This specific item on our bucket list was strictly my doing; Jon has already experienced the awesomeness of Disney World during the holidays, though I’m sure he would tell you this time around was just as magical. Our trip was a speedy four days of jamming in as many activities as possible. Rather than bore you with the details I’ll leave you with a quick highlight of some of our most memorable moments.

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking, but overall it was an awesome (and tiring) trip. I needed a vacation for my vacation, but it was totally worth it.

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Let’s Start the New Year Right

After spending the days leading up to the new year in Virginia Beach, Jon and I are back home and trying to settle into our normal routine. We had a great holiday with friends and family but I think I speak for both of us when I say we are looking forward to the calm.

With the new year comes the inevitable desire to make some changes and be better than the person you were the year before. I always struggle with whether or not to bother with new year’s resolutions. Why wait until January 1st to start making changes? But truth be told, there is just something about the idea of a brand new year that ignites a spark in me to really go after those things I always talk about. I was feeling a little overwhelmed when I first sat down to create my list of goals for this year – there are just so many things I want to accomplish and I have really high hopes for 2014 – but I took a deep breath and just focused on five big areas I want to improve.

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1. Do more of what makes me happy. This resolution is two fold. First, I need to truly figure out what makes me happy. I tend to want to do everything and many times end up doing what other people think I should rather than what I really enjoy. I want to take the time to discover myself and what really puts a smile on my face, and then do more of it!

2. Be kind to my body. Every year I always make it a goal to lose X amount of weight, workout so many days per week, eat this, don’t eat that. Rather than end up with a bunch of unaccomplished goals I am simply going to do my best to treat my body right. This means eating healthy food a majority of the time but not worrying if I eat a few too many Reese’s peanut butter cups. This means moving my body as much as possible by doing things that I enjoy. This means getting more sleep. This means loving my body no mater what size it is.

3. Don’t let fear get in the way. There are so many things that I stop myself from doing out of fear. Fear of failing. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of looking silly. I need to stop being so afraid and just put myself out there. I’m going to fail. I’m going to disappoint people. But if I don’t just go for it I may never know what I’m really capable of.

4. Disconnect. I will be the first to admit that I am way to attached to my iPhone. I’m so worried about missing out on something that happened in the virtual world that I completely miss out on real life going on right in front of me. (And yes, the fact that I am saying this as a write a blog post is not lost on me.) This year I really want to focus on stepping away from the computer/iPhone/iPad and just being in the moment.

5. Stop comparing myself to others. I unfortunately find myself doing this way too often and it’s completely silly. She is so much more fashionable than me. He works out 7 days a week! Look at the amazing house they live in. Everyone’s situation is completely different and it is pointless to be caught up in the comparison game. I just have to worry about doing the best with what I have.

What are your 2014 resolutions?

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

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Nothing like a small town Christmas tree lighting ceremony to get you in the holiday spirit! We bundled up, grabbed the pup and strolled on over to Railroad Plaza (home of the Kugel Ball for those of you who know Lansdale) around 6:00 to get the party started. Free hot dogs, hot chocolate and tuba tunes kept us occupied until the big man himself (you know, Santa) cruised down Main Street in a fire engine to get the ceremony under way.

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A quick countdown and flick of a switch and it was all over. Honestly, not the most exciting thing we’ve ever done, but it was a nice way to kick off the craziness of the holidays. And Lucy sure did have a good time getting pets from all the kids.

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Pull This Thread As I Walk Away

The past couple of weeks I’ve been slowly working away at one of my (Sam) own, personal Joy Jar items:

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This isn’t a completely knew challenge for me; my mother taught me to knit many years ago but it didn’t stick and I quickly stored the information in the back of my mind and hadn’t revisited it until now. I’ve been wanting to find a hobby that allows me to be creative and use my hands and knitting was my solution. So I did what any 21st Century information seeker does – turned to YouTube. I also downloaded “Stitch ‘n Bitch” on my Kindle and headed off to A.C. Moore for supplies.

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I ended up with the following:

  • Size 8 plastic needles which I immediately exchanged for bamboo
  • Cheep ass yarn (perfect for beginner practicing and mistakes)
  • A beginners knitting kit with a tape measure, yarn needles, stitch counter, stitch markers, point protectors, etc.
  • Scissors

Since then I have been slowly teaching myself the basics by following along in the book and supplementing with YouTube videos. I love that the book gives me some guidance as to where to start because there sure is a ton of information out there. So far I’ve learned the knit stitch and was super proud of my first little swatch that I made all by myself.

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Which then prompted me to make a not so pretty garter stitch scarf that Jon swears he’ll wear. Despite it’s abundant imperfections. (I took the easy way out and used size 14 needles and chunky yarn.)

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Obviously I still have a lot to learn and am nowhere near good at this yet. I am currently working on learning to pearl and making a swatch stockinette in stitch, which I’ve now started over about three times. So if any of you seasoned knitters out there have any tips, tricks, or favorite tools please share!

Fight On State

It was inevitable that we would break our “post once a week” rule. I just wasn’t expecting it to be so soon. Unfortunately real life gets in the way of our hopes and dreams sometimes (melodramatic?) and the past week or so has just been busy with things other than crossing items off our Joy Jar list.

We picked up the slack last weekend by crossing off one of Jon’s contributions to the list.

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At Jon’s request we took our second trip to Happy Valley this season to see not only another football game but a hockey game as well. We almost made it a trifecta by catching the women’s basketball game on Sunday (at my request) but sleeping in and filling our bellies with Eat n’ Park was obviously more important.

After a relatively traffic free drive, we arrived at Penn State, settled in at our home away from home for the weekend and made the trek over to the brand new Pegula Ice Arena for the hockey game. They sure didn’t spare any expenses when building that baby.

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Unfortunately, we didn’t catch a win that night. After a rough first period, the Nittany Lions managed to hold their own through the rest of the game but it wasn’t enough to get past UMass Lowell, who made it to the frozen four last year. Silver lining to an otherwise disappointing game? Witnessing one of the best uses of signage I’ve seen in a while. This guy wasn’t about to let the game continue until someone did something about the broken pane of glass. (Not pictured, the arrow pointing to the breakage. Or the actual broken glass. We caught him on the bus ride home though.)

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Thankfully, the outcome of Saturday’s football game was much more positive. Not to mention there was a lot of this:

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And this:

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And we even had an ESPN blogger stop by our tailgate to try out the moose burgers and play some stump.

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And yes, we did actually venture into the stadium to watch the game. It was the perfect day for it, which is a slight miracle considering our track record with Penn State games in the past (freezing cold temps. and precipitation are usually in the forecast). The boys played pretty well (though the defense could use some work) and pulled out a win over Perdue.

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We rounded out the weekend with a trip to the bars Saturday night. After a short few minutes of getting bumped into at the Gaff we decided to get a table at Cafe 210. Like the old farts we are.

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Overall it was a great weekend that warranted a much needed day of rest and relaxation on Sunday. In other words, we laid on the couch and watched too many episodes of Friday Night Lights.

Joy Jar Updates:

Although we may not be writing posts as often as initially planned, behind the scenes we are constantly planning our next adventures.

  • Bought tickets to the Potted Potter on January 5th
  • Reserved our plane tickets and hotel room for Disney
  • Watched way too many YouTube videos on how to knit (Sam, not Jon)