Saturday, September 24, 2011


Aah... So this is what it feels like to blog from bed on a lazy Saturday.

Mike is in Basel, Switzerland test riding his dream bike for a few days. I'm sad about this. I think it is rude to leave your girlfriend home and go galavanting in beautiful Europe. Even if you are a pilot and the trip is mostly free. My feelings seem to be rooted in jealousy. Probably not a good thing, so I'll vent it and be done. Maybe.

So, since Mike is doing that, I am making the best of a weekend at home. Last night I took one look at my nails and was off to get those taken care of. I love fall nail colors! I love sitting and getting a pedicure for an hour even more!

I was feeling so lucky post-pedicure that I dragged my brother out for a drink and then to the casino for late-night bingo. We didn't win. I wish they counted almost-bingoes. So... Not so lucky. Still glad I went, though; Mike hates that place!

I'm sick of taking months to read an occasional book during the school year, so I'm solving that problem: books on cd from my library. Not just any books on cd, though: books I already own! That way I can read a chapter at home each night and listen to two chapters during my commute. I love it! Unfortunately I don't like getting out of my car in the middle of a line or a really good part. It makes me leave work faster and feel like my commute is actually worth something, so I say "Good deal!" (and it's free!) Be on the lookout for some upcoming book reviews!

This weekend I am going to get my 8 miler in. My legs will be very confused, but there's nothing like trial by fire a month before a race. Let's hope that nobody gets hurt and that I'm not so out of shape that I can't do it after my little running hiatus.

Then, after that run I am forcing myself to get up early and go to the gym this week. 5 a.m. No questions about it... (when I was typing 'gym,' my auto-correct tried to type 'fun.' Just the opposite, Sir.)

Okay, odd to my lazy weekend. I am actually going to shower and look cute, because Mike says we are going to Skype later, and I don't want him to think that I'm mopey and all distraught with him halfway around the world. Stupid Skype! Back when a phone call was a phone call I didn't have to worry about what I looked like for the occasion!

I hope you are lucky enough to be enjoying a lazy two days after those other five!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Where Do the Days Go?

Seriously.  At the start of summer, I always think that I will have time to read 75 books and get a ton of stuff done around the house as well as lose at least ten pounds.  Come June, I know I can do all of this because I know how much time I spend working between September and May, and if I had all that time to devote to all these other things, I’d be living a pretty sweet life!  Well, I’ll be honest.  I am living a pretty sweet life, but I’m not really getting much done…  And as much as I want to hate my lack of ambition, I LOVE IT!  This is why I work two jobs for nine months out of the year, because I work in between zero and ten hours a week during the summer.  It balances out.

     Anyway, since I haven’t come close to reading 75 books, I have been browsing the Barnes and Noble Shop on my Nook to see if I can add 75 books to my wishlist.  I can.  But please let me know if you have any good titles that I should be adding.

     Today I went to OfficeMax and had my new Monster Dash Training Plan made into a little book.  Tomorrow I will mail a copy to each Colleen and Julie – I think they will be surprised!  I love making training plans, but I really had a lot of fun with this one!  It features some of my favorite monsters (and some monsters that I don’t really know that well). DSC01566


Training officially began yesterday, and I woke up all kinds of motivated.  I ran myself to spin class (1.85 miles, 18 minutes), then went to class, then ran on the treadmill after class (1.35 miles, 12:30).  I got a little reward from Tropical Smoothie Cafe after.  New favorite: Bahama Mama with Splenda.

     Over the weekend I was a bridesmaid in my friend Katie’s wedding.  We had a blast!  She had a herd of bridesmaids, and I think that is just one way to keep your party going!  The day was beautiful and I think Katie thought of everything.  That’s what you get when you are a kindergarten teacher – they can’t help but think of every little thing.  (It also helped that she had two years to figure it all out.)  The rehearsal dinner was great – Katie gave us our jewelry for Saturday as well as pink tote bags with our initials on them. 


Saturday morning was an early one – had to leave home by about 7:00 to go get hair done.  The wedding wasn’t until 2!  I hoped and prayed that my hair and makeup would withstand the heat and still look good for pictures.  Anyway, I loved my hair, and now I’m trying to decide if I should just do the same thing for my cousin’s wedding in two weeks.  I’m not a bridesmaid, but I’m getting my hair done because I don’t like my hair down when it’s so HOT!   (What do you know?!  It stayed!)

DSC01555  DSC01556 DSC01557

I’m the one on the right in the front row with my arms in front.  Why do I insist on trying to do something with my hands?  Why don’t all dresses just have pockets?  Life would be so easy…

     Just a few days ago I discovered something new – Skype.  I am sure you have all experienced that little treasure.  I love it!  One of my best girls lives in Chicago, which is a little hike from my abode in Minnesota, so now I can still see her from time to time.  It makes the conversation more meaningful because it’s time devoted to talking – no multitasking.  Love it.  What’s weird is that she can make herself look like this because she has some special “I do weird stuff” camera.  Kind of weird, isn’t it?  Makes me laugh every time, though!  What are friends for?


I guess that’s what a dog would look like with Colleen’s eyes and lips.  That’s what I look like when I’m trying to figure out how to take a screen capture on my iPod.  Hot.

     So, since I’m in the photo-posting mood, here is a snapshot of the dress I picked up (ON SALE!) for my cousin’s wedding in a week and a half.  Thoughts?  Wouldn’t a loose side bun be adorable with this??  (Disregard the hair – it was taken in the morning before I decided to do anything with myself.)

image image

In case you can’t tell the dress is black with ivory polka dots.  It’s a Jessica Simpson dress, and I just love that it doesn’t really need alterations!  So easy!  I do need to run it back to Von Maur just because it’s having some zipper problems, but since they have the best customer service in the world they have already said that they would fix it.  That will make me shop there more often.  Thank you!

     Alright, bedtime.  I have to work tomorrow.  At NOON!  So maybe I’ll wake up and get to spin class first.  Aaah…  These teacher summers go so fast!

Question:  Do you prefer to vacation away or staycation at home?  If away, where do you like to get your R&R?  If at home, what do you do to ensure that you relax?

Friday, July 29, 2011

In Training…

There.  I said it.  I am officially in training. Does that mean that I automatically have to hate running now?


The truth is, this time I actually signed up for a race because something has happened and I am actually looking forward to running on my running days and cross training on my cross-training days.  I have waited 11 years to get to this point! (Before that I always had practices, and I enjoyed going to those.)  Anyway, I am so happy to get out on the road and see myself have good days and bad and to actually care about making myself better.  It’s been awhile.

My training plan officially begins Monday, but I just feel all kinds of better knowing that I’m going into it on top of it all, rather than striving to keep up with it.  I know that I will feel behind once school begins and I have more on my plate, but I feel “with it.”  My energy levels are good, I have my diet figured out, and I have some cute new clothes.

Speaking of… I bought the customary new training clothes.  I had to, right?  I don’t know what I think of them, though.  I bought a SkirtSports Capri Skirt because I really like the knicker-length pants.  Is that nerdy?  Probably, but if nerdy is comfy, then so be it.  Has anybody else had any SkirtSports stuff?  I kind of think it takes getting used to since it isn’t your usual technical fabric and it kind of makes a swishing sound when you walk.  Weird, but if weird is cute, then so be it.  Are you seeing a theme here?  Cute. Comfy. Happy.

I ran yesterday and today.  I don’t usually do two runs in a row, but I was looking forward to running so I did it.  Neither run was very good.  Today’s was terrible because I was ready to throw my iPod into the pond when I noticed that it wasn’t recording my run.  Boo.  So I walked, because after that setback, it was no use trying to compose myself and work harder.  I just don’t like not having a record for my workout.  I had gone nearly 3 miles by the point that I noticed it! GAH! Oh well,it was a beautiful day and I just really enjoyed being out in the sunshine. 

I will post my training plan on here on Sunday night or Monday, as it officially begins on Monday.  It will be a modified version of John “The Penguin” Bingham’s Marathoning for Mortals Half-Marathon plan.  I am starting on week two, but really with the mileage that I’ve been doing lately I could probably skip to week five.  Maybe I should do that?  Readers (if there even are any), please weigh in on whether I should skip ahead or just take it slow.  I’m sure that I could use some additional work on the later weeks when the mileage is greater, but I don’t know if that’s bad for the system or something…

This is a really busy weekend, so let’s see if I can just get one pre-training-plan-run in before Monday.  I have to do something, because I only have two more days left in my week and I’m 420 calories short of my 3,000 goal.  Hooray!  That’s attainable!  I can get there!  But anyway, back to the busy thing.  I’m a bridesmaid for my friend Katie who is getting married tomorrow – can’t wait!

So, since we all know that I’m getting ready for the Monster Dash Half Marathon, I’ll leave you with some Monsters.





Questions:  Have you ever worn Skirt Sports brand running skirts/capris?  Thoughts?

Am I better off starting farther down on my training plan?  Why or why not?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thirteen Things Thursday

Hello Blogworld!  I’ve missed you!

As Tuesday just cruised right by me, I am spreading my wings onto bigger and better things – a Thursday Thirteen (totally trumps Tuesday Ten).  As I’ve thought about this for the past week, I realize that it’s kind of like a little way to count your blessings without sounding so cheesy.  Then I thought about it a little more and it can also be a way to complain a little bit without going overboard.  Here goes (in no particular order):

1.  Lifelong Friends – I just can’t help but sound cheesy… My two best girlfriends went on a weekend vacation to some Michigan wineries this past weekend, but I wasn’t able to join them because I was worried about my mom’s back surgery and there was some stuff I needed to do for my friend’s upcoming nuptials (bridesmaid dress alterations).  Anyway, these two girls were awesome!  They called everyday and tried to Skype a few times.  I am not as good of a friend.  I totally would have been enjoying the wine and sunshine selfishly, because I am a terrible friend when it comes to that sort of thing.  Terrible.  Now I firmly resolve to be better.  Thanks, Colleen and Julie!  (You’ll hear more about them further down this line-up.)

2.  Long Bike Rides – Tuesday morning, Mike asks Ashley, “Hey, do you wanna go on a bike ride today?”  To which Ashley replies, “Yeah!  Absolutely!  Let’s go do the Cannon River Trail!” It was the perfect combination of planning to create a perfect afternoon ride.  I love having summers off.  This trail is mostly shaded for the 20 miles that it spans between Cannon Falls and Red Wing, Minnesota as it runs along the Cannon River.  Beautiful and far enough away from the city that you have long stretches where you feel like you’re the only ones on the trail.  Once we got to the Red Wing end we ran into Target and picked up some lunch (turkey sandwich and a Kit Kat for Mike, tuna salad and an ICEE for me).  It was 40 miles of awesome, and we managed to maintain 16+ mph.  What a sweet date!


3.  Hardware Stores – I could totally wander around hardware stores forever!  So many cool things!  I am actually looking forward to covering this place with Frog Tape tomorrow, but I know that it will be a short-lived zeal.  Anyway, Lowe’s seems to be my favorite.

4.  Pregnant Friends – Kind of weird, but I am so motivated by pregnant friends.  I have two of ‘em right now, and I sometimes wish that I could be the one becoming a mommy, but then I remember that I have a lot of work to do before then (like getting married).  Anyway, one of the things that seeing my living life for two friends reminds me of is the importance of fitness.  So, it’s like a great big reminder to get my butt out for a run.  Thanks for the kick in the pants, pregnant friends.


5.  Parties (but not costumes) – I love parties.  I really enjoy small talk for some weird reason.  I actually liked dating new people because it was like there was always something stupid to talk about.  BUT I despise having to dress up.  I’m terrible at it, and I am always left feeling self-conscious.  Weird, I know.  Costumes are supposed to mean the opposite of self-conscious.  I am sure that you can guess that we didn’t have a dress-up box when I was a kid.  So, I’m the one who is not dressed like a pirate in this Pirate Party Picture.  I am NO FUN!  (Okay, I still have loads of fun, but I just look very drab and boring.)  (Pirate Party friends it was so nice to catch up!  We should do it more than at the annual Pirate Party!)  YARRR!

6.  Family – Every time I talk to them I am reminded of more reasons why I love my family.  We’re just really good at taking care of each other.  I actually mean it when I say that my brother is my best friend.  This will probably show up every week.

7.  Weddings! – Oh, blissful nuptials.  I am so excited for my friend Katie’s wedding this weekend.  I was excited when she started working with me and she had so many fun stories about this new guy that she was dating, and I can’t believe that I am going to be standing at the altar as they exchange their vows in two days!  Love, love, love weddings.

8.  Setting Goals – I have been doing pretty well on my Dog Days challenge, but I needed a little more to add to it.  Therefore I decorated a little index card to hang on the bathroom mirror that says “3500.” That is this week’s burned calorie goal, and I’m already down to 1840 remaining after Monday’s run and Tuesday’s bike ride.

             I mentioned, too, that you’d see more about Julie and Colleen.  I convinced them BOTH to do the Monster Dash Half Marathon!  This will be the first time that the three of us do a half marathon together.  This will be Colleen’s first half marathon – we roped her in by saying that we would do it in costume.  Julie and I have done a few together, and we all did a 7K together for St. Patrick’s Day, but this is a BIG DEAL!  I am in charge of getting our training plans out this week.  I am so excited, and I think I am going to set my first ever time goal: 2:20.  My fastest time ever was 2:22, but I am feeling good enough now to beat it.  So, blog readers (if there are any of you out there): 10/29 in 2:22.  Hold me to it!

(Colleen is the one without the race number on the right.)

9.  Microsoft Office – I am such a putzy person.  I love my Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Academic.  I hate having to go use my school computer with its outdated version. (By the way, if you are a teacher or a parent of a school-age child, check out JourneyEd.  Great prices!) Love.Nerdy.Stuff.

Office Professional Academic 2010

10. Healthy Living Blogs – The Healthy Living Blogs website has such a diverse collection of healthy bloggers.  I think I might need to blog a little more (maybe get two months under my belt?) and then look into adding my name to their list.

Healthy Living Blogs

11. Costco – Oh Costco produce section, I love you so.  Thank you for providing giant amounts of produce for small amounts of change.  It makes me feel much less bad about those strawberries that froze and rotted and leaked all over my fridge.  Not your fault, Costco.  I am not loving my fridge right now.

12. Patio Dining – We met up with friends last night for a delicious dinner on the patio at Porter Creek.  This patio has it all:  fountains, fire pits, trees, lights, a big bar, relaxed-pace waitstaff, and half-price wine night.  Could have sat out there all night (and we did for about three hours!).  Nice to see you Nan & Chris!


13. A.J. Jacobs – If you’ve never read his stuff, check out his books The Year of Living Biblically or The Know-It-All.  I’m in the middle of the latter, and I love his little quips as he learns all this stuff.  I envy him, because it seems like he remembers stuff when he reads it, but I really hope that someday somebody will say something and it will spark one of my brain cells to remember whatever Jacobs wrote about it.  I read most of Biblically to Mike last summer during our cabin car-trips, and we laughed pretty hard at a lot of it.  Recommend, especially for anyone who can laugh at religion.

What are some outstanding things in your mind this week?

What are some fun, easy costume ideas that you’ve seen for a group of three girls to run in?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Little Extra

I woke up super-early today at 4:30 a.m.  I like being awake before other people so much, but I almost always forget that when I’m in my cozy bed.  This morning, though, I had a mission: I wanted to surprise the boyfriend with coffee and breakfast because I know that he was bumming having to work so early this morning (and he’s a morning person! A morning person who doesn’t like working early in the morning?! No wonder the rest of us dislike mornings…).  Surprise him I did! He never suspected that I would have my act together enough to deliver eggs and coffee – HA!

    After that ambitious feat, I then bummed around reading blogs and catching up with the world.  Mainly I was getting inspired to go have an awesome run and waiting for the sun to really be out because I’m pretty much afraid of the dark.

     Once 6:30 rolled around I got ready for my run and planned my attack.  My plan was 60 minutes with the goal of maintaining a steady pace.  My typical “push the pace and then scale it back to a snail’s pace” hasn’t been bringing in the kinds of numbers that I want to see, so I really wanted to pony up and see what I was capable of.  Here’s a screen capture of my Nike+ at the end of today’s workout:Nike  6-21-11 THAT was a HUGE surprise!  I felt so good I even posted a post-workout picture of myself on Twitter – something I have been feeling very chicken about!


Don’t mind the fan/vent outlet or the crazy eyes or the sweatiness.  That’s ME! And I’m so excited because of my beyond-awesome-for-me RUN!  No walk breaks!  I even had enough in the tank to take a cool-down walk around the block listening to my favorite podcast, The News from Lake Wobegon (seriously, I am so glad that I found that in iTunes! I’m sorry if you’re sick of hearing about it! It resonates with me because I’m so familiar with the people and places of Lake Wobegon. Come visit if you want to experience the blissful Lake Wobegon life…)

     Well, after my run it was time for a little clean-up of myself (a.k.a. shower) and my stuff (a.k.a. laundry).  Then it was time to make some bad decisions…

I avoided this fridge full of healthy produce and meat:


And treated myself to this:


I wish I was referring to that delicious bottle of Argentinean Malbec, but no, that’s still on the counter.  I’m talking about the macaroni and cheese, the Reese’s ice cream, and the chocolate sauce.  What am I, 5?!  And no, I do not have kids.  I just have junk food accidentally-on-purpose.  I don’t know how it gets into my cart!  And then I just ended up at a burger joint having a bunless buffalo burger and chips with my family for dinner.  Days like that just happen sometimes, right?  I hope somebody understands blunders like this after a kickin-keister run.

     The day wasn’t a complete wash, though, because I decided to take care of some good business, too.  I gathered up more stuff for the Salvation Army truck, which is coming next Wednesday or Thursday (I don’t remember which.  Add that to tomorrow’s to-do list.).  From the looks of it, I am clothing a small country.


I think I am going to take all of those old running shoes to my running store, because I know that they collect shoes for kids in Africa and other places around the world without running shoes.  I think they might even offer a discount if you bring in a donation!  Anyway, can you tell that I don’t clean out often?  It feels so good to have this stuff out of my closets!  I can’t wait to have it out of my house!  All I need to do now is tabulate what is there for tax purposes and decide on a few more items (jeans that might fit someday, anybody?).

     I also took care of a few other things:


Thing 1: Kristin' Armstrong’s book Mile Markers.  I am really inspired by her writing, and this reads just like her blog.  Sometimes I get frustrated because her stuff always wraps up so neatly, and she seems to have better luck at looking at running as prayerful and transformative than I do.  On the flipside, though, I want to learn to be more aware to my feelings and emotions, and that’s part of why I want to get more comfortable with distances again.  That outlet makes me a happier person, and as I mentioned in my About page, I have been seeking out more happy! 

Thing 2:  RealSimple Magazine.  I love this magazine, because along with happy my life needs more simple. I have thought about getting a subscription to it on my NookColor, but I really like flipping through the pages and saving them forever, and I’m afraid that it would take up a lot of space on the Nook.  Thoughts on this?  Anybody subscribe to magazines on their NookColor?

Thing 3:  Crest Whitestrips.  I mentioned my cousin’s upcoming nuptials and my grandma’s ability to make you feel sub-par.  What a perfect time to get my teeth sparkling!  On a similar note, I found and cleaned my retainers, because looking at photos I’ve realized that my teeth have moved a bit and I’d like to stop that trend.  So I popped an Excedrin and wedged those babies in.  I hope that I can sleep in them without too much trouble (or drool).


Do you see my snazzy retainers?

Now, on a very creepy note, I was home this afternoon in my kitchen (eating mac & cheese or some similarly nutritious thing found behind the healthy food in my fridge/freezer/pantry), when I heard a sound.  I always hear sounds, and they always freak me out.  Well, this one was legitimately weird…  Someone was trying to turn the doorknob and open the front door.  CREEPY!  I was paralyzed, debating between trying to go outside and see who it was, opening the door and saying hello (or spraying whoever it was with pepper spray), or hiding out of view.  I chose option three and stayed completely still.  I really hope that it was just a neighbor kid having a friend over who went to the wrong house or something.  I have no idea.  I went nowhere near the front door for about two hours after that.  I hate creepy sounds!  Anybody else a major wimp?

Since I don’t like ending things on a bad note, if you have 4-and-a-half minutes, enjoy some laughs from Brian Regan, my favorite comedian.  Given how I blew my paleo-ness today, I think the topic of nutrition seems appropriate.  So go ahead, laugh!  Enjoy!

Now I need some reader help:

I am a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding next week, and I have to go in for my final alterations tomorrow or Saturday.  The dress is a floor-length black gown. 

Which shoes do you like better?


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ten Things Tuesday

I’ve seen this done on a number of blogs under several different names: Thirteen Things Thursday (I like the consistency in the naming of that – great alliteration), Fifteen Things Friday, Ten Things Tuesday…  I like the idea, and I think it will broaden my writing horizons a little bit.  I normally shy away from structure, which makes it precisely what I need to do – much like that training plan that I need to craft and follow.  Please note, that my goal is to eventually plan far enough ahead that I can have photos with the ten things, but for now I think you get one photo.  One measly photo.  If it makes you feel better, though, it goes along with the one thing that made me decide to do a Ten Things list.
     I have been pretty diligent in getting my workouts in, except I slacked a little on my daily circuits.  I know I need to do them to shape and tone, so I’m inserting that as my numero uno, the job that I must get done every day.  My other workouts have been really dismal, and I’ve damaged my average pace on my Nike+ a bit, but I am too afraid to push myself with this heat wave.  There have been 13 deaths from the heat, and I don’t really care to add myself to that list – I’m having a hard enough time deciding what to wear to a wedding - I can’t imagine what I’d pick out for my funeral!  Either way, my average pace has always included my warm-up and cool-downs, so it was never that great to begin with.
Now Presenting:
Ashley’s first…
(Listed in no particular order, just the order they popped in my head.)
1.  Fruit Fly Traps – My boyfriend is quite possibly the most talented fruit fly trap maker in the world.  I love it; it’s like his purpose when it comes to the fruit bowl.  I may stock the fruit bowl, but he keeps the fruit flies out of it. (Where do they come from, anyway? If you know the answer to that, please fill me in, because I feel like they are pretty sneaky, like little annoying fairies.)  Anyway, at the first sign of a fruit fly, Mike springs into action taping together a cut-apart water bottle and throwing chunks of fruit in the bottom.  He demands a part of whatever you’re eating just so he can make a marvelous fruit salad in the bottom of this contraption, of which he is thoroughly convinced the fruit flies cannot escape.  See this example, right in the center of the photo (in the middle of the peaches):
Note: I might love the traps because I love how the fruit bowl looks when it’s full – such a symbol of abundance.
Other Note: My friend’s dad summed it up well when he said, “I didn’t think those really worked for keeping the flies at bay. I guess I always thought of them more as fruit fly breeding grounds rather than cemeteries.”
2.  Snow – Did you see this photo that I posted on my Twitter feed?
Too hot, way too hot.  That’s 9:45 in the morning, and tomorrow’s supposed to be even hotter!  In Minnesota, we can handle extreme cold.  You might even see runners out when its 40 below zero, but this business?!  We can’t handle it.  The only thing that keeps me getting out there is the fact that eventually I’ll have to put the YakTrax on my shoes and wear layers to go for a run.  I guess the complaining, and the right to that complaining, is what’s fueling my runs right now.  Kind of like in Monsters, Inc., but with complaints, right?!
3. Doctors – I spent all of today in the hospital as my mom had her back surgery.  I really hope that this surgery alleviated some of her pain, because it’s really hard to see your parents in so much pain and know that there’s nothing you can do about it.  My parents are at the age now where I think I worry about them more than they worry about me, if that’s possible.  I am so glad to know that we have a country with competitive doctors working to find the least invasive ways to assist patients on their paths to wellness.  On that note, Mom has been sending me some funny text messages from her hospital room tonight, and that makes me feel good ecstatic, because she has her sense of humor back!  She’s come a long way from 6:00 this evening when I was feeding her applesauce and macaroni and cheese and Jell-O!
4.  Naps – This summer may go down in history as my summer as a professional napper.  In Florida, and the cabin, and now at home, I have been getting in my daily zzzz's (along with about 8 hours or so each night).  Perfect.  I will miss this come September.
5. Paint Swatches – As we look to the future and consider Mike’s home a more permanent place for us both to live in the future, we need to take an active stance in getting it finished.  It’s not fun to entertain and explain that the walls are not painted and no artwork has been purchased because you just haven’t been able to make decisions.  SO we went to Lowe’s last night and picked up paint swatches.  I love looking at the colors.  So many options!  So many cute names!  Then we picked colors for every room in the house.  Now all we need to do is buy buckets and paint! (And put in laminate floors, and get engaged, and get a puppy, etc., etc., etc.)  Anyway, those swatches were the topic of heated debates as we tried to decide what colors the walls should be and what colors the accents should be and how will we divide up rooms, etc., etc., etc.  Who has been in this boat before?
6.  Spin Class – Spin class is definitely my favorite group fitness class.  I love that I can use it as the strongest workout in my week, or I can take it a little easier and use it more as a recovery.  I love that each instructor really does it differently and that you can get great ideas for music and intervals for running and cycling.  The best thing about it, for this week at least, is that it is in an air conditioned room with giant fans.  I still get hot and sweaty, but it’s nothing compared to wading through the Amazonian conditions lurking outside our doors. Next best thing about spin class: once you get comfortable getting it all set up, there are very few ways to look stupid doing it "wrong."
7.  iPod – My iPod touch has been one of the best gifts that I have ever received.  I use it all the time, for apps like Nike+, MyFitnessPal, Facebook, and now Twitter.  I love how handy it is for taking down quick notes or checking a website.  I just discovered a love of Podcasts, especially the News from Lake Wobegon, which has had me laughing up a storm because it so aptly describes life in smaller town Minnesota.  This gift alone has helped me lose fifteen pounds, follow a gluten-free/modified Paleo diet, and stay on top of my game for four months.  No complaints.
8.  Flip Flops – Isn’t there something perfect about a day when you know that the only shoe you’ll need to wear is a pair of flip flops?  Ahh, summer… (See, I don’t just complain about the heat!  Sometimes I kind of embrace it!)  And this summer I discovered Olukai and Havaianas – I might just flip flop around all winter, too!
9.  Work – Tomorrow I have to start back to work a bit.  I get to start my next round of ACT tutoring, after a little over a month of not working at all.  I’m excited about it, my summertime students always perform well because they don’t have the other demands of the school year.  I love my job because I love helping kids unlock their potentials.  I am so grateful to have a job and to have the additional blessing of having jobs where I am happy and doing what I love.
10.  Tail Wagging – We stopped by to visit our friends yesterday who live right by Lowe’s – a drop-in surprise kind of thing (5 minute warning call to make sure it was okay).  Their dog, Marley, is an absolute sweetheart, and we haven’t seen her in a month and a half.  That’s a long time for us to go with no Marley in our lives, and it was so good to see her tail wagging and to receive a few Marley kisses and snuggles (despite the fact that I was covered in her hair when I left).
Thanks for stopping by!  Can’t wait to see some of your thoughts on the important things in your lives!  Enjoy the rest of the week, whatever your weather may be.
Questions: Do you start your Nike+/Garmin/RunKeeper before or after your warm-up?  What is something that your significant other does that you laugh at but secretly really, really love?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dog Days

So, I hit up the motivation station after two lazy days off, thank goodness.  Rainy weather + no real obligations = ingredients for a lazy, lazy Ashley.  It felt good, though.  I didn’t even turn on the TV because I was enjoying the peace and quiet as I perused other people’s blogs and debated on what I’d like to begin training for.  Having summers off is awesome, except for the fact that I have to realize that when I don’t have to work, I don’t really do anything. Lazy, lazy, lazy.  I make up for it during the year with 13-hour workdays.  I digress… Eventually I made my way to the mall with my brother to begin shopping for our cousin’s wedding next month, and it was at the mall that I really realized that I must get in gear.

Background information: My cousin’s wedding is in Ohio.  We don’t typically see our relatives more than once every other year, just because we live in Minnesota and we’ve never been very close.  My grandma, while she has retained her social graces, has never been big on mincing words when it comes to family.  I have fond memories of her grabbing my thighs in front of everyone at the pool in Disney World and telling me that I must get things under control. I was in high school, and I was actually in very good shape – very muscular, but very good shape.  So, despite the fact that I’m down about ten pounds since I last saw her, I am confident that she’ll come up with something, but I want it to be a challenge for her to figure out what’s wrong with me this time. HA!

Okay, thanks for sticking with me.  We picked out a new suit for my brother, because he likes new stuff.  If I was a guy, I would definitely stick with the same suit for many, many years and just switch up the shirt and tie, which is the fun part anyway.  I’m cheap like that.  Then we meandered into my favorite store for buying dresses for weddings and such, White House Black Market.  Love that place.  I was glad to try on some dresses and find that I’m down a size from where I thought I was – single digits!  There was just one thing wrong – after working so hard to don a bikini on vacation, I seemed to have relaxed a bit and so have my abs.  I need to get them under control before I do any major shopping.  Will. Not. Get. Flabby.  So, upon arriving home, I put together this:


Beginning today, there are exactly four weeks until the wedding.  Each day I plan to do the Do-Anywhere Complex, the Dumbbell Circuit, or Jillian’s Six Week Six Pack.  On top of that I am committing to do at least 45 minutes of running, spinning, elliptical-ing, swimming, group fitness class, or whatever else – rollerblading, rowing/paddling, other Jillian DVDs, whatever.  Main point, I will get my workouts in.

Another motivating factor: I am in my friend’s wedding in exactly two weeks, so I’m having that dress altered to fit since I ordered it fifteen pounds ago. I will be glad to get rid of Herman before that, but it’s not as crucial.  Nobody attending that wedding has ever called me fat. Still want to look good in pictures, though!

I’ve been back to Paleo this week, and I feel so much better than on vacation (but I really miss vacation!), so I will keep that up, too. (I just need to finish this bottle of sweet tea – too good to pass up.)  So, let’s give it a couple of weeks, and then it’s back to the mall to pick up a new dress or two!

I mentioned trying to find something to train for. I really wish I could commit to something major, like the Walt Disney World Marathon or even Goofy race for this year.  I just want to be sure that I do it sometime in my life, and I don’t have kids now, so this would be an ideal time.  Unfortunately, too late in the game for that since it’s only 6 months away. So hopefully I can go Goofy in 2013. As for races around here, I think I will enter the lottery for the TC 10 Mile that is run in conjunction with the Twin Cities Marathon.  If I don’t get that, I will plan on the Team Ortho Monster Dash Half Marathon either here in Minneapolis or in Chicago (if I can con my friend into it). 

So, in an effort to really get started I headed out for a run today.  I got a later start than I wanted to get, so I didn’t head out the door until almost noon, when it was already hot and sticky. After three sub-ten minute miles (really good for me!) I was hot and sticky, too.  I was also mentally and physically done.  So, I ended up going about 4.5 miles in about 50 minutes.  Not terrible, but the last mile and a half took me 20 minutes, which really messed with my average pace.  Better than not getting it done, and definitely better than passing out, so I’ll take it.  I thought about taking a picture when I got done, to share my sweatiness with you, but then I just realized that I just wanted to sit by a fan and drink water and iced tea, and that desire prevailed over a photo session.  I’m still a little shy about posting pictures anyway.  Today’s bonus workout is pulling weeds at my parents’ house, then I might take nephew-dog Henry for a walk later on since Chad is heading out for the night.  I’ll leave you with a picture of Henry, ‘cause he’s not shy.


I’ll continue with the questions, because maybe someday I’ll be brave enough to tell people that I know about my blog.  Until then, if you are stopping by, please share your insight!

Where is your favorite place to buy dresses for weddings and rehearsal dinners?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Today has just been one of those really good days.  To start, the Disabled American Vets truck showed up today, so I gathered together some stuff to donate. (I was actually still in bed when I heard the truck coming around. I was a little confused, thinking it was the wrong day for the garbage truck, but then I got motivated to clean some stuff out.) It feels great to clean out some unnecessary stuff, and now I’m motivated to keep going – the truck will be back on the 22nd.  But, it’s worth noting for today’s post that I donated TEN sports bras.  You see, I have not had an easy time of picking out the right one, and now that I’ve finally found it, I can kick those others to the curb (and hopefully support some people less fortunate than I while I do it!). So, allow me to take today’s post to let you know what does work for me when it comes to running…

Here is a picture of me before today’s run:


As I document my head-to-toe gear, it’s worth noting that this is the perfect day to take stock of what’s working – today’s run was the best run I’ve had in a month! Vacation was great, but I just didn’t have any outstanding runs during our time in Disney World or the cabin. I enjoyed running in new places, but for some reason I can’t maintain the same pace away from home. Anyway, that was a bit of a tangent, back to my mainstay running gear, from head-to-toe.

Head: Under Armor visor.  I have been wearing an UA visor for 5 years now. This is my second one.  I definitely recommend a good hat, especially for sunny or windy days.  I have gotten so used to it, though, that I usually wear it at the gym, too.

Top: The Moving Comfort Juno Bra is definitely the best bra that I’ve found in the past five years, and as I mentioned, I’ve tried a lot. I recommend it for anybody with a larger cup size (C+).  I used to wear an underwire style sports bra, sometimes with another layered over it.  I am way more comfortable with this.  With that, I always pair a wicking tank. I prefer a more form fitting tank, but I think that’s just a personal preference thing.

Arm: I always run with my iPod Touch and the Nike+ app. I tried a few different armbands, and my favorite is the Tuneband. A friend with an iPhone recommended it, and I was skeptical at first because the only way for me to get it was to order it online. It turned out to be just right, though, and I’m so glad I ordered it (it was also less expensive than the armbands I was buying in stores). My only complaint is that I wish it had some waterproofing capabilities.  I can’t find any armbands that I like that offer any protection for rain. I have run with my phone in a baggie during a drizzle, but I wouldn’t trust that system in a real rain shower. Ideas, anybody?

The other important piece of equipment on my arm is my Polar F7 Heart Rate Monitor. I really like training with this.  It lets me know when I can push a little harder or when I need to slow down.  What’s been really neat to see, though, is that after going gluten free my heart rate has been staying lower during workouts. I have no idea whether this stems from the change in diet, or if it is just an increased fitness level, but my guess is that it’s a combination of both.

Waist:  Water is my security blanket – much like Linus on Peanuts, I never head anywhere without it. Even if I’m going into the mall, where I know there is an abundance of places that have water, I still feel it necessary to bring my own.  It’s just how I’m made.  Anyway, whenever I run I wear my Nathan Speed 2 Hydration Pack. I have had others, but I prefer the two-bottle system of this one.  It makes things feel more balanced and less bouncy.  (In case you haven’t noticed, bouncy has no place in my running routine.)  If I’m traveling and I don’t want to carry the whole Hydration Pack, I just carry the Nathan Quickdraw Plus and I pop in whichever water bottle I’m traveling with, most recently the Camelbak Groove filter bottle (which I really like to run with because it has a straw).  Both the Hydration Pack & the Quickdraw have pockets, and I love pockets.  A lot.  I have a touch of paranoia about the creepy man in the bushes, so I can carry pepper spray and an ID. If I am running for an hour or more I always carry a pack of Sport Beans, just in case (Yum! Jelly beans are even better when you’re running!).  I really like to be prepared (secret: I envy people with kids because they can carry diaper bags with all sorts of “prepared” type stuff.) 

Bottom:  When I first began running I stuck with shorts or yoga-style pants. Then I went to skirts.  I had probably 5 different skirts, some of which were better than others.  I never tried the Running Skirts brand, and I think I might treat myself to one soon!  As for now, though, I have become a really big fan of tights. I bought a pair this winter, and I was so surprised that I loved running in them.  I thought I would feel self-conscious, but just the opposite was true – I really liked not having to worry about things riding up or falling down. So, this spring I picked up this pair of Under Armor capris. They’re very comfortable, and I can wear them even on the hottest days without overheating.

Feet: SmartWool socks, currently with Asics 2150s, but I can’t wait to buy a pair of these! I try to add a new pair into the rotation every 300 miles or so, and I’m currently at 125 miles on this rotation. Almost there!

So, here’s the rundown:


Well, after the charity pick-up and the perfect run, I did a bit of other running around because we were having some friends over for dinner. Our friends are having their second child, and they had to get rid of some furniture. So, on this day that started with a donation to charity, Mike got a new dining set and upholstered chair – doesn’t that just seem like a perfect circle? We had them stay for dinner, which was a lovely ending to this ideal day – even the weather cooperated!

Oh, I downloaded Windows Live Writer today, and this is my first post using it.  It seems pretty easy to use, and I’m glad to have received this tip from both Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point and Heather at Running With Sass.  I am so thankful for people who offer tips to new bloggers, like myself! 

I hope this finds you doing well, and I will leave you again with a question (I hope someone reads and responds soon!  Who will be first?!)

What is one piece of running gear that you can’t leave home without?

Monday, July 11, 2011


Took a day off of working out to restock the fridge today.  It felt good to grocery shop and then stand at the sink prepping the fruits and vegetables for grab-and-go convenience.  It felt great looking over my receipt and realizing that most of the items were items that came without brand names:  bananas, melon, peaches, lime, kale, mangoes, etc. 

In March I took an adventure down the Paleo Diet path.  My friend Bridget had told me a bit about it, and I looked into it.  I have struggled to maintain my weight for four or five years, always wishing that I could lose but being content just so long as the number didn't go up.  I have tried many different things, but nothing this extreme.  It may not be right for everybody, but it's definitely right for me.  Most importantly I learned that I have a real sensitivity to wheat products/gluten.  I puff up like a balloon! I can gain five pounds of water/digestion weight just from a small amount, and it leaves me feeling like I have the worst hangover. No wonder I was having a difficult time losing weight when I was eating food that was making me sick without even knowing it!  Anyway, I love the Paleo Diet because I can eat a wide variety of foods, there aren't any "phases" or "stages" as you might find on other diets, and it's definitely a lifestyle that is easy to live with. 

A few things I've noticed since changing my diet at the end of March:
  • I managed to shimmy off fifteen pounds in just a few months!
  • Running is easier, and I don't feel the same arthritis pain in my knees, even if I run several days in a row.
  • I noticed that I had some minor skin irritations that I thought I was stuck with for life, but now they have cleared up.
  • Junk food cravings seemed to fall by the wayside as my body got accustomed to healthier options. Waving off the dessert cart has become a non-issue, perhaps because I realized my gluten sensitivity.
  • There are more, but I can't think of them all right now.  I'll keep you posted as I become more disciplined in my meal planning and snacking again.
Anyway, we just had vacation month, and I relaxed my standards for a few weeks.  I ate lunch meats and cheese, drank milk and soda, and indulged perhaps a little too frequently.  Four of my pounds seemed to come home from vacation with me.  I'm not surprised, but I'm not inviting them to move in permanently, either.  Today I restocked my fridge with all Paleo friendly foods with the exception of plain yogurt, which I keep for a quick breakfast with some honey and walnuts. 

I invite anyone who is interested in trying the Paleo Diet or a modified version of it to ask questions.  I needed a change, and this worked.  I know there are others out there that this will work for -- anyone who wants an easy to follow "diet plan" who likes to have a wide variety of foods throughout the day.  This definitely doesn't leave you feeling "stuck in a rut!"

Okay, now off to grill up some pork chops.  Mom and Dad are coming over for dinner!

Please share...  What foods or diets have you found that really work for you?


We had to leave our cabin vacation and return home today, which is always a bummer, but it's not terrible because now we have 3 days of at-home vacation to get organized and relaxed before working again. As a sign that it was time to be done vacationing (or maybe that it was time to turn around), we were treated to some very scary thunderstorms on our way home. We had Mike's teenage cousins in the car, so we tried to calm our nerves by acting goofy - singing cheesy songs at the tops of our lungs and listening to stand-up comedy on Pandora once we got a 3G signal. Listening/looking up weather information did not make us feel any better.

At some point during the drive the topic of marathons and marathon finish lines came up. We talked about how people sometimes end up hobbling or crawling over the finish, and how the finish is really an emotional place for participants and spectators. I realized that the finish line of any race is a very special place to be, because everyone crossing the line has a story. I would love to hear some of the stories behind the expressions on people's faces as they cross the line. I have completed two full marathons as well as several half-marathon and shorter distance races. My emotions run so high on race day, but a lot of what I feel is fear or anxiety. What if my training wasn't sufficient? What if I get sick or injured? What if, what if, what if? It's amazing that my what ifs don't leave me rooted firmly to my mattress!
Well, that's how I felt tonight, too. If I had been alone, I probably would have stopped the car. That wasn't an option for me, though. We kept on driving, and once we were 2/3 of the way home, we got a treat: fireworks. Three different shows were going on tonight, evidently, and we got to watch them out the front window of the car. It was like our reward for the journey through the storm, much like marathoners receive a medal or other prize. It really was bizarre the way the shows were all on our way home directly in front of us as the storm continued to brew up behind us. We were meant to see the fireworks, I think.

On another note, today was a very busy vacation wrap-up day. We went on a 23.5 mile bike ride (I got my picture taken with Paul Bunyan!) and we waterskied. I had no trouble, except for a couple of quality wipeouts on the skis. I have been working on skiing on one ski. Then I did one full loop slaloming - only one ski! I even made some cuts in and out of the wake!  It was a big deal for me, and Mike must have been impressed because he surprised me with ice cream (a double scoop dish - coconut almond delight and chocolate peanut butter revel). Yum!

It's been a good day, but now I am exhausted. Goodnight!

Question...  What have you accomplished that should have been celebrated with fireworks?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lazy Days

Today was turning out to be a picture-perfect lazy day...
1. Slept in, accruing 9 full hours in my sleep bank
2. Woke up at the cabin
3. Breakfast at my favorite cabin greasy spoon restaurant, La Pasta (I am not kidding when I say there's nothing like it, and based on the clientele, it may directly affect longevity.)
4. 82 degrees and sunny - 0% chance of rain!
5. Good book
6. Good people

So, I was all set to plug in "Another day of cabin laziness" on my workout log when my trusty workout buddy and boyfriend mentioned the bike ride that he was scheduling for 8:00. Now, I typically prefer to be done by then, but it was already 7 (p.m., if you're keeping track). So I asked if I could join him and he said it was fine so long as I was ready to go on time, I was willing to work and go fast, and I was willing to go the opposite direction on the trail from what we usually go. I agreed to the terms and we were off!

I am so glad that I had someone to nudge me along and hold me accountable. Lazy days are great in moderation, and, all things considered, most of this day was spent being pretty lazy! Without this evening's ride, I would have missed out on seeing a half dozen deer and an adorable porcupine. I would have missed out on an hour of quality time with Mike. And now, thanks to this new blog of mine, I would have had to admit to the world that I had yet another lazy day at the cabin.

Just to be on the safe side, though, I still stopped past the soda fountain for a cup of my latest favorite: chocolate peanut butter revel & coconut almond delight. Vacation hasn't ended yet!

Share with me...  Who or what motivates you to get your workouts in?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cabin Time!

How lucky are we? This summer Mike and I were able to spend 10 nights in my favorite place, Disney World, and now we're wrapping up our 2 week vacation at his family's cabin. This place is the most relaxing and welcoming retreat with the option to do as much or as little as you would want. His niece is two years old, and it's awesome to catch a glimpse of cabin-life through her eyes: No worries, just play until you are either too hungry or too tired to play anymore. Love it! (Love her, too.) So our days roll on, tethered to a buoy on our rafts so we don't float away, devouring books the way some people take in sitcoms (no TV here!), getting our workouts in without the hassle of a schedule but with the assistance of northwoods scenery and wildlife, and making the 2 mile trip into "town" to get a scoop of whatever flavor sounds best. Life is good here, and it definitely makes all of those 15 hour workdays of the school year SO WORTH IT.

I will post pictures of both our Disney trip and the cabin just as soon as I figure out how.

I'm wondering...  Where are your favorite places to go to get away?

Hello World!

I never ever thought that I'd attempt the blogging thing, but here I am. I have recently been inspired by some other awesome bloggers, and my boyfriend, Mike, mentioned that he thought I could have something to share with others. I opened this page a week ago, and while I don't exactly know where it will take me, I know that I must get started. So, as of right now it is a glorified workout log, chronicling my days so I know that my time on earth is healthy and well-spent. I know that I won't have many readers for awhile, but when readers stumble along this place, I hope they feel welcome and that they leave feeling inspired (and that they come back and visit again).

I'm curious to know...  How did you get started blogging?