Friday, October 14, 2016

Training Talk

February 25 I'm running another marathon.

Did you know that I have fully trained from 4 marathons, yet only actually run 4?

Not because of injury, but because of work schedules.

Well on Feburary 25, Abby is running The Phoenix Marathon -- and nothing is getting in the way.

And Abby really would like to qualify for Boston.

Last year I had goals of qualifying for Boston, but now as I look back - I wasn't ready. I wasn't strong enough. My pace was just starting to peak. With lots of speed work, research, drills/strength training to keep my muscles balanced, talking to various running coaches.....I think I'm ready to go for it.

The qualifying time for my age group is 3 hr 35 min.
However, it is recommended to at least give yourself a 10 minute window. Every 10 minutes below your qualifying time, the sooner you can put in your registration for the lottery.

One cannot just qualify - you had to crush your qualifying time these days!

My goal is to finish in 3 hr 25 minutes. I'd really like to keep my pace at 7:45/mile, and that pace will definitely allow me to meet my goal.

Whether I make the lottery to get into the Boston Marathon is out of my control.All I can do is run as fast as my body will let me!

Here is where some of you may get bored, if you're not into running and details and such.....

The Course:
Gradually downhill, mostly flat, a few minor hills thorugh Phoenix.

The weekend:
My birthday weekend. What better way to celebrate entering the finally year of my 20's, than running a marathon?!

The Training
All summer long I have been working on speed and strength. I met with a running coach to talk about how to get with my goals. She gave me my paces for the various workouts I'll do during the week:

Long Runs: 8:20/mile - with some goal pace pick-ups throughout the run (it is so hard for me to wrap my mind around doing my long runs so slow! But....I'll listen.

Tempo Runs: 7:15/mile pace.

Speed drills: anywhere from 6:25/mile pace on my intervels to 7:00/mile depending on the length of the interval.

Aerobic run: anywhere from 6-10 miles at around my goal pace (7:45/mile)

Easy run: 8:30/mile to shake out the legs after a tough workout

So I have been modeling this work out plan for the past 2 week, and it seems to be working! I'm not really training for the race yet - but I do have a half marathon at the end of the month.

Thursday I did a 7.5 miles tempo run at a 7:20/mile pace....and I held a conversation the whole time with my partner! Which means I could have been pushing harder. Which means...I Can Do This!

I'm really going to focus on listening to my body, good nutrition, hydration, and focus for the 16 weeks leading up to the race!

I'm excited :)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

What's New: Career Goals

Once upon a time, I was a little girl who had all these dreams. But then life got sort of comfortable.

College was really quite easy for me. Then I got into the career - and there were moments where I obviously struggled and said "This is REALLY hard", and perhaps I would come home some nights shedding a few tears because nursing can suck. 

But the reality I found is -- as long as I worked a little harder than those around me -- it was pretty easy to advance and be known as a top performer. 

So why go to grad school? Why become a Nurse Practitioner like I originally planned? Why not just sail through my career - stay comfortable - accept the opportunities I find - and just enjoy life?

The past few months have been kind of a struggle for me mentally. I work 40 hours a week. And life is busy! But my brain is feeling a little, well, under-used. (I don't even think "under-used" is a word. See?? I'm turning to mush!!) 

There is this voice inside me saying "But it's so convenient! Suck it up. You work from home. Don't blow this". 

But then there's that little girl that had big dreams and aspirations saying "Don't do what's easy! Do what makes you proud and happy."

Yes, I am admitting to voices in my head. ;) Voices that run through my head at 3 in the morning lately when I cannot sleep. 

I kind of have been feeling as though "Abby" has lost her spirit lately. I've lost touch of my "go get 'em" attitude, and have become the girl that constantly chooses what is most convenient. 

So after much research, and interviewing many different people....I have decided to rekindle my original dream of becoming a Nurse Practitioner! 

So although it isn't going to be easy, I'm doing it. I have learned after much reflection that me as a person doesn't do so "great" when I'm not challenged enough. I thrive when I'm overwhelmed and busy. And this work-from-home job, although convenient, is just not giving me what I desire. 

(You can say it....I probably sound like a millennial right now. I'll own it. But just so you all know, I am actually NOT a Millennial. I am a Generation Y.

To make the choice of getting my masters degrees, I looked into:

-cost of school
-reviews of school (these are obvious ones)
-length of school
-amount of hours of clinicals and classroom time
-average cost of daycare in your city
-a conversation with your spouse about putting kids in daycare 
-how much of a maternity leave would I like to take if we were to have children, as that may affect my entrance into my career field or my schooling
-we don't even have kids and are not even close to having kids
-just submit your application and stop overthinking things already

I have to admit, and this is just between the girls...I am envious of the man in my life who kind of gets to look at a goal and go for it. And doesn't really blink an eye about the 1000 other "what-if's".

So here I go - applying to schools! My goal is to start in January. One of the schools I've already been accepted into has a waiting list, so I'm not guaranteed to begin in January. 

I am so grateful for my work-from-home job with East Coast hours, where I am able to work from 6-2 or 7-3. This will give me the flexibility to spend my evenings studying - and still give me a little quality of life/sanity!

For the second time in 2016, I'm making a big decision and feel really at peace with it! (Decision #1 was to stay in Tucson after we sold our house, moved into an apartment, shipped our dog across the country, and I changed jobs. ). 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September "Currently"

Haven't done one of these since June, and I'm really trying to get better about writing/blogging! Here are my September's "currently's". I cannot believe the month is almost through!

Reading: 2 books. "City of Thieves" and "Saving Abby" I have hard enough time finishing 1 book, so doing 2 at the same time is not smart. But I was feeling an "easy" read last weekend while we were camping!

Thinking: About how to decorate our house. We have now been in it almost 3 months, and the walls remain very bare. I just want it perfect - and my style. And our new house is very unique. It is a mixture of Southwest Rustic and Modern. The kitchen is all stainless steel and white cabinets - raised ceilings. But there are rooms with adobe brick walls concrete flooring. I just have to keep looking and pinteresting until I find the right pieces!

I wish I was more creative....

Frustrated: With the pool company that started their job on the day we closed....and they still haven't finished it. Our pool works great- but the spa doesn't. And Ryan has asked them to come back 6 (seriously) different times.

Now they are resorting to not answering phones or returning our calls. I get extra pissed off, because my Dad ran a company and he never left his customers dissatisfied or unanswered like this! He cared about his customers and put them 1st! Why is it so hard to find good, honest, hard working people these days?! Rant complete.

Feeling: Content to have some monotony for a while. Sometimes "monotony" is a good thing. I feel like our life has been such a whirlwind this year I don't even know when or where I got on the roller coaster.

We both made career changes, we were going to move to the Midwest, we changed our minds, we sold our house, we relocated the dog, we decided to stay in Tucson, we bought a house, visited family 1 week later, worked on settling in, took a trip to Barbados, had Ryan's mom out for a week.

All these obviously super exciting wonderful things! But I'm kind of ready for some "routine". At least for a few weeks ;)

Anticipating: Getting our baby back. Our baby is the 2 year old Golden Retriever, Miles. We both miss him so much - my heart kind of aches for his loyalty, for our long walks, and for his every day enthusiasm to see me! He flies from MSP to PHX October 15! Wish him luck! ;) (haha!)

Sad:  Every time I turn on the tv. I'm not going to get political here. I just get sad with all the scary tough things going on. Our upcoming election. And the amount of hatred and ugly that seems to exist more and more these days....

Working: On a drainage project in our backyard. It is so much labor - and doesn't really deliver the aesthetics one would hope! But it's necessary. We live in rough desert - and every time it rains, our yard floods. So we have been hauling rocks (8 TONS, in fact), shoveling dirt, and making our yard drain properly so we can eventually look at p8tting in fruit trees and a garden!

It's a marathon...not a sprint ;)

Grateful: For running. I work from home at a computer all day. And that can be rather isolating. I am so grateful for my 5 am running girlfriends, to set my day right! For the past 5 weeks, I've been helping coach Junior high cross country with one of my running friends who is a teacher/head coach at a local school. Running with these kids, coaching them, teaching them the passion of running is such a good "release" after a day of sitting at a desk! I never ever saw myself in this environment - but I have to say I love it!Such a fun age group to work with!

Listening: To Amazon Music these days. They have a great music app that is all playlists, and lets you create playlists too! Everything Amazon impresses me!!

Wishing: The rains would come in like they are supposed to this week, and cool the air off! I am tired of 100 degree days or 80 degree evenings, and ready for some fall weather! :) 

Monday, September 19, 2016

White Mountains Camping

So Thursday night Ryan and I were out hanging metal fencing to snake-proof our yard, and I said, "What should we do this weekend besides our 50 mile bike ride Saturday morning?"

And he said, "Do we have to bike?"

I said, "What else do you have going on?"

Ryan responded "Camping"

And within 2 hours we were rummaging through our camping gear and off to the grocery store to plan a spur-of-the-moment trip to the White Mountains!

White Mountains are about 4 hours NE of Tucson -- and it is my favorite place in the state! It is all pines and about 30 degrees cooler. In the winter time they get snow and all the hiking trails turn into cross country trails. The scenery is absolutely breath-taking and there is so much wild life!!

Our favorite camping destination in this area is Big Lake - and we always stay at Rainbow Campground, which is across the road from the lake.

I've gotten so used to reallllllly "roughing it" with backpacking -- that I felt like were staying at a 5-star resort. I started freaking out when I realized the bathrooms had flush toilets and a sink! (anyone who heard me must have thought I'm from the "back woods" lol)

Friday was a long day. I woke up at 4:10am, got a 5 mile run in, started work at 5:15 am, worked until 12:30 (which was almost a full 8 hr day!!), and then we drove 4.5 hours to the campground!

We got there just in time to set up camp, and watch the sunset just 1/4 mile from our tent! Breathtaking....

I LOVE the big pine trees! Look how big that thing is compare to our tent!

Saturday morning we had an early start. It was about 35 degrees, so it was a mad rush to get a fire started and breakfast cooking. We made breakfast burritos on our camp stove and coffee with pumpkin creamer. Warmed my soul! 

After breakfast, we headed down to the lake for some fishing. The view of the lake was breath-taking. We had the lake to ourselves for the 1st hour!

We rented a boat -and this time we got a motor boat. 5 years ago, we tried the row boat. And let's just say, that didn't work out so hot ;) -- it makes for a funny story in the long run!

I thought Ryan looked like "Grumpier Old Men" with his fishing hat and flannel!

I'm not much for fishing. I enjoy sitting in the boat with my Kindle and enjoying the lake.And perhaps a beverage.

 I was reading "City of Thieves" -but took a break for something different and picked up a book called "Saving Abby". It's a book about a couple who have been married 7 years, that cannot conceive, and they travel the world writing children's books to try to distract their pain.

After fishing we headed back to camp, I used our left-over fajita meat from Friday night to make campfire nachos, and then we headed out for a hike!

This was one of the best hikes I've ever done! We saw elk, a family of 5 deer, a fox, found (and devoured) wild raspberries, and got an amazing look-out! 

This was a map of the trail we did. We just did 5 miles of it up to Big Lake Lookout - which used to be a wildfire look-out station. When we were here 5 years ago, we got climb up in the tower, but that has since burned down :'(

Devastating burned trees. But life will come.

This picture doesn't even come close to doing justice of how vast the view is. But if you can see the miles and miles and miles of "sticks" that were once lush pines. Very sad.

My attempt at a panoramic shot of the views from the top!

On the way down, we went off trail and were hunting for deer bones to bring home from Miles ( we get him back in less than 1 month, and he LOVES chewing on bones). All I could find were a few vertebrae bones though. 

However, what I did find was wild raspberries and poison oak! These raspberries were so sweet and delicious!! I didn't realize I was standing in a field of poison oak until after I ate the raspberries. I paid for it at 3am. ;)

Here is a picture of the trail. This was just such a neat and beautiful trail!! I could have stayed out there for hours.

Because we had a lot on our "to do list" at home, we decided to pack up early Sunday morning. Instead of cooking breakfast in the 35 degree temps, we decided to find a good breakfast shop on the way home.

We stopped in Pinetop, AZ -- which is an adorable little touristy mountain down. We had breakfast at a place called "Darbie's Cafe" and it was - a-mazing!! I had the Asparagus Crepes -- which were crepes stuffed with asparagus, onion, avocado, and tomato -- and had hollandaise on top.

These trips are always so restorative and good for us! It's going to be a crazy couple of months or so ahead of us -- so I am so happy we squeezed in a camping trip when we could!! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Barbados Trip

I am a few weeks late, but better late than never!

We stayed at a Sandals Resort. Why Barbados? Because they were supposed to have some of the best scuba diving out of the Sandals locations.

The resort was awesome! We love the all-inclusive idea. It's so nice to be on vacation and order what you wish to order, and not have to think about price. Especially if you're "cost-conscious" like both Ryan and I tend to be.

It is a really good deal to do Sandals if you are a scuba diver. You get 2 included boat dives/day. If we were to go on a normal vacation and do that, that would cost about $150/day to drive. Just for the diving + gear!!!

The restaurants at the resort were amazing. We had 9 to choose from. Our favorite was definitely the Indian restaurant. They had sushi, Indian, seafood, Italian, a desert/pastry shop that was French-inspired, swim-up bars, wine bars, you name it!

On the beach you had unlimited use of paddle-boards, ocean kayaks, and you could take out Hobby-cats/catamaran  if you knew how to use them.

We were in heaven!!!

We went with another couple who have the similar pace for adventure and action that we do. They are great travel buddies for us - we often do our camping/hiking/diving trips with them. We had such a good time!

Here are a few pictures to tell the story of our great trip!

We had an all night flight, and I definitely did not get any sleep during our flights or layovers. In fact the day we left I got up at 4:30 am, ran, went to urgent care for my sinus infection that was not going away (in fact, 5 weeks later I'm STILL on antibiotics), drove to Phoenix, flew all night, and got to our resort at 4 pm Saturday! We were sooo tired! We were in bed by 8:30 that night! Ha! 

The next day we were not able to scuba dive - since you need to give 24 hours after a flight to dive. So it was a beach day! We all met on the beach for some tropical cocktails!

I played ping pong for the 1st time ever. I'm terrible. Here we are during intermission swinging on a giant porch swing and being a tad silly. We may have imbibed in some wine before this ;)

Now time for some scuba photos! And let me tell you - the red-light filter isn't the best on our go-pro. Therefore, pictures don't even come close to justice on how incredible it is down there!

This is one of my favorite fish from the dive. It looks like a leopard! 

Okay, this little Angelfish is probably my 2nd favorite fish. These guys are fun to chase around. It is amazing how close the fish let you get when you're underwater.

I loved these tubes. I have no idea what they are called. But pretty cool, huh? Sometimes if you stick your fiji stick down them - you can find little crabs or other tiny fish

The sea turtles were everywhere! They are so beautiful and incredible!!

This is the front of the shipwreck we dove. It is a wreck from the 1600's that they sunk in the 70's. It was 100 ft below the surface. Coolest dive ever!!

Very mysterious yellow fish!

Green monkeys are native to Barbados. I got to hold him! 

This is a picture of the dive boat we took out every morning from the harbor in Bridgetown. Our dive masters were so nice, fun, and helpful! 

Here is a picture of the town. It is so beautiful and filled with history. We had a blast people watching and exploring the island.

We went to the other side of the island and toured some caves one of the days. This was a farm we walked by. I thought it was so simple and beautiful...and the goats were kind of fun 

The 1st day that Ryan tried to go out on the sailboat - the wind completely died on him once he got out there. A jetski had to rescue him to shore. It's a good thing he is pilot and not a sailor ;) hahaha! As you can see - a storm was rolling in. Which lasted 15 minutes ;)

We toured some of the live caves -- called Harrison Caves. Very cool to see! 

If you are ever in Barbados, I highly recommend Oistin's Fish Market. It is a big party held on Friday nights. All the locals gather with their art, music, beer, rum, and fresh-caught fish. There is dancing, grilling of fresh marlin and Flying Fish (which is a native dish to the island). It is truly a gem of an experience!! 

*Flying Fish - fresh fresh, coated with a cornmeal batter, and grilled out -- a-mazing!!!Flying fish are huge in this region. They actually jump out of the water and skip across the surface (hence the title "flying")! They are so neat -- and delicious!

This trip was exactly what we needed to reset our spirits. I definitely fell in love with the culture, beaches, tastes, and sights of the Caribbean. We cannot wait to return to St. Lucia in May 2018!!! 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Kitchen Creations

It is no surprise to anyone that is friends with me on Social Media...I have been busy in the kitchen this month!! It has been so nice to have a spacious kitchen again. We also made a pledge to do no restaurants all month of July to help save money for house furnishings, etc. (Restaurants are SUCH budget-suckers!!! Good Lord!)

Ryan has been working a ton lately - and weird hours it's his "finals week" w/ grad school. - so had lots of "me time" to spend in the kitchen and wanted to spoil him with good food.

I like to send him with baked goods to bring to his squadron on the weekend's he works. And his request was White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies. I went to make them Friday night, and realized I didn't have any Macadamia nuts. So I improvised: and crushed up almonds, and used a little pure almond extract.

They turned out SO GOOD!!! I got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman. Definitely a keeper of a recipe!!

Saturday I wanted to send him with a good "comfort food" meal for dinner. And our favorite comfort food is ordering Indian food. But since we aren't doing restaurants....I had to create it ;). I made Chicken Vindaloo. The only thing missing was some Naan. Next time!! 

My chicken vindaloo recipe is listed below. I look at to get the idea on how to make chicken vindaloo...and then improvised.Next time I will slow cook the chicken in a crockpot, so it is more shredded.
  1. Take 4 chicken breasts, cut into chunks, and season with curry, crushed cardamom, pepper, himalayan salt, tumeric powder, ground mustard, ginger. Allow to marinade for about 1 hour.
  2. In a pan, heat to medium heat. Sprinkle those same spices into the bottom for about 1-2 minutes, and allow the heat to bring out the seasoning's flavor. 
  3. Add 1 Tbsp coconut oil. Add 4 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup tomato paste, more salt, 1 can crushed tomatoes, 4 sliced potatoes, 1/2 red onion sliced, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth. Allow to simmer. 
  4. Add in the chicken. Cover, bring to a heavy simmer. Once potatoes are tender, remove from stove.
When I do this again, I will add a little cornstarch at the end to thicken up the broth. 

I also added in some jalepeno powder and sriracha to give it a little kick It was deliicious!!! Best served with jasmine rice.

And finally, Sunday morning, I made quite the decadent breakfast. I did a 6.5 mile hill repeat workout. It was 83 degress and 60% humidity (at 5:30 am). I seriously wanted to cry - I was so hot. I ran 3 miles uphill, 2 miles downhill, and then did 1 mile of a .15 mile hill repeat. 

Let's just say by the time I was done, I was SO hungry!!! And sweaty. I had to lay in our pool for a good 10 minutes to get my body temp down!! Oh darn ;)

Breakfast was Fresh Blueberry Waffles with a Blueberry Compote. I totally made up the compote recipe, and I was quite pleased. It had blueberries, fresh squeezed lemon, stevia, a splash of orange juice, vanilla, and a little corn starch! Next time I make this, I think a little ricotta cheese needs to go on top, too!

What have you been creating in your kitchen?

What is your favorite breakfast cheat item??

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The 7-Year Itch

I'm sure the title of the blog post could raise a few eyebrows to those who know me well. Ryan and I will be celebrating our 7th (!!!) Anniversary in about 2 weeks. Which is really hard to believe.

Over the past few months, I have been asked about "The 7 year itch". To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with that. So I did a little googling.

What is the 7 year itch? Well, besides a movie from 1955. It is a phenomenon that occurs in many marriages.

Scenario #1: The couple has raised 1-2 children through the sleepless and stressful infancy years. They reach 7 years of marriage, and they have lost touch with their bond. And they get the itch to seek other things, lifestyles, or in some cases, relationships.

Scenario #2: The couple have spent enough time together that they realize they are not excited about their partner anymore. A philosopher once said that the human develops in "7 year cycles". These changes/cycles can be mental, emotion, and physical. And that evolvement can turn into changing into a person who doesn't want to be married to the person they fell in love with 7 years ago.

Obviously Scenario #1 does not apply to us. We don't have children yet.

Scenario #2 could apply to us. We have both changed dramatically over 7 years. Sometimes when I look back who what I was doing and how I looked at life 7 years ago, I scratch my head.

But I can assure you all that we are NOT experiencing the "7 year itch" some speak of or ask about.

In fact, I am confidently say that I am at least 10 TIMES more in love with and crazy about Ryan that I was 7 years ago. And here are a few things I've reflected upon over the past few weeks, that I think contribute to that. So here are my thoughts and these are a few pieces of advise I would give to any newlyweds preparing to get married:

-Nothing has been constant the past 7 years, except for our commitment to each other. -
  • We have both changed careers multiple times. 
  • Ryan has made 4 temporary out-of-state moves during our marriage. 
  • We have had some major life changes occur (especially over the past year).
  • There is no desire to go seek something new. Sometimes I dream about a life where we get to eat dinner together every night of the week. 
  • But that's not our life. And I'm okay with it.
  • No 2 weeks in our life look the same. 
  • The erratic lifestyle has taught me to really cherish the evenings/weekends/days we get together. 2. We are the only family each other has in Tucson. This is a tough reality to face - but it is the truth. We lean on each other when times are tough, we need advice about what to do/say next, and when we need to celebrate happiness and now holidays.
-In our early years of marriage -- I was so new to AZ that I didn't have many close girlfriends here.
  •  So when we got into a fight, I didn't have anyone to go to and vent to. 
  • That situation taught me to respect our marriage - and fix things immediately and move on. Not gossip about it
  • We girls love our gossip
-I have my hobbies: running and cooking. Ryan has his hobbies: woodworking and hunting. And we have OUR hobbies: hiking, traveling, and cooking together. I think it is so important to have those 3 different entities. 

-We are up front about our finances. 
  • Fact: finances can cause a lot of tension in relationships. 
  • From day 1, Ryan and I have worked out a budget that makes both of us happy. 
  • We both have had to make mini compromises.
  • We keep each other in "check". (ie: "You're buying another woodsaw?" or "How many sundresses do have you bought this summer?")
-We have kept God in our marriage. We pray for each other. We pray together. We talk about our spirituality - and it something we enjoy discussing and sometimes even bantering about. Ryan is very scientific, and it takes him a lot to really believe something. You could tell me that it's raining lemon drops, and I'd probably believe you. So those different beliefs have kept us on our toes over the years

-And finally - we are brutally incredibly honest with each other. Someone has to keep you in check of your behavior, your goals, and your lifestyle. We point out to each other if we are slacking at something in life or having a bad attitude towards something. And we genuinely compliment each other every single day. 

This is not a post saying these 7 items are what every relationship should incorporate to equal happiness. But it is what worked for us!! I cannot wait to see what the next 7 years brings. I hope it doesn't go quite as fast. But I assume it will - since every year seems to go faster! 

What advice would you give newlyweds preparing to get married?