Date Day

Two Sundays ago Matt decided to take me on a date. A real date that was just us, not a trip to the gym for a workout or out for a training run for our upcoming race. A real date!

As you can see from the photo, the sky was a brilliant crystal clear blue and the snow was still on the ground from our March Madness blizzard. The air was crisp and cool. It was a perfect day to go to the Dissolve Float Spa, and, well, float!

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So what is floating???? That is what I was wondering when Matt told me about it. Basically you get in a “pod” the is filled with epson salt and warm water and you float. Honestly, it reminds me of a tanning bed only with water and without the harmful lights.

Truthfully I’m not one for a massage. Something about having a stranger rub his or her hands all over your barely dressed body just is not me. But the floating, that’s a different story. It’s therapeutic, it’s warm, and it’s peaceful. It’s also surprising how you just float in the water. My session was for an entire hour and it was just what I needed to break the winter blues. It did take me several minutes to settle into my float, but once I truly relaxed I enjoyed it. I think that the next time I go for a float the experience will be even better since I know what to anticipate.

After our float we headed out for brunch. We went to a new restaurant called The Handsome Cab. Our good friends introduced us to it a few weeks ago and Matt and I really enjoyed it. When he saw they offered a brunch, he made the reservations.

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We started off with a cheese tray and Matt ordered the European Staycation wine flight. I had a refreshing Lady in Red to drink.

Then our meal arrived. Matt had Lox Toast Points. His entree was cured smoked salmon, shredded potato leeks, tomato, and caper cream cheese. My entree was a bit more simplistic. I ordered the Eggs Benedict Oscar. It was two poached eggs on top of a delicious Maryland crab cake. It was amazing!

We had a delightful afternoon and I’m thankful that Matt planned this time just for us. I am looking forward to doing something similar again soon!

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Cleaning Out to Clean Up!

Yes, I’m starting to wrap my mind around my Whole 30 journey that will begin Monday, July 11th. I’m in the “I have to eat it so I don’t eat it” mode.

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I’m glad to report that the Thomas’ English muffins and waffles are now gone. GONE! NO MORE! But the bagels are still lingering and there is some yogurt. Regardless, I will start to transition my breakfast. The Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses need to go too. As we get ready to leave for vacation I think we will pack some of these snacks and other items with us so when we return they are GONE too. The wine is gone. I’ll have some on vacation, but no more will enter our house until after August 9th. I usually don’t gravitate toward soda but we better take the few cans of Sprite that are hanging around. There is no sense in having temptation waiting for us. Perhaps I’ll replace it with La Croix sparkling water when I feel that need for a little extra oomph or zing of taste. Fortunately, I believe I will have success with my beverages. I’ve been enjoying my cucumber infused water in my glass water bottle and I already drink my tea “straight up” – no sugar or honey added.

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Let’s just get it out there! Here’s what I’ll miss:

  • mozzarella cheese
  • yogurt
  • English muffins
  • ice cream – boy will I miss this!
  • Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses
  • croutons on my salad
  • brie cheese
  • butter
  • mayonnaise
  • burritos
  • Jasmine rice
  • risotto
  • pasta
  • Chinese take-out
  • a glass of wine with dinner

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Again, Matt will be my saving grace. I know with proper food planning I will be able to forget about these items. Well, maybe not ice cream! Possibly this won’t be so bad. I already know that rice can be replaced with cauliflower rice and pasta can be replaced with spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles. How about tomato sauce? That will need to be replaced. Guess, I better go read some more, but I am glad I’m already on the path of cleaning out to clean up!

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thirty days, just thirty days!

So, I said, “yes”! Yes that is to the Whole 30 challenge journey. While it’s been in the back of my mind, I finally decided to make the commitment. The commitment to eat whole foods that taste good and that are good for you-for thirty days, just thirty days. I have asked myself why do the the Whole 30 challenge and honestly I’m not quite sure. So then I replied with a why not. I mean why not do the Whole 30 challenge. Perhaps it’s the fact that Matt will be doing the challenge and I don’t want to be left out. Seriously though, I have nothing to lose and much to gain; I hope!

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What I’m really hoping is that it will help with my sleep, or truthfully, lack there of. I have absolutely no problem falling asleep, but staying asleep is another issue. You see my body only seems to want to sleep for about five hours and then I’m awake, wide awake. By the time I’m ready to fall back asleep, well, then it’s time to rise & shine. Topple that with the fact that I would love to take a nap at about 4:00 pm everyday makes for a very nerve-wracking sleep pattern. That’s my biggest goal for the challenge beside the fact that I want to eat healthier.

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Now that I have said “yes”, I do have some concerns so I want to get them out there. They need to be out there so I can start to wrap my mind around them. My first concern is what am I going to do when I need a quick meal? Pasta is just about always my go to meal when I need something fast and easy. Yes, I LOVE Easy Mac, and I’m not going to lie! I also enjoy cheese and yogurt if I want to pretend I’m making a healthy choice. I’ll be okay giving up bread, um…I think, and I love a bowl of ice cream before I go to bed so I’ll need to find a new night time snack. Perhaps, bananas. I tolerate them but never really look forward to eating them – a bowl of ice cream vs. a banana? Hummm…what would you choose? Well, maybe an apple with some almond butter. That’s a possibility too.

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What else is on my mind? I guess I’m worried about what do we will do when friends want us to go to out to eat. I know… invite them over to eat at our house is what we’ll do. That would be a good alternative. I know that our saving grace will be Matt’s culinary skills. I am so fortunate to have a true chef that studied the culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America. As Matt and I go through our Whole 30 journey, I’ll be sure to share his creations here on the blog!

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Then there is the fact that I do have a conference scheduled only three days into my Whole 30 journey. Thankfully I have some time to think about this and plan accordingly. Also my friend Holly has already completed one round of Whole 30 so I will be seeking her guidance and expertise for those initial days and throughout the thirty days.

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The last issue on my mind is meal prep. As I alluded earlier, I’m concerned about what to do for quick and easy food. This is where meal prep will be important. It will help when when I think there is nothing to eat and it will help me for when I need to eat something quick before a workout or before a run. I’m thinking Sunday, of course, to make sure snacks are prepared and to make sure meals are planned for the week. Breakfast will be easy and Matt will be able to whip something up for dinner lickty-split. I’m just not sure about lunch yet, but I still have a lot of reading to do so I’m sure I’ll come up with something.

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So it’s official! He said “yes” and she said “yes”! The start date for our journey is July 11, 2016, and our journey will end on August 9, 2016. We got this…thirty days, just thirty days!

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we got this!

you can do hard things! yes, you can!

I have lots of catch phrases, or mantras if you would like to call them that. I’ve picked them up along the way from here and there. Maybe it was a line I lifted from a book or something that somebody said that just stuck with me.
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Today I am celebrating doing hard things. I wish I could say I owned the celebrations, but I don’t. They belong to Matt – his dedication, his determination, his achievements.
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Last weekend we embarked on a trip to Cambridge, Maryland where Matt competed in his fourth half IRONMAN. A half IRONMAN consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 run. It’s no joke. These are serious endurance athletes going out there for a total of 70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running. Then top that off with extreme summer heat and some wind gusts and you have to remind yourself that you can do hard things.
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We were up at 4:00 AM to be race-line ready for the day. You know you’re an IRONMAN when you go to bed the night before and it’s still light out but you wake up and it’s dark! It’s crazy, but you can do hard things!
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pre-race photo op

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He promptly started his swim on schedule at 7:32 AM. The water and sunrise was absolutely breath taking, but it was a sign that it was going to be a hot one for the day. The goal, swim as fast as you can to get to the bike, as fast as you can.
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The bike course is flat, flat as a pancake. Some may say that’s great, no hills to climb, but that also means no hills to coast – peddling, peddling, peddling for 56 miles in the scorching sun. Topple that with riding straight into a headwind means little relief. Matt crossed into transition with sweat flinging from him, but he crossed safely ready to tackle the third and last leg of his IRONMAN – the 13.1 miles of running.
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wearing a smile

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At this point in the race it was now about noon and the sun was burning bright. Again, the course is flat and there was little shade if any. It was a loooong 13.1 miles. But, he did it!
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IRONMAN finisher!

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Now the celebrating doesn’t end here. A year ago Matt decided to embark on a running streak. His streak was to run, at least two miles, everyday for 365 days. EVERY.SINGLE.DAY! That meant NO.REST.DAYS! Fuse the running streak with strength training, 1/2 marathon training, triathlon training, and life and it makes for quite a challenge! But again, he did it and I am so proud of him!
running streak
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I often wonder why we are brave, why we put ourselves out there, and why we would purposely decide to do hard things. But, I know. I know why. It’s the crossing of the finish line, whatever finish line you may choose to cross. After the finish line is crossed, the anguish dissipates. For it’s only a matter of time before you accept the challenge again.
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So today I celebrate Matt.
What the mind can conceive, the body will achieve.
You can do hard things!
Yes, you can!
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 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
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The Two of Us

She reads blogs on her iPad,
while he watches the Ravens on Monday Night football;
she likes to work in the garden,
he takes care of the yard.
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She sips hot tea in the morning,
but he enjoys a cup of black coffee;
at dinner she likes wine,
but a cold beer for him is fine.
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She uses her left hand,
he is right-handed;
she is concrete first, creative next,
flip-flop for him-he’s creative then concrete.
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She questions everything,
but he goes with the flow;
she’ll worry if it will be okay,
and he says of course it will be!
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But in tandem for twenty-five years,
they have found the balance;
she is the yin,
he is the yang;
together forever,
until the end.
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 Left Bank

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The Best of…

I love the city of Pittsburgh. I had never been there until we went college shopping. Now Maddie happens to go to school there, so I get to visit more frequently.  Quite simply, we have the best of times in Pittsburgh and this past weekend was no exception.

the best city for shopping:
We kicked off our visit with a quick stop at the Pittsburgh Marathon Expo. SO.MUCH.RUNNING.GEAR! Matt bought a new pair of sneakers and a running shirt. Then it was off to Shady Side on Walnut St. Maddie had birthday money so we stopped at Pandora and then went to Lululemon to buy her some running shorts for our 1/2 marathon the next day. We topped it off our trip with some delicious gelato from Mercurio’s.

the best city for dining out:
Saturday evening we had a delightful dinner at LeMont. The atmosphere and the service were excellent. And the view! It was spectacular.  Matt ordered a crab cake, Maddie a fillet, and I had sea scallops.  Dessert was on the house since we were celebrating Maddie’s birthday so she couldn’t resist the chocolate mousse cake.

the best city for running a race:
Sunday was race day! You know we are a family of runners.  Isn’t there a saying that says the family that runs together stays together? Well, maybe I made that saying up! Anyway, this was our second year of racing in Pittsburgh. Last year Matt and I ran the marathon and and Maddie ran the half-marathon. For as hilly as Pittsburgh is, the course is surprising kind and somewhat non-hilly!  This year Maddie and I tackled the half-marathon. The weather was so temperamental on race day and it really played with my mental aspect of racing. We weren’t sure if it was going to rain, thunderstorm, have cold temperatures, or even be a warm day.  One thing we were pretty sure…the sun wasn’t going to shine…and it didn’t. It ended up being warm and drizzly. So much so, that I was actually overdressed for the race.

the best city for site-seeing:
After the race Matt and I headed to Mt. Washington to get a view of the city.  It was magnificent! We could see the finish line of the race at The Point, Duquesne University, and the whole way down to the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. Look at those skies though! Now you can see why the weather had me worked up and in a tizzy for the race.  Believe it or not, it only actually drizzled on and off. I can only imagine what our view could have been if the skies were clear and sunny.

the best city for casual dining:
We love to visit South Side Works for casual dining. Matt’s a fan of the Hofbrauhaus House. Me, not so much. But I did enjoy some post-race carb loading (if there is such a thing) and ordered the Hofbrauhaus pretzels and bier cheese for an appetizer. Lunch was a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant-nothing German about that! Matt had the Wurstplatte. Basically it was a sampling of Wursts. He was happy!
So today I’m celebrating the best of Pittsburgh, the time we have spent there, and the memories we have created.
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 Join in each Saturday for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres.
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triathlon

tri-ath-lon
[trīˈaTHlən]  noun
a long-distance race that has three parts: swimming, bicycling, and running
As in:  Brilliant sunshine
on April 17th
Matt swimming 300 yards,
the first leg
of the sprint triathlon,
gliding through the water
taking a mere 6 minutes,
59 seconds.
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As in: Crystal blue skies,
time to jump on the bike,
peddle, peddle, peddle,
as fast as you can,
as fast as you can!
riding 16 miles
for 54 minutes & 56 seconds.
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As in: The last leg of the race,
run, Matt, run!
up the hills,
around the corner,
down the hills.
run, run, running,
3.1 miles
in 26 minutes, 16 seconds.
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As in: Crossing the finish line,
cheering for you!
a personal record,
a personal best,
1 hour, 30 minutes, 17 seconds-
easy-peasy!
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Another Triathlon in the Books
triathlon #10,
number ten complete!
how can that be?
Harrisburg 2 times,
Hempfield 3 times,
Mt. Gretna,
Cambridge 2 times,
Syracuse,
and
Lake Placid
70.3
140.7
more than just numbers,
it’s about
training,
dedication,
sweat,
pain,
perseverance,
determination,
strength,
tenacity
and
mind over matter.
you.got.this!
you can do hard things,
a swim, a bike, a run,
a triatlon!
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triathlon buddies

 

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Mentor Text:

The Crossover 

by

Kwame Alexander

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Slice of Life

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