Thursday, January 12, 2017

Getting Back Into Blogging

As I've slowly started posting again, I've been thinking about what direction to take with this blog. Despite it's name, it's never purely been a running blog. While that's certainly a big part of it's history, it's also always been about the marathon of my life. In some ways, it's been an online journal.

Because I've never been anonymous, I'm always glad to admit that what you see is the censored version of my life that I'm willing to allow anyone on the internet to read about. That's probably going to stay true.

I've debated whether I should try to write about things that occurred over the last 12-15 months that I didn't really blog or if I should just pick up where I am now. Ultimately, I've decided I like the idea of some of the "big moments" of life living here, so I'm going to do some posts in the coming months that share about some of those moments that I never blogged about.

I'll be adding in current stuff, too, so hopefully it'll be fun to not know if you're getting a post about something that happened in 2015 or something that happened last weekend until you're here reading it! :)

I'll also be sharing here and there about getting back into shape as Adam and I tackle our goal to run one race a month. You can definitely expect a race report for each one of those, too!

I miss the sense of community I used to feel when I blogged all the time during the glory days of blogging. I'm nostalgic for those days, but I also know the times have changed. I hope that you'll connect with me if you ever want to chat about a post, ask a question, or just share something you think I'd want to know.

I promise pictures in the next few posts!

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 Race Goal

Longtime readers may recall when Adam and I set out at the beginning of 2014 to run a race every month of the year.

Well, we're doing it again folks!

The motivation behind the goal in 2014 was two-fold: 1) to stay in shape and 2) because we were living in Indiana temporarily and had nothing to do.

This time around, we're motivated for several reasons.
  1. We hardly worked out at all in 2016, and we can tell.
  2. Adam would like to lose weight, and I would like to tone back up a few spots that have gone a bit soft.
  3. We want to be healthier and feel better.
  4. We like having a goal and something to achieve. In 2016, that was new jobs and finishing grad school. In 2017, it will be running a race every month.
We've already signed up for two races.

January - Zoo Run Run 5K at the Nashville Zoo (we even renewed our membership to save $5 per race entry, knowing it'll be fun to take Connor to the zoo a few times this year)

February - Cupid's Chase 5K in Shelby Bottoms (looks to be a small race, and it was way cheaper than the Hot Chocolate Run also happening in Nashville that day)

We've managed to run a few times so far in the new year, and we definitely have a ways to go. But it feels good to be able to run again. I don't think I realized how much I missed it.

Running is never going to be for me what it was before Adam and I got together. I always joke that running was my boyfriend back then, but it's not really a joke. Running was a big part of my identity back then, and it's ultimately played a huge role in defining who I am even when I'm not running (because Life is a Marathon after all, right?) I ran so much and got faster back then because I had all the free time in the world. Many of my running buddies were also single, or might have been married but didn't have kids. It was no big deal to take several hours on a Saturday morning to get together for a long run and brunch.

I doubt I'll ever have that experience again, but I'm thankful that I did.

Now I'm running with Adam, and it's an investment not only in our health, but also in our relationship.

Don't get me wrong, I want to set some personal goals once I'm in better shape. I know he does, too. I'd like to help him break 30 minutes in the 5K distance this year, but I'd also like to push myself and see what might be possible for me. I don't know that PRs are on tap, but I might consider some "post-marriage" PRs. At one time, it was important to me to break 1:50 in the half and 4:00 in the full. I don't know that I'll ever pursue it again because I don't want to give up the time I'd need to train now that I have Adam and Connor. But I might set some time goals that I think are doable while balancing the rest of my life.

It's going to be a good year, and at minimum, we're going to get healthier by having a race on the calendar every month!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Race Report: The Middle Half 10.8.16

I ran one race in 2016, and to be honest, I maybe ran about a half mile of it.

Adam and I completed the 10th Annual Middle Half in Murfreesboro, TN on October 8, 2016. This was my 10th year to do it, and I was one of about 30 people who have completed it every year since it began in 2007. Races weren't high on the priority list this past year as we focused on new jobs and grad school, but I knew I wasn't going to miss my chance to keep my streak going. I finished my graduate program 2 weeks before the race, and Adam was finishing his 3 days after it. So I didn't feel too bad that we were walking this one.

Packet pickup went smoothly, and I received some fun goodies for being one of the 10 year participants including a nice Yeti cup with my name and the race logo and a nice backpack with the race logo embroidered on it. I also really liked the shirts this year.

Saturday morning, all of the streakers met at the start line for a group photo.

Adam and I then took a spot at the back of the pack, but we still started off jogging for the first little bit so we could enjoy the start line adrenaline. After that, we pretty much walked the whole rest of the way. It was kind of nice, but definitely different. We chatted about all sorts of odds and ends. We observed other people. We leap frogged back and forth with a few folks when we started jogging off and on the last few miles because I wanted to finish under 3:15. (Even when you're walking, you still have goals, ha.)

The weather was also perfect, so that helped us enjoy a nice 13.1 mile walk around the Boro.

We of course ran the last 200m to the finish line on the MTSU track and finished in about 3:08.

My half marathon PR is from this race (a 1:52:16 from 2010), but this day's race was my third slowest half (the other two being one in Disney World where I stopped often for character pictures and one in Memphis that I walked when I had a stress fracture.) Nonetheless, it was still a ton of fun, and it remains one of my favorite races to do. Obviously, since it's the only race I made an effort to do in 2016.

I was really proud to earn my 10th medal from this event and add it to the collection.

Adam and I celebrated my success that evening with dinner at our favorite mexican restaurant and some margaritas! (Never mind how exhausted I look in this photo. It's an indication of how 2016 wore me down, but the half marathon that day didn't help the bags under my eyes, haha.)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Closing Out 2016

When I first sat down to open up the ole blog this evening, I was pretty sure I hadn't blogged at all in 2016. It turns out I wrote one post a few days into the year and that was that. I remember now that when I wrote it that I intended to blog this year, even if not frequently. I didn't realize I wouldn't touch it. Oops.

I haven't abandoned the idea of this little space of the internet. In fact, I just paid my $10 to renew my domain all because I'm not ready to close up shop.

If you're still reading, say hi. I know it's not the cool thing to leave comments any more, but you're welcome to do so or find me on social media. I'm MarathonMelanie most everywhere I think!

But I'm not sure what blogging looks like for me down the road, other than I'd like to pop in again more often - even if it's not on a consistent schedule like I did years ago. I realize blogging has changed a great deal since then, but I still read a ton of blogs I started reading a decade ago and often wonder if I start posting again if I might not reconnect a bit with some online friends new and old.

I find myself thinking tonight that I think I didn't end up blogging in 2016 because it was a tough and busy year. I mentioned in that post almost a year ago that I had just started a new job, and it's truly taken this entire year to get settled and feel like I've found my groove. Not only did I start a new job, but Adam ended up changing jobs as well. It's a lot to learn a new role, new company, new people... so many nights we came home from work just flat out exhausted. (Meaning, we have ROCKED at getting our $10.94 per month out of Netflix this year.)

Oh yea - we were also both still in grad school. We are FINALLY finished, but it took until October so homework still consumed much of our year when we weren't at work. We've yet to receive our diplomas - they are conferred with today's date, so we can't wait to get them soon and frame/hang them up in our home! We also don't get to "graduate" until May since Trevecca only has one ceremony per year. Talk about delayed gratification. Nonetheless, the work is done, and we get to add the letters behind our name tomorrow so yay.

We did have some fun this year, too. It snowed in January when Connor was home, so we had a blast sledding in our neighborhood. We took Connor to Tybee Island for a few days as a little getaway with him this summer. Adam and I were able to take a few days to go to West Palm Beach to see two DMB shows, spend a day at the beach, and spend a day at Universal Studios (we love Harry Potter World). We also spent a weekend in Gatlinburg this fall and got to go to Dollywood for the first time ever. We went to some football games, including Connor's first UT game in Knoxville. Honestly, we had to work so much harder to get all the work and homework done to do anything fun that those occasions were a little less frequent than we would have liked.

My grandma passed away December 2, and that put a damper on this last month of the year. I know lots of people had their panties in a wad over the election (I felt sort of indifferent, to be honest), and everyone is in tizzy over all the celebrity deaths. I don't disagree that all of that has made me ready to wave goodbye to this year, but it's the personal stuff that really sealed the deal. Grandma was my last grandparent, and I was always closest to her. It's been more emotional for me than I expected.

One thing that did not happen in 2016 was any sort of investment in my health. Adam and I are just now started to feel like we've had time to recover from the insanity of being in grad school while working full-time (and investing in our marriage and in Connor). The last few months of school were brutal, and it just got too easy to eat something quick and unhealthy. Working out was not happening. If we had free time, we wanted to relax or sleep. When we finally did finish school, we really just needed some time to not feel like we had to "work" on anything.

But that time has ended. With the new year comes new intentions. We haven't had time to really think through our plans for the year yet, but we're going to sit down and sort it out soon. I don't like to think of it as resolutions. Rather, it's just time to focus on the things we want to focus on. 2016 was work and school. Now it's time to focus more on our health, our marriage, our son, and having fun/enjoying life as much as possible. We may work hard, but we also want to play hard.

Here's a few things we've toyed around with so far:

  • Running a race every month, like we did in 2014 - we're already signed up for January and February 5Ks
  • Finding ways to eat healthier that work for us
  • Finding ways to invest in our marriage and grow stronger together - more dates, reading books together, etc.
  • Getting plugged in at church - we did give this a valiant effort in 2016, but we lost steam when grad school got so intense
  • Taking Connor somewhere fun this summer
  • Going to Germany, Austria, Switzerland just the two of us this fall (or going to an all-inclusive resort if we can't swing Europe)
  • Paying off as much of our student loans as possible - we'd love to either totally pay them off in 2017 or pay enough that we finish up in early 2018
  • Finally hang things on the walls in our home - like DMB concert posters, wedding pictures, and everything else we've had sitting in a spare bedroom since we moved in here summer 2014
  • Start strategizing and budgeting for things we want to do in our home in the next few years after the student loans are repaid - like a new deck, kitchen remodel, bath remodel, hardwoods in carpeted areas, etc.
So good riddances to 2016. I'm toasting the new year tonight with both of my boys at a quiet evening at home (well, after we hit up our favorite mexican restaurant for dinner and some margaritas). After dinner, we're going to play video games and board games until time to pop the champagne and pour Connor a mocktail and countdown as we watch the ball drop. I wouldn't want to ring in the new year with anyone else this year. I love my boys, and I'm looking forward to seeing what awaits our family in 2017.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year, New Things

Happy New Year!

I hope anyone still out there reading had a lovely Christmas and New Year's. Mine was great, and maybe someday I'll post about it.

I actually considered shutting down this blog with year end. I really have not had the time to invest much in it, and I know sometimes it's ok to let go of something that once meant a lot to you. I still love this little blog, and I still read many other blogs on a regular basis. I ultimately decided that grad school is a big part of what keeps me from making it a priority, so I'm not ready to walk away right now. However, my posts may continue to be sporadic in 2016 as I finish up my degree.

In addition to being halfway done with my Master degree, I started a new job a couple of weeks ago! It's sort of been crazy. I wasn't really intending to change jobs, and then I started applying to some on a whim of sorts. Then I decided I would stay where I was working, but then a month later I decided it was time for a change. I'm not normally so all over the place, but I think I really had to process making this kind of a big change in my life.

I'm now working as the Director of Development for a nonprofit organization called Nurses for Newborns. I'm in the Nashville location (they are headquartered in St. Louis), and we serve six counties in middle Tennessee. It's a really great cause, and I'm excited to be learning more about it. My co-workers seem lovely, and I am going home with a tired brain as I am learning so much about what we do and my role each day. I worked a few days before the holidays, but then I was off for a week before coming back and really diving in this week.

I think this year is going to be one that presents a lot of changes and new things, but I may just be feeling that way because of changing jobs. It's a pretty big deal! My day-to-day routine is totally different now as I no longer work from home. I finish up school at the end of September. It seems forever away, but I know it'll be here before I know it and then I'll wonder what to do with my newfound free time!

I haven't really done much goal setting for the year, but I think some will naturally evolve as I live life. I still think about running another marathon, but I just don't think I'll have time to train for one until I'm totally done with school. I may set some other fitness goals instead this year.

One of these days I may write some posts about our trip in the fall to Disney World. Or our holidays. Or half a dozen other things I could potentially write about on here. Until then, take care!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Tis the Season for StitchFix #3!

I decided it was time to try another Stitch Fix! When I first looked at all of the items when I took them out of the box, I thought I might have gotten lucky enough to keep all five items. I really liked how they looked! (When you keep all five, you get a 25% discount on everything.)

While I really liked the style of everything, it turned out a few pieces didn't fit in my "I love this" category once I tried them on.

In this photo, the cardigan and crop pants are from StitchFix. I LOVED both of these, and I decided to keep them. Both items are versatile and can be worn with many other items - this is a big selling point for me. They also fit well. I have a really hard time finding pants, and these fit PERFECTLY.

I really liked this blue top, but I can't say I loved it. The knotted design in the front made it unique, but it also seemed a bit odd how it hit up high enough that I had to wear something else under it to poke out from underneath. If it had been a little less expensive or if I had decided to keep all four of the other items, I would have kept it.

I felt the same way about this dress as the blue top above. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I added the belt because the seam around the middle seemed naked. However, it ultimately seemed like it divided my body in an odd place. Even though I liked the detail of the top and the way the bottom looked (and it all fit perfectly), I just couldn't bring myself to pay $68 for something I didn't love. Like the blue top, if it had been less expensive or if I was getting all the other items, then I may have gotten it.

These pants. First of all, they were $174. I have marked my Style Profile that I like things as cheap as I can get, so I was shocked to see these. The stylist missed the mark there a bit as I will never pay that much for pants, even with 25% off and even if I LOVED them. Another big issue was that they were way too tight. They said they were super skinny, and this was definitely true. I like fitted pants, but not this fitted. I'm going to add some more extensive notes about not wanting super skinny pants or jeggings. The fit of the olive pants was perfect, so I'll note that I prefer that fit in the future.

All in all, it was fun to get the box and try everything on. I LOVE the sweater and pants I decided to keep, especially since they're so versatile.

If you want to try StitchFix, I'd love it if you used my referral link here. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Adam's 30th Birthday

Adam turned 30 back in September!

We have an agreement that we don't really do presents for birthdays, Christmas, etc. Neither of us really need any "stuff," and we prefer to enjoy a nice meal or find something fun to go do instead.  I wanted to find ways to make his 30th birthday special, and I think I accomplished it!

On his actual birthday, our family joined us to go out to eat and then open a few presents! Even though we don't exchange gifts, I still take Connor to pick out a few things for Daddy on special occasions.

Connor and I also made some red velvet cupcakes and found some candles to celebrate the big 3-0!

The weekend after Adam's birthday, I threw a small surprise party for him. I had coordinated with some of his closest friends to have a cookout at our house, and two of his friends got him out of the house for a bit so that everyone else could get there and help set up.

When he walked in, we did the typical "SURPRISE!" thing. He said he had no idea I had been up to anything, and he was definitely surprised. We grilled burgers, enjoyed birthday cake (red velvet again since that's his favorite, but this time I got one from Publix), and played cornhole. It was a really fun afternoon.

I still had one more surprise up my sleeve, but I wasn't able to schedule it until late October. It was worth the wait though! Adam is a big fan of Jars of Clay (and honestly, I am, too!). They're all here in Nashville, and I have a few friends who know one of the guys. I figured it never hurts to ask, so I reached out and asked if they would help me surprise Adam.

They were so unbelievably gracious and kind, and they really went above and beyond. I had hoped we could just grab coffee with one of the guys, but they offered to all join us for lunch. Adam was SO surprised, and I definitely earned Wife of the Year with this one. We had a great lunch with the guys and got to chat with them about their music, our memories of listening to it as teenagers, shows we've seen, and the non-profit they launched here in Nashville - Blood:Water.

They are the nicest guys, and it was really fun to get to surprise Adam with meeting them and getting to learn more about Blood:Water and their music.

Adam made my 30th really special a couple of years ago, so I was glad to get to plan a few fun surprises for his 30th!

Friday, November 13, 2015

DMB Weekend at The Gorge

Over Labor Day weekend (I'm very late in sharing, I know), Adam and I traveled out to WA state for Dave Matthews Band weekend at The Gorge. We took this trip back in 2012, and we decided we needed to make it happen again this year!

We flew out early Friday morning and landed in Seattle. From there, we hopped in the rental car to make the 3-hour drive to The Gorge. It ended up there was a lot of traffic, and we took some back roads to avoid the cluster on the interstate. It took a while, but the drive was pretty. We finally made it to The Gorge just in time to grab some food, find a spot, and see DMB take the stage for night one.

To say The Gorge is gorgeous is an understatement!

Night one was flat out cold. There was an incredibly strong wind, and toward the end of the show we moved to another spot along a fence to try to get out of it. We had also gone from the central time zone to the pacific time zone, and we were tired! We actually left before the encore (not like us) and made our way to our hotel. By the time we got to bed, it was 3am in the CST. We were pooped!

On Saturday, we slept in and then found a restaurant to grab some lunch in Moses Lake, WA where we were staying. We also hit up the WalMart to buy some cheap blankets and some glow sticks to take to the show that night. We made the 30 minute drive to George, WA (I'm not kidding) to visit the Cave B Winery. We found this place last time we were there, and it was fun to return and sample some wine and enjoy the view.

We got to the amphitheater earlier on Saturday and found a great spot for the show. We relaxed for a while and then enjoyed the openers. It was still a little chilly, but it was not as bad as the night before. We saw a terrific show and then made our way back to the hotel again.

On Sunday, we slept in again. It was a bit rainy that morning, so we went to Starbucks and hung out for a bit before making our way to The Gorge again. We stopped at the gas station for some beverages and snacks before heading to tailgate in the parking lot.

If you've never been to a DMB show (or if you don't like them), you probably don't understand how fun it is to sit in a field with a ton of other Dave fans before a concert. Everyone plays his music out of their cars, eats, drinks, laughs, and has a great time!

We still headed in a bit early so that we could find a great spot for night three.

The Sunday night show was pretty special. It was DMB's 50th show at The Gorge. It was also Adam's 25th DMB show he's seen, my 20th DMB show I've seen, and the 15th DMB show we've seen together. I thought that was pretty fun!

The show was awesome and did not disappoint. Our the course of all three nights, we did not hear a single song repeated.

We got back to our hotel and quickly crashed. We were only able to get about four hours of sleep before we had to be up and make the three hour drive back to the airport in Seattle to catch our flight home. The weekend went by way too fast, but we had a blast seeing our favorite band three nights in a row in this epic venue!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Race Report: The Middle Half

On Saturday, October 10th, Adam and I made our way to Murfreesboro to run in The Middle Half.

This was the 9th running of this race, and I've run in it all 9 years! This was the 2nd year that I convinced Adam to run it with me. We actually did better than we expected. You see, we took Connor to Disney World for fall break and had just gotten home the night before from a full week of theme parks. You might think we are crazy (and I suppose we are), but I really want to hit the 10-year streak for this race.

We were already tired when we woke up about 5am to make the drive over to Murfreesboro. It had been a little rainy, but it was a pleasant temperature. We honestly intended to walk most of the race. Quite frankly, our feet were pretty sore from walking 8-9 miles per day in Disney World!

We decided to run the first mile so that we could get a little distance out of the way. We soon realized we felt a lot better than we expected! We managed a really good run/walk for the first 9 miles or so, keeping just ahead of the 2:45 pacer. (As a note, Adam's PR is around 2:32 so we really felt like we were doing well to not be far behind his PR pace.)

Around mile 10, we saw her pass us by. Our walk breaks became a little more frequent, and the running was a bit less fun. Nonetheless, the miles kept ticking by and we finished in 2:52:10! Considering we didn't train (I don't think we've run 13 miles total in the last three months) AND we walked all over Disney during the week before, we were ecstatic!

It's crazy to think that my half marathon PR is at this race and is an entire hour faster. It's funny how the seasons of your life change things. I have no interest right now in PRs. Instead, I enjoy races for the joy of running... and for spending time doing something with Adam. We really challenged ourselves with this one, and we are proud of how we did!

One of the more recent perks of this race is that each runner can get one of their race photos for free! Adam and I picked out the ones we wanted earlier tonight.

As always, the race was terrific. It's a great course, and we always enjoy running around MTSU where we both went to college and met back in 2003. The aid stations are frequent and well-stocked, and there's always a fun spirit among the runners in this race.

I'm looking forward to running it in year 10 next year!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Recommended Book - One Thousand Wells by Jena Lee Nardella

Do you have a big, audacious goal for your life? No matter what it might be, you will find inspiration and encouragement by reading this book. Jena Lee Nardella shares her journey of founding Blood:Water together with the Grammy award winning band Jars of Clay. For those unfamiliar with Blood:Water, it is a nonprofit organization based in Nashville, TN working to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. Jena was fresh out of college when she began joining Jars of Clay on their tour bus each week to create the vision of the organization and get started with making it into a reality.

This book offers a refreshingly honest perspective of the ups and downs of dedicating one's life to such an audacious goal. Jena shares just as openly about her biggest fears as she does her biggest dreams (and about Jars of Clay and their love of karaoke). I found her voice conversational and felt as though reading her book was similar to what it might be like to sit down to coffee with her. 

Jena is about the same age as me. In many ways, it was nostalgic to read about her perspective of the evangelical Christianity of the late 90s and early 2000s. I identified with her as she questioned whether or not we were missing the point by listening to Christian music and wearing Christian-themed t-shirts. Should there not be so much more to our Christian walk? Not only that, but I felt like I could relate to her tone and thoughts processed throughout her story. I found it fascinating when I read a few posts on her blog after finishing this book that she and I share the same Myers-Briggs personality type (INFJ). No wonder why I could tell I liked her as I read!

The mission of Blood:Water reminds me very much of the old saying about how if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day... but if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. Jena and Jars of Clay envisioned and created an organization that doesn't just throw money at a problem in society. Instead, they focus on relationship-building. They teach people in Africa valuable skills that contribute to their own personal health and overall well-being. They don't just build wells and medical clinics - they build community.

As a supporter of Blood:Water, I found it fascinating to read Jena's perspective on how the organization built its foundation and grew from there over the last ten years. I've been a fan of Jars of Clay since the mid-90s, and after reading this book I'm an even bigger fan. More than that, I've realized that I deeply respect Jena. I read this book over the course of five or six evenings before going to bed, and I finished it yearning for more. I want to be a part of continuing this story. I don't want this to become another book that goes on the shelf. Instead, I want it to serve as a constant reminder to dream big, work hard to fulfill those dreams, and most importantly, to love God and love others with all that I have to offer.

I received a copy of this book for free as an advanced reader. My review is my honest opinion. You should buy this book!