632.6

I never thought I would ever be considered a runner. I will leave it at that because I’m sure the five people reading this know all about how I started running, how I hated running, how I found running buddies, and how I now wake up at an ungodly hour to pound the pavement. In fact, I calculated it all up this morning and I’ve run 632.6 miles this year. I’m not going to hit my goal of 1,000 miles this year, but that was lofty to begin with. 632.6 miles…that’s about as far as Disney is away from my apartment. Crazy, right?!

Anyway, yesterday I got home from work and run club to find a box sitting on the counter waiting for me. I was confused for a moment because I’ve had this vow to not online shop (that and the things I “accidentally” bought online this week aren’t due for another couple of days…). So what was in the box, you ask? This bad boy…errr….girl:

Trophy

The Danville Half-Marathon was my second half-marathon, and the first of three I had signed up for during October, November, and December. I did not have high expectations and had to be reminded by my mom many times that I was running my own race and it didn’t matter what other people were doing. That seems to be the constant battle of mine – I’m too competitive with others and not competitive enough with myself.

It was a really chilly October morning and I was one of two people I saw running with a camelbak on. I was nervous. And scared.  “Would I finish?” “Can I actually run 13.1 miles still?” “What if that race in February was just a fluke?” “I’m not cut out for this.” It’s amazing how much you can doubt yourself before the gun goes off.

Then the gun went off…or rather the guy leading the show yelled, “GO!” and off we went. People passed me. My hands were cold. My earbuds didn’t want to sit in my ears right. I was annoyed I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Then I remembered that I enjoy running and noticed that I enjoyed running through my hometown. I started trying to find the silver lining.

When I got to the first water station, I ran on by because I had my trusty CamelBak. At this point, I was almost 3 miles in and feeling good. By mile 6, I grabbed a GU but still didn’t slow down. At mile 8, I realized I had been running the whole thing with no walk breaks and I would be incredibly mad at myself if I stopped running to walk for a bit with 5 miles left to go.

Long story short, I ran all 13.1 miles to a personal record of 2:11:56 and placed 3rd in my age division. I took 25 minutes off my original half-marathon time from February, and I was seriously in awe of what you can do when you set your mind to it. Oh, and when you’re hydrated. 🙂

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ncma summer films 

The North Carolina Museum of Art is one of my favorite places in Raleigh. It’s like walking into a peaceful world in the middle of the hustle and bustle that is the capital city. I’ve been to visit the exhibits, to take photos, and to just wander around the trails for a little exercise. The trail is by far my favorite. You can walk, bike, and run for miles alongside people laying in fields reading and art sculptures scattered along the property. Last night, I discovered something even cooler. They show films outside in the amphitheater on summer evenings. 

 

feeling kate spade-esque in my play on patterns

 
Carly and I packed picnic snacks and headed out there last night to see To Kill a Mockingbird. Kudos to the NCMA for seeing an opportunity (like the release of the highly anticipated, highly debated Go Set a Watchman this week) and taking advantage of it. The place was packed – I was glad we got there early and claimed a good spot. The people watching was highly entertaining, and it wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be. And as Carly said, it would be a cool date spot for all ages. For $5, you really can’t find a better deal on a weekend night. 

They’re showing films through the rest of the summer – everything from The Theory of Everything to Big Hero 6 (for the kiddos) to the Sound of Music (maybe I can get my sister down here for that…). I know Carly and I have a date with Chris Pratt in September when they show Guardians of the Galaxy. #swoon 

arm party.

I lead a conflicting life. I really love my fitbit, but I really love having an arm party. What’s an arm party? Well, that would be a stack of bracelets that create joy every time you wave your hands erratically while talking. Oh? You don’t do that in every conversation? Me either…..

Anyway, I switched from a fitbit flex to a fitbit charge HR at Christmas. I was so excited for my new shiny fitbit, but I was bummed because I saw no point in wearing my fitbit and a watch. Furthermore, there was no way of disguising this thing as something other than a fitness tracker.

So after months of meticulously trying out new things, I have found a solution.

fitbit

 

That would be three parts Alex + Ani bracelets, one Is it or Isn’t it cable bracelet, an 8 year old Tiffany’s bracelet, and my newest addition: a silver and rose gold Pandora bracelet.

I feel like the mixture of metals with the sporty band of the fitbit is a good mix. Or is that just me?

Happy fitness tracking!

the woman i want to be.

There’s a quote by Diane von Furstenberg that goes, “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, but I knew the woman I wanted to become.” I think I stumbled upon that quote right as I was launched into the adult world after undergrad (thanks, Pinterest!). It struck a chord in me, and it’s always been in the back of mind. It doesn’t matter what I do career-wise or hobby-wise, as long as I become the woman I want to be. That woman is a blend of Audrey Hepburn, Kate Spade, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, my mom, and my grandmother to name a few. Someone who oozes joy  but understands there are bad things in life. Someone who sets high goals, but admits there are moments when you have to cut yourself some slack. Someone who walks (and works out) with grace, but knows it’s kind of fun to laugh at yourself when you fall down.

As I’ve been meandering through adulthood, trying to figure out how to cook the perfectly portioned meal for one, how to not be awkward in every day life, and how to pay my bills without complaining, I’ve slowly noticed a change. I feel myself becoming more confident, more joyful, more outgoing. I find myself needing less validation from my peers, and I’m learning how to make efficient decisions and not saying “maybe” when I really mean no.

But I didn’t realize this change was visible. Well, my friends, I think it is. 30LeahWhitt

 

The girl in that picture is exactly who I want to be. This picture was taken at 9:00 p.m. on a Thursday. That day consisted of getting up at 5:00 to go to the gym, working an eight hour day, stressing out about an event that was happening the next day, changing my outfit twice, laughing with my sister, and greeting 5 dozen women to an event that was all about them. But that day felt so full of things that I love to do. I mean, yes, Ashley  (of Story Photographers) is so incredibly talented it’s not even funny, but when she sent me that photo I felt beautiful. She’s taken my picture plenty of times before; family photos, my sister’s wedding, selfies for instagram, and with a boy….but that picture. That picture of me tied to nothing else made me feel whole. I felt like relieved because I finally feel like I match my interior (to paraphrase Elphaba in Wicked).

Every girl goes through an ugly duckling stage – but I have felt like I have had an identity crisis in my looks. First, my hair was too long and crazy and overwhelmed me. Then I learned I had to wear glasses every day, so I went with rimless ones so people wouldn’t immediately notice them. Then I cut all my hair off. Next, I decided to grow my hair out and learn how to use a curling wand. All of these little exterior changes never really made me feel like myself. But I think I have figured it out. My hair is never going to be perfect and I’m always going to feel naked without my glasses. I’m never going to master the smokey eye or remember to put lipstick on after I brush my teeth. But I am always going to remember that happy girls are the prettiest girls and I’m always going to know how to make an Old Navy dress look like Kate Spade. I’m going to know that my heart shines through more than I know, and that my brown eyes will captivate the right person.

So, thank you life (& Ashley), for showing me that sometimes it’s not about living the life society pushes on you. It’s about becoming the person you want to be.

sleepytime.

Friday nights for me are my nights to decompress. Lately, it seems like my week nights consist of an hour at the gym, working for Story Photographs, and/or meeting my run club for 3 miles and a drink. So Friday nights I like to do absolutely nothing. Case in point, tonight I came home, ate some dinner, set up the present I bought my apartment (an Amazon Fire Stick), and watched 3 episodes of Drunk History. I followed that up with putting freshly washed sheets on my bed and watching an episode of Parks & Rec. Clearly, I have adulthood figured out.

Anyway, I was hunkering down for the night when I got a message from my sister saying, “FYI I check your blog every day for new material.” Yeah…she’s at the beach with her best friend and she’s worried about this little space of mine on the interwebs. I promised to write something this weekend, then made a few notes of what I could write about and put my phone away.

Then it hit me. I should share my sleepytime playlist with you. You mean you don’t have a sleepytime playlist? Well…I cannot go to sleep without mine. I’m sure it’s completely psychological, but I can’t remember a time in recent history (college years to present day) that I have slept well without music in the background. Heck, I even slept with earbuds in at Disney and sleeping with earbuds in is not the most comfortable thing in the world. I blame my parents for this. I remember being little and knowing they were going to bed because I could hear the Bose radio fire up from my room and Delilah (of the “love someone tonight” fame) was playing love songs that sung my parents to sleep. The only exception to this was when we were at Myrtle Beach for our summer vacations and it was Leah, the country version of Delilah that was patching up the hearts of listeners who called in.

Without further adieu, I present to you the carefully curated sleepytime playlist:

https://open.spotify.com/user/l_whitt/playlist/7HRirAeTY1TFMPSxAgTKRX

(I will embed this code later. Spotify is being extremely difficult at the moment and my computer hates me. What I thought would take 20 minutes has now taken an hour and I’ve fallen asleep in the process twice…whoops).

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

I woke up this morning and couldn’t believe February was over. It seemed to have flown by in an instant, didn’t it? Between training for the race, hosting Galentine’s Day for my girlfriends, snow days, and traveling to Disney, it was in and out of here like a gust of wind.

For March, I want to set some realistic goals . Now that my half-marathon is over, I feel a little lost. All throughout that process, I had a date I was excited about. I was working towards that goal with every mile on the treadmill or adventure through a local park. Now that it’s over, I still want to run but I have a tugging at my soul to do something. Set another goal.

I was talking to my friend Carly last night and we both have Lara Casey’s Make It Happen on our bookshelves to read right now. I was sharing with her that I have tried to start reading it multiple times, but I just don’t know what I want to make happen. It’s like I have all of this energy built up and nothing to spend it on. While I was dating, I guess I put that energy towards being a great girlfriend. Now there’s a void, and the trouble with voids are that it takes so long to figure out what actually fills them. I know shopping feels great, but it won’t solve the problem. At the end of the day, I would just have all of this stuff and a super long credit card statement. Eating probably would feel like filling a void as well, and I’ll admit, I can be a bit of an emotional eater (pass the Papa John’s breadsticks please), but that wouldn’t help either.

So why am I sharing all of this? Because I’m hoping inspiration strikes. I hope that I will figure out what the tone of my blog will be. I read so many about fashion, beauty, and exercise, but I don’t really know what my “expertise” is. That’s where my March goals come into place. This month I want to wholeheart things instead of half-assing them. In the words of Ron Swanson:

So I am currently working on setting my March goals, what are yours?!

Goals

I was talking to my brother-in-law yesterday about how I have my goals for work this year pinned to the bulletin board above my desk so I could see them every day. Conversation ensued, and I wondered why I didn’t do the same thing for my personal goals. To remedy that, I made this lovely little image to frame and hang on the mini inspirational wall I’m creating in my bedroom.

2015 goals

 

A lot of my goals are intangible, or ideas, to help me become the person I want to be, but others are goals that I can meet and exceed if I tried really hard (hello, 1,000 miles) and things that I really need to make more time for (reading every day).  I submitted my little goal picture to PostalPix to be printed this morning, so I can start reminding myself to live on purpose and not out of habit this year. No one wants to live the same year 85 times and call it a life.

Week 8 – Who do we appreciate?!

I know I should have posted a running update yesterday, but I’m going to be honest with you. I didn’t succeed in Week 8 of my program. Last week was a bit of an uphill battle, and I just couldn’t force my body to run more than my mind was. I finished a couple of the runs, but the long run just didn’t happen. Long story short, there was a break up and a lot of work going on last week. I was being pulled in so many directions and I needed to focus on landing on my feet ready to start this week with bright eyes and a strong heart.

With that being said, I am back on track with 5 miles under my belt already this week (at a sub 11 minute mile pace, no less).

Here’s to new beginnings and kicking Mickey’s butt in 27 days!

beef jerky & dog treats.

Shane purchased a food dehydrator back before Christmas, and I’ve been itching to get my hands on it. However, with planned family visits, running, and general holiday chaos, I  decided I needed to wait until I had some spare brain power before I went sucking the moisture out of things.

Yesterday, I worked from home and decided to tackle my first batch of beef jerky. It’s amazing the kind of time you have when you don’t have to get ready for work, drive to work, drive home from work, or cook dinner. (Shane had to fend for himself with the leftovers in the fridge).

Our dehydrator is a Sedona Raw Food Dehydrator. It can operate fully with 9 trays, or only use half the machine for 4 trays. I thought that was kind of a nice feature since I was only using 3 trays for my jerky.

I spent a couple of minutes searching Pinterest for jerky recipes, but I couldn’t really find a winner. I decided to make my own marinade, use a flank steak that had been living in the freezer for a month or so, and go from there.

jerky

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. flank steak, cleaned of fat and sliced into thin strips
  • 2/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • .5 tablespoon honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

After cleaning the meat and slicing it in thin strips, I let it rest in a bowl of the marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge. If I had planned better, I would have soaked it over night. But I really wanted jerky last night, so I rushed it.

From there, I pulled the strips out onto paper towels and patted the meat dry to prevent any dripping in the machine. Then I laid the strips on the trays evenly and inserted them into the machine. I set it at 155*F for 6 hours.

The final product is amazing. So much better than store-bought jerky. I could never get over the weird sweet taste of the prepackaged stuff from convenience stores. I would always make myself eat it for a quick burst of protein after a run, but man, oh man. This homemade stuff if amazing.

Hunter also got a treat. I found this homemade peanut butter pumpkin dog treat recipe from Damn Delicious. Every single recipe I’ve tried from her website has been wonderful. Most of my go-to recipes are Damn Delicious recipes – one-pot garlic parmesan pasta, beef and broccoli, and the crab artichoke dip are my all-time favorites. 

Hunter absolutely loved the homemade treats and they were significantly cheaper than buying a small bag of beggin’ strips or meaty bones. I got about 22 gingerbread men (the only cookie cutter I had on hand) out of one batch of dough. I guessitimated a half of peanut butter pumpkin man is a serving size for him (he’s a 70 pound Husky), so almost 50 treats from about $4 of ingredients. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Happy Friday, y’all. If I get through my 9 mile run tomorrow, I get to go see Wicked! 😛

5 miler.

My goal this weekend was to break 5 miles during a single run, or at least that’s what I told my co-worker who inquired about my training at the end of last week. Saturday morning came and I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t feel like doing much of anything, then Shane started making a list of things we needed to get done. He needed to get a few things from Home Depot, we needed to finish his sister’s birthday present, then he made the comment “I should probably go to the gym – I know I would feel better”. Unfortunately for him, that statement meant that we were going to the gym if I had anything to do with it.

So off we went on our little mid-day gym date (after waiting an hour for his gym clothes to finish washing/drying – so high maintenance). Sixty minutes later, I had hit 5.02 miles and was profusely sweating. But I felt awesome!! After that, my knight in sweaty armor took me to look at paint at Home Depot then for a protein refuel at Chickfila. Who says romance is dead? 🙂

monster face(excuse me while I pick out my Halloween costume)

 

High points so far: FIVE MILES!!
Biggest challenge: Back to the mind game – it is a constant battle to keep myself running. The little lazy voice in the back of my head is all like “No, Leah, stop…you’re tired and need to rest.” Lazy ass.
Next goal to accomplish: Running a 6 miles in an hour!
Things I’m excited about: Learning some new stretches – all this forward motion takes a toll on you.