It’s been a while…

I haven’t written a post in quite a while. There has been plenty going on worth writing about, but I have been happy to just embrace the experiences for myself instead of rehashing each and every one in its own blog post. Now that the year is (WAY too quickly) winding down, I felt like catching up the blog would be fun. So here’s what I’ve been up to during the summer and fall:

I tried some new things in the running/racing department through the summer. Coming out of training for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, I was surprised to find that I wasn’t remotely sick of running. But I knew my mind and body needed a break from strenuous training. So I ran a few races for fun including my first trail race (a 7k in 37:35), a local half marathon (1:44:39) my first 8k (36:54), and a 5k (25:07). I learned that I am certainly not as strong at short distances as I am at half marathons and marathons. The 8k and 5k were both in some pretty ridiculously hot temperatures. But even if the temperatures had been ideal I doubt the results would have been impressive. The feeling of trying to sustain faster paces for a shorter race proved to be pretty foreign to my body and I could never maintain my pace in the later miles.

'Please just kill me now...'

‘Please just kill me now…’

I ran a new half marathon PR. Several of my Bull City Track Club teammates were traveling to race the Lehigh Valley Marathon in Pennsylvania in September. I jumped at the chance to make the trip with them and race the half marathon, knowing that an early fall race would be my best chance to train for a good performance since the later fall months were booked solid with wedding and honeymoon plans. I ended up running a really solid race. I perfectly executed negative splits, starting around a 7:37 average pace at mile 1 and ticking down to 7:25 average pace by the time I reached the finish line (my last mile was 6:51, which surprised the hell out of me). The end result was a shiny new half marathon PR of 1:37:11 and I couldn’t have been happier.

A new PR and third in my age group. And beer, of course.

A new PR and third in my age group. And beer, of course.

I was accepted into the Boston Marathon! No explanation is really necessary except to say that, after over two years of very hard work, it felt so incredible to get that acceptance email.

 

I helped pace somebody for the first time. Last week I ran the Richmond Half Marathon alongside my friend Amelia. It was her second half marathon and she was hoping to improve her time from last year of 1:46:30 to somewhere around 1:45. I had a great time running with her and even felt like I was a helpful motivator at a few points along the way. We crossed the finish line together in 1:43:12 – an incredible new PR for Amelia!

 

Most exciting and hands down most importantly… On October 24th, a perfectly beautiful day in Wilmington, NC, Jeremy and I got married! Part of me wants to go into great detail about each and every part of that weekend, but every single time I try to do that the words that come out don’t seem to adequately capture our happiness and gratitude. The best I can do is say that we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend celebrating with all of our friends and family. The ceremony and reception were fun, stress free, and fit us completely perfectly. At the end of it all, we both agreed that we felt at peace, like everything was exactly how it should be now that we were officially husband and wife.

Announcement

Reception

We topped off a great wedding weekend with 8 days of complete relaxation in Jamaica. We enjoyed plenty of quality time together unplugged from email and social media, ate all the food, drank all the adult beverages, and simply enjoyed the view.

Jamaica

The view from our room. I definitely still miss it.

It’s good to be back on the blog after an extended hiatus. Now that I’m somewhat caught up, maybe I can do a better job of making this into a regular thing again!

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California favorites

Last week Jeremy and I traveled out to California with two of our good friends, Jolly and Vaughan. Our main excuse for flying across the country was for our college friend Jess’s wedding. But, in my opinion, you don’t spend hundreds of dollars and two full days of your life traveling to just stay in California for a few days and then come home. So the four of us made a full on vacation out of it and were there for a week. I’m back, readjusted to East Coast time, and have returned to work. **Sigh** In hopes of keeping my vacation mindset lingering on for as long as possible, I’ll rehash some highlights here on the blog to anyone (or no one) who will listen.

The wedding

Although we flew into San Francisco and spent the better part of our time there, Jess and Patrick’s wedding was North in Mendocino. The area was beautiful, the wedding was perfect (and made me cry for the first time at any wedding ever), and the reception was a blast.

People cheering and napkin spinning for the introduction of the newlyweds.

People cheering and napkin spinning for the introduction of the newlyweds.

The beer

Somehow it became our unofficial vacation mission to visit as many of the local area breweries/taprooms as possible. We ended up going to five in total: Lagunitas, Thirsty Bear, Rogue (based in Oregon but has its only public house outside of Oregon in San Francisco), 21st Amendment, and Speakeasy. I couldn’t tell you which one was my favorite because I loved all of them. But the IPAs at Rogue and 21st Amendment may have been the top contenders.

Brewery 2

Brewery

The wine

Jeez, Anna. Drink much? But I’m not ashamed that two of the items on this list are drinking related because there were just too many good local beers and wines to try. We had thought about stopping in the typical Sonoma/Napa wine country hot spots on the way from Mendocino to San Francisco. But, as it turned out, we didn’t even have to get off our route. The road from Mendocino passed right through Anderson Valley, which is teaming with wineries. We stopped at two for tastings and the second stop, Brutocao Cellars, was my favorite.

Vineyard

The running

I didn’t get tons of miles in during the trip, but the ones that I did were beautiful and memorable. Our first full day in San Francisco, Jeremy and I found our way to Bernal Heights Park, where we got a taste of some seriously rough hills and 360 degree views of the city. And later in the trip I got to check off my one and only must-do activity for the trip and ran across the Golden Gate Bridge. Something about doing that just felt epic. I’m not sure how else to describe it.

Run

Run 2

The company

Traveling can be stressful and exhausting. If you are traveling with the wrong people you can spend more time wanting to kill each other than actually enjoying the trip. I am fortunate to have a wonderful fiance and friends who I can share rooms, bathrooms, cars, and 18 hour travel days with and still be friends with after it all when we get back home.

Our vacation family portrait among the redwoods.

Our vacation family portrait among the redwoods.

Where did you travel for your most recent vacation? What was the highlight of the trip?

#Winning Wednesday 12

Hope you’re all having a good week so far. Mine has been crazy, but mostly in a good way. The only kind of post that makes sense to do when things are crazy is a list so it’s an opportune time for a #Winning Wednesday if you ask me…

1. It’s official!

Jeremy and I took a trip to Wilmington last weekend where we met up with my parents and took several venue tours. We fell in love with a place that is perfect, fits us well, and is so unique. So as of this week we officially have a venue and a date. October 24, 2015 is the best day ever… and it hasn’t even happened yet!

2. Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato

Have you tried this stuff yet? If you haven’t, I am pretty sure you need to stop whatever you are doing and go buy some right now. If you’re feeling ambitious you can do what I did and polish off the whole container by yourself in under 48 hours. Challenge accepted?

Gelato

3. Orange is the New Black

I finished the second season last night. I’m obsessed. Please tell me that we don’t have to wait as long for season 3 as we did for season 2!

4. My new desk buddy

You can laugh at me all you want to. I don’t care. Jeremy got me this awesome figure of Daenarys from Game of Thrones and she chills on my desk all day and makes me happy.

GOT

5. It’s almost July!?

July has crept up on me and I am completely okay with it – it is going to be a fun month. Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate and we are going to three weddings in July, one of which we are taking a week-long vacation out to California for. Good times ahead for sure.

What is making you happy this week? What are you looking forward to next month?

 

#Winning Wednesday 7

Another week, another Wednesday. And it’s my first Wednesday back at work after a lengthy vacation so a #Winning Wednesday is definitely in order to keep things upbeat.

1. Great blog news

I got an email just after the New Year letting me know that I’ve been accepted as a Girls Gone Sporty Ambassador. I am really grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this ambassador program and to connect with so many more health and fitness bloggers.

GGS

2. I’m a bridesmaid again!

I already mentioned that one of my best friends from high school, Anna, got engaged recently. Well, her and another one of my high school girlfriends were together on New Years Eve and were sending me all sorts of ridiculous texts and pictures. Then Anna sent me an overly serious sounding text that read, “Hey, can I ask you a question?” She had me thinking she was going to ask me something like “Why are you the worst friend ever?” Not really, but I didn’t quite know what to expect. And this is the picture I received…

Bridesmaid

3. Girls on the Run volunteering is a go

I went to my first Girls on the Run 5k planning committee meeting tonight. I missed the first one because I trusted my GPS, got lost, and couldn’t find the office where the meeting was supposed to be. Anyway, tonight’s meeting got me really excited about helping to plan this great event. I’m also excited to spread the word about it starting right now.

For any of my readers who live in the Triangle area of North Carolina, the Girls on the Run 5k is on April 12th in Durham. While a big part of the event is to celebrate the kids who have participated in Girls on the Run and their achievements, the race is open to the whole community as a celebration of running for everyone. I hope everyone will think about running this race and, as an added incentive, you can use promo code GOTRNY5k to get $10 off your registration price. You can chose whether or not you want to be a timed participant when you register.

GOTR

A slightly shorter list for today, but that’s just because they are extra fantastic wins.

What’s making you smile this Wednesday?

A Mount Airy wedding weekend

I meant to talk a little more about my friend’s wedding that we went to a few weeks ago but just didn’t get around to it. Even though it’s late, I’m going to tell you about it now anyways because I just need to gush about how terrific it was.

Jolly and I have been close friends since freshman year of college. You have probably heard me refer to her both as ‘Jolly’ and ‘Lauren’ on this blog. Really, I call her Jolly – her former last name. But in the midst of her engagement and wedding happenings I found myself surrounded by her family a lot more frequently and kind of felt weird calling her Jolly when there were like four other Jollys in the room. So I was all sorts of mixed up for a while there. But from now on I am going back to calling her Jolly full-time. Apologies for the tangent, just had to clear that up.

Anyway, I was thrilled when Vaughan proposed to Jolly because they are perfect together and he makes her so happy. And I was equally thrilled that Jolly asked me to be one of her bridesmaids. This was the first wedding I have ever been in and it was so special to be a part of the whole event.

Jolly and Vaughan got married in Mt. Airy, NC on a huge farm property that they found online and rented from the owner for the weekend. Although Mt. Airy isn’t necessarily the most happening place in the state of North Carolina (unless you are into Andy Griffith themed tourist attractions… in which case this place is like your promised land), but it sure is beautiful during the change of seasons.

A view of Pilot Mountain on our way into Mt. Airy.

A view of Pilot Mountain on our way into Mt. Airy.

Jeremy and I made the easy two hour trip on Friday afternoon after I finished up my long run (20 miles, a trip in and of itself) and made it to our hotel in plenty of time for me to get ready for the rehearsal. My college roommate and fellow bridesmaid Lucy and I MAY have been an hour late to the rehearsal because we drove 15 miles in the wrong direction to another road with the exact same name as the wedding venue. Worst. Bridesmaids. Ever. But really, who names two roads the exact same thing in a town that small?

The rehearsal dinner was at Old North State Winery in downtown Mt. Airy. Our party was in the cellar, where they make and bottle the wine and keep all of the barrels, which I thought was pretty cool. The food was absolutely DELICIOUS – feta and spinach stuffed chicken with asparagus, potatoes, and some sort of cold squash and zucchini salad. Dessert was made by Vaughan’s mom, who makes amazing and creative cakes.

It's a 6-pack cake! With their initials on the bottles and everything.

It’s a 6-pack cake! With their initials on the bottles and everything.

On the morning of, Jolly’s step-mom and her sister (who own the salon near Raleigh that I go to) did all of the bridesmaids’ and bride’s hair. We started getting ready early because the bridal party and the groom and all his groomsmen each took a separate round of pictures a few hours before the ceremony. Before we knew it, it was nearly time to start the main event. Let me tell you, Jolly looked GORGEOUS and was so calm and collected the whole day. This girl makes getting married look easy.

The beautiful bride. Just sippin' a mimosa and waiting to get married... no big deal.

The beautiful bride. Just sippin’ a mimosa and waiting to get married… no big deal.

Lucy and I waiting for the ceremony to start.

Lucy and I waiting for the ceremony to start.

The ceremony was perfect. I honestly loved every bit of it from the songs that they chose, to their vows, down to the way the groomsmens’ bow ties matched her wedding colors, coral and mustard.

Chalkboard

The reception was equally, if not more impressive because I knew that Jolly and Vaughan had made almost every bit of it from scratch. Vaughan and his cousin brewed all of the beer that was served. There were like 8 different options and they were so good. Jolly made the centerpieces and other decorations herself because she is just that crafty. Vaughan even made the dance floor and bar. All of it was ridiculously impressive.

Jeremy

Not to mention ridiculously fun. So many of Jeremy and I’s friends were at the wedding and the bride and grooms’ families are both light-hearted and fun so it was easy to have a good time. There was a lot of eating (the cake was lavender & lemon flavored and I may have eaten a piece the size of my head), a lot of drinking yummy homemade beer, and of course, perhaps as a direct result of number 2, there was A LOT of dancing.

The first dance.

The first dance.

Candid of Jeremy and I dancing.

Candid of Jeremy and I dancing.

My two college besties (and yes, we are "the three best friends that anyone could have").

My two college besties (and yes, we are “the three best friends that anyone could have”).

Jeremy and I couldn’t have been happier to be a part of Jolly and Vaughan’s big day. They are a beautiful couple whose relationship is definitely one worth celebrating.

Where and when was the last wedding you went to?