Friday Five – Five Things I’m Thankful For

Many thanks to everybody for all of your words of support and encouragement after Wednesday’s car accident.  Being involved in a five car pile up and then spending the evening at urgent care is definitely not how I expected the rest of my Wednesday to go when I left work.  But you have to roll with the punches and handle what you’re faced with.

car accident

To everybody, please, pay attention when you’re driving.  One person’s lack of attention while driving has resulted in four other people and their families having to suffer.

Obviously, the accident will have an impact on my training.  How great of an impact is yet to be determined, but I’ll face each day as they come.  As more time has passed, my pain has increased, which the doctor expected would happen.  While I’m eager to get moving, I don’t want to aggravate my injury either.

Wednesday’s car accident is a reminder of just how precious life is.  You never know what will happen when.  And while most people often take time around Thanksgiving to reflect on what they’re most thankful for (you can see my 2013 Thanksgiving post here and my 2014 post here), Wednesday’s accident has left me reflecting on all of the wonderful people who are a part of my life, and the things that I’m fortunate to have.

1.  My loving husband.  He’s been taking great care of me and has taken on more household responsibilities so that I can rest.

Christmas Eve

2.  My family.  While our family isn’t close by, their love and constant checking in on me most certainly makes me feel loved.


3.  My friends.  Several friends offered have selflessly offered to provide whatever assistance Preston and I have needed.

4.  My coworkers.  Many of them have been very supportive and providing extra help to me at school.

5.  Cell phones.  While this might seem silly, without one I wouldn’t have been able to easily get ahold of Preston or my family at the time of the accident.  My cell phone has also made it easy to be in constant contact with family, friends, the insurance company, the list goes on.

QOTD: What are you most thankful for?

As always, thank you to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting the weekly Friday Five Link Up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well!


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Broccoli Bacon Cheese Soup

Its been quite awhile since I shared a recipe with all of you, let alone tried out a new recipe.  Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, traveling, and life just being generally busy, its been difficult to find the time.  Preston and I have been making a lot of our old favorites, which when life is crazy busy isn’t a bad thing.  Its definitely better than less healthy alternatives.

Tuesday night brought cold, snow, and icy conditions to the DC area.  It was the perfect night to have soup and salad for dinner.  After successfully making our first homemade soup a couple of times now, I was excited to give the soup thing another try.  Our inspiration for this soup was a recipe that I found in my new SparkPeople cookbook.

broccoli bacon cheese soup


5 slices of low sodium bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 large head of broccoli, cut into small pieces (about 4 cups) – for convenience I used frozen broccoli
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
4 cups of chicken broth – I used low sodium
12 oz evaporated milk – I used fat free
1 1/4 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Sea salt and pepper to taste


1.  In a large pot, melt the butter.  Add the bacon and cook thoroughly, about 5 minutes.
2.  Add the onion and cook until onions are tender, about 3 minutes.
3.  Add the broccoli, potatoes, and chicken broth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

24.  Stir in the evaporated milk.
5.  Slowly add the cheese, one or two handfuls at a time, and stirring completely to melt the cheese.  Once all cheese has been added, add additional salt and pepper per taste preferences.
6.  Cook until all cheese has thoroughly melted, about 5 minutes.

QOTD: What is your go to comfort food on a cold, winter night?

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Special K Brownies Review

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Special K.

While I try to eat healthy most of the time, there are occasions where I want to splurge on something sweet.  The trouble comes in maintaining moderation and not overindulging.

The Special K Brownies are a perfect solution for treating yourself to a small sweet treat.  At only 80 calories per brownie, these brownies offer just a couple of bites of sweetness without completely filling you up.  They are currently available in two flavors: Divine Fudge and Heavenly Caramel.

special k brownies

When I first received the Special K Snack Bars and Brownies, I didn’t hesitate at all to try the snack bars out.  As I shared two weeks ago, I absolutely love them.  But because my body has difficulty digesting large amounts of sugar, I was a bit hesitant to try the brownies out.  However, with each brownie only having 6-7 grams of sugar (depending on the flavor), I didn’t find the brownies to be overly sweet.  These delicious brownies are made with real cocoa, chocolate or caramel chips, and drizzled in chocolate fudge on top.  While being low in calories and sugar, taste is definitely not sacrificed.

These brownies are only 80 calories and only 6-7 grams of sugar, but guess who has been enjoying them more than I have?  My cookie, brownie, ice cream loving husband.  He’s eaten the majority of the supply that Special K sent us and has absolutely loved them!

hubby approved

For more information about the bars as well as other Special K products, be sure to visit Special K online.  You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

QOTD: What is your favorite sweet treat?

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Shamrock Half Marathon Training Log – Week 10

Just when I thought Shamrock training was going really well (almost too well, maybe that thought caused me to jinx myself), I faced a huge setback this past week.  Remember last February when I wound up in the hospital?  No, I wasn’t in the hospital this past week, but I started experiencing many of the same symptoms that caused me to wind up there almost a year ago (February 28th marks one year), just not to the same degree.

Wednesday evening I had planned on doing yoga, but I had a horrible headache when I got home from work.  The essays that I had planned to grade continued to sit on my dining room table, and my yoga mat stayed rolled up.  I rested on the couch, hoping to sleep it off.

But Thursday morning I woke up still in pain.  This wasn’t one of my usual headaches or migraines, and I started to worry that I was headed down a bad path.  I’ve been under an immense amount of stress, mostly work related, and my long days haven’t been helping.  Ironic that I just wrote my “Day in the Life” post last week, huh?

I drove to work, and to make a long story short, had to have Preston come pick me up mid morning.  Neither he, an Assistant Principal, or I thought I was in a safe enough condition to drive.  Thankfully, I was able to get an emergency appointment with my doctor, and we met with him mid-afternoon.  He prescribed me with high dose pain meds and anti-inflammatory to help provide me with relief, and strict orders to figure out how to reduce the stress that I’m currently facing.  Part of his prescription includes orders to exercise in order to help relieve the stress that I’m under.  My only limitation is that, just like last February, my left hand is very weak again (its the same side of the body where all of my head pain is), and since I couldn’t even open the refrigerator with my left hand on Friday, upper body weight training is on hold for the time being.

This past week wasn’t the week I expected to have, but I’m thankful that I was able to notice the signs and avoid what could have been a worse situation.  In the coming weeks, I’ll be working through how to reduce my stress in an effort to hopefully minimize my headaches.  And although I took several unplanned rest days, I’m also thankful that I felt up to still completing my long run on Sunday, albeit at a slower pace than my recent runs have been at.

I'm so glad that Preston ran with me yesterday.  I'm not sure I would have been able to do it without him by my side.

I’m so glad that Preston ran with me yesterday. I’m not sure I would have been able to do it without him by my side.

Mon 1/19 – 1.64 mile walk with Riley

Tues 1/20 – 3.30 mile run on the treadmill, 0.41 mile cool down walk, abs

Wed 1/21 – Rest day

Thurs 1/22 – Rest day

Fri 1/23 – Rest day

Sat 1/24 – 2.19 mile walk with Riley

Sun 1/25 – 9.53 mile run around the neighborhood, 0.19 mile cool down walk

Total Weekly Mileage – 17.26 miles (5.35 miles more than week 9)

Total Shamrock Training Mileage – 126.05 miles

QOTD: How do you manage stress?

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Friday Five – January 23rd – Five Memories from High School

This week’s Friday Five theme with the DC Triefecta is “Five Things About Me.”  I’ve written several posts previously with the “About Me” (you can find some of them here, here, and here), so I thought I’d narrow this week’s topic in a bit more and share five memories from high school.  Because who doesn’t look back on their high school days and love every minute of it? :)

1.  The majority of my close friends were all in Marching Band and Color Guard.  Yes, I was a band groupie, and when I wasn’t performing with the dance team at football and basketball games I could usually be found sitting in the stands with the band.  Steak ‘n’ Shake was our post football and basketball game hangout spot.  If you have never gotten a shake at Steak ‘n’ Shake you’re missing out!  (And yes, we went to Steak ‘n’ Shake after our high school reunion back in November!)

My friends Heather and BreAnne and I at a Friday night football game

My friends Heather and BreAnne and I at a Friday night football game

2.  I was on my high school’s Yearbook staff sophomore-senior years of high school, and was an editor junior and senior years.  When I wasn’t busy with academics or my rigorous dance schedule I could usually be found in the Yearbook lab.  And I may or may not have made arrangements to have study hall added to my schedule for my last semester of high school just so that I could spend more time in the Yearbook lab.

3.  My favorite classes in high school were my Social Studies classes.  (Anybody shocked given my profession?)  I have fond memories of participating in mock debates in my International Relations class and late nights baking cookies from scratch with my cookie shop group for my Economics class.

4.  In Illinois, every student is required to take PE classes all four years of high school.  I was so excited junior and senior year when a brand new class called Dance Fitness was offered.  While it didn’t fit into my schedule during junior year (there were very few sections of the class and I had to make the choice between taking upper level core classes or Dance Fitness), I was so excited when it did fit into my schedule senior year.  I loved being able to spend my daily PE time learning ballroom dances, doing yoga, or doing the occasional Tae Bo.

5.  Junior Prom was by far my most favorite of the high school dances that I attended.  My date was my best friend from high school, and although I was super sick with a nasty cold, I had a blast that night.  I always remind my students that who you go to a dance with can make or break your dance experience, and despite being sick (sick enough that I had to go home sick from school the day before Prom), Junior Prom was one of the best nights of my high school experience.

Jon and I at our Junior Prom

Jon and I at our Junior Prom

QOTD: What is one of your favorite memories from high school?

As always, thank you to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting the weekly Friday Five Link Up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well!


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A Day in the Life

Several of you have often asked what a typical day is like for me, especially when you hear that I get up at 4:30 in the morning.  To help answer that question, I thought I’d walk you through a typical weekday.  Here’s a look into what my day was like on Tuesday.a day in the life

4:30 am – Alarm goes off, check e-mail and Social Media, including our school district’s Facebook and Twitter pages to make sure that we actually have school today (its Winter and it’s the DC area, you never know around here)

5:00 am – Shower, make my Shakeology and lunch, check one last time just to be sure that we have school (and last week it was a good thing I was checking multiple times since one day I discovered that school was canceled as I was about to put my coat on and walk out the door)

6:15 am – Out the door, on my way to school

6:45 am – Arrive at school, check work e-mail, respond to as many e-mails as I can, drink the rest of my shake, check in with coworkers

7:00 am – Two of my students drop by my classroom with questions

7:10 am – Make my tea, last chance to use the bathroom before school starts

7:20 am – Bell rings, first class starts

8:55 am – First class ends, homeroom starts (and I actually get to sit down for 30 minutes!)

9:30 am – Homeroom ends, second class starts

10:20 am – Second class ends, time to grab my lunch and head to the workroom for lunch with the other Social Studies teachers

10:50 am – Lunch ends, third class starts

12:30 pm – Third class ends, my planning period starts, check my work e-mail, respond to parents’ and students’ questions

1:15 pm – Head to the copier and find a long line (no surprise here)

1:40 pm– Finally finish copying one class set of a midterm, I’m now five minutes late to my team planning meeting (thankfully, my Assistant Principal and team leader understand)

2:05 pm – School ends for the day, I head back to my classroom to find that the teacher that uses my classroom during the last period of the day has allowed her students to leave the room a huge mess that I now get to clean up (unfortunately, this is a usual occurrence)

2:10 pm – A couple of students stop by for remediation and extra help, one of my students from last year stops by offering to help file papers or help with grading (she’s in need of Honors Society hours)

3:30 pm – I’m finally leaving school only 50 minutes after my contract time has ended

3:50 pm – Stop at the post office on my way home from school

4:05 pm – Arrive home, greet Riley, let him out, and spend some time with him on the couch while we watch a little TV

4:30 pm – Eat a snack, check my e-mail and Social Media, work on my blog

5:30 pm – Preston arrives home from work, we get ready to head to the gym

6:15 pm – Arrive at the gym

7:45 pm – Arrive back home from the gym, we both shower and make dinner

8:30 pm – Dinner is finally on the table

9:00 pm – Work on finishing my blog post for the next day, check e-mail and Social Media, watch some of the State of the Union but I’ve been awake way too long to give the speech my undivided attention, I glance over at the pile of essays on my dining room table that need to be graded but find that I’m starting to fall asleep on the couch

10:20 pm – Head to bed

QOTD: What time do you get up in the morning?  Do you workout by yourself or wait for your significant other to arrive home so that you can workout together?

Congrats to Mindy Bobe, the winner of my Gorton’s Realistic Resolution giveaway!  Be sure to check your e-mail so that you can receive your prize!

Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged | 23 Comments

Five Months Into Shakeology

Back in August I started drinking Shakeology.  In September I shared my one month reflection, in which I noted that one of the biggest changes that drinking Shakeology helped facilitate was removing Diet Coke from my diet.  As somebody who used to depend on drinking several Diet Cokes in order to make it through the day, including having one for breakfast, it continues to amaze both myself and those who are close to me that I’ve been able to cut my dependence on soda.

five months of shakeology

Since I started drinking Shakeology five months ago I have had a total of two Diet Cokes: one on Back to School Night in September when I was at school for more than 15 hours and another one day at Disney World when I didn’t have access to tea, my regular daily caffeine source.  (We were at Hollywood Studios that day and the new Starbucks hasn’t opened there yet.)  I’d say two sodas in five months is pretty good, especially considering how much of it I used to drink.

When I placed my first Shakeology order, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I was in search of supplementing my healthy diet in order to facilitate loosing a couple of pounds and in hopes of increasing my energy level during the day.  I had no idea how much changing my breakfast morning routine would impact my life though.

Over the past five months, the biggest changes haven’t come in terms of the pounds that I’ve lost and the inches that I have shed from my body.  Those accomplishments are certainly worth celebrating.  And while I’ve reached my goal weight and am proud to have had to buy new pairs of pants because several of my old pairs are now too big, the amount of energy that I have each day is worth so much more.

As somebody who used to drink multiple cans of Diet Coke just to make it through the day, the combination of one shake and one cup of tea provides me with more than enough energy to get through busy days.  I used to have to come home from work and take a nap before going to the gym, or I’d decide to not go at all because of how tired I was after a long day at school.  Now its extremely rare that I find myself in need of a nap after work.  Cutting soda from my diet has also resulted in me increasing the amount of water I drink each day.

With the exception of the days of races or long runs when I need more carbs, I’ve gone very few days without drinking a morning shake.  Not only do I love the taste of Shakeology (my favorite flavor is Strawberry), I also love how easy Shakeology is to travel with.  I just have to pack my shaker cup and my bag of Shakeology and I’m good to go.  Not only was I able to make my shakes each morning while we were at Disney World last month, courtesy of the milk and fruit available as part of the continental breakfast at the hotel that we stayed at, but I was even able to make my shake at the airport after going through security.  Just one carton of milk and a banana was all I needed to buy before boarding the plane and drinking breakfast on our 6am flight to Orlando.

Its safe to say that Shakeology has had a very positive impact on my life.  And it doesn’t hurt that Preston has commented numerous times about how much slimmer I look, especially in my thighs.  Its always nice when you’re not the only one seeing how changes that you’ve made to your diet have affected both your energy level and your physical appearance.

QOTD: Have you used Shakeology?  What changes have you been able to make to your lifestyle with the use of Shakeology or any other nutritional supplement?

Disclosure: I am not a Beachbody coach, and paid for my own supply of Shakeology.  In no way am I affiliated with Team Beachbody.  All opinions are my own.

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Slowly Making Progress

If you a frequent reader of this blog, or you follow me on Social Media, then you’re probably well aware of the progress that I’ve been making this training cycle.  I haven’t kept the increasing of my running speed a secret whatsoever.  My average speed for each of my runs has increased dramatically.  Since late fall, for the majority of my weekday runs (which are usually from 3-3.5 miles in length), I’ve been averaging a sub 10:00 min/mile.  For the majority of my long runs, I’ve been averaging a sub 11:00 min/mile.  My recent training has me hopeful that I’ll be able to run Shamrock at a sub 11:00 min/mile.  My current half marathon PR was set with me running an 11:27 min/mile pace.

Stats from last weekend's 8 mile run.  Not only was my average pace below 10:00 min/mile, but I successfully ran negative splits!

My stats from last weekend’s 8 mile run. Not only was my average pace below 10:00 min/mile, but I successfully ran negative splits!

But my running speed is not the only area of my running where I’ve recently made improvements.

My endurance has also seen vast improvements over the past year.  A year ago I might, on a very good day, be able to run a 5k on the treadmill without any walking.  That was a very infrequent occurrence though.  Now, its rare that I walk at all when completing one of my weekday runs on the treadmill.  Its only been when I’m facing a difficult run that I walk at all during a weekday run.

My endurance has also carried over to my long runs as well.  I’ve been able to greatly increase my run-walk intervals over the past three months.  I completed Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach last August with 2 minute run/1 minute walk intervals for the first six miles and 3 minute run/1 minutewalk intervals for last six miles of the race.  I completed the Army Ten Miler back in October with a combination of 2:15/0:45 and 3:15/0:45 intervals.  For the majority of my long runs during my Shamrock training, I’ve been maintaining 4:15 run/0:45 walk intervals, and the only run where I really felt tired at the end was my eight mile run last weekend.  I’m hoping to maintain these long run intervals, but even dropping down to 3:15/0:45 intervals would be an improvement from my last two major races.

Mentally, I’ve also been becoming stronger.  Last winter, I was very quick to head straight to the treadmill on cold and snowy days.  Many of my runs, both short and long, while training for my first half marathon last winter, were completed on the treadmill.  This winter, I’m proud to report that all but one of my long runs have been completed outside.  I’ve bundled up, embraced the cold, and am learning to not use the cold as an excuse.

I’ve also become mentally stronger in terms of how I approach difficult runs.  If I’m having a difficult training day, I try to talk myself through to the end of my run, instead of talking myself out of completing a run.  A year ago, I tended to do the opposite if I was having a difficult day.

Is there still room for me to make more progress?  Absolutely.  But am I proud of the progress that I’ve recently made, especially since I started my Shamrock training back in November?  You bet!

QOTD: What progress have you recently made with your training?

Be sure to enter my Gorton’s Realistic Resolution giveaway!  It ends at midnight tonight.

Posted in Milestones, Motivation, Training | Tagged , , | 38 Comments

Shamrock Half Marathon Training Log – Week 9

How am I really already halfway through my Shamrock Half Marathon training?  It feels like I just started training for this race!  Its hard to believe how quickly time is flying by, and how soon my fourth half marathon will be here.

The other thing that’s hard to believe is how much faster I’m getting with my running.  I had some stellar runs this week!  On Thursday, I was only 17 seconds shy of completing a 5k run in under 30 minutes.  And on Saturday I averaged a sub 10:00 min/mile pace during my 4 mile run, and also ran my fastest mile to date!

week 9 milestones

I haven’t given much thought yet to what my goal finish time is for Shamrock, but I’m optimistic that if my runs continue to go as well as they have been lately and that I’ll be able to strive for a pretty lofty goal on race day.

Mon 1/12 – abs

Tues 1/13 – 3.10 mile run on the treadmill, 0.50 mile cool down walk, kettlebell squat swings, abs, shoulders, arms

Wed 1/14 – Rest day

Thurs 1/15 – 3.10 mile run on the treadmill, 0.36 mile cool down walk, legs, glutes, arms

Fri 1/16 – Rest day

Sat 1/17 – 4.02 mile run on the trail, 0.83 mile cool down walk

Sun 1/18 – 30 minutes of yoga

Total Weekly Mileage – 11.91 miles (7.73 miles less than week 8)

Total Shamrock Training Mileage – 108.79 miles

QOTD: What recent running milestones have you reached?

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Friday Five – January 16th

Happy Friday everybody!  Its been another crazy week, with yet another Snow Day.  Since going back to work from Winter Break, we have yet to have a full week of school.  With MLK Day on Monday and then midterms starting next Thursday, we now won’t have a regular, full week of school until the second week of February.  (We have a couple of teacher workdays towards the end of the month.)  While I love short weeks, they’re also exhausting!

Although it was a crazy week, it was also filled with lots of excitement!  And I have lots to look forward to this weekend as well.

1.  We’re only halfway through the month and I’m already more than halfway towards reaching my monthly mileage goal.  My goal this month is to run, walk, and elliptical a total of 70 miles, and I’ve already logged 38.8 miles.

2.  My hard work with my training is really starting to pay off.  It feels like I was just recently celebrating running a sub-31 minute 5k, and now I’m getting closer to running a sub-30 minute 5k.

During last night's treadmill run I was able to average a 9:45 min/mile pace!

During last night’s treadmill run I was able to average a 9:45 min/mile pace!

3.  One of my best friends is in town this weekend visiting friends and family.  We’ve been friends since eighth grade, and although we now live on opposite coasts, it feels like we haven’t been apart the few occasions each year that we get to see each other.  I can’t wait to have dinner with him tonight!

Jon and I at our high school reunion back in November

Jon and I at our high school reunion back in November

4.  This weekend is a cut back week with my long run.  Although I was on a runner’s high after last week’s 8 mile run, I’m also looking forward to giving my body a short break and only running 4 miles this weekend.

5.  I’m looking forward to enjoying another race weekend with Preston!  When I registered for Shamrock back in October, Preston hadn’t decided whether or not he wanted to run this particular race.  He’s been a bit burnt out with running and has cut back significantly on his running since the fall.  Yesterday, he made the decision to run the Shamrock Half Marathon.  I’m very much looking forward to sharing another race weekend experience with him.

QOTD: What exciting things are going on in your life right now?

As always, thank you to the DC Trifecta Bloggers (Courtney from Eat Pray Run DC, Mar from Mar on the Run, and Cynthia from You Signed Up For What?!) for hosting the weekly Friday Five Link Up.  Be sure to check out their posts as well!


Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged | 26 Comments