What I Wore {to the wedding!}

Happy Wednesday!  Happy last day of July! Can you believe it?

Last week, I asked for your help on deciding between two dresses that I thought about wearing to a wedding.  I couldn't decide.  Lots of people emailed me and ... the vote was evenly split!  Recall that I was deciding between these two dresses:  

Anthropologie Strapless Watercolor

Magenta Sheath Dress

I packed both of the dresses and ended up wearing ... neither!  At the last minute, I threw in my coral strapless silk dupioni dress that my mom made me and my Anthropologie beaded belt.  I did a fashion show for my friends, and the vote was unanimous: coral silk dress with beaded belt! And here I am.  [note:  My friends were in the picture, but I cropped them out because I don't like to put people's pix on the blog unless they give the OK].  

I love this dress! And the belt felt like it was meant for it.  The shoes are old and I've worn them with a ton of dresses. They're actually very comfy.  I wore my hair in a bun and simple gold jewelry.  

I liked my outfit for the rehearsal dinner too.  It was a recent purchase - the dress belonged to my daughter's friend's mom (got that?) and she posted it on an online consignment thing on Facebook.  It is a Loft dress and she was selling it for $15.  Wow!  I tried it on and loved it.  I paired it with my favorite j.crew bubble necklace.

There you go!  I feel like I punked out a little with the wedding outfit, but I truly thought it would be too warm to wear, so I ruled it out when I asked for advice on the blog.  I have another wedding in October and can't wait to put together something fun to wear.    

See you swoon,

IM ... OMG.

translation:  Ironman ... OMG.

That's right.  It's official.  On Friday, I registered for Ironman Lake Placid ("IMLP") 2014 and the Syracuse Half Ironman 2014.  Here's the confirming email:

Dear Shanna O'Neal,
Thank you! You are now registered for the Race Ready Package - 2014 IRONMAN Lake Placid/ IRONMAN 70.3 Syracuse - Race Ready Package - 2014 IRONMAN Lake Placid/ IRONMAN 70.3 Syracuse.

Congratulations! You have now completed the first step of the registration process for the Race Ready Package – 2014 IRONMAN Lake Placid / IRONMAN 70.3 Syracuse.  You have paid and reserved a spot for both events; however, your registration is not complete. You will receive two separate emails in order to complete your registration for both events. You will receive the registrations instructions for 2014 IRONMAN Lake Placid on Tuesday, July 30th by 5:00pm ET and you will receive the registration instructions for 2014 IRONMAN 70.3 Syracuse on Friday, August 2nd by 5pm ET

So it is on!  I'm training with a group of friends, which will make the seven months of training a lot more fun and a lot less lonely.  Training officially starts in January and the race is next July.  I expect the training will literally take over my life at some point, so it's inevitable that it will take over the blog, too.  Get used to the abbreviations "IM" and "IMLP"!  I hope you enjoy the ride next year!  

In the meantime, I am excited to hit all my remaining goals for 2013:  finish my first half ironman tri in early September, ride my first Century (i.e., 100 mile) bike ride in late September and then finish the Philly full marathon in under 4 hours. 

See you swoon,

Recap: Lake Placid Scouting/Training Weekend (July 2013)

You've heard of the Ironman triathlons, right?  If you have not, they're the perfectly, totally and completely sane triathlons that have a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 (i.e., marathon) run.  All in sequence.  All in one day.  Well, really 17 hours ... you have 17 hours to complete those three legs of the race to be considered an "Ironman."  Since I got into triathlon over a year ago, Ironman has seemed a little less crazy ... much like the marathon did when I started running.  It was not something I could do right then and there, but a goal -- a tough and yet at the same time, attainable goal.  I am training for a half-Ironman distance right now.  It's in the beginning of September and is an aggressive race with a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 (i.e., half marathon) run.  But the full Ironman ... that's what I dream about.

My friends, Amy and Bill, are also triathletes and distance runners.  We've trained together for a bunch of races and they, too, are interested in Ironman.  It's hard to write "ironman" - we joked that it is The Race That Shall Not Be Named. We've been talking for months about going for it, and decided that if we did, Ironman Lake Placid seemed like the best fit.  Lake Placid is the closest Ironman location to us, at a 6.5 hour drive.  It is also in the Adirondack Mountains ... hellloooooo hills.  But it seems that Irons are either hilly or hot.  We can train on hills.  We all hate the heat.  Hills it is.

Before we officially committed to register (which is, in itself, an entirely separate, complicated and competitive process -- it is kind of mind blowing that there is a huge market for such a punishing, difficult race, no?), we wanted to do a dry run of the course just to make sure it was (a) attainable and (b) something we actually wanted to do. So, last weekend, we hopped in the car and headed up to Lake Placid for a weekend of training.  It was the perfect time to go: the actual Ironman race was the weekend after, so we knew we'd be pretty much alone on the course as the actual Ironman athletes were tapering and the course would be set up.  Our plan was to do as follows: early Saturday morning bike one 56 mile loop of the bike course followed immediately by a bit of a run of the marathon course and on Sunday swim one 1.2 mile lap of the swim course in Mirror Lake.  We got up there around 6:00 pm and decided to drive the bike course, just so we knew what to expect. This was such a good idea - in fact, we pulled up my blogger friend Maria's blog who recapped the course in painstaking detail, and we literally read out loud her amazingly detailed summary/notes of the course as we drove it. So helpful! We checked into the hotel (Crowne Plaza in town - a hop skip from both Mirror Lake where the swim happens and the Olympic Oval where transition and the finish are) and then went to dinner. We should have researched restaurants because while the place we went to was great, their carb options (for me and Bill) and gluten-free options (for Amy) were a little lacking. We all had steak ... delicious, but not the best choice for a huge workout the next day. We were all checking the forecasts a ton b/c there was a threat of rain all day on Saturday, which would suck the big one for a long, hilly bike ride.

Saturday we woke up and the sky was cloudy but no rain. So at 6:30, we were outside and took off. I was excited, nervous, and ready. I was most nervous of the 6 mile descent into the town of Keene, which happens a few into the bike ride. It is a very long descent and very steep and with traffic on the roads and my fear of downhills, I was really having anxiety about this. You cannot brake the entire descent or you will burn out your brakes. UGH!  Here are my notes on the course.

one of the many descent/climb sections of the course
1. Climb out of town. The first part of the bike is the climb out of town. It's mostly flat and then about 2-3 miles in, you hit a long hill with no end in sight. It took awhile to get up, and it is pretty tough that early in the ride. Knowing we had 50+ miles ahead of us, we all took it easy.  I used my small chain and just went easy and slow. I was prepared for this hill after reading Maria's recap. 

2. Descent into Keene. Oy. I prepared for this sucker by watching a ton of You Tube videos on the descent where people strapped video cameras to their handlebars. LOL. You know you're at the descent when you see a sign with a truck going off a cliff and a "TRUCKS USE LOW GEAR" on it.  Like this.  

there are three main sections of the descent to Keene, each marked with one or more of these suckers.
So I see the sign and I brace myself.  I remind myself that I am in control.  I am safe.  It is sometimes better to let your bike go than brake.  There was a nice headwind on that descent, which slowed us down a little. And there was literally no traffic. The descent was fine and fast.  Now that I know what to expect, I will go even faster next time. Before I knew it, I was at the bottom of the hill, albeit with hands that were in the shape of claws after death-gripping my handlebars for 6 miles. 

3. Keene to Jay. OMG I loved this part. It is a flat, if a bit downhill, long ride from the town of Keene to the town of Jay. It was just breathtaking. Stunning views of mountains and water and I kept thinking, "I am so thankful to be alive and so so thankful that I can do what I am doing."  We also had the benefit of a tailwind, which helped.   

4. Out and back from Jay. As much as I liked the Keene to Jay segment, I disliked this one! It wasn't very pretty, and I knew it was just a 5 mile out, 5 mile in way to get a few miles. I also knew that a big section of climbs was a waiting for us, and I just wanted to get to it.

5. Rollers on Route 86. Maria warned about these rolling hills and she was right. She called them "stairstep rollers" and said that no climb is particularly killer, but the cumulative effect of hill after hill after hill starts to hurt.  She was spot-on.  There were a bunch of descents, and unlike Keene, I let my bike soar down them. It was a nice break. Before I knew it, we were at the next part of the course.

gorgeous.  if I'm going to be on a bike for 112 miles, this is the place I want to be.
6. Hasleton out and back. This one was easy - just a mile up Hasleton Road and a mile back. This was a nothing part, except for the scary dog that came a little too close to my bike for my liking. It was pretty flat, except the turn-around, which was a hill and challenging.

7. Final Climbs into Town. These are the famous five hills on the last 5 miles of the bike and they are tough. You are essentially climbing from mile 40 until the end, but the last five are concentrated in the last 3 or so miles. First you do Little Cherry which is just a roller, and then Big Cherry, which is longer (they're called Cherries b/c they are before and after the Cherry Patch Pond). Then there are the three Bear climbs: Mama Bear (the worst, IMO), which is a long long long climb. It felt like it took forever to get on top of Mama; then Baby Bear (hardly even a hill - just a little tiny bump) and then Papa, which looks worse than he is - very steep but short. Once you're on top of Papa, you're essentially done! There is a golf course at the top and people were so friendly up there and I was high knowing I did it!

Back to the hotel we went (um, up a ridiculously punishing steep hill from the street to the hotel), racked our bikes, changed into running gear and hit the run.  We decided to run for 40 minutes.  This is where my lack of fueling on the bike bit me in the butt. Whew. What a hard run. My legs were fine, but I was just beat. And that is because I did not eat nearly 1/4 of what I should have on the bike. My tank was empty. And I know better!  You're supposed to treat your bike like a "bike buffet" and basically just eat and drink as much as possible (within reason of course) so your body is ready for your run.  I did not do this.  And it showed on the run.  But I pushed through and managed 10 minute mile pace for 40 minutes. My watch had us hit 4 miles exactly at the Olympic Oval where the IM race ends! Omen! Yeah!!  Did I mention there are ski jumps from the 1980 Olympics that are visible from the run and bike course?  So cool. And maybe a little creepy.

On Sunday, we woke up early and went down to Mirror Lake, which was literally down the hill from our hotel. It's all set up for Ironman - the buoys are in the water. We got on our wetsuits and did a loop of the course. The water is stunning. STUNNING! Crystal clear, warm ... just beautiful. 

this is how Mirror Lake looked last weekend

this is how Mirror Lake looks on race day
Unfortunately, I started way too fast, and between that, my wetsuit (which always makes my heart rate zoom) and just the whole "OMG I AM SWIMMING IN THE IRONMAN LAKE!!!", it took me a while to settle into a good rhythm. I just floated on my back, bobbed up and down, breathed in and out, relaxed and gave myself permission to stop if I wanted to. I did not want to and finally got into it. My second half of the loop was terrific. I finished the 1.2 miles in 45 minutes. If I hadn't freaked out, it easily would have been 40. Lesson learned: slow down in the beginning even when training. 

So, the weekend was a success.  We had a blast and walked away feeling great and strong.  Registration is on Monday, and you can bet if we are able to get in (and decide to do so), I will let you know.  

In the meantime, the 2013 Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) is on Sunday.  I want to wish my coworker Christina and her husband Jerre, my bloggie friends Maria and Brian and my recent acquaintance Carolyn all the best of luck.  I've been following their training for months and am completely invested in their races.  

See you swoon,

What Should I Wear?

Here's a twist on the What I Wore posts -- I need some help deciding what to wear to a wedding this weekend.  It's a good problem to have.  I tried on a bunch of fancy dresses from my closet, and these two seem to be the best of the lot.  The wedding is in a church and reception in a nice reception hall in the Chicagoland area.  So, think formal and fancy but not black tie level fancy.  

Enough jibber jabber -- here are the outfits.  Please excuse my lack of make-up and shoes.  I will do my hair nicely for the wedding too.  And I will wear jewelry.  And I will dance. 

Option A:  Strapless Anthropologie Dress

I bought this dress years ago at Anthropologie.  I've worn it to several weddings, but not among the crowd that will be at this one.  I love the print and fit.  The fabric is silk and it's very comfortable.  

Option B:  Magenta Sheath with Floral Belt

OK, full disclosure: this dress is from the Elmira, New York Target.  Jamie and I found it when we attended a wedding a few years ago.  It's got a bit of a sheen to it, so it can be dressed up (or worn to work like in this What I Wore post).  I added an old j.crew fabric flower belt to it.

So ... what do you think?  Would you go with Option A or Option B?  I need to pack tomorrow evening, so please weigh in in the comments soon! Thanks!

See you swoon,

McTeaserson, Teaser.

That's me.  And that's this post today.

I'm sorry I've been MIA lately.  I have a bunch of posts almost ready to go, and I had one on open water swimming absolutely ready to go, but the cord that connects my scanner to the computer is broken, so I cannot upload pictures.  And those pictures are of me in a wetsuit, which I'm sure you know I am totally eager to share and which will change your life forever.  So the post waits until I get the cable.

In any event, I've been really busy lately: work, trips, kids, training (with an emphasis on the last two).  I promise - promise - to post more soon.  And in the spirits of my McTeaserson subject, here is a teaser of what's coming up on the blog this week and thereafter:
  • my recap of my scouting training weekend up in Lake Placid where my friends and I biked, ran and swam parts of the Ironman course to see if we are really going to do it;
  • a post on my newbie tips for open water swimming (which I had to put into practice during the above scouting/training weekend;
  • a wedding attire fashion show and request for help (that one will go live either tomorrow or Wednesday).  I need your help deciding what to wear to a wedding this coming weekend;
  • another way I wore my favorite Nantucket Red skirt;
  • triathlon v. road race showdown, and my thoughts on who takes the win in different categories;
  • summer running must-haves;
  • and of course, what I wore.
So stay tuned!  I am here and will be blogging again this week.  In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a baby giraffe.  Because who doesn't love them?

See you swoon ... I promise,

What I Wore {post 16}

Hello!  I hope your Wednesday is going well.  I'm going to apologize in advance for the lack of home-related posts on the blog lately (and for the foreseeable future).  I'm in the thick of triathlon training and Summer weekend plans, so my time to complete home stuff is really at a minimum.  I have a few projects I can probably squeeze in from time to time, but for the most part, I'm just not going to be around the house to work on them!  But I'll be working and training ... so the "what I wore" posts and triathlon posts will keep the blog humming right along.  Up today is a round-up of my recent Summer outfits. 

* Summery White Top & Army Green Wrap Skirt *

This is one of my favorite easy-breezy Summer outfits.  The top is from TJ Maxx and is one of those light white cotton tops with crochet detailing.  It's very sheer and comfy, so I wear a camisole underneath.  The faux wrap skirt in army green is a Mossimo skirt from Target from a few years ago.   

* Floral Blouse & Jeans *

I wore this on a casual Friday at work.  I wore my Gap boyfriend jeans rolled up with the floral blouse I got at Target.  I decided to unbutton it and wear a black tank under it.  I paired the whole thing with my orange flat sandals from Target.  Looking at the pictures now, I'm not crazy about the jeans.  This outfit would have been better with white shorts or a skirt. Ah ... outfit hindsight.  

* Bright Blue Cotton Dress *

This dress is about three years old from Target and I'm pretty sure it was about $15 when I bought it.  It is way too casual for work, so I wore it out to dinner and shopping with my friend Heather.  It was insanely hot the day we met so I wanted something light and easy.  Its empire waist, so it's very tricky (read: I don't want to look pregnant in it).  I wore an emerald green tank under it because the neckline is  very deep v-neck.  I wore my leather slides and my hair in a knot.  

Ahhh Summer.  I hope you're staying cool these days!  What do you wear when the temperature is unbearable?

See you swoon,

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

... bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with string, these are a few of my favorite things. Oh The Sound of Music.  I love that movie.  I grew up watching it and wanted to be either Maria (who wasn't obsessed with her wedding gown and that train!!), Liesel (I seriously coveted her pink dress in which she sang and danced to "Sixteen Going On Seventeen") and Louisa (she just struck me as the sibling who didn't take anyone's crap).  In any event, that is a very long introduction to today's post: a few of my favorite things.  And I am sorry if that song is now stuck in your head.

Olay CC Cream

I've been hearing the buzz about BB creams and how terrific they are, so I ran out and tried one.  I liked it a lot, but I ended up breaking out a bit, so I consulted my friend Toya, who knows her make-up, and she suggested a CC cream might be a better fit for me. I don't really know the difference between BB and CC, but the Olay CC Cream is amazing. It's lightweight, makes my complexion look smooth and even and has spf 15.  It's perfect for Summer!

Honey Stinger Energy Chews: Cherry Cola Flavor

I use a lot of energy chews when I'm on my bike.  Any distance longer than an hour and especially if I'm doing a run immediately after the ride, I need to make sure to eat often so my energy level stays up. I love the Honey Stinger chews - they're my absolute favorite.  And i just discovered their cherry cola chews.  Um, these suckers taste like Cherry Coke.  They are so delicious.  

Kenra Platinum Shaping Creme

My hair is naturally wavy, so when I blow it dry, I need a smoothing cream to prevent frizzy hair.  I absolutely love the Kenra Platinum Shaping Creme (with the number 7 on it).  A little dab goes a long way and it makes my hair smooth and soft but does not weigh it down.  I just order online.  

Etsy Site: Edor

I recently discovered the Edor site on Etsy.  She makes gorgeous, delicate and simple jewelry, which is totally my style.  I've ordered a silver disc and a gold circle necklace from her and have been so pleased with them.  She makes stunning, understated jewelry that's terrific quality.  

Bag Balm

I am kind of obsessed with Bag Balm.  You've probably seen it a million times on the bottom shelf at the drug store: it's in the green tin.  I use it everywhere: lips, elbows, feet, and to relieve sunburn pain and chafing from my runs.  I also swear by it for keeping feet smooth: I just smooth a ton of it on my feet at bedtime and in the morning, my feet are buttery soft. 

Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Nail Polish

I have to paint my nails each week or I have a tendency to bite them.  Which is to say, I definitely bite them.  It is a horrible habit I've had since I was a kid. But if my nails are painted, I don't do it.  So I take some time each Sunday and paint my nails.  I recently discovered the Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure polish (it was on sale at my CVS).  I.  Love.  It.  It actually looks like a salon manicure when it dries!  And it doesn't chip.  I prefer it to any of my other polishes, and most of them are at least twice the price.  I have it in pink, but I'm definitely going to buy more colors. 

Truffle Tremor Cheese

Oh cheese.  Oh truffles.  OMG.  I like to buy a really yummy cheese once a week that I nibble on when I get home from work or when I'm making dinner.  My absolute favorite is the Cypress Grove Truffle Tremor goat cheese.  It's got a bunch of different textures and flavors and the kick of truffle sets it over the edge from amazing to FREAKING UNREAL.  I'm sorry for the all caps, but I have to shout.  It's not cheap, but it is worth every goat-cheese-and-truffle-buying penny.   I don't bother with crackers. I just cut it up and eat from a plate.  And then I lick the plate.  Oh ... even the picture makes me want it.   

Dark & Stormy Cocktail

I'm loving the Dark & Stormy cocktail!  It's made with black seal rum (or any dark rum) and ginger beer.  I had some black seal rum on hand from the Winter ... I added a shot of it to some black coffee on some cold Winter days.  So when I saw this recipe, even though I don't like ginger beer at all, I decided to give it a whirl.  It's sooo good.  Here's the recipe:

* 2 oz dark rum (I use Black Seal)
* 3 oz ginger beer
* lime

Fill highball glass with ice.  Pour rum over ice.  Fill glass with ginger beer.  Squeeze lime. Stir.  Enjoy.

There you have it!  A round-up of a bunch of things I'm loving lately.  What about you?  Got anything you'd like to share? 

See you swoon,

note: none of the above companies or products have comped us for today's post.  

Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

No blogging today -- just fun in the sun and cocktails with some very good friends.  Have a terrific holiday weekend!

See you swoon,

What I Wore {part 15}

Good morning!  I'm really excited for the 4th of July.  This year, I'm headed home to my parents' house for some low key fun - barbecuing, a bike ride with my mom, swimming in the pool, and lots and lots of running.  Then I'm hanging out with two of my friends from high school.  And then I'll head back home and spend the rest of the weekend playing with my little ones.  Yay for long holiday Summer weekends!  To kick off the holiday weekend, here are some recent outfits I put together.

* Floral Cami, Grey Pants, White Cardigan *

The centerpiece of this outfit is the pretty floral cami that I got last Spring from Forever 21.  I love that pattern, but it is way too bare to wear alone to the office. So I paired it with a lightweight white cardigan from the Gap and my dark grey trousers.  I wore my patent red pumps (Ann Taylor outlet) for a pop of color.  

* Purple Dress, Nude Bow Peep-Toe Heels *

Talk about bargain outfits ... I think this entire outfit was $45.  I got the purple dress last year from Old Navy, on sale for $15.  I wore my nude bow peep-toe heels, which I scored on clearance for $10.  They're finally broken in and feel wonderful.  I dressed up the outfit with my long necklace from the j.crew outlet, which was around $20 or so.  

* Printed Top & Black Pants *

This was an easy outfit to just throw together. I wore my black pants with a printed top I found at New York & Co. last year.  Whenever I see printed tops that I like (that are in my budget) I try to snatch them up.  Printed tops with solid pants really take an outfit from ho-hum to polished.  

That does it for today - over and out!  Have a great day and a terrific holiday!   

See you swoon,

Before and After: Kitchen Chairs

I am telling you - I decided over Memorial Day weekend that it was time to get down and dirty with some painting projects and I made good.  In that weekend, I painted the dining room mirror, my IKEA chest for my bedroom and my four IKEA chairs for my kitchen.  

I will put it on record right here, right now: I hate painting chairs.  I really do.  They are so annoying!  And of course, in my case, I was taking my chairs from black to white.  I knew I was in for at least three coats of paint and one coat of primer.  I was right. But first, let's go back to the beginning.

When I moved into my place last Spring, I bought a nice wooden table for my eat-in kitchen (from IKEA) and four Stefan chairs.  I've had these chairs before, and chances are, you have too.  They're very inexpensive and the size is pretty great for a small space.  The only issues and there are two: (1) they only had black and (2) they are really uncomfortable to sit on.  But I knew I could change that with a little paint, foam and fabric, so I went for the bargain $20 chairs.   You can see the chairs and table in this old pic.

So I got down to business.  I took the seats off the chairs (because I would upholster them) and used one coat of Zinsser oil based primer and three coats of Valspar paint and primer in one (in cream delight, semi gloss finish) on top.  Plus two coats of Polycrilic.  The frames were looking good.  And then it was time to upholster them. 

I went to Joann's and bought some foam for the seats.  Then cut the foam to size, used batting and some fabric I found at Fabric.com and ... voila!

I debated going with the yellow.  I tried out some other more neutral fabric I had in my stash, but ultimately I loved the little pop of color under the table.  This means I'll definitely paint the little wooden stepstool grey instead of yellow though!  

I love the transformation in this space.  It's light, bright and happy:  exactly what a kitchen should be!

See you swoon,