Animal Weekend

Who's an animal?  This girl:

hi i'm crazy
Not a party animal, but a training animal.  I am in full on training mode for two major triathlons this season: the first is May 5 in the next town over from my hometown: the Devilman Triathlon and the big one, the Quakerman, is September 7.  Devilman is a "Half-Lite" distance (meaning it's in between an Olympic and a Half-Ironman) and has a .8 mile swim (in a questionable lake that is apparently muddy, gross and in which people have seen snakes), a 39 mile bike and a 9 mile run.  Quakerman is a Half Ironman, which is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and half marathon.  Both challenging races indeed.  However, Quakerman is so much more challenging because it is a very hilly course: the bike and the run have some doozies.  So this summer I will be training on hills.  Training on hills a lot.

In any event, the weekend of April 13-14, I decided to see how hard I could train my body.  Here's what I did:

Saturday 4/13:  ran 9 miles with my friend at 9 min/mile pace in the morning.  Then later in the afternoon, swam a mile in 40 minutes.  

Sunday 4/14:  started off the day by running a local 5K race.  Finished 7th overall (!) and 2nd in my age group.  I was thrilled.  The course was very hilly, so I was excited about my 26:28 time and 8:32 pace.  I really wanted to finish the race in under 24 minutes, but there was no way with those hills!  Then I met my friend for a 35 mile bike ride.  While he was throwing my bike on the car, I ran back on the trail and did a 5 mile run (this is called a "brick" workout).  I ran at 8:44 pace, which I am psyched about.

Monday 4/15:  ran 4 miles at a great pace before work.

RARRRRRRRR. Animal.  I'll probably share my training throughout the summer.  It is probably interesting to no one but me ... but it's my blog and I'll tri if I want to.  

What I Wore {part vii}

Hello and happy Hump Day!  Want to see some outfits I threw together? These are all skirts and dresses.

* Ann Taylor Outlet Print Dress *

I love love love love love this dress.  I found it at the Ann Taylor outlet last year and as soon as I put it on, I scooped it up.  It was a great price - I think around $39.  It's flattering, comfortable and just plain great.  I don't wear many accessories with it: the print is enough.  And hello - it is time for a haircut.  

* Magenta Dress & Turquoise Bubble Necklace *

Jamie will recognize this dress: we found it together in 2011.  We were at, of all places, the Elmira New York Target.  We were there for a wedding years ago and both of us found amazing dresses at unbelievable prices (pretty sure my dress was $24).  We wore them to the wedding that night.  I have since had it tailored to fit even better.  It was a hot April day so I wore it with a turquoise bubble necklace I got from the j.crew outlet (ha, also with Jamie!).  Hair went into a low side pony and that was that.  

* Pink Sweater, Blue Buttondown and Taupe Pencil Skirt *

This is such a cheater outfit.  I wore it to a deposition that I defended.  You're technically supposed to wear a suit, but it was a Friday and I was defending and ... well, sometimes women can get away with a fancy skirt outfit.  Anyway.  I wore my favorite taupe pencil skirt (Limited) with a blue buttondown blouse (New York & Co.) and an old pink v-neck sweater (Banana).  It needed polish, so I grabbed my skinny coral belt from New York & Co.  

Have a terrific day!

See you swoon,

Progress on New Years Resolutions

I love how the blog makes me accountable for stuff I say I am going to do. That is part of the reason why I post my new years resolutions here on the blog.  I thought I'd update you with how things are going!  Here is the post with the round-up of what I wanted to do to my home in 2013.

1.  Paint the Entire House.

I wanted to paint the entire living space.  Right now, the house is painted a very cool white with blue undertones, which I absolutely hate.  I wanted to warm it up with a cream or a warm white in a landlord-friendly color that also made the place look warmer and cozier.

Progress:  Nada.  I've done nothing.  But there is a reason!  I'm thinking about buying my place.  If I do, two of the first things I would do is get rid of the popcorn ceiling and rip up that carpet and replace with hardwoods.  I think going through the monumental effort (and it will be) of painting would be a waste of time until I've settled on the color of the flooring and removed that awful popcorn. So I will make do in the meantime.  Plus, I could use any color of my choosing and not have to worry about what my landlord would like.  

2.  Hang More Pictures.

I wanted to hang pictures over my TV area and in the stairwells.  

Progress:  50%!  I bought a bunch of frames and hung black and white pictures of the kids over the TV.  I've since purchased more and just need to hang them and order more prints.  I haven't done anything in the stairwell yet.  

3.  Make a Mirror.

I wanted to make a knock-off of the Pottery Barn Eagan mirror and hang it near my dining room table - along the wall with the two large prints.

Progress:  Nada.  I am having second thoughts.  I may leave the frames (and swap out the prints) and put the mirror over the buffet instead.  

4.  Work on the Kids' Rooms.

I wanted to decorate and cozy up the kids' bedrooms.  Their rooms were a little stark. 

Progress:  45%!  Big's room is almost done.  I still have to work on Little's but I think once I do, it will be fast going.  I am searching for the perfect rug for her space, which is proving impossible.  The problem is that I know exactly what I want.  The hunt continues ... (and hint: it's not pink!)

5.  Update the Kitchen.

I really wanted to paint my kitchen to tone down those oak cabinets and/or add some hardware.  

Progress:  25%ish.  For the same reason as not painting the house (above), I am holding off on doing anything to the kitchen.  If I buy the house, I have lots of plans to update this kitchen.  So I don't want to waste time, money or effort now.  In the meantime, I have decorated the kitchen a little.  It helps.

6.  Work on the Laundry Room Closet.

I wanted to make this space look better - paint it, organize it, the works.

Progress: 5%.  I haven't done a thing, except to lengthen the chain on the overhead light so I can reach it without injuring myself.  That said: I purchased something that I want to hang on the walls and still have ideas for this little nook.  

7.  Work on Downstairs Patio.

I wanted to pretty up this patio by painting the chairs and making it into a more functional, fun space.

Progress: 0%.  It's been too cold to paint!  But painting those chairs is on my list of painting projects.  I am mulling over the color ... emerald green? Turquoise? Baby Blue?  Navy? I will eventually choose a color and hope to spend a gorgeous Spring (or Summer) day out there with a cold beer and a can of paint.  I have a lot of long term plans for this space - I want to make it into a breezy outdoor living room area.  But they are on hold for at least another year.  

8.  Organize the Closets in the House.  

I had a lengthy list of closets to organize: (1) entryway closet; (2) my bedroom closet; (3) my bathroom vanity and cabinet; (4) the kids' closets and (5) the kids' bathroom cabinets.  Oh these before pictures break my heart.

Progress:  A whopping 80%!!  Whoot!  I have successfully organized, and maintained, my entryway closet ...

My bedroom closet ...

And the bathroom cabinets and vanities.

All that is left is the kids' bedroom closets.  Yes!

So in short, I am making progress. I've shifted priorities a bit, which is bound to happen.  My top priorities these days are to work on the kids bedrooms, paint loads of furniture and, frankly, stop stressing so much about sticking to my to do lists at home and try to enjoy the blissful experience of kicking back and not doing a thing.  

See you swoon,

What I Wore {part vi}

Hello hello and happy mid-April!  Can you believe how fast this month is zooming?  Here's yet another round-up of my recent outfits.  I've realized that I post mostly dresses and skirts on here.  I wear them pretty often - they make me feel so good!

* Blue Printed Skirt & Button-Down *

Target to the rescue!  I am loving Target's Spring clothes this season.  I saw this super chic blue and white printed skirt and knew it had to be mine.  I snatched it up and wore it with my light blue fitted button-down blouse from NY & Co. from a number of years ago.  I paired it with my taupe patent heels and very simple silver jewelry.  This skirt is my new favorite.  It fits wonderfully and looks far more expensive than it is. I think it was around $25. 

* Cream V-Neck, Grey Mini, Grey Tights & Riding Boots *

We had a last blast of Winter in early April, so I took advantage and wore my tights and boots.  The top is from Anthropologie and is years old - I think at least three or four.  I wore it with my grey mini skirt from the Loft outlet, grey tights from the j.crew outlet and j.crew brown riding boots.  I wore a multi-strand copper colored necklace to tie in the brown of the boots.  

* Black Top & Skinny Jeans * 

Yay for casual Fridays at work!  We can wear jeans on Fridays, and I do it every chance I get.  I wore a 3/4 sleeve black top from Target (from a few years ago) with my favorite Gap skinny jeans and my leopard print flats with patent toe.   The hilarious thing is my good friend at work who I work with a ton and run with a lot wore the exact-same-outfit.  Same style and color top, skinny jeans and animal print (hers were snakeskin) flats with patent toe.  Hilarious.  

Yay for outfits!

See you swoon

Resolutionary War: Ewww gross.

Morning, friends.  I wrote this post before the tragic events at the Boston Marathon occurred earlier this week.  Like all of you, I am deeply saddened and profoundly affected by what happened at that finish line.  Thank you to so many blog readers who shot me an email to make sure I was OK.  I was not running Boston because, to date, I have not been able to qualify.  But even before the bombings occurred, my mind was on the race and runners that day. Boston is the equivalent of the Olympics for us mere mortals - it's a difficult goal, but nonetheless possible and attainable.  It is pretty much every runner's dream to qualify for and run Boston.  Monday's tragedy will not stop me from running races or otherwise or from trying to qualify for Boston or from running Boston if I ever do.  It will change race day forever though.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those lost and injured and otherwise affected.

Today is all about the ugly underbelly of running.  After running for close to 20 years, I have experienced it all.  And some of it isn't pretty.  It kind of reminds me of that funny photo on Facebook comparing what you feel like you look like when you run and what you actually look like ... this one:

I'll warn you in advance that this post isn't for the faint of heart.  But it's honest.  There are millions of afflictions that runners experience. I'll share the gross ones that I have experienced and how I got over them or how I deal with them.  

1.   Puking.

I am lucky that I have an iron stomach.  I only need a few minutes after a meal before I can go head out on my run, and I have no problems.  I have thrown up one time in my life while running and that was when I was pregnant (but did not know it yet) with my daughter.  Puking, however, is a very normal thing for a lot of people: heat, digestion, overexertion all can contribute to it.  It happens.  If you get sick when you run, do what feels right: take it easy, walk, call someone to come get you, or if you feel fine, start running again.  

2.  Blisters.

My feet are my Achilles Heel (haha) of running: I blister like crazy and have issues with my toes.  I can't avoid it.  I really only start having issues when I'm in the marathon-training zone and do long runs of anything over 15 miles.  I have learned the hard way that socks matter - oh they matter big time.  I use very thin socks (my favorites are Balega).  I also buy my shoes a half size up.  Some runners even go a full size up but that feels too large for me.  I make sure the toe-box of my shoes is nice and wide so my toes have room to breathe.  For runs of 15+ miles, I put Body Glide all over my blister-prone spots on my feet and this seems to help a bit.

Now, when the inevitable blister happens, I usually soak my foot in warm water and Johnson's Foot Soak and rest it.  If it is unbearable, I will pop it (I know I know bad) and then cover it with moleskin and blister-specific band-aids.  My feet look a lot like this when I'm training for a marathon ... yes, really, that sexy: 
3.  Toenails.

I mentioned above that I have issues with toenails.  Oh yes.  This is a common issue.  After the Philly full marathon last November, my right big toe nail killed.  I mean I could barely walk on it and could only wear flip flops.  It was the one thing that was still hurting days after the race - and not just "hurt" or "ache" but intense pain and if I touched it, I would yell bad words.  It eventually (cover your eyes if you cannot handle ...) turned black and fell off.  Gross!  To this day, it looks and feels different than my other toenails.  So I just paint it a dark color and go with it.  It must have been the way the seam on the sock was sitting in my shoe and for 26.2 miles the friction did it in.  Be prepared to lose a toenail or two.  Or for them to get thick and weird.  It happens.  It's a wise idea to keep your toenails cut on the short side.  And if you're a woman, never underestimate the hiding power of dark nail polish on your toes :)

4.  Potty.

It happens to all of us.  That uncontrollable urge to have to use the bathroom during a run or race.  I'll get into the nitty gritty in a second, but on race day, it's a good idea to get to the race location early and immediately find the porta-potties, get in line, do your business, and if you have time, immediately get in line again so you can go one last time before the race begins.  NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE MODEST.  All caps necessary!  I've learned the hard way to bring Purell (toss in trash before the race begins) and toilet paper or a throw away scrap of fabric to carry with me during the run just in case.  Porta-potties are usually stocked well at the start but along the race course or after, it's dicey.  I use old race shirts that I don't like or that have worn out for this purpose.  I cut them into little squares and just toss them in a pocket of my shorts.  I did not do this on a run last year and regretted it.  I had to go -- badly.  It was mile 4 of a half marathon and there was no option but to go.  I was on the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philly and saw the porta-potties off to my right.  Unfortunately, this is when the race photo people were snapping away, so there is a picture of me literally deciding whether to go hit that potty or to keep going.  I hit the potty.  It was the right move and cost me a little time, but I didn't care. It was in this porta potty that I realized the critical importance of having a spare square.  There was *nothing* in this porta potty.  Nada.  No paper.  I needed paper.  I MacGuyvered it and used the cardboard toilet paper roll thing.  Not recommended but better than nothing.  Oh, it was on this race that I realized I cannot eat meatballs before a race.  tx.

And now to throw myself under the bus, I will say two words: Poise Moderate.  After having two children, it is a necessity (sometimes more than others).  It is just part of my running wardrobe - and I have learned the hard way that I have to wear one on every single run: from a short little 3 miler all the way to a marathon.  I use Body Glide along the sides to avoid chafing.  I am very thankful for Poise especially when I can't wear them, like in a triathlon (hello: no Poise in the pool).

If you know you are likely to have to stop during a long run/race to use the bathroom, get a race map and seek out the location of the porta-potties.  That way you know exactly how far to go.  If the race is unsupported with porta-potties, well, you may have to go in the woods or somewhere off to the side.  Again, if this is a long race, NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE MODEST.  I've done it all: I've stopped in a porta-potty, I've used the woods.  It's not fun, but sometimes it is necessary.

these are your best friends.  learn to love them. just don't touch anything. 

5.  Bugs.

Bugs are gross.  Bugs are also unavoidable.  I've gotten bugs in my eyes, nose, mouth and ears while running.  I much prefer a bug pretty much anywhere than in my eye.  I can power through a bug in the mouth, but if there is something in my eye, I go crazy.  There isn't much you can do to avoid bugs. 

6.  Chafing.

Body Glide is a wonder product to avoid chafing.  For any run over, say, 5 miles, I use it to be safe.  I put it along the edges of my sports bra: under the boobs, under the arm pits, around the shoulders, around the top.  I also use it all over my boobs.  No one wants to bleed there.  If you've run or watched a half or full marathon, chances are you've seen someone (most likely a dude) who did not use body glide and who has blood coming from his nipples.  This is for real.  Body Glide is your friend.  I also use Body Glide on my feet and along the sides of my Poise (see above).  You'll still chafe and you'll feel it as soon as you hit the shower.  

To recover from chafing, I swear by Bag Balm -- that stuff in the green tin in the drug store below.  It helps.  It smells very much like an antiseptic (see the lid) but it works.  Also, bonus: if you put it on your feet before bed you will wake up with buttery soft feet - true story. 

7.  Sweating.

If you don't like sweating, you'll either have to pick a new sport or learn how to deal.  I don't care about sweating.  In fact, I really like it.  I don't like sweat in my eyes.  So I wear a headband or a visor to keep my eyes nice and clear.  If sweating is not your thing at all, you can also cut up old race shirts (like I do in case I need to spare a square in a porta potty) and wipe your face with those during a run.  

8.  Falling.  

I feel once on a run. I was, thankfully, with my husband and we were training for a half marathon together.  I was going down a very steep hill and lost my footing and BAM.  Hello ground. It was really scary and I was so thankful I wasn't alone.  This is also why I have such a fear of downhills both in running and biking.  I realized on that run that I needed some form of ID.  I was fine and had my wits about me, but if I were alone and hit my head, that would have been a different, very bad, story. I ordered a Road ID and I never, ever, run without it.  Get one.  It's $20.  You stick it on your shoe and never have to worry about it again.  Get one now.  Here is the link.  Did you get it yet?  

That about does it!  I am sure there are many more afflictions but hey this is a good start.  Soon, I'll give my advice on what to do when you bonk out (aka: hit the wall) on a run.  

Come on ... don't let me be the cheese who stands alone here.  Share a gross running story with me.  In the immortal words of Billy Madison, "It's cool to pee your pants!"  

See you swoon,
Disclaimer: None of the above companies or websites mentioned have paid or otherwise comped me for mentioning them here in this post. All thoughts and opinions herein are my own.  Further,  I am not a professional and certainly not a doctor, so before you begin any running or other exercise program, please speak to a doctor first, listen to your body, know your limits.  I am not an expert:  this is just my compilation of tips for what works for me.

Updates (finally!) to Big's Room

Happy Monday!

I am excited to share today's post with you. I finally spent some time on Big's room by decorating it and making it special for him.  Decorating the kids' rooms was part of my new years resolutions.   Big's room had a good start.  Last year he picked out the red bedding. It wasn't necessarily my choice, but it's not my room.  I had the rug already from his way old toddler room at the old house.  I made the upholstered headboard and window valence to coordinate.  And the navy blue dresser was also from his room in the old house - it was a great find on Overstock and was part of a set of child's furniture.  I've known since I moved in that it was a temporary solution: his clothes, at age 7, are just too big for the drawers.  

I ordered Big a new dresser from Raymour and Flanigan.  I was tempted to go the IKEA route, and probably would have, but I could not lift the boxes of unassembled furniture!  I decided to spend a little more and have someone else handle delivery and assembly.  Here is Big's new dresser.

I was able to use the navy shaded lamps again. And I brought in a mirror from Target ($40) and really fun star lamps from IKEA that I had been saving for awhile.  I mounted them to the wall and just used a cord cover to hide the cords.  The stars are connected to the light switch, so we don't have to worry about turning them off and on through the cords.  

Next to the dresser, I hung two prints that were also in his old toddler room.  I found these in the clearance section of Home Goods years ago.  I think they were $5 each.

Obviously, the trucks would not do.  Big is really into football, so I asked him what his favorite teams are.  Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.  So I ordered 8x10 posters of those teams' logos from  I just used the frame and mats from the old truck prints.  I think they turned out pretty good - only I hit a snag and accidentally broke the glass in one of the frames.  Argh.  I ordered some plexi-glass to replace it, and will pop that into place soon.

Over his bookshelves (also from IKEA and also purchased years ago when I redid his toddler room), I hung a wall shelf.  He asked if he could put his football helmets on display up there.  I think it looks good!  We found this Phillies canvas at Target and he really wanted it.  I picked it up - hometown team and it matches the room.  

There is more to do.  His nightstand is only temporary.  I found that table on clearance at Target a few years ago (I think it was $20).  I am going to give him the IKEA Rast chest that is currently in my room and have that be his nightstand.  I am going to do a two-toned treatment to it: paint the drawers white and stain the outsides to match his dresser.  It will give him more storage and hide those pesky cords.  

I have more art to hang.  He has a paroramic picture of the Phillies stadium that I think I will hang over his headboard.  He has a poster that he wants to hang too, so I need to grab a poster frame for that.  And finally, the cherry on top of the room is a space mobile that we have been working on for a very long time.  It's almost done!  Just a few more pieces and we will hang over the bed.  Oh, and the closet. That needs some help.  

It feels soooooo good to have his room underway.  And now I should turn my attention to little miss Little's room.  I need to hang a lot on the walls, bring in a rug, increase the lighting, hang a shelf and find a piece of furniture.  Yay. 

See you swoon,