October 21, 2013

Once in a Blue Moon

Once in a blue moon, this homebody goes out on the town. And last week, it was to see the founder of Blue Moon at Crystal Bridges Museum's Oktoberfest. Since we moved this summer, Trea and I have spent literally all of our free time working on the house, and it was so nice to have a date night that did not include sitting on the couch watching TV.

The Great Hall was beautiful, with tables decorated with pumpkin vines and Blue Moon bottles, and we eagerly dug into our roasted pumpkin -- filled with gruyere and bacon -- as soon as we arrived.

We tasted several different brews, and some of them were pretty strange. My favorite, of course, was the original Belgian White Blue Moon, and I did not care at all for the beer-wine hybrids that the company is trying to market. Wheat ale and merlot, anyone? NO.

After a glass of champagne and tasting 6 different beers, we were treated to something truly unique -- a beer float. Delicious vanilla bean ice cream topped with Blue Moon's seasonal Gingerbread beer, which will be out this winter. It was amazing. They gave us tiny little mini-floats, and I could've had about a dozen of them. 

We followed up with dinner at Table Mesa {dinner while sitting in a restaurant! Not takeout on the couch!} where I had a chicken curry burrito that I'm still having dreams about.

And after all that beer tasting and indulgence, you guessed it... I have lots of running to do.

October 2, 2013

When you smell doughnuts, turn around

It's hard to believe, but it's been two years since I trained for my first marathon. TWO. And I've barely done a thing since. In 2011, when I was getting ready for my 26.2 debut, I did most long training runs with a group. And our sunrise meeting spot was almost always Krispy Kreme.

It was a treat to get to run there because most of my shorter training runs happened either near my house or near work. But on the weekends, we would gather at Krispy Kreme and run routes that were not as familiar, and of course, at the beginning and end we were tempted by that glorious doughnut smell.

Well, now that I'm starting over with running and we live in a new place, the running paths that go by Krispy Kreme are practically in my backyard. After we moved this summer and I tried to start running again, I just stayed on our neighborhood streets. Half a mile, a full mile, that was far enough for me. But now I'm going a little farther...2 miles on week days and 3-mile "long" runs on the weekends.

The view on my run last weekend

I run a lap around our neighborhood and then I leave our streets and hop on the running/bike paths that wind through our city -- leading me toward Krispy Kreme. Every weekend, I go farther and farther down the path before I have to turn around and head home. This past weekend, I made it far enough that I could distinctly smell doughnuts before I had to turn back. Stopping and going the other way when one smells doughnuts is probably just a good policy in general, but for me, running on that path and smelling that smell made me think of my friends, of marathon training, and of that amazing sense of accomplishment when you run farther than you ever thought you could.

Marathon training is well out my my reach right now, but I'll be happy when I'm strong enough to run past Krispy Kreme and keep going down the trail a bit farther. For now, it's a good landmark for where I've been and where I know I can go.

September 25, 2013

Birthday Bash

September is Trea's birthday month, and this year I celebrated by making him run a 5K with no training. He loved it. {That was sarcasm.}

Bentonville had a Birthday Bash 5K the week of his birthday, and it seemed like the perfect race -- celebrating the one-year birthday/anniversary of Wishing Springs Trail, which is where we used to run before we moved.

Who wouldn't want a birthday cake race shirt the week of their birthday -- followed by birthday cake flavored snow cones at the finish line?

We got up painfully early for a Saturday, discussed staying in bed, whined about how we weren't prepared, almost flaked out, and then pinned on our race bibs and faced the music. At this point, I hadn't run more than 2 miles since the Bentonville Half 5K, and Trea hadn't run a step in about a month.

The race was point-to-point and started in our old stomping grounds, just a few miles from our old house. It was nice to go back to where I've spent most of my time running and where we first started.

The first mile went pretty well; we were keeping a slow, steady pace with a goal only to finish. Then the wheels fell off, just as we expected. I felt pretty good and could have probably jogged slowly the whole way, but poor Trea hadn't run in forever, was still barely awake and had forgotten to take his allergy meds in our haste to leave the house. He was miserable, so we took a few walk breaks along the way. The last mile was the worst, as with most races, but he stayed in good spirits the whole time and we finally, finally made it to the finish line. It was nowhere near our best time, but it wasn't my slowest either.

We were greeted at the finish by a snow cone truck passing out free birthday cake flavored snow cones, and I must say, I don't know why all races don't do this. After trudging along the trail with not much shade, we were so grateful for an icy treat.

It was humbling how beaten up we felt by only 3.1 miles, and I think we were the first ones on the shuttle to head back to the starting line and our car. {Thank goodness we were first. I hope they burned those seats after hauling all those sweaty runners around. GROSS.}

Afterward, we could barely move for the rest of the day and groaned with every step. We are embarrassingly out of shape but we're getting better! I've talked Trea into going to the gym with me a few times, and I'm back to running three times a week now, slowly building up my mileage.

I have another 5K on the calendar for the end of October (my first costume run!), and my only goal is to finish each race better than the last. I'm getting there.

August 26, 2013

Starting Now

Things are going to be different. Starting now, I won't ignore my beeping calendar reminding me to run. I won't have half a pizza because eating garbage is easier than spending an hour in the kitchen. I won't sign up for a race and then not start and blame it on the weather, knowing deep down that if I'm honest with myself, I'm not racing because I'm completely unprepared.

Starting now, I'm reclaiming my health and my strength. Now is the perfect time. We're all settled in our new abode, and my neighborhood couldn't be more perfect. There's no more driving to a trail or to town so I can run safely. There's only miles of sidewalks waiting to greet my feet.

Starting now, there are no more excuses.

This blog has been quiet because I haven't been running. But I don't have a reason not to run anymore. Lots of people are busier than I am, and they're training for an Ironman. So I think I can run for 20 minutes. I won't continue being quiet about it, avoiding accountability, avoiding failure. Starting now, I'm setting a goal, and I'm going to achieve it.

July 14, 2013

Moving On

Trea and I left our little house in the woods last week. We're still in the same area, but we moved to town, near restaurants and shopping and bike trails, to a neighborhood where I can finally walk out the front door and run on safe roads with sidewalks. We're in our dream house, where we never actually believed we would be. 

This is what we wanted, and yet, I'm nostalgic for our first house. 

Just after we moved in, 2007.

It's where Trea proposed before we even had a key to the front door. 

And after our wedding, it's where I hung the necklace I wore and where it stayed for 5 years, making me smile every time I saw it.

It's where we brought home baby Bella.

Where we made things beautiful.

Where we learned new things.

It's where we found ourselves.

We have so many memories in that house. It's the only place we've ever lived, so it feels like our entire history is there. 

We shed so many tears leaving this place, but I think we made the right decision. The new house holds lots of possibilities, and I'm so excited to go for a run in our new neighborhood as soon as I recover from all the unpacking. 

But a little piece of me will always miss our house in the woods. It was exactly what we needed when we needed it -- the perfect place for our beginning.

May 31, 2013

Being quiet

Where have I been for over a month? I've been being quiet. (Well, first I went to Puerto Rico, and then I was quiet.) I've loved writing in this space, but lately, I just haven't had a clear direction in my life. So I've been quiet while I try to figure out what's next. Lately, life has gotten the best of me.

Every day is busy. Every evening is packed with my to-do list that never ends. Every moment is filled. Every second is noise. There's no time to do the things I love. I'm barely running, barely reading, barely speaking to friends and family. Last week, I decided to stop and get away, even if for only an hour.

On a gorgeous sunny day, I left work to grab lunch, intending to drive thru Chick-Fil-A like I always do, and rush back to my desk to keep working. And then I changed my mind. I saw the drive-thru line madness, thought of the intercom that never understands me, and I took myself out to lunch at a little cafe on our downtown square. Table for one, please.

I felt the breeze. I soaked up the sun. I was quiet.

And when lunch was over, I still wasn't ready to leave my solitude. Working out lately has been sporadic and half-hearted. I certainly can't call it training, even though I have a race this weekend (and no, I don't want to talk about it). So I decided to use my quiet time to move my feet. I was in business clothes, so I didn't run. Instead, I left my car on the square and walked about a mile or so back to the office. Down my favorite street in the world. Through someone's sprinkler.

I got back to my desk a little damp and with a smile on my face. And after work, I did it all again to retrieve my car. There are a lot of days when I drive straight to work, sit at my desk for hours, and drive straight home and sit on the couch. But not this day.

I'm determined to have more days like this. Even if I only spend 30 minutes, and whether it's walking or running or riding my bike, I will spend more time being quiet. Then I'll figure out what's next and find my voice again.

April 10, 2013

Let's Run Away

Escape. It's my favorite thing to do. Trea and I don't travel a ton, but we try to as much as possible. There's a great big world to see, and I can't get enough of it. I have a new place to log all of our vacation adventures, so stop on by, if you're so inclined. amtaylotravels.tumblr.com

April 8, 2013

My 5K time starts with a TWO! Finally!

This weekend, at the Bentonville Running Festival 5K, I set a new PR and finally, FINALLY, ran 3.1 in under 30 minutes. It wasn't the half marathon I was hoping for, but it'll work.

I hadn't planned on trying to PR this race, but I ran with my fav gal, Laura, who paced me to an unofficial 29:37 finish! 

Reaching a time that I have been trying for, for about three years now, was a pretty darn good birthday gift. 

Birthday cupcakes at Savoy Tea!

April 2, 2013

Bailout Plan

I've been putting off writing this post for a couple of weeks now. This coming Saturday is the Bentonville Half Marathon...and I'm not running it. My training was going great for about 5 weeks, and then I got sick. I stayed sick for two solid weeks, and I just didn't have the energy for any workouts. But you know how we runners are -- compulsive to check the boxes on our training plans -- so I still ran my long runs on the weekends as scheduled. No exercise at all during the week, then 7 miles. No exercise for another week, then 8 miles. Was this a good idea? NO.

It didn't take long until my still-sensitive hip was screaming at me, and I knew I had done too much. I haven't re-injured myself, but if I had continued on that path of not being smart about building up my mileage, I could tell injury would be imminent. So I backed off.

Can you spot where my training fell off a cliff? Um, yeah.

I went back to running shorter miles and tried to build up again gradually, but there just isn't enough time before the race to build up as gradually as what my body needs. Having an old lady hip is the pits. So no half marathon for this gal.

But I have a bailout plan! The nice race people let me trade my 13.1 registration for the 3.1 registration! So I can still participate, and it's only one number different. It's practically the same. OK, maybe not, but at least I won't have another race shirt that I shouldn't wear.

Since I decided not to run the half, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted. Now that I'm not following a plan, I can run mileage as short as I want, which means Trea can run with me again! He stopped training way back in February, and when I continued on, I was running too long for him to be able to go, the few times that he actually had time and wanted to go. So last week, we ran twice together -- 1.5 miles each time. It didn't take long, but it was so nice to run together again. So we're both building up gradually, with no real race plans as of yet, but we'll get there. Until then, I'm running for fun, so glad to be able to run the 5K this weekend, and I'll be wearing my new favorite shirt. Because if you're not running happy, then what's the point?

March 11, 2013

Music Monday: Madness by Muse

*Edited to remove a video for technical issues.

Madness. I just got home from SXSW in Austin (that's South by Southwest, or just "South by" if you're too cool for school). The only word I can think of to sum up my experience is madness. That also happens to be my latest favorite workout song, so it all works out.

I was at SXSW Thursday through late last night, and I can easily say I've never experienced anything quite like it. I took my first ride in a pedicab.

 Which was sponsored by Game of Thrones!

I spent some time in heaven, er...I mean, Whole Foods. I had never been to one before, and now I want to move to Austin and marry the flagship store.

I ate more food off trucks than I ever have in my life, and the kimchi fries from Chi'lantro were amazing -- a close runner-up to my all time favorite animal fries from In-N-Out Burger.

While I was trying to navigate the madness and massive crowds downtown near the Austin Convention Center, my favorite lunch spot was The Big Cheese, where I could quickly grab a gooey, hot grilled cheese on my way to my next session.

I only went for a run one time while I was there, unfortunately. I spent a lot of time walking though. I walked almost everywhere I went, and I loved experiencing the weirdness that is Austin, although this was one of the most exhausting trips I've ever taken.

I did get away from the madness one night to do some exploring on my own. I had a fantastic dinner at Annie's Cafe on Congress. I got there before it got too crowded and had some of the best food of the entire trip. And on the walk back to the hotel, I got to hear some amazing bluegrass that seemed to really annoy the poor pup who was trying to sleep on the bass case. 

Oh yeah, and I also learned a bunch of stuff and made a few new contacts. 

We attended the Interactive Festival, not Film. Oops.
Now that I'm back (and slept like the dead for 12 hours straight), I'm ready to get back to the business of training. The Bentonville Half is only a few weeks away! Madness by Muse is at the top of my playlist this week, and on constant repeat in between workouts. I can't get enough. What are you listening to this week? 

March 6, 2013

All by myself

Running is a pretty solitary sport. It's just you and the road and your thoughts (or your blaring iPod). Unless you're running a relay, you don't really depend on anyone else to get from start to finish. Or do you?

I've learned over the last couple of weeks that running alone is worlds apart from running with a partner. I've run by myself plenty of times, but only for a few miles at a time. The majority of my runs are with Trea. We run the same races, follow the same training plan, and especially for long runs, we stick together. We sometimes chat a little while we're out, but we're usually just trying to breathe. 

From our first 10K in 2011
But the last couple of weeks that he's been either busy with work or suffering with cold and flu season, I've been all on my own. And I was surprised at how much I missed running with someone...even if the only interaction we have is wordless pointing and laughing at fighting squirrels. Before this month, I think the farthest I've ever run by myself was 4 miles.

But this weekend, I ran 8! EIGHT whole miles all by myself! It was hard, but I was really proud of myself for doing it. I know everyone else runs by themselves all the time, but your first solo long run can be pretty intimidating. But I did it!

On Sunday, it was warmer than usual and sunny, which was beautiful before it became incredibly hot. I thought I had enough water...but I didn't. I thought I had eaten enough breakfast...but I didn't. I was underfueled, and after taking a week off because of a bad cold, I was undertrained. It was not a fun run. I stopped twice to sit down -- on a bench, like an old lady! But I pushed through and eventually made it a full 8 miles. It's my longest run since coming back from my injury, and my longest run ever by myself.

I hope that Trea will start training with me again, but I know that if he doesn't, I can make it on my own. I guess after you've run 26.2, a half marathon just isn't scary anymore.

High five!

February 26, 2013


My heart is broken. I thought we had something real, but all you do is hurt me. All I ever did was love you and cherish you, and you betrayed me. When I was with you, I felt like I could conquer anything. When we were together, I could see jealousy in the other girls' eyes because they wanted what I had -- what we had together. You made me feel pretty. You made me feel special. But now I know the truth. You're no good for me. It's over.

That's right, beautiful pink Brooks Pure Cadence shoes -- we're through. I've loved these shoes more than any other pair I've owned. But alas, I have suffered great shin splints. About two weeks ago, I finally gave up on these babies.

My shins and calves hurt so bad during the first few minutes of every run that it made me limp and changed my stride, which is never good news. Even on rest days, my legs hurt when I was just walking around. I thought I eased into neutral shoes, but apparently I ramped up my mileage in them too quickly.

So now I'm back in my trusty old Nike Zoom Structures. I loved them once too, but now, after having something small and sleek and cute, they feel like giant mom shoes. Not cute at all. But my legs are no longer stabby and my runs are pain free, so I guess that's what's important. I'll still wear my Brooks to the gym, because, ya know, fashion statement. And I'll still wear them on super short runs and attempt to use them more gradually. But they won't be my one and only anymore. It just wasn't meant to be.


February 20, 2013

Running through my hometown

The only way to truly see a city is on foot. When you aren't whizzing by in a car, you see things you never would have noticed. That's one of my favorite things about running -- seeing things that have been there all along like it's the first time.

Last weekend, Trea and I had 6 miles to run, and we were in my tiny hometown of Stamps, Arkansas. This town is not impressive, and it has about 2,000 residents on a busy day. I had no idea how to run 6 miles through such a teeny hamlet, so we saw about every square inch of the place, zig-zagging up and down every block. Just as we were leaving my parents' house, Trea's iPod battery croaked, so I spent an hour giving him a tour of where I grew up, trying to keep him entertained.

The downtown triangle. No, it isn't big enough to have a square.
Stamps isn't exactly runner friendly. The few sidewalks that exist are cracked and falling apart, and it seems a requirement to have at least one dog guarding every front porch -- none of them fenced in or tied up. It's a town of elderly drivers, big trucks and outdoorsmen. But I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed running there.

It's funny to try to give a "tour" of a place where you haven't lived in over a decade and where little happens. I blurted things out in short, breathless bursts as we ran, random snippets of fuzzy flashes from my childhood. "That's where my friend, Fabian, lived. He had a band." "That's where Aunt Lou lived. She kept every card and picture she ever got in her giant Bible."

The last time I toured this town on foot, I was too young to drive. Most of the things I remember aren't there anymore, but it's still good to go back and see what memories I've kept tucked away. Like the time I got in trouble for stealing a piece of gum at Hamilton's, a grocery store that closed down long ago and always smelled of fried chicken. Or how Miss Eva and Miss Betty at Petrey's would write down my purchases -- a Coke in a glass bottle and an orange sherbet push-up -- and send mom a bill at the end of the month. My grandmother's beautiful church, the softball field where we confirmed that I do not have hand/eye coordination, the band hall where I was forced to learn to play the recorder.

There are hardly any businesses left on our little downtown triangle, but Griffin's Pharmacy is still there -- where I used to play with my best friend and get Coke floats from her mom at the soda fountain. And thankfully, the Stamps Cafe is still going strong. After 6 windy, hilly miles, we were so happy to scarf down homemade burgers and fries. Their food is easily better than Red Robin, hands down.

The Stamps Cafe wastes no energy on aesthetic appeal. It's all about the food!
The difference between Stamps and where I live now is stark. One is slowly fading, and the other is booming. But I see beauty in both. Who says you can never go home?

February 14, 2013

My first DNS

For those of you that don't speak runnerd, that's "did not start."

Last Saturday, Trea and I were supposed to run as a couple in the Valentine's 8K race. We had 5 miles on our training plan to run that day, so I thought this little race would be the perfect training run. It was right by our house and didn't start until 9 a.m., AND we got awesome long sleeve tech pullovers.

I've never missed a race due to anything other than injury before, but a few days before the race, I got an email saying the location and start time had changed. It was no longer close to our house, and the new start time was 7 a.m. SEVEN! On a Saturday!

I picked up our packets the day before and was prepared to get up at stupid-thirty to run with my Valentine. But after a long, stressful week at work, when the alarm went off that morning, I just didn't have it in me. I slept in. DNS. When I don't get enough sleep, I transform into a demon. And when I get really, really tired, I get a cold. I would totally be the first to die in the Hunger Games because I need my beauty rest to be able to function.

When I woke up around 9:00, I saw tons of tweets about how much fun the race had been, and I felt like a loser for skipping it. I had to email the race director to find out where to return our time chips, and was so ashamed to hit send on that message.

Trea and I both ran an 8K that day -- by ourselves and on our own schedule. That's the beauty of being childless. I can wake up when I want and run when I want. It was my best 5 miles since I returned from injury. But the worst part about missing this race -- THE SHIRT ACTUALLY FITS! Of all the races I've ever run, all the shirts are unisex sized and swallow my petite frame. Before this, I only had one race shirt I could wear because I got a youth large. Even my marathon shirt -- the one I sweated for 6 months to get and suffered a broken bone for -- looks like I'm wearing Trea's clothes.

But this Valentine's pullover is amazing. I would show you a picture, but it's in the hamper because I want to run in it every day. This race actually had women's and men's sizes! So my shirt is simply perfect. But I didn't run the race. I DID run the distance that day...just not with the group. Does that count?

Have you ever missed a race because getting good rest was more important? Have you ever worn a shirt for a race you didn't run?

January 28, 2013

Music Monday

Trea and I ran 4 miles yesterday -- the farthest I've run in quite some time. I was nervous about the distance and expected to have a rough experience. It was a gray day, super windy and spitting rain.

But even through the yucky weather, my legs and my lungs felt strong the whole time. Is there anything better than finishing a run with the feeling that you want to keep going? I felt great!

Having a new playlist didn't hurt either. As soon as I signed up for the Bentonville half, I bought a bunch of new running songs. My fav right now? Change by Churchill.

Never heard of em but this song was Single of the Week a few weeks ago on iTunes and I am loving it! (Thanks for the tip, Jodi!) It's peppy and fun and has a perfect beat for running.

What's on your playlist this week?

January 24, 2013

Garmin Forerunner 10 Review

What's the best part about getting back into running? Getting new gear! Just before I ran the Bentonville Half in 2011, I got a Garmin Forefunner 405. It has more bells and whistles than I know what to do with, and a touch bezel -- an invention dumber than this.

At the time, it was near the top of the line for GPS watches, but the touch bezel was so weird that I could barely use it. My sweaty fingers would accidentally select almost everything except what I wanted to select, and the battery life was pathetic. It's also huge and ugly. And huge.

So imagine my delight when Trea surprised me with a new Garmin Forerunner 10 for Christmas! In PINK! 

Pink was this year's theme for my gifts. Can't go wrong there!

The Forerunner 10 has just four buttons -- no touch bezel or touch screen -- and it's a very basic GPS watch. It only displays pace, distance, time and calories, but it shows me elevation and everything else I was used to seeing from the 405 after I upload my runs to Garmin Connect. It doesn't display average pace, and that's the only thing I miss about the 405. It also doesn't sync wirelessly with my computer; I have to plug it in. But it's so worth it to have a watch that actually fits my arm and does what I tell it to do with a simple push of a button. 

And it's adorable. (Focus on how adorable it is, not on how sad the numbers are.)

Here they are side by side. I let the 405 battery die a slow and painful death. It probably took all of two hours.

The Forerunner 10's skinny strap breathes so much better than the giant, wide 405 strap. And it's adorable. Did I mention it's pink? 

I'm going to hang onto the 405 because Pinky isn't multisport, and I plan to still use the 405 for bike rides. But for running, the Forerunner 10 is my new favorite thing. And it's not important to me at all that it just happens to match my pink iPod shuffle and pink shoes. The most important thing is that it fits my wrist, tracks my runs accurately and is super easy to use. (And it's pink!) 


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