Category Archives: things that make me Happy

NHBPM WEGO Prompt: My Health Library

I fully credit the movie Food Inc. with changing my entire food, and health, philosophy. There were small changes being made up to the minute before I watched it in full, but it was undoubtedly my tipping point. Coincidentally, that film led to an interest in picking up more books on subjects of interest (see: nutrition, food, health, mindset, etc.).

Today’s NHBPM prompt asked for a book report – what’s your favorite book and how does it tie into your health/life? Given the way I’ve added to our “library” over the past two years, that’s a loaded question! I can’t pick one, as these have all added a flavor to life that I didn’t know was missing.

If you took a glance at our bookshelf buffet, your eyes would have a hard time resisting these…



All the Money in the World   Books


Food rules    In Defense of Food


Animal vegetable Miracle   Skinny Dish Cooking with trader Joe's


Click on any of the above if you’re intrigued. They’re all worth your time, dollars and brain-chewing energy! Most of them are still stacked near my nightstand (except for the cookbook, which clearly belongs right near the food!), dog-eared pages n’ all ready to be picked up and indulged when I’m craving their words.

I’m actually glad I’m only about half-way through In Defense of Food; it’s like fully tasting, and savoring, those last few bites of a decadent dessert.


What’s in your health library?

Any one favorite book that I should be adding to this group?



Filed under about me, fabulous, in the kitchen, inspiration, things that make me Happy

Marine Corps Marathon: Run DC for Boston!

Well folks, it wasn’t raining on Sunday morning and the hurricane held off for us! We ended up with ideal running weather for most of the race (60* and overcast), completely lucked out. I wouldn’t change a thing about this day…

I set a lofty goal for this race, but wasn’t willing to let it go. If you want to take the island, burn the boats. I know all too well from coaching and personal experience that as soon as you give yourself an out, you’re 1) deciding that not even you believe your goal is possible and 2) setting yourself up to let it go.

Burn the boat – go for 3:30! If you don’t try, you’ll never really know.

MCM outfit   bib longMCM morning readyMCM gear   sign 2

It started with a 5 a.m. wake-up call, to make it on the Metro by 6. It takes at least 10-15 minutes just to get out of the station once you arrive at the Pentagon! Then you’re looking at a long walk to the bathrooms, bag-check and eventually the race start. Consider this your warm-up!

Lines weren’t too bad, and I arrived to my corral with about 15 minutes to spare. I found those Pacer balloons right away and headed over to join in the fun, taking everything in and the throw-away jacket off.

THE PLAN: Run with the 3:35 group for the first few miles (exactly how long? TBD). Break off to eventually settle into an 8 min/mile pace.

MCM banner _ Congrats Runners

Miles 1_3 elevation Miles 1-3: Our pacer warned of the initial uphill battle – we would take it relatively easy and then use the downhill to balance it out. Given the crowded start, you don’t have much of a choice! It takes a lot of weaving, watching the ground to avoid potholes and making sure these miles don’t spend too much energy.

My first clue that this race & I were on the same BQ-or-BUST page: it was easy to keep up – vs. last year when staying with the 3:35 group was requiring way too much initial effort. Early win!

I stayed right with the crew– those hills lending a helping-hand – and focused on effort. Keep it easy, keep it easy, keep it easy.

5K – 25:06 – 8:05 min/mile – Perfect.

Miles 4-6.2: Passing over the Key Bridge brought me to the first D sighting of the day – hello! He had his bright neon-green sign (recycled from last year, thanks to its effectiveness & familiarity) and a big smile. I loved it; he knew I was cruising nice & easy. I had passed the 3:35 group, and was one mile out from worrying how far behind me they were.

10K – 49:18 – 7:56 min/mile – Building a cushion.

As my feet stomped on the 10K mat, I knew updates were being sent and everything felt right. “Here I come, Boston…”

Miles 6_9 elevationMiles 6.2-9: Heading up Canal Road brings us to the first deserted stretch. Spectators are few and far between (understandably) and there’s a steep hill up ahead. I charged up conservatively – this won’t be last hill to tackle!

My coworker Jared was waiting right in the middle with his girlfriend – more familiar faces and a Hey-I-know-you! grin…

Mile 7 JBR tweet

The passing high-five was so hard it left my hand tingling – there was a lot of oomph behind that cheer! Keep powering up, up, up… Coming back down into Georgetown greeted me with D sighting #2.

Feeling good? Yep! Need anything? Nope!

For every mile there was a feeling of gratitude that I was here again, doing this race again, testing my limits again. There was a flashback of right here, last year, I felt ___, and a mental check-in with the here and now.

Mile 9 was crucial last year; I realized I was running a sub-3:35 in a 3:40-goal. I wondered what would happen.

your body hears everything your mind says

This year? I was running my sub-3:35 goal, landing every step with intention. My pace felt easy (for now), but I knew what every mile ahead looked like. Stay positive; focus on this mile and this effort. Save your energy and take all of this in…

15K – 1:14:05 – 7:56 min/mile – Spot ON.

Miles 10-12: The crowd is thick, loud and amazing! We’re essentially running through a tunnel. (Side-note: apparently Bart Yasso was at this spot, mixed in the crowd! Awesome.) We pass behind my favorite memorial, Lincoln (hey friend!) and right onto Ohio Drive. Running on a flat stretch along the water I saw D again, taking a few sips of water from his bottle (spoiled, yes). He warned me that the wind was picking up, and to draft or run with a group if I could*.

I saw a sign** that would push me around Hains Point and onto the mall:

Today is not that day

Photo source.

**Another sign we saw a few times: Paul Ryan would have Finished by now!Clever.

Miles 12-15: Distractions welcomed! Running around Hains Pt. will never be “fun”, but it’s flat and it gets 3-4 miles out of the way. There were a few cheer groups, a band or two and a lot of signs put into the ground every ~20 yards (by the Pacers group, I think?).

As soon as we made the turn around the top of the peninsula (now on the North side), it hit. *There’s the wind – hello! I held onto my hat for a few strides, overhearing someone say this would give us a tail-wind over the bridge. If that’s true, enduring it now is totally worth it. If not, thanks for the hopeful distraction!

20K – 1:39:17 – 7:59 min/mile – Sticking with it.

HALF – 1:44:45 – 7:59 min/mile

Hello again, D! He was parked at miles 15 & 17, right near the same corner. Yep, feeling good!

MCM running 2 Keep going no matter what

Miles 16-19: After a quick out-and-back on Independence Ave, we’re finally on the National Mall. It’s gorgeous, mostly flat and still packed with the best spectators. The wind is seemingly blocked as we loop around the front of the Capitol and I see D one last time before the bridge.

30K – 2:30:20 – 8:03 min/mile – Beat. The. Bridge.

My mind flashes back to painful running memories – if I do anything on this day, I will BEAT THE BRIDGE. Here we go…

MCM sign I will

Miles 20-22: Remember the ups and downs – remember how long this stretch feels…

A lot of people stop to walk here – last year that was my weakness, as it seemed so much better than running. This year it was my strength – keep running, you’re fine!

I saw D twice (one lane of the bridge is open = perfect for cycling spectators!) and he reminded me that everything was on pace. He said my Mom had been tracking & texting, and she was excited! I so happily took water & motivation from him.

When I made it to mile 22, and didn’t need to use the Water stop as incentive to get to the end / take a walk break? Huge win! Things were undoubtedly starting to hurt, but all systems were still going.

35K – 2:55:52 – 8:05 min/mile

MCM lululemon cheer stationMCM lululemon sign Kim Kardashian

Miles 22-23: Hola Crystal City, I’m back!

The best part of this stretch was knowing that the lululemon cheer station was here and ready to dance with us (and/or hop in to run a few yards)! It was a huge boost to see them – Hi Katie + pup! – and listen to their pumped-up voices.

Thank you, team lulu!

MCM running 1
Photo courtesy of fellow Run-Ambassador, Melani.

The bad part about this stretch was the new route – we had a few extra inclines and ramps thrown in, vs. the old out-and-back. On any other run, those elevation changes wouldn’t have made an impression. When you’re racing, and 23 miles in? They hurt.

I took my only water stop around mile 23, walking for a quick 20 seconds and thinking nothing has ever tasted better.

Miles 24-26: I reminded myself over and over and over that I was BQ-ing today. (I may or may not have repeated it in my head to the tune of “We will, we will Rock You!” by Queen.) This was it! We powered through gusts of wind – holding onto my hat again – and the extreme fatigue that sets in at this point. I knew my pace was slowing, but not enough to throw me off.

40K – 3:22:29 – 8:08 – Bring it home…

Somewhere in that last mile I saw Ivan & Elizabeth – it shocked and surprised me in the very best way (also saw them back at 17), and this picture tells me everything.

Did every muscle and joint hurt? YEP. Was I about to BQ? No doubt…

MCM running - ivan

26 – 26.2: My time was getting too close; I put absolutely everything I had left into that last stretch. My feet were killing me, my hips were screaming and my stomach was giving the unmistakable puke-threshold signal.

Ignore it all. Get to Boston – Get to Boston – GET TO BOSTON. The last 3 hours of 8 min/miles brought you to this. Don’t let it go!

MCM Finishing Clock Time

MCM finishers shootMCM logo   medal
MCM time   believe instagram
MCM post-race w D

Marine Corps Marathon – October 28, 2012

3:34:04 – 8:10 min/mile avg

Overall: 1416 / 23515
Gender: 230 / 9995
Age Group: 75 / 1865

I know that 3:30 is in there for me, I just didn’t quite get it this time. That’s my sign that the marathon won’t be shelved; I want to go after it again*.

I’m thrilled with the way I paced myself, held onto energy for the end and pushed through the seemingly unavoidable fatigue that comes from pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles. I can’t imagine anything I would have done differently during the race, and that’s all I wanted to run away with.

Here’s lookin’ at Boston, 2014! Mission accomplished.

*After Boston, which c’mon, we all know that one is just for fun & hills!

Thanks, again, for your endless support! It’s invaluable to have a community behind you with each goal tackled and accomplished, and I hope these pages continue to prove that.


Filed under DC, Goals, learning, MCM, motivation, race report, Races, running, things that make me Happy

MCM Week: Eats, Focus & the Runner Info

The race-week continues – it’s Friday and EXPO day! Whoa.

Today’s topics: the eats that are stocking my muscles up with all the right stuff, the things my brain is focused on and the number that will follow me for 26.2 miles.

MCM Weekend banner
Photo source.

One thing marathoners/runners will never get tired of hearing is eat foodeat to run, run to eat! Enjoy that food and expect it to work hard for you. Have standards! Your fuel choices are getting your muscles through twenty six miles.

We haven’t done anything drastically different in the kitchen this week, but meals have been very colorful, fresh and mostly importantly, safe. Know what works and stick to it!

mixed veggie   rice lunchroasted red pepper and broccoli pastabeet asparagus and spinach quinoa salad

We’ll get to recipes later, but you see brown rice, brown rice pasta, quinoa, chickpeas, black beans, roasted red peppers, diced tomatoes, beets, peppers, avocado, oils and a lot of green things.

Breakfast hasn’t veered from the oatmeal + banana + peanut-butter routine, and snacks have been full of fruit, veggies + hummus, trail mix and dark chocolate.

My stomach and legs seem to be pretty happy with this menu. Win!


After yesterday’s weekend forecast made its way across the nation, you will find lengthy comment lists on every MCM Facebook post, runners’ updates and blogs wondering – OMG ARE WE RUNNING IN A HURRICAINE?  Well, we certainly hope not. Hold off, Sandy!

My favorite comment was actually something to the effect of “2011 – Sun, 2012 – Hurricane….2013 – Team EARTHQUAKE? Bring it on!” This chick is onto something.

MCM pulloverYoga matMCM last easy run

Thanks largely to the reminders all around me that we should only focus on what we can control, I’m good. If it rains, I’ll wear rain gear and run in wet shoes! If it doesn’t rain, I’ll wear dry clothes and run in dry shoes.

Either way, the mission 3:30:xx remains.
The plan is the same! The race will happen.

Focus only on: solid training & successful runs; the one goal in mind; what I know, what works for me; visualizing THE race.

We spent a long time in a seated meditation at yoga last night. I used that time to see myself running every single mile – for the first time ever, I’m doing the same 26.2 miles twice. I saw all of the neighborhoods, Rock Creek Parkway, the Mall, Haines Point, the bridge and Crystal City. I saw the long stretch of highway before reaching Iwo Jima and the daunting ramp to run. I got to the Finish line and saw D.  Then I saw the patch of grass that my butt will be plopping down on once sweet relief takes over and the pain sets in!

Focus on letting your passion for the run take you 26.2 miles.


In case you’re interested in tracking me as I actually run all of those sections, here’s the info:

Runner Info

You can click here to track runners.


Happy Friday!

And to fellow MCM-ers – I’ll see you out there!


Filed under DC, MCM, Races, running, things that make me Happy, training

Wordless Wednesday: the fANNEtastic wedding!

The 22-miler was just a taste of Saturday’s event agenda. We had a complete gear change after the run, packing up and heading west to the Virginia countryside. It was Anne’s wedding day, and time to celebrate!

Words rarely do justice to these things. Let the photos do the talking…

welcome bag

shuttle shot us

manor 1 manor gazebo
Photo from Meghann – a la our foursome date.

wedding ceremony set-up 3
wedding ceremony roses wedding ceremony us
wedding ceremony 1 wedding ceremony 2

wedding dinner tent
wedding cake wedding wine glasses
wedding band set-up me & anne p
anne   girls
Last photo also from Meghann – love this group shot!
(Meghann, me, the lovely bride, Theodora & Gretchen)

Congrats to the newlyweds!
We loved being there to celebrate you two!

Check out Anne’s post for more (official) photos from Ben Powell Photography.


Filed under DC, pictures, random, things that make me Happy

Today is Good because…

I woke up a little bit extra early with a specific route in mind. It’s not always something I have time to do, but the route wouldn’t be too long and either way, well worth it. Because of this run, I’m having one of those days – the best kind – where I’m head over heels for this city, this sport and this season.

One of my first thoughts as I headed south on Connecticut Ave and towards the National Mall? Today is good. Why? Because…

…I can run, and I did.

purple-nike-pegasus-shoesMall route

…I live close enough to this scene to take advantage of its trails at sunrise or sunset. Usually it’s the latter, with the lululemon crew, but today it was an early date.

Good morning DC

…DC & I are both morning people. Hello, gorgeous.

Lincoln memorial front

…I have a job that allows an early morning run. I saw way too many suits walking to the metro at 6:15 a.m., and thought with comfortable certainty “that will never be my life.”

…I have a smartphone that captures these moments.

…I know these streets well enough to map a perfect 7-miler, hitting all of my favorite spots.

sunrise reflecting pool DCsunrise WWII memorial

(The time difference between these two shots? Approximately 5 seconds. The other difference? A shot facing west, and a shot facing east.)

sunrise washington monument side 2sunrise Capitol bldg

sunrise Pennsylvania avenue Capitol
Sunrise post office pavilionsunrise Willard hotel
Sunrise Lafayette square
sunrise White House
Sunrise farragut northSunrise Dupont circcle

From the top: Washington Monument & the Capitol from the Mall; Capitol from Pennsylvania Avenue; Post Office Pavilion (left), Willard Hotel (right); Lafayette Square; White House; Farragut North (left), Dupont Circle (right).


I woke up and got to sweat.

What makes today good for you?


Filed under DC, early morning, running, things that make me Happy, weather love

Healthy Office Culture? Let’s Chat – #fitatwork!

When we moved back to DC last fall, I was lucky to find one of the few jobs in the “metro area” that would allow me to stick with my now lululemon-filled wardrobe (featured here as the “model” of this office dress code). Our mostly casual atmosphere allows for midday 10-minute walk breaks, 4-minute afternoon Tabata sessions and those random headstand moments.

We work hard, and we know when to pause for a healthy break:

Office headstands sidecrowatworkgreatist desk flareSoldier Fit RunWorkplace wellness luncheon
Billy goat trail hike

As a company focused solely on corporate wellness, this might seem inherent. But we know the stress of a busy day, week or season and we know the days when suddenly you’ve spent hours in meetings, and on calls, and answering e-mails, hardly having a chance to take a break. This is why we also know how much it matters to make health part of the office culture – a quick walk, a healthy snack or arranging a box or two so that you can stand instead of sit? Those things shouldn’t be met with odd stares and the question of “Why?”.

Do you feel like a healthy culture is in your office air? If no, how would you change it (ideally)? If yes, how did it come to be? What do you love about it?

Let’s chat about it! Join myself, other WCS coaches & our @corpwellness team tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 12) at 1 pm EST for a #fitatwork twitter-chat about creating this workplace world where it’s okay to drop and do push-ups, or round up the troops for a walk or gather around for a healthy potluck lunch. We want to know how you and your coworkers make it happen, or how you would, given the chance!

{ Click for more info about our Healthy Habits Tweet Chat Series. }

If you have suggestions for future Healthy Workplace Habits chat-themes – things you want to know or want to share – we’re all ears!


Filed under Dietitians, health, learning, sweat once a day, things that make me Happy

MCM Training: Mindset & Long Run List

After having training plans that seemed to change by the week, I realized that maybe the day-by-day schedule doesn’t agree with my mindset. That’s fine; it doesn’t have to. Approaching marathon #4 means that I have a pretty good idea of what I’m in for  – all 26.2 miles of fun! –  how I deal with it and what I want the end results to be.

Goals: finish in 3:30, pace the legs consistently, don’t injure anything.

Since last year’s MCM approach was far from consistent and didn’t follow a routine until about 6 weeks out, I know what my mind and muscles can function off of. I know what they deal with, and what they resist. I know how to make them happy, and I know how to train them to be stronger, faster and smarter.

Since the above-mentioned routine-less approach worked, I gave this year’s “plan” some wiggle room and know that we’ll breathe easy (i.e. we have no plans to move cross-country any time in the coming weeks. Whoop!).

Meet, the mindset & the Long Run List:

decisions and values Disney  MCM long run list

They seem to have really hit it off.

Yep, it’s pen-and-paper. It’s hanging on my fridge, and I see it every day.

It’s not hard to go out and run, because my mind is on the prize and what it takes to get there! I value the self-challenge and having the ability (for now) to tackle it.

I check off each week (clearly), and see what’s coming up. I build for three weeks, and then back off. I have one half-marathon in the mix, approximately half-way through, to race with friends and test the legs’ speed.

It’s just a personal preference: I don’t like having set mileage for the days of the week. I run anywhere from 4-7 miles on weekdays, depending on whether it should be an easy day or a moderately “hard” one. I aim for 30-40 mile weeks, and build gradually. I put speedwork into the run, as if Kate were running with me and pushing the pace without knowing it. Mixed into that recipe you’ll find doses of yoga, walking, tabata-workouts, cycling & rest.

I prefer not to have a plan dictating the schedule 24/7 because life gets in the way and sometimes I want to let it. As long as each of those weeks gets a check mark and doesn’t come with an asterisk, I deem things successful!


Who else is training for a Fall race? Which plan are you using, and why? I love a good discussion around running, and the variety of plans out there always opens up a few weekday workout options!


Filed under balance, marathon, MCM, running, things that make me Happy, training