Love…on the run

by Melissa on February 24, 2015

With a little over a week to absorb all that has happened (read here – changed), I am finally able to write about it!

Random thought (still pertinent to the story): One of my favorite songs right now is “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheehan.  Specifically for the lyric: “We found love right where we are”.  To me it perfectly explains our journey the past year and where we find ourselves right now. (We being Devin and I :) )

The first place to start is really my mental state the past four years.  After those (internally) tumultuous years of trying to find my place after college, I landed in DC.  And laughably enough, I wasn’t completely sold on the place.  As much as I tried to find a way out (country girl not meant for the big city), there was obviously some force holding me here. 

Last spring, I found out why.   

I ran into him during an event set up for work.  We chatted about DC, our love of coffee, and how we should grab drinks sometime.  Drinks led to dinner (which he cooked).  That led to many fun DC dates including monuments, sushi, and of course great falls.

We found that even though we’re both home-bodies, we love to go out and have a good time (good music and good beer required).

He learned to accept my love of running – and he hopped right in.  I accepted his love of the gym and found myself joining in more than I expected (and loving it).

Life turned into a journey  I enjoyed that much more because I had someone to share these things with – the daily monotony and the fun exciting moments.

As we grew into each other’s lives, we also grew together.

Last weekend was one of those times.   We decided to enjoy the long weekend (President’s Day) away from DC, back in PA at my family’s ski condo. The week leading up to it couldn’t have made us more excited to leave the city behind.  I was so stressed that I didn’t even notice Devin’s obvious anxiety and chattiness with my mom and his family.

The morning after we arrived at the ski condo, we decided to try and get a run in.  It was Valentine’s day and honestly a run is something I want to do no matter what day of the year it is.  It was 15 degrees outside, snowing, and a perfect brisk winter morning.  With an impending snow storm, it was the opportune (and only) time to get out!

The route we took on our run led us along a road that we had spent a few beautiful summer days near early on in our relationship.  The contrast was impossible to appreciate. 

After 3 slick miles, we returned, snowflakes in our eyes and frozen faces.  I turned the corner and amongst the kitchen decor were 8 dozen roses and candles.  It took me a moment to realize what was happening.  Cue the excited shakes and frozen tears.

Dev turned me towards him and made everything come full circle.  He got down on one knee and there was no doubt in my mind how I was going to respond.  Absolutely, 100%, YES.

My parents and aunt and uncle helped him set it all up. While we were running, they brought in the roses, candles, and champagne.

The run was an essential part of the story, as I’ve always felt it has been with the rest of my life.

After an amazing weekend of celebrations, we came back to DC ready to start this next chapter of our story.  Like the lyric says “we found love right where we are”. 

The different paths life takes us down end up making sense in the end.  Don’t doubt it.  Roll with it. And if all else fails, go for a run.  You’ll find all you ever wanted, right where you are.  <3


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Take a Rest Day.

by Melissa on February 11, 2015

Yesterday sucked.

And by sucked, I mean I was in the middle of a huge war between going full steam ahead and calling it a day and lying down on the floor at my office.

You have days like that – days that seem like they won’t end, and if one more person pulls you into any form of drama, you’re just going to scream. 

The great thing about those days is that they end and hopefully you can wake up and feel just a tiny bit better than you did the day before.  And right now this is proving to be true.

It’s amazing how many of the lessons I learn in life also apply to training.

The Philly Love Run is on my agenda for a PR (fingers crossed).  Therefore, each week I’m planning out workouts, long runs, and paces to hit.  On certain runs, I feel like I can run with the wind.  Other days, I’d prefer to turn around and run home. 

IMG_20150208_095217 [^running like the wind :)]

Good days and bad days apply to our workouts and training just as much as they do to our daily lives.  But it’s how you frame your thoughts towards those tougher days that help you through it.  In regards to training, this week was going great, until yesterday (yeah, let’s tack on training meltdown to yesterdays list of awful stuff).  Last week I soared through a speed workout, got in some slower middle distance, ran a long run on Sunday hitting HMP miles, and then taught a 60 minute body sculpt class to start the week. 

Then Tuesday morning happened.  I woke up feeling like I got hit by a train.

My schedule was calling for some middle-distance easy miles.  Taking one step out of bed made me realize it wasn’t going to happen.  Every part of my body ached.  At first I had no idea what was going on, until I took a step back. 

My body needed a rest day.

No, my training plan didn’t call for one, and I mentally wanted to workout and get in those easy miles, but I knew what I needed to do.  I needed to call it.

IMG_20150201_195715 [stretching, foam rolling, resting….]

Instead of beating myself up and feeling like I was failing my plan, I decided to look at it as “I’m going to come back stronger – I’m going to eat well today, stretch, and get a lot of sleep tonight”  I also knew that if there was any workout that I could miss on my plan, it was the easy mileage that I had planned.

To be quite honest, I’m usually really easy on myself when it comes to workouts.  I listen to my body and regularly schedule in rest days.  But, with this PR in mind and not wanting to look back and think “oh, if only I had done that workout, I would have….”, I’m realizing that my usual mentality of moderation still applies.  I will succeed from both the workouts and from the rest. 

Time to time, even with our best intentions, plans falter.  We have to go to plan B or just call it.  However, reframing those moments into a learning or growth opportunity is what really makes us strong. 

In today’s society, we tend to think harder is better and more is more when it comes to working out.  However, research shows that it’s at rest and during sleep that our strength and training gains really happen.  It’s the balance between pushing your body and allowing for proper recovery that make the strongest athletes.

Now that I’m (re)learning that lesson in reference to training, I’m also going to take note to apply it to my daily life and take a step back when needed.  It’s ok to need a little extra rest and say “no”. 

Have a great day!


Tuscan White Bean and Crispy Kale Soup

by Melissa on January 29, 2015

This was meant to be a vegetarian recipe.

I had full intentions on only adding white beans.

Then I tasted it.

Ok, it tasted just fine….

But, my little culinary lightbulb went off in my head and said “hey!  you know what would make this taste even better???  Sausage!”


I had sausage in the fridge (who doesn’t?).  I could easily cook up a small amount and add it in.  So I did.

My great intentions on providing another delicious Tofu Tuesday recipe were foiled by my wild meat loving brain.  While the version I made was definitely not vegetarian, I know that adding vegetarian sausage crumbles such as the gardein variety or Wegmans style (if you’re lucky enough to live near a Wegmans!) would still be delicious, so therefore it counts.  Either way, this is probably one of the tastiest soups I’ve made from scratch and highly recommend you try it!  Why?  Because it’s also a slow cooker recipe and who doesn’t love coming home to dinner already prepared?

Tuscan White Bean Soup

  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 pound sausage, precooked and crumbled (pork or vegetarian)
  • 1/2 pound dried navy beans
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1-1/2 TBSP garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasonings
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste

Cook the sausage separately and save grease and crumbles to put into soup.  Place all ingredients in slow cooker except salt.  Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours.  Add salt and any other seasonings to your taste.

Crispy Kale

  • 1 bunch of kale leaves
  • oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • parmesan (if desired)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Break kale leaves off stems and rip into small bite size pieces and place on large baking sheet.   Take 1 – 2 TBSP oil (depending on how much kale you have) and toss with kale leaves to coat.  Kale should be covered in oil but not soaking in it.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8 – 12 minutes, or until leaves start to brown slightly.  Sprinkle with parm once removed from the oven.  Top soup with the crispy kale (aka kale chips).

Let me know if you try this recipe!  And don’t worry, I’m sticking with my Tofu Tuesday resolution, however this weekend I had one lunch that was meat free and one dinner on separate days.  Still working on it :)


Clearwater Halfathon Race Review

by Melissa on January 26, 2015

Last weekend, I spent a few days in beautiful Tampa Bay visiting my best friend!  We had the trip planned for a few months and initially she asked me to run the Clearwater halfathon while I was in town.  Knowing I was just getting off the MCM training and the subsequent let down to letting that go, I knew Clearwater would be more of a fun run than a seriously trained for and run race.  But I didn’t care!  Any excuse to get out of the wintery cold was welcome :)

2015-01-18 21.03.36

The race was held on the Sunday of MLK Jr. weekend alongside the running of the St. Pete Beach Half, 10K, and 5K, therefore making it a small destination race.  This also made for minimal race day traffic and free parking 3 blocks from the start/finish line!  With only 2000 runners, we arrived about 20 minutes prior to the start.  It was a balmy 58 degrees to me (yet I still wore a throw away long sleeve) .  Sunrise was at 7:20am and the start was 7am, therefore I was itching to get started and see this gorgeous sunrise over the first (hill) bridge.

Since it was small, they didn’t have pace corrals.  The lady announcing the start of the race said “if you run a 5 min mile, you should be among the first 3 people lined up.  Everyone else should be behind them!”  I loved the relaxed feeling of the race, and it was perfect considering I was doing it for a fun long run!

2015-01-18 21.01.28

I was right!  The sunrise was breathtaking.  Despite the first mile being the bridge and one of the tougher parts of the race, we had so much scenery to take in.  We went over the bridge towards Clearwater beach.

2015-01-18 21.02.45

The course was an out and back, therefore the bridges we would run twice, with the longest one being at mile 12.  My hips were already mocking me.

After the bridge, it took us down a long straight away that connected to the resort area of Clearwater.  It was lined with palm trees and each side of the road was surrounded by water.  I couldn’t get over how beautiful the day turned out!

2015-01-18 21.00.08

We looped around the round about and were taken along the beach.  There was a light breeze that despite the sun made us feel cool.  I could run near the beach everyday…just sayin’.  ;)

Next up at mile 4 was another bridge.  This one was shorter yet slightly steeper than the first.  After this bridge, it was tough to see the ocean.  We passed mainly near the resorts and beach homes of Clearwater.   When we got to the turnaround point, the race directors didn’t completely shut down the road, therefore we were on the shoulder sharing it with cars trying to make their way to the beach for the day.  I think because the race was smaller and the fact that the road was the only way to these resorts, they couldn’t completely shut down parts of it.  I didn’t have an issue with it because by the turnaround, the runners had thinned out.

On the way back, I felt great.  I decided to pick it up a little and test out what I think would be near the race pace I want at the Philly Love Run in March.  I had about 5 miles on tired legs to get a feeling for it.  Miles 8 through 10 were a breeze.

Then came the bridges.

2015-01-18 20.58.02

If I were smart, I would have taken the bridge a little slower, but I didn’t.  I was feeling good and decided to just hammer through.  When I started the descent on the other side, my legs felt like they could cramp.  Full disclosure, I’ve only ever cramped in one race so I knew I was in for a little bit of hurt through the rest of the mileage.  I slowed down a bit and then got my legs back.  From mile 10.5 – 12 I was motoring at race pace again.  Then came the 2nd and last bridge.  I knew from the first, I’d be better to walk.  Yes only a mile left, but remember, this was a long run for me, not a PR course.

So I walked half the bridge.  Long runs are just time on your feet right…?

Either way, I came into the finish and was really pleased with the beautiful course, terrific weather, and amazing post race snacks.  Pasta, croissants, bagels, and beer!  Yes please!


The medals were also awesome – it’s the biggest one I have earned to date, even bigger than the one from the Pittsburgh Marathon!  After I finished, I headed to the stage area to await Shawna and find Colleen.  The weekend before, Colleen and I found out we not only were going to the same part of Florida but that we’d be running the same race!  Small world!  Her and her husband Jim were listening to awards (they’re fast..) and enjoying all that post race celebrations offer.

2015-01-18 21.07.58

( Don’t ask me why I thought pants were a good idea. )

After the race, Shawna and I headed back to well earned showers, food, and a post race nap.  We weren’t up for much more that day, so by the time we woke up, we decided to head to the beach to read, stretch, and take in the sunset.

2015-01-18 21.11.33

Thanks to Shawna’ parents, we were treated to a delicious seafood dinner to celebrate our accomplishment and also 12 years of friendship!  Snappers is definitely a restaurant I’d recommend if you’re ever in the St. Pete area.   The food is fresh and uniquely prepared.  I had snapper, shrimp, asparagus, and lobster risotto.  It was so much fun spending the weekend with Shawna and getting out of the winter misery of DC.


Here’s to more fun long run races and Florida visits with great friends!

Have you ever run a race as your long run?  What’s your favorite destination race?


Enchilada Stuffed Peppers {Veg Recipe}

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Abs Challenge Week 3: Beating Sugar Cravings

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360 Degree Ab Workout

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How’s the water situation going? Feeling fresh? I BET! Now it’s time to tune into targeting your abs this week in the FITNESS FOCUS But what does it mean to train your abs from all angles?  Well, your abs are more than just the front of your stomach and they require a bit more work […]

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