1.) This isn't a popular opinion and I recognize that the following statement could get me deported, but here it goes anyway ...

... I do not like Minions.

At all. I think they're obnoxious. And let's be honest, they look like Twinkies with sprigs of pubic hair.

2.) The quickest way to get me to NOT click on your article or video clip is to put phrases in the title that include things like "You won't believe what happens next" or "what happens next will shock you" or "what you're about to see will shake the foundation of your very being and you won't be able to eat or leave the house for 2 weeks because you will be so emotionally suffocated by the knowledge that nothing else you will ever experience will even come close to what you're about to see". In short, don't use any kind of wording that alludes to the fact that my mind will be blown or that my world will be flipped upside-down. It's painfully obvious click-bait. Even worse? It's lazy journalism.

If you want me to click your link, just put "Click for puppies." Even if your article has nothing to do with puppies, just put it in the title. Trust me.

3.) I saw this recipe for mint Oreo brownies on Pinterest (because where else would I spend my time?) and found myself wondering where the mint flavoring comes from. Logic will tell you that it's from mint extract, but me? The honest-to-goodness first thought that popped into my head was: "Toothpaste." #ImadetheDeanslistonce

4.) I've taken to washing my hair every 2-3 days instead of every day like I used to. (Unless of course I get ridiculously sweaty or someone spills white paint in my hair while we're painting the trim on our house ... Clayton.) My hair is so fine that my freshly washed tresses are too silky to work with. I actually can't comfortably wear my hair down until it builds up a day or two of grease. Is that gross? It's gross. It's almost as gross as this meme. (P.S. This is the meme I email Clayton when I'm trying to flirt.)

Hope you're having a great week!


1.  Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail?
Mountain trail for sure. I love the beach and the ocean and all that jazz, but I don't like the sensation of running in the sand. I'd happily take dirt paths in the mountains, no matter how hilly. 
2.  If you could choose the flavor of Gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be?
Lemon lime, which works out swimmingly because that's the only flavor of Gatorade they've had at any race I've ever participated in. All other Gatorade is disgusting.
3.  If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it?
I would just put it towards a great pair of Brooks. Most Brooks run between $100-120 retail, so I wouldn't have any money left, but on the off-chance I found a pair on clearance and had a little bit leftover, I'd probably grab a pair of arm warmers ... mostly to annoy Clayton because in his words, "If you arms are cold, JUST WEAR SLEEVES."
4.  Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run?
My right eye started twitching just THINKING about going for a run without a plan. I always have a plan. Even during an easy recovery run, I got into it knowing exactly how many miles I want to do. It is kind of OCD, but it's also because I know the number of mileage I want/need to do on certain days in order to feel trained for a half marathon. Even when I'm not training for a race, I know the kinds of workouts and miles I need to put in to maintain fitness and hit new milestones. 
5.  Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill?
Start on an uphill and end on a downhill. I'm all for pushing yourself hard at the end, but I also know that running up a beasty hill after running for almost an hour is killer. Though I also believe in challenging yourself at the start, middle, and end, so would it be totally weird to suggest sprinkling in a few hills along the entire workout? ;)
6.  When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do?
I love physical activity and fitness PERIOD, so I'm always looking for new and fun things to try. I've done swimming, yoga, spin classes, P90X, Tae Bo, hiking, walking, rollerblading ... just let me get out there and sweat. 

7.  What is your preference: Out and back, point to point or loop runs?
Oooo ... I like all of those options! I try to do all three and it just depends on where I choose to run on that particular day. I think out-and-backs are great for your mental game (Ok, I can turn around in X amount of miles) and I also like the idea of doing smaller loop during a long run (Okay, I ran that 3-mile loop in X amount of time, let's see if I can do the loop faster the second time). Having a variety of places to run keeps it fresh and exciting.
8.  If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be a ...?
Getting a pair of shoes that fits YOUR unique feet and YOUR specific running stride is key and I think any runner would agree that you can't stress the importance enough. But I'd also advise to invest in good socks. Buying thick, cushioned socks made from moisture-wicking material made a huge difference in how I felt during and after a grueling run. I definitely recommend Bombas.
9.  Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs?

10.  Ever gotten lost while out on a run?
No, thank GOODNESS because my sense of direction is très terrible and my picture would easily end up on a carton of milk. 
11.  If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a long run for the next 30 days … what would that meal be?

12.  Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often?

I'll try to wear shorts in the middle of winter because I don't like feeling suffocated by clothing while I work out. But I also suffer from a great deal of um, chafing in the summer months, so I feel like my pants preferences are seasonably mismatched.

13.  At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go?

Mile 4 is my magic number. Which is really unfortunate sometimes when I'm only running 3 miles. 

14.  What do you do with your key when you run?

I once shoved my car key into my bra and nearly punctured a boob, so I invested in a super unflattering fanny pack that I can hide under my shirt. 

15.  If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be?

The first time I went sub-2 hours in the half marathon. I will never ever forget that feeling. It was only my third half marathon and considering my first half marathon only a year earlier was 37 minutes slower, I was in joyful shock. And also, crossing the finish line at my first full marathon. I don't care who you are of how fast or slow you are, 26.2 miles is flat-out AMAZING and it's still one of my proudest accomplishments. 

Here we are, another weekend come and gone. Another week of summer down the drain. Another week closer to winter.

(I was just about to add "and another week closer to death", but that's a bit dramatic, even for me.)

Our weekend was great! I crossed another small to-do off my last ditch effort to enjoy the remaining days of summer: Eat outside on the patio of a restaurant. In fact, I got to do that twice this week (I've always been an overachiever). I met my dear friend Emily for dinner last Wednesday, and then Clay and I met up with her and Dan for dinner on Friday. It was gorgeous on Friday!

It was the perfect weather for a post-dinner stroll on campus.

I was about to go crazy and cross yet another item off my summer list on Sunday, but as soon as I put on my bikini and packed a beach bag for the community pool, a giant thunderstorm rolled in.

So I took a nap instead.

Clayton and I tried our best to be productive this weekend. The red trim on our house is fading in the sun and turning um, pink, so we decided it was time to lug out the paint brushes and finally fix it. The red trim never bothered me as much as it bothered Clayton, but once I saw that it appears fuchsia in photos, I knew it had to go. My aunt actually thought we purposely picked that color and I can't stomach people thinking I actively chose to have a pink house.

We painted most of the trim in under two hours, but then realized that the ladder we had was too short to reach the space above our garage and had to stop. Clayton is afraid of heights and wasn't too keen on climbing on the roof to paint, so I told him to let me do it since I used to climb on the roof of our house all the time. Then I got on the roof and panicked and he had to climb up to help me ... and then he panicked. Then we sat on the roof panicking together for a solid 10 minutes.

So we're having someone come finish the job for us.

In the meantime, our trim is half white and half red. We look half ridiculous.

On Sunday morning I went for a very humid long run and I'm almost embarrassed by how slow it was. However, I completed the whole thing without passing out and actually felt like I could have kept going ... and sometimes that's all you can ask for. I listened to Josh Sneed's latest comedy album, so I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish.

I really, really enjoy documentaries and Neflix never has a shortage of films I'm interested in saving to my queue. On Saturday afternoon I started watching Fed Up, a documentary about the obesity epidemic and the food industry's role. If you have any kind of interest in your general health or your family's, I highly recommend watching it. It was actually pretty scary. And as someone who devoted her professional career to marketing, it made me hyper aware of the messages I could potentially help create.

The documentary recalls the prevalence of smoking advertisements and how the industry used to glamorize the use tobacco products (and oftentimes used celebrity endorsers). Several decades later, we're much more educated on the dangers of smoking and look back on those ads like, "What were we thinking? It's absurd to think that was okay!" Someday we'll (hopefully) be thinking the same thing about today's commercials and ads for sugar.

I told Clayton all about the documentary and what I learned ... and the very next day he brought me home cookies ...

... and I ate them because, AMURICA!

I hope your weekend was great and that your week is off to a lovely start!

My instinct was to start this blog post, "How is it already Wednesday?" when the reality is more like, "How is it ONLY Wednesday?"

I've had 3 sleepless nights this week and I can't for the life of me figure out why. Like clockwork, I'm wide awake at 3:00 a.m., completely unable to fall back asleep for at least an hour. Then when my alarm goes off, I feel like a zombie. My body only wants to sleep when it knows it can't.

But the good news is that I've been feeding my little family quite well over the past few weeks. I cleaned out my spice cupboard and it ushered in a whole new era of culinary exploration ...

... Actually, it was more like, "Hey, I have ground mustard seed! Neat!"

I found gnocchi on sale at our local grocery store for less than $2 a pound, so I made a giant pot of Oliver Garden's Chicken Gnocchi Soup. It's creamy, it's comforting, and I highly recommend using a rotisserie chicken from the deli. I omitted the butter and used fat-free half n' half to keep the calories from getting too out of control.

The copycat recipe can be found here.

I'm not a huge fan of fried chicken, but my mom used to make delicious oven-fried chicken that I would beg her to make for us. I recently stumbled upon a similar recipe onyou guessed itPinterest and it reminded me of my mom's. Since you're not frying the meat in oil, the skin isn't crunchy, but it's flavorful and savory. When you consider the amount of time the chicken has to marinade in buttermilk and the overall baking time, this dish is somewhat time-consuming, but it's great for a Sunday meal.

Recipe here.

One or both of us is always in the mood for Chinese food, but take-out is expensive (and my favorite Chinese restaurant is cash-only and who carries cash? Not this girl. But pennies? I've got pennies). I found a recipe for Stir Fry Beef and Broccoli on one of my absolute favorite food blogs, and we've had it twice in just as may weeks. 

The first time I made this, I used regular soy sauce because reduced-sodium anything is witchcraft. But guess what? It was a little too salty. So I bit the bullet and bought wuss soy sauce the second time around and BAM! The perfect dish. If you cook the beef on the slowest setting your stove will allow, the meat is tender and juicy and holy crap, I just made this last night and already want to make it again. 

Recipe here.

And of course, a meal is only as good as the table's centerpiece. 

And hey! I finally got my summer s'more. We used a candle lighter to toast the marshmallow because hey, resourcefulness.

I hope your week is going well! It's my understanding that a lot of the kiddos went back to school this week. My newsfeed blew up with photos of proud parents sending their little ones off and I was at home like, "I wrapped Joey in a blanket like a burrito this morning before I left for work." #petparent

♥ rainy days. They're calming, but then they also come with an odd sense of energy and excitement. I love how refreshing it feels, especially in the summertime. And really, I just love gray. I love gray rainy clouds and gray puddles collecting in the street. 

But you know what I don't love? When a day of steady rain unearths a multitude of worms that escaped from underground and are now flaying about on the sidewalk like they're in agony. Um, can you not? 

Back to things I love: I love running in the rain. I have fond memories of training for my second half marathon during a particularly rainy April. In fact, anytime I hear Britney Spear's Femme Fatale album, I'm immediately reminded of running up and down Clear Creek Trail with rain droplets on my face. 

Today was rainy and cool. It was a much welcomed break from the hot, disgustingly humid temperatures we've had for the past several weeks and I couldn't wait to get home and run after work. Though the rain clouds passed by the time I was laced up and ready to go, it was still overcast and breezy. In other words, it was perfect.


Apparently my problem with running in the summer is just SUMMER in general because as soon as the weather mimics autumn (if even for only one day), I am good to go.

I'm easing into my training plan for the upcoming Monumental Marathon, so I went out for a pace-conscious 4-mile run. But since my body was comfortable for the first time in about 2 months, I got through my run faster than I hoped/expected. Not having the sun beating down on my face makes a HUGE difference. 

^Um ya, that 6:36 is not my average pace (I wish!). It was my current pace for those last .05 miles. Anyone can run that fast for .05 miles. 

Mile 1: 8:30
Mile 2: 7:57
Mile 3: 7:56
Mile 4: 7:57

Today's run was a probably a fluke, but I don't even care. I needed a solid run. As soon as I finished, I said a quick thank-you to the Big Man Upstairs because He and I both knew I've been riding the struggle bus for months. 

Whenever people ask me about the key to my running success, I'm quick to tell them that my secret is simple: Look disgusting. I highly recommend completing your workouts while wearing over-sized, ratty t-shirts and sweaty headbands that haven't been washed since Khloe was still married to Lamar. You'll run fast because you're trying to outrun your own grossness. 

And I also recommend finding out just how unflattering of a picture you can take of yourself when you're done. I came pretty close to setting a personal record today.