Monday, June 16, 2014

Sorry: Life Happens

I know it's been months and I apologize. I promise not to go silent again starting next week.  It's been a wild couple of months and I'll fill you in later.  However, I just HAD to post about Saturday's fundraiser.

Saturday, June 21, a FABULOUS salon in The Fan District of Richmond is hosting A Pink Carpet Night of Sweets and Treats to benefit my walk.  Tickets cost $30 and guests will get to walk the pink carpet, be photographed by paparazzi, have their nails painted, get chair massages, be entered to win amazing door prizes,eat delicious desserts, drink pink champagne punch, AND take home a gift bag of beauty goodies.  Oh yeah, guests can also get makeup tips and touchups, quick up-dos, bid on amazing silent auction items, and HELP FUND CANCER RESEARCH.  Don't you want to be there?

Call/text/email your friends and make plans to celebrate the first day of summer in style.  Buy tickets at 1213 Hair Studio (1213 W. Main St.) or online via my donation page at  The site doesn't say anything about tickets, but I promise you'll get them.  Just pay $30 per ticket and they will be waiting for you at the door.

The event is from 7-10 pm and will include goodies from many local businesses.  Come out to support my walk, breast cancer research, and good deeds by these companies: 1213 Hair Studio, Canine Adventure, Butler Photo Art, Red Eye Cookie Company, Chocolate Cravings, Chocolates by Kelly, Tina Take My Photo, The Caskey Creative, Uptown Color, The Richmond Kickers, The Richmond Flying Squirrels, Pecan Jack's, Wine & Design, Hanover Farm and more.

Hope to see you there!!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ode to Pollen

You are the Devil.
An 11 out of 12 count
Is simply evil.
I loathe you.
Why Richmond?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gorgeous Spring Weekend

I won't lie, I don't feel like writing.  But, that's just because I've been walking this weekend in the beautiful, pollen filled, sunny weather and I am TIRED.  I followed the suggested training and walked Tuesday at Reedy Creek Park with Canine Adventure, Thursday at Dutch Gap Conservation Area, Saturday at Robious Landing Park, and today at Appomattox Riverside Park.  Those of you who know the Richmond/Chesterfield area know I have been all over the place.  Whew, that was a lot of driving!

Thursday also included a ton of walking.  Of course, that was the intention, but it was more than expected.  I thought I was going for a 3.5 mile walk and figured an hour and fifteen minutes would be plenty to get in the walk with stretching before and after.  The timing was important because I had to meet a client for our first tutoring session.  It's a good thing she is understanding because the walk ended up being closer to 5-miles and took an hour and forty minutes.  I hate being late to see clients, but for the first meeting?  Unacceptable!  I realized I misread the trail map and called the client with plenty of time to spare, but I still felt awful.  Since I hate being late, and was horrified about it, I was seriously hustling and felt disgusting when finished.  Oh yes, changing in the car when you're a hot, sweaty mess, to meet somebody for the first time, is just fantastic.  And I was SO SORE the next day.

The soreness continued into Saturday, but I was eager to start the next walk.  This time, I went to a park that I'm very familiar with and new I wouldn't over do it.  It was perfect.  Here are a couple of views from my pre-walk stretch.  There was a random slab of concrete at the edge of the trail and I chose to use it for my relaxation spot.  The trees growing out from the bank framed the view perfectly.

The rest of the walk was fantastic.  I got to meet several very happy dogs out for adventures and even saw a group of deer jump across the path.  I tried to get pictures of them, but couldn't capture the moment well enough to share.  But, here are a few pics of spring in Virginia with the beautiful shades of green.

 Today I REALLY didn't want to walk.  Thankfully, I was able to meet my teammate Jo and she got me through.  I feel bad for slowing her down, but I'm still adjusting to the new shoes.  We went to a park that was new to me, but she knew the way.  The water views were amazing and I will probably go back on Thursday since it is pretty close to work.


Nice, right?

Okay, I'm exhausted.  Sorry this wasn't more witty/entertaining, but I'm hungry and cranky.  I just couldn't let more time pass before writing again because there would be too much to share!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best Day EVER!

What an amazing day!  I had the great joy of "shadowing" Meredith from a local business called Canine Adventure.  Meredith and her colleagues will pick your dog up and take him or her on a fun filled trip to a local park for about two hours.  Luckily, the day I scheduled with her had perfect weather.  I know it isn't always so nice, and they go out rain or shine.  It was just perfect for a day at the river with two sweet pups.  And, I did today's 3-mile training walk in a fun, new way.  Lucky girl!

Check out these rock formations.  Do they remind you of The Goonies?  That's all I could think about while walking on them.  Note, I couldn't get the little Pitty out of the picture because she was too busy barking at the floating stick.  The stick was later rescued by a brave, yellow lab who really didn't care if he fell into the water hole.

This afternoon the marketing materials for my new business arrived!  They look great and very professional; I feel like such a grown-up.  I immediately slapped on the car magnet and plan to start getting flyers and business cards out to schools tomorrow.  Another step closer to being my own boss!  If you are in the Richmond area, please keep me in mind if you know of a child who needs a math tutor.  I'm a certified teacher and absolutely love working with kids in a way they get/enjoy.

If you have any ties to Central Virginia please "Like" my business page on Facebook to help spread the word.  Feel free to contact me if you'd like any info.

So, today was awesome.  Tomorrow, I have to get back to the grindstone and try to remember that Spring Break is only a week and a half away.  I can do it!  Then, assuming I still have a suit that fits, I'll be taking Aqua Zumba for my Wednesday workout.

I hope your day was as beautiful as mine and that you have something to look forward to tomorrow.  Enjoy the lovely weather!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tomorrow.... It begins

This is it.  After months of lead up, the 24-week training program begins tomorrow.  How does it begin?  With a "rest" day.  Apparently, SGK knows about Mondays!  The program requires walks Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday with other training Wednesday/Friday and rest on Monday.  And, I got new shoes to kick it off right.  Thanks to the guys at New Balance Richmond for their help and expertise.

If you've been following this blog, you can surely tell from my lack of writing that I've been a lazy bum lately.  Since I am absolutely dedicated to walking the full distance in September, the laziness is over and the training is on like Donkey Kong.  Thankfully, each of the four walks this week only need to be three miles.  Those I should be able to do, but the other workouts.......?

Wednesday I am trying Aqua Zumba for the first time.  I've taken the "land-based" class by this instructor many times and it kicks butt.  Hopefully, the water version will do the same, but help me ease back into regular training.  Friday I'll take Body Pump for the first time in several years.  I used to take it almost every day and am pretty psyched to be back at a gym that offers Les Mills workouts.  I'm guessing that the walks this weekend will be quite "ouchy" after the six billion squats I'll do Friday.  That's okay, I need it.

Any CCPS employees who don't know about Midlothian Athletic Club (MAC) should check it out.  They give us a sweet corporate rate and have amazing facilities.  I love the outdoor pool for summer and the indoor one for classes.  Plus, the hot tub is amazing and so are the instructors.  I'm so glad to be back!

I did go for one walk this week.  Monday was gorgeous and I took a quick hike at Point of Rocks/Dodd Park in Chester, VA.  It has an amazing boardwalk over the marsh and is so reminiscent of South Carolina.  I really do miss the smell of Pluff Mud and this was pretty close to the real thing.  For those of you who don't know what I mean:

"Pluff mud [plŭff-mŭd], noun, A mixture of dirt and water indigenous to the marshes of the South Carolina Lowcountry, with a distinct odor that’s endearing to locals, but off-putting to tourists and redcoats."  Courtesy:

If you're in the area, this is a park you don't want to miss.  I saw such a fantastic array of birds, including a huge Blue Heron and beautiful Red Winged Blackbirds.

That's all for now, but I promise to check in again after Aqua Zumba.  As always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Let me explain...

My last walk was March 9 in Warrenton, VA.  It's a nice, paved, local trail that is part of the Rails to Trails system.  My mom and I did the 3-mile down and back with no big issues.  But, by the time we got home, my shin was really hurting.  It turned out I had shinsplints from my lack of stretching, and I've been nursing them ever since with stretches, ice, and special exercises.  I'm feeling better now and will be walking again Friday.  Hey!  Looks like I learned yet another lesson.

So, here's a run-down of what's happened since I've been away.

Tuesday, March 11 - My fundraising event at F.W. Sullivan's.  It was great of Sully's to let me use the space and the vendors were awesome.  Unfortunately, only a few people came.  So, the event was a bust as a fundraiser, but I did make some great connections in the networking field.

Thursday, March 15, I had an interview with a great local business.  I'm going to do a few days of shadowing with them this spring and will hopefully be a great fit.  This could combine a few of my absolute passions and I'm really excited about the possibilities.  I'll tell you all about it after I know more.

The problem with following one's passion is that it rarely pays well.  If I'm going to leave teaching, I have to make up the difference somehow.  So, I brainstormed a bit and talked to my husband about possibilities, and think I'm going to try something really scary.  I'm hoping to start my own tutoring business for students in Math 5 - Algebra.  I might add on Math 3-4 and more high school courses later, but I want to start in my comfort zone.  So, this could be my last year in the public school classroom!  I'm going to give it a year and then reevaluate my position.

Friday, March 16 was the start of VCU's part in the A-10 tournament.  For those of you who don't know, I'm a bit obsessed with Ram basketball.  I watched that game with my mom and talked to her about my ideas for the business.  At that point I was still pretty unsure of the idea because it just seemed too risky. And then we got Chinese food.  This was my fortune:

 That was all the sign I needed!

Saturday and Sunday were great days, full of friends, fun, and basketball.

So, now I'm looking forward to Friday.  I have a 3-mile walk planned through the Museum District of Richmond and then I'll be watching the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Hopefully, I'll only have time for a short walk Sunday before the next game!

I'm ready!

Monday, March 3, 2014

All in a Richmond Winter

Yesterday was GORGEOUS.  People were everywhere in flip-flops and tank tops.  Richmond was basking in the 75 degree weather and I was eager to start my walk.  My plan was for 6 miles and I was prepared with water, Gatorade, and roasted almonds for my "after snack".  Daffodils bloomed, robins hopped, and spirits were high.  This is a walk I've blogged about before, so I didn't take pictures.  I just set off with all the others out there enjoying the weather.

At mile four, it started to rain.  But, my walk trainers say we have to prepare for rain, so I was glad for the opportunity.  It was my first official rain train and I appreciated the refreshment.  Carrying a pack while walking in the sunny seventies makes a girl pretty warm and the rain was nice.  Plus, I only had two miles to go, right?  Not surprisingly, the traffic dwindled with the continuation of the rain, but I kept on.  I didn't really have a choice considering I had to get back to my car.  But still, I was pleased with myself.

And then I was at mile six.  But, where was my car?  Where was the finish line?  There wasn't anything familiar in sight, but the trail continued, so I kept moving.  Then it was mile seven.  And it was still raining.  And still no car in sight.  UGH!!!  So, I stopped for a selfie...  The result was a bit crazy, but I'll share.

Finally, the end was there, and I was finished.  My shin was angry and I was exhausted, but I got in 7.5 miles.  The rain continued off and on, I cleaned myself up and went to sleep early, and woke to a call that school was cancelled for snow.  That's right.  Mid-seventies one day and 20's with snow the next.  That crazy lady, Mother Nature, gave me a couple of snow days to recover.  She's my new bestie!

One thing these walks give me is time to think.  I realized on this hike that I never blogged about Mid-Lothian Mines Park.  It was a walk I took after school one day when I was in a particularly foul mood. It's beautiful and very accessible.

Amusingly enough, it was the park's fowl that made the trip so enjoyable.  I was just fascinated by the ducks.

I stopped just before the bridge below to watch the birds.  The picture above is of the Mallards that dive bombed me because they thought I had food.  It really was so much fun to be standing there with the ducks landing on the water around me.  But, they weren't the ones I was captivated by.

At the other end of the bridge, I saw ducks similar in size to the Mallards, but with white heads.  While I was watching, one dove under the water, presumably for food.  That's not strange but, as I watched, it didn't come back up.  Of course, eventually it did, but it seemed to take forever.  So, the next time it dove, I counted.  Twenty seconds that thing was under water!  I was amazed.  But, I figured I should start moving again, so I continued with my walk.

When I got to the end, it had only been 1.8 miles.  I wasn't too pleased with that total, but I was tired.  However, I decided to turn around to go the other way around the lake.  You know, to get a different point of view.  I am so glad I did!  When I got back to the bridge, I saw something I've never seen before in "the wild"... otters!  That's right, there were two otters swimming around between the bridge and the shoreline.  It blew my mind.  I tried and tried to get pictures of them, but the squirmy guys kept ducking under and were a bit too far away.  So, I walked to the other side of the lake and sat on a bench to take it all in for a bit.

It was the most relaxing time I've had in awhile and I am so appreciative to have found this spot.  What a great place to unwind after a stressful day of working with "tweens" and dealing with school politics.  The short stroll was only about 2.75 miles, but I'm sure to be back soon for the wildlife and sunset.

So, once again this training has taught me a lesson.  When you want to give up, but know you still have work to put in, just turn around and go the other way.  Changing the point of view may change the whole walk.  And, you just might see some otters!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Feeling Better

It's been a rough couple of weeks.  But, even with the impending snow storm, signs of spring are everywhere and I'm starting to feel like myself again.

I apologize for the lack of writing, but I haven't had much to write about.  Three weeks ago, I was supposed to complete 13 miles during the week.  I did zero.  Two weeks ago, I was expecting 14 miles.  I got 2.75.  Over this last week (ends tomorrow) I planned for 13.  So far I have 4.5.  I'm planning 6.5 tomorrow and I hope the weather cooperates.  If it happens, I'll have 11 miles for the week.  Progress will be made!

Today started out with breakfast at an old school "lunch counter" with the biggest omelet I've ever eaten.  Midlothian Apothecary is fantastic and I can't wait to stop in for lunch and a milkshake; I hear they are amazing.

Cute, right?

Today's walk was just that, not a hike. That's okay since I'm out of practice.  It was a GREAT day to walk along the James River right here in Richmond.  We are lucky enough to have a decent park system along the water that makes for beautiful views.  A couple of friends joined us and tons of people took advantage of the sunny weather.  Thanks to Kelly and Todd for spending their morning with us.  We've never taken one of these hikes with anybody else and the miles flew by while we chatted.  We took lots of pictures, so I'll just upload some of them.  Notice the icicles on the falls.  It was chilly!

 The Boulevard Bridge (Nickel Bridge) with The Carillon in the background.

Icicles hanging from the branches stuck on the falls.

Like I said, it was a pretty walk.  Tomorrow's won't be pretty, but it will be effective and the day is supposed to be warm in front of the coming storm.  I enjoyed my romp through Woodlake last time I did their 10K trail, so hopefully it will work for me again.

While I haven't been walking much, I have been working on fundraising events.  I'm looking forward to happy hour and shopping for a cause at F.W. Sullivan's Canal Bar & Grille on March 11.  If you can come out for the fun, it starts at 5 pm.  If not, please check out the links below and, if you're in need of any products, please buy through my parties.  If you can't come out that night and you don't want to buy anything from the links, it's no problem.  I have several events planned between now and September!  Of course, if you'd like to help, don't live in the area, and don't want to buy anything from an online party.... just donate using one of the many links on this page :)

Here are the fabulous products and party links:

Great products for entertaining in your home.  I LOVE their sangria mix and several of their cheese ball recipes.
Shop using this link:  Tastefully Simple Direct Link

Beautiful bags with all types of colors and fonts to embroider and personalize.  I have one bag for school, another for workout clothes, and two thermal bags.  They are super durable and look great.
Shop using this link:  Thirty One Gifts Direct Link

Open-style locket necklaces and bracelets you personalize with your favorites.  These are always a hit and I can't wait to make one to commemorate my training, fundraising, and amazing journey.
Shop using this link:  Origami Owl Direct Link

Body wraps, supplements, moisturizers, and more!  These products make you shine inside and out.  Shop using the link below and comment that it is for my party.
Shop using this link:  It Works Direct Shopping Link

Thanks so much for any support you can offer.  
Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lesson Learned

All of us have days we don't want to work out.  Hopefully, when that happens, we can power through.  Well, I had a whole week like that.  Some days I made it work and others... not so much.

I was in a serious funk all week.  It started Monday with gray, gross weather and a cancelled faculty meeting.  I tutor at four on Mondays and often have some sort of meeting beforehand.  That means, I have to walk at the gym after tutoring.  But, on the rare instance the time immediately following school is open, I get my walk in then.  That way, when I finish tutoring at five, I can be FREE for the rest of the evening to do exciting things like vacuuming or laundry.  Or, let's be honest, laying around and playing on Facebook.

Last Monday being the first one of the month, we were scheduled for our regular faculty meeting.  So, I planned to go to the gym after tutoring and didn't have my workout clothes at school.  Then, I found out the meeting was cancelled which meant, if I'd just had enough foresight to bring my clothes anyway, the walk could have been over with before I left to tutor.  Instead, I killed an hour and a half doing work at my desk.  I know it was all stuff I had to do anyway, but it still annoyed me.  Can you guess what happened after tutoring?  I don't really remember what I did, but I do remember it wasn't walking.  There is definitely a reason Susan G. Komen recommends Monday to be the "rest day" during training.  Who wants to work out the first day back at the grind?  And, it was no big deal, I still had six more days in which to fit those four training walks.

Tuesday?  Nope.

Wednesday?  Yes!  I didn't want to, but I went to the gym and rode that black belt to nowhere all three miles.  And?  I hated every minute of it.  I haven't gotten blisters on any of my training walks, but I did while using the treadmill.  I hate that thing.  Plus, I can't seem to walk in a straight line unless I'm looking right at the machine.  Distance/Time/Calories/Heart Rate over and over again.  When I don't look at that thing, I veer off and bump into the rails.  Reading while walking has never seemed like an option for me, but I think I may have to try it next time.  Seriously, I never realized how important changing scenery is until I had to stare at the same space for an hour.  Even with music... BORING!!!

Thursday?  I got out there again.  I'm free after three on Thursdays and the weather was okay - gray, but dry - so I decided to hit the streets around school.  I managed 2.35 miles of the three I was supposed to cover and I'd had enough.  I just couldn't do it.  I saw a coworker as I was finishing up and she said, "That doesn't seem like a very motivated walk.  I hope you're finishing and not just starting."  She was right, I wasn't motivated from step one and I was finished, done, kaput.

Friday was supposed to be my third three-mile walk of the week.  Didn't happen.

Saturday was supposed to be a two mile walk.  Didn't happen.  Instead, I hibernated.  I mean hard core, slept all day, made like a bear, hibernating.  It was glorious!

For those of you not keeping count, that made it Sunday with 5.65 miles left for the week.  I refused to get behind on my first week of organized training, so I did a Google search and found a trail nearby to try.  I woke up Sunday ready to go.  Apparently, I really needed that day of rest because this morning was the first time I felt "normal" all week.  It's a good thing, because today's walk was rough.  The lesson I learned?  It's probably better to do the short training walks than to cram them all into one day.  However, despite being cold and gray, the location was beautiful.

I chose to do the 10K training trail in the Woodlake Subdivision of western Chesterfield County.  It's a gorgeous community abutting the Swift Creek Reservoir, full of wildlife, and crisscrossed  by trails for walking, running, and biking.  The picture above is a group of ducks that I scared off before crossing their lovely pond.

I've been to this neighborhood before and to most of the subdivisions in the area.  But, for some reason, I'd forgotten all about the hills.  There were a lot of them.

I guess when you're driving to your friends' houses, you don't think about the hills in their neighborhoods.  No, it's not until you're heaving at the top of those hills and trying to say a polite, "hello" to people passing by that you really get a feel for the local topography.  But then, I'd get to see things like this...

... while walking over a quaint, wooden bridge and catching my breath.  Despite being painful, it was somehow relaxing.  I never listened to the iPod, just the twittering of birds and chattering of angry squirrels.  I exchanged pleasantries with others on the path - some of them clearly struggling and some making full out running look easy.  And, I got to end the walk on a beautiful bridge by the community marina.  Sea gulls circled and screamed overhead and, if I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine being at the ocean.  I was tired and cranky at the end of the 6.5 miles, but I was still able to enjoy the moment.

I am not enjoying it now.  My butt hurts.  My hips hurt.  My neck hurts.  My feet hurt.  Weekly mileage covered and a valuable lesson learned.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Big Things are Happening

Great news!  The letters I took so much time to write last weekend paid off and I've confirmed two businesses to sponsor fundraising events.

The first will be held at F.W. Sullivan's Canal Bar & Grille on Tuesday, March 11.  This is a "vendor fair" tentatively scheduled for 5-9 pm.  We will have consultants from It Works, Thirty-One Gifts, Tastefully Simple, and Origami Owl.  Each consultant has pledged a percentage of their sales to my walk and they are donating door prizes.  Every person who comes to Sully's during those hours will receive one ticket to the door prize drawing.  Additional tickets will be sold and donations will be gratefully accepted.  So, come happy hour for a good cause!




The second event is in the very early stages of planning, but it will be held at 1213 Hair Studio on West Main Street in The Fan District of Richmond.  More details will be coming soon for this amazing Night of Beauty.

I am so thankful to these businesses and so excited for the events.  Please take a moment to check out the web sites of all the companies supporting me.  Then, come by Sully's on March 11 to place your order!!  If you can't be at the event, on-line sales will be available.  I'll post that info as my consultants set up the "parties".

Monday, February 3, 2014

Today's the Day

Today I begin truly training for my 3-Day training.  That's right, I'm training to train.  I have to make sure I'm in the habit of working out six days a week before I absolutely HAVE to do it.  That starts March 30.  Unfortunately, this crappy weather means I have to drive to the gym and jump on the black belt to nowhere.  Ugh!  I hate doing an hour on a treadmill.  I hope there are some sweet gym sites to keep my mind occupied.  You know what I mean.  Maybe I can snap some pics all incognito like....  Updates to follow.

The deep freeze in the south has allowed me to become a slug, hence the journey back to the gym, but I have managed to get a few things accomplished.  For instance, I wrote letters to businesses in hopes of drumming up interest in two events I'd like to hold as fundraisers later this spring.  I have another $2,010 to raise and seven months in which to do it.  Fingers crossed that I find some takers!

My last hike was done waaaaaaaaay back on January 20.  I finished 7.5 miles at Pocahontas State Park and, despite a death defying creek crossing, didn't die on the journey.  Here are some pics to commemorate the occasion.

Beautiful, right?  That water crosses the dam and then forms a nice, little creek.  I was walking a path typically used by mountain bikers and trail riders and there aren't any footpaths for crossing.  You basically just rock hop.

Well, in the summer you rock hop.  It was a beautiful day for January, but I certainly didn't want to walk the last three miles of this hike with wet feet, pants, or anything else.  When it comes to that sort of thing, odds are I will fall in and be miserable the rest of the day.  It wasn't very deep at that spot so I thought I might find a way across downstream.  However, I'm lazy and not willing to walk too far out of my way, so I improvised.  This is what I found.

You may notice the water is a little deeper here, but I still thought it was doable.  I did a lot of testing first to make sure the tree could hold me.  I kept getting the image of getting half-way out there and hearing a "SNAP" as the tree broke under me and I went crashing onto the river rocks in the cold water.  The tree seemed sound, so I made it happen.  Obviously, I am not so bold as to "balance beam" this thing, so I did like any delicate lady and straddled the giant log.

This "selfie" brought to you by the letter "F".... for fear.  I was sort of stuck on a knot in the wood and my left leg wouldn't go over it.  I was too scared to do anything else, so I laughed and took a picture of the fun.  Then, I looked around, noticed some rocks below and made an impressive dismount, followed by a jump to the opposite bank.  The rest of the walk was long, but uneventful.

It was the longest hike to date, but still less than even half of my daily goal in September.  This is the mission of a crazy person.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Caledon State Park

This was by far the most difficult hike I've had so far.  Not because the trail was super difficult (it was correctly labeled as "moderate") but because I haven't hiked in three weeks.  In fact, I haven't even done a decent walk in two weeks.

Typically, I was getting sore/cranky after about 2.5 miles.  This time, it took about 0.25 mile before I was complaining about my calves and wanting to sit down.  At 2.4 miles in, I had a decision to make:  Loop around for just another mile or take our original trail for two more miles.  I decided to put on my "big-girl panties" and do the full hike EVEN THOUGH the trail map said that next mile was the most difficult in the park.  Here's a picture of my joy...  Yeah, that smile is fake.  What of it?

 As things always seem to happen with our walks, Mother Nature had other plans.  A fallen tree caused the destruction of a boardwalk on our selected trail, so we had to design a different trek.  At least we knew about it before we started out!  I was SO SURE that if we just connected the outside loop with the first half of our trip, it wouldn't add much distance.  As my father always says, "Often wrong, but never in doubt."  As I like to say, "Wrong again."  The walk went from four miles to 5.5.  Again, I was tired at 0.25 and truly over it at 2.5.  Then, I did the most difficult part of the hike and added on an additional mile and a half.  At least that last part was fairly easy.

How did I get through it?  I had to stop a lot, especially at the top of hills (and half-way up as well) to catch my breath and try not to vomit.  But, while gasping for any small bit of oxygen, I was able to look out over the ravines, creeks, and forest and be thankful.  I was thankful for the ability to feel the pain in my lungs, calves, etc. and to spend a beautiful day with my husband who supports every crazy thing I do.  I took a moment to be thankful for the people who read this blog, even though I can't seem to maintain a publishing schedule.  I was thankful for all of it, every painful breath and every extra step.

Tomorrow I go for eight miles.  It's my longest distance to date, but the weather is supposed to be fantastic and I need to stretch the calves that are still so tight.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Today I walk for Meg

By now, many of you have heard about the tragic death of Meg Cross Menzies.  If not, please look for her event on Facebook or Twitter #megsmiles.  I can only put in four miles today, but I'm hoping for eight on Monday.

Even if you don't do it for Meg, do it for yourself.  Get out and feel the cold on your face.  Work up a sweat, feel a bit of pain, and breathe in the fresh air.  Do it because you can.  

My heart goes out to all of Meg's families.  Her blood family, the Hanover Police family, and her Sigma sisters, especially VCU Xi class.  You each hold a special place in my heart.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to All!!

I am very happy to wish you a merry Christmas from a cozy seat in my sister's home.  My mom and I made a sneak attack on Huntersville, NC last night in order to bring something very special to a wonderful little girl.  It was the funniest Christmas Eve I've ever had and I'm not sure I'll have one quite like it again.  Sadly, we were detected, but not by my niece, so it didn't take away from the "Santa Magic" we made happen in the yard.  It was absolutely priceless to hear that sweet two-year-old tell us about the amazing things Santa did for her.  "He's a nice guy like my Daddy!"

The beautiful neighborhood of Birkdale Village offers a lot of amenities, including walking trails.  We decided to take advantage of both the trails and the sunshine while I tested my newly downloaded app, Map My Run.  How did I not know about this awesome app?  It's free and follows my routes with terrifying accuracy.  I guess "Big Brother" will be watching, but that's okay as long as I can track the distance of my route, calories burned, and elevation changes.  Worth it!

Two great things about this picture... 1) My mom's shadow: we're professionals here.  2) My "fat", pregnant sister.  Yeah... that's 23 weeks in.

We covered 3.4 miles and we'll probably do something similar tomorrow before I drive home.  I'm always sad to leave this place; it has everything.  Well, not everything.  One thing Birkdale Village doesn't have right now?  My super husband.  He's back in The RVA (Richmond, Virginia for y'all out of staters) working, hanging out with the dogs, and celebrating another year of greatness.

For Brian's birthday, he just wanted to go for a hike in nice weather and bookend that hike with good meals.  Yep, he's easy to please( #luckygirl).

We started with breakfast in Hopewell, VA at a small place "downtown" called Carter's Courthouse Cafe.  It was quaint and well-priced, but don't go there if you're in a hurry.  It's the quintessential "Mom & Pop" restaurant with a very homey feel.  They also have a food challenge Brian wants to complete on a day we don't plan to hike: 16 oz Porterhouse, 3 giant pancakes, eggs, and some other stuff in 30 minutes.  Complete the challenge and you get the meal for free. I'm not sure why he feels the need to do that, but I'll go along with him.

From there, we took Route 10 east to Surry for our hike at Hog Island Wildlife Preserve.  The only problem?  It was Saturday and, unbeknownst to us, the area is only open to hiking on Sunday.  So, like the good scouts we are, we had to improvise.  Luckily, we were only three miles from another hike on our list so we turned around, reset the GPS and headed over to Chippokes Plantation State Park.  We had only planned to walk 3.8 miles and this one was listed at 5, but we were okay with the distance.  We were somewhat concerned about the timing of the hike because we had plans for that evening, but we decided to go for it.  We should have stuck to the trail.

When will my husband learn not to follow my lead?  Our map gave us accurate distances and expectations.  However, there was a "down and back" spur, 0.9 miles each way, that was super boring.  I don't do well with super boring walks, so when I saw a trail sign with an alternate option, I did the math and suggested we take it.  From my calculations, the new route would be 0.1 mile longer than the one we were on and would offer new sights.  There is NO WAY that trail sign was correct and that was before I had my sweet mapping app.  We felt like it would never end.  The walking wasn't difficult, it just never stopped and never got anymore exciting than the other path.  Shouldn't I know better by now?

We finally made it to the connection with our original route and things got back on track.  Sadly, the last mile of that track was on a sandy beach along the James River.  Yes, it was beautiful.  No, walking on sand for mile #5 (we guess) is not fun.  And, once again, it just wouldn't end.  Plus, the park administration should really organize a beach clean up; it was pretty trashy in spots.  However, for the second hike in a row, I got to see sights I'm only used to seeing in South Carolina.  I didn't know these trees existed in our area of Virginia and I love them.  Plus, the afternoon sunlight was perfect for pictures.

By the time we got back to the car, it was five o'clock and too late to do all the things we'd hoped to fit into the day.  But, we felt accomplished and stopped at El Patron in Chester, VA for a great dinner.  Have you ever been too tired to drink at a Mexican restaurant?  I have, and it was sad.  I guess that's a sign of a good workout?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Apologies

I know, I know...  But, it's a busy time of year, right?  Plus, I'm doing so much walking that I don't want to do anything when I get home except slump into the couch.  So, I grudgingly write this update.

To begin, I have a recipe you must try.  I got this from Everyday Paleo by Sarah Ferguson.  If you are interested in trying the Paleo Diet, but want more info and some interesting recipes to avoid the "meat, veggies, fruit, repeat," this is a great read.  I made this the other night and ended up eating the whole pan (not recommended).

Savory Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 400
Peel and cube sweet potatoes to cover bottom of a 9x13 baking dish (typically 3 spuds)
Sprinkle potatoes with 1 tsp sea salt, 2 Tbsp dried basil, and 4 minced garlic cloves
Melt 3 Tbsp coconut oil and drizzle over potatoes (it doesn't taste like coconut)
Bake 30-45 minutes until browning, depending on size of  cubes.

Now for the walking... and walking, and walking, and walking.

I'm proud to report that I've made progress!  I'm now doing three miles 3-4 days a week after work.  Any teachers out there should understand how difficult it is to do that much walking after a day in the classroom.  I'm not quite sure what will happen after Winter Break when I need to bump up to four miles.  It will probably be getting dark by the time I finish (I can NOT do it before school) and I don't know how I'll make it that far or where I'll walk.  Then again, I wasn't sure how three miles would go and I rocked that while maintaining my slow, but steady, pace.  

In order to mix up the sights and sounds of these jaunts, I'm trying to visit local parks.  So, I did a short, 1.3 mile walk last week at Rockwood Park.  If you are in Chesterfield County, VA and haven't utilized the trails there, you need to get on it.  They've put a lot of work in recently and your tax dollars are paying for it, so get over there.  The main trail is paved and, while shortish, is intense.  I was so proud of myself for completing it at the same pace as I do my daily, basically flat walks.  The fact that it was freezing probably helped keep me moving.  I plan to combine two trails there on Thursday to get my three miles.

The hike this weekend was at Westmoreland State Park.  What a gorgeous place!  It's a National Historic Landmark and we enjoyed the views so much, we're planning to rent a cabin there sometime in the spring.  We're excited to explore the trails we missed and the fossil beach.  That's right, I'm a nerd.  What of it?
Anyway... I feel like I can best tell the story of this hike through pictures.  Keep in mind, we did this hike the day after our part of Virginia received roughly an inch of rain.  It was muddy in spots and slick almost everywhere due to the layer of leaves over the muck.  Think about that when you look at the first picture.  

It started flat enough.  Then we went down, and down, and down.  I may have slipped a few times, but always caught myself before death and destruction ensued.

Next, we crossed over a marsh and through a dead, forested area reminiscent of something from The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland.  Pictures simply cannot do this part justice.  It was fascinating.

Down a boardwalk, to the observation tower.  This made the slipping and sliding so worth it and reminded me of good times on the sea islands of South Carolina.  I had no idea the Potomac River looked like this away from civilization; it's just beautiful.

Feeling refreshed from our break, we continued down the boardwalk.  Here, it got REALLY muddy, but we surged ahead.  Obviously, on hikes, what goes down must go up, and up, and up.  Oh my gosh, did we hike up.

Ummm...yeah.  I don't think this needs a caption.

Here's a fun fact.  That hill came after a steep set of 87 stairs.  That's right, my husband counted the stairs.  When he told me how many there were, I thought maybe he was just picking a random number for sarcasm (I do that a lot).  I married a man who does not exaggerate numbers.  His response to my query about counting stairs?  "I had to do something!"  Apparently, while he is typically ahead of me, he is just as pissy about the inclines and climbs as I am.

After all that climbing, I was still in good spirits.  And then I got to the top of that ridge and saw this...

I broke.  It was just for a minute, but I did.  I truly thought, "That's it, I'm done."  And then laughed at myself.  What was I going to do, have Brian carry me up the stairs?  Call the local EMT?  Medi-Vac?  I haven't reached that level of desperation.  Plus, Brian yelled down, "Hey!  There's a bench up here."  So, I took these stairs much like I expect to take Day 3 of the Komen; just putting one foot in front of the other #3DayWalk.  I rested on each landing and plopped my butt right on the bench at the top to guzzle some water.  

Thankfully, it was smooth sailing for about the next mile back to the car.  And, you know what?  We want to do it again!  That's the sign of a great hike.  It had decent distance (3.6 miles - not too short or too long), beautiful views, and crazy topography to make for a serious workout.  Recommended!!

Also recommended?  Our breakfast stop for the day!  If you have the chance, hit up Sunday brunch at O'Banks Cafe & Grill in Ashland, VA. This was the best omelet I've had in a long time and every dish is served with fresh fruit.  Don't let the shopping center environment deter you, it is lovely.  O'Banks also has a great lunch/dinner menu, a long list of craft beers, and a hearty bourbon menu.  We will definitely make the drive for dinner and drinks sometime soon.  Check it out @O'BanksCafe&Grill, on any form of social media (they really put it out there) or I'm just glad I found it by checking Yelp for breakfast restaurants near Ashland because neither of us had ever heard of the spot.  I love that Brian wants to explore these places with me!!

Yeah, that's hot.