reading – Dan Barber’s The Third Plate. Emily recommended this title to me a few months ago with the opening argument that It’s totally worth owning so I finally decided to make the purchase. I’m about 1/4 of the way through and holy. I’m equal parts fascinated and overwhelmed by the information in this book. It’s so interesting but it’s definitely something that you need an alert mind to read! Perfect for a lovely afternoon while…


sipping – iced tea + mint. I’ve found the perfect ratio for making iced tea. I’ve got this huge half gallon mason jar that I fill with hot sink water, 5 bags of black tea, 1 bag of Bigelow’s plantation mint tea, screw the cap on – keeping the tea bag string outside of the jar, and let it rest upside down in the fridge for a few hours. (That way the bags are submerged, since the string is screwed into the jar lid.) It’s delicious. Add a slice of lemon – yum. I’ve actually traded my travel mug of coffee in the morning for a cup of this stuff.

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tapering – with more tea! I had my last long run on Sunday and it was beautiful out. Though I had been considering otherwise the night before, I decided to get up early and run so that I could get some housework done. I’m so glad that I did. While it probably wasn’t too much above 70 degrees by the time I returned, it got up to 80 degrees in the afternoon! I took advantage of that while waiting for my laundry to be done and sat on the porch for a few hours, reading and recovering.

What does my training scheduling look like this week? A lot of easy/short runs! Maybe 10 miles total – if that. A short swim workout. And lots and lots of stretching + foam rolling!


celebrating – Ally’s graduation! Ally graduated over the weekend and I’m so proud of her! It was a day packed full of happiness, photos and lots of food.


also celebrating – Mother’s Day. Ally, Carly and I got together a few weeks ago to take some new portraits for mom. We had done this 5+ years ago and it was definitely time for an update! Here are some of my favorite shots. I ended up going with the one on the left to give as a gift.

writing – guest posts over at Azumio’s blog! My first one went live last week. Read it here: Defining Success as an Amateur Athlete. (There will be 7 more posts coming over the next few months!)


23 days until Sugarloaf. That’s 3 more long runs. 3 weeks of training. Guys, I don’t know how to feel about this! One second I’m extremely excited – feeling like I’ll go into it and crush my goals. The next, I’ll start feeling daunted by the whole process.

Most of all – I’m not entirely sure that I want this journey to end. It’ll be great for my social life but what on Earth did I used to do with all of that free time? I’m not kidding – that is a real question. Sometimes, when I have a particularly short workout planned for the evening – or if I manage to fit it in before work or during my lunch break – my evenings just feel so long. I’m so used to getting home at 7:30 where my schedule fits perfectly: cook, eat, shower, read, bed at 9:30. My evening ritual has been simplified so much and tuned to be so extremely efficient that a night off feels like so much time.

Did anyone else watch the Boston Marathon? I had the live video on the side of my screen at work. What an inspirational race. It’s hard to not be totally touched by the performance of over 30,000 athletes. I know that I want to run Boston someday. I hope that someday is next year – but I know that a 3:35 time is a huge accomplishment for my first marathon.

So how has this training been going? I know – I haven’t been sharing much about that lately. I’ve thrown myself into it 100% which has left little room for much else! I’ll share a little bit of what my training has been looking like.

I start each week with some cross training. I’ve been taking coach Kelsey’s spin classes and those have been killer workouts. Sometimes, depending on what my training looked like the week before, she’ll have me use the spin class as an active recovery – which means that I participate only to a certain predetermined level of effort. One class, I was allowed only to exert myself to 70%. The spin class after a really tough week and a noticeable bump in long run distance, I was to give only 30-40% effort. Normally, I’m a “go big or go home” kind of person, but I really like that Kelsey reels me in. A big part of her training is injury prevention and I’m so thankful that my body has been responding to the training. I don’t think that this injury-free training is luck-based at all.

Each week I also do a strength session. I look forward to these training days because they really switch up the pace of the week. They also tend to fall on days when my legs are just spent and could use an extra day off from running. Though I think it’s a combination of multiple factors of my training – I’m a total believer in building upper body strength to become a faster runner. These strength sessions are mostly calisthenics (and they tend to fall on the same day as the swim – see below) that involve pushups, planks, wall sits, the hardest ab move I’ve ever had to do, and a lot of dynamic moves for about an hour. Let me just say that before starting this training, I could do maybe 10 pushups. We now end every spin class with 50 pushups!

Kelsey knows that I’ll be participating in the Tri for a Cure again this year, so she’s been strategically placing some swim workouts in my training to get me started. I’m lucky to live 10 minutes away from a community pool that opens at 6am for adult lap swims. So you can bet I’m there bright and early flopping around in a lane. It took me a few weeks to really get the hang of swimming (let alone, first thing in the morning!) but I’m becoming more comfortable with pool etiquette (sharing a lane was an odd fear/insecurity that I had). I had always preferred open water swims, and I probably always will, but I’m getting really comfortable in the pool. I even did flip turns on Wednesday – and swam my first mile in 2015!


Once or twice a week, Kelsey has me doing speedwork. The type of speedwork varies, but what remains constant is that it’s hard and I always feel that those workouts give me such a confidence boost. For the first month and a half of training, some of these speed workouts were replaced with “treadmill mountains.” These workouts (perfect, since we were going through the worst winter in a few years!) consisted of cranking the incline on the treadmill and walking for 2, sometimes 5 minutes at a time. I recall one treadmill mountain workout where I had to run the mountain! (Perfect for Sugarloaf training.) Kelsey has had me doing Yassos, running with striders, and running at pace. Half way through training, I did a check-in run – where I ran 8 miles at marathon pace as a test, surrounded by a 2 mile warmup/2 mile cooldown. (At the time, I was up to ~15 miles on my longest run, so though the distance was shorter, the pace was definitely harder.)

Sometimes an easy run will be thrown into the mix. Easy runs usually occur the day before my long run or in the middle of the week as an extra “recovery” day. The goal: just enjoy yourself, love running, find gratitude. Funny enough – these runs are usually my least favorite. My expectations going into an easy run is that it’ll be quick (they rarely exceed an hour) and easy. The funny thing is that my legs are usually so tired on these days – and when you go into a run expecting it to be quick…it never is!

Of course, you can’t forget the rest day. I get Fridays completely off from training. Kelsey sometimes has me participate in assignments (one | two) on these days. They’re fun and thought-provoking exercises that have definitely improved my opinion of myself and my relationship with others.

The long run. The long run has actually consistently been my favorite part of marathon training. I didn’t expect it to be. At all. But each of these runs has been incredibly therapeutic and exciting. Because the sole purpose of the Sunday long run is endurance (not speed), I get to go out at 8am, run, explore new places, eat shot bloks and honey waffles, and return just in time for brunch. Really, it is the best.


I ran my first 20-miler two weeks ago and though it was quite painful at times, I was on top of the world. That 20-mile run is significant in the world of marathon training. It’s symbolic, in a way. Though I will be running close to 21 miles (maybe 22?) on Sunday, that 20-miler was the first time my watch (and my legs!!) had seen a 2 in front of another digit in terms of miles!

This has been an incredible journey. I have learned so much about my abilities as a runner, about running nutrition, about recovery. I’ve learned how to pace myself. I’ve learned how to run through pain and tired legs. I’ve learned how to find happiness and optimism in the most difficult of times. I’m so proud of myself for sticking to this. I haven’t missed a single training run. I’ve completed them all to the best of my ability. I want to run this marathon knowing that if something goes wrong, it’s not because I didn’t train as hard and smart as I possibly could.


It hasn’t all been fireworks, though. I’ve had my tough runs. I’ve had heavy legs that made me feel inadequate. I’ve had GI distress that destroyed my enthusiasm. I’ve felt fatigue that had me in bed by 7pm. I’ve had knee tightness that slowed my long run pace by more than 1:00 per mile. Runs that made me dread the next workout. I can’t help but feel that these tough times have humbled me quite a bit – have helped me prepare for any challenges that may arise on race day. Marathon training hasn’t been easy and I never expected it to be. Running my first marathon is going to feel like that much more of an accomplishment.

However, there have been some fantastic moments and accomplishments during this training. I’ve adopted a no excuses mentality – I learned to run in the worst conditions: snow, freezing rain, terrible wind – and I’ve come out a stronger athlete! I’ve learned how to properly foam roll and to actually do it regularly! I’ve improved upon my pre-race routine – heck, I get to practice every Sunday! I’ve PR’d my half marathon time (and in doing so, PR’d my 10k and 10 mile time too!). I have a new appreciation for slowing down, taking a walk, and going to bed early. I’ve made myself proud.

A quick glimpse into training since Feb. 1:
94 hours 33 minutes spent training (that’s almost 4 days!)
396.58 miles run
3.52 miles swum
1530 pushups
11 treadmill runs
11 rest days

This race has a reputation for being windy and rainy. For whatever reason, the weather never seems to cooperate on the day of this race. (Even as a precaution, all runners received an email a few days before about the dangers of hypothermia. Yikes!)


Hey readers! It’s been a while. I’m knee-deep in training right now, which I’ll talk about in a post soon, but for today I have a really exciting treat for you all.

I love cookbooks. I’m a cookbook hoarder/collector/connoisseur/hobbyist – if you will. When Linda Ly – the talent behind Garden Betty reached out to me to review her brand new cookbook (The CSA Cookbook) of course I accepted. As a regular reader of her blog, I had been anxiously awaiting her book release for a few months now. I am so honored to have an opportunity to write this review!


As a graphic designer, I’m compelled to talk about the design – after all, who isn’t immediately drawn to a well-designed book? At first glance, the cover design is incredibly catchy – something that I would definitely hone in on at the bookstore. I especially love the spine design with its white and lime lettering reading prominently against the bold red background. The book is enriched with colorful, contrasty photographs – many of which fill entire pages. Let’s take a moment to celebrate because every single recipe has a photo! Some recipes, which have more involved processes, include step-by-step photos as well.


I strongly encourage anyone who is lucky enough to hold this book to read it. I don’t mean absent-mindedly skimming the photos and glancing at the recipe names. There is some really valuable material in the content before the recipes. There is so much to learn from this book. Linda has filled those first 30+ pages with vegetable-storage tips, recipe basics, pantry staples and a list of helpful kitchen tools.

Many of my friends didn’t even know you could eat radish greens, let alone carrot greens. It seemed like half the vegetables you purchased went straight to the trash or, at best, made for some rather expensive compost.

Linda Ly, The CSA Cookbook

The CSA Cookbook is unlike many other cookbooks in circulation right now. The recipes are all unique in that they glorify, for the most part, using the whole plant. I didn’t even know that you could eat tomato leaves and broccoli leaves! I’m especially excited about a recipe that makes use of those tough kale stems.


There are some fantastic recipes in this book and some really creative ways to use even the most common of vegetables. The best part: none of the ingredient lists are extensive. I found that I had most of the ingredients in my pantry that were listed in the book! Sometimes the careful curation of ingredients in a cookbook is what ends up making it the most useful book on the shelf.


Another aspect that I picked up while reading is that there’s a lot of give with many of the recipes. Linda includes tables of ingredients in the front that work well together. For example – and I’m really excited about this one – she’s got a mix-and-match-style pesto recipe. Pick your ingredients from the table, blend, and eat.


A few days ago I had picked up some beautiful portobello mushrooms in preparation for dinner tonight. When I saw that basic pesto recipe, I decided that I had to try it out as a portobello burger topping. I didn’t have basil – and that’s okay. In fact, the whole point of her pesto table is that you’re encouraged to use other vegetables and greens to pull together a delicious condiment.


Using The CSA Cookbook as a guide, I pulled out some cilantro, spinach, walnuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil. Not your classic pesto by any means! Pulsing for a few seconds in the food processor, I had created a delicious spread for those portobello burgers. I love that Linda’s book encourages you to contribute some of your own creativity in the kitchen.


A few words about the style of recipes. The recipes are definitely plant-centric. It’s not 100% vegetarian: there are a few that include meats. For those of you who love your meat, there are a handful of recipes that will appeal to your tastes – but I don’t think you’ll miss the meat all that much. For those of you who are vegetarian – you can always forego adding the meat. The real star of these recipes are the vegetables anyways!


Interested in picking up your own copy? Check out The CSA Cookbook‘s page for everything you need to know! (Plus some interior shots of the book!)

I was given a copy of The CSA Cookbook in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own, and I think this book rocks!

practice gratitude

03 20 2015.

Gratitude - Send Cards

As I’ve mentioned before, Fridays are my rest days. Every morning, I look at my calendar to see what I have in store for the day. I’ve done hill climbs, speed work, endurance runs, and yassos – yet no daily task varies as much as Friday tasks do.

And for this reason, I love them. I opened up TrainingPeaks this morning to review my rest day assignment.

GRATITUDE! Send (or at least write) thank you notes to at least three people.

Kelsey Abbott, Find Your Awesome

I have a lot to be grateful for. I consider myself to be a lucky person, graced with many fantastic, inspiring, and selfless people in my life. Though I wasn’t immediately certain of who I was going to write to, I knew that I’d have no shortage of words.

The thing is, I was actually nervous to write. Writing thank you notes in such an out of the blue fashion seemed really awkward. I wasn’t sure how to start them. I considered starting with a disclaimer – hey I’m supposed to be writing thank-you notes to people so here goes – but that felt like I was undermining my gratitude and seemed entirely less authentic.

After sideways glancing at my stack of cards all day, I finally just said eff it and wrote. I decided to write on a piece of scrap paper first, rather than in the card itself – not convinced yet that my words would be worth sending. And I love everything that I had to say. It was completely honest and I set my reservations aside very quickly.

I wrote out four cards to four very special people. People who I am so very thankful to know and love; people who don’t often get to hear my thank yous because they’ve become (unfortunately) silently understood. Having written out the words – words that I will be sending – I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to say those things.

For the privacy of the recipients, I’m not going to share what I wrote here, but I want to strongly encourage others to thank the people around them. For doing absolutely nothing – and everything. It’s empowering and actually somewhat relieving to finally say things that needed to be said.

And send ’em snail mail style. Mail is exciting. You can hold it. It is precious, like the words you wrote.

It’s been forever and a day since I talked about my Sugarloaf training and just general life updates. So let’s jump right in!

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loving – daylight savings! I’d take dark mornings in exchange for light evenings any and every day of the year. While it’s unarguably easier to wake up to a warm, sun-filled apartment – I’m not a fan of leaving work in the dark, let alone running in the dark! I did catch a beautiful sunrise this morning, though, which I would have missed prior to the time change. Is it too soon to say that spring is here?


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readingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I just started it so I have very little to say so far. But, I’ve seen this book everywhere. Friends and other bloggers seem to all have read this book and say that it is, truly, life changing. One of the things that I’d like to accomplish this year is to get rid of a lot of the clutter in my apartment – unneeded things. I’m hoping that Kondo’s book will provide me with not only the motivation, but also the method to do this right. On queue: Dan Barber’s The Third Plate. I can’t wait to read this one. Em recommended this one and I trust her opinion completely. (She was the one who urged me to read Born to Run and Eat and Run – two of my favorite books!)


eating – everything in sight? I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting lately. I got myself a cast iron pan and made a really delicious frittata topped with smoked paprika! I’ve also been using the Spiralizer a lot more lately. Despite those two really awesome inventions, my diet is still mostly bananas and oatmeal.

learning – about food blogging! I took a food blogging class on Saturday and it was phenomenal! It was taught by Susan and Ted, two established chefs/photographers/bloggers from Spoon and Shutter. I had a great time. We talked a lot about recipe creation and appropriation, blogging ethics and, of course, photography! Susan baked up a delicious looking (and smelling!) rice pudding and we were given the opportunity to photograph the process for practice. Ted took photos as well, so we were able to watch his process. I’ve got some plans for Spice & Dice as well as another project involving food, so stay tuned!


recovering – from a really, really long run. Sunday morning I ran 15 miles! I’m getting to the point in my training where every mile beyond 13.1 is a new “longest run” for me! And that’s exciting. It’s not without a bit of pain, though. Running on snow and ice is actually pretty tough. It takes a toll on my knees (shorter, more cautious strides) and feet. When I returned from that run, I felt an odd sensation on my left foot. I removed my sock to find that I broke a toenail – right in half! It’s not as gross as it sounds, it doesn’t actually look bad at all. It just hurts a bit. It’ll probably bruise – but I can’t help but feel a little proud of my broken toenail. Does this mean I’m a real runner now? Was that my initiation?

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I wanted so badly to wear my running tights to work because my legs are stiff. Tights aren’t exactly work appropriate, especially since a client is coming to visit today – so I compromised. I traded my comfy pants in for compression socks. No one will know! (Except you.)

loving – a CLEAN FRIDGE! After my run yesterday, Darren and I did a deep clean of the kitchen. Mostly the fridge. This involved removing everything from it, scrubbing the shelves, and tossing lots of old food. I had a berry mishap (I’m not even kidding when I say this) two months ago where a huge bag of frozen berries spilled all throughout the freezer and into the fridge. We had been finding berries stuck to the bottom of some of our fridge items for a while. Finally, on Sunday I decided it was time to…actually clean up the berries. Please don’t judge me on my half shelf dedicated to butter. The fridge was so messy that I had two whole boxes of butter unopened in the back and didn’t realize it, and I don’t like the taste of butter, so unless I’m baking, we rarely use it.


listening – to This American Life’s No Place Like Home. Last year, my boss helped Portland establish the slogan Portland, Maine. Yes. Life’s good here. He shared with us a presentation about town/city slogans. One of the things that he mentioned was that many many many MANY places use the “Hello” song – altered slightly – for their slogans. This episode of TAM brings that up right in the beginning! I love when little details like that come full circle.