In 2014, I Will Run

And that’s it.

In the past I’ve declared a certain distance or time as my goal for that particular year. Whether it be to run a full marathon or PR in the half, I was always worked towards something running-related with a number tied to it. In 2013 I stepped away from that approach and simply wanted to focus on quality over quantity. Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly follow through on that.

2013 Austin Races

I jammed a million races into the spring and didn’t PR any of them. Don’t get me wrong: I know not every race is going to be at a hard effort and yield satisfying results, but at least one of them should have in order to meet my goal of “quality > quantity”. Sometimes I get registration happy and want to sign up for every single race out there.

I managed to restrain myself from registering for the Rogue Distance Festival, and a handful of local 5Ks & 10Ks. All were fairly affordable and probably could have been squeezed into the budget, but somehow I made it into the spring with the same two races on my schedule that have been there since July: Houston Half & Austin Half. And I’ve decided not to “race” either of them. The holidays/road trip threw somewhat of a wrench in my training and running was put on the backburner. ALL MY FAULT. Not blaming anyone but myself. If Houston let you defer without having to pay again next year, I’d defer to 2015. But since they don’t and the hotel is already booked, to Houston I go.

So what’s next? Ragnar Relay Cape Cod with Oiselle Team

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FINALLY! My first relay. I had hoped to run Hood to Coast with Nuun the past two years, but that didn’t pan out. I had planned on applying again in 2014 but we booked a trip to Mexico for that same week, and well, Mexico wins. Always. Back in the fall Jill tweeted about getting together a team of Oiselle runners for Ragnar Cape Cod. After countless emails back and forth, team Flock You Like a Hurricane was born + registered. So in the beginning of May I’ll be heading up to Cape Cod to run a 200-mile relay with Oiselle teammates I’ve never met. God I love the internet.

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And then after that? Who knows! I’m forgoing a spring goal race and focusing solely on Ragnar. I’ll probably have a goal race in the fall (in addition to Ragnar Trail Hill Country in October, depending on whether or not my sister decides to get married that weekend) but I don’t want to rush into it or even start thinking about which race until April or May. I don’t want history to repeat itself so instead of racing the crap out of the spring and being burnt out by May, I want to enjoy no-pressure miles in the spring.

So that’s the plan for 2014. I will run, plain & simple.

Something New

Since I was able to successfully transfer over subscribers, my WP readers probably noticed ‘Melissa Runs’ is a thing of the past. If you manage your blogs in Feedly or Bloglovin’, it’s quite possible you truly had no idea I renamed and revamped the site.

At the end of 2011, I made the decision to leave a joint blog behind [We Run for Wine – has anyone been around long enough to remember that?] and create Melissa Runs. It filled all of my requirements [running-related, short URL, etc.] and worked out quite well over the past two years. A few months ago I started getting the itch to change the name again. Not so much because I wanted something new, but content was a big factor. I definitely still want to write about races & running shoes [duh], but felt like the ‘Runs’ part of my blog held me back from delving more into my personal life. And to be honest, I kinda grew to hate having my name in the blog title. Seems like a silly little thing, but it drove me nuts.

I had a discussion with this girl about it back in September, but never moved forward with anything because I was nervous about the change. I wanted a clean, modern new look but also didn’t want to pay someone $500 to design it for me. I found a few graphic designers who were awesome and very affordable, but only worked with writers using the Blogger platform. I still don’t understand why people use Blogger – how do you live without threaded comments?! Anyway, after a ton of research and many DMs with Kristin [who was super nice & patient with me while I bombarded her with questions] I felt confident enough to make the switch on my own.

The last weekend in November I purchased the new domain name for So These Are My Thirties. It’s doubtful I’ll still be blogging in my 40s [despite what Paula says] so this new moniker should cover the rest of my existence on the Internet. I somewhat feel like a fraud launching this before actually turning 30, which doesn’t happen until next month and when it does? Please hold me. But I had the free time and wanted to pull the trigger on it before changing my mind. I created a new header, cleaned up the sidebars, found a new theme, and played with a ton of different fonts. There’s still a lot of work to do, like re-categorizing posts and updating old links because not a single plug-in I’ve tried will fix all of the 404s. But I’m happy with it so far and excited about the change!

And with that, I welcome you to…

So These Are My Thirties

The One With The Whiskey Pinata

This weekend was pretty busy and probably not as productive as it should have been. I did, however, create a ridiculously detailed color-coded spreadsheet on Sunday for our upcoming trip while sitting on my butt all day watching football. That counts for something, right?

Friday night I worked packet pickup for HITS Endurance (race recap tomorrow) at Texas Running Company downtown. The weather sucked all day so traffic was an absolute nightmare and it took over an hour to go less than 7 miles. That was fun. Packet pickup wasn’t terribly busy, most likely due to the weather, so it gave Jeanette and I plenty of time to catch up. I also managed to leave the store without buying a single thing. Pretty sure that’s a Christmas miracle.

I came to a gift from my Oiselle Team Secret Santa, which is AMAZING and I love it so much. It’s ridiculously perfect! Meghan rocks.

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Brad went grocery shopping while I was at the volunteer shift since we weren’t sure where else it would fit into the weekend. The plan was to make a huge batch of chili on Sunday night and then use the leftovers for lunches during the week. I emailed the recipe over to Brad and let him know to double everything, except for the onion and garlic because we already had both. Well, he missed the garlic part and bought 4 cloves of garlic. Or so he thought.

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When I got home, he asked “These are cloves, right?” Ha!

Neither of us felt like cooking so we ordered Chinese and caught up on the DVR. No spoilers, but HOLY SHIT to Grey’s Anatomy and Sons of Anarchy. I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open during the entire episode of Sons.

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Saturday morning we ran the HITS 5K. There was an 11am start and I kinda hated it. Thought I’d enjoy the late start and ability to sleep in, but it ended up taking up a decent part of the day. More on that tomorrow. On our way back we stopped at  Kerbey Lane for brunch to grab something to eat before running errands. Thanks to Foursquare we realized it had been 10 months since our last visit and that’s just unacceptable.

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There was guac in our queso, brisket in our eggs benedict, and bacon (!!) in our pancakes. Whoa. I could hardly even breathe when we left and was completely uninterested in going shopping. But we went anyway. Halfway through our Target trip we remembered that the party we were going to that night was actually a birthday party and we probably shouldn’t show up empty handed. After a few laps around the store and a bit of brainstorming, we walked out with a piñata. Yes, you read that right – a piñata.

And then we went to the liquor store. Introducing the Whiskey Piñata:

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The party that night was themed and we needed to dress up as our favorite vinyl cover. We thought about going as Johnny Cash and June Carter, but scrapped the couples idea when Brad asked if he had to shave and I realized there was nothing June-esque in my closet. We left the house as Bruce Springsteen and Joan Jett.

1466193_10202090679807609_1415925524_n The Whiskey Piñata was a HUGE hit! You know, literally. We had only one casualty out of twenty-ish bottles, so not horrible. At least they were plastic – could have been worse!

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Obviously all of the whiskey sours and whiskey shots made for veryyyyy lazy Sunday morning. We were dogsitting and none of the 4 dogs understood the concept of letting us sleep in so afternoon naps were definitely necessary. I also caught up on blogs, worked on the trip spreadsheet, and watched football – all things which could be done while comfortably sitting on the couch in my PJs. It was glorious. I made a vat of IGE’s Sweet & Spicy Chili for an early dinner and we were in bed by 8pm. That was also glorious.

And so that’s the story of the last weekend we’ll spend in Austin for 2013.

Elf Pub Run

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Earlier this week the 3M Half Marathon celebrated their 20th Anniversary by hosting a pub run, Elf-style. The event popped up on do512 [if you’re in the Austin area, you need to follow them on Twitter and/or FB – you’ll never miss a thing in town] a few weeks ago and since Elf is one of my [and everyone else’s] favorite Christmas movies, I knew this a pub run that couldn’t be missed.

Elf Pub Run Collage

I’d tell you the route we ran, but I think 3M narrated it best:

So, grab all your “buddies,” meet at the Paramount and then “pass through the seven layers of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops, and jog through the Lincoln Tunnel.” Okay, okay…so it’s more like through the swirly twirly layers of downtown Austin construction, across 6th street (if you see gum there, don’t eat it, it isn’t free candy), around the Frosty tower, until you can follow the scent of the “world’s best sausage” and follow it to Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden at 79 Rainey Street. Once there, grab a pint of “holiday cheer” – a.k.a. complimentary local Austin beer and a sausage wrap from Banger’s that will be available for purchase for $8 cash. Then make your way back around the Frosty Tower, across 6th street (don’t hug anything there), through the swirly twirly layers of downtown construction, and back to the theatre for more “holiday cheer” a.k.a. complimentary local Austin beer and a 7:45pm screening of Elf.

There were approximately 300 runners so they sent about 20 of us off at a time, leaving a couple minutes between each wave. Downtown was decorated for Christmas so that definitely made the run more festive, despite the fact that it was 80 degrees outside (WTF Texas).

There were volunteers along the way holding signs with funny sayings adapted from the movie, like this one:

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I didn’t wear my Garmin so I have no idea how far we actually ran to/from Banger’s, but obviously not far enough that a couple beers would make the trip back miserable. Our drink ticket got us each an Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap Pils, which surprisingly wasn’t bad. When I saw they were pouring light beer, I was disappointed – but it ended up being pretty decent. After that round we made the executive decision to skip the “World’s Best Sausage” and check out the 100+ beers on tap inside.

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Um, I have trouble deciding what beer to have when there’s only 5 options on the menu… but 103? It took me ten minutes to make up my mind! They’re organized into categories like “Hop Heaven” and “Dark & Roasty” which was super helpful for the ones I had never heard of. There was a java stout calling my name, but the thought of drinking it and running afterwards just didn’t seem like a good plan, so I ended up with Founder’s Brewing’s Dirty Bastard scotch ale. It was REALLY good and had tons of flavor. Brad went with Sixpoint Global Warmer, which was good but super fruity.

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After that round, we switched back into running mode and made our way back to the Paramount. Everyone received 2 tickets back at the theater which you could redeem for beer, popcorn, or other concessions. They were also handing out gift bags that included a water bottle, beer koozie, Texas-shaped Post-Its, and a 3M Half Marathon magnet. Oh and before the race they handed out reflective armbands to all of the runners. For a $15 pub run, I definitely think we got our money’s worth.

Before the movie started, race director John Conley awarded free entries to 3M in 2014 to the five best festively dressed runners. Loved Mr. Narwhal, very original!

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And if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this gem:

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“It looks like a Christmas tree!” We act like adults approximately 5% of the time.

2013 Shiner Beer Run Race Recap

Shiner Beer Run

We almost didn’t run this race. All week the forecast called for high winds, cool temperatures, and rain. 38 degrees isn’t exactly standard Texas weather, considering it was 89 on Thursday evening as I drove home from work with the A/C on. And I don’t mind running in the rain when it’s warm, but when it’s that cold? Eh, not really that interested. I took a few polls on Twitter and changed my mind more times than I can count between Wednesday and Saturday. Crazy thunderstorms Thursday night had me saying “no freakin’ way!” but the calm, somewhat dry morning on Saturday at 3:30am helped me make the final decision: we were heading to the Shiner Beer Run.

Race Day Wear: Poppy Lux Layer, Oiselle singlet, Lesley Knickers; also added a throwaway sweatshirt and gloves, neither of which I was able to toss. Definitely warmed up in a mile or so, but once we started running into the wind there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d part with the extra layer.

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The city of Shiner is two-ish hours from our house so we left at 5:30. Packet pickup was available during the week at 2 locations in San Antonio or the Shiner brewery itself, but since we live so far away we opted for race day packet pickup. The ride out to Shiner was long and boring, with a lot of country roads and views like this:

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Pre-Race: We were able to score a perfect parking spot across the street from the brewery, allowing us to sit in the car until 5 minutes before the start. This was clutch. Also pre-race I made a quick bathroom stop and somehow the drawstring of my pants disappeared inside of the waistband. Massive fail. I spent the ENTIRE RACE hiking up my pants. ugh.

Swag: Awesome, some of the best I’ve seen. The shirt was a Brooks Podium tech tee and I loved the design – AND the color. Glad some races are starting to move away from white shirts. We also got koozies, an iron-on decal, bandana, and pretty sweet cups at the finish line to hold our beers. And it should come as no surprise that the finisher’s medal doubles as a bottle opener.

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Race: Ugh. The first two miles were through town and neighborhoods, but after that? Absolutely boring. Very hilly with lots of cows, horses, and farmland. Miles 2-6 were uphill into the 20mph wind. Even though you were running, you actually weren’t moving at all. We ran with our heads down, holding onto our hats and headphones. The wind was an issue pretty much the entire time (unfortunately never at our backs) and light rain came in later miles. The race coordinators had reminded us repeatedly of what to expect at mile 6/7 and I expected to hate it… but it was actually my favorite part of the course. They were on a gravel/dirt path and my legs welcomed the change from the asphalt. The last 3 miles of the course resembled the final miles of ZOOMA Texas and were basically a death march. To be honest, the entire race was a death march.

There was a fair amount of spectators lining the course despite the weather and the course being somewhat inaccessible to cars. Everyone was super enthusiastic, offering high-fives and words of encouragement. There were plenty of water stops and two fuel stops: one had GU gels and one had GU Chomps. The course was clearly marked, with markers at every mile and arrows painted on the ground to ensure you wouldn’t make a wrong turn.

Post-race: What we’d been looking forward to for 13 miles!

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Each runner gets 4 (yes, 4!) beers at the finish. Shiner had a few of their regular brews on tap, as well as limited edition White Wing and seasonal Shiner Cheer. I loved the options!

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As for food, everyone received two huge smoked sausage links: one on a french roll and one in a tortilla. Strange, but hey – this was a Texas race. There was also potato salad but I wanted nothing to do with food that wasn’t warm.

We went on a tour of the Spoetzl Brewery and had the rare opportunity to see production in progress (usually it’s shutdown on Sat/Sun, but was kept open due to the holiday next week).

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After the tour we grabbed another round of beers and checked out the race merch tent. It was all Brooks items so while that meant great quality, it also meant higher prices. Last year’s race tees were on sale for $10 but seemed like an odd purchase for someone who didn’t run in 2012. Our final stop was the brewery’s gift shop, where we were able to grab a beanie and two coasters for $20. Pretty affordable for touristy items!

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Overall: Unless you’re a freak of nature and hills are your jam, this really isn’t a PR course. The weather is Texas is so unpredictable (as previously mentioned, comparing Thursday to Saturday) and last year’s race was hot and humid. My recommendation is to approach it as a fun run with friends and enjoy the post-race party. It’s super organized for only being in its second year. If you love Shiner Beer, you’re going to love this race – PR or not.

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Looking Ahead & Reevaluating My Goals

While reviewing my training log in Google Drive on Monday night I realized the Shiner Beer Run was NEXT WEEKEND. Obviously I knew it was soon since we recently flipped the calendar over to November, but  didn’t realize just how close it was until counting long runs between now and race day. Yikes.

Shiner Beer Run

Shiner was supposed to be my 2013 goal race but it’s been downgraded into a training run for Houston in January. We’ve done all of our runs with the dogs (the puppy desperately needs this time to get some energy out) and while the miles have been at a decent pace, we’re still taking breaks every mile or so for the dogs.

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This hasn’t prepared us enough to properly “race” Shiner, so we’ll be using it as a training run. After next weekend, I’m going to start doing treadmill runs during the week to supplement our puppy runs. This way I should be able to get in some speed/hill work that will boost my potential to run a fast race in Houston.

Do I think I’m going to go sub-2 in Houston? No I don’t. And I’m okay with that. It was a lofty goal I hesitated to put out there in the first place – but it’s still a goal.

Do I think I’ll PR in Houston? I’m not sure. My 13.1 PR was set last year after a really strong marathon training cycle. I’m nowhere near that fitness level right now. And I’m okay with that.

Life happens. Things came up that were unexpected (like adopting a super high energy but ridiculously adorable puppy!) and sometimes I chose those things over my running goals. I chose to bring our dogs on all of our runs because I absolutely LOVE exploring Austin with them and how excited they get when I lace up my running shoes.

So, am I disappointed that this 13.1 won’t be the grandiose race I expected it to be? A little bit. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to run strong and enjoy every scenic, hilly mile through the Texas countryside.

There are a lot of exciting things on the horizon and I’m really excited to see what 2014 has up its sleeve.

2013 IBM Uptown Classic 10K Race Recap

Last weekend was the 19th Annual IBM Uptown Classic and my 4th time running the 10K. This was one of my very first races in Austin back in 2010 and I make a point to run it every year. The weather is always great, the course is fast, and it’s the perfect event to kick off the fall racing season.

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The morning started off fairly early since we needed to pick up this girl from downtown. She mentioned possibly taking a cab to/from the race and I immediately suggested being her chauffeur for the morning. That would have been a pricey trip and I was fairly certain Amy wasn’t an axe murderer. Can’t really say what she expected of Brad and I, but there wasn’t much hesitation as she hopped in my car at a downtown street corner. From internet friend —> IRL friend, in .05 seconds. I’m always surprised how awkward it isn’t when you meet someone IRL and already know everything about them from their blog and/or Twitter. I mean, it should be really weird – but definitely isn’t.

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We met up with Jeanette and Trinity pre-race and talked about how last year at this time we were just starting the Austin Distance Challenge. Overall that was a really fun experience, but I’ll never do it again unless Decker pulls a Houdini and disappears. That half marathon stole a significant piece of my soul.

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Brad and I didn’t have a race plan since we were using it as a training run, so we took it mile by mile. We spent much of the race leapfrogging Jeanette and Trinity, crossing the finish just behind them. No PRs for any of us but it was still a great morning. I specifically remember cruising along at mile 4 with a giant smile plastered on my face, truly enjoying every step of the race. It’s runs like these that remind you just how much you love the sport.

One note on the course: it definitely changed from last year. I remember seeing a note about it on the website and at packet pickup, but didn’t look into it. The race usually starts at the IBM complex, runs through the Domain, and winds back around to IBM. This year’s course was in the same general vicinity but unfortunately doubled back on itself several times. Definitely wasn’t a fan of that.

I’d like to think this will be fixed for 2014 but have heard rumblings this might be it’s last time at the Domain. Not sure why, but I have a feeling it has to do with the race being a part of Run Austin’s plan to turn the city into a premiere racing destination.

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One of the reasons I like this race so much is that it isn’t downtown. Not as far from my house and the course is different. Don’t get me wrong, I love downtown – but a majority of ATX races (Austin Half, Cap 10K, Turkey Trot, etc.) run the exact same route. This girl is a fan of variety!

Either way, I’ll be back next fall. If this one isn’t on your racing calendar, it needs to be.

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Day in the Life :: A Walk in My Tuesday Shoes

I’ve seen this topic on a few different blogs over the past couple weeks and thought I’d jump on the bandwagon. Personally I find reading everyone’s schedule very interesting because I love seeing the differences and how others manage their free time. Sometimes I feel there aren’t enough hours in a day so this helps me see what I’m spending the most time on and where I could probably tweak a few things.

3:45am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze once, die a little inside, crawl out of bed, get changed, leash up the dogs, and head out for a run.

4:15-5:15am: Run for 45-60 minutes

5:15-5:45am: Stretch/cooldown & have a protein shake. While Brad gets ready, I watch a little TV, make us iced coffees and get his lunch together if he needs one. He leaves for work at 5:45.

5:45-6:45am: Shower & get ready for work. Pray the indentation from my headlamp on my forehead goes away soon. Try to convince Sox that going into her crate is the best idea ever. Chase her around the house. Finally tackle her and carry the squirming 48-pound puppy to the crate.

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6:45-8:00am: Commute to work. Leaving at 6:45 lately isn’t getting me to work by 8, more like 8:15 or 8:20. Will probably have to push back the time I leave the house by 15 minutes or so. I hate commuting.

Commute

8:00-11:00am: Sit down at my desk, take all of my jewelry off. So weird. I don’t know why I still bother wearing a watch or bracelets. Also, is it obvious I love my dogs?

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The first hour or so I spend catching up on emails while getting some caffeine in my system and eating breakfast. I work in the Finance department for an online HR software company and at this time of the month most of my day is spent processing vendor invoices, billing current customers, and working on collections.

11:00-11:45am: I almost always eat lunch at my desk. If I don’t have something in the fridge or freezer, I’ll head to Whole Foods Express in the building next door. That can be expensive so I try to keep those trips to a minimum. Sometimes I’ll use my lunch hour to draft a blog post. If I finish (which is very unlike me because it usually takes 2 hours and 400+ edits) then I’ll schedule it to post the following morning. If not, I’ll finish it later that night and then schedule.

12:00-5:00pm: More of the same tasks from the morning, in addition to answering emails, returning phone calls, and attending meetings.

5:00-6:30pm: Commute home. Getting out of work is bittersweet: happy to be done for the day but not excited for the drive.

Commute 2

6:30-7:30pm: Cook & eat dinner. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to have dinner on the table by 7, but most of the time it’s closer to 7:30. When we’re done eating, Brad washes the dishes and cleans the kitchen. Always. Without me asking. Because he is awesome.

7:30-8:30pm: We’ll watch a show from the DVR after dinner and play with the dogs for a bit. And most of the time dessert happens in this window too.

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8:30-9:30pm: Time for bed! Yep, that early. Sometimes we’ll try to watch another show in bed but Brad is almost always asleep by 9 (with glasses still on and remote in hand) so it’s rare that happens. If I’m still not tired, I’ll watch Friends at 9:30 but more often than not the lights are out by then. A 10pm bedtime means 6 hours of sleep and it’s just not ideal.

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And that’s it! Now that I look at it, I guess there really isn’t much wiggle room during the day. Pretty much every minute is accounted for.

This is probably the most interesting to me, so I want to know: What time do you go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning?

The F- Word

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Yesterday marked the beginning of a new season. If you’ve been on Facebook or Twitter for 30 seconds lately, there isn’t a doubt in my mind you’ve heard this particular season was just around the corner. Those dreaded PSL (Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, for those who wisely avoid Starbucks) mentions, UGG boot sightings, and chatter about crisp, cool mornings. All things reminiscent of that F- word, otherwise known as…

Fall.

Since it’s only mid-September, the southern half of the US still has no idea what it’s like to wear long-sleeves or have the desire to go apple picking. I mean, my damn A/C has the electric bill jacked up over $200 and as much as I love seeing Sam Adams Octoberfest in the grocery store, I can’t justify drinking it while sweating. As far as the South is concerned, it’s still summer.

But you see, yesterday while walking out of the garage I felt a breeze cooler than 80 degrees. Hard to believe, but it was even cooler than 70.

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We’ve been hitting the pavement at 4am during the week and the lowest I’ve seen was 75 (and that was with 90% humidity) so this was basically a gift from heaven that didn’t require an absurdly early wakeup call.

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The dogs have been running every mile with us and yesterday the plan was to tackle 5 miles with a double out-and-back, which allowed for a swim break at the halfway point. Probably not 100% necessary since the weather was gorgeous but Bo (who hasn’t run 5 miles in 3+ years) definitely picked up the pace on the back half of the run.

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It was a quiet morning and the miles were easy. Sox’s head was on a constant swivel since she had never been on the trail before and had to see EVERYTHING, so keeping her focused was interesting. Running in a straight line apparently isn’t something she’s interested in learning quite yet.

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Once our miles were done, we spent an hour at Auditorium Shores so the dogs could play and swim a little. Well, Bo did most of the swimming. Sox paced up and down the shoreline a couple hundred times trying to decide if she wanted to get her feet wet. And then…

“Hey Bo … come closer. I want to play.”

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“Closer. You’re still too far away.”

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“Fine, I’ll come to you.”

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“Oh SHIT, I’m going to die!”

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“How do I swim?! I’m going to die.”

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“I hate you guys. I can’t believe you just sat there and took pictures.”

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Needless to say, she didn’t spend a lot of time in the water after that.

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Sunday morning got me pretty pumped for fall, but my hopes and dreams were crushed when I saw this week’s forecast:

September Austin Weather

Rude. Just rude.

Welp, that brief glimpse was glorious, but fall is still a mythical creature I’m waiting to encounter. And hopefully sooner than later.

That damn F- word.

Thursday Things

1. I’ve been doing that whole “run in the morning” thing. That “run before your brain knows what’s happening” thing. Let me tell you, knowing I can go home after work and do absolutely nothing except sit on the couch is pretty awesome. What is NOT awesome is the alarm that goes off at 3:45am to run. Do you know how dark it is out then? It’s basically still nighttime. We grab a headlamp, leash up the dogs, and leave the house by 4am for a 3-4 mile run. It’s awesome and terrible all at the same time.

2. I’m currently a slave to a budget. Well, I’ve always been spreadsheet-obsessed and had my budget planned out for the next 3 months. But since there are several trips on the horizon (Dallas, Florida ((yes Paula, we need to discuss this one)), New Jersey, Houston), we’ve been basically hibernating on the weekends. My color-coded Google Doc has every single penny allocated to a specific savings account and there isn’t much wiggle room. Christmas is cancelled this year, I’ll send you a high-five!

I did manage to find a trip to NJ for just over $300, which is a STEAL. I haven’t been home to the northeast for the holidays since 2010 … mostly due to the fact that it included 37 inches of snow and a 4-day-turned-2-week-trip.

No snow this time people, please and thank you.

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3. Austin is FINALLY getting a Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joes Rollingwood

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I feel like we should have been one of the first cities to have one, but I guess being the home of the flagship Whole Paycheck may have had something to do with that. Anyway, it opens tomorrow and is 10 minutes from my work, so I imagine I’ll be stocking up on Cookie Butter and Two-Buck Chuck on my lunch break.

I already asked this on Twitter earlier, but what do I NEED to buy from TJ’s? It’s part of the “grocery” budget, so this is an expense I can justify. You know, kind of.

BONUS: In case you don’t follow me on Instagram (wait… why don’t you?!), here’s today’s #throwbackthursday post:

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Arlington, TX {circa 2010-ish}

Playoffs, here we come! Thank god there’s something to take my mind off this poor excuse for a Patriots team this season…

GRONK! WHERE ARE YOU?!

Gronk

Ah, there you are. Come back to the Pats soon. They need you desperately.