The Thrill of Hope

Penelope Poppy Print | Oh Come Let Us Adore Him:

I can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s already time to look back on 2016! This time last year, Chad and I were celebrating our first married Christmas and had just decided to put our home up for sale…with no real concrete plan of where we were going, or when, or how. All we had was trust and hope in a God who promised to be faithful. And we also had questions – a LOT of questions!

It was an exciting, somewhat scary, year of surrender – and He was incredibly generous to us. This year held so much more than we could’ve imagined. It was harder than we could’ve imagined. And it was redemptive, and refining, and sweet. I have no idea what 2017 has in store for us (really, we don’t have any big, tremendous plans for once)…but I’m so lucky to be here now, at the end of 2016, with gratitude for the past and tremendous hope for our future.

This year, I learned the hard way to stop, savor, and appreciate the current season that we’re in…rather than wishing for a different situation or longing for the “next thing” to begin. I missed out so much on beauty right in front of me, because I was worrying about what I might be missing elsewhere. I’m spending some time taking a break from blogging and all social media until 2017. We’re flying home to Philadelphia this morning, and I don’t want to miss out on all of the perfect little moments with people I’ve missed so much, because my eyes are fixed on a screen. I’ve really struggled with this mistake in the past – and I want to get it right this year. I want to love my people better and bigger.

Before these last few days of 2016 dwindle away, give yourself the gift of stopping to reflect and celebrate how far you’ve come, how much you’ve grown, and what God has done. Count all of the ways that He’s shown up and provided for you this year, time and time again. Even in the midst of heartache, loss, grief, doubt, waiting and wandering – He is still working in our lives and promises to love us every step of the way. In this year, and the next.

The key to a full Christmas? It's not how much you can cram into your schedule or under your tree. It's not even the amount of good you can do or peace you can feel. The key to a full Christmas when we allow Jesus to fill the empty places in our soul and lives.:

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3 Reasons Why Everyone Should (and CAN) Run a Half Marathon…and San Diego Holiday Half Marathon Recap

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Happy Monday! I’m writing to you today with the strange combination of a runner’s high AND all the post-race blues. This weekend I ran the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon and I’m excited to share some of my favorite moments with you. But first…three reasons why everyone (including you!) should and can run a half-marathon. 🙂

I was inspired to share these with you because of my friend Jill. Our friend Mary Kathleen and I finally convinced her to run her first half-marathon…and she signed up for one in April! Jill doubted for so long whether or not she could actually do it. She labeled herself “not a runner” before she even tried – but now she’s learning that she absolutely is strong enough, and that her body and mind are capable of more than she knows. I’m so proud of her courage for going after it — and if you’re on the fence, I hope to instill that same courage in you. Jill can do this. You can do this. And here’s why:

  1. The distance is possible. If you’ve run a 5k before…or heck, even a mile…you can totally run 13.1. I promise you, you can! The half-marathon is the perfect distance because it challenges your mental and physical strength and pushes you to a new level…but the distance isn’t so far out of reach. As long as you give yourself plenty of time to train, commit to a plan, and run up to 9 miles beforehand (I know that sounds like a lot now – but once you’re training, it’ll be nothing for you!), you’ll be golden on race day. The excitement of the crowds, your adrenaline, and the sheer excitement of running your first major distance race will sustain you through to the finish for those last few miles.
  2. Build your confidence. Who could use a little more confidence in their life? (Raising my hand right along with you.) Once you conquer 13.1, daily tasks will seem so simple, and by the time you reach the finish line, you’ll realize you are so much stronger and tougher than you thought you were. Really, what can’t you do now?
  3. You need to do this for YOU. Don’t run a half-marathon (or do anything, really) solely to impress someone else or to prove something for the naysayers in your life. Do this for yourself. Do this to silence the negativity in your own mind – not from those around you. This goal and this accomplishment is yours and yours alone. As my all-time favorite runner and human Meb Keflezighi puts it: “Most of us have enough areas in our lives where we have to meet others’ expectations. Let your running be about your own hopes and dreams.”

Quotes from elite athletes like Kara Goucher to movitate you through marathon training - click for more

Quotes from elite athletes like Dean Karnazes to movitate you through marathon training - click for more

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If you want to get into running or have been a runner for sometime and are ready to go the distance…let’s chat! I am by no means an expert (you’ll read about my weaknesses below :), but I do love the sport and can point you in the direction of some wonderful resources to get you started. And I will also provide constant encouragement and not let you talk yourself out of going after these big, beautiful goals! 

And on to the recap of yesterday’s race…

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The Expo and Swag

We had a Christmas Extravaganza at our dear friends’ house during the day (so hard to resist ALL OF THE COOKIES!), and headed out to the expo at Road Runner afterwards. This is one of the smaller local races of the year (about 4,000 people), so it was a teeny tiny expo and not the big convention center-type. I loved the intimacy of it.

For the very affordable race entry fee, I was surprised with all of the great swag we scored – including a long-sleeve and hooded wicking shirt, a high quality backpack, and homemade knitted gloves (so thoughtful since it was FREEZING when we hit the starting line – and I never thought I would need gloves in SD #rookiemistake).

The Course

The course was a straight path from Rancho Penasquitos to Torrey Pines State Park (a beautiful seaside finish!). The majority of the race was along the 56 Bike Path – so it was a little strange running in nothing but a straight line the whole time, and parallel with cars zooming on the highway. But it was something different, and being able to finish on the beach was totally worth it.

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The finish did NOT disappoint!

The Race

I really, really loved this race and will definitely be back next year – but it was unlike any road race I had over done before because there were hardly any spectators, and zero music! It was pretty quiet and mellow, and we were isolated from people or passerbys on the street – not the normal race day energy and cowbells that the big city races have. At first, I thought I would hate the quiet – but it ended up being so peaceful and enjoyable. I loved being able to strike up a conversation with strangers, receiving encouragement from others as we charged up the hills, and I actually spent a lot of time in prayer (mostly for the strength to finish), and thought about some running and personal goals for 2017. To my surprise, the race was refreshing for my soul…and only a little painful for the body. (I hate you, hip flexors.)

Sadly, I did not meet my goal for this race. That was the only downside. I aimed to finish in under 2 hours, and I was thinking my chances of actually doing that were about 50/50 heading into the race. For the first seven miles, I did really well and ran somewhere around 8:35/8:45s, managing to stay with (and even ahead of!) the 1:55 pace group. I hit 27:39 for my 5k time and 55:19 for my 10k, so I was right on target with my goal pace and happily expected to finish under 2 hours. But around mile 9, something awful happened – I’m still not sure what – and I just shut down. I felt like I literally had nothing left and at that point couldn’t even fathom how I had ran a marathon before, let alone finished halves before. This kind of defeat and exhaustion hadn’t happened to me in a race before, and it really crushed my spirit at first. Perhaps I went out too fast, but I felt really comfortable and strong for those first 7. But then I felt so weak, mentally and physically, and ended up getting a little sick at mile 10. So strange.

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My pace dropped drastically and I ended up finishing in 2:07. I wasn’t too upset with this time – considering I had taken a year off of running and that 2:06:40 is my personal best…and I refused to wallow about it for too long.

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Chad snapped this immediately after the finish. Forcing a tired smile with not-so-subtle disappoint in my face. Ha!

I felt like I was very consistent with hydration and nutrition in preparation for the race, so I want to chalk this up to not being as disciplined as I should have been throughout my training cycle. Motivation to train faster next time!

Highlights

  • Hearing one woman say to another “I haven’t had a toenail in five years!” I laughed so hard. The struggle is real.
  • Being surprised by Chad cheering at mile 8 (we didn’t think he would be able to find a way to jump on the bike path!) and having him run by my side for a little bit. He is fantastic encourager when my mind is failing me, both in races and in real life.

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  • All of the Buddy The Elf motivational signs at each mile marker.

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  • Seeing my friends from the Rock Runners volunteering at a water station.
  • AMAZING men and women from the San Diego Rescue Mission (in partnership with Up and Running Again) finishing their first half-marathon after years of addiction and homelessness! SO awesome.
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These guys helped me to not get too caught up over my time – and just reminded me to be grateful for health and the ability to run. I just love that running has been such an integral part of their recovery and healing. It really is the best therapy!
  • Great post-race snacks and wrapping up in my first space blanket! (It’s the little things.)
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Not pictured: bananas and green juice and a bunch of other mini Larabars that Chad and I devoured before we even got home.

 

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After the race, we got sandwiches at my favorite place, Board and Brew, and then we enjoyed a 3 hour nap (hey, 4:30 a.m. wake up calls are rough on both of us), took Chase to the dog park, grocery shopped, and went to church. A perfect Sunday in my book. Well, minus the Eagles losing by one point…but we won’t go there.

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When you are too delirious to keep your eyes open…

Thanks for a fun day, USA Endurance Events! I can’t wait to be back next year…this time running well under 2 hours. 😉

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Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2

Friday Five 12.16

Happy Friday and happy SINGLE DIGITS TO CHRISTMAS!

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We have lots of fun things and some travel planned in the nine days ahead and I am so. dang. excited., you guys.

I love Friday Five posts, and I’ve decided to switch things up a bit by sharing 5 different things with you each week: something I’m loving, something I’m reading, something that I’ve been inspired by, something I’m praying for, and my highlight of the week.

I’m so glad you’re here. Grab a cup of something warm and cozy, read along, and tell me what your own five things are! I’d love to hear about your week — feel free to share in the comments section. 🙂

What I’m Loving: Fleet Feet! 

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I’ve never been to a Fleet Feet store before (heck, in Delaware, we were lucky to just have ONE running store – shoutout to DRC!) and I went to check out Fleet Feet San Diego earlier this week. I was in love! The staff was so friendly, ready to chat about races, recommend the best trails, and offer encouragement to all levels of runners. It was such a warm, welcoming environment for someone like me who is new to the SD running community!

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I attended a Ladies’ Night sponsored by Brooks, met some great women, and we were treated to wine, chocolate, and fancy crackers and cheese while we shopped and tried on some of Brooks’ new (super cute!) bras and checked out Sarah Marie Designs’ hilarious shirts. We snagged great freebies, and I stocked up on Nuun and Honey Stinger gummies for an upcoming race.

Check to see if there is a Fleet Feet near you, and join runners in your community for a group run or another fun Ladies’ Night!

What I’m Reading: Present Over Perfect

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Long overdue. Finally!

I’m Inspired By: Preemptive Love

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If you’re like me, and feel heartbroken by the tragedies in Aleppo, but feel too far away, and too small, to make a difference…you’re not! Take action by partnering with Preemptive Love and consider making a donation this Christmas in honor of a loved one.

I also loved Ann Voskamp’s post: 3 Ways to Help Aleppo For Real.

And some bonus inspiration because our little sports community at home has been deeply impacted by this man’s legacy: Marathon man Doug White dies. This incredible man ran 43 consecutive Boston Marathons! What a beautiful life.

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What I’m Praying For: 

For safety and rescue and resolution in Syria, for safety for the hundred of thousands traveling, and a peaceful holiday season in our country, to stay healthy and strong for the race this weekend, and peace and comfort for the family of Doug White.

Highlight of the Week: 

Our simple pizza + target date night last night. You might think this sounds so lame but I swear, the “ordinary” nights in marriage are my favorite. It’s always sweet, always refreshing, never boring. And extra special when you can get vegan pizza. Chad shared some surprising good news with me last night over dinner (coming soon!!!) and that for sure made the night a highlight of the week.

Have a fun, safe, and festive weekend! XOXO

 

36 Hours in Seattle

When you’re caffeinated and strategic (and when your best friend is a local) – it’s easy to get the full Seattle experience in just 36 hours. 


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When we traveled back to San Diego from Philadelphia this summer, Chad and I were stuck in the middle of the Southwest disaster. Remember that? Yep, that was our day. I’m exhausted and cranky just thinking about it.

One silver lining made all of the jet lag worth it, though – we scored some craaaaazy discounted flight vouchers, and as a result – we planned a weekend getaway on a whim to Seattle, Washington! We’re saving up all of our vacation time to use when we travel back East again for the holidays…but we knew that if we woke up early enough and did it right, we could squeeze in the perfect winter trip.

I’m a big believer that time should never hold you back from an adventure – and so we set out for the challenge. If you find yourself with just a day or two to spend in the beautiful PNW – don’t rule it out just because you’re tight on time! Keep reading for a quick glimpse of Seattle’s best.

WHERE WE STAYED: The Bacon Mansion

Chad and I are B&B people, through and through. When visiting somewhere new, we much prefer to stay with locals and other travelers to get the inside scoop and a little extra touch of cozy hospitality. We chose The Bacon Mansion first for its proximity (it’s nestled in the adorable, walkable, close-to-everything Capitol Hill neighborhood), and of course – for the breakfast spread. 🙂 Though we were there just long enough to rest our heads and grab some coffee, it did not disappoint – and I’d highly recommend checking it out for your stay in the city.

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WHAT WE EXPLORED: Pike Place Market and The Space Needle

Pike Place Market – an absolute iconic must. Though it’s a total tourist trap, just walking the aisles, people watching, and sampling from delicious vendors was so much fun. We had baklava, cookies, coffee, beer, muffins, croissants, cheese, fancy yogurt, sandwiches…it was indulgence at it’s finest. If you’ve got an hour or so to spend in Pike Place, be sure not to miss the first ever Starbucks store for coffee (and you wondered why they call it the Pike Place blend!), Pike Brewing for lunch (try the Space Needle Golden IPA), and Ellenos yogurt for dessert. Oh! And don’t pass the bubble gum wall. Yes, it’s gross and crowded – but it’s legendary and super fun.

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Highlights of our time spent at Pike Place Market: running into Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Eagles (he was so, so nice!) and reuniting with one of our best pals/Maid of Honor, Mary Kathleen.

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The Space Needle – if you’re passing through Seattle and don’t take a trip to the top of the Space Needle, you are seriously missing out! Though tickets are a bit steep at $30/person, the views and the history are worth every penny. We loved getting MK to tag along to the Observation Deck with us – she pointed out all of the noteworthy sights.

On a clear day, you can see Mount Rainier from the Space Needle. Unfortunately, we had no such luck during our trip. I hope to see it if and when we go back someday – my mom & step dad climbed it years ago which is quite an accomplishment. Its weather conditions are INSANE and it’s also the tallest mountain in the continental U.S.!

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OUR FAVORITE BITES: Le Petit Cochon, Fremont Brewing, and Pyramid Brewing

(I promise we didn’t just drink beer the whole time – but breweries abound in Seattle!)

Gettin’ Piggy With It – Our Saturday date night was a sweet, romantic highlight – though certainly unexpected! After the restaurant that we had planned on dining at was disappointing and not what we had expected when we arrived, we decided to walk down the street to Fremont Brewing to grab a drink (so good!) and find a new spot.

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We then walked back up the street (Fremont is incredibly walkable, and so cute), and stumbled upon Le Petit Cochon – a teeny tiny dimly lit, super romantic, swanky restaurant in the basement of an apartment building. It was perfect! It was packed late at night – clearly a popular spot – but we were lucky to snag some seats at the bar where we were charmed by the bartender and ate the best dinner that we had had in a long, long time.

I had a pamplemousse + champagne cocktail (YUM) with mushroom truffle risotto, and Chad dared to finish the revered menu item, an 18 oz. pork chop. We practically had to roll him out of there, but he totally did finish it all – and we managed to find room for gelato at Fainting Goat afterwards. 🙂

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Pyramid Brewing:  Just your average stadium sports bar, but we had a not so average experience here. Oh, my gosh, you guys – I nearly cried from joy at this place. We had met some strangers (now friends – Hi, Pam!) at the Space Needle the day before, who were diehard Eagles fans from South Jersey. They invited us to a tailgate at Pyramids before the game on Sunday, so of course we couldn’t say no.

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The experience was nothing short of magical. For two homesick Philadelphia fans like us, it was amazing to be surrounded by hundreds (literally, hundreds!) of people in green singing Fly Eagles Fly, Dallas Sucks chants, and Rocky references. Mary Kathleen joined us again, and we were even lucky enough to meet up with one of my best college friends, Bill – who just happened to be visiting Seattle from NYC. Even though the Eagles lost, we had so much fun with this gang – definitely just what we needed to get us through the remaining weeks until our next trip home. Go Birds!

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OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Our Sunday morning walk through Volunteer Park, a visit to Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and the ride from the airport to the city on the Link Light Rail.

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(I was just so happy to see LEAVES and RAIN again!)

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In just a day and a half, we fell head-over-heels for Seattle…but there is so much more to see! I hope that we’ll get to visit at least once more, and I’d love to go in the summer to hit the trails and see Bainbridge Island. Fingers crossed. 🙂

Have you ever been to Seattle? What were your favorite sights, and what do you recommend as must-sees? I’d love to read your thoughts and tips in the comments! XO

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For Your Weekend

Happy December from San Diego!

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Hotel Del Coronado – Chad and I went here last weekend to ring in the Christmas season!

I hope that you’ve had a great week and that you’ve already been finding yourself surrounded by Christmas cheer. I’m so, so glad that December is here.

I wanted to share with you some pieces of fun and encouragement that I’ve enjoyed stumbling upon this week. I pray they bring joy, refreshment and fun to your Friday! Have a wonderful winter weekend – and stay warm!

read // You So Have Miracles in Your Pocket: The Absolute Best Christmas Gift List

watch // My dogmom dreams

reflect // How Do You Respond to Stress?

try // 3 Ways to Motivate Yourself in Winter

learn // Why I Went Vegan

swoon // The Cargo Ship House

move // Because We Can’t Do Nothing: Practical Ways to Help Refugees